Tag Archive: Ahead

Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.

Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.

Will you be ready if disaster strikes?  Disasters, or devastating events-natural or human-generated, certainly can disrupt daily life. National Preparedness Month, held annually in September and sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is a good reminder that we need to be ready to respond to emergencies.  Adversity can strike at any time.  There is no time like the present to prepare for emergencies.

How?  Focus on making a standing plan for family readiness!  A standing plan is one that you and your family have developed in the event of disasters. For most people, the prime goal is knowing that all family members are safe and as secure as possible against harm.

Need some help?  Ready.gov has information to help you with that critical “what do we do in case of an emergency” conversation with children as well as seniors or any family member with special needs.  The Ready.gov website contains a wealth of information to get you started including downloadable checklists and other publications as well as printable posters.  Anyone can download the materials for free!

For instance, some disasters strike without warning.  Have you thought about supplies you would need the most? Ready.gov supports the use of checklists as a good way to help you make it through an immediate disaster period.

Are you a pet owner?  Ready.Gov has a unique brochure containing information for pet owners and suggestions for proactive pet emergency preparedness.  Have you ever considered evacuating in the car with your animals?

Additionally, inadequate insurance coverage on a family home or properties can lead to major financial losses.  NOW is the time to plan, document, and insure your property as well as prepare digital copies of your important financial information. One thing to keep in mind: FLOOD INSURANCE is a pre-disaster insurance protection program.  Flood damage is not usually covered by typical homeowners insurance.  Check your policy. Do not make assumptions.

Be smart; take part in preparing before an emergency happens!

  1. Implement a standing plan
  2. Prepare in ADVANCE
  3. Stay informed

You can plan ahead for an emergency. Take action now.



Author: Heidi Copeland – hbc@ufl.edu

Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, Leon County Florida Educational Program Focus: •Food, Nutrition and Wellness •Child Development and Parenting

Heidi Copeland

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/09/disasters-dont-plan-ahead-you-can/

Full Steam Ahead for Vegetable Garden Soil Prep

If you haven’t already, it’s time to prepare the garden space for the summer bounty of fresh vegetables. The following information will help you get started. Just remember, as the soil preparation goes, so goes the vegetable production.

Figure 1: Planting Vegetables in Prepared Soil.

Credit: Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS.

By far the most physical part of vegetable gardening is soil preparation. This is the foundation that your garden is built on, so let’s not cut corners at this stage. Plain and simple, poor soil prep will result in poor garden performance. Before you begin prep, it is a good idea to have a soil sample analyzed. With a soil analysis complete, a more customized fertilizer and application may be recommended for your needs. However, a complete fertilizer like 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 can be used as general purpose. Also, pH can be determined through this test. If the soil is too acidic for vegetables, then a liming requirement may be needed. pH is key information, especially regarding planting time. If one needs lime, it is recommended to wait at least a month before planting to allow the lime to adjust soil pH. Generally, a small amount of lime can be added to a garden space regardless, as lime also contains the vital micronutrients calcium and magnesium. Contact your local extension office for more information on soil testing.

To begin the garden prep, one will first need to remove the weeds from the space. The next step is to turn the soil. This will help aerate the soil and accelerate soil decomposition which leads to higher organic matter. Turing the soil will also eliminate any soil compaction issues that would stifle seed germination. With sandy soils throughout the Panhandle, one will most likely need to amend by spreading a rich organic compost in the space. An application of fertilizer can be mixed in at this stage as well. Always follow the manufacturer’s label regarding application directions. Once complete, the soil should then be turned by digging down six to eight inches. A large garden will require a motorized tiller, but hand-held implements should be fine for smaller spaces.

After the soil is turned, be sure to break up any clods and rake so that the area is level. The soil should be of a fine texture by this point. Again, this makes seed germination much easier and will assist in further root development of transplants.

To have a vegetable garden that all will envy, it begins with soil prep. Remember, not only does a vegetable garden provide nutrition, but it also provides for exercise, a feeling of accomplishment and even could save you a few bucks. Please contact your local county extension office for more information.

Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS EDIS publication: “Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide” by Sydney Park Brown, Danielle Treadwell, J. M. Stephens and Susan Webb: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/VH/VH02100.pdf

Information on garden plot preparation was also provided by Emeritus Vegetable Specialist Jim Stephens, of The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Science.

UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.



Author: Ray Bodrey – rbodrey@ufl.edu

Gulf County Extension Director, Agent II Agriculture & Natural Resource, Horticulture, Sea Grant

Ray Bodrey

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/24/full-steam-ahead-for-vegetable-garden-soil-prep/

NISAW 2017: Trying to Stay Ahead of Beach Vitex

Beach Vitex Blossom. Photo credit: Rick O’Connor

Research shows that the most effective time to deal with an invasive species, both in terms of controlling or eradicating the species and money spent to do so, is early on…. What we call Early Detection Rapid Response. Beach vitex is a good candidate for this.

The first record for vitex in the Florida panhandle was in 2012. A local citizen in Gulf Breeze (Santa Rosa County) reported it on her beach and believed it may have come from Santa Rosa Island… it did.  The barrier island location was logged on EDDmaps and the Gulf Breeze plants were removed.  A quick survey of Florida on EDDmaps found that the only other location was in Duval County – 3 records there.  So this was not a wide spread plant in our state and could be a rare case for eradication.  That was until I surveyed Pensacola Beach on a bicycle and found 22 properties with it.  Soon afterwards, it was found on the shores of Perdido Bay and concern set it that it might be more widespread than we thought.

Vitex beginning to take over bike path on Pensacola Beach. Photo credit: Rick O’Connor

We tried to educate the property owners about the issue based on what we learned in South Carolina, where there is a state task force to battle the plant, and suggested methods of removal. Many property owners began the process, which can take several treatments over several years, and, with the help of University of West Florida students, removed all of the vitex from public land on Santa Rosa Island.  We were feeling good that we might still be able to eradicate this plant from our county… and then I went for a hike in the Gulf Islands National Seashore… yep… found more… almost 10,000 m2 of the plant.  UWF and Sea Grant have worked hard over the past year to remove these plants, and have removed all but one section.  Recently I received an email letting me know that it was found in Franklin County.  They have since logged this on EDDmaps and have begun the removal process.  However, this begs the question… where else might this plant be in the panhandle?


Beach vitex (Vitex rotundifolia) is a salt tolerant plant that does well in dry sandy soils and full sun; it loves the beach.  We have found it in dune areas above the high tide line.  It was brought to the United States in the 1950’s for herbarium use.  By the 1980,’s the plant was used in landscaping and sold at nurseries.  It was first used in dune restoration in South Carolina after Hurricane Hugo, and that was when the trouble began.

Vitex growing at Gulf Islands National Seashore that has been removed. Photo credit: Rick O’Connor

The plant grows very aggressively during the warmer months. It out competes native dune plants and quickly takes over.  Growing 2-3 foot tall, this woody shrub has above ground rhizomes that can extend over 20 feet.  Secondary roots begin to grow from the nodes along these rhizomes and it quickly forms an entangled mat of vines that blocks sun for some of the native plants.  There has also been concern for nesting sea turtles.  The rhizomes can over take a nest while incubation is occurring and entrapping the hatchlings.  The plant has become such a problem in both North and South Carolina that a state task force has been developed to battle it.  Vitex can spread either vegetative or by seed, both can tolerate being in salt water and can be dispersed via tides and currents.  The plant has 1-2” ovate leaves and violet colored blossom, which can be seen in late spring and summer.  The leaves become a rusty gray color during winter.  The seeds, which are found in late summer and fall, are spherical and gray-purple in color.  Vitex produces many seeds, an estimated 22,000/m2, and – in addition to being carried by the tide – can be transported by birds as well.

Again, we are hoping that the plant has been discovered early enough to control, if not eradicate, it… HOWEVER, WE NEED YOUR HELP. If you think you may have seen this plant along your coasts, please contact your county Sea Grant Extension Agent for advice on how to manage it.


Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/02/nisaw-2017-trying-to-stay-ahead-of-beach-vitex/

Planning Ahead for Dove Season

Planning Ahead for Dove Season

mourning dove

Photo courtesy of bugwood.org

Planning Ahead for Dove Season

Every Fall, sportsmen of all ages set their sights on the mourning dove (Zenaida macroura), one of the most widely hunted migratory birds in the United States.  Because it is migratory bird, management falls under federal and state regulations.  Annually, Extension agents receive questions about the legality of putting out supplemental feed to attract dove.  For farmers looking for an alternative revenue stream or landowners searching for ways to attract dove and other wildlife to their land, now is a good time to consider planting supplemental food crops.  Baiting of birds is illegal, but planting of supplemental food crops is legal.  Much of the information found in this article can be found in the University of Florida EDIS publication entitled “Dove Fields in Florida.”  Please refer to this publication for more information.

When considering planting for dove, one should dedicate a minimum of five acres and do sequential plantings to ensure a longer availability of food sources.  Incorporating multiple types of plant species will help keep the birds coming back and also extend the season.  The list below, though not comprehensive, provides an overview of what is typically planted for dove.  Particular attention should be paid to the recommended planting dates and seeding rates; this plays a major role in the discussion of supplemental food source versus baiting.

Browntop Millet—Panicum ramosum: Typical planting dates: June-September; maturation time: 60-70 days; seeding rate: 15-25 lbs/acre (15 lbs/acre drilled); planting depth: 1/2 inch; pH: 6.0; grows well with corn, sunflower, and millets.

Proso Millet—Panicum miliaceum: Typical planting dates: June-August; maturation time: 75-90 days; seeding rate: 10-30 lbs/acre (15 lbs/acre drilled); planting depth: 1/2 inch; pH: 6.0; does well on many soils; grows well with corn, sunflower, and other millets.

Japanese Millet—Echinochloa crusgalli: Typical planting dates: May-August; maturation time: 80-100 days; seeding rate: 10-20 lbs/acre (15 lbs/acre drilled); planting depth: <1/2 inch; pH: 6.0; does well on wet soils; grows well with other millets.

Sunflower—Helianthus annuus: Typical planting dates: May-July; maturation time: 90-120 days; seeding rate: 10-20 lbs/acre (5-10 lbs/acre drilled); planting depth: 1 inch; pH: 6.0-7.0; does best on well-drained soils; black variety best; grows well in alternating strips or rows of browntop millet and corn.

Corn—Zea mays: Typical planting dates: March-July; maturation time: 80-150 days; seeding rate: 8-15 lbs/acre (drilled); planting depth: 1-1 1/2 inches; pH: 6.0-7.0; does best on well-drained soils; should be planted in at least 4 rows for adequate pollination to occur; use tropical or late season varieties if planting in June-July; grows well with browntop millet and soybeans.

Sorghum—Sorghum spp.: Typical planting dates: March-June; maturation time: 75-150 days; seeding rate: 4-15 lbs/acre (5 lbs/acre drilled); planting depth: 1 inch; pH: 5.5-6.5; drought tolerant; avoid bird resistant varieties; grows well with many warm-season grasses.

Wheat—Triticum aestivum: Typical planting dates: September-November; maturation time: 180-260 days; seeding rate: 90-120 lbs/acre (drilled); planting depth: 1-2 inches; pH: 6.0; does best on well-drained soils; grows well with other grains.

Oats—Avena spp.: Typical planting dates: September-November; maturation time: 180-260 days; seeding rate: 96-128 lbs/acre (drilled) ; planting depth: 1-2 inches; pH: 6.0; does best on well-drained soils; grows well with other grains.

Buckwheat—Fagopyrum esculentum: Typical planting dates: March-August; maturation time: 40-50 days; seeding rate: 40-50 lbs/acre (drilled) ; planting depth: 1/2 inch; pH: 6.0; does best on well-drained soils, but will grow under a variety of conditions; grows well with many millets, sunflower, and sorghum.

Soybeans—Glycine max: Typical planting dates: March-July; maturation time: 180 days; seeding rate: 30-100 lbs/acre (60 lbs/acre drilled); planting depth: 1/2-1 inch; pH: 5.8-6.5; does best on well- and moderately well-drained soils; grows well with sorghum and corn.

