Central Florida Ag News July 2022

Page 1


vol 13 | issue 1 | july 2022

The Voice of Agriculture for Our Region

Annual Citrus Report edition





2021-2022 RECAP




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CONTENTS | j u l y 2 0 2 2

The Voice of Agriculture for Our Region

On the Cover



vol 13 |

issue 1 |

july 2022


022 RE





for Our













The Voic e of Agr

Annual Citru edition s Report

PRE SOR PRSR T TSTD STD U.S. US POS Post age TAG E PA PAID ID Perm TAM it No. PA, FL 335 PERMIT Lake land #211 , Fl. 8

Vic Story, president of The Story Companies, stands in one of his Valencia orange groves near Alturas in early July. For growers all too familiar with struggle, the final numbers for the 20212022 citrus season were not surprising. Central Florida Ag News spoke with Story and others in the industry to learn what the tough season could mean for the future. Read more on page 12.

w w w. FloridaA gNews.com







Juanita Halter CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Paul Catala, Grace Hirdes, Teresa Schiffer, Carol Corley, J. Scott Angle, Brad Buck, Julie Gmitter,


In 1928, Florida had about 200,000 acres of citrus-producing groves, more than enough to keep machines and workers busy. That’s the year Hunt Bros. Inc. citrus packinghouse in Lake Wales opened. This year, the packinghouse closed up shop. Due to the devastating impacts of Hurricane Irma in 2017 and the severe cut in fruit supply, The Hunt Brothers’ packinghouse sealed its last carton May 6.


They’re little toppings with a big bang that just keeps getting bigger as their popularity explodes. In fact, one microgreen farm in Zolfo Springs is going a little more macro. Microgreens are the seedlings of edible plants that are becoming popular for use in meals to add color, flavor, and nutritional value. Due to the rapidly growing interest in microgreens, Florida Grows Inc. is moving from its current location to a larger facility in Wauchula.


Departments Publisher’s Letter President’s Letter Signs of the Season Calendar Angle’s Letter AgriShopper Agri-News

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CONTRIBUTING COLUMNISTS Baxter Troutman, Mike Roberts, Dr. Katie Hennessy, Ben Adams Jr., Marty Higgenbotham, Phillip Rucks CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER Michael Wilson CONTRIBUTING ARTIST Dawn Lewandowski DELIVERY DLS Distribution

Farm safety education is crucial for successful and robust operation, regardless of industry. In Central Florida, other than following good general farm safety techniques, there are also unique hazards to be cognizant of, especially during our summer months. We take a look at some recommended safety precautions to keep you and your workers safe.

5 7 9 10 16 18 22

Luis Rodriguez Rosado, Kirsten Romaguera

23 26 28 30 31 34 38

Ag-Rec Recipe Spotlight In the Heartland Ag Community Classifieds Ag Community II From the Editor’s Desk


56 Fourth Street Northwest, Suite 100 Winter Haven, Florida PHONE (863) 248-7537 Copyright © 2022 Central Florida Media Group. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This issue of Florida AgNews is a trademark of Central Florida Media Group. Reproduction or use in whole or in part of the contents of this magazine without written permission is prohibited. Florida AgNews makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of content published. In the event of an error found herein, however, neither the publishers nor advertisers will be held responsible, nor do the publishers accept any liability for the accuracy of statements made by advertisers in advertising and promotional materials.



Perspective and Progress IT CAN BE EASY TO GET SIDETRACKED by doom-and-gloom headlines these days, regardless of the topic. But I come from the school of thought that no matter how difficult the challenges may be, they’re not without their lessons. It’s about perspective and progress. That’s particularly true for this edition — our Annual Citrus Roundup Edition. Here’s the thing: We’re not hammering home notes of desperation. Instead, we’re going deeper to talk to the growers and industry professionals who are in the thick of it to gain perspective. We’re not always the bearer of good news, but I can honestly say we are always the bearer of hope. In our citrus season recap, we’re not burying the lead. Production was dismal. But we were lucky enough to talk to those in the industry who have not lost hope. Why? Progress, plain and simple. Researchers are attacking

greening on multiple fronts. These aren’t just any researchers; these are the best of the best. Their numbers will be further strengthened by the millennials and Generation Z, who are bringing a renewed drive and fresh perspective to the field. Just recently, 250 of the best and brightest in these up-and-coming generations attended the Florida Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers “Rooted in Resilience” Leadership Conference. The three-day event helped them learn and network with farm leaders throughout the state to focus on how farm families that are rooted in their communities manage to thrive despite formidable challenges. We all know that times are tough in the citrus business. So, here’s your homework: Next time you run into a grower, thank him or her for their efforts. ag

NELSON KIRKLAN D, Publish nelson@c er entralflori damediag roup.com


Was the Secret to Answer Saving to Citrus Trees Do Hybrids Hold the Greening? Just Unlocked?

Fibredust LLC. As a global leader in coconut coir production, Fibredust LLC can provide your company with quality eco-friendly sustainable coir products to your specifications, anywhere in the


Florida citrus growers have been struggling with Selection 3: This hybrid is world. “morphologically most With 7 factoriesthe located in India and Sri Lanka and now Mexico, we haveor the ability to for supply even the largest coir users dwindlingorange yearlyand harvests and have lowerbeen quality dueutilized to HLB, orange-like fruit” of CREC releases. It matures in Trifoliate its hybrids widely as them. It can facilitate theirthe effort to clone genes edit genes without are hands on coir producers with strict, so researchers have been on theaccounted hunt forfor orange-like December into a medium-sized, seedless fruitWe that rootstocks in citrus production. They 82% of the citrus greening disease resistance, save sacrificing their time, quality. reduce costs, standardized qualityAs control in place at every location and all of our citrus that could both quality and HLB or reaches 12theBrix with a 36 color score. •• New greening-tolerant greening-tolerant rootstocks rootstocks top 20 hybrids rootstocks used in theoffer 2018-2019 citrus propagation speed up development ofcoir new resistant cultivars.to HLB products are produced by us with no•• Hardy middlemen. Hardy versatile versatileYou treewill thathave can and varieties now available available tolerance for both and fresh markets. tolerance, reports are the original tree is when in control better cycle, according tothe Dr.juice Zhanao Deng,fruit professor of the qualitystrong product you need and expect buying from FibreDust LLC. “We identified candidate genes that may grow nearly 40 We ft indon’t three years Environmental Horticulture at UF. He also led and Research is ongoing through multiple channels health than standard oranges. just manufacture we growtoin citrus it! Ask us about our 200 acre blueberry operation in •• Largest Largest screened commercial commercial trifoliate orange’s coir, tolerance greening, •• Provides Provides crop crop protection protection from coordinated trifoliate genome orange-like sequencing, to develop, the test, and release Mexico,candidate FD4: Berries. Always for meeting needs we have developed a new blend citrus nursery in in the the US US strong genes citrus nematodes, Selection This orange hybrid iscustomers harvestable wind and disease disease with US wood fiber. In trials now excellent substrates to replace rockwool. OMRI listed. analyses, and mining efforts, and oversaw the citrus hybrids. candidate genes for cold hardiness, andJanuary. others,” •• DNA tested tested true-to-type citrus from mid-late November to late •• Reduces Reduces soil soil loss, loss, nutrition nutrition loss, loss, production of the final paper. Deng says. “These candidate seemunique to be varieties and rootstocks rootstocks available available Orange-Like Citrus Hybrid Contenders The seedless fruit has a genes distinct, agricultural chemical chemical drift drift and and “The most popular rootstock at present time, good targets engineering or editing for citrus irrigation loss Polk County Farm Bureau shape and aforhigh juice content with good •• Now Now contracting contracting for Most of the hybrids, though not all, are US-942, is a trifoliate orange hybrid,” says Deng. greening resistance.” overoriginal 78 years,tree, Polk County Farm Bureau••has as thefor eyes Now Nowserved contracting contracting 2021-2022 2022-2023 flavor and color.ForThe planted aimed at early and mid-season citrus and the and ears for Polk’s diverse agriculture community. PCFB seeks to 2021-2022 2022-2023 Trifoliate orange and its hybrids benefit scion citrus This genome sequence will make it much easier to pre-HLB, is healthy. orange juice stream. Some may have a protect agriculture’s best interests in areas of regulation, taxes, private Phillip Rucks Rucks develop new citrus breeding cultivars multiple ways regulatory including resistance to by Phillip tools that can be used property rights, and more. Our mission is to insure that local, state pedigreeinthat will make approval for The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service citrus tristeza virus, citrus nematodes, tolerance to citrus to speed up the development of citrus cultivars. New take agriculture producers’ needs and Two federal laws and regulations OJ challenging. released three selections. are highlighted: seedling damping-off, root and foot rot, and gummosis. DNA markers can be used to select desirable,and promising citrusimpacts into consideration. and economic community The UF CREC Plant Improvement Team released four Selection 1: “SunDragon” is an HLB-tolerant, sweet Very importantly, trifoliate orange and its hybrids possess genes plants years before they flower and bear fruit. DNA markers can selections. hybrid. Fruit sizeOcean ishundreds variable withthousands few seeds, help citrus breeders eliminate or of Organics that can provide a high level of tolerance to citrus greening and orange-like Completely Renewable but texture and taste are very close to oranges. It operations unwanted citrus plants when the plants are only several months The Wave of the Future…. We began in the 70’s with the Selection 1: This hybrid is ready in October and Novemresistance to Asian citrus psyllids. Deng says trifoliate orange has •• Produces shoots shoots and and trunks trunks yearly…. Month-long event old and it can help in finding rare plants with better citrus •• Licensed Licensed grower of low chill matures from late November into late January and early development of stress management products for intensively managed been a very important breeding parentfruit for citrus and a ber and features medium-sized withbreeding some seeds needeffective, to replant replant every every year year peaches peaches on on Flordaguard Flordaguard and and this December turfBrix grasses. Isle” were successful greening resistance. The sequencing, analysis, and“Emerald releasing of productsno Starting and through January 2021. It has reached 11-13 andThese 33/35 juice color EVENT major source ofgoes valuable geneshas fora improving citrus. flavor. It can February. and a high juice content that mild and sweet MP-29 rootstocks rootstocks Begin your online virtual ag expo experience at ahead of their time. collaboThey continue to be usedcarbon in professional the trifoliate orange genome areand direct results of close •• Absorbs Absorbs carbon dioxide and provide valuable genes gene color sequences forUnfortunately, using the latest score. It reaches 11 Brix and and 40 juice score. DETAILS turf today. Ocean Organics continues to be an innovator in the rations among Deng laboratory at the UF Gulf Coast Research releases 35% more more oxygen oxygen •• Low Low chill chill varieties varieties ideal ideal for for central https://centralfloridamediagroup.com/virtual-ag-expo/ biotechnologies andtree, precision to improve varieties, for Selection 2: This hybrid is development there is only one so itsbreeding HLB tolerance is unknown. a cross between a tolerant of seaweed based stress management and growth than an equivalent equivalent stand standof oftrees trees and Education Center, Gmitter laboratory at the UF Citrus and south Florida Florida climates climates resistance to citrus greening and other major diseases. enhancing products, offering these for use in commercial turf and mandarin and “SunDragon,” making it a good contender 2:to This is into similar Selectionfor 1 ain$25 its gift Research Rokhsar laboratory at the UC FREE to registerSelection & sign up be hybrid entered ourtodrawing card. and Education Center, REGISTRATION • • The newest superfood, the shoots are agriculture. •• Licensed Licensed for new released HLB and tolerance. its productivity is U.S. unknown, The high-quality orange genome is freely maturity dates trifoliate and unknown HLB assembly tolerance. It’s for Berkeley, Albert WuWhile and Shengqiang Shu at the Departrich in nutrientsnutrients- especially especially proteins, varieties available online to citrus researchers and other researchers at testing revealed 12 to 13-15 Brix and the juice was small-to-medium in size, seedless, and has a rich-fla- ment of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute (JGI). With the status carbohydrates, minerals carbohydrates, minerals and andfifiber ber •• Now Now contracting contracting for their Dr. Deng mentions has BECOME analyzed asVENDOR? “OJ-like.” LOOKING TO and is low in fat and sugar, our citrusAindustry is in I hope this is sooner rather than later in voredfingertips. juice. It reaches 12 to 12.5 Brixthis andgenome a 39 juice 2022-2023 2021-2022 become This a genomic resource enormous to and shakers and gluten gluten free. free. is your chance meet thevalue movers that are key to the agriculture developing better tolerant citrus to HLB. industry. color score. It’s thought to beofto cold-hardy. If you would like to be a part of the Central Florida Virtual Ag Expo - register online at https://centralfloridamediagroup.com/central-florida-ag-expo/




863-635-1948 •info@rucksnursery.com PHILLIP RUCKS CITRUS NURSERY, CONTACTINC. INFO: FOR MORE DETAILS, P.O.EVENT Box 1318 Frostproof, FL 33843 • www.ruckscitrusnursery.com Phillip Rucks, Owner www.floridagrownspecialties.com CONTACT MORGAN AT MORGAN@CENTRALFLORIDAMEDIAGROUP.COM | 863-248-7537 EXT. 11


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Florida citrus growers have been struggling with dwindling yearly harvests and lower quality due to HLB, so researchers have been on the hunt for orange-like citrus hybrids that could offer both quality and HLB tolerance for both the juice and fresh fruit markets. Research is ongoing through multiple channels to develop, test, and release orangelike citrus hybrids.


