Vol. 17 No. 1 Winter 2001
The University of Florida Instiute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
S UNIVERSITYY OF g
By Michael V. Martin
At the start of the new millennium, the University of Florida's
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is on the move!
Florida FIRST: Over the past two years, UF/IFAS has worked to implement the major tenets of our
Florida FIRST (Focusing IFAS Resources on Solutions for Tomorrow) strategic planning effort. We have
allocated positions and support, restructured to reduce administrative costs, developed an institutional
marketing plan, launched a special initiative on the economic importance of the sectors we serve, and
aggressively pursued diversity in our faculty and staff.
Florida FIRST has allowed us to change the nature of the on-going dialogue with the people we serve.
Specifically, we are placing more emphasis on program outputs or impacts rather than inputs and resource
allocations. Or, stated differently, we're communicating what we do and its importance in terms that are
understandable to those we serve. We will hold a second statewide Florida FIRST Conference, June 27-29 in
Orlando, to make "mid-course" corrections in the program.
Public Profile: Thanks to Florida FIRST and other initiatives, we are successful in raising public
Awareness about what UF/IFAS does, the impacts we have, and the importance of our programs to the state
and its citizens. Given Florida's rapid population growth and demographic change, it is important that we
continue our efforts to build awareness statewide.
Partnerships: We have redoubled our efforts to establish productive partnerships with other State
University System (SUS) institutions, community colleges, state agencies and private organizations. The new
Lake Okeechobee Restoration Project is a fine example of interagency collaboration. We're working closely
with Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Florida Department of Environmental
Protection and the South Florida Water Management District on the lake restoration effort. In this issue of
IMPACT, the story on the Suwannee River Partnership is another prime example of our effort to develop
strong working relationships.
Our College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is developing new statewide partnership teaching programs
at Homestead and Apopka as well as in Hillsborough County and surrounding areas. We are discussing areas
of collaboration with Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, and we are working to expand
regional research and extension program cooperation with selected universities in the U.S. Southeast.
International Cooperation: The UF/IFAS Office of International Programs has led the way in
establishing opportunities for our faculty to acquire new experience and make global connections.
International cooperative agreements have been signed. Our International Programs Action Team has
provided insightful guidance as we seek to more fully integrate an international perspective in all we do.
Special Initiatives: Work continues on assessing the impacts of the various sector industries we serve in
the state's economy. This analysis, which will form the foundation of a public education program, will help
inform the Florida Legislature about the significance of UF/IFAS teaching, research and extension activities.
We also are completing a dynamic database, which describes work that UF/IFAS does in all 67 Florida
counties. We intend to use this information to ensure that policy makers fully appreciate our statewide
mission and our sizeable, positive impacts in every legislative and congressional district.
Challenges and Opportunities: Every great institution is committed to becoming even stronger, and so it
is with UF/IFAS. The future offers a tremendous opportunity to enhance our service to the citizens of Florida.
UF/IFAS is blessed with talented and dedicated faculty and staff. The faculty is at the center of all we do -
and all we contribute as a land-grant institution. Faculty achievements include another year of outstanding
service and national recognition. We also are proud of our excellent and committed support staff. They
enhance, enable and extend the programs of our faculty.
UF/IFAS is up to the task of building excellent programs, and the people of Florida can confidently
count on us to meet the needs and expectations of our unique land-grant mission.
IMPACT is published by the
University of Florida's Institute of
Food and Agricultural Sciences
(UF/IFAS). For more informa-
tion about UF/IFAS programs,
contact Donald W. Poucher, as-
sistant vice president of external
relations and communications:
(352) 392-0437, or e-mail: Volume 17, No. 1 Winter 2001
firstname.lastname@example.org. .- tiiiiii
IMPACT is produced by ,
IFAS Communication Services, High-Tech oponics
Ashley M. Wood, director.
Chuck Woods from UF's Norrh Florida Research
Contributors and Education Center Su--anne ,.
Ed Hunter Valley boost hb\dro ponic fairping...
Ami Neiberger Ne Fa
Tom Nordlie er
Thomas S. Wright 50th Annvers
Photographers 50 rh Annivers. *
Milt Putnam oF F No.rch Florida Resarch' .
Eric Zamora 9 .i .c s Potato
Tara Piasio 9. rrc Ir h,, Potato Pr e'
Designer r d .i, Hasni R
AudreyS. Wynne prJuLIr rnrd consumers. Hr i
Impc is aCener is he ping" '-
Change of address, requests for h d P0i#1 *%er
extra copies and requests to be
added to the mailing list should Nicer Ne igh ors tc gig
be addressed to ChuckWoods, Nicer Neighbors dv mpraohkn. k
PO Box 110025, ir nd othi r .Lr anmar' -
University of Florida, a '
Gainesville, FL 32611-0025, can rCdll- od,_r, ith a nic UF A,.l-
or e-mailed to n, nt s,,,. M ole Cricket Con
Impact is available in alternative .1ni mirode imnporict\ LI F research r
formats; visit our home page at a'r'
impact.ifas.ufl.edu fYr,_,n, S,,uth America pro, ,ds -ff-i _K .
W ater Q uallt control of he mole crickei. on o th .. c
UF/IFAS is putting Florida n mos[ roublesc ps -s.
FIRST in developing 1 rcscarch irid crdtcal.in1 progr.ainm arc '
knowledge in agricultural, hlping redl.c nittric Icdc h in ihe Middic '
human and natural resources SuliDlcc R!c er Biitn.
and the life sciences and -O 1b1 e '
making that knowledge N I ber O ne
accessible to sustain and
enhance the quality of human 4-H Volunte ._. ran P( ca^lcg 22
life. Visit the Florida FIRST Prog. i e, rC Li li r top
(Focusing IFAS Resources onn ,00 na
Solutions for Tomorrow) Web AN'
page at: floridafirst.ufl.edu a r e star
dccl,. pmnint pro
On the cover: C
George Hochmuth, left, and his .
brother, Bob, examine marigolds Ten nrie A h I % iilhftv
being grown hydroponically -
without soil-- at UF' North Essential Vitamins the Flo i A l d e er Nc r k
Florida Research and Education o 4 e over age.
Center-- Suwannee Valley in 1 while c.crone nced adequate amounts of....,
Live Oak. George is director of h ."
the center and Bob is a multi- "tlre. chc "irnn i im Foranor se
county extension agent based in c1izcni. adic.rding to nec% UF rese.a .
