Helping to Rewrite the Book

To paraphrase a quote from citrus grower James Shinn, the current HLB-ravaged environment is forcing us to “rewrite the book on growing citrus.” This month, Tree Defender introduces our latest chapter; a new weapon in the story of the war on greening.

For some high-end fresh fruit growers, CUPS has become a successful chapter in Florida’s ongoing fight with greening. While CUPS can help protect citrus groves from HLB infection, it does so with some notable drawbacks, the most significant of which is the initial investment in constructing and maintaining the structure. This cost means CUPS is not an option for juice and lower-tier fresh fruit growers. It is simply not economically viable.

More than 90 percent of Florida growers are juice and lower-tier fresh fruit growers, therefore a significant number of growers who are on the front lines of the HLB fight are literally left out in the elements.

To help close this gap, the forward-thinking team at Tree Defender is excited to introduce our brand new innovation: the Tree Defender trellis. This unique wire trellis design is specifically an attempt to bridge the best of both the CUPS and IPC worlds. This system can utilize any size IPC up to 12 feet, and preliminary research has shown the trellis is very stable in inclement weather. 

We estimate that the total cost of the trellis system, using 10-foot IPCs, will be approximately 20 percent of the cost of a CUPS structure. While we know that this is still a significant investment — especially in these belt-tightening times. But when you hear talk of juice prices north of $3.50 per pound solid, it starts to make sense and gives growers who can’t afford CUPS another tool to use in the fight against greening.

We are currently researching the effects of placing these larger trellis IPCs on infected trees after trunk injections. The hope is that the extra protection of the Tree Defender technology will help the tree recover. Preliminary observations are promising. In addition, the benefits of this new growing system would be beneficial to more than citrus growers. We anticipate our new design and the research it welcomes will open doors for application to other crops, as well. Stay tuned to learn more because we expect to have field demonstrations available later this month.

We recognize that greening is changing the way Florida citrus is grown, and we’re excited to rewrite the story with a more promising ending.

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.

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