By Frank Giles
Steven Callaham, CEO of the Dundee Citrus Growers Association (DCGA), reports citrus harvest got underway on Sept. 4. Brix in the tangerines being harvested are trending higher than last season, and he says that’s good news.
“We are very pleased with the quality we are seeing this early in the season. As far as production is concerned, we feel the crop will be down a bit from what the industry harvested last season. Ultimately, it will depend on how well growers are able to mitigate fruit drop,” Callaham says.
In addition to traditional groves, DCGA has been pioneering the use of citrus under protective screen (CUPS) to exclude the Asian citrus psyllid and HLB from the plantings. Callaham says the quantity of quality of the crop under cover is exceeding expectations. The trees that have been in the ground the longest are about 3.5 years old.
“On those most mature trees, we will harvest a significant amount of the crop this season. The CUPS crop looks amazing,” he says. “Internal and external fruit quality is excellent.”
Recently DCGA announced its members will more than double the area growing fresh citrus under CUPS with the addition of a second CUPS project. The new project will be located in southern Polk County, just east of Fort Meade, Florida.
“Once fully developed, the 622-acre parcel will contain approximately 500 acres of CUPS … bringing our total CUPS acreage to near 1,000 when complete,” Callaham says. “The first trees in the new project will be planted in the fall of 2023, and the first harvest will occur three years later. Red grapefruit will be the main variety planted.”
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