New Facility Expands Varieties of Citrus to Improve Health of State’s Citrus Industry
LaCrosse, FL – Today, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam opened a new state-of-the art facility to improve the health of Florida’s endangered citrus industry.
The Florida Citrus Repository at LaCrosse will expand the Citrus Germplasm Introduction Program, which provides a way to safely introduce healthy new citrus varieties into the state.
The new varieties will increase the strength of Florida’s endangered $9 billion citrus industry and allow Florida citrus to better compete in domestic and international markets
“More than half of Florida’s groves are infected with citrus greening, and citrus production is at a 30-year low,” said Commissioner Putnam. “This new state-of-the-art facility will help growers replant lost trees and support a comeback of Florida’s signature crop.”
The opening of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ 20,000 square-foot facility will significantly increase production capacity to more than 20 new varieties each year. New varieties will match growers’ and consumers’ preferences of disease-tolerant, easy-to-peel and seedless citrus. All new varieties will go through an approval process that includes testing for pests and diseases.
The state’s history of introducing citrus helps prevent the spread of pests and diseases from other states and other countries. The new plants are raised under quarantine until they are safe to release into the environment. With the spread of citrus canker and citrus greening statewide, finding new varieties to release is imperative to maintaining the health of Florida’s $9 billion citrus industry, which directly supports 75,000 jobs.
The LaCrosse facility is opening four months after the expansion of the state’s Dundee Biological Control Laboratory, which is integral to Florida’s fight against citrus greening. The laboratory rears a beneficial insect, Tamarixia radiata, which attacks the Asian citrus psyllid – the vector of citrus greening – for release throughout Florida’s citrus production areas.
For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.