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New Citrus Testing Center To Bolster Fight Against Citrus Greening

Fiona Harding
Credit Fiona Harding

A new Citrus Repository is expected to help fight citrus greening and other diseases pounding the state’s $9-billion citrus industry. Florida Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Denise Feiber says the center will help approve 20 new citrus varieties each year. Feiber says the facility will house what’s called the “Citrus Germplasm Introduction Program.”

“ And what it does it help us to safely introduce new citrus varieties into Florida from outside of Florida – that is other states and other countries as well. And we currently have a facility in Gainsville, just to give you some perspective, that is only 4,000 feet. So we will be increasing the capability to propagate new citrus material by 85 percent,” Feiber says.

The new facility, which opened Monday, is 20,000 square feet.

Feiber says the Citrus Germ Plasma Introduction program tests new citrus varieties for safety as well as hardiness against citrus greening and citrus canker.

“Those are diseases that were likely introduced by plant materials that got into the state that were diseased. And they didn’t go through the normal channels. They could have gotten in in somebody’s baggage – somebody wanted to bring a clipping from their grandmother’s favorite citrus tree in Asia and they plant it and it starts to grow and then it starts to exhibit some disease,” Feiber says.

Feiber says the center will help to ensure new diseases aren’t introduced into the state in a similar way by testing each new variety before it can be approved for citrus farmers to start growing in the state.If they pass muster, the new varieties will be sent on for further approval from a citrus council as well as the Florida Department of Agriculture.

Copyright 2014 WFSU