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US researchers study fungus to combat Fusarium wilt

fungi

Fungus might provide the solution to a disease that strikes tomatoes. Scientists from the University of Florida are working on this method as a means to help control Fusarium wilt. Tomatoes represent Florida’s main vegetable crop, with 28,000 acres commercially harvested in 2017, worth US$262 million. Funded by a three-year grant from the USDA, associate professor of plant pathology, Gary Vallad, is working with colleagues from other universities to develop an approach using a fungus called trichoderma to combat Fusarium wilt. It is hoped that the trichoderma could eventually replace chemical pest-management methods currently used to fight the disease.

Trichoderma fungi can be found in soil and on plants have previously been used biological control agents in agriculture. Other researchers have tried and failed to use trichoderma as a means of controlling pathogens. However, this current research is intended to develop an understanding of what factors limit the fungus’ benefits as a biological control agent. The focus is on tomato production in Florida, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

 

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USDA eases minimum grapefruit sizes

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the adoption of an interim rule change that will relax the minimum size requirements of grapefruit. The new ruling, which came into force on April 24th, prescribes that minimum sizes of imported and domestically produced grapefruit will change from 3 5⁄16 inches to 3 inches in diameter. This reduction in size requirement is a response to increased market demand for small-sized grapefruit and an effort to support smaller producers, particularly those dealing with the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Irma by reducing fruit loss. This ruling will affect approximately 500 Florida citrus producers and around 50 citrus importers. Most grapefruit imported to the US comes from South Africa, Peru and Mexico, with 24,000 tons arriving in 2016.

 

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Damages to Florida Agriculture Caused by Hurricane Irma Total $2.5 Billion and Expected to Rise

florida citrus

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam announced that the preliminary agricultural damages caused by Hurricane Irma in Florida amount to over $2.5 billion.

These preliminary economic assessments include: current crop losses and ancillary losses, such as debris clean-up, damaged infrastructure, and animals’ long-term welfare. This preliminary assessment will change as new information becomes available, and does not reflect any specific funding request.

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam, said, “We’re likely to see even greater economic losses as we account for loss of future production and the cost to rebuild infrastructure. We’re going to do everything within our power to support Florida agriculture as it recovers from Hurricane Irma’s devastation.”

The estimated economic agricultural damages according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ preliminary report are as follows:

  • Total Florida agriculture: $2,558,598,303
  • Citrus: $760,816,600
  • Beef Cattle: $237,476,562
  • Dairy: $11,811,695
  • Aquaculture: $36,850,000
  • Fruits and Vegetables (excluding citrus): $180,193,096
  • Greenhouse, Nursery and Floriculture: $624,819,895
  • Sugar: $382,603,397
  • Field Crops: $62,747,058
  • Forestry: $261,280,000

The estimates included in the preliminary report are based on data obtained from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, the UF-IFAS “Impacts of Hurricane Irma on Florida Agriculture: Update #4 Report,” UF-IFAS crops budgets, Timber Damage Estimates prepared by the Florida Forest Service, and early surveys the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services conducted with industry leaders and individual producers.

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Florida headed for smaller citrus crop

Florida Citrus Commission chairman and Lake Wales citrus grower Ellis Hunt welcomed the fact the forecast came in higher than initial estimates. “I’m looking forward to the day we can see this number start rising again,” Hunt said.

The first season forecasts for Florida Citrus predict 70 million boxes of oranges and 9.6 million boxes of grapefruit.

That means a 14% drop in the state’s orange production and of 11.5% in grapefruit compared to last season.

The forecasts – issued by the National Agriculture Statistics Service of the US Department of Agriculture – were nevertheless welcomed by the Florida Department of Citrus executive director Shannon Shepp who said they represent the dedication and hard work of Florida’s citrus growers.

“In the face of significant challenges, they continue to push forward with new plantings and advanced agricultural techniques that allow them to maintain the viability of their groves. Citrus greening is a disease unlike any we have ever faced but the Florida Citrus industry will prevail,” Shepp said.

Florida Citrus Commission chairman and Lake Wales citrus grower Ellis Hunt welcomed the fact the forecast came in higher than initial estimates. “I’m looking forward to the day we can see this number start rising again,” Hunt said.

