The Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) Research Management Committee and board of directors recently approved projects for funding.
The first CRDF research project has approval for funding of a final year of research by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) to study the lebbeck mealybug and its management.
“The Research Management Committee debated this long and hard, ultimately choosing not to recommend it with a 6-6 vote primarily because it was not HLB related,” noted Rick Dantzler, chief operating officer of CRDF. “As one of our committee members said, our ‘hair is on fire,’ and it’s hard to spend money on something other than HLB right now.
“However, between the Research Management Committee meeting and the board meeting, staff was able to reach a compromise on the funding required. With that, the board decided it made sense to accept the compromise and finish out the work.”
Also approved were two projects funded by CRDF’s “directed research” approach. This approach starts with the problem needed to be solved and CRDF proactively seeking scientists to study it.
“We have identified novel zinc products and advancements in work with brassinosteroids as ways to increase citrus yield and fruit quality, so we worked with researchers who we knew could do the work and brought those projects forward,” Dantzler said. “The Research Management Committee made a few tweaks but voted to recommend the projects, and the board ratified those recommendations.”
Two projects recommended by the research committee were deferred. One focused on products containing gibberellic acid, 2,4-D and cytokinin. The second project was a series of field trials involving injecting oxytetracycline. CRDF has already funded Ute Albrecht, an assistant professor of plant pathology with UF/IFAS, to test oxytetracycline formulations and injection devices that have the potential to hit the marketplace.
“The companies (involved with Albrecht’s project) have their own research underway to support their registration efforts, so it wasn’t clear to us what this research would add,” Dantzler said. “We didn’t kill the proposal but deferred it to see if a more productive role for our research dollars presents itself.”
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