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IFAS News

University of Florida

Citrus greening bacterium changes the behavior of bugs to promote its own spread

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, IFAS, RECs, Research
An Asian citrus psyllid feeds on a citrus tree, leaving the citrus greening bacteria. The bacteria will starve the tree of nutrients and eventually kill it.

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LAKE ALFRED, Fla. — The disease that threatens to destroy Florida’s $10.7 billion citrus industry appears to have its own mechanism to promote its spread, making it harder to control.  A recent study by five University of Florida researchers shows Asian citrus psyllids fly earlier in their life cycles, more frequently and farther when they are infected with citrus greening bacterium.

 

Kirsten Pelz-Stelinski and the team of researchers at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred say these conclusions have global implications for how the disease spreads and strategies to control it. (more …)

UF/IFAS researcher finds way to cut cost, save water and help the environment by changing one simple thing

Topic(s): Agriculture, Environment, IFAS, RECs, Vegetables
University of Florida Professor Sanjay Shukla has developed a "compact bed geometry" that cuts water, fertilizer and pesticide use in half.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Sanjay Shukla looked out over row upon row of tomato and pepper plants and had an idea: What would happen if he made the compacted soil rows taller and more narrow?  Would the plants need less water, fertilizer and fumigation?  Would the plants grow as tall?  Would the plants produce as many vegetables? (more …)

UF/IFAS study: Few science museums use the word “agriculture” to teach

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

Aerial Williams, left, Cynthia Brown and Laken McPherson add water and dyes to a groundwater simulator in a Tallahassee park (Wednesday 7/18). The device, which contains sand, plastic components and pipes, demonstrates how oil, pesticides and other chemicals poured on the ground can contaminate the water supply. Williams is in 11th grade at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Brown is a Leon County extension agent with the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and McPherson is in fourth grade at Coast Charter School in Crawfordville, Fla. (AP Photo: Thomas Wright, University of Florida/IFAS)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Walk into a science museum, and you may read the words “paleontology” or “astronomy.”

But you’re not likely to find the word “agriculture” in any science museum, even though many exhibits relate to agricultural content or practices.

Katie Stofer found this gap when she surveyed 29 science museums in cities of all sizes across the U.S., and her findings are published in a new study in the journal Science Education and Civic Engagement.

“Unfortunately, we have effectively separated agriculture from the other sciences,” said Stofer, a UF/IFAS research assistant professor in agricultural education and communication.

(more …)

UF/IFAS researchers use pigs to root out problem weeds

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Environment, Green Living, IFAS, Livestock, Research, Vegetables
Professor of Agronomy and Weed Science Greg MacDonald with his pigs.

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CITRA, Fla. — Sometimes, the old-fashioned ways are the best ways.

Back before chemical pesticides and herbicides, farmers had to come up with ways to kill the weeds that took over their fields. One method used “back in the day” was letting pigs loose in fields that were not being used for crops for a season and allowing the pigs to do what they do naturally: dig up the roots of weeds and  fertilize the land.

In the last year, Greg MacDonald, a weed science researcher with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, decided to give the method a try to combat nutsedge, a weed that looks like grass and is so resilient it can sprout up through plastic row-crop coverings and even the plastic lining of above-ground pools. (more …)

Agricultural workers can get discounted UF football tickets for Nov. 7 homecoming game

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Families and Consumers, IFAS

University of Florida Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, walkway, football, athletics, trees, grass, environmental horticulture. UF/IFAS Photo: Thomas Wright.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Farmers, ranchers, landscapers – and everyone in between – are invited to celebrate Agriculture and Gardening Day at the University of Florida’s homecoming football game, Nov. 7.

UF Athletics and UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are hosting the event and offering discounted tickets to all agricultural workers, their families and friends. (more …)

Specialty Crop Conference slated for Aug. 15 in Jacksonville

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Economics, Extension, IFAS

2011 Small Farms Conference.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The First Coast Specialty Crop Conference, created by UF/IFAS, comes to Jacksonville on Aug. 15, the first of five new regional conferences in 2015 and 2016 across the state.

The conference has evolved from an annual statewide event that began in 2009 in Kissimmee to more targeted, regional conferences across the state. A team of UF/IFAS Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Extension agents and other stakeholders created the conference series, said Danielle Treadwell, a UF/IFAS associate professor in horticultural sciences.

Experts at the program at the Student Union Building of the University of North Florida will address concerns of Northeast Florida farmers, providing them with multiple learning and networking opportunities.

Whether you are interested in improving your farming skills by enhancing your soils and pest management, obtaining practical knowledge for postharvest practices, or diversifying your farm through cut-flower production, mushrooms or microgreens, this is a great place and time to learn.

