History and agricultural contributions of the University of Florida, ifas, hastings research and education center, 1923 to 2002

David P. Weingartner, Dale R. Hensel


The Hastings Research and Education Center was initially established in 1923 as a field station and was known later as the Potato Investigations Laboratory. The center was officially "decommissioned" by University of Florida, IFAS in 2002. The history of the center and contributions made by Hastings scientists are chronicled. The original mission of the center was to conduct plant disease research and the first three scientists (1923 to 1940) at Hastings were plant pathologists. Programs were expanded during the 1940s and 1950s to include insect control, variety improvement, soil fertility, and crop management studies. Most research centered on potato (Solanum tuberosum L.), however, numerous other crops including crucifers (Brassica spp.), other vegetables, cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), gladioli (Gladiolus sp.), and various summer cover crops were studied. Maximum faculty staffing was during 1952 to 1985 and included an entomologist, horticulturist, plant pathologist, and soils scientist. Average potato production in north Florida increased from 55 cwt/acre in 1923 when the center was established to over 250 cwt/acre today. Most of the increases in yield were due to production practices developed or tested at the Hastings Center. Some of these were: introduction of Sebago potato variety (1940s), efficacy of EBDC fungicides (1940s), benefits of seed certification (1920s to 1930s), seedborne aspects of potato ring rot (1930s), benefits of phosphorous fertilization of new land (1960s), benefits of summer cover crops (1950s), nematode and corky ringspot control (1970s), 'Atlantic'(1980s), metribuzin herbicide (1960s), successful management of late blight, early blight, bacterial wilt, and nematodes (1970s to present). Ten potato varieties in addition to 'Atlantic' were released based on research at Hastings in conjunction with other Atlantic seaboard states and the USDA.


solanum tuberosum; cabbage; diseases; potato nematodes

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283