Farm Food Safety Certification Training – October 26

Farm Food Safety Certification Training – October 26

Attendance at an FDA compliant food safety training is required for fruit and vegetable farms that have an annual value of produce sold (based on a three year average) of $ 25,000 (adjusted for inflation) or more.  The compliance date for some farms is as early as January 1, 2020 which seems like a long time from now, but it’s only 2 years down the road.  It’s important to attend sooner than later to be up-to-date before it’s too late.  A Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Training is scheduled for Thursday, October 26 at the Jackson County Extension Office in Marianna, FL.  The PSA Grower Training curriculum is approved by the FDA to meet the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.

Who Should Attend? – Fruit and vegetable growers with farms that have an annual value of produce sold (based on a three year average) of $ 25,000 (adjusted for inflation) or more.

Benefits to Attending – The course will cover the requirements of the FSMA produce safety rule.  It will also cover key Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that are necessary in a farm food safety plan.

Cost to Attend – The fee for the training is $ 95.  For attendees who are members of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA), a discounted rate of $ 80 is available.  (Not sure if you’re a member?  Contact Sonia Tighe at 321-214-5245 or sonia.tighe@ffva.com).  Registration fee includes the training materials, lunch, refreshments, and a Certificate of Course Attendance that complies with the training requirements of FSMA.

Registration

PSA TRAINING AGENDA

  • 8:30 Registration and Refreshments
  • 9:00 Welcome and Introductions
  • 9:15 Module 1: Introduction to Produce Safety
  • 10:00 Module 2: Worker Health, Hygiene, and Training
  • 11:00 Break
  • 11:15 Module 3: Soil Amendments
  • 12:00 Module 4: Wildlife, Domesticated Animals, and Land Use
  • 12:45 Lunch
  • 1:30 Module 5: Agricultural Water Part 1: Production Water
  • 2:15 Part 2: Postharvest Water
  • 3:15 Break
  • 3:30 Module 6: Postharvest Handling and Sanitation
  • 4:30 Module 7: How to Develop a Farm Food Safety Plan
  • 5:00 Final Questions and Evaluations

PG

Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Panhandle Agriculture

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/10/14/farm-food-safety-certification-training-october-26/

UF/IFAS Researchers are Studying Endophytes in Florida Pasture Grasses

UF/IFAS Researchers are Studying Endophytes in Florida Pasture Grasses

Endophytes that live in forage grass species are being studied by University of Florida researchers. Photo: Ann Blount

Ann Blount, Sunny Liao, Florencia Marcon and Cheryl Mackowiak, UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center

What is an Endophyte and why are they in my grass pastures?” may be a question that cattlemen in Florida have never asked before, but they are starting to.

An endophyte is typically a bacteria or fungus that lives within a plant for all or part of its lifecycle. Endophytes occur in most plant species and can be beneficial in the plant’s tolerance to environmental stresses, such as drought, and may assist the plant to acquire nutrients, enhance growth, and aid in resistance to insects or diseases that might harm the plant. Often it aids the plant by reducing or avoiding consumption by livestock. In return for aiding the plant to help it survive, the endophyte receives it food source, like carbon and possibly nitrogen, from the host plant.

The most commonly known pasture endophyte relationship in the southeast occurs in the fescue belt. Cattlemen who rely on fescue-based pastures know what the mycotoxin (ergovaline) from the endophyte fungus Neotyphodium coenophialum in fescue does to cattle. There is a long history of studies to reduce the associated problems with better pasture management or fescue variety selections.

Similar to fescue, endophytic fungi also infect other southeastern grasses. This is why Florida cattlemen are questioning what they are and what they do? While it is possible there may be some mycotoxin issues in southern grass pastures, they have not typically been so apparent or serious to prevent the use of these grass species for livestock. However, researchers are now finding that under certain conditions suitable for high concentrations of these mycotoxins, livestock health issues may arise.

