John Chater joined the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) in January as an assistant professor of horticultural sciences. His mission is to act as a conduit between citrus plant breeders and growers to find fits for new rootstock and scion selections.
Chater’s love of plants was inspired by his grandfather who was a plant breeder and horticulturalist. In the March episode of the All In For Citrus podcast, Chater said his plant breeding and citrus roots run deep. He is excited about the opportunity to work with Florida citrus growers. His new position with UF/IFAS has a significant Extension component that will allow him to engage with the grower community.
“Extension helps make the research conducted here at the university worthwhile, because this is how that knowledge is applied to the real world to help people,” Chater said. “My primary job duty will be identification and evaluation of advanced selections of scions and rootstocks for the Florida industry, and to study combinations of these scions and rootstocks for production and fruit quality.”
His work also includes helping growers to develop production programs for new selections of both processed and fresh citrus. He will work with growers to find the best geographies and soil types where new varieties should be planted. Chater also will be on the lookout for new germplasm, especially any that shows tolerance to HLB.
Chater already is busy helping growers solve problems. He’s conducting a survey looking into reports of soft fruit occurring with certain varieties the past couple of seasons. Some of the fruit is too soft to pack or ship. Growers who have experienced this issue are asked to complete this survey. Those who prefer to discuss observations can contact Chater at 863-956-8662 or email@example.com.
“I have been having positive interactions with growers,” Chater said. “I have been invited to visit their groves. I am impressed with how these growers have adapted to survive in this HLB-endemic environment. I am grateful to have the opportunity to discuss citriculture and research with them.”
Chater also discussed a few of his early favorite varieties during the podcast. Listen to the March All In For Citrus podcast to find out more about these selections. The All In For Citrus podcast is a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media.
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