Local UF Center Celebrates Expansion, Hires, Hope for Citrus Crops

BY January 6, 2016


Center Director Dr. Calvin Arnold shows off one of the new labs. 

As citrus greening and other diseases threaten the state’s signature crop, the University of Florida’s Southwest Florida Research and Education Center is pushing back with the hiring of new experts and a major expansion celebrated this week.

The center is located in Immokalee, in the heart of Southwest Florida’s farmland, and has joined forces with area growers to make crops more bountiful and less vulnerable to diseases. We took you there last October in this special report about citrus greening and area efforts to combat it.

The expansion adds 7,000 square feet to the 30-year-old institute and space for six more faculty members. Five jobs have been funded. The plant pathologist has been hired; a candidate for a soil microbiology position was being interviewed today; and center Director Dr. Calvin Arnold is hoping the legislature awards funding for the sixth researcher.

“We’re obviously very excited,” he said. The expansion will “bring in new expertise to solve the problems the growers face for vegetables and for citrus.”

As we go into the 2015-16 harvest season, we’ll be watching to see what blooms—and how these scientists unravel the horticultural mysteries that threaten one of Southwest Florida’s biggest industries. 


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