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Rusty’s Ramblings

Puttin’ Out Water

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Well the winter is over and spring was short lived, I think I missed it. It seems we went from winter to summer in about three days. Growers report that the bloom was one of the heaviest they have seen in a long time. As one old timer said “even the fence post are blooming”. Another grower said “heck that’s nothing, they left a picking ladder in my grove last year and it’s blooming – and its aluminum!!” But no kidding, most groves had a very good bloom on all varieties inside the tree and on the outside. Rains came at a good time during the bloom and that really helped. We couldn’t have had better conditions during and after the bloom. Now we just have to wait and see what sets and how much sticks during the summer.

Groves have continued to get rain now and then but are getting dry again. Besides regular summer production practices irrigation is pretty much going on everywhere. I was thinking the other day how far the citrus industry has come in conserving water in the irrigation process.

Growers used to put water out in a lot of different ways, some were to say the least hard and tiresome. The first irrigation I ever helped with was the old sprinkler pipe, they consisted of twenty foot joints of perforated aluminum pipe abort four inches in diameter that had a rubber seal and locked together. You had to lay them down the middle of the rows and after the time was up you broke them down and moved them over several more rows and did it all over again, the only fun was when they were stored over a period of time rabbits would hide in them and you could tilt the pipe up and catch the rabbit when it ran out, play with it a while and let it go.

Growers went to overhead irrigation, long risers coming up out of the tree with rain birds on top of them, these were effective but now we know about trans evaporation and wind loss so they went by the wayside. Then came the walking gun, this was just the ticket. You could pull out a long six inch hose set the gun at one end of the row tie the cable from the gun to a tractor at the other end and it would pull itself along either powered by a small gas engine that turned the winch or a gear that was water driven and would shut its self off when it reached the end. Water came out at around five hundred gallons per minute and would cover many rows so the pressure was very strong. Dad and I set one up in a grove near a home once and got a call in the afternoons from a very irate homeowner it seems that we were a little too close and took off about a third of his shingles on one side of the house and overflowed his swimming pool. One night I was supposed to be watching one in a grove we had in Groveland. I set it up all right and everything was going fine until about eight o’clock in the evening when I got thirsty. I heard the call of the Redwing so I decided I needed to run down the road and talk to Cracker the owner and maybe have a beverage or two. Well I never could count very well and when I returned to the grove I was a little drowsy so a nap was in order. Dad woke me up about seven and was, to say the least, mad. It seems that while I was sleeping the gun walled too close to a bank and turned over – you could put at least two pickups in the hole it dug. I spent all day with a hangover filling up the walking gun hole with a loader with no muffler.

So much for the good old days, getting back to the conservation issue. Growers had gone through all of those different programs and each one was better that before trying to use water more efficiently. We now use micro-jet systems that spray a small amount of water right at the base of the tree. We have gone from as much as five hundred gallons per minute with walking guns to as little as ten gallons per hour with micro-jets. It takes water to set a crop and water to grow it.

How will our crop be this next season? Growers hope a better crop than last year. Seems like I have heard that before, haven’t you!?

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We Came Through The Freeze Better Than We Should Have

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

How cold was it? One grower said it was so cold that he saw a politician walking around with his hands in his own pockets! It’s been many years since we have had freezing temperature recorded for as many days as we had. Some say 1958 others 1902, but at any rate enough was enough. Growers spent countless hours trying to keep irrigation running, fueled up and personnel out all night and all day. As we all know, growers are struggling with many problems so the extra cost of freeze protection and loss of product is one more hurdle.

Reports from Mutual field staff as well as growers and handlers are pretty much saying the same thing throughout the state. The fresh fruit industry as a whole came through relatively well. A lot of the packinghouses are still running and are inspecting each block before they begin picking to assess potential damage. This is not to say that in some of the harder hit areas fresh fruit is totally gone and has gone into the juice trailer or in some cases fallen on the ground. This will be the colder locations especially cold pockets and areas that had the longest duration below 28 degrees. One problem that packers report right now is that the market is flooded as everyone is trying to get their fruit in and it will take a while for that to settle out.

Packers are not sure how much shorter their season will be. It all depends on how soon the market will straighten out as well as the quality of fruit. Some of the smaller houses that utilize fruit in their local area will have to stop before long on certain varieties and move into Valencias. In some cases they already have. Most folks I spoke with say they lost some of their fresh fruit. We were probably going to lose 10 % on sunburst any way due to small sizes this year. Most grapefruit seem to have come through all right, with a few exceptions.

