$1M IN FUNDING FOR CENTRAL VALLEY CITRUS BREEDING
Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual (CCM) and the Citrus Research Board (CRB) have received more than $1 million in new federal funding for critical research programs that support the U.S. and California citrus industries. Last week, Congress passed the 2023 Appropriations bill, which includes funding to help stop the deadly citrus plant disease Huanglonging (HLB) that has ravaged citrus production in Florida and other parts of the country.
The $1 million in new funding was approved to establish a citrus breeding program at the USDA Agriculture Research Service (ARS) field station in Parlier. “The commitment of the citrus industry to delivering quality research and innovation for all farm use has taken a big step forward with the support of congress funding the citrus breeding program in Parlier,” said Justin Brown, CRB Chairman. The funding will be re-appropriated annually.
The program, which was championed by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Representatives Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and David Valadao (R-Hanford), will identify new citrus varieties best suited for changing climatic pressures such as drought, consumer taste preferences and resistant to pests and diseases such as HLB. Parlier’s new program is an expansion of the existing national USDA ARS citrus breeding program in Florida, which focuses on varieties with higher yields, increased disease resistance, improved color and a longer shelf life. Based off of these advancements in Florida, the CCM and the CRB saw the need for a similar program in California that would work with unique environmental conditions of the state’s production regions.
CRB, a grower-funded organization aiming to further the industry’s research priorities, has committed $500,000 toward establishing the new breeding program in Parlier to bring additional representation to California’s industry. “The addition of the breeding facility in Parlier will make the ARS Citrus Program a truly national project,” said CCM President and CEO Casey Creamer. “We look forward to watching the growth of this program and its collaboration with the UC breeding program to find solutions to the issues California citrus growers are faced with every day.”