Knowledge, Patience, Money Needed To Nurture Citrus Research

Bobby Barben and family tradition

Editor’s Note: This Q&A feature is the third in series of six with the 2013 Florida Grower Citrus Achievement Award winner Bobby Barben. The Avon Park-based grower also serves as the chairman of the Research Management Committee of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF).

If a grower is interested in getting more involved with the research funding process, what should he/she do?

Barben: Please come to CRDF meetings and committee meetings. Growers are always welcome. If growers come to the research meetings when projects are being evaluated, I think it would help them understand why projects get chosen for funding.
All projects are evaluated on science and practical application. If someone wants to get involved, read what’s been done already and what’s now being done. I think it will help you understand what needs to be done in the future. I don’t think you can evaluate the worth of a project in a vacuum. You need to evaluate the total list of projects and which ones will have the best chance of success. Time and money are the essence of what the CRDF is looking for in projects that, if successful, can be replicated and have an influence on a broad number of acres. The better informed growers are of what we are doing, the better they will be to help us find the most worthy projects.

Why does it seem to take so long for scientific research to find solutions?

Barben: I know results from research are not as fast as we all need. Nobody is more impatient than I am. We must remember the first three-year projects were just completed in spring 2012. We evaluated these projects in the fall 2008 and funded them in spring 2009.
Every fall, we have requests for proposals. The scientists give us their ideas. If we like them, we ask for full proposals. These proposals are evaluated by our CRDF scientific advisory board and by the Research Management Committee. If a proposal is accepted, it is presented to the full board in the winter for funding. Then the projects get started in the late spring or summer.
I know this is all sounds agonizingly slow, but researchers have to have labs, greenhouses, plant materials, and people in place before work can get started. And to make matters slower, some of these projects are just building blocks for the next step. The CRDF’s Dr. Tom Turpin and Dr. Harold Browning keep the research on schedule. The researchers send in a report each quarter and the project is re-evaluated each year.
If we get something that shows promise, we work to get it commercialized. That’s where Ben McLean and his CRDF project delivery committee come in. They work with chemical companies, EPA, and the Florida Department of Agriculture to get products in the field as soon as possible.
Just an example of how the EPA can slow down research: Dr. Bill Dawson had to wait almost two years before he was allowed to test an antimicrobial peptide in the field because it was on a citrus tristeza virus carrier and they were afraid an aphid might spread the peptide. This isn’t to suggest that all of EPA’s precautions aren’t warranted. It’s just that getting a solution to the grower two years earlier might save a lot of citrus trees.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
honeybees
Citrus
May 23, 2017
Webinar Series Highlights New Research on Honeybee Health
National Pollinator Week webinar showcases research to improve honeybee colony health by 2020. Read More
stack of lemons
Citrus
May 23, 2017
California Lemon Growers Sue USDA
Lemon industry files suit against rule allowing importation of Argentine lemons. Read More
Bee Vectoring Technologies experimental hives
Citrus
May 23, 2017
Insects (Bad and Good) Make for Interesting Field Trips
Disease-fighting bees and the deadly citrus psyllid were at the center of two recent, research-fueled out-of-office adventures. Read More
Tango mandarin orange sliced in half
Varieties & Rootstocks
May 23, 2017
In Quest for Low-Seeded Citrus, It Takes Two to Tango
Momentum for viable mandarin hybrids for Florida reaching a peak in the land down under. Read More
Citrus
May 20, 2017
Short on Water, Florida Growers Know How to Dig Down Deep
Through drought, smoke and brush fires, it’s plain to see you farmers have been doing your part to conserve and preserve one of our most precious resources. Read More
seattle port shipping
Citrus
May 20, 2017
USDA Creates Undersecretary for Trade
Reorganization puts trade, farm production as top priorities for the agency. Read More
2017 Florida Grower Citrus Achievement Award winner Ed Pines
Citrus Achievement Award
May 18, 2017
Meet the 2017 Florida Grower Citrus Achievement Award Winner
Cheers to Ed Pines for putting the positive back in citrus. Read More
Sugar Belle oranges
Varieties & Rootstocks
May 18, 2017
Unique Citrus Variety Standing Up to Deadly Disease