Over the past three years researchers at the University of Florida have been examining endophyte populations in Florida pastures. They have a joint project with the Oregon State University School of Veterinarian Medicine Toxicology Department to evaluate the presence of fungal endophytes in seven warm-season grasses:   Argentine and Pensacola Bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum), Brunswickgrass (Paspalum nicorae),  Smutgrass (Sporobolus indicus), Broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus), Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon), and Limpograss (Hemarthria altissima).  Specifically the research is focused on the types of endophytes that produce mycotoxins.  To date they have cultured leaf portions of each grass to determine the presence of endophytes. Researchers have also begun the DNA sequencing to identify those endophytes present in the grasses. This should aid in identifying the key fungal endophytes in the grasses, and, ultimately, the mycotoxins produced.

While this project is currently underway, the first concentrated effort was to better understand why livestock will graze bahiagrass, but however will not consume Brunswickgrass from the same family that is growing alongside it in the same pasture. The team have extracted the metabolites from bahiagrass and Brunswickgrass and have found a high concentration of the ergocristine (ergot alkaloid) in the P. nicorae samples. In addition, altenuene, sterigmatocystin, zearalenone, emodin, beauvericin and tentoxin were also identified in the samples. What their concentrations is in our plants and what these mycotoxins do in relation to animal health is the next important question.

Updates from this research will be provided as the study progresses. Several county agents have offered to assist the research specialists on this project in an effort to educate livestock producers about the pluses and minuses of having endophytes in our pasture grasses. The bottom line is that most of these are naturally occurring endophytic relationships; normally they are more beneficial than harmful to forage plant species. These endophytes allow forage plants to survive under low fertility, in sandy soils, and in a hostile, tropical climate filled with plant diseases, insects and other detrimental pests.  As specialists better understand the relationships with endophytes, they hope to also learn how to minimize any negative impacts they produce. Stay Tuned!  More information will be shared in the future as the research team learns more about endophytes in forage grasses and their impact on grazing livestock.

 

PG

Author: Ann Blount – paspalum@ufl.edu


http://nfrec.ifas.ufl.edu

Panhandle Agriculture

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/10/13/ufifas-researchers-are-studying-endophytes-in-florida-pasture-grasses/

Crop Nematode Damage a Serious Issue this Season

Crop Nematode Damage a Serious Issue this Season

After back to back mild winters, the 2017 growing season has been a banner year for pests. Prolonged cold weather normally diminishes pest populations, but this year pests of all types survived winter with populations that have increased dramatically.

Most of the growing season, whiteflies were the major concern across fruit, vegetable and agronomic crops. They wreaked havoc in tomatoes, cotton, and even soybeans, with lasting effects in regards to disease and defoliation. As the growing season is winding down, another type of pest is making its presence known this year – plant-parasitic nematodes!

Several species of nematodes pose problems in crops, examples include the sting, reniform, and root-knot nematodes. With harvest well underway, most late-planted cotton and peanut crops are maturing and have started to senesce or deteriorate. As the plants naturally mature, nematode pressure is becoming more and more apparent. The month of June, with cloudy days and rainfall nearly every day, created issues for farmers. Weather delayed fertilizer applications in many areas, and in some cases caused the loss of fertility through leaching. This added plant stress enhanced nematode damage even in fields with good crop rotation that had been treated with nematicides.

Jackson County peanut field with declining plant health two weeks prior to harvest, had been treated with Telone II with a good rotation history. Photo by Ethan Carter.

Serious nematode damage is appearing in both peanut and cotton fields this year. Fields with mild symptoms in early summer are becoming more and more apparent as the season is coming to an end. One of the easiest nematode problems to identify in the field is damage caused by the presence of root-knot nematodes that create root galls as seen in the photo below. There are two root-knot species that threaten row crops, one affecting peanut and the other affects cotton. There is no host overlap between the two species, which is why peanut and cotton make good rotation partners.

Root-knot nematode galls on a cotton plant in Jackson County. Photo by Doug Mayo.