Live Oak. (Photo by Eric
UNIVERSITY OF ::
I..... F, A,,-... S @ Copright 2001 by th
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Denise Francis, left, and Mike Sweat admire a strawberry grown using outdoor hydroponics. Strawberry plants in the background are covered to
protect them from winter cold.
nce considered a curious hobby for home throughout Florida and the Southeast look to UF for that
gardeners, soilless or "hydroponic" farming now is expertise.
big business in North Florida, thanks largely to "In fact, the current state of art was virtually defined by
research and education programs at UF's Institute of Food UF/IFAS," he said "Very few land-grant universities have our
and Agricultural Sciences. level of commitment to hydroponics. Our programs are
Statewide, Florida had 84 acres in hydroponic highly visible for that reason."
production during 2000, yielding a crop of tomatoes, Hochmuth and his brother, George, director of the North
cucumbers, herbs, lettuce, peppers and strawberries worth Florida Research and Education Center, have edited a three-
$16.8 million, said Bob Hochmuth, a multi-county part production guide on hydroponic vegetable production.
extension agent based at UF's North Florida Research and The guide and other greenhouse vegetable publications are
Education Center Suwannee Valley near Live Oak. available from UF extension.
"North Florida has many small hydroponic farms," In Florida, the current hydroponic growing medium of
Hochmuth said. "More than half of all the hydroponic choice is perlite, a crushed, lightweight volcanic rock that the
growers in the state are located here, but our production is Hochmuth brothers helped popularize. To accomplish
only about 10 to 15 percent of the state's total. This is feeding and watering in one step, hydroponic crops are
because there are fewer, but larger, greenhouse operations in irrigated with precise nutrient solutions. Most hydroponic
South Florida. But, we expect continued growth during the crops are raised in greenhouses where all growing conditions
next few years. Demand for greenhouse-grown produce is temperature, irrigation, fertilization, pest control can
increasing and the industry is changing. Our job is to help be managed more efficiently than in outdoor fields.
farmers stay competitive."
farmers stay competitive."Because reduced pesticide use continues to be an
Staying competitive means using new technologies and important issue, we are developing pest control methods that
marketing strategies, Hochmuth said. Hydroponic farmers are more compatible with the environment," he said. "For
WINTER 2001 5
example. we designed a ventilation system for tomatoes that keeps
plants dr\ and prevents fungal diseases such as botrytis. We also
helped identify a new tomato virus that's transmitted by
\" hirefl, and developed screening practices to keep whiteflies
out of greenhouses."
S While indoor hyrodponic production has its advantages,
outdoor production can be successful, too. One change that may
actually promote the use of hydroponic farming in open fields is
"the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to ban use of
methyl bromide ,:il fumigants in 2005. Without this chemical,
crops gro n n in ;oil may be damaged by nematodes and other soil-
borne pe.ss. Hochmuth said tests at the Live Oak center indicate
"outdoor hydroponic production could minimize soil-borne pest
"I0t too early to predict how significant outdoor hydroponics
may become." Hochmuth said. "But we do believe that it has
merit or 'ome specializedd crops such as herbs, leafy greens,
letuice and tra%% berries. Some producers have already had good
Sresultls h oIr door hydroponic production. So it's not a pie-in-
"For more than a decade, our research and extension
Programs ha. e -so ed various production problems associated
"%wirth hYdroponic,." said Dan Cantliffe, chairman of UF's
Department of Horticultural Sciences. "The result has been an
impresive array ot crops ranging from lettuce and tomatoes to
trraw berrie, and cut flowers. Now, we're focusing more attention
on the marketing a pects of the industry here in North Florida,
helping farmer, to become more successful in today's increasingly
4. competitive domestic and international markets."
"He said specialized or "niche" marketing now is essential for
hydroponic farmer,. By taking advantage of changing consumer
preterences and offering unique or premium-quality items,
gro%\ ecr can reach lucrative markets such as health-conscious
Niche marketing also has stimulated interest in new crop
\arietie,. Cantiffe ,aid. At UF's Horticulture Research Unit in
Gaine,\ille. CantIiffe grows hydroponic items that may be
Sromorro', upe rm market staples, like a seedless, high-yield
cucumber de\ eloped in Israel and the Galia muskmelon, Europe's
best-selling melon variety .
"\Whatr vu ell is just as important as how you sell," Cantliffe
said. "Intresting new products like edible flowers, exotic herbs
and specialty greens can command higher prices."
o.,, p He said the ncted for high crop prices is a constant factor in
hydroponic arming because the technology is expensive. Major
im estments Ior growers include greenhouses and equipment for
hearing and cooling, ventilation, irrigation and fertilization.
Larger farms use c,m puter-controlled automation to accomplish
some tasks. Scart-up costs for a hydroponic farm average $4 to $8
per square foor of production.
"The trade-off is that with hydroponics you may have
sustained crop yield eight months out of the year," Cantliffe said.
"OU, also can fir more plants into less space. One acre of a high-
value crop gro,\ n ,outdoors may gross $20,000 to $30,000 per
E' -- George Hochmuth checks lettuce
S varieties grown hydroponically
at UF's North Florida Research
and Education Center -
Stapleton said networking can develop new and stronger
markets, particularly if potential buyers and sellers are
i unaware of each other. To promote that awareness, she and
wTom McGinty, executive chef with the Florida Department
p of Agriculture and Consumer Services, recently held a
workshop at the Live Oak center for two dozen local
produce farmers and chefs from Tallahassee, Jacksonville, St.
"Augustine and Gainesville.
"Everyone was very enthusiastic," Stapleton said. "The
chefs are looking for high-quality fresh items, and many of
the farmers produce specialty crops that may not be available
from grocery stores or produce brokers. We're planning a
similar event for spring 2001."
In another marketing effort, Stapleton is working on a
UF strawberry project headed by Bradford County
Extension Director David Dinkins in Starke. She developed
"promotional materials to help producers take advantage of
new marketing windows. Both hydroponic and soil-grown
berries were produced in late fall when no other Florida
--producers were harvesting fruit.
STo sell the berries, Stapleton is working with Denise
Eric Zamora Francis, a Macclenny-based herb farmer with experience in
year, whereas one acre of the crop grown hydroponically may marketing specialized crops to upscale restaurants in
gross $200,000 to $250,000." Jacksonville.
Because many small hydroponic growers in North "Denise has the right contacts and the know-how for this
Florida operate on a part-time basis, they rely on UF job," Stapleton said. "Before she started farming, she worked
extension as their primary source of advice. For example, in the restaurant industry she understands exactly what
Michelle Schenk, who operates the only commercial these customers need."
hydroponic farm in Levy County, said extension agent Baker County Extension Director Mike Sweat,
Anthony Drew helped her solve a common problem in Macclenny, said cooperation between UF and successful
greenhouse strawberry production. hydroponic farmers is a "win-win" situation that will become
"I had just started growing strawberries and didn't have more important in the future.
any experience with pest control," Schenk said. "Something "We're just beginning to realize of the potential of
was making the leaves shrivel up and covering them with hydroponic farming," Sweat said. "While we continue to
webbing, but I couldn't find the cause. Anthony took provide technical and marketing knowledge the industry
samples of the leaves, contacted UF and got me an answer needs, farmers are helping us recognize which areas need our
within an hour microscopic spider mites. Without his attention. We're working together like a pilot and a
help I might not have had any strawberries to market." navigator."
