Citrus Achievement Award Winners Believe in Future of the Industry

The Florida GrowerSM Citrus Achievement Award is in its 22nd year of honoring exceptional leaders and advocates in the state’s citrus industry.

The majority of winners have been growers and packers. A common trait among them is a firm belief in the future of the crop grown for generations in Florida.

We asked them why they believe in Florida citrus.

Here’s what several past winners had to say.

Steven Callaham, CEO of Dundee Citrus Growers Association

Steven Callaham of Dundee Citrus

Steven Callaham, 2020 Citrus Achievement Award winner.
Photo by Frank Giles

“I’m not naïve to the fact HLB is the most serious challenge the industry has ever faced, but I firmly believe the industry will find a way to survive and prosper as it has many times before when challenged. For our fresh packing operations, I believe citrus under protective screen (CUPS) will be a major part of Dundee’s future. CUPS is not for everyone, but it is a prime example of how the industry adapts to adversity. Seeing the success that our members are having with these production methods reassures me that growers can and will continue producing Florida’s signature crop.”

Bob Behr, CEO of Florida’s Natural Growers

2019 Citrus Achievement Award winner Bob Behr

Dr. Robert Behr, 2019 Citrus Achievement Award winner.
Photo by Frank Giles

“I am optimistic about the future of Florida’s citrus industry. That said, the future may look different than the past. I see value-add initiatives, innovation, and technology playing a much more important role in our industry’s future. Value-added initiatives such as fresh citrus, fresh-squeezed, or lightly pasteurized juice products and premium not-from-concentrate juice products give Florida citrus producers an edge against lower-cost-producing origins.”

Ed Pines, President of EIP Citrus

Ed Pines citrus grower

Ed Pines, 2017 Citrus Achievement Award winner.
Photo by Frank Giles

“Florida citrus is known throughout the world, and the industry is resilient. Greening is not the first challenge we have faced as growers, and any time we have gone up against adversity, we have adapted our methods from what we have learned to prevail.

We Believe in Florida Citrus logo

“We believe that CUPS is a viable system to produce high-quality fresh citrus. Other than the obvious value of excluding the psyllid from the grove to avoid greening, this growing practice accelerates tree growth, prevents sunburn and wind-scar, and reduces our inputs while allowing us to increase tree density. The end result is high-quality fruit and yields that are grown sustainably.”

Vic Story, President of The Story Companies

Vic Story_Winners View

Vic Story, 2012 Citrus Achievement Award winner.

“Citrus is a healthy product that humans have a taste for! Our challenge is to provide the best-tasting products for consumers. Those of us who have been relatively successful in the greening environment must figure out how to produce fruit with better Brix than the last few years. This could include more changes in production practices and/or better varieties. We will figure it out. Hopefully the weather patterns will change back to winters more like the one we are experiencing this winter. I’m particularly proud that my sons Matt and Kyle have made a commitment to this industry and are taking their place in leadership roles. They’re “all in” on figuring out how to produce and market in the greening environment.”