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UF Gulf Coast Research And Education Center Celebrates 75th Anniversary On Nov. 17

Chuck Woods (352) 392-1773 x 281

Ed Hanlon (941) 658-3400
Jack Rechcigl (941) 751-7636

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BRADENTON, FL—Seventy-five years of service to agricultural producers and consumers will be recognized Nov. 17 when the University of Florida’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Bradenton celebrates its 75th anniversary.

The UF anniversary program is in conjunction with Farm-City Week in Manatee County.

“We’re proud to be selected by the Farm-City Week committee in Manatee County as this year’s designated honoree in agriculture,” said Jack Rechcigl, associate director of the center. “Farm-City Week will bring the agricultural and urban communities together, giving residents an opportunity to learn about the contributions agriculture makes to our local culture and economy.”

The morning program for invited quests begins at 10 a.m. with opening remarks from Mike Martin, UF vice president for agriculture and natural resources. He will be followed by Ed Hanlon, interim director of the Bradenton center, who will introduce speakers and guests.

U.S. Rep. Dan Miller, R-Bradenton, will provide a federal prospective on how research at land-grant universities such as UF helps solve local problems. Former state Sen. Ed Price, D-Bradenton, will review of the center’s history.

Other program speakers include Dan McClure of the West Florida Tomato Company, Palmetto; Don Bates, Bates Sons and Daughters, Lake Placid; and Marvin Brown, BBI Produce, Inc., Dover.

The public is invited to field and greenhouse tours at the center, beginning at l p.m.

Rechcigl said the Bradenton facility was established in 1925. It’s now one of 13 regional research and education centers operated by the UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The center, which conducts research and extension programs on ornamental, strawberry and vegetable crops, is located at 5007 60th Street East (Caruso Road).

“Our primary mission is to develop and disseminate new scientific knowledge and technology for commercial ornamental, vegetable and strawberry crops, to help maintain and enhance the quality of our natural resources, and assist Florida producers to remain competitive in the global economy,” Rechcigl said. “Program areas include plant breeding and genetics, variety development and evaluation, with special emphasis on tomato, strawberry, caladium and flower crops.”

He said the center’s faculty and staff conduct research and extension work on pest and disease control, pre- and post-harvest physiology, and soil and water management for southwest Florida. Graduate students in UF’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences also receive training at the center.

In addition to the Bradenton facility, the center includes a smaller facility at Dover in Hillsborough County that specializes in strawberry research and extension programs.

“Despite rapid urban growth, agriculture still is a key economic industry in Manatee County, with annual vegetable production valued at more than $160 million,” Rechcigl said. “Tomato production accounts for $115 million while the value of the ornamental is industry is estimated to be $51 million.”