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Messages - A.T. Hagan

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Great find!

Citrus General Discussion / Re: Citrus Growers Forum
« on: February 21, 2018, 12:21:58 PM »
A big round of applause for doing this!


It has certainly been a year for cold protection down here.

In my part of Florida we just had our fourth or fifth hard freeze (as in 28f or below) and probably that many lighter frosts.

Picked a bad year to buy a lot of new citrus!  Fortunately the winter of '09-10 taught me a lesson and none of them are in the ground.  I'm tired of schlepping those containers in and out though.  Another light frost tonight then tomorrow I can haul them all back into the sun again.

We've had more chill hours already this year than I think we got in the last two, possibly three, winters combined.

Citrus General Discussion / Re: Maybe A New Root Stock?
« on: November 30, 2017, 03:21:55 PM »
Do finger limes have any particular cold resistance?

The resistance to foot rot interests me a lot.

I hope Laaz does let us save it.

There was a heck of a lot of accumulated knowledge on that board.  It would be a pity to lose it.

Picked up my wasps yesterday and have released them.  A little concerned that given the time of year my trees don't have enough new leaves, but it is what it is.

Those things are tiny.  Maybe a millimeter or thereabouts?  There are numbers written on the cap, but I don't know if they indicate a wasp count or not.  I guesstimate maybe fifty in the tube?  Too small and moving around too much to do any better than that.

Once they gave me the arrival date I carefully searched my trees looking for psyllids and did not see any that I recognized as such.  If I don't have any then the wasps will simply disappear for lack of hosts.  If they are in the neighborhood them hopefully they will serve as a check on their growth.

Hopefully next year I'll be able to make it.

Would like to meet Dr. Hannah again.

Just got word I am to receive my wasps on the 17th of this month. I am very curious to see them!

Citrus General Discussion / First-ever soil-less finger lime crop
« on: November 07, 2017, 03:31:38 PM »

The first global closed-cycle soil-less test crop of finger limes has been created in Sicily at G.E.V.A (acronym of Giuseppe, Emanuele and Andrea Vita), a company owned by the Vita brothers.

Finger lime (Microcitrus australasica) is a citrus fruit that grows in the sub-tropical Eastern coast of Australia.

Growing this fruit soil-less and in a protected environment could be a good technical and commercial solution. Coir is used as a substrate.

It is a very peculiar product destined to the niche market. It is getting increasingly popular in the restaurant world, thanks especially to its unique flavour and texture.

G.E.V.A. managed to re-create a sub-tropical climate in a completely automated greenhouse. Plants can therefore grow as naturally as possible reducing the need for phytosanitary treatments. In addition, as it is a closed cycle system, all the fertilised water is recycled, making it possible to save money and respect the environment.

The test crop was created privately with the help of the Maimone Giuseppe Alessio nursery. "We have planted seven varieties of finger limes so far, and we will plant another six over the next few months to see which ones are better suitable for our needs," conclude Giuseppe, Emanuele and Andrea Vita.

Publication date: 2/7/2017

Looks like Policicchio groves has closed as well!
We used to buy paper grocery store bags of citrus that didn't look good enough to ship
back in the 60/70s for $1 a bag when I was a high schooler at Merritt Island HS. I can still
taste the minneolas and temples we bought that were good beyond belief! We bought the oranges
from a little old lady, must have been the founders wife. Citrus groves surrounded the store on
North Merritt Island. She was still there in the 80/90s when I vacationed there.

Yes, they've gone under as well.

Merritt Island citrus store closes after Hurricane Irma


The Policicchio Groves retail store on north Merritt Island will not reopen because of citrus grove damages wreaked by Hurricane Irma, an owner announced.

"This was a very difficult decision we had to make especially approaching our 100th year of my grandparents, Carmelo and Domenica Crisafulli planting the orange groves," Ruth Policicchio Kaplet, a third-generation owner, posted on the company website at

"However, we are pleased to announce that we will continue our mail order shipments of Citrus Gift Packages. We will shortly have this website ready for you to order. Sorry for the delay. If you ordered from us last year, you will receive our new catalog soon," she wrote.

"On behalf of the Policicchio Groves family, it has been a truly rewarding experience serving our many loyal customers for the past 98 years. We will dearly miss each and everyone of you and wish you good health and happiness," she wrote.

Policicchio Groves officials could not be reached for comment this week. The retail store is located on North Courtenay Parkway.

Earlier this month, Harvey's Groves officials announced the permanent closure of the citrus company's seasonal retail stores in Rockledge and West Melbourne. Mail order business remains active at

Thanks. I will ask.

Citrus General Discussion / Re: UF Research Center 100 Years Old
« on: November 03, 2017, 08:42:20 PM »
The wife and I are talking about perhaps going.

My gosh there are a lot of eriogonum species.

Looks like at least one occurs in Florida.  I'm going to see if I can find a seed source.

Thanks for the tip.  Leafminers are a major annoyance for me.


Photo courtesy of Linda Richards
A hoverfly, which has been found to be effective against the Asian citrus psyllid and other pests, is on a brittlebrush plant in Linda Richards’ garden in Redlands.

By Contributed Content |
PUBLISHED: September 11, 2017 at 12:21 pm | UPDATED: September 12, 2017 at 12:13 pm

By Linda Richards

Add plant diversity to your gardens and make sure you have flowering plants year round. Those are key recommendations of ecologists for enlisting insect natural predators to combat pests in our gardens and orchards.

