A recent segment on Tampa Bay’s FOX News grabbed my attention. Florida citrus growers face insurmountable odds and have for years. They battle freezes (yes, even in Florida), extreme droughts, and yearly hurricanes. Some years are worse than others, but growers are so proficient at the process, they know what needs to be done and they do it. Year after year.
Florida growers seem helpless against the newest enemy: Citrus greening. Recent press shares how the harsh bacteria is practically obliterating the industry. It’s so bad, that stopping it seems hopeless and growers are simply trying to slow it down.
Their greatest weapon is Florida sunshine. A US Department of Agriculture lab in Fort Pierce is working to figure out how to harness the power of sunshine to combat greening. They’ve set up testing centers in the form of mini-greenhouses and use solar panels for heat. Picture a steam room or sauna. Researchers call the process Thermal Therapy and are testing it as a possible cure for greening. Researchers believe that heat is the key to eliminating the bacteria.
It’s a new process and the next steps will include identifying specifically how much heat is needed. It may be the best and most cost effective way to date.
Other measures are in place as well. Florida’s agriculture industry makes a $108 billion economic impact. It’s no doubt received a beating over the past few years with the growing citrus greening issue and other pests. Recently, the state department announced Florida will receive $5.4 million in federal funding through the Federal Farm Bill to help eradicate pests and control diseases.
We have to take measure and increase our efforts because researchers now believe that citrus greening is in every grove in Florida.