There are root-knot resistant cultivars that have been developed for both peanut and cotton, which can be used in fields with a known history of nematode damage. These varieties can be used with minimal inputs (nematicides) compared to non-resistant lines in fields with high pressure.

Well developed cotton root system of a nematode resistant line (left), compared to the root system of a non-resistant line exhibiting stunted lateral branching and galling (right). Photo by Doug Mayo.

Resistant cultivar lines can provide dramatic differences in crop health when planted in fields with high nematode pressure. The resistant plants continue to grow and function unhindered, whereas the susceptible plants are stressed from nematode feeding and the lack of nutrient uptake through the damaged root system. The following two images come from a cotton field where the resistant cultivar DP 1747NR was planted through the middle of a traditional non-resistant variety.

Aerial shot of a cotton field in Jackson County with a nematode resistant line planted through the middle, a susceptible variety is planted on the left and right. Photo by Doug Mayo

Both the resistant and non-resistant variety are mid to full-maturity varieties. The above image gives the appearance that the majority of the field had been defoliated.  In the image below, taken just above the plants, you can see that is not the case. The nematode resistant cotton plants on the left side of the photo are just not as stressed by the nematode feeding damage to the root system.

Jackson County field with nematode resistant cotton on the left, susceptible variety on the right. Photo by Doug Mayo.

Nematode samples from fields can be submitted to a lab for identification, using the Nematode Assay Form. Seed availability of some nematode resistant cultivars of peanut and cotton are limited at this point, but there are options. It is important to determine which fields have highest populations of nematodes this fall. This information can assist with crop rotation, cultivar selection, and nematicide selections for next season.

For more information regarding nematodes in agronomic crops, check out the following publications:

 

PG

Author: Ethan Carter – ethancarter@ufl.edu

Ethan Carter is the Regional Row Crop IPM Agent in Jackson County. He earned his BS in Food and Resource Economics, and his MS in Agronomy, both from the University of Florida.

Panhandle Agriculture

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/10/13/crop-nematode-damage-a-serious-issue-this-season/

Culling Older Cows from the Herd Before Winter

Culling Older Cows from the Herd Before Winter

Research shows that 10 year old and older cows are much less likely to remain productive in the herd, so it is wise to sell them before health issues make them unmarketable.  Photo credit:  Oklahoma State University.

Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist

Cull cows represent approximately 20% of the gross income of any commercial cow operation.  Cull beef cows represent 10% of the beef that is consumed in the United States.  The most recent Market Cow and Bull Audit” has shown that the beef industry has made significant improvements in proper cow culling over the past 20 years.  Nonetheless, ranchers need to make certain that cow culling continues to be done properly and profitably.  Selling cull cows when they will return the most income to the rancher requires knowledge about cull cow health and body condition.  Proper culling techniques will reduce the chance that a cow carcass is condemned at the packing plant and becomes a money drain for the entire beef industry.

Is she good for another year?

At cow culling time, producers often face some tough decisions.  Optimum culling of the herd seems to require a sharp crystal ball that can see into the future.  Will she keep enough body condition through the winter to rebreed next year?  How old is the cow?  Is her mouth sound so that she can harvest forage and be nutritionally strong enough to reproduce and raise a big calf?  At what age do cows usually start to become less productive?

There is great variability in the longevity of beef cows.  Records kept by a large cattle operation of Florida in the 1980’s show how productivity changes over the life of the beef cows.  These large data sets, (19,500 cows, and 14,000 cows in two separate years) compared the average percentage of cows determined to be pregnant based on their age in years.  (Source: 33rd Annual Proceedings of the Beef Cattle Short Course by the University of Florida Animal Science Department).

