CRDF Acts on Bayer HLB Effort

Ernie Neff HLB Management

Rick Dantzler

The Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) on Jan. 28 did its part to continue a Bayer Crop Science effort to develop new technologies to combat HLB.

“What we agreed to do was partner with the California Citrus Research Board (CRB), Pepsi and Coca-Cola and share equally in the costs (of continuing the HLB effort) for another six months,” said CRDF Chief Operating Officer Rick Dantzler. PepsiCo and Coca-Cola own the Tropicana and Minute Maid juice brands, respectively.

Dantzler thinks all of the potential partners are likely to participate. The CRB is slated to consider the matter Jan. 30; its Research Committee has already recommended approval. “Every indication is that all four funding partners are going to be willing to stay with it,” Dantzler said.

CRDF has funded the project at more than $12 million over three years, making it the most expensive CRDF project ever. The project is funded through June 30. The four funding partners would pay Bayer a maximum of $421,000 each to continue the work through the end of 2020 in hopes the federal government will fund an ongoing Bayer HLB project after that.

The most promising Bayer effort to date has been work to develop a plant defense modulator, which would essentially switch on a plant’s natural defense against HLB. Dantzler said Bayer is excited about a class of plant defense modulator it calls the H class. In December, Dantzler said Bayer would drop its focus on HLB in citrus and instead concentrate on the product’s use against diseases in other crops if it doesn’t receive additional CRDF funding.

CRDF was formed primarily to seek and commercialize solutions to HLB, which is the greatest threat ever to the Florida citrus industry. The CRDF is essentially the successor to the former Florida Citrus Production Research Advisory Council, which for years funded production research.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large