Two new citrus cultivars among 13 approved by UF/IFAS

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Two new citrus cultivars with high industry interest are among 13 recently approved for release by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The UF/IFAS Cultivar Release Committee voted April 15 to release UF 711 and RBB 7-34, two new citrus cultivars. Fred Gmitter, a citrus genetics and breeding professor at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, told the panel growers are excited to field-trial the two cultivars.

UF 711 is an easy-to-peel mandarin, while RBB 7-34 is a new navel orange-like variety with much more color and flavor than ordinary Florida navels, Gmitter said. Both varieties were deemed to be good-tasting, as well.

UF 711 and RBB 7-34 will be released under the UF/IFAS Citrus Fast Track Release Option, which means they will be made available to growers and, thus, the market, 10-15 years faster than the 15 to 20 years typically required to breed and release such cultivars.

The panel also approved for release five sweet sorghum cultivars. Sorghum has traditionally been used to produce syrup, sugar and molasses but can be used to produce renewable chemicals and biofuels. The new cultivars are F4-45-3-1, F4-28-4-1, F4-20-2-1, F4-15-2-1 and F4-1-2-1.

Two renewable fuel companies ─ Fort Lauderdale-based Southeast Renewable Fuels and Riverview-based Highlands EnviroFuels ─ have expressed interest in the cultivars, said Wilfred Vermerris, a UF/IFAS associate professor in microbiology and cell science.

Southeast Renewable Fuels is building a biorefinery that will use sweet sorghum as a feedstock for fuel ethanol. Highlands EnviroFuels plans to build a biorefinery near Lake Placid, Florida.

“As the first expected commercial-scale sweet sorghum-to-ethanol plant in the U.S., Southeast Renewable Fuels is excited to be working with the University of Florida,” said company CEO Aaron Pepper. “We are awaiting the results of our field trials and are looking forward to including UF’s sweet sorghum cultivars in our planting cycle.”

The sorghum cultivars were developed partly as a result of a $5.4 million United States Department of Agriculture grant awarded in 2011 to UF/IFAS to develop sweet sorghum for energy fuels and chemicals.

Scientists at the North Florida Research and Education Center in Marianna received approval on two new cultivars.

A peanut cultivar, 297, has shown superior yield to current peanut cultivars and good resistance to tomato spotted wilt virus and white mold disease. Seed from 297 will be marketed under the TUFRunner™ brand.

A new awnless triticale, FL01143, also was approved. Triticale, relatively new as a Florida forage, came from crossing wheat and cereal rye. It has wheat’s quality and rye’s disease resistance. Florida’s dairy and beef industries have used triticale for winter grazing for cattle and for silage and have seen excellent results, said Ann Blount, professor of forage breeding and genetics at NFREC.

Two limpograsses, 4F Hybrid and 10 Hybrid, were also approved. These warm-season cultivars serve as forage primarily for the beef industry. Limpograsses have been increasingly adopted by ranchers for their digestibility, adaptation to seasonal floods and light-frost tolerance. These new hybrids were selected for improved persistence under grazing and maintenance of nutritive value when used as stockpiled forage.

Two ryegrasses were approved for release. FL PE 2X is a diploid ryegrass with excellent cold tolerance and resistance to crown rust, a disease that reduces yield and forage quality. Because of its cold tolerance, it can be produced in the northern transition zone, an area of the U.S. where both cool- and warm-season plants can be grown. FL PE 2X has a mid-late maturity that will provide slightly extended forage production. Also approved was a tetraploid ryegrass, FL RED 4X Late, which is a highly disease-resistant, late-maturing ryegrass. It has shown consistently high yields in many locations and is expected to perform well in the southern annual ryegrass belt.

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