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Citrus Industry Continues to Suffer Post Hurricane Irma

Tallahassee, FL-October 2017

Florida’s struggling and storm-battered citrus industry took another hit Thursday as the orange crop forecast for the current growing season was reduced by 7.4 percent. And industry officials anticipate the forecasts will continue to decline as the season progresses.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be the last decrease we see,” said Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus. “Hurricane Irma had a widespread impact on our industry, and growers are still trying to pick up the pieces. High winds and flooding rains damaged already weakened trees making it even more difficult to hold on to the fruit that’s left.”

The projection from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is that the Florida citrus industry will produce enough oranges to fill 50 million 90-pound boxes and 4.65 million similar sized boxes of grapefruit during the 2017-2018 season.


A month ago, the forecast for the already-dire season — following damage from Irma and years of losses from deadly citrus greening disease — was a decades-low 54 million boxes of oranges and 4.9 million boxes of grapefruit.

At the time, state Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam said the forecast numbers were too high based on the damages he’d seen.

On Thursday, Putnam said the “forecast shows that the damage to Florida citrus from Hurricane Irma is still unfolding, and it will continue to for some


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CitriSun Nurseries Announces Fourth Expansion Phase in Arcadia, FL

Arcadia, FL-July 2017

CitriSun Nurseries, LLC, an innovative grower of containerized nursery trees for the Florida citrus grower, is at it again !!

CitriSun is pleased to announce it has broken ground on construction of another growing facility, located in Arcadia, FL. This will be the 4th build-out for CitriSun in DeSoto County, and it's 6th general purpose growing range. The company also has additional specialty-purpose buildings on nearby properties.


This new facility will increase productive capacity by over 20%, and will be constructed next to it's five other primary growing ranges.

CitriSun Nurseries, LLC was founded with the goal of providing the hardiest young orange trees to citrus groves throughout Central and Southern Florida. Its unrivaled commitment to quality and innovation makes it an industry leader in partnering with today’s top growers.

Congressional Bill Advances to Provide Help to Besieged Florida Citrus Industry

Washington, D.C.-Jan 2016

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., announced on Wednesday that he would be the Senate sponsor of a bill looking to offer Florida’s citrus industry relief in the wake of citrus greening. Last month, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., proposed a measure giving tax incentives to farmers who need to replace trees impacted by the disease. Nelson said on Wednesday he would sponsor the “Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act”.


“If we don’t start replanting some of the trees we’ve already lost, we may not have a citrus industry in Florida much longer,” Nelson said. “This bill will encourage growers to plant the new trees we need by allowing them to deduct the full cost immediately, instead of slowly over time.”


When Buchanan brought out the bill early in November, he made the case for why it was needed. “Under current law, growers are allowed an immediate deduction for the cost of replanting diseased trees, but the farmer must bear the full cost,” Buchanan’s office noted. “Buchanan’s proposal would allow struggling farmers to use this deduction even if they bring in investors to raise capital for replanting costs, as long as the grower continues to own a major stake in the grove. It also extends this incentive to purchasers of land with diseased trees.”


The bill was sent to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee which Buchanan sits on. “This commonsense legislation makes it less costly for citrus farmers to replant crops decimated by disease," Buchanan said when he unveiled it. “I’m especially pleased that a dozen of my colleagues from Florida joined me to help protect the livelihoods of the 76,000 Floridians directly and indirectly employed by the citrus industry.”

CitriSun Nurseries Announces Third Expansion Phase in Arcadia, FL

Arcadia, FL-April 2015

CitriSun Nurseries, LLC, an innovative grower of containerized nursery trees for the Florida citrus grower, is expanding again !!


CitriSun is pleased to announce it has broken ground on construction of its newest growing facility, located in Arcadia, FL. This will be the 3rd growing range for CitriSun in DeSoto County, and will operate contiguous to its two existing facilities, south of downtown Arcadia. This new 17,000 square foot range will allow CitriSun to increase its productive capacity by 40%, as well as allow it to significantly diversify its product mix.


“Construction is expected to continue through the Spring, with the goal of having trees on the benches by early summer”, says Rod Hollingsworth, managing partner of CitriSun Nurseries.


CitriSun Nurseries, LLC was founded with the goal of providing the hardiest young orange trees to citrus groves throughout Central and Southern Florida. Its unrivaled commitment to quality and innovation makes it an industry leader in partnering with today’s top growers.

