BEING BORN AND RAISED in Central Florida, I happen to know lot of folks in the Sunshine State who like the University of Florida sports teams (and a lot them who don’t). But, even if you are an anti-die-hard UF sports fan — if you have any kind of appreciation for agriculture — there are some great reasons to be an enthusiast of UF for its ag science team.
For more than a century, UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) has been the go-to place for research into crop and livestock protection (against disease and pests) and for development of better food products. Just last month, Central Florida Ag News focused on the fast-growing Florida peach industry and the huge role UF/IFAS has played in the creation of peach varieties that are ideally suited to grow in Florida’s soil and climate.
The work of the UF/IFAS team of researchers, instructors, and students is so extensive, it’s no surprise that the institute is always making news. Earlier this year, the institute reported that development of a whole new suite of experimental citrus varieties was far enough along that they could be planted and tested more broadly. And just recently, the institute and the Florida Foundation Seed Producers, Inc. announced that they were opening the door to growers interested in planting these varieties in the field for live trials and evaluation.
The new citrus testing “suite” features four seedless and easy-to-peel mandarin orange selections, which the institute is calling UFGlow, UFSunrise, UFDawn, and 7-6-27. Interestingly, the 7-6-27 was developed locally by the UF/IFAS Plant Improvement Team in Lake Alfred.
According to UF/IFAS, the UFGlow, UFSunrise and UFDawn varieties are early maturing, cold tolerant, and even mess-free, meaning your hands remain dry. The institute reports that mandarin variety 7-6-27 has generated a lot of grower and nursery interest as a result of its very early season of maturity, its excellent color and flavor, and its potentially higher degree of tolerance to the destructive citrus greening disease.
Development of the new grove-ready citrus varieties is exciting news from UF/IFAS, which always seems to be doing important work for the good of the Florida agriculture industry and for the delight of food consumers not only here but all around the world.
column by CELESTE JO WALLS
Celeste Jo Walls is managing editor of Central Florida Ag News. She may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.