Florida citrus growers need help in the fight against HLB. And they need that help quickly. Michael Rogers, director of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Citrus Research and Education Center, addresses those concerns during the April All In For Citrus podcast.
March means spring break for many, and Florida is a favorite destination for students looking to celebrate the time off. Michael Rogers, director of the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, took the occasion to shine the light on the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) citrus graduate program. Sixty-five students are currently engaged in graduate studies as they learn to be future leaders in citrus science and business. According to Rogers, while they are learning, they also are providing a valuable contribution to current research that has material benefits to citrus growers.
John Chater, assistant professor of horticultural sciences, recently joined the UF/IFAS citrus team to help growers evaluate the many new rootstocks and scions being developed by plant breeders. Chater joined the podcast to talk about his background and new job duties with UF/IFAS. In addition, he spoke about the varieties that have caught his attention in Florida.
On April 5, the Florida Citrus Growers’ Institute will take place in Avon Park. Florida’s citrus Extension agents help organize the event. Ajia Paolillo, an agent based in Arcadia, joined the podcast to discuss the program. HLB, fruit drop and plant nutrition are just a few of the topics that will be covered in the educational sessions. She said the agents are particularly excited to finally be hosting the event in person again after COVID-19 forced the event to go digital during the pandemic.
The All In For Citrus podcast is a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media. Listen to the March episode here.
The Florida legislative session is well underway in Tallahassee. The University of Florida hosted its annual Gator Day at the Capitol in February to remind lawmakers of all that the school does for its students and stakeholders. Michael Rogers, director of the Citrus Research and Education Center, and fellow citrus team members from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) made the trek to Tallahassee to showcase the importance of citrus in the state and the vital research being done on behalf of growers. Rogers discusses the trip in the February All In For Citrus podcast episode. He reports that free orange juice samples at the UF/IFAS booth were a big hit.
UF/IFAS entomologist Kirsten Pelz-Stelinski also joins the podcast to share her research on the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and a new grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to further her study. The goal of the research is to use bacteria already present inside the ACP to manipulate the pest so it can no longer be a vector of the pathogen that causes HLB. The process is building on previous research Pelz-Stelinski and colleagues have conducted to manipulate the ACP.
Growers will be interested to hear from Davie Kadyampakeni, a UF/IFAS assistant professor who details his new research on citrus nutrition. He has been studying the impact of macronutrients on yield, tree health and juice quality. Kadyampakeni also has been researching the importance of micronutrients like manganese, boron, zinc and iron.
“We have seen tremendous success where we have increased the amounts of micronutrients,” Kadyampakeni says. “We are learning we need balanced and constant nutrition for these HLB-affected trees.”
Kadyampakeni says his research also is being applied to update recommendations for citrus nutrient applications that consider the impacts of HLB.
The All In For Citrus podcast is a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media.
It’s tough to be a citrus grower in Florida right now. In the January All In For Citrus podcast episode, Michael Rogers discusses the challenging environment for growers. Below-average prices and low yields are among the major obstacles.
However, the UF/IFAS citrus researchers and Extension agents continue to work hard on behalf of growers, looking for tools they can use now to stay afloat. Rogers, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Citrus Research and Education Center director, notes several events in February to get important information out to growers. He also discusses the search for two new positions on the team to further help producers.
UF/IFAS citrus horticulturist Fernando Alferez joins the podcast from the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center (SWFREC) to provide an update on individual protective covers, which researchers are testing on young citrus. He and his team just concluded a multi-year trial on the system and saw both an increase in quality and yield. In addition, Alferez details results of some in-season treatments of relatively inexpensive products that are showing less fruit drop in Hamlin groves.
Reducing fruit drop is also something Ute Albrecht, a UF/IFAS plant physiologist at the SWFREC, is seeing in her trunk-injection research. Albrecht joins the podcast episode to share findings from a multi-year study in which a single injection reduced fruit drop dramatically. She talks about the challenges of the delivery system and new technology that may make it a practical option for growers. Albrecht reminds growers that trunk injection is still being studied and not a recommendation from advisors.
2021 won’t go down as one of the best years for citrus growers, but there were some wins for the industry. After the holidays, a major event will springboard the industry into the new year.
Michael Rogers, director of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Citrus Research and Education Center, notes that the continuing pandemic and low production are dampening the holiday cheer this year. However, recent research recommendations and the return of events should give the citrus industry reasons to be jolly.
In the December episode of the All In For Citrus podcast, Rogers discusses the gibberellic acid research and recommendations developed by UF/IFAS that can reverse the effects of huanglongbing disease. There has been some misinformation about the use of the product. Rogers clearly outlines gibberellic acid use and its flexibility due to not being a pesticide.