USDA Announces Plan to Assist Grove Owners in Replacing HLB Infected Trees
Washington, D.C. - December  2014

Planning requires a forecast of demand. Florida citrus nurseries are in the unenviable position of assessing demand for new trees. Though some nurseries report relatively consistent demand, others are experiencing order cancellations and grower uncertainly. Disease pressure, confusion about rootstock choices, capital limitations, lagging rootstock availability, and the wait for effective bactericides and therapies are all part of a complex decision process. The unintended consequence may be waning grower confidence. Help with any one of these factors may tilt the scales just enough to incent new plantings. Enter the Tree Assistance Program.


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA has made new financial assistance available to Florida citrus growers for the removal of trees afflicted with HLB and for replanting groves with new healthy stock. Vilsack commented,“We must ensure that Florida’s citrus industry can weather this storm while a more permanent solution to this problem is developed. The key to the citrus industry’s survival is getting new trees in the ground, and we’re doing everything we can to help with that.” The support comes through USDA’s Tree Assistance Program (TAP), administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).

The foundation of this program was laid through the tireless efforts of state FSA Executive Director Rick Dantzler, Michael Sparks (Florida Citrus Mutual), and Douglas Bournique (Indian River Citrus League). This program stands to positively contribute to the industry’s recovery. Dantzler commented that “our goal is to get as many of the six million citrus trees needed in the ground as quickly as possible.”


Program Particulars

Under this program, Florida citrus growers will be eligible for up to 50% of the cost of the removal of diseased trees and site preparation, 65% of the cost of replanting and labor, and 65% of the cost of new trees. Losses must have occurred on or after Oct. 1, 2011, and individual stands must have sustained a mortality loss of 15% after adjustment for normal mortality.


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Researchers ID Promising Citrus Greening Treatments
Tallahassee, FL - June  2014

A University of Florida research group may have taken the first step to finding a treatment for citrus greening. Claudio Gonzales and Graciela Lorca, both associate professors of microbiology and cell science, led the group that examined three treatments: phloretin, hexestrol and benzbromarone, according to a news release. 


In greenhouse trials, they sprayed tree shoots separately with one of the three chemicals and were successful in stopping the bacteria's spread. Benzbromarone, which is used to treat gout in humans, worked particularly well, stopping the bacteria in 80 percent of infected trees' shoots. Benzabromarone targets a specific protein, LdtR, in Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, the organism responsible for citrus greening. Although harmless to humans, citrus greening can weaken and even kill citrus trees. It is spread by the Asian citrus psyllid. Once trees are infected, there is no known cure. In Florida, the disease has caused more than $3.6 billion in citrus industry losses.

Federal Farm Bill Includes $125 million To Fight Citrus Greening
Washington, D.C. - February  2014

Federal lawmakers approved $125 million to fight a disease that has been killing Florida's citrus trees. Citrus greening is a bacterial disease that weakens trees and causes fruit to drop to the ground before it is ready to harvest.  Researchers at the University of Florida estimate that citrus greening cost the state $4.5 billion and 8,000 jobs between 2006 and 2012. The $125 million was included in the broader farm bill, which was approved by Congress on Tuesday.  That money is in addition to roughly $20 million Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, had already helped secure for the fight against citrus greening. "This is a huge win for Florida's economy," Nelson said in a statement. The disease has also been blamed for damaging crops in Texas, California, Louisiana, Georgia and South Carolina.

COCA-COLA Plans To Add 25,000 Acres Of Citrus Groves In Florida
Auburndale, FL - May 2013

Coca-Cola says it is spending $2 billion to support the planting of 25,000 acres of new orange groves in Florida, a move officials are lauding as a major investment in the Sunshine State's citrus industry.


The announcement is being made at a late-morning news conference at Coca-Cola's juice production plant in Auburndale. Details were released in advance to The Associated Press. Coca-Cola owns the Minute Maid and Simply juice brands.


"It's an investment in a market that's very important to us," said Steve Cahillane, the president of Coca-Cola Americas.


Some 5 million new trees will be planted in the new groves, believed to be the largest citrus addition in the state for at least 15 years. The groves will be located in Polk, DeSoto, and Hendry counties in central Florida.



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