Tag Archive: Just

You Say It’s Just a Swamp…

You Say It’s Just a Swamp…

Recent rains have water standing on some Wakulla County real estate, which has been dry for several years. Ponds, natural and dug, are brimming with water reflecting the generous outpouring from the slow and wet weather system, which passed listlessly over the county.

Cypress swamp in Jackson County.
Photo: Molly O’Connor

The rainwater excess is also filling the natural low points known as swamps or wetlands.

A swamp is defined as a forested wetland. Some occur along the flood plain of rivers, where they are dependent upon surplus flow from upstream and from local runoff.

Other swamps appear adjacent to ponds in shallow depressions, which fill during wet periods. Their landscape is covered by aquatic vegetation or trees and plants, which tolerates periodical inundation.

Historically, swamps have an image problem. Legend has all sorts of unsavory creatures, degenerates, and ghost inhabiting the locale waiting for the unsuspecting traveler.

Even the proper British used the term as a pejorative to describe Francis Marion during the American Revolution. The Swamp Fox engaged in guerilla warfare against the conventional forces and hid in the swamps to avoid capture.

Economically, these watery regions have had very low values. Their only significance was as site for trapping, hunting or for logging in dry years.

Medically, swamps were seen as a quick and painful way to the grave. There were all those creatures, which could inflict pain, leeches, snakes, gators and the like.

Then there was disease. As an example, the term Malaria originated from the swamps of southern Europe where it meant bad air in medieval Italian.  The mosquito connection was unknown until the early 20th Century.

Hollywood piled on the problem with a series of swamp monster movies. One, “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” was partially filmed at Wakulla Springs.

Reality, as is often the case, is quite different from the initial perception. Even the term swamp has fallen out of favor in some circles, being replaced with wetlands.

Swamps or wetlands serve a variety of functions in the panhandle. Possibly the most critical is as a filtration system for the water table.

Excess rain is held in these shallow depressions and allowed to percolate or filter slowly through the soil. The screening effect of the soil and subsoil layers along with the slow progression cleanses the water of numerous impurities from the surface.

Without the holding capacity of local swamps, most rainwater would end up in streams and rivers. In addition to being a loss for the water table, the excess water would cloud waterways with a glut of surface debris and nutrients.

Large bald cypress trees serve as wildlife habitat at Wakulla Springs State Park. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson

It is true mosquitos favor the still swamp waters, but so do many birds, fish and animals. Swamp rookeries are the nesting home for many wading birds. Mosquito larvae are an important link in the food chain, which supports much of the life in the swamp, and beyond.

Even some of the swamp’s most ostracized residents, snakes, have an important part to play in the overall environmental balance. These reptiles control the population of many destructive insects and rodents.

To learn more about the importance of swamps and wetlands, contact your UF/IFAS County Extension Office.


Author: Les Harrison – harrisog@ufl.edu

Les Harrison is the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Director, Agriculture and Natural Resources. He works with small and medium sized producers in the Big Bend region of north Florida on a wide range of topics. He has a Master’s of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics from Auburn University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida.

Les Harrison

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/27/you-say-its-just-a-swamp/

Bull Buying – Focus on Value Not Just Price

Bull Buying – Focus on Value Not Just Price

Selecting the right bulls are a key component to the success of any cattle operation. When market conditions are less than ideal focus on finding the right bull, not necessarily the cheapest bull.  Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

2017 is shaping up to be another year of tight margins for cattle producers. As much as ranchers would like to limit expenses during market downturns, some expenditures can’t be postponed. Bulls fall into this category.  The necessity of having an adequate number of bulls goes without saying. When bull buying time and lackluster market conditions coincide there are a few things to keep in mind that can help prevent the situation from having a negative impact on your operation.

When making purchasing decisions, try to consider value over price. Cutting corners rarely results in a positive outcome in the long run. Buying an inferior quality bull now might save you a few dollars in initial cash outlay, but will likely cost you substantially more over the long run than purchasing a quality animal would have.  Bear in mind that the registered cattle market will also be softer this year, although the purebred market typically lags behind the movement of the commercial cattle prices.

The value associated with a bull takes many forms. One of the first forms that can go by the wayside, when buyers are thinking only about price, is the opportunity for risk management and improved calf performance that comes with purchasing a bull with known EPD values. Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) are figures that predict the performance of a bull’s calves. The science and math behind EPDs can be mind boggling, but the application of the information is fairly straightforward and should be utilized by all cattle producers. The predictive power of EPDs has significant value because it enables bull buyers to stay away from bulls whose calves have a genetic propensity towards negative traits (ie. higher birth weights), and focus on bulls whose calves will be more likely to exhibit positive traits (ie. higher weaning weights).

