IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS experts to stress environment, immigration, production at ag policy conference

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Economics, Environment, Extension, Food Safety, IFAS, RECs, Research

Spiro Stefanou

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economists and other experts will explore economic insights helpful for making informed business and policy decisions at the second annual Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference, organized by the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department.

This year’s topics include the innovation economy, food and nutrition policy, agricultural labor, water quality and management and agricultural production policy and trade.

The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, 14625 County Road 672, Balm, Florida.

“Agriculture is a vital industry for Florida with interesting opportunities and compelling challenges as we move into the future,” said Spiro Stefanou, chair of the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department. “Our goal is to bring industry experts, researchers, policy and business leaders together to discuss the current and emerging challenges related to Florida as an engine of innovation, policy related to food, nutrition and consumer decision making, water quality and management, agricultural labor and the prospects for our fruit and vegetable industry.”

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UF/CALS student named prestigious 2017 “Cultivator” at national Farm Foundation® conference

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Crops, Cultivars, Departments, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) student who studies improvements to production and quality of grapes has been named UF’s second Cultivator at the 2017 Farm Foundation Round Table.

Crystal Conner, a plant science major, was one of six college students across the nation recognized as rising leaders in agriculture. The students shared their research during the conference hosted the week of Jan. 4 in Irvine, California.

“It was such an honor to first be selected by CALS Dean Elaine Turner, and then to secondly be chosen by the Farm Foundation Round Table to present my research,” Conner said. “I began this project because I wanted to learn more about tissue culture and its future possibilities. I never imagined that others would gravitate toward the possibilities of its impact at such a fast rate.”

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UF/IFAS researchers show potential market for locally grown Asian vegetables

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research, Vegetables

Please see caption at end of story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Asian-Americans in three East Coast states, including Florida, yearn for more of their native vegetables, and those crops can be grown in the East, say two University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.

Gene McAvoy, a UF/IFAS Extension vegetable specialist, and Shouan Zhang, a UF/IFAS plant pathology associate professor, were among a group of 17 researchers from four land-grant universities who surveyed Asian Americans’ preferences in Asian vegetables. Then the researchers tested the crops in various states to see how well they would grow.

There’s a market for locally grown Asian vegetables, researchers say.

In Florida, Asians account for 2.8 percent – or 557,000 — of the state’s 19.8 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The population of Asian Americans has jumped by 32 percent from 2000 to 2011, according to the census bureau. Asians are expected to make up about 40 million Americans by 2030. On the East Coast alone, there are 5.8 million Asian Americans in 2014, according to the study.

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Citrus greening, invasive species head 2016 UF/IFAS stories

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A trio of projects aimed at helping Florida producers cope with the bacterial disease known as citrus greening topped the list of stories shared by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in 2016.

This year marked the beginning of the state’s second decade battling greening disease, which is also known as Huanglongbing or HLB. Other top stories for the year involved invasive organisms causing negative impacts to Florida’s economy and environment, and even the health of its residents.

Here are the top 10 UF/IFAS 2016 stories:

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Longtime Duda executive named UF/IFAS Champion for 2016

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, RECs

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Hugh English, a key figure in the citrus industry known for his many contributions to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has been honored as the 2016 UF/IFAS Champion.

English was recognized Dec. 1 at the Gulf Citrus Growers Association luncheon in Fort Myers, Florida. The UF/IFAS Champion Award honors those who strengthen the organization’s ability to excel in teaching, research and Extension, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources.

“Hugh is a giant of the citrus industry and a great friend to UF/IFAS,” Payne said.

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UF/IFAS researcher to lead $1 million study to increase global wheat production

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Extension, IFAS, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher will lead a nearly $1 million project to increase worldwide wheat yield potential to help feed an anticipated 9.5 billion people globally by the year 2050.

To do this, Md Ali Babar, a UF/IFAS agronomy assistant professor and his team of researchers, hope to increase the harvest index from 45 to 60 percent, which translates to much more wheat. The harvest index quantifies a crop’s yield versus the amount of biomass – shoots and roots – that it produces.

