By Ruth Borger
Sometimes when it comes to information shared by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) faculty, Florida citrus growers may suffer from information overload. There is a lot of good, solid, useful information that growers can use immediately to improve their operations. But how do you sift through it all, and where do you find it?
There are some great tools to help growers navigate this information landscape. First, consult your UF/IFAS Extension citrus agent. These professionals are dedicated to serving the commercial citrus industry. Not only do they know about the challenges facing the industry, but they also live and work in your neighborhood, so they understand the specific issues you as a grower are dealing with. The citrus Extension agents work “in the field” to bring the latest knowledge from scientists at UF/IFAS research and education centers directly to you.
This is accomplished in several ways. Each agent has a newsletter that is distributed on a regular basis. You can access the current and past issues and contact the agents directly on the UF/IFAS Citrus Agents Website. Contacting the citrus agent in your region will also get you on their email distribution list. This is a surefire way to learn about any upcoming workshops, presentations or programs that are offered free (or at a nominal cost to cover basic expenses involved in producing the programs) to citrus growers. Agents also work with individual growers and visit groves to answer questions and help resolve problems that may arise.
Another great way to keep up with all the information that is regularly pushed out from UF/IFAS is to regularly visit the three research and education center websites where citrus work takes place. Each of the centers (Citrus Research and Education Center, Indian River Research and Education Center and the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center) have extensive websites with presentations, videos, background papers, etc. UF/IFAS Citrus Research is a “one-stop” website that serves as a quick way to access current publications and presentations from all three centers and the main campus in Gainesville.
All three research and education centers maintain social media accounts (mostly Facebook and Twitter) where information is published. Most posts will direct you to one of the websites mentioned above for discussion of research findings.
Of course, UF/IFAS citrus faculty publish their insights and research findings every month in Citrus Industry magazine and on the Citrus Industry website. Reading the magazine provides a great way to keep current.
Finally, I recommend that you also listen to the monthly All In For Citrus podcast, a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media. Each episode features different faculty talking about their work in a very conversational and informative way. You can access the podcast here.
Ruth Borger is a communications specialist at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.
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