These tips can even help ward off pests such as the Asian citrus psyllid, which is, alarmingly, moving into our citrus trees in Southern California.

Nicola Irvin, a specialist in biological control (using natural enemies to manage pests) at UC Riverside, began work 15 years ago with the sharpshooter insect that was devastating the grape industry. Her research today is focused more on the Asian citrus psyllid.

California Department of Food and Agriculture agricultural technician Maritza Paredes collects Asian citrus psyllid nymphs from a tangerine tree in the backyard of a home in Riverside on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017. The California Department of Food and Agriculture announced last week that Huanglongbing, a deadly citrus greening disease, has been found in Riverside. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

This article won’t go into all the amazing aspects of beneficial insects that not only help in pollination but also kill pests. What’s important to know is that thousands of overlooked native insects play vital roles. Some work by parasitizing the pest, that is, they lay eggs in them so their hatched larvae then feed on the pest. Others just eat the pests outright.

To understand how beneficial insects work, it is important to know that they and most pests go through many forms or instars, much like the monarch caterpillar. For example, the Asian citrus psyllid goes through five forms, or instars, before it’s an adult that can carry the bacterium that causes citrus greening disease.

Irvin explained that having many types of predators and parasitoids can prevent the pest from achieving its adult size, because these natural enemies will attack the pests in their various forms.

Native flies and wasps are particularly disregarded insects that are receiving more notice these days. For example, many adult female wasps perform double duty. They parasitize the host pests by laying eggs in them, and they kill hosts, such as scales and whiteflies, by feeding on them.

It’s important to note that none of these native wasps sting people, and they don’t build group nests. Some are tiny — the smallest is the size of a grain of sand — while medium-sized ones such as tachinid flies get mistaken for houseflies.

Irvin carries out research at UCR investigating the benefit of native flowering plants on the survival of parasitoids of the Asian citrus psyllid.

“When I planted some red California buckwheat in my yard, I also noticed it attracted a lot of hoverflies. Hoverflies eat scales, thrips, aphids and even the larvae form of ACP (Asian citrus psyllid). They’re generalists, so will eat many soft-bodied pests, and are very ravenous,” she said.

While lady beetles seem to provide the most control of the Asian citrus psyllid in Florida, this is not mirrored in Southern California.

“Hoverflies and lacewing have been identified as the most important predator of ACP nymphs in California. Their combined effect can kill 86 percent of ACP nymphs,” Irvin said.

Other natural predators of pests include spiders, beetles, predatory mites and a group called true bugs. Then there are natural predators such as birds, reptiles and even mammals such as the opossum.
Aphids among the peskiest pests

Irvin views aphids, mites and caterpillars as the most prevalent pests for backyard gardeners in the inland areas of Southern California, adding that mites can be particularly problematic in our dusty environments.

“However, if you forcefully spray the leaves with water and keep the dust down, that will help reduce mite populations. Be sure to provide adequate irrigation, as water-stressed trees and plants are also less tolerant of mite damage,” Irvin said.

For cutworms, loopers and hornworms, three common types of caterpillar, Irvin recommends Bacillus thuringiensis, commonly called Bt, a targeted organic insecticide that affects only caterpillars. Remember, however, that the despised tomato hornworm turns into the beautiful sphinx moth.

Adding diversity and year-round flowering plants

Irvin said the most important thing you can do to attract beneficial insects is add different types of plants to your yard.

“Increasing plant diversity in your garden attracts more beneficial insects by providing a wider variety of habitats and alternative foods to predators, parasitoids and pollinators,” Irvin said. “Introduce lots of native plants if you can, because they are adapted to the environment and require less water. They also attract native birds and insects, like native beeflies and robber flies, that will reduce mosquitos and insect pests.”

Also, make sure you have flowering plants year round to provide them nectar and pollen. Otherwise, beneficial bugs will move off. These flowering native plants in Linda Richards' garden in Redlands attract beneficial insects. They include California poppies, ceanothus, sage and St.Catherine’s lace buckwheat (Erigonium giganteum).
“It’s especially good to plant flowering plants that are composites or from the Asteraceae family, which have shallow flowers that most natural enemies can feed from,” Irvin said.

The various varieties of California buckwheat, goldfields and tidy tips are good examples of flowering plants to attract beneficial predators. Another that Irvin mentioned is California poppies, because this heavy pollen producer attracts ladybugs, lacewings and hoverflies. Plus, they reseed and come back year after year. Sweet alyssum and common buckwheat also work well if you prefer non-native annuals.

Irvin also recommends letting herbs go to flower, such as coriander and dill, because they attract a lot of beneficial insects.

Use targeted approaches over general sprays

Ken Kupfer is a popular speaker on using biological controls for pests. His main home is in Florida, where he has witnessed the psyllid infestation. He is the developer of a targeted bait called KM AntPro for the Argentine ant, and his work with organic and sustainable growers finds him in California nearly half the year. Kupfer’s work on Argentine ants has also made him a proponent of natural remedies for pests.

“With Argentine ants, if you can take their crazy colonies away, then the natural pollinators and predators can come in,” Kupfer said.

