A 4-year-old citrus-under-protective-screen (CUPS) trial offers hope for fresh grapefruit growers who struggle to grow fruit in the face of HLB, Arnold Schumann reports.
Schumann says last season’s Ray Ruby grapefruit crop enclosed in CUPS at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred had 100 percent packout, even after Hurricane Irma inflicted some damage to the CUPS structure in September 2017. The researcher reports good recovery from Irma, with no psyllids or HLB found in the planting after the storm.
Grapefruit yield over the trial’s four years has increased annually. “Even the first year, they (trees) yielded over 100 boxes,” Schumann says. “Year two was 150, and then 824 in year three.” He predicted yield of more than 850 boxes per acre in year four. Schumann believes fresh grapefruit growers using CUPS should be profitable over the long term, overcoming high initial infrastructure expenses and intensive management costs.
Schumann notes that grapefruit has been one of the most difficult citrus varieties to grow since HLB became endemic in Florida. “So this (CUPS) I see as excellent news for grapefruit growers that want to continue growing the highest quality grapefruit in the presence of HLB,” he says.
The researcher shared the good news about CUPS and grapefruit at Citrus Expo, the large two-day trade show and seminar program held recently in North Fort Myers.
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