Fritz Roka

Associate Professor, Agricultural Economics

Fritz Roka is an Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics with the University of Florida at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center (Immokalee, FL). His extension and research activities focus on farm management, agricultural labor, and following the general economic trends of citrus, vegetables, cattle and sugarcane, particularly in Southwest Florida. His specific areas of interest are citrus mechanical harvesting, evaluating management options for HLB, and developing a training program for Farm Labor Supervisors. Fritz is a native of Maryland. He earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Agricultural Economics from the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. in Economics from the North Carolina State University. He has been working at the Southwest Research & Education Center since December 1995.


Citrus Mechanical Harvesting

The IFAS Citrus Mechanical Harvesting website provides all available information on citrus mechanical harvesting-- a place where growers, harvesting contractors, processors, and other industry clientele can access the latest research material, acquire basic information on the existing harvesting systems, and provide a forum to ask questions regarding mechanical harvesting.


Citrus Production

Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, is one of the most serious citrus diseases. It is a bacterial disease that attacks the vascular system of plants. Once infected, there is no cure for the disease and the fruit is bitter and inedible.

A Citrus Yield Case Block Study

This is an ongoing study with participating growers in the SW Florida region. We have been collecting yield information for Hamlin and Valencia blocks that were initially stabled in the 1980's, with some of the blocks having 19 year old trees. The two graphs representing the accumulated data can be viewed below. The published paper can also be read below.



Seasonal field labor is particularly important to both vegetable and citrus growers who depend on these workers to transplant, stake, tie, prune and finally harvest the season's crop. The availability of farmworkers in southwest Florida is critical from December to March when the citrus harvest is in full swing and vegetable growers are occupied with a full slate of growing and harvest activities. The National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) has found that migrant farmworkers comprise 67 percent of total farm work force in Florida. Below are documents that will provide a better understanding of the regulations that affect farm workers and demographics of the farm workers in Florida.

2009 Handbook of Employment Regulations Affecting Florida Farm Employers and Workers: Immigration Reform Programs [Federal]

Fritz Roka, Michael Olexa, Katherine Smallwood, Leo Polopolus, and Carol Fountain.

This handbook is intended to provide a convenient reference to the major provisions of the several state and federal regulations that affect farm employers and employees. It reflects state and federal laws as of July 1, 2009, only as they apply to farmworkers and not to workers considered non-agricultural. Its purpose is simply to focus employers and employees on the fundamental provisions of the laws which govern their relationships.

Download:  2009 Handbook of Employment Regulations Affecting Florida Farm Employers and Workers: Immigration Reform Programs [Federal]  (EDIS)

Compensating Farm Workers through Piece Rates: Implications on Harvest Costs and Worker Earnings

F. M. Roka. University of Florida, IFAS, FE 792, February 2009.

Piece rates are a common method of payment for farm workers who harvest fresh fruit and vegetable crops. A piece rate directly affects both production costs and farm worker hourly earnings. The purpose of this paper is to explain how a piece rate payment system works and further explain its implications on production costs and farm worker earnings. Various points are illustrated through citrus and tomato harvesting examples.

Download:  Compensating Farm Workers through Piece Rates: Implications on Harvest Costs and Worker Earnings (EDIS)

Farmworkers in Southwest Florida-Final Report

F.M. Roka & D. Cook, September 30, 1998.

A long term goal among community leaders in southwest Florida is to improve the quality and quantity of farmworker housing. A reliable statistical description of the farmworker population could help draft future housing plans and guide the delivery of health, educational, and other public services. This paper reports the findings of that study effort. The study objectives were to collect data on the size and demographic features of the seasonal farmworker population in southwest Florida. Unlike the previous studies, this effort attempts to base farmworker population estimates more closely around the agricultural production activities.

Download: Farmworkers in Southwest Florida - Final Report [pdf]

Piece Rates, Hourly Wages and Daily Farm Worker Income

F.M. Roka & R. Emerson, University of Florida, IFAS, April 1999, Citrus and Vegetable Magazine (April):10-12, Immokalee Report.

During the 1997/98 production season, data were collected on a sample of seasonal farm workers harvesting oranges and tomatoes in southwest Florida. From these data, one can calculate average worker productivity, effective hourly wage and daily harvest income. This document summarizes the harvest performance of crews from which data were obtained. This summary provides some evidence of average hourly and daily earnings. The interpretation of the data is limited, however, to only field workers harvesting during a peak production period in southwest Florida (January 1998).

Download: Price Rates, Hourly Wages and Daily Farm Worker Income [pdf]

Seasonal Farmworker Demographics

F.M. Roka, University of Florida, IFAS, February 1999, Immokalee Report.

This article outlines some important demographic questions that focus on maintaining an adequate supply of seasonal farmworkers for the citrus and fresh vegetable industries. In addition, some of the available information is presented and the objectives of an upcoming labor survey for southwest Florida are discussed.

Download: Seasonal Farmworker Demographics [pdf]



Dr. Fritz Roka, Associate Professor