Sesame—Sesame indicum: Typical planting dates: April-June; maturation time: 90 days; seeding rate: 5-12 lbs/acre (5 lbs/acre drilled); planting depth: 1 inch; pH: 6.0-7.0; does best on well-drained soils; grows well with other grains; can be an extremely high seed producer.

Like any crop, these seeds should be properly planted and managed.  Whether you decide to plant on tilled ground or via overseeding, the ground should be leveled and packed before and after planting to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.  Many of the species listed are small seeded, and planting too deep will result in poor germination.  Different crops can be planted in alternating strips 24-30 feet wide.  It is also suggested that strips should be left un-planted between the rows.  These areas can then be sprayed with herbicide or disked so there is bare ground for the birds to forage.

For the most success, remember to ensure good soil fertility by testing and then amending with lime and/or nutrients as indicated in the results of the soil analysis.  For more information on food plot soil analysis, please see the following Panhandle Agriculture article: Underperforming Food Plots? Three Possible Reasons Why.


Small seeded sunflowers are a good option for attracting dove and other wildlife.

Supplemental food source versus Baiting—The Law

The question of what a legal dove field is comes up year after year, and rightfully so.  If in doubt, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) with your questions; it is better to be safe than sorry.

The following information was taken directly from the FWC page: Dove Hunting and Baiting in Florida

According to Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 1, Part 20.11, a baited area is, “any area on which salt, grain, or other feed has been placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, if that salt, grain, or other feed could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to, on, or over areas where hunters are attempting to take them. Any such area will remain a baited area for 10 days following the complete removal of all such salt, grain, or other feed.”

Furthermore, according to Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 1, Part 20.21(i) doves may not be taken “by the aid of baiting, or on or over any baited area, where a person knows or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited.” Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 1, Part 20.21 (i)(2)  also specifically allows the harvesting of doves “on or over lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas, and where grain or other feed has been distributed or scattered solely as the result of manipulation of an agricultural crop or other feed on the land where grown, or solely as the result of a normal agricultural operation.”

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) provides dove field managers some flexibility by inserting the word “manipulation.” According to Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20.11, manipulation means, “the alteration of natural vegetation or agricultural crops by activities that include but are not limited to mowing, shredding, disking, rolling, chopping, trampling, flattening, burning, or herbicide treatments. The term manipulation does not include the distributing or scattering of grain, seed, or other feed after removal from or storage on the field where grown.”

There also is some confusion as to what a normal agricultural planting is, because practices vary from state to state.  According to Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 1, Part 20.11 , “normal agricultural planting, harvesting, or post-harvest manipulation means a planting or harvesting undertaken for the purpose of producing and gathering a crop, or manipulation after such harvest and removal of grain, that is conducted in accordance with official recommendations of State Extension Specialists of the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.” However, this does not mean that a field is illegal if it was not planted according to IFAS recommended seeding rates, planting dates, or planting methods. A person may plant as they choose, but they may not hunt doves over that field until a minimum of ten days after all seed has germinated or following complete removal of that seed.

So, what is legal in Florida?

In Florida, as long as the grain was grown in the field, and is there as a direct result of mowing, shredding, disking, silage chopping, burning, etc., it is perfectly legal. You can plant your field at whatever seed rate you wish, and time the maturation of your fields to coincide with established dove seasons. However, once the grain leaves the field (even if it is grown there) it can never be brought back in, or the field is considered a baited area for 10 days following the complete removal of all such salt, grain, or other feed.

So, what is illegal in Florida?

In Florida, the top-sowing of seed (without disking it in) is not considered a “normal agricultural planting.” So, you may not hunt over a top-sowed field until a minimum of ten days after all seed has germinated or following complete removal of that seed. You may hunt over a top-sowed field that is already germinating and is actively growing or matured and was manipulated to enhance the field to attract doves.

The take home message is to make sure when you do any planting, you have all seed planted and disked in, well prior to ten days before any hunt.

