This feature is the fourth of six installments featuring Florida Grower’s 2011 Citrus Achievement Award winner Maury Boyd addressing important issues of the day. This month, the president of Winter Garden-based McKinnon Corporation discusses funding for foliar nutrition research.
In August, the Citrus Research and Development Foundation’s (CRDF) Research Management Committee met to consider foliar nutrition research proposals, which had previously been tabled for consideration. About 75 growers turned out for the meeting to share their opinions on foliar nutrition as a tool in the fight against HLB. Boyd was on hand to voice his support for funding the three projects up for reconsideration. There also were growers and researchers at the meeting with an opposing point of view that foliar nutrition alone is not the answer and tree removal (inoculum) must be part of the approach. Both sides of the debate applauded the open dialogue during the meeting.
According to Boyd, the meeting was constructive and allowed growers to voice their concerns about where their research dollars are being spent. “I believe this meeting was a turning point — a new beginning,” he says. “The researchers are telling us that a genetically modified tree to resist HLB will take many years before commercial success. This is a long-term solution.
“Many growers agree a long-term solution is fine, but their primary objective is short-term. For growers, the key is cashflow generated by producing fruit economically, which is clearly short-term. I believe that is why we had such a large grower turnout for this CRDF meeting to express their desire to see more attention paid to short-term, applied research like the effects of foliar nutrition on HLB-infected trees. At the end of the day, these objectives must be driven by growers, because to many of the scientists, including CRDF management, long-term genetic research is the primary objective.”
When asked if he believes a long-term solution would eventually be found to deal with HLB, Boyd replies, “Yes.”
Special thanks to Chemtura AgroSolutions for sponsoring the Citrus Achievement Award program.