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Visalia-based Citrus Research Board and UC create $1million endowment for citrus research

Visalia-based Citrus Research Board and UC create $1million endowment for citrus research

Citrus Research Board, University of California establish an endowment for long term sustainability research

@TheSunGazette 

VISALIA – Central Valley citrus has managed to fend off the far-reaching Asian citrus psyllid and the fatal tree disease it spreads, huanglongbing (HLB). But that has not come without innovation, research and of course cost. Fortunately, the Citrus Research Board and University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources are continuing to help out with the last part.

The CRB announced on Monday, Oct. 22, they and UC ANR have established a $1 million endowment to fund the Presidential Researcher for Sustainable Citrus Clonal Protection at the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center. The endowed researcher will provide a UC Cooperative Extension scientist a dedicated source of funds to support scholarly activities focused on the longterm sustainability of the citrus industry.

The new endowment supports the UC Citrus Clonal Protection Program, which distributes pathogen-tested, true-to-type citrus budwood to nurseries, farmers and the public to propagate citrus trees for commercial and personal use. The CCPP maintains blocks of trees that serve as the primary source of budwood for all important fruit and rootstock varieties for California’s citrus industry and researchers.

The CCPP is a cooperative program between UC ANR, CRB, the California Citrus Nursery Board and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. CCPP director Georgios Vidalakis, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in plant pathology at UC Riverside, shared his appreciation for the efforts that led to the creation of the new endowed researcher position.

“I wish to thank the Citrus Research Board for establishing the Presidential Researcher for Sustainable Citrus Clonal Protection at LREC endowment,” said UC ANR vice president Glenda Humiston. “This gift, coupled with the $500,000 match from the UC Office of the President, will help to ensure the longterm success of exemplary research focused on the California citrus industry.”

UC President Janet Napolitano provided half the funds for the endowed researcher; the CRB donated the other half.

“We are gratified that President Napolitano has selected the CRB for this prestigious match program,” said CRB Chairman Dan Dreyer. “It will be invaluable in helping us to pursue critical research that will yield beneficial findings to support the sustainability of the California citrus industry.”

“My thanks to the citrus growers for their decades-long support, especially the members of the CCPP committee of the CRB for their vision, and UC’s Greg Gibbs for coordinating all of the efforts,” he said. Vidalakis also praised Lindcove director Elizabeth Grafton-Cardwell, “For making the case to our growers about the importance of this endowment and for making plans to house the UC ANR endowment at the LREC.”

A selection committee will award the endowment to a distinguished UC ANR academic. An annual payout will be used to provide salary, graduate student and/or program support. The researcher will be named for a five-year term. At the end of that period, the appointment will be reviewed and either renewed or taken back to a selection committee to choose another UC ANR academic.

“I would like to thank the CRB for this generous gift and their continued support of our research for CCPP at the LREC,” said UC ANR Director of Major Gifts Greg Gibbs.

The CRB administers the California Citrus Research Program, the grower-funded and grower-directed program established in 1968 under the California Marketing Act as the mechanism enabling the state’s citrus producers to sponsor and support needed research. More information about the Citrus Research Board may be found at www.citrusresearch.org.

The Presidential Researcher for Sustainable Citrus Clonal Protection is the fifth $1 million UC ANR endowment to support California agriculture. The other endowments are:

UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for Tree Nut Genetics, formed with the California Pistachio Board in October 2015

UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for Tree Nut Soil Science and Plant Water Relations, formed with the California Pistachio Board in October 2015

UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for California Grown Rice, formed with the California Rice Research Board in September 2016

UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for Agricultural Education in Orange County, formed with the Orange County Farm Bureau in October 2017.

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