At Citrus Expo, Aaron Himrod of Himrod Citrus Nursery made the case for replanting citrus trees lost to HLB and other causes.
“I think growers need to replant because we are having some success with young trees that we’re not having with older trees,” Himrod said. “The young trees are responding a lot better to our treatments. And we can, it looks like to me, have young trees very productive early in their life and be back in business and trending in the right direction compared to these older trees.”
To replant, growers need confidence that they can grow young trees, Himrod added. “Ultimately, I think they can,” he said. “We’re seeing some really strong results throughout the industry in the last two, three, four years. Early on in the HLB era, it was certainly a big question mark: Can we grow the young trees? But I think we’ve proven we can. We’ve got some success stories out there to show that not only can we grow them, we can grow them quite quickly and get fruit on them in a hurry.”
In the HLB era, Himrod said, growers have been replacing only one-third to one-half of lost trees. “Some of that tree loss is just standard attrition,” he noted. “Even before HLB, we were losing 2.5 to 3 percent a year. So HLB is certainly not the cause of all of that (tree loss), but we need to really address that if we’re going to get our production back up.”
Himrod also discussed the shift away from early-season Hamlin oranges to late-season varieties. “Hamlin propagations have been dropping significantly now for the last couple of years,” he said. “Historically there was about 1.4 million Hamlin propagations a year. It got under a million last year, and this year was about 500,000 … from some growers who weren’t having success initially with Hamlins that have moved to lates (late-season oranges), and that’s been reflected in the plantings.”
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