Research Pushes Forward in COVID-19 Era

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19, Research

As Florida moved to “safer at home” measures, not all University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) research projects could be put on pause. There are living plants, animals and insects to feed and maintain. Some projects have regular monitoring procedures for which postponement could have broader environmental consequences. “We are very proud of our faculty, staff … Read More

Georgia Citrus Avoids COVID-19 Harm

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, Georgia

Georgia’s citrus crop was harvested before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, so the state’s small but growing citrus industry has thus far avoided impacts from the disease. “We don’t think marketing will be affected by COVID, but harvesting (next season) could become problematic if our harvest crews experience problems,” said Lindy Savelle, president of the Georgia Citrus Association. “Although … Read More

Citrus Expo and Coronavirus: Input Wanted

Tacy CalliesCitrus Expo, COVID-19

As of May 20, Citrus Expo and Vegetable & Specialty Crop Expo are still scheduled for Aug. 12–13 at the Lee Civic Center in North Fort Myers, Florida. But as you can imagine, there are a few “ifs” involved amid the coronavirus pandemic. They include: 1) if everyone attending Expo can do so safely and 2) if Florida’s governor, local … Read More

New Details on Coronavirus Assistance to Growers

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced new details on May 19 regarding the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). It will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. CFAP provides vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline due … Read More

Waiver of Hauling Restrictions Extended

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has extended until May 31 a waiver of truck size and weight restrictions for agricultural commodities in the face of COVID-19. Citrus is among the commodities for which the restrictions have been lifted. FDOT on May 8 issued a letter announcing the waiver extensions to law enforcement personnel. Other commodities for which size and … Read More

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program: Grower Update

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will provide direct payments to growers and grower-shippers of fresh produce for demonstrated losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program was announced by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on April 17. See initial information about the program here. Updated information was provided by the USDA recently. Program details and … Read More

Lemons Hit Hard by Covid-19 Losses

Len WilcoxCalifornia Corner, COVID-19, lemons

Lemon growers are seeing good production this year, but the market for choice lemons has been ruined by COVID-19 food-service industry losses. “We’ve seen 20 to 25 percent decrease in fruit movement, and that’s mainly attributable to the decline in the food-service industry,” according to Ventura County lemon grower Will Pidduck. Ironically, it is otherwise a good year for lemons … Read More

COVID-19 Agriculture Loans Available

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

The Small Business Administration (SBA) on May 4 announced that agricultural businesses are now eligible for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs. The loan availability is a result of funding authorized by Congress through the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. The legislation, signed into law by President Donald Trump, provides additional funding for farmers … Read More

Valencia Oranges Hit by Heavy Fruit Drop

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, Processing, Weather

Heavy fruit drop and weather issues reportedly could lead to reduction in Florida’s Valencia orange crop. Some in the citrus industry said COVID-19 issues in processing plants have also limited the intake of Valencias from groves, but the Florida Citrus Processors Association (FCPA) says that is not likely the case. “Processors have slowed down presumably due to COVID-19 … They … Read More

Citrus Involved in Re-Open Florida Task Force

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, Regulation

Two citrus industry representatives participated last week in a Re-Open Florida Task Force working group created by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Florida Department of Citrus Executive Director Shannon Shepp and Matt Joyner of Florida Citrus Mutual served on a panel representing agriculture, finance, government, healthcare, management and professional services. It is one of several working groups that will inform the … Read More

N95 Mask Shortage for Pesticide Applicators

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, Pesticides

According to Laurie Hurner, Highlands County Extension director and citrus Extension agent, some Florida growers have reported a shortage of N95 respirator masks. Hurner said many growers use those masks for pesticide application. Such masks have reportedly been in short supply for medical personnel nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. “With the COVID-19 virus, it is getting more and more difficult … Read More

UF/IFAS Working Through COVID-19

Ernie NeffAll In For Citrus Podcast, COVID-19

Whether in the field or from home, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) citrus staffers are working for growers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael Rogers, director of the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center at Lake Alfred, tells how. “We still are doing business right now,” Rogers says. “IFAS continues to provide support in any way … Read More

Surveys on Pandemic’s Impacts to Florida Ag

Tacy CalliesAgriculture, COVID-19, Survey

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) will conduct surveys to better understand how measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are impacting Florida agriculture and marine industries. Faculty from the UF/IFAS Food and Resource Economics (FRE) department are deploying surveys to UF/IFAS Extension agents and industry professionals to capture this important information. Citrus growers and … Read More

USDA Coronavirus Program to Assist Ag

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, financial

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on April 17 announced a Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to help agriculturists and consumers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The $19 billion program is intended to provide support to farmers and ranchers, maintain the integrity of the food supply chain and ensure every American has access to needed food. The program will use … Read More

Hauling Limits Lifted for Citrus

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, Regulation

citrus crop forecast

Citrus has been added to the list of agricultural commodities for which truck size and weight restrictions have been lifted in the face of COVID-19. A Florida Department of Transportation enforcement bulletin issued April 13 stated that citrus and the other commodities for which restrictions were lifted had been identified by Florida’s agriculture commissioner and approved by Florida’s secretary of … Read More

FDACS Launches COVID-19 Webpage

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

There’s now a one-stop webpage for Florida growers to keep up with COVID-19 food and agriculture-related information. The Keep Florida Growing webpage was launched April 13 by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). “With COVID-19 deeply affecting not only Floridians but also agriculture, our state’s second-largest economic driver, we’re launching a new one-stop page to support consumers … Read More

How to Donate Citrus to California Food Banks

Len WilcoxCalifornia Corner, COVID-19

In California as well as nationally, food banks are experiencing a significant increase in demand due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The California Association of Food Banks (CAFB) Farm to Family (F2F) program accepts donations of fresh produce year-round. CAFB will coordinate the distribution to 41 food banks across the state, which then supply local community food banks and other … Read More

COVID-19 Citrus Damage to Top $200 Million

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

The chief executives of three large U.S. citrus grower associations estimate that “the immediate COVID-19 impact to certain varieties of citrus will be over $200 million.” Casey Creamer of California Citrus Mutual, Dale Murden of Texas Citrus Mutual and Mike Sparks of Florida Citrus Mutual offered that economic damage assessment in an April 9 letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny … Read More

Citrus Sales Surge During COVID-19

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, Orange Juice, sales

Sales of Florida citrus and juice jumped during the COVID-19 pandemic in March, The Ledger newspaper in Lakeland reported. The newspaper cited a Nielsen report that not-from-concentrate OJ sales climbed 28 percent for the 4-week period ending March 21. The surge followed approximately two decades of  OJ sales declines. Consumers appear to focus on OJ’s heavy vitamin C content in … Read More

COVID-19 Advice for Farms and Packinghouses

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19

Laural Dunn, assistant professor in the University of Georgia Department of Food Science & Technology, offers some tips on how farms and packinghouses can best handle COVID-19.   Dunn says producers should educate workers on COVID-19 symptoms, how it spreads and how to reduce the spread of the disease. She recommends sharing these University of Georgia Cooperative Extension guidelines with … Read More