Open House Showcases Research Center’s Work

Josh McGillEvents, Research

The Southwest Florida Research and Education Center (SWFREC) in Immokalee recently hosted its annual open house. The event had a great turnout of local growers and residents from nearby communities. Several school groups also attended, so students could learn more about farming in Southwest Florida and the research being conducted at the center.

open house
Faculty from various departments displayed their work for attendees.

Originally established in 1958, SWFREC was dedicated in 1986 as a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) research station. The center has active research programs in citrus horticulture, vegetable horticulture, irrigation and water resource management, precision agricultural engineering, pest management, plant pathology, citrus pathology, agricultural and natural resource economics, soil microbiology, plant physiology, weed science, soil science and agricultural economics. Many of these programs were on display for those who attended the open house.

Center Director Michael Burton said he was excited about the turnout and the support the center has enjoyed from area growers in recent years.

“It has been a terrific event and wonderful coming together of our faculty, staff and students to make this happen,” Burton said. “The last time we were able to host the open house was in 2019 because of the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In addition to the open house, Burton said there was other big news recently announced that has a direct link to SWFREC. A special local needs label allowing the use of oxytetracycline as a trunk injection to treat citrus infected by HLB has been approved. Ute Albrecht, a plant physiologist based at the center, has been leading UF/IFAS research in trunk injection.

“We really believe this is going to be a tool to help us bridge the time it will take to develop another tactic or breeding approach to combat this bacterial disorder that has really crushed the citrus industry over the years,” Burton added. “It is very exciting that this treatment is now going to be available to our growers.”

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