When it comes to marketing North Florida's hydroponic Dan Cantliffe, email@example.com
crops, no one is more involved than Suzanne Stapleton, a Bob Hochmuth, firstname.lastname@example.org
multi-county extension agent based at the Live Oak center. Suzanne Stapleton, email@example.com
She believes knowledge is the key to success.
"We emphasize three points for farmers," the marketing
agent said. "You must keep track of market prices, know
your production costs and know the demand for your
product. The Live Oak center provides marketing education
for farmers, and we work to develop new marketing
WINTER 2001 7
and cane syrup. With the guides, consumers will be able to
find U-pick opportunities, convenient retail farmers' markets
and even farms that deliver produce.
"As North Florida's population increases, there are
growing opportunities to market products locally," Stapleton
said. "The guides will enhance business opportunities for
area farmers. The result is a win-win situation for all
involved: Consumers can easily locate sources for local
"agricultural products and farmers can more easily sell their
products direct and fresh."
There are about 5,500 farms in the area, and more than
"90 percent of these are small farms, often operated as a
family business, Stapleton said.
Suwannee County in Live Oak, said agriculture is an
m important part of the environment and economy in the
E region. "The easiest way to keep our area natural and rural is
Na to keep the farmers in business so they continue to use and
o care for the land."
He said farms contribute significantly to local
Many of thefams lstedo er new s~drm Mdr~et Guideeaied mapsintheguides willberouncts dalrc aandfinrh a.
buying fresh produce direct from local farmers is easier economies, providing jobs and purchasing services from
than ever thanks to a new Farm Market Guide to related businesses in irrigation, sales, packaging and
North Central Florida published by the UF's Institute transportation.
of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Paulette Lord, manager of the Tourist Information
Two versions are available, one for farms east of Center in Lake City, expressed enthusiasm for the new
Interstate 75 and another for those west of 1-75. guides, adding that many visitors are requesting and using
"The directories include farms and markets in 17 the publications.
counties that sell home-grown agricultural products to the Sharon Yaego, manager of the Alachua County Farm
public," said Suzanne Stapleton, multi-county extension Market in Gainesville, said consumer demand for the guides
marketing agent at UF's North Florida Research and already strong will increase in the spring when more
Education Center Suwannee Valley in Live Oak. "With a products are available.
map showing each farm's location and a list of products Tanya Terry, a farmer in Madison, said she expects more
available, the retail farm guides are convenient to use. The calls as a result of the guide, especially whn her strawberry
folded guides can be carried in your car, pocket or purse." crop is ready for harvest. Brad Lingo, a farmer in Bronson,
"Many of the farms listed offer discounts for new said maps in the guides will benefit all farmers in the area.
customers. By showing the guide to farmers, consumers may The guides are available free of charge from UF
be entitled to a 10 percent discount, she said. extension offices in Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Clay,
Stapleton, who developed the guides for the UF Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette,
Extension Service, said they were produced in cooperation Levy, Madison, Nassau, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor and
with five co-sponsors: Florida Department of Agriculture Union counties.
and Consumer Services, Florida Farm Bureau, Council for Stapleton said copies may be available at local chambers
Progress of Suwannee County and the Columbia and of commerce, city halls and libraries. The guide also is
Madison county chambers of commerce. available on the Internet. http://nfrec-sv.ifas.ufl.edu/
The guides list sources for fruits, vegetables, hay and farm_mkt_guide.htm Chuck Woods
livestock, as well as other farm products such as honey, eggs Suzanne Stapleton firstname.lastname@example.org
0oth Anniver Celebration
"Our new research and education programs give greater
emphasis to marketing, post harvest and forestry," he said.
"In addition to serving commercial producers in the region,
the center has popular educational programs in master
gardener training and 4-H youth development."
Hochmuth said the center is one of 13 regional research
"and education facilities "located in major agro-ecological
niches of Florida." The center's mission is to develop
t appropriate technology for plant production on the deep
sands of North Central Florida. The Suwannee Valley region
includes Suwannee, Columbia, Hamilton, Lafayette and
Madison counties, and portions of surrounding counties.
Established in 1950 as the Suwannee Valley Experiment
Station, the facility's name was changed to the Agricultural
Research Center/Live Oak in 1971 and the Suwannee Valley
S Research and Education Center in 1990. It was renamed as
Sthe N north Florida Research and Education Center -
r Suwannee Valley in 2000. It's is one of four centers operated
S by UF's North Florida Research and Education Center in
r Quincy. The center also has a facilities in Marianna and
.. ,I Monticello. Chuck Woods
George Hochmuth email@example.com
Suwannee Valley area were recognized in October
2000 during the 50th anniversary celebration at UF's
North Florida Research and Education Center Suwannee Research Highlights:
Valley in Live Oak.
"More than 1,200 people attended the celebration, and Demonstrated plastic mulch and drip irrigation
there was something for everyone," said George Hochmuth, to support a nev vegetable indusrtn in North
center director. "The program, which was open to the Florida.
public, featured a wide range of events designed for growers Helped develop and demonstrate use of net;
and families, including tours and fun events such as a hay biodegradable plastic mulches.
ride, pumpkin picking and decorating and a barbecue." Provided leadership in development of alternative
Hochmuth said grower tours highlighted field vegetable crops and production systems.
and fruit crop trials, greenhouse and outdoor hydroponics Became main lF center for research and
and forestry production. Field vegetable and crop trials education on hydroponic production.
included specialty crops, collard varieties, fruit crops, early regional center or testing ne UF
season strawberry production, paper mulches, nitrate sraberr var
management and water quality updates. ster utirs
management and water quality updates. Proided leadership in calibration ooil testing
Hydroponic production (greenhouse, open air, shade e r
equipment for standardized fertillrI
structure, bag culture, floating system and vertical systems) recommendation s-tiedm.
was demonstrated for cucumbers, cut flowers, herbs, peppers
and specialty crops. Results of forestry research trials, Provided leadership in development of
including information on fertility management, pine species, alternatives to methyl bromide soil fumigation.
pine straw management and weed control, also were Demonstrated value of plastic mulch and drip
presented. irrigation in reducing nitrate contamination of
Hochmuth said the center, part of UF's Institute of Food groundwater.
and Agricultural Sciences, has many programs to meet the Became a major test site for developing data for
needs of the Suwannee Valley region. There are programs on federal pesticide registration labels on minor use
profitable alternative crops, small farms, greenhouse and crops.
hydroponic production, fruits and nuts, plasticulture, drip Provides advanced training for more than 200
irrigation, nutrient management, water quality and manure master gardeners annually.
