Features


Every Second Counts in the Rodeo

Polk County Team Competes for State Ranch Rodeo Championship Title by, ERIKA ALDRICH Hurricane Irma changed a lot of folks’ plans in Florida in the month of September, but the not the Florida Ranch Rodeo Finals. With many different events closing or being postponed, there were fears the storm may have affected the holding of


A Way to Grow Sales through Exporting

A new program hosted by the Florida Small Business Development Center is helping local farmers and producers to maximize their growth potential through export sales! This program provides a scholarship to qualified recipients, which facilities the development of a uniquely customized Agribusiness Export Marketing Plan. These plans assist “new-to-export” and “currently exporting” growers and value-added


Recipe Spotlight

Southern Staples For Your Farmhouse Table There’s nothing like good, old Southern cookin’ to make a body feel satisfied – physically and mentally.  You just want to kick back and put your feet up for a while. Some of it is the raw ingredients that say stability and love – chicken, green beans, sweet potatoes


Dr. Robert Gukich Honored for Excellence in His Field

Local Large Animal Vet Specializing in Bovine and Equine Species Recognized for his Service When Dr. Robert “Doc” Gukich was honored with a prestigious award recently, he said he was taken aback because he didn’t realize anyone had particularly noticed what he was doing at his veterinary practice.  But people had indeed noticed. In recognition


The Plan for Recovery, Post Hurricane Irma

Grove Owners Take in the Damage and Map Out a Strategy for Bringing Fields Back to Full Health It was supposed to be a good year for Florida’s citrus growers. With post bloom fruit drop under control, some growers were expecting a rebound— despite the dreaded citrus greening disease. But then came Hurricane Irma, wreaking


Ag Voices Speak Up on Natural Resources

Agriculture Taking its Position as Region Plans to Meet Future Water Needs Florida is surrounded by water, but, with current resources, it’s not expected to meet future demands for some 1,100 million gallons a day in Central Florida.  So government leaders and landowners are attempting to iron out their differences, among the administrative complications that


Keeping the Land Alive

Florida Cattle Ranchers Work To Preserve Natural Resources   From goldfish to formalized best management practices, farmers and ranchers are working together to save resources that the land has provided. According to thisfarmcares.org: Best Management Practices are a set of guidelines that advises producers on how to manage the water, nutrient, and pesticides they are


Keeping the Ranch Rodeo Tradition Alive with Florida Cattlemen

A Tradition as Old as Time, Florida Cowboys Compete to Show the Public What it is Like on a Working Cattle Operation The Hardee County Cattlemen’s Association Ranch Rodeo is not your typical bull riding, entertainment rodeo.  It’s a fun way to present Florida ranching, and the unique Cracker Cowman way of life to the


If Mama Cow Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy!

Florida Dairy Farmers, Take Note: A Hot Cow is an Unhappy Cow If your dairy cows are not meeting your expectations, you may want to invest in an air-conditioning unit for the cow clubhouse— especially for the females who are expecting and keep that thermostat set fairly low.  The results may be well worth any


Citrus Growing Project Helps Students Understand Agriculture

The Citrus Growing Project of the Polk County Youth Fair is teaching young people responsibility and agricultural lessons through raising citrus trees. Passing knowledge on to the next generation is important in any field, and it’s especially vital to the citrus industry in Florida.  With the many innovations that are taking place in growing citrus,


Q&A on High Tunnels

An Alternative to the Traditional Greenhouse Has Been Getting Attention from Growers Across the State by Providing More Environmental Control than an Open Field High tunnels are considered an intermediary between greenhouses and open fields.  Most growers use high tunnels in conjunction with growing in the ground as opposed to the hydroponics often found in


Annual Citrus Report

Some Growers Go Undercover, While Others Look to Fresh Fruit Production to Diversify   Facing a decline in citrus production in the wake of citrus greening, some of Florida’s growers are turning to protective coverings to block the Asian psyllid that spreads the dreaded Huanglongbing or HLB virus. Ten Florida citrus growers have banded together


Equine Summer Camp Safety Tips for Young Riders

Barn Manager at the Florida Agricultural Museum Offers These Reminders for Parents and Kids Now that school is out and summer is here, the kids are going to need something to do to keep them busy. Many kids love horses, so equine summer camp is very popular. While they are generally safe for kids to


