Citrus program in Parlier plucks extra funds

California citrus program expands reach with additional $500,000 in Congressional funding

(Rigo Moran)
(Rigo Moran)
Mid Valley Times Staff
Published April 11, 2024  • 
1:00 pm

PARLIER – California’s citrus industry has recently gotten a fresh squeeze of federal funding, helping grow its efforts in developing high-quality citrus varieties that are both resilient to pests and tailored to meet the state’s ever-evolving climate and consumer demands.

In an April 10 announcement, California Citrus Mutual (CCM) president and CEO Casey Creamer and Citrus Research Board (CRB) president Marcy Martin expressed their gratitude to Congressional leaders for approving additional funds for a new citrus breeding program. The program operates from the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) field station in Parlier.

According to the release, this move by Congress will expand the program’s reach within California by granting it an extra $500,000 in federal funding, which is coming in on top of the $1 million grant it received last year. Not only that, the program is now expected to get a total of $1.5 million in federal funds annually, coupled with the $500,000 contributed annually by CRB.

The program primarily targets the fresh market citrus segment, and the funds will continue to fuel research and development efforts aimed at producing high-quality citrus varieties. The fruits are tailored to California’s growing conditions, evolving climatic patterns, consumer preferences and resilience against pests and diseases like huanglongbing (HLB), a fatal, incurable citrus ailment impacting that has devastated citrus production in Florida along with other parts of the nation.

This initiative in California is an extension of the existing USDA ARS citrus breeding program based in Fort Pierce, Florida. While the Florida program focuses on varieties best suited for its local conditions in Florida, the California program will focus on varieties suited to California’s specific needs.

The collaboration between the Florida and California programs, along with ongoing support from the University of California citrus breeding program at UC Riverside, is anticipated to yield positive outcomes for California’s citrus growers, according to the release.

In the announcement, CRB President Marcy Martin called attention to the collaborative efforts between CRB and CCM, highlighting their pivotal roles in both conceptualizing the California-based program and vouching for its establishment on a national scale.

“Our two organizations working together on behalf of the industry has been instrumental in getting this program off the ground,” Martin said via news release.

CCM president and CEO Casey Creamer extended thanks to congressional leaders – particularly Congressmen Costa and Valadao and Senator Padilla – for their unwavering support in Washington, D.C., saying the program “will help us find solutions to issues specific to our growers located in California.”

Mid Valley Times Staff