WINTER 2001 9
to VNew Markets
UFs Hastings Research and Education Center is promoting
opportunities for alternative crops while helping farmers
remain competitive in traditional crops such as potatoes.
By Tom Nordlie
potatoes may not be Florida's best-known crop, but "Until the 1950s, the area grew nothing but fresh market
they have dominated farming in Flagler, Putnam potatoes," said Weingartner, a plant pathologist at the
and St. Johns counties for decades. Hastings center since 1969. "Florida's climate allowed
"Northeast Florida will always produce potatoes, but the farmers to harvest earlier than other states, so they had an
market is changing," said Pete Weingartner, interim director advantage. When potato chips became popular in the mid-
of UF's Hastings Research and Education Center. "Until 1950s, local growers switched to chipping potatoes, but they
recently, the tri-county area produced up to 34,000 acres of could switch back to table market potatoes in the future. It's
potatoes per year, but production this year is 20,000 acres. just a matter of growing different varieties and accessing
About 85 percent of that is sold to potato chip different markets."
manufacturers during the spring." He said that the fresh market holds new opportunities
Florida growers need to look beyond the potato chip and challenges. Consumer demand for fresh market potatoes
market because supply now exceeds demand, he said. Potato is constant, but Florida produces potatoes from early March
chip consumption has declined, and the industry is to early July. If Florida growers combined marketing efforts
controlled by fewer manufacturers. Moreover, new varieties with nearby states, the Southeast could offer fresh market
of chipping potatoes developed in northern states have potatoes over a longer period a bigger market window -
enabled their producers to compete for Florida's spring which could be a real advantage.
market. "Also, it would help if we had an identifiable potato that
To help growers remain competitive in today's changing was produced only in Florida or the Southeast perhaps a
markets, UF researchers are developing new potato varieties brand name comparable to Georgia's famous Vidalia onions,"
and production methods. They're also evaluating alternative he said. "We're evaluating yellow-fleshed potato varieties that
crops. Much of this work takes place at the Hastings center, are moister and contain more carotene than white-fleshed
part of UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. potatoes. This might appeal to health-conscious consumers.
Weingartner said Florida growers could benefit by growing Carotene is an important nutrient, and moist potatoes taste
more "fresh market" or "table market" potatoes for supermarket good with less butter and sour cream.
produce sections. Fresh market potatoes now account for 15 At the Hastings center, Chad Hutchinson, assistant
percent of northeast Florida potato production, professor of horticulture, evaluates about 200 new potato
Bill Cotton, left, andAustin
Tilton inspect cabbage, a leading
northeast Florida crop.
bottom left, and Pete
trays of broccoli and
E brussels sprouts, two
varieties each year. The most promising varieties are then
field tested at farms near UF/IFAS research and education
centers in Homestead, Immokalee, Live Oak and Hastings.
He said it's important to field test potatoes in areas where
they will be produced.
Despite changes in the potato market, overall
agricultural production in northeast Florida is
holding steady at 40,000 acres because farmers are
diversifying, Hutchinson said. Thanks to a strong housing
market, sod is being produced on 7,000 acres now the
area's No. 2 crop. Green cabbage, another mainstay of
northeast Florida farming, is in third place with 3,000 acres,
and napa cabbage is gaining popularity. But broccoli is the
"up and coming" crop to watch, he said.
"We've got 1,000 acres of broccoli now, and that figure
should increase thanks to our connection with Maine, the
nation's third-largest broccoli producer," he said. "For many
years, Florida potato farmers have sold their crops to brokers
based in Maine, and now many of these same brokers are
looking for new broccoli suppliers."
Growers in northeast Florida also need other alternative c
crops, Hutchinson said. To reduce financial risks for
producers, UF evaluates potentially viable crops before
WINTER 2001 II
recommending them. Other possible alternatives include Tilton, Putnam County extension director in East Palatka.
corn, watermelon and green beans. He said some farmers "It's a balancing act. Application methods are especially
experiment on their own, and Hutchinson helps them deal important so that more fertilizer is utilized by the plants and
with unforeseen production problems, doesn't run off the soil into surface water."
"There are many opportunities, but we have to Bill Cotton, executive director of the North Florida
understand the production needs of each crop, especially if Growers Exchange in Hastings, said farmers are finding that
it's new to the area. That's why our research and extension BMPs can save them money. "Even before the BMP
programs are so important we want to identify and recommendations were presented, many growers were
correct problems so growers know how to prevent them." reducing their nitrogen use because they thought it was a
good idea and a way to save production costs."
BM Ps Protect Surface W water Cotton said UF/IFAS research is essential to the long-
term viability of farming in Northeast Florida, adding that
ile nitrogen fertilizer is crucial for the the exchange is helping farmers in the area adopt new
production of potatoes and other crops, concerns production practices based upon that research.
in the St. Johns River Water Management
District about nitrate movement into surface water led to
the establishment of a new best management practices Pete Weingartner, firstname.lastname@example.org
(BMP) project. Under a grant from the Florida Department Chad Hutchinson, email@example.com
of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Hutchinson and Rao Rao Mylavarapu, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mylavarapu, assistant professor and nutrient management Eric Simonne, email@example.com
specialist in UF's Department of Soil and Water Science, are
studying combinations of cover crops, nutrients and water Austin Tilton, firstname.lastname@example.org
management practices in potato production to minimize Bill Cotton, email@example.com
In a related project, Hutchinson, Mylavarapu and Eric
Simonne, assistant professor in UF's Department of
Horticultural Sciences, are evaluating controlled-release
nitrogen fertilizers for potatoes, with funds from the water
"BMPs encourage farmers to use the optimum amounts
of nitrogen fertilizer needed to grow potatoes and other
crops without harming the environment," said Austin
Austin Tilton, left, and
Bill Cotton compare notes
on cabbage production as
tractor driver Odell Ford
prepares to move on to the
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WIN ER01 1
UP Licenses New Mole Cricket
Control to Biotecb Firm
By Tom Nordlie
A tiny parasite imported from South America by acceptable from an economic standpoint."
