University of Florida

UF/IFAS experts predict food trends for 2016

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research


Lunch, carrots, watermelon, and salad sit on a table cloth with a picnic basket.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As 2015 starts to wind down, world-renowned food scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are already predicting trends for 2016. As they do, here are some hints as to what you can expect see in grocery stores and on your dinner table:

Total sensory foods – Smart food manufacturers now appreciate that flavor and aroma alone are not enough for many consumers, and that visual and textural stimuli are also important to the consumer. Foods incorporating innovative approaches to a blending of sensory attributes will likely win the consumers’ dollar. Scientific studies show that people shown a picture of a high-calorie food, such as pizza or pastry before experiencing an unfamiliar taste will find that taste more enjoyable than if they were shown a picture of a low-calorie food, such as watermelon or green beans. Thus, the appearance of a food is a critical part of the eating experience. Doug Archer, 352-392-1784, dlarcher@ufl.edu.

Decline of grilling – Grilling has been the go-to way of cooking red meats and poultry, but newly re-kindled concerns about the safety of red meats and meats and poultry cooked in conditions that may char or add smoke may cause consumers to return to recipes that call for baking in the good old oven. A contributor to this trend is the explosion of recipe sharing on social media for mixed meat and vegetable meals prepared easily in the oven. Doug Archer, 352-392-1784, dlarcher@ufl.edu.

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UF/IFAS scientists find way to reduce pesticide use and save millions for ornamental industry

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

Tapestry variety of Poinsettia plant.  Floriculture, ornamentals, decoration, holidays.  UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Results of new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences research may help control some dangerous species of fungi, known as phytophthora — or water molds —  that can cause millions of dollars in damage annually to ornamental plants and some fruit trees.

This finding could help reduce fungicide use to control the phytophthora that can menace Florida’s $15 billion-a-year ornamental industry, said G. Shad Ali, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of plant pathology.

Phytophthora are plant pathogens, one of which is known infamously for causing the Irish potato famine of the 1840s. Several phytophthora species infect thousands of different plant species, so they infect almost all ornamentals, ranging from landscape trees to small indoor flowers. Some phytophthora strains are resistant to fungicides.

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UF/IFAS study: Strawberry growers must pick, harvest earlier for best profit

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

Strawberry economics 111015 - vance whitaker

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida strawberry growers must produce more fruit earlier in the growing season — in November and December – to keep a competitive advantage in the global market, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.

Florida and California combine to produce 99 percent of the United States’ strawberries, and Florida ranks as the biggest producer of winter strawberries, with a value of $366 million annually, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But growers and UF/IFAS researchers are concerned because the industry faces increasing supplies from Mexico and California and volatile market prices. Mexico has emerged as the major competitor for the Florida strawberry industry, the study says. Fresh strawberry imports from Mexico reached 160,000 metric tons – or 360 million pounds — in 2014, while Florida production was about 200 million pounds.

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UF researcher: Rarest bat in the world lives in South Florida

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, RECs, Research

Holly Ober

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Halloween comes around once a year, but for Holly Ober, a researcher with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science, an interest in a bat found nowhere else in the world but South Florida is a year-round opportunity to study the unique mammal.

The Florida Bonneted bat, one of the rarest species in the world, nestles in tree cavities, palms, and buildings in only a few counties in the state. The largest bat in Florida, its ears point forward over its eyes, and its fur ranges in color from brown to gray, said Ober, associate professor in the Department Wildlife Ecology Conservation, who works out of the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy.

“The Florida Bonneted bat was listed as federally endangered in 2013 and since then interest has grown considerably,” Ober said. “We don’t even know the exact geographic distribution or what type of habitat the bat occurs in. We do know this bat can only be found in south Florida.”

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Extension offices introduce tourism app for Escambia, Santa Rosa counties

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Want to know the best places to pick your own fruit, go white-water rafting or hiking in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties? There’s an app for that: Naturally EscaRosa.

Naturally EscaRosa, a campaign to promote agritourism and ecotourism in Escambia and Santa Rosa, offers an app and website to help visitors traverse the counties’ many offerings. The app works on i-Phones and android phones, tablets and notebooks, said Libbie Johnson, agriculture agent at Escambia County Extension.

“The app fills a void for promotion of tourism in our region,” Johnson said. “A lot of military families and visitors are not familiar with all that Escambia and Santa Rosa counties have to offer. The app closes that gap.”

The app and website, www.naturallyescarosa.com, share information about hiking trails, farms, lakes and rivers. With the app, visitors can discover locations in either counties or can search by six categories: agriculture, trails, paddling, wildlife, water sports and fishing.

“If you pull up a location, the app provides a map and directions,” Johnson said. “Each location has its own page and contact information.” said Steve Hayes, president of Visit Pensacola.

To find out more about your local UF/IFAS Extension offices, visit http://santarosa.ifas.ufl.edu/ and http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu.


By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu


Source: Libbie Johnson, 850-475-5230, libbiej@ufl.edu


UF/IFAS-developed app saves significant water and money

Topic(s): Conservation, Economics, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, New Technology, RECs, Research, Weather

In this photo released from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, extension agent Janet Bargar checks the water flow and direction of a pop-up irrigation system at a home in Vero Beach – Friday, May 25, 2007. Bargar, a water quality expert, suggests residents check with their county extension office about local watering restrictions. She says the ideal time to water is before sunrise and that residents should check irrigation systems regularly to be sure they’re working properly and not watering the sidewalk.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — An app developed by scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences may save homeowners about 30 percent on water usage, which translates into lower utility bills, new research shows.

Kati Migliaccio, the lead designer of the irrigation app, led a study at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida. Through their research, scientists found the app saved 42 percent to 57 percent of the water used with time-scheduled irrigation.

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UF/IFAS Gulf Coast REC, Florida Ag Expo to celebrate milestone anniversaries

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

Front entrance of the University of Florida/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida.  UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When growers, Extension agents and scientists gather for the Nov. 4 Florida Ag Expo in Balm, Florida, they’ll celebrate two anniversaries: the 90th year of the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center and the 10th year of the expo.

The Gulf Coast REC serves as an invaluable tool to growers and grower groups, said Tony DiMare, vice president of the DiMare Company and former chairman of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, among other groups. He’s currently chairman of the Florida Tomato Committee.

“Because of the subtropical climate in Florida, which we grow in, and the continual introduction of new pests and diseases, we continue to face many challenges as growers that jeopardize the sustainability of our business and industry,” DiMare said. “Without the research to help identify new pests and diseases, and without furthering the work on the existing problems to help find solutions to minimize or eliminate the issues, we would not be able to stay competitive and survive.

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Ona White Angus Field Day set for Oct. 22

Topic(s): Announcements, IFAS, Livestock, RECs, Research, Weather

Ona White Angus 070615

Please see caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Get ready to see the latest on a new breed of cattle, courtesy of research by scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

UF/IFAS scientists and administrators will host the field day Oct. 22. Activities will start at 8 a.m. at the Turner Agri-Civic Center, 2250 NE Roan St. in Arcadia and finish after lunch at the Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona.

“This Field Day will highlight topics related to the impacts of heat stress on beef cow/calf production – an important subject for Florida beef producers,” said John Arthington, director of the Range Cattle REC.

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UF/IFAS researchers earn $11M in federal grants to study specialty crops

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

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.

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Everglades REC is unveiling a new and improved soil testing lab

Topic(s): Agriculture, IFAS, RECs

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 …)

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