Citrus growers concerned that UF/IFAS’ nutrient recommendation rates pertaining to BMPs (best management practices) may have been based on outdated research will be happy to hear that SB 1000, known as the Nutrient Application Rates bill, was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The changes created by the bill went into effect on July 1. Griffin Fertilizer’s Mike Roberts offers a brief breakdown of the changes.


In the coming months, Adams Cold Storage will transition to join Cold-Link Logistics. Ben Adams will remain onsite during the transition, but afterward, he will be stepping away from the cold storage business and Cold-Link will assume the day-to-day operations of our Auburndale facility under their name.


The summer weather has its advantages for horse owners, such as lower hay bills due to increased pasture grass, shorter hair coats to maintain, and longer daylight hours. Despite these benefits, there are some challenges that come with the heat and extra sunshine. Dr. Katie Hennessy explains how to tackle some common summer health concerns.


Tracking genetics is nothing new to agriculture. In fact, the science of genetics is traced back to an Austrian friar tracking traits of pea plants. Scientists have followed genetic traits in cattle to identify which produce more milk or meat. But now, two University of Florida researchers hope to incorporate artificial intelligence (or “AI”) to analyze the genetic code to help keep cattle cooler and, thus, more productive


Community auctions are not only a blessing to the Generations’ worth of goods at Crutchfield Family Groves is being sold at auction! The 1,420 acres in 76 parcels will be sold for the Crutchfield Family on August 27 at Circle Theatre in Sebring. This sale will include commercial land, residential land, groves, farmland, waterfront, U.S. 27 frontage, and U.S. 98 frontage. Auctioneer Marty Higgenbotham explains that this family has been collecting property for more than 80 years.


Polk County Farm Bureau Political Forum

& 80th Annual Membership Meeting

Thursday, October 6th, 2022, WH Stuart Center, Bartow POLITICAL RALLY – 5 P.M. • POLITICAL FORUM – 6 P.M. DINNER & ANNUAL MEETING – 7 P.M.

Sponsorships are available for this event. If you are interested in sponsoring this event or need additional information, please contact Carole McKenzie at carolem@pcfb.org or 863-533-0561. 863-533-0561 • www.PCFB.org • Facebook.com/PolkCountyFarm Bureau 6 | CFAN


Polk Polk County County Farm Farm Bureau Bureau Protecting & Promoting Protecting & Promoting Polk Agriculture since 1942 Polk Agriculture since 1942 www.pcfb.org www.pcfb.org

Phone: Phone: 863.533.0561 863.533.0561

Member Member Services Services

p r e s i d e n t ’s c o l u m n

Carole McKenzie Carole McKenzie Executive Director Executive Director

Lori Kuehl Lori Kuehl Program Coordinator Program Coordinator

2021-2022 2021-2022 Board Board of of Directors Directors

Leigh Ann Wynn Larry Black Leigh Ann Wynn Larry Black President Charles Counter President Charles Counter DeVane Michael Matteson Kenny DeVane Michael Matteson Kenny Leslie W. Dunson, III Vice-President Leslie W. Dunson, III Vice-President Dean T. Evans Dean Evans Dean T. Evans Dean Evans Ellis Hunt, Jr. Past President Ellis Hunt, Jr. Past President Scarlett Jackson Scarlett Jackson Corby Myers Jack James, Jr. Corby Myers Jack James, Jr. Treasurer Nelson Kirkland Treasurer Nelson Kirkland Lanier Christian P. Spinosa Daniel Christian P. Spinosa Daniel Lanier Ed Lassiter Secretary Ed Lassiter Secretary David Lawson, Jr. Brett Costine David Lawson, Jr. Brett Costine Kyle R. Story YF&R Chair Kyle R. Story YF&R Chair Matt Story Matt Story Scarlett Jackson John W. Strang Scarlett Jackson John W. Strang Women’s Kevin M. Updike Women’s Kevin M. Updike Committee Chair Committee Chair Keith Walter Keith Walter

Location Location

1350 East Main Street 1350 East Main Street Building A, Ste. 4 Building A, Ste. 4 Bartow, FL 33830 Bartow, FL 33830

Offi Office ce Hours Hours

Monday-Friday Monday-Friday 9 9 a.m. a.m. to to 5 5 p.m. p.m.

Jimmy Jimmy Williams Williams Agency Agency Manager Manager

Bartow Bartow Offi Office ce Agents Agents Phone: 863.533.0561 Phone: 863.533.0561 James James L. L. Moser, Moser, Jr. Jr. Jimmy Jimmy Williams Williams

Haines Haines City City Offi Office ce Agent Agent 203 203 S S Dixie Dixie Drive Drive Phone: Phone: 863.421.4545 863.421.4545 Rhonda Rhonda Ambrose Ambrose Winter Winter Haven Haven Offi Office ce Agents Agents 3039 Cypress Gardens 3039 Cypress Gardens Road Road Phone: Phone: 863.299.3892 863.299.3892 Barry Barry Walker Walker Jason Jason Yates Yates

Greetings! Florida Farm Bureau has announced that MyFFBF.org is now available for Florida Farm Bureau members. This platform will allow members to manage their own membership information, access their member benefits with full detailed information, contact member services directly, or sign up for EZ pay. Another quick way to access member benefits is the Florida Farm Bureau app for iOS and Android users, where you can stay up to date with the latest news, market updates, and member benefits. The app is a great way to keep member benefits information at your fingertips. Log in to MyFFBF.org or download the app today and get connected! We will hold our Annual Youth Speech Contest on Tuesday, August 23 at 4 p.m. in the Brenneman Room at the Polk County Extension office, 1702 US Highway 17, Bartow. This year’s theme is “In addition to food and fiber, what other positive impacts in your local community can be attributed to agriculture?” The speech packet and application can be found at floridafarmbureau.org or email carolem@pcfb.org. Applications are due to PCFB by 5 p.m. on Friday, August 19. The Second Annual Home Field AGvantage Ag Day celebration is just around the corner. The event will kick off on August 27 with the season opener Florida State Seminoles vs. Duquesne Dukes at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. The second event will be Florida Gators Football vs. South Florida Bulls at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 17 in Gainesville. For more information, contact Racheal Smith at rachael.smith@ffbf.org. Save the Date! The 80th Annual Polk County Farm Bureau Annual Membership Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 6, 2022, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Polk Extension Office W.H. Stuart Center in Bartow. A Political Rally will begin at 5 p.m. followed by a Political Forum at 6 p.m. All November general election candidates will be invited to attend. Active PCFB members will receive invitations by mail. Sponsorships are available for this event. If you are interested in sponsoring this event or need additional information, please contact Carole McKenzie at carolem@pcfb.org or 863-533-0561. As a reminder, our Bartow office has relocated to 1350 E. Main Street, Building A, Suite 4, Bartow. We invite members to attend our open house planned for Friday, October 14, 1 – 4 p.m. Sincerely,

Calling Calling from from Lake Lake Wales Wales 863.676.3187 863.676.3187


LEIGH ANN WYNN President, Polk County Farm Bureau CFAN | 7


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Watermelons are synonymous with summer. What else is strongly associated with summertime? Why, the Sunshine State, of course! So it should come as no surprise that Florida is the top producer of watermelons in the U.S.

A JUICY BOOST FOR FLORIDA’S ECONOMY Watermelon production is an integral component of Florida’s agricultural economy. Approximately 25 percent of all the watermelons that are grown in the United States are cultivated right here in Florida. We claim 24.7 percent of the country’s watermelon acreage and 29.6 percent of the nation’s watermelon crop total value. What that means for Florida is that in 2019, watermelons comprised 13.2 percent of all vegetable crops produced in Florida, making the cucurbit melon the state’s third-ranking vegetable in terms of crop value. This translates to $161.54 million in cash receipts for watermelon production in 2019. As of 2017, there were 431 farms in Florida producing watermelons. That’s about nine percent of Florida’s total vegetable-producing acreage. In 2020, 26,300 acres of watermelons were planted in Florida, and 25,200 acres were subsequently harvested. The average yield per acre was 38,080 pounds, which comes out to a total production of

958.65 million pounds produced of the popular melons in Florida. The price per pound for watermelons has ranged over the last decade from a low of $0.144 per pound in 2016 to a high of $0.223 per pound in 2013. In 2020, the average price per pound that watermelon growers received was $0.164. The production cost for watermelon cultivation is about $5,559 per acre in North Florida. This factors in fixed overhead costs, variable operating costs, and expenses associated with harvesting and marketing. According to UF/IFAS, growers generally have net returns ranging from $1,350 to $8,209 per acre. No matter how you slice it, watermelons are a delicious product of Florida’s dedicated agricultural community and make an important contribution to our state and nation’s economy. by TERESA SCHIFFER Sponsored by Farm Credit of Central Florida

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J U LY — A U G U ST 2022 C A L E N DA



This vibrant, eclectic market brings the community together every Saturday in Downtown Lakeland with fresh, local produce, live plants, and a variety of hot foods and handcrafted wares. It is located on the 200 block of N. Kentucky Ave. in Lakeland from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. every Saturday (except in August) and is a production of the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority (LDDA). Learn more at downtownfarmerscurbmarket.org.


The Lake Wales Downtown Farmer’s Market is sponsored by Lake Wales Main Street and takes place every second and fourth Saturday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at 20 N. Market St. in Lake Wales. This producer-only market specializes in locally grown, pesticide-free produce and plants, baked goods, local honey, Florida grove pepper sauces, cheeses, award-winning BBQ sauces and rubs, homemade jams and jellies, natural pet treats, plus a ton of crafts, clothing, and jewelry. For more information, you can contact Lynn Greenfield at (863) 676-8782 or visit lwmainstreet.com/farmers-market.

JULY 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, AUGUST 6, 13, 20, AND 27 SATURDAY NIGHT RODEO

This fun, family-friendly rodeo takes place every Saturday from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. at Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo, located at 3200 River Ranch Blvd in River Ranch. Enjoy the antics of cowpokes and bronco busters as they show off their skills in trick riding, bull riding, calf roping, barrel racing, and more. Kids are invited into the rodeo arena toward the end of the night to participate in a real “calf scramble.” Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for children ages 5 – 12, and children ages 4 and under are free. For more information, please visit westgateresorts. com/hotels/florida/river-ranch/westgate-riverranch-resort/activities/rodeo/.

10 | CFAN

Every second Thursday of the month you can take your favorite canine with you to enjoy a large selection of beer and enter a raffle to win a gift basket. Sponsored by Orchid Springs Animal Hospital and held at Union Taproom, located at 245 W. Central Ave. #102 in Winter Haven, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Call (863) 268-4921 for more information.


