Florida citrus growers have been dealing with the devastating effects of citrus greening for a while now without promising solutions coming to fruition. The only solution thus far to counter this bacterial infection (spread by tiny invasive insects known as Asian citrus psyllids) has been to dramatically increase the use of pesticides.
Years ago, it was standard to spray the fields only a few times per year. Now, with this expanding infestation, citrus growers are spraying their citrus groves monthly. Some growers recently pushed the limits, dousing their grove every four days with various chemicals. This excessive spraying led to further devastation, killing off honeybee populations and leading to a $1,500 fine.
Hopefully, this chemical splurge on behalf of citrus growers won’t happen again. However, the Florida apiary industry is not happy. Floridian citrus growers and beekeepers are not on pleasant terms due to this isolated incident and the increase of chemical spraying in general.
Beekeepers benefit by setting up their hives in close proximity to the groves. During citrus bloom, beekeepers involved in the honey production business place their hives in or near groves so the bees create citrus-flavored honey, one of the varieties in high demand. Many beekeepers think this traditional practice is long gone because the pesticides continue to pose a threat to their hives.
Unfortunately, solutions in response to this issue are sparse. The ideal solution is to discover a way to stop this seemingly unshakable citrus bacterial infection. Researches, however, seem far off from that result. In the meantime, citrus growers can’t help but spray their fields, though they should definitely not do so to excess. Beekeepers will have to sit back and see how the citrus greening research continues to pan out. Hopefully, better citrus greening treatment and management will emerge in the future. Only time will tell.
Admittedly, it’s not an easy time to be a citrus grove owner in Florida. If your operation needs financial assistance, contact Bankers South, an ag lending company based in Florida. We offer Florida agricultural loans through our AgAmerica Lending Program. Contact us to learn more about our ag loans and/or if you’d like to refinance your ag loan.