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From the Director 

Dear Friends,

January marks the season for resolutions. Exercising more, eating well, being more organized.  But in the research world, resolutions may not be that simple. 

I don’t think that UF/IFAS researchers could be any more “resolved” in finding ways to fight citrus diseases and ways to improve how we grow citrus in Florida.

But I do think we can use this opportunity to reflect on how we communicate about our research and engage with our partners across the state.  Over the last 18 months, we all have learned how to work together over a zoom link or from remote offices. And sometimes those methods are effective. But we’ve noticed as we started to offer more face-to-face seminars and meetings that our attendance was lower than we expected.

It might be that some of the information is best delivered in an on-line format. Or perhaps we are not offering the information at the best time or convenient location.  Maybe we need to rethink the topics that we are offering or what information growers really want.

That’s where we need your help.

Let me know what you want to hear about from our researchers and how you want to get that information.  We’ve set up a special email account where you can let me know your ideas directly. Drop me a line at It’s an account that goes directly to me and is dedicated to hearing from growers.  Let me know what you think!

The start of a new year is also a good time to review what the UF/IFAS research agenda is for the near future. 

Of course, finding solutions to HLB remains the highest priority of our research teams.  We have learned more about HLB in the last 10 years than in the previous 100 years that it has been known to scientists.  Yet there are still questions and issues to resolve. Progress in root health, nutrition management and tolerant varieties has changed the situation.  With this knowledge, Florida citrus growers are staying in business. Replanting and changing grove management practices are making an impact.

The research agenda at UF/IFAS is an integrated one that includes advancements in horticultural practices, plant physiological responses to disease, understanding the biology of the pathogen, vector/pathogen interaction and epidemiology, citrus genetics and breeding, fruit quality and flavor, and economics of grove management.

As we look to a new year of research, our intention is to fund the right science that leads to innovations, like the proper use of gibberellic acid to increase yield, developing incompetent psyllids, and improving the plant’s defense responses to the pathogen.

New in 2022, UF/IFAS researchers are part of two large, nation-wide projects; one with University of California, Riverside and one with Texas A & M University. Drs. Ute Albrecht (SWFREC) and Zhanao Deng (GCREC) are working with colleagues from UC, R on evaluating the performance of 300 rootstock hybrids in established trials to map HLB tolerance and resistance characteristics that will ultimately lead to releases of superior rootstocks. Drs. Albrecht, Ariel Singerman (CREC) and Choaa El-Mohtar (CREC) are working with colleagues from Texas A & M on advanced testing and commercialization of novel defense peptides and therapies for HLB control. Both projects recently received funding from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Another innovative research strategy is the work of Dr. Kirsten Pelz-Stelinski (CREC). Dr. Pelz-Stelinski’s lab is working on biological control-based tools for decreasing pathogen transmission.  By introducing new DNA to a bacterium inside an insect host, called paratransgenesis, scientists can create an insect with new characteristics. The goal is to eliminate the psyllid’s ability to transmit CLas. In the short term, this research will facilitate identification of the transmission processes that allow CLas to move through the insect gut. Ultimately, release and replacement of wild ACP populations with altered populations that are unable to deliver CLas will be an additional tool for use in integrated disease management.
These are just a few of the exciting research studies underway in UF/IFAS labs that will ultimately make their way into your groves…so stay tuned!


Michael E. Rogers
Professor and Center Director
UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center, Lake Alfred

Statewide Coordinator
UF/IFAS Citrus Research & Extension Programs

UF ag engineer develops smart-spray technology to help reduce fertilizer, pesticides


IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Growers need to spray efficiently so they can apply pesticides and fertilizer only to crops – and minimize the chemicals that may contaminate natural resources.

As they battle the economically devastating citrus greening disease, farmers must look to control costs wherever possible.

With that in mind, Yiannis Ampatzidis is engaging artificial intelligence to develop a low-cost, smart tree-crop sprayer that can automatically detect citrus trees, calculate their height and leaf density and count fruit. That way, the farmers target their spray more efficiently, so it lands on trees and leaves – and reduces chemical use by about 30%, compared to traditional spray methods.


