Fall 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to the Fall Edition of my newsletter. Please feel free to reply with a comment. I am always looking to improve on the content for my subscribers.

Also, visit my website waltbethel.com to view my listings, search for properties, or to enjoy one of my archived newsletters and stories on Florida History.

Thank you,

It was a fantastic Summer! Congratulations to our daughter Peyton and our now son-in-law Austin Little. Their wedding was held in Boca Grande August 24 th . They will now reside in Ocala. Peyton is a licensed Realtor and sales manager at Bosshardt Realty and Austin is an Insurance agent at Florida Farm Bureau. So proud of them both!
Taking High-Density Citrus Planting to the Next Level
When you are told the experimental citrus grove you have planted is like no other in the country, you know it is a sign of the times and changes brought on by citrus greening. That’s what Horace Durrance was told about the 14-acre block of super high-density (SHD) trees planted on his Lost Lake Groves property near Lake Placid.

Durrance has been working closely with Dr. Clay Pederson, Managing Director of Agromillora Florida, on the project. As a third-generation citrus grower, Durrance says planting 908 trees per acre in the grove is a huge departure from the traditional 100 trees per acre planted by previous generations. But he is willing to give it a try for one simple reason — economics.

“My father and grandfather would probably roll over in their graves, knowing I am putting this many trees in the ground per acre,” Durrance jokes. “Back before greening came along, 100 trees per acre worked fine for generations, but now the economics just don’t work, as greening has reduced yields in traditional spacing and densities.”next season.

Lost Lake’s super high-density citrus grove was planted in May 2018. While it remains to be seen if the experiment will be a success, early growth is impressive. Trees already are reaching about 4 feet in height and have developed an extensive root system.

“We had an irrigation leak about five weeks after we planted, which required us to dig underneath the trees to make repairs,” Durrance says. “In that short amount of time, the roots were already overlapping between trees. That got my attention.”

Keep Them Short
In Lost Lake’s super high-density citrus grove, trees are planted on 12-foot by 4-foot spacing. Several varieties and rootstocks are being tested in the planting. Trees are planted on dwarfing rootstocks because the idea is to manage and grow them almost into a hedge, similar to how apple and olive orchards are grown today, minus the trellis.

“I think some of the growers who pioneered the work on higher density groves put varieties on regular rootstocks,” Durrance says. “Some of those trees got shaded out, and it just didn’t function correctly. We’ve got to keep these trees short for it to work.”

According to Pederson, they are taking what they have learned in other super high-density plantings from across the world and applying that knowledge in Lost Lake’s grove.

“One of the things that helped Agromillora get established as a company was propagating super high-density olive groves in Europe 25 years ago. We have talked about high density around the world, and here in Florida, for years. But what we are doing with Lost Lake Groves is a different way of approaching super high-density.”

Durrance says from a production standpoint, he is not treating super high-density citrus trees much differently than new resets in his conventional grove. There are a few exceptions to this, including his irrigation placement of one microjet for every two trees since the spacing is so close.

In addition, imidacloprid is being applied with a 1,000-gallon rear sprayer pulled behind a tractor going down every other row rather than using a hand-pump applicator, which is used on resets.

“You have 908 trees per acre, so that is a lot of hand pumping for our field workers,” Durrance says.

For weed control, Durrance built a herbicide boom to attach behind a John Deere Gator.

“I don’t have a disk that will fit the super high-density grove, so I am mowing it more than my conventional spacing,” he says.

The nutrition program is built around slow-release fertilizer. Since planting, the super high-density citrus block has received nine insecticide applications for psyllid control and other pests. Each of those applications have included foliar nutrition products.

“The slow-release fertilizer is a bigger expense on the front end,” he says. “But, in the long run you, are better off because you are saving on future applications. These roots are certainly competing to get that fertilizer. You can see that in the root and tree growth.”

Durrance says it’s too early for him to say if he will accrue any benefits from the super high-density citrus planting when it comes to greening. But, in theory, the much more compact plants would lend themselves to better coverage for psyllid-control applications. In addition, if a tree is taken out by the disease in a sea of 908 trees, it will impact production much less than if it were 100 trees per acre.

