By Peter Chaires
Each season, variety displays and field days offer growers, packers, processors, nurseries, marketers, flavor companies and other interested parties an opportunity to experience the latest developments in Florida’s citrus breeding programs. Each team takes its own approach to these events. Some are more focused on fruit displays and sampling, some have field tours, and others include scientific information.
Growers benefit from attending these events and providing valuable feedback that then impacts the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) breeding program. They also get an early look at varieties that are in the pipeline that they may be growing in the years to come. All of these events have merit and are worthy of a grower’s time and attention.
The dominant focus of breeding programs was shifted heavily toward processed oranges in recent years. However, the existing variety development pipeline will be producing potentially useful candidates from each of the fruit types for fresh and processed utilization. Grapefruit has long been the preeminent fresh fruit grown in Florida and remains a high priority for scion breeding. Though specialty fruit is currently a lower priority for new breeding projects, many specialty selections in field populations will be fruiting over the next couple of years. The most promising of these will be featured at the displays.
Mark your calendar for the following display days at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) in Lake Alfred:
- Oct. 19, 2022, 1:00–3:00 p.m.
- Nov. 14, 2022, 9:00–11:00 a.m.
- Dec. 14, 2022, 1:00–3:00 p.m.
- Jan. 17, 2023, 10:00 a.m.–noon
- Feb. 15, 2023, 1:00–3:00 p.m.
The CREC display days feature oranges and orange-like fruit, grapefruit and grapefruit-like fruit and specialty selections. Several of these events will also have juice samples. The team will provide New Varieties Development & Management Corp. (NVDMC) more details of the contents of each display about a week prior, and this information will be disseminated through the NVDMC email contact list. Send your email address to Lucy.Torres@FFVA.com if you do not currently receive this information and would like to be added to the list.
The CREC displays have been quite large in the past. The breeding team is making a concerted effort to be much more selective in what it includes in the display to maximize the experience for attendees. Industry has made a tremendous investment in plant improvement, and these events supply valuable feedback to the breeders. Fruit displays also provide attendees insight into the latest developments and an opportunity to see fruit selections through a range of points in their maturity stage.
Peter Chaires is executive director of the New Varieties Development & Management Corporation.
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