IFAS News

University of Florida

Ann McElwain named UF/IFAS assistant vice president for development

Topic(s): Announcements, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Uncategorized

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Longtime University of Florida development executive Ann McElwain has been named assistant vice president for development for UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, appointed McElwain to the post Oct. 26. She had served as UF/IFAS interim assistant vice president for development since August.

“Ann already has a winning record for connecting with UF alumni and friends, and securing their support for exciting new projects,” Payne said. “I’m extremely pleased with her initial efforts here. We both look forward to developing comprehensive fundraising goals for UF/IFAS and sharing our vision with all of our supporters.”

McElwain succeeds Ken DeVries, who held the position from June 2005 until his retirement in July 2012.

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UF/IFAS strawberry breeder to receive new faculty research award

Topic(s): Announcements, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, RECs, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida strawberry breeder Vance Whitaker has been named the recipient of the Richard Jones Outstanding New Faculty Research Award for 2013.

The award, named for a former UF/IFAS dean for research, is presented to untenured faculty who have a distinguished record of research since joining UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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Tunnel technology could help Florida blueberry growers, UF/IFAS study suggests

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Environment, IFAS, New Technology, RECs, Research, Weather

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Protecting Florida’s $80 million blueberry crop from freeze damage is always a wintertime challenge, but a University of Florida study shows that structures called high tunnels could shield plants from cold and promote earlier fruit ripening.

Though the initial investment can run from $18,000 to $25,000 per acre plus labor, high tunnels deliver better quality fruit, bigger early yields and higher prices if growers beat competitors to market, said Bielinski Santos, an associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The study, published in the current issue of HortTechnology, tracked two growing seasons on a commercial blueberry farm in Alachua County. The results showed that temperatures outside the tunnels plunged to freezing or near-freezing 61 times during the study. Temperatures fell that low just three times inside the unheated tunnels.

High tunnels may increase air and soil temperatures and protect the plants from wind and rain damage, leading to better flowering and more fruit, said Santos, based at UF’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm.

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UF/IFAS students awarded at recent agronomy, soil science meeting

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Departments, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Five University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences students received awards during a recent agronomy and soil science conference held last month in Cincinnati.

The conference, joint meetings of the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America, was attended by more than 4,000 people and included participants from land-grant universities across the U.S.

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Crazy ant control strategies taking shape for UF/IFAS researchers

Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Pests

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Their name is comical, but when crazy ants infest a neighborhood it’s no laughing matter.

The fast-moving, invasive insects are present in Florida and several other Gulf Coast states. They can establish colonies with multiple queens and millions of workers, blanketing lawns and sidewalks, killing native species, shorting out electrical systems and creating headaches for homeowners and pest-control operators.

So far, efforts to control crazy ants have involved a patchwork of approaches, many of which failed. But a team of University of Florida researchers is developing an integrated pest management system tailored to the species’ unique characteristics and habits.

This week at the Entomological Society of America annual meeting in Knoxville, Tenn., two of those researchers presented findings on 15 insecticidal baits evaluated for the system.

Though none of the products were developed specifically for crazy ants, the researchers found that two granular baits – Amdro Pro and Maxforce Complete – killed crazy ants fastest in laboratory testing, probably because those baits had the most “appetite appeal” and were eaten more readily than other products, said Dawn Calibeo, an entomology doctoral candidate with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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UF student elected to president of national Future Farmers of America organization

Topic(s): Announcements, Departments

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida student Clay Sapp has been elected president of the national FFA organization, also known as Future Farmers of America.

Sapp, a junior in UF’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ agricultural education and communication department, received the honor during the organization’s national meeting last month in Indianapolis.

“It’s been a long journey, and I’ve learned a lot about myself and my leadership skills and abilities,” Sapp said. “I am really glad to have the opportunity to serve the members over the next year across the country.”

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Young entomologists: Apply for $500 prize

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Pests

Hoping to help bridge the gap for younger scientists between the lab and applied research, the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation is part of a group offering a $500 annual award to an entomology student whose pest-oriented, peer-reviewed research is deemed to the most interesting by a panel of judges. (more …)

New UF/IFAS video series shows how to increase sustainability in plant nurseries

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Environment, Extension, IFAS, RECs

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Many plant nurseries in Florida have adopted sustainable practices, and the University of Florida is looking to help even more do so with a new video series.

The series, titled Moving Nurseries Toward Sustainability, contains nine videos documenting sustainable practices that can be economically effective and environmentally friendly for nurseries.

Using interviews with nursery growers from Florida and Georgia, the videos show real-life examples of how growers have reduced water use, cut fertilizer applications, minimized runoff, found ways to reuse plastic containers and saved on energy costs by using conservation techniques.

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UF/IFAS scientists discover enzyme that improves flavor of ripening tomatoes

Topic(s): New Technology, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The enzyme CXE1 will never be a household name, but a new University of Florida study suggests that tomato lovers owe it a debt of thanks nonetheless — without it, their favorite fruit might not be so tasty.

In a study published this week by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences announced their discovery of the enzyme and showed how the common tomato plant generates large amounts of it as the fruit ripens.

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