Horticultural Research Lab Opens
April 17, 2000
FT. PIERCE, Fla., April 17,
2000--The Agricultural Research
Service today reaffirmed its commitment to providing cutting-edge research
to the agricultural community it serves by dedicating a new $33 million
Research Laboratory here.
ARS is proud of the more than 100 years of dedicated service this
laboratory has provided, said Floyd P. Horn, administrator of ARS.
Through its research, this laboratory has been instrumental in developing
a variety of citrus production practices that have helped the industry succeed
in a highly competitive global marketplace.
The new 170,000
square-foot facility, situated on 350 acres, is adjacent to the
University of Floridas
Indian River Research and Education
Center and is more than double the size of the laboratory previously
located in Orlando, Fla. Its increased proximity to field sites and
agricultural areas allows ARS scientists to be in greater contact with the
growers who directly benefit from their research. ARS is the chief scientific
agency in the U.S. Department of
Since its founding in 1892 in Eustis, Fla., the U.S. Horticultural Research
Laboratory has developed a variety of programs aimed at alleviating citrus crop
production problems, promoting pest and disease control, and solving
postharvest problems of subtropical fruit, vegetables and other horticultural
Of particular note has been the laboratorys research in developing new
citrus varieties, disease-resistant rootstock, and biological pest controls.
For example, in 1930, the laboratory released the tangelo to Florida nurseries.
This crops current value approaches $10 million. In 1934, the laboratory
released the citrus rootstock called Carizzo. Currently, more than 60 percent
of all citrus trees in the United States are grafted onto this rootstock.
In 1972, the lab introduced a family of microhymenopteran parasites to
control scale insects. In the early 1970s that research was expanded to
identify a family of parasites that would control the citrus blackfly. As a
result, neither scale nor blackfly is now considered a threat to the Florida
citrus industry. That accomplishment was followed, in 1974, by the release of
the Swingle citrumelo citrus rootstock. Resistantto citrus nematodes and citrus
blight, this rootstock now comprises 51 percent of Floridas nursery
In 1982, the U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory helped increase citrus
exports by developing a cold treatment for grapefruit that enabled it to be
exported to Japan and other countries with quarantines to protect against the
importation of pests and disease.
The citrus root weevils potential to inflict significant crop losses
was diminished when, in 1990, the lab identified three nematode species as
effective forms of biological control. Today, growers throughout Florida use
these commercially grown nematodes to combat the weevil. And in 1992, the lab
patented a test to differentiate severe strains of citrus tristeza, a
This new state-of-the-art laboratory enjoys a legacy of celebrated
scientific accomplishment, said Horn. The facility will enable our
researchers to build upon that legacy and to continue providing the citrus,
vegetable and ornamental industries with the timely scientific support they
Scientific contact: Dr. Richard Mayer, ARS U.S. Horticultural
Research Laboratory, Ft. Pierce, Fla., phone (561) 462-5810,