Argentine ants form supercolonies that forage on the honeydew that is excreted by aphids, scales and mealybugs. They are so protective that they swarm and kill any natural predators in their midst.

Kupfer and Irvin said that if there is overkilling of natural predators that are present in a given environment, whether it’s by the Argentine ant or by overuse of insecticide sprays that kill anything they come in contact with, pest levels stay high or, in the case of sprays, actually rebound.

Kupfer said he hopes California can do a more reasoned approach to combating the psyllid, especially since the psyllid is showing up in public neighborhoods.

“In Florida, the use of systemic pesticides and foliar pesticides is mandated for the citrus crops. It’s really saturated the environment and it of course kills 99 percent of other bugs it comes in contact with,” he said.

Kupfer said employing the parasitoid wasp, a natural predator for the psyllid overseas, is a good idea, but he cautions that “it is like using a fighter plane in the battle, when we can’t forget about all the other predators.”

In 2011 Kupfer discovered the psyllid on his Florida property. He began a five-year study using 70 trees in the vicinity and various kinds of flowering plants to introduce large numbers of natural predators. He also knocked down the Argentine ants on his property. His positive results included minimal tree mortality and no need for spraying.

“We need to use the natural predators in Florida or California and feed them into our ecosystems. By taking a small area on your property and having some native plants, whether it’s native milkweed or buckwheat, that will usher in the assassin bugs and lacewings,” Kupfer said.

In addition to adding diversity, Irvin and Kupfer said moderation is important in biological control.

“First, if you have large diversity in your garden, it will recover more easily from pest infestations,” Irvin said.

“Second, if I find aphids and kill all the aphids by spraying them, I may have a worse outcome. Instead, get out the water hose and hose off some of the aphids, but you don’t have to get rid of them all because you want to keep some of their natural enemies around.”

Linda Richards is a member of the Redlands Horticultural and Improvement Society and lives in Redlands. Her website is dedicated to speaking for the natural world. Contact her at


USDA 88-2 mandarins at the Lindcove Research and Extension Center in Exeter, Calif. (David Karp)

David Karp

There’s a new mandarin orange in town: the Super Nova. For almost 50 years, the fruit has tantalized visitors to university citrus variety collections with its gorgeous dark orange color, its convenient seedlessness, its rich balance of sweetness and acidity — and its superb aromatics. Now, this mandarin is finally available commercially. And although the citrus won’t chase Cuties and Halos from markets any time soon, its excellence is outmatched only by the curious convolutions of its history and nomenclature.

It was in 1966 that Jack Hearn, an Orlando-based citrus breeder for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, crossed two sibling mandarin varieties, Lee and Nova, seeking to understand their pollination requirements. By chance, one such hybrid, then called 6-13-44, had extraordinarily fine flavor and was seedless, a rare trait among mandarins at the time. It had only one problem: The trees bore no fruit.

“In 34 years, I’ve seen it yield a good crop exactly once,” said Randall Driggers, a USDA researcher based in Fort Pierce, Fla.

Hoping the variety might produce better in California, Hearn in 1988 sent budwood for propagating to UC Riverside, where it  became known as USDA 88-2, Lee × Nova (thanks to its parentage) and Novalee. There, indeed, the trees did bear moderately successful crops, though not exactly gangbusters.

As California mandarin production boomed in the 2000s, two large companies  — which now sell the Halos and Cuties brands — dominated the market.

LoBue Citrus, growers based in Lindsay, southeast of Fresno, tasted USDA 88-2 at a university field station in Exeter and in 2010 started planting 70 acres, hoping to establish a premium niche. A few other growers put in smaller groves, which are mostly bearing their first substantial crop this month.

But what to call this fruit of many awkward names? USDA 88-2 doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue.

Robert LoBue, general manager of LoBue Citrus, first considered naming the mandarins  “Novaleena,” a lovely name, although one that might sound a bit too much like a Longfellow poem. Then he decided that Super Nova was a better moniker, a name that is inspired by the fruit’s  bright orange color and blazing flavor. And yes, the brand will be trademarked, so other growers have to come up with their own names. Will they be as much fun as a mandarin named for an exploding star?

Where to find super-premium mandarins:

Super Novas will be available starting this weekend at Super King, Vintage Grocers and Vicente Foods. Grow markets sell organic Novalees (which are unwaxed) from Deer Creek Heights Ranch. Friend’s Ranches of Ojai offers unwaxed Lee × Novas  at the Santa Monica Wednesday and Hollywood farmers markets.

Two other super-premium varieties are coming into season. Large, easy to peel, seedless and richly flavored, Sumo has ruled the specialty mandarin world since its domestic introduction in 2011. This season’s huge crop just hit the shelves at Whole Foods, Bristol Farms and Gelson’s. And starting Jan. 18, after an absence of two years, Jonelle George of Lindsay, Calif.,  will return to the Santa Monica Wednesday market with unwaxed Sumos.

Next week, Friend’s Ranches will offer the ultimate connoisseur’s mandarin, DaisySL, with smooth, dark orange skin, firm flesh that melts in the mouth, and a fantastically intense, complex flavor — like tangerine candy. Polito Farms also will have them, at the Santa Monica, La Cienega and Venice farmers markets.


