“In Gainesville we have essentially the youngest citrus breeding program in Florida,” Chaparro says. “In the future, we hope to be able to provide both HLB and canker resistance in our selections.” Such disease resistance would let growers get by with less spraying, which would “ultimately hopefully improve the profit margins of the groves,” he says.
Chaparro notes that the Gainesville breeding program leads to release of new cultivars through the New Varieties Development and Management Corp.’s Fast Track program. Fast Track gets selections into growers’ hands fairly quickly, allowing them to participate in the testing of selections. “We’re in a crisis situation, and we need to get advanced selections out to the industry as quickly as possible so that growers can make an informed decision as to whether these are worthwhile or not,” he says. Grower testing allows varieties to be released much faster than the 20 to 25 years required if all the testing is done by researchers, Chaparro adds.
The scientist reports on promising new mandarins and efforts to develop orange-like hybrids with good juice quality and HLB tolerance.
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