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Edward A. Evans and Jordan Huntley

Pitaya (Hylocereus spp.), a climbing vine of cactus species native to the tropical forest regions of Mexico, Central America, and South America, has gained the attention of many southern Florida growers. Between 2006 and 2010, pitaya production has grown 6-fold. Several factors are responsible for the increased attention being given to this crop; chief among these is the promise of high net returns stemming from the current strong demand for the fruit within an increasing U.S.–Asian population and among mainstream health-conscious U.S. consumers who are lured by the high antioxidant properties and other reported health benefits associated with the fruit. However, the downside risk associated with producing and marketing the fruit needs also to be taken into consideration before dedicating a significant amount of resources to large-scale plantings of pitaya. This article provides information on the financial feasibility of establishing and operating a 5-acre pitaya orchard in southern Florida and assesses the risks of doing so. In conducting our analysis, we use deterministic and stochastic budgeting models, including stochastic yields and prices, to calculate the financial returns. Both the deterministic and simulation risk analysis results suggest that operating a pitaya orchard would likely be profitable over a 20-year planning horizon. Despite the favorable outcome of the analysis, southern Florida growers are advised to proceed with caution, as the market for the crop could easily be oversupplied by domestic and foreign competitors.

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Edward A. Evans and Fredy H. Ballen

This article develops an inverse demand model for Florida green-skin avocados (Persea americana). Information from the model is used to assess the likely impact on growers’ prices resulting from a reduction in the supply of Florida green-skin avocados due to a recent outbreak of a deadly fungus in the Florida commercial avocado production area. Consideration is also given to the increased supply of green-skin avocados imported to the United States from the Dominican Republic (DR), as well as the increased availability of ‘Hass’ avocado in the U.S. market. The estimated own price flexibility of –0.551 evaluated at the mean suggests that Florida avocado prices are not very responsive to changes in quantity supplied. A reduction in the quantity supplied is likely to bring about a less than proportionate rise in the price. Moreover, any noticeable rise in prices due to the impact of the disease is likely to be short lived and may be insufficient to cover additional grove management costs. In the longer run, prices are expected to revert closer to their long-run trend (or decrease) as a result of increased shipments from the DR, and further increases in the availability of ‘Hass’ avocados.

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Edward A. Evans, Jonathan Crane, Alan Hodges and Jason L. Osborne

This article describes and provides preliminary estimates of the potential economic losses that could result from an incursion of the recently discovered exotic laurel wilt disease caused by Raffaelea lauricola, in the main avocado (Persea americana) growing area of Florida. Estimates are provided for the direct losses as well as the indirect or “spillover” losses that could occur across the rest of the regional economy. The Impact Analysis for Planning (IMPLAN) input-output multipliers were used in assessing the regional impacts. The results of the investigation indicate that the direct loss to the industry in terms of lost sales, property damage, and increased management costs could range from $356 million in a do-nothing situation to about $183 million if damage control measure were 50% effective. If increased management costs and decreased property values are ignored, the adverse impact on the regional economy could range from $54 million in a do-nothing situation to $27 million in a case in which the treatments result in only a 50% reduction in avocado production.

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Edward A. Evans, Fredy H. Ballen and Jonathan H. Crane

This article assesses the profitability of a hypothetical 5-acre tahiti lime (Citrus latifolia) orchard in southern Florida in the presence of citrus canker (Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri) and citrus greening [Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (LAS)]. To account for the uncertainty associated with the presence of these diseases, a stochastic budgeting technique was employed in the analysis, incorporating stochastic prices and yields based on discussions with industry experts and researchers. The analysis focused on three possible types of management strategies currently practiced by citrus (Citrus sp.) growers in Florida: 1) production without any specific control activities for citrus canker and citrus greening, 2) canker and greening management without removal or replacement of infected/suspicious trees, and 3) canker and greening management with removal and replacement of infected trees. The analysis was carried out for a 20-year time horizon and average net return per acre and rate of return on investment were considered. The results suggest that despite the presence of disease, it would be profitable to produce tahiti limes in southern Florida. This is because the tahiti lime offers some resistance to both citrus greening and canker and will produce even if minimal attention is paid to controlling the diseases. Of the three management strategies investigated, strategy 2 offers the best prospect in terms of high net returns and highest probability of achieving or surpassing the desired rates of return on investment of 12% per annum. The key finding from the study is that the production of tahiti limes in southern Florida can be profitable if steps are taken to manage the diseases, but contrary to popular view, it might be better to wait until the trees become fully unproductive before disposing of them.

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Qingren Wang, Waldemar Klassen, Edward A. Evans, Yungcong Li and Merlyn Codallo

Mulching in vegetable cultivation has been widely used to conserve water and improve yield. Field experiments with four treatments, including yard waste compost combined with plastic mulches in raised beds for winter fresh market bell peppers (Capsicum annuum L.), were conducted at two experimental sites [Pine Island Farm (PIF) and Tropical Research and Education Center (TREC)] in Miami-Dade county for two different years each. The treatments were: 1) control (PM): plastic mulch alone; 2) MC33: fumigation of the soil with a mixture of methyl bromide and chloropicrin and covered with plastic mulch; 3) herbicide/OM: organic mulch sprayed with herbicides (S-metolachlor and napropamide) without plastic mulch; and 4) PM/OM: organic mulch covered by plastic mulch. The treatment of PM/OM at both experimental sites in 2 years each increased the total marketable yields of bell pepper by 1.5- to 3.2-fold, total extra large fruit yields by 2.0- to 5.7-fold, and total large fruit yields by 1.4- to 2.6-fold, respectively, on average compared with the control, although some exceptions occurred between the two years at the TREC site. Under most circumstances at both experimental sites in two different years each, the PM/OM treatment also improved the total marketable yield and fruit quality (such as extra large fruits) for the first two harvests, which shows a preference to provide winter fresh market vegetables to meet a high demand. The economic benefit by PM/OM was the greatest among all the treatments. The results suggest that the application of organic mulch combined with plastic mulch can improve bell pepper yield and quality as a result of the improvement of soil fertility, especially the early harvests of winter fresh market fruits, which has shown a potential in the development of sustainable agriculture.