UF survey: ‘Florida’ branding on orange juice helps it sell better

Consumers are more likely to buy orange juice if they think the fruit comes from Florida, new University of Florida research shows. In fact, top reasons consumers purchase orange juice include taste, health benefits and origin of the fruit.

Grocery shoppers say they want orange juice (OJ) from Florida. Sometimes, those purchases boil down to branding.

According to the Florida Department of Citrus, while 80% of OJ consumers who responded to a 2021 survey think oranges in their juice came from Florida, only 45% of orange juice in the market was from Florida that year. This presents a challenge to the industry because consumers perceive Florida orange juice as a premium product at a time when supplies are low, said Yan Heng, a UF/IFAS assistant research scientist in food and resource economics.

January 2022 OJ Break for Polk County Growers

The discussion by Dr. Dewdney will review some of the current observations on problems associated with the initial planting of citrus trees followed by a discussion on the distribution of citrus roots at various depths within the soil profile of HLB affected citrus trees as related to nutrition and soil pH.

Implications would be useful as we try to enhance the uptake of soil applied inputs.
CEU’s for Certified Crop Advisors will be requested.

The OJ Break will be held on Wednesday January 19, 2022, beginning at 11:00 a.m. at Ben Hill Griffin, Jr.  Auditorium at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center, 700 Experiment Station Rd, Lake Alfred, Fl.

Lunch is sponsored by Mark White and InTerra and registration is required by Friday, January 14th by contacting Gail Crawford at 863-519-1042 or
Upcoming Trainings

Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training  
Remote- Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training
  • February 1st-3rd – Remote PSA Training

Remote-HACCP for Florida Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Packinghouses
  • January 25th-28th



January 26–27, 2022

Havert L. Fenn Center, Ft. Pierce Florida

Join hundreds of your fellow citrus growers and industry friends from across the state in learning the latest production tips from top industry experts and UF/IFAS researchers.
  • A look as supply chain disruptions’ impact on Florida citrus
  • Grower participation in the CRAFT program
  • Fighting fruit drop in citrus
  • New varieties and rootstocks
  • Fine tuning citrus nutrition in the HLB-era
  • Irrigation management
  • SAP analysis: Grower experiences
  • Citrus Research and Development Foundation Update
  • Promoting soil health and diversity
Register Now! 

2022 Flavor Summit

February 22-24, 2022

We're back!   

But we are virtual.  

February 22-24, 2022 

Also sponsored by the UF Center for Smell and Taste 

To register: Flavor Summit Tickets, Tue, Feb 22, 2022 at 7:00 AM | Eventbrite

For more information,  visit
Citrus Irrigation and Nutrient Management Workshop Planned for February 8

Citrus growers depend on the latest information regarding the best irrigation and nutrition strategies for growing productive trees.  University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers will share recent results for optimal crop management at a workshop and field visit opportunity on Tuesday, February 8, 2022, at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, Florida.
Davie Kadyampakeni, assistant professor of soil and water sciences and Chris Oswalt, UF/IFAS Extension citrus agent along with other UF/IFAS researchers will present their findings for integrated nutrient management and crop protection strategies to improve root health, canopy size, juice quality and fruit yield in bearing orange trees. The workshop will provide information on optimal irrigation scheduling and fertilizer timing strategies and irrigation/fertilizer application amounts for both young and mature trees.
The morning session includes presentations on a smartphone irrigation app for young tree irrigation scheduling, irrigation management strategies for mature trees affected by HLB, season-long timing of fertilization to match citrus trees’ nutrient demands, and impacts of macro and micronutrients on root health, yield and juice quality.  The afternoon will include a field visit to view how these strategies are used in a grove.
This workshop is designed for commercial citrus growers.  The fee is $40 and includes refreshments and printed workbook of materials.  To register visit,              
For questions or registration information, please contact Jamie Burrow at
Fresh Citrus Fruit Trainings

