HLB-Tolerant Tree Among CRDF Topics

Tacy Callies CRDF


Research proposals and a newly discovered tree that shows tolerance to HLB were among the topics discussed at the Dec. 7 Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) board of directors meeting. Rick Dantzler, CRDF chief operating officer, provided a summary of actions taken at the meeting.

CRDF officers for the next two years were determined. Rob Atchley will become president, replacing David Howard. Morgan McKenna will become vice president, replacing Atchley. John Updike will remain as secretary, and Ron Mahan will remain as treasurer. The terms begin on Jan. 1, 2022.

“Leaving the CRDF board at the end of the year are Ned Hancock, Pat Ouimet and Josh Snively,” said Dantzler. “We recognized them for their service.”

Several research proposals were considered at the meeting. “Megan Dewdney’s (University of Florida plant pathologist) project on greasy spot/greasy green was approved with a modified budget,” Dantzler said. “This is an issue that is of serious concern to East Coast growers.” The research’s initial focus will be to determine what is causing the disorder.

Dantzler reported that Fernando Alferez, University of Florida citrus horticulturist, has an interesting proposal on reducing fruit drop through nutrition and hormonal therapy. “The board deferred action until it could get a few more questions answered, but it will be back for final consideration in January,” said Dantzler.

Finally, Brian Scully, director of the U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory in Fort Pierce, discussed a tree of great interest. The tree was discovered on a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research property (Whitmore Foundation Farm just north of Groveland, Florida) less than two weeks ago that is believed to have been planted in the 1980s.

“The tree has fruit that look and taste like Hamlin,” said Dantzler. “The tree has mild greening symptoms, but it probably had five to six boxes of fruit on it when I saw it last Friday. Best of all, some of the fruit even plugged when we picked it; that’s how free of drop it seemed to be. Needless to say, the USDA is moving heaven and earth to accelerate its propagation and testing, and CRDF will do anything it can to help. The tree is called “Donaldson” for reasons we don’t know. We are hoping it could be the tree we have been looking for.”

“This could be big, or it could be another letdown,” cautioned Dantzler.

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