Fruits & Nut Crops
Research and demonstrations plots at SVAEC provide an opportunity to evaluate perennial fruit and nut crops including: peach, nectarine, plum, blueberry, blackberry, oriental persimmon, grape, chestnut, mayhaw, pomegranate, olive, fig, short season banana, Satsuma and other cold-hardy citrus, and annual strawberry production. Emphasis has been on cultural practices, cultivar evaluation, pest management, and crop adaptability to North Florida. SVAEC is an excellent northern Florida test site to evaluate new fruit cultivars coming out of the IFAS breeding programs. Recent emphasis has been to evaluate the potential for a wide range of fruit and nut crops for their adaptability to a nearly season-long cash flow strategy of a diversified fruit and nut orchard for direct marketing. The cultural practices used in this orchard are selected to allow the faculty to assess the relative sustainability of these fruit crops without large inputs.
Deciduous fruit industries in Florida have changed during the last several decades. The prominence of a given commodity is determined by a multitude of climatic, cultural, pest,and economic factors. The subtropical climate of Florida is suitable for the culture of numerous fruit and nut trees. However, some species can only be grown in Florida with the application of numerous agricultural inputs (i.e., fertilizer, pesticide, water, etc.). Certain species/cultivars can be grown successfully in Florida only with the investment of substantial inputs (marginally adapted), while other species/cultivars can be grown with a minimum of inputs (adapted). Some species or cultivars require such an extensive quantity of inputs so as to preclude successful culture (non-adapted) in Florida. There is not always a good correlation between profitability and sustainability. Some of the more demanding crops grown in Florida (southern highbush blueberries, for example) can be very profitable under the right circumstances. By contrast, muscadine grapes are sustainable, but offer relatively low profitability and market potential (adapted from Sustainability Assessment of Fruit and Nut Crops in North Florida and North Central Florida, Dr. Pete Andersen et al. (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg367).