Citrus specialist honoured

Dr Graham Barry with citrus rootstock specialist, mentor and former PhD professor, Dr Bill Castle, at the CREC centennial celebrations in Florida.

Dr Graham Barry of XLnT Citrus in Somerset West recently returned from a trip to Florida, America, where he participated in the centennial celebrations of the University of Florida’s citrus research and education centre.

Dr Barry was invited as an international distinguished alumnus.

He studied for a PhD at the University of Florida from 1997 to 2000 before returning to South Africa to continue his career in citrus research and later citrus breeding before starting a consulting  business to citrus growers and exporters both in various parts of South Africa and internationally,  for example Spain,  Egypt,  Turkey, California and Argentina.

Dr Barry has been involved in the South African citrus industry for the past 27 years, and is the owner of XLnT Citrus, a company focusing on the development and implementation of novel and innovative citrus products and services, and provides independent technical and strategic consultation services to stakeholders in the citrus industry.

Dr Barry attended the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, where he obtained a BSc (Agric) degree in 1987. After working as an Extension Officer for the South African Co-operative Citrus Exchange in Paarl from 1990 to 1991, Dr Barry was transferred to Outspan Citrus Centre in Nelspruit where he provided direction and leadership to the South African citrus variety development programme, including the identification, global sourcing, importation, and evaluation of new citrus varieties to meet export market requirements.

In 1995, Dr Barry completed his MSc(Agric) thesis at the University of Natal on cross-pollination of Citrus spp., and thereafter studied at the University of Florida (USA) towards his PhD dissertation on factors affecting citrus fruit quality which he obtained in 2000.

During the past 17 years, Dr Barry has dedicated much of his time to citrus variety development for private enterprise, the South African citrus industry and for a private Spanish company where he lead the development of a state-of-the-art private citrus breeding, introduction and evaluation company, providing strategic direction to plan and implement the project.

In 1917, the Legislature of the State of Florida established the Citrus Experiment Station (CES) in Lake Alfred, Florida, to conduct research in support of Florida’s growing citrus industry. Since that time, the Florida citrus industry has grown to become a major contributor to Florida’s economy, thanks in part to the many advances in citriculture that occurred through the research programmes at the CES, later named the Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC).

Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the CREC, and the many accomplishments of the CREC during the past century were celebrated. Dr Barry was invited to serve as an invited speaker in the “Distinguished CREC Alumni Forum: 100 years of Citrus Production and Processing Research” which took place on November 30.

Dr Barry’s keynote presentation on “Global Trends in Citrus Varieties” was well received.

Dr Michael Rogers, center director said: “As a former CREC alumnus, we are excited to have you return to the CREC to participate in this special event with us.”

“The best part of my travels is seeing how well the South African citrus industry is doing. The most down-heartening part is seeing the devastation that plant disease has wreaked in Florida”, said Dr Barry.