Rootstock Work Discussed

Ernie NeffRootstocks

Ute Albrecht

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) plant physiologist Ute Albrecht discusses her research on citrus rootstocks.

Albrecht points out that sour orange was the dominant rootstock in Florida several decades ago, until trees on the rootstock succumbed to citrus tristeza virus. “Now we have many other rootstocks that are beneficial for different reasons,” she says. Those reasons include providing tolerance to citrus diseases or other stresses. She says rootstocks can also influence the tree’s scion horticulturally. For instance, a rootstock might influence tree vigor and size, as well as fruit quality.

“With the arrival of HLB in Florida, there was an increased interest in rootstocks as a management strategy,” including for imparting tolerance to the disease, Albrecht says. She says there is currently strong demand for US-942 rootstock due to its HLB tolerance.

Albrecht says that “it is important that rootstocks must be tested in multi-year field trials and preferably in different locations and under different soil types and under different environmental conditions and under different management.”

She summarizes a report she made at Citrus Expo on one replicated field trial she is conducting with more than 30 different rootstocks. Trees are in their fourth year “and the results have been interesting, as we’re finding considerable differences among trees on the different rootstocks,” she says. One observation she makes is that some of the most vigorous and best-looking trees have low yields.

Albrecht also reports on other research she is conducting, including into different forms of rootstock propagation. She says she and fellow researchers hope for findings “that can help the growers to remain profitable under the current HLB conditions.”

Albrecht’s interview is featured in the current episode of the All In For Citrus podcast, a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media. Listen to the full podcast here.

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large