December 12, 2016

poinsettiaThe poinsettia is the most popular holiday plant this time of year. They come in an array of different colors from pink, blue, purple, white, orange, even multi-colored but are traditionally red. You’ve seen these beautiful plants in every supermarket from November to December but they mysteriously disappear after New Year’s Day.

Many people toss them, knowing they will buy new ones next year. Others will attempt but fail to keep up with the 12 hours of dark that is required to alter the color on the bracts (bracts are the leaf-like structures that change colors). However, may fortunate and/or skilled gardeners will nurture their plants keeping them alive all year allowing them to grow to 10-feet tall, enjoying their colorful autumnal bloom.


Native to southern Mexico, poinsettias were originally used by the Aztecs for dye and medicinal purposes. The plant was introduced to the United States by Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Ambassador to Mexico, who brought the plant back to South Carolina in 1828. He began propagating and dispersing the plant amongst his friends. By 1836, the plant gained the common name poinsettia. In honor of Joel Poinsett, December 12th has been titled National Poinsettia Day, marking his passing and honoring his botanical achievements.


Poinsettias are not poisonous, however, those with latex allergies or sensitivities might want to avoid the sap, which contains latex (check it out, latex is a natural product). What you should be concerned about are pets and children. It is not edible, and those with cats, dogs, horses, cows and birds should proceed with caution when this plant is around their animals.


Don’t throw your poinsettia away. This seasonal plant can bloom until March, and then be saved until next November when it will bloom all over again.  Check out UF/IFAS for tips on how to care for your poinsettia through the holiday season and beyond.

Happy National Poinsettia Day!







DPI Diary

January 15, 2016

A summary of social media activities by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry

Bee College coming up soon. Will you “bee” there?

The 2016 Bee College, the most extensive and best-attended annual educational honey bee event in Florida, is just around the corner. Professional and back yard beekeepers, as well as BeeCollege2016naturalists, farmers, gardeners, county agents and anyone else interested in honey bees, should plan to attend. Our DPI Apiary staff will be present to meet and greet, facilitate and teach classes.

  • When: 7 a.m. March 4 – 6 p.m. March 5
  • Where: Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, University of Florida, 9505 N. Oceanside Blvd., St. Augustine, Fla.

The bee college provides lectures in the morning and hands-on workshops in the afternoon. There will be live honey bee colonies on site for open hive demonstrations and protective gear for everyone. You won’t leave hungry, either. Registration includes morning and afternoon snacks, lunch both days, a full banquet dinner on Friday evening and an ice cream social following the Awards Ceremony. Get more information and sign up here. (Image: BeeCollege2016)

Honey bees are amazing. (But you knew that, right?)

TBT this week looked back at a 2014 blog post that explains how bees survive the cold of winter that kills off so many other insects. Not so much of a problem in Florida, of course, but fascinating nonetheless.

Tri-ology: The chronicle of invasive detections

Our blog invited followers to read Tri-ology. The FDACS Division of Plant Industry has published this journal six times each year for the past 54 years. It lists detections of invasive species in Florida, including locations and other details. Eye-opening information for members of the scientific community and laymen as well.

There’s a lot of life in a little soil

SoilMemeFixedSomeone, apparently, has counted individual bacteria in one teaspoon of healthy soil, enabling our friends at USDA-NRCS to produce this meme citing a total that ranges from 100 million to 1 billion.  The USDA-NRCS website provides more down-to-earth information and it’s well worth your time. You can even click on a map to learn how Florida soil is different from other states’ soils and how Florida growers work to enrich our generally sandy soils.

We’ll be seeing you . . .

. . . at the State Fair, we hope. It’s just 20 days away, February 4-15 at the Tampa fairgrounds. Look for FDACS-DPI staff at the ever-popular Insect Encounters at the Florida Hall of Fame Building.

. . . At the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame Banquet, February 9. If you have not yet purchased tickets you can do so by following this link: http://floridaaghalloffame.org/annual-banquet-and-ceremony/ .

The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. The dinner and program commence at 7 p.m.

. . . and at the Taste of Florida Agriculture Reception at the Capitol in Tallahassee February 3, 2016.




