Consolidated citrus BMPs still provide for regional flexibility

01/10/2013 04:14:00 PM
Renee Stern

The new consolidated citrus manual includes those needed updates as well.

One new feature is guidelines on grove rehabilitation and replanting for growers dealing with disease issues. "These are things to think about if you're pushing up trees and moving dirt around," Bartnick says.

The old manuals also didn't touch on protecting water resources such as wetlands, wellheads and streams with riparian buffers, he says. Many groves contain or are adjacent to depressional lakes, which now need to be surrounded by a 50-foot buffer.

"If you're replanting, this is the time to add a buffer," he says.

"This is the best compromise for everyone," says John Smoak III, general manager of Smoak Groves, Lake Placid. Regulators, growers and the environmental community worked together to develop the most workable solution for all sides.

The guidelines not only help protect groundwater but also improve his company's bottom line. "We were able to research how to be more efficient in the use of nutrients," he says. "It made us better farmers."

He's turned to more frequent applications of smaller amounts of nitrogen and other nutrients, and holds off until after heavy rains.

The new BMP manual contains "all common-sense stuff," says Mark Colbert, general manager at A. Duda & Sons Inc., headquartered in Oviedo.

"We don't like to spray or fertilize more than we need and see it leach out," Colbert says. Applications that miss their target also can affect water quality whether they land on standing water or bare ground.

Reading and following the outlined practices is similar to taking a college course in grove management, he says. Even so, "It's not 100 percent complete for everybody. It never will be."

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