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New & Noteworthy

Florida Citrus Packers: South Africa Imports Pose Risk

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS) announced it is authorizing the importation of cold-treated fresh citrus from South Africa into all U.S. ports of entry. Previously, APHIS restricted the entry of cold-treated citrus fruit from South Africa to four U.S. ports that have cold-treatment facilities. Read more.

Why Citrus Variety Evaluations Are Hitting a Virtual Wall

Virtual communications platforms, though tiresome, have certainly enabled business communications to continue and, in some cases, foster more effective and inclusive dialogue than the “old-fashioned” face-to-face meetings. However, the virtual meetings that will forever be associated with 2020 have their limitations. Case in point, citrus variety displays. Read more.

What’s up With Growing Lemons in Florida?

Florida citrus growers remain interested in diversifying their planting portfolio and continue to question whether lemons should be a consideration. Anyone navigating back roads in primary Florida citrus production areas has certainly seen significant lemon acreage going in the ground. The trees have a distinctive appearance and really catch the eye. Read more.

Trade Issues for Fresh Florida Citrus

Dan Richey, president of Riverfront Packing Company, gave an update on trade issues impacting fresh Florida citrus during the recent virtual citrus Packinghouse Day meeting.

Richey, also a member of the Agricultural Trade Advisory Committee, says foreign sales are especially important for Florida citrus. Read more, or view the recorded presentation here.

USDA sets handler registration requirement for Florida citrus

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a final rule requiring citrus handlers in Florida to register with the Citrus Administrative Committee in order to ship regulated citrus outside the production area beginning in the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Read more.

Citrus Breeding Progress on Track in Florida

Florida’s citrus breeding programs may be clear and present evidence that motivation comes from working on things you care about. Breeding is a continuum and requires one eye on the present and one eye on the future. Breeding projects don’t always go as planned, but with constancy of focus, and an unbridled determination to deliver, good things happen.
Read more.

Citrus Growers Benefit from New Standard of Town Hall Meetings

During the first couple months of the coronavirus crisis, it was as if time stood still. The rise of COVID-19 caused serious disruption in industry communications and the facilitation of public discourse. Meetings, conventions, and a myriad of other functions were cancelled out of caution and to remain in compliance with crowd size limitations and social distancing guidelines. However, there are certain discussions that are best done face to face. In agriculture, photos and other visual aids (charts, graphs, photos, etc.) are often needed to engage participants in robust dialogue about complex issues. Read more.

First HLB Bacteria Found in California Commercial Citrus Grove

An Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) sample – confirmed positive for Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), the bacteria that causes Huanglongbing (HLB) – was recently collected from a commercial citrus grove in the Woodcrest area of Riverside County in California.

The find, a single adult psyllid, which was reported Friday by California’s Citrus Research Board (CRB), was confirmed by the CRB’s Jerry Dimitman Laboratory. Read more.

Trends in citrus availability in U.S. market point to shifting consumer interest

 Expanded fresh fruit options have influenced the availability of citrus fruits on the national market over time, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS). 

The annual study that shows per capita supplies of fresh fruits for U.S. consumers demonstrated that 14% of all fruit supplies in 2018 were citrus. This number – especially relative to a few decades ago when in 1970 the same category made up a 24% share of fresh fruit supplies  – is of note because it points to a bigger trend in citrus availability. Read more. 

Suspicious seed packets showing up in Floridians’ mailboxes, agriculture department warns

Anyone who receives suspicious, unsolicited packages of seeds in the mail is warned not to open them, but to report them, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services warned Monday.
The agency said the packets might bear Chinese characters and possibly the name China Post. They might also be labeled as jewelry. The packets have been reported in numerous states so far, including Virginia, Kansas, Washington, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah and others, the agriculture department said. Read more.

New Rootstocks in the Citrus Breeding Pipeline

Two citrus breeding programs have identified several rootstocks that can currently be planted with confidence when combined with appropriate scions, including mid- and late-season oranges, and grown with emerging enhanced nutrition programs. These citrus breeding programs are at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS).  Read more.

