DPI Diary, March 29, 2013

March 29, 2013

Dr. Schubert conducts first AgScience Café


Dr. Tim Schubert

Dr. Tim Schubert presented the first Department-wide AgScience Café March 26, reviewing the history and science involved in citrus greening before a statewide audience via WebEx. Dr. Schubert, biological administrator of the Bureau of Entomology, Nematology and Plant Pathology, said greening  poses an enormous threat to Florida citrus production.  It was first discovered in 2008, and has now spread to all major commercial citrus producing areas in the state, with the exception of some satsuma production in the panhandle. He urged department employees to watch for and report trees that may exhibit signs of greening and outlined avenues for scientific research that could have the potential to control greening in the long term. (See DPI’s history of greening in Florida here.)

Medfly takes center stage on DPI Blog Series

medfly2This week on social media, we posted Part II of our history of Mediterranean fruit fly events in Florida, part of our year-long series,  “Five Hundred Years of Florida Flora Firsts: How Plants have shaped Florida’s History. This week’s post covers Medfly in Florida from 1950 to the present.  It traces the development of new techniques adopted over the years to deal with infestations. One of the most helpful, Sterile Insect Technology (SIT), was introduced during a 1985 infestation in the Miami area. It was was used again in infestations in 1987 and 1990. Using STI involves aerial release of sterile male Medflies. A target ratio of 100 sterile flies to one wild female (the “overflooding ratio”) makes the likelihood of a female mating with a wild male quite low. Mating with the sterile males prevents females from reproducing, because their eggs go unfertilized. Presently, officials are routinely releasing sterile flies as a preventive measure. The sterile males are reared in a  joint USDA/DPI facility in Sarasota from sterile pupae shipped from Guatemala and are marked with a dye so inspectors can identify them if and when they end up in traps.

Solanum-viarum-plant-800The Weed of the Month is tropical soda apple (TSA). It appeared in Florida in 1988 and is a threat to Florida  cattle and vegetable operations. A successful, joint FDACS and UF/IFAS biocontrol program involving release of  the tropical soda apple leaf-eating beetle, Gratiana bolliviana, has provided considerable control of the TSA weed throughout Florida.

On the Calendar:

  • Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet have announced plans to hold the monthly Cabinet meeting in St. Augustine April 2 to honor the 500th anniversary of the landing of Juan Ponce de Leon in Florida.
  • Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam continues to welcome nominations for his Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award, 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.
  • 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.

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