Though ‘Tango’ is only four years into the trial process in Queensland, Australia, initial observations indicate positive results, which could be good news for Florida growers.
Photo by Peter Chaires

Early plantings of ‘W-Murcott’ in Florida were made by growers trying to get ahead of the trend toward easier peeling, low-seeded, or seedless mandarins. Those trees were planted in the early 2000s and were producing harvestable crops by 2005-2006. The first few years of heavy production and relatively good color encouraged more growers to give it a try. Seed counts were higher near sources of viable pollen, but the fruit characteristics were closer to what growers and consumers were seeking. Gradually, ‘W-Murcott’ trees were scattered from the northern Ridge, to the Indian River, to the southern Ridge, West Coast, and southern flatwoods. After Florida experienced a few warm falls, coloration and low acid emerged as new challenges for the variety.

As expected, those on the Ridge and other areas with a myriad of other citrus in the vicinity began to struggle with higher seed counts. In 2009, the first Florida nurseries were licensed for ‘Tango’ — a low-seeded irradiated ‘W-Murcott’ developed by the University of California, Riverside (UCR). ‘Tango’ looked to be a better option for growers looking for a low-seeded mandarin that could be grown in close proximity to other citrus without risk of appreciable increase in seed count. Growers could request commercial licenses to produce ‘Tango’ by early 2010. Though cropping was heavy with both varieties, the crop load tended to be a little lighter with ‘Tango,’ which may have contributed to its tendency to achieve slightly better color and smoother peel than ‘W-Murcott.’ While HLB ravaged the ‘Sunburst’ and ‘Honey-T’ blocks, growers and nurseries continued to come under license to plant ‘Tango.’ ‘W-Murcott’ and ‘Tango’ showed HLB symptoms early, but continued to crop and appeared to be less affected by disease than most specialty varieties.

Fast Forward

While a few mandarin varieties do appear to be more tolerant of HLB than ‘Tango,’ it still fairs better than most. After several warm falls, growers have been faced with an extended bloom period (can range from December to March), and with a range of fruit quality and coloration. While the ‘Tango’ fruit that is packed and marketed has been well received by consumers, growers and packers must manage several rounds of spot-picking and grade out undesirable color and other effects of off-bloom. ‘Tango’ and ‘W-Murcott’ cannot be de-greened with ethylene gas, at least not with our current methods. The inability to de-green forces producers to pick for color and let the grading line ensure that a high-quality product goes in the carton. Packout rates can suffer.

Pre-HLB (what seems like a former life), growers would have drought-stressed the trees, withholding water and nutrition. Eventually, restoring both would spark a large uniform bloom. In our current circumstances, growers are hesitant to stress the trees, as they are already stressed by disease and may crash. This is clearly a conundrum that requires attention. These otherwise valuable varieties require an entirely new management plan if they are to be successful in a subtropical area with endemic HLB. Presently, all useful information is generated from incremental successes achieved by growers who are willing to share with their neighbors. Though ‘Tango’ grown north of Clermont is going to behave differently than Polk County, Hendry, or St Lucie, there also will be some commonalities.

Climate map of Australia
The climate in Queensland, Australia, is very similar to Florida, making observations on ‘Tango’ and ‘W-Murcott’ plantings relevant to citrus growers in the Sunshine State.

G’Day, Australia

New Varieties Development & Management Co. is looking outside of Florida for some answers. We already know that production practices from Mediterranean climates are of little value. There are simply too many variables that differ from our reality. For example, ‘Tango’ and ‘W-Murcott’ grown in arid climates can be harvested with partial or inconsistent color and held in coolers until they color. Thus far, in Florida, even mature fruit with good Brix has not responded to such treatment. Why? We don’t know. However, ‘W-Murcott’ is being produced in Queensland, Australia. Some areas of Queensland have subtropical climatic conditions very close to those of Florida. Though the main production areas for ‘W-Murcott’ (and ‘Tango’) are in arid southern Australia, some good quality ‘W-Murcott’ fruit is being produced in Queensland in subtropical conditions. ‘Tango’ is only four years into the trial process, but initial results indicate ‘Tango’ may be more successful than ‘W-Murcott.’

There is clear value in continuing dialogue between Queensland and Florida.

Next Steps

• Test induced tree stress concept in an HLB-free under cover structure and see if uniform bloom can be achieved.
• Further explore de-greening methods.
• Test trifoliate rootstocks in mid, southern, and coastal areas in Florida.
• Explore possibility of grower trips to and from Queensland.
• Further test the “if they achieve Brix, they will color?” theory. This seemed to be debunked in 2016, as fruit with 14 Brix did not color well.
• Get horticulturists and postharvest physiologists involved.

I would like to express our sincere appreciation to Andrew Maughan of Freshmax for information about ‘W-Murcott’ and ‘Tango’ production in Australia. Freshmax is a shareholder/owner of NuLeaf IP, which is the master licensee for the UCR varieties in Australia and New Zealand. Freshmax also is the licensed marketer for UCR varieties in Australia and New Zealand.

For sure, there’s more to come.
Topics: flg-june2017, Mandarin oranges
Leave a Reply
One comment on “In Quest for Low-Seeded Citrus, It Takes Two to Tango”

    Peter Spyke
    May 24, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Most of the problem is because the early trees were budded on Swingle, which I have pointed out to you in the past. On Cleo, the bloom is more uniform, and the brix and color are much better. Swingle should not be used for any fresh fruit variety due to multiple blooming and low brix.


