IFAS News

University of Florida

Delectable delights highlight Flavors of Florida

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Aquaculture, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Plants, Research, Vegetables

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — UF/IFAS scientists toil for years creating and enhancing many of the foods we consume and plants we enjoy. When it comes to plant breeding, UF/IFAS is a global leader. In fact, UF/IFAS is ranked as a top-10 horticulture program in the 2017 Center for World University Rankings.

Many of UF/IFAS’ tastiest creations will be available for consumption or on display at this year’s Flavors of Florida event.

Scheduled for April 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the University House, 2151 W. University Ave., Gainesville, Florida, the event offers guests an opportunity to sample foods containing UF/IFAS-developed ingredients prepared by local celebrity chefs. This year’s sample dishes will include citrus, tomatoes, meats, strawberries, blueberries and olive oil to tempt the taste buds. Additionally, non-edible plants, such as a relatively new cultivar of Mexican petunia, also will be showcased.

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Nutrients are nice, but produce better pass the taste test

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumers want produce that tickles their taste buds and is easy on the eye, but they think quality fruits and vegetables are a matter of luck, according to University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.

The fact that consumers purchase produce to satisfy their senses – not necessarily for its nutrients — should prove particularly important for growers and grocers to understand, UF/IFAS researchers say.

“They choose based on aroma and appearance,” said Amy Simonne, a professor in the UF/IFAS family, youth and community sciences department and lead author of this research. “Consumers might want to change the way they choose fruit.”

Jeff Brecht, a UF/IFAS professor of horticultural sciences and a study co-author, said the appearance of produce does not always correlate well with its flavor or aroma.

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Male jumping spiders court whomever, whenever; females decide who lives, dies

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Male jumping spiders will try to mate with any female, but that lack of discretion could cost them their lives, says a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher.

In a newly published study, UF/IFAS entomologist Lisa Taylor and her team documented the courting techniques of jumping spiders. They found that male spiders spend much time and energy – including singing and dancing — trying to mate with potential females, even when these females are the wrong species.

“We think that one reason these displays have evolved in male jumping spiders is to compensate for the fact that they can’t tell females of closely related species apart,” Taylor said. “Males run around courting everything that looks remotely like a female, and they place themselves at a very high risk of cannibalism from hungry females of the wrong species who have no interest in mating with them.”

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Time to mow more: It’s good for the environment and for curb appeal

Topic(s): Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Florida Friendly, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Research, Soil and Water Science

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With higher temperatures come higher lawns, so now that spring is in full swing, you may mow more often. When you do, you help preserve the environment and keep your yard aesthetically pleasing, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences expert says.

Environmentally, proper lawn care can help prevent nutrients from flowing into nearby waterways, said Jason Kruse, a UF/IFAS associate professor of environmental horticulture. Mowing helps increase canopy density, increases soil stability and prevents soil erosion. These changes in the lawn will help limit fertilizer and other nutrients from flowing into waterways, Kruse said.

In addition to taking care of the environment, most people mow their lawns because they want them to look good. So how often should you mow? That depends on several factors, including the kind of grass on your lawn, time of season, amount of shade and desired use, Kruse said. If you have St. Augustinegrass, you have to mow at taller heights because it has course-textured leaf blades. If you have bermudagrass, you’ll want to mow closer to the soil because of its numerous narrow leaf blades and lower growth habit.

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UF helps residents save at least 65 million gallons in outdoor irrigation annually

Topic(s): Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Florida Friendly, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Participants in a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension program saved 65 million gallons in outdoor irrigation in 2016, enough to supply 15 subdivisions with water for a year, UF/IFAS experts say.

“UF/IFAS is making a difference with our limited water resources,” said Laura Warner, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agricultural education and communication. “Seemingly small drops in the bucket really add up when we look at the big picture across the state and over time.”

Using less water also saves money: $200,000 a year in tap water utility bills, said Tatiana Borisova, a co-investigator and a UF/IFAS associate professor of food and resource economics.

Their figures come from a sample of Extension agents in 16 Florida counties, so the savings may be greater, the researchers said.

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Americans are water conscious, UF/IFAS survey shows

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Florida Friendly, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Shorten showers. Limit lawn irrigation. For the most part, Americans get it: They are fairly water conscious, according to a new national survey conducted by a team of University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.

