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University of Florida

Fruit and vegetable production conference coming to Apopka on Nov. 6

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The UF/IFAS Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Extension Team will present the Mid-Florida Specialty Crops Conference from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Nov. 6 at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka.

This marks the second of a series of new regional events created by a team of UF/IFAS Extension agents.

“Participants will walk away with knowledge of how to establish, manage and market fruits and vegetables in Central Florida,” said Orange County Extension Director Richard Tyson, one of the event’s organizers. “They will also obtain a better understanding of local food systems.”

(more …)

UF/IFAS helping to train the next generation of farm labor supervisors

Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, Extension, IFAS, RECs, Safety
Workers picking and loading lettuce onto a conveyor belt.

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IMMOKALEE, Fla. — University of Florida Agricultural Economist Fritz Roka is putting into action the adage “When you know better, you do better.”

Roka and his team from UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are leading training programs all over the state, beginning Oct. 7, to help farm labor contractors, crew leaders, drivers and office staff become better at managing crews of farm workers and keeping them safe. (more …)

UF/IFAS study: Although it’s a niche market, guava can be profitable

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

Two halves of a fruit.  2007 Research Report Photo by Tom Wright.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Asian guava orchards can bring nine times the profit as mango and avocado, all staples of South Florida’s agricultural sector, a new University of Florida study shows.

But Edward “Gilly” Evans, a UF/IFAS associate professor of food and resource economics, cautioned that guava is a niche market that can easily be oversupplied.

“The fruit is not mainstream, so if everyone were to rush out and start producing it, prices would tumble,” said Evans, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida. “It also involves a lot of work as each fruit has to be netted and bagged to avoid fruit fly damage or blemishes.”

Evans also said: “The main consumers are Asian, in northern cities such as New York and Chicago. The fruit is not as popular elsewhere, even though it is very nutritious and has a lot of health benefits.”

Guava contains several vitamins, including A, B2, C and E, along with calcium, copper, folate, iron, manganese, phosphorus and potassium, he said.

Evans led a study of costs and returns on a 5-acre guava orchard in Miami-Dade County. To get their cost and revenue figures, he and intern Stella Garcia interviewed farmers and Extension agents. Then they put the numbers through several economic calculations.

(more …)

Florida Sea Grant offers seafood information in new Florida Trend report

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Aquaculture, Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS
Grouper and assorted seafood fillets on display at a store in case. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Grouper and assorted seafood fillets on display at a store in case. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — October is National Seafood Month, and Florida Sea Grant has spotlighted the safety and variety of the state’s seafood products with a special report published in the September issue of Florida Trend magazine.

Although the average Floridian’s seafood consumption is twice the national average  – 31 pounds per year, compared with 15 – a recent Florida Sea Grant survey indicates that 40 percent of state residents don’t eat two servings each week, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“With this special report, we hope to raise awareness of our state’s seafood production and the fact that seafood is a healthy, delicious dining option,” said Karl Havens, Florida Sea Grant director and a professor with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, or UF/IFAS. “We’re very fortunate in Florida to have access to a wide range of local seafood items as well as products sourced elsewhere.”

Florida is the nation’s seventh-largest seafood producing state, offering about 80 wild-caught and farm-raised items, he said. Some of the state’s best-known seafood products include grouper, snapper, oysters, spiny lobster and stone crab. (more …)

UF/IFAS research funding hits record high in FY 2015, confirming value of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, UF/IFAS research faculty efforts

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS
Roman Mmanda Fortunatus conducting research in Food Science and Human Nutrition.

Roman Mmanda Fortunatus conducting research in Food Science and Human Nutrition.

Photo cutline at bottom. Click on photo for larger image.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Research funding for the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences hit an all-time high in Fiscal Year 2015, at almost $125.82 million, according to figures released this month by the UF Office of Research.

The UF/IFAS total, representing funds from grant awards, contracted research, donations and other sources, exceeds last year’s figure by 23 percent; UF/IFAS records indicate it also tops the previous record, set in FY 2012.

“This is one of the proudest moments of my career so far,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “You just don’t get stronger proof that UF/IFAS is delivering results for our many constituencies and stakeholders. These results are a tribute to the leadership of Dr. Jackie Burns, UF/IFAS dean for research, and the incredible talent of our UF/IFAS faculty.”

The new figures come from a campus wide annual report on research funding. It provides numerical data on funding received by major campus units, as well as information on sources and types of funding received; the data cover July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015. (more …)

UF researchers try to reduce barotrauma deaths for deep-sea fish and sustain industry

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

BAROTRAUMA 092315 (2)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Most recreational anglers who target deep-water reef fish in Florida recognize barotrauma symptoms, and University of Florida researchers think they can teach the other 30 percent to help save the fish.

By doing so, anglers would play a key role in sustaining the state’s valuable fisheries.

When anglers reel in their catch from deep waters, fish can suffer problems caused by gas pressure changes – or barotrauma. Often the gas-filled swim bladder of the fish has ruptured, releasing the gas into the fish’s body cavity.  Symptoms of barotrauma include the stomach protruding from the fish’s mouth, bulging eyes, a bloated belly and distended intestines. Fish with these symptoms find it hard to swim back down to their natural habitat, and many die as a result.