University of Florida researchers will soon be Accidentally introduced to the United States from South
available commercially to end a 30-year battle with America more than 75 years ago, mole crickets first became a
mole crickets, one of the most troublesome agricultural nuisance to Florida vegetable growers in the 1930s, but were
pests in the Southeast. successfully controlled with arsenic baits
Field tests show that the parasite and pesticides such as DDT. The pest
- a worm-like organism known as became a serious problem in the
the mole cricket nematode -will "The mole cricket 1970s when environmental concerns
survive in the region's climate and led to federal restrictions on DDT-
kill mole crickets on a long-term nematode is a good type pesticides. Since then, other
basis, said Grover Smart, professor pesticides have been used with
of nematology with UF's Institute exam e of limited success, Smart said.
of Food and Agricultural Sciences. UF researchers first identified the
The patented organism, expected l mole cricket nematode in Brazil
to be available by fall 2001, will biological control, during the early 1980s. Smart then
help farmers, home owners and golf isolated a strain of the nematode to
course managers combat the pest. using natural achieve almost 100 percent
The mole cricket, which causes effectiveness against mole crickets in
about $94 million in damage to predators to control laboratory experiments with little or
Florida turf and pastures each year, no threat to other U.S. insects. In
also affects ornamentals and other pests without heavy 1990, he and UF nematologist K.B.
crops, he said. Damage to grasses Nguyen identified the nematode as a
and seedlings is caused by the insects reliance on unique species, Steinernema
feeding on roots and loosening the scapterisci. UF holds three patents on
soil. use of the nematode for pest control.
Smart said UF experiments with chemical Once the parasitic nematode
the parasite in North Florida already enters the body of a mole cricket to
have caused a decline in local mole pesticides. mature and reproduce, it kills the
cricket populations. cricket within 48 hours. Young
"We just don't see a lot of mole nematodes emerge from the dead cricket
crickets any more in areas where we have about a week later to seek new hosts.
tested the parasite," Smart said. "As the Once infected, mole crickets can spread the
nematode spreads, it provides highly effective mole nematode to new areas by flying, crawling or
cricket control or at least reduces damage to a level that is burrowing, Smart said.
"The mole cricket nematode is a good example of
biological control, using natural predators to control pests
without heavy reliance on chemical pesticides," Smart said.
"Other mole cricket predators live above ground, but our
nematode dwells in the soil where mole crickets do most of
their damage that's the real advantage of this parasite."
MicroBio, a biotech firm owned by Becker Underwood,
Inc. in Ames, Iowa, has obtained exclusive rights through
UF's Office of Technology Licensing to use the nematode in
a commercial product. In late 2001, the company will
market the organism under the Nematac S product name,
said Graeme Gowling, MicroBio general manager.
Grover Smart, left, and Martin Adjei examine a mole cricket, one of the
most troublesome agriculturalpests in the Southeast.
The product will be marketed to turfgrass and sod pastureland, applying the parasite to selected areas while
farmers as well as home gardeners. Golf courses are expected leaving adjacent areas untreated.
to be major users, he said. "Our research shows that the mole crickets will spread
Gowling said MicroBio, the world's largest commercial the nematode around once a large number of them are
nematode producer, is working with a statewide mole cricket infected," Adjei said. "Now we want to determine how far
task force to help protect millions of acres of cattle apart the treated strips should be for effective control of the
pastureland in Florida. However, some ranchers are pest. For example, if we can reduce the treatment to one-
concerned about the product's cost, which could be as high eighth of the total area and let the nematodes spread, that
as $200 per acre. may be a cost-effective way for cattle producers to use this
"Ranchers who are operating under a tight economic product on millions of acres.
situation just cannot afford to spend that much on mole Grover Smart firstname.lastname@example.org
cricket control," said Herb Harbin, chairman of the Martin Adjei email@example.com
agricultural research and education committee of the Florida
Cattlemen's Association in Kissimmee. "But we need
something to control this pest the mole cricket problem
has been really bad in the last 10 to 15 years. Literally
"hundreds of thousands of acres of bahia grass pasture have
been totally destroyed."
Martin Adjei, assistant professor of agronomy at UF's
Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona, said
cattle farmers could reduce costs by "strip treating"
WINTER 2001 5
WINTER 2001 1 5
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High Water Mark
With a top national ranking, the Florida Sea Grant College -
Na: -UA' -
S i extension and communication programs," Cato said.
Grant Program Assessment Team has ranked the "Fifteen public and private universities and research
Florida Sea Grant College Program based at the laboratories participate in Sea Grant statewide. We continue
University o Florida. ..
University of Florida. to receive strong support and participation from the
A new national process reviews each of the 30 state Sea universities, citizens, businesses and agencies that provide
Grant programs every four years, said James Cato, professor required matching funds to help science serve Florida's
and director of Florida Sea Grant. In April 2000, the Florida coast.
program was the 16th to be reviewed since 1998 and He said faculty and students in UF's Institute of Food
received the highest score possible excellent in all A cj\
received the highest score possible excellent in all and Agricultural Sciences conduct many Florida Sea Grant
"categories. research, extension and communications activities.
"A few other programs may be ranked as high as us, but "Through research, they create scientific discovery; through
none can be ranked higher, and our ranking is significantly extension, they make sure local needs are addressed, and
higher than the first 15 programs reviewed," Cato said. through extension and communications, they make sure the
The excellent rating will help the Florida program public gets the results in a form they find useful," Cato said.
compete for state and federal funds and launch new Examples of programs in North Florida include the
programs, he said. It also means a "merit" increase will be following:
added to Florida Sea Grant's federal funding for the next
four years. The Florida Sea Grant College Program was Artificial Reefs
initiated in 1972 with funding from the U.S. Department of
Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric T ten Taylor County residents in Florida's Big
Administration. Bend area wanted to establish an artificial reef
"We earned this ranking because of the excellent faculty, program to enhance local fishing and scuba
staff and students working in our statewide research, diving, they turned to Florida Sea Grant for help.
Craig Aubrey, Taylor County marine agent in Perry, said shipping the meat to the United States far below our
creating new artificial reefs is not as easy as it used to be. production costs."
"The days of being able to go out and drop a car off the Sweat worked with Norman Blake, a University of South
back of a boat are over," he said. "Getting approval to place Florida scallop expert, to learn that Florida producers could
things in the water is now a complicated process, requiring raise whole scallops economically. The cost of raising scallops
approval from agencies such as the Florida Department of to a marketable size would be about 8 to 10 cents each, and
Environmental Protection (DEP) and the U.S. Army Corps they could be sold to consumers for 20 to 25 cents a piece.
of Engineers." In the study, whole scallops were provided to four
He said the acceptable list of reef materials is now upscale restaurants in Cedar Key, Gainesville and Inglis by
essentially limited to concrete objects and steel structures Chuck Adams, UF Sea Grant extension economist, and
that will stand the test of time and not pollute the ocean. Robert Degner, professor in UF's Department of Food and
Reef builders also need to make sure materials are placed on Resource Economics. The scallops were promoted as a
a hard ocean floor and that they will not damage coral reefs special item on the menu, and diners were asked to complete
or sea grass, a survey following their dining experience. Adams said a
Thanks to Aubrey's work, one offshore artificial reef is majority of the diners indicated they would purchase whole
being renourished near Keaton Beach with materials donated scallops again. In fact, 95 percent said it was an "excellent"
by a local business, product.
