By Gary Gooper
AgNet Media Founder and President
Editor’s note: Read the prologue to this article.
This week, I accompanied television program host and anchor Max Armstrong of the nationally-syndicated ag news program “This Week in Agribusiness” to guide him on a quick tour of Central Florida and help bring his audience up to date on the Florida citrus situation. We set up citrus visits as the sole focus on the last day of his tour.
As I visit with other farm broadcasting colleagues like Armstrong in other regions of the country, questions abound about what is going on with the Florida citrus crop. They know we have a serious problem in citrus, but are not aware as to the actual depth of it or the extent of the challenges at hand.
AgNet Media appreciates the leadership and crew at University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center for accommodating the news crew and helping to gather the material and background needed for this feature piece. We had quality time with Fred Gmitter, who offered good background and a grove setting for the interview. We also were able to visit briefly with Harold Browning, chief operations officer of the Citrus Research and Education Foundation, regarding research investments in the HLB battle. And as good timing would have it, we spent a few minutes with Highlands County Citrus Growers Association Executive Director Ray Royce, who offered some perspective from his regular visits with local growers in his area of Florida’s Heartland. Hats off to Florida Citrus Mutual’s communications staff too, for quick action to help supply some extra video shots the TV folks didn’t have time to shoot.
The news gathered by Armstrong and his crew will air on upcoming episodes of their program. See the accompanying schedule of air times and satellite network locations. The show appears on both Dish and DirecTV satellite networks via the RFD-TV channel several times weekly. For many of their other independent television station affiliates across the nation, check your local listings.
While on hand with Armstrong and his crew, I had the opportunity to discuss a tree called Sugar Belle with Gmitter. He says Sugar Belle has an interesting history, interesting timing and a rather peculiar surviving ability to resist the total impacts of HLB. In fact, the TV crew chose that healthier-looking tree in the midst of an otherwise very sick experimental grove block, to use as a backdrop for their television interview.
Hear the interview with Fred Gmitter:
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