On the tree damage side, the worst of the damage is found on trees that were not in good condition going into the cold event, either from poor care or disease. Damage ranges from defoliation to some wood damage. Whether it will be major or minor is yet to be seen but for the most part those trees will lose quite a few of their leaves. This is the case all over the state where cold temperatures prevailed. In the colder pockets and lower locations damage to well cared for older trees seems to be limited to some defoliation and maybe some minor wood damage.

It’s amazing to see how well these well cared for trees came through with temperatures recorded as low as 18 degrees. Younger trees will have more damage in the upper parts of the tree and will lose a lot of the leaves and have more wood damage. In a few of the really cold areas some of these trees will probably not survive. Resets probably took the biggest hit. Out of the colder areas and up on the ridges things look better and some areas don’t show any damage at all. These areas will be limited to some leaf loss and maybe some twig damage. As a whole we came through this event better that we should have. Combination of cold leading up to the major event helped harden the trees and temperatures staying cool afterward has helped with the fresh fruit situation.

Most folks feel that we will get our juice fruit harvested but we will surely have loss of yield as plants are now reporting juice running from 42 to 50 pounds per box and it will surely drop as the harvest continues.

Valencia’s have had some damage as well but it is just too early to say just how much the yield will be affected.

On a closing note, one caretaker reports greening showing up more since the cold weather perhaps due to stress. The last think we really need right now is a very warm wet spell. These trees would begin to put out flush after they lose their leaves and we have the rest of the winter to get through.

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Moderate to Strong El Nino Winter Could Be on the Way

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Well it’s time to start looking ahead for what Mother Nature may have in store for us this winter. I know that from time to time we worry about making the right decisions about the weather and what to do, but it’s reassuring to know that citrus growers are not the only ones that have that problem. I do have some “real” information for you regarding the weather, but first I want to share a cute story:

A new Indian Chief was approaching his first winter as the tribal Chief. In the past, and throughout the history of the tribe, previous Chiefs had been able to forecast the severity of the coming winter by reading the signs, like what the ants were doing, color stripes on the woolly bears, etc.

Well, this fellow was a modern Indian and hadn’t paid much attention to his elders growing up and therefore had no idea what to do. But, being a modern man he called the weather bureau and asked the weatherman what kind of winter his area could expect.

The weatherman told him that it would be pretty cold so the Chief called a meeting of the tribe and told them to gather lots of wood, which they set about doing. A few days later the Chief got to worrying about whether he had given his tribe the right advice, so he called the weatherman again.

This time the weatherman told him that it might be a little colder than he had previously thought. So the Chief called another meeting of the tribe and told them to gather all the wood they could find, which they dutifully did.

About the time of the first frost, which came a little early that year, the Chief once more began worrying that he still hadn’t given his tribe the right advice. So, once more he called the weatherman and asked the same question.

The weatherman told him that it would likely be the coldest winter in many years and might even set new records for low temperatures. The Chief thought about it for a moment and asked the weatherman how he came to that conclusion; did he have some special information, scientific facts, or what?

The weather man said no, he didn’t have anything scientific to base it on, only that the Indians, who were close to nature, had been gathering wood like crazy.

I know that sometimes we may think our weather service works this way but I’m pretty sure they are more scientific that that!

Now, on to the “real” information – we’ve all heard rumors regarding the weather this year so I spoke with the folks at AWIS, our weather service out of Auburn, Alabama and here are some interesting facts:

Warmer sea surface temperatures across the Central and East Central Pacific Equatorial regions are expected to result in a moderate to perhaps borderline strong El Nino this winter. Basically, this means the southern jet stream becomes more active across the USA, resulting in more frequent storm systems moving across the Southern tier of states, including Florida. This brings with it an increased rainfall potential, typically producing 130-170% of normal rain totals during the winter months, across much of Central and South Florida. Along with this comes an increased threat of thunderstorms, some locally severe producing isolated strong tornadoes.

While winter temperatures frequently average a little below normal during El Nino years for Peninsular Florida, it is mostly a result of increased cloud cover and rainfall. A more frequent “zonal” weather flow from West to East typically reduces the number of potential “arctic” outbreaks from the Northern regions into the Southeast states. A warmer weather pattern frequently prevails over the Northern states, which often leads to less snow pack, resulting in higher chances of air mass warming during Southward moving cold air masses.

