Grower: Try Fewer Inputs for HLB Before Quitting

Ernie NeffCitrus Greening, Irrigation, Nutrition


Glenn Beck

Mid-Florida Citrus Foundation grove’s experience of doubled production while cutting expenses in half is not unusual and should encourage some growers to hang on in the face of HLB. So says foundation President Glenn Beck. “It’s a scenario we’ve seen many times outside of the foundation,” says Beck, a grower and caretaker. “They (HLB-infected trees) seem to be recovering somewhat on their own with fewer inputs. We have many blocks that have experienced recovery on $800 to $1,200 an acre, and I would hate for anyone to drop out of the game when they could possibly still recover with fewer inputs.”

Growers who are forced to reduce costs because production has plunged in the face of HLB “can’t give up the fertilizer and the irrigation,” says Beck, a grower and caretaker. “But many of the multiple nutritional sprays, I would cut back on those, and basically just return to more of a conventional program that we would have implemented pre-HLB.”

Beck says HLB-infected groves almost always go into decline, produce HLB-symptomatic fruit and become non-productive. “But if one doesn’t walk away and keeps on at some level administering care, eventually we’re seeing a return back to the positive,” he says.

Beck emphasizes that the experience of Mid-Florida and other growers in no way lessens the need for continuing HLB research.

For years, the Mid-Florida Citrus Foundation’s 150-acre grove, located several miles from Winter Garden, was the site of research projects by University of Florida scientists and others. The foundation sold the fruit from the grove and also charged researchers a small fee to raise income to operate the grove. Some of the scientists stopped doing research at the grove in recent years, and HLB greatly reduced production at the site. Those income reductions forced the foundation’s directors to cut production costs in the grove.

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Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large