University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) citrus researchers are collaborating on ground-breaking research projects to fight against HLB. They are working with researchers at the University of California-Riverside (UC-Riverside), Texas A&M and Washington State University on a project to field-test new citrus cultivars for tolerance or resistance to HLB. The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The three-year project hopes to deliver novel, HLB resistant or tolerant, non-transgenic and commercially acceptable scion cultivars to the citrus industry, says Ute Albrecht, UF/IFAS plant physiologist participating in the research. Albrecht is an assistant professor at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center (SWFREC) in Immokalee.
According to Albrecht, the project director, Chandrika Ramadugu at UC-Riverside, has been breeding novel varieties using the Australian finger lime, a citrus relative that has shown resistance or higher levels of tolerance to HLB. The cultivars that Albrecht will field-test have been preselected based on fruit quality to ensure they will produce acceptable and profitable fruit.
Albrecht is also involved in a second UC-Riverside-led project, identifying an all-systems approach to root health. For this five-year USDA-funded project, Albrecht is joined by colleagues Ramdas Kanissery and Sarah Strauss, both assistant professors at the UF/IFAS SWFREC.
Albrecht, Kanissery and Strauss will conduct large-scale field trials using several current strategies and new approaches to create a comprehensive recommendation for growers. According to Albrecht, the team will be working with Florida commercial citrus growers to evaluate the efficacy of using compost, other soil amendments and cover crops to improve soil and root health in newly established groves. The project also aims to evaluate the impact of cultural practices on soil health and tree productivity.
Hear more from Albrecht about these research projects in the February 2021 episode of the All In For Citrus podcast, a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media. Listen to the full podcast here.