IFAS News

University of Florida

Local, organic top consumers’ desired qualities in $280 million fruit-producing plant market

Topic(s): Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, Lawn & Garden, RECs, Research

Grape vine with grapes

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If you’re a consumer in the market for a fruit-producing plant, you’re more likely to buy one if it’s locally grown or organic, an important finding for those making their living in the approximately $280 million-a-year niche U.S. market, new University of Florida research shows.

Limited availability of organically produced edible plants has created markets for these types of plants, according to a new Extension document, http://bit.ly/21KQ6zb, co-authored by Assistant Professor Hayk Khachatryan and Post-doctoral Researcher Alicia Rihn, both researchers at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

As part of a larger study, Khachatryan and Rihn tested 95 Floridians to investigate the effects of plant type, price, production method and origin on consumer preferences for fruit-producing plants. They asked participants to look at images of fruit-producing plants with different attributes and rate them on a scale, with 1 being very unlikely and 7 being very likely to purchase.

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U.S. can capitalize on Chinese orange juice market potential

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Economics, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Research

 

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Opportunity awaits American and Florida marketers who want to sell 100 percent not from concentrate Florida orange juice in China if they take a cue from American restaurant giants like Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut, a new University of Florida study shows.

Zhifeng Gao, an associate professor of food and resource economics at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, led a study in which researchers surveyed shoppers as they entered grocery stores in four major cities in China: Beijing, Shanghai, Zhengzhou and Shenzhen.

After questioning 1,053 consumers, the researchers found Chinese usually will buy an orange juice drink that is made with only 10 percent real juice. They also found that Chinese consumers know little about the benefits of Western-style juice products, such as their high nutritional value.

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UF/IFAS to teach how to communicate agricultural hot topics more effectively

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Environment, IFAS

 

Ricky Telg

See caption below story

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Major issues threaten American agriculture, but few outside the industry understand the gravity of these problems. University of Florida students are learning how to tell these stories.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, awarded a $296,000 grant to UF, Texas Tech and Colorado State — three land-grant universities — to teach students how to increase their awareness and knowledge about controversial topics in agriculture and natural resources. That way, they can think more critically about such hot-button topics – including genetically modified organisms and climate change — and thus, communicate more effectively about them, said Ricky Telg, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural education and communication.

UF/IFAS received $90,921 for its portion of the project.

The grant will help future agriculture leaders know how to communicate more effectively and hopefully educate the general public about how these challenges could, for example, destroy Florida’s $10.7 billion citrus industry, spread viruses like chikungunya and dengue, increase water pollution and lead to more obesity. Educating the general public about these challenges will help people understand how agriculture and natural resources issues are intertwined and help everyone see the big picture in ensuring we have ample food to feed the predicted 9.5 billion people on Earth by 2050.

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UF/IFAS researchers head to Brazil seeking Zika answers

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Families and Consumers, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, RECs, Research

Chelsea Smartt studies the ability of mosquitos to resist pesticides commonly used to control these pests and prevent transmission of disease.

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher will return to Brazil to study the ability of two mosquito species to transmit the Zika virus.

The yellow fever mosquito – Aedes aegypti – and the Asian tiger mosquito – Aedes albopictus – are considered the main culprits behind the transmission of chikungunya, dengue and zika viruses.

Among other outcomes, this work will provide real-time information about the involvement of the Asian tiger mosquito in the outbreak, as most scientists are focusing on involvement of the yellow fever mosquito, said Chelsea Smartt, UF/IFAS associate professor at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach, Florida. Information gathered by Smartt and her colleagues would improve the ability of mosquito control officials to respond to these viruses ahead of human cases.

“This would aid disease control efforts by being able to detect the virus ahead of human cases,” she said.

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UF CALS honors faculty and staff with teaching, advising awards

Topic(s): Announcements, CALS, Honors and Appointments

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences faculty and staff members honored as teachers and advisers of the year use innovative methods to get the best from students.

