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Brad Buck, UF/IFAS

  • Ever since Florida farmers have been growing tomatoes, they’ve picked them by hand or hired laborers. It’s painstaking work that might be made easier soon with machine-harvestable tomatoes developed by University of Florida scientists. Now that the varieties are available, growers in Florida’s $400 million-a-year industry hope they can use mechanized harvesting, but doubts remain. Large-scale trials this spring – using the new varieties -- will tell growers and scientists a lot more. The new varieties were decades in the making, said Jessica Chitwood-Brown, the tomato breeder at the University of Florida Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC).
  • They're huge, sometimes bedecked with dark green and bright yellow-orange coloration and almost always looking like something out of a Hollywood apocalypse flick."They" are the eastern lubber grasshopper. These grasshoppers seemingly on steroids are out in force throughout the Southeast, including some parts of Florida. They’re munching away on landscape plants, citrus and vegetable crops, while gardeners and growers are trying to minimize the damage.
  • Florida is home to over 315 species of native wild bees, which thrive on flowers for survival. But some bees are in critical decline. While the public is increasingly interested in conserving pollinators and in pollinator-friendly gardening, a 2020 University of Florida survey showed a knowledge gap in consumers’ ability to identify a range of bee pollinators -- the plants to which they’re attracted.
  • University of Florida scientists have found ethyl vanillin -- an aroma compound in many artificial vanilla-flavored food products -- in a UF/IFAS-bred strawberry.This is a key finding for the food and beverage industry and for the UF/IFAS strawberry breeding program.