Promising New Research Discussed at Florida Citrus Growers’ Institute

Josh McGill HLB Management, Research

Growers gathered in Avon Park at South Florida State College for the Florida Citrus Growers’ Institute on April 5. The event, organized by regional citrus Extension agents with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, aims to provide timely research that can be applied in groves today. It also was an opportunity for growers to get updates on research projects dedicated to defeating HLB.

Rick Dantzler, chief operating officer of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), gave an update on projects being funded by the organization. He said CRDF has changed the way its conducts its approval and funding process.

Rick Dantzler

The concept, called “directed research,” starts by defining problems that need solutions. From there, CRDF seeks out scientists believed to be best equipped to answer those questions. Dantzler said the idea is to speed up the proposal approval and funding process. He added it keeps projects focused on the most immediate needs.

One CRDF-funded project he specifically pointed out is evaluating injection of oxytetracycline into trees as a therapeutic for HLB.

“We are working with four companies that have four different formulations of oxytetracycline and have four different injection methods of moving the material into trees,” Dantzler said. “Preliminary work is extremely encouraging. Ute Albrecht, with the University of Florida, has been involved with this research and thinks it might be possible to make these applications every other year, which brings the price down considerably.”

Dantzler added that the injection tools being evaluated could make the process more economically viable. One method uses a .22 magnum bullet tipped with oxytetracycline to deliver the material to the trunk of the tree. It works much like a bang stick and can be used to quickly apply the material to trees.  

So far, residue tests of oxytetracycline have come back with good results in these treatments. Dantzler said there are still unknowns with these tree injections that need to be tested and proven, but he added it could be a very positive development that CRDF is putting resources behind.

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