Georgia citrus growers will soon have research support from the University of Georgia (UGA), says Lindy Savelle, president of the Georgia Citrus Association and member of the Georgia Citrus Commission. She confirmed the news at the recent Cold Hardy Citrus Field Day at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) in Quincy.
“We’ve been trying to get the University of Georgia positions for a couple of years now. In April, Gov. Kemp signed the Citrus Commodity Commission into play. Shortly after that, the governor’s budget came out, and the citrus positions had not been funded in that — the citrus, peach and blueberry positions that the University of Georgia had asked for,” Savelle says.
But the governor has now reconsidered the budget items and is providing funding for citrus positions. Savelle says this means that by June of next year, UGA will be able to hire a citrus/peach breeder and a researcher.
According to Savelle, the citrus/peach breeder will be based at the Griffin campus, and a citrus horticulturist will be stationed at the Tifton campus. The citrus horticulturist will cover various production facets, including varieties, irrigation, pest control and disease prevention. All of the questions Georgia growers have to ask of Florida will soon be answered in their own backyard.
Savelle says the new positions will help provide information on soil, weather and other conditions that are specific and unique to Georgia. “The idea was for the university to get people in place so we could develop different varieties that are better for our conditions and have access to all of that information,” she says. “That’s huge.”
These positions will also benefit Georgia’s nurseries. They will help with disease detection and being forward thinking about specific citrus that can be produced in the state.
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