IFAS News

University of Florida

Plants labeled as ‘pollinator friendly’ attract consumers, UF/IFAS study finds

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

Flowers and insects at the student gardens on the University of Florida campus. Butterfly. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

APOPKA, Fla. — If you’re browsing plants in a nursery or home-improvement store, labels such as “pollinator friendly” will likely influence which plants you end up buying, according to a recent study by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.

Postdoctoral research associate Alicia Rihn and assistant professor Hayk Khachatryan co-authored the study, which appears in the journal HortScience. Both Rihn and Khachatryan are researchers in the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education center in Apopka, Florida.

Rihn and Khachatryan wanted to know how labels such as “pollinator friendly” would influence consumer attitudes. “We wondered, which pollinator insect related labels are the most effective and which do consumers prefer?” Khachatryan said. “At the time of our study, these topics had not been addressed.”

(more …)

UF/IFAS event unveils latest turfgrass research

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

Urban development in Florida - coupled with the growth of the nation's largest golf course industry - is driving the huge demand for turfgrass.

JAY, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty will showcase the latest turfgrass research June 15 at the twenty-second annual UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Turfgrass Field Day and Expo.

The UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center will host the field day and expo, which is co-sponsored by the Gulf Coast Golf Course Superintendents Association, said J. Bryan Unruh, professor of environmental horticulture and associate center director of UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center.

Green industry representatives, UF/IFAS Master Gardeners and anyone interested in turfgrass are invited. In past years, the field day and expo has drawn around 300 people from Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, Unruh said.

(more …)

UF/IFAS Bug Week focuses on “Big Money Bugs” that generate economic damages, benefits

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Citrus, Crops, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, IFAS, Invasive Species, Lawn & Garden, Pests
The invasive Asian citrus psyllid.

The invasive Asian citrus psyllid. UF/IFAS photo by Michael Rogers. Click for high-red image.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Call them Florida’s “Big Money Bugs” – the insects responsible for the greatest economic damages, costs and benefits that arthropods generate in the Sunshine State.

This year, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) focuses on Big Money Bugs for its annual Bug Week, May 21 to 27. The event offers educational outreach for the public while showcasing UF/IFAS’ entomology and nematology program, one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive.

Visit the Bug Week website at http://bugs.ufl.edu for more information, including profiles on six of the state’s most economically significant arthropods. Among these species are the destructive Asian citrus psyllid and Formosan subterranean termite, topics of great concern, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“In recent years, pest insects have had enormous negative impacts on our state,” Payne said. “Bug Week is the perfect opportunity for UF/IFAS to raise awareness about the challenges these pests bring about, in terms of lost agricultural and natural resources production, management costs, and even human and veterinary healthcare issues, in some instances.”

Species profiled on the Bug Week website include:

*The Asian citrus psyllid, which cost the state’s citrus industry $7.8 billion in total economic contributions from crop losses during the 2006-07 through 2012-13 growing seasons;

*The Formosan subterranean termite, the most destructive widespread termite species in Florida;

*Invasive yellow fever and Asian tiger mosquitoes, which are known to transmit viral diseases in Florida and believed to transmit Zika virus in other countries;

*Beneficial honeybees, which help make Florida the nation’s third-largest honey producer as well as a top source of rental honey bee colonies used to pollinate crops. (more …)

UF/IFAS Extension Broward County program prevents tree abuse through education

Aside

A volunteer of the Duval County Tree Stewards trims a tree limb at a park near Jacksonville, Florida.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Have you ever had a tree trimmed back to bare bones because you thought you were getting your money’s worth? You may be guilty of tree abuse, says a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension agent.

For the last 16 years, the UF/IFAS Extension Broward County Tree Trimmer Program has been teaching tree trimmers and arborists in South Florida how to avoid tree abuse with best pruning practices. Broward County requires tree trimming businesses to be certified and licensed, and the Extension program provides the certification training. Since its start in 2001, the program has issued between 10,000 and 11,000 certifications.

UF/IFAS Extension Broward County agent Michael Orfanedes developed and now oversees the training program. Orfanedes said that when it comes to pruning trees, “Some customers think that the more that gets removed, the better the job.” However, certain pruning practices are considered tree abuse because they can make trees vulnerable to decay and instability. “When trees decline and fall apart, there can be liability and loss of property,” Orfanedes said.

Continue reading

UF/IFAS researchers: Florida sees dramatic increase in school gardens

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Nutrition, Vegetables

4H counselor gardening with children.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — School gardens have been popping up like pea plants all over Florida, and students and teachers are eating up the benefits.

