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.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida researcher who helped develop a mathematical model to show how citrus greening spreads within infected trees has received a $300,000 grant from the Esther B. O’Keeffe Foundation to expand the model.
Ariena van Bruggen, a UF plant pathology professor, received the award so she can study the best strategies to combat citrus greening from tree to tree. There is no cure for citrus greening, but methods being used to slow the disease include removal of symptomatic trees, insect control and attempts to boost the tree’s immune system, van Bruggen said.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers have gained new insight into produce-associated salmonella that they hope will eventually reduce the number and severity of the illness-causing outbreaks.
Tomato variety and weather can combine to make what the researchers call a “perfect storm” for salmonella to proliferate in harvested tomatoes, a new study shows.
It remains unclear how much each contributes to salmonella’s spread, but scientists say understanding the process is key to eventually curbing produce-associated outbreaks.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida researcher plans to use a $500,000 federal grant to study ways to make peanuts more drought tolerant.
Diane Rowland, an associate professor of agronomy and faculty member in UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, won the four-year grant in November from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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African dust video
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida researcher is exploring whether the latest plant, animal or human health threats will come from the sky.
Using the first ever high-altitude sampling device designed to collect microorganisms from the upper atmosphere, Andrew Schuerger, an aerobiologist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, will examine the massive dust clouds that roll into Florida from Africa each year.
The maiden flight of the device, known as Dust at Altitude Recovery Technology or DART, was flown on an F-104 Starfighter jet Tuesday at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.
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.
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.