If you’ve heard the buzz and have been curious about the patented Tree Defender Individual Protective Covers for your citrus trees, we have some exciting news in this month’s column!
We have received formal approval from the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) that Tree Defender IPCs are now eligible for a cost share up to approximately $1000 per/acre for new citrus plantings. The NRCS provides financial assistance to eligible participants on different programs, the most common of which is the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). Under EQIP, there is a suite of practices that producers can select to adopt for their operation based on resource concerns however psyllid exclusion technology like Tree Defender utilizes offers the only currently available technology that can give a grower the complete confidence that their young trees will reach a producing age 100% HLB free. Now that the option of the NRCS cost share shouldering a significant portion of this initial planting cost is available, this could play a crucial role in helping to rebuild the Florida citrus industry.
One of those practices mentioned above — The Conservation Practice 595 — includes Pest Management Conservation System (PMCS). A PMCS is a system that combines an Integrated Pest Management decision-making process with natural resource conservation to address pest and environmental impacts.
The Tree Defender was built to face issues related to conservation, pests, and environmental impacts that Florida growers have been facing for years. We initially started this company in 2014 as a way to fight back against the spread of greening and the devastation it was bringing to the worldwide citrus industry. Our patented infusion-treated, breathable mesh has been proven to protect young and producing trees from a variety of pests as well as the Asian Citrus Psyllid.
Additionally, the Tree Defender IPC technology has now been awarded a fourth patent related to water reduction, herbicide reduction, and nutrient runoff reduction which will open the door for further cost-share opportunities. This Tree Defender design has the ability to reduce irrigation and liquid fertilizer usage by up to 80 percent in young citrus plantings and is effective in containing and preventing excess runoff of slow-release fertilizers.
In order to take advantage of the cost share program, a producer needs to reach out to the local NRSC office and apply for EQIP, selecting the IPC practice.
This practice is available under the general EQIP program as well as the Emergency EQIP program in the counties designated as a result of Hurricane Ian.
The difference between regular and Emergency EQIP is that once you apply for the practice under the Emergency EQIP, the grower can proceed with the work without waiting for approval. Under the general EQIP, the application would have to be approved before the work starts and approval is not guaranteed.
If you have any questions related to the Tree Defender IPC or need assistance with this cost-share program, feel free to get in touch with us. We’re all in this together for a healthier, more productive Florida Citrus Industry.
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 thetreedefender.com