Tag Archive: Health

Peanut Nodule Analysis to Assess Crop Health

Peanut Nodule Analysis to Assess Crop Health

Picture: UF/IFAS agronomy students dig up peanut plants for a nodule sample at the Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center near Live Oak, FL

David Hensley and Diane Rowland, UF/IFAS Agronomy Department

One of the primary benefits of growing legumes like peanut is their ability to convert nitrogen in the atmosphere to a form that is available for use throughout the plant. They do this by forming a symbiosis (a mutual “partnership”) with bacteria known as Rhizobia. When Rhizobia become associated with peanut roots, the plant and bacteria form a structure known as a nodule that houses the bacteria and creates the most beneficial conditions for the bacteria to thrive. The nodule is also the site where the fixed atmospheric nitrogen is delivered to the plant. Most of a legume’s nitrogen needs are supplied by the Rhizobia in its root nodules, and when nodules degrade either during the season or when the crop is harvested, some of that fixed nitrogen may become available to the following crop. However, one barrier to this process is if nitrogen happens to be high when peanut is planted, either through residual nitrogen left from the previous crop or if nitrogen is added to peanut directly. When nitrogen is high, this tends to decrease the symbiosis with Rhizobia, and thus the formation of nodules.

Peanut nodules are carefully removed from sampled roots from the field.

Current research at the University of Florida (UF/IFAS) is looking at this nodulation process closely, characterizing the different stages of development that nodules pass through. This knowledge may help growers better gauge how the symbiosis between peanut and the bacteria is progressing during the season, as well as estimate the stress level being experienced by the crop. To do this, graduate student David Hensley in the laboratory of Dr. Diane Rowland has been studying closely how nodules initiate, grow and become active, and finally degrade through the course of a season. Using a digital, automatic color image analysis process, David is able to use scanned images of root nodules removed from peanuts to determine the total number and average size of the nodules, and by cutting the nodules open, can determine their internal color. These three traits together are indicative of how effective the symbiosis is between the peanut and Rhizobia and how well the process of fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere is progressing.

Peanut nodules are carefully removed from sampled roots from the field. The nodules in the container will be scanned and dissected.

The internal color of the nodule dictates its activity level. Nodules which are deep red in color are active, indicating that conditions are optimal for Rhizobia to perform their nitrogen-fixing function. Nodules with lighter, whitish internal color do not yet (or possibly never will) have active Rhizobia, and greenish nodules have begun to naturally age and will cease to fix nitrogen. Dark, blackish nodules, on the other hand, have begun to decay due to damage or possibly stress. By assessing the relative presence of these colors, the effectiveness of the root nodules can be determined at any point during the growing season.

From left to right, examples of nodule internal color representing not yet active rhizobia, increasingly active, fully active, and darkening to green and black, representing senescence and decay. These individual nodules are only a few millimeters wide, and are taken from scanned images used in UF/IFAS digital color analysis.

This color analysis system, that David Hensley developed, may help growers in determining the overall health of the nodulation of their peanut crop. By assessing the color classes and the number of nodules within each color class, information about how healthy the nodules are in a field can be noted. Nodules respond to stress in the environment by stopping nitrogen fixation, or even by decaying faster than in the best field conditions, so this assessment can give an indication to the grower about the level of stress experienced by the peanut.

This provides growers with one more tool in scouting for stress and diagnosing possible problems the crop may be facing. Ultimately, nodule color may be an early warning system, since this symbiosis is one of the first responders to drought and other crop stresses. These color assessments can help researchers and eventually growers understand these stress conditions, as well as the processes occurring at the end of a nodule’s life cycle. Monitoring these processes, which are crucial to the release of nitrogen from root nodules into the soil, will also help quantify the nitrogen benefits from rotations that include peanuts.



Author: Diane – dlrowland@ufl.edu

My professional research is focused on the physiological mechanisms which determine stress response in crops. I am particularly interested in drought tolerance and irrigation scheduling. I study peanut, cotton, corn, and sesame.


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/18/peanut-nodule-analysis-to-assess-crop-health/

Keep an Eye on Your Eye Health – August is National Eye Exam Month

Most of us are willing to go to the doctor or the dentist, which are both part of taking care of our health. However, do you go to the eye doctor? If not, you definitely should add it to your healthy lifestyle regime. Eye exams at every age and stage of life can help you keep your vision strong. August is National Eye Exam month; this is the perfect reminder to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.

The Vision Council of America reports that 12.2 million Americans require some sort of vision correction, but do not use any. Nearly 50% of parents with children under 12 have never taken their children to an eye-care professional.

