These studies are being conducted in conjunction with the Harvest Council, agricultural
economist Dr. Fritz Roka and soil and water scientist Dr. Kelly Morgan from SWFREC,
and Dr. Jackie Burns and Dr. Tim Spann from the CREC in Lake Alfred.
Dr. Ebel is conducting research to develop protocols for using an abscission agent
for loosening sweet oranges as an aid to mechanical harvesting. “The abscission
agent we are studying functions by promoting the formation of the abscission layer
of the fruit. “This is one of those cases where we are intentionally imposing stress
for a horticultural benefit. Fortunately, this stress does not adversely affect
the rest of the tree.” Efficacy of the abscission agent is a function of several
factors. “We are determining the relationship between the various factors affecting
efficacy and the rate of loosening of the fruit. “Our ultimate goal is to develop
a mathematical decision-making tool for the commercial industry that would aid scheduling
of sprays and harvest.