This UF/IFAS file photo shows Florida-grown strawberries.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – After the first year of a University of Florida study to try to develop new organic strawberry production systems, growers are playing a critical role in setting priorities for the research project’s future.
The study stemmed from several issues strawberry growers face. Rising costs of production and increased imports of strawberries threaten the sustainability of the Florida strawberry industry, one of two major production regions in the nation. Demand for organic strawberries is growing and brings a price premium for growers who can master the art and science of organic strawberry production.
Organic and conventional growers assessed parts of the first year of research, said Mickie Swisher, associate professor of sustainable agriculture in UF’s Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences and a member of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A South American insect could help control the invasive Brazilian peppertree in places where it supplants critical habitat for many organisms, according to University of Florida and U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists.
Brazilian peppertree has clusters of hundreds of small, red berries, and grows about 10 feet per year, to about 30 feet. It is native to Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. The tree has moved around the world as an ornamental plant and has become invasive in several states and countries, including Florida, Texas and Hawaii as well as Australia, New Zealand and some Caribbean islands.
In Florida, Brazilian peppertree has infested nearly 700,000 acres in the central and southern regions. It has been particularly abundant in the Everglades. In general, the trees take over space where native plants should be. Animals such as white-tailed deer, the Florida panther and migratory birds that depend on native vegetation, such as mangrove, for food and shelter are deprived of that habitat.
“This can have cascading effects through the food chain,” said Bill Overholt, an entomology professor at UF’s Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce.
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LAKELAND, Fla. – While most people think of unmanned aircraft solely as military drones, a group University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers know from more than a decade of experience that the small aircraft are used to further science and engineering.
Thanks to an invitation from the Federal Aviation Administration, the University of Florida’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research Program will be at this week’s 40th annual SUN ’n FUN Fly-In in Lakeland, the nation’s second-largest airshow, to discuss the UF program, its history, and its interdisciplinary design and research, (more …)
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GAINESVILLE – Oxford University Professor Charles Godfray, one of the most influential scientists involved in research and outreach on global food security, is speaking at the University of Florida on Friday, April 4, as part of the Florida Climate Institute’s Distinguished Scholar Seminar.
Godfray is Professorial Fellow in Zoology at Oxford University’s Jesus College, with interests in environmental sciences, and has published articles on ecology, evolution and epidemiology. He is interested in how the global food system will change and adapt to the challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. He is focused on the concept of “sustainable intensification” and the relationship between food production, ecosystem services and biodiversity. (more …)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A new University of Florida web-based tool worked well during its trial run to measure water consumption at farms in four Southern states, according to a study published this month.
The system measures the so-called “water footprint” of a farm. In the broader sense, water footprints account for the amount of water used to grow or create almost everything we eat, drink, wear or otherwise use.
Researchers at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences introduced their WaterFootprint tool in the March issue of the journal Agricultural Systems, after using it to calculate water consumption at farms in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Texas.
Shown is coleus cultivar UF12-86-91, recently approved by a UF/IFAS committee. The panel recently approved 13 other cultivars — in coleus and citrus — for release.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Fourteen new cultivars, including eight coleus varieties and six citrus, have been approved for release by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Coleus are used as decorative bedding plants for landscaping, in mixed containers and as indoor potted plants in homes and gardens in North America and throughout the world. They are versatile, consumer-friendly plants because they are easy to grow in sun and shade and require less maintenance than many other garden plants, said David Clark, professor in floriculture and biotechnology, who developed the new cultivars.
This castor plant at the UF/IFAS Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Citra, can be grown in Florida, according to a new UF/IFAS study.
Courtesy: David Campbell, former University of Florida graduate student
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Castor, grown in Florida during World War II and currently considered as a component for military jet fuel, can be grown here again, using proper management techniques, a new University of Florida study shows.
Those techniques include spacing plants properly and using harvest aids to defoliate the plant when it matures.
Growers in the U.S. want to mechanically harvest castor, which is typically hand-picked in other parts of the world, the researchers said. Among other things, the UF/IFAS study evaluated whether the plant would grow too tall for mechanical harvesting machines.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida peach growers, some of whom are looking for an alternative to citrus as greening takes a toll on that crop, could see a small profit by their third year of operation, a UF researcher says.
Greening, a disease first found in Florida in 2005, has led to $4 billion in lost revenue and industry-related jobs since 2006 for the $9 billion-a-year citrus industry.
As some farmers turn to peaches, they want to know how long before they turn a profit and how long they can sustain that profit, said Mercy Olmstead, assistant professor in horticultural sciences at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Growers should see steady profit through years 10-12, when the tree starts to decline in the South.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Citrus crop-yield estimates may be more accurate, thus ensuring higher productivity and more revenue, if an algorithm proves as successful as it did in a recent University of Florida study.
Wonsuk “Daniel” Lee’s study, published in the January issue of the journal Biosystems Engineering, could eventually help Florida’s $9 billion-a-year citrus industry.
Lee, a UF agricultural and biological engineering professor, used an algorithm to find immature citrus in photos taken under different light conditions and fruit that was hidden by leaves and branches. He and his colleagues found 80 percent of the immature fruit.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Pesky beetles sit, ready to pounce on their unwitting prey: trees around the world, which sustain billions of dollars in damage because of the armored insects, says a University of Florida scientist, who has co-written a book about beetles native to Papua New Guinea.
Thousands of beetle species make their home in Papua New Guinea, a small island off the northern coast of Australia, but only two or three travel to other parts of the globe, said Jiri Hulcr, a UF assistant professor of forest entomology. First, they have to be exported, something humans do by accident, said Hulcr, a member of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ faculty.
“We put them in habitats where they shouldn’t be,” he said, by exporting wood or using it to send ship cargo. “It’s not as though these beetles have evolved as killing species. They have evolved in their native habitat.”