Developments at CRDF

Ernie Neff CRDF

Rick Dantzler

Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) Chief Operating Officer Rick Dantzler updated growers on CRDF activities during the Florida Citrus Show in January. He summarized his comments in an interview after his presentation. Here are a few key points:

“We’ve had a 25 percent reduction in our staff” since he joined CRDF last year, Dantzler said. “Growers are having to do more with less, and I thought we needed to follow suit.”

More emphasis is being put on applied research versus basic research. “A good example of that: Basic research has taught us that the (HLB) bacterium lives in the phloem of the tree … Applied research would teach us how to get a killing agent into the phloem to kill the bacteria,” Dantzler said. “Here we are, 400 projects in. We’ve learned more about the disease, the vector, the pathogen than ever before, but we’ve got to begin getting some of the knowledge into the field to get growers practical solutions.”

CRDF will go wherever it needs to go for answers to HLB. “We’re a direct support organization for the University of Florida. And as such we are there to support the citrus industry primarily, and most of our funding has gone to the University of Florida, but we’re not wedded to that. We will go wherever we must in order to get answers that’ll allow the industry to stay in business.”

Near the end of his presentation, Dantzler asked if CRDF is doing what it needs to do; he got no response. “I think generally we are” doing what we need to, he said. “I think that growers generally believe CRDF is hitting the target. But there is frustration because we’re still struggling. And how many years have we been into this (HLB)? I understand the concern.”

Finally, Dantzler emphasized that growers must get more production from their trees. “We think it’s going to end up being a site-specific integrated production management protocol” that increases per-tree production, he said. “And anything we can do to help out with that, that’s where we’re going to be.”

Hear more from Dantzler:

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large