4-H Family Guide

This article will help you know what to expect at your first club meeting.

Is your family new to 4-H?  Welcome!  We are glad you chose us to help your child reach his/her fullest potential.  Here are a few basics to help you become familiar with 4-H as you begin your journey with us:

  • The 4-H year starts September 1st through August 31st.  Whatever your child’s age is on September 1st is his/her “4-H Age” and determines his/her eligibility for certain programs.
  • There are four age divisions in 4-H (you can find policies for participation based on age here):
    • Cloverbuds (ages 5-7)
    • Juniors (ages 8-10)
    • Intermediates (ages 11-13)
    • Seniors (ages 14-18)
  • Youth can participate in 4-H through a variety of methods (camps, school programs, after school programs, and clubs).  Youth can participate in all or just one of these delivery modes, or types of 4-H memberships.
  • To join a club, you will want to enroll through 4HOnline.  Many counties offer an Open House, or Kickoff night where families can preview the different types of clubs available in their community. Some clubs offer a variety of projects, while other clubs focus on a particular project (like archery or sewing) or a project area (like animal science or leadership).  Some clubs meet all year and others may only meet for six consecutive weeks (SPIN clubs- special interest clubs).  If you are not sure which club is the best fit for your family, schedule an appointment with your local UF IFAS 4-H Extension Agent.

Talk to your local 4-H Agent to decide which club best suits your family.

Preparing for your first club meeting:

  • There is no uniform for 4-H, but some clubs will order shirts for youth to wear when they go on field trips or compete in contests.
  • Clubs typically open with icebreakers, or get to know you games (especially at the beginning of the 4-H year).
  • The club business meeting lasts about 1/4 of the total club meeting and is always opened with the American Pledge and the 4-H Pledge.  Check out this video to learn the 4-H Pledge. During the business meeting, youth will give committee reports, discuss and vote on club business, and announce other 4-H opportunities.  Clubs made up of primarily Cloverbud members do not have elected officers, but encourage members to take turn leading the pledges and helping with the business meetings.
  • The first club meeting is the organizational meeting.  During this meeting, youth will plan the club calendar and elect officers.  If it is a new club, they will also select a name for the club.
  • Once the club calendar is set, about half of the club meeting time will be spent on educational activities.  This may include a guest speaker, field trip, or a hands-on activity to learn about a subject or project area.
  • Every club participates in at least one service project each year, decided on by the club members.
  • The last 1/4 of the meeting is usually spent on recreation- this can be icebreakers or team building activities.  Sometimes, it is just a time to socialize while enjoying light refreshments.

What is the role of the parent?  4-H is a family affair, offering many opportunities where both child and parent participate in common interests.  This not only strengthens the club, but strengthens family ties. When parental support is positive, the club is likely to become stronger, larger, and more active because parent volunteers help broaden the scope and reach of the club.  A few ways parents can support and strengthen the club include:

  • Arriving on time and being prepared (if working project books, make sure your child has theirs)
  • Offering to help with a club meeting or activity
  • Sign up to help with refreshments
  • Offer to share a skill or knowledge that you have by becoming a 4-H project leader

We are glad to have you as a part of our 4-H Family and look forward to getting to know yours!


Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/21/4-h-family-guide/

Fig Leaves Dropping Early?

Hopefully, by this time of year, most north Florida gardeners have harvested their figs and are enjoying fig preserves or fig bars. But if you’ve noticed your fig leaves dropping a little early, it may be a sign of the fungal disease Fig Rust (Cerotelium fici).

Figs are a great fruit tree for the north Florida home garden. Not only do they provide a tasty reward (if you can keep the birds and squirrels away), but they are fairly easy to maintain and are bothered by relatively few pests and diseases. One of the few diseases that can be common, however, is fig rust, especially when conditions are favorable. In the case of fig rust, a fungus, warm humid weather is what it likes and well, we have plenty of that.

