Read why the Florida Citrus Commission (FCC) Chairman is optimistic about Florida citrus.
Florida citrus has been hit hard by citrus greening, also called HLB. However, Florida Citrus Commission (FCC) Chairman, Ellis Hunt Jr., was optimistic about the upcoming season in an article in Citrus Industry Magazine about the budget for the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC). Read what he had to say, below.
Florida Citrus: Good News and Bad News
First, the “bad” news. Hunt was discussing the preliminary 2017-18 operating budget for the FDOC, which is funded by a tax on each and every box of citrus that’s harvested. The preliminary budget was set at $17.5 million, a 22% reduction from the 2016-17 season’s budget, and the lowest budget “in decades,” according to the article. It’s due to a forecast of 61.65 million boxes of oranges and 7.02 million boxes of grapefruit for the 2017-18 season. The latest numbers for the 2016-17 season put the season’s totals at 68.5 million boxes for Florida citrus.
The good news is that Hunt believes next year’s harvests will be higher. “Hopefully that number’s (production estimate) going to be higher, which would be very helpful,” he said in the article. “In general, people I’ve talked to believe that we did not have the PFD (postbloom fruit drop) this year. We’re hopeful that a lot of the newer production techniques are going to make a difference. That would be a wonderful blessing if we could get back to approach 70 million boxes (of oranges).”
Hunt also said that his family’s Florida citrus operations believe the Florida citrus industry will beat citrus greening, and are putting in new trees. “A lot of us are going with new plantings,” Hunt shared. “There’s a number of new tree incentive programs … You have to put trees in the ground if you have any hope at all. My family’s doing that; a lot of growers are doing that. Time will tell if that was the right decision, but we believe it is today.”
He maintained that reports from eyes and ears on the ground make him believe next year will be better. “My foreman and harvesters and everybody that rides the groves both in the Ridge and in South Florida all feel like and see more fruit for this coming year.”
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