This is the second fishing festival (rescheduled from June) in the Bonfire Festival & Tournament Series held at Camp Mack, a Guy Harvey Lodge, Marina & RV Resort, located at 14900 Camp Mack Rd. in Lake Wales. Register to participate in the fishing tournament or just check it out as a spectator, and attend the Bonfire Party the preceding evening (Friday) to enjoy the customary lighting of the Blazing Bass Sculpture. Get more information on this festive fishing tournament online at guyharveycampmack. com/bonfire/.




The perfect convention for anyone passionate about the outdoor lifestyle! Industry-leading companies will be present displaying high-tech gear, equipment, and cutting-edge hunting and outdoor products. Educational seminars available, taught by experts in their fields, Field-to-Fork Cooking Demos, and Archery Trick Shooting will excite and captivate the whole family. Hours are 2 – 6 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets purchased in advance online are $9 for adults for one day, $4 for youth ages 13 – 17, and kids 12 and under get in free with a paying adult. Get tickets or learn more at openseasonsportsmansexpo.com.


This class is for professionals who treat ornamental plants and beds around buildings. It will take place 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at UF/IFAS Extension Polk County, located at 1702 S Holland Pkwy in Bartow. The registration fee is $20 and includes lunch. The instructor will be Luis O. Rodriguez, Small Farms and Pesticide Education Extension Agent, Polk County. For questions, please call (863) 519-1049 or (863) 5191041. Register ahead of time by going to eventbrite. com and searching for “Limited Commercial Landscape Maintenance LCLM Exam Prep Class.”



Elaine Berner will share her four decades of experience studying and supporting Monarch butterflies by presenting her knowledge at the Alexander Discovery Center from 10 – 11 a.m. at Bok Tower Gardens, located at 1151 Tower Blvd in Lake Wales. This informative session is free with general admission or membership. Learn more at boktowergardens.org/calendar/.


This in-person training will be held from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the UF/IFAS CREC Ben Hill Griffin Jr. Citrus Hall in Lake Alfred and will provide the necessary training and exam in order to obtain a Limited Certification for Urban Landscape Commercial Fertilizer (LCULCF), also known as the Fertilizer License. Lunch will be provided with registration. If you have any questions, you may contact Julie Schelb at (863) 519-1068 or j.schelb@ufl.edu or Luis Rodriguez Rosado at (863) 519-1049 or lrodriguezrosado@ufl.edu. Register online easily at www.gibmppolkaugust2022english. eventbrite.com/.


Every Saturday, Grady Goat Farm hosts a fun and relaxing yoga class featuring their famous goats. Tickets are $15 for each attendee. This delightful event benefits Project G.O.A.T. (Global Offensive Against Trafficking), a charity that works to protect children. Grady Goat Farm is located at 12551 Franklin Rd in Thonotosassa. Learn about this incredible farm and all that they do by visiting their website at gradygoat. org.


A fun, family-friendly weekend enjoying the various entries of Chili Cook Teams competing in an International Chili Society (ICS) sanctioned event from 12 – 6 p.m. Adult and youth teams will be judged to crown the Camp Mack champion. General admission is free, registration fee required for entrants. Additional food trucks and vendors will be positioned at the Riverfront at Camp Mack, a Guy Harvey Lodge, Marina & RV Resort, located at 14900 Camp Mack Rd in Lake Wales. For more information, please call Kevin DeNell at (954) 465-3804 or email kdenell@guyharveyoutpost. com. You can register your Chili Cook team at guyharveycampmack.com.

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FEATURE | e d i t i o n

Citrus Season Recap After Disappointing Season, Growers Hope Research Will Slow the Slide by PAUL CATALA


FOR GROWERS ALL TOO FAMILIAR with struggle, the final numbers for the 2021-2022 citrus season were not surprising. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s June report for the October to June 2021-22 season estimated a season total of 44.75 million boxes of oranges, grapefruit, and specialty citrus, down more than 22 percent from the previous year. Oranges account for most of that estimate, with 40.7 million boxes, while grapefruit was estimated at 3.3 million boxes and tangerines/ tangelos were estimated at 750,000. While 2021-2022 was a disappointing season that echoed the familiar decline in citrus production, it didn’t mark the end of an era for most growers and industry experts. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried cited the meager bump in production estimates from April to June as a sign of hope. “Our producers have faced challenges over the past decade, including the continued impact of citrus greening and severe weather events. However, Florida orange juice and our fresh citrus continue to be in demand by consumers.” Many citrus growers such as Vic Story, presi-

dent of The Story Companies in Lake Wales, remain guarded on the season outcome and what it could indicate for the future. Story says the 2022 citrus season was more or less hit-and-miss, but mostly “miss.” “Some of our groves did pretty well this season,” he says, “but the ones we picked at the end did not. We had a heavy fruit drop. We picked the least we picked in some time. It was a very poor season, no question about that, due primarily to the fruit drop.” Established in 1945, The Story Companies holds about 1,800 acres of citrus, leases about 400 acres and caretakes about 2,000 acres across Central Florida. The Story Companies harvested about 400 boxes an acre of Valencia oranges, but other varieties averaged about 100 boxes. He says the average is 225 per acre, with the high at about 425 boxes per acre. Other factors for The Story Companies’ lessthan-stellar season were greening and a signifi-

cant freeze in January. He says the citrus greening put trees under stress, causing them to drop fruit; some blocks were filled with dead wood. “For us, there were some blocks that were in bloom at that time and even though we ran our microjets, it still was very damaging,” says Story, who adds that impact will carry forward to the next crop for growers. “There are some blocks with dead wood. And for greening trees under stress – it causes them to drop fruit.” Story says he’s used gibberellic acid to help rejuvenate trees to hold fruit better, although it causes the outside of the orange to stay green while the inside develops. Overall, Story says growers have been able to maneuver to keep up production, although he sees a further decline in numbers of growers statewide. “It’s a lot more work than it used to be. I haven’t given up yet, and we’re making it work so far. We’re doing a lot of things at different times of the year to help the trees stay healthy and for us, a lot of that’s working,” he adds. “There are other growers committed and hoping things get better. The trick to that is to stay in business long enough … to get in viable production.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 14

12 | CFAN


Florida Roots Hunt Bros. Packinghouse Closure Leaves Only 13 in Operation in Florida by PAUL CATALA

In 1928, Florida had about 200,000 acres of citrus-producing groves, more than enough to keep machines and workers busy. That’s the year Hunt Bros. Inc. citrus packinghouse in Lake Wales opened. This year, the packinghouse closed up shop. Due to the devastating impacts of Hurricane Irma in 2017 and the severe cut in fruit supply, The Hunt Brothers’ packinghouse sealed its last carton May 6. Hunt Bros. will still run about 4,000 acres of citrus groves with fourth-generation family members keeping the harvesters picking. When in operation, the packinghouse packed primarily oranges, grapefruit, and mandarins. Frank Hunt III, a Hunt Bros. owner, told employees that in order to replant trees following Hurricane Irma, the company had to sell 1,000 acres of groves, reducing the fruit supply. That reduction, coupled with a loss of citrus other than Valencia oranges, made the company’s sole packinghouse financially unsustainable. Daniel Hunt, Hunt Bros. cooperative president, says the loss of trees and citrus damage associated with the impacts of Hurricane Irma along with the ongoing citrus greening crisis were the main factors that led to the packinghouse’s closure. When the doors shut, the packinghouse had about 50 workers, each of whom will get assistance from Hunt Bros. to find other jobs in the citrus industry. “Citrus greening makes producing quality citrus in Florida challenging. However, if prices remain high enough, it might be profitably done through things like CUPS (Citrus Under Protective Screen),” Hunt, 41, says. “Also, with Florida fruit supply continuing to contract packinghouses, it will continue to diversify what they handle, such as imports and other crops.” Besides Lake Wales, Hunt says citrus greening also led to the demise of fresh fruit packing and shipping operations. More than 500 acres of grapefruit groves in the Immokalee and LaBelle areas were lost due to hurricane-related flooding. Even though the packinghouse closed, Hunt says Hunt Bros will continue to grow citrus with its primary focus on oranges for the processing market. He cites Florida’s Natural Growers as providing competitive returns back to its growers. In addition to focusing more on the processing market, Hunt says the company plans to lease out the 100,000-square-foot packinghouse warehouse and 880-pallet cooler space. Hunt says the packinghouse closure was “tough,” but citrus greening impacted growers across the state and caused them to have to make hard business decisions. “I am confident that research will eventually provide growers with the tools to thrive in a greening environment,” he says. “The goal is for Hunt Bros to still be growing citrus when that happens.” According to the Florida Department of Citrus, with the Hunt Bros packinghouse closure, there are now only 13 packinghouses currently operating in Florida. In 2000, there were 106 in operation.


THE NUTRIENT APPLICATION RATES BILL: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW CITRUS GROWERS CONCERNED that UF/IFAS’ nutrient recommendation rates pertaining to BMPs (best management practices) may have been based on outdated research will be happy to hear that SB 1000, known as the Nutrient Application Rates bill, was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The changes created by the bill went into effect on July 1. Here’s a brief breakdown of the bill’s changes.

A Call for Change

In mid-2021, citrus growers started to voice their displeasure with what they termed “outdated science” that was behind the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) nutrient recommendation rates pertaining to BMPs. Growers were concerned with warnings that they were out of compliance with BMP guidelines when applying nutrients, such as phosphorus, above IFAS recommendations created in 2008. Those guidelines did not take into account the higher nutrient needs of citrus trees affected by HLB as citrus greening had only just been detected in Florida groves in 2005. In response to growers’ concerns, Florida Sen. Ben Albritton filed bill SB 1000 in December 2021. Then, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Nutrient Application Rates bill last month.

Details of The Nutrient Application Rates Bill

Florida Citrus Mutual Executive Vice President/CEO Mathew Joyner maintained that the bill will authorize citrus growers to vary from current BMPs on nutrient applications under the following circumstances: • When using site-specific nutrient management; and, • When supported by written recommendations from a Certified Crop Adviser who also holds a 4R Nutrient Management Specialty certification. The written recommendations need to be documented using production and field data that is retained for review during the best management practices implementation verification process. The Nutrient Application Rates bill also clarifies that nutrient recommendations are just that — recommendations — and are not meant to be regulatory. In response to the issues with Citrus BMPs, Joyner maintained the legislation instructs UF/IFAS to analyze the use of site-specific nutrient management for crops other than citrus and develop a research plan and interim recommendations for implementation. Thankfully, UF/IFAS researchers already indicated in mid-2021, in response to grower concerns with BMP recommendations, that they would be issuing new recommendations that better suited an HLB by MIKE ROBERTS growing environment. This column is sponsored by Griffin Fertilizer Co., and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers. BIO: Mike Roberts is the Vice President of the Frostproof, Florida-based Griffin Fertilizer Co. Roberts joined the company in November 2011. He has spent the majority of his career in the fertilizer/agchem industry. Roberts earned a Bachelor of Science degree in citrus production from Florida Southern College in Lakeland. For more information, visit griffinfertilizer.com.

