Steve Rogers (Ecostat, Inc.), and Bill Castle, Steve Futch and Andrew Persaud (University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center)
One key decision in new citrus plantings is deciding which rootstock(s) are good choices for your situation. New technology we developed can now help remove some of the complexity in those decisions. In my Digital Citrus column from September 2016, I talked about the more than 20 different factors that can go into making a citrus rootstock selection. With 45 rootstock variety options on top of that, how do you zero in on the best candidates? You want to arrive at your decisions by focusing on a specific site, then take into consideration the performance of your trees on a particular rootstock at that site.
One way to make more sense out of the possibilities is to use a guide. The Third Edition of the Florida Citrus Rootstock Selection Guide is an updated version of the 2006 guide that can help you navigate new rootstock options now available. The technology we created to help with these decisions is an online version of that same guide. You can find it on the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center website at flrootstockselectionguide.org.
This interactive version of the guide has three new features to help you quickly find relevant rootstock information. The first feature is an online edition of the guide itself (Fig. 1). You can view the table directly or print out a PDF version for reference. The second feature is our new rootstock expert system (Fig. 2). Developed by Drs. Steven Rogers, Bill Castle, Steve Futch, and Mr. Andrew Persaud, this system uses artificial intelligence to help you find the best rootstocks. The third feature of the online rootstock guide are 105 downloadable references related to each rootstock and trait.
The expert system doesn’t replace the large rootstock table, but should be used alongside it. Once you navigate to the expert system page, it’ll ask a series of questions. It can reason through your answers to hone in on your best rootstock options. The expert system can help you in five main ways:
- Provide a measure of confidence that certain rootstocks are good matches for your site
- Allow you to easily test different rootstock planting scenarios
- Provide a “second opinion” regarding your initial rootstock choices
- Provide rootstock suggestions you may not have considered
- Help you see that all rootstock options are considered
We posted a brief video to show you how to use the expert system, which you can find linked on the system’s first web page.
How does the expert system work? After you’ve entered information regarding your situation, it matches your inputs with the 900 factors in the guide, and provides a report with a ranked list of rootstocks that ON AVERAGE are top candidates for you to consider. The rankings are based on a Selection Score. This score isn’t a statistical value. Instead, it refers to a relative ranking of the expert system’s confidence that its suggested rootstocks are suitable for the site you described. The closer in value the Selection Score for a rootstock is to 100, the closer the match of that rootstock is for your situation. The expert system doesn’t store or archive information you provide, but you can print a copy of the report to keep handy.
So, visit the new online version of the Third Edition of the Florida Citrus Rootstock Selection Guide at flrootstockselectionguide.org. Try out all three sections of the guide to see how they work for you. The expert system is new technology that has a lot of potential for future improvement. But we’d like your feedback on how we can make the whole site better. With regard to the expert system, we’d be interested to simply hear from you whether you generally agree or disagree with the ranked lists it provides.
For more information about the online rootstock guide, please contact Steve Futch at firstname.lastname@example.org or Andrew Persuad at email@example.com or by phone at 863-956-1151. We’re also presenting a paper at the 129th Annual Meeting of the Florida State Horticultural Society in June 2016 if you’d like to know more details about how we created the technology (http://fshs.org/meetings).
Disclaimer: The information in this article is provided “as is”. The authors and publisher of this article disclaim any loss or liability, either directly or indirectly as a consequence of applying the information presented, or in regard to the use and application of any of this information, in whole or in part, for any purpose whatsoever. No guarantee is given, either expressed or implied, in regard to the merchantability, accuracy, or acceptability of the information. Dr. Steven Rogers is a well-known innovator of digital technologies in citrus. Thanks to Drs. Bill Castle, Steve Futch and Andrew Persaud at the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center for contributions to this post.