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University of Florida

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 …)

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

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


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.”

(more …)

Florida small farms conference slated for July 27-29

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

2011 Small Farms Conference

Click here for high resolution version. Caption at the bottom.

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 …)

UF researchers uncover secret recipe from nature for a great-tasting tomato

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, IFAS, New Technology, Vegetables


Click here for high-resolution image. Caption at bottom.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Supermarket tomatoes that taste like heirloom tomatoes are closer to reaching grocery aisles as a result of a discovery from the University of Florida.

A team of researchers, including members of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, have identified the chemicals inside heirloom tomatoes that make people enjoy their taste, and the discovery is expected to enable them to create better-tasting tomatoes for the commercial market.

Heirloom tomatoes are old varieties not bred for large-scale production and prized for their true tomato taste; something that many believe has been lost in commercial tomatoes. The research is detailed online in the May 24 issue of Current Biology.

(more …)

Sugarcane expert Rob Gilbert named director of UF Everglades research center

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, IFAS, RECs, Vegetables

Click here for high resolution image.

Sugarcane expert Rob Gilbert has been appointed director of the University of Florida’s Everglades Research and Education Center in Belle Glade by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. The appointment is effective March 16.

Gilbert, an agronomy professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has been interim director of the Belle Glade center since October 2010.

“Rob is a prolific researcher and a longtime member of the EREC faculty,” Payne said. “He’s earned the confidence of his colleagues as well as the producers and local residents we serve. I’m certain he’ll take the center to new levels of achievement.”

(more …)

UF research finds salmonella responds differently to tomato varieties, ripeness

Topic(s): Agriculture, Cultivars, Food Safety, Safety, Vegetables

Caption at the end of the story

Multimedia available: http://news.ufl.edu/2010/09/21/salmonella-multimedia/

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers have discovered that tomato variety and maturity influence the ways salmonella bacteria respond to the fruit.

The findings, published Aug. 31 by the online, open-access journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) ONE, suggest researchers may be able to develop tomato cultivars more resistant to salmonella contamination.

Also, by monitoring tomato ripeness, it may be possible to reduce fruit’s susceptibility to contamination during and after harvest, said Max Teplitski, an associate professor in soil microbiology. (more …)

UF food scientists call for new science in food safety

Topic(s): Biocontrols, Crops, Food Safety, New Technology, Vegetables

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Some University of Florida food scientists say U.S. food safety procedures need to get out of the 1960s and into the era of biotechnology.

Back then, America’s scientists devised a system to ensure astronauts’ food stayed safe. That system, called Hazard Analysis of Critical Point, became the U.S. industry standard.

HACCP (pronounced “hassip”) is largely based on choosing points during handling and processing to eliminate or reduce as many possible hazards from food. While the method has given America an unparalleled level of food safety, there are new options to explore.

Featuring articles from UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the new issue of the Journal of Current Opinion in Biotechnology focuses on applying recent scientific discoveries to food safety.

“We have to look at everything we know about the whole system,” said microbiologist Max Teplitski, who co-authored the journal’s lead editorial with food scientist Anita Wright. “And we know a lot more than we knew half a century ago. Recent food safety scares have shown us that maybe it’s time we started applying that knowledge.”

Topics such as biofilms and some aspects of genetics research are so new that they haven’t had time to be used in food safety systems, or need more study. Others, such as probiotics and stress-resistant bacteria, are slowly being integrated.

(more …)

New public television show aimed at Southern gardeners hits the air May 9

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Southern gardeners will soon have a new tool to help them in the garden. “Your Southern Garden” with Walter Reeves is an educational television show created to help gardeners of all levels learn new tricks, get fresh ideas and visit interesting sites.

“This show provides the opportunity to really educate Floridians and others in the region about landscaping and outdoor water conservation,” said Millie Ferrer, interim extension dean for the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “Watering in the landscape is such an important issue right now and the faculty at UF and UGA can provide great tips and information to help conserve water.”

The show, produced by University of Florida IFAS Extension and the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is a one-of-a-kind program specifically for the Southeast.

The 2009 season of “Your Southern Garden” premieres May 9 on public broadcast stations in the Tampa Bay and north central Florida areas. Beginning in April 2010, it will air throughout most of north and central Florida area and the Georgia Public Broadcasting viewing area. (more …)

Predatory mite could put the bite on invasive crop pest, UF researcher says

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Invasive Species, Pests, Vegetables


Caption at bottom. Click here for high resolution image.


 Caption at bottom. Click here for high resolution image.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Chilli thrips sound more like a snack food than an agricultural menace, but these tiny insects threaten many of the Sunshine State’s most important crops — fortunately, University of Florida research shows a predatory mite gobbles them up like popcorn.

On bell pepper plants in greenhouses, the mite consumed enough chilli thrips to keep the population to less than one per leaf, compared with 70 per leaf on control plants. Similar results were obtained with peppers grown outdoors. The study was published this month in the journal Biological Control.

Native to Asia, the invasive pest attacks more than 100 host plants, including corn, citrus, peanuts and tomatoes. Established first in the Caribbean, it spread to Florida in 2005 and then to Texas. Adult chilli thrips are about 1 millimeter long.

According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate, if chilli thrips become more widely established in the U. S., they could cause agricultural losses of almost $4 billion per year.

For greenhouse crops — including bell peppers, strawberries, basil and flowers such as Gerber daisies — the mite could provide a much-needed alternative to pesticides, said Lance Osborne, a professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and an author of the study.

“This mite has a lot of potential for greenhouses, which is where it’s used now,” Osborne said. The mite, which has no common name but is known scientifically as Amblyseius swirskii, is available commercially to manage whiteflies and broad mites.

Because the mite is already approved for use in Florida, growers can try it against chilli thrips, he said. Osborne cautioned that the mite is not likely to be successful on every crop the pest attacks. Researchers were happy to find the mite held up well outdoors on bell peppers. Previous attempts to establish the mite outside on rose bushes have been unsuccessful, he said.

“Maybe there is a plant issue — they prefer peppers, but not roses,” Osborne said.

An upcoming project will investigate the use of peppers as “banker plants” — the mite equivalent of birdhouses, said Cindy McKenzie, a research entomologist with the USDA’s Horticultural Research Laboratory in Fort Pierce.

In the project, ornamental peppers will be planted outdoors among rose bushes, to see if they can harbor mite populations that protect both plant species, said McKenzie, another author of the study. (more …)

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