A Look Back at the Evolution of Temple Oranges

The Temple tangor has ridden the waves of popularity — and disdain — over the past century. To honor its approximate 100th birthday in Florida, it may be worth revisiting its interesting history and present condition. Based on recent conversations, there are clearly fewer people working in Florida’s citrus industry with any first-hand knowledge of the Temple, its origin, or significance. Read more.

The Ins and Outs of Tango

The relatively mild winter conditions over the last two decades have led to a resurgence of interest in cold-hardy citrus in Florida. Growers were looking for a low-seeded citrus variety that was sweet, easy to peel and had moderate cold tolerance. In 2009, the first Florida nurseries were licensed to grow Tango, a low-seeded (less than five seeds per fruit when grown in a mixed block) Murcott. Read more.

Citrus Achievement Award Winners Tackle the Big Topics

This year’s Florida Grower® magazine Citrus Achievement Award winner, along with three previous winners, covered topics ranging from the coronavirus, markets, new varieties, living with HLB, and much more. Listen to the leading voices in Florida citrus on the recording here

Listen to the latest grower town hall meeting: Tango
 
Fresh Citrus Opportunities Florida Growers Should Not Miss

The prevailing conversation with Florida’s citrus industry this past spring seemed to center around field trials. Clearly, the breeding programs have successfully filled the pipeline with selections with potential utility for fresh, processed, and dual-purpose applications. Some folks are questioning whether sufficient trials exist to collect, compile, and disseminate data to support planting decisions for processed growers.  Read more.

Get an Inside Look at the Latest Citrus Scion Trials

Recent industry discussions related to plant improvement and evaluation of new citrus material have highlighted the need for a process with more scientific design than FAST TRACK (an expedited process developed for UF/IFAS fresh selections) and faster than traditional replicated field trials.

Read more.

In Search of the Florida Sour Orange Lineage

Dr. Bob Hartman, CEO of Classic Caladiums, spent his early years in Miami. When he was a young teen, his father purchased 20 acres in Palmdale, FL. The south side of the property was comprised of densely wooded hammock. The hammock doubled as Hartman’s playground and adventure land. Consequently, he knew the property like the back of his hand. 

Read more.

Sanitation, Social Distancing Increase in Citrus Industry

Social distancing and enhanced sanitation practices have been adopted in many Florida groves and facilities in an effort to curtail spread of the coronavirus.

“Growers are making the necessary adjustments by increasing sanitation and keeping workers separated,” said Steve Smith, executive vice president of Gulf Citrus Growers Association. “The larger growers with multiple locations are keeping crews separated into small groups.”  Read more.

Rationale for reconsidering current regulations restricting use of hybrids in orange juice

Huanglongbing (HLB) is a disease that has devastated the Florida citrus industry, threatens the entire U.S. citrus industry, and globally is rapidly spreading. Florida’s citrus production is 90% sweet orange, which is quite sensitive to HLB. The heavy reliance on sweet orange for Florida citrus production makes the industry especially vulnerable to diseases that are damaging to this type of citrus.

Read more.

Why Florida Citrus Variety Display Days Need Fine-Tuning

Florida’s outstanding in-state citrus breeding programs at UF/IFAS and USDA-ARS have been hard at work developing new selections for the processed and fresh fruit pipelines. More than 40,000 unique plants are in the field, many of which fruited this year for the first time. Read more.

What it Takes to Ramp up Citrus Rootstocks in Florida

The Florida Citrus Research Foundation (FCRF) is the owner and co-managing entity of the A.H. Whitmore Foundation Farm located between Leesburg and Groveland. After the movement of the U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory (USHRL) from Orlando to Ft. Pierce, the continued value and usefulness of the Whitmore Farm was called into question.  Read more.

For the Record: Quentin Roe has seen the best and worst of citrus

Fifty-five years ago, the writer John McPhee visited Florida as part of his research for the elegant little book he titled simply “Oranges.” He noted the roughly 100-mile ridge running between Leesburg and Sebring had “the most intense concentration of citrus in the world” and likened the scent it produced to a sedative.       Read more.

