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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For Tori Bradley, learning about cold weather may turn into cold hard cash for Florida blueberry growers.
Bradley, a University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences graduate student, interned with faculty to develop cold-weather protection strategies so blueberry growers can save money.
As part of her UF/IFAS Research internship, Bradley studied the economic advantages for growers who use precision cold protection, according to a new UF/IFAS Extension document, http://bit.ly/1N5A9gc. Bradley studied the differences between precision cold protection and uniform cold protection. Blueberries bloom in late winter or early spring in Florida, making them susceptible to frosts. For uniform strategy, growers start frost protection irrigation when the temperature hovers between 31 and 35 degrees.
By using the precision method, growers can save an average of $44 per acre per season on irrigation pumping costs, depending on their location in Florida, according to Bradley and her faculty mentors.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences global authority on the genetic basis of plant disease resistance has been named a Fellow of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Frank White, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, was named a Fellow last month.
“It is an honor to be recognized by your fellow scientists,” White said. “I was very pleased when notified. Of course, much credit goes to the many outstanding young scientists who worked in my group and numerous excellent mentors and collaborators during my career.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers have found an irrigation method that uses 50 percent less water than traditional systems to grow potatoes – an important finding for the $131 million-a-year Florida crop.
The system is called “hybrid center pivot irrigation.” With this method, about two-thirds of the water used to help grow potatoes is sprayed from above ground, similar to natural rainfall, and about one-third comes from under the ground – a traditional method known as “seepage irrigation.”
UF/IFAS Assistant Professor Guodong “David” Liu led a group of UF/IFAS researchers in testing the impact of hybrid center pivot irrigation on soil moisture and temperature at a Manatee County, Florida potato farm.
The method saved about 55 percent of water in a three-year trial at the farm. Additionally, researchers found no loss in crop yield using less water. Liu said he now is convincing growers to use center pivot irrigation with fertigation, in which all the water comes from above-ground sprinklers. Scientists say they may save one third more water.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences students are learning how to breed better peppers under the guidance of Professor Bala Rathinasabapathi.
And by “better,” we mean a more savory taste, among other characteristics. Florida produces $207 million worth of bell peppers annually, according to the Florida Department Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). In fact, as of 2012, Florida ranked second nationally in the value of bell peppers. Improving traits may help the Florida pepper industry grow even larger.
Now, for a new study published in the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, Rathinasabapathi and his team cross-bred two heirloom varieties of peppers – the Bulgarian Carrot and the Round of Hungary — to come up with more desirable consumer traits.
JAY, Fla. –The University of Florida’s West Florida Research and Education Center will join forces with the Bay Area Food Bank, Waterfront Rescue Mission and the Guy Thompson Community Center to feed 700 local families during National Farm to City Week, Nov. 20 to 26.
Farm to City Week is a national effort to increase the public’s knowledge and appreciation for agriculture. The week of Thanksgiving, meals will be distributed to 400 needy families in Santa Rosa County and 300 families in Escambia County.
“This food will provide these families with a healthy meal this Thanksgiving holiday,” said Wes Wood, center director of the UF/IFAS West Florida REC. “We want to feed these families and teach folks in our community about the economic, environmental and societal benefits of agriculture.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers have found an algorithm to help them detect laurel wilt, the deadly pathogen that threatens Florida’s $100 million-a-year avocado industry.
Reza Ehsani, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, said the algorithm finds laurel wilt-infected avocado trees before symptoms are visible to the naked eye. About 500 growers produce Florida’s avocado crop annually, and more than 98 percent of the fruit is grown in Miami-Dade County. UF scientists estimate laurel wilt could severely reduce the commercial avocado industry if they don’t find control strategies for the pathogen and ambrosia beetles.
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LAKE WALES, Fla. — At Roosevelt Academy, horticulture teacher Ray Cruze’s class is growing enough vegetables to sell to local restaurants and at a local market, in part thanks to a partnership between Bok Tower Gardens and the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The partnership between the state’s preeminent land-grant university and the historic garden officially launched in January, and now schools are busy planting vegetables after receiving grants, and residents are learning how to organize their own community gardens. (more …)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida strawberry growers must produce more fruit earlier in the growing season — in November and December – to keep a competitive advantage in the global market, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.
Florida and California combine to produce 99 percent of the United States’ strawberries, and Florida ranks as the biggest producer of winter strawberries, with a value of $366 million annually, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
But growers and UF/IFAS researchers are concerned because the industry faces increasing supplies from Mexico and California and volatile market prices. Mexico has emerged as the major competitor for the Florida strawberry industry, the study says. Fresh strawberry imports from Mexico reached 160,000 metric tons – or 360 million pounds — in 2014, while Florida production was about 200 million pounds.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will address production constraints for organic strawberry producers, thanks to a new $2 million federal grant.
The grant comes from the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) program, which is administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The research focuses on strawberry production systems, rather than just one part of the production process, said Mickie Swisher, associate professor of sustainable agriculture in the UF/IFAS Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences.
“Controlling weeds is a significant cost for all strawberry producers, not just organic producers,” Swisher said. “The project examines the effectiveness of cover crops as a supplementary weed management technique, used in conjunction with plastic mulch.”
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FT. PIERCE, Fla. — Nearly 20 years ago, University of Florida Extension Agent and Master Gardener Anita Neal dreamed of a farmer’s market in downtown Ft. Pierce, overlooking the Indian River. She envisioned a place where residents could buy locally grown fruits and vegetables and talk with experts from UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
That market recently was named one of the five best in the nation by American Farmland Trust’s Farmers’ Market Celebration. (more …)