Don Harden Talks Florida Lemons

Explore the niche industry of Florida lemons.

As more details are coming out regarding the full effect of Hurricane Irma on Florida agriculture, most eyes are turned to the first release of the monthly Citrus Forecast in October. It focuses on citrus like oranges and grapefruit, but Florida lemons will not be as great of a concern to most of The Sunshine State’s citrus industry. As I shared in my latest column in Central Florida Ag News, the commercial lemon industry in Florida is a very niche industry, so it’s not as prevalent as other forms of citrus. See the reasons why Florida lemons are such a rarity below, and what it takes to grow a lemon tree in The Sunshine State.
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Money Minute: Citrus growers can save money with new method of detecting immature trees

Offering flexible financial solutions for growers, such as the Citrus Grove Conversion Program, we’re not unfamiliar with thinking outside the box.  Managing a citrus grove is no simple task. It requires ingenuity and forward-thinking, which is why a new UF/IFAS study caught our attention; it may soon help citrus growers to better manage their groves, and save money in the process. The study focuses on an improved method for detecting immature citrus trees using a consumer-grade digital camera and algorithm.Read More

Good News for Florida’s Grapefruit Growers

The first two citrus crop forecasts of the 2014-2015 season, released by the USDA, leave Florida citrus growers feeling pretty good about what’s on the horizon for citrus. Production forecasts are holding strong, leaving the entire citrus industry optimistic.

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The Latest in Florida Citrus

The first two citrus crop forecasts of the 2014-2015 season, released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), leave Florida citrus growers feeling pretty upbeat about what’s in store for citrus this season. Production forecasts are holding steady, leaving the citrus industry at-large optimistic.

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Why AgAmerica Lending?

Bankers South is proud to be the only ag lending company in the Southeast authorized to offer AgAmerica loans. These exclusive loans boast interest rates that often beat all other agriculture loan programs. Covering all facets of farming, from smaller blueberry farms to vast cattle ranches, there’s bound to be an AgAmerica loan fit for your agribusiness and its goals.

Agricultural Land Loans

Whether you are expanding your existing ranch, purchasing a farm, planting your next row crop, expanding your groves, planting timber, buying more cattle, or making long-term enhancements to your farming or ranching operation, Bankers South has an agricultural land loan that fits your needs. Ag financing options extend to the following operations:

  • Farms of all types
  • Ranches
  • Dairies
  • Orchards
  • Vineyards
  • Groves
  • and more


Ag Loan Refinancing

If you want to refinance your agricultural or farm land loans to lower monthly payments, score lower rates, change the maturity of your loan, switch from an adjustable to a fixed-rate loan, broaden your operation, or make enhancements to your property, Bankers South’s AgAmerica loans are a smart choice. Bankers South refinances loans including:

  • Commercial farm loans
  • Ranch loans
  • Equine facility loans
  • Dairy loans
  • Citrus loans
  • and more


Rest assured, Bankers South will find the AgAmerica loan product that aligns with the goals of your agribusiness. Plus, loan terms are flexible and the underwriting process is quick and efficient! To learn more about the benefits of AgAmerica lending, contact Bankers South.

Florida Celebrates New Farm Bill

If you haven’t heard the good news, the farm bill received its final seal of approval courtesy of President Obama last week. It’s about time!

Its new-found status of completion is cause to celebrate.

Agribusinesses in Southwest Florida are very pleased, especially citrus growers.

Citrus growers waited nervously and impatiently for Obama to sign off on the proposed $125 million worth of emergency funds (dispersed over the next five years) dedicated to extensive citrus greening (HLB) research. Fortunately, Obama signed in favor.

These research funds are expected to not only benefit Florida, but also California, Texas, Arizona, and all citrus growing operations in the United States.

Over the past five years, Florida citrus growers have put approximately $70 million into citrus greening studies. Yet, despite heavy research initiatives, HLB continues to infect and destruct, damaging groves, killing off trees, and limiting harvests. Clearly, the solutions are slim. Hopefully, with these emergency funds in place, real solutions will surface.

Separate from the $125 million allocated for citrus greening research, the farm bill also assigns $275 million over the next five years to “specialty crop” research and initiatives (up from $230 million in the 2008 farm bill). Since citrus is categorized as a “speciality crop,” this presents additional good news (and funds!) for the industry.

Other nationwide farm bill programs are also expected to benefit Florida’s agribusinesses. New agriculture and food research initiatives, organic agriculture research and education efforts, and beginning farmers and ranchers programs are bound to aid Florida in fortifying its agriculture.

Need help developing your citrus operation? Call on us here Bankers South – a Florida-based ag lending company – for farmland financing support. Our AgAmerica Lending Program boasts unparalleled farm loan products perfect for re-planting citrus trees, expanding your groves, etc. Please contact us for further information about our AgAmerica farm loans and citrus loans!

Farm Bill News: Citrus Industry Scores!

Good news for Florida’s citrus industry and the agricultural community as a whole!

The 5-year farm bill debacle is finito. Well, almost.

As of February 4th, it’s finally out of Congress’ hands.