And State Rep. Ben Albritton, chairman of the agriculture and natural resources appropriations committee, said while the numbers are lower than last season’s crop, they keep Florida Citrus competitive and represent industry stability.

Source: http://www.floridacitrus.org/newsroom/news/first-crop-of-season-forecasts-decrease-for-florida-citrus/

 

 

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50 years of cold chain logistics

Crowley has served perishables shippers for over 50 years by providing a host of cold-chain transportation and logistics services.

Crowley has served perishables shippers for over 50 years by providing a host of cold-chain transportation and logistics services.

The company and its subsidiary Customized Brokers operate regularly scheduled ocean cargo services between the US, the Caribbean and Central America. It offers state-of-the-art, GPS-enabled, remote monitored refrigerated containers which adhere to stringent sanitation requirements and can be positioned at a customer’s growing facility. Cold-storage warehousing in Miami is also provided along with Import and Customs clearance services into the US; expedited services for perishables awaiting customs clearance; specialised per box fixed-rate asparagus program, CBP/AQI clearances, fumigation coordination, Highly Mobile Actionable Pest (HMAP) refrigerated pest control services in Port Everglades, Fla; documentation handling, including FDA Prior Notices and Importer Security Filling (10+2); inspection tracking updates; reconciliation entries; all risk cargo insurance; US agents for FDA representing foreign facilities; FDA Foreign Facility Registration; and full cargo visibility through an online customer portal.

Air forwarders and new port connections

The company has received a permit for perishables shipments moving over ocean from Latin America to connect via air in Miami for forwarding to Europe and Asia thus allowing for fresher products with reduced seasonality throughout that hemisphere. Additionally, Crowley has added a port call from Jacksonville, Fla., to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, allowing for additional options when moving goods to and from the southern zone of Central America.

Long awarded history of environmental protection

The leading shipper and forwarder of Central America has long been focused on sustainability and safety issues. A Crowley Safety in Towing Handbook, published 20 years before the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, contains operational procedures to prevent spills that many years later became law. “This early interest in keeping our harbors and oceans clean has developed into a strong company culture of environmental stewardship,” said Customised Brokers vice president Nelly Yunta.

Crowley’s EcoStewardship program continues in the direction of greener technology, using more environmentally friendly operations and joining partnerships to help build a greener planet. Crowley’s environmental initiatives have led to special recognition from several prestigious government organizations, including the Chamber of Shipping of America, the US Coast Guard’s William Benkert Award for Environmental Excellence, Washington Department of Ecology Exceptional Compliance Program, Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force Legacy Award and the United States Green Building Council LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver Award Designation, among others.

Most energy-efficient technologies

In the field of technology Crowley is no less active. Among recent initiatives are the building and operation of the industry’s newest and most environmentally friendly Articulated-Tug Barges (ATBs), the acquisition and deployment of the industry’s most energy efficient and environmentally friendly refrigerated containers.

Crowley leads the way in building and operating double-hull petroleum barges for coastwise and river transportation in Alaska. It is also using shore-side power (cold ironing) at various port locations to reduce carbon emissions. It is moving to low sulfur and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel to help reduce particulate matter from tug stack emissions. The renovation of the corporate office of the group promotes environmental sustainability as well. Crowley also works to help clearing the air in the logistics activities Puerto Rico and Caribbean Trade. Crowley’s “Ocean Rangers” team help keep Alaska’s cruise liners environmentally up-to-date.

The most sustainable partner, multiple support programs

Crowley has partnered with the San Juan Bay Estuary Board and San Juan area schools to form an environmental program called “Vigilantes del Estuario”. The group also works with Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council to help remove debris and other junk from remote Alaskan villages.

Crowley’s Articulated Tug Barges (ATBs) are being built under the ABS Safehull program for environmental protection. Crowley is an active participant in ABS’ Green Passport program, which enhances onboard vessel safety and environmental awareness. The group is also an active participant and supporter of the AWO’s Responsible Carrier Program, which integrates safety, environment and quality assurance. “Crowley is recognised for its Environmental Stewardship, we were honored with Marine Environmental Business of the Year Award,” Yunta said.