Continuous Hedge
The goal of using dwarfing rootstocks and continuous hedging is to create a compact tree. Durrance is hoping to grow the trees off to be about 7 feet to 8 feet tall and 3 feet to 4 feet wide.

“Right now, we are walking through this grove with clippers and hand trimming and shaping these trees,” he says. “We are doing this four times per year. As the trees get older, we will do this mechanically. I am still deciding on which piece of equipment I will use to hedge and top them. It will have to be something that cuts them clean and doesn’t tear the limbs.”

Mechanical Harvest
One of the biggest benefits derived from a super high-density citrus grove is that it lends itself to mechanical harvest. According to Pederson, this already is being done successfully in Spain. When Lost Lake Groves’ trees mature, the plan is to move to mechanical harvest, which will provide big savings on labor and harvest expenses.

The Oxbo 6430 and New Holland’s Braud 9090X are over-the-row harvesters capable of working in super high-density citrus groves. Pederson says the machines have performed well in other parts of the world, with 90% to 95% harvest efficiency — depending on the age and size of trees — and light damage to fruit and trees.

“Growers want to pick 100% of the fruit. But, if you are mechanically harvesting, you can leave a percentage on the tree and it still makes more economic sense,” Pederson says. “This is not the older shaker model where we tried to mechanically harvest existing groves. Here we are growing and grooming the trees to be harvested mechanically.”

The first harvest or two might not use the machines as the trees mature. In fact, ‘Vernia’ might be harvested for fresh fruit in the first harvest season, if the machines are not deployed. When mature, the goal is to pick about a half a box of fruit per tree, which would yield more than 450 boxes per acre.

Pederson adds that the super high-density approach will work for fresh fruit, but only for hand picking. He says they have not tested this on later Valencias out of fear of knocking off the next season’s crop with the machines.

We Are Doing Something
Durrance, like other growers, is observing the progression of citrus greening in his established groves. He watched trees fall off a cliff and then slowly begin to bounce back. He points to how trees responded after Hurricane Irma as an example. His groves endured 100+ mph winds during the storm.

“With Irma, I didn’t lose every leaf on this side of the grove, but I lost a big chunk of them,” Durrance says. “Driving through there, all you heard was fruit popping under the tires. We had bare twigs and fruit hanging. Given the history of greening, I thought those trees were not going to do anything for two years. But within seven days, we were getting feather growth on those twigs and even had a bloom that year.

I don’t know what we are doing to take the stress factor off these greening-infected trees, but we are doing something that is helping. We have learned more about applying these minor elements. We have started applying 3 tons of compost per acre, twice per season. We are applying compost to the super high-density citrus grove at planting, and in the season as well. We have earthworms in these groves, which tells me we are headed in the right direction when it comes to soil and root health. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we have whipped greening’s stress factor, but we are helping these trees.”

As for the future super high-density citrus grove’s success, Durrance says time will tell, and they will adjust to conditions as the trees mature.

We are just going to be farmers about it,” he says. “But so far, the trees look really good.”
Read More: GrowingProduce.com
 Padgett Ranch Family Fest

19th-20th October

Arcadia, FL

More Info: PadgettRanch


The new annual statewide bag limit is 5 deer per hunter of which no more than 2 deer can be antlerless (any deer, except a spotted fawn, without antlers or whose antlers are less than five inches in length). The annual statewide bag limit for deer applies to all hunters, including those exempt from hunting license/permit requirements (hunters under 16 years of age, resident hunters 65 years and older, those with a disability license, military personnel and those hunting on their homestead in their county of residence).

The annual statewide bag limit was developed through extensive collaboration with staff and stakeholders and aligns with the goals and objectives outlined in the Commission-approved  strategic plan for deer management . This adaptive approach to deer management is intended to improve hunting opportunities by encouraging harvest among more hunters as well as greater selectivity while helping maintain a healthy and reasonably balanced deer herd. Until this limit was established, Florida was the only state in the Southeast without a specified annual bag limit.