However, during El Nino years, just as any year, there can be a temporary “phasing” of the Polar and Sub-Polar jet streams, allowing cold air that has been “dammed” up in the far North lands to stream Southward deep into the Southeast US. Strong surface low-pressure systems in the Deep South, more typical during El Nino years, can aid in this “quick” shot of cold air intrusion. Thus the increased risk of an El Nino winter does not necessarily mitigate chances for a damaging freeze.

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Carl Reynolds; A Dear Friend and True Southern Gentleman

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Daddy, how can Mr. Carl sweep his driveway when he is blind? This was the question my young daughter asked after we had visited the home of my dear friend Carl Reynolds – probably the most remarkable man I have ever met.

When I started working for Mutual 30 plus years ago my area that I covered included Volusia County. Cecil Hull was working that area and since I was taking over he had to take me around to meet some of the growers. Cecil said, “We are going to meet with Carl Reynolds he isn’t a real large grower but he is a powerful force in the industry.”

This was the start of my friendship with Carl. The relationship included many adventures. Carl always said when you are down and out and think you have problems go by and visit him and you won’t be sad for long.

So Cecil and I pulled up to Carl’s house on Stone Street and he was waiting on the porch in a rocking chair. He had what looked like a straw plantation owner hat on except it wasn’t white.

As soon as we got to the screen door he said – as he always did – “Hey Buddy boy, good to see you.” His wife Mary Hester would welcome you with a hug and ask if she could get you anything.

Carl hadn’t always been blind. As young man growing up in Deland he was one of the first paper carriers in the area, he traveled all through the Volusia county area and further north into Pierson and Emporia.

On one of his trips, Carl was in a bad car wreck that caused nerve damage and would eventually take his sight. But despite losing his vision, Carl continued as a successful businessman. He was the first man to commercially finance automobiles in the Deland area. He also had a small fernery and, of course, an orange grove.

Of all the things Carl did, his passion was in the citrus business and taking the government to task. He really loved looking out for people and their rights. To keep abreast of industry happenings, he even had his wife read him the Triangle and Market news every week. He didn’t miss a thing.

I would visit with Carl once a month and we would get into his car and visit with many of the growers in the area. The most amazing thing was Carl could tell you just where to turn and say “See that big house over there that is old so and so or tell me how old Tom’s Hamlin block looks over there on the left.”

Carl had driven all over the place so often, he had a perfect photograph of everything in his head. I used to tell him “Carl I think you are peeking.”

After we made the tour we would always go eat lunch either Halls in Astor or pick up chicken from Hamptons and go to his house to eat. Of course Carl would never let me pay. I didn’t mind.

Afterwards we would discuss what was going on in the industry and he would ask me what we needed from him. Carl was well known in Tallahassee as well as Washington and when you needed him he could get the job done. I met many of our state representatives at his house but I guess my most memorable meeting was when I walked in and he introduced me to Gov. Lawton Chiles.

Taking Carl to Volusia County Council meetings was a treat in itself. The Council members knew they had problems when he was on the agenda. In fact, we were even asked to leave one meeting. I can’t reveal all the facts because some of the principals are still around, but I can tell you it was funny.

Carl’s interest in politics often took us to the front porch of Mr. Amory Underhill, a well-known lobbyist in Washington where we would drink iced tea and eat teacakes and talk politics. Let me tell you, I got an education. I learned how things up there really worked in Washington. These are times I cherish today. There are so many stories that I could tell about Carl but I don’t have the room.

My dear friend passed away not long ago. The citrus industry, Volusia County and the State Florida lost a voice of reason and a champion for the people. He said he just wanted folks to do the right thing, he expected that of himself and from the politicians who served the people.

Carl my friend, you were a true southern gentlemen one of the last of your kind. I miss you and I am sure the many lives you touched miss you as well.

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It’s Right Around the Corner!

Monday, June 8th, 2009

I hear it coming! It’s not far off now! It can’t be too soon! Can anyone out there tell me what it is?

Some growers aren’t ready for it and some growers say hurry it up.

It has been a struggle for a lot of growers; for the fortunate that had some good long-term contracts it was ok.

We went from near freezes to severe freezes…we had drought we had flooding.

Alright, you already may have guessed it – the end of the wild 2008-2009 season is just about here.

This was quite a wacky season here in Florida. The lower parts of the state were hit harder by the cold than some of the colder locations up north. The groves were just about as dry as I have ever seen before we recently got rain all over the state seemingly at once – reports range from 8 inches to 23 inches depending on where you live. Of course, growers are still fighting greening and canker, in addition to their everyday production practices.

