CUPS Not for All Citrus Producers

Clint Thompson Citrus, Florida, Top Posts

Citrus produced in CUPS.

By Clint Thompson

One of the unique ways of managing citrus greening disease developed by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers is not for all producers. The citrus under protective systems (CUPS) is just too expensive for all growers to take advantage of, says Fred Gmitter, a University of Florida citrus breeder.

“It’s an extremely expensive investment,” Gmitter said. “For that investment to be worthwhile, you have to be growing something you’re going to get top dollar for. You’re not going to be growing sweet oranges for juice in CUPS.

“Right now, grapefruit is one of the big things they’re going into. There is some demand for grapefruit, but the supply is really low. Anybody that’s got any grapefruit is going to make a lot of money. Grapefruit are really productive in that system. Dr. (Arnold) Schumann demonstrated that. There’s an opportunity there. It’s going to be certain niche varieties.”

Research Details

Studies done at the Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) have shown that CUPS excludes the Asian citrus psyllid, which spreads huanglongbing (HLB) or citrus greening disease. It prevented HLB for six years at CREC. This is significant since the CUPS system is located next to trees infected with the disease and its vector.

Because CUPS is so costly, the return on investment is not likely to be imminent, either, though producers are clamoring for varieties that are fruitful immediately.

“All the guys I know that are doing CUPS are always asking me, ‘Give me the variety that’s going to set 100 boxes of fruit in year one and I don’t have to do a whole lot of work, just pick fruit.’ There’s risk,” Gmitter said.

According to the UF/IFAS, citrus greening is a disease that is impacting production throughout the world and especially in Florida. The psyllid, which is found throughout Florida, transmits the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus. It causes HLB.