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IFAS News

University of Florida

Citrus greening bacterium changes the behavior of bugs to promote its own spread

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, IFAS, RECs, Research
An Asian citrus psyllid feeds on a citrus tree, leaving the citrus greening bacteria. The bacteria will starve the tree of nutrients and eventually kill it.

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LAKE ALFRED, Fla. — The disease that threatens to destroy Florida’s $10.7 billion citrus industry appears to have its own mechanism to promote its spread, making it harder to control.  A recent study by five University of Florida researchers shows Asian citrus psyllids fly earlier in their life cycles, more frequently and farther when they are infected with citrus greening bacterium.

 

Kirsten Pelz-Stelinski and the team of researchers at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred say these conclusions have global implications for how the disease spreads and strategies to control it. (more …)

UF/IFAS researcher finds way to cut cost, save water and help the environment by changing one simple thing

Topic(s): Agriculture, Environment, IFAS, RECs, Vegetables
University of Florida Professor Sanjay Shukla has developed a "compact bed geometry" that cuts water, fertilizer and pesticide use in half.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Sanjay Shukla looked out over row upon row of tomato and pepper plants and had an idea: What would happen if he made the compacted soil rows taller and more narrow?  Would the plants need less water, fertilizer and fumigation?  Would the plants grow as tall?  Would the plants produce as many vegetables? (more …)

Shining a red light to slow downy mildew on basil

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

Basil Downy Mildew symptoms 072115

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Basil can add a little zest to any meal. But downy mildew disease threatens the herb’s very existence.

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are trying to manage the disease with little or no spraying.

For his latest experiments, Shouan Zhang, a UF/IFAS plant pathology associate professor at the Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, inoculated basil plants with the downy mildew pathogen. The scientist then put the plants under red lights in a greenhouse and found the process is slowing down the disease’s growth.

Jaimin Patel, a postdoctoral research associate for Zhang, said they put one set of plants on a bench in the dark for 12 hours, starting at 8 p.m. each day. Another set of plants was placed under red lights for the same time period. The downy mildew appeared on plants in the dark six days after inoculation, while no symptoms showed up on the plants that were under the red lights, Patel said. They repeated the experiment and found the disease symptoms five days after inoculation on the plants placed in the dark – and still, little to no symptoms of the downy mildew was found on the basil plants exposed to the red lights.

(more …)

Updated Florida Citrus Rootstock Selection Guide available

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The 3rd edition of the Florida Citrus Rootstock Selection Guide is now available. The updated guide is a convenient, easy-to-use reference to 20 characteristics of 45 rootstocks. It highlights 21 recently released rootstocks, some of which show reduced citrus greening incidence in early field trials.

Of the 45 rootstocks, 12 are time-honored commercial ones, 12 are minor commercial ones that are less frequently used but may have been prominent once. The third group is the most recently released rootstocks for which there is limited commercial experience, but are increasingly being used in the Florida citrus industry.

The revised guide is important because rootstocks basically provide the root system of a citrus tree and influence many traits of the whole plant. When a Valencia orange or Marsh grapefruit is grafted to the rootstock seedling, such things as tree size, fruit quantity and quality are usually improved by the rootstock.

(more …)

Laurel wilt disease likely to increase Florida avocado prices

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

In this photo released by the University of FloridaÕs Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, agricultural economist Edward ÒGillyÓ Evans, left, and tropical fruit expert Jonathan Crane examine avocados in a research grove at UFÕs Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead Ð Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. The pair helped write a paper on the potential economic impact of laurel wilt, a disease threatening FloridaÕs avocado crop. If the disease reaches Miami-Dade County, it could destroy half the crop and cost the state $27 million. (AP photo/University of Florida/IFAS/Thomas Wright)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Growers in Florida’s $100 million-a-year avocado industry could see a rise in the price of avocados in the short term due to a reduction in domestic production, because of the deadly Laurel Wilt pathogen, a new University of Florida study shows.

But any noticeable price increase probably wouldn’t last because increased imports from the Dominican Republic are likely to temper any price increases.

Edward Evans, a UF/IFAS associate professor in food and resource economics, is quick to note, however, that he conducted his study before the recent discovery of a medfly outbreak in the Dominican Republic. The outbreak led the U.S. Department of Agriculture to restrict imports of green-skin avocados from that country. This avocado is similar to the type produced in the Sunshine State.

(more …)

Citrus greening research gets $1 million in state budget funding

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Citrus, IFAS, New Technology, Pests, RECs
Citrus groves at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, Florida. Oranges, fruit, trees.   UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

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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 …)

Ona White Angus herd up for public auction to be held at UF/IFAS Range Cattle REC

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Economics, IFAS, Livestock, RECs, Research

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Ona White Angus

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Ona White Angus herd will be sold through a public auction at the University of Florida Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona this fall or early winter.

The Ona White Angus was developed over two decades of cross-breeding various phenotypes at the Range Cattle REC, said Center Director John Arthington.

(more …)

UF/IFAS invasives research facility likely to close

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Economics, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, RECs, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A valuable UF/IFAS program that helps save the state millions of dollars annually in controlling invasive plants and insects will likely close after a veto by Gov. Rick Scott on Monday.

An approved increase by the Legislature of $180,000 was denied, and the facility also lost all funding. The state-of-the-art lab opened in 2004 at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce with $3.9 million in state funding.

The center will probably close, and 12 positions will be eliminated, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agricultural and natural resources.

The quarantine facility is a highly secure lab where scientists conduct research on biological controls for invasive species. Scientists introduce, evaluate and release biological control agents to try to manage exotic weeds and insect pests in Florida.

Florida has the largest invasive infestations in the nation. Invasive species cost Florida approximately $100 million a year, Payne said. Scientists at the lab helped control the tropical soda apple, an invasive weed, through the release of 250,000 South American beetles. The move saved cattle ranchers about $5.75 million a year, Payne said.

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UF/IFAS Fort Pierce quarantine facility successfully battles invasive species

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Conservation, Crops, Economics, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests, RECs, Research

Bill Overholt and Jim Cuda.  Innovation Awards Portrait.  UF/IFAS File Photo.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida officials expressed thanks Monday for the $180,000 increase in the state budget that’s slated for the quarantine research facility at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce.

With the additional funding, scientists will be able to expand foreign exploration to identify new candidate biological control agents of Florida’s worst invasive plants and insects, and support intensified laboratory studies that are required to ensure agents are safe for release, said Bill Overholt, a UF/IFAS entomology professor who works at the quarantine facility.

With biological control such as one bug eating another, scientists and growers can use a sustainable, cost-effective solution to manage invasive plant and insect problems.

“The facility needs an increase in the amount of operating funds in order to reach its full potential,” said Mary Ann Gosa-Hooks, director of UF/IFAS Government Affairs. “We can do so much more, but with costs continuing to increase, while the facility continues to function on the same budget since 2004, activities are somewhat limited.”

(more …)

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