Figs are a great fruit tree for North Florida. Credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS.


The first signs of the fig rust disease are small yellow to yellow-green spots/lesions on the upper surface of the leaf that turn a reddish-brown color as they get larger. A heavy infestation causes the leaves to turn yellow and drop early. While fig rust does not injure the fruit, repeat occurrences of premature leaf drop can adversely affect the overall health of the tree, resulting in yield loss. Another concern is that if the leaves drop too early, the tree will flush out with new growth heading into winter. This new growth can be injured by early freezes and cause a loss of fruit the following season.


Fig rust on leaves. Credit: UF/IFAS.


What can you do to prevent and/or cure fig rust? Unfortunately, once you see the yellowish-green/reddish-brown spots on the leaves, it’s too late to provide any control. As always, proper cultural practices can help. Pruning the tree to provide adequate airflow keeps the leaves as dry as possible during our humid summers. Remember to prune fig trees in Florida after fruit harvest, not in the dormant season, since fruit is borne on previous year’s growth. Another cultural control to prevent fig rust is to rake diseased leaves out from under the tree. The fungal spores in the fallen leaf litter pass the disease on to next year’s leaves. Other cultural controls include providing adequate moisture and placing a healthy dose of mulch around the tree. Figs require minimal fertilizer. Using a general complete fertilizer with micronutrients (such as a 10-10-10), young trees should receive 1 cup (1/2 pound) and mature trees 4-8 cups (2-4 pounds) per year.

There are currently no chemical controls approved for fig rust in Florida. The classic Bordeaux mix is recommended by various authors to be used as a preventative fungicide during the dormant season, before the lesions appear on the leaves. The Bordeaux mixture is a mix of copper sulfate, lime, and water in a 1:1:10 ratio and is considered an organic pesticide.  This mix has been used since the late 19th century and was discovered by accident after botanists and farmers realized that grapevines sprayed with the mix to deter theft had less fungal problems. As with any pesticide, be cautious when using. Overuse of copper-based fungicides can cause copper to build up in soils, leading to potential issues to plant and human health.

While figs are generally worry free for our area, fig rust is one disease to be on the lookout for. Good gardening practices can reduce the occurrence of this disease and ensure a bountiful harvest. For questions on growing figs or about the fig rust disease, visit the UF/IFAS EDIS website – edis.ifas.ufl.edu – or contact your local Extension office.


Author: Mark Tancig – tancig00@ufl.edu

Mark Tancig

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/19/fig-leaves-dropping-early/

Smart Sampling

A glass jar with the lid secured is one method of bringing a live insect sample to your local Extension Office. Photo: JMcConnell, UF/IFAS

One of the roles of a Horticulture Extension Agent is to help identify pests found in the landscape. Weeds are fairly easy for people to sample, simply take some pictures or dig it up and bring it into the office, but what about insects?

Slow moving insects may be easy to photograph and if their size, shape, and coloration is very distinctive that may be enough for a good identification. But sometimes a photo isn’t worth a thousand words and the best way to get accurate identification is to bring in a physical sample.

The quality of the sample is going to either help or hinder with identification, so here are some tips:

  • Never leave samples in a hot car – insects desiccate and become brittle in intense heat. Some details such as number of antennae segments or tarsi on legs are used to positively identify insects; missing pieces can lead to misidentification.
  • Bring a live sample if it can be done safely and securely. Small, disposable plastic containers, jars with tightly sealing lids, and reused food or medicine containers work well.
  • Small insects such as ants can be collected using a paintbrush dipped in rubbing alcohol which can then be swirled to release the ants into a vial/jar containing a small amount of alcohol. Small soft bodied insects can be collected this way, but may lose their color which may impede identification.
  • Crushed or otherwise damaged samples should not be submitted.
  • Limit samples to landscape or household pests – your local Extension Office is not a medical facility and is not equipped to handle or process samples that contain bodily fluids, skin scrapings, or similar materials. Please consult a physician for suspected human parasites.