CFAN | 13

Citrus Season Roundup continued from page 12

Vic Story


To help that cause, Fried secured $18.5 million in the 2021-22 state budget to support Florida citrus production, health, and research. Those initiatives will hopefully keep the citrus industry stable next season, although at Hunt Brothers Inc. citrus growers, like Story, 2022 numbers were down. Daniel Hunt, Hunt Bros. cooperative president, says his company’s season was similar to that of other growers. “Boxes per acre, pound solids per box and brix are well below where they need to be,” he says. “However, we are optimistic that these issues will be resolved as young trees mature and tools improve.” Christina Morton, director of communications for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, says despite what she calls “compounding factors” impacting this season’s yield, growers are optimistic due to support from consumers and lawmakers. Morton says folks are seeing renewed appreciation for the benefits of Florida-grown orange juice. On the legislative front, there were positive efforts during the 2022 Florida Legislative Session to support the citrus industry. “All this to say that many hands are working 14 | CFAN

to support and sustain this important economic driver for our state, and this season was certainly a great reminder of that commitment,” she says. Despite the downward trend, it’s not all gloom and doom, says Ray Royce, executive director of the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association. The association’s executive director since October 2001 and a citrus grower from 1981 to 2001, he says that even though most growers are disappointed with the most recent season, he sees an upward swing ahead. “Obviously, the growers are disappointed that we continue to see overall reductions in production, but hopefully we’ve seen the bottom of the curve and we will start to see some modest increases in production next season,” he forecasts. Like Story, Royce says greening and cold weather dealt the most critical blow to growers this year. “There have been little bits of things here and there that further added to the overall problems associated with greening,” he says. On a positive note, Royce says he doesn’t see competition from international markets causing much disruption in domestic citrus production, although some citrus brands are sourcing juice

from outside the U.S., primarily Brazil and Mexico. “It’s not a significant problem,” he says. “We just need to be able to put a good crop on the tree and have that crop last through harvest; that’s our most significant problem right now.” Like other growers, Royce acknowledges the conversion of groves to development as trees become less profitable and/or die because of greening. “The primary challenge facing the industry is how do we grow a good tree in the presence of a disease?” he says. “How do we put a good crop on that tree? And how do we get the tree to carry that crop to harvest?” Royce is hopeful that next season, improved tools and production practices will allow more fruit to stay on the trees as more young trees are planted. Due to so many limitations, he says he doesn’t ever see the Florida citrus industry returning to the prime position it once held. “What we want to see in the industry is to see it start to grow incrementally every year moving forward,” he says. ag FloridaAgNews.com

FEATURE | t r e n d s

Microgreens Go Macro

Zolfo Springs’ Florida Grows Expands to Wauchula as Business Booms by PAUL CATALA


THEY’RE LITTLE TOPPINGS with a big bang that just keeps getting bigger as their popularity explodes. In fact, one microgreen farm in Zolfo Springs is going a little more macro. Microgreens are the seedlings of edible plants that are becoming popular for use in meals to add color, flavor, and nutritional value. They are different from larger herbs and vegetables that can take weeks or months to grow in that they can be grown, harvested and eaten a week to 10 days after the cotyledon — a part of the embryo within the seed — has developed. Due to the rapidly growing interest in microgreens, Florida Grows Inc. is moving from its current location to a larger facility in Wauchula. Brent Thompson and his niece Jillian Thompson launched Florida Grows in 2015 with the intent to build an indoor hydroponic lettuce farm, but when an associate from Pennsylvania introduced the pair to microgreens, the roots were planted for their now-booming business. Florida Grows currently serves Polk, Highlands, Hardee, Manatee and Sarasota counties, delivering to restaurants, health food stores, produce stands, and farmer’s markets across the region. Brent Thompson, 48, says the microgreens – which only grow a few inches – come in between 50 and 60 varieties. He says they can have a more intense flavor than larger vegetables and herbs. As far as nutrition, studies have shown microgreens may have more health benefits and can be up to 40 times more potent in phytochemicals – chemicals in plants that affect health. On average, studies have shown microgreens have four to six times more nutrients than their mature counterparts, and that’s led to increased popularity and increasing business for the Thompsons. They’re moving their operations to have more growing capacity. “Because the family has a lot of business entities, this move helps everyone involved,” says Thompson, referring to his family’s citrus caretaking and heavy equipment hauling. Currently, Florida Grows has about two-tenths of an acre of grow space. The new location, which will expand grow space to about a half-acre, will be partly taken over by Jillian Thompson. The company now averages $400 to $500 a week in sales during the busy season. Like farmers across the country and beyond, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has cut into some of its business, but Brent CONTINUED ON PAGE 24


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STARTING A NEW CHAPTER WITH COLD-LINK LOGISTICS IT’S JULY, which is usually a slow news month; however, this time there’s a bit of news. In the coming months, I will step down as owneroperator and president of Adams Cold Storage as our company transitions to join Cold-Link Logistics. I will remain onsite during the transition, but afterward, will be stepping away from the cold storage business and Cold-Link will assume the day-to-day operations of our Auburndale facility under their name. This came about a little suddenly, but not as a big surprise. We have been colleagues with Cold-Link since they started in 2020. We have been able to help guide them as they have grown into an industry leader. As such, they embrace the high-quality standards and people-first philosophy that have helped Adams Cold Storage become synonymous with quality. The most important part of our discussions about this transition was to make sure they take care of the people who have made Adams Cold Storage what it is. I have tried to stress during this monthly column how important the people of ACS are to me personally, and to the quality service and industry-leading care we give our clients. The people of ACS are our success. For our current clients, many of whom are looking to grow and expand beyond our Auburndale facility, Cold-Link comes with a built-in network of facilities that could help them reach their long-term goals. I am excited to see what the future holds. For me, as a lifetime local resident, the experience of starting and growing a business in my hometown has been beyond my imagination. When we opened on December 15, 2010, we had nothing in the warehouse. Our first customer was the Louis Dreyfus Corporation, and we have had a full warehouse ever since. We’ve grown from storing citrus drums to finished goods to palletized goods. We have 7.9 million cubic feet in our two state-of-the-art facilities — and there is room to grow on our site. I am proud of the work that I — and many, many others — have done with Adams Cold Storage. Together, we have made something that has had an impact on the daily lives of people in our community and in our state. From school lunches to emergency supplies to people in need, we have tried to be a good steward of our facilities and our company. Now, I am excited to watch the story continue and I am confident that the story will be good.


This column is sponsored by Adams Cold Storage, LLC, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers. BIO: Ben Adams, Jr. is an owner and president of Adams Cold Storage, LLC, in Auburndale. He has been directly involved in citrus production, warehousing and distribution, as well as state and community support, since 1980. His facility incorporates some 250,000 square feet of multitemperature warehousing, and is AA rated by BRCGS.

16 | CFAN


Dr. Angle

Scott Angle is the University of Florida’s Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).

J. Scott Angle jangle@ufl.edu @IFAS_VP

UF/IFAS Focusing on Fast Help for Growers UF/IFAS CONTINUES an all-hands-on-deck/ solutions-now response to HLB to accelerate our science to the speed of need. This preceded my arrival, but since I became the leader of UF/IFAS two years ago my message to our researchers has been to focus first on what can benefit growers right now. The topics of much of our research are often driven by funding source. But when we have the opportunity to explore, we seek advice from growers, discuss what we’re seeing in the field and identify what will make the most difference in the short term. It’s allowed us to come at HLB from multiple angles—53 angles, in fact. That’s how many HLB-related research projects we’ve got going in four major areas: 1. Phloem biology: tree response to infection 2. Therapeutics: near-term products that can be cost-effective in controlling HLB bacterium 3. Maintaining infected trees: Keeping groves productive during the search for a long-term solution 4. Nutrition: Fertilizing for tree health Number 4 is about to get a boost, thanks to those in the industry who identified the problem of outdated nutrient recommendations. I heard you loud and clear. Current guidelines are based on pre-HLB healthy trees and may no longer be valid. Thanks go to Sen. Ben Albritton for securing funding to get started on the answers. The legislation will support best management practices research on nitrogen and phosphorus rates for citrus and other crops. This was my highest priority in the 2022 legislative session. Expected outcomes of citrus BMP studies include: • Updated guidelines for fertilization and BMPs • Revision of “Florida Citrus Production Guide” and “Nutrition of Florida Citrus Trees” publications • Information on the economic feasibility of various fertilizer rates and sources Of course, UF/IFAS isn’t doing this alone. We have valuable industry partners. I appreciate

Rick Dantzler’s management of one of UF/ IFAS’s direct support organizations, the Citrus Research and Development Foundation. 2022 Citrus Achievement Award winner Kristen Carlson played a key role as founding executive director of the Citrus Research and Field Trial (CRAFT) program, and Tamara Wood has picked up where Carlson left off. Matt Joyner is managing to do the impossible—filling the shoes of recently retired Florida Citrus Mutual CEO and Citrus Hall of Famer Mike Sparks. Shannon Shepp continues to relentlessly promote citrus and secure markets for the state’s growers. I also declared it a priority to fill what some of you might consider “the Bill Castle position,” an evaluator who can assess the varieties coming out of our citrus breeding program. John Chater started in January. You have my pledge to continue listening and answering your questions as best I can. You can reach me at jangle@ufl.edu. Or you can find me at the many industry events I attend. In June, I delivered a keynote speech at the Florida Citrus Industry conference, and next month I’ll be in Fort Myers for the Citrus Expo. I’m planning for a long future for Florida citrus. That starts with doing as much as we can to give you tools you can use right now. ag

John Chater


Now You Know

Fruit Flies Are Common, but Here’s How You Can Beat Them by LUIS RODRIGUEZ ROSADO


IF YOU HAVE SEEN FLIES flying around your ripe fruits, it is probably a fruit fly. Drosophila (a genus of flies that includes the family Drosophilidae), also known as small fruit flies, are a common pest in Florida all-year-round. Especially during late summer/fall. They can be found almost everywhere, including houses, restaurants, markets, farms, etc. How do I know these are fruit flies?

There are approximately 1,500 different species of Drosophila, each with its own distinct characteristics. Florida is home to approximately 27 species of fruit flies. It is important to remember that for proper identification of a specific species, an expert in the subject matter may be needed. In general, the common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) has red eyes and is yellow-brown in color, adults are approximately 0.1 inches long, and have black rings in their abdomen. Females have a pointier and longer abdomen, and the abdomens of the males are darker at the end.

Why do I have these unwanted pests here?

Drosophila are attracted to ripened, fermenting, or rotten fruit and vegetables. Fruit fly infestations occur indoors when fruit and vegetables are brought inside a building, especially when they are ripe or fermenting. In farms, when fruits are ripe, these flies will be attracted to them causing damage to the produce. This means that harvesting timing is important to avoid infestations at farms and other agricultural establishments. Another attractant to Drosophila could be any other rotten/fermenting materials on the farms besides fruits. They are commonly found in garbage disposals, trash containers, empty cans/bottles, and surfaces that are moist containing fermenting materials.

How long does it take for the flies to infest fruits?

Fruit flies display complete metamorphosis, meaning they have four stages in their life cycle — egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Fruit flies can complete their developing cycle in approximately one week if environmental conditions are favorable (moist environment with a food source). After mating the eggs are laid in approximately 24 hours on fruits and vegetables. The eggs (Drosophila melanogaster) are white and oval-shaped, and they will hatch in the fruit they are laid on. Once hatched, the white larva start eating the fruit. It goes through three instars stages, and in four days it morphs into a pupa. The pupa stage lasts for four days, until the adult emerges from it. The adult life span of a fruit fly is between 40 to 50 days. An adult female fruit fly can lay up to 500 eggs during its lifetime.

How can they damage my fruits and vegetables?

Although most fruit flies are associated with ripened or fermented fruits, Drosophila suzukii (spotted wing Drosophila) can infest unripened fruits and are of economic importance to agriculture. Economic losses are caused because of maggots infesting the fruits making the produce unsuitable for consumption, or by holes created by the females when they lay eggs, which allow bacteria or fungus to enter and colonize the fruits. This can cause substantial loss of produce depending on the size of the infestation.

How do I get rid of these pests?