Fresh Citrus Growers, Harvesters, and Packers:
We are again making our usual Fresh Citrus Fruit Training program available via Internet.  Companies can pick and choose what they specifically need from the following narrated modules:
  • Food Safety
  • Personal Hygiene
  • CDC-Issued Guidance for COVID-19 in Agricultural Workplaces
  • Worker Protection Standard (WPS) – Field Crews and Harvesters
  • Chemical Hazards – Packinghouse Personnel
  • Citrus Fruit Disease Identification (esp. Citrus Canker & Citrus Black Spot)
  • Ladder Safety
  • Tractor Safety
Upon successful completion, each participant will receive a Certificate of Attendance.
The cost is only $3 per person total for as many modules as they wish to take, or a maximum of $100 per company.
Certificates and training kits (hand sanitizer, mask, educational materials, and more) will be sent via FedEx.
You can access the trainings at:


Amir Rezazadeh (Questions & In-Person Scheduling)

Christine Kelly-Begazo (Training Payment)
772-226-4330 x3

Mark Ritenour

Jamie Burrow (Certificates/Technical Support)
Upcoming Fruit Displays

We do not have a display scheduled for the month of January.
The February display has been moved to 10:00 a.m. on

Tuesday, February 22nd at the CREC.
Please mark your calendars and plan to attend.

Hosts: Dr. Fred Gmitter and Dr. Jude Grosser
Oranges, orange-like fruit, new grapefruit hybrids, tangerine types, and acid fruit.
Attendees will be channeled through the room in a singular direction, where they will be given an opportunity to sample fruit, peel fruit (when applicable), and score the general characteristics and traits of the displayed selections.  Juice may be provided.

The Plant Improvement Team will be present for discussion and questions. Attendees are requested to refrain from socializing until they have completed the display. This typically takes around 45 minutes.

February 2022 Zoom Citrus Seminar

Date & Time: Thursday, February 24, 2022, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Title: Scouting and Management of Citrus Diseases II (PFD, citrus black spot and citrus canker)

Speaker: Dr. Megan Dewdney, Associate Professor, UF/IFAS Citrus Research & Education Center, Lake Alfred

Coordinator: Dr. Mongi Zekri, Multi-County Citrus Extension Agent, UF/IFAS

1 CEU for pesticide license renewal, 1 CEU for certified crop advisors

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

CEUs for pesticide license renewal

Earn CEU Credits NOW online through Southeast AgNet & Citrus Industry Magazine

The following series of articles and quizzes are available with their expiration dates noted:

2020 #4: Protecting People From Pesticide Exposure (10/31/22)
2021 #3: Before You Spray (7/31/22)
2021 #2: When a Pesticide Doesn’t Work (4/30/22)
2021 #1: The Goals of Pest Management (1/31/22)

Each article grants one General Standards (Core) CEU when submitted and approved toward the renewal of a Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services restricted-use pesticide license.

FYI, there are also CORE CEU available at Growing Produce

Online Pesticide CEUs



2021 won’t go down as one of the best years for citrus growers, but there were some wins for the industry. After the holidays, a major event will springboard the industry into the new year.

Michael Rogers, director of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Citrus Research and Education Center, notes that the continuing pandemic and low production are dampening the holiday cheer this year. However, recent research recommendations and the return of events should give the citrus industry reasons to be jolly.

In the December episode of the All In For Citrus podcast, Rogers discusses the gibberellic acid research and recommendations developed by UF/IFAS that can reverse the effects of huanglongbing disease. There has been some misinformation about the use of the product. Rogers clearly outlines gibberellic acid use and its flexibility due to not being a pesticide.

After ringing in the new year, the citrus industry will gather for a major show in January. The Florida Grower Citrus Show is Jan. 26–27 at the Havert L. Fenn Center in Fort Pierce, Florida. The event is a great opportunity for UF/IFAS scientists to communicate their ongoing research. UF/IFAS’ Mark Ritenour and Sandra Guzman join the December podcast episode to talk about the educational lineup at the show, including their presentations, during the two-day event.

Listen to the December episode of the All In For Citrus podcast here.

Want to keep up with all the latest citrus research news? 

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