Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Taming melaleuca in Florida
 Living on the edge
 Caribbean connection
 Special help for specialty...
 Balancing act in the tropics
 Safety first
 Hot tomato!
 Back Cover

Title: Impact
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00044207/00003
 Material Information
Title: Impact
Uniform Title: Impact (Gainesville, Fla.)
Abbreviated Title: Impact (Gainesville, Fla.)
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: University of Florida -- Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Publisher: The Institute
Place of Publication: Gainesville FL
Publication Date: [1984-
Frequency: three no. a year
Subject: Agriculture -- Research -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Research -- Periodicals -- United States   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: IFAS, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.
Dates or Sequential Designation: Spring 1984-
Numbering Peculiarities: Vol. 2, no. 2 misnumbered as v. 2, no. 22.
General Note: Title from caption.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00044207
Volume ID: VID00003
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 001107412
oclc - 10908183
notis - AFK3775
lccn - sn 84006294
issn - 0748-2353

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 3
    Taming melaleuca in Florida
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
    Living on the edge
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
    Caribbean connection
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
    Special help for specialty crops
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
    Balancing act in the tropics
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
    Safety first
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
    Hot tomato!
        Page 35
    Back Cover
        Page 36
Full Text

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OVER THE PAST NEARLY SIX YEARS I have learned a great deal about Florida.
Among many other things, I have learned that agriculture, including related natural resource
industries, is a cornerstone of the state's economy and critical to the state's future.

To be sustainable, agriculture must be economically and environmentally viable. And economic
viability means profitability. We know that agricultural profitability depends on expanding sales
revenues in an ever-changing global market.

Agricultural sales are influenced by international competition, changing consumer tastes
and incomes, new product development, costs of transportation and marketing, and value added
locally. Costs of agricultural production reflect costs of impacts such as labor, land, water,
chemicals and management along with the impacts of government policy and regulations.

There was a time when costs could be lowered by simply increasing yields but those days
are gone. Now, Florida farmers, foresters and ranchers must constantly seek new approaches,
new technologies and new solutions. And these are all the products of research, development
and education.

Because Florida's agriculture is so diverse, there is relatively little private sector research
and development (R&D) in the state. This means that UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural
Sciences (UF/IFAS) is the primary source of R&D for the state's essential and dynamic
agricultural sector.

However, UF/IFAS has experienced decreased real investment in the R&D portion of the
state's most stable industries over the past 19 years. And, as we look to the future, without
the ongoing investment and support from the State of Florida, UF/IFAS can't be all it must
be to agriculture. Given an increased investment by the state, UF/IFAS is poised to establish
relevant and responsive research and development priorities that will have positive impacts
on industry profits and sustainability in the global economy.

Senior Vice President
for Agriculture and Natural Resources



IMPACT is published
by the University of Florida's
Institute of Food and Agricultural
Sciences and is produced by
IFAS Communication Services,
Ashley M. Wood, director.


Thomas S. Wright

IFAS STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS 4 Taming Melaleuca in Florida 24 Special Help for Specialty Crops
Marisol Amador Imported from Australia more than To make sure producers of high-value,
Josh Wickham a century ago, melaleuca has invaded specialty crops have the pest management
a wide variety of natural landscapes tools they need, UF/IFAS is providing
ART DIRECTOR in South Florida. To bring the trouble- leadership for the Interregional
Tracy D. Zwillinger some tree under control, scientists with Research Project No. 4.
UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural
GRAPHIC DESIG R Sciences are working with state
Elecia J. Crumpton
and federal agencies on the new Bal g At in
CONTRIBUTORS TAME Melaleuca project. Balancing Act in the Tropics
Patti Bartlett In the tropical forests of Latin America,
Tim Lockette the need to balance conservation and
8 economic development is the goal of the
COPY EDITORS Living on the Edge new Integrated Graduate Education and
Chana J. Bird 7 On the edge of the tropics, Florida is Research Traineeship program, which
Mary Chichester the perfect place for all sorts of unwanted is administered by UF/IFAS.
plants, pests and diseases to gain a foothold.
For information about UF/IFAS To keep invasives out of the state -
programs, call or e-mail Donald and control the ones that are already 32 Safety First
W Poucher, assistant vice president here UF/IFAS researchers are
for marketing and communications, developing a variety of effective [ A new UF/IFAS extension education
(352) 392-0437; info@ifas.ufl.edu management programs. program presented in Spanish -
is helping thousands of immigrant farm
To change an address, request L -J workers in South Florida learn about
extra copies of IMPACT, or to be 14 Caribbean Connection safety and avoid accidents.
added to the mailing list, e-mail
Chuck Woods, ctw@ifas.ufl.edu, or Tropical and Subtropical Agricultural
write Chuck Woods, P.O. Box 110025, Research also known as T-STAR 3 Hot Tomato!
University of Florida, Gainesville, is a partnership involving UF/IFAS and
FL, 32611-0025. universities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Solar Fire, a heat-tolerant tomato variety
Virgin Islands. With support from the U.S. developed by UF/IFAS researchers, can set
IMPACT is available in alternative Department of Agriculture, more than 80 fruit at high temperatures, giving Florida
formats. Visit our Web site: research projects are currently underway growers a new option for improving
impact.ifas.ufl.edu to improve the quality of life for people production during the summer.
in Florida and the Caribbean region.
The Summer 2003 issue of IMPACT
included an article on an Extension 18 Orchidaceous!
nutrition program for Hispanics. The
Summer '03 article was an update of Next to poinsettias, orchids are now the
an earlier story written by Paul Kimpel, leading potted flowering plant produced
who was not credited for the story. in Florida, generating more than $23
Also, the photo on page 28 of that issue million in annual farmgate sales.
should have been credited to Milt Putnam.
IMPACT regrets these omissions.

.I "'-In Florida, where large-scale production of orchids is booming, the University of Florida's Institute
of Food and Agricultural Sciences is providing valuable research and education for consumers, growers
~i p *q. and students. Pictured is a Doritaenopsis hybrid orchid (Dtps. Happy Smile x Dtps. King Shang's Rose).
4 1 Cover photo by Josh Wickham. (STORY O N PAG E 18).


', j,




throughout South Florida, displacing native plant and animal communities, drying up

wetlands, creating fire hazards and threatening the stability of the Everglades ecosystem.

To bring the troublesome tree under control, scientists with the University of Florida's

Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are working with state and federal

agencies on the new TAME Melaleuca project. BY CHUCK WOODS


4 IMPACT I Summer 2004
4 IMPACT I Summer 2004

where invasive "The good news is that various
exotic plants account for as much as 31 government agencies have been able
percent of all plant species, melaleuca to clear melaleuca from almost 100,000
is one of the most significant threats acres of publicly owned natural areas
to biodiversity. such as Big Cypress National Preserve,
Imported from Australia as an the Lake Okeechobee marsh and the
ornamental plant that would help Everglades," Langeland said. "The bad
"dry up useless swamps,' melaleuca news is that the tree is still spreading
has behaved badly invading a wide rapidly on privately held lands where
variety of natural landscapes in South there are no controls resulting in
Florida. Everything from wetland a no-net loss of melaleuca. Dense
marshes and prairies to cypress domes forests of melaleuca now occur mainly
and pine flatwoods is affected, and on private lands in Broward, Miami-
one mature tree can hold as many Dade, Palm Beach, Lee, Martin and
as 50 million seeds. Collier counties."
By the early 1900s, only 50 years Langeland said the TAME project is
after it was introduced, melaleuca using an integrated pest management
had spread over hundreds of thousands approach to control melaleuca.
of acres. In 1967, it was found in "Combining different management
Everglades National Park, and by 1993 control options will be more effective
it covered 488,000 acres in South than any one method alone," Langeland
Florida. Melaleuca is now listed by said. "The goal is to stop new infesta-
federal and state agencies as a noxious tions and treat existing infestations
weed, making it illegal to possess, sell, before they spread and become even
cultivate or transport in Florida. more difficult to control."
"The tree invades moist, open habi- He said aerial spraying of herbicide
tats, forming dense, often impenetrable is effective for large stands of melaleuca.
stands of trees," said Ken Langeland, a Ground crews are used to girdle trees
professor of agronomy in the University and apply herbicide to individual trees.
of Florida's Institute of Food and Cutting melaleuca trees will not kill
Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). the stump or the roots, so herbicide
"Native wildlife is threatened because must be applied to the cut surfaces
the tree crowds out beneficial native to prevent regrowth. Flooding doesn't OF PAUL PRATT
plants. It's also a serious fire hazard kill mature trees but may kill some
because oils in the leaves burn hot seedlings or prevent them from Melaleuca quinguenervia is a large tree up to 100-feet tall
with whitish, spongy, peeling bark. It has dark-green narrow
and are difficult to extinguish." becoming established on flooded soils. leaves that smell like camphor when they are crushed. It also has
Langeland, a specialist on aquatic And while fire may destroy seedlings numerous white bottlebrush flowers and clusters of woody seed
and invasive plants, is chairman of and saplings, it won't kill mature trees capsules along the stems.
the technology transfer team for the and actually helps release and spread
TAME (The Area-wide Management the seeds. Heavy equipment, which
Evaluation) Melaleuca project, a multi- is difficult to use in remote areas with
agency demonstration program estab- dense melaleuca, may harm soils and
lished in 2001 by the U.S. Department native plants.
of Agriculture in cooperation with
the South Florida Water Management
District and UF/IFAS. The melaleuca
control program includes eight demon-
stration sites in South Florida. To learn more about the TAME Melaleuca