Other helpful information that can be used for identification is the location of the insect, behavior (active night/day), and food source if known.

If insects must be mailed, please follow packaging directions found in this publication Insect Identification Service.




Author: Julie McConnell – juliebmcconnell@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Bay County Horticulture Extension Agent I

Julie McConnell

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/19/smart-sampling/

Gear Up for Leon County Extension’s Garden Educator Training Series

The Garden Educator Training Series helps garden leaders start or improve their school or community garden. Photo by Molly Jameson.


By Tiffany Torres

Tiffany Torres is the Family Nutrition Program Northwest District Food Systems Specialist with UF/IFAS Extension.

With the cooler months of fall upon us, school gardens across the Panhandle are beginning to awaken from their summer slumber. Soon, students and teachers will begin to replenish the soil, plant their seeds, and dive into an engaging edible education experience.

For these schools and communities, gardens are much more than just a few beds of carrots. School gardens serve as outdoor classrooms, bringing academic concepts to life in new and exciting ways, while also encouraging environmental stewardship. In addition, school gardens can expose students to lifelong healthy eating habits by inspiring them to try new fruits and vegetables. In time, the school garden can become a facet of school culture and pride, ultimately reinforcing an overall healthier school food environment for students, teachers, parents, and the broader community.

School gardens can inspire students to try foods, impacting their eating habits long-term. Photo by Molly Jameson.

To help support teachers and other school garden stakeholders on this journey, specialists at the University of Florida IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program developed a seasonal school and community garden training. The “Garden Educator Training Series” provides teachers and volunteers with tools for improving school garden education, enjoyment, and long-term outcomes. This monthly education and networking opportunity welcomes teachers who want to start and sustain school gardens, college students who want to volunteer with local gardening projects, and other garden enthusiasts, such as Master Gardeners, who want to lend their time to ensure the success of school and community gardens.

Each session includes three engaging components: 1) seasonally relevant, hands-on gardening skills; 2) curriculum and education connections; and 3) community organizing strategies to build team commitments. Sessions also include an opportunity to share successes and challenges amongst fellow attendees, resulting in a stronger school and community garden network. Each garden project leader will build a “Living History Binder,” which they will fill with resources throughout the series and use with their team to help organize their garden projects.

Through the Garden Educator Training Series, it is our hope that everyone involved will gain tangible and valuable skills to launch or improve their school or community garden projects. The program will give educators the tools necessary to design their gardens to be outdoor classrooms; promote health and wellness through gardening; facilitate community engagement; and teach students valuable life skills such as teamwork, cooperation, focus, and patience –  inspiring the next generation of “garden leaders, not just garden weeders.”

The Series provides teachers and volunteers networking opportunities and tools to improve school garden education. Photo by Molly Jameson.

Interested in participating in the Garden Educator Training Series? The Series is free of charge, and will take place at the Leon County Extension Office (615 Paul Russell Rd, Tallahassee, FL). Fall sessions are 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on September 14th, October 12th, November 9th, and November 30th. To register, visit the UF/IFAS Leon County Eventbrite website (https://leongetsfall2017.eventbrite.com).

For further information, please contact the UF/IFAS Extension Office at Leon County by calling (850) 606-5200.


Author: Molly Jameson – mjameson@ufl.edu

Molly Jameson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/18/gear-up-for-leon-county-extensions-garden-educator-training-series/

An Alternative to Invasive Ruellia


Individual Ruellia ‘Mayan Compact Purple’ flower. Image Credit: Matthew Orwat

Avid horticulturists often get frustrated when attractive, floriferous, versatile, durable, and easy-to-grow plants get sidelined because they have been declared an invasive species. Ruellia simplex (commonly known as Mexican petunia) was declared a category 1 invasive in 2001 by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, described as “a plant that is altering native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or ecological functions, or hybridizing with natives” (Source: UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants).