(more …)

Shining a red light to slow downy mildew on basil

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

Basil Downy Mildew symptoms 072115

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Basil can add a little zest to any meal. But downy mildew disease threatens the herb’s very existence.

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are trying to manage the disease with little or no spraying.

For his latest experiments, Shouan Zhang, a UF/IFAS plant pathology associate professor at the Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, inoculated basil plants with the downy mildew pathogen. The scientist then put the plants under red lights in a greenhouse and found the process is slowing down the disease’s growth.

Jaimin Patel, a postdoctoral research associate for Zhang, said they put one set of plants on a bench in the dark for 12 hours, starting at 8 p.m. each day. Another set of plants was placed under red lights for the same time period. The downy mildew appeared on plants in the dark six days after inoculation, while no symptoms showed up on the plants that were under the red lights, Patel said. They repeated the experiment and found the disease symptoms five days after inoculation on the plants placed in the dark – and still, little to no symptoms of the downy mildew was found on the basil plants exposed to the red lights.

(more …)

Updated Florida Citrus Rootstock Selection Guide available

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

ROOTSTOCK guide 071415

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The 3rd edition of the Florida Citrus Rootstock Selection Guide is now available. The updated guide is a convenient, easy-to-use reference to 20 characteristics of 45 rootstocks. It highlights 21 recently released rootstocks, some of which show reduced citrus greening incidence in early field trials.

Of the 45 rootstocks, 12 are time-honored commercial ones, 12 are minor commercial ones that are less frequently used but may have been prominent once. The third group is the most recently released rootstocks for which there is limited commercial experience, but are increasingly being used in the Florida citrus industry.

The revised guide is important because rootstocks basically provide the root system of a citrus tree and influence many traits of the whole plant. When a Valencia orange or Marsh grapefruit is grafted to the rootstock seedling, such things as tree size, fruit quantity and quality are usually improved by the rootstock.

(more …)

Ag’s next frontier? Growing plants in space

Topic(s): Agriculture, Environment, IFAS, New Technology, Research

Anna-Lisa Paul.  Research Associate Scientist PhD.  Plant Molecular Genetics, Horticulture Sciences.  Photo by UF/IFAS Photographer Tyler Jones.

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Rob Ferl, a professor of molecular biology at the University of Florida, holds a dish, Monday DEC 22, 2003,  containing different specimens of the Arabidopsis plant an alpine weed commonly used in botanical and genetic research. Ferl and other researchers at UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences hope to grow seeds of the plant in a greenhouse on a future unmanned space mission to the surface of Mars. (AP photo/University of Florida/IFAS/Thomas Wright)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Space may not be the final frontier for Anna-Lisa Paul and Robert Ferl; they want to grow plants there. Because, who knows, we may one day try to live on Mars, and to survive, we’ll have to grow our own food.

Thus far, experiments by the two pioneering scientists have proven so successful that, earlier this month, NASA recognized their research with one of its three awards in the category of the Most Compelling Results. Paul and Ferl have been conducting plants-in-space research for 20 years.

“It was indeed nice to receive the recognition from NASA,” said Paul, a research professor in the UF/IFAS Department of Horticultural Sciences. “The award recognizes our research approaches of using transgenic plants to serve as biological sensors of the space flight environment. This research is another step in moving our science forward in our exploration of how plants respond to this novel environment.”

Paul explained how all this research helps us on planet Earth.

(more …)

UF/IFAS survey: We like seafood, but we don’t eat enough

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

Shrimp and cans of crab meat on display for sale at a seafood store.  Fishing, seafood industry, food.  UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nearly half of Floridians eat more seafood than they did five to 10 years ago, but 40 percent still do not eat the federally recommended dietary intake of seafood, a new UF/IFAS and Florida Sea Grant-funded survey shows.

Floridians also know seafood is good for them, and they like their seafood caught or harvested in the Sunshine State. But many are not sure they’d know Florida seafood if they saw it, and they’re hesitant to pay the higher cost of local seafood.

“We know that eating Florida seafood is important to consumers,” said Florida Sea Grant Agent Bryan Fluech. Consumers want to support fishermen and the local economy, the survey says.

UF/IFAS experts say they can help educate consumers and the seafood industry to close these gaps.

“Specific educational programs could focus on developing a ‘train-the-trainer’ model for restaurant and retail staff,” said Fluech. That’s because most consumers purchase their seafood from restaurants and grocery stores, although they are not confident that they are getting accurate information from these sources. “Such a program would help these workers better address customer questions and needs, while promoting Florida seafood.”

(more …)

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