More Fruit, Better Tree Health in Highlands County

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Laurie Hurner

Echoing comments from growers in some citrus-growing regions in southern Florida, Highlands County citrus Extension agent Laurie Hurner says Highlands County appears to have more fruit and better tree health this year.

“It’s interesting. You drive up and down Highway 27, and there is a lot more fruit out there, I think,” says Hurner, who is also the Highlands County Extension director. “The trees are looking in better shape. And the million dollar question is, why? … We still have greening; we still have psyllids.”

Hurner believes a combination of factors is responsible for the better tree health. “I think growers are really sitting back and making important decisions about where to spend money,” she says.”They’re making important decisions about production practices. And it’s kind of this huge new toolbox that they’re putting together to grow citrus.”

Hurner says part of the reason for the apparent crop and tree improvement this year is the fact that postbloom fruit drop (PFD) was not a major issue this year. PFD was blamed heavily, along with HLB, for fruit loss in the 2016-17 season. “Growers added that (PFD) back to their daily checklist early,” Hurner says. “They had their plans ready for a PFD program, and they didn’t let one application miss.”

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large