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  • Author or Editor: Shourish Chakravarty x
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Florida has a long association with citrus (Citrus sp.) production. However, the citrus industry in Florida has been devastated by Huanglongbing (HLB) or citrus greening disease (Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus). HLB affects the citrus tree phloem and eventually causes tree death. Cover crops, or noncash crops, have traditionally been used in row crop production to improve soil organic matter, for nitrogen fixing, and for weed control. Citrus growers may benefit from adopting cover crops because healthier soils could improve yields and fruit quality of citrus trees. However, growers are uncertain about the costs and benefits associated with cover crop investments. The objective of our study was to analyze whether cover crops represent an economically feasible option for Florida citrus growers. We calculated the break-even prices for ‘Valencia’ and non-‘Valencia’ oranges (Citrus sinensis) in terms of price per box (equivalent to 90 lb of oranges in Florida) and price per pound solids per box (amount of soluble solids per box of oranges) by considering additional costs and short-term savings from using cover crops across various yield and quality scenarios based on the past 10 years of data. Considering the short-term savings from adopting cover crops, the per-acre cost of production increased by $107.3/acre or by 5.73% and constituted 5.42% of the total production cost during the first year of adoption. After the 2018–19 peak, the yield and quality for both ‘Valencia’ and non-‘Valencia’ oranges have decreased steadily. Adopting cover crops in the current yield–quality scenario will not be profitable for either ‘Valencia’ or non-‘Valencia’ oranges. However, for ‘Valencia’ oranges, at the median yield and quality levels of 193.5 boxes/acre and 6.08 lb solids/box, respectively, cover crop adoption would be profitable because the break-even price of $2.25/lb solids would be comparable to the market prices of the past 5 years.

Open Access