July 23, 2021
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.
Listen to the July episode of the All In For Citrus podcast.
June 18, 2021
This month’s All In for Citrus Podcast details the results and benefits growers are getting from the citrus nutrition box program.
Before hearing from the coordinators of the program, Citrus Research and Education Center Director Michael Rogers shares updates on key events coming up this summer for the industry. The first is the Citrus, Vegetable and Specialty Crop Expo in North Fort Myers, Florida, on Aug. 18–19. Rogers says planning is quickly progressing for 18 citrus talks in the seminar program. His team is excited to be back in-person and looks forward to connecting with growers on the trade show floor.
Soon after the Citrus Expo is the 60th anniversary of Citrus Packinghouse Day on Aug. 26. It will also be returning to in-person after a virtual-style shift last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rogers says the event is loaded with post-harvest research information and is also a great opportunity to socialize with fellow industry members.
While in-person events are reemerging, Rogers says some of the online information will not be going away. He says the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) citrus team saw great response to digital efforts and will continue to produce online content that growers can use on a daily basis. All of that information can be found on the UF/IFAS Citrus Research website.
UF/IFAS Horticultural Sciences and Citrus Extension Specialist Tripti Vashisth and Extension Program Manager Jamie Burrow have worked hard to coordinate the nutrition box program. It was one of the few services that continued through the pandemic.
“This first year, so through the pandemic, we had over 70 participants,” Burrow says. “This year, as we start year two, we have over 90 different locations that are participating in the program.”
Vashisth believes the customized information specific to a grower’s environment is what makes the program popular. “We are taking into account all of the factors, and we put a lot of time into this,” she says. “I think growers are appreciating that, and they see the value and that the trees do respond when you take care of their nutritional needs.”
May 19, 2021
It takes strong partnerships between the citrus industry and researchers to make advancements toward issues facing growers. This month’s All In For Citrus podcast details the importance of those partnerships, highlighting one special relationship that has been critical to variety development.
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Citrus Research and Education Center Director Michael Rogers begins the podcast discussing collaboration between growers and researchers. “This is something that we are going to be talking about more in the future,” Rogers said. “You could even say that these collaborations are part of our DNA. They are why we are here.”
As more in-person events are scheduled coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rogers said it has been refreshing to be able to talk with growers again. Travel and visitor restrictions have eased, and he believes UF/IFAS will start having in-person meetings soon.
Florida’s revised budget announcement was also good news for the citrus team. Rogers said there were no cuts to their system; a small increase was actually seen. He said this will allow UF/IFAS to fill some vacant positions that were put on hold. Most important among these positions is a citrus plant improvement horticulturist. The position will work closely with growers on large-scale field trials. Zoom meeting invitations were sent to growers to participate in the hiring process.
UF/IFAS citrus breeder and geneticist Fred Gmitter and grower Tom Hammond are a real-world example of the researcher/grower relationship. Gmitter said what this partnership has allowed him to experiment with is unprecedented. Hammond dedicates 16 acres of land to Gmitter’s variety trials and shoulders most of the cost. Gmitter said the arrangement is especially unique because the block does not produce any marketable fruit, and Hammond is not able to recoup any of his costs.
Hammond believes that isn’t the point. “What I learned very quickly was that you can take varieties from around the world … and you can bring them over here to Florida and they don’t necessarily do well,” he said. “If we were going to be successful in developing new cultivars … it was going to be super important that some of this stuff was homegrown.”
April 23, 2021
A whole-systems approach to one University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) research project is the focus of the April All in For Citrus podcast.
Citrus Research and Education Center Director Michael Rogers said the project is a good example of citrus researchers taking a more comprehensive look at problems in the industry. “We’re starting to put all the pieces together and develop these integrated approaches — really focusing on what can growers do now,” he said.
The project, “Establishing Healthy Citrus Plantings in the Face of Persistent HLB Pressure,” is led by Lauren Diepenbrock. She says the team simply refers to it as the young citrus project. The objective is to update current recommendations for new plantings in Florida because they are out of date and need to consider HLB disease. “Our goal is to come up with some guidelines to help growers establish new plantings … using some of the tools that growers are already implementing that we have zero guidelines on,” Diepenbrock said.
Those tools are reflective mulch, individual protective covers and kaolin clay. Megan Dewdney and Evan Johnson are looking at pathology both above ground and below ground, respectively. Davie Kadyampakeni is tackling nutrition and irrigation in the trial, and Christopher Vincent is looking at overall tree growth. After one year of the research project, some interesting results are already emerging.
Diepenbrock said it’s a much-needed project that was spurred by grower questions. “We worked with them to see where their issues were, what their concerns were, what kind of other problems they had or noticed so we could keep an eye out for them,” she said. “It may be an issue that we can maybe solve in some manner. We’re trying to think of these things that are going to impact growers. They need to get a return on their investment to make it worth their time and money.”
