Ed James has citrus in his veins. He has been working and thriving in the citrus business since he was a teenager — from hoeing orange trees to owning a caretaking business that serviced thousands of acres. That is, until about eight years ago.
In 2010, James looked around his personal 45-acre citrus grove and realized it was time to throw in the towel. The citrus industry in Florida had gone from over 800,000 acres to less than 400,000 acres. Citrus greening was the main culprit, but there were other factors for the decline. For James, it had just become completely unprofitable. The trees looked stunted and almost dead from foot rot, Diaprepes root weevil and HLB.
After deciding to give up on his grove, he began pushing out all his trees. His plan was to plant cover crops and get the soil ready for watermelons or other row crops. However, the front-end loader broke down midway through tree removal. He decided to just leave those trees until he could fix the loader. He planted cover crops down the rows to keep the plan moving. What remained were Hamlins, a cultivar notoriously susceptible to greening, and some Navels.
Juanita Popenoe & Lauren Diepenbrock