University of Florida

UF agricultural honorary organizes national service project to feed Central Florida’s hungry

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, Citrus, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Gleaning, the age-old practice of collecting discarded crops from harvested fields, is getting new attention as a way for volunteers to supply soup kitchens and other charities with low-cost food.

This weekend, college students from across the country will converge on Orlando to glean citrus fruit from local groves. Then they’ll deliver, prepare and serve it in homeless shelters as part of a project organized by the University of Florida chapter of the agricultural honorary society Alpha Zeta.

It’s the first time UF’s chapter has hosted the organization’s annual holiday project, said Erika Schwarz, a UF animal sciences senior and coordinator of the event.

Alpha Zeta is the nation’s oldest honorary society for students majoring in agricultural disciplines. Founded in 1897, it has 70 chapters nationwide and promotes leadership, academic achievement and public service.

“We’ve gotten great response to the idea,” Schwarz said, noting that online registration filled up early, with 30 students signed on. “Gleaning is easy to organize and it has immediate results. It’s just a matter of getting the manpower and doing the manual labor.”

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Cheap Tiffany Jewellery UK

Topic(s): Agriculture, Aquaculture, Extension, IFAS

2014 Beijing Summer tiffany jewelry exhibition will be held at the Beijing International Exhibition Center Old Hall

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Rose fragrance no influence on vase life, UF researchers find

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Cultivars

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Connoisseurs of cut roses often believe that the most fragrant blossoms are also the quickest to wilt, but a new University of Florida study disproves that notion and indicates breeders can develop varieties that smell great and last long.

Researchers with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences found that the strength of a rose’s fragrance is independent of its “vase life,” the length of time it looks good after harvest, said Terril Nell, a professor and chairman of environmental horticulture.

“We can select for both (fragrance and long vase life) and get them in the same rose,” Nell said.

That’s good news for consumers because many cut-rose varieties were developed for visual appeal, disease resistance and other characteristics, and their fragrance is understated, at best.

The study was published online this month by the journal Postharvest Biology and Technology.

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Coca-Cola and Cutrale announce $3 million in donations to boost citrus research

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Invasive Species, Pests

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Coca-Cola and Cutrale Citrus Juices announced today at a meeting of the Florida Citrus Mutual in Lake Alfred that they have each pledged $1.5 million to the University of Florida for research programs.

The contributions will be used to fund sustainable research programs managed by the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, known as CRDF, a direct support organization of UF aimed at eliminating the threat of Citrus Huanglongbing, a disease commonly known as “greening.” HLB is one of the most destructive diseases of citrus crops, debilitating the productive capacity of citrus trees.

“In making this contribution, Coca-Cola and Cutrale will greatly enhance the ability of scientists at IFAS and around the world to find answers to this catastrophic problem,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the University of Florida.

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UF study: White ibis mating habits altered by mercury consumption

Topic(s): Environment, Pollution

Cutline at bottom

When University of Florida researchers began studying the effects of mercury consumption on white ibises, they had a hunch the contaminant might affect the birds’ ability to produce chicks.

And while their suspicions of poor breeding were confirmed, they didn’t expect this: altered courtship behavior in males and high percentages of male birds mating with other males.

“We knew that mercury can disrupt hormones – what is most disturbing about this study is the low levels of mercury at which we saw effects on hormones and mating behavior,” said Peter Frederick, a UF wildlife ecology and conservation professor who led the five-year study. “This suggests that wildlife may be commonly affected.”

The study marks the first time that mercury’s effects on birds’ sexual preference and courtship behavior have been documented, and provides a critical link between low levels of mercury contamination and impaired reproduction. The results suggest that even low levels of mercury – which is widespread in the U.S. and global environment — can result in major impairment for wild bird populations.

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Fogging, misting systems can protect ornamental plants from cold, UF experts say

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Environment, Lawn & Garden

Cutline at bottom. Click here for high-resolution image.

Florida winters are mild by human standards, but don’t tell that to an aglaonema, sometimes called Chinese evergreen.

The Sunshine State produces two-thirds of the nation’s ornamental foliage plants, many of them — such as aglaonema — tropical and subtropical species that suffer damage when the temperature drops below about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The annual wholesale value of ornamental foliage crops grown in the U.S. is about $400 million.

Florida growers often produce these plants in shade houses, walk-in structures covered by loosely woven fabric that lets in some sunlight. When cold snaps hit, growers usually rely on conventional heaters to warm the plants, but fuel is expensive.

Now, a three-year study by University of Florida researchers suggests it would be more cost-effective to heat shade houses with water, using devices called foggers and misters that emit clouds of tiny airborne droplets.

The results were published in the current issue of the journal HortScience.

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