DeSoto County grower and Florida Citrus Commissioner V.C. Hollingsworth reacts to news that Florida’s citrus acreage declined 5 percent this year.
“That kind of surprised me a little bit because I thought we’ve been planting back a lot of trees,” Hollingsworth says. “I think what it doesn’t show is the number of trees that we’re planting back, trees per acre. And I think when that comes in, that’ll show us something.” Hollingsworth says most new plantings are at “200-plus” trees per acre. “Where we used to go at 150, now we’re upwards to 300, some even higher than that. So that’s going to make a difference, coming pretty soon.”
Hollingsworth says he’s seen much planting in DeSoto County. “I haven’t been all over the state, but I know the grapefruit acreage has gone down quite a bit,” Hollingsworth says. “The industry still has very big problems, but the health of the trees this year seems so much better to me. And I think, going forward, we’ve got something figured out. I don’t know exactly what it is, but we’ve got something figured out that’s helping citrus in Florida.”
Like many other growers, Hollingsworth reports seeing more fruit on trees this year than last year. “I’m seeing more fruit and bigger fruit,” he says. That’s not the case in every grove, he says, “but where trees are taken care of, I’m seeing it. And that makes me feel better, especially on the earlies (early-season oranges). Bigger earlies, it really makes me feel better.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released the Commercial Citrus Inventory detailing the acreage loss following the August 31 meeting of the Citrus Crop Estimate Advisory Committee in Lake Wales. Hollingsworth chaired that committee, which offers advice on citrus crop estimates and acreage counts.
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