GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida is partnering with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the United States Department of Agriculture on two dozen projects to strengthen markets for specialty crops in the state. (more …)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A strawberry monitoring web system that will soon expand to South Carolina is one of many reasons a University of Florida faculty member has won the Lee M. Hutchins Award from the American Phytopathological Society (APS).
The Hutchins award goes to the author or authors of significant published research on basic or applied aspects of diseases of perennial fruit plants, according to the society’s website.
“APS is probably the most prestigious society worldwide in our field of plant pathology, so I am very honored with the nomination and the award,” said Natalia Peres, an associate professor of plant pathology at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Two relatively new University of Florida faculty members have earned Vance Publishing’s second annual 40 Under 40 Award, which recognizes those making a significant contribution to America’s food system.
Alexa Lamm and Sam Hutton work for UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and graduated from UF’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Two other CALS graduates made the list: Ben Butler, who earned a bachelor’s in animal sciences in 2002 and Christy Bratcher, who earned a bachelor’s in 2002 and a master’s in 2004, both in animal sciences.
Lamm has worked as an assistant professor of agricultural education and communication since 2012 and was recently named associate director of the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education. Hutton is an assistant professor of horticultural sciences at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, where he started in 2010.
Lamm and the other honorees were chosen from nearly 200 nominees, said officials with Vance Communications, which publishes agricultural publications nationwide. A six-judge panel with distinguished agricultural careers chose the winners.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, global food production must double by 2050 to head off mass hunger. Vance Publishing is committed to raising awareness to the 2050 Challenge.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Taste trumps health benefits for blueberry buyers, sending a strong message that fruit consumers value flavor most, new University of Florida research shows.
About 61 percent of blueberry consumers buy the fruit for its flavor, while 39 percent do so for psychological reasons, according to two national online surveys. By “psychological,” researchers mean those consumers may buy blueberries because they believe the fruit, which contains antioxidants, provides health benefits.
UF horticultural sciences assistant professor Jim Olmstead will use the data as he breeds new types of blueberries. Olmstead uses traditional breeding methods to create blueberry cultivars that have traits consumers want.
“What we’re trying to determine is: What is the consumer’s perception of the ideal blueberry? What should it look, taste and feel like?” said Olmstead, a faculty member with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida-developed web tool can bring growers $1.7 million more in net profits over 10 years than a calendar-based fungicide system because it guides growers to spray their crop at optimal times, a new UF study shows.
The Strawberry Advisory System, devised by an Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher, takes data such as temperature and leaf wetness and tells growers when to spray fungicide to ward off diseases. Growers can use the system by logging onto www.agroclimate.org/tools/strawberry or use the website to sign up for email or text alerts.
Before the system was developed, strawberry farmers traditionally sprayed weekly during the November-to-March growing season. Spraying more often than is needed wastes money and can lead to fungicide resistance, said Natalia Peres, associate professor in plant pathology, who led the system’s development.
Not all strawberry growers use the system, but this research might persuade them to do so, said Tatiana Borisova, an assistant professor in UF/IFAS food and resource economics department.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Using a yeast-sugar-water mixture, berry growers can easily keep tabs on a pest that causes millions in damage each year in the U.S., a new University of Florida study shows.
Farmers can conduct a test to determine if the spotted wing drosophila is in their field – and if so, how prevalent. They punch holes near the upper rim of a covered plastic cup and pour in a yeast-sugar-water mix to about 1 inch high in the cup.
The liquid mixture lures the pest, and growers add a drop of dishwashing liquid to thicken the bait and keep the bugs from escaping. Growers check the traps once a week to see how many bugs are in them. Knowing the pest population is the first step to controlling the bug, also known as the drosophila suzukii.
The female insect cuts a slit in the fruit’s skin and lays eggs there. The larvae consume strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and other thin-skinned fruit, said Oscar Liburd, a UF entomology and nematology professor.
“The drosophila suzukii is the biggest threat to berry production in the United States,” said Liburd, a faculty member at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Gainesville, Fla. ─ The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Florida A&M University’s Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Focus Team are pleased to announce the three winners of the Innovative Farmer Award for this year’s conference.
The Innovative Farmer Award recognizes farmers and ranchers who are innovative leaders and excel in making their farming systems more profitable over the long term, using farming practices that enhance natural resources, leading or participating in activities that support viable communities and providing outreach and/or education about sustainable agriculture ideas and practices to others.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A new potato variety grown for use as a chip should be more marketable because it averts a process that causes the crop to brown, and may be less oily than current tubers, a University of Florida researcher says.
The Elkton potato does not succumb to internal heat necrosis, said Lincoln Zotarelli, a UF assistant horticultural sciences professor and faculty member at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The disorder is caused by high temperature and changes to soil moisture and nutrients and leaves the potato brown inside.
UF/IFAS and U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists put Elkton potatoes through 19 trials, from 2003-2013, in Florida. Numerous trials were also conducted in Maine, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The trials tested Elkton’s adaptability to soils in the those states and showed the variety exhibits characteristics growers want, said Kathleen Haynes, a research geneticist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Maryland.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – If you’re thinking of starting a small farm or want to know about the latest in local foods, organic and hydroponic production, livestock production, farmers markets and more, you might consider attending the Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference.
Like last year, about 800 people are expected to attend the conference, Aug. 1-2, at Osceola Heritage Park, 1875 Silver Spur Lane in Kissimmee, said Jose Perez, small farms specialty crop statewide program coordinator and the event’s publicity chairman.
Now in its sixth year, the conference is presented by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Florida A&M University.
Typically, those who attend include small family, transitional, beginning and experienced farmers; allied-industry representatives; educators; researchers; policy makers; small farm commodity associations; foundations and others dedicated to strengthening Florida’s small farm community.
Ed Skvarch, commercial horticulture extension agent in St. Lucie County, said those pondering farming can learn much of its business side at the conference.
“If you’re starting a small farm, I believe it is crucial to have passion, the technical knowledge on how to grow vegetables or raise livestock and a working plan on how to grow the business,” Skvarch said. “Most beginning farmers I work with have the passion and possess some knowledge of growing vegetables; however, what they lack is a plan on how to grow their business. All three are important.”