How to Get the Most out of Growing Citrus Under Protective Screen

How to Get the Most out of Growing Citrus Under Protective Screen

This is the first installment of four special features honoring the 2017 Florida GrowerSM Citrus Achievement Award winner Ed Pines, Owner of EIP Citrus in Lake Wales.

Ed Pines citrus grower

Ed Pines believes the future of Florida citrus is inside. He has planted 20 acres under screen near Lake Wales, FL.
Photo by Frank Giles

What are some of the key benefits of growing citrus under protective screen (CUPS)?

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Pines: CUPS allows us to be precise with our inputs. We use considerably less water, nutritionals as needed without waste, and have minimal needs for herbicides and pesticides as we exclude insects and seeds. We pay extreme attention to all aspects of the growing operation with intense scouting and monitoring of conditions.
As Florida’s population continues to grow, we will have to provide food for more, while improving the efficiency of growing operations. We take into account all aspects of the fresh citrus business, including the retailers’ demand for safe and traceable growing practices and the consumers’ desires for a healthier great-tasting piece of fruit grown in a responsible, sustainable way. We are excited that Dundee Citrus Growers Association and other growers in the industry are joining forces to create a state-of-the-art complex in accordance with this vision that will begin construction soon.

What helped inspire your 20-acre CUPS planting?

Pines: I saw a presentation back in 2013 on a research paper authored by UF/IFAS scientists Arnold Schumann, Brian Boman, and Barrett Gruber that detailed the benefits of CUPS. After that, I began working very closely with Dr. Schumann on the concept. I can’t say enough about his contribution to our industry and planting the seed that we could consider an alternative way to grow citrus in Florida.

Special thanks to Arysta LifeScience for sponsoring the Citrus Achievement Award.

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[…] Any development that helps the Florida citrus industry to see fight citrus greening is going to be met with kudos and accolades, so it’s no wonder that FL grower Ed Pines was the 2017 Citrus Achievement Award Winner. Pines is the owner of EIP Citrus in Lake Wales, an operation that is growing 20 acres of citrus under protective screen, called CUPS, in an effort to thwart the Asian citrus psyllid, the tiny insect that spreads the citrus greening bacteria, and thus citrus greening himself. See what Pines had to say in a Q&A on the getting the most out of growing citrus under protective screening, in an excerpt from a series of articles with Florida Grower. […]

richard fiorelli says:

Will the 20 acres bring a price per acre back to the grower that will pay for the infrastructure costs of the growing system over, say, 7 years? That has got to cost about $10,000 per acre in netting and supports alone, plus installation and maintenance. I understand that production input costs are possibly lowered, but do they offset the costs?