Purchasing a bull without data is a risk not worth taking. Think about the cost of a calf lost due to calving difficulties, or the earning potential given up by selecting a bull whose calves have substandard growth potential. Remember, a bull will sire numerous calves over his productive lifetime, so even small advantages in performance can have substantial cumulative effects. Why would you give up the opportunity to make an informed selection decision by buying a bull without data?

Assuming you are planning on utilizing performance data in your bull selection process (if not, read the previous paragraphs again), there are some basic steps that can be taken to maximize the value associated with your decision.

Step 1) Identify the type of production system in which the bull will be utilized, and what traits are most economically significant in that type of system. How will the bull’s progeny be marketed or utilized? If all progeny are sold at weaning, the list of significant traits are pretty short: calving ease and weaning weight. If heifers sired by the bull are going to be kept the list gets much longer, as all of the maternal characteristics come into play. If calves are marketed based on carcass merit, then even more factors become economically significant. Beware of single trait selection, but also recognize that you also can’t effectively select for all traits simultaneously. Focus your selection pressure on traits with the largest return on investment.

Step 2) Identify the selection tools available that address these traits. By this point in the process a decision will have to be made regarding which breed of bull you are looking for (this can be a lengthy conversation in and of itself), because the specific resources available will differ from breed to breed. There are specific EPDs that are linked to many economically significant traits. These EPDs are an excellent place to start, but when many traits are being considered simultaneously a simpler technique is to utilize Economic Selection Indices. These indices, which are expressed as $ values, incorporate the economic value of multiple EPDs. Because Economic Selection Indices consider values based on economic significance, it is crucial that bull buyers utilize an index that accurately reflects their operation.

From: Beef Cattle Economic Selection Indices By: Bob Weaber, Kansas State University

Step 3) Utilize the tools to select bulls that are the most likely to provide the greatest value to your operation. Effectively using EPDs and Indices, like any other tool, takes some practice and basic understanding. To maximize the effectiveness of the selection tools be sure you are familiar with breed averages, and percentile breakdowns for various traits. (See list below)  This will help you better understand how well the bulls you are considering stack-up within the breed. EPD accuracy (possible change), and the units of measure are also important to keep in mind to help determine what constitutes a meaningful difference between individual bulls.

Links to Breed Averages and Percentile Rankings

Following these steps should help maximize the value of your bull purchase. Price will be a factor in any purchasing decision, and rightfully so, but a bull that does not fit your system and limits your ability to generate return on investment is never a good value, regardless of the price. When financial conditions are tight it is more important than ever to limit risk and make well-informed management decisions based on a plan. When it comes to buying bulls, this means utilizing all available information, and finding a bull that provides real value to your operation.

For more information regarding any of the topics mentioned in this article contact your county’s UF/IFAS Agriculture Extension Agent.  Also, don’t forget about the Florida Bull Test Sale on January 21, 2017, which is an excellent opportunity to find a bull that can bring value to your operation.



Author: Mark Mauldin – mdm83@ufl.edu

I am the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent in Washington County. My program areas include livestock and forage, row crops, and pond management.

Mark Mauldin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/13/bull-buying-focus-on-value-not-just-price/

Saving Just $50 of Your Tax Refund Could Mean Winning Big

Saving Just $  50 of Your Tax Refund Could Mean Winning Big

SaveYourRefund-without-D2D-300x83As W-2 forms and other receipts start rolling in, we’re reminded that tax season is upon us once again. It’s exciting to get back some of your own hard-earned money in the form of a tax refund! Saving a portion of your tax refund can be a big step toward meeting your savings goals, so it’s no surprise that a 2015 tax season survey found that a majority of those who receive a refund planned to save it.

This tax season, reward yourself for saving some of your refund by entering for a chance to win $ 25,000 through SaveYourRefund. SaveYourRefund has 101 cash prizes, including 100 weekly prizes of $ 100 and one grand prize of $ 25,000. Making smart financial decisions isn’t always easy, but splitting your refund couldn’t be simpler. Follow these quick and easy steps to enter to win in 2016:

  • Use Form 8888 to split your refund. Entry to win with SaveYourRefund starts with splitting your refund into savings.
  • Save $ 50 or more of your tax refund. In order to enter, use Form 8888 to save at least $ 50. There are a number of accounts you can save into including a savings account, a U.S. Treasury Direct account (savings bond), and a myRA retirement account.
  • Visit SaveYourRefund.com to enter. You will automatically be eligible to win one of ten $ 100 prizes that will be given away every week from the start of the contest until the end of tax season.
  • Upload a picture here that represents your savings goal or motivation, and you’ll be entered to win the $ 25,000 grand prize!

