Florida citrus growers have seen harvests decrease and production costs increase ever since citrus greening was discovered in south Florida in 2005. Profits have decreased due to the damage caused by the disease, but researchers with UF/IFAS advise that high-density plantings could possibly allow citrus growers to increase profits, until a more viable treatment or cure is found.
Details of High-Density Plantings:
According to UF/IFAS researchers, the statewide average planting density in the Florida citrus industry is 145 citrus trees per acre. The research coming out of UF/IFAS citrus test plots shows that trees with 220 and 303 trees per acre yield more fruit than those at the 145 trees per acre density. This higher density results in a higher harvest, which UF/IFAS researchers maintain could offset losses caused by citrus greening, also called HLB. High-density plantings can also reduce the production costs of a citrus operation, such as pest spraying, irrigation, and fertilizers, when compared with conventionally-spaced groves. At the end of the day, each box of citrus costs less in inputs to produce, which can also increase profits.
Since every citrus operation is different, UF/IFAS citrus economist Ariel Singerman put together an Excel spreadsheet so that citrus growers can have a user-friendly resource to evaluate the cost to establish and keep up a new citrus grove. It provides profitability and return-on-investment estimates utilizing average data concerning variables like irrigation, production practices and costs, machinery used, yield per tree, and market prices. Growers can customize the spreadsheet, changing the variables to align with the details of their own operation for more precise estimates. That way, growers can explore what planting density would be the most beneficial. The spreadsheet is free, though access must be granted via email, and can be found at https://crec.ifas.ufl.edu/extension/economics/economic_tools.shtml.
Here at Griffin Fertilizer, our team can help you develop a sound production program that ensures your crop will perform its best, whether your crop is high density or has the more standard number of trees per acre. You can contact any of our team at 863-635-2281 or visit our website at GriffinFertilizer.com.
This column is sponsored by Griffin Fertilizer Co., and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers.
Mike Roberts is the Vice President of the Frostproof, Fla.-based Griffin Fertilizer Co. Roberts joined the company in November 2011. He has spent the majority of his career in the fertilizer/agchem industry. Roberts earned a Bachelor of Science degree in citrus production from Florida Southern College in Lakeland. For more information, visit griffinfertilizer.com.