In the Grove & On the Record - Mark Philmon
Mark Philmon, Philmon Citrus
After working in land surveying for 12 years and spending weekends helping out with the family citrus business, Dade City grower and nursery owner Mark Philmon made the move to a full-time career in citrus 20 years ago.
Mark recently took a few minutes to go in the grove and on the record with Mutual.
What is your job title and description?
Grove/Nursery Owner and manager.
Can you give me some background on the company you work for?
I am self employed and I also manage the groves for my father, Floyd Philmon
Have you always been in citrus or have you worked in other industries?
I worked for a Land Surveying business for 12 years, at the same time I worked weekends for the family business. The past 20 years I have worked full time in the citrus business.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised here in Dade City.
Is your family in the citrus industry?
My father has been in the industry for over 60 years.
Who or what were the key influences in your life related to your involvement in the citrus industry?
My father was and still is the biggest influence in my life. He gave me my work ethic and I have always wanted to follow in his footsteps, although I know I will never fill his shoes.
What is your first memory in or related to the groves?
I was a young child, going to the nursery and groves with my father. He always made me feel like I was really being a big help, now I know that I was in the way.
What do you find the most challenging about being in the Florida citrus industry?
Well, there are many things that make this industry challenging, the top three are weather, disease and pest from other countries.
What should people who aren’t in agriculture know about citrus and farming in general?
Well, farmers are the very first environmentalists, and food is more important than oil.
What do you think will change about the Florida citrus industry in the next five years?
I think over the next five years we will finally get a handle on the citrus canker situation, along with Greening. I believe the industry will develop fresh fruit that is easy to peel and seedless.
If you were not in citrus, what would you do instead?
It’s really hard to say, I think I would be in the farming industry in one form or another.
What’s the toughest challenge you have faced – either work or personal?
As far as work is concerned, the toughest challenge has been rebuilding the groves after devastating freezes back in the 80’s. Another challenge has been adapting new rules and regulations for citrus nursery, the new rules have been put in place to slow or stop the spread of disease in the industry. On a personal note, the biggest challenge that I face on a daily basis, is watching my parents get older and their health declining.
What practices is your company currently implementing in the fight against citrus greening?
We remove all diseased tress and replant. We also spray for psyllid along with fogging.
Why do you believe it is important to be a member of Florida Citrus Mutual?
Citrus Mutual is vital to citrus growers, we need Mutual to help locally and federally with important legislative issues such as: Labor (Ag Jobs), Research funding, Anti dumping and Free/Equitable trade.
What can Mutual do better?
Continue with the work you are doing, it’s vital to the industry and the citrus grower of this state really do appreciate it.