It produces copious amounts of seed year-long, which do not require exposure to cold weather (stratification) or mechanical damage (scarification) to germinate. Its excellent garden characteristics such as prolific flower production, and adaptability to varying light, temperature and moisture levels also increase its invasive potential.

Fortunately, recent developments in the field of plant breeding have developed several sterile Ruellia cultivars that have demonstrated low invasive potential in field trials. UF / IFAS researchers have developed the MayanTM series, which includes four distinct new cultivars: ‘MayanTM White’, ‘MayanTM Pink’, ‘MayanTM White’ and’ MayanTM Compact Purple’. They are available to the public through various licensed nurseries.

Three month old plant of Ruellia ‘Mayan Compact Purple’ in full flower. Image Credit: Matthew Orwat

This spring, UF/IFAS Extension agents were given the opportunity to try MayanTM Series Ruellia at their local offices. I opted to try the ‘MayanTM Compact Purple’ cultivar and so far it has been an excellent landscape plant. It is shorter than other Ruellia cultivars and has adequate branching throughout so as to not look leggy. It blooms regularly and flowers have a nice, purple hue. It does not mind full morning sun but benefits from afternoon shade, particularly during the hot summer months. So far, it seems like an excellent selection for plant borders or areas where a durable source of color is needed. Additionally, it produces no fruit and very little viable pollen, so it does not have potential to hybridize with naturalized Ruellia simplex populations.

Although this is a sterile selection, it can still multiply by rhizomes. While I have not observed any invasive behavior in ‘MayanTM Compact Purple’, I have just tested it in one location.

For more information consult this article from Florida Foundation Seed Producers and one from Hort Science on the ‘MayanTM Compact Purple’ cultivar.

Ruellia ‘Mayan Compact Purple’. Image Credit: Matthew Orwat

Ruellia ‘Mayan Compact Purple’ Image Credit: Matthew Orwat


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.

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/18/an-alternative-to-invasive-ruellia/

Exploring Opportunities in Agritourism in North Florida – September 30

Exploring Opportunities in Agritourism in North Florida – September 30

UF IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center

155 Research Road – Quincy, FL 32351

Saturday, September 30, 2017

8:00 AM – 4:30 PM Eastern Time

Eventbrite Registration

Call 850-875-7100 for more information


Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/16/exploring-opportunities-in-agritourism-in-north-florida-september-30/

Weed of the Week: Coffee Senna

Weed of the Week: Coffee Senna

Coffee senna is a troublesome pasture weed that is toxic to livestock. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Coffee Senna is not only an issue for livestock producers, as seeds are toxic when consumed, it also causes issues for cotton and peanut farmers in the southern states. The scientific name Senna occidentalis comes from Arabic and Latin roots, with Senna meaning “these plants” and occidentalis meaning “western,” in reference to its origin. While closely related to Sicklepod, Coffee Senna does not respond the same to many of the herbicides used for Sicklepod control in row crop production, making it challenging to control.


For help to identify weeds or to develop a control plan for your operation, please contact your county extension agent. 

For more information on this topic please see the following UF/IFAS Publication:

Weed Management in Pastures and Rangeland—2017



Author: Kalyn Waters – kalyn.waters@ufl.edu

Holmes County Extension Director working in the areas of Agricultural Management in row crop, natural resources, livestock and forage production. Specialized in Beef Cattle Production in the area of reproductive, nutritional and finical management.

Kalyn Waters

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/16/weed-of-the-week-coffee-senna/

Florida’s Farm Families Are Slowly Recovering from Losses Inflicted by Hurricane Irma

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam took an aerial tour to survey areas impacted by Hurricane Irma, including citrus groves in Central and Southwest Florida. Commissioner Putnam said, “It’s still too early to know the full extent of the damage to Florida citrus. But after touring groves on foot and by air, it’s clear that our signature crop has suffered serious and devastating losses from Hurricane Irma.” Source FDACS

Source:  Florida Farm Bureau

The resiliency of Florida’s farmers and ranchers is on full display in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. They are working to restore food and fiber production for this state and the nation, despite the widespread destruction of crops, buildings, fencing and other property lost to wind and water damage.

