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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Faculty Senate Chair Cheri Brodeur is definitely a product of UF, having been a student, staffer and faculty member here.
So when it came time to honor her latest achievement with a tree-planting ceremony, it was natural that Brodeur chose a tree that hails from her alma mater. It’s the Southern Rose nectarine, a variety developed by plant breeders with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and released in summer 2011.
A five-foot sapling was planted on the UF campus’ Reitz Union Lawn Wednesday, Oct. 17 at a ceremony attended by Brodeur, UF officials and numerous onlookers. The tree-planting is a tradition for each UF Faculty Senate chair.
“The reason I made a big deal about this (variety) is that the tree is grown by my college and so that was really important to me,” said Brodeur, an assistant extension scientist with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ agricultural education and communication department.
Brodeur said she chose the nectarine to promote UF/IFAS’ plant breeding program, one of the most active among the nation’s land-grant institutions. She said she also grows peaches at home and makes it a point to use UF-developed cultivars there.
Florida has a small but growing stonefruit industry. Breeders have developed peach and nectarine varieties capable of setting fruit in Florida’s climate, where low temperatures don’t occur as often as they do in big stonefruit states such as Georgia.
“You could never have done this before, without the work of these kinds of researchers,” she said.
One reason for developing a Florida stonefruit industry is to offer citrus growers an alternative crop, Brodeur said. Florida’s peaches and nectarines typically ripen earlier than stonefruit from other states, meaning Florida growers may be able to obtain higher prices for their fruit by getting it to market earlier than competitors.
The event was attended by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, Nick Place, UF/IFAS dean of extension, and José Chaparro, the breeder who developed Southern Rose.
Chaparro said the variety is notable for producing large numbers of pink blooms in spring, making it a good choice as an ornamental as well as a fruit tree. Southern Rose should thrive throughout the Florida Panhandle and as far south as Gainesville. It can grow up to 20 feet tall and 20 feet wide, he said.
Brodeur began her one-year term as Faculty Senate chair in June. The Faculty Senate includes 150 elected members representing all of UF’s colleges. It provides a forum to help faculty members communicate with the university’s senior officers on policy matters.
Writer: Tom Nordlie, 352-273-3567, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Cheri Brodeur, 352-392-9019, FacultySenateChair@ufl.edu
University of Florida Faculty Senate Chair Cheri Brodeur, right, plants a nectarine tree on the UF campus with help from stonefruit expert Jose Chaparro – Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. The planting ceremony is a tradition for UF Faculty Senate chairs; Brodeur selected the Southern Rose nectarine variety because it’s a product of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Chaparro developed the variety and said it will grow well throughout the Florida Panhandle and as far south as the Gainesville area. University of Florida/IFAS photo by Tyler L. Jones