The Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) held its April board of directors meeting to hear reports on projects involving 2,4-D, gibberellic acid, brassinosteroids and zinc. According to Rick Dantzler, chief operating officer of CRDF, the foundation is conducting a full-court press to study how these materials can combat fruit drop and improve quality.
CRDF staff also presented a proposal for field trials to evaluate the effectiveness of injecting oxytetracycline (OTC) to treat HLB. CRDF has already funded work with Ute Albrecht, an assistant professer of plant physiology with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), and the early results are very encouraging. The trials discussed during the meeting would involve grower-cooperators working with CRDF and likely the manufacturers of the OTC formulations and injection devices tested. The details have yet to be worked out since permits would be required, but CRDF staff is working to have a proposal nearly completed when its Research Management Committee meets in May.
Staff also reported that grower-cooperators for the Ridge and Flatwoods are still needed for rootstock trials. The level of financial incentive for cooperators equates to what one would receive as a Citrus Research and Field Trial participant, which is $4,400 per acre for Hamlin and $3,400 per acre for Vernia and Valencia.
The board also heard two presentations. The first was from Zhonglin Mou, a professor of microbiology with UF/IFAS, on the status of the GMO trees he has created and how he intends to transition the work to non-GMO through CRISPR.
“I’m really impressed with how far along Dr. Mou seems to be,” Dantzler said. “The second presentation was from Harold Browning on the status of laser etching. I continue to be amazed at the ingenuity of scientists and engineers to fight this disease.
“We also had several growers in attendance who impressed upon the board the urgency of finding solutions; that time is running out. The board heard the message clearly. In fact, since 10 of the 13 board members are growers, they are in the same boat. Staff explained how CRDF has sped up the process of funding research by using a directed research model instead of a conventional request for proposal, and how a written document (“Pathway to a Sustainable Florida Citrus Industry”) is driving the projects that are funded.”
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