The FWC recommends that you avoid planting during the season or during the split. If you must plant during the season or split (because your field flooded or army worms totally destroyed your field), then you should make sure all seed is completely covered or sprouted a minimum of ten days prior to hunting.

Finally, the FWC recommends that if you are unsure of whether or not your field may be considered baited, you should call your regional office to have an FWC Wildlife Officer inspect the dove field prior to hunting. Remember, as a hunter, you are responsible for determining whether or not a field is baited.




Author: Libbie Johnson – libbiej@ufl.edu

Agriculture agent at UF IFAS Escambia County Extension.

Libbie Johnson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/07/08/planning-ahead-for-dove-season/

Cotton Marketing News: A Few Thoughts Ahead of the Acreage Report

Cotton Marketing News:  A Few Thoughts Ahead of the Acreage Report

Shurely 6-16-16 headerMaybe it’s just me, but this year’s USDA Acreage report seems to be on the back burner.  Usually there is pre-report speculation on the June number and how it might compare to the March Prospective Plantings number.  I’m not seeing or hearing much this year.  For what it’s worth, in March US farmers said they intend to plant 9.56 million acres—11.4% above last year, but still the second lowest acreage since 2008.  If realized, this would be the lowest 2-year acreage since 2008 and 2009.

During the planting season cotton prices increased 6 to 7 cents/lb, corn was steady to about 10 cents higher, and soybeans were 50 cents to $ 1 higher.  The increase in the price of cotton likely had little impact on possible shifts in acreage—the increase for the most part just traded higher price for less LDP.  The increase in soybean price could be a factor, however.

Cotton acreage could be impacted by the revised AWP calculation which effectively lowers the LDP/MLG by 2 cents from what it otherwise would be.  LDP/MLG, a strong basis, and quality premiums were significant factors in the profit equation last season.  It’s important that prices increase or these things continue to help cotton be profitable and competitive.

USDA’s June crop production and supply and demand estimates were not expected to change much from the May estimates, but there were several things worth noting.  These things may come in sharper focus with the July report (the first report based on June acreage numbers) and more important moving forward.

World stocks are projected to decline 7.35 million bales during the 2016 crop marketing year.  China stocks are projected to decline 7.6 million bales.  That means the important “stocks outside of China” number is expected to increase 250K bales.

But hold on a minute—stocks in the US are projected to increase 700K bales—so, if you take the US out of the “outside of China” picture, that means stocks elsewhere are expected to decline by 450K bales.  It seems this could be important and prices could be somewhat sensitive to US production and conditions.

China’s cotton production for 2016 is projected to be the lowest level since 2000.  China’s use of cotton in its spinning industry has declined almost one-third since 2009—cotton imports have decreased but yarn imports have increased, and China will increase use it’s stocks.

US exports to China are expected to be remain very low.  But this is old news by now; just as significant will be US exports to markets like Vietnam, Bangladesh, Turkey, and Indonesia.  China is importing much less yarn so far this year, compared to 2015.  This could show up as increased mill use (spinning) for China, and/or reduced imports and use for Vietnam, India, and Pakistan.

By most accounts, China’s sale of government reserve stocks has gone well.  Recently, sales have been mostly, if not entirely, domestic cotton.  Does this indicate that quality is good?  Not necessarily.  I suppose if price is low enough, any cotton can find a home.  At the end of the 2016 crop year, its projected China will have 55 million bales of stocks—still 25 to 30 million bales above “normal.”  It’s uncertain how far China can dig into its stocks and age and fiber quality not become an issue.  We’ll see.

For the 2015 crop year, prices were constantly under pressure due to weakening demand.   World Use is currently projected at 110.6 million bales for the 2016 crop year—1.4% above last season.  While this isn’t much, it’s important that we start to see some stability and growth on the demand side.  Keep an eye on this number, if projected use begins to erode that spells trouble.

Shurley Dec Futures 6-16-16

This week’s declines have, for me, solidified that 66 cents seems to be the top for now.  Prices are most likely to range from 60 to 66 cents with above 66 possible on optimistic (price positive) news and less than 60 on pessimistic (price negative) news.

