Biotechnology is one avenue of attack aimed at citrus greening, or HLB, that holds a great deal of promise. Southern Gardens Citrus President Rick Kress gave an update at the Florida Citrus Mutual conference on the research his company and Texas A&M have been doing. It involves using certain spinach genes to create HLB-resistant or HLB-immune citrus trees.

Researchers have the technology to develop a tree with biotechnology much faster than conventional breeding methods, though it does take time to get such trees to commercial growers. Texas A&M researchers and Southern Gardens Citrus have developed trees that have shown tolerance to citrus greening, Kress maintained. They are still working on resistance to citrus greening, Kress assured, noting that “we’ll work with tolerance and accept tolerance as we go.”citrus greening

One big challenge researchers face is in creating enough trees to meet commercial demand. The amount needed to make an impact on the industry presents a huge challenge, esp
ecially when the citrus industry is in such dire straits. Grove owners, nurseries and tree developers will need to work closely to distri
bute information about the release of HLB-tolerant or resistant trees.

Another potential issue is with the way the tree is created. Many people erroneously feel that there are sure to be problems with foods that have been genetically engineered or altered using biotechnology, despite zero scientific evidence to the contrary. Kress maintained that it’s a concern that needs to be addressed by the industry for citrus created by biotechnology to be successful.

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.