Like many other Floridians, farm families are contending with significant failures in the electric power grid. Many face weeks of rebuilding and replanting before full operations can resume.

The entire peninsula suffered major damage. The most severe overall destruction occurred in Southwest Florida. Early estimates indicate that in some areas of the primary citrus belt at least 60 percent of green fruit was knocked off the trees, raising the likelihood that the 2017-2018 crop will be much smaller than expected. Those farmers who had already planted fall vegetables, including tomatoes, report a near-total loss.

Agriculturists throughout the region and elsewhere face the general task of either repairing or restoring irrigation systems, machinery and other equipment.

Scattered assessments among ornamental plant growers indicate that many greenhouses and shade covers were are either partially standing or unusable. Some nursery owners have less than 50 percent of their plants in marketable condition.

In Hendry and Glades counties, observers have found hundreds of sugarcane plants submerged in water, buried in sediment or blown away. Palm Beach County sugarcane appears to be shredded, but farmers there say that new growth is possible and along with it, a partial harvest.

Standing water is a challenge for agricultural producers throughout the entire peninsula. Flooding has blocked access to fields and groves and limited access to beef cattle in pastures marooned by the storm. In east Florida’s Brevard County, for example, an estimated 50,000 acres of ranchland is under water, likely imposing a weight loss in calves shipped for processing.

As far north as Putnam County, west of St. Augustine, vegetable growers cannot enter fields because there is no access. Blueberry producers from south-central Florida north to Gainesville are struggling with acreage that has turned into lakes or muddy bogs.

Official economic loss totals will be available soon. Informal estimates suggest that the total agricultural cost of the storm will be in the billions. In south Florida’s Okeechobee County, for example, an informal evaluation places the local loss at a minimum of $ 16 million.

Florida Farm Bureau President John L. Hoblick expressed his grateful appreciation to farm families for their ability to survive a catastrophic hurricane and continue with their livelihoods. “Our farmers and ranchers show their true strength under the pressures of adversity,” Hoblick said. “I ask all Floridians to join me in applauding their dedication, hard work and willingness to work through very difficult circumstances so that they can continue operations that support us all.”

Hoblick called upon federal officials to provide emergency assistance to achieve full recovery.

“A farm disaster of this magnitude requires exceptional action,” Hoblick said. “Farm families need our help. I urge the Congress and the Administration to endorse immediate financial support for Florida agriculture. We appreciate all aid that you can provide during this crisis.”

Twenty-five members of Florida’s Congressional delegation have already asked Congressional leaders to appropriate adequate funding for this purpose. In a Sept. 12 letter the lawmakers wrote that “the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma throughout Florida means that Congress must again act swiftly to ensure the availability of additional funding needed for recovery efforts.”



Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/16/floridas-farm-families-are-slowly-recovering-from-losses-inflicted-by-hurricane-irma/

Cotton Marketing News: Cotton Makes a Hard Landing

Cotton Marketing News:  Cotton Makes a Hard Landing

Apparently, USDA’s September numbers took the market by surprise.  I don’t quite understand why that should have been the case, but apparently it was.  To a lot of folks that know cotton and keep a close eye on things, the September numbers were not really that much of a surprise.  It was expected that the numbers might reflect higher planted acres, higher yield, and not yet reflect the impacts of Hurricane Harvey.

This is why the move back to 75 cents on December 17 futures was considered to be a good late-season pricing opportunity.  As expected, it will now be the October report before USDA numbers reflect Harvey and now Irma impacts.  Of course, other sources will provide loss estimates in the interim.  As more is known, and if the crop does eventually get smaller, prices could still rally to recover some of this week’s decline.