Protection on some portion of the crop could be considered at 66 or better.  Avoid the pessimistic scenario with a large portion of your crop, but the LDP/MLG will help if prices get to that area.

Cotton News Sponsor

William Don Shurley, University of Georgia
229-386-3512 / donshur@uga.edu



Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/06/18/cotton-marketing-news-a-few-thoughts-ahead-of-the-acreage-report/

Cotton Marketing News: A Watchful Summer Lies Ahead

Shurely header 6-3-16The 64-cent area (Dec16 futures prices) seems to be the limit that this market is willing to go at this point.  Additional positive market factors could take us to 66 cents—but 64 cents has been tested twice over the past month or so and the market shows no ability, or reason quite yet to push higher.

Shurley Dec Futures 6-3-16As we are now nearing the end of planting season and looking ahead over the summer months, factors that will impact prices include crop conditions, China’s reserve sales, and global cotton use or demand.  For the grower, the challenge will be if and when to take price protection, and if so, how to do it.  Just looking at the Dec16 chart, we can see potential for prices to fall to the 56 to 60 cent area under negative outlook scenarios.

Shurley planting progress 6-3-16After having caught up, planting is again running behind normal.  As of May 29, planting was 10 percentage points behind average for that date.  Texas (56% of expected US acres) was 15 points behind normal; North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia (6% of expected acres) were an average 13 points behind.  Georgia (12% of expected US acres) was just slightly behind normal.

Shurely rainfall 6-3-16

National Weather Service estimates of the percentage of normal rainfall for the past two weeks.

Rainfall over the past two weeks has been well below normal for most of the cotton area in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama; well above normal for the some areas of the Carolinas and Virginia, which has slowed planting but growers are getting caught up; and well above normal for most of Texas which has also slowed planting.  A large area of the Mid-South has also been above normal on rainfall, but planting has been on schedule.

Chinas government reserve sales now (as of June 2) total an estimated 2.75 million bales (equivalent 480-lb bales)—30% of the targeted total of 9.3 million bales through August.  This consists of approximately 1.3 million bales (47%) imported cotton and 1.45 million bales (53%) of China’s own cotton.

The proportion of sales consisting of imported cotton has declined.  This is because the volume of imported cotton offered for sale has dwindled to almost nothing.  One report suggests that sales of imported cotton from reserve would be limited to 300,000 metric tons—the equivalent of 1.31 million 480-lb bales.  Of the 2.75 million bales sold—74% has been bought by spinners, 24% by “local traders”, and 2% by “international traders”.

As these sales proceed further, if the limit has been reached of imported cotton, sales will be determined in part by the quality of and demand for domestic cotton in reserve and prices will respond accordingly.


Cotton News Sponsor

William Don Shurley, University of Georgia
229-386-3512 / donshur@uga.edu




Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/06/04/cotton-marketing-news-a-watchful-summer-lies-ahead/

Planning ahead can reduce home and landscape damage

Planning ahead can reduce home and landscape damage

Even large oaks may fall during a tornado. Photo credit: northescambia.com

Even large, healthy oaks may fall during a tornado. Photo credit: northescambia.com

When we think of bad weather in Florida, hurricanes are typically the first thing that comes to mind. In reality, Florida is 4th in the nation in tornado frequency—and when adjusted for frequency per square mile, we are actually number 1. Residents of Escambia County are believers now, as the community reels from enduring two tornadoes in the span of a week. Both rated as EF3 storms, the winds in the twisters (136-165 mph) were nearly equivalent to a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. The western Panhandle and much of south Alabama were under tornado watches as the most recent band of thunderstorms moved through.

Based on a thorough study of surviving trees after hurricanes in Florida, there are several species of trees best suited to windstorms. For north Florida, some of the top species are: Florida scrub hickory, several native holly species, Southern magnolia, sand live oak, myrtle oak, and bald and pond cypress. Data from the full study and an in-depth overview is available from the University of Florida.  To prepare for a heavy thunderstorm or a milder hurricane, it is wise to replace or plant trees with the most wind-resistant species. Because of the damage from falling trees in storms, many homeowners are nervous about planting trees. However, there are so many benefits to healthy trees in a landscape that they vastly outweigh the small risk of them falling.