Significant rise of traffic, Peru and Mexico

“We at Crowley and Customized Brokers have seen a rise in Peruvian perishables coming into the US perhaps as a result of some of the cold chain initiatives bringing produce in through South Florida,” Yunta said. Additionally, Mexico has seen a sharp +28% year-over-year increase of perishable traffic handling for the group, Jamaica +46%, Uruguay 22%. The activities with Honduras, El Salvador, Chile and Argentina are more stable with just 5 to 8% increase.

Quality improvements 

Crowley offers services of location and temperature monitoring, through the use of SmartTraxx GOTM by Locus Traxx Worldwide. “SmartTraxx GO fits in the palm of your hand and is powerful enough to monitor shipment in real-time,” Yunta said. It indeed delivers updates to the customer’s PC or smartphone, or if preferable, customised brokers can receive the alerts, monitor the cargo on behalf of the customer and take action as needed.

In order to better serve the diverse equipment needs of its  ocean cargo and logistics customers, Crowley has placed $32.7 million worth of new cargo carrying equipment into service recently, including 440 generator sets (gensets) and 400, 40-foot high cube refrigerated (reefer) containers, available since the end of 2015. “Since 2003 our company invested over a quarter of a billion dollars in new cargo equipment,” Yunta said: The figures are indeed impressive: Crowley operates today with more than 52,000 pieces of owned and leased intermodal equipment, including more than 22,015 chassis, 21,297 dry containers, and more than 3,916 refrigerated containers, all of which come in a variety of sizes and are strategically located throughout the United States, Central America and the Caribbean.

Lobbying towards direct perishable shipments through Florida ports

Through Yunta’s leadership to the board of directors for Florida Perishables Trade Coalition (FPTC), the coalition’s key initiative to encourage the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow direct importation and distribution of South American perishables that require cold treatment through Florida ports. Until now this has been prohibited by federal law because of the possible introduction of injurious pests, like fruit flies, and disease to an area whose economy depends in part on local agriculture. “Our efforts have been somehow successful and have helped to provide additional benefit to Crowley and Customized Brokers customers” said Yunta.

After almost two years of careful planning and education, a six-month pilot program launched coinciding with the growing season and signaling a change that could potentially bring millions of dollars’ worth of business to South Florida, while also making fresh fruits (specifically grapes and blueberries from Peru and Uruguay) more readily available to southern regions. About two months after the program initially launched, the first shipment of grapes from Alpine Fresh, Inc. in Peru, arrived in the Port of Miami and was successfully cleared upon arrival by Customised Brokers. Sixteen other loads followed into South Florida as part of the pilot.

New CrowleyFresh center in Miami

The pilot program has since been expanded to include the Port of Savannah and most recently the Port of Charleston. This successful involvement led the Company to be recognised as a leader in the industry including a “Rock Star of the Supply Chain” award which was presented to Yunta earlier this year.

The company also opened a cold-storage facility in Miami, CrowleyFresh, which allows it to bundle services and makes it easier for importers who want to turn over the entire product entry process to their customs broker. The firm can unload the product from ships or air containers and get it through the fumigation process, cool it and handle the paperwork.

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Fresh Summit set to be biggest ever

“Fresh Summit delivers a powerful global experience with a magnitude of resources available under one roof. At the same time, it can also have a community atmosphere that invites people to connect, whatever their interests are," said PMA Fresh Summit Committee Chair Scot Olson, vice president of produce and floral, Grocery Outlet, Inc.

The 2016 Fresh Summit expo will be its largest ever, with more than 1,100 exhibitors over 300,000 square feet, says America’s Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA).

Together with the Fresh Summit convention, the expo runs October 14-16 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, and presents the best innovations from the fresh produce and floral sectors. Fresh product and business ideas will be found at every turn, promises the PMA.

It has again organised the convention content into ‘communities of interest’ to help attendees connect with those with common goals, thus maximising its business-growing value for them. This year’s communities include science & technology, industry talent, floral, issues leadership and global connections.

Speakers from around the world will share their expertise so attendees can capitalise on trends shaping the industry’s future. General session topics include innovation, personal branding and the PMA’s popular State of the Industry address.

