We have Jackfruit

Jackfruit on the tree

Artocarpus heterophyllus (Jackfruit) on the tree.

I know some of you have been waiting since last season ended. The wait is finally over. The jackfruit is back, and we have a beautiful fruit this year.

If you aren’t familiar with jackfruit, this is a tropical treasure. It has a unique flavor somewhere between banana and pineapple mixed with other tropical notes of flavor. The spiny fruits are spectacular in size and can get upwards of 70 pounds.

For a really unique experience, come by our nursery in Miami today and buy some jackfruit for a taste of this Asian treasure.

This Week’s Special

July 10th through August 7th, 2016

7 gal. Surinam Cherry Shrubs on sale for $9.50.  Excellent for hedge plantings.










Recent Views on Citrus Greening

From time to time, Richard Lyons’ Nursery has kept visitors to this website abreast of developments with regard to citrus greening disease. You probably know by now that, in spite of large expenditures of state and federal funds in support of research, no cure for the disease has yet been found. Various forecasts for the future of commercial citrus in Florida have been made, and none is particularly upbeat.

One of the more positive predictions came from Dr. Stephen Futch at the University of Florida citrus research and education center in Lake Alfred. He contends that there “will always be a citrus industry in Florida, but it will be different in the future than it is today. We will have to learn to live with the disease or come up with a solution; by creating an improved tree that will resist the disease.”

A considerably more dire forecast was voiced earlier this month. The source was Dr. Bob Shatters, a research molecular biologist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Fort Pierce. In a July 13 speech in Clearwater, Shatters said that those involved in Florida’s citrus industry – despite knowing that citrus greening disease could appear in the state, were ill-prepared to deal with it once it materialized.

One factor that has inhibited a successful approach to treatment is that citrus greening has a long latency period, exceeding two years, before external symptoms appear on trees. The investigative process is further complicated because the bacterium cannot be cultured in the lab.

Fruit production on the average tree infected with citrus greening is only 40% of that of a healthy tree. That fact alone is enough to drive some growers out of business. To make matters worse, the cost of trying to maintain diseased trees has more than doubled. Shatters believes that 80-90% of Florida’s citrus is already, or is about to be, affected by the disease. His may even be a relatively optimistic view, since some people in the industry predict that 100% of citrus will ultimately be attacked.

Shatters warned that Florida’s citrus industry is at a “tipping point.” Although promising research is emerging, the clock is ticking. He urged that new findings need to be implemented in stages so that growers can hang on until even better strategies are developed. Ominously, he cited mathematical and epidemiological models that predict that the Florida citrus industry will no longer be commercially viable by 2019!

In the effort to combat citrus greening disease, the State of Florida has diverted $15 million from advertising into research, and the federal government has allocated $130 million to assist Florida and California. Shatters reported that thermal therapy is one way to prolong the life of a diseased citrus tree. Large canopies are placed over trees, and hot water or steam is then injected for a minute or less to heat up the trees. The bacterium is sufficiently heat-sensitive to die from the thermal therapy, and the treated trees experience at least two years of improved growing conditions.

Other techniques have also been employed to slow down the advance of citrus greening disease: Dogs trained to detect the disease early, improved root stocks, improved spraying technologies for killing the insect which spreads the disease, and enhanced nutritional programs for the trees. Finally, bacteriacides used elsewhere on apples and pears have been granted emergency registration in Florida for use on citrus, and early results from application in the greenhouse and in the field have been encouraging.

Shatters, in apparent agreement with Futch, concluded by stating that new varieties of citrus will provide the key to overcoming citrus greening disease. But the sense of urgency is acute; if citrus production in Florida drops below the level needed to sustain juice production, processing plants will close.

Richard Lyons’ Nursery has for some time been recommending against growing citrus in southern Florida, and nothing gleaned from these recently-reported developments changes that advice. Aside from citrus greening itself, Lyons is concerned about the viability of currently-popular root stocks. Most citrus grown upstate is grafted onto Swingle root stock, which is well-suited to acid soils. But fruit grown on Swingle root stock in southern Florida, where soils are alkaline, tends to be pithy and unsweet. He suggests that homeowners interested in cultivating citrus confine their efforts to Key Lime, which can be grown easily from seed and need not be grafted.

Exotic Jackfruit Gains in Popularity

The Food Network, in its online blog, FN Dish, recently ran a feature story about jackfruit. This huge, delicious fruit is just beginning to gain nationwide interest, but Richard Lyons’ Nursery has been growing the species for over a decade. Richard describes the complex flavor of the fruit as a combination of pineapple, banana and Juicy Fruit gum. Presently there are over 100 jackfruit trees being field-grown at the nursery, comprising several different cultivars. The fruit traditionally has ripened during the period from May to September, but recent changes in climate have allowed many of the trees to produce year-round. Enjoy the informative article by Amy Reiter, and drop by Richard Lyons’ Nursery to satisfy your jackfruit needs.
10 Things to Know About Jackfruit
10 Things to Know About Jackfruit
by Amy Reiter in News, May 24th, 2016


Jackfruit is having a moment.

