The Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) met for its December board meeting to discuss several topics before heading into the new year. One of the bigger areas of discussion was what to do with available uncommitted funds.
“The board decided to fund work on several questions growers have regarding the use of bactericides inserted through systemic delivery devices and give the balance to the Citrus Research and Field Trials program to help as many growers as we could get this bactericide product into their trees,” noted Rick Dantzler, CRDF chief operating officer.
Other projects receiving funds included the company Soilcea. “This is the only company we know of that is actively working to get several non-GMO trees that are resistant to HLB through the regulatory process,” Dantzler said. “Funding will enable them to propagate enough trees for replicated field trials and to get these trees into the field for testing.”
Funds were directed toward the continuation of Manjul Dutt’s project studying the Parson Brown variety and what seems to be imparting its HLB tolerance. Dutt is a research scientist with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).
“We funded another project by Dr. Dutt to create a wide variety of interstocks. An interstock is where you literally build a bridge between the rootstock and scion with a variety known to be resistant or sufficiently tolerant to HLB but not something that works on its own,” Dantzler said. “Hopefully, it will convey this resistance or tolerance into the scion. It is a way to get tolerance or resistance into scions that produce outstanding fruit, but which are hurt by HLB.
“In addition, we funded a project by Dr. Amit Levy, UF/IFAS assistant professor of plant pathology, to determine if three compounds put into a tree through a systemic delivery device could unclog the phloem of callouses. Callouses build up in the phloem of trees suffering from HLB, negatively affecting sugar transport in the tree. Dr. Levy also has an idea of a way to get bactericides into the roots of trees without having to drill a hole, which was funded.”