Dooryard Fruit Alternatives for Dying Citrus

DOORYARD FRUIT ALTERNATIVES FOR DYING CITRUS

Bielema, UF|IFAS Extension, Collier County and D. L. Caldwell, UF|IFAS Extension, Collier County, 14700 Immokalee Rd., Naples, FL 34120

Situation and Problem Statement: Citrus greening disease has had devastating effects on the citrus industry. Homeowners’ citrus trees are dying as well and they are not certain about what else they can grow. Many tropical-subtropical fruit species thrive in Collier County and would be fitting citrus substitutes. The alternatives-to-citrus workshops have been offered since 2009, with over 900 attendees over those years.

2016 Objectives: Offer two workshops and short-term: 1/ at least 80% of the participants will commit to plant a new fruit tree species and 2/ at least 50% will learn a new IPM technique to help grow trees and 3/ long term, at least 70% actually planted new fruit trees.

Methods: In 2016, our two, three-hour workshops were: “Mangoes and Subtropical Fruit” and “Avocados, Starfruit, Jackfruit and More” (total of 55 participants). Workshop speakers were selected from a core of local experienced fruit growers. Presentations focused on alternative species and their unique growing requirements. For hands-on learning, the Extension Orchard, is invaluable and consists of 31 varieties such as: mangoes, lychee, longan, jack fruit, avocado, white sapote and mamey sapote, etc. Fruit was available for taste comparisons, plus samples of dehydrated, pickled, and other preparations. Fruit trees were available for purchase from Hopkins Tropical Fruit Nursery after the presentations.

Results: In post-class surveys: 1/  79 % (33/42) of participants reported they would add a fruit tree to their yard as a result of the workshop; 2/  76% (32/42) reported they learned a new IPM approach and 3/ long term, 56% (14/25) reported they had planted fruit trees after attending earlier workshops.

Conclusion: Homeowners are interested in growing different fruit varieties as sources of enjoyment and additional food. Providing new types of fruit trees will mean more business for nurseries and new types of produce at farmers’ markets.

(Click photo to enlarge.)