IFAS News

University of Florida

UF researchers find genetic cause for citrus canker, putting them a step closer to a cure

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

citrus canker 1

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Researchers from the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida are closer to finding a possible cure for citrus canker after identifying a gene that makes citrus trees susceptible to the bacterial pathogen.

Citrus canker, which causes pustules on fruit, leaves and twigs, is a highly contagious plant disease and spreads rapidly over short distances. Wind-driven rain, overhead irrigation, flooding and human movement can spread citrus canker. Human transport of infected plants or fruit spreads the canker pathogen over longer distances. (more …)

UF/IFAS names Kevin Folta as horticultural sciences chairman

Topic(s): Announcements, Departments, IFAS, Uncategorized

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Kevin Folta, the interim chair of the University of Florida’s horticultural sciences department, has accepted the permanent job, Jack Payne, UF’s senior vice president for agricultural and natural resources, announced Friday.

Folta is an associate professor with internationally-recognized programs in strawberry genomics and light regulation of plant traits. Recently he has gained national visibility in relating science to public audiences, particularly in the area of genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs.

(more …)

Dukes to lead Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology

Topic(s): Departments, IFAS

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Michael Dukes, a University of Florida agricultural and biological engineering professor and Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member, has been named director of the Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology, where he’d been interim director since November 2011.

Dukes specializes in irrigation engineering and water conservation issues.

(more …)

UF/IFAS researcher to growers: Peaches can be profitable in three years

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida peach growers, some of whom are looking for an alternative to citrus as greening takes a toll on that crop, could see a small profit by their third year of operation, a UF researcher says.

Greening, a disease first found in Florida in 2005, has led to $4 billion in lost revenue and industry-related jobs since 2006 for the $9 billion-a-year citrus industry.

As some farmers turn to peaches, they want to know how long before they turn a profit and how long they can sustain that profit, said Mercy Olmstead, assistant professor in horticultural sciences at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Growers should see steady profit through years 10-12, when the tree starts to decline in the South.

(more …)

UF/IFAS study helps researchers better estimate citrus crop yields

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Crops, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Citrus crop-yield estimates may be more accurate, thus ensuring higher productivity and more revenue, if an algorithm proves as successful as it did in a recent University of Florida study.

Wonsuk “Daniel” Lee’s study, published in the January issue of the journal Biosystems Engineering, could eventually help Florida’s $9 billion-a-year citrus industry.

Lee, a UF agricultural and biological engineering professor, used an algorithm to find immature citrus in photos taken under different light conditions and fruit that was hidden by leaves and branches. He and his colleagues found 80 percent of the immature fruit.

(more …)

UF Water Institute to host symposium featuring state, national experts

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Conservation, Environment, Green Living

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida Water Institute will host its fourth symposium, “Sustainable Water Resources, Complex Challenges, Integrated Solutions,” Feb. 11-12 at the J. Wayne Reitz Union.

This year’s conference focuses on what organizers call “Water Supply Planning in a Non-Stationary World.” The forum is meant to bring many professional perspectives together to focus on science, technology, management, policy and public action.

(more …)

UF/IFAS study shows captive breeding no help to endangered woodrat

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Environment, Forestry

key largo woodrat

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Captive breeding of the endangered Key Largo woodrat may not be the best solution to preserve the ecologically important rodent, an animal driven to near extinction by development, a new University of Florida study shows.

Using a computer model, scientists developed a captive breeding-and-release program to see if adding captive-reared animals outweighed the loss of rats from the wild. But it did not, the study said.

Robert McCleery, UF assistant professor in wildlife ecology and conservation and co-author of the study, estimated that fewer than 500 of the woodrats remain. That’s down from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates of about 6,000 in 1984.

(more …)

UF/IFAS researcher co-authors beetle book

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Forestry, Pests

Xyleborini New Guinea

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Pesky beetles sit, ready to pounce on their unwitting prey: trees around the world, which sustain billions of dollars in damage because of the armored insects, says a University of Florida scientist, who has co-written a book about beetles native to Papua New Guinea.

Thousands of beetle species make their home in Papua New Guinea, a small island off the northern coast of Australia, but only two or three travel to other parts of the globe, said Jiri Hulcr, a UF assistant professor of forest entomology. First, they have to be exported, something humans do by accident, said Hulcr, a member of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ faculty.

“We put them in habitats where they shouldn’t be,” he said, by exporting wood or using it to send ship cargo. “It’s not as though these beetles have evolved as killing species. They have evolved in their native habitat.”

(more …)

UF/IFAS researchers’ work helps U.S. military deliver fresher MREs

Topic(s): Economics, IFAS, New Technology, Research

Jan. 15, 2014

Jeffrey Brecht, the director of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Research Center for Food Distribution and Retailing, and former UF Professor Jean Pierre Edmond hold up a Meal, Ready-To-Eat.

Jeffrey Brecht, left, the director of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Research Center for Food Distribution and Retailing, and former UF Professor Jean Pierre Edmond hold up a Meal, Ready-To-Eat.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida researcher Jeffrey Brecht is leading a team of scientists working to eliminate waste and streamline the process of distributing the U.S. Army’s legendary Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MREs).

In a five-year, $6.7 million study, Brecht, the director of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Research Center for Food Distribution and Retailing, and colleagues tested the longevity of MREs, along with First Strike Rations (FSRs) for front-line troops, including special forces.

“These rations were originally developed with a shelf life of three years for MREs and two years for FSRs – but at 80 degrees,” Brecht explained. “However, when they send them to the Middle East, they could be exposed to temperatures as high as 140 degrees, at which point the shelf life could be 4 weeks or less, instead of the three years.” (more …)

UF/IFAS Extension helps North Florida dairies move into grazing using a perennial grass

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, IFAS, Livestock
Dairy cows grazing on Tifton-85 grass

Dairy cows grazing on Tifton-85 grass

Jan. 14, 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – North Florida dairy farmers are increasing their use of grazing and hay areas thanks to the hybrid, perennial, warm-season Tifton 85 bermudagrass, tested extensively by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Forage Extension and Research programs.

Yoana Newman, an Extension Forage Specialist with the Agronomy department, described Tifton 85 as a highly nutritious grass that was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture more than 20 years ago but has become a ‘game changer’ now because of its high quality, greater yields and some environmental advantages. (more …)

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