GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Roses are usually the flower of choice for Valentine’s Day, and researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences want to keep it that way. Scientists are racing to develop a plan to prevent or treat rose rosette disease, which is decimating the rose industry in other states.
“Rose rosette is a devastating disease and one of the worst things to come along,” said Gary Knox, professor of environmental horticulture and Extension specialist in nursery crops. “So, we joined a multistate comprehensive project to find a management plan.”
The challenge is in detecting the virus before symptoms arrive, Knox said. “A nursery might not know it has the disease and sell rose plants to unsuspecting customers. Months later, the disease shows up,” he said. “The major issue is being able to detect the virus before it shows up.”
DELEON SPRINGS, Fla. – Richard Williams unfurls his long, sturdy frame from a tractor and begins a stroll through 20 acres of olive groves at his farm in Volusia County, Florida. His in-laws, the Ford/Veech family, has spent six generations farming in Florida, and has a more than 50-year-old citrus grove.
Williams checks the leaf structure to see which of the 11,160 olive trees are giving fruit. He has a lot riding on the Florida Olive Systems, Inc., project that is being funded by the Ford/Veech family.
“Planting olives is not for the faint of heart by any stretch of the imagination. This is so new that we are learning every day,” said Williams, whose wife Lisa helps run Florida Olive Systems, Inc. “But it’s a new opportunity to reinvent ourselves after catastrophic losses to citrus greening.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — What economists call the “green industry” – nursery and greenhouse production, landscape services and horticultural product distribution − is bringing plenty of green to a lot of people across the country. A new study by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences shows that the industry generated $196 billion in revenues annually, and more than two million jobs in the United States.
“Our study demonstrated that this industry is a very large employer,” said Alan Hodges, Extension scientist with the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department and lead author of the study. “It exists in virtually every community in the U.S. The rise of large retail chain stores with garden departments has made plants and other horticultural products more readily available to consumers than ever before.”
Green industry products include sod, flowers, bedding plants, tropical foliage, trees and shrubs, among other types of plants. The industry also includes many businesses that provide services such as landscape design, installation and maintenance, plus firms — such as lawn and garden stores — for wholesale and retail distribution of horticultural products, Hodges said.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumers prefer plants with the “Fresh from Florida” label, according to a new survey by a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economist.
In the survey, summarized in a UF/IFAS Extension document, 83 percent of respondents recalled noticing the “Fresh from Florida” logos on plants in retail garden centers. To be designated as “Fresh from Florida,” 51 per cent of the product must originate in the Sunshine State, according to Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services guidelines.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has partnered with the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association to include horticulture plants in the state’s “Fresh from Florida” campaign.
Hayk Khachatryan, an assistant professor of food and resource economics at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida, co-authored the document with his post-doctoral research associate, Alicia Rihn. As part of a larger study, they wrote the document after surveying 301 Florida horticultural plant consumers in June and July 2014 in Orlando and Gainesville.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new University of Florida-led study shows how Australian wheat farmers can use hypothetical 10-day weather forecasts to increase their annual profits by hundreds of thousands of dollars, a finding that can be applied to other parts of the globe.
Scientists now want to know how a real – meaning, imperfect – 10-day weather forecast will affect farmers’ decisions on when to plant and fertilize, said Senthold Asseng, a professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. They may apply their new findings on a fresh study that would predict crop yield based on 10-day forecasts in the United States.
“U.S. farmers make decisions based on anticipated growing conditions, including rainfall and temperature,” said Asseng, who led the study. “So I think it would be very useful to develop a project with farmers to explore if they could make more money or be more sustainable when considering a short-term forecast in their decision making. If so, real forecasts need to be analyzed and combined with farmers’ decisions.”
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Feral swine cost the Florida cattle industry at least $2 million a year in lost cattle production, according to a new study led by a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher.
In fact, researchers believe they may have underestimated the amount of forage destroyed by feral swine, said Samantha Wisely, a UF/IFAS associate professor of wildlife ecology and conservation. Furthermore, researchers kept their cost estimates to lost forage and did not include the cost of restoring range, controlling invasive weeds that feral swine spread and other costs.
“We suspect that the cost is nearly an order of magnitude higher, and our next project will document that more precisely,” Wisely said. Nationwide, feral swine damage and control costs more than $1.5 billion annually, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Global shrimp production is recovering from a challenging disease, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor says.
Based on an annual survey of shrimp industry leaders, global farmed shrimp production fell 14 percent from 2011 to 2013, caused mainly by the devastating disease known as early mortality syndrome, said James Anderson, a UF/IFAS professor of food and resource economics and director of the UF Institute for Sustainable Food Systems. The disease caused by bacteria, was first reported in Asia in 2009, and has resulted in high mortalities in the shrimp-farming industry, especially in Thailand, China, Malaysia and Vietnam.
But shrimp is bouncing back, with production expected to return to 2011 levels this year, Anderson said. He projected an average annual growth rate of over 7 percent from 2013 through 2017. From 2006 to 2011, the annual growth rate for shrimp was approximately 6 percent, according to Anderson’s numbers.
“It is notoriously difficult to get timely and accurate numbers on global shrimp production, since the industry is mostly located in the developing countries, many of which do not have resources to collect the data in detail,” Anderson said.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A predatory mite might feed on a pest of cucumbers, a $125 million-a-year crop in Florida, newly published University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences research shows.
This finding may help growers protect the environment because they could reduce pesticides to keep the pest – known as thrips — at bay. Growers may also save money because they may cut chemical use on their crop. In fact, because this thrips preys on many vegetable crops, the finding could save millions of dollars in pesticide use.
Armed with new data, it’s important for growers to use the mite to mitigate the pest, UF/IFAS researchers said.
“It will take some time for growers to be trained to use biological control agents in the field for maximum benefits,” said Garima Kakkar, who spearheaded the study as part of her master’s thesis when she was a graduate student at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida.
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LAKE ALFRED, Fla. — In the next three months, Florida citrus growers will have to decide whether to extend for another six years the citrus box tax, the proceeds of which help to pay for citrus greening research at the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center and other research universities and laboratories.
The Citrus Research and Development Foundation, Inc., Box Tax Advisory Council voted unanimously in June to recommend continuation of the citrus box tax at the current assessment rate of $.03 (3 cents) per harvested box for the last year of the current referendum, fiscal year 2015-16. (more …)
APOPKA, Fla. — Florida agriculture and food industries are among the largest economic contributors in the state. Agricultural producers manage 9.5 million acres, growing more than 300 commodities, including everything from citrus and cows to peanuts and potatoes. Agricultural products are shipped to national and international markets.
On January 28, some of the state’s top agriculture thinkers will gather at the University of Florida’s Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka for the Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference scheduled for 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Cost is $50 and includes a catered lunch. The event is organized by the UF Food and Resource Economics Department, under the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (more …)