GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers will work to improve avocado production, develop turfgrass with improved drought responses and combat a bacterial disease riddling tomatoes, working with $11 million in recently awarded federal grants.
The grants were announced Oct. 5 by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Randy Ploetz, a plant pathology professor at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida, will use $3.4 million to study how to stem the impact of laurel wilt on avocados. Kevin Kenworthy, an associate professor of agronomy, received $4.4 million to study drought resistance in certain turf grasses, and Gary Vallad, an associate professor of plant pathology at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida, will use $3.4 million to improve the management of a bacterial disease that plagues tomato production.
BELLE GLADE, Fla. — For decades, whenever farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area needed help figuring out what fertilizers to use in their fields, they turned to the University of Florida’s Everglades Research and Education Center for soil testing and lab work.
The building that houses the EREC’s soil testing laboratory was built at the height of the Vietnam War and originally housed the facility’s library. More than 15 years ago, it was turned into the lab and, this month, an expansion and improvements are being unveiled.
An open house of the updated facility is scheduled for Thursday, October 22 at 3 p.m. (more …)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Are you interested in learning about new advances in nematode control? Would you like to get a glimpse at the new turfgrass cultivars that are being developed? The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has all your answers at its annual Central Florida Turfgrass Field Day, being held tomorrow at the Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Citra. (more …)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The next time a storm tears up your yard, let an expert assess the damage to any trees. A study from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences shows that homeowners perceive the risk of a damaged tree differently than trained professionals.
The survey of tree experts and homeowners in the Tampa Bay area assessed the perceptions of both groups when it came to assessing tree damage, said Andrew Koeser, an assistant professor in environmental horticulture and study author.
“While there are a number of factors tied to tree risk, most respondents were fixated on tree defects,” Koeser said. “Only experienced professionals considered other pertinent factors—namely whether the tree was actually a threat to a person, vehicle or house.”
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.”
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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 …)
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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.
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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.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nan-Yao Su, the University of Florida scientist who invented the Sentricon® system for termite colony elimination, is scheduled to be inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame Oct. 2 in Tampa.
Sentricon®, the first commercial baiting product for subterranean termites, has protected millions of structures, including the White House and the Statue of Liberty.
The Hall of Fame selection committee chose nominees whose inventions and achievements have “advanced the quality of life for Floridians, our state and our nation,” according to a letter to Su from hall of fame Program Manager William Nikolic.
Su said he feels honored to be mentioned alongside such great inventors as Thomas Edison and UF’s own Robert Cade, who invented Gatorade®.
“I am glad that I can contribute to the quality of life of many homeowners in Florida and worldwide,” Su said.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — South Florida is on the front lines in the war against invasive reptiles and amphibians because its warm climate makes it a place where they like to live, a new University of Florida study shows.
Using computer models and data showing where reptiles live in Florida, UF/IFAS scientists predicted where they could find non-native species in the future. They found that as temperatures climb, areas grow more vulnerable to invasions by exotic reptiles. Conversely, they found that extreme cold temperatures protect against invasion.
“Early detection and rapid response efforts are essential to prevent more of the 140 introduced species from establishing breeding populations, and this study helps us choose where to look first,” said Frank Mazzotti, a wildlife ecology and conservation professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center.
The new study is published online in the journal Herpetological Conservation Biology.