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DPI Diary, March 22, 2013

March 25, 2013

Here’s what’s happening this week on DPI’s Social Media

Plant history blog concentrates on citrus

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Our FDACS/DPI blog series, “Five Hundred Years of Florida Flora Firsts: How Plants have shaped Florida’s History. continued to focus on threats Florida’s citrus industry has confronted, this week turning our attention to the Mediterranean fruit fly. The Medfly, one of the world’s worst agricultural pests, was first detected in Florida in 1929. This week we traced the evolution of  Medfly eradication techniques during the first half of the twentieth century. Next week we’ll chronicle the continuing efforts to eradicate this pest from 1950 to the present.

Earlier posts in the series deal with citrus greening, or huanglongbing, citrus canker and the geographical changes the citrus industry has undergone in the 1800s and 1900s due to freezes. You can access our entire series here.

Work continues to eradicate GALS

VideoShoot2Mia19Mar13Members of our public information team traveled to Miami this week for a video shoot documenting the efforts to eradicate the giant African land snail (GALS) from Miami-Dade County. We are continuing to inform the public of the dangers this slimy invader poses to lawns, foliage, buildings, commercial agriculture and public heath. Our teams continue to respond to public calls to our Helpline, 888-397-1517. Our team is also working with the Dade school system to encourage elementary students to look for and report the snails, under supervision of an adult, through the Junior Detective Program.

TSA is the “Weed of the Month?”

Solanum-viarum-plant-800

Our botanists have designated the tropical soda apple, Solanum viarum, as the Weed of the Month for March. Recognized as a threat to Florida’s cattle and vegetable industries since 1988, it has invaded most of the southeastern and south central United States, from North Carolina and Tennessee west to Texas and Oklahoma. According to the Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System, this species has been observed in 58 of Florida’s 67 counties and is particularly problematic in disturbed sites such as pastures, citrus groves, vegetable fields and roadsides.

A successful biocontrol program involving introduction of  the tropical soda apple leaf-eating beetle, Gratiana bolliviana, has provided considerable control of the TSA weeds in Florida. The Beetle, which attacks and damages TSA exclusively, was first released on a Polk County, Fla. ranch. Since then, beetles have been released in 39 counties in Florida, three in Georgia, two in Alabama and one county in Texas. They are spreading from one to 10 miles per year from the initial release sites and causing extensive defoliation on TSA in Florida.

Laurence Cutts receives Florida Folk Heritage Award

Laurence Cutts of Chipley received a Florida Folk Heritage Award on Wednesday, March 20, in Tallahassee recognizing  his achievements perpetuating the traditional art of beekeeping and honey production.  A third-generation beekeeper and former chief of the Apiary Insepection Bureau at FDACS/DPI, Cutts has devoted nearly 75 years to carrying on his family heritage, as well as the State of Florida’s rich beekeeping traditions. He served as chief of the Apiary Inspection Bureau at FDACS/DPI. Read story here.

On the Calendar:

  • Nominations sought for Agriculture Environmental Leadership Award. Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam is welcoming nominations for his Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award, which has been presented annually since 1994. The program spotlights the environmentally innovative farming practices of the state’s growers and ranchers. Deadline for submitting nominations is May 1. Click Here  for a nomination form and additional information.
  • Volunteers encouraged to read on Ag Literacy Day. Florida Agriculture in the Classroom, Inc. is inviting volunteers to register to read in classrooms on Ag Literacy Day, April 30.  Volunteers can register, teachers can request a reader, and books can be requested and downloaded at: http://www.flagintheclassroom.com/agliteracyday.html.
  • Dr. Xiaoan Sun, FDACS/DPI plant pathologist, will be honored as a Volunteer of the Year for 2012 by the Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas (FAVACA). He will be recognized, along with three others,  at the Florida Chamber of Commerce International Days April 3 at 8 a.m. Dr. Sun traveled to Trinidad and most recently to Dominica to create a management strategy to eradicate citrus greening disease.
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