“Promoting excellence in teaching is one of the highest priorities for CALS,” said CALS Dean Elaine Turner.  “These outstanding teachers and advisers find creative ways to engage students and inspire success. We are proud to recognize them with CALS awards.”

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UF/IFAS researcher: Signs can help conserve natural resources in urban neighborhoods

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Green Living

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Please see caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher wants to help you engage your neighbors to conserve urban biodiversity.

Mark Hostetler, a UF/IFAS professor of wildlife ecology and conservation, sees educational signs in neighborhoods as a way to nudge people to change their landscape practices, among other activities.

“Such signs can help homeowners understand ways to manage their homes, yards and neighborhoods in a more sustainable way,” Hostetler said.

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UF/IFAS study: Water conservation important to many; only some take action

Topic(s): Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Research

Sprinklers watering athletic fields. UF/IFAS Phto by Tyler Jones.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — How long do you shower? Would you be willing to set a timer for yourself while you bathe? That may be something to consider as you try to reduce your water consumption, say University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.

In a study that used an online survey of 932 Floridians, UF/IFAS researchers sought to identify characteristics of so-called “high-water users,” based on residents’ perceived importance of plentiful water and their water conservation behaviors.

Researchers were most interested in the 24 percent of the respondents who saw water conservation as important yet take little action to do so – for example, people who take long showers and those who may use excessive water to irrigate their lawns. That’s because researchers want residents, homeowners associations, Extension agents and the media to target their water conservation measures to these water users.

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UF/IFAS Urban Landscape Summit set for March 23

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, RECs, Research, Soil and Water Science

WHO: The University of Florida IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology will host the first Urban Landscape Summit on March 23.

WHAT: All are invited to hear summit speakers discuss water, landscape management, urban pest issues, social issues, economics and more. Presentations will include “Why do we adopt environmentally friendly lawn care?”; “Managing pests in lawn care: Is it necessary?”; and “Smart water application technologies.”

WHERE: The event will be held at the Straughn UF/IFAS Extension Professional Development Center, 2142 Shealy Drive, Gainesville.

WHEN: The summit will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 23. For more information, visit http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/clce/events/urban-landscape-summit.html

To register, log onto   http://2016urbanlandscapesummit.eventbrite.com

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By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

Source: Michael Dukes, 352-392-1864, ext. 205, mddukes@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS study identifies opportunity for further promotion of Florida strawberries

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Families and Consumers, Nutrition, Research

Fresh strawberries and strawberry plants.

Please see caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — More than three quarters of Florida’s strawberries are shipped to American markets east of the Mississippi River. Most of those out-of-state consumers enjoy the fruit, but some mistakenly think Sunshine State strawberries aren’t available at their grocery stores, a new University of Florida study shows.

That means marketers and others must do a better job ensuring consumers know strawberries come from Florida, said Joy Rumble, an assistant professor of agricultural education and communication. This is particularly true in light of increased competition from California and Mexico, Rumble said. In Florida, the strawberry harvest brought in $267 million in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Rumble, a faculty member at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and a team of researchers from the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education conducted 10 focus groups in five cities east of the Mississippi River. The cities were Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; Columbus, Ohio; New York City and Boston.

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Bill Castle, longtime UF/IFAS professor, inducted into Florida Citrus Hall of Fame

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Citrus, Cultivars, Economics, Extension, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, RECs, Uncategorized

Bill Castle

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Professor Emeritus William S. “Bill” Castle, who is internationally recognized as the leading authority on rootstocks and work that has shaped the entire Florida citrus industry, will be inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame on March 11.

“Dr. Castle inspired numerous students to become involved in the citrus industry, and many serve in leadership roles today,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president of agriculture at UF. “His impact on the citrus industry and the role he played were vital to the survival of that industry.”

Castle conducted research at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred for more than 30 years. His research has resulted in improved citrus scions and rootstocks, orchard designs and management of high density plantings, citrus propagation and pre-plant expert systems, windbreak design and establishment, along with pomegranate cultivars and plantings.

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