Rootstock Solutions for HLB

Ernie NeffHLB Management, Rootstocks

Fred Gmitter

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) citrus breeders are working on both short-term and long-term rootstock solutions for HLB, Fred Gmitter said earlier this year.

Gmitter and fellow UF/IFAS citrus breeder Jude Grosser have already identified numerous rootstocks that seem to offer tolerance to the disease. Tolerance would help growers in the short term.

Gmitter says several of the UFR rootstocks, which have not been named yet, are proving to be quite tolerant to HLB.

According to Gmitter, longer-term solutions would be rootstocks that potentially could make the scion part of the tree resistant to HLB. 

“We think rootstocks are one piece of the solution to the HLB problem,” Gmitter said. “If you can have a rootstock that’s more tolerant of the disease, that can support the scion productivity longer, slow down the rate of decline from the disease (and) combine that with more tolerant scions … and bring in new nutritional approaches, we begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together. We’re never going to be where we were before HLB. That’s not going to happen in Florida. But we’re learning a multi-pronged approach to be able to make this still a profitable enterprise.”

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large