Many people think their eyesight is just fine, but then they get that first pair of glasses or contact lenses and the world becomes much clearer – everything from fine print to street signs. Improving and/or maintaining your eyesight is important – about 11 million Americans over age 12 need vision correction, but that is just one of the reasons to get your eyes examined. Regular eye exams are also an important part of finding eye diseases early and preserving your vision.

Eye diseases are common and can go unnoticed for a long time. Some diseases have no symptoms at first. A comprehensive dilated eye exam by an optometrist (a medical professional with a focus on regular vision care who can prescribe eyeglasses and contacts) or ophthalmologist (a medical eye doctor with a focus on the complete eye health) is necessary to find eye diseases in the early stages when treatment to prevent vision loss is most effective. During the exam, visual acuity (sharpness), depth perception, eye alignment, and eye movement are tested. Eye drops are used to make your pupils larger so your eye doctor can see inside your eyes and check for signs of health problems.

How often should you have an eye exam?

  • A child’s eyes should be checked regularly by an eye doctor or pediatrician. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends vision screening for all children at least once between age 3 and 5 years to detect amblyopia or risk factors for the disease. Amblyopia is when the vision in one of the eyes is reduced because the eye and the brain are not working together properly. The eye itself looks normal, but it is not being used normally because the brain is favoring the other eye. This condition is sometimes called lazy eye.
  • People with diabetes should have a dilated eye exam every year.
  • People with a family history of glaucoma should have an eye exam every year.
  • Adults with good health should have an eye exam at least every 2 years.

Some people are at higher risk for glaucoma and should have a dilated eye exam every 1 to 2 years:

  • African Americans, ages 40 years and older.
  • Everyone older than age 60, especially Mexican Americans.
  • People with a family history of glaucoma.

Early treatment is critically important to prevent some common eye diseases from causing permanent vision loss or blindness:

  •  Cataracts (clouding of the lens), the leading cause of vision loss in the United States.
  • Diabetic retinopathy (causes damage to blood vessels in the back of the eye), the leading cause of blindness in American adults.
  • Glaucoma (a group of diseases that damages the optic nerve).
  • Age-related macular degeneration (gradual breakdown of light-sensitive tissue in the eye).

Other reasons to see your eye doctor: If you have any of the following eye problems, do not wait for your next appointment, schedule your eye appointment as soon as possible:

  • Decreased vision
  • Draining or redness of the eye
  • Eye pain
  • Double vision
  • Diabetes
  • Floaters (tiny specks that appear to float before your eyes)
  • Halos around lights
  • Flashes of light.


Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 10 Tips to Protect Your Vision:

  1. Get a regular comprehensive dilated eye exam.
  2. Know your family’s eye health history.
  3. Eat right to protect your sight. You have heard that carrots are good for your eyes. But eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables—particularly dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, or collard greens—is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing activities around the home. Protective eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields, and eye guards specially designed to provide the correct protection.
  6. Be cool and wear your shades. Wear sunglasses that block out 99% to 100% of UV-A and UV-B radiation (the sun’s rays).
  7. Give your eyes a rest. If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing on any one thing, you sometimes forget to blink and your eyes can get fatigued. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This short exercise can help reduce eyestrain.
  8. Clean your hands and your contact lenses properly.
  9. Practice workplace eye safety.
  10. Quit smoking or never start.

Of the estimated 61 million US adults at high risk for vision loss, only half visited an eye doctor last year. Regular eye care can have a life-changing impact on preserving the vision of millions of people. Be sure to make your eye health a priority in your life. Healthy eyes lead to better vision and an overall better quality of life.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Sources: Vision Council of America  https://www.thevisioncouncil.org/      Center for Disease Control and Prevention    https://www.cdc.gov/



Author: Melanie Taylor – metaylor@ufl.edu

Melanie Taylor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/05/keep-an-eye-on-your-eye-health-august-is-national-eye-exam-month/

4-H Horse Health Clinic Scheduled for June 13th

The Area A 4-H Horse Advisory Committee is pleased to welcome Dr. Bess Darrow, DVM and Mr. Billy Blackman, Professional Farrier to our first Area A 4-H Equine Clinic.  Our focus will be on overall equine health, as well as dental and hoof concerns.  There is no fee for this clinic but you must register on Eventbrite by June 5th. Lunch is provided for current 4-H members.

After the workshop, participants may make appointments and bring their horses to have dental and hoof work done.  *Fees will apply. To make appointments you will need to contact Dr. Darrow or Mr. Blackman personally (see flyer for contact information.)

