Citrus Bloom Peaks in West Central Florida
Stay connected with what’s going on in the field during #plant16 through this series of brief interviews with Crop Science sales reps in various regions. Keep checking back for more!
2016 Planting Season Update: Q&A with Roy Morris, Technical Sales Rep at Crop Science, a Division of Bayer.
West Central Florida
Key Crops in Territory:
We’re in the Peak of Citrus Bloom in West Central Florida
What’s happening now in West Central Florida?
“Our strawberries have pretty much finished, or they are on the tail end of the season. Tomatoes in my area are have been in the ground about a month and a half to two months now, so we’re somewhere around the first or second tie, when they stake the tomatoes up. Right now we’re also in the peak of our citrus bloom. All of our citrus varieties bloom at the same time over a three- or four-week window, and that window is generally mid-March. We have disease issues that we have to deal with during the bloom in citrus, so that’s been our focus the last couple of weeks.”
| Did you know? All winter strawberry production in the United Sates occurs in central Florida. Winter strawberries are also grown in Mexico and shipped to the U.S.
How has your weather been?
“Our winter was probably one of the warmest on record. We had very little cold weather, which is impacting some of our minor crops like blueberries and peaches. We didn’t have the chill units*, so those crops are not setting very much fruit. From a citrus standpoint, having warmer weather is good. The growers don’t have to worry about cold nights and frost, but it also leads to more weeds, more insects and more disease. So it’s both good and bad. We’ve had a relatively wet winter too. Our dry season is generally around October to May, where we don’t have very much rain. However, we did have really good rains through the fall and into the spring now. It’s tough on the vegetables because of diseases, but with citrus, it’s good because growers don’t have to irrigate.”
*Editor’s note: Peaches and blueberries require a certain number of hours of cold temperatures in order to bloom at the appropriate time and to develop fruit normally.
What’s on growers’ minds in Florida in 2016?
“For the last 10 years, we’ve been facing a disease called HLB (Huanglongbing), which is bacteria that’s transmitted by a little pest known as the Asian citrus psyllid, and it’s fatal to citrus trees. We’re in a really bad situation with that because we don’t have any answers. Controlling psyllids has not been the answer, and we don’t have resistant tree varieties or products to control the bacteria within the tree. This causes growers to walk away from acres or reduce their inputs. It’s having a major impact on the whole citrus economy.”
“Our production in Florida has dropped to record lows. We’re now down below 60 million** boxes of fruit, and that impacts all areas – from the amount of time that the juice plants run, to the box tax, which provides the funds that grower organizations have to support the industry. It’s devastating. The growers have gone from spraying one or two times a year to spraying 12 times a year, and the trees continue to decline, the yields have gone down, and the price for their product has gone down. Growers are very frustrated and concerned with that.”
**Editor’s note: Production has reached as high as 250 million boxes, but typically is around 175 million boxes.
Is there any good news for citrus growers right now?
“The state just got a crisis declaration for some bactericides, and we’re hoping that that will give us some relief. But at this point, the growers have just started making those applications, and it will be a year, maybe 18 months, before we see how effective those products are and the results. Bayer also has some products that are playing a key role in this fight, so hopefully we’ll see some relief for the citrus growers soon.”
Huanglongbing and the Asian citrus psyllid are making their way to California. To learn how you can help prevent the spread please visit www.CitrusMatters.CropScience.Bayer.us and www.CaCitrusMutual.com.
Follow the planting season conversion using #plant16 on Twitter, and be sure to mention @Bayer4CropsUS!
What are growers doing in other areas of the U.S. for planting season? Find out:
North Dakota: Q&A with Mike Hillstrom
Pacific Northwest: Q&A with Paul Pargeter
South Dakota: Q&A with Ronald Anderson
Southwest Minnesota: Q&A with Torrey Sharkey