Grower meetings have been curtailed due to COVID-19, but Extension agents and specialists with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) are available to assist growers needing in-person help.
“We do have the ability to get out and travel and come see folks,” says Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) Director Michael Rogers. “If there are problems or things that need more direct hands-on help, by all means reach out to our specialists, our agents.”
Rogers also says more staffers are returning to UF/IFAS facilities as part of “our gradual return to normal.” In the early stages of COVID-19, only essential personnel needed to keep research projects intact were allowed at UF/IFAS facilities. But UF/IFAS is now focused on getting personnel “working on critical research needs or areas of critical Extension programs that are important to growers who need information from us right now,” Rogers says.
Although more researchers and others are returning to facilities, they are practicing social distancing and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, Rogers says. He reports that workers from UF Health in Gainesville recently visited CREC to conduct COVID-19 screenings for workers willing to be tested. That action helps protect the health of workers at the CREC and the health of growers the workers might contact, Rogers says.
Rogers notes that although the annual Citrus Expo in August was canceled as an in-person event, UF/IFAS is working to get the information that would have been presented there to growers. The Citrus Expo educational program will debut online Aug. 19-20. Rogers describes Expo as “obviously one of the key events for everybody every year.”
Getting information to growers online, as is being done for Citrus Expo, is “also what we’re doing across the board with all of our programs,” Rogers says. He discusses other ways UF/IFAS is staying in touch with growers during COVID-19, including a monthly emailed newsletter from the statewide citrus team.
This interview with Rogers was featured in July’s All In For Citrus podcast, a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media. Listen to the full podcast here.
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