The long-time project manager for the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) says the group formed to find solutions to HLB has done the best it can. Tom Turpen with Technology Innovation Group was recently honored for his service, which is being curtailed. Turpen actually began work with CRDF’s predecessor, the Florida Citrus Production Research Advisory Council, soon after HLB was discovered in Florida.
“We’ve created an organization (that) I think is going to serve growers and producers well into the future,” Turpen says. “It’s transparent. It’s going to be able to speak for technology. It’s going to speak for citrus to the public. And I really hope it gets us out of this hole.”
Turpen points out that the National Academy of Science, at the Florida citrus industry’s request, years ago performed a study to determine the best ways to address HLB. “I think we’ve executed on that plan,” Turpen says. “We’ve filled in all the research possibilities that were outlined for us then.”
“I believe we’ve done everything that could be done,” Turpen says. “But you can’t be satisfied with the outcome, either. There’s more work to do, and I just think we have the right organization and the right people to do it.”
HLB, which is spread from tree to tree by the Asian citrus psyllid, was discovered in Florida in 2005. It has since spread to every grove in the Sunshine State and has caused the death of millions of trees and drastically reduced Florida’s citrus production.
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