Tree Assistance Program Taps into Industry Needs

  Farmer Encourages Fellow Growers to Apply for Tree Assistance Program (TAP) and Replant Ask anyone in the business and they will tell you: making a living in the citrus industry is not for the faint of heart. Growers have battled Mother Nature throughout history, struggling to stay in business after experiencing damages left by


Blueberry industry update

Florida Blueberry Growers Vying with Competitors for Lucrative Spring Marketing Window AS FLORIDA’S BLUEBERRY industry matures, increased competition is making it harder for growers to realize dreams of blue gold. “I think there’s going to be a bit of a shakeout in the blueberry business going forward,” asserts Ryan Atwood, a blueberry grower with about


It’s all about dairy in the month of June

University of Florida nutrition expert says a glass of milk packs a ‘nutritious punch’ HEALTH-CONSCIOUS PEOPLE may fire up special juicers or buy prepared beverages that are touted to benefit the body— but a strong case can also be made for a good, old-fashioned glass of milk. As National Dairy Month is recognized in June,


Cattle Industry Update from the Florida Ranchers’ Perspective

Beef Producers Rise Above the Challenges to Preserve and Prosper the Ranching Way of Life Florida born-and-bred beef has made its way into the grocery under the brand name Florida Cattle Ranchers, LLC.  In response to consumers’ interest in locally-grown food, 13 ranchers have banded together to develop this Florida beef brand.  “Millennials, they care


Diversity in Action at the Spring Lane Ranch

A Ranch Where a Variety of Equine Training Methods and Cultures Converge If you’re looking for an example of diversity in a field, look no further than Spring Lane Ranch in south Lakeland. Owners Heather and Darrel Shea have brought together a team of horse trainers who exemplify the notion that a variety of styles


Steering Students to a New Venture

 Youth and Ranchers Are Gearing Up for the Commercial Steer Show Agricultural fairs have a rich legacy in Polk County. It was in the 1940s that the community came together to fund a pavilion in Bartow specifically for young people to compete in agricultural and domestic projects. Over the years, the Polk County Youth Fair


Down on the Farm

Florida Ag Industry Sees a Rising Trend in African-American Farmers Seventy-nine-year-old Herman Hargrett Sr., a retired ag teacher, is one of the few black farmers in Florida. But their numbers are growing.


What They Bring to the Table

Celebrating Women in Ag and Female Leadership at UF/IFAS Agriculture is in Dr. Jeanna Mastrodicasa’s blood. Each year, her grandfather would plant a robust garden for the family to enjoy in the Massachusetts town she grew up in. On the other side of her family, her great grandmother packed grapefruit in Indian River County. Dr.


Florida roots: Handing down the cattle-ranching heritage

CATTLE RANCHING in Florida has a long and storied past that may surprise you. The first cattle were brought here with Ponce De Leon and the Spanish explorers in 1521. Those seven Andalusians were likely the ancestors of the Florida scrub cattle that later became the herds of both Seminole natives and pioneer settlers.


Advice from a Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame inductee for the next generation of ag leaders

RECENTLY, FOUR TITANS of agriculture were inducted into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame.  Among them was W. Bernard Lester, age 78, who was born in Havana and graduated from UF CALS.  Lester has been described by John Hoblick, president of the Florida Farm Bureau, as a “tireless advocate on behalf of Florida agriculture for

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From suburan life to aglife

Cassidy Polston joins family in cattle-raising tradition CASSIDY POLSTON AND her family were living a typical suburban lifestyle. As a little girl, she was thinking about becoming a lawyer or a chef. But something changed when her oldest sister Brittany bought a cow while attending Lakeland High School.