SI project, visit

IMPACT I Summer 2004 5

"The best long-term management a problem in South Florida's fragile
option may be biological control, environment. Neither biocontrol
Biocontrol involves the importation insect is a threat to people, animals
of agents, such as host-specific insects, or other plants."
to naturally control invasive species In 1997, the melaleuca weevil
like melaleuca. After 16 years of (Oxyops vitiosa) was released to control
research, five biocontrol insects have melaleuca by feeding on leaves. By
been imported from Australia, and two the end of 2002, the weevil was estab-
have been released in South Florida lished in 12 South Florida counties,
by USDA and UF/IFAS researchers. reducing seed production by about
"We have been seeking effective 80 percent on trees they attack.
"biological control agents for melaleuca In 2002, the melaleuca psyllid and project manager; Jim Cuda, an assistant
since 1986," said Paul Pratt, TAME (Boreioglycaspis melaleucae) was professor in the UF/IFAS entomology and
project leader at the USDA Invasive released. About the size of a gnat nematology department in Gainesville;
Plant Research Laboratory located at or small ant, the psyllid feeds on Alan Hodges, an associate in the UF/IFAS
the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research melaleuca's clear sap, severely food and resource economics department;
and Education Center. Pratt also is a damaging seedlings, and William Overholt, an assistant profes-
courtesy assistant professor at the "Unlike the weevil, which is sor of entomology at the UF/IFAS Indian
UF/IFAS center. restricted to dry habitats, the River Research and Education Center
"Since melaleuca trees are native melaleuca psyllid can become estab- in Fort Pierce.
to Australia, we searched for and found lished in any melaleuca-infested area:'
two natural enemies of melaleuca in Pratt said. "We expect this will provide
that country," he said. "Both releases more effective control of the tree." KEN LANGELAND (352)392-9614
were made after an extensive quaran- Other scientists working on the kal@ifas.ufl.edu
tine period and careful testing to TAME project include Cressida PAUL PRATT (954) 475-0541, ext. 105
make sure the insects will not become Silvers, a USDA entomologist prattp@saa

The TAME Melaleuca technology "The two bugs will not completely For mail orders, there is a $20
transfer team also includes UF/IFAS kill melaleuca trees, but they will handling and shipping fee for each
county extension agents such as John defoliate trees and cause them to insect order. For those who visit the
Brenneman in Polk and Hillsborough flower less often, providing effective UF/IFAS Extension Service at 8400
counties and Ken Gioeli in St. Lucie control of trees over a period of time," Picos Road in Fort Pierce and collect
County. Gioeli said. "The natural biocontrols their own bugs at the site, there is no
Thanks to Gioeli, the melaleuca are environmentally friendly, easy fee. The bugs can be ordered by calling
pysllid and melaleuca weevil are to apply and less expensive than Gioeli or downloading order forms from
now available by mail order for South chemical herbicides." his Web site: http://kgioeli.ifas.ufl.edu/
Florida residents who want to help Gioeli, a natural resources expert,
control the invasive tree on their own said the bugs will be shipped to resi- FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
property. Getting the beneficial insects dents in South Florida or wherever KEN GIOELI (772) 462-1660
is as easy as a phone call or visit to melaleuca is a problem. He said the ktgioeli@ifas.ufl.edu
his Web site. natural enemies are shipped in small
Gioeli is raising large numbers plastic containers and survive well
of the bugs in his "honeypot," a term during transit. The mail order pack-
commonly used by scientists to ages include approximately 25 to 40 :
describe an insect-rearing facility weevils and 15 melaleuca branch
or insectory. tips inoculated with psyllids.

6 IMPACT I Summer 2004 --

Double Trouble


Melaleuca is also a good host for the .
lobate lac scale, serving as a breeding s .
ground where large numbers of larvae
are free to spread to valued landscape
and native plants, said Forrest Howard, i.
an associate professor of entomology
at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale
Research and Education Center.
The insect no bigger than a
pinhead could become the most
difficult problem yet for gardens and
natural areas in South Florida. Native l s
to India and Sri Lanka, it was first n
found in Broward County in 1999,
and now it's been found on more than .
200 species of plants in South Florida. _
It attacks native species such as wax-
myrtle, cocoplum, red bay, wild-coffee
and strangler-fig as well as ornamental
and fruit trees such as mango, ficus,
black-olive, lychee and star-fruit. ABOVE: Forrest Howard examines a silver buttonwood ornamental shrub, which is a host for lobate lac scale.
Of all trees, wax-myrtles are the Photo by Marisol Amador. INSET: Lobate lac scales can be identified by their unusual four-lobed appearance.
most susceptible to the scale, Howard
said. Wax-myrtles are an important the U.S. Department of Agriculture's but in some cases they cannot be used
berry-producing tree for birds in Invasive Plant Research Laboratory on fruit trees. Furthermore, control
South Florida. in Fort Lauderdale, and Ru Nguyen, with insecticides is not appropriate for
"The wide-range of hosts makes an entomologist at the Florida use in natural areas where lobate lac
lobate lac scale especially troubling"' Department of Agriculture and scale is a severe problem."
he said. "Evidence of their sap-sucking Consumer Services Division of Plant He said biocontrol offers the
destruction includes blackened leaves Industry in Gainesville. best long-term solution to the scale
and branches, branch dieback and Howard is studying the biology problem, but a great deal of research
even death for susceptible shrubs of the scale insect and developing must precede any introduction of
and trees." chemical controls for it; Pemberton biological control agents to insure
Worse yet, the lobate lac scale is testing several different tiny, non- that they do not negatively effect
(Paratachardina lobata) may eventually stinging wasps that he collected in the environment.
spread to other areas of Florida. southern Asia as biocontrol agents; Residents who want to treat lobate
Experiments are in progress to deter- and Nguyen is developing mass-rearing lac scale should contract their local
mine how well it will survive in cooler techniques for the biocontrol agents. UF/IFAS county extension service
areas of the state, Howard said. "Since lobate lac scale is a relatively office for information. U
To develop more effective control new pest, we urgently need better
measures, including biocontrol for ways to control it," Howard said.
the scale, Howard is working with "Certain pesticides are effective on FORREST HOWARD (954) 577-6332
Bob Pemberton, an entomologist at insect pests of ornamental plants, fwhoward@ufl.edu

An online publication about lobate lac scale and its host plants may be
found at "" // .edu/orn/scales/l obate_
IMPACT I Summer 2004 7



geographical location on the edge of the tropics
provides near ideal conditions for a wide range of pests, diseases and invasive
plants that threaten agriculture, natural resources and the environment. To stop
these destructive invaders from the tropics and other parts of the globe, scientists
at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are
ramping up their research and education programs across the state. BYCHUCKWOODS


8 IMPACT I Summer 2004


Brazilian pt pl. r t r I.. c 1...ii
canker that could devastate Florida's $9 1 -llIi, :!til t idu.. ti I .1
to exotic heartwater disease that kills li I.. k ;cin l 'lli k. I! .
the Sunshine State is under siege as ne- r .tc e
Dozens of dangerous insect pests, dis,., n- d i. :,.i'. ...
plants have already found their way int.,. t I- r art. a, d
others are lurking offshore waiting io0 tih chance to
gain a foothold and cause irreparable damage to agriculture ABOVE: Jim Cuda, right, and Kenyatta Nichols, a laboratory technician, count eggs
and the environment. An estimated 15 to 20 new insect of Brazilian peppertree insects in their quarantine laboratory at the entomology
and nematology department in Gainesville. Photo byJosh Wickham. INSET: Yuncong
species invade the state every year, and many become major Li conducts a soil analysis in his laboratory at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education
plant pests. Invasive plants displace native vegetation and Center in Homestead. He said Brazilian peppertree is being controlled on 3,000 acres of
disrupt ecosystems. Most invasive flourish in Florida abandoned farmland in the Everglades National Park by excavating the soil from infested
ecosystems. Most vasives sites and allowing them to be repopulated by native vegetation. Photo by Thomas Wright.
because the natural enemies that control them in their
native lands are absent.
The fact that Florida is a major international tourist desti- Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolius), one
nation and trading partner with many nations also increases of the most widespread invasive plants in Florida, was intro-
the risk of more problems down the road. And, worse yet, duced as an ornamental shrub-to-tree from South America
the tropical invaders could threaten the nation's biosecurity. in the 1840s. Now it's the target of an integrated weed
But researchers with the University of Florida's Institute management program that includes biological, chemical and
of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), who work mechanical controls, said Jim Cuda, an assistant professor
with other state and federal scientists, are making of entomology in Gainesville and chair of the Interagency
progress against the intruders. Brazilian Peppertree Management Task Force.
One new line of defense is the Biological Control "The Brazilian peppertree sawfly, one of several biological
Research and Containment Laboratory at the UF/IFAS control agents being studied by UF/IFAS entomologists,
Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce. could be approved for release this year by federal officials',
Jointly managed with the Florida Department of Agriculture said Cuda, who also is project leader for the Brazilian
and Consumer Services, the 17,000-square-foot facility Peppertree Biological Control Program.
opened in June 2004. Cuda and his colleagues found the wasplike sawfly
Bill Overholt and Ronald Cave, assistant professors (Heteroperreyia hubrichi) in the forests of southeastern Brazil,
of entomology at the Fort Pierce center, said the primary where it feeds on the leaves of Brazilian peppertree. Their
mission of the $3.7 million facility will be to contain, research shows that growth and reproduction of the plant
evaluate and release natural predators and other is reduced by repeated defoliations caused by the developing
organisms to control invasive plants and pests, larvae. He said the sawfly will be released into the Florida
"We are working with state and federal scientists to environment only after extensive testing to make sure it
test and evaluate biological control organisms before is not a danger to nontarget plants and animals.
they are released into the Florida environment;' Overholt Meanwhile, in the Florida Everglades where Brazilian
said. "The research will ensure that insects, mites and peppertree has invaded more than 6,000 acres of farmland -
nematodes being used for control of invasives will not creating an area known as "the Hole in the Donut" because
feed on unintended plants or other living matter." it threatens Everglades restoration federal officials are
Overholt said their research program is focusing on controlling the plant the old-fashioned way: they're
three invasive plants: Brazilian peppertree, air potato digging up the plants and the soil beneath them.
and West Indian marsh grass. All three are on the Florida Yuncong Li, an associate professor at the UF/IFAS
Exotic Pest Plant Council's Category 1 List, which includes Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead,
plants that are considered the most invasive in the state, said the Brazilian peppertree has been removed on about
Additional invasive plants will be targeted in the future 3,000 acres, and native vegetation is beginning to
as the program expands, he said. replace the invasive tree.

