IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS scientists honored as UF Research Foundation professors

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research, Soil and Water Science

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Six University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty members, who are trying to solve global issues as wide-ranging as better alternative fuels and nutrient absorption, have been named as UF Research Foundation Professors for 2016-19.

The recognition goes to faculty who demonstrate a distinguished record of research and a strong research agenda that’s likely to continue to distinguish them in their fields.

“UF/IFAS faculty research continuously shows its value in practical ways, but these faculty members stand out because the University of Florida is recognizing their outstanding work,” said UF/IFAS Dean for Research Jackie Burns. “Their scientific research helps solve global issues ranging from potential solutions to citrus greening to growing crops in a changing climate to finding new sources of alternative energy.”

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Bill Castle, longtime UF/IFAS professor, inducted into Florida Citrus Hall of Fame

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Citrus, Cultivars, Economics, Extension, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, RECs, Uncategorized

Bill Castle

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Professor Emeritus William S. “Bill” Castle, who is internationally recognized as the leading authority on rootstocks and work that has shaped the entire Florida citrus industry, will be inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame on March 11.

“Dr. Castle inspired numerous students to become involved in the citrus industry, and many serve in leadership roles today,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president of agriculture at UF. “His impact on the citrus industry and the role he played were vital to the survival of that industry.”

Castle conducted research at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred for more than 30 years. His research has resulted in improved citrus scions and rootstocks, orchard designs and management of high density plantings, citrus propagation and pre-plant expert systems, windbreak design and establishment, along with pomegranate cultivars and plantings.

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UF/IFAS plant scientists try to breed a little cupid magic

Topic(s): Cultivars, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, RECs, Research

Dr. Zhanao Deng (center) showing FAES interns Mary Derrick (right) and Monica Raguckas the flowers of gerbera daisy to be used for hand pollination.  2009 Annual Research Report photo by Patty McClain.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Roses are red; violets are blue, and University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are developing better breeds of Valentine’s Day plants just for you.

Here are just a couple of examples.

Zhanao Deng, a professor of environmental horticulture at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida, is breeding gerbera daisy cultivars that are resistant to powdery mildew, the most destructive fungal disease for this type of flower. Deng said his daisies are also becoming more attractive.

“These daisy cultivars can be used for cut flowers or potted plants,” he said.

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UF/IFAS researchers get $2 million grant to study organic strawberry production

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Research

 

Strawberries.  UF/IFAS Photo by Marisol Amador.

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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Costa Farms to donate 200 orchids for Ag and Gardening Day at UF Homecoming

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Cultivars, IFAS
An assortment of flowers on display and for sale at the Downtown Farmer's Market in Gainesville, Florida. UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Costa Farms will donate 200 orchids for the University of Florida Agriculture and Gardening Day during the Homecoming football game on Nov. 7. UF Athletics and UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are hosting the event that revolves around the game between the Gators and the Vanderbilt Commodores, which kicks off at noon.

Costa Farms is a third-generation, family-owned group of companies headquartered in Miami, Florida. The company sprouted in 1961 when its founder, Jose Costa Sr., purchased 30 acres south of Miami to grow fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes in the winter and calamondin citrus in the summer. That soon morphed into houseplants, and the Costa Farms family started innovating and introduced new houseplants such as the canela tree and Cecilia Aglaonema.

The UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center, located in South Florida, supports the orchid industry by offering a full semester online course on orchid biology and culture, in addition to research conducted on orchid production and conservation using biotechnology.

Families who come for the festivities can enjoy tours of the community garden and bat house, plus games, giveaways and special gardens. And a lucky few will get a Costa Farm orchid.

UF/IFAS is the largest entity on campus, comprised of 18 schools and departments with about 5,400 students and 3,000 employees.  It is a federal-state-county partnership dedicated to developing knowledge in agriculture, human and natural resources, and the life sciences, and enhancing and sustaining the quality of human life by making that information accessible.