Keep in mind that tornadoes are the most violent natural disasters and may cause complete devastation of homes, neighborhoods, and forests in a matter of seconds. After the Escambia County tornadoes, we witnessed large uprooted trees, downed power lines, flipped vehicles and blown-off roofs. Several homes and apartments were completely flattened or blown off their foundations. Luckily, the odds are in one’s favor of not getting hit directly by a tornado—because there’s often little anyone can do for a landscape in that situation. It’s best to hunker down in a windowless inner room or hallway, which saved the lives of hundreds during the last round of bad weather.

Updraft entering the garage of this house may have caused the roof blowout above it. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson

Wind entering the garage of this house may have caused the roof blowout above it. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson

However, there’s good news that work that can be done to help protect a home during storms. Hardening homes through “windstorm mitigation” techniques can prevent updraft from strong winds. A house is only as strong as its weakest area, and those are typically the connections between the walls, roof, and foundation. A wind-rated garage door and/or brace are crucial, as strong winds can enter a garage and blow out the roof above it.

When strong winds enter a hope, their force moving out can cause an updraft and lift off the roof. Graphic courtesy UF IFAS.

When strong winds enter a home, their force moving out can cause an updraft and lift off the roof. Graphic courtesy UF IFAS.

In Escambia and Santa Rosa County, the local nonprofit “Rebuild Northwest Florida” operates a cost-sharing program to help residents harden homes. After the tornado in Century (near the Alabama border in north Escambia County), engineers from Rebuild examined a home that suffered a direct hit from a tornado. The home had been retrofit with crucial wind mitigation techniques and sustained no structural damage. Buildings, sheds, and homes all around it were destroyed. Examples of several wind mitigation techniques, including storm shutters, wind-rated windows, garage door braces and a tornado shelter are available for public viewing at the Escambia County Extension office in our windstorm mitigation building.

As the spring storm season heats up and rolls into hurricane season, keep in mind these suggestions for both the landscape and home. As always, contact your local Extension office if you have any questions.


Author: Carrie Stevenson – ctsteven@ufl.edu

Coastal Sustainability Agent, Escambia County Extension

Carrie Stevenson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/03/02/planning-ahead-can-reduce-home-and-landscape-damage/

Cotton Marketing News: A Look Back at 2015 and Ahead to 2016

Cotton Marketing News:  A Look Back at 2015 and Ahead to 2016

Shurley 1-13-16 headerThe New Year has not started off well for cotton. Old crop March futures currently stand at roughly 62 cents and new crop December futures at roughly 63 cents—both down 2 to 3 cents from the most recent high.

On the decline, cotton prices reached the lowest levels since October. This raises concerns, as it should, but this recent decline is likely short-term. That doesn’t mean the outlook is rosy; it just means the market can likely recover this 2 to 3 cents.

Concerns about the global economy, China, and related losses in the US stock market drove cotton prices down. Prices have since tried to recover somewhat but slowly. The upward trend we’ve been in since October has now been broken (see charts). So, there’s work to do to repair last week’s damage.Shurley March futures 1

USDA released its January production and supply/demand figures yesterday. The 2015 US crop was lowered slightly to 12.94 million bales. US mill use was lowered 100K bales from 3.7 to 3.6 million bales. US ending stocks were raised by 100K bales.

As expected, 2015 foreign production was lowered roughly 2 million bales. The China and India crops were each lowered ½ million bales and the Pakistan crop was lowered 800K bales.

World mill use for the 2015-16 marketing year was lowered 450K bales. This makes the seventh consecutive month that World use has been revised downward and use (demand) now stands at only .5% above (or essentially unchanged) from the 2014 crop year and still less than 1% above the 2013 crop year.Shurley Dec Futures 2Demand growth, or this lack of it, is going to be a key factor in the 2016 crop price outlook. There is already a belief among many in the industry that US cotton acreage will increase this year. Compared to 8.58 million acres planted last year, early expectations for this year range from 9 to over 10 million acres.

