Disease, Harvest Labor, Environment Big Issues in Gulf

Ernie NeffDiseases, Labor

Disease, Harvest, Environment
Disease, Harvest, Environment

Ron Mahan

Gulf Citrus Growers Association (GCGA) Vice President Ron Mahan, who chaired a recent GCGA member lunch, discusses key issues facing the association.

Mahan says the area’s number-one concern is disease pressure “and adjusting our management and growing practices to minimize disease impacts.” He notes that Florida is “going to be at one of our low points in production this year,” largely because of disease.

“And then we also face issues from our ability to harvest the crop,” Mahan says. “We grow those and we only harvest those six to eight months out of the year … We have a very seasonal labor demand … Having the labor supply is a tough thing.”

“And then we also have issues with environmental concerns,” Mahan continues. He notes that farmers were the original conservationists. “The land is very important to us. The perception, however, sometimes is that we’re just going out there and throwing chemicals all over the place. And those perceptions sometimes cause environmental regulations that are difficult for us to deal with.” Water and water supply are also concerns, he adds.

Finally, Mahan notes that citrus health management areas (CHMAs) in the Gulf region “have some of the best records in the state.” CHMAs are groups of growers who voluntarily coordinate pesticide sprays over large areas, especially for the control of HLB-spreading Asian citrus psyllids.

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large