Jerry Mixon of KLM Farms hosted about 40 growers, researchers and others at his citrus under protective screen (CUPS) facility in Alturas on Nov. 15. Alturas is between Bartow and Lake Wales in Polk County, Florida.
At the field day, Mixon discussed his experience with the growing system and his expectations for it. He has 30 acres under screen that were planted in January 2016 and another 40 acres planned. According to the grower, the structure cost about $20,000 to $25,000 per acre to construct.
“We wanted to be able to produce great quality, great tasting Florida fruit,” Mixon said. Tree growth has met his expectations, but the next hurdle is producing a crop of fruit. “We’re anticipating a good crop coming up in 2019,” he said.
“CUPS is not for everyone, probably,” Mixon said. “There is risk involved obviously with hurricanes, which we experienced last year with Irma.” But “short of hurricanes … I think it’s a great way to produce some wonderful-tasting, great-looking quality fruit out of Florida.”
He bases his optimism on CUPS experimental plots grown by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). At the field day, UF/IFAS researchers discussed nutrition, irrigation, canopy management and other CUPS production issues.
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