Starting off the season with quite a carryover doesn’t bode well for the price of fruit. Growers who hadn’t sold or were on the cash market found this out the hard way. It’s hard to make production cost, much less a profit with 70 cent fruit out there. Even a dollar won’t get the job done.

If you say to a grower, “do you ever think we will have a normal year?” he will look at you with that faraway stare and say… “What the hell is normal?” I have to agree.

Soon the packinghouses will shut down and the summer cleanup will begin. I used to think my Dad was so bad because he let all but a couple of folks go during the summer. Getting older and seeing things through my pocketbook instead of his I now know why. You can’t make payroll unless you are shipping fruit. The few that worked during the summer would work on equipment or repair field boxes. That’s right we used the old 90 pound box. I wish I knew then they would be antiques now, selling for as much as 45 dollars! I wouldn’t be sitting here writing I would be on some tropical island reading!

As I say goodbye to this season I have to say goodbye to a few growers from my area that won’t be with us next season – George Scales of G&S packing, Walter Redding, Redding Grove Service, Ed Ehlers, M-C grove service, Clark Lyles, Summerfield Nurseries. I’m sure that many of you have a few old buddies that you too will miss next year.

The season came in like a lamb – and sort of went out like a lamb – but during it we had lions, tigers and bears, OH MY!!!!

What about next year? Nick Faryna says “we just have to wait and see but I guarantee it won’t be normal!”

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FAWN Network Needs Sponsorships

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Well it looks like we made it through another winter without too much damage from the several cold events that took place. There are some areas of the state that took it on the chin during one or more of these freezes with different degrees of damage. The industry as a whole came out much better than it could have. Now with the bloom coming and many of the trees that were defoliated putting on complete new growth, and trees flushing we sure could use some rain. One grower I spoke with said it was so dry he understood that St. Johns Water Management was going to put a restriction on eating watermelon between the hours of 10 am to 5pm. But it is dry and rain is critical right now.

This talk about weather brings me to a very important topic. That is the Florida Automated Weather Network or FAWN, as we know it. This past winter, like every winter, we use this service to help manage our irrigation systems for freeze protection. We are not alone, many other agricultural interest use this service. I would like to give some facts regarding this service and some of the obstacles FAWN is looking toward.

Fawn continues to operate on a rather limited budget. For 2008/2009 income will be approximately $425,000.
FAWN manages to operate a network of 35 sites, maintain a database and have a web site fully functional 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This year saw the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services – Ag Water Policy eliminate their $50,000 support. UF/IFAS also reduced their level of support, but not as significantly. Should IFAS eliminate one of the two positions they fund, FAWN would be in serious trouble. Currently non-IFAS funding supports three full time staff (field site manager, field site technician and a programmer) and three part time employees (web master, administrative assistant and field assistant). Travel and equipment are big-ticket items. Most of the towers and sensors are ten (10) years old. FAWN tries to calibrate each site at least once a year and upgrade equipment.
FAWN has plans to work with Dr. Lukasz Stelinski (Citrus Research and Education Center) to develop a pesticide application management tool. This tool will be invaluable to low volume applicators, as it will use National Weather Service information to provide “best” times to spray. Drift is a major concern with mist applications and the label requires applicators to monitor wind speed. This pesticide application tool will be of great value to anyone planning a spray application.
FAWN will continue to enhance the cold protection tool kit with improvements to several of the models. This past winter reminded citrus growers that cold weather is still a concern. To demonstrate the value of FAWN during cold events, simply look at the network’s activity during the 2008/2009 winter. From December 1 through February 28 there were 88,852 visitors that viewed 280,329 pages and spent 3 minutes and 49 seconds on line for each visit. Twenty-six percent of the visitors were new. The freeze event of January 20 to January 23 saw 19,300 visitors and the February 4 to February 6 events had 17,680. FAWN is still critical to cold protectors whether they be citrus, strawberry, fern, ornamental or vegetable producers.
FAWN has demonstrated the ability to provide timely and reliable data over the years. Recently the citrus industry asked the federal disaster program to allow FAWN wind speed data because NWS sites went down during high wind events. The citrus grower depends on FAWN for accurate weather data 24 hours a day. Adequate funding must be available to operate the system.

Growers wishing to provide assistance can send checks made out to SHARE to Rick Lusher, Director – FAWN, PO Box 110350, Gainesville, FL 32611-0350

Thanks for any support help keep this important tool in the growers toolbox.