The Area A Horse Advisory Committee is planning a series of both educational and competitive events for youth enrolled in the 4-H Horse and “Horse-less” Horse Projects this coming 4-H year!  For more information about the Florida 4-H Horse Program, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office or visit one of these links:

Florida 4-H Horse Project Page

Florida 4-H Horse Events (UF IFAS Animal Sciences)


Author: amgranger – amgranger@ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/05/04/4-h-horse-health-clinic-scheduled-for-june-13th/

August 31 FAMU Workshop will Focus on Soil Health

August 31 FAMU Workshop will Focus on Soil Health

FAMU Soil Workshop GraphicSoil Health and Quality Workshop

August 31, 2016

Florida A&M University will be hosting “Healthy Soils Grow Great Plants!” on Wednesday, August 31 from 9AM to 4PM at the FAMU Extension and Research Center, 4259 Bainbridge Highway, Quincy, FL 32352.

The fee for the workshop is $ 5 per person. Please call (850) 599-3546 no later than August 15 to reserve your spot for the workshop.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Disinfecting soils

  • Composting

  • Soil microorganisms

  • Cover crops for soil building

  • Understanding the soil test and determining fertilizer needs


Download the printer friendly flyer: Soil Quality Workshop Flyer

For additional information, contact:
Cassel Gardner, Ph.D.


Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/08/13/august-31-famu-workshop-will-focus-on-soil-health/

Honey Bee Health & Best Management Strategies – August 30th

Honey Bee Health & Best Management Strategies – August 30th

Florida A&M University will be hosting a bee health workshop on Sunday, August 30th from 11AM to 5PM at the FAMU Research and Education Center in Quincy.  The workshop will be led by Michael Schmaeling of the Rodale Institute.

A honey bee at work.

Credit: Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory, University of Florida.

Topics to be discussed at the workshop include:

  • Honeybee Biology and Behavior
  • Colony Management and Equipment
  • Pests and Diseases
  • Bee Laws
  • Apiary Management
  • Soil Health Practices to Ensure a Pollinator Friendly Environment

This workshop is being provided free of charge and lunch will be provided.  To register for the workshop, please send an email to famu.register@gmail.com.  For additional information about the workshop, please contact Dr. Jennifer Taylor, FAMU Statewide Small Farms Coordinator at 850-412-5260 or Jennifer.Taylor@FAMU.edu.


Author: mlollar – 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.


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/08/22/honey-bee-health-best-management-strategies-august-30th/

Beat the Heat this Summer – Stay Hydrated for Health

Stay hydrated to beat the heat!

Stay hydrated to beat the heat!

Summer is in full swing and our part of the country is very hot.  When the temperature rises, proper hydration is extra important. You need to provide your body with the fluid that it needs to stay healthy. Water regulates many different body processes, including body temperature, digestion, and heart rate. It also cushions and protects our internal organs and joints. When we do not get enough of it, our bodies can suffer.  We lose water from our bodies every time we breathe, sweat, or urinate. In fact, it’s estimated that you can lose up to 4 cups of water during an hour of exercise in the heat. This water loss can lead to dehydration.

Signs of dehydration include:

  • Little or no urine, or dark urine
  • Dizziness, or lightheaded feeling
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness or fatigue
  • Extreme thirst
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid pulse
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Cramping

Ultimately, dehydration can lead to extreme thirst, confusion, heat stroke, loss of consciousness, and death.  So, how can you manage staying hydrated in the heat of summer?  One of the key answers is not to wait until you are thirsty. Drink water regularly!  Food can also provide some of the water you need every day- especially food like watermelon, soup, milk, lettuce, and strawberries. Sugar-sweetened sports drinks or beverages with added minerals, vitamins, or electrolytes are NOT necessary unless you are a competitive athlete or in heavy training for an athletic event.

Tips for staying hydrated:

  • Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. Purchasing bottled water is expensive and creates plastic bottle waste. Carry a reusable water bottle and fill it from the tap instead.
  • If you do not like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon, lime, or another type of fruit to your drink.
  • Be sure to drink water before, during, and after a workout.
  • When you are feeling hungry, drink water. Thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water.
  • If you have trouble remembering to drink water, drink on a schedule. For example, drink water when you wake up; at breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and when you go to bed. Or drink a small glass of water at the beginning of each hour.
  • Drink water when you go to a restaurant. It will keep you hydrated, and it is free!

Be safe this summer and stay hydrated, so you will enjoy your outdoor time. Also, remind you family and friends to drink water too.  You will all feel better and have more fun!


