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University of Florida

Fruit and vegetable production conference coming to Apopka on Nov. 6

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The UF/IFAS Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Extension Team will present the Mid-Florida Specialty Crops Conference from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Nov. 6 at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka.

This marks the second of a series of new regional events created by a team of UF/IFAS Extension agents.

“Participants will walk away with knowledge of how to establish, manage and market fruits and vegetables in Central Florida,” said Orange County Extension Director Richard Tyson, one of the event’s organizers. “They will also obtain a better understanding of local food systems.”

(more …)

UF/IFAS helping to train the next generation of farm labor supervisors

Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, Extension, IFAS, RECs, Safety
Workers picking and loading lettuce onto a conveyor belt.

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IMMOKALEE, Fla. — University of Florida Agricultural Economist Fritz Roka is putting into action the adage “When you know better, you do better.”

Roka and his team from UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are leading training programs all over the state, beginning Oct. 7, to help farm labor contractors, crew leaders, drivers and office staff become better at managing crews of farm workers and keeping them safe. (more …)

UF/IFAS study: Although it’s a niche market, guava can be profitable

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

Two halves of a fruit.  2007 Research Report Photo by Tom Wright.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Asian guava orchards can bring nine times the profit as mango and avocado, all staples of South Florida’s agricultural sector, a new University of Florida study shows.

But Edward “Gilly” Evans, a UF/IFAS associate professor of food and resource economics, cautioned that guava is a niche market that can easily be oversupplied.

“The fruit is not mainstream, so if everyone were to rush out and start producing it, prices would tumble,” said Evans, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida. “It also involves a lot of work as each fruit has to be netted and bagged to avoid fruit fly damage or blemishes.”

Evans also said: “The main consumers are Asian, in northern cities such as New York and Chicago. The fruit is not as popular elsewhere, even though it is very nutritious and has a lot of health benefits.”

Guava contains several vitamins, including A, B2, C and E, along with calcium, copper, folate, iron, manganese, phosphorus and potassium, he said.

Evans led a study of costs and returns on a 5-acre guava orchard in Miami-Dade County. To get their cost and revenue figures, he and intern Stella Garcia interviewed farmers and Extension agents. Then they put the numbers through several economic calculations.

(more …)

North Florida farmers are using sesame as a rotation crop

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Extension, IFAS, Research
North Florida farmers discuss sesame as a rotation crop during a recent field day at UF/IFAS Extension Suwannee Valley Agricultural Center in Live Oak

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LIVE OAK, Fla. — In between seasons of corn, peanut, and cotton, North Florida farmers were interested in growing a rotation crop that could withstand the wilting heat of summer and be harvested by machine.

So, since 2011, University of Florida researchers have been experimenting with growing the tiny seeds you find on top of hamburger buns or garnishing salads – sesame – as a viable, money-making crop.  (more …)

Crested floatingheart: The lovely looking lily-like plant that clogs canals

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Conservation, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Invasive Species, RECs, Research

Crested floatingheart 092415 (use this one)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While the crested floatingheart can help beautify an aquarium or a water garden, it clogs canals and slows drainage, particularly during heavy rains.

“It’s really attractive. It looks like a water lily,” said Lyn Gettys, an aquatic plant specialist at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center. Crested floatingheart is also easy to grow and flourishes with little effort.

Instead of freezing unwanted crested floatinghearts and bringing them to a local landfill, many homeowners toss them into canals, said Gettys, an assistant professor of agronomy with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

For about a year, Gettys has been compiling data to quantify the seriousness that crested floatingheart poses for canals. Crested floatinghearts reproduce mostly by way of ramets, an asexual form of multiplying. Gettys is trying to find out how many “babies” a single plant can make. She’s particularly interested in the effects of soil type and fertilizer on the plant’s ability to reproduce.

Preliminary data show soil has no impact. But if plants are well-fertilized, one floatingheart can produce more than 100 ramets per month. If only half of the new ramets sprout and make as many of their own babies as the original plant, that’s potentially 114,000 plants in six months, Gettys said.

(more …)

UF researchers try to reduce barotrauma deaths for deep-sea fish and sustain industry

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Economics, Environment, Extension, Research

BAROTRAUMA 092315 (2)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Most recreational anglers who target deep-water reef fish in Florida recognize barotrauma symptoms, and University of Florida researchers think they can teach the other 30 percent to help save the fish.

