Researchers at the University of Florida provided state citrus farmers and business owners the opportunity on Thursday to sample the fruits (literally) of their latest efforts to grow varieties of citrus that are resistant to disease.
UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Services hosted citrus growers, packers, processors, gift-fruit shippers and others the chance to taste, feel, and smell the latest varieties they've bred at their Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.
Mostly growers, packers, and processors filled the room on Thursday, sampling more than 50 varieties. They then filled out a survey gauging their reaction to the color of the fruit, its sweetness and acidity, whether it was easy to peel and whether it had seeds.
Their feedback will help researchers from the UF/IFAS Plant Improvement Team decide which new varieties will move forward for release to the Florida citrus industry.
“Display attendees represent a wide cross-section of our industry, so we get valuable feedback on all parameters from the grove to the table, allowing us to make more intelligent decisions on which types of citrus get the green light,” said Jude Grosser, Professor of Citrus breeding and genetics at the UF/IFAS CREC.
Responding to citrus greening
The displays featured some very recently discovered fresh fruit and juice hybrids, some being shown for the first time this year, and some from trees that appear to have a good tolerance for the citrus greening disease.
"Our industry is suffering from this disease, citrus greening, which has really clobbered the industry. We’d like to have solutions to that problem,” said Dr. Fred Gmitter, another Professor of Citrus breeding at UF/IFAS.