Sixteen workshops will help attendees find solutions to industry challenges including talent, developing effective marketing strategies to increase consumption, demonstrating best food safety practices and using technology to increase transparency.

At the Innovation@work area outside of the expo hall, a broad range of creative products and services will be displayed. Showcases here will feature products in the following categories: Just 4 Kids, On-The-Go, Certified Organic and Floral. Also on display will be Sensory Experience Contest winners and packaging innovations from finalist companies in the PMA’s 2016 Impact Award for Excellence in Packaging.

“Fresh Summit delivers a powerful global experience with a magnitude of resources available under one roof. At the same time, it can also have a community atmosphere that invites people to connect, whatever their interests are,” said PMA Fresh Summit Committee Chair Scot Olson, vice president of produce and floral, Grocery Outlet, Inc.

Next year, the Fresh Summit Convention & Expo event days will change, instead taking place Thursday-Saturday (with the expo on Friday-Saturday) so attendees can be back in the office on Monday, a critical day for the produce industry, the PMA said.

Learn more and register for PMA’s 2016 Fresh Summit Convention & Expo at www.pma.com/events/freshsummit.

 

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PMA Fresh Summit runs October 14-16 in Florida

Fresh Summit becomes the center of the produce and floral marketing universe every October. It’s where contacts are formed, trends are revealed, ideas are exchanged and careers are made.

More than 20,000 attendees and 1,000+ exhibitors from over 60 countries are expected at the biggest ever PMA Fresh Summit Convention and Expo, being held October 14-16 in Florida.

Once again, this seminal event offers the opportunity to meet with experts, leaders and decision makers from every link of the fresh produce and floral supply chains, as well as to discover how today’s bright ideas are poised to reshape tomorrow’s produce and floral landscape.

The Orange County Convention Center, in Orlando, will be the venue for the 2016 Fresh Summit Convention & Expo, which the organisers, the Produce Marketing Association, describe as “the most important event of the year for the fresh industry.”

“Fresh Summit has everyone you want to see all in one place. It is the place to make connections, build relationships, see new trends and innovations, and grow your business,” a PMA spokesperson said.

Attendees can personalise their Fresh Summit experience by connecting to one or more of the following communities most closely matching their business interests: Global Connections, Science & Technology, Industry Talent, Issues Leadership, and Floral.

“Once a year our industry reunites in an atmosphere perfect for catching up with our business relationships and developing the proper connections to help this industry grow,” said Scot Olson, who is Grocery Outlet Director of Produce & Floral and also the PMA Fresh Summit Committee chairman.

“Exhibiting is a notable option to take advantage of during an event as widely known as PMA’s Fresh Summit,” said Kevin Steiner, who is director of Business Development of Sage Fruit Company as well as the PMA exhibitor advisory committee chairman. “Exhibitors can have their products and services seen by potential customers and business partners, but ultimately it serves an empowering opportunity to meet with those prospects face-to-face and build those long-lasting relationships.”

Fresh Summit participants will connect with professionals throughout the global supply chain and learn what’s driving today’s produce industry from thought leaders around the world.
Attendees can identify new product innovations, gain new marketing/merchandising ideas that will appeal to today’s consumers and discover solutions that address today’s business challenges.

And this year, the Women’s Fresh Perspectives Leadership Breakfast will be offering an unparalleled opportunity for women and men in produce to learn and network together.

The Center for Growing Talent by PMA will continue its 10th anniversary celebration at Fresh Summit. It’s “attract, develop and retain” mission will be on full display at Fresh Summit, for example in addition to the WFP Leadership Breakfast, the Center for Growing Talent will host Pack Family Career Pathways to expose leading university students to career opportunities in the fresh produce and floral industry.

The Center for Growing Talent by PMA will also host a networking reception for young professionals, one face-to-face component of our year-round activities for young professionals. The Center for Growing Talent by PMA’s fundraising 5K Race for Talent is always a fun event, for individuals or teams; Attendees will want to register early for this too, because it tends to sell out.

