Peter McClure: Haunted by Citrus Greening

Tacy Callies Citrus, Florida

Peter McClure Peter McClure of Evans Properties, Inc. was profiled in the September issue of Citrus Industry magazine. In this added online feature, he further discusses his first experiences with citrus greening and recalls two defining moments.

“A few years after we got psyllids in Florida, I remembered some book learning about greening in school and started reading up on it. I realized how bad it was and how ill-prepared we were as an industry so I tried to get some research funding for it when we didn’t have it in Florida. I failed … and that haunts me to this day. We started late, a very costly mistake.

“The other thing that haunts me was when we learned of the first tree that was found in our Bluefield grove. DPI had discovered the tree running Caribfly traps and tested it and got a positive, but we didn’t find out about it until seven months later. That seven months haunts me; it may have been the difference between success and failure for Evans Properties. We have lost the HLB war and that seven months was tragic. It may have cost St. Lucie County 100,000 acres of groves. I am haunted by those two events and what I could have done differently.

“I am queasy by the lack of research on CVC right now; I have the same gnawing in my brain about not being prepared for the inevitable that I had about HLB after we got psyllids. We are repeating the same folly, but the effort to get funding and professionals to start and maintain a serious HLB research program is large and ongoing. People still aren’t convinced, and we have to fight that same battle over and over and over and over again. Priority one is for the industry to fund the Citrus Research and Development Foundation with $20 million a year out of grower-collected dollars for the foreseeable future. That is the only way we have a shot at defeating HLB.”