HOMESTEAD—They were around for the real Jurassic Park, Stone Age plants called cycads that likely fed the herbivorous dinosaurs millions of years ago. Just like the venerable cockroach, these prehistoric plants that look like squat palm trees have survived the ages.
Today, however, many varieties of these “living fossils” are so rare they are being poached from the wild on several continents, prompting scientists at the University of Florida to develop alternative ways to propagate the waning primitive species, thought to have originated in the Permian Era. (more …)
GAINESVILLE—Florida’s wetlands already have enough pressure from pollution and other byproducts of development. But now comes an exotic weed that could threaten the fragile biological diversity of many of these marshy refuges.
University of Florida researchers are keeping a wary eye on a troubling new visitor to wetlands in Southwest Florida, fearing the weed could turn out to be the swampy equivalent of the disastrous tropical soda apple. The new weed, aquatic soda apple, is a relative of the tropical soda apple, which has turned into a nightmare for Florida’s cattle industry as it destroys pasture land. (more …)
GAINESVILLE—Florida tomato farmers are again under siege by Mexican growers who are dumping record numbers of winter tomatoes on the U.S. market, driving prices down and violating quotas set forth in NAFTA, says a University of Florida economist.
Last year, Florida’s tomato growers were hit hard by Mexican shippers, forcing the Florida Tomato Exchange, an agricultural cooperative, to seek relief from the International Trade Commission. That petition was turned down. A year later, with the winter growing season now in full swing, tomato growers are facing a crisis that is even worse, said Professor John Van Sickle of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (more …)