Moving Citrus Forward
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.