CRDF on Plant Breeding and Peptides

Ernie Neff Breeding, CRDF, Peptides


Plant breeding, project terminations and peptide discussions dominated the July 27 meeting of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation’s (CRDF) board of directors. CRDF Chief Operating Officer Rick Dantzler provided the following report:

We continue to believe that plant breeding will ultimately be how we put HLB in the rearview mirror. As a result, we continue to put a lot of time in trying to make sure that the money we spend helps bring forth greening tolerant or resistant trees as quickly as possible. And we have made very good progress. The CRDF Select Committee on Plant Improvement has created trial design criteria and data collection requirements that will guide all plant improvement work that CRDF funds going forward. Also, CRDF will be taking a larger role in last-stage field trials. Additionally, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is seeking to hire a citrus horticulturist with plant breeding experience to ensure that the data generated will help growers answer the question, “What should I plant?”

Before going further, though, the board decided that it wanted to consider the possibility of bringing in a few outside experts in plant breeding to make sure we are hitting the mark. Whether we do it or not has not been decided, but staff was directed to put together a proposal for consideration at the next board meeting.

In the last three years, CRDF has been told by the Florida Legislature to spend $10 million of its legislative appropriations on large-scale field trials, which went to the Citrus Research and Field Trial (CRAFT) project. Not having this funding has really begun to pinch, so the board required a review of all projects under contract. This review resulted in the board deciding to terminate three projects and significantly revise another. We anticipate that this will save more than $500,000.

We heard a presentation from Brian Thompson of Elemental Enzymes on the new field trial data for its peptide known as Vismax. It is very encouraging. Registration is pending before the Environmental Protection Agency now, and with any luck it will be available for growers in the spring of 2022.

Source: Citrus Research and Development Foundation

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