This data would indicate that cows are consistent in the rebreeding performance through about 8 years of age.  A small decline was noted as cows aged from 8 to 10 years of age.  However the most consistent decline in reproductive performance was noted after cows were 10 years of age.  A steeper decline in reproductive performance was found as they became 12 years of age.  In other words, start to watch for reasons to cull a cow at about age 8.  By the time she is 10, look at her very closely and consider culling; as she reaches her 12th year, cull her before health problems occur that cause very poor body condition.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/10/13/culling-older-cows-from-the-herd-before-winter/

Fraud Alert vs. Credit Freeze

Fraud Alert vs. Credit Freeze

Photo credit: Judy Corbus

If you have been affected by the recent Equifax data breach, you may be exploring your options as to what to do next.  All three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, give you the option of placing a fraud alert or a credit freeze on your file.  So, what is the difference between a fraud alert and a credit freeze?

Fraud Alert

When you activate an initial fraud alert on your report, a business must verify your identity before it issues credit, so it may try to contact you.  This can make it more difficult for an identity thief to open new accounts in your name.  The initial fraud alert stays on your report for 90 days and you can renew it at the end of the 90-day period.  Fraud alerts are free and the credit reporting agency you call must tell the other agencies about your alert.  It also allows you to order a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies.  Be sure the credit reporting agencies have your current contact information so they can reach you.

You can place an extended fraud alert on your credit file if you have created an Identity Theft Report.  With an extended alert, you can get two free credit reports within 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies, and the agencies must take your name off marketing lists for pre-screened credit offers for five years, unless you request to be added back to the lists.  The extended alert lasts for seven years.

Credit Freeze

A credit freeze generally stops all access to your credit report.  If you wish to open a new account, apply for a job, rent an apartment, buy insurance, refinance your mortgage – any transaction requiring a credit check – you must contact the credit reporting agency to lift the freeze, either temporarily or permanently.  You will get a PIN to use each time you wish to freeze or unfreeze your account.  In most states, there is a fee to activate a freeze as well as to lift it – usually around $ 10 for each and per credit reporting agency.  There also is a lead time before the freeze is lifted so you would need to arrange for it in advance or be prepared to wait a few days if you planned to apply for credit.  Cost and freeze lift lead times may vary so you may wish to check your state’s law or contact the credit reporting agency in advance.  In most states, a credit freeze lasts until you lift it; in a few states, it expires after seven years.   Click here for the Florida Statute regarding consumer security freezes.

A credit freeze may not prevent misuse of your current accounts or other types of identity theft, such as tax refund identity theft and health insurance fraud.  Also, companies with whom you do business still would have access to your credit report for some purposes.

So, fraud alert or credit freeze?  It depends a lot on what you have coming up in the near future.  If you’re planning to apply for a loan or mortgage, you will have to unfreeze and freeze with each application – consider the cost and time involved.  If you are not planning to apply for new credit, then a credit freeze may be a good option for you.

For more information on credit fraud alerts and freezes, visit:

Place a Fraud Alert and Extended Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes

Sources:

Federal Trade Commission – Place a Fraud Alert

Federal Trade Commission – Extended Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes

Federal Trade Commission – Fraud Alert or Credit Freeze – Which is Right for You?

UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County – Equifax Security Breach: Steps to Protect Yourself

 

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Author: Judy Corbus – jlcorbus@ufl.edu

Judy Corbus is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent with UF/IFAS Extension Washington and Holmes Counties.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu;http://holmes.ifas.ufl.edu

Living Well in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/10/11/fraud-alert-vs-credit-freeze/

The Equifax Data Breach: How to Protect Yourself

The Equifax Data Breach:  How to Protect Yourself

Photo credit: Judy Corbus

The recent security breach at Equifax from mid-May through July 2017 exposed the personal information of 143 million people; this included Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver license numbers.  You may be wondering, “Am I affected?” and, if so, “What should I do now?”

First, find out if your information was exposed at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/.  Make sure you are on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection.  Even if your information was not exposed, U.S. consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring and other services.  The site will give you a date when you can come back to enroll.  Write down the date and return to the site and click “Enroll” on that date.  You have until November 21, 2017 to enroll.

