Industry Sustainability May Call for a Larger Toolbox

For this month’s column, we wanted to focus on industry sustainability. With all of the hardships the Florida Citrus Industry has been through in the past decade, making sure the industry remains sustainable has taken on a larger importance.

A key to sustainability may be found in incorporating new tools into the regular maintenance of stable groves that may make it healthier as it grows. Tree Defender IPCs — in combination with some of these other tools — can work synergistically and give a grower possible years of disease free growing which can drastically increase the economic viability of a tree.

I see an example of this every day when I pass the groves of Geoff Roe from the W.G. Roe family on my way to work. For several years he has incorporated Tree Defenders IPCs as he plants new groves.

Roe said that they find quality sites and implement a modern, high-density planting schematic and use IPCs to cover all new trees. The great part about Tree Defender IPCs is that there is no need to spray every two weeks. For Roe, the spray schedule is typically once a month, with only nutritional and fungicides for foot rot control

Roe’s strategy moving forward is to allow 12-18 months for the trees to reach a minimum of 1¼ inches, then remove IPCs (an easy process with the Tree Defender!) and start trunk injections twice a year for the next 24 to 36 months before exercising the PHI six months before harvesting.

Trunk injections are just one tool in the toolbox, but could play an important role in the path to profitability and sustainability as the industry continues to search for a permanent solution. This method is “life support for the juice industry just like C.U.P.S — citrus under protective screen — is for the fresh fruit industry.”

Both industries must find a way to sustain themselves instead of waiting on a cure. It’s highly unlikely there will be one stand alone silver bullet anytime soon; however silver buckshot seems to be the go-to ammunition currently. Your silver buckshot mix should include a combination of technologies, such as IPCs, trunk injection, brassinosteroids, soil amendments, and CUPS. Each of these may prove to be a stepping stone on the path to industry sustainability.

This column is sponsored by Tree Defender, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers.

Bio: Tommy Thayer is the co-owner of Tree Defender and owner of Southern Citrus Nurseries, which has been in business since the 1970s. Both companies are based in Dundee, Florida. As a native Floridian, he is a fifth-generation citrus grower who graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Resource Economics. For more information, visit

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