UF/IFAS initiated its citrus FAST TRACK release option as a means of moving its promising experimental fresh citrus selections into grower trials. The goal of the program is to utilize small private grower trials to accelerate the identification of commercially valuable varieties for the fresh market, incentivize grower participation, engage nurseries early in the process, and provide an expedited path to full-scale commercial production when warranted.
Growers get to experience FAST TRACK selections soon after they are identified to keep growers on the cutting edge. Today, more than 125 new scion/rootstock combinations are in growers’ fields under various stages of evaluation, with some selections elevated to commercial production.
FAST TRACK is intended to reduce the amount of time necessary to evaluate and commercialize promising new citrus varieties. The program is for University of Florida fresh fruit varieties only in Florida. This processed is designed to offer incentive to growers to participate in the commercial evaluations of new experimental UF/IFSA varieties, and to have firsthand experience growing the trees and producing the crops to support decisions about planting these varieties on a commercial scale.
FAST TRACK engages growers in the evaluation process and provides an opportunity for the industry to help determine which selections have true commercial potential.
Fruit shown at UF-IFAS fruit displays are scored and the selections with the highest scores are considered for release in FAST TRACK. FAST TRACK selections have been released in suites. The first three suites had three Tiers of engagement: Tier 1(trial), Tier 2 (limited commercial production) and Tier III (broad commercial availability after execution of a license). Prior to the release of Suite IV, FAST TRACK was greatly simplified. Starting with the Marathon in Suite IV, growers can now register and make their own determination if they would like to conduct a small trial, large trial, multiple trials or some level of commercial production. It is purely up to the grower and is only limited by their tolerance of risk, availability of plant material and nursery capacity.
Tier I is for trial only. Growers could plant a maximum of 30 trees of each selection. Fruit in Tier I cannot be sold and growers are required to share information about their experience with the selections they registered to trial. Registration for Tier I is closed. Only registered Tier I growers can nominate a selection to move to Tier II.
FAST TRACK Selections in Tier 1:
Suite I: Pummelette, Seedless Snack, 5-1-99-5, C4-15-19, 411, 900, C2-5-12
Suite II: 711, Summer Gold Grapefruit
Suite III: UF Dawn, UF Sunrise
Tier II is commercial production for those Tier I growers who either wish to expand their trials beyond 30 trees – or produce commercially. Growers must execute a Tier II Grower Agreement before ordering Tier II trees. The royalty for Tier II is $1.70 per tree and collected by the nursery. Any nursery can register to produce Tier II trees, but their potential customer list is only Tier II growers.
Any variety in Tier II is now also in Tier III. Tier III is open trial or commercial production for any interested grower who did not participate in the Tier I trial process. Any nursery may register to produce trees for Tier III growers. The royalty is $2.75/tree and is collected by the nursery.
FAST TRACK Selections in Tier II & III:
Suite I: 950, 914
Suite II: RBB 7-34
Suite III: UF Glow, Bingo
Suite IV contained one variety – the Marathon. FAST TRACK was modified for Suite IV – essentially combining Tiers and putting the grower in charge. The grower can determine whether to put in a small trial, large trial, multiple trials, or commercial planting. The only limitation is the availability of budwood. Growers and nurseries may register at any time, though the first trees that will be budded in October 2019 – will go to those who registered early. The Royalty for Marathon is $2.00 per tree and collected by the nursery. Read more about Marathon here and here.