Citrus Research Operations Manager Honored

Ernie NeffAwards

Tom James

Thomas “Tom” James, citrus horticulture research operations manager at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ (UF/IFAS) Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC), recently received a UF/IFAS Superior Accomplishment Award.

At the IRREC, James facilitates a team of 17 visiting scientists, agricultural assistants and interns who perform field activities in two citrus groves on university property and private groves in the Indian River region.

“In only two years (the time James has been with UF/IFAS), Tom James facilitated several research projects for our citrus horticulture program,” said IRREC researcher Rhuanito “Johnny” Ferrarezi, who directs James’ work. “Tom takes care of the grove caretaking and engages the local citrus industry with the university’s research program. He freed my time so that I may focus on high-level work managing grants and mentoring graduate students and post-docs.”

Ferrarezi said James, a Vero Beach native, plans the daily operations and work for his lab associates on more than 30 acres of groves at the UF/IFAS farms. The operations include 1.5 acres of citrus under protective screen (CUPS). Other work takes place on privately owned groves where commercial growers collaborate with Ferrarezi’s research program. Those tasks range from new plantings to irrigation maintenance to collecting data and measuring trees.

David Howard, vice president of agricultural operations at Graves Bros. Co. in Vero Beach, said, “Tommy James’ unique ability to offer real-world citrus production experience to the scientific community is invaluable.” James had worked 45 years in the citrus industry before joining UF/IFAS.

Ferrarezi’s staff members say James’ knowledge and passion for the area’s citrus industry inspire them to perform their best work. James likewise has high regard for his relatively new colleagues. “My faith in the University of Florida/IFAS researchers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for new HLB-tolerant varieties is strong,” said James. “I look forward to a new and improved citrus industry.”

Source: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

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