Many Florida citrus groves are in bad shape due to citrus greening (HLB). Recent surveys estimate that 80 percent of Florida’s citrus trees are infected with HLB. In some Florida citrus groves, the estimates are closer to 100 percent. Once infected, citrus trees’ fruit production begins to drop, and then the trees die.
Land surveys put the number of abandoned citrus groves at over one hundred and twenty thousand acres. To add insult to injury, the first citrus forecast for the 2016-2017 season put the future season’s harvest down a whopping 26 percent over the 81.5 million boxes harvested in the 2015-2016 season. All in all, the industry needs some good news.
Renovate/Re-establish Florida Citrus Groves
A much-discussed planting program could be just what Florida’s citrus growers need. The Citrus Grove Renovation/Re-establishment Support Program is offering $5.5 million in funding to help owners do exactly what it sounds like with their Florida citrus groves: to renovate or re-establish the groves. The funding is split depending upon geography; $3 million is slated for Northern Everglades region (NEEPA) groves, and the remaining $2.5 million is for all the other groves in Florida. The initiative is focused on helping grove owners by taking on some of the cost of re-establishing or renovating Florida groves. The program is supported by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).
Program Payment Details
The program offers cost-share measures on replanting Florida citrus groves, though growers must meet a set of guidelines to qualify. For instance, growers must be proposing a renewal or renovation project for at least 10 acres, they must have been in the citrus production business since at least 2008 and they must be enrolled in the OAWP Citrus BMP program; there are a number of additional requirements. Find program details and application information here.
The Program offers 75 percent cost-sharing on eligible improvements in nutrient management and irrigation and 100 percent on engineering and design costs. Growers are capped at receiving $250,000 for improvements to irrigation and nutrient management for replanting or re-establishing groves.
Forecasts also estimate that the Florida citrus industry must replant 20 million trees in the next decade if it is to stay solvent while a cure or treatment to citrus greening is sought; this program was created to start the planting of those millions of citrus trees.