Read what FL Grower Citrus Achievement Award Winner Ed Pines shares in the second installment on CUPS.
Florida citrus grower Ed Pines was the 2017 Citrus Achievement Award Winner for good reason. Pines is the owner of EIP Citrus in Lake Wales, an operation that is currently housing 20 acres of citrus under protective screen, called CUPS. This form of citrus growth is meant to thwart the Asian citrus psyllid by physically keeping the insect from the new citrus growth, keeping the trees free of citrus greening. See what Pines had to say in the second installment of a Q&A with Citrus Grower magazine on “encouraging new citrus growth by getting back to basics.”
Grower Ed Pines on Encouraging Citrus Growth
Q: How does growing citrus under protective screen (CUPS) help with food safety requirements?
Pines: We grow the citrus under very strict protocols in CUPS. We have sanitized equipment and procedures, not only for food safety, but also to reduce the chance of pests entering the structure. We exclude outside equipment and contractors. The structure also excludes wildlife like birds, deer, and hogs, which is important for food safety. Retailers like Publix and Walmart are extremely interested in food safety and traceability. And, for consumers, it is becoming more and more important that they can be sure the produce they are buying was grown in an environmentally sustainable and safe way. We can achieve all this with CUPS.
Q: How does a CUPS system allow growers to simplify citrus production in Florida?
Pines: If you look at our fertilizer program, we do a lot of tissue and soil sampling. Based on what the samples tell us, we are fertigating trees once per week. Under our structure, we plant the trees in the ground so they can pick up the minerals from the soil and give us that taste Florida citrus is famous for. We also can go back to manipulating the bloom. We are going to fertilize trees for the best fruit quality and yield. Under cover, we can cut off fertilizer and water to stress the tree to force an optimal and uniform bloom like we did before HLB. Growing citrus outside with HLB, we are feeding the trees all year, and it has trees blooming all the time.
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.