IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS researchers find shallow flooding reduces a major rice pest

Topic(s): Agriculture, Aquaculture, Crops, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

rice plants

BELLE GLADE, Fla. — University of Florida scientists at the Everglades Research and Education Center have found an important way to control the destructive rice water weevil, one of the major pests in rice production.

UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher Ron Cherry and his team discovered that shallow flooding of rice fields can help reduce rice water weevil populations during Florida’s growing season, between April and September. Previous studies of the effect of flood depth on the pest have been inconsistent. (more …)

Florida consumers prefer “Fresh from Florida” plants

Topic(s): Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, RECs, Research

 

Various Fresh from Florida labeling upon orange juice and citrus containers.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumers prefer plants with the “Fresh from Florida” label, according to a new survey by a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economist.

In the survey, summarized in a UF/IFAS Extension document, 83 percent of respondents recalled noticing the “Fresh from Florida” logos on plants in retail garden centers. To be designated as “Fresh from Florida,” 51 per cent of the product must originate in the Sunshine State, according to Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services guidelines.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has partnered with the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association to include horticulture plants in the state’s “Fresh from Florida” campaign.

Hayk Khachatryan, an assistant professor of food and resource economics at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida, co-authored the document with his post-doctoral research associate, Alicia Rihn. As part of a larger study, they wrote the document after surveying 301 Florida horticultural plant consumers in June and July 2014 in Orlando and Gainesville.

(more …)

Davis appointed associate dean for UF/IFAS research

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — John Davis, professor and associate director of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation in the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has been named associate dean for UF/IFAS research.

“Dr. Davis is an excellent researcher and teacher, and knows UF/IFAS very well. He has assisted this office for many years in a variety of roles, and understands how to support faculty in this important position,” said Jackie Burns, dean for UF/IFAS research. “We are thrilled to have Dr. Davis join our team.”

Davis earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics / Forestry from Michigan State University in 1989, and joined UF/IFAS after a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington. He now specializes in genomics of ecologically important species and their interactions, with a majority research appointment in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation in UF/IFAS.

(more …)

UF/IFAS scientists preserve the endangered Ghost Orchid

Topic(s): IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Research

Ghost Orchid3 012216

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers believe they’re on the verge of helping conserve the popular but endangered Ghost Orchid, a plant that’s often poached.

“We’ve successfully developed procedures to culture plants from seeds in the lab and then successfully acclimatize them into our greenhouse,” said Michael Kane, professor of environmental horticulture at UF/IFAS. “We’ve also obtained a high survival and vigorous re-growth rate when they’re planted back into the wild.”

This rare orchid is unique for several reasons. First, it resembles a ghost when its white flower moves at night; hence, it is known as the Ghost Orchid. It is also leafless, and its roots attach to the bark of the host tree.

About 2,000 ghost orchids remain in Florida, all the more reason to step up efforts to stabilize the current populations, Kane said. The Ghost Orchid also grows in the Bahamas and Cuba. However, researchers are learning that these populations are thriving in very different environmental conditions than those in South Florida.

(more …)

Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame adds 4 new inductees on Feb. 9

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Extension, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Livestock

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame is honoring four new inductees in Tampa on Feb. 9 who have ties to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame honors men and women who have made lasting contributions to agriculture in this state and to the mentoring of youth, who represent the future of agriculture in Florida. All four inductees have played major and vital roles in mentoring young people through Extension, 4-H, at UF or on their ranch. The 2016 Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame inductees are: (more …)

UF/IFAS study shows 10-day weather forecasts can increase farmers’ profits

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, IFAS, Research, Weather

Citra farm, University of Florida/IFAS Research and Education Center, wheat, tilling soil, disking, tractor, field. UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new University of Florida-led study shows how Australian wheat farmers can use hypothetical 10-day weather forecasts to increase their annual profits by hundreds of thousands of dollars, a finding that can be applied to other parts of the globe.

