Growers who participate in the upcoming Cycle III of the Citrus Research and Field Trial (CRAFT) program will be offered an additional $1,000-per-acre incentive to plant early-season oranges. Tamara Wood, CRAFT executive director and program manager, announced the incentive during an Aug. 31 CRAFT Cycle III workshop.
CRAFT pays Florida growers to plant trees on which they will conduct commercial field trials based on research that holds promise for managing HLB. Cycle I and Cycle II plantings of the trials began in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Cycle III plantings will begin later this year. The deadline for growers to apply for participation in Cycle III is 5 p.m. on Oct. 22, 2021.
CRAFT growers are paid a per acre participation fee in exchange for planting the trees, executing an experimental design and sharing data. Base fees are $3,400 per acre for solid-set plantings and $1,050 per acre for resets. The early-season orange incentive applies to solid-set projects, so a participating grower planting solid-set early oranges in Cycle III will receive $4,400 per acre.
The added incentive for planting early-season oranges was discussed earlier this summer by CRAFT’s board of directors. At a board meeting, board member Phillip Rucks pointed out there’s a trend for nurseries to propagate far more late-season oranges than early- and mid-season oranges. Some CRAFT board members indicated there is a need for more early- and mid-season varieties to be planted to support the juice market.
CRAFT approved 103 of the trial projects during Cycles I and II. Those projects totaled almost 4,600 acres; 87% of the plantings were solid set. The projects are in 15 counties across all major Florida citrus-producing regions.
Wood said the Florida Legislature, which provides funding for CRAFT, this year mandated that 50% of Cycle III projects go to large growers and 50% to small growers. A large grower has 2,500 or more acres; a small grower has 2,499 acres or less. Wood said during Cycles I and II, project allocations were 38% to large growers and 62% to small growers.
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