Growing Under Cover
Using a protective screen while growing citrus fruit has grown in popularity over the last few years. Florida’s grapefruit, which is decreasing in production, left growers to seek out a new solution. According to Growing Produce, “UF/IFAS scientists, plus a few commercial growers, have employed the citrus under protective screen (CUPS) system in an effort to keep the Asian citrus psyllid (greening’s vector) at bay. The protected agriculture pest exclusion method has proved effective so far. In addition, they’re noticing higher grapefruit yields.”
Purpose of a protective screen
The main purpose of a protective screen for citrus fruits is to guard the fruits from various factors that can negatively affect their growth. In Florida, grapefruit crops have been shrinking due to citrus greening disease. To counteract such factors, scientists and some commercial farmers have employed the CUPS method. The purpose of this is to try to protect the grapefruits in the hopes of increasing growth.
Benefits of a protective screen
Using protective screens allow for a decrease in the use of pesticides, which negatively impact the growth of various citrus fruits. This is because a protective screen allows farmers to use less water, pesticides, and fertilizers when growing citrus. Since implementing CUPS, scientists and farmers have noticed higher grapefruit yields. Because the use of a protective screen provides grapefruits with more cover, they are able to adapt to higher daytime temperatures. Additionally, being under a protective screen encourages citrus fruits to grow faster.
One grower in Hardee County stated, “Our aim is to maximize fruit production and quality in commercial CUPS with trees grown in the ground at moderately high-planting densities.”
While these efforts seem to be effective, there is still more to learn. We’ll continue to document new findings as they are released.
Read the full Growing Product article here.