IFAS News

University of Florida

Consumers will normally pay more for organic products – but not wine

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You swish around a sip of organic wine in your mouth and it might tempt your taste buds, but that doesn’t mean you’ll pay more for it, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.

For the study, former UF/IFAS graduate student Lane Abraben, used an economic model to determine if consumers are willing to pay more for organic wine. Abraben specifically examined wine consumed from the Tuscany region of Italy. But his adviser, Kelly Grogan, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics, said the research findings likely apply to any organically produced wine.

For many products, organic production costs more than conventional production; thus, to make organic products more viable, consumers must be willing to pay more, Grogan said.

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POSTPONED: UF/IFAS networking event to focus on organic agriculture

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

Please note that this event has been postponed.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As organic food goes mainstream, more small farms are looking to get into the industry, says Jim DeValerio, agriculture agent for Bradford County with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension program.

“We’ve seen growing demand in small farm communities for more opportunities to learn about organic agriculture, and meet others who are also interested in going organic,” DeValerio said.

Growers will have a chance to do just that at the next meeting of the Florida Agriculture Network (FAN), April 25 from 4 to 6 p.m. at 1655 SE 23rd Place in Gainesville, Florida. Attendees will tour two organic farms, mingle with other growers and help inform future UF/IFAS research.

Those interested in attending can register at http://tinyurl.com/l5yzv2y or call the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County office at 352-955-2402. Registration is $15.

Organized by UF/IFAS Extension faculty, FAN meetings help growers to network and also meet their local county Extension agent — all in one place.

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The problem expands for avocado growers: More beetle species carry deadly fungus

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

Please see caption at end of story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Many people love their avocados – not to mention guacamole dip. So it was bad enough when scientists said a beetle was ravaging avocado trees in South Florida. Then scientists found out that the redbay ambrosia beetle — originally determined to transmit laurel wilt — is rare in avocado groves but that six other beetle species could carry the laurel wilt pathogen.

That’s more species for scientists to track down and study. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economists have estimated avocados bring a $100 million-a-year economic impact to South Florida.

In a new study, UF/IFAS plant pathology professor Randy Ploetz said scientists found three more types of beetles that can carry the pathogen that can kill avocado trees.

Scientist say they still don’t know how many species of ambrosia beetle transmit the fungus that causes laurel wilt, also known as Raffaelea lauricola. To serve as a “vector,” the insect must interact with the tree and the pathogen, and that interaction is hard to study, said Ploetz, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida.

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Bumblebees boost blueberry yield

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Bumblebees can boost blueberry yield by 70 percent, good news for Florida growers in the heart of their blueberry season, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.

The news also accentuates the need for blueberry pollinators, said Joshua Campbell, a post-doctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS entomology and nematology department.

After caging bumblebee hives with highbush blueberry bushes, researchers found that 70 percent of the flowers produced blueberries, while less than 10 percent of those without bumblebee hives produced blueberries. That’s helpful news for blueberry growers, said Campbell, co-author of a new study published in the Journal of Environmental Entomology.

“We think our findings are very relevant for growers who are growing blueberries in greenhouses and high tunnels,” Campbell said.

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UF hosts international symposium for Global Child Nutrition Month

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — April is Global Child Nutrition Month and researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are working to find innovative ways to combat malnutrition worldwide.

According to 2015 UNICEF, WHO and World Bank estimates, approximately 24 percent of children in the world, roughly 159 million in 2014, suffer from chronic malnutrition, and almost half of all child deaths worldwide are linked to undernutrition.

Thus, scientists from across the globe are gathering at UF on March 29 and 30 to share experiences in research and programs, and to discuss ways to improve nutrition through animal-source foods in some of the most impoverished regions in the world. The theme of the Global Nutrition Symposium, is “Nurturing Development: Improving human nutrition with animal-source foods.”