The first time’s a charm: McKenzie Webb wins Grand Champion with her prize Zebu

THE FOUR-LEAF CLOVER, a rare variation of its three-leaf counterpart, has long been recognized as a symbol of good luck. If a person stumbles upon this treasure, then the holder is sure to be the recipient of a most fortuitous blessing. As if she had that lucky charm in her pocket all along, one 4-H


Strawberry-harvesting robots, more of the sweeter varieties, and new U-picks

A ROBOT THAT CAN PICK strawberries may ease the industry’s labor problem and revolutionize the way crops are harvested. “This machine itself is being designed specifically for the strawberry,” says Gary Wishnatzki, a third-generation family-owner of Plant City’s Wish Farms, who is partnering in the project. “We’re not going to stop with strawberries … There’s


On the go for Florida citrus

Miss Florida Citrus Stephanie Capon wrapping up an exciting and industry-promoting year STEPHANIE CAPON has only two more months left in her role as Miss Florida Citrus 2016, but she will forever be part of a unique group of women who have worked side by side with the industry to help market Florida’s citrus throughout


75 years at Range Cattle REC in Ona marks more change on the horizon

THE RANGE CATTLE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION CENTER in Ona recently held its 75th Anniversary Celebration and Field Day. John Arthington’s leadership as center director is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the center’s history. He’s been there 18 years, and he’s led the center for 11. He’s only the fourth director in Range Cattle


A staple of agricultural stewardship

USDA program gives boost to farmers and the conservation cause STEWARDSHIP of our natural resources — environmentally and agriculturally — is an inherent and shared responsibility among everyone here on planet Earth. The combined results of people’s actions can either deplete resources or, through combined efforts and energies, be lent toward implementing sustainable solutions for


Equines of the dwarf kind

Miniature horses have their own special care and considerations FOR ANYONE who’s ever dreamed about owning a horse, would the considerations include miniature, or dwarf, horses? What follows are 10 key questions about miniature horses and an answer to each of them.


Citrus labels go on tour: Historic brands make a comeback in the region

MANY YEARS AGO, Florida citrus was sold in dimly lit warehouses around 3 or 4 a.m. It was packed in wooden crates with bright, colorful labels that attracted the buyers’ eyes and helped sell the fruit. “The label was the first thing they would see,” says Brenda Eubanks Burnette, executive director of Florida Citrus Hall


A model ag program for Polk

Frostproof Middle-Senior High School Ag Department Earns Polk County Farm Bureau honor THE FROSTPROOF MIDDLE-SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL Agriculture Department has been honored by the Polk County Farm Bureau as its 2016 Outstanding Ag Program of the Year. The school ag program received the award Oct. 11 during the PCFB annual meeting in Bartow.


Inspired to teach ag to others

Polk County Farm Bureau honors Paul Reed as the year’s outstanding agriculture teacher PAUL REED’S LOVE for his agriculture program during high school translated into an agriculture teaching career that spanned more than three decades. Today, the recently retired Haines City High School teacher is the Polk County Farm Bureau’s 2016 Outstanding Ag Teacher of


Citrus feature: What’s in a number?

Citrus growers are committed to replanting and all-in on the numbers game against greening SOME CITRUS EXPERTS are expecting the smallest crop in 53 years this year, as the industry continues to battle citrus greening disease and other challenges, such as post-bloom fruit drop (PFD). Though the numbers look grim, there are positive signs for


Recreation and agriculture come together at the agritourism crossroads

More Florida farms and ranches open doors to the public with retreats, attractions, events, and more TWO HUNDRED YEARS AGO, cattlemen drove their herds to a remote part of central western Highlands County on their way to the market and port at what is now Fort Myers. Their destination was a corral under an oak


Holding the reigns of victory with ‘Change of Heart’

Olivia Glenn and her mount compete at the Southern Regional 4-H Championships IF YOU’VE BEEN RIDING HORSES since the age of six like sixteen-year-old Olivia Glenn has, competing in the Southern Regional 4-H Horse Championships is a big deal. “It was very exciting,” shares Glenn. A sophomore at Winter Haven High School, Glenn advanced through


Getting a head start on potential threats to ag

Scientists and growers get ready for the Florida Ag Expo THE AGENDA for the Florida Ag Expo at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC) on November 2 includes a session on the Q-biotype whitefly, but not because it’s already wreaking havoc on your fruit and vegetable crops.


Frank M. Hunt, III, receives Florida Citrus Packers’ highest honor

FLORIDA CITRUS PACKERS, INC.. named Frank M. Hunt, III, the 2016 recipient of the John T. Lesley Award for Excellence. The award is the packinghouse trade association’s highest, for an individual making sustained and outstanding contributions to the Florida citrus industry, and has long been given to the top leaders of the industry.