The new annual statewide bag limit takes effect beginning with the 2019-2020 hunting season. It sets the maximum number of deer a hunter can take annually statewide throughout the entire deer hunting season, which next season runs from the first day of Zone A’s archery season on Aug. 3, 2019, through the last day of Zone D’s late muzzleloading gun season on March 1, 2020 .

Punta Gorda City Limits- Double Lots ZONED NC
24384 Airport Rd. Punta Gorda, FL 33950
Over 1/2 Acre of commercial property situated in Punta Gorda city limits. Property is less than ¼ mile to US 41 and Publix shopping plaza, adjacent to Multifamily housing and within minutes to the fast growing Punta Gorda Airport. Zoned Neighborhood Center (NC) which allows for a multitude of options such as: office space, restaurants, commercial buildings, or multi-family housing.

Total Acres: .61
Listing price: $349,000
12+ Acre Joshua Creek Estate
3410 County Rd 760 Arcadia,FL 34266
Beauty and privacy abound in this 12.64 acre estate set among oak hammocks, a gently flowing creek and manicured pastures. As you enter through the private gate down the paved drive you are welcomed to this custom built 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath brick home. With over 2,700 heated sq. ft., this meticulously maintained home features soaring ceilings, an open floor plan, lots of natural light, and a spacious screened back patio perfect for relaxing & enjoying the natural Florida habitat. The kitchen is complete with breakfast bar, dining area, dual dishwashers, updated appliances & opens to the formal dining room & family room ideal for entertaining. Downstairs is complete with a Guest Room/Office lined with windows and a large master bedroom featuring fireplace and an en-suite bathroom with soaking tub & separate tiled shower. Upstairs a catwalk, overlooking the family room, leads you to two additional guest bedrooms & a guest bathroom. Additionally, there is an attached 2 car garage, screened gazebo, a detached 30X52 garage-for your RV/boat, multiple RV hookups, as well as a huge workshop. Workshop is outfitted with kitchen & office area, ideal for home business. Much of the acreage is cleared pasture land with a pond & lends itself to cattle and horses. Property is within 5 miles from Publix, shopping, and downtown Arcadia. Come home to privacy and peacefulness on this beautiful, natural property nestled along Joshua Creek! Sellers willing to consider exchange/trade of commercial, vacant, or residential on water.

MLS: C7238071
Total Sq Ft: 2,779
Listing price: $725,000

348+/- Acres with 22 Mixed Use Buildings
5871 SE Hwy 31 Arcadia, FL 34266
348+ Acres with over 22 Mixed-Use Buildings 239,907 total sq. ft., located in South DeSoto County directly on Hwy 31. Permitted uses included, but not limited to: medical offices, a housing facility, service clubs or hotel/motel. This property was formerly a state owned juvenile justice center. The property may qualify for H2A workforce housing. A large tract of agricultural land is also included within the total acreage.

MLS: C7413967
Total Acres: 348.79
Listing price: $6,500,000
Little Gasparilla Island Bayfront Home
8538 Little Gasparilla Island Placida, FL 33946
BAYSIDE LITTLE GASPARILLA ISLAND 3/2 Stilt Home. By boat or water taxi, arrive at the 100'+ private, newly refinished dock that leads you straight to the front of the house on the oversized lot. The split stairwell welcomes you taking you to the second floor patio that is a perfect place to drink your morning coffee and watch the sunrise. As you enter the home, the spacious living area with a wood-beamed ceiling opens to the kitchen. The large kitchen with walk-in pantry and island are ideal for entertaining. The bedroom windows are adorned with plantation shutters. At the end of the hallway, the master bedroom is complete with its own bathroom. Below the home, features a large lower deck with an enclosed storage area. From there, it's just a short walk down the path to enjoy the amazing sunsets on the beach! There is plenty of the best Florida fishing right from your dock into Placida Harbor and onto the Gulf waters. Just minutes from the back waters of Bull Bay, Whidden creek, Turtle Bay and the world’s greatest Tarpon fishing in Boca Grande Pass.

