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Florida Citrus Expo: Citrus Greening and ULSD Fuels Are Big Concerns

Posted by: Erik Bjornstad

2016 is the 25th anniversary of the number one trade show promoting the citrus and agriculture industry – The Florida Citrus Expo. You could say that it’s the world’s premier citrus expo.  The state of Florida is renowned for its citrus production; the state produces well over $1.1 billion annually in oranges and grapefruits, accounting for 60% (or more) of the citrus production of the entire United States.

Citrus Greening: The Biggest Threat To The Industry

florida-citrus-expo-2016.pngThe big concern for the citrus industry in 2016 is combating the HLB problem. The HLB problem is so significant that an emergency declaration was given in April 2016 to give special approvals for citrus growers to use bactericides (biocides) to fight the problem.

HLB is an innocuous abbreviation for Huanglongbing (otherwise known as citrus greening), a serious microbial disease transmitted to citrus trees by the Asian Citrus Psyllid insect.  The Florida Department of Citrus considers HLB to be the most serious threat the florida citrus industry has ever faced.

Citrus Greening attacks the tree and turns the fruit bitter.  Yellowing veins appear on the leaves and new root growth for the tree is suppressed.  The fruit becomes small and drops off the tree prematurely.  Eventually the tree dies from the infection.  The worst news is there is no cure.

The HLB disease has already has serious impacts on citrus trees in Texas and California, not to mention devastating citrus crops in other countries like Brazil.  It now threatens groves in Florida with presence detected in every single citrus-producing county of the state.  The emergency declaration encourages citrus growers to look closer at using bactericides to control or prevent psyllid attack on their trees. 

Beyond Citrus Greening, ULSD Fuels Also A Concern

Beyond HLB, the ongoing ULSD storage problem is also an industry concern.  We are now a couple years past the 2014 deadline for all diesel fuel, both onroad and offroad, to be ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD).  The ULSD fuels in use by the citrus industry are far more prone to microbial problems than higher sulfur diesel fuels of years past.  This makes it far more likely for citrus growers to expect microbial, biomass, and sludge problems in their equipment fuel tanks. 

Some have reasoned that citrus growers may not have microbial problems because the fuels aren’t sitting for long periods of time – they get turned over and used quickly. Microbial problems only appear in fuels that sit around, waiting to be used, right?  Turns out, this logic is faulty, given that high fuel turnover simply means addition of new fuel more often. Each time new fuel is added, it churns up existing microbial presence in the tank that would have developed steadily over a period of time. Churning up this microbial presence allows it to travel out to other parts of the tank more easily, creating a more enhanced situation for exploding microbial problems than one might think.

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This post was published on June 21, 2016 and was updated on May 16, 2017.

Topics: Fleet, Agriculture and Farming, Fuel and Tank Services