What CRAFT Wants for Cycle III

Ernie Neff CRAFT

Five Citrus Research and Field Trial (CRAFT) Technical Working Group leaders on Aug. 31 discussed the types of projects they’d like to see CRAFT Cycle III growers pursue.

The types of projects the leaders expressed interest in will, to some extent, fill gaps in knowledge expected to be gained from previous cycles. CRAFT pays Florida growers to plant trees on which they will conduct commercial field trials based on research that holds promise for managing HLB.

Each of the leaders who spoke oversees a specific type of field trial in which growers can participate. Most said that although they are emphasizing interest in certain projects, they are open to other suggestions from growers. Here’s a summary of the projects the leaders are most interested in, by topic:

Rootstock/scion section leader Brandon Page reiterated that CRAFT wants a strong Cycle III focus on early- and mid-season oranges because previous CRAFT plantings have been mostly late-season varieties. Earlier in the meeting, CRAFT Executive Director and Program Manager Tamara Wood announced that Cycle III growers who plant solid set early-season oranges will receive a $1,000 incentive on top of their regular $3,400 per acre fee.

“We are flush with Valencia trials … It’s very well represented,” Page said. Valencia is a late-season orange.

Page added that CRAFT would like to have some Cycle III participants plant grapefruit field trials on the Ridge region and the Southwest Florida flatwoods. He explained that all Cycle I and II grapefruit trials are on the east coast.

Slides that nutrition section leader Jim Graham showed indicated a Cycle III preference for projects focused on cover crops, woven ground cloth and the effects of using reduced rates of phosphorus fertilizer.

Projects of interest cited by pest management section leader Ozgur Batuman are:

  • Individual protective tree covers (IPCs)
  • Kaolin applications
  • Brassinosteroids plus IPCs
  • Plant defense inducers
  • Peptides
  • Nematicide applications

Biostimulants leader Bob Shatters expressed interest in projects investigating:

  • Compost and compost leachates
  • Glycine betaine
  • Plant extract components
  • Rootstocks that may elevate Brix levels
  • Organic/amino acids

Projects resulting in an economic analysis of resets were called for by resets section leader Fernando Alferez. Those projects would hopefully answer the following questions:

  • Which varieties provide the fastest returns?
  • Which groves will be the best suited for replanting?
  • What are the economic benefits of phased replantings?

Cycle III will begin this fall; the application deadline is 5 p.m. on Oct. 22, 2021. Growers can apply here.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large

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