What the New CRDF Leader Learned in Two Weeks

Ernie Neff CRDF, HLB Management


Rick Dantzler

Two weeks into his job as chief operations officer (COO) of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), Rick Dantzler summarizes what he has heard from growers and his thoughts on helping the industry.

Dantzler says he has talked to growers, CRDF board members and industry representatives “to try to get a sense of what they want CRDF to do. In addition, how can we better communicate the work we’ve done and give growers hope? Because there are reasons to be hopeful.”

“They (growers) want more transparency,” Dantzler says. “They want to see the (HLB research) data more completely than they have in the past. They want to be able to understand it in a little bit more reader-friendly format. Essentially, they want to know what we spent the money on and what we’ve gotten for it.”

Dantzler would like to see a way for growers and others to search the CRDF website by typing in a few words and phrases and getting quick responses. “And that doesn’t seem to be possible, according to some people, but we’re going to figure out a way to do it.”

The new COO would like to see large-scale field trials utilizing much that researchers know or think about managing HLB. “We need to try some recipes that capture the nuggets of wisdom that we’ve learned,” Dantzler says. “And we need to do it on a large-scale basis.” He says he’d like to see 40-acre field trials each on the ridge, the east coast and the flatwoods. “And try what our researchers say they would do if were up to them.” He says he has been asking researchers: “If you had to make your living off that grove, what would you be doing? … Growers need to see that.” Dantzler says he hasn’t taken that idea to the full CRDF board, but individual board members mostly seem to “see the need for more field evaluations.”

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large