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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — There is no evidence that pollutants from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill contributed to the “unprecedented” decline in recent Apalachicola Bay oyster populations, according to a report this week by the University of Florida.
Instead, the report by UF’s Oyster Recovery Team cites drought, insufficient rainfall and increased salinity in the bay as factors contributing to the dramatic drop-off in oyster landings beginning in September 2012 and continuing through the year, said Karl Havens, task force leader and director of Florida Sea Grant.
“There was a whole chain of circumstances that led to this situation, some of which are beyond human control,” Havens said. “Our report makes recommendations for many things that can be done to help the oyster population through management and restoration.”
Havens and other recovery team members discussed the report and findings with a crowd of about 60 residents and seafood workers Wednesday at the Apalachicola Community Center.
The full report and a summary are available at the UF/IFAS Franklin County Extension office or its website, http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Researchers with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences recently completed the state’s largest-ever study of landscape turfgrass and fertilizer use, and new online videos will help homeowners and lawn-care professionals understand the findings.
The eight-year, $4.2 million study was funded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to determine the effectiveness of current UF/IFAS fertilizer recommendations, which have been in use since about 2000, said John Hayes, UF/IFAS dean for research. Florida has more than 5 million acres of home and commercial turf.
“This work is an important body of information generated here to address important questions about nutrient management,” Hayes said. “We’re proud to communicate our findings and we hope they will play a substantial role in helping residents, industry personnel and policymakers protect water quality.”
Three hours of technical presentations from a Jan. 15 live symposium are available at http://tinyurl.com/be2la7q and a three-minute video aimed at educating the public has been posted at http://tinyurl.com/ajy4ytr.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumed by 3 billion people, rice is arguably the world’s most important food staple, and one reason for its popularity is that rice can be grown under flooded conditions that suppress weeds, making cultivation easier.
In some parts of the world, water is in short supply, but farmers often devote what they can to rice farming, because the crop is so important. However, research has led to a simple but profound solution that requires less water – growing rice in fields, a practice called aerobic rice production.
The practice relies on rainfall plus limited irrigation to meet the plants’ moisture needs. It requires about 40 percent less water than paddy-grown rice, according to a University of Florida study in the current issue of Agronomy Journal.
Aerobic rice production is gaining popularity in India and Southeast Asia, particularly in drought-stricken or upland areas, said Rao Mylavarapu, a professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and one of the study’s authors.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The quest to develop a grapefruit hybrid that will not interact with medication has taken a step forward, as researchers pinpoint compounds most responsible for the problem, a University of Florida citrus breeder says.
The data were published in the December 2012 issue of the journal Xenobiotica.
Scientists have been aware of the so-called “grapefruit juice effect” since 1989. Compounds in the fruit called furanocoumarins inhibit the action of an enzyme that breaks down certain medications in the human digestive system.
The phenomenon poses a health risk because it can produce unexpectedly high levels of these medications in a patient’s bloodstream. Doctors, pharmacists and prescription drug labels warn patients to avoid grapefruit and related products under these circumstances.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Protecting Florida’s $80 million blueberry crop from freeze damage is always a wintertime challenge, but a University of Florida study shows that structures called high tunnels could shield plants from cold and promote earlier fruit ripening.
Though the initial investment can run from $18,000 to $25,000 per acre plus labor, high tunnels deliver better quality fruit, bigger early yields and higher prices if growers beat competitors to market, said Bielinski Santos, an associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The study, published in the current issue of HortTechnology, tracked two growing seasons on a commercial blueberry farm in Alachua County. The results showed that temperatures outside the tunnels plunged to freezing or near-freezing 61 times during the study. Temperatures fell that low just three times inside the unheated tunnels.
High tunnels may increase air and soil temperatures and protect the plants from wind and rain damage, leading to better flowering and more fruit, said Santos, based at UF’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Faculty Senate Chair Cheri Brodeur is definitely a product of UF, having been a student, staffer and faculty member here.
So when it came time to honor her latest achievement with a tree-planting ceremony, it was natural that Brodeur chose a tree that hails from her alma mater. It’s the Southern Rose nectarine, a variety developed by plant breeders with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and released in summer 2011.
A five-foot sapling was planted on the UF campus’ Reitz Union Lawn Wednesday, Oct. 17 at a ceremony attended by Brodeur, UF officials and numerous onlookers. The tree-planting is a tradition for each UF Faculty Senate chair.
“The reason I made a big deal about this (variety) is that the tree is grown by my college and so that was really important to me,” said Brodeur, an assistant extension scientist with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ agricultural education and communication department.
Brodeur said she chose the nectarine to promote UF/IFAS’ plant breeding program, one of the most active among the nation’s land-grant institutions. She said she also grows peaches at home and makes it a point to use UF-developed cultivars there.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Since 2000, the University of Florida’s Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Citra has been “an idea place” where new crops and production techniques are tested.
Now, it’s a place where new ideas can be communicated to UF faculty, students and guests much more easily.
At a May 15 ceremony attended by several hundred guests, UF officials dedicated the unit’s new 12,000 square-foot conference center, the Frank Stronach Plant Science Center, named for the donor who funded the building project.
“Today, we gather to dedicate more than a building—it’s an idea place,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
That sentiment was echoed by several other speakers, including UF President Bernie Machen, who noted that many of the crop varieties developed by UF plant breeders get their first real-world field trials at the unit.
Though the 1,068-acre unit has always had plenty of room for cultivating plants, it’s only now that there’s enough teaching space, said Danny Colvin, the unit’s director.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Crop genetics expert Harry Klee, an eminent scholar and professor in the University of Florida horticultural sciences department, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences Tuesday for his research achievements.
He was one of 84 new members announced at the organization’s 149th annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Election to NAS is one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the U.S., and members are elected by current members for outstanding achievements in their fields. Klee will be formally inducted next April.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers are working to speed up their ability to create new tangerine varieties by pinpointing the compounds that make them taste and smell the way they do.
In the last decade, Florida fresh citrus growers have lost valuable ground to producers in California and Spain who’ve enjoyed success with seedless Clementine varieties, such as the “California Cutie.” Grown in Florida, the same varieties have more seeds than consumers like.
But UF researchers at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences believe their work is laying the foundation for Florida citrus producers to regain that lost ground. (more …)
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For years, doctors and pharmacists have warned people to steer clear of fresh grapefruit or grapefruit juice when taking certain medicines.
But University of Florida researchers now believe within the next few years, they’ll be able to release a grapefruit-pummelo hybrid that those who enjoy the zingy fruit can consume, without risking adverse side effects from their medicine.
The researchers’ findings are presented in the current issue of the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science. (more …)