Peace River Growers Celebrate OJ Day

Ernie NeffOrange Juice

Attendees of the luncheon listen to the grower panel discussion.

More than 40 growers, product representatives and others celebrated National OJ Day May 4 at grower Kenny Sanders’ grove near Wauchula, Florida. The occasion was the Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association (PRVCGA) spring roundtable luncheon, which featured a panel of growers discussing current citrus issues. The event was one of the first in-person grower gatherings for the Florida citrus industry since COVID-19 forced everyone to social distance early in 2020.

“It’s great for everyone to get together and to be able to share ideas,” said Roy Petteway, a grower in DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands and Polk counties and president of PRVCGA. He said the organization was happy to have so many attend the luncheon, “especially coming out of a pandemic year.”

Grower and Florida Citrus Commission Chairman Steve Johnson, who grows citrus in Hillsborough, Manatee and Polk counties, had a message for orange juice consumers: “On National OJ Day, I would just say drink orange juice, whether it’s morning, night, dinner or whatever it is. It’s always healthy; it’s always a good additive to your meal … Thank you all for what you do as consumers and keep drinking our product.”  

“We’ve got the best product in the world, and in this day and time with COVID-19 … boost your immune system with Florida orange juice,” Sanders said. He urged his fellow growers to express their enthusiasm for orange juice on Facebook and other social media sites.

During the roundtable discussion, Johnson and grower Justin Sorrells, of Arcadia, cited commercial and residential development as threats to the citrus industry. They said it was hard to keep their land in citrus production when developers offered high prices for their property.

“We have a lot of high-traffic areas where development’s coming,” Petteway said. “At the end of the day, there’s a large influx of people coming into Florida. Every year, the city of Tampa population moves into the state of Florida … And those people need a place to live. And they don’t want to live in skyscrapers and apartment complexes. They want a house with 2 or 3 acres.”  

Stay tuned to for more coverage of the grower roundtable discussion, coming soon.

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large