A UF/IFAS economist maintained that the Florida citrus industry must engage in aggressive replanting strategies to stop falling production.

Tom Spreen, UF/IFAS economist and professor emeritus, gave a presentation recently during a Florida Department of Citrus webinar on August 10th where he maintained the Florida citrus industry must utilize aggressive replanting strategies to turn around production declines. A Citrus Industry article highlighted Spreen’s points behind Florida’s falling citrus production. See the details below.

Aggressive Replanting Strategies Needed

During the presentation, Spreen calculated Florida’s citrus output through the 2031-32 season and maintained production will continue to fall unless aggressive replanting strategies are started now. He shared the many reasons why production in Florida citrus continues to decline.

First, Spreen shared that a majority of Florida’s citrus acreage is planted with older, low-producing citrus trees. According to the article, Spreen said “nearly 57% of round oranges and 70% of red grapefruit trees are more than 14 years old,” and these older trees “have produced only about 1.5 boxes per tree, down from more than five boxes per tree before HLB.” Citrus greening causes severe production decreases the older a citrus tree gets, and Spreen maintained that the industry’s older trees have “have hit a wall,” and will not see an increase in production like mature trees would have before citrus greening.

Next, Spreen maintained that “insufficient tree replacement rates” have also contributed to the decline, and there has only been one season since the 1999-2000 season where the number of replanted has exceeded lost trees.

Spreen shared that “aggressive replanting strategies in the near term are imperative or citrus production will continue to falter and impact the long-term sustainability of the industry.” He said incentives to replant are needed to restore tree inventory. and that those incentives must be inclusive for all growers.

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.