Researchers at the University of Florida received a $2.9 million, four-year grant to expand efforts to forecast two strawberry diseases.

Natália Peres, a UF plant pathologist and team leader, hopes to be able to develop a system that will predict disease potential, according to a news release.


It will then alert growers via a Website, text messages and e-mails.

The two diseases they'll be studying are anthracnose fruit rot and botrytis fruit rot.

Initial testing has shown the prediction system can help cut growers' fungicide use in half.

Te grant will allow Peres and her team to test it in the field and to test it in other strawberry-producing states.

A new component will detect development of fungicide-resistant diseases and advise growers on the alternative fungicide options.

The grant was part of $46 million awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.