The December All In For Citrus podcast includes a discussion with Michael Rogers, director of the Citrus Research and Education Center, about ongoing efforts growers are making to rehabilitate citrus groves after Hurricanes Ian and Nicole.
Rogers also addressed some longer-term research being conducted by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) to develop trees that have resistance to diseases like canker and HLB. There has been some buzz in the industry about a potentially canker-resistant tree.
“Some of the researchers have been working on gene editing and CRISPR to hopefully develop varieties resistant to HLB, but initially we have some scientists developing varieties resistant to citrus canker,” Rogers said. “While we are working to move this into the field, right now all the work has been done in greenhouse studies.”
Rogers said the process is underway to get some of these trees planted in the field to see how they hold up against canker and other environmental factors. He’s hopeful there will be some grower trials established on these varieties in the coming year.
“There is a lot of work going on with gene editing of citrus plants for resistance to HLB. I heard some rumblings recently that there would be an HLB-resistant plant available in the spring,” Rogers said. “There is a little bit of truth to that, but it will be available for testing in the lab. We think the scientists have edited the plants and hopefully have made all the right edits to begin testing them in the lab this spring. So, it is going to take some time testing these in the lab to see how they hold up. If they do, we’ll then move on to the next step.”
Also featured in the December episode of the podcast is Tripti Vashisth, UF/IFAS associate professor of horticultural sciences. She provides insights on using the citrus flower bud advisory system.
Finally, Chris Oswalt, UF/IFAS citrus Extension agent, gives tips on getting groves ready for winter and potential freeze events.
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