PIECES OF THE PAST: Citrus 70 Years Ago, as Told by Uncle Bill

Tacy CalliesPieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette

Editor’s note: Citrus Industry is pleased to welcome back Pieces of the Past to the pages of the magazine after publishing it on CitrusIndustry.net for the past year. This popular citrus history column returns to the magazine in preparation for Citrus Industry magazine’s 100th anniversary in January 2020. Leading up to the anniversary, each Pieces of the Past column this year will revisit old issues of Citrus Industry.

While looking back at some of the old copies of Citrus Industry I have in my collection, I found the April 1949 edition. Since the issue this month features a pest management theme, I thought this 1949 advertorial from Lyons Fertilizer Company might be of interest. It’s told by a folksy character named Uncle Bill. The original (unedited) text is as follows:

Uncle Bill was a character that appeared in a Citrus Industry advertorial 70 years ago from Lyons Fertilizer Company.

“Seems like the weather man has sort of had it in for citrus producin’ areas the past few months. California and Texas has had freezes that has cost their growers a lot of millions of dollars. Florida has been sufferin’ a mighty bad drouth, and the whole citrus belt needs a good soakin’ rain. A lot of Florida groves, ’specially in Polk, Highlands, Hardee and DeSoto counties won’t be able to set a normal bloom even if we were to get a good rain now. This is mighty tough ’cause the crop for the coming season is affected and a lot of the fruit now on the trees is droppin’ badly and a lot of it has got to be moved quickly before it gets too soft.

“What with all the new and powerful insecticides and fungicides comin’ on the market the Agricultural and Fungicide Association makes the followin’ suggestions to their customers which sounds right sensible to us:

Citrus Industry was previously published as The Citrus Industry, as seen on the cover of this issue from 1949.

“(1) Do some advance thinking about pest problems. Consider the possible insects or diseases in relation to specific crops or animals and their surroundings. (2) Select a reliable manufacturer as your source of supply and discuss your problems with an accredited representative. (3) Find out about the possibilities of secondary problems, such as residues and off-flavors. (4) Determine type of application equipment you will need and investigate the possibility of damage to neighboring crops from drift. (5) Be accurate with dosage. (6) If your food crop is intended for processing, discuss your control program with the food processing company. (7) Read labels and accompanying literature carefully. Read the warnings and directions — and obey them.”

This advice may be 70 years old, but it’s still applicable today. Thanks, Uncle Bill!

Brenda Eubanks Burnette is executive director of the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame. Pieces of the Past is presented in partnership with Florida Southern College’s McKay Archives Center in Lakeland, Florida.

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