Ground Truth

Sept. 14, 2015

(In the diary entries below St. Lucie County citrus grower Brant Schirard describes a recent work day.)

5:30 a.m.         I start my day like most others by beating my alarm to the punch.

Thirty minutes later I’m ready to roll. The last thing I always do before I leave the house is take my German Short-Haired Pointer, Dash, for his early morning “hunt” around our property.

6:45-7 a.m.      Most days I start at our Cow Creek grove, which is right on the St. Lucie and Okeechobee county line. This is where my main field office and shop is located, along with almost 35 years’ worth of citrus production records, books, and other things I can’t seem to throw away.

My workers gather to start their daily operational duties. For the first 20 to 30 minutes it’s almost chaotic, but after that everyone is gone and doing their various jobs.

7:45 a.m.         We have to monitor temperatures and rainfall because both can affect the quality of our grapefruit and oranges in our fresh-targeted domestic and international markets.

I spend the first part of my day coordinating with our foremen.

10:30 a.m.       I leave Cow Creek and head towards our Grassy Island grove about five miles away. Grapefruit, navels, and several different tangerine varieties make this grove a managerial nightmare. The work crews are busy doing their jobs.

12:30 p.m.       Before I leave Grassy Island, I spend some time looking at our young trees and their progress. Now, with the effects of citrus greening, it is even more critical that we manage a timely, solid program to assure the health of our young trees and to get them into production.

2:30 p.m.         I arrive back at Cow Creek and make another pass around the grove. The sky has turned from blue to black and a major thunderstorm is threatening. I pull in to my office and spend most of the afternoon writing work orders based on my observations from earlier in the day and annual timing needs.

5 p.m.  All of the tractors, trucks and various grove vehicles arrive back at the shop and the crews go home. After they are gone I spend some quiet time on preparing budgets.

6:30 p.m.         I arrive at my home. The thunderstorm that pounded the groves made it to our property as well. Things are good and wet, but our new navel trees look like they appreciated the rain.

I end my day in our “gator,” riding around our property and looking at our young grove and watching Dash enjoy his evening “hunt.” I make a list of things I need to do around the property or at the barn or the house. That list never seems to get shorter, but at least I’ve always got something to do!