The Florida Ag Expo Serves Growers [Opinion]

Big crowd at the 2015 Florida Ag Expo welcome
A large crowd turned out to help make history at the 10th annual Florida Ag Expo. The industry gathering is set to enter into its second decade of success. Photo by Frank Giles

The agenda for the 2016 Florida Ag ExpoSM at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC) on Nov. 2 includes a session on the Q-biotype whitefly, but not because it’s already wreaking havoc on your fruit and vegetable crops.

As of this writing, there’s still no evidence the Q-biotype has infested local fruit or vegetable fields. The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is dedicated to delivering solutions to growers. Often, that means starting before the problem even arises.

That’s the case with the Q-biotype. Getting a head start is why we send researchers abroad looking at threats we expect to arrive here. It’s why we do so much work on monitoring and detection. It’s why our researchers test possible solutions for things that aren’t a problem for you — yet. It’s also why we recognize that it’s important to put our discoveries into your hands. No one can implement solutions to your problems better than you can. You just need the tools.

That’s why we have the Expo. And, we are proud to partner with Florida Grower® magazine all of these years to host this event to serve you.
At the Expo, you’ll hear from UF/IFAS scientists about what should concern you about the Q-biotype whitefly, and probably some about what shouldn’t concern you.

It won’t just be talk, either. Some of you will have the chance to practice identifying whiteflies and other bugs using microscopes in the lab of Dr. Hugh Smith of our GCREC faculty. He’ll help you differentiate harmful pests from benign bugs.

There’s lots more on the agenda — field tours, the grower panel, exhibitors, and a no-cost lunch if you register in advance at FloridaAgExpo.com.

The Expo is one way UF/IFAS partners with growers to get a head start on things that could become problems and share strategies on how we can more successfully address them if they do.

With so many existing and potential threats to agriculture, it’s imperative we work together on this.

The Expo is such an important event that I’ve invited my entire leadership team — including the directors of all 12 UF/IFAS research centers and 14 academic department chairs — to Balm to participate.

If you want the ear of UF/IFAS leadership, the Florida Ag Expo is the place to do it.

What you’ll get the most out of, though, is talking to our faculty — the men and women who are working for you every day in the greenhouse, the lab, and the experimental fields.

The Expo will give you a chance to see things you couldn’t otherwise see — because they’re so tiny, like bugs, that they escape notice; or because they haven’t even happened yet.

I hope to see you there. I look forward to talking science with you.

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