“Fresh Summit becomes the center of the produce and floral marketing universe every October. It’s where contacts are formed, trends are revealed, ideas are exchanged and careers are made.

“Don’t miss the future of fresh,” the PMA said.

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PMA Fresh Summit to run October 14-16 in Florida

More than 18,500 attendees and 1,000+ exhibitors from over 60 countries are expected at this year’s PMA Fresh Summit, being held October 14-16 in Florida.

More than 18,500 attendees and 1,000+ exhibitors from over 60 countries are expected at this year’s PMA Fresh Summit, being held October 14-16 in Florida.

Once again, this seminal event offers the opportunity to meet with experts, leaders and decision makers from every link of the fresh produce supply chain, as well as to discover how today’s bright ideas are poised to reshape tomorrow’s produce and floral landscape.

The Orange County Convention Center, in Orlando, will be the venue for the 2016 Fresh Summit Convention & Expo, which the organisers, the Produce Marketing Association, describe as “the most important event of the year for the fresh industry.”

Attendees can personalise their Fresh Summit experience by connecting to one or more of the following communities most closely matching their business interests: Global Connections, Science & Technology, Industry Talent, Issues Leadership, and Floral.

“Fresh Summit becomes the center of the produce and floral marketing universe every October. It’s where contacts are formed, trends are revealed, ideas are exchanged and careers are made.

“Don’t miss the future of fresh,” the PMA said.

For more information see: http://www.pma.com/events/freshsummit

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USDA awards $20 million in citrus greening research grants

Citrus greening has affected more than 75% of Florida citrus crops and threatens production all across the United States.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded $20.1 million in grants to university researchers for research and extension projects to help citrus producers fight Huanglongbing (HLB), commonly known as citrus greening disease.

According to a USDA press releaseHLB was initially detected in Florida in 2005 and has since affected more than 75% of Florida citrus crops and threatens production across the US.

It has also been detected in Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas and several residential trees in California, as well as in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and 14 states in Mexico. A total of 15 US states or territories are under full or partial quarantine due to the detected presence of the Asian citrus psyllid, a vector for HLB.

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said on Monday February 8​: “The research and extension projects funded today bring us one step closer to providing growers real tools to fight this disease, from early detection to creating long-term solutions for the industry, producers and workers.”

Trees infected with citrus greening, but not treated with heat, have obvious disease symptoms and reduced productivity. (Photo by Marco Pitino via USDA)

Research at the University of Florida and Washington State University will focus on growing the putative pathogenic bacterium in artificial culture, which will greatly facilitate research efforts to manage HLB. Another project at the University of Florida will develop morpholino-based bactericides to reduce pathogen transmission and eliminate infections in existing trees. Research at the University of California will use virulence proteins from the pathogen to detect its presence before symptoms appear and to develop strategies for creating citrus rootstocks that are immune to HLB.

Top image of orange tree leaves with symptoms of Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening disease, by Tim Gottwald via USDA

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Wonderful Citrus plans to ship more Mexican lime, Texas grapefruit to Europe

As the Florida industry continues to decline due to serious pest/disease pressure Wonderful Citrus hopes to expand the presence of Texas in Europe.

Wonderful Citrus has regular shipments to Europe of three citrus varieties:

  • Mexican limes,
  • Texas deep red grapefruit. and
  • California minneola tangelos. 

“We are the largest grower of minneolas in California and we have been supplying the Dutch market for nearly 10 years,” said Scott Owens, VP sales and marketing.

Most minneolas are consumed in Holland rather than being re-exported.

“Both Mexican limes and Texas deep red grapefruit are relatively new to our citrus portfolio but we believe we can find success in Europe. In 2015 we began trial shipments of Mexican limes to understand the market requirements and prepare for future increases in our production base. We have been sending small volumes of our deep red Texas grapefruit to Europe for several years in order to expose customers to the merits of Texas grapefruit.” 

Texas indeed produces a sub-tropical grapefruit similar to Florida, not as pretty on the outside but with excellent internal characteristics. More than 30 years ago Texas had a good following in Europe but was replaced by Florida. As the Florida industry continues to decline due to serious pest/disease pressure, Wonderful Citrus hopes to expand the presence of Texas in Europe.