IFAS News

University of Florida

As UF/IFAS CREC turns 100, it celebrates decades working with Florida Department of Citrus

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Citrus Research and Education Center celebrates its 100th anniversary, administrators are praising a decades-long relationship between researchers with CREC and the Florida Department of Citrus in bringing healthy, nutritious fruit and juice to your home.

“Housing the FDOC and CREC scientists at the same location has brought together the expertise needed to address any issue facing the Florida citrus industry, from the field to the grocery store shelf, and everywhere in between,” said Michael Rogers, director of the Citrus REC. “We’ve had a long and productive history working together to support the Florida citrus industry and continue to do so, as we are both working together to develop solutions for citrus greening disease.”

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Youth potato project plants seeds of STEM careers

Topic(s): 4-H, Agriculture, Crops, Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When the Flagler County 4-H members started growing their own potato plants at home, they were a little worried at first.

“They would come to me and say, ‘I don’t see any potatoes on my plant. What’s wrong?’” said Amy Hedstrom, a Flagler County 4-H youth development agent with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.

“That was the day they learned potatoes grew in the ground, not above-ground,” Hedstrom said. ‘“Aha” moments like these really open their eyes to the science behind the food we eat.”

These youth are part of the Tri-County 4-H Potato Project created in 2015 by the UF/IFAS Extension 4-H programs in Flagler, Putnam and St. Johns counties. In addition to growing their own potatoes, youth also participate in planting and harvest field days at the UF/IFAS Hastings Agricultural Extension Center facility on Cowpen Branch Road.

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UF Plant Science Research and Education Unit gets new director

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Cultivars, IFAS

James Boyer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A veteran of the UF/IFAS Plant Science Research and Education Unit has been named its permanent director, and he hopes to help faculty continue improving crops.

James Boyer, who has worked at the unit for 17 years, was named interim director in May 2016. His appointment to the permanent post was effective April 7. Prior to that, he worked as research coordinator. In that position, Boyer coordinated research for agronomic crops, fruit crops and forages, said UF/IFAS Dean for Research Jackie Burns.

“He will be instrumental in providing leadership for the overall planning and development at PSREU,” Burns said in making the announcement. “I am so pleased to have such an experienced leader as Jim on board.  We look forward to working with Jim and his staff in the future.”

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Consumers will normally pay more for organic products – but not wine

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You swish around a sip of organic wine in your mouth and it might tempt your taste buds, but that doesn’t mean you’ll pay more for it, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.

For the study, former UF/IFAS graduate student Lane Abraben, used an economic model to determine if consumers are willing to pay more for organic wine. Abraben specifically examined wine consumed from the Tuscany region of Italy. But his adviser, Kelly Grogan, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics, said the research findings likely apply to any organically produced wine.

For many products, organic production costs more than conventional production; thus, to make organic products more viable, consumers must be willing to pay more, Grogan said.

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POSTPONED: UF/IFAS networking event to focus on organic agriculture

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

Please note that this event has been postponed.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As organic food goes mainstream, more small farms are looking to get into the industry, says Jim DeValerio, agriculture agent for Bradford County with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension program.

“We’ve seen growing demand in small farm communities for more opportunities to learn about organic agriculture, and meet others who are also interested in going organic,” DeValerio said.

Growers will have a chance to do just that at the next meeting of the Florida Agriculture Network (FAN), April 25 from 4 to 6 p.m. at 1655 SE 23rd Place in Gainesville, Florida. Attendees will tour two organic farms, mingle with other growers and help inform future UF/IFAS research.

Those interested in attending can register at http://tinyurl.com/l5yzv2y or call the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County office at 352-955-2402. Registration is $15.

Organized by UF/IFAS Extension faculty, FAN meetings help growers to network and also meet their local county Extension agent — all in one place.

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Delectable delights highlight Flavors of Florida

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Aquaculture, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Plants, Research, Vegetables

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — UF/IFAS scientists toil for years creating and enhancing many of the foods we consume and plants we enjoy. When it comes to plant breeding, UF/IFAS is a global leader. In fact, UF/IFAS is ranked as a top-10 horticulture program in the 2017 Center for World University Rankings.

Many of UF/IFAS’ tastiest creations will be available for consumption or on display at this year’s Flavors of Florida event.

Scheduled for April 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the University House, 2151 W. University Ave., Gainesville, Florida, the event offers guests an opportunity to sample foods containing UF/IFAS-developed ingredients prepared by local celebrity chefs. This year’s sample dishes will include citrus, tomatoes, meats, strawberries, blueberries and olive oil to tempt the taste buds. Additionally, non-edible plants, such as a relatively new cultivar of Mexican petunia, also will be showcased.

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The problem expands for avocado growers: More beetle species carry deadly fungus

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Many people love their avocados – not to mention guacamole dip. So it was bad enough when scientists said a beetle was ravaging avocado trees in South Florida. Then scientists found out that the redbay ambrosia beetle — originally determined to transmit laurel wilt — is rare in avocado groves but that six other beetle species could carry the laurel wilt pathogen.

That’s more species for scientists to track down and study. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economists have estimated avocados bring a $100 million-a-year economic impact to South Florida.

In a new study, UF/IFAS plant pathology professor Randy Ploetz said scientists found three more types of beetles that can carry the pathogen that can kill avocado trees.

Scientist say they still don’t know how many species of ambrosia beetle transmit the fungus that causes laurel wilt, also known as Raffaelea lauricola. To serve as a “vector,” the insect must interact with the tree and the pathogen, and that interaction is hard to study, said Ploetz, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida.

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Bumblebees boost blueberry yield

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Bumblebees can boost blueberry yield by 70 percent, good news for Florida growers in the heart of their blueberry season, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.

The news also accentuates the need for blueberry pollinators, said Joshua Campbell, a post-doctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS entomology and nematology department.

After caging bumblebee hives with highbush blueberry bushes, researchers found that 70 percent of the flowers produced blueberries, while less than 10 percent of those without bumblebee hives produced blueberries. That’s helpful news for blueberry growers, said Campbell, co-author of a new study published in the Journal of Environmental Entomology.

“We think our findings are very relevant for growers who are growing blueberries in greenhouses and high tunnels,” Campbell said.

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UF students learn how to save environment, lessen wildfires with prescribed burns

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Departments, Environment, Forestry, IFAS, Pollution, Safety, Weather

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Assistant professor Raelene Crandall walks her 18 students into Austin Cary Forest, part of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, where they will set a fire. Crandall and the students stand out in their lemon yellow shirts, forest green pants, leather boots and gloves, and hard hats—all fireproof.

“Wildfire season is starting early this year, because we’re seeing a warmer, drier spring,” said Crandall, who teaches fire ecology in the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation. “Experts predict an unusually bad wildfire season this year with the dry conditions and prescribed burns may help lower that number.”

The students check the plow line, which is used to contain a fire to a particular area and then start a fire along the edge. They stand back as plants begin to burn and the fire gradually progresses. “If we don’t conduct prescribed burns, we will get larger, often catastrophic fires that threaten families and structures,” Crandall explained.

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UF/IFAS experts help growers ready for tonight’s cold snap

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Plants, Weather

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Growers are bracing for a cold snap tonight that could cost them thousands of dollars in damage. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension agents and researchers are here to help.

A hard freeze warning is in effect from 2 a.m. to 9 a.m. Thursday, March 16 for many counties in North Florida, according to the National Weather Service in Jacksonville. Temperatures are predicted to be 24 to 27 degrees during these hours.

UF/IFAS Extension specialists are available to give growers advice for the cold spell. Find your county’s UF/IFAS Extension specialists by clicking here. Then click on your county.

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