Unrelated to the project, Rogers noted that the presentation videos from the Florida Citrus Growers’ Institute are now available online. He also reminded the industry to follow along with UF/IFAS on social media for National OJ Day on May 4. He said UF/IFAS will be interacting through various channels to promote the topic and industry. Finally, he urged growers to take advantage of the Tip of The Week segment on CitrusIndustry.com. The series has vital information for growers in an ever-changing environment.
March 19, 2021
March’s All In For Citrus podcast brings news of in-person events, details on controlling the vector of HLB disease, as well as potential changes to nutrient and water management recommendations.
Citrus Research and Education Center Director Michael Rogers begins the episode discussing several upcoming events for growers. On April 6, the Florida Citrus Growers’ Institute will return as a virtual event. Rogers says the presentations will be focused on pest management this year, and participants can register online. Two other major events later this year are scheduled to be in-person again. The Florida Citrus Show has been rescheduled from earlier this year to May 12-13, and the Citrus Expo will be Aug. 18-19. Rogers reports that the Citrus Expo planning meetings have gone well, and all things point to having as close to a ‘normal’ event as possible while maintaining COVID-19 safety precautions.
Nabil Killiny, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) associate professor, shares the latest findings from his team’s RNA interference (RNAI) research. He says they are using RNAI to attack the Asian citrus psyllid and limit HLB transmission from plant to plant. It is a three-pronged approach aimed at disrupting how the disease’s bacteria attaches to the insect, how well the insect flies and how well the insect can tolerate pesticides. Killiny says the RNAI work could break the pesticide resistance seen in Asian citrus psyllids and increase insect feeding, making applications more effective.
Davie Kadyampakeni, UF/IFAS assistant professor, concludes the episode with a few updates on soil and water management research. While some growers have tried deficit irrigation on HLB-infected trees, he says field tests have shown this practice significantly hurts the trees. Kadyampakeni is also taking an in-depth look at nutrient management. A project in its fourth year has identified three micronutrients that could be doubled, tripled, and in some cases even quadrupled, without toxicity issues. He says researchers have seen an increase in tree health and production with less fruit drop in some instances. Kadyampakeni’s team also is looking at nitrogen levels to update recommendations to modern spacing practices.
February 19, 2021
February’s All In For Citrus podcast brings good news about a new faculty position, an upcoming in-person meeting and Australian finger limes projects to battle HLB and keep growers profitable.
After more than a year in the making, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) plans to add a new faculty member in citrus horticulture. Citrus Research and Education Center Director Michael Rogers talks about the position that was introduced on the podcast last year. The process was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic but has now been greenlighted by UF/IFAS. Rogers also notes several new meetings that have been planned for March, both virtual and in person. Topics to be covered include citrus irrigation, soil health and an in-person citrus under protective screen (CUPS) demonstration.
Manjul Dutt joins the podcast for another look into research on Australian finger limes. He says researchers noticed early on that these trees were much more tolerant to HLB disease than traditional citrus varieties. That’s why researchers are continuing to look at the possibility of finger limes as an alternative crop, but they also are trying to figure out all the ways the finger lime contributes to less HLB effects and disease transmission. Not only does the tree have high levels of compounds that may help tolerate the disease, says Dutt, it also has characteristics that may limit Asian citrus psyllid feeding on the plant. He is helping develop new cultivars that are crosses between conventional citrus and finger limes, and some look very promising.
Ute Albrecht highlights two projects in the podcast; one involves the new cultivars Dutt is helping to create. Albrecht will be field-testing the new cultivars, which are preselected varieties based on fruit quality. The research will determine how well they grow in Florida. The second project will aim to identify an all-systems approach to root health. Several current strategies will be combined with new approaches for a comprehensive recommendation for growers.
January 22, 2021
An update on the nutrition box program, shade research with some positive side effects, and a bold project analyzing compounds used against HLB headline January’s All In For Citrus podcast.
The Citrus Nutrient Management Program, more commonly known as the nutrition box program, is over a year old. Citrus Research and Education Center Director Michael Rogers, with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), begins this month’s episode of the podcast with an update on the nutrition box program. He said there is very valuable data that has come from the boxes, including identifying regional problems that growers are experiencing. Growers can still sign up for the 2021 program until Jan. 31. Rogers said the program can help growers maximize yields while helping researchers prioritize solutions for specific regions.
