Flowers striped-flower_6884174152_o

This is the sure key to my heart. However, I always hate to toss the flowers after they’ve wilted. The solution: Potted flowers. Buy your other half flowers that they can not only enjoy during Valentine’s Day, but some that they can enjoy all year round. People who aren’t so skilled with a garden rake can leave the flowers in their pots. Professional green thumbs can transplant them wherever they like. This is something that I do for my mom every year because she is an avid gardener and Valentine’s Day is somewhat of a gateway into Spring. Flowers get her excited for the warm weather that is (hopefully) on the way!

Trying to save money?Couldn’t make it to the store? Try making a flower bouquet out of old books or maps. Once Valentine’s Day is over, you can keep them around as decoration. Visit our Pinterest Board for more last minute ideas.

Remember to check regularly for plant industry updates on the pests and diseases of Florida’s plants from DPI, here at our website. It’s very important to only purchase plants from registered nurseries to ensure the health of the plants your placing at your home. Find a registered nursery near you!

Come back tomorrow to see more Valentine’s Day gift inspiration. 

Valentine’s Day is WHEN!?

February 12, 2016

heart-roses1Love is in the air. Valentine’s Day is around the corner and if you’re anything like the rest of America, you’re probably scrambling for some last minute gift ideas — I know I am. So let me take a moment and enlighten you on a few Florida-inspired things that will show just how much you care.

The top three Valentine’s Gifts are usually sweets, flowers and cards – often accompanied by dinner at a restaurant. These things are great and there’s no sense in breaking tradition, but there is good chance that the stores are going to be very picked-over at this point and with no reservations, you’ll have to wait an hour and a half at a restaurant. Avoid bringing home the broken candy bar and wilted posies — lets mix things up a bit using Fresh from Florida products.

Sweets — The perfect treat for men and women alike. Now when most of us give our loved ones chocolate, we just run to Walmart or Target and pick up a bag of Hershey’s Treasures, right? But this Valentine’s Day, go the extra mile and try making a sweet treat for your sweetie. You can even try making it together. I promise that all of these recipes are easy – and the best part – they ALL use Fresh from Florida products! White-and-Dark-Chocolate-Mousse-with-Florida-Strawberries_recipe

Come back tomorrow to see more Valentine’s Day gift inspiration. 

DPI Diary

February 12, 2016

 

Have a happy Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s is a day when it’s important to do things right, and our White-and-Dark-Chocolate-Mousse-with-Florida-Strawberries_recipeFLDPI Blog is helping. We’re posting a series of entries that will help you decorate, celebrate and dine using Fresh From Florida products. (Watch for the postings on Facebook and Twitter.) Meanwhile, Fresh From Florida says Florida strawberries are a perfect fruit for the day. (After all, if you cut them right, each slice makes a sweet little red-and-white heart.)

CropValue

Visualizing the value of Florida crops

We really like this visual from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, reposted by our friends at the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association. You can see at a glance the value of Florida’s top 10 fall and winter fruit and vegetable crops.

But . . . South Florida farmers are not having a good season

SFlaFlood“My field of salad greens was under three inches of water. They don’t swim well.”

That’s a Florida farmer quoted in this article by the News-Press. Heavy rains have swamped crop production on many South Florida farms. In fact, at least 23 crops are behind last year’s production.  The crop losses are increasing cost of fresh fruits and vegetables to consumers.

“We’re currently in communication with the South Florida Management District, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others to monitor the situation and provide support to the impacted communities as needed,” said commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

Deformed wing virus in the news

AIHA0005 trucks with beehivesMedia reports stemming from a recently published scientific paper blame human movement of bees for spreading the deformed wing virus, which is a major contributor to colony collapse. With hundreds of loads of bees leaving Florida to pollinate California almonds, we talked about the issue with State Apiarist David Westervelt. Read our post here.

What’s that plant? This bug?

Did you know you can submit a plant or insect, spider, snail or other related invertebrate to FDACS-DPI for identification? It’s easy and we’ve even posted videos on our website explaining how. Here’s the link to the page

Been to the fair yet?

InsectEncounter2015This is the last weekend for the Florida State Fair in Tampa.

