Column sponsored by the Citrus Research and Development Foundation
The August board meeting of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) provided several updates that should be shared with the industry and other readers.
The CRDF/Bayer CropScience partnership announced on August 16 at Citrus Expo moves CRDF one step closer to having strong partners to develop and deliver novel solutions to HLB. This partnership represents over one year of interaction and planning, and brings one of the world’s leading agricultural innovation companies into the foreground as Florida growers struggle to preserve tree health and sustain productivity.
Further details of the CRDF/Bayer CropScience partnership were presented at the October CRDF board meeting. These details on the coordinated effort to provide therapies to existing citrus groves are being provided to the industry through various communications.
The CRDF board is composed of 13 members — 10 representing the Florida citrus industry, two representing the University of Florida and one member representing the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Board terms reflect eligibility to complete two, 3-year consecutive terms. Some founding members were appointed to staggered 1- or 2-year initial terms. At the close of 2017, the first large-scale rotation of industry representatives to CRDF will occur, when three board members will complete their terms. These members are Tom Jerkins, president; Hugh Thompson, treasurer and chair of CRDF’s Finance and Audit Committee; and Wayne Simmons, chair of the Industry Research Coordinating Committee. All three of these gentlemen have provided committed leadership to CRDF and have advanced the goals of the foundation through their representation and leadership.
Replacement board members have been appointed by the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) and Florida Citrus Mutual. John Updike, a Central Florida grower, was named by FDOC to replace Hugh Thompson, while Charlie Lykes of Lykes Brothers and David Howard from Graves Brothers Citrus were named as new board appointees by Florida Citrus Mutual to fill vacancies created by Tom Jerkins and Wayne Simmons. The new board appointments become effective at the CRDF annual board meeting.
Finally, CRDF has hired Lisa Weaver, senior program manager, to provide leadership and coordination of the technical aspects of the CRDF portfolio. As the complexity of the science has increased and the pressure to deliver short-term solutions is ever-present, the commitment to ensure that all areas of pursuit to HLB solutions are on track and on time is essential.
A plant biochemist, Weaver joined CRDF in early September. Her background in private industry project management and experience with agricultural technology brings new skills to the organization. Weaver has assumed responsibilities for program management, including managing the current portfolio and solicitation of new projects to fill gaps identified in the National Academy of Science’s HLB review that is nearing completion. This move by CRDF refocuses program management formerly provided by Tom Turpen, and will emphasize moving emerging solutions to the field as quickly as possible. You will be hearing more about Weaver.
Harold Browning is chief operations officer of CRDF. The foundation is charged with funding citrus research and getting the results of that research to use in the grove.
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