Getting the support to replant and rebound

U.S. senators sponsor legislation for the citrus industry AS FLORIDA CITRUS growers continue to battle citrus greening, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has joined U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), the original sponsor, in championing the Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act. That act will allow growers to immediately expense the cost of planting new citrus instead


A tale of caution for backyard chicken owners

Recent cases of Salmonella Enteritidis linked to backyard flocks WHETHER IT’S DUE to the high cost of living, the desire to lead a healthier lifestyle, or simply for the enjoyment of producing one’s own food and being near nature, more and more backyard chicken coops are popping up in suburbia. This “back-to-nature” trend has enabled


EEE update: Preventing Eastern Equine Encephalitis for your horse

EASTERN EQUINE ENCEPHALITIS (EEE) has claimed its third victim of the year in Polk County, and officials are recommending that horse owners take precautions, as more cases are expected. A six-year-old Arabian, with no EEE vaccine history or recent travel, began showing clinical signs on June 19 and was subsequently euthanized the same day. It’s


Is the quest for a remedy to citrus greening near completion?

Two CREC professors map out how certain varieties could hold the key to more HLB-tolerant citrus trees FOR THOSE IN THE FLORIDA citrus industry, some say it’s the 11th hour. Citrus harvests are down 70 percent and a survey revealed an 80 percent rate of tree infection throughout Florida. However, the quest to find a


The 2016 blueberry season roundup

Sifting for the silver lining amid the challenges of Florida’s blue gold FLORIDA BLUEBERRY GROWERS had a tough season, coming into the marketplace late, with about 30 percent of their usual crop. Some harvest workers moved north, which left many growers turning to offer u-pick to harvest their crop or leave berries on the bushes.


Hurricane preparedness for crops and livestock large and small

Be ready with these before, during, and after storm-prep reminders FOR GROWERS, RANCHERS, AND PET AND LIVESTOCK OWNERS, hurricane preparedness begins long before the storm makes landfall and continues even after the final tree stops swaying. From maintaining grove tree size and keeping tools on-hand for repairing and resetting, to having pets micro-chipped and the


Florida’s 2016 peach season

Overcoming challenges and researching the way to future success AN UNUSUALLY WARM WINTER is putting the bite on peach growers across the South. Harvests came in late throughout Florida, where many growers saw zero chill hours and record-breaking warm temperatures according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


Raising a woman in ag

How Megan Handley has been — and plans to stay — involved in agriculture AGRICULTURE is a most important industry, but statistics show women are underrepresented in leadership roles in agriculture across the United States. Programs like 4-H and FFA provide a framework for encouraging young girls to take on leadership roles in agriculture, which


The best defense is a good offense — with The Tree Defender

Article sponsored by Southern Citrus Nurseries, 5600 Lake Trask Road, Dundee, FL 33838 863-439-3694 • www.TreeDefender.com Southern Citrus Nurseries of Dundee develops tree cover for young citrus trees THOMAS “TOMMY” THAYER, JR., AND SCOTT “SCOTTY” THOMPSON, the creators of The Tree Defender, have an analogy they like to share when they talk about their innovative


Q&A on the Forage Field Day

UF agriculture specialist sheds light on new developments in livestock and forage practices ASHLEY FLUKE is the UF/IFAS Osceola County Extension Agent who was in charge of the recent Forage Field Day, held on April 1 in Kenansville, Florida. Central Florida Ag News asked her to discuss recent developments and trial results, which could enhance


Is opportunity knocking for fresh Florida OJ in the Chinese market?

Recent study reveals potential for not-from-concentrate juice WITH 1.36 BILLION residents, China is the most populated country in the world. It may come as a surprise, however, to learn that such a high value market for U.S. agriculture does not include a single glass of fresh Florida orange juice — at least, not yet. Dr.


