University of Florida leads research to reduce pepper diseases

Everyone should know that peppers are popular. Consumers eat all kinds, including jalapenos, habaneros, chilis and more. Because people eat so much of the fruit, they’re worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the Florida and national economies.

In fact, in 2018, bell and chili peppers alone were a $181 million-a-year industry in Florida and a $628 million a year industry nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service.

But, like all crops, peppers face diseases that threaten to reduce their production. So, a University of Florida scientist is leading a multi-state effort to lessen the risk of diseases eating away at pepper harvests. With new data, scientists plan to help farmers increase their pepper production.

Pamela Roberts, a UF/IFAS plant pathology professor, has been awarded a four-year, $3 million grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, an arm of the USDA, to lead research into ways to reduce bacterial diseases in peppers. Scientists from UF/IFAS, North Carolina State University, the University of Georgia, the Ohio State University, Auburn University, and a USDA lab in South Carolina will participate in the pepper disease research.

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