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Throwback Thursday: “Dog Tags For Orange Trees”

December 18, 2014

This cartoon from the 1960s celebrates the success of the Bureau of Citrus Budwood Registration Program.

BudwoodCartoon60s

The concept of “dog tags for orange trees” in this old cartoon published in Florida Magazine is clever and eye-catching and helps to illustrate the value of the budwood program to the industry. But the program’s function is really to establish pedigrees for citrus stock.

The budwood program began in 1953 as a part of the State Plant Board, which became the FDACS Division of Plant Industry in the 1960s. Its goal was to provide Florida growers with certified disease-free citrus stock. The program continues today under the guidance of the Citrus Budwood Technical Advisory Committee formed in 1996, comprised of nurserymen, growers, researchers and regulators. Having industry stakeholders as voting committee members empowers growers to play an active role in deciding their own destiny.

In June of 2014, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam opened a new state-of-the art department facility to improve the health of Florida’s endangered citrus industry. The Florida Citrus Repository at LaCrosse expands the department’s Citrus Germplasm Introduction Program.

Florida Citrus Repository at LaCrosse

Florida Citrus Repository at LaCrosse

The LaCrosse facility will increase production capacity to more than 20 new varieties each year. New varieties go through an approval process that includes testing for pests and diseases, which helps prevent the spread of pests and diseases into Florida from other states and countries. New plants are raised under quarantine until they are deemed safe to release into the environment. With the spread of citrus canker and citrus greening statewide, finding new varieties to release is imperative to maintaining the health of Florida’s $9 billion citrus industry, which directly supports 75,000 jobs.

The new repository opened four months after the expansion of the state’s Dundee Biological Control Laboratory, which is integral to Florida’s fight against citrus greening. The laboratory rears a beneficial insect, Tamarixia radiata, which attacks the Asian citrus psyllid—the vector of citrus greening—for release throughout Florida’s citrus production areas.

Together, these facilities, operated by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry, continue to play a vital role supporting the industry–a role envisioned by growers, researchers and regulators more than 60 years ago.

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