If there is one true constant in life, it’s change. You must learn to embrace change, or you fall behind and quickly become irrelevant.
As with most high-risk businesses, agriculture, especially Florida citrus, has never been for the faint of heart. To succeed — or sometimes, just to survive — you need a keen sense of adaptation and a wholehearted acceptance of change.
This isn’t easy. In fact, it’s often downright unsettling. While one wrong move can be costly, the fear of failure or unwillingness to change can cost you more. Pride can also play a significant role. The fear of failure and fear of ridicule are deeply ingrained human traits. Years of battle with greening in the Florida citrus industry has only exacerbated this issue.
However, there are bright spots emerging from all this change, and we find that encouraging.
Approximately 10 years ago when we created the IPC and Tree Defender, there was a lot of negativity and pessimism. I heard plenty of nicknames: “Tree Destroyer,” “Tree Deformer,” and others that can’t (and shouldn’t) be printed. Then, suddenly, we were the “golden child” to a lot of those same critics.
We laugh about it now, but it wasn’t so funny at the time.
Now, the proven increase in brix level and the improved internal fruit quality reported by growers using Tree Defender give us the confidence to believe that using much larger IPCs to grow citrus into maturity holds significant promise.
While Tree Defender was growing, the large CUPS structures were coming into the picture. They faced similar criticism. (Admittedly, I was skeptical, too). However, these growers have continued to work and learn and are making great strides.
Seaweed extract products were once considered to be snake oil; now there is a large segment of growers praising the benefits.
Dr Fernando Alferez with UF has released some early results from his ongoing trials that show that adding brassinosteroids can help trees withstand the effects of HLB and may advance the internal quality and maturity of Valencia sweet oranges by almost a month.
Tree injection technology is showing promise and is continually being improved. Breeding work on new varieties continues. There is innovative marketing with products like the Juicy Crunch mandarins from the Roe family, the Eco-grown Rubies and Sunnies from the Dundee CGA/Riverfront Groves partnership. Then there’s the juice innovations from companies like Uncle Matt’s and Natalie’s.
These advancements are getting hard to keep up with, and that’s a good thing.
Where this is all leading and why is it important? There’s a saying in fishing circles: “action brings action.”
I’ve heard multiple venture capital people say there is significant potential for investment in citrus if there is a clear path to profitability, especially now with the volatility in the other economic sectors.
Efforts by individuals and companies like these are helping establish that clear path forward, and maybe “action will bring action!”
Bio: Scott Thompson is co-founder of Tree Defender, Radical Ag-Tech, and Care Planet Technologies. He is a Central Florida native with a background in agribusiness, food manufacturing, and bioscience.
This column is sponsored by Tree Defender, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers.