In the latest phase of COVID-19 re-openings, more citrus researchers have returned to University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) laboratories. Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) Director Michael Rogers says the number of researchers allowed in labs had been gradually increasing throughout the pandemic. Rogers also discusses an award won by a CREC researcher, work on getting federal grants for research, and planning for Citrus Expo presentations in August.
Regarding the increased number of researchers in labs, Rogers says, “But of course we’re still continuing to practice social distancing, hygiene, wearing masks, things like that … Right now, the staff that we’re bringing back are just focused on research. We’re not holding in-person meetings with growers or the public right now at our research and education centers.” He notes that there has been a recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Florida.
The CREC researcher Rogers recognized is Davie Kadyampakeni, who recently received the 2020 Outstanding Extension Specialist Award from UF/IFAS. Kadyampakeni was honored for his work in water and nutrient management, including development of water management strategies for HLB-affected trees. Learn more here.
Many UF/IFAS citrus researchers are working on proposals for federal research grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Rogers says. “We’re in the best position here to do the research on HLB because of the advanced stage of HLB here in Florida,” he says. “We’ve got the world’s experts, really, in HLB.” Rogers says the millions of dollars available for research funding from USDA is extremely important, in large part because state funding for citrus research has decreased.
Citrus Expo is scheduled for Aug. 12-13 in North Fort Myers, and UF/IFAS is organizing the two days of seminar presentations. Rogers says if COVID-19 should wind up preventing Expo from being held, “we’re going to have a backup plan to deliver those presentations … We’re going to get that information out to growers regardless.” Learn the latest about plans for Citrus Expo.
This interview with Rogers was featured in June’s All In For Citrus podcast, a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media. Listen to the full podcast here.
Share this Post