When you visit, be sure to drop by the Insect Encounters in the Ag Hall of Fame Building. Our scientists and inspectors are at the display and eager to engage with you on all insect issues.

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AIHA0005 trucks with beehives

Virus is major contributor to colony collapse

Just as beekeepers are moving thousands of honey bee hives from Florida and Georgia to California to pollinate the almond crop there, media reports are warning that human movement of bees is mainly responsible for spreading a virus that contributes to bee deaths, worldwide. The articles are based on a report published in the Journal Science.

Researchers at the University of Exeter in England and the University of California, Berkeley, found human movement of honey bees is mainly responsible for the spread of the deformed wing virus, which was detected in Florida about two years after the varroa mite, Varroa destructor, was detected in Florida in 1987.

Florida State Apiarist David Westervelt, who is chief of Apiary Inspection for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, says the Florida honey bee industry has lo4908250688_c75496ddb3_nng been aware of the deformed wing virus and its relationship to the varroa mite. He said DWV on its own is not a major threat to hives. But it can be deadly in a hive that also has varroa mites.

“While the virus by itself does not generally kill off whole lines of honey bees, we are aware that it is a key player in colony collapse,” Westervelt said. “Right now the only things we can do are to work to eliminate varroa mites and develop hardier strains of honey bees.”

Because California has a chronic shortage of honey bees, Florida’s commercial beekeepers annually send nearly 400 semi-trailers of bees to California to pollinate almonds. Each truckload carries on average 480 hives. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services inspects each truckload leaving Florida for California.

Westervelt said the DWV does not normally kill off whole lines of bees by iself, and beekeepers are using treatments including certain acids and thyme oil against the mites.

While the Exeter and Berkeley researchers say European honey bees are now the primary source of DWV, the varroa mite appears to facilitate virus transmission. European honey bees, which are the honey bees cultivated in the U.S. for honey and pollination, acquired the varroa mite from Asian honey bees, possibly via the commercial exchange of queens.

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DPI Diary

February 5, 2016

How are things going at FDACS-DPI? Well . . . fair

We have been oh, so social this week.

Commissioner Adam H. Putnam hit the switch to open the Florida State Fair, and now some of our FDACS-DPI scientists and inspectors are on hand to greet you at our displays at Insect Encounters in the Ag Hall of Fame Building. Visit, and you’ll see some arthropods that are pretty, some that are scary and some that are just plain weird — and get expert explanations.

ApiaryStateFDair2016

Regardless of what cats say, Dogs Rule at pest detection

Don’t Pack a Pest program leaders joined our highly trained and very friendly agricultural detector dogs and their handlers, greeting legislators and guests at the Taste of Florida legislative reception at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

Canines continue to amaze scientists with what they are capable of detecting. For example, Verde and handler, Ives Lopez, work at shipping facilities, intercepting invasive species that threaten Florida agriculture. Detector Dog Sierra and her handler Omar Garcia  work to detect giant African land snails in Miami, where FDACS is working to eradicate the giant African land snail.

TasteofFlaDetectorDogs2016

Highly trained and friendly: Detector dog Verde and her handler, Ives Lopez, left, and Omar Garcia and Sierra, right, flank admirers at the Taste of Florida reception in Tallahassee.

Don’t forget Linus

Of course, while we’re talking about detector dogs, we wouldn’t want to snub Linus, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detector dog that is the face of the Traveler’s Don’t Pack a Pest program. Don’t Pack a Pest aims to remind international travelers everywhere to declare agricultural items in their luggage. We even provide a handy, mobile-device-friendly web page where you can answer the question, “Can I Bring It?”

Have a delicious Superbowl Weekend

We wish everyone an enjoyable Superbowl weekend. May we suggest you serve up delicious treats using Fresh From Florida ingredients? Go to www.freshfromflorida.com/Recipes/ to see what’s in season and browse the wealth of recipes posted by our culinary ambassador and State of Florida Executive Chef Justin Timineri.

Oh, and by the way, thanks, Chef, for the great cuisine you provided for the Taste of Florida reception.

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DPI Diary

January 29, 2016

Plant fanciers favor “Fresh from Florida,” a festival features big bugs, Florida bees hit the road west and the Florida State Fair and Strawberry Festival open next week.