Order your free credit reports annually through the federally authorized web site www.annualcreditreport.com. You are allowed one free report every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies:  Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Your credit reports will provide a detailed history that may better alert you to credit fraud.

Consider a credit freeze.  A credit security freeze prevents credit reporting agencies from releasing your credit report or information from it, with a few exceptions, unless you lift the freeze.  A credit freeze prevents identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name but it won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.  It also does not prevent non-credit related frauds, such as tax refund identity theft and health insurance fraud.  For these, consumers are advised to “be vigilant.”

You must request a credit freeze with each agency.  In Florida, the fee to place a freeze is $ 10 with each agency for persons under age 65.  If you are 65 or older or have been a victim of identity theft, the fee is waived.  Currently, Equifax is waiving fees.  You will need to lift the freeze if you want to open a new account, change insurance policies, rent housing, or sign up for new utilities or phone service – any transaction requiring a credit check.  The fee to lift the freeze, either temporarily or permanently, is $ 10 per agency and it may take up to three business days for the lift to take effect.

Credit freeze requests may be made online, by phone, or by certified U.S. mail.  Be patient and persistent, as many consumers are filing requests; websites often get overloaded temporarily.  Below is the contact information for each credit reporting agency for each contact method:

Online

Equifax: https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp

Experian: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

TransUnion: https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze

Telephone

Equifax: 800-685-1111
Experian: 888-397-3742
TransUnion: 888-909-8872

U.S. Mail

Equifax: Equifax Security Freeze, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348
Experian: Experian, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion: TransUnion LLC, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016

For mailed security freeze requests, include the following information in a cover letter format:

  • Full name (with middle initial) and former name, if applicable
  • Current address and former addresses within the last five years
  • Social Security number
  • Full date of birth (month, day, year)
  • Signature
  • Photocopies of two forms of identification, such as a government-issued identity card and proof of residence such as phone bill or utility company bill.

For more information, visit: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Consumer-Resources/Scams-and-Fraud/Identity-Theft/Security-Freeze-Credit-Report

Federal Trade Commission – steps to take to protect your information:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do

Adapted from:

The Equifax Data Breach: What to Do, Federal Trade Commission

Equifax Security Breach: Steps to Protect Yourself, UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County

To Freeze or Not to Freeze My Credit Report?, University of Illinois Extension

Credit Freeze Information in the Wake of the Equifax Hack, Rutgers University Extension

 

PG

Author: Judy Corbus – jlcorbus@ufl.edu

Judy Corbus is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent with UF/IFAS Extension Washington and Holmes Counties.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu;http://holmes.ifas.ufl.edu

Living Well in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/10/10/the-equifax-data-breach-how-to-protect-yourself/

Prepare NOW to Avoid Lawn Burweed Infestation Later

Prepare NOW to Avoid Lawn Burweed Infestation Later

Burweed, Soliva Sessilis. – Image Credit: Joseph M. DiTomaso, University of California – Davis, Bugwood.org. Creative Commons License

On the top of my list of lawn related annoyances is stepping into a patch of burweed, Soliva sessilis, which is in the sunflower family and is also known as spurweed. The leaves are opposite along the stem and sometimes resemble parsley. The main ways in which burweed can irk the casual gardener are sticking to socks, sneaking in with the dog, or littering flower beds with its nuisance. It can also hide in the house and reappear when shoes are removed. This causes pain in both the foot and the ear.

Lawn burweed has been an especially noticeable problem in lawns. Over the years, extension offices throughout Northwest Florida have been fielding many questions and finding solutions to lawn burweed infestations!

Maintaining a healthy vigorous lawn will prevent weeds from taking over. If your lawn is reasonably healthy and only a few instances of this weed exist, try to mechanically remove them and encourage the lawn to outgrow them.