Looking for a recreation horse? Consider these five breeds found on the ranch

THE SCENE IS is a young cattleman riding his stock horse, leaping off the side of a mountain after the wild brumbies in “The Man from Snowy River,” a film based on ranch life in the 1880s of unsettled Australia. It’s dramatic, it’s exhilarating, and it’s a beautiful scene of horseman and horse, and though


Harvest time: Double cropping — a watermelon season preview

THE END OF APRIL marks the beginning of watermelon harvest season in Central Florida, and for growers like Andy McDonald, it’s especially sweet. That’s because McDonald double crops, planting the watermelon seedlings in his Plant City strawberry fields. McDonald takes advantage of any lull in strawberry picking in early February to place the plants into


Scribbling away at Florida’s next big crop potential

Scientists start a new hops yard with the hope of creating a new Florida agricultural commodity THE HUNT for the next great Florida agriculture success story is unfolding in Wimauma. The storybook ending the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences hopes to write is one in which our state becomes a major


#AgLife lessons from the ‘barn’

Student and Polk County Youth Fair participant, Paige Gebhardt, shares her 4-H journey THERE’S A SAYING that it takes a village to raise a child, but most people would agree that adding “a barn” to that piece of wisdom — both figuratively and literally — is a good idea. For those in agriculture, being “raised


Three men inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame

Vic Story, Jr., Bill Castle and Jack Norris make it easy to understand why we love Florida citrus WHEN YOU POUR that glass of orange juice, do you ever wonder about the grove that it came from or the farmer that grew it? In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to forget the toils of others,


Keeping the wheels in motion for the CRDF

Florida Citrus Mutual encourages growers to vote ‘Yes’ FROM NOW until February 11, 2016, citrus growers have the opportunity to vote on the continuation of the CRDF — the Citrus Research and Development Foundation. According to the Florida state statute, a referendum on the continuation of the CRDF must be held every six years. The


Preserving the present to protect the future

How one recipient of the Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award is conserving our state’s resources THOSE IN AGRICULTURE have long been stewards of the lands that they utilize to raise a crop or turn out livestock to pasture, but some go above and beyond the norm. In Florida, ag producers who utilize “environmentally innovative farming practices” are


What do genetically modified citrus trees mean for the Florida industry?

Still years out from a fix for HLB, biotechnology offers a possible solution IT’S NOT a silver bullet, but genetically modified citrus trees could prove the most effective of the many tools developed by the University of Florida so far for the salvation of the citrus industry in the HLB era. The transgenic citrus trees


Research that goes beyond the lab for citrus, avocados, and bell peppers

How biotechnology, drones, and plant breeding are advancing agriculture TECHNOLOGY has the ability to change the world, and it will likely be needed to protect it too. It’s a sentiment that those in Florida agriculture know all too well. With challenges like citrus greening, laurel wilt in avocados, and high consumer expectations for fruits and


Getting a hold of the reins on horse judging

Students get ready for contests through school offered by the UF Department of Animal Sciences EACH YEAR, The University of Florida’s Department of Animal Sciences operates informational and competitive youth programs for students within a 4-H Club or FFA Chapter. The UF/DAS recently held its annual 4-H/FFA Horse-Judging School, where students learned about judging at


Dinner of Distinction award recipient, Rep. Jake Raburn

Supporting UF/IFAS innovation and research through legislative leadership HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY Representative Jake Raburn has now earned what I call the “grand slam” of legislator-of-the-year awards from the agriculture community. Last year, the Florida Farm Bureau and Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association named him their top lawmaker. The Florida Forestry Association did so this year.


Encouraging the new generation of farmers through story-telling

Fellow farmers talk sustainable agriculture and share tried-and-true recipes in Forrest Pritchard’s new book SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE is a popular topic, and one of its chief proponents, seventh-generation farmer and bestselling author Forrest Pritchard, has written yet another book about the topic. “Growing Tomorrow is a classic American road trip,” Pritchard explains, “told in stories, photos,


Celebrating the beauty of Florida with Daniel Butler

Son of the Highwayman artist finds his calling and captures it through painting HE GREW UP in an artistic Floridian family and has loved nature all his life, so it makes sense that Daniel Butler has evolved into a talented artist whose work pays homage to this state’s natural beauty.


Q&A with the PCCA Sweetheart on upholding the cattle tradition

BAILEY BUCHANON, the current Polk County Cattlemen’s Association Sweetheart, is proud to call herself a cowgirl, and is a true example of a homegrown girl who loves her roots. Central Florida Ag News asked her some questions about the industry and her goals as this year’s Sweetheart in upholding some of the cattle traditions.


