Florida Targets Bamboo For New Climate Friendly Crop

Grant Piper News

Bamboo Forest, Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan.Basile Morin

Florida has long been known as a citrus state. The ubiquitous Florida Orange is more than just a mascot, it is a major cash crop. Oranges have made up a sizable portion of the Florida agricultural market for generations. But Florida is known for more than simply oranges. The name Florida is derived from the Spanish word for flower and when people think about the Sunshine State they think about oranges, sugar cane, palm trees, and flowers.

But what about bamboo?

A new wave of entrepreneurs is starting to ask that question. As the climate continues to be at the forefront of many people's minds (especially young people) new business tactics are being developed to try and increase the eco-friendliness of modern manufacturing and design. Bamboo has long been targeted as a crop that could have far more uses than people imagine. Bamboo grows quickly and is a plant that removes carbon from the air. These traits are some of the things that has made bamboo so widely used in places like China and Japan but now people are thinking that bamboo might be right at home here in Florida.

A new company, Rizome, based in Bradenton Florida, is doing experiments testing how well giant bamboo will grow in Florida's tropical, sandy, climate. So far, the results are promising. According to the Herald-Tribune, more Florida farmers are signing up to grow bamboo on their land. Last year, a hundred acres were planted and observed and there are plans to increase that number into the thousands in 2022 and 2023.

Companies like Rizome like bamboo for its fast growth and flexible uses. Bamboo can be used in paper, building materials, and utensils. Adding in bamboo as a replacement for traditional paper, cardboard and plastic could have long term positive effects on the climate.

Another factor that is boosting the popularity of bamboo in Florida is the prevalence of plant based diseases that have been plaguing the Florida agricultural community for years. Citrus greening and, more recently, palm bronzing, have caused major Florida crops to get sick and die. The deadly diseases have caused many fields to sit fallow due to farmers' inability to grow healthy crops.

Bamboo could fill that void. That is what many are hoping.

If bamboo continues to grow well in Florida it could offer a replacement to farmers struggling to keep traditional Florida crops healthy. Not only does it grow quickly, it has a carbon benefit and does not have any of the same diseases worries that traditional crops have.

Ideas like this are some of the new out-of-the-box thinking that concern about the climate is generating. And it might just work.

In the coming months or years do not be surprised to see bushy green forests of bamboo popping up in Florida. Giant bamboo can easily grow as tall as forty feet and healthy forests have stalks that reach upwards of a hundred feet. Giant bamboo might be just what Florida needs to plunge ahead into a green new future.

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A freelance writer with a passion for current events, politics, and history. I've been into the news from an age when people thought it was weird to be into the news.

Tampa, FL

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