By Elise Schuchman and Craig Frey
A new website dedicated to Florida commercial vegetable production is now available. The site (commercialveg.ifas.ufl.edu) is a collaborative effort between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension offices, research and education centers, growers and crop consultants. It provides commercial vegetable growers with a consolidated access point to the latest research, pest and disease monitoring and integrated pest management strategies. This collaborative effort aims to improve crop yields, reduce costs and enhance the sustainability of Florida vegetable production systems.
Under the Reports tab, you will find the Pest and Disease Hotline, which includes an archived list of regional scouting reports containing summaries of pest and disease activity levels in South and Central Florida. This report is sent to subscribers every three weeks, and subscription information is available on the webpage. The Asian Bean Thrips page is also located here.
The Research Connections page is to keep growers informed about ongoing applied research. Many of the projects have opportunities for growers to become involved. Having on-farm trials to test new methods and technologies is helpful for both growers and researchers to determine the success of new practices. Please consider reaching out to one of the highlighted researchers if any of the current or past Research Connection articles interest you.
EVENTS AND CEUs
If you wish to attend upcoming in-person or online events, head to the Upcoming Grower Meetings page. Industry conferences, South Florida vegetable growers’ meetings, Produce Safety Alliance trainings, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points courses and more are listed on this page. Many of these events provide Certified Crop Adviser and continuing education unit (CEU) credits, and all of them provide valuable information and/or networking opportunities.
The Recorded Growers Meetings page contains videos of UF/IFAS meetings in which researchers present their latest findings. It’s a great way to learn about new research that is relevant to you without having to search through scientific literature. You can also receive CEUs by watching the recent videos and taking the associated pre- and post-tests.
More CEU opportunities are on the Upcoming Pesticide Classes page, which lists pesticide applicator training courses being offered by various Extension offices. The Other Training Opportunities page also offers CEU credits with learn-at-your-own-pace resources. It includes links to other training programs such as the numerous Worker Protection Standard trainings (worker, handler and train-the-trainer), the Environmental Protection Agency-approved Fumigant Training Program and more.
The Resources tab contains links to multiple resources that would be beneficial to have in your back pocket while on the farm. The Identification Guides page has information for many of the new pests that have impacted the South Florida vegetable industry in recent years. It also contains links to download two identification handbooks recently produced by the Hendry County Extension office. One of these handbooks is an identification guide to the nymph and adult stages of stinkbugs commonly found in recent surveys on tomato farms. The other is an identification guide to the weeds that host whitefly-transmitted cucurbit viruses (cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus, cucurbit leaf crumple virus and squash vein yellowing virus) found in South Florida. It also describes which weeds and crops express viral symptoms.
Other links under the Resources tab include the latest UF/IFAS Commercial Vegetable Production Handbook as well as the North Florida U-Scout website, which contains identification pictures and information about diseases and disorders found in many Florida vegetable crops.
Finally, there is a Contact page that includes the vegetable Extension agents who are partnered with the website and the counties that they serve.
The Commercial Vegetable Production website is still in the process of gathering additional partners and materials. If you have any suggestions for additional resources, contact Craig Frey (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Elise Schuchman designed the website and is a sponsored projects coordinator with UF/IFAS. Craig Frey is a UF/IFAS multi-county commercial vegetable Extension agent for Southwest Florida.
Growers can access presentations from recent educational events and can earn continuing education units.