Bridge Loan Helps Arcadia-based Citrus Grower Through the Squeeze

Joshua Citrus, Inc. of DeSoto County

Bridge Loan Helps Arcadia-based Citrus Grower Through the SqueezeIn 1880 James Shelfer moved his family to Florida, settling in Joshua Creek near Arcadia. He planted his first orange tree soon thereafter and the rest is history. A little more than 100 years later, Joshua Citrus, Inc. was born and began shipping the fresh Florida citrus that the family had been growing for generations.

Joshua Citrus has approximately 120 acres of citrus groves and a retail operation. They also have gift fruit shipping.

As September approached, owners Kevin and Lynn Shelfer were preparing to pick the first fruit of the season, only to be derailed by Hurricane Irma as she swept through the state of Florida. In some cases, 100 percent of the crop was damaged.

The Shelfers then found the State of Florida Emergency Bridge Loan Program, through multiple emails from local industry groups. They applied and worked closely with the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida’s South Florida State College office in Avon Park.

When asked about their experience with the storm and the assistance received, they recalled:

What type of damage occurred?
Around here we probably lost 50 percent in some crops, 30 percent in others. At our orange groves we lost 100 percent of the navels and 100 percent of the grapefruit. It wasn’t 100 percent on the ground but everything left on the trees is banged up and there’s not enough there to go through and pick.

How will the Bridge Loan help?
It helps us right now because we didn’t have any money. The fruit we lost out there is the first fruit we normally start picking so we had no income right away off of that fruit. It helps us get the ball rolling this year and get caught up on bills.

How was the Florida SBDC at USF helpful during this process?
We heard about it through a couple of industry contacts. The process was honestly very smooth and the documentation as something that I could get my fingers on very easily.