UF/IFAS researchers based their assessment on responses to a survey of 1,052 respondents. The poll shows 46 percent are “water considerate;” 44 percent of the participants are what researchers classified as “water savvy conservationists” and 9 percent are not concerned about water conservation.

“Water considerate” consumers take a few actions to conserve water but could stand some improvement, said Laura Warner, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agricultural education and communication. “Water savvy conservationists” are most likely to engage in landscape irrigation conservation practices, and they’re more likely to use professionals for various landscape tasks. The savvy ones are also more likely to have social support or perceive expectations to conserve from friends and family, Warner said.

So-called “unconcerned water users” lack the strong perceived value for water resources, said Warner, who is also affiliated with the UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology.

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Wet ‘dry season’ damaged valuable ornamentals

Topic(s): Economics, Extension, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, RECs, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s winters are usually dry, but the wet winter of 2015-2016 helped spread pathogens that destroyed ornamental plants in Miami-Dade County. That’s a problem in an area where the industry generated an estimated $998 million annually in sales in 2015, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers say.

Damage figures are not yet available from the 2015-2016 winter rains, but UF/IFAS scientists have found the pathogens Phytophthora and Pythium caused the most destruction. Rain spreads those pathogens, said Georgina Sanahuja, a post-doctoral researcher at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida.

Meteorologists consider Florida’s “dry season” to run from Oct. 1 to March 1 and the rest of the year to be the “wet season.” But last year, the “dry season” wasn’t so dry, because of El Niño, which brought more rain than South Florida has seen since records were kept starting in 1932, a new study published in the journal HortTechnology says.

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UF/IFAS experts help growers ready for tonight’s cold snap

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Plants, Weather

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Growers are bracing for a cold snap tonight that could cost them thousands of dollars in damage. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension agents and researchers are here to help.

A hard freeze warning is in effect from 2 a.m. to 9 a.m. Thursday, March 16 for many counties in North Florida, according to the National Weather Service in Jacksonville. Temperatures are predicted to be 24 to 27 degrees during these hours.

UF/IFAS Extension specialists are available to give growers advice for the cold spell. Find your county’s UF/IFAS Extension specialists by clicking here. Then click on your county.

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UF workshop to help homeowners navigate HOA issues for landscaping

Topic(s): Announcements, Conservation, Environment, Extension, Florida Friendly, Green Living, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Plants, Vegetables

Landscaping at a home garden.

SANFORD, Fla. — Wondering if that new lawn will mean a discussion with your Homeowner’s Association? The University of Florida Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM  program offers a workshop on April 26 to help homeowners navigate the process.

“Legally Speaking: FFL in The Planned Community” will run from 12:45 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County office. The location is 250 County Home Road, Sanford, Florida 32773.

“We are offering the course to help homeowners learn about current legal issues, and to give them strategies they can use when working with an HOA board to install a Florida-Friendly landscape,” said Claire Lewis, UF/IFAS statewide Florida yards and neighborhoods coordinator. “We want homeowners and HOA members to work together and also be able to avoid problems by learning the science-based ways to landscape.”

The workshop will include topics such as a review of issues and outcomes of installing a Florida Friendly landscape, a presentation by a community association attorney on disputes arising between HOAs and homeowners, and 10 strategies for working with an HOA.

Cost to attend is $5. Click here to register. For more information, contact Claire Lewis at clairelewis@ufl.edu or 352-273-4518.

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

UF/IFAS Milton Campus, Pensacola State College to host Spring Festival of Flowers on April 7-9

Topic(s): Agriculture, Cultivars, Extension, Families and Consumers, Green Living, IFAS, Plants, RECs

MILTON, Fla. — The seasons are changing and it’s time to enjoy the blooming plants across the state. Families are invited to enjoy the Spring Festival of Flowers on April 7 to 9 in Milton. The University of Florida IFAS Milton Campus and the Pensacola State College are sponsoring the free event.

The festival will be held at the UF/IFAS and Pensacola State College Milton Campus, 5988 Hwy. 90, Building 4900, Milton, Florida 32583. The festival hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The festival will feature arts and crafts, plants, flower and herbs, garden supplies, locally grown vegetables, and great food and music. Educational booths will feature UF/IFAS Extension agents answering questions about plants and flowers, eclectic gardening, good bugs and bad bugs, sprinklers and air layering demonstrations, and experts offering advice and hands-on demonstrations on wildlife for your backyard.

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