CRAFT Program Promotes New Planting and Knowledge

Daniel Cooper CRAFT, planting, Research

The CRAFT program is responsible for nearly 10,000 acres of citrus plantings, including new blocks and resets.

Since its founding in 2019, the Citrus Research and Field Trial (CRAFT) program has been responsible for the planting of just under 10,000 acres of new trees. This includes about 6,000 acres of solid-set groves and just shy of 4,000 acres of resets.

CRAFT is a first-of-its-kind program and considered an innovation among funding agencies needed to support such efforts. The program’s first director, Kristen Carlson, won AgNet Media’s Citrus Achievement Award in 2022 for her efforts to get the program off the ground and running.

CRAFT executive director Tamara Wood says the program has been very popular with growers since its inception in 2019.

Tamara Wood worked alongside Carlson as the program was developed. In 2021, Wood took over as CRAFT executive director when Carlson retired. She says the program has been a success with tremendous support from funding agencies and growers.

CRAFT has processed five cycles of project funding. Cycle 5 applications closed and are being evaluated with the CRAFT board slated to vote on proposed projects in March or April of this year.

Carisa Keller was recently hired as the CRAFT scientific coordinator. She works with growers to help design their experiments along with the CRAFT technical working group to be sure projects will render reliable data.

“Participation in Cycle 5 was tremendous. Between Cycle 5 and some carryover applications from Cycle 4, we had more than 220 projects applied for,” Wood says. “This will account for more than 14,000 acres of citrus. The buy-in from growers continues to be amazing.

“We do have a large sum of funding for this cycle, but it will not be enough to cover all 14,000 acres, so there will be a wait list, but a large portion of the projects will be funded.”


Within the traditional CRAFT new planting program under Cycle 5, a new subset of projects was added to help evaluate trees currently in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Program for Expedited Propagation (PEP). The program’s aim is to speed up the development of trees that have garnered high interest in the grower community due to apparent tolerance to HLB.


“The CRAFT board has already approved 11 of the PEP projects,” Wood says. “These plantings will look at comparisons of scions that FDACS and the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) have identified as showing promise. These varieties include Parson Brown, Carney 1 and 2, Roble and Donaldson, which will be grown next to a standard Hamlin as a control check.” 

A new program was added to CRAFT in 2022 for therapies applied to citrus plantings already in the ground. There have been two cycles of applications for the existing tree therapies program.

Growers can choose from four therapies in this program: 1) trunk injection of oxytetracycline (OTC), 2) gibberellic acid, 3) 2-4D and 4) brassinosteroids. Wood says the most popular choice among growers has been the OTC treatment.

Between the traditional planting and existing tree programs, there have been 1,303 projects approved. The majority of them are for existing trees.


CRAFT has benefited from generous state and federal funding since its inception. Federal funds come from the HLB Multi-Agency Coordination Group. State funds come from CRDF. Last year, the state granted $35 million to the program.

“I believe we will have funding support for another cycle of projects, but I think at some point, we will have to step back and ask when we stop adding new projects and keep moving forward with those already in place,” Wood says. “Each cycle funds a project for six years, so the costs can start adding up with each cycle. I don’t think we are quite there yet, so I do anticipate a sixth cycle.”

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Frank Giles


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