IMPACT I Summer 2004 9

The air potato, an exotic yam that probabi .:3!1itu ..r
Africa, has invaded tropical hammocks and pic- latid-. iI,
23 Florida counties. It rapidly climbs to the r,-.p :a tr,-:,
canopies, robbing existing vegetation of sunlliht .! d iut i.I
ents. To learn more about the invasive weed .aii: d_,i t-Ir.,
effective controls for it, UF/IFAS scientists air ,,- Q! k0i. i
cooperation with the Crops Research Institute in Ghana
ABOVE: Harold Browning, left, and Jim Graham examine citrus trees inoculated with citrus
and Makerere University in Uganda. Overholt said bacterial spot, which is closely related to citrus canker. Their work at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research
researchers have identified several insects that might and Education Center evaluates the effectiveness of chemicals that induce resistance to both
serve as biocontrols, and these may be brought to the of these bacterial diseases.
new Ft. Pierce facility within the next two years.
West Indian marsh grass is a semiaquatic invader of Florida is currently fighting three separate outbreaks
wet nds tat has c etey taken over large marh of citrus canker, the worst since the initial outbreak in
wetlands that has completely taken over large marsh
areas in Myakka River State Park and the west side of Lake 1912. And UF/IFAS researchers are playing a key role
in the battle.
Okeechobee. Overholt said an insect that attacks the grass
was discovered in Florida in 2000, and research will deter- Jim Graham, a professor of soil and water science at
the Lake Alfred center, is working on the detection and
mine its host range and impact on the invasive plant. the ae lred ceer is woriand
In addition to Brazilian peppertree, air potato and West spread ofthe disease The research shows how canker
I a o a air p t a W bacterium is dispersed by thunderstorms as well as hurri-
Indian marsh grass, UF/IFAS researchers are developing b e riu is d ersd b t ror as e as
canes and tornadoes in subtropical Florida. The disease
biological controls for other invasive plants such as straw- canes and tornadoes i tro or
berry guava, which is a major host of the adventive also can be easily spread by harvesting personnel and
urban residents who move infected plant materials.
Caribfly as well as other insect pests and diseases.
The research findings have helped state agricultural
officials establish new rules that stopped outbreaks of
canker by extending the radius for tree removal around
When it comes to highly contagious diseases that infected trees from 125 feet to 1,900 feet. Graham also
threaten Florida $9 billion citrus industry, citrus canker leads research that identified strains of the bacterium
is at the top of list. that are responsible for current and past outbreaks
"We can live with other pest and disease problems, of canker findings that helped agricultural officials
but canker is something we must eradicate," said Harold trace the origin of new infections.
Browning, director of the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and "With the new technologies, regulators can now survey,
Education Center in Lake Alfred. detect and eliminate the disease more rapidly, and quickly
"If canker became established in Florida, it would have reduce the size and scope of quarantines," Graham said.
a severe impact on interstate and international shipments "However, if canker were to become permanently estab-
of fresh citrus fruit, which comprise about 20 percent of lished in Florida, growers would have to manage the
the state's citrus industry," Browning said. "When the disease by spraying more chemicals on citrus varieties,
disease is severe, defoliation, dieback and fruit drop such as grapefruit, that lack disease resistance."
can occur, and the fruit may be unmarketable." Dean Gabriel, a professor in the plant pathology
Over the past century, the Sunshine State has fought department in Gainesville, has developed methods for rapid
off at least four invasions of the bacterial disease, which on-site detection of the disease, and the state agriculture
probably originated in Asia, and those victories have come department is now using the test. He also is evaluating how
at a high cost. Many groves have been quarantined and citrus responds to canker and investigating mechanisms to
cleared of citrus trees, and many dooryard citrus trees provide citrus with resistance to the disease. If the industry
in residential areas have been destroyed to prevent is forced to live with canker in the future, genetic resistance
spread of the disease, to canker is the ultimate solution, he said.

10 IMPACT I Summer 2004

The outbreak of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform .
encephalopathy (BSE), showed how disruptive animal
illnesses can be to the nation's cattle industry. To guard : .
against another deadly animal disease called heartwater, -'*i
UF/IFAS scientists have developed a new vaccine and .. ,,.
other control measures.
The research will help protect U.S. livestock and wildlife Michael Burridge examines cattle for ticks. Photo by Thomas Wright.
from the deadly African tick-borne disease that has already
spread from Africa to the eastern Caribbean.
"Obviously, we're dealing with something we need to keep To check for the presence of the disease, particularly in
out of this country," said Michael Burridge, a UF/IFAS profes- animals being brought into the United States, the UF/IFAS
sor of pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine. researchers have developed two new diagnostic blood tests
"Like mad cow disease, heartwater is another foreign-animal that now are available to laboratories. "Until now, the only
disease worry for state and national cattle producers." way to detect the disease was by a brain biopsy, which is
Heartwater attacks blood vessels, particularly in the not practical under field conditions," Mahan explained.
brain. Once infected, up to 90 percent of infected animals Burridge, who directs the heartwater project, said one
die. The disease does not affect humans and it cannot be of the main objectives of regulatory officials now is to
transmitted by eating meat. eradicate the tropical bont tick in Caribbean countries and
He said the tick that spreads the disease known as prevent the disease from spreading to the U.S. mainland.
the tropical bont tick would thrive in the Southeast To kill the ticks on livestock, UF/IFAS researchers have
United States where heartwater could decimate cattle, developed a tropical bont tick decoy an inexpensive, envi-
sheep, goat and deer populations. And, he said, once the ronmentally sound tag that can be attached to the ears, neck
disease is established in the wild deer population, it and tail of livestock. The tag has both pheromones to attract
would be impossible to eradicate, ticks and a slow-release pesticide that spreads over the
The new vaccine a breakthrough by UF/IFAS animal's body and kills ticks for at least three months.
researchers has been under development for more than "Because tick decoys cannot be placed on wild animals,
10 years. Described as "a conventional inactivated vaccine," we have also developed a tick control system for deer and
it has been successfully field tested in South Africa by other wildlife. The novel self-medicating applicator is
Suman Mahan, a UF/IFAS veterinary scientist based in attached to a feeding trough, and it applies pesticide
Pretoria. Mahan and Burridge are working with Intervet passively in a stress-free manner to animals as they feed
International in Boxmeer, Netherlands, a leading manufac- from the trough," Burridge said. "This device is known as
turer of animal vaccines, to commercialize the vaccine, the AppligatorTM, and prototypes have already been manu-
"The real breakthrough is that we now have developed factured for UF by U.S. and South African companies.
a safe vaccine that protects animals from death from heart- Since 1985, the UF/IFAS heartwater research project
water under field conditions when the tick challenge is has received more than $16 million in grants from the U.S.
very heavy," Mahan said. Agency for International Development (USAID). Burridge
Another concern, he said, is that the disease could said UF is the lead agency in the Heartwater Control Global
enter the United States on wild animals imported for zoos Development Alliance, a new AID-funded initiative that is
or conservation and breeding purposes. The disease is wide- moving research from the laboratory to the commercial
spread in livestock and wildlife in Africa. And, animals marketplace.
may look healthy but still carry the disease.

IMPACT I Summer 2004 11

SI Sharp t Ii-,i,. ma!..ke, trle plant's foliage unpalatable,
uI- t I -t: I -..-i Id .l n al. s and birds that eat the fruit
h1lp rad teie -& l. .. Mature plants can produce 50,000
:l. iI. hr -, inl i uindt ter a wide range of conditions.
WSithd, il... naar b. .pl -afd by compost, sod and moving

P: tr.I-: ha: i!ic ;rcd A. ali the weed have less area
a..,lall- t-r C..:ttl" :4 1.l -!g, which means the stocking
Iate. thp ,,l. i lbel ,-t .animals per acre must be
iIdL.,_l dI, Cl_- .tt,.ln.r.ti id.
Until ro.-" uith n!pl, o; a, to control the weed was with
s e t-, i mI I. I -' ,r a3 lit- mical herbicides. But, Charudattan
"0...1 d. i p p t %l1. !' -,c is L,:! ag._- 1. a problem for the cattle industry
b1 ..i.-ti .-,1 p-. i ble It -n ial residues in milk and meat.
H i; la tc':. h ihaI ;,-, ni that a common plant virus can
1c ,,,:d t, kil rit-pic.iI ':,da apple, and he is seeking
C!_'s b!cin ',l! tl!e rt ar pitroduce and market the virus
.ta :iitual I,:.,,tiu, ,i bioherbicide.
"Di s ngr a .i!, ti l reoaniswnation of several plant pathogens
for their ability to cause disease on tropical soda apple, we
discovered that tobacco mild green mosaic virus (TMGMV)
kills the weed;' he said. "Tests in pastures demonstrated the
Raghavan Charudattan examines a tropical soda apple plant in his laboratory. ius u d 9 et o t ed
Photo by Marisol Amador. virus kills up to 97 percent of the weed."
To determine which plants may be vulnerable to the
virus, Charudattan is testing the virus on some 300 different
plant species, including other weeds and cultivated plants.
With a name that sounds like an exotic new drink, The virus does not affect people or animals.
tropical soda apple has been more aptly described as "We know that some varieties of tobacco and peppers
the "plant from hell;' according to UF/IFAS researchers are susceptible, but the virus can be used safely in areas
who have developed a natural way to control the rapidly where tobacco and peppers are not grown:' he said.
spreading weed. The virus, which can be applied easily and inexpensively
"The highly invasive plant, which forms a dense and with a back-pack sprayer, is effective against tropical soda
thorny thicket that is impenetrable to animals and people, apple under a wide range of temperatures and in year-
has been classified by the federal government as one of the round growing conditions, he said.
nation's most noxious weeds," said Raghavan Charudattan, Other UF plant pathologists working with Charudattan on
a professor of plant pathology in Gainesville. "In Florida the tropical soda apple project are Ernest Hiebert, a professor
and seven southeastern states, it's literally taking over, emeritus; James DeValerio and Mark Elliott, senior biological
displacing native plant species in infested areas.":' scientists; and Jonathan Horrell, a graduate student. Edward
He said the weed, native to South America, is a serious Jennings, Sumter County extension director, and Joseph
environmental threat to natural areas, and it's become Walter, Brevard County extension agent, are also working
a major problem for the beef and dairy cattle industries, on the project.