Scientists now want to know how a real – meaning, imperfect – 10-day weather forecast will affect farmers’ decisions on when to plant and fertilize, said Senthold Asseng, a professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. They may apply their new findings on a fresh study that would predict crop yield based on 10-day forecasts in the United States.

“U.S. farmers make decisions based on anticipated growing conditions, including rainfall and temperature,” said Asseng, who led the study. “So I think it would be very useful to develop a project with farmers to explore if they could make more money or be more sustainable when considering a short-term forecast in their decision making. If so, real forecasts need to be analyzed and combined with farmers’ decisions.”

(more …)

UF/IFAS study: Hand sanitizer, antifreeze can preserve DNA for citizen scientists

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Research

Andrea Lucky in her ant research lab

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A few simple products, such as hand sanitizer and antifreeze, can preserve DNA in samples collected by lay people for scientific research, a new University of Florida study shows.

“This is great news because unlike high-concentration chemicals, such as 95 percent ethanol or pure propylene glycol – which are expensive and hard to access — these products are inexpensive and are commonly sold at grocery stores,” said Andrea Lucky, an assistant research scientist at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and supervisor of Sedonia Steininger, the masters student who led this study.

This finding is key as UF/IFAS and other agencies conduct studies involving citizen scientists, said Lucky, who runs two citizen science projects. Citizen science projects are collaborations of scientists and non-specialists. Lay people participate in studies by collecting samples or examining data to help answer research questions while learning about the science.

Good entomological research often relies on collecting and preserving the genetic material in specimens, the study says. When lay people collect samples, they may not have access to materials used to preserve the DNA in their specimens. If the specimens collected by citizen scientists are to be used for genetic analyses, the specimens must be preserved for short-term storage and shipment of insects to labs.

(more …)

UF/IFAS faculty member earns $822,000 NSF grant as early career scientist

Topic(s): Announcements, CALS, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Pests, Research

Christine Miller

Christine Miller

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher has won an $822,000 early-career award from the National Science Foundation recognizing her commitment to research and the integration of research into teaching undergraduate students.

The NSF honored Christine Miller, an assistant professor of entomology, with its CAREER award as part of a foundation-wide activity that supports faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars.

“It’s been a dream of mine for years to receive this award, and at some level I still can’t believe that it has actually happened,” Miller said. “I am very excited for the next five years. It will be great to involve so many undergraduate students in the cutting edge of science.”

During the five-year grant, Miller will investigate the evolution and diversification of elaborate animal weapons, such as antlers, horns and spurs, which males use to compete for females. Together with hundreds of students, Miller will determine how fighting behaviors have led to diversification of these weapons.

“This work will engage and train hundreds of students,” Miller said. “Undergraduates are often fascinated by animal behavior and weaponry, and these topics will be a fun way to engage and retain students in science.

(more …)

Mother-daughter team teaches the art of canning food

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, Vegetables
UF/IFAS Extension Agents Melanie Thomas, left, and her mother, Jackie Schrader teaching canning classes in Duval and Clay counties. Photo courtesy Melanie Thomas

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As a little girl, Melanie Thomas would ladle hot fruit into glass jars with  her grandmother or watch from afar as her parents canned fruits and vegetables in the kitchen.

“I was one of those who was afraid of the pressure canner and left that job up to my mom and dad,” said Thomas.  “They always seemed like they knew what they were doing and had it under control.”

Now Thomas is a fearless advocate of preserving your own food.  She and her mother, Jackie Schrader, join forces each month to teach canning classes through a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension program.  Once every month, they gather students in either Duval or Clay County to instruct on everything from pressure canning low acid foods, including vegetables, meats and soups, to adding just the right amount of sugar and spices.

Their next class is scheduled for January 22 at 9:00 a.m. at the Clay County Extension office in Green Cove Springs. The February class is set for the 12th in Duval County. (more …)

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