For the US cotton grower, relative prices for alternative crops are not as favorable compared to cotton as in 2015. Also, for peanut growers, acreage expanded in 2015 but may not be sustained for 2016 due to rotation constraints.

If US and World area and production increase in 2016, this will place price direction squarely on the shoulders of demand. That seems to be a risky proposition at this juncture given the aforementioned downward revisions in demand this season.

Of course, acreage harvested and yields are more critical than acres planted. US yield was down in 2015 compared to 2013 and ’14 but abandonment was very low at only 6%.

For the 2015 crop, US cotton benefited from a strong basis and good premiums for fiber quality. This was important for profitability and will be important for 2016, when considering alternative net returns and what to plant. There are no guarantees that strong basis and quality premiums will continue, but it is something to consider. Both yield and fiber quality are important goals to shoot for.

Changes in STAX are forthcoming and any other policy changes, such as the cottonseed designation for ARC/PLC if implemented, will also come into play for 2016.

Cotton News Sponsor

Don Shurley, University of Georgia
229-386-3512 / donshur@uga.edu



Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/01/16/cotton-marketing-news-a-look-back-at-2015-and-ahead-to-2016/

Plan Ahead for “Pomp and Circumstance”

Photo credit:  IFAS Communication Services

Photo credit: IFAS Communication Services

Do you have a high school senior in your life in the near or not-so-near future? If so, it’s never too early to begin planning and preparing for the expenses associated with senior year. For starters, here are some typical expenses:

  • Class ring – While this may be purchased during the sophomore or junior year, the cost can amount to several hundred dollars, depending on the material, design, and vendor.
  • Senior pictures – Many photographers offer portrait packages featuring shots taken at off-site locations in addition to the traditional black drape and tux headshots for the yearbook.
  • Yearbook – In addition to the average base price of $ 100, many schools offer ad space for purchase to mark your child’s special year. Prices can run from $ 25 for a quarter-page space to $ 200 for a full-page scrapbook-type ad.
  • Class dues – Many schools charge students annual dues for various expenses associated with their particular grade level.
  • Cap and gown rental, graduation announcements, thank-you cards
  • Test fees – If your child will be taking the SAT, ACT, or other placement test, be prepared to shell out $ 50 or more per each test sitting. Prep classes will be an additional cost.
  • College application fees – these generally run $ 35 or higher per school.
  • Dances and Prom – Tickets, corsages, the dress, shoes, hair and makeup, tux rental, limousine rental, and dinner can add up quickly; the average cost of prom in 2014 was approximately $ 1,000.
  • Class trip – Whether it’s a trip to a theme park or a white-water rafting adventure, factor in the costs of transportation, lodging, meals, admission tickets, and spending money for the excursion.

As you can see, senior year expenses can add up quickly! To ease the burden on the family budget, plan ahead. First, contact your child’s school for a list of anticipated expenses. Next, sit down with your high schooler and discuss the expenses he or she is likely to have. Decide together which are needs and which are wants – many items are “nice to have” but not necessary and there may be some items, like a class ring, that are of no interest to your child.

Set a realistic budget for the year and discuss ways in which your child can contribute through, say, babysitting or a part-time job. Explore alternatives to reduce costs – enlist a “shutterbug” friend to take photos, shop consignment stores for prom wear, print your own graduation announcements, purchase inexpensive thank-you cards. If your child is just starting high school, you can set up a special savings account now and contribute regularly so you are prepared when that time finally arrives.

With planning, senior year can be a very special and memorable time in your family’s life without breaking the budget. For more information on setting up a budget, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office or visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_budgeting.

Source: National Endowment for Financial Education, “Costs Heavy on Road to High School Graduation – Plan Ahead to Manage Expense of Child’s Senior Year’” http://www.nefe.org/press-room/news/senior-costs-2011.aspx



Author: Judy Corbus – jlcorbus@ufl.edu

Judy Corbus is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent in Washington and Holmes Counties.

Judy Corbus

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/02/14/plan-ahead-for-pomp-and-circumstance/