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University of Florida study researches coffee plant growth in NCFL

Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 7:37 AM EDT
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CITRA, Fla. (WCJB) - Florida is known for its oranges, but coffee plants could possibly join the hundreds of thousands of acres of citrus groves.

Most of the world’s coffee is grown in tropical regions, but researchers at the University of Florida are studying how a change in climate could allow coffee to grow in Florida.

Agronomy Department Chair Diane Rowland said the year and a half old plants growing in a greenhouse at a research site in Citra are showing promise with coffee berries and budding flowers.

“The temperatures involved in higher elevations are critical for coffee, but as we have breeders we may have an opportunity where we’re able to develop genetics where we’re able to produce high-quality coffee later down the road,” said Rowland.

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Artificial intelligence tools are being used to study the roots of coffee plants. UF recently received a grant to develop new sensors to image root systems to track things like the intake of water and other nutrients.

“If we know how roots are taking up water and nutrients that allows us to better understand the better placement of water, the better management of water and nutrients, and that really increases the efficiency of resource use in agriculture,” said Rowland.

Coffee plants are also being grown in fields next to citrus plants to see if the crops can successfully be grown together. If successful, you could one day get your cup of coffee and orange juice from the same place.

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