IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS honey bee lab hosts beekeeper training Aug. 12-13

Topic(s): Extension, IFAS, Uncategorized

Painted honey bee hive boxes. Photo taken 08-13-15

DAVIE, Fla. — If you’ve always wanted to raise bees, here’s your chance. The University of Florida IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab will hold a beekeeper training workshop on Aug. 12 and 13 in Davie, Florida.

The South Florida and Caribbean Bee College will be held at UF/IFAS Ft. Lauderdale Research and Education Center, 3205 College Ave., Davie, Florida, 33314. The two full days of courses will feature classes in pest control, honey extraction and queen care, among other topics.

“Bee College provides beekeepers with the proper tools and techniques they need to successfully keep honey bees in Florida,” said Mary Bammer, UF/IFAS Extension coordinator for the Honey Bee Research and UF/IFAS Extension Lab. “Beginner beekeepers will learn how to get started, those more experienced can pick up new practices, and participants who are just interested in bees in general will learn about the importance of bees to the environment and to everyday life.”

Cost to participate in the program ranges from $150 to $185 for both days. For more information, visit www.hbrel.eventbrite.com.

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

Source: Mary Bammer, 352-273-3969, bammerma@ufl.edu

A UF/IFAS guide to eating healthy foods at school

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition

School cafeteria to promote the My Plate and YUM nutrition programs.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Children have lots of food and beverage choices when they return to school this fall. Parents can take an active role in ensuring their children eat healthy foods at school, says a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher.

Also, some parents may be reassured by standards established by the federal government four years ago — the first major changes to school nutrition standards in 15 years, said Gail Kauwell, a UF/IFAS professor of food science and human nutrition.

Parents can encourage their children to eat good food at school, instead of throwing it out.

“Discussing the importance of fruits, vegetables, and proper nutrition with your child can help them understand the importance of eating their fruits and vegetables whether they are eating at home, school or somewhere else,” Kauwell said. “If you pack your child’s lunch, you can put a ‘fun twist’ on the fruits and vegetables. Making kabobs (place chunks of fruit and vegetables on skewers) or ‘bugs on a log’ (celery, cucumber, or carrot sticks (the ‘log’) topped with peanut butter and dried fruit (the ‘bugs’) are ways to make the fruits and vegetables more fun.”

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UF/IFAS study: Few people know mushrooms’ health benefits

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

 

Variety Mushrooms at the farmers market downtown union street market.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Relatively few people are aware of the health benefits of mushrooms, according to a new national survey by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.

Only 18.5 percent of survey respondents said they knew the health benefits of mushrooms, according to the online survey of 674 consumers.

“Potentially, increasing knowledge about health benefits would be useful to the mushroom industry,” said Lisa House, a UF/IFAS professor of food and resource economics and an investigator for the study.

Sue Percival, a UF/IFAS professor and chair of the department of food science and human nutrition and principal investigator for the study, published a study last year that documented how shiitake mushrooms can boost immunity. They’re also low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and they’re the leading source of the antioxidant selenium in the produce aisle, according to the National Mushroom Council.

The study, to be presented at a national conference next week, revealed many other clues about consumers’ mushroom-buying habits.

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UF/IFAS expert offers food safety tips for new school year

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS

Kids in a school cafeteria to promote the My Plate and YUM nutrition programs.

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As your child returns to school next month, you can help him or her eat safely at school. You also can count on federal, state and local officials to be trained to make sure your child’s school meals are safe, says a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences food safety researcher.

Amy Simonne, a professor and food safety Extension specialist in family, youth and community sciences at UF/IFAS, gives these school food-safety tips:

Keep cold lunches cold and hot lunches hot. Discard the food after lunch.

  • Keep everything clean: Before you start packing lunches, wash your hands with soap and warm water. “That’s the minimum they can do,” she said.

 

  • Don’t cross-contaminate: Harmful bacteria can spread through the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils and countertops. Always wash cutting board, dishes, utensils and countertops.
  • Pack just the amount of perishable food that can be eaten at lunchtime.Find out more at http://bit.ly/1uw0wUy.

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Strauss joins UF/IFAS fight against citrus greening

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Citrus, Crops, Extension, IFAS, RECs, Research, Soil and Water Science

Sarah Strauss

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new researcher has joined the University of Florida’s fight against citrus greening, which has devastated the state’s industry. Sarah Strauss, a soil microbiologist most recently from Davis, California, has accepted a position at the UF/IFAS Southwest Research and Education Center in Immokalee, Florida.

Strauss, an assistant professor with an Extension appointment, focuses on characterizing and managing plant and soil microbial community interactions to improve citrus and vegetable crop health and productivity. “The battle against citrus greening has looked at the rootstock, but not necessarily the soil. I hope my research can offer insight into what is going on with the soil of affected trees and how to improve the plant health by improving the soil,” she said.

