Citrus Research and Education Center Director Michael Rogers recently took a look back at the Florida citrus industry in 2018 from a grower and researcher perspective.
Rogers said 2018 was “a bit calmer” for everyone in the industry than the prior year. “Our main citrus-growing regions in the state dodged major hurricanes this year … We really needed a break following Irma in 2017,” he said.
Rogers believes there are reasons for optimism “as we’re learning to live with HLB. The bottom line, I think, is that our yields are up.” Good weather played a role in the increased yields, he added.
“A lot of work that we’re doing in research is starting to pay off for us,” Rogers declared. He noted that much research is focusing on ways to improve the health of HLB-diseased trees. “I think our goal has been to try to alleviate tree stress.” Much progress has been made on that goal via research that includes nutrient and water management and soil pH impacts, he said. Growers and researchers are learning from each other, he added.
“We’re getting back to more traditional IPM (integrated pest management) practices,” Rogers said. “We’re trying to get away from using so many insecticide applications in part because we’ve got a lot of pesticide resistance developing in psyllid populations around the state,” he noted. He added that growers also need to save money.
“I like to think that this year is kind of a turnaround year for us, as we’re starting to see that HLB is not going to take our industry out,” Rogers said. “There are folks making money. And if you’re not making money, there’s probably some changes that can be made to put operations back in the black.”
To hear more from Rogers and other University of Florida researchers, listen to the All In For Citrus podcast: http://citrusindustry.net/allinforcitrus/
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