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    The Southern Region IPM Center is located at North Carolina State University, 1730 Varsity Drive, Suite 110, Raleigh, NC 27606, and is sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
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Citizen Scientists are helping air potato beetle take a bite out of a major weed pest

A citizen science program in Florida is keeping track of how successfully the air potato beetle is keeping air potato in check.

Native to Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, air potato is a member of the yam family. The plant was first identified in the U.S. back in 1777 and spread throughout the Gulf Coast region of the U.S. It is now a problem weed in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. In both Alabama and Florida, it is listed as a noxious weed. Continue reading

Free invasive plants tool kit for teachers

by Beverly James, University of Florida IFAS

Science and agriculture teachers across the nation now have a new tool to teach students about invasive plants, thanks to researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The Florida Invasive Plant Education Initiative at the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants (CAIP) has partnered with The Aquatic Plant Management Society (APMS) to produce a 16- minute video presentation, “Silent Invaders,” for teachers to introduce students to the concepts of invasive aquatic plants and their management with examples from across the United States. “Silent Invaders” provides a basic introduction to invasive plants, along with the key concepts of aquatic versus terrestrial and also native, non-native and invasive plant species, said Dehlia Albrecht, UF’s Florida Invasive Plant Education Initiative coordinator. Continue reading

Repellent emitted by redbay may be key to fighting beetles

in Growing Produce

by Paul Rusnak, Growing Produce

UF/IFAS scientists might have just tracked down the right scents to help deter a beetle that’s been delivering disease and devastation to Florida avocado growers.

According to a recently published study, UF/IFAS researchers found when infected with the laurel wilt fungus, redbay trees (a close cousin to the avocado) emit methyl salicylate to repel redbay ambrosia beetles, the vector of the deadly pathogen. Continue reading

University of Florida works with snake hunters to remove invasive pythons

In Southeast Farm Press

The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are working together on unique projects to target Burmese pythons in Florida. Two projects include using detection dogs and Irula tribesmen to help remove pythons from environmentally sensitive areas.

In their first eight days on the job, the Irula tribesmen — world-renowned snake catchers from India — removed 13 pythons, including four on their first visit to Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge on North Key Largo in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Traditionally, the main occupation of the Irula tribe has been catching snakes. They have successfully hunted and captured Indian pythons in their home province of Tamil Nadu. Continue reading

New sensor detects citrus greening before symptoms appear

In Growing Produce

by Paul Rusnak

Nearly two years ago, news arose that University of Florida researchers had developed a tool to help growers combat citrus greening: an electronic sensor. Today, a new study shows the time-lapse polarized imaging system may indeed detect greening before the plant’s leaves show symptoms.

For the study, Won Suk “Daniel” Lee and Alireza Pourreza were seeking to know how early citrus leaves with greening can be detected while they are pre-symptomatic. So they inoculated plants with the greening disease and put those leaves through a time-lapse imaging system.
There, they found starch in the leaves, an early sign of greening, said Pourreza, a former post-doctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department. In their study, UF/IFAS researchers detected greening about one month after they infected the trees, he said. Continue reading

Florida researchers have found predatory mite that can control thrips on cucumber

In Southeast Farm Press

A predatory mite might feed on a pest of cucumbers, a $125 million-a-year crop in Florida.

This newly published finding based on University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences research shows, may help growers protect the environment because they could reduce pesticides to keep the pest – known as thrips — at bay. Growers may also save money because they may cut chemical use on their crop. In fact, because this thrips preys on many vegetable crops, the finding could save millions of dollars in pesticide use. Continue reading

North Florida farmers are using sesame as a rotation crop

At University of Florida

by Kimberly Moore Wilmoth, University of Florida

In between seasons of corn, peanut, and cotton, North Florida farmers were interested in growing a rotation crop that could withstand the wilting heat of summer and be harvested by machine.

So, since 2011, University of Florida researchers have been experimenting with growing the tiny seeds you find on top of hamburger buns or garnishing salads – sesame – as a viable, money-making crop.  Continue reading