“A few of these hybrids flowered this year, and we should get a first look at some fruit—if we’re lucky,” he says. “We have also identified a canker-tolerant pummelo that resembles a grapefruit in size, shape and color, so this approach is also being pursued for grapefruit breeding—i.e., producing seedless triploid hybrids with red flesh, good flavor, and canker tolerance. Hundreds of such triploids have been produced already.
“Variety, improvement and resistant plants are the ultimate answers.”
Just like the trees, windbreak research continues to grow. Pete Timmer, professor of plant pathology at the Lake Alfred center, visited a Vero Beach site in May that was using bamboo windbreaks.
“Bamboo is doing well, but it’s still expensive,” he says.
Timmer says it’s hard to establish tests on windbreaks because you have to plant huge plots. “Windbreaks have an effect on wind speed for about 10 times their height,” he says. “Thus a 30-foot tall windbreak will have an effect for 300 feet. So you probably need several acres for each plot and maybe as much as 50 to 100 acres of uniform grove to set up a single test, depending on the number of plant species to be evaluated. Not impossible, but not your backyard test, either.”
IFAS is studying different trees in various locations around the state to see how they perform. The Citrus Research and Education Center has compiled an extensive windbreak resource online at www.crec.ifas.ufl.edu/extension/windbreaks/.
The USDA’s Florida Natural Resources Conservation Service in Gainesville continues to offer a cost-share program for farms looking to implement windbreaks to control windborne diseases. The Florida office is working with the national NRCS office to provide up to 75 percent cost share for windbreaks, as part of the Environmental Quality Incentive Program.
The cost share will help pay for tree purchases, installation and upkeep, says Bob Stobaugh, public affairs specialist for the Florida NRCS office. Visit www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov for more information.
Because copper sprays remain an effective canker control method, the Citrus Research and Education Center continues to test newer copper options.