GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Taste trumps health benefits for blueberry buyers, sending a strong message that fruit consumers value flavor most, new University of Florida research shows.
About 61 percent of blueberry consumers buy the fruit for its flavor, while 39 percent do so for psychological reasons, according to two national online surveys. By “psychological,” researchers mean those consumers may buy blueberries because they believe the fruit, which contains antioxidants, provides health benefits.
UF horticultural sciences assistant professor Jim Olmstead will use the data as he breeds new types of blueberries. Olmstead uses traditional breeding methods to create blueberry cultivars that have traits consumers want.
“What we’re trying to determine is: What is the consumer’s perception of the ideal blueberry? What should it look, taste and feel like?” said Olmstead, a faculty member with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
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.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Two new citrus cultivars with high industry interest are among 13 recently approved for release by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The UF/IFAS Cultivar Release Committee voted April 15 to release UF 711 and RBB 7-34, two new citrus cultivars. Fred Gmitter, a citrus genetics and breeding professor at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, told the panel growers are excited to field-trial the two cultivars.
UF 711 is an easy-to-peel mandarin, while RBB 7-34 is a new navel orange-like variety with much more color and flavor than ordinary Florida navels, Gmitter said. Both varieties were deemed to be good-tasting, as well.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida scientists believe they have pinpointed the exact compounds in strawberries that give the fruit its delightfully unique flavor – findings that will allow UF breeders to create more flavorful varieties even faster.
What’s more, the researchers believe that eventually, those naturally occurring compounds will be used to make processed foods taste sweeter, using far less sugar and no artificial sweeteners. And if fruits and vegetables taste better, people will be more likely to eat them, the researchers say.
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. — 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. – 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. — University of Florida researchers have some encouraging results in the battle against citrus greening.
They have identified citrus cultivars, in this case 16 citrus rootstocks, most of which show a lower rate of infection and more tolerance to citrus greening – the dreaded disease that has wreaked havoc through Florida’s citrus industry since its arrival in the state in 2005.
Click here or image above for video about UF/IFAS’ strawberry breeding program.
For high-resolution version of above photo, click here. Caption below.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With the time for Florida growers to plant strawberries right around the corner, it won’t be long before Florida-grown strawberries appear in grocery aisles.
And for some of the best-tasting strawberries on the market according to multiple taste panels and tests, shoppers can simply look for those grown in the Sunshine State, thanks to work by the University of Florida.
Researchers with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have continued to improve the quality and flavor of Florida-grown strawberries, as evident in their latest releases of the cultivars Winterstar and Florida Sensation.