More CRAFT Plantings to Come

Ernie Neffplanting, Research

CRAFT

A second phase of government-supported HLB research projects in Florida’s commercial groves is expected to be initiated this year by the Citrus Research and Field Trial (CRAFT) Foundation. A first phase, in which participating growers must have trees in the ground before June 30, saw growers signing up for 46 projects on 2,032 acres. Learn more about the first phase here.

CRAFT Foundation Executive Director Kristen Carlson said the 2020 Florida Legislature funded a second year of CRAFT “for hopefully another 3,000 acres.”

“This second year is called ‘Cycle Two,’ Carlson said. “It is a continuance of the CRAFT program. However, the program may be slightly modified to address remaining research priorities missing from the first year’s projects. The payment rates have not been set by the (CRAFT Foundation) board yet for Cycle Two, but we expect the amounts will be close to the rates set in Cycle One. Rates are a function, in part, of the number of applications approved. USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) also funds the major part of CRAFT; however, not the tree planting part.”

In Cycle One, grower participants were paid $3,400 per program acre over two years for new plantings in a solid-set project, and $1,050 per program acre for reset projects over two years.

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“The next steps are for the board to determine priorities for the next round of applications for Cycle Two and initiate a second CRAFT application period later this summer,” Carlson said. “We are hoping in the second round, which will likely be the last round, that CRAFT can fill in research gaps from Cycle One and take on some new projects we did not have growers sign up for last cycle. Also, we will begin data collection in earnest. The data and later analysis will be the benefit from CRAFT as we see what treatments seem to work and what treatments do not add value.”

Growers can watch for Cycle Two announcements on the CRAFT Foundation website.

Carlson added that it has been a challenge initiating the CRAFT program. “I don’t think we anticipated how much work and detail goes into starting an organization from scratch and launching a ‘grower friendly’ program that meets the requirements of our funding partners as well as the research community,” she said. “It has been a ‘standing-start sprint’ for everyone to get up and running in time for growers to plant this past season.”

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large