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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With the laurel wilt pathogen threatening the Florida avocado industry, a UF/IFAS tropical fruit scientist will lend his expertise at the World Avocado Congress in September in Lima, Peru.
Jonathan Crane, professor in horticultural sciences, will give an opening presentation titled: “The Potential for Laurel Wilt to Threaten Avocado Production is Real” at the meeting, Sept. 13-18. With this talk, Crane will provide evidence that laurel wilt will spread throughout North America and will pose a threat to native trees and to commercial avocado production.
Later, Crane will present a paper titled: “Current status and control recommendations for laurel wilt and the ambrosia beetle vectors in commercial avocado orchards in South Florida.” Crane co-authored the paper with Daniel Carrillo, assistant professor in entomology; Randy Ploetz, professor in plant pathology; Edward Evans, associate professor in food and resource economics and Aaron Palmateer, associate professor in plant pathology – all of whom work at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead. The final co-author is Don Pybas, director of the Florida Avocado Administrative Committee.
Several ambrosia beetle species transmit the laurel wilt pathogen to avocado trees, killing most of them, threatening an industry with a $100 million-a-year economic impact on Florida. The original ambrosia beetle vector of laurel wilt was discovered in the U.S. in Georgia in 2002 and since that time has spread to seven additional states. Laurel wilt has begun to slightly affect commercial avocado production in Florida.
As citrus greening continues to impact Florida’s groves, growers have found that they need a way to quickly and accurately count the amount of fruit dropped early to help identify problem areas, which will save time and money.
University of Florida researchers Wonsuk “Daniel” Lee, Daeun “Dana” Choi, Reza Ehsani and Fritz Roka devised a “machine vision system” to count citrus fruit that has dropped early. The device is suitable for various conditions in citrus groves, including addressing problems of variable lighting, giving accurate estimates of dropped fruit counts and providing exact locations of trees with greater fruit drop, indicating a problem area. (more …)
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Looking to save money and water when you irrigate? UF/IFAS scientists have developed an app for that. Want to know what plants to grow in your garden? You guessed it: UF/IFAS has an app for that as well.
UF/IFAS’ so-called “smart irrigation apps” include an urban lawn app that estimates how long you’ll need to water your lawn to meet current plant water demand. It uses a simplified approach for automated irrigation systems. This urban lawn model uses meteorological data to compute a simple, real-time weekly water balance, said Kati Migliaccio, UF/IFAS associate professor in agricultural and biological engineering and lead designer of the app. Find these apps and others at Smartirrigationapps.org.
“The turf app provides a free resource to determine a schedule to apply the right amount of water to landscapes, which is personalized based on user inputs,” Migliaccio said.
LIVE OAK, Fla. — Farmers interested in row crops are invited to the Suwanee Valley Agricultural Extension Center on Monday evening, Aug. 17, to learn about best management practices. (more …)
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Space may not be the final frontier for Anna-Lisa Paul and Robert Ferl; they want to grow plants there. Because, who knows, we may one day try to live on Mars, and to survive, we’ll have to grow our own food.
Thus far, experiments by the two pioneering scientists have proven so successful that, earlier this month, NASA recognized their research with one of its three awards in the category of the Most Compelling Results. Paul and Ferl have been conducting plants-in-space research for 20 years.
“It was indeed nice to receive the recognition from NASA,” said Paul, a research professor in the UF/IFAS Department of Horticultural Sciences. “The award recognizes our research approaches of using transgenic plants to serve as biological sensors of the space flight environment. This research is another step in moving our science forward in our exploration of how plants respond to this novel environment.”
Paul explained how all this research helps us on planet Earth.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A $1 million University of Florida research project to fight citrus greening got the green light in the state’s budget.
Nian Wang, a researcher with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, is working with a team to develop a microbial-based product, infused with patented plant-defense inducers and beneficial bacteria strains, that he hopes will cure citrus greening. (more …)
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Crushed seashells and vinegar could be the key ingredients in an inexpensive and readily available way to lure and trap disease-carrying insects in developing nations, according to a new UF/IFAS study.
By using these simple ingredients, insect experts can find easier ways to trap and monitor disease-carrying insects, said Nathan Burkett-Cadena, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of entomology, who led the recent study.
Mosquitoes transmit malaria, West Nile virus and chikungunya virus. Monitoring these insects is critical to understanding when and where to control them and lessen the risk of human disease. Insect experts the world over use carbon dioxide, the same gas that humans exhale, to attract blood-feeding bugs to traps, so they can measure their abundance, test them for diseases and make decisions about whether or not to control them.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two UF/IFAS graduate students will advise a congressional committee as lawmakers question them about biotechnology and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Chris Barbey and Alejandra Abril Guevara, doctoral students in Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology, will head to Washington D.C. with UF/IFAS horticultural sciences Professor Kevin Folta to answer questions from the U.S. House Science Committee at a June 25 hearing. Folta said there is no set agenda for the discussions, but he expects the researchers to field many questions relating to the GMO regulatory processes, food labeling and product safety.
“It is great that this committee is consulting with scientists that understand the evidence, and hopefully evidence will help them devise new policy,” Folta said.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida has nearly 70 million citrus trees on more than 531,500 acres. Now imagine trying to figure out what pesticide to spray on each of those trees to keep them safe from citrus greening.
University of Florida researcher James Tansey says the answer is as close as your Android smartphone with a new app developed with ZedX, an information technologies company based in Pennsylvania. The free phone program allows citrus farmers to enter in about a dozen variables — like the type of crop, insect pressure, harvest date, previous spray history, and whether the crop will be for fresh fruit or juice and for export or domestic markets — to determine the best pesticide to use. There are also record-keeping options, and the app keeps track of sites with gps. (more …)
Matias Kirst. Associate Professor, PhD. Quantitative Genetics. School of Forest Resources and Conservation. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Agricultural science could make huge leaps forward if scientists had reliable ways to examine seeds and accurately predict the physical characteristics of the fully grown plants that would result.
University of Florida forest genetics expert Matias Kirst leads a multi-institution academic team that recently obtained a four-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop better methods of predicting the traits spawned by individual genes and groups of genes in plants, in this case the Eastern cottonwood tree, Populus deltoides.
“We’re thrilled that our previous work in this area has put us in a position to win this critical grant to help us bridge some important gaps in trait prediction,” said Kirst, an associate professor with the UF School of Forest Resources and Conservation, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, or UF/IFAS.
The grant award provides more proof that the UF/IFAS forest genetics program is among the best in the world, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
“Matias Kirst is one of our bright stars in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation,” Payne said. “This grant will support world-class scientific investigation that could make it much faster and easier to determine which new crop cultivars have commercial potential or other significant value.”