IFAS News

University of Florida

Potential whitefly outbreak threatens Florida landscapes and crops

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

WHITEFLY 052516

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Q-biotype whitefly, a significant  tropical and subtropical pest, may threaten Florida crops such as tomatoes, squash, beans, watermelons and many other vegetables and ornamentals if immediate measures are not taken to prevent its spread.

Scientists statewide, including those with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), are working together to control the whitefly which, for the first time, has been found outside greenhouses and nurseries in Florida. Known scientifically as Bemisia tabaci, the Q-biotype or Mediterranean whitefly is a light-colored, flying insect slightly less than 1 millimeter in length.

Researchers with UF/IFAS are working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to manage the whitefly.

“Unfortunately, we have a developing whitefly issue in Florida,” said Lance Osborne, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida. “The situation may be improved with diligent attention to identifying and reporting any outbreaks.”

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UF/IFAS study finds consumer knowledge gap on genetically modified food

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, Research

Brandon McFadden

Brandon McFadden

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While consumers are aware of genetically modified crops and food, their knowledge level is limited and often at odds with the facts, according to a newly published study by a University of Florida researcher.

Last year, Brandon McFadden, an assistant professor of food and resource economics at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, published a study that showed scientific facts scarcely change consumers’ impressions of genetically modified food and other organisms.

Consumer polls are often cited in policy debates about genetically modified food labeling. This is especially true when discussing whether food that is genetically modified should carry mandatory labels, McFadden said. In conducting their current study, McFadden and his colleague, Jayson Lusk, an agricultural economics professor at Oklahoma State University, wanted to know what data supported consumers’ beliefs about genetically modified food and gain a better understanding of preferences for a mandatory label.

So he conducted the survey to better understand what consumers know about biotechnology, breeding techniques and label preferences for GM foods.

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Plants labeled as ‘pollinator friendly’ attract consumers, UF/IFAS study finds

Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, RECs, Research

Flowers and insects at the student gardens on the University of Florida campus. Butterfly. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

APOPKA, Fla. — If you’re browsing plants in a nursery or home-improvement store, labels such as “pollinator friendly” will likely influence which plants you end up buying, according to a recent study by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.

Postdoctoral research associate Alicia Rihn and assistant professor Hayk Khachatryan co-authored the study, which appears in the journal HortScience. Both Rihn and Khachatryan are researchers in the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education center in Apopka, Florida.

Rihn and Khachatryan wanted to know how labels such as “pollinator friendly” would influence consumer attitudes. “We wondered, which pollinator insect related labels are the most effective and which do consumers prefer?” Khachatryan said. “At the time of our study, these topics had not been addressed.”

The researchers surveyed more than 900 people from across the country who recently bought plants and measured their responses to several pollinator labels.

“When developing these test labels, we wanted a variety of options — some that were pollinator specific (for example, bee attractive, bee friendly, butterfly friendly, etcetera) and others that were more general (for example, pollinator attractive, pollinator friendly, plants for pollinators),” Khachatryan explained. “By covering both levels, we could determine if people were interested in helping pollinators (in general) or just specific types of pollinators (bees versus butterflies).”

The researchers found that people preferred general labels over specific ones, ‘pollinator friendly’ being the most preferred overall.

Given recent media coverage of bee health and population decline, the authors were anticipating more interest in bee-related promotions. However, consumers preferred ‘pollinator friendly’ labels over more specific bee-related labels.

“These results indicate that people want to benefit and attract all types of pollinators, not just insect pollinators,” Khachatryan said. For example, hummingbirds are pollinators but not insects.  A catch-all phrase such as ‘pollinator friendly’ lets retailers promote a plant in terms of its total — rather than specific — benefits to pollinators, he added.

The study suggests that pollinator promotions could help plant nurseries and retailers build consumer satisfaction and trust.

“Providing consumers with a product they support and want to purchase in order to do their part and help the pollinators is one way that companies can better serve their clientele,” Khachatryan noted. “In turn, this has potential to increase the availability of pollinator friendly plants in the landscape and assist in improving pollinator health.”

UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

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By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Source: Hayk Khachatryan, 407-410-6951 hayk@ufl.edu

Ambrosia beetle spreads dangerous avocado pathogen

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

Jonathan Crane, professor of horticultural sciences, inspecting an avocado tree at the Tropical Research and Education Center.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As the laurel wilt pathogen casts a cloud over the $100-million-a-year Florida avocado industry, University of Florida researchers continue to look for clues to prevent the pathogen from spreading.

The main culprit has been the redbay ambrosia beetle, which has infected millions of native redbay and swampbay trees with the laurel wilt pathogen, but it is rarely seen in commercial avocado orchards.

UF/IFAS scientists now know that several other ambrosia beetles are carrying the laurel wilt pathogen; two native ambrosia beetles are capable of carrying it and transmitting the disease to avocados, said Daniel Carrillo, a UF/IFAS assistant professor in tropical fruit entomology.

Scientists at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida, are focused on understanding and then disrupting the association between these native beetles and laurel wilt, said Carrillo, a faculty member at the Tropical REC. This spring, Carrillo detected an outbreak of another ambrosia beetle, the Tea Shot Hole Borer, which can spread another disease of avocados known as fusarium wilt.

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UF/IFAS Bug Week focuses on “Big Money Bugs” that generate economic damages, benefits

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Citrus, Crops, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, IFAS, Invasive Species, Lawn & Garden, Pests
The invasive Asian citrus psyllid.

The invasive Asian citrus psyllid. UF/IFAS photo by Michael Rogers. Click for high-red image.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Call them Florida’s “Big Money Bugs” – the insects responsible for the greatest economic damages, costs and benefits that arthropods generate in the Sunshine State.