“Fresh from Florida” plants ar preferred

Fresh-from-Florida-plant-survey-012616-300x240Consumers prefer plants with the “Fresh from Florida” label. Research by a UF-IFAS economist indicates 83 percent of respondents recalled noticing the “Fresh from Florida” logos on plants in retail garden centers. To be designated as “Fresh from Florida,” 51 percent of the product must originate in the Sunshine State, according to Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services guidelines.

Big bugs nestled in the gardens

BigBeetleSaturday is a “Bug A Palooza” day at Orlando’s Leu Gardens. The gardens are currently featuring the giant sculptures of insects by David Rogers. Bug A Palooza, which runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., features hands-on activities, crafts and even an insect petting zoo.

Important survey for growers and beekeepers

Please help FDACS distribute this important pollinator–pesticide awareness survey to growers, beekeepers and other stakeholders. If you are a stakeholder, take the survey. Sharing on social media is encouraged!

Bees are on the move

HoneyBeeFlowerFlorida beekeepers are moving bees, first to California to pollinate 1.7 million acres of almonds and then to other states. National Geographic posted this great animated map to indicate the movement of hives and the crops that depend on them for pollination.  Our DPI Apiary inspectors are busy certifying truckloads of bees for the voyage.

Plan to “bee” there!

It’s the most extensive educational honey bee event in the state of Florida and it will be held Friday and Saturday, March 4-5 at the Whitney Marine Lab, 9505 Ocean Shore Boulevard, St. Augustine, FL 32080. It’s the annual Florida Bee College and beekeepers, naturalists, farmers, gardeners, county agents, and anyone interested in honey bees should plan to attend. DPI’s apiary inspectors play a major role in the college.

Don’t Pack a Pest

The folks at Forbes magazine included agricultural products on a list of “10 things to bring on every international flight (and three things not to).” We want travelers to know they can usually answer the question “Can I bring it?” by visiting www.Dontpackapest.com

Florida State Fair and Strawberry Festival open next week.

The Florida Strawberry Festival opens its gates March 3 in Plant City. Festivities include strawberries, shortcake, big name concerts, rides, games, shows, animals and exhibits, and the fun won’t stop until The Band Perry’s concert closes out the Festival on March 13.

The Florida State Fair runs February 4-15 at the state fairgrounds in Tampa. Staff members from the Division of Plant Industry will be manning Insect Encounters at the Hall of Fame Building. Remember, you can reserve tickets now for the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame Banquet and Ceremony, Feb. 9 beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Our friends at Florida Ag in the Classroom send this reminder: Registration for the 2016 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference is open! The conference will be held June 20-24th in Litchfield Park, Arizona. Early bird registration is now through April 15th. http://naitcconference.usu.edu/index.cfm

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Survey supports exending Don’t Pack a Pest to Caribbean

DPAPAmbassadorJamaica

Jamaica is a partner in the Don’t Pack a Pest travelers program.

Shortly after the inception of the Don’t Pack a Pest program in 2011, the program directors set a goal of inviting Caribbean countries to participate. Now, five years later, seven island nations are partnering in the program. They are Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and The Turks and Caicos Islands, the latest to join, in December 2015.

International airports in each of those nations remind travelers to declare agricultural products in luggage. Signs are up at 50 major ports of entry in Florida and the Caribbean and the program video is playing in 20 of the busiest airports in the United States and at cruise terminals in Florida and elsewhere.

Linus the Dector DogA recent study by the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education at the University of Florida supports the wisdom of extending the program into the Caribbean. In response to the survey, more than half of American travelers – 54 percent — said they had been to the Caribbean in the past three years. Top destinations were the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Jamaica. Residents’ preferences were evenly split between airplanes and cruise ships.

PIE Center researchers distributed an online survey to travelers nationwide who were planning to or had traveled to the Caribbean to gauge the public perceptions of the Travelers Don’t Pack a Pest program. More than 1,000 U.S. residents age 18 years and older completed the survey.

Read a summary of the survey here: http://www.piecenter.com/2016/01/14/study-travelers-careful-with-caribbean-destinations/

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