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IFAS News

University of Florida

Specialty Crop Conference slated for Aug. 15 in Jacksonville

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

2011 Small Farms Conference.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The First Coast Specialty Crop Conference, created by UF/IFAS, comes to Jacksonville on Aug. 15, the first of five new regional conferences in 2015 and 2016 across the state.

The conference has evolved from an annual statewide event that began in 2009 in Kissimmee to more targeted, regional conferences across the state. A team of UF/IFAS Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Extension agents and other stakeholders created the conference series, said Danielle Treadwell, a UF/IFAS associate professor in horticultural sciences.

Experts at the program at the Student Union Building of the University of North Florida will address concerns of Northeast Florida farmers, providing them with multiple learning and networking opportunities.

Whether you are interested in improving your farming skills by enhancing your soils and pest management, obtaining practical knowledge for postharvest practices, or diversifying your farm through cut-flower production, mushrooms or microgreens, this is a great place and time to learn.

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Shining a red light to slow downy mildew on basil

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

Basil Downy Mildew symptoms 072115

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Basil can add a little zest to any meal. But downy mildew disease threatens the herb’s very existence.

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are trying to manage the disease with little or no spraying.

For his latest experiments, Shouan Zhang, a UF/IFAS plant pathology associate professor at the Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, inoculated basil plants with the downy mildew pathogen. The scientist then put the plants under red lights in a greenhouse and found the process is slowing down the disease’s growth.

Jaimin Patel, a postdoctoral research associate for Zhang, said they put one set of plants on a bench in the dark for 12 hours, starting at 8 p.m. each day. Another set of plants was placed under red lights for the same time period. The downy mildew appeared on plants in the dark six days after inoculation, while no symptoms showed up on the plants that were under the red lights, Patel said. They repeated the experiment and found the disease symptoms five days after inoculation on the plants placed in the dark – and still, little to no symptoms of the downy mildew was found on the basil plants exposed to the red lights.

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UF/IFAS survey: We like seafood, but we don’t eat enough

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, 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.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nearly half of Floridians eat more seafood than they did five to 10 years ago, but 40 percent still do not eat the federally recommended dietary intake of seafood, a new UF/IFAS and Florida Sea Grant-funded survey shows.

Floridians also know seafood is good for them, and they like their seafood caught or harvested in the Sunshine State. But many are not sure they’d know Florida seafood if they saw it, and they’re hesitant to pay the higher cost of local seafood.

“We know that eating Florida seafood is important to consumers,” said Florida Sea Grant Agent Bryan Fluech. Consumers want to support fishermen and the local economy, the survey says.

UF/IFAS experts say they can help educate consumers and the seafood industry to close these gaps.

“Specific educational programs could focus on developing a ‘train-the-trainer’ model for restaurant and retail staff,” said Fluech. That’s because most consumers purchase their seafood from restaurants and grocery stores, although they are not confident that they are getting accurate information from these sources. “Such a program would help these workers better address customer questions and needs, while promoting Florida seafood.”

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Laurel wilt disease likely to increase Florida avocado prices

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

In this photo released by the University of FloridaÕs Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, agricultural economist Edward ÒGillyÓ Evans, left, and tropical fruit expert Jonathan Crane examine avocados in a research grove at UFÕs Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead Ð Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. The pair helped write a paper on the potential economic impact of laurel wilt, a disease threatening FloridaÕs avocado crop. If the disease reaches Miami-Dade County, it could destroy half the crop and cost the state $27 million. (AP photo/University of Florida/IFAS/Thomas Wright)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Growers in Florida’s $100 million-a-year avocado industry could see a rise in the price of avocados in the short term due to a reduction in domestic production, because of the deadly Laurel Wilt pathogen, a new University of Florida study shows.

But any noticeable price increase probably wouldn’t last because increased imports from the Dominican Republic are likely to temper any price increases.

Edward Evans, a UF/IFAS associate professor in food and resource economics, is quick to note, however, that he conducted his study before the recent discovery of a medfly outbreak in the Dominican Republic. The outbreak led the U.S. Department of Agriculture to restrict imports of green-skin avocados from that country. This avocado is similar to the type produced in the Sunshine State.

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UF/IFAS study: Consumers prefer U.S.-grown organic broccoli

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

Twenty healthiest foods: artichokes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, bannanas, mangoes, salmon, onions, tomatoes, apricots, apples, avocados, blueberries, garlic, wheat, rice, nuts, red beans, oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds. UF/IFAS Photo: Thomas Wright. UF/IFAS calendar 2009

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As a good source of protein, Vitamin A, calcium, iron and fiber, broccoli is so full of nutrients, some call it a “super food.”

It’s also popular at the supermarket, whether it’s grown in America or overseas. But Americans are willing to pay $1 more per pound for U.S. organic broccoli than that from China and Mexico and up to 32 cents more per pound than that grown in Canada.

UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers conducted a national online survey in 2010 in which they posed questions about organic broccoli to 348 participants. They wanted to know the impact of “Country of Origin Labeling” on the price people were willing to pay for organic broccoli.

