The Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern has named its 2014 Farmer of the Year.  The organization recognizes C. Dennis Carlton, a real estate investor and citrus grower with the honor.  Carlton is recognized for the huge impact he has made in the city of Tampa but also in neighboring areas of Florida. He will receive the award officially at the 2014 Sunbelt Ag Expo in October.

Carlton has done the ranch work he loves for 40 years and currently manages more than 35,000 acres. His produce specialties include irrigated citrus and strawberries. Carlton’s citrus is produced primarily for juice.

Citrus has been a lucrative crop for many early years but his farm has faced challenges for decades, from freezes in the 80s, price wars in the 90s and then citrus canker in the 2000s. Currently the citrus greening issue is quite the challenge.  Like many other farmers, Carlton chose to grow alternative crops when issues got too costly. It’s one of the reasons he began growing strawberries.

Carlton also owns a successful cattle ranch and seeks to this business in the future.  Programs and associations that recognize ranchers like Carlton bring great exposure to Florida’s agriculture business.