Expected results (outputs and quantified achievements):
In recent years, the EU has felt the effects of two devastating diseases affecting valuable crops and ornamental plants such as olive, almond and other woody trees: the spread of the Xylella fastidiosa bacteria has already costs millions of Euros in damages in Italy and has alarmed farmers across the Mediterranean, while the Citrus tristeza virus has led to tree deaths all over the world.
The entry of these diseases to the EU could have been more effectively contained had preventive measures been implemented on time, for example stronger vector control, more checks on international trade of highrisk plant material, or investment in research for tolerant varieties.
This project aims to act on this hindsight and contribute to the development of sustainable practices for citrus production. The actions will help adapt to the challenges of CC as well as to prevent the entry of HLB disease in the EU and increase resilience and defence systems of citrus fruit production, while avoiding detrimental losses in citrus production and biodiversity.
More specifically, the project will:
- Select and test at least 3-4 new citrus rootstocks, with potential tolerance to HLB and more extreme climate patterns in the Mediterranean region, on different demonstration trials for orange, lemon, and mandarin
- Demonstrate sustainable practices over 45 ha in 9 productive citrus orchards (SP, IT, FR, PT) & at least 1,000 trees in an urban setting (Sevilla),
- Contribute to a reduction in GHG emissions of approx. 1,000 tons of CO2 after three years (reduce phytosanitary applications, increase carbon fixation)
- Prepare a Handbook of Best Practices including a proposal for HLB prevention and management and natural vector control measures for both citrus production and citrus trees in green urban spaces
- Develop an early HLB detection kit and a manual on how to use. The HLB kit will be demonstrated in Portugal and Spain where the vectors are present and in Guadeloupe where infection is already present.
- Increase awareness among approx. 450,000 people in the EU, including farmers and citizens, plant nurseries, extension and plant protection services, urban gardening departments and the overall citrus sector (including trade of ornamental citrus)
- Market-based replication effort in at least 20 areas, including cities and plantations across all 4 countries involved
- Increase local biodiversity by at least 10% (by introducing auxiliary flora and fauna to citrus orchards)