"By this coming summer, we plan to have a fish
identification course set up for the volunteer diving team," Clam Insurance
he said. "This course will help the dive team monitor reefs, ile many Florida Sea Grant programs have
which will be important when the county pursues grant heled lm a r a pilot insure pa
funding for the construction of more reefs."am farmers, a pilot insurance program
d o has been particularly useful, said Leslie Sturmer,
W hole Scallops a Levy County extension aquaculture agent in Cedar Key.
Traditional farmers have relied on the U.S. Department
T o make scallop farming profitable, Florida Sea Grant of Agriculture for federally subsidized insurance programs
researchers have conducted a study to determine that protect them in the event of losses due to weather. Now,
how the dining public responds to whole scallops thanks to Sturmer's efforts, clam farmers can obtain the same
served in the shell. kind of "crop insurance" to protect their operations.
Don Sweat, Sea Grant marine extension agent for Levy, "Clam farmers are the first in the aquaculture industry to
Citrus, Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas counties, said Florida be eligible for a federally subsidized insurance program,"
farmers cannot make money by selling only the scallop meat. Sturmer said. "When it comes to aquaculture crops, this is a
"We cannot compfirst for the USDA. As a result, aquaculture crop losses are
"We cannot compete with frozen scallop meat imported
now defined by USDA like any other type of crop loss."
from China," he said. "They are raising the same animal and now denied by USDA like any other type o crop loss.
Leslie Sturmer examines
clam seed that were remote
set in a land-based nursery
system. This technology, L4-,
used in the Pacific
Northwest oyster industry,
is being evaluated by
Florida Sea Grant for the
Florida clam culture
industry as a way to
provide inexpensive clam
seed to nursery operators.
WINTER 2001 23
national supply of high quality and safe seafood,
both domestic and imported, continues to be a .
prime objective of the Florida Sea Grant program.
To meet that goal, Florida Sea Grant is providing
national leadership in the new Hazard Analysis and Critical
Control Point (HACCP) inspection system, which identifies
and controls every step or stage of the production process
where bacteria and toxic chemicals can slip into the food
Seafood was the first food group brought under the new
federal food safety program, and all processors engaged in
interstate commerce were required to comply with new
seafood HACCP regulations by December 1997.
They were able to meet that deadline thanks to the
National Seafood HAACP Alliance organized and directed
by Steve Otwell, professor and Sea Grant seafood specialist
in UF's Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.
Otwell's leadership of the alliance, which he organized in
1994, is supported by Florida Sea Grant and the National
Sea Grant Collage Program.
He said more than 10,000 people nationwide have been
trained in HAACP methods. As a result, HAACP is D,
becoming the world standard for food safety. It's required by
the European Union and is widely used in Canada.
Since 1997, Florida Sea Grant has worked with
fishermen who lost a major source of their income as a
result of the 1995 ban on net fishing. With the help of
a $350,000 state grant, Florida Sea Grant, in cooperation
with a number of other agencies, offered a series of
workshops and provided technical assistance to help
fishermen learn how to harvest blue crabs and establish
shedding operations to produce the desirable soft shell crabs.
More than 60 fishermen were in business after the first
The Urban Boating and Anchorage Management
Program works with recreational boaters, teaching them
proper techniques in navigation and anchorage. It also tests
self-regulation concepts. Through this educational program,
Florida Sea Grant was able to convince DEP to avoid issuing
new regulations that would have a negative impact on
recreational boaters. During 2000, this program was given a
Leadership Award by the Council for Sustainable Florida,
and it was recognized by a December 2000 resolution by
Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida cabinet.
UF researchers are evaluating methods that would allow
marine ornamental fish species to be produced by the state's
aquaculture industry. If marine fish could be raised
commercially, it would reduce the need to harvest them from
environmentally sensitive coral reefs worldwide.
James Cato firstname.lastname@example.org
I' I I
The Meoart t 4-4
By Ami Neiberger
She can't leap skyscrapers with a single bound. She doesn't have super
powers. And her name may not be Xena or a comic book superstar, but
... 'W she's a hero all the same.
S"'. .Her name is Betty Stewart. She helps kids every week with their homework at an
''. after school center in Jacksonville and runs a 4-H EFNEP (Expanded Food and
Nutrition Education Program) club. The youth in her club have cooked countless
meals together, learning about healthy nutrition. They've even done the 4-H pledge
to a rap beat.
Stewart couldn't swim but she went to camp at 4-H Camp Cherry Lake anyway
a couple of years ago for a week with the kids. "I remember there was this one boy
who could not dance," said Stewart. "But he could jump and kick. Everyone gave
him plenty of room and he enjoyed himself."
The retired secretary chuckled at the memory. She was never in 4-H growing up,
1 but her dedication and commitment to young people are similar to that held by
thousands of other 4-H volunteers across the Sunshine State.
Florida's 241,000 youth ages 5-18 interacted with more than 13,374 volunteer
4-H leaders last year. About 1,500 of those leaders were teenagers and the remainder
"They are the wings beneath county extension 4-H programming because they
amplify the impact of a 4-H agent on a community and on youth," said Damon
Miller, state 4-H leader and assistant dean for the 4-H youth development program
with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Having volunteers is critical to the development of young people. "Youth gain
"invaluable development opportunities by interacting with caring and compassionate
adults who serve as mentors, educators and role models for them," said Miller.
North Florida offers many examples of caring adult volunteers, said Miller. He
said that it is typical for county 4-H programs to have a variety of roles for
volunteers to fill. They might be working as community club leaders, helping at an
after school program, or assisting in the office, at the fair, or on a county foundation
Top photo: BillHeltemes, right, and Willie Haas has been a 4-H volunteer for more than 55 years in McAlpin, a
Shail Ramcharan, discuss how to give a small town located in rural Suwannee County. The McAlpin 4-H Club has
good presentation at a 4-H club meeting. done a Community Pride project for several years, assisting with the
Middle photo: Bill Heltemes gives a construction and maintenance of a community center and doing an adopt-a-
presentation to the "Fun, Fun, Fun, and highway project.
More Fun 4-H Club" in Alachua The lessons Haas teaches have paid off. "She always felt that you need to know
County. how to communicate with people, whether you are a store clerk or a professional,"
Bottom photo: Lorraine Williams, said Greg Hicks, Hamilton County 4-H agent in Jasper, who was in her club as a
center, plants petunias with Monieke youngster and credits her insistence that everyone learn public speaking as an
Hall, 7, andXzavius Hill, 6, in the important part of his own growing up.
garden of the Gainesville housing It is unusual to have a 4-H volunteer who sticks with the program after their
development where Ramcharan' club own children are grown, said Tricia Heijkoop, Suwannee County 4-H agent in Live
meets. Williams was a volunteer before Oak. "She has a dedication to the program and enjoys being with kids," said
she became an extension employee. Heijkoop, who says that Haas rarely misses a meeting even today.
