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Friday's letters: Researchers at work on citrus greening

Swiftmud treads lightly as growers exceed water limits | Oct. 18

Researchers at work on greening

Citrus greening (also known as HLB) is devastating to Florida's citrus industry. Researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are partnering with many organizations including the Southwest Florida Water Management District to find viable solutions to fight this invasive disease.

Consequences of HLB are a reduction in root mass and an alteration of the root-shoot ratio. The diseased roots simply cannot support the canopy. Wilting may be more pronounced in areas with drier soils and lower water-holding capacity. The theory is that when roots die, the remaining functioning root system cannot take up sufficient water to support the canopy, so the foliage wilts.

Many growers, when they see the wilting, respond by applying more water. Whether or not an HLB-infected tree will respond positively to increased watering is still unclear.

UF and Swiftmud plan to test the hypothesis that HLB-infected trees require more water. One hypothesis under consideration is that the annual water requirements for HLB-affected trees will be the same as that needed for healthy trees, but that the HLB-affected trees will need water to be applied more frequently and in smaller doses, effectively applying water to where and when it is needed and allowing the functioning root system to absorb and transport water to the canopy.

The science regarding this question is developing and, while we are vigorously working to find ways to prevent greening, we are partnering with Swiftmud, the citrus industry and others to help discover the best ways to manage citrus groves in the presence of the disease. Research is the first line of defense against citrus greening.

Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, University of Florida, Gainesville

On the hook for $3.2B | Oct. 18

Progress Energy to blame

Recent articles, editorials and letters excoriating Duke Energy ignore one very important fact: The nuclear debacles in Crystal River and Levy County were created by Progress Energy in the six years prior to its acquisition by Duke. Duke, like the rest of us, is a victim of Progress Energy's cynical use of the advance nuclear cost recovery law and its gross mismanagement of the aging Crystal River plant.

Had Duke not acted responsibly, consumers would be on the hook for over $25 billion instead of just $3.2 billion. So be grateful that Duke stopped the madness, and tell your state legislator that repealing the advance nuclear cost recovery law is the only way to get your vote in the next election.

Thomas Eppes, Thonotosassa

Settlement in best interests of all Oct. 22, commentary

Duke wins, customers lose

Public Service Commission chairman Ronald Brisé's column on the Duke Energy giveaway, citing Henry Kissinger's statement that "an equitable settlement is one that will make both sides unhappy," made me realize that I must have missed some of the media coverage on the subject. I do not recall reading any article that spoke to the unhappiness of Duke Energy in being "forced" to accept only $3-plus billion in payment for its negligence and the negligence of the company it bought as-is.

Arthur N. Eggers, Tampa

Shareholders escape

Ronald Brisé, Florida Public Service Commission chairman, stated the Duke Energy settlement was in the best interests of all. I believe he is out of touch with reality.

Based on disclosures from Duke Energy, it clearly indicates that the consumer lost and Duke and shareholders won. With 1.7 million Florida customers sharing $3.2 billion in costs related to the failed nuclear projects, that results in a charge per customer of about $1,900. The customers have no avenue to ever regain these charges.

On the other hand, Duke investors are being charged only $1 billion for the failed projects. With 705.91 million outstanding shares, that results in a per share charge of $1.42, not much for a stock trading at $70 that has paid a dividend of $3 in the past 12 months. So the shareholders have regained their portion of the charge in less than six months, while the consumer never will.

To go one step further, if the shareholders had been charged with the whole $4.2 billion, the charge per share would have been $5.95 per share. That's less than two years of dividends.

It's time to elect representatives who work for the people who elected them, not special interest groups or themselves.

Wayne Eubank, Clearwater

Path to improved teaching is clear Oct. 21, commentary

Look to wages, discipline

The consistent acceptance of students who rank among the lowest applicants for postgraduate study in our teacher training programs could well be due to the lack of sufficient numbers of more qualified applicants. Unless there is another explanation, that alone would most likely be the underlying cause for a lowering of admission standards.

And the cause for that is likely a combination of two factors: the low wages paid to teachers when compared to other competing vocations, and the increasing disciplinary problems at nearly all levels of K-12 education.

While the authors have done a very comprehensive analysis, the need to look for deeper root causes is very important.

Earl Kendall, Largo

Obamacare website may take weeks to fix Oct. 21

Options for assistance

I was one of the first to try to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. I have also been frustrated by its failure to function.

The government website and the "navigators" are not the only way to get affordable insurance policies and access to subsidies.

Perhaps anticipating the predictable failure of the government's plan, Florida Blue has recently opened numerous storefront insurance shops around the area. Perhaps other insurers have followed suit. The point is you can simply walk into one of these shops and have a trained insurance rep walk you through the various options and sign you up on the spot.

Randall Grantham, Lutz

Friday's letters: Researchers at work on citrus greening 10/24/13 [Last modified: Thursday, October 24, 2013 5:16pm]
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