Monday, April 8, 2013



"Citrus is a number fruit crop globally and in USA," said Dr Fred G. Gmitter, Professor of Citrus Genetics and Breeding, Citrus Research and Education Centre, Lake Alfred, University of Florida, USA. Dr Gmitter, who is on a ten-day visit to the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), delivered a thought-provoking lecture on the topic entitled "Citrus Genetic Improvement in Florida: Challenges and Approaches to Solutions," here today. The faculty and the postgraduate students of the College of Agriculture attended the lecture.

Dr Gmitter told that in Florida, 85 per cent production is of sweet orange, and 10 per cent of grapefruit, respectively. Revealing the 2007 statistics of Florida Citrus Production, he informed that the crop value was $ 1billion and value to economy was $ 10 billion. But in the past five years, the value to economy has slipped to $ 8 billion, he disclosed.

Elaborating, Dr Gmitter pointed out that the genetic control of citrus diseases and pests including Huanglongbing (greening), Canker, Citrus Tristeza Virus, Root Weevils, and Citrus Blight calls for the attention of the farm experts. "Huanglongbing (greening) is a great biological threat to global citrus production," he observed. About sweet orange, he said that its improved quality and productivity through an extended season is also a big challenge. The mandarin varieties grown in Florida are seedy and not easy to peel. Dr Gmitter emphasized that the citrus genetic improvement needs mandarins which are seedless and easy to peel, and rootstocks that overcome stresses and improve quality and quantity of citrus products. In addition, it also requires new product forms to renew consumer excitement and retain interest in fresh citrus. The US expert also suggested methods to develop seedless mandarins and genetic tools for disease resistance in citrus.
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