Florida Citrus Growers’ Resolve Put To The Test

Florida Citrus Growers’ Resolve Put To The Test

Facing what could be the lowest orange crop output in nearly a half century, it’s no wonder the mood was tempered during last week’s Florida Citrus Industry Annual Conference in Bonita Springs.


The crowd itself seemed smaller compared to recent years, which was confirmed by Mike Sparks, Florida Citrus Mutual executive VP/CEO, who said a little more than 600 attendees were present for the three-day event. Last year’s gathering set a new attendance record with more than 800 on hand.

For those in attendance, the message was pretty clear: Commitment is key if the Florida citrus industry is to survive and succeed in the age of HLB.

To that point, during the educational session proceedings, there were multiple references to the term “all in” when describing what it’s going to take to move forward.

Michael Rogers, currently interim director of the UF/IFAS Citrus Research & Education Center, said growers need to be “all in and aggressive with psyllid control,” especially given that the state’s producers have seen a 10% increase in fruit drop over the last three years.

The citrus community needs to be aware of the problems with trying to control fruit drop, Rogers said. “We have to give consideration to how much money is spent on these efforts based on results from past studies.”

Larry Black, Ridge grower and current Florida Citrus Mutual president, said his operation is “all in” and trying all options in the fight against HLB. “There’s no silver bullet on the horizon,” he said. “We have to combat the disease with the tools we have today.”

One operation that is using all available resources is Duda Citrus. In his educational session presentation, Rob Atchley showed attendees through PowerPoint and a slick video how modern technology is not only increasing productivity, efficiency, and filling in labor gaps, but also aiding production issues.

By implementing technology and precision agriculture to help scout and monitor conditions around the grove, Atchley said Duda’s new plantings are faring well. Using data gathered over the last year, he reports (despite a 350-acre grove reduction) yields were level.

♦ Catch up on all of the live tweets from the 2015 Florida Citrus Industry Annual Conference ♦

Check out the video from the Florida Grower Citrus Achievement Award presentation.

While Atchley’s presentation projected a positive, optimistic light on what many see as a dim situation, summing up the state of the Florida citrus industry best was Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam. During the annual luncheon, Putnam provided a keynote speech that didn’t mince words. “Candidly, I don’t think we’ve hit rock bottom yet,” he said. “And we have to be prepared for that.”

Part of the preparation, Putnam said, would be to expect a different-looking industry down the road. Comparing the sector’s current situation to that of a house that’s burning down, Putnam said a collaborative effort will be necessary to pour enough water on the fire and help lay the groundwork for the future. “I frankly believe an answer (to HLB) will be found due to the innovation of our growers.”

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yes you have hit bottom. When you decide to test SPINAICH as a possible cure for HLB that was a sure sign that you lack an understanding and appreciation of the science that has proven to be both a source of prevention and a cure for HLB. If you are genuinely interested is reviewing the results of field tests showing the positive results using all natural ,non toxic microorganisms send us an email.

oz mendez says:

We are convinced that nutrition plays a major role in the development of Greening. Very credible collaborative research by the U.S.D.A., University of Florida, University of California Riverside, and the country of China found that when Citrus trees have Greening, phosphorus (P) was about 35% deficient in the leaf tissue. [This indicates that nutrition is playing a major role and indicates the deficiency of or sequestration of phosphorus (tie-up) and various other minerals as well, e.g., when iron becomes too excessive in the soil (as when fertilizer with sludge filler is used, which has more iron than any other mineral, and iron is a micronutrient!), phosphorus and manganese may be tightly sequestered.] When the P level was increased in tree tissue, Greening symptoms were significantly reduced and fruit yield was increased.
Guess what? Greening symptoms mimic P deficiency. Perhaps the bacterium spread by the Citrus psyllid (a small insect) interferes with P biochemistry as well as other biochemical changes. Sometimes iron (Fe) is quite high, which could tie up P. Phosphorus can also be sequestered (tied up) by excessive magnesium (Mg) and other elements.
extremely high levels of boron (B) and Fe, both of which are elements that are very hard for the tree to mobilize (move from one part of the tree to another part when needed, e.g., to the new growth and developing fruit). Perhaps along with the Greening bacterium (Liberobacter spp.), the phloem tubes (sap conducting vessels carrying nutrients to various parts of a tree) become selectively clogged leading to the asymmetrical mottling (chlorosis) of the leaves as well as other symptoms that are often selective in expression. It turned out that Fe had been over-applied and B was included in the liquid fertilizer and was being applied by fertigation (liquid fertilizer application through the irrigation system) every two weeks.
The lack of sugars to the roots because of phloem blockage is sited. The lack of enough good bacteria in the sap and phloem tubes as well as excessive immobile mineral content as well as excesses of minerals in general and deficiencies of others may be the reason the HLB bacterium becomes dominant in the first place, just like a terrible unbalanced diet in people leads to digestive disorders and poor health.
University of Florida – IFAS, University of California Riverside, the U.S.D.A. and the country of China that showed a correlation between at least a 35% deficiency of P and the symptoms of HLB and the remission of symptoms when P was corrected to optimum levels. This, again, is very credible evidence that HLB may be more of a cultural/nutritional problem rather than primarily a pathogen-caused disease. Phosphorus has been over-applied in many cases over the years to citrus groves, it leaches from the soil very poorly, and (at higher soil levels) can be strongly tied up with iron (Fe) and other elements such as magnesium (Mg). Remember that there is more Mg available in the soil at a higher pH, but then there could be some sequestration (tie up) with P in the soil. Then multiple tie-ups of P, Mg, Fe, Mn, Zn, B, and others may be occuring. Not to mention possible toxic levels in tree tissue of some elements such as B from over-application of liquid foliar nutritionals. Both Fe and B are very hard for a tree to mobilize (move) in a tree from older tissue to new, growing tisue and at excessive levels could be contributing to Phloem tube clogging. Of course, many Citrus fertilizers in recent years have been formulated with no P and, if there has not been frequent soil testing and if P is low and if no P is added, of course P is low in the trees tissue, making another serious nutritional stress factor. Then too, many dry Citrus fertilizers have limited micronutrients included as oxide forms, which are basically very poorly available forms of trace elements. Also, many fertilizers have a high percentage of sludge (bio-solids) filler, which is very high in Fe. High Fe can readily ties up both P and Mn.]
At the very least, we are talking about the urgent need to get a lot more serious about good, bio-available nutrition to Citrus trees. Furthermore, both regular soil testing and paste extract soil testing need to done on a regular basis, at least yearly.