University of Florida researchers are peeling back the layers to find out what’s helping specific mandarin hybrid hold serve against HLB. Read More
Citrus
May 16, 2017
First California Red Scale Aerosol Mating Disruption Product Approved
EPA, California officials grant Semios approval of pheromone pest control solution for widespread citrus problem. Read More
Citrus
May 16, 2017
EPA Seeks States’ Input On Waters of the U.S. Rule
As the agency considers scaling back the water rule, states are asked to define protected waters. Read More
Orie Lee, 2015 Citrus Achievement Award winner
Citrus
May 15, 2017
Florida Citrus Innovator Passes Away at 90
Orie Lee spent half his life cultivating the industry he cared deeply for. Read More
Burn ban sign posted along S.R. A1A in Flagler County, FL, due to drought conditions
Citrus
May 15, 2017
Drought Conditions Deepen Across Central Florida
Water Shortage Warning Order expanded to all counties within St. Johns River Water Management District. Read More
Citrus
May 11, 2017
Late Season Rally in Forecast for Florida Orange Crop
Latest estimate from USDA reveals first increase in several months; grapefruit continues to sour. Read More
Citrus
May 9, 2017
Barn Owls Can be an Effective Control for Rodents and Gophers
The predators are already getting results in vineyards and orchards. Research is showing they’re just as effective in vegetable and fruit fields. Read More
Citrus
May 5, 2017
USDA Angers California Lemon Growers
Industry leaders extremely disappointed by Argentine lemon rule. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
May 25, 2017
Are We Overstating the World’s Ove…
If growers can’t achieve a fair return on investment and stay in business, it won’t matter what the population is in 2050. We all will be trouble. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2017
Falcons Scare off Other Birds at Duncan …
It collaborates with a firm that uses trained falcons to intimidate and scare off nuisance birds such as the horned larks and pigeons that frequent the area. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2017
Search is on For Next Crop of Florida Ag…
Nomination period now open for longtime industry honor. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2017
Webinar Series Highlights New Research o…
National Pollinator Week webinar showcases research to improve honeybee colony health by 2020. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2017
California Lemon Growers Sue USDA
Lemon industry files suit against rule allowing importation of Argentine lemons. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2017
Insects (Bad and Good) Make for Interest…
Disease-fighting bees and the deadly citrus psyllid were at the center of two recent, research-fueled out-of-office adventures. Read More
Citrus
May 20, 2017
Short on Water, Florida Growers Know How…
Through drought, smoke and brush fires, it’s plain to see you farmers have been doing your part to conserve and preserve one of our most precious resources. Read More
Citrus
May 20, 2017
USDA Creates Undersecretary for Trade
Reorganization puts trade, farm production as top priorities for the agency. Read More
Citrus
May 16, 2017
First California Red Scale Aerosol Matin…
EPA, California officials grant Semios approval of pheromone pest control solution for widespread citrus problem. Read More
Citrus
May 16, 2017
EPA Seeks States’ Input On Waters of the…
As the agency considers scaling back the water rule, states are asked to define protected waters. Read More
Citrus
May 15, 2017
Florida Citrus Innovator Passes Away at …
Orie Lee spent half his life cultivating the industry he cared deeply for. Read More
Citrus
May 15, 2017
Drought Conditions Deepen Across Central…
Water Shortage Warning Order expanded to all counties within St. Johns River Water Management District. Read More
Citrus
May 11, 2017
Late Season Rally in Forecast for Florid…
Latest estimate from USDA reveals first increase in several months; grapefruit continues to sour. Read More
Citrus
May 9, 2017
Barn Owls Can be an Effective Control fo…
The predators are already getting results in vineyards and orchards. Research is showing they’re just as effective in vegetable and fruit fields. Read More
Citrus
May 5, 2017
USDA Angers California Lemon Growers
Industry leaders extremely disappointed by Argentine lemon rule. Read More
Citrus
April 29, 2017
Florida Ag Commissioner Pushes for Probe…
With a focus on Mexico, letter sent by Adam Putnam to the U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary stresses need for level playing field. Read More
Citrus
April 28, 2017
EPA Approves New Plant Growth Stimulant
RIO from Arysta LifeScience North America is labeled for use on citrus, vegetables, tree fruit, strawberries, grapes, and nuts. Read More
Citrus
April 27, 2017
The California Citrus Grower Defines Lea…
While HLB wreaked havoc elsewhere, the California citrus industry came together and formed an action plan. Read More