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Florida partners with National Academy of Sciences on citrus disease research.

Florida is stepping up its fight against citrus diseases. The Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) and the Florida Citrus Commission (FCC) have concluded a deal with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to find solutions for citrus greening and canker. The NAS will bring together leading scientific advisors to work with the FDOC's citrus scientists to determine the most effective and efficient way to solve citrus diseases in Florida. NAS will bring together more than 60 leading scientific experts to review research efforts to date and identify the most promising future endeavors; to request and review proposals for new research to be conducted in 2008-09; to develop a long-range strategic research plan; and to publish an expert report recommending implementable solutions for citrus growers.

"We are prepared to fund the research necessary to find a solution to greening and to actively communicate research discoveries to growers," said Ken Keck, FDOC executive director. "The FCC passed a resolution in January to provide necessary support to the research effort in a responsible, accountable manner. FDOC will work closely with the entire citrus industry, especially growers, to support this urgent and immediate need for research funding."

The National Academy of Sciences is a world renowned organization that will bring instant credibility and unmatched depth of knowledge to the Florida citrus industry's research efforts," said Michael Sparks, executive vice president of Florida Citrus Mutual.

In related news, USDA has increased its estimate of Florida's 2007-08 orange crop by one million boxes to 167 million boxes. "This remains a good-sized crop for the Florida citrus industry," said Michael W Sparks, chief executive of the growers' organization, Florida Citrus Mutual. "At 167 million boxes we can rebuild juice inventories and get solid prices for growers which is important to offset increased production costs related to pest and disease as well as the sharp spike in energy prices."

The USDA said the one million box increase is composed entirely of early and mid-season varieties. The 167 million boxes are made up of 79 million boxes of early-mids, 3.0 million boxes of navels and 85 million boxes of Valencias.

The Florida citrus industry saw a decline in orange production from 230 million boxes to 129 million boxes during the five-year period between the 2001/02 season and the 2006/07 season. This reduction was due in large part to the effects of hurricanes, development and pests and diseases such as citrus canker and greening. A 167 million box orange crop would represent about a 30% increase from the 2006-2007 season. Florida's grapefruit forecast remained unchanged at 24.5 million boxes.
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Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Date:Mar 24, 2008
Words:433
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