The effects of malnutrition are devastating, said Adegbola Adesogan, director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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Wet ‘dry season’ damaged valuable ornamentals

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s winters are usually dry, but the wet winter of 2015-2016 helped spread pathogens that destroyed ornamental plants in Miami-Dade County. That’s a problem in an area where the industry generated an estimated $998 million annually in sales in 2015, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers say.

Damage figures are not yet available from the 2015-2016 winter rains, but UF/IFAS scientists have found the pathogens Phytophthora and Pythium caused the most destruction. Rain spreads those pathogens, said Georgina Sanahuja, a post-doctoral researcher at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida.

Meteorologists consider Florida’s “dry season” to run from Oct. 1 to March 1 and the rest of the year to be the “wet season.” But last year, the “dry season” wasn’t so dry, because of El Niño, which brought more rain than South Florida has seen since records were kept starting in 1932, a new study published in the journal HortTechnology says.

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Neighboring termite colonies re-invade; expose themselves to deadly bait

Topic(s): Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests, RECs, Research

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Even after an insecticide bait weakens Formosan subterranean termites, a neighboring colony will invade the same area and meet the identical lethal fate, new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences research shows.

The research finding is key for a pest that accounts for much of the $32 billion annual cost caused by subterranean termites worldwide.

“The good news for a homeowner is that as soon as the colony is weakened by baits, the neighboring colony would immediately invade its tunneling system, discover the baits and consume them,” said UF/IFAS entomology professor Nan-Yao Su, co-author of the study. “This always results in the elimination of the invading colony. The results showed that as long as the baits are still present in the bait stations, they will continue to intercept and eliminate incoming colonies.”

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‘Gloom’ and doom when these insects are on hot, dry red maple trees

Topic(s): Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, Forestry, Green Living, IFAS, Landscaping, Pests, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — They are known as gloomy scales, and these insects can make a red maple tree’s life downright dreary. This is because the arthropods feed and thrive on them, especially in warm and dry urban landscapes, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher says.

Melanaspis tenebricosa, or gloomy scale insects, reproduce more, especially when the trees they live on are under the stress of heat and drought, according to new study led by UF/IFAS entomology assistant professor Adam Dale.

Dale’s new research is important as residents and urban landscapers decide when and where to plant red maple trees, which are native and widely distributed in North America from Florida to Canada and whose canopy helps cool urban areas.

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Learn how to grow plants without soil at hydroponic farming workshop

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

LIVE OAK, Fla. — Do you want to know how to grow plants without soil? More and more, people want to start a hydroponic farming business. To meet that demand, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension will host workshops this month to get you going.

This marks the ninth straight year that Extension faculty at the UF/IFAS Suwanee Valley Agricultural Extension Center will host the workshops. If you are interested, you can attend March 13-14 or March 17-18 at the center, 8202 County Road 417, Live Oak, Florida.

“We had great demand for information coming from growers and potential growers,” said center director and UF/IFAS Extension specialist Bob Hochmuth. “Although many growers are diversifying from traditional farming enterprises, I would say most are not coming from a traditional farming background.”

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Grapefruit for dessert? South Korea could be a lucrative market for Florida growers

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

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — How about grapefruit as a dessert or snack? That is how many South Koreans, especially younger ones, view the fruit. Therefore, Florida grapefruit growers may want to expand their shipments to that Asian nation, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers say.

UF/IFAS researchers are doing a series of surveys for the Florida Department of Citrus, comparing the consumer behavior and market potential for grapefruit in the U.S., Europe and Asia. In the latest study, Yan Heng, a postdoctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS food and resources economics department, conducted an online poll of 992 South Korean female shoppers over 20 years old.

She found South Korea may be a growing market for U.S. grapefruit. Furthermore, South Korean consumers generally consider U.S. products as high quality, so U.S. growers would have a chance to profit by selling with a premium, Heng said.

“We really look at this study and South Korea as information to see if we can increase younger consumers in other countries,” said Lisa House, a UF/IFAS professor of food and resource economics and a study co-author. In addition to eating grapefruit, South Koreans also use grapefruit in beer, tea and ice cream, so marketing opportunities abound.

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