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Florida Department of Citrus

Chairman Johnson: Moving quickly on the Donaldson Tree

As the season winds down, the journey toward an HLB-tolerant or resistant tree is heating up. FDOC Executive Director Shannon Shepp provided an update at the Commission meeting this week on a new expedited propagation program aimed at securing low-risk, HLB-tolerant or resistant plant material that can be available to growers as quickly as possible.

The program, which would be funded by $1 million in nonrecurring general revenue funds, pending the Governor’s approval of the state budget, is focused on the Donaldson and other escaped trees. And it’s expected to begin immediately once funds are available. In order to ensure this, FDOC staff teamed up with those at FCM, CRAFT TWG, NVDMC, FDACS DPI, and nurseries to begin the work necessary to bring proposals for agreements to the FCC for approval this summer.

Shannon also provided an update on the progress of propagating the Donaldson tree since its discovery late last year. There are currently 460 tissue cultures in greenhouse with space for 10,700 seedlings, 768 liners planted weekly, and 12 shoot tip grafts grafted. The greenhouse will receive approximately 900 new tissue cultures in the next month. Then work will continue through the next 30 months to bud about 22,500 – 30,000 trees with more trees being continually propagated.

It is exciting to see that work is already underway on something we all are hoping will be helpful in our fight against citrus greening. As we patiently await updates on this and other research, we continue to push forward with promoting Florida Citrus to consumers.

The Department’s 2021-22 eCommerce program has driven $62.8 million in attributed sales of Florida Orange Juice since its launch in July. These efforts will continue in the new season.

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