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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 …)
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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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 …)
MAITLAND, Fla. – The New Varieties Development & Management Corporation has scheduled statewide grower meetings for May to launch FAST TRACK’s third suite of UF/IFAS-developed experimental citrus selections.
This new suite features four seedless easy-peel mandarin selections: UFGlow, UFSunrise, UFDawn and 7-6-27.
In addition, the UFGlow, UFSunrise and UFDawn varieties are mess-free – meaning your hands remain dry — early maturing and cold tolerant. Variety 7-6-27 has generated greater interest than any previous UF mandarin release at UF’s Citrus Research and Education Center Fruit Display Days, both in-state and internationally, as a result of its very early season of maturity, excellent color and flavor, and a potentially higher degree of tolerance to citrus greening.
Interested commercial citrus growers should plan to attend one of the meetings. A presentation will explain details about the program and registration documentation will be distributed. Representatives from the UF/IFAS Plant Improvement Team and the Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc. also will be present. Citrus Extension agents are encouraged to attend.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Faculty from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences produce some of the nation’s tastiest fruits and vegetables.
Researchers at UF’s Plant Innovation Center breed new cultivars and conduct research to boost the taste, smell and appearance of Florida fruits, vegetables and foliage. But the PIC does much more, said UF environmental horticulture Professor David Clark.
“The big thing is this: No other university in the country can pull off what we’ve put together here, so we are novel,” Clark said. “We cover the whole supply chain, from the conception of an idea to the realization of a product.”
UF faculty, administrators and friends gathered Monday at the UF president’s house in Gainesville for Flavors of Florida 2015, a premier event showcasing the edible research products of the UF/IFAS Plant Innovation Center. Industry leaders, donors and guests savored the sensations of tasty tomatoes, flavor-filled fruits and other Sunshine State food and drinks while learning more about the impact that UF/IFAS makes for the agriculture industry. This is the second year the event has been held.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Three new cultivars each of blueberry and coleus have been approved for release by a University of Florida panel.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Cultivar Release Committee approved Avanti “FL 06-203,’ Arcadia ‘FL 07-399’ and Endura ‘FL 06-377’ – all blueberry cultivars.
Jim Olmstead, UF/IFAS assistant professor of horticultural sciences and a blueberry breeder, said the cultivars performed best in the central and southern part of Florida’s blueberry region, which includes Desoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee, Orange, Pasco, Polk and Sarasota counties. Those areas currently produce more than 50 percent of the state’s blueberries.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A new e-book from the University of Arkansas System features University of Florida scientists’ quest to establish a Florida organic strawberry industry.
A chapter titled “Organic open-field and high tunnel strawberry cropping systems for long-term viability of the southeastern industry” examines the participation of five Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty in the National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative sponsored by the Walmart Foundation.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida scientists hope three new breeding lines approved for release will eventually improve the virus resistance and quality of future tomato varieties.
The UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Cultivar Release Committee, in partnership with the Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc., approved Fla. 8638B, Fla. 8624 and Fla. 8923 on Oct. 22.
Fla. 8923 shows promise for resistance to tomato yellow leaf curl virus while 8624 and 8638B provide resistance to yellow leaf curl virus and tomato mottle virus, according to Professor Jay Scott and Assistant Professor Sam Hutton, tomato breeders at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm.
Committee members agreed to release the breeding lines hoping seed companies can use them to develop improved cultivars for Florida and globally. The resistance genes these improved lines provide originated from a wild tomato species that Scott transferred into tomatoes nearly 25 years ago.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – With an additional $200,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation, scientists from the University of Florida and North Carolina A&T University are expanding grower engagement in organic strawberry research.
While the focus of the 2013-2014 work was broad and exploratory, a key component of this year’s research will be to test the best aspects of the organic strawberry production system under farm conditions and with grower management.
Growers at three farms in North Central Florida are assessing two cover crops and three commercial strawberry cultivars that performed well in last year’s Phase I trials. Grower evaluations of the Phase I research resulted in suggestions that researchers assess cover crop combinations as well as a cover crop that could produce a marketable product.
In Phase II, scientists will evaluate the on-station and on-farm research for seasonal variability in market yield, nutrient-use efficiency, consumer acceptance and response to postharvest handling and storage.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida, in partnership with Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc., has released two new limpograss cultivars so ranchers can increase the forage variety they feed their cattle.
Florida beef cattle producers use limpograss, a warm-season, perennial grass for its high digestibility, cool-season growth and tolerance to poorly drained soils.
The new lines, limpograsses 4F and 10, have superior traits, including persistence under grazing, good production and nutritive value, said Joao Vendramini, associate professor of agronomy at the Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona and one of the cultivars’ developers.