More than 20 growers and others attended a tour on Oct. 11 at Whitmore Farm near Groveland in Lake County, Florida.
Breeding for HLB tolerance or resistance is the primary goal of research at the farm. “Whitmore Farm was established in the mid-1950s as a foundation farm,” says Brian Scully, who led the tour and discussed research. Scully is director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Horticultural Research Laboratory at Fort Pierce. Scientists from the laboratory use Whitmore Farm for their research into rootstocks and scions.
Scully says the farm consists of 500 acres, with about 130 acres planted in citrus trees. “In the bylaws, it was dedicated strictly for citrus research and breeding,” he says.
Of the tour, Scully says, “I just wanted to reach out on some of the things we’re doing. Because this is a federal facility, even though it’s run by a foundation, we don’t usually have a lot of visitors up here, because it’s a secure facility.”
Although Scully says “HLB tolerance is the top goal” of researchers at the farm, he adds, “Now if we can get something that’s less tolerant but still produces a good fruit and a high quality and a good yield, we’ll take that.”
Scully says the farm is a cooperative partnership between USDA, the Florida Department of Citrus, the New Varieties Development and Management Corp. and the board of Whitmore Farm.
Hear more from Scully:
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