I’m surprised the market has not yet reacted to Irma.  The Georgia crop, currently estimated at 2.7 million bales, was hit by heavy rain and sustained high winds.  There will be yield losses due to twisted and downed stalks and branches, and lint blown from open bolls to the ground.

The week started out with a wild Monday with December ranging from 75.45 to 71.59 cents before closing at 72.11—down 2.48 cents—and this was before Tuesday’s report.  Then on Tuesday, Dec was down the limit to 69.11 cents.  Since then, Dec seems to have “landed” at that 69-cent area.  So, we’re back pretty much where we were pre-Harvey.  If the 68 to 69 cent area holds moving forward, any rally will be challenged around the 71 to 72 cent area.

The US crop is now estimated at 21.76 million bales—1.21 million bales higher than the August estimate.  Acres planted were increased 560,000 acres, acres to be harvested increased 460,000, and yield increased from 892 to 908 lbs per acre.

This month’s report revised acres planted from the first estimates made back in June.  Acreage was revised up in 14 states, including a roughly 300,000 acre increase in Texas, 110,000 acre increase in Oklahoma, and 80,000 in Mississippi.  Georgia plantings were revised down 60,000 acres.

The projected US yield was revised up to 908 lbs per acre.  Yield was increased in 14 states including sizable increases in Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Virginia.  Acres to be harvested, yield, and total production are subject to further revision as the aftermath of Harvey and Irma continue to be deciphered.

The market will continue to be volatile and uncertain, as US production and fiber quality are both big unknowns.  Elsewhere in this week’s supply and demand estimates:

  • Projected US exports for the 2017 crop marketing year were raised 700,000 bales—reflecting the larger available supply.
  • Production was increased in Australia, Brazil, and India.
  • China’s expected imports were increased 100,000 bales. Production and Use were unchanged.
  • Imports were also increased for Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, and Vietnam—550,000 bales in total.
  • World Use was raised 350,000 bales and is now projected to be 117.75 million bales for 2017-18. If realized, this would be 3.6% above last season.

Export sales for the 2017 crop year have been doing well.  As of September 7, a sales total 7.25 million bales—49% of USDA’s projection for the crop marketing year.  For the 7-day period ending September 7, sales were slow—only 71,000 bales compared to approximately 123,000 bales for the prior period.

Many growers were adversely affected by Harvey and Irma.  Both yield and fiber quality are unknown.  This week’s price decline adds further injury.  The US crop will likely get smaller with the October numbers—but it may still be in the neighborhood of 20 million bales.

If the crop gets smaller as estimates are revised to reflect Harvey and Irma, prices should show some improvement, especially if exports continue to do well.  Prices will be volatile, so a range of mostly 67 to 72 cents is likely over the next couple of months depending on how everything plays out both here and abroad.






Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/16/cotton-marketing-news-cotton-makes-a-hard-landing/

Walton County Beef Cattle Seminar – September 21

Walton County Beef Cattle Seminar – September 21

There are roughly 13,000 head of cattle in Walton County, making them an important part of agriculture in this part of the western Florida panhandle.  The University of Florida IFAS Extension Walton County office is offering an educational program to help livestock owners stay competitive and up-to-date on the business. It will be held at the Paxton Ag Center, 22036 Highway 331 North in Paxton, on September 21th from 4:00 – 8:00 PM Central.

Topics covered will include feed stuff selection, beef cattle management strategies, and reproduction management strategies.  This is a multi-state and multi-county program, so cattle producers from across the region are welcome to attend. Also, there will be some hay equipment and hay wrappers on site to look at. There will be a $ 10 fee to attend; steak dinner is included. For more information or to register, please contact the Walton County Extension Office at (850) 892-8172 or by email to haneyc@ufl.edu.


Author: Michael Goodchild – mjgo@ufl.edu

Michael Goodchild County Extension Director Walton County (forestry)

Michael Goodchild

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/16/walton-county-beef-cattle-seminar-september-21/

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