According to Jack Payne, UF’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, Strauss is the only soil microbiologist in Southwest Florida. “Dr. Strauss is a critical hire because she brings unique skills and talents to the search for a cure to citrus greening,” Payne said. “In addition, she is passionate about helping stakeholders in Florida succeed. It’s one of the main reasons that she came to UF/IFAS—to share her knowledge with those who need it most.”

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UF/IFAS researcher wins global award for space life sciences

Topic(s): Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, New Technology, Research

FERL AWARD 072016

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A UF/IFAS horticultural sciences professor, known worldwide for research on growing plants in space, has won the 2016 Jeffries Aerospace Medicine and Life Sciences Research Award.

The award is given to a member of the aerospace exploration community who embodies the innovation and insight exemplified by American physician, John Jeffries, who was the first person — back in 1786 — to utilize aeronautics to collect scientific data.

Robert Ferl, who researches how plants can grow in space, won the award. Specifically, Ferl was cited for conducting cutting-edge space biology research and for mentoring others in spaceflight research, pushing the boundaries of where biology can travel.

“I was surprised and enormously honored to win the award,” said Ferl, who was recognized this month in Vienna, Austria. “For a space biologist, recognition by the engineers — the rocket builders, the space suit designers, the people who plan the missions — is a huge honor that acknowledges the role of fundamental science in moving life into space.”

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Entomologist joins UF/IFAS to help solve citrus greening

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Citrus, Crops, Entomology and Nematology, Extension, IFAS, New Technology, RECs, Research

Qureshi

FORT PIERCE, Fla. – An entomologist with 10 years of research focused on the state’s iconic citrus industry has joined the faculty of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Indian River Research and Education Center.

Named Entomologist of the Year in 2012 by the Florida Entomological Society, Jawwad A. Qureshi was selected for a new position as assistant professor of entomology at UF/IFAS IRREC, near Fort Pierce, Florida. The UF/IFAS Fort Pierce location is part of the university’s statewide service to agriculture, providing research, extension and education for producers.

“Dr. Qureshi is one of the world’s few entomologists who have expertise in integrated pest management focused specifically on citrus,” said UF/IFAS IRREC interim director Ronald D. Cave. “His work is much needed in the region known worldwide for the highest quality fresh citrus product.”

According to Cave, Qureshi’s expertise with insect pest management for the citrus industry is critically valuable to the state’s citrus industry at a time when huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, has had a negative impact on the crop statewide.

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UF/IFAS expert has five back-to-school tips for busy families

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Randy Cantrell knows how to make things run smoothly. As both a father and a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher who studies how households can live harmoniously, he’s nearly always thinking about how best to keep a family in sync.

Some of Cantrell’s recent research has focused on what he calls “homeflow.” Homeflow measures how well a family works together to maintain an organized living space and routine.

“The family unit and the dwelling are not separate things but part of one system,” Cantrell explained.

With the start of the school year just around the corner, Cantrell recognizes that getting kids ready and out the door is a challenge for many households. Check out Cantrell’s five tips for keeping the peace and establishing your own homeflow.

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UF/IFAS research could lead to more and healthier sorghum

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Extension, IFAS, Research

Dr. Wilfred Vermerri, associate professor, Department of Agronomy, performs detailed compositional analyses of improved bioenergy sorghums using a mass spectrometer in his laboratory at the University of Florida Genetics Institute.  2010 Annual Research Report Photo.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher has identified two areas of the sorghum genome that could boost the plant’s resistance to the anthracnose disease.

This finding could be a key to expanding sorghum production in the Southeast, said Wilfred Vermerris, an associate professor of microbiology and cell science with UF/IFAS. Most sorghum does not grow well in the Southeast because the hot and humid weather provides ideal conditions for the growth of the fungus that causes anthracnose, with leaf blight and stem rot as its symptoms.

Sorghum is a source for table syrup and cattle feed that also shows great potential as a source for biofuel. It a huge grain: By acreage, it’s the fifth largest cereal crop in the world and the third largest in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2014, the U.S. was the largest producer of sorghum in the world.

For the latest study, Vermerris and other UF scientists used ‘Bk7,’ an anthracnose-resistant grain sorghum developed by Dan Gorbet, a professor emeritus of agronomy at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center.

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New method could quash squash pests

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Extension, IFAS, Pests, Research

Dr. Oscar Liburd conducts research on the management of thrips in blueberries.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida grows more zucchini squash than anywhere else in America – to the tune of $70 million a year. To help improve production, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are developing a method to keep squash pests at bay.

For a newly published study, Janine Spies, a post-doctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS entomology department, simultaneously planted buckwheat with squash and found the method kept pests away while retaining yields at current levels. Furthermore, she and her colleagues manipulated how they planted buckwheat and squash.

“Pests like whiteflies and aphids transmit viruses to squash and can significantly reduce yield, and the money we make on squash,” Spies said. “This is why it is important to reduce the number of whiteflies and aphids that land on squash and to prevent the transmission of viruses.”

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