(Photos by Thomas Wright)
Tricia Heijkoop, left, and Willie Haas, right, practice painting with
McAlpin 4-H club members Dana Anderson, 9, middle left, and
"Samantha Gerhaus, 9, middle right. (Photo by Eric Zamora)
training is seven sessions long and teaches club leaders how
to organize meetings and work with young people.
The lynchpin to keeping volunteers is not just training
them well, but also looking into their motivations for
volunteering. Long-term volunteers have a commitment to
young people, said Heltemes, because the longer they stay
the more they can see what is happening with the kids.
"When kids come back a few years later and tell you
what a good experience they've had, the volunteers are
always surprised," said Heltemes. "Because you don't always
Haas has turned over some of her duties to a new know what impact you are making."
volunteer leader, but she still attends club meetings and And that' not the only reason. "A lot of people volunteer
com e i And that's not the only reason. "A lot of people volunteer
serves as the club's advisor. She received a special award at e e t w t e e to
h because they want to give something back to society," said
the 2000 Florida 4-H Congress for her devotion to young Rick Rudd, assistant professor in UF'S Department of
Rick Rudd, assistant professor in UF's Department of
people. Agricultural Education and Communication, who is heading
Alc chua County up the new Center for Volunteer Leadership Development.
"They also want to have a sense of satisfaction," said
An afternoon found 4-H volunteer Shail Rudd, who says it is important for extension agents to learn
Ramcharan rushing to get her office organized how to develop volunteers and is launching a training course
before the invasion of kids in the "Cedar Ridge this summer.
Fun, Fun, Fun and More Fun 4-H Club" turned the place 4-H is expanding its volunteer base nowadays to include
upside down. many people who were never in 4-H as children. Especially
The name was chosen unanimously by the youth, and in urban areas, it is hard to find people who grew up in 4-H,
the club meets three times a week at the Cedar Ridge Rudd said. Ironically, of the three volunteers mentioned
complex in Gainesville, a subsidized housing area facing above, only Willie Haas was in 4-H in her youth. Both
problems with drugs, crime and poverty. The club is Stewart and Ramcharan are "green" to 4-H.
sponsored by the Alachua County Partners for a Healthy Recruiting is not as difficult as training and retention,
Community initiative. said Anita McKinney, 4-H agent in Duval County where
"These kids are telling you how they feel in what they Stewart is. The 4-H program there has more than 300 4-H
choose," said Ramcharan, who says that they stay busy with volunteers. "The better trained they are, the longer they will
activities like a youth-written newspaper, leadership stay," she said.
development, public speaking and creative arts expression
projects. The club also does clean-up projects in the Recruitment Campaign
Sh o e e t Recruiting remains a tough nut to crack. Consequently, the
She has only been a 4-H club leader for four months and e H r r a ing an n rtn
state 4-H program is launching a new volunteer recruitment
is a program specialist employed by Alachua County's campaign this year with the Florida Department of
Community Support Services. But it's clear that her e i
commitment to the young people goes much further than Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) to attract
more caTable and caring adults.
just her job. She said Bill Heltemes, Alachua Coutntial,y 4- "The potential to impact kids through 4-H is
she's clearly their biggest cheerleader. "Being able to make a difference in the life of a child is
one of the most amazing things any of us can do," said
4- H Club Leader Training Nelson Pugh, director of marketing and information for
FDACS and one of the biggest supporters of the new
Training people to be good 4-H club leaders can be campaign.
a challenge, said Bill Heltemes, Alachua County 4- "The potential to impact kids through 4-H is
H agent. Heltemes developed a training program that enormous," said Pugh. "Volunteering really gets to the heart
Ramcharan participated in, with the aid of a grant from the of the matter for both the kids and the adults building
Florida 4-H Foundation. bonds with those kids. We all walk away touched to the
Putting the label "leader" on someone automatically soul."
carries certain expectations, said Heltemes. "If you haven't Visit Florida 4-H online at http://4h.ifas.ufl.edu
had any training, it can be kind of scary," he said. The
WINTER 2001 27
A rl Ir
By Chuck Woods
r- fo fill major gaps in coverage, the Florida Automated
SWeather Network will add 10 new monitoring
stations in the next two years, providing "real time"
weather data 24 hours daily to agricultural produces and
others throughout the state.
The computerized network, also known as FAWN, was
started by the University of Florida in 1997 after the
National Weather Service discontinued forecasts for
agriculture and other special groups," said Larry Treadaway,
network coordinator with UF's Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences. Since its inception, network coverage
has been limited to Central Florida and South Florida.
"We need a complete statewide network because regular
forecasts for cities may be misleading to farmers located in
cooler rural areas," he said. "Heat trapped in concrete and
asphalt can make cities 10 degrees warmer than farms in
rural areas. When cold weather moves through the state, the
t difference can be devastating to citrus and other cold-
? 44 sensitive crops."
"Treadaway said growers and others interested in real time
S weather data can access the system by telephone or via the
"FAWN Web site. In addition to data, the system can give
farmers reliable climate predictions three to six months in
The network now includes a total of 21 monitoring
stations where weather data is continuously collected and
transmitted to a UF computer in Gainesville every 15
minutes. During the past two years, new monitoring stations
were added at Alachua, Brooksville, Citra, Ft. Lauderdale,
Hastings and Putnam Hall to improve coverage.
The new Alachua station is located at the UF
Department of Agronomy's Forage Research Unit near
S- Gainesville. The Brooksville facility is located at the U.S.
I I Department of Agriculture's Subtropical Agricultural
Research Station, which provided funding for equipment.
S jla S'The Citra station is located at UF's Plant Science Research
and Education Unit. The Hastings station is located in
f southwest St. Johns County.
Treadaway said complete statewide coverage will become
a reality by the end of 2002 when new monitoring stations
are constructed in Live Oak, Monticello, Quincy, Marianna
and Jay. Additional monitoring stations will be added at
Bronson in Levy County and yet-to-be-determined sites in
Baker or Union County, Brevard County, Highlands County
and Osceola County.
When the sites become operational, the network will weather-driven computer models in pest control, irrigation
have a total of 31 monitoring stations. The Division of scheduling, fertilizer rates and other management programs.
