In 1934 Apshawa Groves, Inc. was established. The groves were located west of Hwy 27 and north of Lake Minneola. For many years Apshawa was managed by Dr. Werner Husmann, an institution in Lake County. Doc Hussman was an economist by training, but was an astute and leading grove manager. Apshawa Groves had a fairly large percent of their groves planted to grapefruit. Most of the acreage had the trees spaced 30 ft by 30 ft giving them only 48 trees per acre. This was common for grapefruit planted on sandy soils in Central Florida. The groves were not irrigated and needed lots of room to send out an extensive root system. In addition, most citrus planted on the sandy soils in Central Florida were grafted on Rough Lemon rootstock. Almost all the citrus grown in Florida since the 1940’s consists of a scion (the top part of the tree, also called the variety) and a rootstock (the root system which is another variety). The graft or bud union was generally 3 or 4 inches above the ground.
Doc Husmann was proud of all his citrus, especially the grapefruit. He marketed most of them through Lakeland Packing. Doc was a colorful and entertaining individual. Tall and most often you could track him down riding in his old army jeep through the groves. He wore high boots and horse-riding pants that folks call ‘jodhpurs’. His field attire was as unique as Doc. His groves were a favorite place for ‘tours’. For many years, University of Florida Professor of Citrus Horticulture, Dr. Louis Ziegler would bring his classes to visit Doc Husmann and learn about growing and marketing citrus. Doc published several papers in the Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society and was a popular speaker at grower meetings.
More than likely Doc selected this label for the excellent fruit he grew. Hopefully some research will provide answers. For now, Apshawa and Doc Husmann are a wonderful memory that many involved with the citrus industry will cherish. County Agent John Jackson relates his first encounter with Doc Husmann, “I started my career as the County Agent for Lake and Orange County working with citrus growers July 1, 1968. The Director of the Extension office was attending a training school out of state when I arrived on Day 1. I had some written suggestions as he would be gone for two weeks. The first few days were spent in the office getting settled in and doing a lot of reading about Lake and Orange County. By the end of the week, I was ready to venture into the field. Armed with the suggested list of growers and a paper map I headed South for my very first grower visit to find Apshawa and Doc Husmann. Somehow, I managed to find the barn and fortunately the army jeep was parked in the yard and a tall gentleman in jodhpurs was performing an interesting operation. I introduced myself to Doc and he proceeded to grill me about my background in citrus. That did not take long for my experience consisted of 4 months working as an assistant grove manager in the Ft. Pierce area. I remember clearly Doc wanted to know how much it cost to grow a box of citrus at Alpat (my former employer). Sadly, I did not know the cost of production at Alpat. He then proceeded to give me a lesson in economics! He pointed out that the 5000 gallon tanker truck in the yard contained a highly refined petroleum oil which he purchased from a company for 9 cents per gallon (delivered to the port at Tampa). He then paid the trucking company 2 cents per gallon to have it delivered it to his barn. He then transferred the oil from the tanker truck into a holding tank at the barn. As he performed this process he was adding a small amount of an emulsifying agent to the oil. This agent would allow the oil to be mixed with water and the mix was then used as a pesticide! For many years citrus was sprayed each summer with an oil spray to control several pests. A very safe and effective product. Doc told me the agent costs about ½ cent per gallon of oil that was mixed in the holding tank. Next he informed me that all his fellow growers were buying their spray oil from various pesticide sales organizations for 18 to 20 cents per gallon! He wondered out loud why they would do that when all he had to do was invest an hour while the oil was transferred to his holding tank. Doc would most likely apply 10 gallons per acre of the oil over the 2000 acres of citrus he managed! So, Jackson he asked, how much money am I saving spending an hour today? So it took me a few minutes to do the math – this was years before a smart phone with calculator and I did not have a calculator with me. So It cost Doc 9 plus 2 plus ½ cents per gallon for his spray. That is 11 and ½ cents. If he was to buy the oil from the pesticide company it would cost 19 cents per gallon (he would still have to meet tanker truck and transfer oil to his holding tank). 19 cents minus 11.5 cents gives 7 and ½ cents saved per gallon. Since he applied 10 gallons per acre over 2000 acres Doc was using 20,000 gallons of oil for his summer oil spray. 20,000 gallons times 7 and ½ cents was 150,000 cents or $1500 dollars (1968 dollars). Doc thought other growers were throwing away 75 cents an acre and to him every penny counted! He was an economist and told me a grower better be sure if he spent a dollar growing his crop he better get a dollar and a nickel back!” This Apshawa label sign is dedicated to the memory of Doc Husmann by his longtime friends Frank and Cathye Bouis (Florida Fruit Managers).