After ringing in the new year, the citrus industry will gather for a major show in January. The Florida Grower Citrus Show is Jan. 26–27 at the Havert L. Fenn Center in Fort Pierce, Florida. The event is a great opportunity for UF/IFAS scientists to communicate their ongoing research. UF/IFAS’ Mark Ritenour and Sandra Guzman join the December podcast episode to talk about the educational lineup at the show, including their presentations, during the two-day event.
The important process that gets new citrus varieties in the hands of growers is the main topic of the November episode of the All In For Citrus podcast.
Michael Rogers, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) director, discusses the recent CREC open house where breeders displayed potential new varieties for the industry to see. Rogers says growers get a chance to taste and rate the fruit, which is valuable information for researchers. The open house also included several field tours, including one that Rogers describes as extremely practical that involves techniques growers can use now to keep operations profitable in the midst of HLB disease.
Once UF/IFAS completes the process of creating a new variety for release to the public, several things need to happen next that involve partnerships. That’s where Peter Chaires, executive director of New Varieties Development & Management Corp. (NVDMC), and John Beuttenmuller, executive director of Florida Foundation Seed Producers, Inc. enter the equation.
The non-profit Florida Foundation Seed Producers is a direct support organization that bridges the gap between UF/IFAS and growers. NVDMC, also a non-profit, files patents on the new products and works with nurseries and partner companies for fresh fruit varieties.
Chaires says NVDMC brings new varieties to commercialization. He explains how the process has changed over the years for the better, streamlining the development chain and increasing efficiency.
The patents that NVDMC file on new varieties provide a steady income for future development. Beuttenmuller said 70% of the royalties from those patents are returned to the UF/IFAS citrus breeding program.
For the full story, listen to the November All In For Citrus podcast here.
September All In For Citrus Podcast Has Big HLB News
The September episode of the All In For Citrus podcast is a special edition focused on one subject. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) researchers have identified a breakthrough treatment for huanglongbing (HLB) that greatly reduces the effects of the disease.
Michael Rogers, director of the Citrus Research and Education Center, said a lot of UF/IFAS research has focused on reducing citrus tree stress. While running a trial, citrus researchers tested several products on trees to see if they could reduce the oxidative stress that is caused by several diseases, including HLB. Rogers said they quickly noticed that gibberellic acid (GA) was standing out among the products trialed. Gibberellic acid is a common plant growth regulator in the industry.
After running tests with GA sprays on Valencia oranges, Rogers said the research team is confident it has identified a major tool for growers that can keep them profitable amidst the disease.
“Some things may not be cost-effective in our research, and we may not go down that route,” Rogers said. “In the case of this work with gibberellic acid, it’s a tremendous benefit for such a little cost.”
Rogers warned growers though that UF/IFAS researchers have only tested GA on Valencia oranges, and there are specific guidelines growers must follow to avoid a negative effect. He also cautioned that this is another tool in the toolbox to help growers manage HLB disease, albeit a very effective one.
Tripti Vashisth, one of the researchers working on the trial, has seen an incredible dollar increase per acre in the test plot. She will be leading a virtual talk on Tuesday, Sept. 21 about GA guidelines. Rogers said the presentation will be recorded. Growers can register for the meeting and find more information at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research website.
Listen to the September All In For Citrus podcast here.
A pest problem in citrus under protective screen (CUPS), heat stress guidance, and Citrus Expo news headline the July episode of the All In For Citrus podcast.
Citrus Research and Education Center Director Michael Rogers begins the episode with an overview of the seminars at this year’s Citrus Expo. He said his University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) citrus team will be presenting a full lineup of sessions on Wednesday, Aug. 18. Talks will fall under three sections — pathology, entomology and horticulture. While HLB research will be covered, Rogers said there is a lot more that will be addressed in all aspects of production. He hopes attendees will be able to walk away from the sessions this year with actionable tools that can help them stay productive.
Next up, UF/IFAS entomologist Lauren Diepenbrock talks about an emerging pest in CUPS production systems. Chilli thrips are so small that they can fit through most screens. She said there are some unanswered questions about the situation, including where the pest pupates and why it isn’t an issue in traditional production. Research has already begun, and Diepenbrock hopes to have some answers soon for growers who have invested in the high-cost system for fresh fruit production.
Florida growers face threats from hot temperatures during the summer months. UF/IFAS Extension agent Amir Rezazadeh details how heat combined with little water can cause major damage to both trees and humans. He shares the key signs to keep an eye out for in groves when it comes to plants and workers.
Wrapping up the episode is UF/IFAS Extension Program Manager Jamie Burrow. She brings the listeners back to the topic of Citrus Expo, where the UF/IFAS trade show booth will look a little different this year. The open space will feature hands-on, digital and physical information for growers. The booth will be more interactive this year, so growers can take home things they can use in the grove, along with the newly updated Citrus Production Guide.