Vilsack Announces $30 Million to Fight Citrus Disease

USDA Office of Communications sent this bulletin at 02/09/2015 11:45 AM EST

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Release No. 0032.15
Brian K. Mabry 202-720-4623
Vilsack Announces $30 Million to Fight Citrus Disease
USDA Targets Citrus Greening with Promising Tools and Long Term Solutions
WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $30 million in funding today for 22 projects to help citrus producers combat Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, a devastating citrus disease that threatens U.S. citrus production. The money will fund promising projects that could offer near-term solutions as well as research funding that may develop long-terms solutions. The promising near-term tools and solutions are funded through the HLB Multiagency Coordination Group while the research projects are funded through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative Citrus Disease Research and Education (CDRE) program, which is made available through the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill).”Our HLB Multi-Agency Coordination Group has worked closely with the citrus industry to select and fund projects that we think will make a real difference for growers against HLB,” said Vilsack. “Funding these projects through cooperative agreements puts us one step closer to putting real tools to fight this disease into the hands of citrus growers.” Vilsack continued, “Through the CDRE research we are announcing today, we are also investing in long-term solutions to diseases that threaten the long-term survival of the citrus industry.”USDA’s HLB Multi-Agency Coordination Group funded fifteen projects that support thermotherapy, best management practices, early detection, and pest control efforts for a total of more than $7 million. All of them are designed to provide near-term tools and solutions to help the citrus industry fight HLB. The projects include:

Two projects to provide improved delivery of thermotherapy to HLB infected trees, a promising treatment that has shown to help infected trees regain productivity after treatment. One of these projects will test thermotherapy on a grove-wide scale.

Six projects to provide citrus producers with best management practices in Florida citrus groves.

One project will focus on lowering the pH of the irrigation water and soil to strengthen the root systems of citrus trees to help them better tolerate HLB infection.

Three projects will support different combinations of integrated management approaches for sustaining production in trees in different stages of infection.

Two projects will test strategies for preventing tree death due to HLB infection. One of those will field test rootstocks that have shown ability to tolerate HLB infection. The other will use technologies to rapidly propagate the tolerant material for field use by the industry.

Three projects to increase early detection of HLB.

One project will train dogs to detect HLB infected trees. Detector dogs have proven to be highly adept at detecting citrus canker and early results suggest they will be an effective early detection tool for HLB.

One project will develop a root sampling and testing strategy.

One project will compare several promising early detection tests.

Four projects to provide tools to kill the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), the vector of HLB.

One will produce and release the insect Diaphorencyrtus aligarhensis as a second biological control agent in California.

One project will use a biocontrol fungus to kill ACP adults.

One project will use a trap to attract and kill ACP adults.

One project will increase the use of field cages for the production of the insect Tamarixia radiata in residential areas, especially those that are adjacent to commercial groves in Texas. Tamarixia has already proven to be an effective biological control agent for ACP. Using field cages will enable the wider use of this effective ACP control.

In addition to these projects, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture funded more than $23 million dollars for research and education project to find lasting solutions to citrus greening disease. Examples of funded projects include developing HLB-resistant citrus cultivars, the development of field detection system for HLB, using heat as a treatment for prolonging productivity in infected citrus trees, creating a new antimicrobial treatment, among others. A fact sheet with a complete list of awardees and project descriptions (PDF, 316KB) is available on the USDA website. Fiscal year 2014 grants have been awarded to:

  • University of California, Davis, Calif., $4,579,067
  • University of California, Riverside, Calif., $1,683,429
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., $4,613,838
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., $3,495,832
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., $3,338,248
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., $2,096,540
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., $3,734,480

CDRE is a supplement to the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI). The focus of this year’s funding was specifically on citrus greening disease. Because there are wide differences in the occurrence and progression of HLB among the states, there were regional as well as national priorities for CDRE. These priorities, recommended by the Citrus Disease Subcommittee, fall within four categories: 1) priorities that deal with the pathogen; 2) those that deal with the insect vector; 3) those that deal with citrus orchard production systems; and 4) those that deal with non-agricultural citrus tree owners.

The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).



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