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James and the Zuzu Fly

Monday, January 26th, 2009

When I first started with Mutual in the late seventies I only covered four counties and they were all in the northern areas of the citrus belt. Crescent City, Island Grove, Citra, Evinston, Brooksville, Hastings, Deland the list could go on and on needless to say I was not in the hub of the citrus producing area, but being born and raised in Umatilla I was quite at home in theses small and unique areas.

The growers were a great group of folks. You would call on them and most of the time you ended up going to their house for dinner. Now back then dinner meant lunch and they would ask you have you taken dinner yet? When you said no they would say “I’ll tell momma to put some more water in the soup and make some more cornbread”. The meals were always great and the conversation was just as good if not better. You got to know their kids, their dogs, and if you were lucky and they thought enough of you they might even ask you to come back around for their dove shoot or maybe a fishing trip.

Not long after I went to work for Mutual my wife and I parted ways. Being a single man, a few of the growers took pity on me and fed me more regularly than did others. In the Wiersdale area one of my growers was a man named Bud Boyer, we later became and are still lifelong friends. I ate lunch with he and his wife Kay so much that one day at the local garage one grower saw Bud go by and said to the others standing there “Look there goes Bud, he must be looking for Rusty he is dragging a hotdog behind his scout.” I felt kinda bad about that but it didn’t stop me from going back by because Kay is a good cook! There was one grower in the Narcoossee area that was quite unique. If he didn’t like you he would not even let you in his gate. I arrived there one morning and as I was pulling up as a fruit buyer was leaving. The fruit buyer said to the grower “ be back to see ya later.” The reply from the old timer was, “make D*&! sure you’re invited next time.” But this old man could fry up Wild Turkey breast the best I ever had.

As interesting as the growers were, the packinghouses had their share of characters too. In Crescent City there was a tangerine house named Snyder-Mew that had been built many years before. Fruit was still trucked in 90 pound boxes, (the kind folks today pay big dollars to get their hands on) and was dumped into the washer by hand. This duty of dumping these 90 lb boxes all day had to be delegated to someone that was pretty stout. In this house this was the responsibility of a man named James. One day I was up there and James had been dumping fruit all day and he was just about given out. This inspector just would not let up on him and was slowing everything down. Some of those little fruit flies just kept buzzing and buzzing around the inspector’s head, finally he said to James “what kind of bugs are these?” James replied, “Those are zuzu flies.” The inspector said “What are zuzu flies?” James said “those are the kind of flies that hang around a horse’s butt.” Indignant the inspector said “are you calling me a horses butt?” James replied “No sir I am not, but you sure can’t fool a zuzu fly!!”

More about the old time characters and packing houses later, maybe next time I will take yall to Drayton Island in the middle of Lake George to pick fruit and bring it out on a barge.

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Mutual Implements Freeze Watch as Winter Approaches

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Once again winter is upon us. We all wish we had a crystal ball to see what’s in our future. We do know that there is not a La Nina or El Nino out there so the weather folks refer to this as a neutral year. What that means I will leave up to them.

A few days ago we had several mornings of cool weather with accompanying frost in the northern production areas and some isolated spots down south. These cold snaps are putting our groves in great shape for the upcoming winter season.

They really slow the metabolism of the trees and help them fall into more of a dormant situation. If we do have any serious cold, the trees will now be in more of a dormant state without a lot of growth which allows them to withstand colder temperatures.

In addition, the cooler nights and mornings really help color our fruit and preserve what moisture we have in the groves. So contrary to the breathless media reports, these cooler nights are really good as long as they don’t get too cool.

Unfortunately, the frost has been more of a problem for the cattle folks; they are looking at some pretty brown pastures right now. So the hay has begun to flow to the cows.

As I do every year I have to consult with the cracker weatherman Ben Wheeler and get his ideas on the upcoming winter. Ben says that it’s a little early to get a reading on what the squirrels think but all the other signs point to a colder winter than last year. Judging by the heavy coats on all the other animals he think that may hold true. He said he has already heard the fainted cry of the migrating snowbird “I thought it was supposed to be warm down here!”

I want to remind members that Mutual’s Freeze Watch will be in effect when cold weather threatens. Once again we will be using AWIS out of Auburn for our information. Call Mutual any time and ask for the weather or ext. 805. We will update the information as needed during any cold event and it will be provided 24hours a day as a member service at – you guessed it – 863-682-1111.

In the event of a major freeze, Mutual will provide additional information, and in some cases we will staff the office. If you have any questions you may contact me at 352-266-2426 or rustyw@flcitrusmutual.com.

