Indian River Center to Add Citrus Researcher

Josh McGillIndian River, Research

Brazil native Flavia Zambon will become assistant professor of production horticulture of citrus and other tree crops at the Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC) in November. The IRREC, located in Fort Pierce, is a branch of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). 

Indian River
Flavia Zambon

Zambon has had years of research experience in all of Florida’s citrus-production regions, including graduate research and three years as project manager for an HLB Multi-Agency Coordination Group project. The project was Evaluation of Potential HLB-Tolerant Grapefruit Rootstock/Scion Combinations in the Indian River District of Florida. The project’s aim was to identify possible tolerance for HLB with more than 12,000 new tree plantings distributed on 84 acres owned by 16 participating growers. 

One of the growers Zambon has worked closely with is Peter Spyke, an IRREC advisory committee member. “Dr. Zambon has been involved with the trials in the past and has repeatedly proven that she will be where she needs to be when she needs to be there,” said Spyke. “We are fortunate to have a scientist who has proven herself in our projects.”

Zambon will lead a second active experimental field trial, the Millennium Block. The 20-acre experiment comprises more than 5,500 trees. In that trial’s third year, some grapefruit, grapefruit hybrids, orange and mandarin varieties revealed disease tolerance and intolerance. Spyke said the experiment must continue for up to seven years to yield data upon which growers may rely. 

A third aspect of the IRREC horticultural research program will be with citrus trees under protective screenhouses.

“Upon my return to the University of Florida, I plan to keep the variety trials at the Millennium Block and the former MAC project running,” said Zambon. “Both projects are vital for the industry and our citrus growers, as well as the development of visual disease-detection workshops for the fieldworkers.”

“I want to keep exploring the effect of micronutrients in the hormonal profile of citrus and develop alternatives to detect pre-symptomatic trees through carbohydrate partitioning quantification,” Zambon added. 

Part of Zambon’s work will include collaborating statewide with growers, research and Extension faculty to explore alternative crops that could provide economic opportunities in the Indian River region.

Zambon holds a Ph.D. in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida, with field and laboratory research at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred. She earned two bachelor’s degrees in agronomic engineering and agriculture from the University of São Paulo Luiz de Queiroz, College of Agriculture in Brazil.

Source: UF/IFAS

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