Title: Florida's citrus industry uses sustainable production practices
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00078700/00001
 Material Information
Title: Florida's citrus industry uses sustainable production practices
Series Title: Florida's citrus industry uses sustainable production practices
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Ferguson, J. J. (James J.)
Publisher: University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00078700
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltuf - ANL3722
oclc - 48411479
alephbibnum - 002735907


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not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
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site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida

June 1995



Cooperative Extension Service
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Florida's Citrus Industry Uses Sustainable Production

J. J. Ferguson2

Florida's citrus industry 103 million trees on
853,742 acres produced 117,780 tons of fruit
during the 1993-94 season, totalling $7 billion toward
Florida's economy, according to University of Florida
agricultural economists. Florida's citrus growers -
clearly, the leading citrus producer within the United
States and second only to Brazil on the world market
- practice sustainable agriculture: producing a
valued international commodity while enhancing
environmental quality, natural resources, and the
quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.

Florida citrus growers help preserve
environmental quality by:

1. Utilizing fertilization and irrigation technologies
that reduce nutrient inputs, thereby reducing
potential leaching of nutrients into groundwater;

2. Recycling treated municipal wastes and animal
manures in citrus fertilization programs;

3. Using integrated pest management strategies
including disease-resistant cultivars, biological
pest control, reduced pesticide use, and cultural
practices to reduce the incidence and severity of
pests and diseases.


Most Florida citrus is grown on sandy soils which
are low in natural fertility and which retain only a
small amount of applied nutrients that are needed for
plant growth and crop production. In the past, large
amounts of readily soluble fertilizer were applied
regularly to insure adequate nutrient availability
against the leaching action of irrigation and rainfall.
The introduction and widespread use of controlled or
slow-release fertilizers has reduced the amount of
nitrogen fertilizer applied from 25 to 80%, depending
on tree age. Controlled release fertilizers are applied
only one to two times per year, further reducing labor
and energy inputs, compared with readily soluble
fertilizers which were applied three to six times per

Technological advances in the production of
plastic irrigation tubing has ushered in the age of low-
volume drip and microsprinkler irrigation. These
systems efficiently deliver both irrigation water and
liquid fertilizers (fertigation) exactly where and when
they are needed. Small amounts of fertilizer can be
applied frequently and efficiently through miles of
plastic irrigation lines controlled by computers that
monitor soil moisture, rainfall and evaporation,
thereby reducing nutrient leaching. In a 1992 study,
approximately 80% of surveyed growers irrigated their
groves with microsprinklers or drip systems, and 60%

1. This document is SS-SA-3, a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, a series of the Environmental Horticulture
Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date:
June 1995.
2. J.J. Ferguson, Extension Citrus Horticulturist, Horticultural Sciences Department, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville FL 32611.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational
information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national
origin. For information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office.
Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences / University of Florida / Christine Taylor Stephens, Dean

Florida's Citrus Industry Uses Sustainable Production

of those systems were designed for fertigation. Citrus
growers have also learned that fertilizer rates can be
reduced even further for young and mature citrus
trees that have sustained moderate to severe cold


In the past, sewage and animal manures were
considered "wastes" to be disposed of. Now, cities and
counties throughout Florida pump treated waste-
water onto thousands of acres of citrus groves -
recycling effluents, providing irrigation water and
nutrients, and reducing agricultural demands on
Florida aquifers and, in fact, recharging those
aquifers. High-quality processed sludge, or biosolids,
as well as chicken and cow manure, are being applied
in citrus fertilization programs, thereby utilizing a
renewable "resource" that might otherwise present a
disposal problem. Leaf and soil analysis, frequently
used by growers to monitor and improve their
fertilization programs, provides an additional
barometer of nutrient input.


Florida's sub-tropical climate, with high rainfall
and humidity, provides an ideal environment for citrus
diseases, pests, and weeds. Fortunately, since about
90% of Florida's orange crop and 50% of its
grapefruit crop is processed into juice and other
products, chemical control of insects and diseases that
affect the cosmetic quality of fruit is largely
unnecessary, as compared with other fresh market
fruit crops.

Page 2

Florida citrus growers rank pest management as
their most important information need; however, 91%
of growers indicated in a recent statewide survey that
they believed pesticide-use restrictions would increase
during the next ten years. Growers, therefore, depend
more and more on other pest-management strategies.
As a perennial tree crop, citrus groves establish stable
ecosystems that can support a variety of biological
control agents, including a host of "friendly fungi" and
insects that prey on citrus pests. When pests and
diseases reduce fresh fruit quality and reduce tree
vigor or yield, integrated pest management depends
on grove scouting to determine the need and timing
for pesticide applications as well as modification of
cultural practices to minimize damage. As with other
crops, growers use disease-resistant cultivars as the
mainstay of plant-protection measures, drawing upon
traditional breeding methods and the new approaches
of biotechnology.

Perennial tree crops such as citrus provide
habitats for a range of birds, mammals, and beneficial
insects. Water-retention ponds, frequently required in
large groves by water-management districts, create
habitats for wading birds, alligators, and other species.
Wildlife management concepts are also integrated
into citrus production programs, especially within the
range of the Florida panther and other native species.

The Florida citrus industry encompasses a wide
range of production philosophies and practices, all
focused on obtaining a fair market return while
maintaining and improving the quality of our natural
resources. This marriage of economic viability with
environmental stewardship sustainability -
creates a challenging opportunity for all segments of
society: farmers, homeowners, and industry.

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