Need tax assistance? Take advantage of a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. VITA programs offer free tax help to those who generally make $ 53,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited English speakers.

Get ahead of your financial goals by splitting your tax refund into savings, and reward yourself with SaveYourRefund!

Source:  Tammy Greynolds, AmericaSaves.org.



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/2016/02/10/saving-just-50-of-your-tax-refund-could-mean-winning-big/

Tropical Soda Apple – Not Just a Pasture Weed

Tropical Soda Apple in mature Pine Stand Photo Credit: Shep Eubanks

Tropical Soda Apple in Mature Pine Stand in Gadsden County
Photo Credit: Shep Eubanks

Every fall, about the time deer hunters begin hanging their tree stands for bow season I get calls wanting to know what this wicked weed is that is growing in the woods.  Many of our North Florida cattlemen are well familiar with Tropical Soda Apple (TSA) in pastures, but we also need to be diligent to scout natural areas adjacent to our pastures and hay fields.  Tropical soda apple is quite capable of growing in pine stands and semi-shaded areas where you don’t normally expect to encounter it, such as in the stand of 20 year old pines pictured above.  Deer, raccoons, and other wildlife will eat the fruit and spread it in their travels about the woodlands, as will cattle if they have access to loaf in these areas.

This invasive weed produces a yellow fruit (see photo 1) when mature (1–1.5 inches in diameter), which contains 200–400 seeds per fruit. Little or no seed dormancy has been observed, and germination is generally greater than 75%. The plant is readily identified by its immature fruit, which are green with white mottling, similar to watermelon (see photo 2). Fruit production occurs throughout the year, but mostly from September through May, providing 40,000–50,000 viable seeds per plant per year.

Photo 1. Mature Tropical Soda Apple Fruit (yellow) Photo Credit: Shep Eubanks

Photo 1. Mature Tropical Soda Apple Fruit (yellow) Photo Credit: Shep Eubanks

Photo 1. Tropical soda Apple Immature Fruit Photo Credit: Shep Eubanks

Photo 2. Tropical soda Apple Immature Fruit (green striped) Photo Credit: Shep Eubanks

For control of Tropical Soda apple in areas like this woodlot, the following recommendation on Controlling Tropical Soda Apple by Dr. Brent Sellers, et al. is applicable.

Sparse infestations. Areas with low TSA infestation should be targeted, and each plant sprayed individually. Recommended herbicides for 95%–100% control are as follows:

  1. Milestone at 0.5–0.8 oz per 2.5 gal (15–20 ml per 2.5 gal) + 0.25% v/v non-ionic surfactant + color marker. (Use a color marker with the herbicide solution to avoid spraying the same plant twice or not spraying a plant at all).
  2. GrazonNext HL or triclopyr at 0.5% solution (50 ml per 2.5 gal) + 0.25% non-ionic surfactant + color marker.

When spot-spraying, cover the entire plant with spray solution to ensure herbicide uptake and maximum control. Allow herbicides to dry on plants three to four hours before rainfall. Monitor treated areas monthly, and treat new TSA seedlings. Do not allow plants to produce fruit. Be sure to follow the guidelines for spraying volatile herbicides such as triclopyr and 2,4-D. (For more information, see EDIS publication SS-AGR-12, Florida’s Organo-Auxin Herbicide Rule – 2012, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wg051.)

For more information on controlling Tropical Soda Apple Contact your local Extension Agent or these excellent publications:

Tropical soda Apple: Biology, ecology, and management

Classical Biological Control of Tropical Soda Apple

Natural Area Weeds: Invasive Solanum spp. in Florida



Author: Shep Eubanks – bigbuck@ufl.edu

Shep Eubanks is the County Extension Director and Agriculture Agent in Holmes County.

