Florida Researchers Focusing on Vanilla as Alternative Crop for Small Farmers

Researchers at the University of Florida’s Tropical Research and Education Center have been evaluating vanilla as an alternative crop for farmers in southern Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The effort received funding from Southern SARE to support its investigation into high-yielding cultivars with disease resistance, fertilizers that can provide plant nutrition, and native pollinator identification to avoid the labor of hand pollination. SARE reports that 11 small farmers in the Homestead area are growing vanilla, and that the University of Florida has a fact sheet on vanilla cultivation available.