Florida ranks only behind California in the production of specialty crops. Nursery and vegetable crops each account for multi-billions of dollars in gate value in Florida. Other important specialty crops include fruits and tree nuts. North Florida REC research and extension programs are aimed at supporting growers with improved production information and integrated pest management practices that allow them to be more successful, produce a better product for the consumer, and be better environmental stewards.
Nearly all nursery products are used for landscaping and urban green space, impacting Florida’s environment, natural resources and residents’ quality of life. North Florida REC research and extension information provides landscape contractors, architects/designers, government agencies and consumers with solid recommendations for selecting, establishing and maintaining trees, shrubs and other landscape plants in an environmentally sound manner. In addition, North Florida REC faculty are pursuing research to conserve native and endangered species, including plant propagation, establishing plantings of endangered species and characterizing endangered plants, their habitat and wildlife interactions.
Conditions in Florida are favorable for year-round production of fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals for local, national, and international markets. Unfortunately, these conditions also are favorable for the introduction and establishment of exotic pests. These pests destabilize established programs of production and pest management of specialty crops. North Florida REC faculty are focused on research to develop integrated pest management programs that are effective, profitable, and environmentally friendly. New technologies to deal with pests include pest thresholds, biological and other reduced-risk pesticides, conservation biological control, pest resistant mulches and barriers, plant resistant cultivars, and plant diversification of farm and urban landscapes to promote beneficial organisms and wildlife. Extension programs are aimed at assisting growers implement such knowledge-based systems.