By doing so, anglers would play a key role in sustaining the state’s valuable fisheries.

When anglers reel in their catch from deep waters, fish can suffer problems caused by gas pressure changes – or barotrauma. Often the gas-filled swim bladder of the fish has ruptured, releasing the gas into the fish’s body cavity.  Symptoms of barotrauma include the stomach protruding from the fish’s mouth, bulging eyes, a bloated belly and distended intestines. Fish with these symptoms find it hard to swim back down to their natural habitat, and many die as a result.

Mitigating this condition may be a key to maintaining Florida’s fisheries, said Chuck Adams, a marine economist with Florida Sea Grant. The importance of reducing this source of mortality for fish is further underscored by a recent UF/IFAS report that showed fishing and seafood products have a $565 million-a-year impact on Florida’s economy. That report can be found here: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fe969.

(more …)

Peaches more marketable to younger people, but everyone wants the fruit to melt in their mouth

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


Peaches attached to a peach tree. Fruit, stonefruit, horticulture. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Young consumers are more likely to buy peaches than older people, and those 18- to 24-year-olds prefer crisp, firm peaches with good flavor, a new University of Florida study shows.

In fact, people aged 51 to 68 are the least interested in buying peaches. Those of that age who do buy peaches prefer sweet, melting-texture peaches. Although they did not study the reason older people don’t like peaches as much, UF/IFAS scientists think older consumers may have repeatedly bought poor-quality peaches in the past, triggering an interest in other fruits.

“It was refreshing to see young consumers being interested in purchasing fruit and peaches in particular,” said Mercy Olmstead, assistant professor in horticultural sciences and lead author of the study. “Most of the breeding efforts here at UF have been directed toward peaches with non-melting, firmer texture, so having the younger generation prefer crisp, firm peaches was exciting.”

Overall, consumers want sweet, tasty peaches that melt in your mouth, she said.

(more …)

UF/IFAS landscape management researcher named Early Career Scientist by global tree group

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Environment, Extension, Forestry, Green Living, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Research

Koeser tree award 091415 (1)

Andrew Koeser

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A UF/IFAS scientist, who has helped design a tree risk-management app and is co-writing tree identification books, has been named as a co-recipient of the International Society of Arboriculture’s Early Career Scientist Award.

The award is given to professionals showing exceptional promise in arboriculture research.

Andrew Koeser, an assistant professor in environment horticulture at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Baum, is also a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology.

One of Koeser’s projects is a mobile app for risk-assessment data collection and mapping. He is also co-writing a series of tree identification books unique to the different regions of Florida.

Koeser hopes his research enhances efforts to improve risk-assessment and storm response processes. The app project is designed to give cities an easy and efficient means of taking inventory and assessing the safety of their trees. Should a severe storm hit, the data collected will help managers more quickly estimate debris levels for cleanup.

“My research in tree risk assessment carries on the goal of enhancing current efforts being made to improve assessment processes,” said Koeser, a faculty member with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “I think the app project has the potential to gather user data needed in order to make reasonable assessments of potential tree failure.”

(more …)

Florida’s agriculture-related employment up 8.7 percent

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

Sculptor Steven Siegel, right, and University of Florida art students add plant matter to "Pod," an 18-foot-long sculpture composed of living plants and landscaping debris in the courtyard of UF's Fine Arts Complex. Siegel, internationally known for works composed of post-consumer waste, decided to use plant materials for this sculpture on the advice of a researcher with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (UF/IFAS photo by Thomas Wright)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — About 1.52 million people worked full- or part-time in Florida’s agriculture, natural resources and food industries in 2013, an 8.7 percent increase in jobs over 2012, according to a new UF/IFAS economic report.

That figure accounts for 14.3 percent of the state’s workforce, and reflects a 19.7 percent employment increase since 2001, or just under 1 percent annually, according to the report, led by UF/IFAS Extension Scientist Alan Hodges.

“That’s pretty good economic growth in anybody’s book,” said Hodges, a faculty member in food and resource economics.

Agriculture, natural resources and their related industries in the state account for $148.5 billion in sales revenue, the report said. Regional multiplier effects add 633,942 jobs and $83.64 billion to agriculture’s impact on Florida’s economy.

“It’s new money from outside sources that’s circulating in Florida’s economy,” Hodges said. The value-added impacts represent 15.4 percent of the state’s Gross Domestic Product.

(more …)

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