Planning for the Future
Evans Properties, Inc. holds significant agricultural acreage for the production of citrus fruit. Today, the Florida citrus industry faces many challenges, including not only hurricanes and freezes, but pests and diseases. They have had a cumulative and debilitating effect on our industry’s ability to survive. With increased traffic and trade, multiple introductions of crippling pests and diseases have spread to Florida from Asia and South America. One of these is Asian Citrus Canker (commonly known as canker), and Evans has lost hundreds of thousands of our trees to the State mandated eradication efforts, which were previously utilized to attempt to prevent the spread of this disease.
The latest and deadliest disease to attack Florida citrus is Huang Long Bing (HLB), literally “The Yellow Dragon” in Chinese, or “greening”. Greening got its nickname because the infected fruit is lopsided, bad-tasting, and stays green instead of orange. It’s caused by a bacterium carried by an insect, the Asian Citrus Psyllid. Depending on tree size, citrus trees are killed by HLB in 6 months to 3 years after infection. In China and India, vast agricultural regions that have grown citrus for many centuries are now nearly devoid of citrus because of HLB.
Florida citrus growers are spending $250 million dollars annually to combat HLB in their groves. Growers have also organized and implemented a world-wide research effort designed to find solutions for HLB disease. This research effort is managed by growers and funded through a self-imposed tax on each box of fruit. More than $27.5 million dollars in research investments have been made by citrus growers with world class research institutions across the globe. Evans Properties Inc. has been at the forefront of this industry-wide effort, providing funds, management expertise, and leadership to organize these efforts to find solutions for these epidemics. So far, Evans has voluntarily removed more than a hundred thousand infected trees to prevent the further spread of HLB. It is not certain that a solution will be found in time to save our remaining trees, and it is very possible that the state of Florida could lose its iconic citrus industry.
Together, all of these conditions have caused Evans to look for potential alternate uses for our agricultural land. As stewards of our land, it is extremely important to make sure these uses are sustainable and are designed to continually renew both our property and the community around us. To that end, we are experimenting with alternative crops such as sustainable mulch and farm to fuel, as well as water services. Click here to learn more about this research.