Citrus History Mystery Solved

Ernie NeffBreeding, Research

How modern citrus developed, particularly the popular mandarin variety, has long been a mystery to citrus breeders. A global partnership of scientists recently unraveled a big part of the mystery by analyzing the genome sequences of 69 East Asian traditional, wild and atypical citrus varieties. One of the researchers was Fred Gmitter, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural … Read More

CRDF on Plant Breeding and Peptides

Ernie NeffBreeding, CRDF, Peptides


Plant breeding, project terminations and peptide discussions dominated the July 27 meeting of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation’s (CRDF) board of directors. CRDF Chief Operating Officer Rick Dantzler provided the following report: PLANT BREEDINGWe continue to believe that plant breeding will ultimately be how we put HLB in the rearview mirror. As a result, we continue to put a … Read More

Improving Plant Improvement

Ernie NeffBreeding

Many in the Florida citrus industry have long believed that development of trees that are resistant to or tolerant of HLB is the key to coping with the devastating disease. In Florida, most of the work on developing such trees is conducted by researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and the U.S. Department … Read More

Speeding Up Citrus Growth

Tacy CalliesBreeding


Two University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) researchers will study citrus roots and stems to improve photosynthesis in plant leaves. Christopher Vincent and Fred Gmitter hope to find the optimal relationship between citrus tree “sources” and “sinks” so that plant breeders can select varieties — and growers can use practices — that lead to faster-growing plants. … Read More

Breeding Hybrids With HLB Resistance

Len WilcoxBreeding, California Corner

UC Riverside scientists are working to breed new fruits that are naturally resistant to huanglongbing (HLB). The hybrid fruits will ideally share the best of their parents’ attributes: the tastiness of citrus and the HLB resistance displayed by some Australian relatives of citrus. HLB, also called citrus greening disease, has been detected in California, where 80 percent of the country’s … Read More

Update on CRISPR Research for Citrus Improvement

Tacy CalliesBreeding

By Nian Wang, Fred Gmitter and Manjul Dutt Nearly all commercially important citrus types — oranges, grapefruits etc. — have originated by mutations that have accumulated over several hundreds to thousands of years, from what once was an original, individual sweet orange tree and a single grapefruit tree. The many different cultivars that we know today are descended from those … Read More

Sequencing Brings HLB Resistance Closer

Ernie NeffBreeding, Research

University of Florida (UF) scientists achieved a major milestone in their quest to develop an HLB-resistant tree by sequencing the genome of a fruit plant that’s a close cousin to citrus trees. HLB is also known as greening disease. UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers sequenced the genome from trifoliate orange, in collaboration with scientists from the University … Read More

New UF/IFAS Plant Breeding Website

Ernie NeffBreeding


Fred Gmitter, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) professor of breeding and genetics, has released several mandarin citrus varieties. Most recently, he released the Marathon variety in 2018. The citrus fruit’s ability to hang onto the tree for an extended period led researchers to give it the Marathon moniker. Gmitter is one of numerous scientists … Read More

Working Toward Better Orange Juice in the HLB World

Tacy CalliesBreeding, Orange Juice, Varieties

By Jude Grosser, Fred Gmitter, Yu Wang and Bill Castle It’s no secret that huanglongbing (HLB) has challenged the industry to maintain the outstanding quality associated with Florida orange juice. Moreover, increased prices and competition from new juice products and blends have reduced Florida orange juice consumption. We believe that improving the quality, especially flavor and color, of juice products … Read More

Grapefruit: A Breeder’s Thoughts

Ernie NeffBreeding, Grapefruit


Grapefruit’s struggle with survival and potential future were addressed by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) breeder and geneticist Fred Gmitter earlier this year. He told Florida Citrus Show attendees that the fruit has hit the bottom with HLB. “I was talking with one of the old-time families in the grapefruit business, one of the biggest … Read More

