By Ruth Borger
Despite 2020 being a challenging year with a lot to complain about, there are many things to be thankful for. This is the time of year to take a few minutes to reflect on what we have to be grateful for.
Here are just a few things to be thankful for that come quickly to mind.
A RELATIVELY MILD HURRICANE SEASON FOR CITRUS GROWERS
While our neighbors in the Panhandle and the Southeast region experienced one of the worst hurricane seasons in memory, with too many storms to name, Florida’s citrus-growing counties were spared major damage (as of this writing). While there was a lot of rain with Eta, pre-storm preparations helped to manage the onslaught.
COMMITTED AND RESOURCEFUL RESEARCHERS
COVID-19 turned everyone’s world upside down. Numerous researchers and their projects at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) were impacted during the spring statewide lockdown. But UF/IFAS faculty and their teams creatively found ways to keep their projects going safely and responsibly without sacrificing years of hard work.
NEW SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERIES
Science prevails despite pandemics. UF/IFAS researchers continued to make advancements in the fight against HLB. One of the most significant was the advancement in citrus genome sequencing. UF/IFAS researchers sequenced the genome from trifoliate orange, in collaboration with scientists from the University of California-Berkeley, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute and UF’s Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research.
The new genome will help citrus breeders develop trees that will survive under today’s challenging conditions, including invasive pests, viruses and changing climates. Their research provides a powerful new tool to control the deadly consequences of citrus greening disease.
FEDERAL SUPPORT FOR THE HLB FIGHT
Three teams of scientists from UF/IFAS received nearly $4.5 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture funds to study new ways to manage the invasive insect causing millions of damages to Florida’s citrus crops.
“These grants build on an existing portfolio of success in finding solutions to combat citrus greening throughout Florida’s citrus groves,” said Michael Rogers, director of the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center and coordinator of the UF/IFAS statewide citrus program. “They will contribute to the solutions we are providing that support citrus growers in sustainably and profitably growing citrus throughout the state.”
Other UF/IFAS researchers are part of additional citrus greening projects led by other institutions including the University of California-Riverside and the USDA Agricultural Research Service.
At times like this, we all need some good friends. And at UF/IFAS, I am particularly thankful to our friends at AgNet Media (owner of Citrus Industry magazine and the Southeast AgNet Radio Network). We do many projects with this organization, including the All In For Citrus podcast. They are always professional, gracious and, most of all, kind. They are our partners is getting critical information out to the industry. They have great suggestions and feedback. We probably do not say thank you enough. So, I would be remiss to not include them on this list.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. We hope you have a peaceful, restful holiday.
Ruth Borger is a communications specialist at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.