See what’s coming out of UF/IFAS in terms of rootstock improvement with the aim of combating citrus greening.

In our latest column in Central Florida Ag News, we shared updates on rootstock improvements coming out of The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). much of the citrus research coming out of institutions like UF/IFAS is focused on finding some way to beat the disease. For plant cell genetics professor Dr. Jude Grosser, that focus has been put on developing rootstocks that are resistant or tolerant of citrus greening. He and others presented an “Update on rootstock improvement in the HLB era” at the 2020 Florida Citrus Show on those rootstocks that may just be Florida citrus’s future in the era of citrus greening.

Rootstocks for a Citrus Greening Era

Grosser is part of the UF/CREC Citrus Improvement Team, which he maintained was tasked with establishing “a common sense, delicate balance between providing viable/profitable rootstock options for the short-medium term, and developing the homerun rootstock(s) that will be the answer to HLB for the future, regardless of the scion,” in the presentation.

Some highlights on rootstocks from presentation include:

  • New Rootstocks being considered for commercial release: Cleo+Carrizo; Blue 1, Orange 1804 (Argentina), Orange 16, Orange 14 & Amb+HBJL-2B.
  • Valencia/UFR-17 is emerging as good HLB-tolerant rootstock for higher-density plantings. Resets of UFR-17 have been growing in Orie Lee Alligator Grove for the past six years with no psyllid control. The trees are healthy and produced 2.5 boxes per tree in 2019.
  • Hybridizing the rootstock, Gauntlet, which is “exceptionally tolerant of HLB,” but “does not make a good rootstock itself due to slow growth and excessive zygotic seed production” has corrected the problem with vigor.

As we said in the column, the work coming out of UF/IFAS and affiliated organizations, like UF/CREC, has made the continuation of the Florida citrus industry a reality, and their efforts will pay off in the future with HLB tolerant and resistance rootstocks!

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