Grower Optimism on Tree Health

Nutrition, PFD
Nutrition, PFD

Aaron Himrod

Several growers participating in a forum in Sebring on March 9 said trees are looking better this year than last year. They also agreed that postbloom fruit drop (PFD), a major problem last season, has not yet been a big issue this season.

Grower Aaron Himrod of Himrod Citrus Nursery, a forum participant, says good tree condition and high fruit prices have contributed to grower optimism. He discusses the reasons trees may be looking better.

“Several folks noted … we are getting to be more like farmers rather than just grove owners, really getting out there with really timely applications of what’s needed, and then paying better attention,” Himrod says. “Also, I think there are some cultural practices that folks are catching onto that are getting widespread use — such as frequent spoon feeding of liquid fertilizers — that seem to be really making a difference.”

Himrod says his family recently started using a new nutrition program popularized recently by caretakers Marty and Pat McKenna. “Following the publicity of the McKenna program and the success they’ve had, we kind of made that adjustment in the grove and are kind of seeing really positive results. It’s early to this point, only about a month or so in, but (we’re) liking what we’re seeing.” Himrod says the McKenna program is heavy on micronutrients and also utilizes nitrate forms of nitrogen. “We’re anxious to kind of parse out just what elements are providing the results, but certainly are very pleased with overall results to this point,” he says.

“We’re optimistic that PFD is not going to be the bear that it was the previous season, mostly due to Mother Nature being fairly cooperative without having that really wet bloom time so far,” Himrod adds. “Our fingers are crossed. We’ve still got, it looks like, a lot of sweet oranges that are in that pinhead stage, about to open up another wave of bloom. So we certainly could be open to a problem moving forward, but to this point we look in pretty good shape.”

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large