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Could Bamboo Be What Ailing Citrus Growers Need Right Now?

By Bamboo Grove on June 28, 2018

Byron and Cynthia Matteson have been growing citrus for a long time. They’ve made a lifetime commitment to growing it. However, the citrus market can be fraught with uncertainty. The couple recently decided that they need to grow another cash crop to help out. The crop they settled on was, of course, bamboo. This is Florida, they aren’t going to start growing corn anytime soon.

So the decision was made to plant 35 acres of bamboo on their Frostproof farm, at first the couple felt like growing a different crop was a betrayal to their state and their favorite crop. The reason the couple is growing bamboo is because a fatal bacterial disease, citrus greening, has become endemic in Florida. This problem has made growing citrus in the state a risky business. While it’s heartbreaking to see citrus suffering, this is a chance for growers to switch over to our favorite tropical grass. The couple is looking to start out with 35 acres at the moment, but plan on eventually branching out to 100 acres. Part of the appeal to grow bamboo is that there’s a quicker ability to turn profit. “It takes five to ten years to make a profit on a new citrus grove. You can do it with bamboo in three years.” says Cynthia Matteson.

Their company, Mattco, has partnered with OnlyMoso USA Corp, located in Sunrise. They plan to promote commercial growing of bamboo in the US. Moso is a bamboo variety, but don’t let the name fool you. The company offers several varieties of the wonder plant. One of these varieties is Asper bamboo, the same kind that Mattco is growing. OnlyMoso is the U.S. branch of Italian company, Consorzio Bambù Italia. The company has been responsible for helping to create more than 5,000 acres across Europe. The company is responsible for 300+ acres of bamboo in Florida, and other Southeastern states. The plan is to just keep expanding.

Of course, bamboo can be used for a variety of things. Florida’s bamboo will be used as a wood product and as a food source. A mature bamboo farm will product 60 metric tons of wood and 14 tons of shoot in a year without the need for pesticides. Commercial growers see the attraction of very low maintenance in growing. Just make sure to water it and fertilize it twice and year and you can watch your crops produce profit. The great thing about bamboo is that to harvest the plant, you need not kill it. Meaning that plants can last up to 100 years in some cases.

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