Christopher Vincent, UF/IFAS assistant professor of horticultural sciences, gives an update on shade work in the field. Citrus trees generally like shade, so his research is looking to determine the right amount of shade for HLB-infected trees. The work is proving beneficial with an increase in tree yield and overall health. In addition, a positive side effect is that shade can hinder the Asian citrus psyllid’s ability to move from tree to tree. Vincent also discusses some of the results from UF/IFAS antibiotic research examining foliar sprays as well as a new study attempting to increase the efficiency of sugar movement through citrus trees.
Lorenzo Rossi, UF/IFAS plant root biologist, closes the podcast with details on new research funded by a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The project will test compounds in the field that may influence HLB. Rossi said the goal is to find a specific compound that battles the bacteria that causes the disease. The research is a collaboration between multiple agencies and the private sector. Rossi believes the inclusion of companies in the research may speed up the process of bringing a potential product to market for producers.
December 17, 2020
December brings the holiday season, but it is also a busy time for harvesting Florida citrus. As early-season varieties come off the trees, the December episode of the All In For Citrus podcast blends critical information for growers with a little holiday history and cheer.
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Citrus Research and Education Center Director Michael Rogers gives a field report on the harvesting of Hamlins. He shares information on the Flower Bud Induction Advisory and where growers can find that information, plus a list of upcoming webinars for producers. Even though the Florida Citrus Show has been postponed, Rogers says the UF/IFAS citrus team is looking forward to getting back to in-person events at some point and is thankful to the industry for its patience.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can be an overwhelming topic, but Sandra Guzman says it is easier to swallow when it helps growers. Guzman, an agricultural engineering assistant professor at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center, has been working directly with growers to integrate the benefits of in-field technology. She describes systems growers are using to get all their information together and in real-time. Guzman also tells how growers can use AI to help maximize yields and stabilize production with variable weather.
Some holiday spirit, history, and gift-giving tips wrap up the December episode of the podcast. Ruth Borger, UF/IFAS communications specialist, discusses the rich history that citrus has with Christmas. Some people still get an orange in their stocking, and there is a reason for that. Borger details how the tradition has continued over the years and what meanings are behind different varieties that are gifted. She also has several ideas for citrus-related gifts as well as critical tips for the safest way to send fruit to family and friends.
November 20, 2020
The November episode of the All In For Citrus podcast covers a multitude of grant-funded research that the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) citrus team both leads and collaborates on.
Citrus Research and Education Center Director Michael Rogers begins the podcast with a discussion on research projects UF/IFAS scientists are playing critical roles in collaborative efforts. Projects include studying HLB-tolerant varieties involving finger limes, enhancing root health systematically, and investigating therapeutics and microbial products.
Amit Levy, UF/IFAS plant pathology assistant professor, then highlights the first of two new U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant projects. Levy will be looking more into the CLas bacterium that causes HLB. The bacteria clogs the phloem of the tree much like cholesterol in human veins. The new project aims to find out why that happens and how to counteract it.
Bryony Bonning, eminent scholar and professor of nematology and entomology, details the second of the two NIFA grants that UF/IFAS is leading. Her project is tackling the vector of HLB disease, the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). The research will utilize Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacteria and RNA silencing. Bonning says the goal is to have the ACP ingest the deadly proteins Bt bacteria produce and possibly increase that feeding with gene silencing technology. The work hopes to add a critical tool to grower management of the disease by helping to control the vector.
October 23, 2020
An exciting development with genome sequencing, timely research in the face of COVID-19 and an update on sting nematode research headline October’s All In For Citrus podcast.
Citrus Research and Education Center Director Michael Rogers details the benefits of recent news about the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) mapping the trifoliate orange genome. He says it’s a truly complete sequence that will allow researchers to use it as a template for future hybrid rootstock varieties.
Rogers adds that detailed information about the genome sequencing can be found on the revamped UF/IFAS Citrus Research website. He describes the site as a powerful one-stop-shop tool for growers to stay updated on industry research.
Another exciting announcement from UF/IFAS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that food safety professor Michelle Danyluk and her team received to ‘prove the negative.’
Danyluk is working with researchers across the United States to put some hard data behind the lack of coronavirus transmission from food and food packaging. The Centers for Disease Control said early on in the pandemic that the virus likely could not be passed along to a consumer buying food at the store. Danyluk says the research will prove that scientifically and help relay that information to the general public with a new website.
Sting nematodes can be a big issue for growers, and the problem seems to have gotten worse over the last several years. The pest weakens the roots of the citrus tree, which is especially troublesome when growers are already dealing with HLB disease.
UF/IFAS nematology professor Larry Duncan says these small worms could be particularly problematic for younger trees when growers are replanting. His research is testing a new wave of nematicides, alongside some of the old ones, to see which are most effective.
Duncan’s team is also testing the non-host peanut plant in row middles. So far, the practice is acting as a cover crop and suppressing sting nematodes in row middles at an impressive rate.