Giving Back to Orie Lee

Ernie NeffResearch, Rootstocks

Orie Lee
OLL-8 orange
(Photo courtesy of University of Florida)

The late Orie Lee was renowned for his long and generous cooperation with University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) scientists conducting citrus research on his property. One of those researchers, plant breeder Jude Grosser, says the industry is now giving a little back to the Lee family.

Grosser discusses 12 federally funded trials in which rootstocks are being evaluated for HLB tolerance. “We decided to use the Orie Lee homestead site as the site for number 11 out of the 12 trials,” he says. “For me, it’s very exciting because of all the things that have come from the Lee family, both financially and intellectually to help the citrus industry.”

When Lee’s widow learned the family was considering selling some of its citrus property for development, “she butted in and pushed them toward keeping it in citrus, which made me happy,” Grosser says. “So they (the family) decided to keep it in citrus. And then we got this grant (from the federal government). So we’re going to be able to give them (the Lees) 1,500 trees, and that covers 12 new rootstocks from UF and 12 from the USDA … And the scion is an orange that Orie helped me develop at the University of Florida, called OLL-8, which stands for Orie Lee late, so that’s pretty neat.”

Grosser adds that Maxijet donated much of the irrigation equipment for the trial.

“So for me it’s really cool to see something going in the other direction, back to the Lee family, because they’ve given so much of their heart and soul to our industry,” Grosser concludes.

Hear more from Grosser:

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About the Author

Tacy Callies

Editor of Citrus Industry magazine