•P revention and Sanitation: The easiest way to prevent fruit fly infestations is to eliminate any attractant of the flies. Remove any fermented or rotten fruits and vegetables from your house, garden, or farm. If you want fruits to ripen on the plants, harvest the fruits as soon as they are ready to avoid possible infestations. Clean any surface that may contain pieces of fermented or rotten fruit and remove any debris that CONTINUED ON PAGE 29


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HELP YOUR HORSE MANAGE SUMMER ISSUES THE SUMMER WEATHER has its advantages for horse owners, such as lower hay bills due to increased pasture grass, shorter hair coats to maintain, and longer daylight hours. Despite these benefits, there are some challenges that come with the heat and extra sunshine. Here’s how to tackle some common ones: Hydration It’s important to make sure your horses are staying hydrated during the intense summer heat. Horses can lose up to twice the amount of liquid through sweat in hot and humid conditions than they would in cooler weather. This increases even more with exercise. Horses also lose electrolytes when they sweat, but they don’t feel this loss the same way humans do. That’s why it’s important to provide access to clean, cool drinking water and offer a free choice salt to replenish hydration and electrolytes. A great way to get your horse drinking is to offer a 5-gallon bucket of cool water with 1-2 scoops of Gatorade powder in it. Experiment with the flavors to find which one your horse prefers. Staying Cool Provide plenty of shaded areas for horses during the summer, avoid exercising in the heat of the day, and always cool down after you’re done riding. The best way to dissipate heat is to rinse with a cool hose that focuses on the neck, chest, and between the legs. Sunburn Pink skin around the eyes, nose, and thin white hair on the shoulders/hips are very prone to sunburn. While this is uncomfortable for the horses, continuous sunburn or recurring sunburn can lead to skin cancer. Apply sunscreen to these areas daily using any human product or zinc oxide. Fly masks/sheets that are UVA/ UVB protective are also great at keeping exposure down. Stalled horses that get turnout should have the times rotated for turnout from evening to dawn during the summer months to avoid sun exposure. Allergies Some horses suffer from plant allergies or may be allergic to bug bites in the pasture. Insect control, turning out at times when insects are less prevalent or switching to a pasture with a different type of grass can be helpful. There are also medications that can be used to decrease sensitivity by DR. KATIE HENNESSY to allergies. This column is sponsored by Polk Equine, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers. BIO: Dr. Katie Hennessy graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 with a degree in large animal health and equine medicine. She completed an advanced internship at The Equine Medical Center of Ocala and is currently the owner and practicing veterinarian at Polk Equine. Her expertise ranges from small and exotic creatures to large animals, specializing in equine medicine.

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AGRISHOPPER SHOPPER School Is Out, but Fun Is Still in Session by GRACE HIRDES

Summer is a busy time for all those little ones in your home. Without school to keep them occupied, it’s often difficult to find enough activities and crafts to keep your kiddos entertained. If you are looking for some ideas, try out some of these ag-related activities to help your children learn about the world around them while keeping them occupied at the same time. 1. M iniature Maze Corn mazes across the country always draw a big crowd as people tour their local agricultural landscapes. If you have enough space in your backyard to create your own mini-maze, your kids will love it! You can even have them draw out their own maze, help lay out the strings to plant their own garden, and then enjoy it as the maze grows. You can design it using tall-growing grass, vegetables, or even different varieties of flowers. 2. Painted Fences Get your little Picassos involved in your local garden/farm project by arming them with brushes and paint. Having children paint the picket fence protecting the garden will allow them to contribute while getting their creative juices flowing. The fence can be repainted semi-annually/annually to keep things fresh. This concept also adds a fun splash of color to your garden. 3. Miniature Gardens Have your kiddos create miniature replicas of the garden you tend. The concept of creating miniature villages (w/gardens) within the garden for decoration is not a new one, yet is rarely used as a means to capture the attention of children. Helping establish these tiny environments within larger ones will give kids a fun and engaging way to express their creativity while taking on the responsibility of maintaining a “zone” exclusive to them. They will toil away in the soil for hours so be warned, you may have a hard time getting them to leave the garden when dinnertime approaches. You can buy age-appropriate miniatures from a local home and garden retailer, a craft shop, or even an aquarium supply store. 4. Farm Sensory Bin For this activity, you will need a selection of cereal or other edible items, as well as a selection of plastic or wooden farm animals/ figures/ trees and a tray, to contain your farmyard. We also recommend putting your farmyard inside a large tray to contain the mess. This is a really simple craft and will entertain your kids

for hours. Fill your different areas with cereals or snacks of different colors, then add a few of your farmyard characters and some plastic trees. If you want to make a really messy edible farmyard some melted chocolate “mud” could be a fun addition. Edible sensory play is perfect for little ones who might put things in their mouth, and this yummy edible mud makes the best mud for small plastic farm animals, whilst also being safe for babies and toddlers. 5. Paint With Corn For this craft, you will need red, yellow, and orange poster paint, a cob of corn, white paper, yellow paper, and green paper. To begin, roll the corn in the paint and onto the white paper. Once the white paper is dry, cut it into an oval shape. Next, glue the white paper onto the yellow paper and cut out, leaving a 1-cm border. Lastly, cut two leaves out of the green paper and glue them onto your creation. 6. Coffee Filter Pig Craft To make this coffee filter pig craft, you’ll need one white basket coffee filter, construction paper, crayons, a glue stick, and a pink marker. Once you have all your supplies together, start by drawing the pig’s eyes. Leave the whites uncolored so they’ll show up well later. Then color the entire filter pink and glue it onto the center of the construction paper. Draw an oval nose with two black slits. Next, use a brown crayon to lightly draw the oval and then trace over it with a black crayon. Next, give the pig a smile. Once your smile is in place, use a black crayon to outline the ears at the top corners. Then use the pink marker to color them in. Lastly, decorate the area around your pig. This craft will be sure to entertain kids for a while as they focus on each step and learn about the pig and the different shapes it takes to create a face. Keep this list handy, and the next time your child tells you they’re bored, pull it out and enjoy one of these activities or crafts and encourage your little ones to learn about animals and agriculture.


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FloridaAgNews.com 22-2162463-0422

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RESEARCHERS FOCUS ON CATTLE GENETICS TRACKING GENETICS is nothing new to agriculture. In fact, the science of genetics is traced back to an Austrian friar tracking traits of pea plants. Scientists have followed genetic traits in cattle to identify which produce more milk or meat. But now, two University of Florida researchers hope to incorporate artificial intelligence (or “AI”) to analyze the genetic code to help keep cattle cooler and, thus, more productive. Raluca Mateescu, a UF/IFAS professor of animal sciences, and Fernanda Rezende, an assistant professor in the same program, are starting by collecting hundreds of thousands of pieces of information about the genetic traits of cattle. From there, they plan to use the university’s supercomputer, HiPerGator, to analyze this data and begin to draw conclusions. Using the results from HiPerGator, Mateescu and her team are hoping to be able to give ranchers recommendations on which of their cattle to breed in order to produce more and higher quality beef and dairy products. Mateescu’s work in tracking the genetics of cattle for improved production is not unprecedented. In 2017, there were approximately 9 million head of cattle in the United States, down from the peak of 25.6 million in 1944. However, those 9 million cattle produced more milk than their antecedent. This improvement in production was made simply by observing trends in the animals. Mateescu and her team feel like, with the aid of AI, they will be able to pinpoint the genes more quickly. Of course, traits of economic importance within livestock, such as milk and meat yield and quality of meat, rely not only on genetics but also the environment. Since only so much can be done to affect a cow’s environment, working to breed an animal better suited to their environment is key. However, with so many different genetic factors – 770,000 DNA genetic markers, more than 18,000 genes and 86 traits in the 1,000 cattle included in their study – no human is able to analyze this data in a meaningful way. That’s where HiPerGator, the largest university-based supercomputer in the world, comes in. HiPerGator tells the scientists what particular combination of genetic markers and genes will result in better animals—in other words, which ones will be cooler and thus, more productive. And this, Mateescu says, is just the beginning. “We are just starting to use AI to address these problems.”


This column is sponsored by Labor Solutions, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers. BIO: Baxter Troutman is founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing company with offices in Bartow, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, Arcadia, and Plant City. You also can visit his Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch online at www. DH-LR.com. A cattle rancher and citrus grower who served in the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges and concerns of today’s farmer.

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FEATURE | f a r m

Safety First Common Sense, Caution Go a Long Way in Prevention by JULIE GMITTER


FARM SAFETY EDUCATION is crucial for successful and robust operation, regardless of industry. In Central Florida, other than following good general farm safety techniques, there are also unique hazards to be cognizant of, especially during our summer months. Attire and other accessories can help keep workers safe during their day-to-day activities. It’s important to avoid loose-fitting clothing or hanging garments that could accidentally get caught in equipment. Safety goggles should always be worn for sawing, mowing, grinding, and chipping. Respirators or other approved devices should always be worn during pesticide handling and application. When thinking about Florida-specific farm safety concerns, heat probably comes to mind first. Florida is also the lightning capital of the country! Working in a field or atop a piece of farm equipment can make you an

easy target and could result in severe injury and even death, so it’s important to stay mindful of weather conditions and forecasts when working outdoors. David Byrd, who was born and raised in Polk County, is familiar with Florida agriculture and its inherent safety issues. Byrd taught agriculture in a high school for 24 years, then served as a teacher resource specialist for agricultural and industrial programs, and continued to teach ag mechanics, conservation, and international agriculture development at Warner University. He points out a potential injury that might not immediately come to mind — allergic reFloridaAgNews.com

action to plants or animals, especially if there is no prior knowledge of the allergy. He shared his own experience of a severe allergic reaction to mango sap. Luckily, his reaction was not life-threatening, but it did serve as a powerful cautionary tale. “We have a mango tree in our yard incidentally, and I carried a bunch of them inside one day,” he says. “Over the next few days, I developed serious itching and rash, and the more he scratched the more it spread! It looked like poison ivy on me. If I touch a limb or pick a fruit still oozing a bit of sap, that’s all it takes.” Byrd also emphasizes the importance of wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen, as well as long sleeves. It’s crucial to cover up to make sure to avoid excessive exposure to the intense Florida sun. Exposure can cause skin health problems later down the road. While dealing with livestock, there’s always the potential for injuries from stomping, kicking, and biting. These can often be avoided by staying clear of the animal’s blind spots. In addition, it’s important to remember not to get too comfortable around livestock because of their unpredictable nature. Students raising large animals for fairs and competitions need to be extremely careful when handling new project animals, Byrd says. Luckily, technology has improved farm and agriculture safety and helped to reduce the number of injuries, especially since the 1960s and ’70s. “Technology has helped, but OSHA and worker safety education has also made a difference, for sure,” Byrd says. “We’re fortunate to be recipients of education but also fortunate that there are worker safety standards. There are advocates for workers to help look out for you, your rights, and your safety. Conditions are better than they were even in the 1960s and 1970s, protection and safety-wise.” ag

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AgriNEWS Can Tea Become Florida’s Next Commodity? by KIRSTEN ROMAGUERA, UF/IFAS correspondent


IT’S DECIDEDLY ICED TEA SEASON in Florida, but whether you take your tea hot or iced, sweet or unsweet, black or green, the infused leaf in your cup could soon come from a Florida farm. University of Florida researchers are investigating whether you can grow tea plants in the Sunshine State. Their findings from a yearslong trial at the UF/IFAS Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Citra appear in the journal “HortTechnology,” a publication of the American Society for Horticultural Science. For the trial, scientists tested seven tea “accessions” during years three to five of their growth, which includes the time the plants are expected to reach harvesting maturity. Researchers use the term “accessions” for any plant that does not yet have a cultivar name in the United States. “We started with eight varieties, and one of them had 100% mortality,” says Brantlee Richter, assistant professor in the UF/IFAS department of plant pathology and member of the research team. “We put weed cloth in to manage the intense weed pressure here in Florida and used a drip irrigation system, but otherwise, we didn’t do anything to baby these plants,” Richter says. They were out there in the harsh Florida sun, and we even had a hurricane remnant hit the plot during the study period. Even tropical storm-force winds didn’t seem to faze the plants or cause 22 | CFAN

them to lose a lot of leaves.” Despite being commonly grown in many countries around the world, tea is still considered a specialty in commercial production for the United States. That’s why obtaining plants for the trial proved challenging. “We actually found a few of the selections from camellia ornamental nurseries,” Richter says. “Tea is a camellia species, but it’s not sold or produced at the scale of commercial production.” Tea varieties, she explained, derive from two lineages: A Chinese line that’s more sun-adapted and an Indian line that’s more shade-adapted. For Florida, the team concluded, plants from the shade-adapted line may be better suited to the fickle climate. The best-performing plants in this study overall were from a variety called Fairhope. Bala Rathinasabapathi, a UF/IFAS professor of horticultural sciences and another researcher on the project, notes this study marks a “starting point” for learning which varieties will grow best in Florida. “We feel that North-Central Florida is pretty good in terms of climate for growing tea, and tea likes acidic soil, just as citrus does,” Rathinasabapathi says. “In South Florida, we would have to

do more experimentation to find out whether tea can grow in a truly tropical region with harsher temperature conditions.” Here’s another outcome from the study: Researchers took measurements throughout the growing process that should give growers a better idea of the potential success of a plant. “Most perennial plants have this problem that you would only know how well they are doing after growing for several years and establishing full-fledged plants,” Rathinasabapathi says. “This paper tries to circumvent that to help growers know within a year or two which plants are doing better than others.” The UF/IFAS tea research continues, including exploring shade production practices and breeding new varieties that may hold the best potential for Florida’s conditions. “It’s not impossible to grow tea in different regions of Florida,” Rathinasabapathi said. “I think eventually we’ll find material that would suit different climatic zones.” Funding for this research originated with a specialty crops block grant from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The published study, “Performance of Seven Tea Accessions in North-central Florida: Correlations between Potential Yield and Growth Parameters over 2 Years,” can be accessed at https:// bit.ly/3yA621M. ag FloridaAgNews.com