12 IMPACT I Summer2004

In 2000, when a Broward County resident spotted
a strange-looking, fuzz-covered insect in his garden,
state regulatory officials and UF/IFAS scientists acted
quickly to control the pest.
"We knew it was only a matter of time before the
pink hibiscus mealybug found its way into Florida from
the Caribbean, and we were ready when it showed up,
said Lance Osborne, a professor of entomology at the
UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center
in Apopka. "If we had not acted quickly, the pest would
be a serious problem all over the state by now.
The tiny insect with a pink body covered in white
hairlike wax filaments can quickly strip a plant of its
leaves and kill it. The pest attacks more than 100 plant
varieties, including citrus, ornamentals, sugarcane and
tomatoes. This species of mealybug also produces a
toxin that causes significant damage to the plant. In
the Caribbean, the mealybug killed 100-year-old trees.
Each female lays up to 800 eggs, so mealybugs rapidly
develop large populations.
Because the pest found here was in an urban setting,
the only real option for managing the pest over the long
term is with an effective biological control program,
Osborne said.
He said officials with the state agriculture department's
Division of Plant Industry and the U.S. Department of
Agriculture met the mealybug invasion with natural enemies
imported from the Caribbean. And while imported parasitic
wasps have been effective in controlling the pest, they
won't be able to eliminate the invasive bug completely.
Osborne and other UF researchers are testing chemical
treatments that will control the bugs in commercial nurseries TOP, BOTTOM LEFT: Lance Osborne examines ornamental plants used for mealybug
where there is zero tolerance for this particular pest. E experiments at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka.
BOTTOM RIGHT: Mealybugs on ornamental plant. Photos by Marisol Amador.


HAROLD BROWNING (863) 956-1151, ext. 1215 DEAN GABRIEL (352) 392-7239
hwbrowning@ifas.ufl.edu gabriel@biotech.ufl.edu

MIKE BURRIDGE (352) 392-4700, ext. 3131 JIM GRAHAM (863) 956-1151, ext. 1297
burridge@ufl.edu jhgraham@ifas.ufl.edu

RON CAVE (772) 468-3922, ext. 145 ERNEST HIEBERT (352) 392-3631, ext. 216
rdcave@ifas.ufl.edu ehi@ifas.ufl.edu

RAGHAVAN CHARUDATTAN (352) 392-3631, ext. 354 YUNCONG LI (305) 246-7001, ext. 282
rc@ifas.ufl.edu yunli@ifas.ufl.edu

JIM CUDA (352) 392-1901, ext. 126 SUMAN MAHAN (352) 392-4700, ext. 5838
jcuda@ifas.ufl.edu yunli@ifas.ufl.edu

IMPACT I Summer2004 13



In a l.iique p ,::, r ::: ." ip that connects scientists in the Caribbean basin,
the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is working
with the University of Puerto Rico and the University of the Virgin Islands


to promote tropical and subtropical agricultural research. Operating under the
T-STAR acronym, the program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
to improve the quality of life for people in tropical and subtropical regions of
the United States. A similar T-STAR program in the Pacific basin includes
the University of Hawaii and the University of Guam. BYCHUCKWOODS


14 IMPACT I Summer 2004

P ...

EVER SINCE ir .,::,-,ral

citrus, ornamental plants, root crops, ABOVE: Rita Duncan, left, senior biologist, and Jorge Pefia examine Diaprepes root weevils being reared
tropical fruit crops and grasses. in a laboratory at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead. Photo by Thomas Wright.
Estimates show the weevil infests INSET: Adult Diaprepes root weevils (Diaprepes bbreviatus).
more than 100,000 acres of citrus
and causes more than $70 million Basin Group. The U.S. Department that seals the leaves together, protecting
in damage annually, of Agriculture's Cooperative State the eggs. Diaprepes eggs also are laid
"Despite all the damage, there Research, Education and Extension on broad-leafed plants, grasses and
is some good news;' says Jorge Pefia, Service (CSREES) provides $9 million palm fronds. The parasitic wasps
a professor of entomology with the in annual funds for the T-STAR deposit their eggs into Diaprepes
University of Florida's Institute of program, which includes $4.2 million weevil eggs, preventing the weevils
Food and Agricultural Sciences for the Caribbean group. from emerging.
(UF/IFAS), who started a biological Pefia said biological control is Working with the Florida
control program that uses wasps to appealing as a pest management tool Department of Agriculture and
attack the eggs of the Diaprepes root because it relies on natural predators Consumer Services and various grower
weevil. The wasps prevent weevils instead of pesticides. Biocontrol is also organizations, Pefia has released more
from reproducing, nontoxic and often self-sustaining, than 363,000 wasps of the species
With the help of funding from Since the wasps attack Diaprepes Ceratogramma etiennei since 1998,
the Tropical and Subtropical root weevil eggs in Puerto Rico, more than 160,000 Quadrastichus
Agricultural Research (T-STAR) Guadeloupe and other Caribbean haitiensis since 1999 and more than
program, Pefia, in cooperation with countries, Pefia's first goal was to 50,000 Aprostocetus vaquitarum
other researchers, imported three import the wasps from the islands to since 1999.
tiny wasps from the Caribbean and see if they would become established
released them in five South Florida in Florida. He brought three different .
counties. Early tests indicate the wasp parasites into the state, placed
wasps are providing effective control them under quarantine conditions
of the weevil, and then released them in test plots.
"Pefia's work is a prime example The three parasites are identified
of how the T-STAR program supports by the following scientific names:
and enhances our research programs," Quadrastichus haitiensis, Ceratogramma
said John Neilson, program manager of etiennei and Aprostocetus vaquitarum.
the partnership that involves UF/IFAS, Pefia, based at the UF/IFAS Tropical
the University of Puerto Rico and the Research and Education Center in
University of the Virgin Islands. Homestead, said female Diaprepes
Neilson, based at UF/IFAS in weevils lay their eggs in concealed John Neilson said the primary goal of the T-STAR
Gainesville, oversees more than 80 sites, usually in the space between program is to develop high quality and useful agri-
T-STAR projects at the three land-grant two adjacent leaves. Weevil egg masses cultural research that is relevant to industry needs.
Visit http://research.ifas.ufl.edu/TSTAR/ for more
universities in the T-STAR Caribbean are deposited in a gelatinous cement information. Photo by Thomas Wright.

IMPACT I Summer 2004 15



LEFT: Papaya ringspot virus symptoms. ABOVE: Mike Davis, left, and Jonathan Crane check for the presence
of ringspot on papaya plants at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead. Photos by Thomas
Wright. BELOW: Murat Balaban records data in his laboratory in the UF/IFAS food science and human nutrition
department in Gainesville. UF/IFAS file photo.

He said the wasps were released Another example of T-STAR's high pressure and at room tempera-
in Florida citrus groves, ornamental impact involves the production of ture to create juice that tastes just
plantings and undisturbed areas. papaya fruit, which is hampered by like it's freshly squeezed.
Ceratogramma etiennei wasp parasites an unusual strain of the papaya ringspot Murat Balaban, a professor in
have attacked Diaprepes eggs in Miami- virus. To combat the disease and help the UF/IFAS food science and human
Dade County. Quadrastichus haitiensis South Florida's small papaya industry nutrition department, said the process
parasites have been found in weevil meet the Latino community's growing could also be used to pasteurize other
eggs in Miami-Dade, Glades, Hendry demand for the fruit, researchers at the tropical fruit juices such as passion
and Polk counties, and Aprostocetus UF/IFAS Homestead center are using fruit juice, watermelon juice and
vaquitarum parasites have been recov- biotechnology to develop papaya trees coconut water.
ered from weevil eggs in Indian River that are resistant to the virus. Balaban, who helped develop
County. Pefia said that two of the Mike Davis, a professor of plant the process, said freshly squeezed
wasps are established in southern pathology, and Johnathan Crane, orange juice is mixed with pressurized
Florida, causing significant mortality a professor of horticultural sciences, carbon dioxide, and then the juice is
to weevil eggs. He hopes they will have tested genetically engineered depressurized and separated from the
become established across the state, papaya trees and found that only about gas, killing any harmful microorgan-
In fact, since their introduction, 6 percent of the trees are affected isms. This process also helps preserve
the wasps have begun to parasitize 35 by the virus. Meanwhile, almost all vitamins, increases product shelf life
percent to 100 percent of Diaprepes the regular papaya trees in a nearby and inactivates an enzyme that causes
root weevil eggs in different crops. test plot appear to be infected. The orange juice to separate. UF has a
"Although we're finding more and researchers said ringspot-resistant patent on the new process that is
more of the wasp parasites in citrus papaya varieties could be available licensed to Praxair Inc. in Chicago.
groves and ornamental plantings to South Florida growers in two or
which is good we need some three years, allowing the industry
additional studies to measure their to reach its potential.
effectiveness. We also need to learn T-STAR also is leading to the
how pesticide application affects the commercialization of a new pasteur-
survival of the imported wasp para- ization process for orange juice and
sites:' Pefia said. "We will continue other beverages. Unlike conventional
releasing the wasp parasites in Florida heat pasteurization, which may alter
and document how well they control the taste of orange juice, the new
Diaprepes root weevils." process uses carbon dioxide under