New Mandarin Gives Growers Advantages

Daniel CooperBreeding, Research


Commercial citrus growers will soon see a new seedless mandarin variety that stays on the tree longer, two traits farmers seek, say University of Florida scientists. Marathon, an early season mandarin, is also easy to peel and tastes good, said Fred Gmitter, a professor of breeding and genetics at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). … Read More

Citrus Breeding in Uruguay

Ernie NeffBreeding


A primary job for scientists breeding citrus in Uruguay is to help the approximately 42,000-acre industry develop fresh fruit for export, Fernando Rivas said at a recent international citrus breeders symposium in Lake Alfred, Florida. Rivas works for Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural Research. On. Dec. 4, Rivas told an audience of about 70 at the Citrus Research and Education … Read More

Italian Citrus Breeding

Ernie NeffBreeding


Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) began spreading in Sicily in the early 2000s because the Italian citrus industry’s standard rootstock was CTV-susceptible sour orange, reported Marco Caruso at a recent symposium of international citrus breeders. Consequently, approximately 74,000 acres will be replanted with CTV-tolerant rootstocks over the next few years, he said. Caruso, a citrus breeding expert with Italy’s Research Centre … Read More

UF/IFAS Event Combines Latest Citrus Varieties with New Breeding Research

Daniel CooperBreeding, Research


On Dec. 4 at the Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC), citrus growers can see if they want to grow the latest varieties from University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) breeders and then learn more about commercializing crops. In the morning, industry members can sample the latest citrus varieties from UF/IFAS breeders. “These are new varieties … Read More

Whitmore Farm Focuses on HLB Research

Ernie NeffBreeding, HLB Management


More than 20 growers and others attended a tour on Oct. 11 at Whitmore Farm near Groveland in Lake County, Florida. Breeding for HLB tolerance or resistance is the primary goal of research at the farm. “Whitmore Farm was established in the mid-1950s as a foundation farm,” says Brian Scully, who led the tour and discussed research. Scully is director … Read More

What Is CRISPR and What Does it Mean for Citrus?

Tacy CalliesBreeding

By Fred Gmitter, Yi Zhang and Jude Grosser It is very likely that you have heard about the use of CRISPR technology and its great potential for addressing human health issues, as well as the promise it holds for providing solutions for major agricultural challenges, particularly for huanglongbing (HLB) in citrus. Granting agencies are supporting many citrus research projects aimed … Read More

Grower Partnerships Are Key to UF/IFAS Plant-Breeding Success

Daniel CooperBreeding, Citrus, Industry News Release, Research


University of Florida (UF) citrus breeder Fred Gmitter recalls meeting Vero Beach grower Tom Hammond about 20 years ago, when Gmitter needed a place to grow hybrid citrus. Gmitter knew most growers wouldn’t experiment with “raw materials” – plant offspring used to identify that possible one in 5,000 winner. Growers rarely make a profit from such experiments. Hammond took a … Read More

Jude Grosser: Giving Growers Better Options

Tacy CalliesBreeding

By Tacy Callies Some people start young adulthood by following in their parents’ footsteps. Jude Grosser began by following the path of his oldest brother, Tim, instead. Both went to Thomas More College and majored in biology. After that, their education and careers took different turns. Grosser thought he would work in wildlife or fisheries, but then had an opportunity … Read More

Fred Gmitter: Slow Road to Fast Genetics

Tacy CalliesBreeding, Citrus

By Ernie Neff Even Nostradamus would have struggled to predict a career path for a 25-year-old Fred Gmitter. Gmitter had quit college after three years at Rutgers University, where he studied English literature with plans to teach. He said he “became completely disillusioned” with that plan. He married, worked as a delivery truck driver and warehouse laborer, and traveled out … Read More

Finger Lime Could Be New Crop for Citrus Growers

Tacy CalliesBreeding

By Manjul Dutt, Ethan Nielsen and Jude Grosser The finger lime is a citrus relative, scientifically named Microcitrus australasica. Finger limes are native to Australia and are so named because the fruits are long and fingerlike in shape (see figures 1 and 2). Finger limes belong to a group of similar citrus relatives, all originating from Australia with common names … Read More