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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission


Annual Florida Python Challenge Set for August 5-14 THE ANNUAL 10-DAY FLORIDA PYTHON CHALLENGE will be held August 5-14, 2022. Members of the public are now able to take the required online training and register to compete to win thousands of dollars in prizes while removing invasive Burmese pythons from the wild. The competition is open to both professional and novice participants. “The Everglades is one of the world’s most prized natural resources, and we have invested record funding for Everglades restoration projects, including record funding for removal of invasive Burmese pythons which wreak havoc on the ecosystem,” says Gov. Ron DeSantis. “Because of this focus, we have removed record numbers of invasive pythons from the Everglades. I am proud of the progress we’ve made, and I look forward to seeing the results of this year’s Python Challenge.” “The Florida Everglades is an iconic habitat in Florida and removing Burmese pythons from this ecosystem is critical to the survival of the species that live in this vast wild area,” says FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. “Under the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis, the FWC and our dedicated partners continue to have great success conserving our native wildlife and managing this invasive predator.” SHOWTIMES: Sat Satand&Sun Sun Noon and 1 pm

“The Florida Python Challenge® provides an opportunity for people to actively participate in Everglades conservation by removing the Burmese python, an invasive species that is actively damaging our native wildlife populations,” says Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Executive Director Eric Sutton. “We are grateful for the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, who continually demonstrates his commitment to combating invasive species, which is a critical component of conserving our native species.” “As a South Florida native, I am thankful to Governor Ron DeSantis for his ongoing commitment to Everglades restoration and protecting our natural resources,” says South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Member “Alligator Ron” Bergeron. “The great partnership between the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is critical as we work together to protect the Greater Everglades Ecosystem and combat invasive pythons. Thanks to the Governor’s leadership we now host the Python Challenge annually, and I appreciate the efforts of every python hunter who is participating!” “In partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the South

Market Hours Fri 8-3 • Sat-Sun 8-4

Florida Water Management District is removing about 60 percent more pythons each year under the leadership of Gov. DeSantis,” says South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Drew Bartlett. “The Python Challenge is yet another way to get people directly involved in the protection and stewardship of the Everglades. We continue to expedite Everglades restoration efforts thanks to the support of Governor DeSantis, and we’ll continue doing everything we can to protect this important ecosystem.” Visit FLPythonChallenge.org to register for the competition, take the online training, register for optional in-person training, learn more about Burmese pythons and the unique Everglades ecosystem, and find resources for planning your trip to South Florida to participate in the Florida Python Challenge®. Participants in the 2021 Florida Python Challenge® removed 223 invasive Burmese pythons from the Everglades, more than double the number that was removed in 2020. Over 600 people from 25 states registered to take part in the 10-day competition in 2021. ag Over 40 years of local jobs and vendors in the community


Noon & 1PM






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When Micro-Greens Go Macro continued from page 15


Thompson thinks the company’s move will help bring back and stabilize more business. Florida Grows is expanding from 647 square feet — with three offices in a warehouse, a nursery, a grow room, and a processing room — to 1,200 square feet. The new building has twice the rack capacity, and grow space and will be run part-time by Brent and Jillian Thompson, along with Brent’s sons Alex, 24, and Nicholas, 18. Nicholas’ twin, Serena, is a student at Florida Southern College in Lakeland and the family resides in Sebring’s Spring Lake community. “It’s definitely a family community effort to make this happen,” says Brent Thompson, who grew up in Wauchula. “Hopefully, Florida Grows will be able to do something a little more by next year. We feel like we have a lot of irons to strike, and there’s options everywhere. Hopefully, once we get moved in the next two or three months, something will break loose for us.” Part of that break comes through Florida Grows’ microgreen sales in several of Polk and Highlands counties’ more renowned establishments, such as produce stands in Lake Wales, 24 | CFAN

Walker’s Produce in Bartow, Faded Beer Garden & Bistro in Sebring, Eighteen East Restaurant in Avon Park, and Café Zuppina in Lakeland. David Ailstock, Eighteen East owner and cook, says he gets Florida Grows microgreens for his dishes every Wednesday, mostly sorrel and mixed greens. He says he uses them as garnishes for shrimp, pork chop, and portabella mushroom dishes and he “doesn’t believe in garnishes that can’t be eaten.” “The customers love them, and I use them a lot. They all taste great and look pretty,” says Ailstock, who is in his 10th year with Eighteen East. As microgreens become more popular, more companies are cropping up. Thompson says there are “dozens” of competitors and one of those is owned by Lisa Welsh of the Vitality Farms Co. in Lakeland. Although they have business competition, Thompson and Welsh formed the International Microgreen Growers Association Florida, a professional association of microgreen growers and companies providing products and services to the microgreens Industry. ​​ The idea, Thompson says, is to “help each oth-

“By forming this loose co-op, that gives us the ability and grow space and volume to be able to go after bigger customers such as, hopefully, maybe in the future, Publix or Disney or anything like that,” he says. As the Thompsons’ company grows and expands, sales have increased. For the 2020-21 fiscal year, they averaged more than $20,000 in sales, an increase of 15 to 18 percent from the previous year. With the move and expansion, Brent Thompson sees better returns ahead as microgreens continue to bloom in homes and restaurants. He touts the mini veggies’ high count of vitamins, calcium, zinc, and magnesium as part of their appeal to consumers, but getting folks educated on the product is still necessary. “They’re very versatile, and the nutrition overall is off the charts. You’re getting three or four times the vitamins and minerals. But so many people in this area don’t know what they are, how to use them, or what they’re good for,” says Thompson. Currently, Florida Grows delivers primarily to South Lakeland, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, across Highlands County, the Lakewood Ranch Farmer’s Market, Sarasota, and Bradenton. Thompson plans to increase distribution to the west more as more folks get hooked. “Once people try it, they love them; they keep coming back,” he says. “They realize the nutritional benefits, they realize the flavors that they get and want to keep buying.” ag


Farming is stressful Help is available Call 211 Or Text ‘FarmFL’ to 898-211 Working on a farm can be physically and emotionally demanding. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, you’re not alone. Nine in ten farmers cite financial issues, farm business concerns and fear of losing their farms as mental health stressors. Call 211 to speak to someone who will listen and provide the resources you need to get through tough times. Calls are confidential and can be anonymous.

Learn more at 211.org

Recipe Spotlight When Life Gives You Lemons… by CAROL CORLEY


YELLOW IS A CHEERFUL COLOR, and the versatile lemon can help bring those feelings into the kitchen. Lemons, which are native to Asia, are used worldwide in recipes, drinks, and cleaning agents. Better yet: There are uses for nearly all parts of the lemon. For cleaning, lemons have been used to remove grease, deodorize, disinfect, and brighten copper. Where lemons really shine, however, is in the kitchen. This special fruit is low in calories but high in vitamin C, B6, potassium, and fiber. It is believed to help prevent heart disease and strokes and reduce the risk of cancer. They are also believed to help prevent kidney stones and protect against anemia. It can also help tenderize meat, as long as it isn’t left too long. When selecting lemons, the sunnier the color the better. When cooked just right, lemons bring a complex new flavor to foods, from tart to sweet to savory. In looking for just the right tastes, we can start with a spritzy drink.

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(Adapted from foodandwine.com)

Ingredients Blackberries, 1 cup whole Lemon juice, 1/2 cup plus slices for garnish Sugar, 2/3 cup Turmeric, 1/3 teaspoon ground

Water, 1 cup, then 1/3 cup, then 1/2 cup Seltzer, 12 oz Ice

Directions Start by dissolving 1/3 cup sugar in 1/3 cup water, bring to boil in a saucepan and stir constantly. This becomes simple syrup and should be cooled and refrigerated for at least 30 minutes. Then add lemon juice, turmeric, and 1 cup of water. Blend to combine. While simple syrup is cooling, simmer blackberries with 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water for 10 minutes, gently smashing the blackberries to break them up. Strain the syrup through a fine sieve into a small pitcher, cover, and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes. Now it’s time to serve. Fill 4 tall glasses with ice, whisk the turmeric lemonade and divide among glasses. Then take the blackberry syrup and gently whisk the seltzer into it and pour over lemonade carefully so it doesn’t mix in. Garnish with lemon slices.


(Adapted from foodnetwork.com)

Ingredients Chicken breasts, 4 boneless with skin on Lemon, 1 Lemon juice, 2 tablespoons Lemon zest, 1 tablespoon Thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon minced, fresh

Oregano, 1 teaspoon dried Garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons minced Olive oil, 1/4 cup extra virgin White wine, 1/3 cup dry Salt and pepper to taste

Directions First prepare a sauce with olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan, cooking for 1 minute on low heat. Remove from heat and add wine, lemon zest and juice, oregano, thyme, salt, and pour into a 9”x12” baking dish. Pat chicken breasts dry and place in the sauce, skin side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon into wedges and put them around chicken pieces. Bake 30-40 minutes in an oven preheated to 400F until the chicken skin is light brown. Then cover tightly with aluminum foil and rest chicken for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with hot pan juices.



(Adapted from delish.com)

Ingredients Vanilla boxed cake mix, plus ingredients Blueberries, 1-3/4 cup fresh, divided Lemons, 1-1/2 , juice and zest Lemons, 2 sliced thin Butter, 1 cup softened

Powdered sugar, 3 cups Flour, 3 tablespoons all-purpose Heavy cream, 1/4 cup Vanilla extract, 1 tsp pure Salt, pinch

Directions Using cooking spray, grease three 9” cake pans and line with parchment. Prepare cake mix following package directions, then stir in juice and zest of 1 lemon. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss and coat 1 cup of blueberries with flour and fold berries gently into the batter. Divide batter among prepared cake pans. Bake for 18-20 minutes in an oven preheated to 350F. Allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes then invert on a wire rack and cool further. To make the frosting, beat butter and 2-1/2 cups of powdered sugar in a large bowl using a mixer of choice. Add remaining lemon juice and zest, add heavy cream and beat until combined, then beat in vanilla and salt. Add remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar, mixing in for texture. To frost, place the first cake layer on a cake plate and top with frosting (a bit of frosting under the first layer helps keep it from slipping.) Repeat with the second cake layer, then with the top layer. Finally, smooth frosting over top and around sides, then decorate with remaining blueberries, lemon slices, and zest before serving.

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In The Heartland

Highlands County

White Lightning Photo by Terri Bates

Dots Delight Photo by Terri Bates

Colorful Creations UF Releases Four New Varieties of Caladium


by BRAD BUCK, UF/IFAS correspondent

CALADIUM LOVERS OWE FLORIDA a debt of gratitude. The Sunshine State serves as the sole source of caladiums for the world, satisfying the needs of growers and consumers. “Caladiums love summer rains and heat and thrive in our climate,” says Zhanao Deng, a UF/ IFAS professor of environmental horticulture who breeds caladiums. “They have colorful leaves that can rival many flowers and offer many months of color in gardens and patios. Caladium bulbs produced in Florida can sprout fast and put out attractive plants in the gardens or in containers in a few weeks.” Since 1976, UF/IFAS researchers have been breeding caladium cultivars. Now, Deng, a scientist at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, has developed four new varieties of the popular ornamental plant. Here’s how he describes them: • UF-R1410 (With a commercial name of “Dots Delight”): This plant sports a novel color pattern, with white main veins and multiple light pink spots. It tolerates sunburns and resists leaf-spot diseases well. • UF-15-21 (“White Lightning”): This caladium has white strap leaves with light pink streaks.

