Gregory Nelson, president of Bernard Egan & Co., at right, and Richard Carnell Jr., executive vice president and general counselEgan family has been a stalwart in the citrus industry for more than a century

While many of its competitors were felled by the extremely challenging business environment of the Florida citrus industry in the past 15 years or so, Bernard Egan & Co. remains a solid fixture.

The vertically integrated grower, packer and shipper is much smaller than it was during the heyday of Indian River and Florida citrus production, partly because of the overall industry’s decline, and because six years ago it sold DNE World Fruit, which was the largest citrus marketer in Florida... Read more...

Local citrus, cattle industries holding own against pandemic

The two big agricultural industries on the Treasure Coast, citrus and cattle, have so far weathered the impact of COVID-19, even as cattle prices plunged in March and April and as growers and packers are on guard for the pandemic’s affect once the citrus season resumes in October, industry participants said.

Day-to-day life for citrus growers and cattle ranchers and their workers has not changed much since the virus began to... Read more...

What’s in Your Salad?

Florida’s economy may run on tourism, but agriculture is next in line. Fellsmere, in northern Indian River County, is home to citrus groves, farms and cattle ranches. It is also the home of Ecotone Farm owned and operated by Jerry and Tamara Renick.

In business since 2012, its name gives a clue to its philosophy — Ecotone’s mission is to produce a high quality, nutritious product that has little to no impact on the natural environment, is pesticide free and non-GMO (genetically modified organism). Read more...

A tub of harvested oranges


Agriculture has been a prime driver for the Treasure Coast economy for most of its modern history. More than a century ago, pineapples were the top crop. Pineapples were eventually replaced by other crops, particularly citrus, which along with cattle ranching continued to dominate the economic landscape until air conditioning and interstate highways helped boost tourism and industries tied to exponential population growth, including home construction.

Now, industries tied to healthcare and retail businesses are the biggest employers, each with about 26,000 workers in Indian River and St. Lucie counties, and retail is tops in annual revenue at about $6.83 billion, according to data compiled by FPL. Read more...

Pongamia trees


Citrus, once the undisputed king of Florida agriculture, was described recently by an official of the state Department of Citrus as “about to fall off the cliff.”

What was once a $9 billion industry, Florida’s second-most important after tourism, is in ruins. Ninety percent of the state’s groves have been infected with bacteria. In 2004 there were 7,000 groves in Florida. Today, 5,000 of those operations have disappeared, the land fallow and abandoned.

They are sometimes referred to as “ghost groves.”

Raw water lentils


In the open farmland rolling west of the town of Fellsmere, Parabel USA, Inc. is waging a food revolution. There, on an aqua farm, the company grows a potential solution to a zero-footprint food source. Water lentils are sprouting and growing in acres of fertile, large-scale hydroponic ponds.

Through developed and patented technology research, scientists at Parabel have discovered properties inherent in the water lentil that have turned it into a desirable ingredient for a food market craving alternative protein sources. Read more...