Now, all that’s left is President Obama’s seal of approval, which should come in no time!

Along with Obama’s stamp of approval, will follow a plethora of benefits to Florida’s citrus industry.

Anyone involved in the citrus industry is aware that Florida’s signature citrus crops have been hurting due to the ever-expanding HLB “citrus greening” epidemic.

To combat this invasive beast, heavy research and collaboration is paramount and urgent.

The farm bill offers the industry hope with its $125 million worth of mandatory funding for citrus pest and disease research initiatives. $25 million of this funding will be disbursed each year for the next five years to contribute to dedicated research efforts. Any unused funds will stick around, getting passed on to the following year.

Finally, the industry has access to a great organization with sufficient funding in place to support research outside of grower assessments. Thanks to a strong collective of citrus supporters, congressmen, and senators, as well as Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, this critical federal program has reached fruition.

Need help developing your citrus operation? Call on us here Bankers South – a Florida-based ag lending company – for farmland financing support. Our AgAmerica Lending Program boasts unparalleled ag loan products perfect for re-planting citrus trees, expanding your groves, etc. Please contact us for further information about our AgAmerica ag loans and citrus loans!

2014 Florida Citrus Show: Growers Gather to Talk HLB

Solutions are slim.

Crop numbers are down.

Growers are fed up.

Yet amidst all of the negativity associated with citrus greening, the industry is holding strong – perhaps more united than ever.

As citrus greening continues to compromise the production of Florida’s signature citrus crop, industry leaders and supporters continue to strengthen forces, endeavoring to battle and beat this incredibly invasive, seemingly insurmountable problem.

In late January 2014, a strong collective of growers, packers, and other industry stakeholders gathered at the Florida Citrus Show eager to talk solutions.

Ideas were tossed around including:

  • Replanting. A tree replant program is being pushed to counter the dwindling tree supply as a result of heavy grove clearing campaigns.
  • Antimicrobial research. Additional research is required to enhance delivery systems, develop a time-release formula, and to potentially find more HLB-fighting molecules. Greater pressure must be placed on Citrus Research and Development Foundation members for more research on the use of antimicrobials.


Glimmers of hope surfaced including:

  • Disease-resistant rootstocks. Promising disease-resistant sour orange and sour-like rootstocks are in their initial phases.
  • Antimicrobial treatment of HLB. Quite a few molecules have successfully killed Liberibacter in the greenhouse. Future testing (about a year away) will experiment with field application.
  • RNAi treatments. These treatments may disrupt Asian citrus psyllids via a non-transgenic approach.


But still, no one knows when a cure is coming.

Patience is waning, but fighting attempts are not.

The industry continues to forge ahead, more determined than ever to nix HLB from the groves for good.

Need help developing your citrus operation? Call on us here Bankers South – a Florida-based ag lending company – for farmland financing support. Our AgAmerica Lending Program boasts unparalleled ag loan products perfect for re-planting citrus trees, expanding your groves, etc. Please contact us for further information about our AgAmerica ag loans and citrus loans!

What’s Going On with Florida Citrus?

Florida’s citrus crops are continuing to suffer in response to the growing HLB (citrus greening) epidemic. HLB – a bacterial plant disease – results in both premature fruit drop and small fruit size issues – issues that, as of yet, have minimal solutions.

With HLB on the rise, citrus fruit production is plummeting, potentially heading for an all-time low since the freeze year of 1989-1990.

The USDA December estimate of the 2013-2014 Florida orange crop is at 121 million boxes, down 3% or 4 million boxes from its initial estimate of 125 million in November. Production of orange varieties, the grapefruit crop, specialty fruit, and frozen concentrate orange juice yield are also on a downhill spiral.

This excessive drop is, of course, worrisome for Florida citrus growers. With no promising plan of attack in response to the spreading incidences of HLB, it’s feared that this citrus crop reduction trend will continue.

Fortunately, the USDA has come to the rescue.

Members of the citrus industry, in a state of panic, shared their growing fears with the agency. In response, the USDA developed a plan for greater action and collaboration.

To help ease industry fears, the USDA has implemented a new, integrated emergency response structure to combat HLB with the high hopes of better coordinating HLB efforts and resources. This plan of attack should maximize collaboration, allow for more sharing of information, and create operational strategies to boost effectiveness when it comes to policy decisions, priorities, critical resources, and research.

To backup its commitment to the industry, the USDA allocated $1 million to be used in support of research initiatives that will (if all goes well) offer valuable and short-term solutions to citrus growers as they struggle to manage and combat HLB.

Hopefully, this collaborative collective will fill research gaps, resolve the unnecessary duplication of research, and speed up the progress of discovering useful tools for citrus growers to better handle and eradicate this disease.

Bankers South, an ag lending company based in Florida, is here to help you in any way that we can to support your citrus operation. Through our AgAmerica lending program, we offer ag loans covering all facets of farming, including citrus loans. Need to expand your groves? Buy new equipment? Renovate? These agricultural loans are a great option! Contact us for more information on these special ag loan types.