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It performs best in shady locations in the landscape. • UF-15-441 (“Firefly”): Many leaves with a creamy center and green margins sprout from this variety. It tolerates the sun and can perform well in both shady and sunny locations in the landscape. • UF-16-597 (“Spicy Lizard”): This novel strap caladium is quite different from many other varieties with numerous burgundy spots scattered over a largely green leaf blade. It is well suited for use in the landscape. Caladiums grow particularly well in Highlands County – about 60 miles south of Lakeland, in the heart of Florida. Deng calls the Lake Placid-Sebring area a “sweet spot” for producing caladiums. That’s because it has many months of frost-free weather, plenty of rain, and fertile muck or organic soil. Terri Bates, owner of Bates Sons & Daughters in Lake Placid, says she’s always looking for unique, disease-resistant caladium varieties that produce a good yield. “‘Dots Delight and “White Lightning” fit all the criteria,” Bates says. “Nothing looks like Dots Delight, and we have had a lot of success with that

Zhanao Deng variety. White Lightning is a white strap (plant), and white straps are in very high demand. It also has a pale pink blush, which is different. The yields and demand are good.” Bates is a big fan of Deng’s work. “We grow 12 UF/IFAS varieties developed by Dr. Deng, and they are a huge asset to our business as well as the landscape/retail garden center industry.” ag


Now You Know continued from page 17

may accumulate moisture and fruit residues.

• Monitoring and mechanical control: It is always a good practice to monitor fruit fly populations. You can create a trap by using a container with 32 oz of yeast-sugar-water. The flies will be attracted to this container and drown in it. Later, you can count how many flies have died in this container, and with this you can calculate the size of the infestation. Depending on the size of the population you can determine whether further control will be necessary. Another similar method involves the use of sticky traps, which basically serve the same function as the yeast-sugar-water traps. • Biological control: Fruit flies also have many natural predators like small reptiles, birds, spiders, and certain insects such as beetles and ants. Depending on your situation, allowing certain natural enemies to help control fruit fly populations may be effective in combination with other control practices. • Chemical control: Finally, there are numerous pesticides that can control fruit flies such as Pyrethrin, Spinosad, and other insecticides. When using pesticides always follow the label instructions to verify on what plants the pesticide can be used, and to check harvest intervals. Fruit flies are a common pest that can relatively quickly infest farm crops because of their fast life cycle. To avoid possible economic losses, removing the sources that attract these pests into an area, such as fermenting or rotting fruits and unharvested ripe fruit is important. Always monitor pest populations to make the best decision when controlling these pests. If you want more information on this topic or similar topics, please contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Agent. ag


Threat to Honeybees

Varroa Mites Transmit Diseases, Shorten Lifespan by LUIS RODRIGUEZ ROSADO

THERE ARE MULTIPLE PROBLEMS that can harm the Western Honeybees. These problems can include a lack of resources such as flowers, harsh weather conditions, diseases, inadequate use of pesticides, and pest infestations such as Small Hive Beetles, Wax Moths, and Varroa mites. Out of all these problems, Varroa Mites (Varroa Destructor) is the world’s most devastating pest of the Western Honeybees. These pests are found everywhere in the USA (except for Hawaii), which makes them a big concern for beekeepers and small farmers that rely on bee pollination to boost their crop yield.

What is that red thing on my bees?

Varroa Mites are very small but can be seen with the naked eye hitchhiking on adult worker bees and drones. The adults are about 1.2 mm in size, flat oval-shaped, and are reddish/brown in color. Female mites are larger than males. Varroa mites have a gradual metamorphosis. This means that the nymphs look like smaller versions of the adults. They have claws that allow them to remain attached to the host bee even during flight. You can observe them on top of immature or mature bees (especially drones). However, they are difficult to spot and since they are flat, they can fit inside the abdominal segments of bees, which means beekeepers may have them present in their beehives without being aware.

Feeding habits and spreading germs

Varroa mites are natural ectoparasites of the honeybees (live on the outside of the body of their hosts) and have piercing-sucking mouthparts. This pest feeds on the circulatory fluid of immature and mature bees called hemolymph, harming the bees in the process

and transmitting viruses that affect the development of young bees.

A sticky situation inside the hive

An infected bee will bring an adult female mite into an uncap brood cell where an immature bee (Larva) is developing. The female mite will lay eggs in this cell once it is cap, and these offspring will mate among themselves when reaching adulthood (in about 6-8 days). When the new bee emerges from the cell, the female mites will emerge attached to this bee while the males remain in the brood and die. When this new bee has contact with other bees in the colony the mites spread, and the cycle repeats itself.

Varroa mites basically “suck”

Varroa mites are not likely to kill adult bees, but they can shorten their lifespan. On the other hand, they can kill immature bees affecting the integrity of the whole colony. Immature bees are less likely to develop into an adult in severely infested colonies. Fewer worker bees means fewer resources collected, which leads to the weakening of beehives. If not addressed appropriately, mite infestations will lead to the destruction of the whole colony. They can also spread to nearby hives, so it is important to identify what colonies are affected to protect the ones that are healthy. Furthermore, Varroa Mites are vectors of diseases. One of the diseases is the Deform Wing Virus, which as the name implies, newly emerged bees are typically found with deformities in their wings and not able to fly.

Managing against Varroa destructor

There are different ways we can use to manage Varroa mites: CONTINUED ON PAGE 38

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BLOWOUT AUCTION SET FOR CRUTCHFIELD FAMILY GROVES GENERATIONS’ WORTH OF GOODS at Crutchfield Family Groves is being sold at auction! The 1,420 acres in 76 parcels will be sold for the Crutchfield Family on August 27 at Circle Theatre in Sebring. This sale will include commercial land, residential land, groves, farmland, waterfront, U.S. 27 frontage, and U.S. 98 frontage. This is a family that has been collecting property for more than 80 years! On September 8, we will continue with the sale of all of the machinery used in grove maintenance. The items include trucks, tractors, trailers, and literally a barn full of an 80-year collection! I suggest you go to our website to get all the details, look at the locations of all the properties, and make your financial arrangements to be prepared to bid. This is a once-in-a-lifetime deal! In addition, we have some other fun auctions coming up, including the sale of Voigt Irrigation in Bartow. Voigt has decided to retire, so we will be selling the real estate and as well as the inventory. This sale will be held on-site on August 6. Be sure to check out our website, higgenbotham.com, for details and a schedule of even more upcoming sales. See you at the auction!

ACE Summit photos provided by HIGHLANDS COUNTY FARM BUREAU

community Zooming in on agriculture in your community.

Highlands County and the Florida Farm Bureau Federation were well represented as Danielle Daum, board member and FFBF Women’s Committee Chair, and Jennifer Swain, HCFB YF&R member and FFBF YF&R leadership group representative, visited Washington with other women across the nation for the inaugural ACE Summit in June.

by MARTY HIGGENBOTHAM This column is sponsored by Higgenbotham Auctioneers International, Ltd., and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers. BIO: Marty Higgenbotham, founder and president of Higgenbotham Auctioneers International, Ltd., has conducted approximately 12,000 auctions, selling everything from cemetery lots to shopping centers and everything in between. He graduated from Reisch Auction College in 1959. Since then, he has sold in 49 states and five foreign countries. Clients include Wal-Mart, Albertson, Sinclair, AutoZone, HUD, and the states of Kansas, Missouri, Texas and Florida, to name a few. He lives with his wife in Lakeland.

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AGRICULTURAL SERVICES _______________________________________

FARMING INNOVATION LLC Hedging and Topping of Blueberries, Peaches, and Olives. HunterVickers 863-287-2351 vickershunter@yahoo.com

Ring Power Corporation Special Financing Rate - 0% for 60 months, $0 down. (888) 748-7464 • CatRentalStore.com _______________________________________ • Irrigation Services of Central Florida Ag irrigation is our specialty, Jimmy Durden, Irrigation Specialist - (863) 875-5722. _______________________________________ Farm Bureau Insurance Offices Throughout Central Florida! 24/7 Claims Reporting Toll Free (866) 275-7322 floridafarmbureau.com _______________________________________ Garrison Property Services We’re the Key to Making Life Easy for You! Real Estate, Lawn Care, Pest Control, and more! 863-439-6550 GarrisonPropertyServices.com _______________________________________ AQUATIC WEED MANAGEMENT - Lake & Pond Maintenance - Permitting - Re-Vegetation Manual & Mechanical Removal (863) 412-1919 • waterweed1@aol.com _______________________________________ ADVANTAGE HEDGING & TOPPING We care for citrus, peach avocado, mango trees and more. Hedging, mowing, topping, trimming right of ways, heavy equipment transport. 863-557-0424

AgAmerica Lending Flexible Financing Solutions AGAMERICA.COM | 844.238.5312 _______________________________________ • Cost Effective Citrus Management & Marketing - Please contact us today to see how we may service your needs. 638-1619 StoryCompanies.com _______________________________________ • Certified Public Accountants - Bunting Tripp and Ingley - A Tradition of Excellence for more than 80 Years - (863) 676-7981 _______________________________________ • ADAMS COLD STORAGE - Florida’s Best Multi Temp 3PL - (863)967-3800. info@adamscoldstorage.com _______________________________________ Garrison Land Management Certified and Licensed Pest Control Firm 863-439-6550 GarrisonLand.com _______________________________________

CONCEALED CARRY GUN SAFETY COURSES -starting at just $40.00 per person. Call (863) 655-1010 to register for the next class. Tell ‘em AgNews sent ya. SprayAndPrayReloading.com _______________________________________ WE BUY GUNS Collections of Multiple Firearms, All makes & Calibers. Top Dollar, CASH | 863-655-1010 Stromberg’s Chicks & Game Birds Order Early! Chick Days 800-720-1134 ChickDaysFlorida.com _______________________________________

EQUIPMENT FOR RENT _______________________________________ ___________________________________________

VALENT Fast-acting insecticide for citrus.. valent.com/senstar • 800-682-5368 _______________________________________



5 V Crimp Metal

for farms ranches and home. With the accessories. Email tripsonmt@aol.com Call/text 772-473-1714 Ask for Mark Tripson

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES ______________________________________________________________ My Payroll Solutions LLC has over 20 years of experience in matching small businesses, Agriculture Companies and harvesters to staffing services and employee leasing companies, which provide payroll services with workers comp coverage and assistance with H2A applications for our clients. For more information contact Jeff H Futch at 863-835-1130.


Ag News magazine is looking for a creative, outgoing, and organized person to represent our brand and our suite of advertising products. If you love the rural lifestyle and the ag community and are a charming and/or persuasive salesperson who could sell sawdust to a lumber mill, we want to meet you. We’re looking for someone with integrity who truly cares about their customers.

If that’s you, please send an introductory letter and your resume to Nelson@CentralFloridaMediaGroup.com

Larry’s Camellias OVER 240 VARIETIES

All Container Grown • 3 Gal. to 65 Gal. Also Available: Airlayers, Species Wood, Buds


Call for Appt. & Delivery Larry White, BS Horticulture Member ACS & ICS FOR RENT 7 yard rowmulcher, Great for replenishing bark on Blueberry Farms, PTO drive, 30hp tractor needed. Call 863-604-2526 __ __ for rental __ details.__ __


PO Box 447, Waverly, FL 33877


CFAN | 31



2012 Ford F-150 XLT Call 863-299-1243 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2016 Nissan Frontier SV Call 863-676-0733 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom Call 863-438-3333 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2018 206 CC - Stingray Boats Call 863-293-1156 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2019 196 RX - Release Call 863-293-1156 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2008 Ford F-150 Call 863-299-1243 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2012 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Call 863-676-0733 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Call 863-438-3333 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2017 Classic 165 - Alumacraft Call 863-293-1156 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2017 F2 Elite Keywest Call 863-293-1156 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2011 GMC Sierra 1500 Work Truck Call 863-299-1243 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2010 Dodge 3500 Laramie Call 863-676-0733 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2021 Ford F-150 XLT Call 863-438-3333 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2014 18XS - Triton Boats Call 863-293-1156 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2019 Sweetwater Sunrise 16 Call 863-293-1156 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2019 Ford F-150 XL Call 863-299-1243 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2015 Toyota Tacoma Base Call 863-676-0733 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2014 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT Call 863-438-3333 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2017 Ram ProMaster City Base Call 863-299-1243 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2014 Ram 1500 Laramie Call 863-676-0733 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Call 863-438-3333 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2014 Toyota Tacoma PreRunner Call 863-299-1243 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2019 Nissan Frontier SV Call 863-676-0733 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

2022 Ram 1500 Big Horn/Lone Star Call 863-438-3333 • Ask for Ag News Deal.

32 | CFAN

Take advantage of a free fleet analysis with the Low Payment King, Ralph Mahalak Jr. With over 44 years of experience, Ralph understands how to overcome today’s challenges with gas and electrical vehicles and wants to help get you ready for the future.