Mitigating this condition may be a key to maintaining Florida’s fisheries, said Chuck Adams, a marine economist with Florida Sea Grant. The importance of reducing this source of mortality for fish is further underscored by a recent UF/IFAS report that showed fishing and seafood products have a $565 million-a-year impact on Florida’s economy. That report can be found here: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fe969.

(more …)

UF/IFAS termite pioneer to be inducted into inventors hall of fame

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Families and Consumers, Honors and Appointments, Household Pests, IFAS, New Technology, Pests, RECs

TERMITES2 Nan-Yao Su 022415

Nan-Yao Su

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nan-Yao Su, the University of Florida scientist who invented the Sentricon® system for termite colony elimination, is scheduled to be inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame Oct. 2 in Tampa.

Sentricon®, the first commercial baiting product for subterranean termites, has protected millions of structures, including the White House and the Statue of Liberty.

The Hall of Fame selection committee chose nominees whose inventions and achievements have “advanced the quality of life for Floridians, our state and our nation,” according to a letter to Su from hall of fame Program Manager William Nikolic.

Su said he feels honored to be mentioned alongside such great inventors as Thomas Edison and UF’s own Robert Cade, who invented Gatorade®.

“I am glad that I can contribute to the quality of life of many homeowners in Florida and worldwide,” Su said.

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Peaches more marketable to younger people, but everyone wants the fruit to melt in their mouth

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


Peaches attached to a peach tree. Fruit, stonefruit, horticulture. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Young consumers are more likely to buy peaches than older people, and those 18- to 24-year-olds prefer crisp, firm peaches with good flavor, a new University of Florida study shows.

In fact, people aged 51 to 68 are the least interested in buying peaches. Those of that age who do buy peaches prefer sweet, melting-texture peaches. Although they did not study the reason older people don’t like peaches as much, UF/IFAS scientists think older consumers may have repeatedly bought poor-quality peaches in the past, triggering an interest in other fruits.

“It was refreshing to see young consumers being interested in purchasing fruit and peaches in particular,” said Mercy Olmstead, assistant professor in horticultural sciences and lead author of the study. “Most of the breeding efforts here at UF have been directed toward peaches with non-melting, firmer texture, so having the younger generation prefer crisp, firm peaches was exciting.”

Overall, consumers want sweet, tasty peaches that melt in your mouth, she said.

(more …)

Florida’s agriculture-related employment up 8.7 percent

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

Sculptor Steven Siegel, right, and University of Florida art students add plant matter to "Pod," an 18-foot-long sculpture composed of living plants and landscaping debris in the courtyard of UF's Fine Arts Complex. Siegel, internationally known for works composed of post-consumer waste, decided to use plant materials for this sculpture on the advice of a researcher with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (UF/IFAS photo by Thomas Wright)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — About 1.52 million people worked full- or part-time in Florida’s agriculture, natural resources and food industries in 2013, an 8.7 percent increase in jobs over 2012, according to a new UF/IFAS economic report.

That figure accounts for 14.3 percent of the state’s workforce, and reflects a 19.7 percent employment increase since 2001, or just under 1 percent annually, according to the report, led by UF/IFAS Extension Scientist Alan Hodges.

“That’s pretty good economic growth in anybody’s book,” said Hodges, a faculty member in food and resource economics.

Agriculture, natural resources and their related industries in the state account for $148.5 billion in sales revenue, the report said. Regional multiplier effects add 633,942 jobs and $83.64 billion to agriculture’s impact on Florida’s economy.

“It’s new money from outside sources that’s circulating in Florida’s economy,” Hodges said. The value-added impacts represent 15.4 percent of the state’s Gross Domestic Product.

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Groundbreaking is Sept. 10 for renovation of UF/IFAS Beef Teaching Unit

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Livestock

A sandhill crane in a cattle pasture at the UF's Beef Teaching Unit

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Dignitaries, UF/IFAS faculty and other interested parties are scheduled to gather Thursday for a groundbreaking ceremony for the first phase of the $3.6-million renovation of the UF/IFAS Beef Teaching Unit in Gainesville.

The ceremony will be held at 5 p.m. at the south entrance to the facility at 3301 SW 23rd Terrace, near Williston Road.

The 500 undergraduates and many graduate students who spend time during their degree programs in animal sciences will have much more room to learn about how cattle help America’s economic and nutrition needs, said Geoff Dahl, professor and chair of the UF/IFAS animal sciences department.

This year, the Legislature allotted $1 million toward the renovation of the Beef Teaching Unit. UF/IFAS plans to ask the Legislature for the rest of the $2.6 million during the 2016 session, Dahl said. The facilities for working cattle and student housing had fallen into disrepair, he said. The student housing at the unit was condemned about six years ago.

The old unit housed about 900 square feet of enclosed space for housing and an additional 3,000 square feet for animal work. After the renovation, there will be 5,000 square feet of multipurpose enclosed space and another 15,000 square feet for cattle pens and working area.

(more …)

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