University of Florida Helps Guide Georgia Citrus Association

The conference drew approximately 300 attendees.

University of Florida researchers assisted their neighbor to the north as they put together several presentations to help build the Georgia citrus industry. The presentations were made during the second annual Georgia Citrus Association Conference, which was held Feb. 26 at the University of Georgia Tifton Conference Center.

Lindy Savelle, president of the Georgia Citrus Association, says she is very pleased with how the event turned out, and she’s already looking forward to next year. With nearly 300 people in attendance, the conference featured several vendors and a day jam-packed with informational seminars held by leaders in the industry, including University of Florida researchers.

Savelle says the Georgia citrus industry is expanding exponentially as acreage and grower interest in citrus continue to increase. According to Savelle, the citrus acreage in Georgia doubled in 2017, and the expectation is for the industry to continue to evolve. “We anticipate to grow just as much in 2018,” she says.

However, as the industry grows, Georgia growers are looking into the dangers of growing citrus in the Southeast. The Florida citrus industry has faced several challenges ranging from unpredictable weather to the devastation of citrus greening disease. Now, University of Florida researchers are sharing what they have learned over the years to fight against these challenges.

Fred Gmitter addresses the crowd at the conference.

Fred Gmitter, a plant breeder with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), presented his research on finding an 8-million-year-old gene that could ultimately help the citrus industry. During his presentation, he advised the Georgia audience to not take the threat of citrus greening lightly.

Jamie Burrow, UF/IFAS Extension program manager, gave a presentation on psyllid management. UF/IFAS scientist Tripti Vashisth discussed what citrus production looks like in the Southeast.

Savelle says she is thankful for the help from the citrus experts at UF/IFAS. “Georgia citrus cannot grow without the help of Florida. That’s obvious. They (the UF/IFAS researchers) see that we have a good opportunity here, and out of the goodness of their hearts, they’re here to help us with this industry. The University of Florida welcomes us with open arms because this is the United States. We want citrus grown locally,” Savelle concludes.

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Abbey Taylor