Lemons are in high demand not only for juice, but also oil.
Photo by Peter Chaires

The lemon craze certainly appears to be in full swing in Florida. Growers are gravitating to the prospect of a citrus crop that continues to produce in an HLB environment, even when surrounded by infected trees. Growers need a citrus variety that will hold on the trees and that is in relatively high demand. Though nurseries remain the primary source of information and guidance relative to planting decisions, some nurseries are reticent to engage on the issue; because like the rest of the industry, they have very little experience with lemons.

Other than some specialized lemon plantings for the fresh market and small volumes for processing, Florida has been a minor player in the lemon market since the 1962 freeze. Coke (Minute Maid) did plant some acreage in the 1960s and the Seminole Tribe of Florida followed suit in the 1970s, collectively producing an estimated 550,000 boxes of lemons. It has been reported Minute Maid abandoned its acreage in 1980s after freezes and eventually for economic reasons. However, necessity remains the mother of invention and growers now appear willing to put their frost-protection skills to the test in order to supply market demand.

Demand for the Product

Lemon demand flows from two markets: juice and oil. Lemonade and variants thereof are among the fastest growing products in the beverage category. Florida’s climate is ideal for juice production. When you add robust tree performance into the discussion, it should come as no surprise that Florida citrus growers are gravitating to lemons. What adds another dimension to the lemon conversation is the second and perhaps more important market: lemon oil. Global demand for lemon oil remains strong. This summer, the price was hovering around $24 per pound. Oil recovery and oil quality will be key factors for processing plants entering this market. Both factor into grower returns and decisions related to varieties.

Fresh vs. Processed

Undoubtedly, most of the new lemon plantings will go into the processed channel. Florida has only one fresh packinghouse running lemons. Indian River Exchange Packers (IREP) starts its season with lemons, and has a level of expertise with harvesting, packing, and marketing. Lemons require a different de-greening temperature range than other citrus, and IREP has made this investment and is well positioned to benefit from recent plantings. That being said, production of Florida lemons for the fresh market presents a load of challenges.

First, harvesting begins (depending on available volume) somewhere between mid-July and mid-August. It requires some careful planning and management to move from lemons to the next earliest varieties without a time gap. Second, like other citrus, lemons for the fresh market must be harvested when they are dry. Since lemons mature during the rainy season and cannot be harvested until early afternoon, and inevitably, the rains come in mid- to late afternoon, the balancing act can be frustrating and expensive.

Adding to the dilemma of handling in the field is the fact lemons have a high degree of susceptibility to skin breakdown. Blue and green molds and sour rot are challenges to the packinghouse.

Finally, Florida is and will likely remain a very small player in the American fresh lemon market, which means we will be a price follower rather than price leader. California and Arizona offer a longer season and retailers will not compromise those relationships. However, for those who can manage the process and the market, there may be opportunity. Bottom line: Unless the grower has a juice contract, the market will be quite limited.

Crop Insurance

RMA is in the process of considering the Florida counties that will be included in the lemon production area where risk of loss to cold weather is manageable. This currently appears to include: St. Lucie, Indian River, Polk, Hendry, Collier, Highlands, and Lee. However, specific situations can be addressed through the crop insurance program.

Current Volume and Projections

Estimations show approximately 200 to 250 acres of lemons currently in production in Florida. Over the past three years, roughly 400,000 trees have been propagated; but nearly 124,000 of those were registered for use as budwood increase. This would leave about 276,000 trees going into commercial production over the past three years. At a 140 trees per acre average – this would be another 1,970 acres of commercial lemons on the way.

This raises the question why so many increase trees are needed. It is likely that this number is too high, the likely result of nursery reporting errors. Nonetheless, even if this number is reduced significantly, it shows nurseries are ramping up for some serious lemon propagations.

One processor offered an incentive plan for growers to plant lemons and fully subscribed its program for 50,000 trees (resulting in average 137 trees per acre, or 365 acres). Other processors have similar incentive programs, but specifics are hard to come by. Estimates are as high as another 5,000 acres, but an additional 1,500 to 2,500 acres is more realistic. To put this in scale, USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service shows California having approximately 41,500 acres of lemons in production and Arizona about 8,250 acres. Growers interested in planting lemons should contact their processing plant and inquire whether greater allotments of trees will be added to their tree incentive programs and how the pricing will be structured

Vetting Varieties

It is important growers verify with their processor whether there are specific lemon varieties that are preferred for their oil profile. The three main commercial lemon variety types are: ‘Bearss’ (which reportedly has fewer thorns), ‘Eureka,’ and ‘Lisbon.’ Presently, ‘Bearss’ and ‘Eureka’ appear to be the leading varieties for Florida growers. Most processing plants seem to value the oil and juice from both of these varieties. Very few ‘Lisbon’ lemons are being planted (probably due to lack of experience with the variety).

The ‘Harvey’ lemon, another Florida variety, is thought to be good for fresh packing, but its value for processing is still under evaluation.

Lemon trees are susceptible to damage and loss of bloom due to freeze. Proper use of microjet irrigation will certainly improve one’s odds, but one grower is taking a different twist. He has been growing lemons successfully in Lake County for almost 20 years. His lemons are utilized in processing. He plants all of his trees as rooted cuttings, so that if the trees freeze to the ground, they come back as lemons and he is able to recover more quickly.