Emergency Management in the Florida Department of It's all part of the growing trend toward precision
Community Affairs is providing $125,000 to complete the agriculture," King said.
system. Another new component of the FAWN Web site,
Andy King, who coordinates the FAWN database and Climate Predictions, provides information on weather trends
Web site at UF, said each solar-powered weather station over the next three to six months from the Florida
measures temperatures at two, six and 30 feet above ground, Consortium for Climate Prediction Applications. The
soil temperature, wind speed and direction, rainfall, relative consortium includes scientists at UF, Florida State University
humidity, barometric pressure, leaf wetness and solar and the University of Miami.
radiation. Jim Jones, professor in UF's Department of Agricultural
"We invite everyone to visit the FAWN Web site to see and Biological Engineering who works with the consortium,
current weather conditions as well as the unique and said the group develops regional assessments of climate
educational weather data graphing java applet," King said. variability and impacts of climate forecasts on the Americas,
"Also available are daily, weekly and monthly data including the U.S. Southeast.
summaries, charts of chilling degree days and historical data "The consortium has developed methodologies to
charts." identify climate variability patterns in temperature and
The FAWN database and Web site are maintained by precipitation associated with El Nino and related weather
UF's Office of Information Technology, which is adding new events," Jones said. "This will help us determine the
features to the service to help agricultural producers manage vulnerability of agriculture and production systems to major
their operations more efficiently.
"Growers are looking at FAWN as a source of reliable Larry Treadaway performs routine
information not only for cold protection, but also for maintenance at the FAWN monitoring
station near Alachua.
____Andy King, left, said FAWN
received more than 20,000
hits during freezing weather in
Florida this winter.
"As a public domain network, FAWN provides weather
data from surface locations that can be used by the National
Weather Service and private firms to develop accurate short-
range and long-range forecasts. The data also is very valuable to
growers by providing localized weather information when a
freeze is actually occurring," Jackson said.
Weather data from the network is available on the
SFAWN Voice Data System at (352) 846-3100 or at the
FAWN Web site: http://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu
"For the price of a phone call to Gainesville, growers can
access a user-friendly, voice-synthesized information system
to obtain real-time weather data from these sites 24 hours
"daily," said Pat Cockrell, director of agricultural policy with
the Florida Farm Bureau in Gainesville and chair of the
weather task force. "Growers can get specific weather data
directly from stations located in or near their local
"FAWN is a major step forward in developing accurate
and reliable weather data, and we hope growers will find the
network to be a valuable asset in their farming operations,"
Other task force participants include Florida Citrus
N Mutual, Florida Nursery and Growers Association, and the
SFlorida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The office of U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., also
climate variations that may produce drought, flooding or participated.
increased storm activity." Larry Treadaway Ist@mail.ifas.ufl.edu
John Jackson, a Lake County extension agent who Andy King email@example.com
helped establish the network in 1997, said the agricultural
weather data information service originally was designed to
help warn the state's $7 billion fruit, vegetable and
environmental horticulture industries about devastating
"When Congress pulled the plug on specialized frost and
freeze warnings in 1996, most growers were not aware of the
federal cutback," said Jackson. "But the January 1997 freeze
changed all that.
"The costly and largely unpredicted freeze hit Central
and South Florida, causing a $300 million loss and leaving
many growers feeling burned by the available weather
forecasting system," Jackson said. "At that point, the need for
accurate and timely agricultural weather information became
Jackson said various grower organizations, spearheaded
by the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association in Orlando,
formed the Florida Agricultural Weather Task Force in
cooperation with UE The task force helped obtain funding
for UF to develop and operate the first phase of the network
based in Gainesville.
DON'T FORGET YOUR FOLATE!
New findings on the value of folate in the diet will help maintain optimal health and
reduce disease risk in the nation's rapidly increasing senior citizen population.
In the first study ever to measure the amount of folate "These data suggest that along %r.ithiiheart disease,
needed by older women, researchers with UF's Institute adequate f(late intake maY be associated ith risk reduction
of Food and Agricultural Sciences say consuming a For another major chronic disease in our aging population,"
folate-rich diet every day can benefit women well into their she said.
golden years. Kauwell and Bailev co-directed the study that examined
Folate is a water-soluble vitamin needed by all cells for se eral different aspects ot folate requirements, the results of
normal cell division. It also participates in reactions that help which were published in three scientific journals. In their
the body use nutrients such as amino acids. An elevated level studv. 33 postmenopausal women ages 60 to 85 were fed a
of one of these amino acids, homocysteine, is now low-folate diet for weeks fllo wed by ~ weeks of a folate-
recognized to be a risk factor for heart disease, said Lynn adequate dit that included orange juice, a rich source of
Bailey, professor in UF's Department of Food Science and folatc. and foods fortifed with folic acid.
Human Nutrition. One of the primary conclusions of the studY was that a
"Our study provides evidence that adequate folate intake mixed diet that pro\ ided 400 micrograms of tolate per da\
plays a key role in reducing homocysteine, which is %,gnificanrlv decreased blood homocysreine levels. The
particularly relevant for elderly women since heart disease is researchers also observed thar the impact of a low folace diet
the primary cause of death in this group," said Bailey, who %aried iti genetic makeup.
has conducted folate research for the past 22 years. "When folate intake was inadequate, blood
She said the potential impact on nation's elderly homocysteine levels increased more in women who had a
population is enormous. In Florida, more than 25 percent of specific mutation in the gene that makes a key folate
the state's population will be older than 65 by 2025. requiring enzyme," Kauwell said.
"Dietary intake recommendations for folate have been To get enough folate in their diets, consumers can turn
based exclusively on studies conducted in younger women to naturally occurring sources of folate, folic acid enriched
and have not considered the impact of genetics," she said. products or supplements.
"Our research was the first controlled study to evaluate the "Food sources containing natural folate include orange
adequacy of folate intake in women over 65 years of age and juice, the most popular source of natural folate in the
to examine the potential influence of genetic makeup." American diet, as well as strawberries, dark green leafy
Gail Kauwell, associate professor in the department who vegetables, asparagus, peanuts, and dry peas and beans.
also worked on the project, said another important aspect of Floridians are fortunate to live in a state where many of these
their research relates to the observation that inadequate folate-rich foods are major commodities. The challenge is to
folate intake was associated with a specific change in the encourage consumers to increase their intake of fruits and
structure of DNA. She said other studies have linked this vegetables with particular emphasis on those that are folate-
structural change to an increase in risk for certain types of rich," Kauwell said.
cancers. Since 1998, the Food and Drug Administration has
required certain foods to be fortified with folic acid,
including bread, cereal, pasta, flour, crackers and rice. While
fortified foods and folic acid supplements are recommended
for women of reproductive age, Bailey advises women and
men of all ages to include foods naturally high in folate in
"Foods naturally containing folate also provide many
other nutrients women and men need. In general, these
foods are good sources of vitamin C, fiber, and potassium,
and most are low in fat," Bailey said. Chuck Woods
Lynn Bailey firstname.lastname@example.org
Gail Kauwell email@example.com
Gail Kauwell, left, and Lynn Bailey conduct folate
research at UFM Department ofFood Science and
4_ L Human Nutrition in Gainesville. (Photo by Tara Piasio)
WINTER 2001 31
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