16 IMPACT I Summer 2004

The T-STAR program also has
been crucial to developing beef and
dairy cattle that are more tolerant to
high-temperature conditions in Florida
and the Caribbean region, said Tim
Olson, an associate professor in the
UF/IFAS animal sciences department.
"T-STAR funding supported Tim Olson inspects Holstein cattle at the UF/IFAS Dairy Research Unit near Gainesville. Calves with the slick-hair
research that documented that gene are being studied to develop beef and dairy cattle that are more tolerant to high-temperature conditions in
Senepol (Bos taurus) cattle from Florida and the Caribbean region. Photo by Marisol Amador.
Senepol (Bos taurus) cattle from
the island of St. Croix were as heat
tolerant as Brahman cattle," Olson being studied at the UF/IFAS Dairy emerge from poverty and develop
said. "And then we found that the Research Unit near Gainesville. He an improved quality of life.
heat tolerance is linked to a single said 12 embryo-transfer, predominantly "T-STAR projects frequently focus
gene named the 'slick-hair gene' Holstein calves were recently born at on insect pests and plant diseases that
because it produces a very short and the UF/IFAS Subtropical Agricultural represent a threat to U.S. agriculture,
shiny hair coat in Bos taurus cattle." Research Station in Brooksville, Fla. including the discovery and evaluation
Olson said that Holstein cattle Some of these may include the first of biological controls for pests of U.S.
with slick hair were first identified red and white, slick-haired Holsteins agricultural commodities," Neilson
in a Puerto Rico dairy several years to be homozygous having two said. "The program also includes
ago, and they produced over 20 copies of the slick-hair gene. research on the collection and
percent more milk than their "The primary goal of the T-STAR improvement of U.S. agricultural
normal-haired herdmates. program is to develop high-quality germplasm interests." U
"These cows apparently were and useful agricultural research that
the descendants of a single crossbred is relevant to industry needs," Neilson FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
- Holstein x native cow," Olson said. "Of course, the research also
said. "T-STAR is currently supporting should protect the environment, MURAT BALABAN (352) 392-1991, ext. 507
research in Puerto Rico that will enhance economic opportunities and mobalaban@ifas.ufl.edu
examine the effect of the slick-hair provide for the social well-being of MIKE DAVIS (305) 246-7001, ext. 213
gene in a number of dairies under people in tropical and subtropical mjd@ifas.ufl.edu
varying management systems. In regions of the United States."
JOHN NEILSON (352)392-7230
Florida, T-STAR is supporting The program was initiated by jtneilson@ifas.ufl.edu
the development of genetically supe- USDA in 1983 because Florida and
TIM OLSON (352)392-2367
rior Holsteins that also possess the other regions in the tropics and sub- olson@animal.ufl.edu
slick-hair gene." tropics have unique ecosystems,
Olson said calves with the slick- problems and opportunities, he said. JORGE PENA (305) 246-7001, ext. 223
hair gene, sired by one of the elite Often the people in these regions ee@fasufl.edu
bulls of the Holstein breed, are now are in minority groups struggling to

The primary goal of the T-STAR program is to develop high-quality

and useful agricultural research that is relevant to industry needs.


IMPACT I Summer 2004 17


.......... ..........

..~' ...................


AS THE MOST beautiful
orchids have a distinct and undeniable mystique.
With more than 25,000 identified species and 120,000
registered hybrids, they are the largest group of flowering
plants and the fastest growing segment of the nation's
$13 billion floriculture and nursery crops industry.
In Florida, where large-scale production of orchids
is booming, the University of Florida's Institute
of Food and Agricultural Sciences is providing
valuable research and education for consumers, '
growers and students. BY CHUCK WOODS

TOP, CENTER, LEFT: Phalaenopsis hybrids.
BOTTOM: Orchid production at Kerry's Bromeliad Nursery, Inc.
OPPOSITE: Ascocenda hybrid.
IMPACT I Summer2004 19

Orchid mania has spawned hundreds of orchid societies
across the nation. In South Florida alone, more than 20
societies meet every month. The American Orchid Society,
headquartered in Delray Beach, has nearly 30,000 members
nationwide. And there are orchid shows throughout the year,
including the world famous Miami International Orchid
Show sponsored by the South Florida Orchid Society
'n UF research on orchids dates back to 1957 when Tom
S. Sheehan, now a professor emeritus in the environmental
"horticulture department, studied proper fertilization
S, methods for using bark as an orchid growing medium.
Sheehan also began using tissue culture to multiply
clonal varieties and tested foliar application of fertilizer
on orchids. He remains active in national and interna-
tional organizations and orchid societies.
Tom Sheehan, right, and Candace Hollinger examine Phalaenopsis orchids Sheehan's most recent book, Ultimate Orchids, is being
in Hollinger's greenhouse in Gainesville. Sheehan and Hollinger are active
in the Gainesville Orchid Society and the American Orchid Society. Photo published in seven languages. With his late wife, Marion,
by osh Wickham. an assistant professor in the department, he co-authored
An Illustrated Guide to Orchid Genera. Together they authored
BEAUTY ALONE cannot explain our fascination several other books and more than 350 articles for various
with orchids. When it comes to variety, complexity and scientific journals or orchid publications.
elegance, orchidaceous plants are unlike any other. Over the past 10 years, the popularity of orchids
And, while orchids are common in the tropics, they has increased dramatically, thanks to new and improved
also grow wild under different climatic conditions on cultivation and propagation techniques that allow commercial
every continent except Antarctica. In North America, growers to produce large numbers of plants at affordable
orchid species are native to every state including prices for the consumer. In response to the growing demand
Alaska where "arctic orchids" have been identified. for orchids, the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education
Not surprisingly, orchids are the national flower in Center in Homestead has ramped up its ornamental research
many countries: Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, program and initiated an orchidology course. The course is
Guatemala, Indonesia and Singapore. In Venezuela, offered through the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life
"orchids are featured on the nation's currency. In the state Sciences, which was one of the first colleges in the nation
of Minnesota, the pink and white lady slipper (Cypripedium to offer a course in orchidology in the 1950s.
reginae) is the state flower.
Throughout South America during the 16th century,
English explorers pioneered orchid hunting, and there are
many accounts of hunters vanishing in the jungles without
a trace. The competitive nature of these early expeditions Next to poinsettias,
prompted some explorers to collect as many orchids as
possible and then burn the area to prevent others from orchids are now the leading potted
finding the same prized specimens a prime example
of early habitat destruction. flowering plant produced in Florida,
Once just a hobby for the landed gentry with the money,
time and patience to care for these exotic plants, orchid generating more than $23 million
growing is now an international business, and Florida
has become one of the nation's top commercial producers. in annual farmgate sales.
"Next to poinsettias, orchids are now the leading potted
flowering plant produced in Florida, generating more -TERRIL NELL
than $23 million in annual farmgate sales," said Terril
Nell, professor and chair of the UF/IFAS environmental
horticulture department.

20 IMPACT I Summer 2004

"in Homestead, one of the nation's largest orchid producers. Students inVendrame's orchid course frequently visit Herndon's
.3. ".. ." ...


ABOVE: Kerry Herndon, left, and Wagner Vendrame discuss commercial orchid production at Kerry's Bromeliad Nursery, Inc.
in Homestead, one of the nation's largest orchid producers. Students in Vendrame's orchid course frequently visit Herndon's
operation to learn about flowering pot-plant production. TOP, RIGHT: Phalaenopsis hybrid production Kerry's Bromeliad Nursery,
Inc. Photos by Marisol Amador.

Wagner Vendrame, an assistant professor of environ- Vendrame, who has developed a close working relation-
mental horticulture at the Homestead center, is using ship with commercial producers in South Florida, presents
tissue culture to clone and mass-produce orchids. To an orchid short course every other year in cooperation with
help reduce collection of specimens from the wild, he the Boca Raton Orchid Society.
and graduate student Philip Kauth are micropropagating "No longer a luxury item, orchids can be purchased at
Florida native orchid species for preservation purposes, prices comparable to other flowering pot plants," he said.
"Native orchid species that are rare or endangered "When a few basic cultural requirements are met, growing
could be multiplied and reintroduced to their natural orchids in the home environment can be a rewarding
habitats, greatly increasing their numbers:' Vendrame experience."
said. "If we can mass-produce some of our native Vendrame said species and hybrids of six orchid genera
orchids, they could be used in landscapes." are the most popular because they're easy to grow and produce
His orchidology course covers the basic principles beautiful flowers: Phalaenopsis, Dendrobium, Vanda, Cattleya,
of orchid biology, culture and commercial production. Oncidium and Epidendrum.
The course includes the history, morphology, propagation
and taxonomy of orchids as well as orchid pests and diseases,
and other cultural practices. Laboratory sessions and field
trips to South Florida nurseries provide students with
hands-on experience.

IMPACT I Summer2004 21



Phalaenopsis, the most popular potted Vanda is a genus whose popularity
orchid plant, is widely grown in Florida. With a flowering has increased dramatically, especially in tropical and sub-
period that may last up to three months and a short cycle tropical regions. Vandas are widely grown in Florida, and
from seedling to flower this genus and related hybrids hybridizers have produced a large number of multigeneric
are good candidates for mass production. They respond well crosses. They produce a dozen or more flowers ranging in
to Florida's warm, humid climate, producing long, arching size from two to four inches. Colors vary from white to
sprays of white or pink flowers that resemble a flight of variegated patterns of brown, green and pink to blue
moths, hence the common name "moth orchid." Thanks and purple. Ascocendas, hybrids between Vanda and
to hybridization, yellow, orange, red, spotted and two- Ascocentrum, have flowers that are about half the
tone varieties are available, size of those on Vandas.

Dendrobium is a large and diverse Oncidium is a large and diverse
genus with 1,500 species in the Pacific basin ranging genus with more than 1,200 species occurring naturally
from Japan to Australia and with many species and hybrids from Florida to Brazil. Flower color ranges from yellow and
under cultivation in Florida. The Dendrobium phalaenopsis brown or white and brown to purple, pink and red. This is
species and its hybrids are the most popular because they're a hardy orchid that will flower under adverse growing
easy to grow and produce lots of flowers that may remain conditions. When given proper care, Oncidiums
open for three or four weeks. Dendrobium has been the produce even more flowers.
backbone of the orchid cut-flower business for many years.
Epidendrum is one of the easiest
Cattleya is widely cultivated. Called and most prolific orchids to grow, producing many one-inch
the Queen of Flowers, it was the most popular orchid for pastel flowers most of the year. There are about 500 species
corsages until the 1960s. Thanks to intense hybridization that occur naturally from the coastal plain of North Carolina
for more than 150 years, there is a wide choice of sizes to Brazil. Reed-stem types can be grown in outdoor gardens
and flower colors. Florida has a several nurseries that in South Florida or in pots elsewhere.
specialize in the production of Cattleyas.

