Florida Citrus Tissue Culture Lab Opens To Great Expectations

Florida Citrus Tissue Culture Lab Opens To Great Expectations

It goes without saying that survival, recovery, and resurgence of Florida’s citrus industry will utilize skills and technologies that are cutting edge — or at the very least, new to Florida citrus. Such will be the case in the nursery, grove, and packinghouse. Investment is needed, and needed now. This article will focus on one such investment, a new AgroMillora tissue culture (TC) citrus rootstock production facility recently unveiled in Wildwood.

The grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony took place in early April. AgroMillora’s staff hosted a large group of industry leaders, local government officials, Florida citrus nurseries, and representatives from the University of Florida, Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc., and USDA for a presentation and tour.

Leading the presentations for AgroMillora were Carles Sumarroca (AgroMillora Group President) and Dr. Mireia Bordas (Research Manager). Dr. Bill Castle (Professor Emeritus, UF) was a guest speaker.

Labworkers at AgroMillora's new tissue culture facility in Florida

Lake County’s workforce is getting a boost as local employees will be trained to run the lab.
Photo by Peter Chaires

Location, Location, Location

The project came together rather quickly, starting construction in July 2015, and completing the facility in December 2015. The new location was selected because of its distance from commercial citrus production and its proximity to the crossroads of I-75 and the Florida Turnpike.

Additionally, the inland locale is hoped to provide less risk from hurricanes. To seal the deal, Sumter County came through with tremendous support through its Economic Development Program. Adding to its local appeal, AgroMillora has elected to train local employees to run the facility. The initial staff includes 10 people, but will shortly increase to 15.

AgroMillora has 11 subsidiaries (14 production centers; in Spain, there are four locations), eight of which have TC labs (Barcelona, Chile, Brazil, Australia, Morocco, Turkey, Oregon, and Florida). AgroMillora produces by TC: prunus rootstocks, citrus rootstocks, apple rootstocks, other fruiting plants and trees (blueberries, blackberries, and pomegranates), walnuts, pistachio, hazelnuts, forest trees (pawlonia), and ornamentals.

The Wildwood facility will focus on commercial production of rootstock liners for nurseries. Scion production will not be an immediate focus of the lab, but AgroMillora may offer its knowledge and expertise toward the development of protocols for scion production down the road.