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What in the World Do You Boys Think You Are Doing?

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

“What in the world do you boys think you are doing? If ya’ll aren’t going to pick fruit and do it right I don’t need ya!!” How many times did we hear that? Growing up in Umatilla, I had the opportunity, as did other boys in high school, to earn part time money picking fruit for Umatilla Citrus Growers Association. Our fearless leader of our “picking crew” was my best friend in school we played football together and were as close as two brothers could be, but when the time came for him to be the picking foreman over the rest of us usually the trouble started. You see back then all you needed to drive a 2-ton straight job was a drivers license the world new nothing about CDLs or Any other type of training for that matter. What that meant was no one had any more right that the other to drive the truck and that was the sought after position on the crew. So that is where the fights usually began.

Mr. Hipson, as the manager of grove operations for the association, was our boss. He must have been blessed under a lucky star to have all of us high school boys working for him. We would head out with field boxes and a little water in a keg and that was about it. I bet a lot of you don’t remember the old wooden water kegs that opened up on just one side to let you put water and a big ole block of ice. If you wanted crushed they would grind it for you at the Gulf station. There wasn’t a spout on the keg either you had a dipper on it and when you got your drink you just sloshed the last swallow around in the dipper and threw it out that was to keep it clean. This was the OSHA training back then. I think that was some of the coldest water I ever had or maybe it was just hot.

The picking that we usually got was some backyard fruit or a small block here or there that was fine because we were not really all that productive. We threw just about as many oranges at each other as we picked. How many of you can remember a really good orange fight? They sure hurt lot more when they were green. I remember back then that a really good picker could pick anywhere from 75 to 100 boxes a day; our whole crew couldn’t do that.

Well, the old Umatilla packing house is gone and my best friend has passed away. Mr. Hipson is now the production manager of that big grove in the sky. I went on to bigger and better things or at least that’s what they tell me.

The reason that I am telling you all this is because I was one of the speakers at this year’s Umatilla Citrus Growers Annual meeting. They are still in operation as a marketing arm for their member’s fruit. There is not quite as many groves as there once was because of freezes, development, old timers passing away and other reasons. Still, even with all the challenges our industry’s faces, this event marked the Association’s 99th annual meeting!!!!! Quite a feat when you consider all they have gone through. If you had told me forty-four years ago, when I was picking fruit with Bart Tibbals and some of my high school buddies, how much this industry would change I don’t think I would have believed it.

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Water, Water Everywhere

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Water, Water everywhere but not a drop to drink, unlike the rhyme of the ancient mariner I don’t think anyone killed an albatross but this has surely been the feeling of a great number of folks throughout the state in the last month. As my dad used to say to me “it always rains after a drought son, but come on now we are talking rain not a flood.”

I think back a few months ago standing in the grove with the pump running burning up diesel thinking when is this drought going to come to an end? But as one Florida Cracker told a northern visitor that was complaining about the weather, just wait around a bit it will change.

When Fay blew through Florida last month and then sat on the River we certainly had a change. In some cases, groves and homes all over the state are still being affected by Fay in mid-September.
As bad as it may seem there are some good sides to this storm. Lakes and surface waters and certainly been brought up to levels that are close to normal and that has been long overdue. Of course this doesn’t mean anything to the folks that have been flooded out of their homes and the growers that are still trying to get water out of their groves.

Being born and raised in the great state of Florida I have seen quite a bit of change and one thing is the land that has been developed in areas that my grandfather and my dad said that were so low and swampy that a buzzard couldn’t fly over them without getting bogged down.

But nothing dries up that old swampy land and makes it more attractive like high land prices and more folks moving into the state. The state has not had the rain amounts that I used to see when I was a kid and maybe we never will but it doesn’t take but one Fay for everyone to see that if we were to have water as we did 50 years ago we can have some real severe problems.

We will still be assessing the damage to the groves for the next few weeks as some groves still have standing water they are trying to move especially in the Indian River areas along the St. Johns River and a few other isolated areas. Hopefully Mother Nature will be kind to us for the rest of the hurricane season and we will only get the rain that we need to keep levels up to normal and not flood.

One more good point is that it sure is nice to head into the winter months with some water in the lakes and ponds and ditches to help with freeze protection on those cold nights. But as our sage cracker told the northerner; weather in Florida will change just wait around. No doubt in the future we will be wondering once again about the latest drought and what the dry weather is going to do to next years crop?

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