Citrus General Discussion / Georgia Citrus Seeking to Make Its Mark
« on: October 30, 2017, 02:41:59 PM »

Dr. Wayne Hanna of the University of Georgia addresses an interested crowd on a grove tour during a recent Georgia Citrus Association meeting.
Photo courtesy of the Georgia Citrus Growers Association

Most of us in Florida are not accustomed to thinking of Georgia as a citrus-producing state. Though there has long been a smattering of homeowner and niche-market Satsuma plantings, they were not what one would consider commercial enterprises. Things might be changing.

Over the past few years, citrus production meetings were held in the North Florida border counties of Jackson and Gadsden, as well as Perry, FL, and Auburn, AL. Each of these areas have been seriously exploring the possibility of commercial citrus production. Most recently, and certainly most notably, was a meeting in February of the newly formed Georgia Citrus Association (GCA). Though the association was just born in October, it now boasts 81 member companies and attracted 278 people to its inaugural meeting at the University of Georgia Tifton campus.

Membership includes nine companies from Florida (several farms straddle the border), and a couple from Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Meeting attendees represented most states in the Southeast.

Are You Serious?

While reading this article, some Florida farmers and nursery growers are likely questioning the sanity of such endeavors and are wondering what is driving interest in such a drastic shift in the perceived northern range of domestic citrus production. Conversations in Tifton indicated this newfound interest is based on several factors:

    Average temperatures in these regions not hitting the extreme lows that were once commonplac
    Better freeze protection techniques
    Interest in seizing upon declining production further south, and the hope that Asian citrus psyllid pressure will remain low in their areas
    Newly released varieties that appear to offer superior cold weather performance
    A hot market for soft citrus

Perhaps one of the most surprising gleanings from the Tifton meeting is that interest is not limited to border counties. Interest in Georgia appears to be statewide. Lindy Savelle, GCA President, informed us that she has had calls from interested growers in Northwest Georgia and counties west of Atlanta, well above the old “Gnat Line.”

To date, there has been widespread support from Florida in helping along the new northern production area. Ralph Howells spoke at the recent meeting about marketing. Travis Murphy spoke about production and freeze protection, and Billy Murphy and Phillip Rucks were there to answer questions related to nursery issues.

So, What Are They Planting?

Most of the interest remains focused on Satsuma and Satsuma-like varieties. There is somewhat of an established market for this type of soft citrus fruit and the cold hardiness of these varieties has been well documented (especially on trifoliate rootstocks). Dr. Wayne Hanna, University of Georgia, recently released several interesting varieties that have been exclusively licensed in Georgia to 1 Dog Ventures, the only all-citrus nursery in Georgia. Dr. Hanna, himself a citrus enthusiast, set out to reduce the seeds in selections that had shown tremendous resilience in the face of minimal care and cold temperatures.

    ‘Sweet Frost’ is an irradiated Changsha mandarin with two to three seeds per fruit. It has a Brix range of 11-12, it is very easy peel, well-colored, and matures (in GA) in November or December.
    ‘Grand Frost’ is an irradiated Ichang lemon. This is a large lemon (25 centimeters to 28 cm in circumference) with about 8 Brix and high juice content. It has nice, bright-yellow color and a maturity range of November through January.
    ‘Pink Frost’ is a red grapefruit, with characteristics not dissimilar to ‘Ruby Red,’ but with somewhat deeper color. It averages 30 cm to 35 cm in circumference, has Brix 8-11, and matures (in GA) November through March. It averages three seeds per fruit. This variety was identified in Georgia. It was a high seed fruit, with approximately 60 seeds before being irradiated.

Dr. Hanna noted that the non-irradiated versions of these varieties each took 0°F in the 1985 freeze with no irrigation. The trees were 10 years old at the time. Post-freeze, the lemon lost 18 inches of limbs and the tangerine lost 12 inches. The two- to four-year-old trees presently in the field survived 18°F with some young leaf discoloration during the 2014 freeze. Again, this was with no freeze protection. The varieties have not been (legitimately) introduced into Florida, but there may be interest in doing so.

Presidential Perspective

Georgia Citrus Association President Lindy Savelle recently expanded on some questions I had related to Georgia citrus production and the new association.

Q: There was talk about whether Georgia should become a citrus producing state. It would seem this would provide some regulatory protections for your growers, but also perhaps some restrictions of plant/fruit movement. Can you provide a pro/con on this? Does the Association have a position on this?

A: Putting rules and regulations in place in our state is imperative. We need to keep Georgia citrus as clean as we can, to prevent losses like those that other citrus states have suffered.  Many people do not like rules because they believe rules limit them, but in the case of the citrus industry, putting rules in place will protect them. Rules and regulations will mean that trees cannot come into Georgia without first, originating from a certified nursery, and second, being inspected by Georgia Department of Agriculture. This also could mean that backyard propagation will be non-existent here. Again, such rules may upset some folks, but they need to understand this is to protect the industry at the commercial level.  The association is working with Georgia Department of Agriculture to quickly develop the rules and then it will be up to the association to educate its membership. We know it will be no easy task, but we also know if we do not start out with parameters, our industry will potentially fail before it barely gets off the ground.

Q: Which varieties, other than Dr. Hanna’s, are being planted in Georgia?

