University of Florida

UF/IFAS researchers head to Cuba for scientific exchange to benefit Florida agriculture

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

Bill Messina, agricultural economist with the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, surveyes a map of Cuban farming areas, Tuesday 3/24, that could compete with Florida producers if and when the United States trade embargo against Cuba is lifted. During the past four years, he has led a team of UF researchers working with the University of Havana to study the economic impact of lifting the embargo.   Photography by, Thomas Wright  UF/IFAS

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is sending an inter-departmental team of scientists to Cuba as part of a grant that is believed to be the first federally-funded project for scientific field research in Cuba.

The project’s principal investigator (PI), associate professor Damian Adams; project co-PIs assistant professor Jiri Hulcr and postdoctoral associates Paloma Carton de Grammont and José Soto, and other UF/IFAS research scientists and graduate students from the School of Forest Resources & Conservation, the Entomology and Nematology Department, the Food and Resource Economics Department, and the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering will travel to Cuba for this research, funded by a $228,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The project team is traveling to Cuba to fulfill several missions:

  • Conduct research to identify wood-boring pest species in Cuba that could pose high-risk threats to U.S. agriculture and forests.
  • Train Cuban scientists on state-of-the-art methods to accurately identify these wood-boring pests in Cuba in an effort to reduce the possibility of transmission of these pests to Florida agriculture and forests.
  • Understand how Cuba’s plant protection programs and policies impact pest movement, particularly to the United States.
  • Estimate the potential economic impact of a pest invasion from Cuba to the United States.

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Florida Ag Expo to highlight emerging crops, ways to battle new pests

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

Gary Vallad speaking at the 2015 Florida Agricultural Expo at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida.  Photo taken 11-04-15

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Growers, UF/IFAS Extension faculty and scientists will tackle production and pest problems – including the Q-biotype whitefly — when they gather for the 11th annual Florida Ag Expo on Nov. 2 at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center.

Created as a way to showcase the Gulf Coast REC, the Ag Expo is a one-stop resource for Florida fruit and vegetable producers. The day-long event includes education sessions, grower roundtables, field tours and demonstrations, as well as a large vendor show with about 80 ag-related booths. The Gulf Coast REC, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, sits on 475 acres in Balm, Florida, southeast of Tampa.

“The expo has become an important show for growers to stay up to date on the latest research results to assist them in vegetable and small-fruit production,” said Jack Rechcigl, director of the Gulf Coast REC.

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In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, UF/IFAS Extension faculty step up as ‘second responders’

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


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As Hurricane Matthew dumped water and wind on Florida’s east coast last week, it wasn’t long before several alligators were spotted roaming the parking lot at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Brevard County office. But alligators or no alligators, the two faculty members hunkered down in the facility weren’t about to leave their posts any time soon.

“We have a very large generator at the office that we needed to keep running during the storm in case people at the county facilities lost power and had to move to our facility,” said Linda Seals, director of UF/IFAS Extension Brevard County.

Seals’ staff weren’t the only ones hard at work helping residents and emergency personnel weather the storm. From housing evacuated livestock to manning the phones at local emergency operations centers, UF/IFAS Extension faculty across the state put in many long hours and a few sleepless nights keeping people safe and informed.

“We serve 20 million Floridians year-round in our day jobs, but in a crisis we work 24/7 to help those most in need” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “We demonstrated all weekend long how much we value our relationships. Our actions told our communities that this isn’t just a job to us. This was about helping friends, neighbors and community members.”

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UF/IFAS experts to celebrate animal agriculture at 39th annual Sunbelt Ag Expo

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

2010 Sunbelt Agriculture Expo in Moultrie, Georgia.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty will be sharing their expertise on the theme of Florida’s animal agriculture at the 39th annual Sunbelt Ag Expo — the largest agricultural expo in the southeast.

About 80,000 people are expected to attend the expo, held Oct. 18 to 20 in Moultrie, Georgia.

“Our experts in UF/IFAS Extension are thrilled to represent our programs, and we are proud to participate in such an important event. It is a great opportunity to meet others who are as passionate about agriculture as we are,” said Nick Place, dean of UF/IFAS Extension.

Visitors come to the expo to learn about the latest agricultural research, technology and marketing tools, according to the expo web site.

At the permanent UF/IFAS building, displays and exhibits will tell the story of Florida’s animal industries, starting with the resources that go into raising animals and ending with the safe preparation of animal proteins. In addition, attendees can hear presentations on livestock forages and poisonous plants by UF/IFAS researchers in the expo’s Beef Barn, or head over to the pond section to learn more about Florida’s fisheries.

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UF/IFAS-based PINEMAP project earns national award from USDA

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, CALS, Conservation, Crops, Economics, Environment, Extension, Forestry, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Research, Weather


Caption: PINEMAP principal investigator Tim Martin, right, accepts congratulations from Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, at the NIFA Partnership Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (Photo courtesy of USDA-NIFA)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The PINEMAP project, based within the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, devoted five years to helping the Southeastern planted-pine industry prepare for future production challenges. Now, PINEMAP is being honored with a prestigious national award from the United States Department of Agriculture.

