Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) Chief Operating Officer Rick Dantzler on Feb. 23 detailed CRDF spending on efforts to solve HLB. According to Dantzler, the Florida-based organization spent $140.7 million between its formation in 2009 and 2020. The vast majority of CRDF’s focus has been on HLB.
Dantzler’s report came moments after University of Florida (UF) Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences head Scott Angle told the CRDF board $1 billion has been spent on the HLB effort nationally. Angle is UF’s vice president for agriculture and natural resources. Despite the vast amount spent nationally by institutions, Angle said, “We’re still far from where we want to be.”
Based on the Dantzler and Angle statements, 14% of the national institutional expenditure for HLB research and development has been made by CRDF.
Dantzler emphasized that Florida citrus growers have contributed more to the HLB effort than any other single group. He reported that CRDF has collected $62.4 million from growers via the so-called “box tax” on each box of fruit produced in the state. Florida legislative appropriations have accounted for another $51.6 million, federal grants to CRDF have totaled $15.5 million, third-party funding has been $10.5 million and state block grants have chipped in more than $500,000.
The main goal of CRDF has been to eradicate HLB, Dantzler reported. A slide he showed stated that approaches to eradicate the disease include killing the bacterium that causes it with bactericidal compounds or other methods, breaking the life cycle of the Asian citrus psyllid that spreads the disease, and making the psyllid harmless.
Another CRDF goal, which Dantzler indicated is likely more achievable, is to make HLB functionally irrelevant. That goal could be achieved with tolerant or resistant rootstocks and/or scions. Plant breeders have made much progress on that front, with several new varieties showing strong tolerance to HLB.
Learn about actions CRDF’s directors took in January.
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