May 2015

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Re-Engineering a New Citrus Industry

Two years ago, The UWI began a project aimed to re-engineer the local citrus industry, which has been decimated by abandonment and low profitability.

Under the supervision of the St Augustine Campus Principal, Professor Clement Sankat and researcher Dr. Govind Seepersad, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Food and Agriculture, a high-density citrus orchard was set up at the Debe campus with funding from the Trinidad and Tobago RDI Fund.

New field architecture involves spacing of 2 metres within the row and 7 metres between the rows. This is geared at high levels of mechanization, from weed control to harvesting.

Faced with a shortage of plants, researchers also decided to plant rootstock directly in the field and graft in-situ. This technique has two direct benefits (i) it speeds up production and (ii) it secures your plants against thieves.

Grafting in the field also had some new advantages in tree training where arching the branches generated strong shoots from the new buds.