This year, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) focuses on Big Money Bugs for its annual Bug Week, May 21 to 27. The event offers educational outreach for the public while showcasing UF/IFAS’ entomology and nematology program, one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive.

Visit the Bug Week website at http://bugs.ufl.edu for more information, including profiles on six of the state’s most economically significant arthropods. Among these species are the destructive Asian citrus psyllid and Formosan subterranean termite, topics of great concern, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“In recent years, pest insects have had enormous negative impacts on our state,” Payne said. “Bug Week is the perfect opportunity for UF/IFAS to raise awareness about the challenges these pests bring about, in terms of lost agricultural and natural resources production, management costs, and even human and veterinary healthcare issues, in some instances.”

Species profiled on the Bug Week website include:

*The Asian citrus psyllid, which cost the state’s citrus industry $7.8 billion in total economic contributions from crop losses during the 2006-07 through 2012-13 growing seasons;

*The Formosan subterranean termite, the most destructive widespread termite species in Florida;

*Invasive yellow fever and Asian tiger mosquitoes, which are known to transmit viral diseases in Florida and believed to transmit Zika virus in other countries;

*Beneficial honeybees, which help make Florida the nation’s third-largest honey producer as well as a top source of rental honey bee colonies used to pollinate crops. (more …)

UF/IFAS researcher: With sod-based rotation, profits up, risks down

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Extension, IFAS, RECs, Research

David Wright

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — David Wright, an agronomy professor and University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension specialist, makes it his mission to get farmers to grow more grass. This will increase profits, reduce risk of disease and pests on row crops that follow, and conserve natural resources, according to the researcher.

The benefits in rotating perennial grass (sod) with row crops, Wright says, may help farmers boost profits two- to seven-fold. Currently, more farmers are adopting the practice. Funding is being provided by the Florida Water Management Districts and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and through EQIP funds from National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Wright says.

Wright, based at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy, Florida, has been researching sod-based rotation for more than 16 years. Sod-based rotation involves planting a perennial grass, such as bahia, for several years, and then planting row crops such as cotton, peanut, soybean or cotton after killing out the sod.

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Top UF/IFAS-produced food, beverages showcased at Flavors of Florida

Topic(s): Agriculture, Aquaculture, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research

2016 Flavors of Florida with VIP event at Emerson Alumni Hall, followed by the event at the President's house on Monday, May 9th.

 
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Faculty, administrators and friends of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences now know even more about the fine foods and beverages produces by UF/IFAS faculty after the annual May 9 Flavors of Florida event.

Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, commended faculty and thanked friends for attending.

“Flavors of Florida is a chance for UF/IFAS to showcase the many fine foods and beverages developed by our world-renowned scientists to not only make food tastier and more nutritious but to help growers sell more food at the grocery store,” Payne said. “And with the help of our many friends around Florida, we can continue the laboratory and field research necessary to continue producing these incredible foods.”

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UF/IFAS study: Hot water, essential oil could help prevent postharvest development of citrus black spot

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Economics, Pests, RECs, Research

 

Citrus Black Spot 050916

Please see caption below the story.

FORT PIERCE, Fla. – Dipping fruit after harvest with hot water and essential oil dips may reduce postharvest development of citrus black spot lesions per fruit by up to 50 percent, according to new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences research.

The new management techniques are the result of Jiaqi Yan’s recently completed doctorate she earned at UF. Yan’s dissertation focused on citrus black spot and developed postharvest treatments using hot water, fungicides and essential oils to significantly inhibit the development of citrus black spot lesions.

Citrus black spot is caused by a pathogen called Guignardia citricarpa, a fungal disease first detected in 2010 in an Immokalee grove. Similar to canker, citrus black spot forms dark lesions on fresh fruit skin and adversely impacts the crop’s marketability. The disease is currently believed to be confined to Hendry, Collier and Polk counties.

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Nurseries excited about two new early Valencia orange varieties from UF/IFAS

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Extension, IFAS, RECs, Research

Early Valencies1 050416

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nurseries are very interested in two new early Valencia orange varieties from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Growers need help because citrus greening has infected more than 80 percent of Florida’s citrus trees, according to a recent UF/IFAS survey of growers. Although these two new early Valencias are not resistant to greening, the scientist who bred them thinks it’s a harbinger of good things to come.

“Many citrus growers are replacing trees or entire groves severely impacted by greening,” said Jude Grosser, a professor of citrus breeding and genetics at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center. “As they replace trees, they now have a chance to replace a poor-quality orange with Valencia types.”

The two new varieties can be harvested beginning in December, about three months earlier than standard Valencia oranges, Grosser said. The traditional early-season Florida orange, the Hamlin, is harvested from November through February, said Grosser, a faculty member at the Lake Alfred, Florida, facility.

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Partners help produce UF/IFAS’ annual ‘Flavors of Florida’ food and drink showcase

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

UF/IFAS Flavors of Florida 2015

Please see caption below story

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences thanks the many partners who are helping sponsor this year’s Flavors of Florida festivities, an annual event designed to showcase how top-notch science creates delectable, nutritious food and beverages.

Two of those partners for the May 9 event in Gainesville are Straughn Farms, which gave at the platinum level, and Florida Tomatoes, which gave at the gold level.

“The Flavors of Florida features the advances of modern plant breeding that is the foundation of the Tomato Industry,” said Reggie Brown, manager of the Florida Tomato Committee. “The search for the best flavors for Florida Tomatoes is an ongoing effort that provides the opportunity to expand demand. Florida Tomato growers have supported variety improvement for decades. The opportunity to feature the ‘flavor’ simply highlights the advancements of the science of plant genetics. Solutions through applied science is the path to the future of the Florida Tomato grower.”

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