When Hurricane Andrew blew into South Florida in 1992, Stephen Sapp lost close to 80 percent of his lime trees. This year would have been the first in which the Homestead farmer’s trees reached full maturity and began to produce. But just as he was getting ready to harvest, Mother Nature struck again, this time in the form of citrus canker.
The only way to eradicate the disease — which causes trees to weaken, lose leaves and drop fruit prematurely — is to destroy them. So on Feb. 11, the Florida Department of Agriculture sent Sapp a letter notifying him that it would be wiping out his entire crop — 4,000 lime trees on 20 acres in Homestead — just as the agency has done to other farmers.
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