IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS research may give new hope to expanding avocado production

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

Avocados - CristinaLaurelWiltBest 041816

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FORT PIERCE, Fla. – Findings from new University of Florida research may lead growers to produce avocados in the Indian River region of Florida, an area where the citrus industry has fallen on hard times.

The research comes from a dissertation by Cristina Pisani, who recently completed her doctorate in horticultural sciences at the University of Florida Indian River Research and Education Center near Fort Pierce. The center is part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

For her research, Pisani studied a grove of about 150 avocado seedlings collected in California by Rey Schnell, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Miami. Schnell identified the true hybrids of avocado Hass and Bacon cultivars. Then the seedlings were planted at the USDA Horticultural Research Laboratory, adjacent to the IRREC.

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UF/IFAS researchers try to expand muscadine grape market

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

Charles Sims

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are trying to expand consumers’ knowledge of muscadine grapes, and they hope that awareness leads to more people buying them.

“They’re full of nutrients and flavor,” UF/IFAS food science professor Charles Sims said of the tick-skinned fruit.

Right now, muscadine grapes are grown only in the South and are not very well known in other parts of the country, Sims said. Apparently, more consumers are apt to buy muscadine grapes if they know about them, at least according to a recent UF/IFAS experiment.

For her master’s thesis, Mailys Fredericq, a graduate student in food science and human nutrition, studied 139 participants – 70 of whom considered themselves familiar with muscadine grapes, and 69 who were not. Fredericq found that those who knew about muscadine grapes like their appearance, flavor and texture much more than those who didn’t know much about the grapes.

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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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Florida citrus growers: 80 percent of trees infected by greening

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

Small lopsided fruit from greening-infected citrus tree.  Spring 2008 Impact Magazine image.  UF/IFAS File Photo.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s citrus growers say as much as 90 percent of their acreage and 80 percent of their trees are infected by the deadly greening disease, which is making a huge dent in the state’s $10.7 billion citrus industry, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences survey shows.

The survey, conducted in March 2015, shows the first grower-based estimates of both the level of citrus greening in Florida and the impact of greening on citrus operations in Florida.

“Even though the industry acknowledges that greening has reached epidemic proportions across the state, estimates of the level of infection and its impact on citrus operations are scarce,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

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UF/IFAS recognizes top faculty research

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Aquaculture, Economics, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Nutrition, Pests, RECs, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Whether it’s hybrid termites, grain pathogens, mosquito mating or something in between, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are studying important topics and helping to solve global issues.

The UF/IFAS Research Dean’s Office recently recognized more than two dozen UF/IFAS faculty members for their impactful research, and Dean for Research Jackie Burns said she could not be more proud of the scientists.

“We recognize that these research articles are examples of the many published by UF/IFAS that are highly impactful and help reach solutions to worldwide issues including food shortages, nutrition, diseases and economic development,” Burns said. “Our faculty perform top-quality, globally-recognized scientific work, and we’re proud to recognize them.”

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UF/IFAS study finds better way to keep shrimp juicy, tasty

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Economics, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Shrimp and cans of crab meat on display for sale at a seafood store.  Fishing, seafood industry, food.  UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When you eat a shrimp, you probably want it to be juicy. That’s why University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are trying to find alternatives to phosphates to lock in that texture and savory flavor.

Normally, phosphate or table salt is used to retain moisture in meat and seafood, said Paul Sarnoski, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food science and human nutrition. But adding salt to the food puts more salt in a person’s diet, and that’s unhealthy, Sarnoski said. Additionally, phosphates are relatively expensive, he said.

In a study recently published in the Journal of Food Science, Sarnoski and his UF/IFAS colleagues found that phosphate alternatives such as polysaccharides – a type of carbohydrate often used as a food additive – can help retain water in shrimp. UF/IFAS scientists tested the shrimp using phosphates and polysaccharides. They boiled, froze and dried the crustaceans to see how much water the shrimp lost.

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UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County agent awarded $2.67 million contract to train inmates

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Economics, Extension, IFAS

Lloyd Singleton. Photo taken on 9-2-15

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — More Florida inmates will have an opportunity to leave prison with real job skills and likely reduce their chances of being reincarcerated, thanks to a contract between the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Lloyd Singleton, an extension agent with UF/ IFAS Extension Sumter County, was recently awarded a $2.67 million contract to expand a vocational training program. Singleton leads a program to teach horticulture and culinary arts at the Federal Correctional Center in Coleman, Florida.

The five-year contract will help organizers expand a current program that offers horticulture training, Singleton said. He has headed the program for five years, which offered horticulture training to approximately 80 inmates a year. Now, the new contract will include culinary arts and will allow organizers to train more inmates.

“In the past five years, we have trained 415 inmates, 195 of whom have been released. Only seven of those released have been re-incarcerated,” Singleton said. “The recidivism rate of four percent is substantially lower than the national average, which shows that giving inmates training before they leave prison helps them to become productive citizens.”

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UF/IFAS researcher’s findings resonate 30 years later

Topic(s): Announcements, Aquaculture, Economics, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

Jim Anderson (2)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor wrote an article 30 years ago that’s still so significant that a scientific journal has recognized it as an “enduring” article.

James Anderson, a UF/IFAS professor of food and resource economics and director of the UF/IFAS Institute for Sustainable Food Systems, has been honored by the journal Marine Resource Economics for his 1985 paper, “Market Interactions between Aquaculture and the Common-Property Commercial Fishery.”

“I was quite surprised and honored, especially since it was the first time the award was given, and at the time the article was written, almost no one in the economics profession was giving any attention to the economics of aquaculture and its relationship to traditional capture fisheries,” Anderson said. Capture fisheries are found mostly offshore. “Most articles written 30 years ago have been forgotten, but I know some researchers are still looking at this one – that’s a good feeling.”

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Rural residents seek farmers markets, UF/IFAS study shows

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

 

 

 

 

Buying and selling at an outdoor farmers' market

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — People who buy their produce from farmers markets love the freshness and nutritional value of the product. Not only that, rural residents seek out such markets more than urban residents, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher says.

The latter finding surprised the researchers, led by Alan Hodges, an Extension scientist in the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department.

“We interpret this effect as due to greater awareness of farming and farm-fresh foods in rural areas,” Hodges said. “The finding also suggests that rural households may be seeking out farmers’ markets as a travel destination rather than as part of a multi-stop shopping trip, as would often be the case with urban consumers. In addition, there is greater competition among food retailers in urban areas, simply due to the larger number of venues available.”

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Local, organic top consumers’ desired qualities in $280 million fruit-producing plant market

Topic(s): Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, Lawn & Garden, RECs, Research

Grape vine with grapes

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If you’re a consumer in the market for a fruit-producing plant, you’re more likely to buy one if it’s locally grown or organic, an important finding for those making their living in the approximately $280 million-a-year niche U.S. market, new University of Florida research shows.

Limited availability of organically produced edible plants has created markets for these types of plants, according to a new Extension document, http://bit.ly/21KQ6zb, co-authored by Assistant Professor Hayk Khachatryan and Post-doctoral Researcher Alicia Rihn, both researchers at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

As part of a larger study, Khachatryan and Rihn tested 95 Floridians to investigate the effects of plant type, price, production method and origin on consumer preferences for fruit-producing plants. They asked participants to look at images of fruit-producing plants with different attributes and rate them on a scale, with 1 being very unlikely and 7 being very likely to purchase.

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