CRDF Addresses Plant Improvement, Budget

Ernie NeffCRDF

Rick Dantzler

Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) directors recently received an update on planned rootstock field trials and discussed the organization’s budget, CRDF Chief Operating Officer Rick Dantzler reported.

The new rootstock trials will be overseen by CRDF’s Select Committee on Plant Improvement, which met on Oct. 22 with citrus grower John Gose as chairman. Dantzler said the field trials will “evaluate the newest and most promising rootstocks from the university (University of Florida) and the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture). One of the questions that growers ask all the time is, ‘What should I plant?’ And these field trials will help answer that question.”

Dantzler said the committee chose Hamlin, Vernia and Valencia oranges as the tree varieties for the rootstock trials. “We are wanting to use Hamlin precisely because it is so susceptible to HLB,” he said. He explained that the trials with Hamlin “will give us early feedback on the tolerance of the rootstock.” The committee plans to order trees for the rootstock trials this year.     

Learn more about the Select Committee on Plant Improvement.

The CRDF directors spent much time discussing the organization’s budget. “The nature of funding cycles is that we have multi-year projects, but the (Florida) Legislature funds for only one year,” Dantzler said. “And so we always have liabilities that exceed our revenues … It’s an anxious way to have to live.”

“What we did with the help of (Finance and Audit Committee Chairman) Ron Mahan is lay out a three-year spending plan,” Dantzler said. “It really clarifies exactly where we are and helps us better assess how much money we could responsibly spend on new research … One of the things we’ve always said is that we’re going to always do whatever it takes to make sure we have funding available for the ‘silver bullet’ in the event that one is found (for HLB). So we also decided to set aside $1 million to always have that in reserve for that unique opportunity that comes along.”

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large