Florida grower talks about life with HLB and what California growers should be prepared to do
A longtime Florida citrus grower is making the best of a bad situation and has a very clear recommendation for California if commercial trees start to test positive for huanglongbing disease.
Pete Spyke is a citrus grower and owner of The Orange Shop in Citra, Florida. Spyke grows citrus for his gift fruit business, fresh fruit out of his shop and for juicing. Like most growers in Florida, his groves were hit hard by huanglongbing disease. AgNet West was recently in Florida and toured Spyke’s operation where he has been running his own experiment behind his roadside shop. The trial combines many different rootstock and variety combinations, aimed at identifying the most HLB-resistant trees.
Spyke warns California growers that if trees start testing positive for HLB in commercial groves, their only option is to take it out immediately. “The hardest thing you’ll ever do in your life is to look at the first greening tree in your grove and know in your heart that the thing you have to do is go cut that tree down today,” Spyke said.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture has taken this approach with the trees that have tested positive already in the state, but those have only been in residential areas.