Third leaf ‘Flordagold’ peaches [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] planted at densities of 1667, 2500, 3333, and 5000 trees/ha and topped (0.75 m) after fruit harvest the previous June yielded 13.4, 24.6, 19.7, and 32.6 MT of fruit/ha, respectively, compared to 0.8 MT obtained from non-topped trees planted at a density of 238 trees/ha. Topping of trees at 0.5 m reduced yield, compared with 0.75 m, at each of the 4 spacings. Yields of ‘Florida 3-4’ nectarines were 5.3, 5.4, 6.7, and 9.4 MT of fruit/ha, respectively, compared to 0.8 MT from non-topped trees. Fruit from trees topped postharvest were larger than from non-topped trees.
Florida has a unique training program for 4-H youths with interest in citrus. Extension specialists in the Department of Fruit Crops, county extension personnel and industry leaders cooperate in an annual Junior Citrus Institute held at 4-H Camp Cloverleaf near Lake Placid. Here, outstanding 4-H members spend a week learning horticultural operations such as fertilizing, spraying, pruning and cultivation, as well as nursery practices.
During the past 10 years, the Florida strawberry growers, through the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, have made a serious commitment to fund university research on strawberries. They have purchased equipment and donated monies for facilities at Dover. They have also helped support a new faculty position in breeding and genetics. During this same period, the University of Florida has made an equally strong commitment to support strawberry research and extension. These commitments are beginning to pay significant dividends for industry and the University. Cultural and pest management information has been generated that is saving the industy money, and the breeding program is developing new cultivars that will keep the industry competitive in the marketplace. The University has benefitted through the acquisition of new facilities, equipment, and faculty and graduate student support.
Fruit of ‘Bonita’ and ‘Beckyblue’ rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade) cultivars were harvested weekly, then stored in two different types of consumer baskets and subjected to five time/temperature storage regimes. Fruit increased in total soluble solids (TSS) and pH and decreased in acidity (Ac) with advancing harvest dates. Total soluble solids and pH of ‘Bonita’ fruit were significantly lower and Ac higher than for fruit of ‘Beckyblue’. After 3 weeks of storage at 1°C plus 3 days at 16°, ‘Beckyblue’ had higher (8 times) decay than fruit of ‘Bonita’. There were no cultivar differences in fruit firmness or weight loss due to storage, but fruit weight was reduced significantly when packaged in molded pulp fiberboard baskets. Fruit of ‘Bonita’ can be used for both domestic and export markets, requiring long storage duration, but ‘Beckyblue’ fruit should be limited to domestic markets.
A modified Scholander pressure bomb was sensitive enough to detect significant differences in relative leaf water stress among ‘Orlando’ tangelo (Citrus reticulata Blanco × C. paradisi Mact) on several rootstocks. Leaf water potential for the rootstocks ranged from -7.9 bars for rough lemon (Citrus jambhiri Lush.) to -13.7 bars for those on trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliata Raf.). There was a diurnal pattern in leaf water stress. Modifications and procedures for the pressure bomb measurements are described.
Research in the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) has developed production techniques whereby oranges can be produced for approximately 30-35¢ per 90 lb. box (40.8 kg). However, a 1968 survey has indicated that many growers had costs several times this figure. To counteract this, extension specialists at the University of Florida developed a “Program for Economical Citrus Production.” A research-documented text with an extensive bibliography and a series of charts with duplicate 35 mm colored slides for group presentation was prepared. Extension citrus agents received packages of the text material along with intensive training in each segment of the program. This text material is now used in a unified, statewide program whereby all extension personnel concerned with citrus can conduct intensive programs on specialized topics.
‘Sungem’ nectarine [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] (Fig. 1) was released to provide an early ripening nectarine for commercial markets. All nectarines released by the Univ. of Florida begin with the prefix “Sun”. ‘Sun-gem’ is expected to be successful for homeowners, consumer harvest, local markets, and commercial growers with large acreage.
The Florida horticulture industry (vegetables, ornamentals, citrus, and deciduous fruit), valued at $4.5 billion, has widely adopted microirrigation techniques to use water and fertilizer more efficiently. A broad array of microirrigation systems is available, and benefits of microirrigation go beyond water conservation. The potential for more-efficient agricultural chemical (pesticides and fertilizer) application is especially important in today's environmentally conscious society. Microirrigation is a tool providing growers with the power to better manage costly inputs, minimize environmental impact, and still produce high-quality products at a profit.