California and Arizona Citrus Projects Funded

Josh McGill California Corner, Research

The California and Arizona departments of agriculture received funding for four citrus-related projects from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) for 2023. Nationwide, USDA AMS allocated $72.9 million in Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding.

California and Arizona
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The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) received $499,921 for designing drought-tolerant specialty crops using metabolic modeling. The University of California, Riverside has the long-term goal to improve the productivity and sustainability of California’s specialty crops by using metabolic models to create drought-tolerant varieties. There are currently no commercial citrus varieties shown to produce desirable fruit and be drought tolerant in California growing regions.

The project team will use metabolic models to identify drought-tolerance mechanisms of two citrus rootstocks grown in Brazil. The team expects this research will enable the design of solutions for growers. Short-term solutions will involve nutrient amendments that redirect metabolic pathways facilitating drought tolerance. Longer-term solutions will involve engineering varieties that utilize an in-depth, model-based understanding of drought tolerance.

Funding of $495,341 went to CDFA for testing citrus tristeza virus delivery of Bacillus thuringiensis-pesticide proteins in Cara Cara navels and its economic benefits.

This project by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources division will help respond to the threat of huanglongbing (HLB) disease transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). ACP is endemic in parts of California, and innovative tools are required for cost-effective control to prevent introduction of the HLB-causing bacteria Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus into commercial citrus.

Funding of $192,721 went to CDFA for control of strawberry pathogens by nanoencapsulated oils extracted from citrus fruit waste. Strawberry yield and quality are affected by botrytis fruit rot (BFR) and powdery mildew (PM), which can cause annual yield and postharvest losses greater than 15%. BFR and PM are controlled by multiple applications of conventional fungicides but have begun to develop resistance. Citrus oil has antimicrobial properties that, if applied effectively, could help control pathogens. Cal Poly Corporation proposes to use nanoencapsulated citrus fruit waste oil to control BFR and PM.

The Arizona Department of Agriculture received $39,026 to continue to attempt to induce seedlessness in lemons by application of various rates of elemental sulfur to the plants at bloom time. The results will be disseminated to stakeholders through grower meetings, field days and email.

See a description for USDA AMS grants in all states here.

Source: USDA AMS

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