The FAST TRACK trial and evaluation release model for UF/IFAS fresh citrus selections has received significant attention over the past year. The first FAST TRACK trees went into the ground in June and July. Others will follow in the fall and spring. Growers are supportive of the concept and are looking forward to the next group of FAST TRACK selections. The success of the fresh program has caused many to wonder how new UF/IFAS processed orange selections will be released to industry. Nurseries, growers, and processors all are expressing interest in new orange selections. Though some details need to be finalized, this article will seek to shine light on the process.
Follow The Leader
The Valquarius SF14W-62 (U.S. Patent PP21,535) early maturing Valencia was the first UF/IFAS orange release. Valquarius was released as a commercial variety and has been available for several years. A more mature generation of budwood has been entered into the Bureau of Citrus Budwood Registration and is now available, reducing the thorniness in new trees. Valquarius trees are in private trials awaiting further evaluation and analysis. At this time, plantings remain quite small, other than the St. Helena Project where Valquarius significantly out-yielded Vernia across multiple rootstocks in the 2013-2014 harvest season.
Still Pending Approval
Other processed orange selections in the UF/IFAS breeding program show promise but have not been thoroughly tested in replicated field trials. More data is available for some than others, but the collective body of production and quality data is limited.
The OLL-8 (U.S. Patent Pending) was the first of these experimental UF/IFAS orange selections approved for release. OLL-8 had proven popular at UF/IFAS Display Days, in private trials, and in private fruit quality evaluations by processors. With the support of New Varieties Development & Management Corp. (NVDMC), Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc. (FFSP) released OLL-8 in a manner similar to that used for peaches. All interested nurseries were invited to register to receive a license to propagate OLL-8 and establish budwood increase trees. Growers may now purchase OLL-8 trees from licensed nurseries in any quantity desired (and available). A list of licensed nurseries can be found at http://FFSP.net.
Growers have the opportunity to determine the value of OLL-8 in their own, private Florida trials. It is expected that most initial plantings will be small. If the variety proves successful, it is anticipated that larger plantings would follow.
Other new selections approved for release and becoming available on a limited basis in 2015 include: Hamlin N13-32, selected for improved juice color; Valencia B9-65, selected for superior yield and juice quality; Valencia N7-3 and T2-21, selected for seedlessness and extended maturity date; OLL-4 selected for superior fruit/juice quality and high yield; and a Midsweet selection UF 11-1-24, selected for seedlessness, earlier maturity, and high solids.
Pondering A Palatable Protocol
The release of OLL-8 and industry experience gained through the FAST TRACK model spurred additional conversations between FFSP, UF/IFAS, and NVDMC. All three organizations are interested in a release model for processed oranges that meets the needs of all parties. The release model for processed oranges should:
- Make new processed orange selections available to interested nurseries and growers as early as possible for private trials and evaluation. Growers and nurseries must clearly understand the highly experimental nature of these selections, as they have not gone through the traditional multisite, multiseason evaluation of a typical IFAS release.
- Address the unique considerations of growers of fruit for processing.
- Engage the processed sector in the program, and channel grower input to FFSP, UF/IFAS and NVDMC. This input should inform and improve the program to maximize its benefit to the industry, FFSP, and UF/IFAS.
The discussions arrived at a two-phase conclusion.
1. UF/IFAS processed orange selections will continue to be made available to interested nurseries for propagation and budwood increase after they are approved for release by UF/IFAS. Announcements of these releases will come to the industry from FFSP, FNGLA, NVDMC, and other trade groups and media outlets. Interested growers may order trees for private trial and evaluation, as well as commercial plantings in Florida.
2. NVDMC will form a Processed Orange Advisory Committee. It is anticipated the committee will consist of eight growers and one processor. This advisory committee will make recommendations to NVDMC on issues related to the release and commercialization of processed orange selections (royalty rates, release procedures, etc.). Input from the committee will be considered as NVDMC and FFSP structure release programs to maximize benefit for the industry and UF/IFAS. There has been discussion of how the FAST TRACK model could be adjusted for use with processed selections.
- Any movement of UF/IFAS processed orange selections outside of the U.S. would trigger FFSP to publish an Invitation to Negotiate (ITN). The NVDMC Processed Orange Advisory Committee would offer NVDMC input into this process both before and after the publication of the ITN. NVDMC would be in a position to seek international rights to the selections if the Committee determines this to be of benefit.
Release and commercialization of new varieties is a complex business requiring careful consideration by a dedicated group of stakeholders. As the adage goes “this is a good problem to have.” Promising selections continue to emerge from the breeding program. Proper planning will ensure that growers have early access and that the industry is fully informed of opportunities and developments.