Tropicana Products Inc.has pledged $1.5 million to endow a professorship specializing in innovative citrus research to strengthen the Florida citrus industry, UF/IFAS officials and company representatives have announced.
The endowment, to be known as “The Tropicana Professorship for Florida Citrus Innovation,” will support teaching, research, and outreach efforts dedicated to the future of the state’s citrus industry. The research is expected to target, among other things, advanced production systems, efficient water use, protection of natural diversity, and sustainable citrus production.
Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, said the gift is much needed. Payne said it will fund a professor who will target research efforts aimed at helping the industry become more sustainable.
“Every agricultural industry must work to become more sustainable and our state’s citrus growers are helping lead the way,” Payne said. “The research goal here will be citrus trees that flourish with little impact on the environment. It’s a wonderful goal and this sort of corporate partnership is critical to helping us reach it.”
A more sustainable citrus industry, he said, would mean trees that thrive with less fertilizer and irrigation than are currently required, and being able to plant more trees per acre.
“As the largest buyer of Florida oranges, ensuring that Florida citrus remains vital, competitive, and sustainable for generations to come is paramount,” said Neil Campbell, president of Tropicana Beverages, North America. “The University of Florida is world renowned for its agricultural research and science initiatives and we can think of no better partner.”