A: People will be planting the UGA tangerines, lemons, and grapefruit in 2018, although, we have a handful of them going out the door this year. Because we (1 DOG Ventures LLC) have the exclusive rights to grow the UGA fruit, we are increasing our stock to meet what we believe will be an unbelievable demand next year, not only by homeowners, but also commercial growers. Right now, growers are focusing primarily on satsumas, but they are starting to understand they need to diversify. There are a few lemons, grapefruit, lime, and navels going in this year, but we fully expect those numbers to exponentially expand next year. We also are increasing our stock in these varieties as well.

Q: Do you see any synergistic opportunities between Florida (growing in the primary production areas) and Georgia producers, or would the two states/areas be competitors?

A: The two states would not be competitors. We have welcomed growers from outside Georgia to come be a part of us, to join us and become involved as we grow together. Growers in Northwest Florida are forming a cold hardy association, which will greatly assist GA growers as much as Florida growers. We have agribusinesses that support growers from both states, such as a juicing facility and packing facilities. We complement, not compete.  The more we grow the industry to a commercial level, the better we both will be.

Q: Are any fresh packing facilities being built in Georgia? If so, do you know which counties and the capacity?

A: A few produce growers have branched out and are growing citrus. They will be using those same facilities to process fresh fruit. We fully expect other facilities to pop up throughout the state as fruit starts to roll in down the road. The only facility I know that is currently being discussed is one in Mitchell County (where I’m from). The facility will accommodate the growers in Mitchell, Northern Thomas, Grady, Baker, Colquitt, and Dougherty counties. Initially, the acreage of fruit will be around 100 acres and is expected to grow well beyond that capacity down the road. The site being reviewed will handle fruit much larger than that produced on 100 acres alone.

Q: How many trees will be planted in Georgia over the next three years?

A: There are currently 142 acres accounted for in Georgia. That will more than double in 2017 and the figures beyond that are expected to exponentially grow. People worry about marketing all the fruit in four years, but we’ve got to think outside the box and realize the market reaches far beyond the borders of our state, and certainly far beyond the school systems. We’ve got the leadership in our state to support the growth of the citrus industry, so we need to rely on them to help us develop it.


Feedback from citrus variety surveys help determine which selections are worth vetting further.
Photo by Paul Rusnak

Of all the stones being thrown at HLB, the development of tolerant or resistant rootstocks and scions is among the rocks that could deliver a long-term solution to the disease. The disease itself has flipped the citrus breeding game as researchers widen the search for variety winners.

Peter Chaires, Executive Director of the New Varieties Development & Management Corp. (NVDMC), says a look at pre-HLB days compared to today provides historical context.

“On the processed side of the ledger, there had been very little interest in new oranges before HLB,” Chaires says. “Breeders were working on them to some degree, but most growers were perfectly happy with Hamlin, Mid-Sweet, Pineapple, and Valencia. Since HLB, the breeding programs have really put their foot on the gas to not only get the most promising processing-oriented scions released, but to continue to fill the pipeline with more material — all of which has superior traits. Field screenings for robust or enhanced performance in the face of HLB is a necessary part of this program.

“During this time, The two UF/IFAS OLL’s, plus ‘Valquarius’ and the ‘Vernia’ have been made available. More orange hybrids that show enhanced tolerance — and orange-like characteristics but that are not 100% sweet orange — are making their way into trial plantings. Breeding oranges is not like breeding mandarins. It’s a much slower process with fewer development options.

“On the fresh side, the number of developed and released selections has increased drastically. Whereas there used to be one release every 20 years or so, we have seen approximately 22 fresh selections made available through the accelerated programs and a number of private or proprietary selections come into Florida for trial.”

The Challenge

With so much material in the pipeline, it poses a challenge in the development and release process. There was a need to slow down development to learn more about the viability of what is already available.

“In recent years, fewer crosses were made and a greater emphasis has been placed on evaluation,” Chaires says. “Some evaluations are more formal designed experiments, including the collection of hard data, while others are observational.

“What we do know is that breeding cannot be turned on and off like a light switch. As new parents demonstrate promise and new techniques are developed, we must continue to feed the pipeline — though not at the pace we did a few years prior. Growers and nurseries need varieties with superior traits and with the ability to withstand HLB, preferably with minimal care.”

Jude Grosser, a Professor of plant cell genetics for UF/IFAS, who is seeking the best rootstock/scion combinations, says it is complicated because many of the rootstocks in established trials were developed to solve other problems before HLB came along.

“We need to balance this with looking for the ‘home run’ rootstock — which should come from new selections being screened right off the bat for ability to provide protection against HLB in a grafted scion,” Grosser says. “I believe we are looking for a needle(s) in a haystack. So, the bigger the haystack, the better the odds of finding something that will work.”

Grosser has tested thousands of rootstocks hybrids using his “gauntlet” approach. After screening for initial soil adaptation and Phytopthora viability, the more robust candidates are grafted with HLB-infected Valencia and grown off. This is a quick way to see if the rootstock can mitigate the disease.

“I have been doing this for six years, and I have a few hybrid rootstocks that look especially promising,” Grosser says. “Two of which we are producing seed adequate for large scale testing.”

Grosser adds another complicating factor is understanding how these new selections will react to various nutrition programs. Because not all trials have the same program, it can make it harder to make comparisons among trials at different locations.