On Thursday, Oct. 6, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, or NIFA, announced that PINEMAP would receive one of three 2016 NIFA Partnership Awards presented nationwide. The award recognizes PINEMAP for its outstanding performance integrating and fulfilling the education, Extension and research missions common to all land-grant universities.

The award confirms yet again the impact of UF/IFAS programs for one of the state’s most important industries, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“Planted pine is cultivated on about 20 million acres throughout the Southeast. This industry is enormously important both economically and environmentally, and the work of PINEMAP was crucial to help secure the industry’s future,” Payne said. “Our UF/IFAS faculty members have shown exemplary leadership and scholarship; this honor is richly deserved.”

PINEMAP involved UF and 10 other southeastern U.S. land-grant institutions, as well as numerous collaborators from government agencies and private industry. The project was launched in February 2011 after leaders obtained one of three $20 million grants awarded concurrently by USDA as part of its Coordinated Agriculture Projects program, meant to strengthen vital domestic crop-production industries. (more …)

UF/IFAS Extension prepared to help Floridians facing Hurricane Matthew

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Disaster Preparedness, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Safety

Rivers and lakes overflowing after a severe storm or hurricane hits. (UF/Ifas photo: Marisol Amador)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension is working closely with Florida’s emergency operation centers to provide emergency information and assistance to those in the path of Hurricane Matthew.

“The local UF/IFAS Extension office is a disaster response resource in every community in Florida,” said Angie Lindsey, assistant professor of family, youth and community sciences. Lindsey is the UF/IFAS point of contact for the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN), a national organization of Extension educators who work to prepare communities for disasters.

Lindsey, who works with the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources, helps UF/IFAS Extension agents develop disaster response tools and further collaboration between agents and local officials.

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UF/IFAS study: Sweet Sensation® ‘Florida127’ strawberry lives up to its name

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


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Growers in Florida’s $300 million-a-year strawberry industry now have proof that the latest UF/IFAS-bred variety lasts longer on the shelf and tastes sweeter than two UF/IFAS cultivars, making it more attractive to faraway markets.

“These two attributes together make for a clear step up in eating quality for the consumer,” said Vance Whitaker, an associate professor of horticultural sciences and strawberry breeder at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida.

In a newly published study, scientists studied traits for Sweet Sensation® ‘Florida127,’ which was released commercially in the 2014-2015 growing season. Researchers compared them to those of ‘Florida Radiance’ and ‘Strawberry Festival,’ two other UF/IFAS-bred varieties.

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Ninth annual Datil Pepper Cook Off set for October 1 in St. Augustine, Fla.

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

AUGUSTINE, Fla. — On Oct. 1, about 1,000 people are expected to attend the ninth annual Datil Pepper Cook Off to celebrate the iconic pepper. The Datil Pepper Cook off, as part of the Datil Pepper Fall Festival, is hosted by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension St. Johns County in St. Augustine, Florida.

Attendees will sample an array of datil-themed fare prepared by local restaurants, and experience cook-offs and tasting contests. Those making the journey to this foodie hot-spot should keep in mind that the datil adds more than just a “kick” to a dish, said Joanne Cooper, family and consumer science agent with UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns County and cook off festival organizer.

“The datil is as hot or hotter than the habanero pepper,” Cooper said. “During our hot sauce competition, which usually has about 50 entries, there is a lot of milk and bread on hand for the judges.”

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Two UF/IFAS food and resource economics faculty win awards for educational programming

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Economics, Environment, Extension, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

Tatiana Borisova and Edward “Gilly” Evans

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty in the food and resource economics department have each been selected for UF/IFAS Extension Professional and Enhancement awards.  These awards highlight exceptional UF/IFAS Extension programming, and earn faculty additional funding and program support.

Tatiana Borisova, associate professor and Extension specialist, has been selected for the Wells Fargo Extension Professional Award and Program Enhancement Grant, which recognizes a proposed educational program that responds to a public policy issue.

Borisova, who specializes in water economics and policy, is interested in educating Floridians about water resource management.

“In recent years, changes to water resource laws and regulations have rapidly accelerated in Florida and the U.S.,” said Borisova. “Meanwhile, public knowledge of water laws and regulations is limited. Public participation is vital for development and implementation of water resource management programs.”

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UF/IFAS Everglades REC offers free plant workshop to middle, high school teachers on Sept. 27

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Departments, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Lawn & Garden, Pests, RECs

Arabidopsis trials in the lab as part of Ana Lisa Paul's plants in space research program.  Photo taken 01/29/16.

BELLE GLADE, Fla. — Want to teach your students the good, the bad and the ugly about plants while incorporating three different sciences? Researchers at the UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Education Center will lead the second annual workshop, “Don’t Get Caught with Your Plants Down,” from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

The free workshop will be held at UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Education Center, 3200 East Canal Street, Belle Glade, Florida. Breakfast and lunch will be provided, and in-service points for professional development will be awarded by school districts through Master Inservice Plans (MIP).

This year’s program, developed by the UF/IFAS department of plant pathology, uses resources available from the American Phytopathological Society, said Richard Raid, a professor of plant pathology and workshop organizer. Middle and high school teachers will take back vital information to students on the importance of plants in daily life, he said.

Florida is home to the most invasive species in the country, and many travel in to the state via plants, Raid explained.

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