IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS Milton Campus, Pensacola State College to host Spring Festival of Flowers on April 7-9

Topic(s): Agriculture, Cultivars, Extension, Families and Consumers, Green Living, IFAS, Plants, RECs

MILTON, Fla. — The seasons are changing and it’s time to enjoy the blooming plants across the state. Families are invited to enjoy the Spring Festival of Flowers on April 7 to 9 in Milton. The University of Florida IFAS Milton Campus and the Pensacola State College are sponsoring the free event.

The festival will be held at the UF/IFAS and Pensacola State College Milton Campus, 5988 Hwy. 90, Building 4900, Milton, Florida 32583. The festival hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The festival will feature arts and crafts, plants, flower and herbs, garden supplies, locally grown vegetables, and great food and music. Educational booths will feature UF/IFAS Extension agents answering questions about plants and flowers, eclectic gardening, good bugs and bad bugs, sprinklers and air layering demonstrations, and experts offering advice and hands-on demonstrations on wildlife for your backyard.

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UF/CALS graduate students host annual coleus plant sale

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, IFAS

Please see caption below photo.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. –  The Environmental Horticulture Graduate Student Association (EHGSA) will host its 18th annual plant sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 25 and 26. The sale will be held at the University of Florida horticulture greenhouses, 2475 Memorial Road, Gainesville. This is the fourth year the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) student organization will feature coleus plants.

The graduate students recently began featuring coleus to showcase the plant breeding that happens at UF and the plants club members have grown themselves. All coleus sold at the event have been patented by UF. The sale will also include donated plants from local horticulturalists.

“The coleus we are selling are mostly available commercially, but not all in one place considering the amount of varieties we have,” said Tia Tyler, EHGSA president. “We already have people calling to make sure they don’t miss the sale. It’s nice to see we are picking up a following.”

New coleus varieties to be sold at the event include Velveteen (a dark burgundy leaf with a pink center) and Salsa Verde (a lime color). The Gator Glory variety with orange leaves and yellow highlights is not available commercially and was recently retired as UF’s official plant.

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UF/IFAS Global honors three faculty members for international work

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Departments, Extension, IFAS, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Taking the charge to bring agricultural solutions to countries far and wide, three faculty members with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have done just that. Thus, they were honored at the third annual UF/IFAS Global forum and awards ceremony in February.

Luke Flory, an assistant professor in the agronomy department, received the UF/IFAS Global International Achievement award for his work on reducing the effects of invasive plants around the world. His research has received international recognition, with invitations to speak at universities and organizations in Asia, Canada and Europe, said Rob Gilbert in a nomination letter.

William Giuliano, a professor and UF/IFAS Extension specialist in the department of wildlife, ecology and conservation, was named a UF/IFAS Global International Fellow. Giuliano secured substantial funding for, established, and now directs the Program for Tropical Ecology and Conservation Science and its associated two field stations in Belize. Also, he established a program to conduct research with and train Belizean scientists, said nominator and colleague Eric Hellgren.

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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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Motivational speaker Chris Koch to visit UF students, Gainesville community

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Canadian farmer and motivational speaker Chris Koch, who was born without arms and legs, will speak to students and the public at the University of Florida on March 13 and 14.

After attending the 2016 Ag Media Summit where Koch spoke, several members of the University of Florida Agricultural Communicators and Leaders of Tomorrow (ACLT) club knew he was someone the larger UF and Gainesville community needed to hear.

Despite the challenges Koch faces, he chooses to take life in stride and make the best of every situation. He spreads the message “If I can” to the public. Koch uses his message to inspire others to overcome their own obstacles, and has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Koch will speak at the UF J. Wayne Reitz Union grand ballroom at 6 p.m. on March 13 and again at 9 a.m. on March 14 at the Straughn IFAS Extension Professional Development Center. The events are free and open to all. Participants are encouraged to bring two non-perishable food items for the Alan and Cathy Hitchcock Field and Fork Food Pantry on campus.

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UF CALS alumnus named vice president of national Society of American Foresters

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Forestry, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. –  After a summer job working along the Oregon border in California for the U.S. Forest Service, Dave Lewis knew a career in forestry was his calling. With nearly 40 years of forestry experience, Lewis has continued to find the industry to be a rewarding profession.

Lewis will channel his passion for forest management into his new role as vice president of the national Society of American Foresters (SAF).

“Dave has a strong moral and professional character with outstanding leadership skills,” said SAF 2015 president Bob Alverts. “It was a well-informed choice to elect him. He has ideas to move this organization forward and grow it into one that is inclusive, benefits members and will continue to achieve objectives by having the resources with which to do so.”

Previously, Lewis served on the 2012-2014 SAF board of directors representing Florida, Georgia and Alabama. After his first year as SAF vice president, Lewis will serve for another two years on the board of directors as president and immediate past-president. Lewis said he is most looking forward to meeting and working with foresters from all over the country.

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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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Repellant could keep dangerous beetles away from avocado trees

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

Redbay ambrosia beetles.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Using some pleasant-smelling chemicals, avocado growers may soon be able to repel beetles that inject a potentially deadly fungus into their trees, saving fruit and money, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers say.

When they’re infected with the laurel wilt fungus, redbay trees – a close cousin to the avocado — emit methyl salicylate to repel redbay ambrosia beetles, the very beetles that gave the trees the fungus in the first place, scientists say in a newly published study.

Florida avocados bring a $100 million-a-year impact to Florida’s economy, UF/IFAS economists say. They grow almost entirely in southern Miami-Dade County, but growers have battled the laurel wilt fungus, which can kill redbay and avocado trees, since it arrived in Georgia in 2003.

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