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University of Florida

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 scientists zero in on genetic traits for best blueberry taste

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Cultivars, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Blueberry bush.

James Olmstead.  Horticulture Sciences.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers have taken a big step toward breeding tastier blueberries with a three-year study that examined the traits consumers desire. Now they have specific breeding targets to improve flavor.

For a study published Sept. 17 in the online journal PLOS ONE, UF/IFAS Plant Innovation Center scientists harvested 19 cultivars of blueberries and tested them in 30 panels at the UF sensory lab. The diverse group of cultivars allowed researchers to test a wide range of blueberry flavors, said Jim Olmstead, UF/IFAS associate professor of horticultural sciences.

Of the 217 people who taste-tested the blueberries, many were repeat panelists, said Olmstead, who led the experiment. As a result of the high participation level, researchers were able to determine which biochemical compounds were most closely associated with blueberry flavor and that people liked the most.

(more …)

Microscopic molecules can fight citrus greening bug with less insecticides

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Environment, IFAS, New Technology, Research
A scanning electron microscope photo of polymer molecules impregnated with imidacloprid, a common insecticide used to kill ther Asian citrus psyllid. Photo by Lukasz Stelinski, UF/IFAS

See photo caption below

LAKE ALFRED, Fla. — Researchers with the University of Florida and several other institutions have found a way in laboratory tests to use 200 times less insecticide and yet still kill as many insects that carry the devastating citrus greening bacterium.

It is a step forward in ridding groves of the insect that is threatening to destroy Florida’s $10.7 billion citrus industry. (more …)

UF hosting its annual Soil and Water Science Research Forum

Topic(s): Agriculture, IFAS, Research

UF/IFAS is hosting a Soil and Water Science Forum

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The United Nations has declared 2015 the “International Year of Soils” and the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is recognizing this with its 16th annual Soil and Water Science Research Forum on Sept. 17 in the J. Wayne Reitz Union.

The forum is free and open to the public and is being held in the union’s grand ballroom from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. (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 …)

South Florida an attractive home for invading reptiles

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

An alligator at Everglades National Park near Homestead, Florida.  Parks and recreation, gators, wildlife.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

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.

(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)

Please see caption below

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 …)

UF/IFAS scientists: Sterilize tools before pruning Canary Island date palms to prevent lethal fungal disease

Topic(s): Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research


Fusarium Wilt Palms 083115

Please see caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — UF/IFAS scientists urge people to sterilize their pruning tools before and after they trim their Canary Island Date Palm trees to avoid spreading a deadly disease.

Monica Elliott, a plant pathology professor, published a study recently in the journal Plant Disease that shows that Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. canariensis, a pathogen that spreads fusarium wilt of Canary Island Date Palm, was discovered on a wild or Senegal date palm in Palm Beach County.

While this pathogen is not new to Florida, this is the first report of it infecting the wild date palm, said Elliott, co-director of the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center. Researchers have documented that this type of fusarium wilt pathogen will kill the Canary Island date palm.

The good news is that you can prevent the spread of F. oxysporum f. sp. canariensis

most of the time by sterilizing pruning tools prior to pruning or by using a new pruning tool.

“It is transmitted primarily from palm to palm by infested pruning tools,” Elliott said. “In other words, someone trims infected leaves off of a Canary Island date palm. Infested sawdust remains on the tool and when they trim leaves from the next Canary Island date palm, they ‘inoculate’ that palm with the pathogen.”

For more information, look at these Extension documents: Fusarium Wilt of Canary Island Date Palms:  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/PP139; Fusarium Wilt of Queen and Mexican Fan Palms:  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pp278.


Caption: UF/IFAS scientists urge people to sterilize their tools before and after pruning their palm trees to avoid spread a potentially lethal fungus. The recommendations comes after they found Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. canariensis , a pathogen that spreads fusarium wilt of Canary Island Date Palm,on a wild or Senegal date palm in Palm Beach County.

Credit: UF/IFAS

By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

Source: Monica Elliott, 954-577-6315, melliott@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS researchers awarded National Science Foundation grants to study animals in their environment

Topic(s): Announcements, Environment, IFAS, Research


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Knowing where animals choose to spend their time and why they may have chosen those areas is fundamental to conserving our nation’s wildlife. Two researchers from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are among 28 scientists who will share nearly $4.8 million in funding from The National Science Foundation in grants and will observe insects, plants and animals to see how they interact with their environments throughout North America. (more …)

UF/IFAS scientist to spread knowledge at World Avocado Congress

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Crops, Economics, Environment, IFAS, New Technology, Pests, RECs, Research

Jonathan Crane, professor of horticultural sciences, inspecting an avocado tree at the Tropical Research and Education Center.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With the laurel wilt pathogen threatening the Florida avocado industry, a UF/IFAS tropical fruit scientist will lend his expertise at the World Avocado Congress in September in Lima, Peru.

Jonathan Crane, professor in horticultural sciences, will give an opening presentation titled: “The Potential for Laurel Wilt to Threaten Avocado Production is Real” at the meeting, Sept. 13-18. With this talk, Crane will provide evidence that laurel wilt will spread throughout North America and will pose a threat to native trees and to commercial avocado production.

Later, Crane will present a paper titled: “Current status and control recommendations for laurel wilt and the ambrosia beetle vectors in commercial avocado orchards in South Florida.” Crane co-authored the paper with Daniel Carrillo, assistant professor in entomology; Randy Ploetz, professor in plant pathology; Edward Evans, associate professor in food and resource economics and Aaron Palmateer, associate professor in plant pathology – all of whom work at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead. The final co-author is Don Pybas, director of the Florida Avocado Administrative Committee.

Several ambrosia beetle species transmit the laurel wilt pathogen to avocado trees, killing most of them, threatening an industry with a $100 million-a-year economic impact on Florida. The original ambrosia beetle vector of laurel wilt was discovered in the U.S. in Georgia in 2002 and since that time has spread to seven additional states. Laurel wilt has begun to slightly affect commercial avocado production in Florida.

(more …)

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