Florida citrus growers are in a dire need of new orange trees, and two new early UF/IFAS-created Valencia orange varieties have the interest of nurseries that can then supply trees to growers. Citrus greening, or HLB, has decimated 80 percent of citrus trees in Florida groves according to a survey conducted by UF/IFAS in April, and replacing dead or dying trees with new trees has been one of few ways that growers have found that has had any affect against the harvest losses due to the decimation of the HLB disease.
The Valencia orange varieties, which were released in December, have a few advantages over other oranges. For one, they are ready for picking in December, which is approximately three months earlier than other Valencia orange varieties. The early harvest schedule puts them in competition with Hamlin oranges, and the two new Valencia varieties offer advantages over the existing Hamlin variety oranges as well. While the new Valencia oranges are not resistant to HLB—such a tree would be an answer to the prayers of the entire citrus industry— faculty member and professor at the Lake Alfred UF/IFAS facility Jude Grosser, maintained that Valencias with citrus greening are dropping less fruit than Hamlin trees this season.
Furthermore, Valencia oranges are a superior fruit to Hamlin oranges; they have a better color and a better taste. Currently, Hamlin orange juice must be blended with Valencia orange juice to create a quality juice. Grosser said that growers are essentially upgrading as they replace HLB-affected trees while holding out for a cure or effective treatment to citrus greening. It is expected the two new Valencia varieties will be available to growers in the spring of 2017.
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.
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