The Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) was able to hold its September board of directors meeting just prior to Hurricane Ian.
During the meeting, CRDF awarded funding for Cycle Four of the Citrus Research and Field Trial (CRAFT) program. This will allow for another round of investments in grower-led research projects.
“Kristen Carlson, Tamara Wood, the Technical Working Group and board of CRAFT have created an outstanding program and should be commended,” said Rick Dantzler, chief operating officer of CRDF.
CRDF also agreed to fund a project on diaprepes root weevil. “The pest is becoming more of a problem, so we are responding to grower inquiries. The project will focus on finding ways to kill them and how they spread,” Dantzler said. “We decided to draft a request for proposals on predation to see what ideas are out there on how to naturally control the weevil, and to determine the best way to pursue using Bacillus thuringiensis to make the roots poisonous to weevil larvae so they die when they feed. This has been done successfully with corn and other commodities for lepidoptera, so we’re going to see if we can make it work on diaprepes.”
CRDF also funded a project on snails, which have become a significant aggravation to growers. They clog emitters of irrigation lines, kill young trees by girdling them and wreak havoc in individual protective covers.
“While not an existential threat by any means, most growers are bothered by them, so we thought we needed to take action,” Dantzler added.
In addition, CRDF invited several researchers to provide full proposals on numerous products and/or technologies that could be game changing if they work. One of these is with a private company called Soilcea, which has developed a CRISPR Valencia tree that would not be considered a genetically modified organism. It appears to be tolerant of HLB.
“The University of Florida has done the same thing, so we are getting close to a breeding solution, which we believe is what we will need to get this disease behind us once and for all,” Dantzler said.
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