A legal thriller with a vein of agriculture that reads like a hometown map

History, good vs. evil, and twists of fate combine in this fictional novel DO YOU LOVE historical fiction with a vein of agriculture growing throughout? How about a legal thriller that flashes between the drama of a present-day courthouse and the hallowed grounds of World War II Europe? If you’ve answered a resounding “yes” to


GCREC 90 years young and still growing

Research center celebrates anniversary and expansion at the Florida Ag Expo WE’RE OLD, BUT WE’RE NOT HARD OF HEARING. The Gulf Coast Research and Education Center is about to have a 90th birthday party on November 4. One of the reasons we’re throwing it is to hear from you. Not that we don’t talk throughout


Agritechnology Academy teaches youth of the suburbs

Polk County Farm Bureau’s Ag Program of the Year award goes to Auburndale High School AGRICULTURE IS IN NEED of young people interested in stepping in and picking up the tools of the industry — both on the farms and in the research labs — and working hard. It’s something Kimberly Shaske knows well. She


State of emergency due to Oriental fruit fly

Florida Department of Agriculture works to eradicate pest in Miami-Dade AN AGRICULTURAL STATE of emergency is in effect now in Florida because of Oriental fruit fly infestation, and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam says an aggressive fight is under way to ward off the devastating pest.


The ripple effects of an ag instructor

Polk County Farm Bureau names the Ag Teacher of the Year: Kyle Carlton THERE ARE SOME CAREERS out there that have a large impact on many people. Agriculture is definitely one of those vocations, as farmers and ranchers feed and clothe the world’s population. Teaching is also another occupation that affects the lives of many,


Building strong gates with a strong agribusiness — Southern Livestock Systems delivers

ANYONE WONDERING about the state of manufacturing in Central Florida ought to take a brief drive over to Lake Wales. There, at 7 Lincoln Avenue, you’ll find a company called Southern Livestock Systems. At this address, you’ll also find a vibrant and year-round manufacturing operation serving Florida’s ever-growing agricultural community.


Equine funnies for kids

MULLIKIN THE HORSE AND FRIENDS ENJOY SOME AGRIRECREATION by JANET DELCASTILLO About the Author/Illustrator: Janet DelCastillo is a thoroughbred race horse trainer based in Winter Haven, Florida. For more information about her equine work, visit www.backyardracehorse.com.


Q&A on hunting wild game

Two of Central Florida’s hunting enthusiasts reveal their hunting preferences and experience FALL IS PRIME hunting season in Central Florida, and no one knows the lay of the land better nor reads the tracks as well as the men and women at home in tree stands and ground blinds all over the Sunshine State. Even


More agritourism for educational recreation

Farm-time fun for all with crop mazes, pumpkin patches, hayrides, and more RANCHERS TED AND DONNA SMITH have operated their 450-acre farm in North Lakeland for decades, and are proud of the family business located on the edge of the Green Swamp. Originally set up as a cattle ranch, the family-owned and family-operated Smith Family


Shooting to skill: Teaching 4-H students firearm safety and responsibility

WHILE FFA CHAPTERS are high school-affiliated and operated programs whose primary focus is on the breeding, raising, and showing of livestock, 4-H clubs are more independent, as they do not operate out of schools. The community-based 4-H clubs often focus on livestock as well, but some groups branch into various other applications of agriculture. For


Venturing into the pampered world of blackberries

Frontier farmers take a step back to black with this alternative crop TOO MUCH HANDLING will ruin them, they are time-consuming to harvest, and sometimes they have thorns — but consumers love blackberries, and they are a viable fruit to be grown as an alternative to citrus in Florida.


Taking a teamwork approach to science

UF/IFAS rebuilding research ranks with new funding POLK, HILLSBOROUGH and surrounding Florida farmers and natural resource managers are about to reap a huge brain gain. In its recently passed budget, the state Legislature provided enough money to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to hire more than 45 new faculty members.


Not just a border tree — possibilities with eucalyptus crops

IF THERE’S ONE THING local citrus growers are paying close attention to of late, it’s the concept of alternative crops. As citrus greening continues to threaten citrus crops and cause hardships for growers, researchers, business leaders, and farmers have devoted sharp attention to what other products they can grow besides citrus.


Equine funnies for kids

MULLIKIN THE HORSE AND FRIENDS by JANET DELCASTILLO About the Author/Illustrator: Janet DelCastillo is a thoroughbred race horse trainer based in Winter Haven, Florida. For more information about her equine work, visit www.backyardracehorse.com.