“Seriously sweet and even better than pulled pork — this cult fruit is more than just junk food for vegans,” the London Evening Standard gushes, calling it “the new kimchi, kale and cauliflower all rolled into one.”

Eater, meanwhile, has just traced the factors “Behind Jackfruit’s Rise From South Asian Staple to Vegan Trend,” noting, “while it might seem like this fruit … came out of nowhere in the United States, its development as profitable product has been happening simultaneously in India.”

What’s that, you say? You don’t know jackfruit?

Here are 10 things to know about the trendy fruit:

1. It’s the world’s biggest tree fruit, growing as big as 3 feet in length, weighing in at as much as 100 pounds and growing on the branches and trunks of trees that may be as tall as 30, 50 or even 70 feet. Trees may yield about 150 large fruits every year; some fully mature trees may produce as many as 500 more modest-size fruit in a given year.

2. The jackfruit is native to India and Southeast Asia, where it has been a staple crop for thousands of years.

3. In the U.S., it is now being grown — albeit only on a modest scale — in Florida. Hawaii also has a climate conducive to its cultivation.

4. It has a pungent aroma that has been compared to “overripe fruit, packaged fruit cup, smelly feet, stinky cheese and pet food,” as NPR recently put it, adding that “really, it wasn’t that bad!”

5. The taste has been described as that of a pineapple crossed with a banana.

6. Nutritionally, the jackfruit is a powerhouse: packed with protein, calcium, iron, potassium and vitamin B, with 95 calories per cup.

7. An adaptable food, jackfruit can be eaten fresh and blended into smoothies. Or it can be dried or roasted and used in everything from soups to chips to noodles, jams to juices, and even ice cream. (The seeds are also useful and may even be ground to use as flour.) The fruit may also function as a stand-in for meat in curry dishes and Mexican foods. As noted in a Food Network video, “unripe jackfruit has a meatlike taste, and when cooked the fruit is transformed into a savory meat substitute similar to pulled pork, perfect for tacos.”

8. It has been hailed as a potential solution for food insecurity — a “miracle crop.” “It is easy to grow. It survives pests and diseases and high temperatures. It is drought-resistant,” Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank, a nonprofit organization focused on agricultural sustainability, told the Guardian. “It achieves what farmers need in food production when facing a lot of challenges under climate change.”

9. You can buy it canned (in water or brine or syrup).

10. You can try your hand at cooking it with this recipe for a BBQ jackfruit sandwich. And to learn more about jackfruit, paste the following link into your browser: http://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/the-amazing-jackfruit-0234705.html.

Photo courtesy of iStock

Dealing with Zika and Aedes aegypti

Now is the time for Floridians to take precautions to help minimize the occurrence of the Zika virus. As you are aware, while Zika is not yet known to have been transmitted within Florida, Miami-Dade County leads the nation in reported cases, as travelers who have contracted the virus while away from the country return to, or pass through, our area. However, given our hot and rainy summer climate, it is only a matter of time before Zika starts to be transmitted locally.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the species most likely to spread Zika. The most effective preventive step you can take to minimize the virus – or any other mosquito-borne disease – is to eliminate standing water on your property. Mosquitoes can breed in even tiny receptacles, so be sure to inspect your property thoroughly to eliminate those risks.

Of course, there are places on the property of many individuals where water collects intentionally and not as the result of neglect. They include fishponds, birdbaths, and bromeliads. Fortunately, there are methods for treating those decorative features. A product that we use at Richard Lyons’ Nursery is Mosquito Bits, a larvicide. Its primary active ingredient is Bacillus thuringiensis ssp. israelensis, Strain 144. Bti, as it is known for short, is a biological control, and the manufacturer of Mosquito Bits claims that its product “will give a quick kill within 24 hours.” The product label further states that it “can be applied to areas that contain aquatic life, fish and plants.” You can read the entire label at  http://www.summitchemical.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Mosquito-Bits-30oz.-Label.pdf.

When it comes to bromeliads in particular, it should be of some comfort to know that they are not the favorite habitat for Aedes aegypti. A University of Florida publication (http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/frank/bromeliadbiota/mosbrom4.htm) advises that the species prefers lower lighting than what occurs in bromeliad tanks. Moreover, the two mosquito species most prominently found in bromeliads, belonging to the genus Wyeomiya, are not known to spread disease in humans. A companion UF article (http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/frank/bromeliadbiota/mosbrom5.htm) states that Bacillus sphaericus has some advantages over Bti.