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For nutrient sources that feed algae blooms, farms have been an easy place to look.

In part because of efforts to monitor the effects of best management practices, we have years of data that measure the phosphorus and nitrogen loads running off agricultural fields. The good news is that although more work is needed, we have information on what practices reduce nutrient losses. We need a better handle on the nutrients emanating from all known sources, including septic tanks, lawns, and urban areas.


He was such a respected expert on algae blooms that Gov. Never before have we organized our algae experts into a statewide team. Willm Martens-Habbena in Fort Lauderdale uses microbial ecology to examine how microorganisms affect the location and intensity of algal blooms. Young Gu Her in Homestead specializes in simulating and monitoring the generation and transport of water and nutrients in stormwater, groundwater and nonpoint source pollutants.

Dail Laughinghouse in Fort Lauderdale is an algae scientist. Our approach is to take as comprehensive a look as possible.

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That means continuing to measure nutrient loads from farms. It also means using agriculture as a model for other sectors. Larkin, who is leading Florida Sea Grant on an interim basis, intends to continue on that track. She has also begun building on Havens' preliminary work on a state budget request for next year. We partner with water management districts, state and federal agencies and non-profit groups on water quality issues. Havens established that a critical need is to determine the contributions of nitrogen and phosphorus from primary sources in agricultural, industrial, residential and urban settings.

But it takes a strong team with special vision to search in the harder-to-see places. Outlawed by drug laws for years, hemp production may hold promise for citrus growers hit hard by citrus greening and for vegetable farmers looking for another crop to bolster their bottom line. That plan must submitted to the U. Department of Agriculture for approval, and there would be an opportunity for public comment. Many issues must first be sorted out, including a process for awarding permits to growers, identifying processors that can turn hemp into products and — perhaps most important — how to best help farmers produce a viable, profitable crop.

Augustine, sees opportunity in hemp. And with CBD products currently outselling THC products at a rate of to-1, this crop has the potential to significantly elevate our quality of life and strengthen and diversify our state economy for generations to come. A native of Indiana with family roots in northeast Florida, Bell earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics from Purdue University.

Acting on that, the Florida Legislature easily passed the agriculture hemp bill in the session that just ended. Senators voted to pass the bill after the House approved it in a vote. The law, if signed by DeSantis, will take effect July 1. He added that the department will work with the farming industry on the regulations. Zachary Brym, the project coordinator. Additionally, we are conducting a study for risk of invasiveness. Ruth Borger, assistant vice president for IFAS Communications, added that researchers will grow different varieties of hemp at several research locations.

Cannabis boss Bell said hemp proved to be successful in other states where she was involved. So the amount of land needed is minimal if you are willing to do the work. We will need to find the right strains of hemp to maximize oil production while not spiking the THC over 0. Marijuana Hemp and marijuana are the same plant species, Cannabis sativa. They are legally distinguished based on their THC content.

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THC tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive compound associated with getting high. Hemp is Cannabis sativa with a THC content that does not exceed 0. The 0. Cannabis also contains CBD cannabinoid , a compound that does not produce any psychoactive effects but has several well-established medical purposes. Some hemp and marijuana have a high concentration of CBD.

The strains of marijuana sold in medical dispensaries are typically more CBD-dominant. For the love of agriculture Why do those of us in agriculture do what we do? Regardless of our motivation, a love of agriculture is the common thread that unites us across different ages, locations and crops. We asked producers and those in businesses that support agriculture what is so rewarding about their livelihood.

Some talked about meeting the daily challenges of planting, harvesting and marketing their crops. Others reflected on what makes a good day on the farm. Blueberry and citrus producer Chuck Allison of Wild Goose Farms talked about gratitude and the blessings of farming. We hope consumers will feel more emotionally connected to Florida agriculture after seeing why farmers do what they do. Read more about why our members love agriculture here. And let us know why you do, too, by sending an email and photo to alyssa. However, the Florida industry — with the help of two Specialty Crop Block Grants — hopes to change that by educating buyers about the unique virtues of locally grown peaches.

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For the industry to grow, researchers say they also will have to figure out how to overcome erratic chill hours, develop cost-saving mechanical pruning and thinning methods, and breed new rootstocks that can tolerate flooded conditions. The Florida Specialty Crop Foundation is leading the educational effort.

Guided by a peach advisory board, the program has three objectives: to increase awareness and sales at retailers, collaborate with the Fresh From Florida program for in-store sampling and promotional materials, and increase social media presence, said foundation Executive Director Sonia Tighe. The Florida peach crop typically ripens from mid-March through the end of May, depending on the weather.

This allows Florida growers to essentially have the market to themselves after Chile has finished and before the Georgia and Carolina crops begin. But the diminutive size also is a strong selling point. A Canadian grocery chain that conducted sampling, for example, saw sales increase percent from the week before. This year, Tighe said a major chain conducted sampling in as many as 50 of its Florida stores during Easter week.

Fresh From Florida also helps distribute point-of-sale materials to retailers and puts its logo on the POS promotions and advertising.

see Dundee Citrus Growers Association has been producing and marketing Florida peaches for the past 10 years. Dundee packs peaches in single-layer 8-pound trays, pound bulk boxes for food service. New this year are clear 2-pound stand-up pouches that create eye-catching retail displays. When the marketing program first started, the peach advisory board recommended an Instagram and Facebook presence but voted against a website. This year, Tighe said, they also will work with five food bloggers who will develop recipes and help promote Florida peaches to their followers.

The social media campaigns are heavy January through May to drive consumers to retailers when the peaches are in season. As low-chill varieties, they require at least to hours of temperatures below 45 degrees to put them into winter dormancy. Without that dormancy, bloom can be weak and strung out, flower health can be compromised and fruit quality can be affected. One of the issues peach growers have experienced recently is erratic chilling due to climate change, said Ali Sarkhosh, UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Science assistant professor and Extension specialist.

Such was the case during the winter, when Indian River and Polk counties only experienced about 60 chill hours. During , chilling returned and Indian River County had about hours and Polk County had hours. To be successful, Sarkhosh said, growers may need to adopt different tree training methods. Long term, he added, the industry needs news rootstocks that tolerate wet soil conditions.

Currently, most trees are grafted on Flordaguard, a UF rootstock with resistance to peach root-knot nematodes. Some growers lost all of their trees.

Should they identify a candidate, breeders will use classical methods to cross it with Flordaguard to develop a rootstock that can tolerate both issues. The association has been engaged on numerous fronts both in Tallahassee and in Washington on behalf of its members. Marco Rubio and Reps.