If an infestation of burweed occurred last year on a specific patch of turf, take note. The best time to apply pre-emergent herbicides to control burweed is in October, when nighttime temperatures drop to between 55-60 degrees F for a few consecutive nights. A widely used pre-emergence product for burweed control is isoxaben, which is sold under the brand name of Gallery as well as others. It prevents the weed from emerging from the ground when it germinates and can be used on St. Augustine, centipede, bahia and zoysia lawns, as well as in ornamental shrub beds. In northwest Florida, this herbicide needs to be applied in October for best results. A second application later in the season might be warranted. For more information about control, please consult this excellent article on lawn burweed management.

Now is the time to control burweed before it gets started. As temperatures cool  burweed seed will germinate, as it is a winter annual. In cases where it is already coming up, control with post-emergent herbicide may be warranted.

 

The active ingredients mentioned above are present in a variety of ‘trade name’ products* available from your local garden center, farm supply or co-op. Be sure to read label instructions carefully and contact your local extension office for any assistance. I hope all the northwest Florida lawn managers prevent burweed this fall so that lawns will be burweed free next spring.

Happy Gardening!

 

PG

Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/about/

Gardening in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/10/10/prepare-now-to-avoid-lawn-burweed-infestation-later/

Readying Your Raised Beds for Northwest Florida’s Best Gardening Season

Readying Your Raised Beds for Northwest Florida’s Best Gardening Season

I had to do a hard thing last week.  My battle-worn okra, eggplant and pepper plants that had produced so reliably since June and endured all the summertime challenges (heat, insects, disease, and a hurricane to name a few) were finally pulled out of my raised bed garden and discarded.  A combination of lowered yields, increased insect pressure, and the fact that one can only eat so much okra in a calendar year sealed their fate.

However, before planting our cool-season veggie favorites, like those tender leafy greens and wonderfully crunchy carrots, there are a few things to do to get our raised beds in shape to give maximum yield performance and make growing a little easier.

Replenish the Soil

One of the main benefits of raised beds is the ability to grow in near-perfect soil conditions.  If I was relegated to gardening in my yard’s less than ideal native sandy soil, I might have given up altogether by now and I suspect many of you would be in the same boat.  Raised beds totally alleviate this problem and give gardeners the opportunity to grow in rich, fertile soil composed of your favorite homemade soil mixture (mine is two parts mushroom compost to one part aged pine bark) or commercial potting mix/compost.  However, at the end of each growing season, you will notice you have a bit less soil in your beds than you did at the beginning.  While frustrating, this is a natural process for soils rich in organic material – they naturally break down and decompose!   So to give your veggies’ roots the maximum amount of growing space for the coming season, top off your beds with a quality soil/compost mix and till it in before sowing seed or setting out transplants.

Eliminate Competing Roots

If you have a mature tree anywhere near your raised bed garden, you are going to be in for a surprise when you till that new compost in!  It turns out that tree roots like that rich, fertile raised bed soil just as much as vegetables do and will seek it out. It is not uncommon for mature trees to have root systems that stretch horizontally two to three times the height of the tree, meaning a 50’ oak tree could have roots growing well over a hundred feet away from its trunk!   Therefore, unless you have a totally tree-free property, battling tree roots in your beds will be an ongoing issue.  For instance, each fall, when I transition from warm season to cool season crops, I find that my neighbor’s Laurel Oak has filled all three of my raised beds full of feeder roots glad to be free of the infertile sand.  This is a problem because those roots suck up vital water and nutrients meant for my vegetable crops, robbing them of reaching their full potential.   It is good practice to thoroughly till your beds’ soil and remove as many of the competing roots as you can.  Doing so will give your new plants a head start on becoming established before the competition returns.

Depleted soil and competition from tree roots are two of the biggest threats to your raised bed’s performance.  By planning ahead and accounting for both of these things prior to planting your fall garden, you will be more likely to reap a larger yields when harvest time comes! For more information on raised bed vegetable gardening and other horticultural questions, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.  Happy fall gardening!

