During the Florida Citrus Industry Annual Conference earlier this month, Tamara Wood, executive director of the Citrus Research and Field Trial (CRAFT) Foundation, gave an update on a new phase of the CRAFT program.
Started in 2019, CRAFT was initially focused on new plantings. The program helps growers cover the cost of new plantings if they agree to an experimental design aimed at various approaches for managing HLB.
This year, the program was expanded to existing groves where new HLB therapies are being deployed. Wood said interest in this expansion has been great.
“The existing trees CRAFT program includes blocks that are infected with HLB and are looking at treatments of oxytetracycline, gibberellic acid, 2,4-D or brassinosteroids in those plots,” she said. “We have 194 projects that are preliminarily approved for the existing groves/HLB therapy program.”
While the traditional planting program contract is for six years, the new program duration is for only three years. Wood said this is because if these therapies are working, that should become clear in this shorter timeframe.
CRAFT has received $34.5 million dollars in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other sources since its inception. The majority of that money has flowed to growers.
“Of the total, nearly $30 million has been allocated directly to grower payments, so the money is going back into groves,” Wood said.
There are now 420 CRAFT-funded grower projects underway, representing about 19,000 acres of citrus.
Another objective of the program is sharing information learned by the various grower trials. During the conference, a demonstration was given of the online CRAFT dashboard. This platform provides extensive data on all aspects of the program from the trees/rootstocks planted to grove location.
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