22 IMPACT I Summer 2004

When it comes to habitat, orchids can be terrestrial,
epiphytic (those that grow on other plants) or lithophytic
(those that grow on rocks). The habitat dictates the type
of growing medium to be used, Vendrame said.
"Terrestrial orchids will grow in any well-drained
medium that contains 40 percent or more organic matter
and nutrients, and provides good support and water-
holding capacity," he said.
Epiphytic media include bark, charcoal, coconut
fiber, fiber from tree ferns, peat, perlite, sphagnum moss
and combinations of these materials. Research has shown
that most species and hybrids will grow well and produce
flowers in these growing media when fertilization and Wagner Vendrame examines a vandaceous hybrid orchid at the UF/IFAS Tropical
irrigation are carefully adjusted. Most orchids require Research and Education Center in Homestead. In response to the growing demand
for orchids, the center has increased its ornamental research program and initiated
partial shade for optimum growth and flowering, an orchidology course that is offered through the College of Agricultural and Life
Vendrame said growing containers vary from plastic Sciences. Photo by Marisol Amador.
to clay pots and wire or redwood hanging baskets. Epiphytic
"orchids can be grown on slabs of tree fern, corkbark or Martin Motes, owner of Motes Orchids in Homestead,
directly on the trunk of trees. also is known worldwide for breeding excellent Vanda
As a general rule, Cattleya, Dendrobium, Epidendrum orchids. His book, Vandas: Their History, Botany and Culture,
and Oncidium orchids should be repotted every two or three soon will be available in a paperback edition. He also
years as the growing medium decomposes or new plant publishes a monthly email newsletter on growing orchids
growth extends over the container edge, he said. Phalaenopsis in South Florida. To subscribe, contact Motes at
and Vanda orchids do not need to be repotted as often. vandas@mindspring.com.
Vendrame's research and education program includes While some growers import "liners" or even full-grown
work with some of the leading commercial orchid plants from Thailand and finish growing them here, Motes
producers in South Florida. believes plants can be produced more cheaply in the United
Kerry Herndon, president of Kerry's Bromeliad Nursery, States, resulting in a better quality product for consumers
Inc., in Homestead, is the largest orchid grower in Florida and greater profits for growers.
and one of the two largest orchid growers in the world. Motes said: "We're working with UF to combine
"To produce high-quality orchids for the national market, their research and education programs with the experi-
"we have relied heavily on the scientists and technicians at ence of long-time orchid growers to bring the South
UF's Tropical Research and Education Center;' Herndon Florida orchid industry to a new level of sophistication
said. "Their expertise and experience has been very valuable and profitability." 0
to us and the orchid industry in South Florida. Several of
our employees are currently enrolled in the environmental FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
horticulture program at the center, which is a great benefit
to the grower community" TOM SHEEHAN (352) 376-9673
Bob Fuchs, president of R.F. Orchids in Homestead, tsheehan@ifas.ufl.edu
is known worldwide for breeding Vanda hybrids that win WAGNER VENDRAME (305) 246-7001, ext. 210
awards at orchid shows. Fuchs supports the UF research and wavendrame@ifas.ufl.edu
education program by donating plants and providing guided
field trips for students.
"Wagner Vendrame's work on orchids is an excellent
addition to the research and education center in Homestead,"
Fuchs said. "We're happy and proud to open our private
garden to his students on field trips so they can learn
how plants grow under different conditions.:'

IMPACT I Summer 2004 23

J .



Florida is a leader in the production of specialty crops. In fact, 98 percent
of all crops produced in the state fall into this category, including most fruits,
vegetables, herbs, nuts, nursery and flower crops. To make sure producers of these
high-value crops have the pest management products they need, the University
of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is providing leadership
for the Interregional Research Project No4.4. Funded by the U.S. Department
of Agriculture, the IR-4 Project includes four regions in the nation. The southern
region contains land-grant universities in 13 states and Puerto Rico. BY CHUCK WO


24 IMPACT I Summer 2004

WE LCO M E to the complex said Marty Marshall, a professor with specialty crops. One of several differ-
world of government regulations UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural ent, multistate projects in the nation,
and corporate marketing decisions Sciences. "There is no incentive for IR-4 also provides the economic incen-
that affect the availability of pesti- companies to help the little guy who's tives manufacturers need to support
cides for specialty crops. growing 300 acres of watercress:' a pesticide registration by EPA.
Since all crop protection products While the acreage for many of The IR-4 project, which is funded
must go through a lengthy and these specialty crops may be small, by the USDA Cooperative State
expensive testing process to earn the they are high-value crops. In Florida, Research Education and Extension
Environmental Protection Agency's seal the value of specialty crops exceeds Service and the USDA Agricultural
of approval, manufacturers need strong $4.7 billion annually, and that's why Research Service, helps growers
economic incentives to make sure that the Interregional Research Project remain economically viable in global
their investments in research and devel- No. 4 is so important, he said. markets, and provide a safe and
opment will pay off in the marketplace. Since 1963, the IR-4 project secure food supply.
For corn, cotton, soybeans and has provided safe and effective pest In 1976, the IR-4 program was
wheat crops that are grown on management solutions for specialty expanded to include registration
millions of acres manufacturers will crop growers, saving more than $1 of pest control products for nursery,
develop pesticides and go through the billion a year in crop losses in the floral, forestry, turf crops, forestry
regulatory hoops to obtain EPA product southern region that includes 13 seedlings and Christmas trees. In
registration. However, for specialty states and Puerto Rico, Marshall said. 1982, the program added biological
crops -usually 300,000 acres or less (In addition to Florida, the region control agents or biopesticides.

there is little or no incentive for includes Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia,
manufacturers to invest in the research Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi,
needed to obtain EPA product registra- Oklahoma, South Carolina, North
tion, leaving many producers without Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee
effective pest management options. and Texas.)
"The bottom line is that agrochemi- Marshall, who is director of the
cal manufacturers make their money southern region, said IR-4 is a partner-
controlling pests on millions of acres, ship of producers, manufacturers,
but they won't spend money to federal agencies and land-grant univer-
develop and register a product for a sities that develop field and laboratory
crop that is grown on a few thousand data needed by EPA to approve the use
acres or for a seldom-seen pest," of various pest management tools on


nir oect To learn more about the IR-4 project,
N.fL visit http://ir4.rutgers.edu

IMPACT Summer 2004 25

IMPACT 1 Summer2004 25

The 1996 Food Quality Protection Since its inception in the 1963,
Act requires greater emphasis on using the IR-4 Project has obtained more than
reduced-risk and safer chemicals, along 7,200 EPA registrations for specialty
with integrated pest management food crops and more than 10,000 orna-
(IPM) and biologically based products. mental clearances, Marshall said.
As a result, more than 80 percent of With the looming 2006 phase-out
products that IR-4 scientists now work of methyl bromide, an effective soil
on are reduced-risk chemicals. The fumigant that controls nematodes and
approval of safer products reduces other soil-borne pests, the IR-4 Project
toxic exposure to birds, fish, wildlife, is focusing on alternatives for this
beneficial organisms, human health product. The fumigant, which is used
and lowers the potential for groundwa- on many specialty crops, is being
ter contamination, Marshall said. phased out because it contributes to
In order for the program to respond the depletion of the Earth's protective
to the pest control needs of specialty ozone layer.
crop growers, project requests are Jim Gilreath, an associate professor
solicited from growers, commodity of horticultural sciences at the UF/IFAS
groups, university researchers and Gulf Coast Research and Education
extension personnel, USDA Center in Bradenton, and Joe Noling, a
researchers and other interested professor of nematology at the UF/IFAS
parties. The needs and goals of the Citrus Research and Education Center
program are summarized once a in Lake Alfred, are leading the effort to
year. In 2003, the IR-4 project identi- find cost-effective replacements for
fied 96 projects and scheduled 740 methyl bromide in Florida.
Jim Gilreath is one of several UF/IFAS scientists who field trials for new or expanded
are developing cost-effective replacements for methyl product registrations.
bromide in Florida.

T ;Ww'" r % r
A A& Aw,

XW~ r

~LLC qai4
*L iqL

PA AL.~' ~ *~~1~~~~=l

VA~~~Ti3J'U~ k~

Mike Aerts, assistant director of the
Environmental and Pest Management
Division of the Florida Fruit and '
Vegetable Association in Orlando, said
that over the years IR-4 has been ...
responsible for securing EPA registra-
tions for virtually every food
commodity produced in the state.
"It's hard to envision a sustainable
pest management system in Florida
agriculture without having IR-4 as a
partner in the crop protection registra- rHr
tion process," Aerts said. "The reality ..
in Florida is that we would have signif-
icantly fewer crop protection options
available to us without IR-4."
He said manufacturers understand-
ably hesitate obtaining registrations
for products to be used on minor Marty Marshall, foreground, and jau Yoh, southern region laboratory coordinator for the IR-4 project, use a high
commodities. "This hesitation stems performance liquid chromatograph with tandem mass spectrometers to analyze food for pesticide residues.
from the direct relationship between The equipment allows for the rapid identification and analysis of chemicals. Photo by Marisol Amador.
from the direct relationship between
limited production acreages and
limited potential economic returns,
and the fact that prominent liabili- commodities would for all intents Aerts said the funds directed toward
ties may be tacked onto inputs used and purposes never receive a priority the IR-4 project are "one of the best
in the production of high value for registration," Aerts said. taxpayer dollar investments Congress
specialty crops." "Others such as tropical fruit could make.:'
Aerts said the IR-4 project has filled producers would essentially never have
important voids in crop protection a chance to access newer chemistries, FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
management. For example, the IR-4 purely because their total acreages are
MARTY MARSHALL (352) 392-1978, ext. 405
project cleared the way for lettuce and limited," he said. "Thanks to IR-4, mrmarshall@ifas.ufl.edu
endive growers to use an effective various tropical fruits gained access
herbicide, thereby saving growers in this past year to Switch fungicide,
the state more than $2 million a year Admire insecticide and Knack and
in labor costs to remove weeds. Courier insect growth regulators."
"During the past year, fruiting
vegetables, Cole crops, herbs, leafy
Brassica crops, cucurbits, succulent UF/IFAS FILE PHOTOS
beans, potatoes, citrus, watercress,
blueberries and strawberries all
received access to new crop produc-
tion tools purely because of IR-4.
Without IR-4, crops such as okra,
Swiss chard and other similar

OPPOSITE: Specialty crops include cabbage, carambola, poinsettias,
marigolds, pine trees. THIS PAGE: red leaf lettuce, roses, azaleas.

