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Food safety is among top concerns for Floridians, UF/IFAS survey finds

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Research, Vegetables

Dec. 3, 2013

GAINESVILLE, Fla.  — Food safety is near the top of most Floridians’ concerns, behind only the economy and health care, a survey released today by the University of Florida shows.

The survey covered several food-related issues, including public perceptions about food safety, food insecurity and genetically modified foods. It also found knowledge gaps among Floridians, especially in the area of food safety, and detected conflicted feelings among the public about genetically modified foods. (more …)

UF/IFAS expands Bee College to South Florida, including courses in Spanish

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Vegetables

South Florida Bee College

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida will host the first Bee College for South Florida this summer in Fort Lauderdale.

The event is coming to South Florida to meet demand there and will also feature courses taught in Spanish. Event registration is here: http://southfloridabeecollege.eventbrite.com/.

The two-day college will be held Aug. 16-17 at the UF Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center in Davie, part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

(more …)

Florida expert: Keep pets, livestock away from false parasol mushrooms

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

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Downloadable broadcast video available at https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10837916/20130502_PETPOISON.zip

By Tom Nordlie, 352-273-3567, tnordlie@ufl.edu

Contact: Matthew E. Smith, 352-273-2837, trufflesmith@ufl.edu

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Dogs are notorious for eating just about anything, and the nastier, the better – which is why a University of Florida expert is advising canine owners to keep an eye out for poisonous mushrooms as summer approaches.

One particularly common species is known scientifically as Chlorophyllum molybdites and often called the false parasol, said mycologist Matthew E. Smith, an assistant professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The large, light-colored fungus grows in grassy areas such as lawns throughout the Eastern United States and in California.

“Mushrooms can grow very quickly, so it’s important to be observant,” Smith said. “If you have a puppy or a dog, you should check the yard before you let the dog out, or supervise it when it goes outside.”

Though poisoning cases are rare, the false parasol causes intense gastrointestinal distress in people and may be deadly to dogs and horses. Puppies and adult dogs that like to chew are especially at risk for ingesting the fungus.

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Free soil testing at UF/IFAS soils open house Saturday, March 16 on campus

Topic(s): Announcements, Extension, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Vegetables

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With the weather warming up, it’s time to get out and garden – but plants need optimum soil conditions to reach their full potential, and that’s where the University of Florida Extension Landscape and Vegetable Garden Soils Open House can help.

The event happens 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, at the UF Extension Soil Testing Laboratory on the UF main campus in Gainesville. Visitors can bring in soil samples for free pH testing at the lab and get advice on a wide range of gardening and landscaping topics. There will also be free refreshments and hourly drawings for door prizes.

“We encourage residents to bring us their questions and concerns,” said Rao Mylavarapu, a professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and one of the event organizers. “We’ll have experts from numerous fields available to help.”

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Turfgrass alternatives offer residents additional groundcover choices, UF/IFAS experts say

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Spring is right around the corner, and for some residents it may be time to think about sprucing up the yard with new landscaping.

Covering more than 5 million acres in Florida, turfgrass is the state’s most popular groundcover – but it may not be the ideal choice for every situation, say experts with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Emphasizing the Florida-Friendly Landscaping principle “right plant, right place,” UF/IFAS Extension faculty members suggest that residents who are considering groundcover options start by assessing their needs and site conditions.

“We need turf for recreation, for that open front-yard spot in your landscape, and to give us that green look,” said Wendy Wilber, an Alachua County environmental horticulture Extension agent. “A good-looking Florida-Friendly Landscape can have a mix of plants and features, if the conditions call for it.”

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To help homeowners, industry personnel, UF/IFAS posts videos on turfgrass research

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Cultivars, Environment, Green Living, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Researchers with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences recently completed the state’s largest-ever study of landscape turfgrass and fertilizer use, and new online videos will help homeowners and lawn-care professionals understand the findings.

The eight-year, $4.2 million study was funded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to determine the effectiveness of current UF/IFAS fertilizer recommendations, which have been in use since about 2000, said John Hayes, UF/IFAS dean for research. Florida has more than 5 million acres of home and commercial turf.

“This work is an important body of information generated here to address important questions about nutrient management,” Hayes said. “We’re proud to communicate our findings and we hope they will play a substantial role in helping residents, industry personnel and policymakers protect water quality.”

Three hours of technical presentations from a Jan. 15 live symposium are available at http://tinyurl.com/be2la7q and a three-minute video aimed at educating the public has been posted at http://tinyurl.com/ajy4ytr.

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UF/IFAS entomology department is new home to School of Ants project

Topic(s): Agriculture, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Pests, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The nationwide School of Ants has set up shop at the University of Florida, but picnickers can relax – none of its “students” are the six-legged variety.

The school is an example of citizen science, a project where ordinary people collect and submit data for experts to review and compile. Participants collect ants from their yards and neighborhoods, then entomologists identify each species and plot its location on digital maps that, eventually, will provide a snapshot of ant distribution around the country.

“Knowledge of the presence of a species of ant might help for things like quarantine and control, if the species is a problem,” said founder Andrea Lucky, an assistant scientist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “If we find a rare ant, or an ant that’s way outside its known range, we may want to keep an eye on it purely for academic purposes.”

The school was launched at North Carolina State University in 2011, a collaboration between Lucky and Rob Dunn, a biology assistant professor. Then last semester, Lucky took a position with UF’s entomology and nematology department. Though the North Carolina branch will remain active, Lucky says she’s thrilled to relocate the project headquarters to Florida, which has more ant species than any other state.

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Crazy ant control strategies taking shape for UF/IFAS researchers

Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Pests

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Their name is comical, but when crazy ants infest a neighborhood it’s no laughing matter.

The fast-moving, invasive insects are present in Florida and several other Gulf Coast states. They can establish colonies with multiple queens and millions of workers, blanketing lawns and sidewalks, killing native species, shorting out electrical systems and creating headaches for homeowners and pest-control operators.

So far, efforts to control crazy ants have involved a patchwork of approaches, many of which failed. But a team of University of Florida researchers is developing an integrated pest management system tailored to the species’ unique characteristics and habits.

This week at the Entomological Society of America annual meeting in Knoxville, Tenn., two of those researchers presented findings on 15 insecticidal baits evaluated for the system.

Though none of the products were developed specifically for crazy ants, the researchers found that two granular baits – Amdro Pro and Maxforce Complete – killed crazy ants fastest in laboratory testing, probably because those baits had the most “appetite appeal” and were eaten more readily than other products, said Dawn Calibeo, an entomology doctoral candidate with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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New UF/IFAS book offers insights on managing large residential lots

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Environment, Forestry, Lawn & Garden

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A big yard or vacation property can be a great asset to a family, offering plenty of room for sports, recreation and relaxation.

But taking care of an acre or two, or 10 or 20, involves more than just buying a riding mower.

So the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has just published a handbook designed to help people with large, forested residential properties understand their land management options.

“Your Backyard Woods and Wildlife” is available for $18 from http://ifasbooks.ufl.edu

The 164-page book explains the basics of Florida’s ecosystems, delves into ways of earning extra income from forestland, and tells where to turn for more information and advice.

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Florida small farms conference slated for July 27-29

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Environment, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, Vegetables

2011 Small Farms Conference

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference is a one-stop shop for anyone who has thought about starting a farm or supporting local foods.

The conference, now in its fourth year, is presented by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Florida A&M University. It will feature tours, vendor exhibits, lunch and nearly 30 presentations.

The conference will be held at the Osceola Heritage Park located at 1875 Silver Spur Lane in Kissimmee July 27-29.

(more …)

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