Author: Melanie Taylor – metaylor@ufl.edu

Melanie Taylor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/07/31/beat-the-heat-this-summer-stay-hydrated-for-health/

The Cow is the First Source of Calf Health

Colostrum consumption is a key factor in the long-term health of newborn calves. This calf needs to get up and nurse several times within the first four hours after birth to ensure adequate consumption.  (Alachua, Florida)

Colostrum consumption is a key factor in the long-term health of newborn calves. This calf needs to get up and nurse several times within the first four hours after birth, to ensure adequate consumption. (Alachua, Florida)

When it comes to the health of newborn calves, it all starts with the cow. The cow’s plain of nutrition and diet during gestation can affect her colostrum (first milk) production, milk yield, and the long-term health of her calf. Ensuring the cow receives sufficient nutrition during pregnancy by meeting her energy, protein, mineral, and vitamin requirements is an investment in the health of her calf.

Equally important is making sure the cow calves with a body condition score of at least 5 (neither fat nor thin).  This ensures the cow will have enough body reserves to initiate lactation, form the colostrum, and produce adequate quantities of colostrum and milk, that impact the health of calves at birth and long term. If you’re not familiar with body condition scoring your cow herd, work with your local county Extension agent to learn and implement this important management tool.

Research in cattle and sheep has demonstrated that poor dam nutrition, either under- or over-feeding, can have negative effects on the colostrum volume, and on the concentrations of important components. The importance of the quality colostrum consumption by the newborn is that colostrum is the primary means of passing immunity from the mother to the calf. The immunity comes from two sources, immunoglobulins (IG) and other proteins in colostrum.

The protein and energy supplied to the cow during pregnancy are critical for colostrum production, immunoglobulin and protein concentration, and absorption of immunoglobulins by calves. Figure 1 shows the effect of under and over-feeding dams on colostrum volume and protein concentration. Colostrum weight, volume, solids-not-fat, and protein concentration were all negatively affected by under-feeding or over-feeding the cow during gestation. Mismanagement of the mother during gestation will result in a lactation that does not support health and growth of her offspring.

Effect of a dam's nutrition during gestation on colostrum yield and composition.

Effect of a dam’s nutrition during gestation on colostrum yield and composition.

Mineral nutrition of the dam is often implicated in calf health. Cow blood status, as a predictor of calf blood mineral status at birth, is a poor predictor for copper and zinc, but the relationship is strong for selenium. However, after colostrum consumption, calf copper blood concentration can nearly double. Trace minerals are an important factor for many immunological functions and transfer through colostrum is important.

Newborn calves are born with essentially no functional immunity, so it must all come from absorption of immunoglobulin and other proteins in the colostrum. Calves need a good quality and adequate volume of colostrum as soon after birth as possible. The consumption of colostrum early in life is associated with improved survivability, disease resistance, and growth rate to weaning. There is a direct relationship between 24-hour colostrum intake of immunoglobulin-G from colostrum and serum immunoglobulin-G concentration. The more immunoglobulin rich colostrum a calf can consume, the greater the absorption and resulting serum immunoglobulin concentrations the calf will have. Circulating immunoglobulins are essential for mounting an immune response to disease in the calf.

Optimal absorption of immunoglobulins and immunity related proteins occurs at 4 hours after birth and begins to decline starting around 12 hours, ending around 24 hours after birth. If the dam doesn’t produce enough colostrum, or the calf is unable to consume an adequate amount of colostrum then a commercial colostrum replacer may be warranted. Make sure to use colostrum replacer and not a colostrum supplement. The concentrations of immunoglobulin and other components are not adequate in the supplement compared to a colostrum replacer product.

The calf’s long-term health is directly impacted by cow gestational nutrition. Adequate consumption of quality colostrum is the first step in calf immunity and long-term health. Be diligent to ensure calves receive colostrum because poor calf health will negatively affect the cow-calf producer’s bottom line.


For more information on this topic, download:  Feeding Colostrum to Beef Calves

For more information on this and other topics related to beef cattle nutrition, please see the following list of UF/IFAS Publications here: Beef Cattle Nutrition



Author: hersom – hersom@ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/03/07/the-cow-is-the-first-source-of-calf-health/

Webinar: Farmers Making a Smart Choice for Health Insurance

Jackson Farmer's MarketDate: January 28, 2015

Time: 1:00 – 2:30 Eastern Time (12:00-1:30 pm CT)

Presented by national expert:
Dr. Roberta Riportella, Kansas State University Extension

A panel of experts have been invited to answer questions, including:

  • IRS

  • SBA

Participants will learn how the Affordable Care Act affects farm/ranch families as individuals (consumers), as business operators, and their farm workers. Enrollment assisters who work with farmers and ranchers are also encouraged to attend.

