DADE CITY, Fla. — It’s the busiest time of year for Greg Gude, as he sorts and packs fruit for the annual Dade City Kumquat Festival.
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“They’re sweet on the outside, tart on the inside,” Gude said.
That’s how he describes what’s known as the “golden gem of citrus.”
Problem is, there’s less to go around these days.
“We’re not going to have a lot of them. But we’re going to have what we have,” Gude said.
Gude is the owner of Kumquat Growers in Dade City, the largest kumquat producer in the entire country.
His crop has taken a big hit in recent years due to various issues.
“We have a shortage of them. We will for years to come until we can get our trees back to being major sized trees, like orange trees.”
He showed what his farm looks like now as his employees were out picking on Thursday.
The trees there are just a few years old. Gude had to replace the trees that were nearly 50 years old with new ones back in 2015.
Pests called the diaprepes beetle ate into the roots of the old trees. And like other Florida growers, he’s also dealing with some citrus greening.
He says the best way to combat this is allowing time for the trees to grow, as they get healthier.
“It’s just trying to get where we can grow bigger trees and more roots than the bugs can eat,” Gude said.
Being in business 50 years, Gude is pressing forward. His gift shop sells every kumquat product you can think of. He wants to keep his longtime family business going as long as possible.
“All things kumquat. That’s what it’s all about,” Gude said.
The annual Kumquat Festival is in historic downtown Dade City on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Like every year, thousands are expected to attend.