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By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

 

UF/IFAS can help with all your grass needs

Topic(s): Agriculture, Cultivars, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, RECs

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Are you interested in learning about new advances in nematode control?  Would you like to get a glimpse at the new turfgrass cultivars that are being developed?  The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has all your answers at its annual Central Florida Turfgrass Field Day, being held tomorrow at the Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Citra. (more …)

UF/IFAS scientists zero in on genetic traits for best blueberry taste

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Cultivars, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Blueberry bush.

James Olmstead.  Horticulture Sciences.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers have taken a big step toward breeding tastier blueberries with a three-year study that examined the traits consumers desire. Now they have specific breeding targets to improve flavor.

For a study published Sept. 17 in the online journal PLOS ONE, UF/IFAS Plant Innovation Center scientists harvested 19 cultivars of blueberries and tested them in 30 panels at the UF sensory lab. The diverse group of cultivars allowed researchers to test a wide range of blueberry flavors, said Jim Olmstead, UF/IFAS associate professor of horticultural sciences.

Of the 217 people who taste-tested the blueberries, many were repeat panelists, said Olmstead, who led the experiment. As a result of the high participation level, researchers were able to determine which biochemical compounds were most closely associated with blueberry flavor and that people liked the most.

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UF/IFAS researcher growing 1,500 types of peanuts as part of the USDA’s Genetic Resources Unit

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Cultivars, IFAS, Research
Greg MacDonald, a weed scientist and agronomist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, worked in Haiti this summer to help bring peanut research to local farmers.

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The germplasm peanut field at the University of Florida’s Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Citra. Photo UF/IFAS

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CITRA, Fla. — Stretching out in a North Central Florida field, under the scorching summer sun, lies row upon row of lush, green peanut plants – with more than 1,500 kinds growing at the University of Florida’s Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Citra. The crop is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s germplasm network to maintain and research different types of one of the world’s most popular and nutritional legumes.

“Nobody had done a side-by-side study of yield, grade, biochemical components and genetic background of these peanut varieties,” said Greg MacDonald, a weed scientist and agronomist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, who oversees the project.  “We put together this study and we’re now able to determine those things for each plant line.”

On Thursday, more than 50 national and international peanut scientists and researchers will tour the fields and review the varieties to determine if there are any they would like to try in their areas. For instance, if someone from an African country only gets three months of rain, that grower would need a peanut plant that can survive and make a harvestable crop with a limited amount of rain. (more …)

UF/IFAS researchers to testify before Congress about GMOs

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Cultivars, Environment, IFAS, New Technology

Kevin Folta.  UF/IFAS File Photo.

Kevin Folta

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two UF/IFAS graduate students will advise a congressional committee as lawmakers question them about biotechnology and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Chris Barbey and Alejandra Abril Guevara, doctoral students in Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology, will head to Washington D.C. with UF/IFAS horticultural sciences Professor Kevin Folta to answer questions from the U.S. House Science Committee at a June 25 hearing. Folta said there is no set agenda for the discussions, but he expects the researchers to field many questions relating to the GMO regulatory processes, food labeling and product safety.

“It is great that this committee is consulting with scientists that understand the evidence, and hopefully evidence will help them devise new policy,” Folta said.

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UF/IFAS researcher using “precision breeding” to create disease-resistant grapes

Topic(s): Agriculture, Cultivars, IFAS, Research
UF/IFAS developmental biologist Dennis Gray looks at the progress of grapevines in a vineyard. Photo by UF/IFAS

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Apopka, Fla. — Powdery mildew and black rot are two scourges of grape growers, but University of Florida researcher Dennis Gray is developing disease-resistant grapes, using what he calls “precision breeding” to create these super varieties.

Gray, a developmental biologist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has successfully bred Thompson Seedless, Seyval Blanc and Syrah that resist mildew and fungus. Those are just three of only 35 grape varieties that accounted for 66 percent of the world grape acreage in 2014, he said. (more …)

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