Harvest Time: One fish, two fish

Can Florida’s seafood industry help start a new chapter in America’s seafood intake? “ONE FISH, two fish, red fish, blue fish.” This Dr. Seuss classic is one a lot of us grew up on, passing it down from generation to generation. But there is an important lesson to be learned through this short tale …


New study shows how HLB bacterium changes bug behavior patterns

Citrus greening promotes its own spread, according to researchers SOMETIMES, Mother Nature is just not very nice to the agriculture industry, as a recent study by University of Florida researchers stands to confirm. Citrus greening, according to the five researchers involved, has a built-in, bug-driven method of spreading itself far and wide — making it


Florida Roots: Colton Matthews’ past, present, and future in ag

THOMAS EDISON — the inventor of the light bulb, among many other important things — once said, “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” Edison’s advice rings true for Colton Matthews, a Lakeland native headed to college at Western Texas College in Snyder, Texas, this


Florida cracker calf needs a name

Florida Agricultural Museum welcomes newest member ON JULY 24, 2015, a stunning red cracker calf (see inset in photo above) was welcomed into the world by workers at the Florida Agricultural Museum. Located in Palm Coast, Florida, the Florida Agricultural Museum currently hosts a small herd of cracker cattle: one bull, two cows, and the


AgriGov: The water policy that wasn’t

What’s setting the tone for next year’s legislative session AT THE OUTSET of the 2015 Legislative Session, water seemed to be the issue at the forefront in the minds of policymakers. However, that was before bitter disagreement over the budget prompted the House to unexpectedly adjourn three days early, putting into motion a “stranger-than-fiction” domino


Florida roots: A farmer; a superhero — or both?

Christian Spinosa as the voice of Captain Citrus MANY YOUNG KIDS dream of growing up to be a farmer or a superhero, but not usually both. For Central Florida native Christian Spinosa, it’s a daily reality. Hailing from a long line of citrus and beef producers, Spinosa has recently had the pleasure of helping out


Annual citrus report 2015

More than just a symbol of hope, growers keep up the fight against citrus greening THE ROUNDUP of news on the most recent harvesting season is in keeping with the citrus forecast’s unsteady tempo of up-and-down, down-and-up — but with the steady “can-do” attitude of growers. Things can get better, industry leaders say — but


Helping to write the next chapter of Hillsborough County agriculture

Embarking on a study to analyze the economic impact of agribusiness in the area IN 1974, a Hillsborough County government report predicted the demise of local agriculture by the turn of the century. It couldn’t have been more wrong. Hillsborough agriculture actually grew in value from $40 million annually at the time of the report


Eight more Florida counties now eligible for blueberry crop insurance

BLUEBERRY GROWERS in eight more Florida counties are now eligible to purchase insurance through the federal government for the blueberry crop that will come to harvest in 2016. The announcement came July 8 in a memo from Brandon C. Willis, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA).


Growers grapple with unique encounters amidst a good harvest

In the business realm of blueberries, experiences vary THIS WAS A PRETTY GOOD YEAR to be in the Florida blueberry business, industry insiders say, with fairly cooperative weather, a long season, and fair pricing. Dudley Calfee, a grower and president of the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, reports that the latest numbers show the state harvest


Recipe Spotlight: Berries — from the crop to the kitchen

IN THE GAME OF GROWING BERRIES in Central Florida, Jorge Salmeron is a switch hitter. The Plant City part-time farmer, full-time teacher, had 10 acres of blueberries in production. Now, because of a foray into blueberries and blackberries, he has devoted about three acres to a nursery that holds 100,000-plus in plant inventory to meet


The house that blueberries built

Florida blueberry pioneer is recognized for his contributions THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA’S Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences prides itself on growing blueberries all over the state. More than 95 percent of the state’s 5,000 acres of the fruit are planted in cultivars developed by UF/IFAS. Blueberries have also helped us with a crucial crop


The Florida equine industry and HB 239

State officials and experts laud new legislation FLORIDA HAS A reputation as a horse-loving state and is home of a “Horse Capital of the World” title contender; Florida House Bill 239 proves there is also a lot of “horse sense” in the state government when it comes to the Sunshine State’s equestrian pursuits. Sponsored by