Investing In The Limb Of A Tree
The Indian River citrus industry proves resilient through challenging times.
The best citrus in the world is right in our backyards – or to be more accurate, it’s on the beach at Countryside Citrus, it’s at our weekly Farmer’s Market, and it’s a short drive from I-95 at places like Peterson Groves. And that’s just where it’s sold. In 17 packing houses and 32,000 acres of groves in Indian River County, citrus is being picked, washed, waxed and graded before we even taste it. But it’s not all about us. Eighty percent of the fresh grapefruit farmed in Indian River County is exported to Japan and Europe; and the industry means close to $500 million per year to the local economy, largely due to its international influence.
Still, “when you put your investment on the limb of a tree and not in the bank, it’s tough,” says Doug Bournique, executive vice president and general manager of the Indian River Citrus League. While many grove owners agree that Florida’s soil and climate are ideal for citrus, the environment poses numerous challenges: hurricanes, droughts and most recently, a disease commonly called “greening.”