It's a long article with a lot of links so go there for the rest of it.

Citrus General Discussion / The Citrus Family Tree
« on: October 30, 2017, 12:54:18 PM »

All the oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits you’ve ever eaten are descendants from just a few ancient species.
By Daniel Stone

*Researchers continue to debate whether kumquats are indeed in the Citrus genus.
**Most “pure” mandarins have a small proportion of pomelo genes.

Citrus, in many ways, stands alone. So many cultivated species have come from so few primary ancestors. Just three, in fact: citrons, pomelos, and mandarins, all native to South and East Asia before they started their journeys west, to places like Florida, California, and Brazil that built entire economies around fruits from the other side of the world.

Such simple lineage is the result of impressive commonality. Almost all citrus has the rare genetic combination of being sexually compatible and highly prone to mutation. Such traits allow their genes to mix, for thousands of years on their own, and eventually, at the hands of humans. The product of so much natural crossing in the wild and selective breeding at research farms and in fields is every orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit you’ve ever eaten.

No other fruit genus can boast such pedigree, and new research is bringing clarity to the origin of citrus. Grapefruits are a human discovery, less than 300 years old. But citrus itself is ancient. Fossilized leaves discovered in China’s Yunnan Province in 2009 and 2011 suggest citrus has existed since the late Miocene epoch, as many as seven million years ago. Humans, however, have brought a great winnowing: Out of thousands of wild types, only a few dozen have become commercial behemoths like the navel orange, Eureka lemon, and Mexican lime. They’re the citrus one percent.

The scientists who study citrus love it for its appeal, its mystery, and its drama. “There’s something fascinating, freaky, even sexy about citrus,” says pomologist David Karp, whose research informs the above illustration. A bacterial disease called huanglongbing (a.k.a. citrus greening) that causes plants to defoliate, decay, and eventually die, is threatening commercial production on every arable continent, including North America, where the disease arrived in 2005.

Yet a fruit group of such illustrious history won't be exterminated so easily. The future is likely to bring more types of citrus, not fewer. “Citrus is competitive,” says citrus breeder and geneticist Fred Gmitter, explaining how global researchers race to develop, say, mandarin oranges that are sweeter, seedless, and easier to peel. “In the near future you’ll see a lot of outside-the-box new stuff.” And, an ever expanding family tree.

Daniel Stone is an editor for National Geographic magazine, where he covers science, technology, and agriculture. His book, The Food Explorer, on the life and adventures of food spy David Fairchild, will be published by Dutton (Penguin Random House) in 2018.



Central Florida is saying goodbye to one of the last major roadside citrus businesses in the area.

Roadside citrus stands were once a Central Florida trademark and tourist attraction, but now they can’t make enough money to stay afloat and Harvey’s Groves officials have decided to close the company’s Rockledge and West Melbourne locations.

The sepia-toned pages of an old photo album bring to life the sleepy, pastoral days of the mid-20th century. That’s when Harvey’s Groves was in its heyday, selling hand-squeezed orange juice to travelers for a nickel.

“I don’t like it at all. I don’t like it. I planned to work till I was 80 years old, like my father,” said Jim Harvey.

Jim Harvey spoke with WESH 2 News Monday by phone about the family business that was started in 1926. The Rockledge store was once surrounded by citrus groves which were wiped out by the disease known as greening.

“Every grower in Florida has been devastated by greening, and us, too. We’ve probably lost 60 to 80 percent of our acreage to greening,” Harvey said.

Buying habits have changed, too. People don’t visit the classic old storefront anymore, where bright, juicy oranges were once piled up in mouth-watering abundance. Now, people buy online, and that’s the only part of the business that’s keeping Harvey’s alive at all.

At one time, the section of U.S. 1 near Rockledge where Harvey’s is located, was dotted with at least six citrus stands.

Harvey's was a citrus institution when I was growing up down there.  Shame to see it closing, but to be expected I suppose with the repeated body blows Florida citrus has been enduring.

In researching the edible species of the greater ginger family I have come across frequent mention of "Grains of Paradise" (Aframomum melegueta) which has been used in brewing and was once popular as a black pepper substitute.

Has anyone grown this particular species?  Especially if you are within the U.S. do you know where to buy live plants or rhizomes?  Anyone get it to blossom and set fruit?

The seeds seem to be easily available, but I've read the viability is fairly short so I suspect I would have to plant a lot of them to get plants.  If possible I'd rather buy rhizomes or started plants, but haven't had any luck fining anyone selling them.

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Galangal
« on: October 26, 2017, 12:35:04 PM »
Yes, many have said that.  I'm going with a somewhat raised bed for these so that shouldn't be a problem.

Citrus General Discussion / Re: Specialties To Look At
« on: October 23, 2017, 03:19:40 PM »
With the various disease outbreaks here in Florida finding anything out of the run of the mill ordinary in the way of citrus has become a challenge.  Struck out on all three of the above varieties in a search.  Looks like I'll have to start emailing around now.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Anyone growing olives?
« on: October 23, 2017, 10:19:48 AM »
There is a very popular olive oil company in southern GA. One of their websites is below:

I think they grow mostly Arbequina.

I also saw some fruiting at the Savannah Bamboo Gardens...

I got a couple of my Arbequinas from them when they set up at the Sun Belt Expo a few years ago.

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