Shep Eubanks

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/10/16/tropical-soda-apple-not-just-a-pasture-weed/

Springtime is “Just Right” for Using Aquatic Herbicides

Springtime is “Just Right” for Using Aquatic Herbicides

Monitor your ponds closely throughout the spring and make any necessary herbicide applications before weed growth becomes too excessive.  Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Monitor your ponds closely throughout the spring and make any necessary herbicide applications before weed growth becomes too excessive.
Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Similar to Goldilocks’ porridge, water temperature doesn’t need to be too hot or too cold, it needs to be just right for using aquatic herbicides (70o – 80o F). Here in Florida, these optimum water temperatures occur in the spring. Water temperature largely regulates the growth of most aquatic weeds; cool temperatures slow or stop growth and warm temperatures promote growth. Keeping this simple principle in mind can help determine when to use aquatic herbicides.

Generally speaking, aquatic herbicides are not used when water temperatures are below 60o F. When water temperatures are this cool most aquatic weeds are not actively growing. For herbicides to be effective the target plants must be actively growing. Applying herbicides too early in the spring is generally not an issue because winter dieback can make many aquatic weeds hard to find when water temperatures are cool. The weeds are out of sight and out of mind. The much more common issue is waiting too long before attempting to control weeds.

As water temperatures climb above 60o weeds begin to grow. Unfortunately, they often times grow unnoticed throughout the spring until they become completely out of control in the summer. By this point, control, even using herbicides, is a monumental task. If at all possible, control weeds early in the growing season.

As plants grow they are able to build up energy reserves, making them more difficult to control. The longer they are allowed to grow the stronger and more difficult to control they become. Controlling weeds earlier in the growing season eliminates this problem.

Similarly, as the growing season progresses plants produce more and more biomass. If an herbicide is applied and the weeds are killed large amounts of decomposing plant material in the water can cause problems. The decomposition process uses oxygen; dissolved oxygen can drop to levels that are hazardous to fish and other aquatic species. The more plant material that is present when herbicides are applied the bigger concern this becomes. Applying herbicides earlier in the growing season, before large amounts of biomass are produced, can help lessen this problem.

Aquatic weeds can grow rapidly when temperatures are warm. Don't let them get out of control before you begin control efforts. Photo credit: Mark Mauldin

Aquatic weeds can grow rapidly when temperatures are warm. Don’t let them get out of control before you begin control efforts.
Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Further compounding the issue, warm water is physically able to hold less dissolved oxygen than cooler water. Late in the summer pond water can be very warm with low concentrations of dissolved oxygen even before large amounts of decomposing plant material are added.

To help reduce the risk of oxygen depletion never treat more than ½ of a pond at one time, if weed growth is already substantial treat no more than 1/3 of a pond at one time and always allow 10 -14 days for oxygen recovery between treatments. Also, avoid treating on cloudy days, another factor that can lead to lowered dissolved oxygen.

Aquatic weed control will be easier and more effective if you monitor your pond throughout the spring and make any needed herbicide applications early, before the weeds have grown too large and the water is too warm. Consult your county extension agent for assistance determining what aquatic weeds you have and if treatment is necessary. Always read and follow all label directions when using any herbicide.


Author: Mark Mauldin – mdm83@ufl.edu

I am the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent in Washington County. My program areas include livestock and forage, row crops, and pond management.

Mark Mauldin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/04/18/springtime-is-just-right-for-using-aquatic-herbicides/

Just Say No to Chinese Wisteria

Just Say No to Chinese Wisteria

chinese wisteriaMaybe you have been seeing the Chinese wisteria, Wisteria chinensis, sporting its lavender blooms along the roadways this time of year. This vine may add a pleasant splash of color to the green leafy backdrop, but this is an invasive vine that has escaped our yards and gardens and is spreading on its own in natural communities.

The University of Florida Assessment of Invasive Plants determined that this vine has caused long-term alterations in ecosystem processes and displaces native vegetation. According to the non-profit Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC), Chinese wisteria is a category II invasive which means that the species has escaped cultivation and is spreading on its own into other unintended areas.


American Wisteria ‘Amethyst Falls’ at GCREC Teaching Gardens. Photo credit: UF/IFAS Extension.

Fortunately, there are several great alternatives to Chinese wisteria. A native vine, American wisteria, Wisteria frutescens,  is a great alternative. The native cultivar ‘Amethyst Falls’  displays lovely fragrant lavender blooms in the spring and summer.

Evergreen Wisteria at the GCREC Teaching Garden. Photo credit: UF/IFAS Extension.

Evergreen Wisteria at the GCREC Teaching Garden. Photo credit: UF/IFAS Extension.

