The agricultural economics program on ornamentals focuses on industrial organization and marketing. Special attention is given to the caladium industry. Florida supplies 95 percent of all caladium tubers worldwide. Our research and extension activities aim to help growers steer away from excessive competition and assist the industry in strategic planning. The marketing research in this industry is aimed at identifying effective ways to expand market demand.
Producers of cut flowers and flowering pot plants require a continuous input of new varieties of crops currently under production, as well as potential new crops, to maintain market interest. There is a need to select and/or develop varieties adaptable to Florida growing conditions and that are resistant to ever changing crop pests.
Insects and mites cause a large part of the day-to-day production problems for the Florida flower grower. GCREC has a rich history of interdisciplinary efforts to identify pests and develop integrated control procedures for insect and mite pests that has permitted the continuing development of the floral industry. Comprehensive recommendations involving chemical controls, cultural practices, scouting, and other integrated crop management practices have been made available for control of mite and insect pests of ornamental crops.
Because of the high value of floricultural crops and the precise manipulations required to produce flowers for specific markets and holidays, production systems for floricultural crops are perhaps the most advanced of all cultural systems used to produce field or horticultural crops. Research at GCREC has led to many advances in cultural systems for cut flower, bedding plant, and flowering pot plant production. While individual components of different production systems were studied, much of the research has focused on a systems approach to production involving interdisciplinary efforts from scientists in horticulture, plant pathology, entomology, nematology, weed science, agricultural economics, and soil/water science.
The current research program on ornamentals focuses on screening caladiums for disease resistance to several of its most common pathogens, Fusarium solani, Pythium myriotylum and Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. dieffenbachiae; studying the population biology and host specificity of Colletotrichum acutatum from fruit and ornamental hosts; and investigating the efficacy of biopesticides for control of powdery mildew of gerberas. In addition, new diseases such Colletotrichum leaf spot of wax myrtle are often brought to our attention when growers submit samples to the diagnostic clinic. These pathogens are identified and documented.
The goal of the Weed Science Program is the development of integrated weed management plans for ornamental growers.
An overall systems approach to weed management is emphasized that includes the safe and effective use of fumigants and herbicides in combination with biological knowledge, crop rotation, fallow programs, and cultivation.
Caladiums are members of the aroid family. People love to grow caladiums for their colorful leaves in pots, and in their yards.
Caladiums make fantastic container plants. Their beautiful leaves and tropical appearance provide a refreshing diversity.
In 1976, the University of Florida/IFAS initiated a caladium breeding program at its Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Bradenton, Florida.