The citrus industry in Alabama currently is relatively small (~15,000 trees) and predominately Satsuma varieties, but is rapidly expanding to meet the demand of regional markets. In addition, there are citrus nurseries in the state that are projecting the production of 25,000 trees/yr for retail and wholesale markets.
The establishment of a clean plant source to serve the industry in this state and the Southeast is crucial at this time. The growing areas for citrus are in close proximity to states with quarantined diseases, and plant material can be easily moved across state lines without detection.
In Auburn, the program is responsible for obtaining pathogen-tested propagative material and the establishment of a foundation planting to maintain and distribute propagative materials of common commercial varieties and unique regional varieties.
A foundation collection of 17 citrus varieties, 3-8 plants of each, is maintained at the Paterson Greenhouse Complex, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. These container-grown plants are in a renovated greenhouse with insect screening surrounding fans and cool pads. Plants are tested for pathogens every year. There are approximately 200 rootstock seedlings in 1 gal air-root-pruning containers that will be ready to bud in 2018. An air-root-pruning containers of different sizes have been purchased to grow more vigorous plants in order to increase the budwood supply, with the goal of eventually having these plants in 15 gal containers.
A small number of bud sticks have been provided to nurserymen for the past 2-3 years, whereas other nurserymen have tested their own trees for pathogens. Foundation plant materials are tested for pathogens in fully equipped diagnostic lab.