Why Sharing is Caring on the Citrus Learning Curve

Florida citrus nurseries and growers have been quick to adopt new varieties for trial and commercial production on a range of scales. Because many of these citrus varieties are made available with limited or no data, production plans are being developed on the fly. This certainly isn’t ideal. Read more.

Taters No More! This Florida Farm is Now Growing Sweet on Citrus

All farms evolve over time as growers try new crops that fit their ground and economic situation. Some crops are a hit and others are not. That’s why small-scale trials are important to find winners or weed out losers before going into new, large-scale plantings.

Read more.

Why Citrus Classification Needs More Flexibility in the Age of HLB

There is certainly no shortage of regulations, statutes, and rules governing Florida’s citrus industry. This fact is particularly obvious to those new to the party. It is sometimes puzzling why an industry would self-impose such a situation. Was the master plan to regulate ourselves into prosperity? Quite the contrary. Read more.

Evaluating Fresh Mandarins and Oranges

Mark Ritenour with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) reports on evaluations of new fresh mandarin and sweet orange selections. Ritenour is a professor at the Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce.

Read more.

Find the Line Between Good Cold and Bad Cold for Citrus

The level of interest and curiosity associated with North Florida and South Georgia citrus production is escalating. Some Floridians are reserving judgement, some are convinced that it is going to be a disaster, and others wish they could magically relocate their groves and infrastructure to the Northern counties.  Read more.

Varieties Update: OLL-20 and Bingo

Fred Gmitter provided an update at Citrus Expo on University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) citrus varieties, including OLL-20 and Bingo. Gmitter is a UF/IFAS citrus plant breeder and geneticist at the Citrus Research and Education Center.

Read more.

Sample the Latest Citrus From UF/IFAS

As citrus growers, packers, processors, gift-fruit shippers and others taste, feel and smell the latest varieties from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), they hope their taste buds explode with flavor and that a fresh aroma fills the room at the Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC).

Read more.

Putting Fresh Fruit to the Test

New fresh citrus fruit selections continue to be developed and released by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Read more.

Taking High-Density Citrus Planting to the Next Level

When you are told the experimental citrus grove you have planted is like no other in the country, you know it is a sign of the times and changes brought on by citrus greening.

Read more.

Florida Citrus Season is Here! How’s the Forecast?

For the Florida citrus industry, last year was considered a rebound season after the big blow Hurricane Irma dealt in September 2017. And it was. The 2019-2020 citrus season is now officially underway in the Sunshine State with USDA’s initial citrus crop estimate in the books. Pre-season predictions from citrus economist Elizabeth Steger pegged the orange crop at 73 million boxes – a touch above last season’s final tally of 71 million boxes and change. 

Read more.

Ways You Can Make a Difference at Citrus Variety Display Events

The fall brings numerous opportunities for the Florida citrus industry to engage with the plant improvement teams at the UF/IFAS and USDA-ARS.

Read more.

How to Build up Citrus Strength With Demonstration Blocks

When it comes to planting decisions, there’s no substitute for walking the groves.

Read more.

Why Orange-Like Hybrids May Secure Future for Florida Citrus

Join the conversation as a new committee leads the charge to developing new varieties in the wake of an HLB endemic. 

Read more.

‘Mandalate’ Mandarin Gaining Attention of More Growers

Unique late-season, seedless Mediterranean triploid is now an option for Florida citrus producers.

Read more.

Positive Takeaways as Florida Citrus Season Winds Down

Despite challenges, all phases of the industry are working toward a brighter future.

Read more.

Mission Is on to Mine Blood Orange-Like Variety in Florida

When will ‘Ruby’ Valencia be ready to shine in the citrus marketplace?

Read more.

How to Catch up With the New ‘Marathon’ Mandarin Orange

Despite challenges, all phases of the industry are working toward a brighter future.

Read more.

The Time Is Now to Plant a Future for Florida Citrus

For local producers interested in trialing the latest selections in their grove, opportunity may come knocking this spring.

Read more.

Maintaining a Healthy Commitment to Citrus Starts at the Roots

Florida budwood registration staff continues to focus on safe plant material for local growers.

Read more.