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A Day in the Life of a UF/IFAS Extension Agent: Juanita Popenoe

TAVARES, Fla. – When growers in central Florida need help with an alternative crop to citrus, they turn to Juanita Popenoe. The University of Florida IFAS Extension agent spends her days helping farmers who are looking for options to diversify their groves that may be impacted by citrus greening disease.

“Since citrus greening has hit the industry so hard, citrus growers are looking for alternative crops. As an Extension agent, I am here to provide educational programs and consulting for the fruit industry based on UF/IFAS research,” Popenoe said.

Popenoe said the biggest part of her job is providing programming that helps growers succeed. “These are new crops for this area and people are still learning how to grow them. So, there is a lot of consulting as well as educational programming needed,” she said.

Popenoe starts a typical day by reading existing and new research on fruit production. “Whether it’s old or new research, or a grower story, I am constantly learning new things about fruit production,” she said. “I get asked about some weird fruit sometimes and have to dig a bit to find out about growing it. There is always new research being reported.”

Popenoe, a commercial fruit production expert, covers Lake, Orange and Marion counties. Her reach is far and wide, as she delves into cover crops, too.

Recently, a grower suffered catastrophic losses due to citrus greening. “He brought his grove back from near death through intensive cover cropping,” Popenoe said. “It is one area that is just becoming the focus of research, and I hope to help out by offering field days to growers so they can see how it works.”

According to Popenoe, the best part of her job is helping growers make connections. “I love it when I am able to make a connection for people that will help them with their business,” she said. “I really enjoy helping people succeed at fruit production.”

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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

One Comment on “A Day in the Life of a UF/IFAS Extension Agent: Juanita Popenoe

  1. Juanita Popenoe,
    I was a citrus grower,killed by greening. Located at 7317 Crystal Beach Road, Winter Haven, Florida, just south of your area and a little warmer. Pushing out last of dead citrus now. Replanting with avocados, Choquette, Monroe and Oro Negro. Now 2500 in ground half 1 year old and half 2 years old. Will have 35 to 40 acres of avocados. They will be cold protected by micro jet irrigation. Advantages: They are hard when mature to be picked, will not bruise and can be handled like fresh citrus, picked, processed, packed and sold by Dundee Citrus Growers Association ( I am a member). They have a shelf life of 3 to 4 weeks. You might be able to grow cold hardy varieties in your area. I purchased the trees from Heather Teatig at Pine Island Nursery. She is very knowledgeable about Avocados. I will be interested in having more growers in this area to build up the market.
    Howard C Lucas
    560 Avenue K, SE, Winter Haven ,Florida 33880 ( mailing address)
    email. hclmdeyes@aol.com
    office phone 863-294-2450
    cell phone 863-412-4961

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