Foods sold in grocery stores come in packages labeled “organic,” if it applies. The packages also tell the buyer the country where the food was grown — a concept called “Country of Origin Labeling.” But some consumers remain confused about whether the broccoli they’re buying meets U.S. government standards for organic products, said Zhifeng Gao, a UF associate professor of food and resource economics.

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UF CALS courses, majors evolve to meet changing demands

Topic(s): Agriculture, Aquaculture, CALS, Citrus, Crops, Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition

Classroom, students, learning, auditorium.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As the University of Florida prepares to embark on the 2015-16 academic year, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences offers several courses and majors that reflect how the institution adapts to industry and stakeholder needs.

The courses and majors aren’t brand new for this fall. They evolved during the past few years. But they reflect the growing menu of courses and majors offered to the more than 3,700 undergraduate students expected to enroll at UF CALS this fall.

Just to name a few of the relatively new majors and course offerings, UF CALS offers a major in marine sciences that leads to a bachelor’s degree, a new undergraduate certificate titled “Challenge 2050: Global Leadership and Change” from the Challenge 2050 Project and three new majors offered in the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department that were previously specializations under one major – Food Science and Human Nutrition.

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Ona White Angus herd up for public auction to be held at UF/IFAS Range Cattle REC

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Economics, IFAS, Livestock, RECs, Research

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Ona White Angus

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Ona White Angus herd will be sold through a public auction at the University of Florida Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona this fall or early winter.

The Ona White Angus was developed over two decades of cross-breeding various phenotypes at the Range Cattle REC, said Center Director John Arthington.

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Caribbean spiny lobsters create safe havens to avoid disease

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Economics, Environment, IFAS, Research

Donald Behringer (right) shows FAES intern Mike Dickson how to tell when a Caribbean spiny lobster is infected with the lethal PaV1 disease.  2009 Annual Research Report photo by Ian Maguire.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Spiny lobsters practice “behavioral immunity” to create safe havens that prevent them from contracting a lethal disease in the wild, an important finding for the $50 million annual spiny lobster fishery in Florida, according to a new study co-authored by a University of Florida scientist.

UF/IFAS Associate Professor Don Behringer worked with Old Dominion University Professor Mark Butler on the study, published online June 10 in the journal PLOS ONE. In the study, scientists showed how the Caribbean spiny lobster uses a form of behavioral immunity to prevent the spread of the PaV1 virus, which takes a heavy toll on their populations.

“Increased infection risk has long been deemed a cost for the many benefits of being a social animal. However, we have shown that a social marine animal, the spiny lobster, has developed behaviors to reduce disease transmission by avoiding infected individuals,” said Behringer, a UF/IFAS scientist in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Science. “Further, this behavioral immunity keeps potential epidemics of PaV1 from occurring.”

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Recreational fish-catch data can help save money in monitoring invasive largemouth bass

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Economics, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Research

 

In this photo released by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, fisheries ecologist Mike Allen, right, discusses largemouth bass research with graduate student Bobby Harris, at a private pond near Hawthorne, Fla. — Tuesday, March 16, 2010. Harris was about to enter the water in search of nesting bass. Allen recently published a study showing bass populations seldom benefit when lakes are closed to fishing during spawning season. (AP photo/University of Florida/IFAS/Tyler Jones)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are using data from fishing tournaments to gauge how non-native largemouth bass in Africa are invading lakes and preying on smaller, native fish, a huge cost-saving measure in fisheries management.

Largemouth bass are native to North America, but they have been distributed worldwide for recreational fishing. When they’re in waters outside North America, largemouth bass can cause declines in native fish abundance, disrupting the ecosystem.

UF fisheries and aquatic sciences Professor Micheal Allen and his colleagues at UF/IFAS and in South Africa used existing fish-catch data from bass tournaments in southern Africa, where largemouth bass are non-native and invasive. Scientists examined data from 40 bass tournaments in lakes in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. They compared that information with 41 bass tournaments in the U.S., where bass are native species, between 2011 and 2014.

They found that angler catch data were similar between southern Africa and the U.S. Their data proves that the number and weight of the fish caught by recreational fishermen can be used to monitor the spread of exotic fish that are commonly caught by anglers.

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UF/IFAS invasives research facility likely to close

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Economics, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, RECs, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A valuable UF/IFAS program that helps save the state millions of dollars annually in controlling invasive plants and insects will likely close after a veto by Gov. Rick Scott on Monday.

An approved increase by the Legislature of $180,000 was denied, and the facility also lost all funding. The state-of-the-art lab opened in 2004 at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce with $3.9 million in state funding.

The center will probably close, and 12 positions will be eliminated, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agricultural and natural resources.

The quarantine facility is a highly secure lab where scientists conduct research on biological controls for invasive species. Scientists introduce, evaluate and release biological control agents to try to manage exotic weeds and insect pests in Florida.

Florida has the largest invasive infestations in the nation. Invasive species cost Florida approximately $100 million a year, Payne said. Scientists at the lab helped control the tropical soda apple, an invasive weed, through the release of 250,000 South American beetles. The move saved cattle ranchers about $5.75 million a year, Payne said.

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