PG

Author: Daniel J. Leonard – d.leonard@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Walton County

Gardening in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/10/10/readying-your-raised-beds-for-northwest-floridas-best-gardening-season/

Summer Wildflowers of North Florida Roadsides

Summer Wildflowers of North Florida Roadsides

The network of backcountry roads winding through north Florida offer pleasant views of rolling pastures, fields of cotton, old tobacco barns, and, occasionally, a scenic overlook of our local “hills”. Many of these roads follow the original trails blazed by early settlers, or even Native Americans. Traveling along these small roads during the late summer, drivers are also presented with an abundance of wildflowers along the road. It’s fun to imagine travelers of past generations being awarded the same colorful displays in days of yore.

 

Traveling a country road in 1905 when they were all country roads! Likely enjoying same roadside wildflowers. Credit: State Archives of Florida – Hays.

 

Some of the most common roadside wildflowers of late summer include Spanish needles (Bidens alba), goldenrod (Solidago spp.), silkgrass (Pityopsis spp.), slender scratchdaisy (Croptilon divaricatum), goldenaster (Chrysopsis spp.), and, one that the early settlers wouldn’t have seen, showy rattlebox (Crotalaria spectabilis), an invasive, exotic species that was introduced in the 1920’s.

 

Spanish needles. Credit: Brent Sellers – UF/IFAS.

 

Goldenrod. Credit: Larry Williams – UF/IFAS.

 

Silkgrass. Credit: JC Raulston Arboretum – NC State University.

 

Scratch daisy. Credit: Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants – UF/IFAS.

 

Showy rattlebox. Credit: Doug Mayo – UF/IFAS.

 

Many of these roadside wildflowers can also be found in home lawns and landscapes, usually in areas infrequently mowed, such as fence lines and field edges. Except for showy rattlebox, these roadside wildflowers are native species adapted to dry, disturbed sites, like roadsides. These native species provide ecosystem services to many native insects and other pollinators, including honey bees. Depending upon site particularities, allowing these plants to thrive in the residential landscape can provide similar ecosystem services and similar reward of color as is found along country back-roads.

 

While most folks would probably just consider these plants weeds, that determination depends upon an individual’s situation and each gardener’s opinion. In one yard, maybe it’s a weed, but along the roadside, it’s called a wildflower! Certainly, if left to set seed, these plants will spread. Mowing prior to seed maturity can help keep them in check while still getting a temporary show of color. Again, any showy rattlebox should be controlled since it is an invasive, exotic species that can invade natural Florida ecosystems and smother native plants. It’s also toxic to many animals if ingested.

 

North Florida’s roadside wildflowers are a pleasure see while cruising the back roads. If recognized and allowed to grow in residential landscapes, these plants can provide the same aesthetic and environmental benefits.

If you are interested in what’s growing in your yard, or local roadside, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension office.

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/10/09/summer-wildflowers-of-north-florida-roadsides/

Friday Feature: Protecting Hay Quality at Harvest

Friday Feature:  Protecting Hay Quality at Harvest

Massey Ferguson and Dr. Dennis Hancock, UGA Forage Extension Specialist have teamed up to produce a video series called “A Cut Above the Rest” with tips on how to harvest high quality hay.  In the first video Dr. Hancock explains RFQ (Relative Forage Quality) scores being used to evaluate the quality of hay of various types.  Both videos explain how cutting height, cutting speed, crop conditioning, tedding, and raking impact forage quality of hay at harvest time.  Check out these short videos that provide great tips for hay producers who are striving to harvest optimal quality forage for hay or baleage production.

Part 1 – Hay Cutting

 

Part 2 – Raking and Tedding

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If you enjoyed these videos, you might want to check out the featured videos from previous weeks:  Friday Features

If you come across a humorous video or interesting story related to agriculture, please send in a link, so we can share it with our readers. Send video links to:  Doug Mayo

 

 

 

PG

Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-news – Jackson County Extension Director – Livestock & Forages Agent. My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.
http://jackson.ifas.ufl.edu

Panhandle Agriculture

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/10/07/friday-feature-protecting-hay-quality-at-harvest/

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