By Peter Chaires
Each year, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) citrus breeding teams provide opportunities for interested parties to sample fruit from new and recent selections. This is a great opportunity to remain current on research results. Participation from growers, processors, packers, marketers and fruit enthusiasts is desired. Shoppers in produce departments represent a diverse audience, which echoes the need for a diverse group of participants at all the fruit displays.
Citrus breeding is often described as a continuum. While this description is accurate, it isn’t well understood. This isn’t a machine or process that will ultimately produce a singular result. Rather, this is a string of continuous learning, adjustments, rejections, corrections and improvements that produces intriguing and potentially valuable and seasonally variable material each year.
While the more commercially promising selections will graduate to replicated and potentially large-scale trials (where their potential will be validated or disproven), other selections may prove beneficial to the dooryard market. This whole process starts with feedback from industry, engagement with the breeders and dialogue among stakeholders. Variety displays and field days are the stage on which this takes place.
The effectiveness of these events is maximized when all segments of the industry participate. Below is a list of the scheduled UF/IFAS events for the 2023–24 season.
Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC)
The following variety displays will take place in the Ben Hill Griffin Auditorium at the CREC at 700 Experiment Station Road in Lake Alfred, Florida:
- Oct. 18, 2023, 1:00 p.m., after the OJ Break
- Nov. 15, 2023, 1:00 p.m., after the OJ Break
- Dec. 20, 2023, 1:00 p.m., after the OJ Break (featuring a presentation on citrus breeding)
- Jan. 23, 2024, 1:00 p.m.
- Feb. 21, 2024, 1:00 p.m., after the OJ Break
Attendees will be able to sample a range of varieties and complete survey forms that provide valuable feedback to the CREC Plant Improvement Team. Members of the team (Fred Gmitter, Jude Grosser, John Chater and Yu Wang) will be present to answer questions. Due to the heavy focus on orange and orange-like material, juice samples are often provided for displayed selections that may have potential in the juice stream. There are many promising selections identified each year, but the team makes a concerted effort to keep the number of selections to a manageable number.
Gainesville Citrus Breeding
José Chaparro and his Gainesville team will provide research updates, a variety display and field tour on Oct. 11, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. The event takes place at 2801 Hull Rd. in Gainesville, which is immediately south of the baseball stadium. Parking details will be provided closer to the event.
Surveys are generally provided for the benefit of the breeding effort. This program has shifted significantly to orange and orange-like fruit, but other fresh market fruit types will also be displayed. This is an excellent opportunity to see the on-campus teaching orchard, ongoing research projects and interact with faculty and students.
Lunch will be provided at the conclusion of the event. RSVP to Lucy.Torres@ffva.com.
Peter Chaires is executive director of the New Varieties Development and Management Corp.
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