GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida today named Michael Rogers interim director of the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred. The CREC is part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Rogers has a doctorate in entomology from the University of Kentucky and specializes in citrus integrated pest management. His research has focused on the Asian citrus psyllid, the insect that carries the bacterium that causes citrus greening.
Citrus greening disease starves the tree of nutrients and produces fruits that are green and misshapen — unsuitable for sale as fresh fruit or juice. Most infected trees die within a few years. The disease has affected millions of citrus trees in North America.
“Currently, the survival of the Florida citrus industry is threatened by citrus greening disease, and time is something many growers don’t have,” Rogers said. “The Florida citrus industry is looking to the research and extension programs of the University of Florida, IFAS, to develop and deliver the solutions needed to continue production of Florida’s iconic crop.”
Although current methods to control the spread of citrus greening are limited to the removal and destruction of infected trees, UF/IFAS researchers are working to defeat it on a number of fronts, including trying to eradicate the insect that carries the bacteria, breeding citrus rootstock that shows better greening resistance, testing laboratory treatments that could be used on trees and harnessing steam to treat trees.
Rogers takes the place of Jackie Burns, who becomes UF/IFAS’ dean for research. Both start their new jobs Nov. 1.
“While Dr. Burns leaves the leadership role of CREC director, she will continue to serve the Florida citrus industry, and UF/IFAS as a whole, in an even more important role as dean for research,” Rogers said. “On behalf of the faculty and staff of the CREC, I thank Dr. Burns for her years of dedicated service to the CREC.”