According to Visit Florida, about 569,000 acres of citrus groves throughout the state are lined with a total of 74 million citrus trees. With numbers like those, it takes a lot to stand out as a citrus grower, and even more to be recognized nationally — but Beck Brothers Citrus in Windermere has managed to do just that.
On 7,500 acres spread out over several counties in Central Florida, the company’s unique approach has kept it resilient through a changing industry, even earning Beck Brothers Citrus recent accolades from The Fertilizer Institute.
Founded in the 1950s by George Beck, the farm is now operated by his sons, Glenn and Mark Beck. Their drive to respect not only their family legacy, but also the legacy of the land that sustains them, keeps them adapting and growing.
“My brother and I are fourth-generation participants in this business,” said Glenn Beck, the president of Beck Brothers. “So we’ve grown up in it, and there has always been a desire for both of us to continue to expand it.”
That hasn’t always been easy, he said. “There are far more regulatory matters that affect us now, and there’s a lot more global competition. Labor is always an issue, and it appears to be moving along at a far faster pace now than what it was years ago.”
Those big changes have an effect on the day-to-day operations of the business, and the brothers have reacted to meet the changing needs of their industry by diversifying to other crops such as blueberries, updating their technology, and even changing their growing practices. Throughout that evolution, Beck Brothers Citrus has found one of its strongest allies in PNC Bank.
As one of the top 20 agriculture banks in the nation, with knowledge and experience in the industry, PNC Bank works to adapt its own resources to the unique needs of its partners. This means developing an understanding of stories like that of the Beck brothers — listening to them to ensure their unique needs are met in terms of financing, cash flow and regulations.
“They have always been very competitive in the market and have been extremely pleasant to work with,” Beck said about the bankers at PNC. “They’re accommodating. All of our questions get answered, and they do whatever it takes to move forward with the process.”
Brian Hofer, PNC Bank vice president and agriculture banker for the Greater Orlando region, said the bank also values the partnership: “The Beck family has an understanding of agronomy, biology, political science, history, geography, geology, financial planning, marketing and cash management. So with all that knowledge on hand, it’s easy to work together and discuss the best products and services available at PNC Bank that fit their needs.”
Most recently, Hofer said, PNC and Beck Brothers Citrus partnered to ensure financing for the farm’s new drone and irrigation project, designed to extend the life of its citrus, blueberry, fern and peach crops.
With this partnership, the Beck brothers have been able to implement even more exciting new methods. In 2018, Beck Brothers Citrus and four other growers were awarded The Fertilizer Institute’s 4R Advocate Award — those 4R’s standing for “right source, right rate, right time, and right place.” The award was given in recognition of the company’s implementation of a new 4R fertilizer management practice, one designed to alleviate stress on the environment, maintain a healthy water supply, and increase efficiency in growing.
“It’s all management, and basically not using any more than what is necessary,” Beck said. “It’s a matter of carefully placing it in amounts that will not allow it to leach into groundwater.”
In an industry that relies on sometimes unpredictable factors, the company’s innovative methods and reliable partners keep it steady and ready to tackle the future agricultural needs of its consumers.