IMPACT I Summer 2004 27

a -

FINDING THE RIGHT BALANCE between conserving Latin America's

tropical forests and using them for economic development is the goal of a new

University of Florida research and education program. Supported by a $2.8 million

grant from the National Science Foundation, the Integrated Graduate Education

and Research Traineeship program is a multidisciplinary, university-wide effort

administered by UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. BYCHUCKWOODS


28 IMPACT I Summer 2004

28 IMPACT i Summer2004

(Mexico, I :. ,. ..I,





.. ... )01ol

AT A TIME when vast areas of the Amazon and other Zarin, who directs the Integrated Graduate Education
tropical forests are being cleared for farming and economic and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, said it includes
development, University of Florida researchers are helping students and faculty in UF's College of Agricultural and
break the worrisome cycle of destruction with a new inter- Life Sciences and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
disciplinary research and education program. He said tropical forests in Brazil, Belize, Bolivia,
The UF effort is directed toward several tropical areas, Guatemala and Mexico are the main focus of the five-
including Brazil where satellite images show that over year program, which is supported by a $2.8 million grant
10,000 square miles of Amazon rainforest were cut down from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant
in 2003, about twice the annual rate of the 1990s. is administered by the UF/IFAS School of Forest
"The traditional starting point for conserving tropical Resources and Conservation.
forests has been the creation of parks that protect them In July 2003, the UF IGERT program also received
from people and development," said Daniel Zarin, an a $64,000 supplemental NSF grant to teach a course
associate professor of tropical forestry with UF's Institute in Brazil on forest policy in the Amazon. The course,
of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). "Parks conducted in Portuguese, is being offered jointly
are a critical cornerstone for conservation, but parks with three Brazilian universities.
alone will not suffice. Zarin said NSF awarded the grants to UF because of its
"In developing countries, the pressure to use tropical strong programs in tropical ecology and tropical conservation
forests for economic purposes is enormous, and that's why and development. Officially known as the Working Forests
the need for our new interdisciplinary research and training in the Tropics Program, the UF research and training effort
program is so great," he said. "There's a growing need for is linked to more than 20 cooperating institutions in Latin
trained professionals in tropical conservation and sustain- America, including universities, government agencies
able development who can solve real-world problems." and nongovernmental organizations.

IMPACT I Summer 2004 29

"the watershed, conserving biodiversity and sequestering
"carbon dioxide. Zarin said the economic value of these
services is now being recognized, and they're being bought
and sold in some pilot projects in the region.
UF graduate students are taking advantage of the oppor-
tunity to work in different tropical forest regions, including
the Amazon in Brazil, lowland areas in Bolivia and the Maya
"Forest in Belize, Guatemala and Mexico, he said.
"Like other UF doctoral programs, this one requires
ot s technical proficiency in a scientific discipline," Zarin said.
"And the cross-disciplinary components of the program
Amy Duchelle, left, and David Buck, IGERTfellows in the Working Forests in the Tropics
Program, use a Global Positioning System (GPS) to determine their location relative will provide the broader perspective generally lacking
to a land cover map of the northern Yucatan peninsula during their March 2004 field in doctoral programs.
trip to Mexico.
trip to Me Amy Duchelle said the IGERT program attracted her
"The term 'working forests' emerged as a way to distin- to UF to pursue her doctoral degree in wildlife ecology
"guish production forests from those set aside as 'wilderness.' and conservation. She is spending this summer in Brazil,
In Latin America, working forests are part of a larger participating in two of the program's field courses and
emphasis on the simultaneous promotion of conservation working with researchers in partner organizations.
and rural development, which includes consideration of "With a wonderful cohort of graduate students and
ecological, economic and social sustainability," Zarin said. faculty, an interdisciplinary curriculum that includes
"Some forests are valued for their wood while others are field courses in the Maya Forest and Brazilian Amazon,
valued for other forest products, or for watershed protec- and the opportunity to work with a wide range of partner
tion, biodiversity conservation or removing carbon dioxide organizations in Latin America, the program has exceeded
from the atmosphere." my expectations," Duchelle said. "These experiences will
Zarin said the three main goals of the UF research and increase my understanding of the ecological, socioeconomic
education program are to compare the tradeoffs between and political issues surrounding conservation and develop-
different economic and conservation options; to learn how ment in neotropical forests:'
social, economic, political and environmental issues affect Kelly Keefe, who is working on her doctoral degree
economic development and conservation; and to determine in forest resources and conservation, said the program
how local communities, regional governments, interna- increased her understanding of the critical need for conser-
tional agencies, philanthropic foundations and the private vation in the tropics. "Before I started the program, my
sector can best intervene to improve forest management focus on physiology and ecology was very narrow, with
and conservation in the tropical forests of Latin America. much less understanding of the unique footprint that social,
"The conventional logging common in most tropical economic and political history leaves on an area, and how
forests is often cited for its destructive impacts such as loss this footprint influences conservation and development."
of biodiversity, decline of wildlife populations, increased Miriam Wyman, whose doctoral research focuses on
erosion and fire susceptibility," said Francis Putz, a UF ecotourism in the Maya Forest, said environmental problems
professor of botany and a member of the program's execu- do not observe international boundaries. "It is important
tive committee. Putz said an alternative to conventional that the international community works together on envi-
logging is reduced-impact logging, which is intended to ronmental concerns that connect us all, and the IGERT
produce greater financial returns without heavy damage to program addresses this need:' Wyman said. "Students,
forest ecosystems. faculty and organizations from different regions are
Other options include management for nontimber working together to solve real-world issues there
forest products. Brazil nuts, palm fruits and natural latex is no better training I could have asked for"'
are among the more commonly harvested species in Latin Last year, seven IGERT fellowships were awarded to
America's tropical forests, said Karen Kainer, an assistant doctoral students who are now completing their first year
professor of tropical forestry. Kainer, another member in the program. An additional eight fellowships were
of the program's executive committee, also has an appoint- recently awarded to students who will enter in August
ment in UF's Center for Latin American Studies. 2004, and a third round will be awarded next year. The
The key to evaluating the sustainability of any forest program also runs a competitive small grants program
use is its impact on what ecologists refer to as ecosystem to support additional UF doctoral students conducting
services, which includes the forest's role in protecting field research in tropical working forests.

30 IMPACT I Summer 2004


Daniel Zarin, left, met recently with other faculty on the project's executive committee. In the foreground are Marianne Schmink, left, and Karen Kainer.
Other committee members include Francis Putz, back row left; Richard Stepp and Robert Buschbacher, a visiting professor in wildlife ecology and conservation
and associate director of the program.

UF academic units participating in the program include "We anticipate that graduates of the program will be attrac-
anthropology, botany, environmental engineering, forest tive employees for government and other agencies as well as
resources and conservation, geography, geology, Latin academic institutions and the private sector," she said.
American studies, law, natural resources and the environ- Other measures of the program's success will include
ment, sociology, soil and water science, wildlife ecology and refereed scientific publications produced by students and
conservation, and zoology, faculty in collaboration with Latin American colleagues,
Other UF faculty on the program's executive committee along with extension publications and workshops in regions
include Marianne Schmink, a professor of Latin American hosting the research program. The Working Forests in the
studies; Susan Jacobson, a professor of wildlife ecology and Tropics Program Web site will provide a global network for
conservation; and Richard Stepp, an assistant professor of communication: www.tropicalforests.ufl.edu/wft.
anthropology. More than 30 other UF faculty are affiliated The program is organizing an international conference -
with the program. "Working Forests in the Tropics: Policy and Market Impacts
Schmink said students conducting research in the program on Conservation and Management" to be held February
must be familiar with a variety of disciplines and have skills 13-15, 2005, at UF in Gainesville. Additional information
ranging from language proficiency to cultural sensitivity, and registration materials are available at
"The graduate program will provide hands-on training www.conference.ifas.ufl.edu/tropics. U
and experience in communication, ethics, teamwork and
cross-cultural skills that are sorely needed by scholars and FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
practitioners working in tropical forest regions:' she said.
DANIEL ZARIN (352) 846-1247
Jacobson said interdisciplinary programs are more difficult zarin@ufl.edu
to evaluate than single-discipline programs. The real success
of the program will depend on the ability of graduates to work
effectively in tropical regions and solve difficult problems.