Call Ralph directly at 734-735-1233


EQUIPMENT _______________________________________

Build Your Own Flatwoods Classified Land Management & Services, LLC

ALL-NEW Kubota RTV-XG850 SIDEKICK, 48 H.P. Gas Engine, Up to 40 M.P.H., 2 Year / 1000 Hour Warranty. For full details call 863.967.0651 Now!

We’re a local family owned & operated business serving Polk County and surrounding areas. Call us with your needs and we will get you taken care of.

863-701-5473 or 863-698-0327 ALL-NEW Kubota SZ26-52 Commercial Stand-On Mower, 26 H.P. Gas, 11 M.P.H., 52” Deck, No-Flat Front Castors & Much More. For full details call 863.967.0651 Now!


Home Repair & Remodeling Licensed and Insured



KUBOTA SUB-COMPACT TRACTOR , BX2380 w/LA344 Front Loader. Improved operator comfort, professionally built yet easy for any novice. Call 863.967.0651 details & delivery.

Build You Own Classifieds info@ centralfloridamedia group.com


Now Hiring

All Home Improvements from A all the way to Z “We can even fix a Henway” Lakeland, FL 33813 (863) 860-3092 xxxcepshun@aol.com DAV Owned and Operated

www.AtoZHomeRepairFl.com 3440 US HWY 17 SOUTH • ZOLFO SPRINGS (863) 735-1122 3203 HAVENDALE BLVD • WINTER HAVEN (863) 967-0602 17215 HWY 27 N • MINNEOLA (352) 394-7181


community Zooming in on agriculture in your community.

Hill to the Field photos provided by MICHAEL WALDRON

The Highlands County Farm Bureau welcomed U.S. Rep. Scott Franklin during their “Hill to the Field” event in June.

34 | CFAN


There When You Need Us!

Polk Equine provides large animal veterinary services within parts of Polk, Highlands and Hardee Counties in Florida. Polk Equine works with horses, cattle, goats and sheep. Our primary task is to solve our client’s animal medical problems by maintaining the highest standards in veterinary medicine.

Polk Equine is a mobile unit that provides services in:

General Medicine & After Hours Care Lameness • Reproduction Digital X-Rays Dr. Katie Hennessy, DVM Dr.Hennessy@polkequine.com Ophthalmology Dentistry

Call Us Today! We Come to You! Polk Equine services 24 hour emergency calls for clients. Normal business hours are: Mon-Fri 8am to 5pm. We look forward to hearing from you!


[863] 287-8413


No matter what the future brings... we’ll be there. HWY 60

We moved!

HWY 17


Bartow Office (863) 533-0561

1350 E. Main Street, Building A, Suite 4, Bartow, FL 33830 E. Church St.

Winter Haven Office (863) 299-3892

Ace Hardware

3039 Cypress Gardens Rd, Winter Haven, FL 33884-2258

E. Main St. Farm Bureau

Advance Auto Parts


Haines City Office (863) 421-4545

203 S Dixie Dr, Haines City, FL 33844-2873 CFAN | 35


Introduction to Florida Agritourism The Marriage of Florida’s Top 2 Industries DATE: August 11, 2022 TIME: 9:00 am 12:00 pm LOCATION: UF/IFAS Extension Polk County (1702 S Holland Pkwy, Bartow, FL 33830) COST: $10.00 INSTRUCTOR: Luis O. Rodriguez, Small Farms and Pesticide Education Extension Agent, Polk County PHONE: 863-519-1049 or 863-519-1041

Learn about: • Florida Agritourism Law • Benefits of Agritourism • Activities of Agritourism • Audience and Marketing of Agritourism • Developing a Business Plan for Agritourism Facilities • Agritourism Resources

Pre registration is required: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/introduction to florida agritourism tickets 358556601447

Irrigation Services of Central Florida, Inc

“Agriculture Irrigation is our specialty –

when you need an experienced, reliable and proven irrigation company, call on us, you won’t be disappointed! We know your irrigation needs.”

Sp eak ers : •

Lui s O . R od rig ue z, U F /IFA S Sm all Far ms a nd P est icide E duc at io n E x t ensi on A ge nt , P olk Cou nt y .

Jon ael Bo sq ue s, C ou nt y E x t ensi on Direct o r a nd E x t en sio n A ge nt , Hardee Co u nt y .

Jimmy Durden - Irrigation Specialist


Cell 863-287-1166 / Fax 863-875-5582 email irrigationservices@hotmail.com 510 US Hwy 92 East / Auburndale, FL



36 | CFAN


Call Bill Snively (863) 412-1919 FloridaAgNews.com

Blueprint for an Amazing Agriculture Website

With every generation, we get better at protecting our environment.

Reclamation ecologists like Ashlee work to return mined lands to productive use as wildlife habitats, public parks and more—so future generations can enjoy these lands for years to come.



CFAN | 37

From the Editor’s Desk

Fourth Annual Grape Field Day JESSICA McDONALD, Editor jessica@centralfloridamediagroup.com

OVER THE YEARS, Central Florida Ag News has had the privilege of sharing with our readers the successful stories of area wineries. I have to admit that before coming to Central Florida Media Group, I had no idea grapes were a crop that could thrive and prove profitable in Florida. Yet our state has an estimated 40 wineries, and our growers produce more than 1,500 acres of muscadine grapes. (That figure has jumped 74 percent in the past 10 years!) UF/IFAS plays a role in so many various fields of research, and grape production is no different. UF/IFAS Assistant Professor Ali Sarkhosh is hard at work testing different varieties to see which fare well in our subtropical, hot, and humid climate. Since pests present a challenge in any crop, Sarkhosh is also determining which cultivars tolerate Pierce’s disease in our particularly humid climate. If you want to learn more about his research, there’s an opportunity coming up that you won’t want to miss. UF/IFAS is hosting its fourth annual Grape Field Day on August 18 at the Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Citra. Sarkhosh will present his work and talk about the future of viticulture here in Florida. Plus, there also will be a brief demonstration of winemaking at the event. The deadline to register is August 18. For more information and to register, go to: https://bit.ly/3bP8TLq. ag

Threat to Honeybees continued from page 29

• Preventive measures – The easiest and most important way of control is making sure your bee colonies are healthy and strong. Healthy hives are less likely to have a serious infestation with Varroa mites. When food sources are scarce (especially during the winter months) make sure to provide additional food sources to avoid the weakening of your hives. • Invest in hygienic bees – Genetics also plays an important role in controlling mite populations. Highly hygienic behavior among colonies is important to maintain low amounts of mites inside the hive. Replacing a queen with bad hygienic behavior with one that has good genetics can help control the Varroa mite populations. • Develop a surveillance program – It is important to monitor Varroa mite populations for better control. The use of a screen at the bottom of the brood box will help you maintain any fallen mite outside of your hive. Also, if you add a sticky board in combination with the screen, it will help you monitor the pest population. Another method for monitoring mite populations is to perform an alcohol wash. If you wish to know more about how an alcohol wash is done and how it can help with your hives, access the following video https://youtu.be/g0-igXeNv4Y. • A good offense: treatment options – Chemical control has been traditionally the most effective way to manage Varroa mites. Mites are not insects, so there are multiple pesticides that are able to control the mites without harming the honeybees. Using pesticides such as sticky screens, strips, trays, vaporizers, and other chemical formulations can be an effective way to control mite populations. It is important to follow label instructions each time you use pesticides. Luis Rodriguez Rosado is the Small Farms Extension Agent for Polk County.

Toll Free 1-877-758-5035 38 | CFAN


SA D R A W O DT S U 0 0 5 GE.* $ A + K C A P ION y of Cat compact time T C E T O R P endabilit . It ’s high ®

fetime an d de p d an ’t last a li e quality n o th w e deals an k s li g ig n b in U r v a fo s r e le ea those nt, thes ca l C a t d come to s lo g r equipme u in o y th h d o ect wit ka g e . G o y o u co n n ction Pac te o r P le unbeatab . who wait

bcpoffer.ringpower.com | 888.748.7464 Se Habla Español: 863.600.6247

*Offer valid from July 1, 2022 through December 31, 2022 on new small (compact track loaders, compact wheel loaders, micro/mini excavators, skid steer loaders) and new compact (backhoe loaders, telehandlers, small dozers, small wheel loaders) Cat® machines sold by participating Cat dealers to customers in the USA or Canada. Purchase and delivery must occur during offer period. Offer subject to machine availability and credit approval by Cat Financial. Not all customers will qualify. Length of contract is limited. 0% offers may vary by model and dealer. Payments are based on term length. Payments do not include taxes, freight, set-up, delivery, document fees, inspections, additional options, or attachments. The credit of up to $500 USD can only be applied towards the purchase of a qualifying Cat Customer Value Agreement (CVA) or qualifying Equipment Protection Plan (EPP). Amount of the credit cannot exceed the price of qualifying CVA or EPP. CVA must include 1-year preventative maintenance parts kit, TA1 annual inspection, signed CVA contract and Product Link®. Amount of credit towards CVA or EPP is the same for all models. In some areas, EPP might be sold separately from the CVA. Offer may change without prior notice and cannot be combined with any other offers. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Contact your Cat dealer for details.


CFAN | 39


FARMERS & RANCHERS ENJOY $30,000* IN BENEFITS WHEN YOU SEE THE LOW PAYMENT KINGS *Based on consumer using every AgPack benefit to its maximum value






With approved credit @ CCAP. Offer ends 8-22-22


2022 Jeep Gladiator STARTING @ $39,000*


*Includes rebates. State fees, tax, title, tag, doc and dealer fees additional. Offer ends 8/22/22

As an established Certified Agriculture Dealership, we can offer you exclusive benefits with our AgPack. The AgPack is a powerful package of farm and ranch management tools worth $30,000. We are one of very few dealerships offering agfriendly financing from one of the nation’s largest agricultural lenders. AgPack is FREE & available on all new Rams, Jeep Gladiators, Jeep Wranglers, Jeep Grand Wagoneers, Jeep Wagoneers and many used vehicles that are under 6 years old with less than 75,000 Miles

STARTING @ $63,000*

Take advantage of a free fleet analysis with the Low Payment King, Ralph Mahalak Jr. With over 44 years of experience, Ralph understands how to overcome today’s challenges with gas and electrical vehicles and wants to help get you ready for the future.


Call Ralph directly at 734-735-1233 LW

LAKE WALES Lake Wales, One Mile South of Eagle Ridge Mall


WINTER HAVEN 299 Cypress Gardens Blvd. • Winter Haven


POSNER PARK Davenport, One Mile South of I-4 on HWY 27


Sale Hours: Monday-Thurs 9am-8pm Fri-Sat 9am-6pm Service Hours: Mon-Thurs 7am-7pm Fri 7am-6pm • Sat 8am-4pm

LakeWalesChrysler.com WHDodge.com PosnerParkChrysler.com Sale Hours: Mon-Thurs 9am-8pm, Fri-Sat 9am-6pm • Service Hours: Mon-Thurs 7am-7pm, Fri 7am-6pm, Sat 8am-4pm