Citrus Breeding Program Funded in California

Josh McGillBreeding, California Corner

New federal funding of $1 million will establish a citrus breeding program in California. The program will be at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) field station in Parlier. It will identify new citrus varieties that are best suited for changing climatic pressures such as drought, consumer taste preferences, and resistance to pests and diseases such as HLB. 

breeding program

California’s Sen. Alex Padilla and Reps. Jim Costa and David Valadao championed the program. It is an expansion of the existing national USDA ARS citrus breeding program located in Florida. That program is focused primarily on varieties that are optimized for Florida growing conditions. The Florida program has resulted in new varieties with higher yields, increased disease resistance, improved color and a longer shelf life.

California Citrus Mutual (CCM) and the Citrus Research Board (CRB) saw the need for a similar program in California to breed fresh citrus varieties better adapted to the environmental conditions of California’s production regions. CRB has committed $500,000 toward establishing the new breeding program in Parlier. CRB is a grower-funded organization aimed at furthering the industry’s research priorities. 

“Expanding the current national citrus breeding program into California will have a significant impact on California’s citrus industry,” said Marcy Martin, CRB president. She added that California growers aim to mitigate evolving issues that affect production and increase yield through varietal research.

“The addition of the breeding facility in Parlier will make the ARS Citrus Program a truly national project,” said Casey Creamer, CCM president and chief executive officer. CCM is a statewide grower association.

The 2023 federal budget also includes continued funding for the Citrus Health Response Program (CHRP) and the Huanglongbing Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) Group. CHRP supplements industry and state funding for on-the-ground efforts aimed at preventing the spread of HLB. MAC funds research programs aimed at identifying short-term solutions to HLB.

Source: California Citrus Mutual

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