“This will increase wheat yield and improve food security for a growing population,” Babar said.

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Learn more about Florida’s water resources with new UF/IFAS website

Topic(s): Environment, Extension, Lawn & Garden, New Technology, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Are you concerned about how your water tastes? Do you want to know how much you use, or whether we’ll have enough water for the next generation? A new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences website links users with UF/IFAS programs on how to preserve and, perhaps improve the quantity and quality of water in Florida.

Click on http://water.ifas.ufl.edu/ and find educational resources provided by UF/IFAS, said Kati Migliaccio, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering, who’s among the people who created the site.

“I think our greatest achievement is providing a website for Florida resident to quickly access answers to their questions or solve their problems concerning water,” Migliaccio said.

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UF/IFAS’s Folta named Pro Farmer Ag Person of the Year

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Departments, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Renowned University of Florida genomics and photobiology researcher Kevin Folta has been named 2016 Pro Farmer Ag Person of the Year. Folta is professor and chair of the horticulture sciences department at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“Dr. Folta has been a leader in the fight against the anti-GMO movement for years,” said Chip Flory, Pro Farmer editorial director. “He was a natural choice for his leadership and many years of education on biotechnology, and for being committed to sharing that knowledge with the general public.”

Folta publishes a website and podcast titled “Talking Biotech” (www.talkingbiotechpodcast.com). Its purpose is to “help connect the public to current science and technology and let scientists tell the stories of how science can help our farmers, industrialized world consumers, the environment and the developing world,” Folta said. “The hope is this resource can explain how new tools can improve food security, reduce poverty and improve agricultural and medical practices.”

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UF honors Marjorie Reitz Turnbull with Distinguished Service Award

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, Graduation, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Marjorie Reitz Turnbull was presented with the Stephen C. O’Connell Distinguished Service Award by the University of Florida at the 10 a.m. fall graduation ceremony on Dec. 17. The award is one of the highest honors bestowed upon UF alumni, recognizing exceptional public service to the state of Florida or the nation at large.

Turnbull was nominated for the award by the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) and UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). Turnbull earned her undergraduate degree in political science from CLAS, and continues to honor her father J. Wayne Reitz’s legacy at UF. She has endowed a fund for the J. Wayne Reitz Medal of Excellence Award given to an outstanding senior in CALS to honor her father’s service as provost of agriculture (1949-1955) and fifth president of UF (1955-1967). Her late husband Augustus B. Turnbull III was a former provost of Florida State University.

“Ms. Reitz Turnbull has continuously served the University of Florida by maintaining a relationship with students and alumni, and returning to Gainesville to support the University’s various projects such as the renovation and expansion of the J. Wayne Reitz Union,” said retired UF Vice President for Student Affairs David Kratzer in his letter of support for Turnbull’s nomination.

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UF honors Louis E. “Red” Larson with Distinguished Achievement Award

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, Graduation, IFAS, Livestock

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Louis E. “Red” Larson was presented with the Distinguished Achievement Award by the University of Florida at the 10 a.m. fall graduation ceremony on Dec. 17.

The award is one of the highest honors bestowed upon a UF supporter. The award recognizes exceptional achievements of the individual in his or her chosen profession, demonstrated leadership, and other exemplary accomplishments that merit special recognition by the university. Larson was nominated for the award by the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS).

Larson’s first job as a Miami Daily News paperboy in the 1930s enabled him to purchase his first cow. He worked on weekends and during summers to hand-milk cows for a local dairyman. In 1947 he began his own dairy farm and now Larson Dairy, Inc. is one of the largest dairy operations in the Southeast, producing more than 200 million pounds of milk annually.

“Through [Larson’s] hard work, entrepreneurial spirit, business ability and willingness to embrace modern science and cutting edge management practices, he built Larson Farms from the ground up by leading people and building a team of employees that believed in Larson and his vision for modern dairy operation,” said the Executive Vice President of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association Jim Handley in his letter of support for Larson’s nomination.

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