Webinar Link: https://hrsaseminar.adobeconnect.com/acafarmers/

Call-in Number: 888-469-1349/ Participant Passcode: 5724564



Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/01/24/webinar-farmers-making-a-smart-choice-for-health-insurance/

Reduce Maintenance and Improve Palm Health!

Reduce Maintenance and Improve Palm Health!

Over-pruning.  Photo credit:  JB McConnell, UF/IFAS

Over-pruning. Photo credit: JB McConnell, UF/IFAS

Many people picture sugar sand beaches, emerald green water, and gorgeous palm trees swaying in the breeze when they think about visiting or moving to Florida. The panhandle offers the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and sugar sand beaches, but sometimes its palms look a bit deficient. Why is that and what will it take to correct this? Although it seems counter-intuitive, major improvements can result from providing less attention to the palms by reducing the amount of pruning.

Over pruning palms leads to nutrient deficiencies and increases the likelihood of insect and disease problems. Pictured at left is an example of over pruned palms. This technique leaves the heads looking spindly and unattractive, and also hurts the palm’s short-term and long-term health. So, why do property owners send someone up a ladder to harm their palms? Most likely a combination of misinformation and routine.

Palms should have a 360 degree canopy, for example if the top of your palm tree is a clock (with hands, not digital!) you would not prune any fronds above 3 and 9 o’clock. The palms pictured above are pruned in a range from 11-1 o’clock and 10-2 o’clock.

Why does it matter how many fronds are on the palm?

  • First off, palms are not trees as many people believe, but instead are grasses. Palms have just one growing point that is located at the top of the trunk, and this one bud called the apical meristem is busy making fronds that will not appear until several months from now.
  • When nutrients are not available in the soil it can take 4-6 months for a deficiency to show up, so palm nutrition is tricky. Although they grow differently than trees and shrubs, one commonality is that they produce food through photosynthesis and need all available green tissue to make this happen.
  • When there are fewer fronds, the palm has limited resources to create energy.

Native Florida soils are not able to meet the specific nutrition needs of most palms, so it is common to see nutrient deficiencies. Some nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and magnesium are mobile in the plant. This means that they can be moved to areas with sufficient amounts of the nutrient to other parts of the palm that do not have enough. This will cause some partial discoloration in leaves, which can be misinterpreted as a dying leaf when in reality it is just sharing food with the rest of the palm. If that frond has any green tissue remaining and is cut off, then a great source of nutrients has just been removed thus making the overall deficiency even worse!

What about “hurricane-cut” to improve wind resistance?

  • Another common myth is that making a “hurricane cut” will reduce the likelihood of trees breaking in storms. Observations after the hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005 along with research by scientists have shown that the opposite is actually true. Trees that had been given a “hurricane-cut” were more likely to have their crowns snapped than palms with full crowns.
  • Damaged or dead fronds should be removed before storms to prevent them from becoming airborne during a storm, but green leaves should remain on palms.

So, how do you know the difference between normal shedding of fronds and a deficiency?

  • Normal shedding (senescence) is indicated by an overall discoloration of the whole frond, not just sections, and the whole process of turning color and falling off (or hanging down depending on the palm) only takes a couple of days.
  • A gradual shift to yellowing, browning, abnormal growth or other similar symptoms are typically nutrition related.


Nitrogen deficiency.  Photo credit: UF/IFAS Magnesium deficiency.  Photo credit:  UF/IFAS Potassium deficiency.  Photo credit:  UF/IFAS


Above are some examples of common nutrient deficiencies found in Florida landscapes. These are examples of leaves that are still supporting the palm and should be left attached to the tree until the whole frond is brown.

For more information on proper pruning and nutrient deficiencies of palms, please see the publications indicated below.
Nutrient Deficiencies of Landscape and Field-Grown Palms in Florida
Pruning Palms


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/2014/12/02/reduce-maintenance-and-improve-palm-health/

Panhandle Equine Health and Management Workshop

Equine health workshop

Photo by Jennifer Bearden

Photo by Jennifer Bearden

Join us for an educational evening!

Topics will include:

  • Equine Digestive System and Nutrition

  • Equine Dental Care

  • Internal Parasites of Equines

  • Quality Forages


When:  December 9, 2014
Time:  6-8:30pm
Where:  UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center, Quincy


Download the flyer to share this information with other horse enthusiasts:

Panhandle Equine Health and Management Workshop Flyer


There is no registration fee for this event, but participants are asked to RSVP by December 1st by calling 850-689-5850 or emailing bearden@ufl.edu, so that adequate handout materials can be prepared.


Sponsored by:



Author: Jennifer Bearden – bearden@ufl.edu

Agriculture Agent Okaloosa County

Jennifer Bearden

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/11/15/panhandle-equine-health-and-management-workshop/

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