Another alternative is evergreen wisteria, Millettia reticulata, a twining vine (the stems twist around upright supports) that is semi-evergreen in the Florida panhandle. The deep mauve blooms appear throughout the summer months and persist often into the autumn.

So how do you get rid of the invasive Chinese wisteria? The vine can be severed at ground level and the stump immediately treated with a 25% solution of triclopyr or glysophate. There may be some resprouting of the vine from unaffected roots that would require retreating. Please click here for more details. The best time to control this vine is in the spring or summer when it is actively growing so that it will transport the herbicide to the roots and kill the plant.

For further information:

UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants: Chinese Wisteria

UF/IFAS Assessment of Invasive Plants: Chinese Wisteria

FLEPPC: 2013 List of Invasive Plants

UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions: American Wisteria ‘Amethyst Falls’

UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions: Evergreen Wisteria


Author: Mary Derrick – mderrick@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County

Mary Derrick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/04/06/just-say-no-to-chinese-wisteria/

It’s not just the honeybees!

It’s not just the honeybees!

Swallowtail Butterfly Feeding on a native Buckeye. Buckeyes also attract hummingbirds. Photo Credit: Jed Dillard

Swallowtail Butterfly Feeding on a native Buckeye. Buckeyes also attract hummingbirds.
Photo Credit: Jed Dillard

Honey bees are quite the buzz these days. Reports of population declines and the importance of their role in pollination have caught the country’s attention.  The Northwest District IFAS Beekeepers’ classes have grown by leaps and bounds over the years. Many folks have decided to keep bees for the first time and even those who do not start their own hives are itching to know more about how to help these industrious insects.

As important as the European honeybee is to our agriculture, there are many species of native pollinators that were here when the first European bees arrived with the settlers from England and Spain. Many of our crops were also introduced, but when the Native Americans began growing squash and pumpkins, the honeybees were not around. Many native plants we treasure in landscapes and natural lands are also dependent on these pollinators.

Butterflies may be our most familiar pollinator after honeybees, and growing a butterfly garden is a great way to enjoy these colorful visitors. However, there are many other native insect pollinators. Moths may come to mind next, but native bees are the unknown stars here.

There are over 300 species of native bees in Florida. Some are conspicuous like bumble bees and some are rarely noticed because of their small size. These species are also economically important. Bumble bees are preferred in vegetable greenhouses, because they are more active than honey bees, and are also major pollinators of cotton.

As we increase our interest in native plants, it’s important to preserve and enhance native pollinators. Choosing native plants is just the first step. Many native annuals can reseed themselves if managed properly, and assuring there are appropriate pollinators on hand is one of the key steps in that. If you’ve planted to attract wildlife, you’ll want to know which pollinators will ensure fruit is produced.
As you attract more native pollinators, you’ll have a more vibrant native plant community. As you have a more vibrant native plant community, you’ll support a larger and more diverse native pollinator population, and that’s some more buzz the world needs to catch.

More information on butterfly gardening is available from the University of Florida . UF information on attracting and supporting native bees is available at http://entnemdept.ifas.ufl.edu/honeybee/nbns.shtml, and there is a great citizen science project on native bees (Teachers, youth leaders, parents have you read this far?) “The Native Buzz” at http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/ellis/nativebuzz/. The Xerces Society for invertebrate preservation also has informational resources available at http://www.xerces.org/.


Author: Jed Dillard – dillardjed@ufl.edu

Jefferson County Livestock and Natural Resources Agent with a commercial cow/calf background. My degree is in animal breeding, but I do more work wth forage systems. Long time clover/legume booster for both livestock and wildlife

Jed Dillard

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/03/06/its-not-just-the-honeybees/

Dirt is just dirt, or is it?

Dirt is just dirt, or is it?

Soil Profile in Gadsden County.  Photo by Jennifer Bearden

Soil Profile in Gadsden County. Photo by Jennifer Bearden

Many of us walk around daily and give no thought to what is under our feet. We do not consider soil a vital natural resource, but it is. And as with water and air, soil quality is very important to our society. Soils perform 6 functions in our ecosystems.

First it is a medium for plant growth. Plants root into the soil structure and stabilize the plant above ground. It holds nutrients, air, and water which the plants need.

Next, our soils regulate water supplies. Soil quality affects water quality. Contaminants and excess nutrients in poor soils can leach into groundwater. On the other hand, soils can purify poor quality water before it recharges groundwater supplies such as in septic tanks or rain gardens.

