GAINESVILLE, Fla. – With an additional $200,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation, scientists from the University of Florida and North Carolina A&T University are expanding grower engagement in organic strawberry research.
While the focus of the 2013-2014 work was broad and exploratory, a key component of this year’s research will be to test the best aspects of the organic strawberry production system under farm conditions and with grower management.
Growers at three farms in North Central Florida are assessing two cover crops and three commercial strawberry cultivars that performed well in last year’s Phase I trials. Grower evaluations of the Phase I research resulted in suggestions that researchers assess cover crop combinations as well as a cover crop that could produce a marketable product.
In Phase II, scientists will evaluate the on-station and on-farm research for seasonal variability in market yield, nutrient-use efficiency, consumer acceptance and response to postharvest handling and storage.
Strawberries will be a part of a five-year, $10 million grant to grow better fruit crops
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The United State Department of Agriculture awarded a team of scientists from 14 universities, including the University of Florida, the first of a $10-million, five-year grant to improve half a dozen fruit crops.
The award is from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative and involves two projects. (more …)
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A consortium of scientists and researchers, led by the University of Florida, has received the prestigious National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Partnership Award for Multistate Efforts.
The Southeast Climate Extension project is comprised of 19 researchers from half a dozen universities. They engage agricultural producers and help them implement management strategies to protect crops from weather extremes. In addition, they conduct research aimed at reducing climate and weather risks in agriculture and natural resources in Florida, and cooperate with similar programs through the Southeast Climate Consortium. (more …)
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.