Rely On Citrus Research

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Today, there are a number of issues facing the Florida citrus industry — citrus greening and canker are some that come quickly to mind. So, how do we go about solving these and other specific problems facing our industry? It begins with research (the product); then to Extension (packaging, delivery, and marketing); and ends with the grower (consumer).

Research is discovery and finding answers to previously unsolved questions.The University of Florida (UF) and specifically in this case, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), employ a number of faculty with research expertise in many horticulture disciplines. These men and women are located throughout the state at research and education centers and on the main campus in Gainesville. UF/IFAS researchers find solutions to the problems that are plaguing the Florida citrus industry. This is the product that UF/IFAS has to offer citrus growers in Florida. We have to be responsive to our consumers, just as any corporation would be in providing a product.

As citrus Extension agents assigned to citrus-producing counties, we package, market, and deliver research-based information to growers in a variety of formats. This research information can come from not only UF/IFAS, but also other research institutions. Many growers take advantage of our grower meetings and seminar programs. Citrus Extension agents publish monthly newsletters containing a variety of timely articles and meeting information for citrus growers. We have also published articles in trade publications and fact sheets containing production information based on the latest research.

We work closely with research faculty in finding grower cooperators for field research and coordinating and/or conducting field demonstrations that show the benefits of the implementation of new research-developed technologies. This is done in an effort to enable Florida growers to be the most productive citrus growers in the world. Delivery and demonstration of the product is but one facet of our Extension mission. Extension agents effectively communicate with growers at the local level to help formulate and identify new questions that require answers. This information can then be passed on to research to find appropriate answers to these new questions. The process is ongoing and requires participation and communication of all parties involved (growers, researchers, and Extension).

Much of the information that is transferred to the Florida citrus industry today is based on science and discovery made by UF/IFAS and other research institutions from the U.S. and around the world.

This research is then packaged and delivered by citrus Extension agents. We realize that Florida citrus growers are the consumers and UF/IFAS needs to know what you are buying. If you want to become an active participant in the “Gator Nation,” I would suggest you contact your local citrus Extension agent.

Chris Oswalt is a multi-county Extension agent with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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