MLS: C7408868
Total Sq Ft: 1,360
Listing price: $795,000
Multiple Kings Hwy Tracts
SW Co Rd Rd 769 and Co Rd 760 Arcadia, FL 34266
Beautiful wooded properties on corner of Kings Hwy and CR 760. This is an ideal area to build your dream home with plenty of space for a barn, pond, and animals. Located on highly desired Kings Highway (State Road 769) corridor with quick access to Port Charlotte, Interstate 75, or to the downtown Arcadia area. Sarasota and Gulf Beaches are just an hour away. CALL TODAY!

Click Parcel below for more info:
Parcel E: 10 Acres - PENDING!
Parcel F: 10 Acres-SOLD!          
Three Retail/Office Units--Veterans/Peachland Intersection
701 J C Center Ct. Port Charlotte, FL 33954
Premium retail property located at the intersection of Veterans Boulevard and Peachland Boulevard in The Vines Commercial Condominium. The units are 1,044 sq.ft. and ideal for quality retail or office space near the Kings Highway & I-75 interchange. Surrounding units are occupied with retail, office, fitness center, and a barber shop. There is tremendous opportunity for annual rental income. High traffic area with Publix, new Peachland Promenade Shopping Center nearby. All units for sale separately but can be combined for a total of 3,000+ sq.ft.

Click Unit below for more info:
Unit 17: MLS#C7418573
Unit 18: MLS# C7418577
Unit 19: MLS#C7418578

320+/- Acres with income producing Orange Grove
SW Hay Ave. Arcadia, FL 34266
This property features 70 Acres of Hamlins, 65 Acres of Valencias, BEAUTIFUL oak hammocks, a fishing pond and improved pastures planted for hay production. This secluded location is abundant with wild game including hogs, deer and turkeys. There are also enough Saw Palmettos for Quail hunting and Palmetto Berry harvesting. A perfect place for a secluded getaway cabin or your next home. This property is fenced, gated and located only 20 minutes to I-75 in Punta Gorda.
MLS: C7411054
Total Acres: 320.36
SOLD price: $1,400,000
**Seller Financing NOW Available**
16.84+/- Acres
SW Cypress Bend. Arcadia, FL 34269
16.84 +/- Gorgeous Acres situated adjacent to the Sunnybreeze Golf course in Desoto County. This parcel provides adequate privacy with ample space to build your dream home. This cleared parcel has convenient access to a newly upgraded public boat ramp with access onto the Peace River. Only minutes to Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte and I75. Come bring your horses and build your dream home on this beautiful piece of land!

MLS: C7401036
Total Acres: 16.84
Listing price: $245,000
24 Residential Units-Mixed Single-Multi Family Homes
5673 SE Hwy 31 Arcadia, FL 34266
24 Residential Units that feature a blend of single family and multi-family units located directly on Hwy 31 in DeSoto County. All units are situated on 45+ Acre parcel. All units are hooked up to public water and sewer. Paved roadways are already in place throughout the property. Great potential for rental development. Annual net income posted is an estimated potential. More density may be available pending county approval.

Total Acres: 24.87
About Walt Bethel
Walt Bethel is a fifth generation Floridian, born and raised in Arcadia, with a vast knowledge of all areas of Florida Real Estate and an ardent appreciation for Florida history.  
The purchase and development of his first orange grove when he was just sixteen years old fueled Walt's passion for real estate.  
Since then, he has bought, owned, and sold a wide variety of properties throughout a successful business career. His investments have included acreage, agricultural properties, residential homes, condos, and commercial properties. 
Walt's marketing and sales experience was cultivated over time at his family's business, Bethel Farms, where he marketed, managed, and sold products to "Big Box" retailers across the Southeastern and Midwestern United States.
From an early age, Walt's dad instilled in him the values to work hard and always have a goal, to look for a better way of doing things, and to constantly improve on them.  
The daily implementation of these principles, coupled with his enjoyment of networking with new people and his experience in business, sales, and marketing, have contributed to Walt's success as a Realtor.
 Walt has served on various boards and committees throughout the years. He has coached and actively supports local youth athletic programs and leagues. 
He and his wife Jill, also a fourth generation Floridian, reside in Punta Gorda. They have two children, a daughter Peyton and a son Truman.
Walt Bethel | RE/MAX Harbor Realty| 863.990.1748 | wbethel@waltbethel.com | www.waltbethel.com