Citrus Breeding Research Receives Increased Federal Support

Brian GermanCitrus, Fruits & Vegetables, Funding, Research

Citrus breeding efforts will be bolstered through an overall increase in citrus industry support. Congress has approved funding assistance for the Citrus Health Response Program and the HLB Multi-Agency Coordination. A new citrus breeding program will also be supported by an additional $1 million in federal funding. The House Appropriations Committee included additional funding for citrus research to develop and evaluate superior selections to grow in citrus-producing regions. The funding is also meant to assist with the evaluation of rootstock and scion materials.

Citrus Breeding

“On behalf of the industry, we are appreciative of the Committee and our Congressional leaders for their commitment to fully developing this program and look forward to finding solutions to the issues California citrus growers are faced with every day,” California Citrus Mutual President and CEO Casey Creamer said in a press release.

The increase in funding support comes after the citrus breeding program at the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) facility in Parlier received $1 million for the current fiscal year. The new program is designed to aid in the identification of viable new citrus varieties. Breeders are working to determine what will be most resilient to climate conditions and pest and disease pressures while maintaining preferred consumer traits.

The California program builds on the existing national USDA ARS citrus breeding program in Florida. That program is centered on varieties that are best suited for Florida growing conditions. Citrus breeding efforts in Florida have yielded positive results with new varieties that have higher yields and increased disease resistance. Varieties developed through the program have also had improved color and longer shelf life. The breeding programs in both Florida and California will be coordinating efforts. The citrus breeding program at UC Riverside will also be a collaborating partner.

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West