There are approximately 1,300 school gardens in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. These gardens provide numerous benefits to students and teachers, said Kohrine Counts, a dietetics intern and master’s student at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

A recent study by Counts and Karla Shelnutt, an associate professor in the department of family, youth and community sciences and UF/IFAS Extension nutrition specialist, shows that school gardens are an excellent way to get fresh produce into classrooms and cafeterias. And, they also provide students with a living classroom where concepts related to science, math, agriculture and nutrition can be learned and applied, Counts said.

“School gardens get children outside and offers an interactive learning environment,” Counts said. “It gives them a chance to see where their food comes from, and allows children to develop life skills such as leadership, self-awareness, decision making and responsibility.”

(more …)

Local, organic top consumers’ desired qualities in $280 million fruit-producing plant market

Topic(s): Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, Lawn & Garden, RECs, Research

Grape vine with grapes

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If you’re a consumer in the market for a fruit-producing plant, you’re more likely to buy one if it’s locally grown or organic, an important finding for those making their living in the approximately $280 million-a-year niche U.S. market, new University of Florida research shows.

Limited availability of organically produced edible plants has created markets for these types of plants, according to a new Extension document, http://bit.ly/21KQ6zb, co-authored by Assistant Professor Hayk Khachatryan and Post-doctoral Researcher Alicia Rihn, both researchers at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

As part of a larger study, Khachatryan and Rihn tested 95 Floridians to investigate the effects of plant type, price, production method and origin on consumer preferences for fruit-producing plants. They asked participants to look at images of fruit-producing plants with different attributes and rate them on a scale, with 1 being very unlikely and 7 being very likely to purchase.

(more …)

UF/IFAS study: Water conservation important to many; only some take action

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

Sprinklers watering athletic fields. UF/IFAS Phto by Tyler Jones.

See caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — How long do you shower? Would you be willing to set a timer for yourself while you bathe? That may be something to consider as you try to reduce your water consumption, say University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.

In a study that used an online survey of 932 Floridians, UF/IFAS researchers sought to identify characteristics of so-called “high-water users,” based on residents’ perceived importance of plentiful water and their water conservation behaviors.

Researchers were most interested in the 24 percent of the respondents who saw water conservation as important yet take little action to do so – for example, people who take long showers and those who may use excessive water to irrigate their lawns. That’s because researchers want residents, homeowners associations, Extension agents and the media to target their water conservation measures to these water users.

(more …)

UF/IFAS Urban Landscape Summit set for March 23

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

WHO: The University of Florida IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology will host the first Urban Landscape Summit on March 23.

WHAT: All are invited to hear summit speakers discuss water, landscape management, urban pest issues, social issues, economics and more. Presentations will include “Why do we adopt environmentally friendly lawn care?”; “Managing pests in lawn care: Is it necessary?”; and “Smart water application technologies.”

WHERE: The event will be held at the Straughn UF/IFAS Extension Professional Development Center, 2142 Shealy Drive, Gainesville.

WHEN: The summit will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 23. For more information, visit http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/clce/events/urban-landscape-summit.html

To register, log onto   http://2016urbanlandscapesummit.eventbrite.com

-30-

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

Source: Michael Dukes, 352-392-1864, ext. 205, mddukes@ufl.edu

Find out what’s ripe, when to plant with the Florida Fresh app

Topic(s): Announcements, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Vegetables

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Do you want to know if it’s the right time of year to plant a vegetable? Want to buy Florida produce but you don’t know whether it’s in season? UF/IFAS has a new app to guide you.

It’s called the “Florida Fresh” veggie app, and you can now download it for free on your mobile device.

Sydney Park Brown, an associate professor emeritus with the UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology, said the idea for the app emanated from one of the most popular Extension documents ever written: “The Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide.”

It’s pretty simple: You enter your Zip code, and the app tells you what vegetables to plant at that time of year.

“This type of information is really popular, so we thought it would be cool have an app,” said Park Brown. “We see it as useful to gardeners who see vegetable seeds and plants for sale, but don’t know if it’s really the right time to plant them.”

(more …)

UF/IFAS plant scientists try to breed a little cupid magic

Topic(s): Cultivars, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, RECs, Research

Dr. Zhanao Deng (center) showing FAES interns Mary Derrick (right) and Monica Raguckas the flowers of gerbera daisy to be used for hand pollination.  2009 Annual Research Report photo by Patty McClain.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Roses are red; violets are blue, and University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are developing better breeds of Valentine’s Day plants just for you.

Here are just a couple of examples.

Zhanao Deng, a professor of environmental horticulture at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida, is breeding gerbera daisy cultivars that are resistant to powdery mildew, the most destructive fungal disease for this type of flower. Deng said his daisies are also becoming more attractive.

“These daisy cultivars can be used for cut flowers or potted plants,” he said.

(more …)

Back to Top