IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS researcher says some people are single on Valentine’s Day and just fine with it

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS

A woman paddleboards in Biscayne Bay.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With the most hyped romantic day of the year fast approaching, some people who are single are perfectly happy that way – and not buying into the all the ads, stuffed animals, candies or cards.

Assistant Professor Victor Harris, an Extension specialist with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, said there are ways to short-circuit the “mind traps” that often accompany a day set aside for couples. (more …)

UF/IFAS researchers in fight to keep Valentine’s Day rosy

Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Invasive Species, Research

roses

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.”

(more …)

UF/IFAS plant scientists try to breed a little cupid magic

Topic(s): Cultivars, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, RECs, Research

Dr. Zhanao Deng (center) showing FAES interns Mary Derrick (right) and Monica Raguckas the flowers of gerbera daisy to be used for hand pollination.  2009 Annual Research Report photo by Patty McClain.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Roses are red; violets are blue, and University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are developing better breeds of Valentine’s Day plants just for you.

Here are just a couple of examples.

Zhanao Deng, a professor of environmental horticulture at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida, is breeding gerbera daisy cultivars that are resistant to powdery mildew, the most destructive fungal disease for this type of flower. Deng said his daisies are also becoming more attractive.

“These daisy cultivars can be used for cut flowers or potted plants,” he said.

(more …)

UF/IFAS encourages Floridians to take up beekeeping, hosting annual Bee College March 4-5

Topic(s): Agriculture, Entomology and Nematology, IFAS

Honey bees crawling across a bee hive during a Bee College demonstration on grafting.  Bees, beekeeping, pollinators, entomology.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

DAVIE, Fla. — William Kern, an associate professor with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, gently pumped smoke into a beehive to calm the insects before he lifted the lid off the white box to gather wildflower honey.

“Beekeeping has many of the attributes that lead people into gardening: outdoor activity, intellectually interesting, relaxing – if you are doing it right – helpful to the environment by providing pollinators in areas where native bees have been lost or reduced in population,” said Kern. “And you can produce desirable commodities like honey, beeswax, pollen and propolis – or bee glue.”

Kern is one of UF’s most vocal bee enthusiasts and encourages everyone interested to get involved with beekeeping.  One way is to take classes at this year’s annual UF/IFAS Bee College, being held March 4th and 5th at the Whitney Marine Laboratory in Marineland, Fla.  (more …)

UF/IFAS to honor 3 faculty members for global work

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla.— Recognizing their leadership in global agricultural affairs, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will honor three faculty members with the 2015 UF/IFAS International Awards. There ceremony will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 11 in the Keene Faculty Center, Dauer Hall.

Gregory MacDonald, Robert McCleery and E. Vanessa Campoverde will be celebrated for their contributions to both UF/IFAS and the world.

“This is a great distinction and honor for each that reflects the global stature of their career accomplishments and the high esteem in which they are held not only here in UF/IFAS but also worldwide,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

(more …)

Reeling from citrus greening, UF/IFAS researchers support new olive industry in Florida

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

Extension

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.”

(more …)

UF/IFAS study: “Green Industry” generates nearly $200 billion; 2 million jobs nationwide

Topic(s): Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, Green Living, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Research

Landscaped yards and homes in Florida.  Landscaping, plants, gardens, neighborhoods, communities, development.  UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

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.

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UF/IFAS researchers find shallow flooding reduces a major rice pest

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

rice plants

BELLE GLADE, Fla. — University of Florida scientists at the Everglades Research and Education Center have found an important way to control the destructive rice water weevil, one of the major pests in rice production.

UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher Ron Cherry and his team discovered that shallow flooding of rice fields can help reduce rice water weevil populations during Florida’s growing season, between April and September. Previous studies of the effect of flood depth on the pest have been inconsistent. (more …)

Florida consumers prefer “Fresh from Florida” plants

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

 

Various Fresh from Florida labeling upon orange juice and citrus containers.

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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.

(more …)

UF/IFAS scientists preserve the endangered Ghost Orchid

Topic(s): IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Research

Ghost Orchid3 012216

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers believe they’re on the verge of helping conserve the popular but endangered Ghost Orchid, a plant that’s often poached.

“We’ve successfully developed procedures to culture plants from seeds in the lab and then successfully acclimatize them into our greenhouse,” said Michael Kane, professor of environmental horticulture at UF/IFAS. “We’ve also obtained a high survival and vigorous re-growth rate when they’re planted back into the wild.”

This rare orchid is unique for several reasons. First, it resembles a ghost when its white flower moves at night; hence, it is known as the Ghost Orchid. It is also leafless, and its roots attach to the bark of the host tree.

About 2,000 ghost orchids remain in Florida, all the more reason to step up efforts to stabilize the current populations, Kane said. The Ghost Orchid also grows in the Bahamas and Cuba. However, researchers are learning that these populations are thriving in very different environmental conditions than those in South Florida.

(more …)

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