Drive-Through Field Day Gives a Glimpse at Millennium Block

Web AdminEvents, Rootstocks, Varieties

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC) in Fort Pierce hosted a drive-through field day for attendees to tour its Millennium block. The grove features more than 5,500 2- and 3-year-old trees. A total of 154 new citrus scion/rootstock combinations are included in the research project. The trial has placed an emphasis on fresh fruit, mainly grapefruit.

Millennium Block
These trees in the Millennium block show no symptoms of HLB but have yet to produce a crop. That might change as the trees mature.

The grove was planted in 2019. The tour was hosted so growers could get an early look at variety/rootstock combinations before data is collected after harvest. 

“Citrus growers from all of the state’s important regions can benefit from the findings that are now visible in the rootstock variety trials in IRREC’s Millennium block,” said IRREC director Ronald Cave. “The harvest this fall and winter will be the first for the trials, and by late January, we should have the data to share with growers.”

Tom James, a biological scientist with UF/IFAS, manages the Millennium block. He said it’s too early to make recommendations on scion/rootstock combinations, but the tour allowed growers to see trees that show early promise. He added these trials need time to allow trees to mature and show their full potential or lack thereof. In fact, some trees show very little to no symptoms of HLB but have yet to produce a crop of fruit. James said that might change in a season or two. A tree showing that kind of tolerance to HLB would be worth the wait for cropping.

The Indian River area felt impacts from Hurricane Ian, but James said the Millennium block and other area groves lucked out by missing the worst of the storm. Approximately 20% to 25% fruit loss is expected in the experimental grove due to Ian.

Stay tuned for more information on the Millennium block’s yield and quality data to be released this winter.