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Grants to help UF researchers grow pine trees faster, produce more energy

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Forestry

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida researchers will use $1.45 million in federal grants to develop trait-prediction models and accelerate the growth of loblolly pine trees to produce more bioenergy.

In his grant application, UF associate professor Matias Kirst, the principal investigator for the study, said Southern pines can be used as renewable biomass for bioenergy and renewable chemicals. However, for pines to meet their potential as a bioenergy crop, researchers must develop more productive cultivars that can be efficiently converted into liquid fuels, said Kirst, who teaches in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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UF/IFAS team awarded strawberry sustainability grant

Topic(s): Crops

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nearly all of the strawberries in the United States are grown in Florida or California, but faced with growing competition in the industry from Mexico, a team of UF researchers is looking for ways to diversify the industry.

Led by horticultural sciences professor Carlene Chase, the team hopes to develop new organic and sustainable methods of growing strawberries in the southeastern United States. Hers is one of two UF teams awarded grants by the National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative, a program funded by the Walmart Foundation and administered by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability.

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Florida weather network adds three stations

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Crops, New Technology, Weather

FAWN

GAINESVILLE — The Florida Automated Weather Network is bigger than ever, with three new sites added this year.

Stations added since April are in Citrus, Okeechobee and Palm Beach counties, said Rick Lusher, manager of the network at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

That makes 41 stations now in the network, built in 1998 to give the state’s agricultural producers the most current weather information possible.

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UF researchers identify citrus cultivars that show promise in battle against greening

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, IFAS, New Technology, Pests, RECs, Research

Click above for video about citrus breeding and citrus greening research.

citrus root stocks

Click here for photo. Caption at bottom.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers have some encouraging results in the battle against citrus greening.

They have identified citrus cultivars, in this case 16 citrus rootstocks, most of which show a lower rate of infection and more tolerance to citrus greening – the dreaded disease that has wreaked havoc through Florida’s citrus industry since its arrival in the state in 2005.

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New UF-developed strawberry varieties are bred with a focus on flavor

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

Vance Whitaker

Click here or image above for video about UF/IFAS’ strawberry breeding program.

Vance Whitaker

For high-resolution version of above photo, click here. Caption below.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With the time for Florida growers to plant strawberries right around the corner, it won’t be long before Florida-grown strawberries appear in grocery aisles.

And for some of the best-tasting strawberries on the market according to multiple taste panels and tests, shoppers can simply look for those grown in the Sunshine State, thanks to work by the University of Florida.

Researchers with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have continued to improve the quality and flavor of Florida-grown strawberries, as evident in their latest releases of the cultivars Winterstar and Florida Sensation.

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UF study helps quantify biodiversity decrease around farmland

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, Conservation, Crops, Economics, Environment, IFAS, Pests, Research

elephant_shrew

Click here for photo. Caption at bottom.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Animal biodiversity suffers near conservation areas that border big farms, and the effects can spread for miles, according to a new study by University of Florida researchers and their colleagues.

Maintaining animal biodiversity is important as it can lead to greater control of agricultural pests and increased pollination around farmland as well as help maintain the health of an area’s ecosystem, said Robert McCleery, a study co-author.

The researchers studied small mammal populations across large-scale sugarcane production areas and adjacent to isolated pockets of conservation land in Swaziland, Africa. The study was published Monday in the online journal PLOS ONE and can be viewed here: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0074520.

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Recent studies by UF professor highlighted by scientific journal

Topic(s): Crops, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, New Technology, Research, Safety

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Two papers co-authored by a University of Florida professor have been highlighted by a leading science journal.

The science journal Plant Physiology recently named the studies “Crop Genome Plasticity and Its Relevance to Food and Feed Safety of Genetically Engineered Breeding Stacks” and “Evaluating the Potential for Adverse Interactions within Genetically Engineered Breeding Stacks” as Editor’s Choice papers.

The papers were co-authored by Curtis Hannah, an professor with the horticultural sciences department, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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UF study: Florida’s agricultural and natural resources industries remain strong since recession

Topic(s): Agriculture, Aquaculture, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Forestry, IFAS, Livestock

ag and natural resources

Caption at bottom.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s agriculture, natural resources and related food industries provided a $104 billion impact on the state in 2011 and have continued to improve since the 2008 recession, according to a new University of Florida study.

The study is the latest report from researchers in UF’s food and resource economics department — part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences — on the industries’ economic contributions. It can be viewed here: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FE/FE93500.pdf.

The industries include crop, livestock, forestry and fisheries production; agricultural product and service providers; food product manufacturing; forest product manufacturing; food distribution; mining and nature-based recreation.

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UF/IFAS expands Bee College to South Florida, including courses in Spanish

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Vegetables

South Florida Bee College

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida will host the first Bee College for South Florida this summer in Fort Lauderdale.

The event is coming to South Florida to meet demand there and will also feature courses taught in Spanish. Event registration is here: http://southfloridabeecollege.eventbrite.com/.

The two-day college will be held Aug. 16-17 at the UF Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center in Davie, part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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UF researchers find wheat production models disagree under climate change scenarios

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Economics, Environment, IFAS, New Technology, Research, Weather

Senthold Asseng

Click here for high-resolution version. Caption at bottom.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers have found, for the first time, that crop models predicting yields for one of the world’s most important crops begin to disagree under climate change scenarios.

By knowing where those models break down, researchers will be better able to improve them. The computerized models predict crop yields for wheat, one of the world’s most-consumed foods.

Scientists use crop models to foresee which parts of the world may face the greatest food shortages, so that efforts to improve food production can be directed to those places.

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