Aaron Himrod, a third-generation grower from Himrod Citrus Nursery took time with several members from Class XI and WLI staff to give us a tour of his facilities. This was the third “field” trip that members have had the ability to participate in during our MaXImize Sessions. Mr. Himrod’s family has been in the greenhouse business since the 1980s and over the years things have drastically changed. He is leading the way in cutting edge and innovative methods to help sustain the citrus industry as a continuing viable Florida crop.
In the nursery, they are growing the new trees to replace those older, non-producing trees. If you are not planting new trees in your grove when needed, the grove will not last. It takes eighteen months from seed to be ready for planting. When they graft a tree, it takes 12 months from the grafting process to be planted. Grafting is when you take a part of two distinctly different yet related citrus species and fuse it together. The nursery houses 10 different scions, 25 root stock with the hope that these new varieties will increase the juice flavor of an already world-renowned Florida juice—just making it that much better.
The regulations for facilities changed in 2007 and with the onset of new rules they were able to retrofit the building and fully enclose it. The current nursey will hold 215,000 trees. They also have a newer facility several miles from the old one that will hold 75,000 trees. The most valuable trees in the nursery are the bud wood trees, they have 200 and 95% are just three varieties. These trees were originally planted in 2006. Mr. Himrod expressed how important it is to make sure that the cuts from these trees are clean an issue in the bud wood trees could potentially cause problems in the entire facility.
There are currently only about 50 nurseries left in the citrus industry. Thanks to the forward thinking and innovative approaches, the Himrods’ have transformed their nursery into one of the best in the area.
After a delicious lunch generously provided by Andrea and Steve Johnson, class members, Christy and Brian were able to have a chance to reflect and discuss how the pandemic has affected our businesses. It was a nice to be able to reconnect even it was as a safe “social” distance.Read More
Seminar II kicked off in beautiful Perry where we learned from fellow Wedgworth Leadership Institute alumni and supporters about the state’s forestry industry. The “Forgotten Coast” suffered tragic losses as a result of the impact of Hurricane Michael. The timber industry in North Florida will see a decline in the production of trees for the next 18 to 50 years in addition to approximately 1.3 billion dollars in damage to the timber. It is costing many landowners more to clean up and replant trees than land is actually worth. The trees that survived the storm are being used for chips, saw timber, plywood, pulp and biomass. To date, the area has received no federal money to assist in the clean up after the storm. The forestry industry in North Florida are resilient and are doing the best they can with the resources available to them.
Tallahassee is a constant buzz while in session. We had the opportunity to hear from a few of the best during our visit. Mike Joyner gave Class XI a lesson in state government and explained that Florida is a very diverse state. He stressed the importance of knowing your priorities and staying laser focused to accomplish those goals whether you are in Tallahassee serving or at home on the local level. If you are not already involved in your commodity-specific organizations (FFVA, Farm Bureau, FNGLA, Turf Grass Assoc, Florida Strawberries, etc.), it is imperative to get your voice heard. It is as simple as waving signs, donating to the cause, or even going door to door advocating.
Marian Johnson is a wealth of valuable information having been involved in every presidential and state campaign since 1964. She noted how Florida has changed and will continue to change with the ever-growing population. It was discussed how the President made one tweet about then Gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and the polls quickly changed, eventually winning the election. The key takeaway from this session was to get to know your House of Representatives and Senators; let them hear from you often, don’t just call when you need them—build relationships.Read More