In the Grove & On the Record - Chris Troesch
This edition’s profile features Chris Troesch. As Supervisor of Simpson Fruit Company, Troesch is responsible for more than 500 acres in Lake County.
Where are you from?
I spent most of my early life in Louisiana, but have been here almost 40 years.
What is your educational background?
I have my high school diploma and some college classes here and there.
Please give me a little history on the business you work for.
Family-owned Simpson Fruit Company has been in business since 1904. There are currently 540-550 acres in production in Lake County.
What is your job title?
I’m a man that does it all! I guess technically I’m the supervisor. I’ve worked for the organization for 26-27 years, while my wife – who runs the office – has been here for 36 years.
What other jobs/positions have you held?
This was my first job in the citrus industry. The Simpson’s asked me to come fix some equipment, then I did a little irrigation work, then they decided I was too valuable – so here I am!
What is your first or most vivid memory in a grove?
My worst memory is the ’89 freeze. It snowed here at 2:00 a.m. It was 19 degrees and I could hear trees cracking. I was trying to clean out sprinklers and had ice from one side of my face, all the way down my body.
What do you find most challenging about being in the Florida citrus industry?
All the different critters and diseases – canker, Apopka weevil, greening – it’s a never ending battle trying to keep up.
What advice would you give someone thinking about getting in to the citrus industry?
Right now, not to. Not until they figure out something on greening. It’s devastating south Florida and it’s eating up on us now.
What do you think will change about the industry in the next five years?
I think there will be more and more people getting out. We’ve had great fruit prices the past two years, which is really nice, but you get infected and you can’t keep losing money. I think when property prices come back up we’ll see people selling.
What are you doing to combat the challenges of greening, black spot and other invasive pests and diseases?
We don’t have black spot, and we have only found one greening tree, but we’ll cut and burn. We also spray a lot of copper and we’re on a healthy nutritional program.
If you weren’t working in citrus what would you be doing for a living?
I would be fishing – as a Captain/Guide. I do that now on the weekends on Mosquito Lagoon.
Why is it important to be a Mutual member?
Mutual does a lot of good for citrus growers. The big thing now is trying to get money back into research from the tariff.
Any other thoughts on the industry you would like to share?
I don’t think people – politicians included – realize what it takes to grow fruit anymore. We’re competing with Mexico, Brazil and other countries that don’t have the restrictions we have, and we’re trying to be number one in the world. It takes everything we have and it’s a tough world.