Florida-Grown Coffee? How UF Scientists Are Using AI To Serve Up the Possibilities
Central Florida Ag News|March 2021
MOST OF THE WORLD’S COFFEE is grown in tropical regions. However, a changing climate could allow coffee to grow farther north — for example, in Florida. In April, all HCYCP participants pick up their tree kits to start their project.
SAMANTHA MURRAY

To understand how that might work, scientists with the University of Florida are already growing coffee plants at the UF/ IFAS Plant Science Research and Education Unit, about 30 minutes south of the main UF campus in Gainesville.

This research could one day produce a morning cup of joe with origins in the Sunshine State.

A collaboration between the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and UF/ IFAS, this project is funded by a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“We believe that there is the potential for coffee as a novel crop in Florida,” says Diane Rowland, chair of the agronomy department and UF/IFAS’ research lead on the project.

“Coffee is a crop of global interest that is already facing major challenges due to climate change. At present, the world knows very little about coffee plant roots, their architectures and their function under climate change conditions. The roots are key points in this process,” Rowland says.

However, roots aren’t easy to study — and not just because they are underground.

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