IMPACT I Summer2004 31

Safety First

it can be downright dangerous especially for thousands
of South Florida migrant farm workers who may not be familiar with rules and
regulations designed to ensure their safety on the job. Fortunately, help is on the
way, thanks to a new extension safety education program from the University
of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. BY TIM LOCKETTE

32 IMPACT I Summer2004

from Mexico
and other countries in the tropics make
up the majority of Florida's seasonal
agricultural workers, a work force that
is almost 200,000 strong, according to
University of Florida estimates.
Many of those workers move
from job to job as the seasons change,
operating farm equipment and apply-
ing pesticide to crops. Yet many of Cesar Asuaje, right, travels to citrus groves, sugarcane fields, tomato farms and other agricultural enterprises
throughout South Florida, teaching a one-day, on-the-job safety course to Spanish-speaking migrant workers.
them can't read basic safety instructions Photo by Marisol Amador.
or warning labels written in English,
and some receive little instruction
on farm safety. hurt them," Asuaje said. "In recent When you can't read instructions
But Cesar Asuaje, a regional years, Hispanic workers have accounted on heavy equipment, just about any
specialized extension agent with UF's for a growing number of injuries and work can become dangerous. Santiago
Institute of Food and Agricultural fatalities in the agriculture and related cited a recent spate of deaths among
Sciences, is on a mission to change industries such as landscaping. migrant workers using heavy-duty
that one farm at a time. "As a result, injuries and fatalities industrial lawnmowers in landscaping
Based at the UF/IFAS Palm Beach among Hispanic workers are increas- operations in South Florida residential
County Extension Service in West Palm ing, and the language barrier is one areas. Many industrial mowers are
Beach, Asuaje regularly travels to citrus reason for that," Asuaje said. "In a lot top-heavy, and they are marked with
groves, sugarcane fields, tomato farms of cases, people are hurt because they clear warnings against using them on
and other agricultural enterprises can't read signs or safety instructions, steep inclines. But workers unfamiliar
throughout South Florida, teaching and some don't want to let on that with the warnings often use them on
a one-day, on-the-job safety course to they don't understand." steep slopes near canals and some-
Spanish-speaking migrant workers. According to statistics from the U.S. times tumble in.
He currently is offering the extension Occupational Safety and Health "We've had people drown in as
education program in the following Administration (OSHA), reports of little as a foot of water," Santiago
11 counties: Broward, Collier, Hendry, fatal injuries among Hispanic workers said. "The mower tips over, they
Hillsborough, Manatee, Martin, on the farm rose 18 percent during the fall into the canal, and they're
Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, period from 1999-2002, while nonfatal pinned under the mower."
Pinellas and St. Lucie. injuries rose by 33 percent. In the land- He said another problem is occur-
Every year, workers fill Florida's scaping industry a sector of Florida ring in more rural settings, where
fields, maintaining and harvesting agriculture that employs large numbers increasing use of all-terrain vehicles
crops that make the state a power- of immigrant workers nonfatal in agriculture has more migrant
house in American agriculture, injuries increased by 63 percent over workers driving the off-road vehicles
According to UF studies, more than the same three-year period, on country roads.
90 percent of those workers hail from "It's a trend you see everywhere, Workers are also subject to all
Latin American countries, and nearly but particularly in Florida," said Luis the traditional hazards of farm life,
one-fifth of them have no previous Santiago, Ft. Lauderdale area director including the health effects of spray-
work experience in United States. for OSHA. "They're doing work that ing pesticides on crops.
"What those workers don't know others won't do and usually that
about agriculture, it seems, can truly means dangerous work."

IMPACT I Summer 2004 33


Federal regulations require worker
safety training for every beginning farm
worker training that usually consists
of watching a Spanish-language video-
tape on worker safety. Because of the
fast-paced working environment on w
most farms, there's no guarantee that
every migrant worker will receive effec-
tive training, Asuaje said.
"Most growers are honest, but there
are some employers who don't show
the video because they want to avoid
claims against them if something goes Cesar Asuaje is educating Hispanic workers about all aspects of farm safety. In recent years, these workers have
wrong," Santiago said. "A lot of these accounted for a growing number of injuries and fatalities in agriculture and related fields. Photo by Thomas Wright.
workers have never seen a respirator,
for instance, before working here. His office is one of the few places Others are well-to-do newcomers
If they're spraying pesticide without where Florida residents can take from Latin America who want to set
the proper equipment, they might not Spanish-language classes toward a up small farms, either as residential
even know that this is not allowed." license to apply pesticides something farms or as new businesses. And many
In the late 1990s, Asuaje decided that can give a fledgling landscaping are longtime South Florida residents,
to fill the gap by traveling to South company a leg up on competitors who familiar with local agricultural prac-
Florida farms and providing the are not licensed to apply pest-control tices in their communities, but not
training himself, products to lawns and shrubs. Asuaje current on government regulations.
"It's good to have the video said the class is popular among immi- "One of the problems with small
training materials when there are grants who started as landscape farmers, especially the Hispanic folks,
so few people available to teach this workers and went on to found their is that they get a lot of their informa-
class": he said. "But it's better to have own landscaping companies, tion from each other," Asuaje said.
someone teaching in person if you The test for the license is in English, "Too many plant the same crop at the
can. People are going to remember and applicants need some basic same time, and then they all harvest at
more if they're taught in person." reading skills in English to be success- the same time, which drives the price
Asuaje has taught basic worker ful in the examination, but instruction down. I try to teach people that before
safety classes to about 1,500 workers in Spanish can make a difference in you plant 10 acres of something, you
since classes began in December 2000. how well the students grasp the basic need to know how to sell it."
"He believes the classes have made a concepts of the class. About 500 people have gone
difference in the way his students "We start with Spanish and include through the pesticide certification
approach safety in the field. His more and more English as the class classes and small farm workshops
success is difficult to quantify goes along:' Asuaje said. "It's good since they began. And Asuaje says
the program is new and statistics on because, if someone has a problem he's only scratched the surface of
migrant worker accidents can be diffi- understanding something, we can the demand for Spanish-language
cult to collect but the classes are work it out in Spanish, which is easier." instruction among small farmers
growing in popularity with agricultural He said workers with acceptable and agricultural workers.
producers who want to avoid accidents reading skills seem to benefit the most, "I'm always teaching a class some-
among migrant workers on the farm. while those who have lower reading where, to somebody, and I get a lot
"We have more people participating skills will begin the learning process of requests for more:' he said. "There's
every year since the extension educa- for pesticide license certification. enough work here for more than
tion program started, and that's good Asuaje has also begun offering one person.' U
indication of the demand for this occasional workshops for small
training:' Asuaje said. farmers who are Hispanic. Some of
The popularity of the worker safety the students in those classes are immi- CESAR ASUAJE (561) 233-1727
program has led Asuaje to begin offer- grant farm workers who have become crasuaje@ifas.ufl.edu
ing other Spanish-language classes, tenant farmers.

34 IMPACT I Summer 2004

Hot Tomato!

New SOLAR FIRE tomato can take the heat.

Growing tomatoes in Florida's hot, one of the state's largest tomato
humid climate isn't always easy. Too hot producers. "There are a few varieties
and the fruit won't set. Too much rain- such as Florida 91 that can be planted
fall and the fruit cracks, or the plants in early fall, but summer heat has
develop diseases and lose their leaves, always meant the fruit won't set.
These problems have been largely We're glad to see the introduction i
solved with the introduction of Solar of a new heat-tolerant variety"
Fire, a heat-tolerant variety developed Growers are invited to see the
by researchers at the University of new varieties, usually on someone's
Florida's Institute of Food and farm, DiMare said. "A small amount
Agricultural Sciences. of seed is offered to growers so they can ".
"Solar Fire is our best bet yet for plant single rows of the tomato, called
a tomato that can set fruit at warm strip trials. If growers like the way the
temperatures," said Jay Scott, a professor tomato performs, they'll plant a couple
of horticultural sciences at the UF/IFAS of acres to see how the plant fares under
Gulf Coast Research and Education commercial production techniques."
Center in Bradenton. "Most tomatoes He said commercial production has
ui 'FAS FiLL H'OT'
that can set fruit at higher tempera- become a science, and new varieties
tures have small fruit, but this one come under close scrutiny. lay Scott helped develop the new Solar Fire tomato variety,
is different. And you can plant this "We check the moisture in the soil which sets fruit at higher, summer temperatures. Seed for
the new variety will be available this summer.
variety earlier in the fall growing and monitor the nutrition we add to
season than other varieties." the plant:' DiMare said. "We analyze
A winter cash crop in Florida since
Solar Fire has medium- to large- the sap from the petiole of one of the ntr ah ro n ri n
the 1870s, tomatoes now bring more
sized fruit, just above 6 ounces, with an tomatoes in the field for nitrogen and
than $400 million into the state
attractive red color and gloss. Each vine potassium levels to see if we need to
bears a lot of fruit, so crop yields are add fertilizer. When the fruit is ripe, annually.
"We think this tomato will extend
good. It is a firm tomato, an important we check density, color, interior color
the tomato season in Florida, and will
factor when shipping produce, he said. and texture. We also look for flavor -
"It's best when eaten fresh in salads consumers don't want tomatoes that prove to be a significant addition to
the fresh tomato business in the state,"
or sandwiches, rather than cooked taste like cardboard.:
Brown said.
or canned," Scott said. "I like it with Once the varieties are accepted for
Solar Fire has been licensed for
onions, feta cheese and caesar dressing": further production, they are named -
production with Harris Moran Seed
Solar Fire is resistant to races 1, often for the characteristic they were pro i arri Mra
2 and 3 of Fusarium wilt as well as bred such as Solar Fire's tolerance Company in Modesto, Ca. Bruno
Libbrecht, product manager for toma-
Verticillium wilt race 1 and to gray for heat, DiMare said. Libbrecht, product manager for toma-
S toes for Harris Moran, said his firm has
leafspot. It has moderate resistance Like other new tomato varieties
fields of Solar Fire under cultivation,
to fruit soft rot, a bacteria that attacks developed by UF/IFAS researchers,
and seed will be available in late May
damp tomatoes after the fruit has Solar Fire began life as a number:
to early June 2004.
been harvested. Florida 7943B. to early June 2004.
"Until now, if you wanted to Reggie Brown, director of the Florida
plant tomatoes in Florida from July Tomato Committee, an industry group FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
through August, you've been pretty based in Orlando, said tomatoes are JAY SCOTT (941) 7517536, ext. 241
much out of luck," said Tony DiMare, the most valuable vegetable crop jwsc@ifas.ufl.edu
vice president of DiMare Ruskin Inc., grown in Florida.

IMPACT I Summer2004 35



The University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
PO Box 110180
Gainesville, FL 32611-0180

S, S.. -S i *. .. ...S.. *ii

INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA I Allprograms and related activities sponsored for, or assisted

by, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are open to all persons with non discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability,
SII. I I | llIS l l I5 {.1.

sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. Information from this publication is available in alternate formats.
Visit impact.ifas.ufl.edu, or contact IFAS Communication Services, University of Florida, PO Box 110810, ainesville, FL 32611-0810. ISSN #0748-23530
-i "* S S S I

INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES I UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA I All programs and related activities sponsored for, or assisted
by, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are open to all persons with non discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability,
sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. Information from this publication is available in alternate formats.
Visit impact.ifas.ufl.edu, or contact IFAS Communication Services, University of Florida, PO Box 110810, Gainesville, FL 32611-0810. ISSN #0748-23530

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