Soils also recycle nutrients needed for plant growth. If soils did not perform this function, plants and animals would exhaust the nutrients and there would be an increase in waste in our ecosystems.

Soils provide habitat for numerous organisms. An amazing amount of soil organisms exist hidden from our view. Earthworms, microscopic worms, bacteria, fungi and more call our soils home. These organisms play an important role in keeping our soils productive and our fields yielding crops.

Soils are also used as an engineering medium. For many years, humans have used soils to build and construct homes, roads, pottery and more. Just think of the roads and buildings that would not be here if we did not have soils.

Lastly, soils actually modify the chemical composition of the atmosphere. Air is a major component of our soils and it exchanges gases that are necessary for plant growth and microorganism survival. Also, dry, small soil particles can be picked up by winds causing human health concerns due to dust in the air we breathe.

So, is dirt just dirt or is it much more? I contend that without it, we would not be here today. So when you walk around today, consider the soil under your feet. It will not take long and you will see that soil surrounds us every day and is a very important natural resource.


Author: Jennifer Bearden – bearden@ufl.edu

Agriculture Agent Okaloosa County

Jennifer Bearden

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/01/16/dirt-is-just-dirt-or-is-it/

Invasive or Just Great Fall Color

Invasive or Just Great Fall Color

Fall color of Chinese tallow

Fall color of Chinese tallow. Image credit UGA Extension

Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum (L.) a  deciduous and very aggressive tree. Many people appreciate the fact that it grows fast, provides great shade, and has a beautiful reddish fall color.

Despite it’s attributes, it is highly invasive and considered a noxious weed. It has spread to every coastal state from North Carolina to Texas, and inland to Arkansas. In Florida it occurs as far south as Tampa. Chinese tallow was listed in Florida as a noxious weed in 1998 which means that possession with the intent to sell, transport, or plant is illegal in the State of Florida.

The Chinese tallow tree can reach heights of 30 feet and the seeds resemble popcorn, hence its other name, popcorn tree. These popcorn shaped seeds and the aggressive root system sprouts make it very hard to control the spread of this tree. Animals also spread the seeds freely!

Although the Chinese tallow has great fall color problems come with it.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you want great fall color and a yard full of Chinese tallow?
  • Hey what about the neighbor. Do they want Chinese tallow in their yard?

Think about more than fall when planting.
To read more on how to control Chinese tallow follow this link: edis.ifas.ufl.edu/FR251


Author: Eddie Powell – pep5@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Educate the residents of Walton County who are unfamiliar with growing certain landscape and vegetable plants that grow in north Florida. Provide homeowners with information about why a good looking healthy lawn is important. Teaching proper fertilization and irrigation practices for successful backyard gardening and container gardening. Master Gardener Coordinator Develop in-school programs with use of Master Gardeners to reach school kids and youth. Also provide educational programs for developing community gardens and provide educational material at local festivals.

Eddie Powell

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/10/08/invasive-or-just-great-fall-color/

Florida’s “Big Kids” Just Got A Safety Boost!

New bill would require booster seats for children four years old through age five.

New bill would require booster seats for children four years old through age five.

For several years, Florida has been the most dangerous state for children between the ages of 4 and 10 traveling in vehicles.  Florida is currently one of only two states in the nation that lacks a booster seat bill for older children – and the only state that allows 4-year-olds to ride in an adult seatbelt.

Booster seats are needed for the simple reason that seat belts are designed to fit adults – specifically the “average” adult male.  When a child under age 8 (on average) or under 4’ 9” tall and 80 pounds sits in an adult seatbelt, the lap belt tends to ride up onto his or her stomach.  In a crash the belt tightens to keep the child from being ejected.  It cuts through the soft stomach and the first bone to stop it is the spinal cord.  This is known as “seat belt syndrome”.  It can cause severe injuries including internal bleeding and even paralysis.  A booster seat “boosts” the child up about six inches so the belt fits below the stomach and can restrain the child properly without causing injury.  Using a booster seat reduces your child’s risk of injury by about 60%.

In Florida, some kids are about to get a safety “boost”.  The Florida House and Senate just passed the revisions to Florida Statute 316.613 with Bill 225.  If signed by Governor Scott, the new regulations will take effect on January 1, 2015.  The new law will require children aged 4 through 5 years old to travel in a car seat or booster, NOT an adult seat belt.  Unpaid drivers who are not in the child’s immediate family, children being transported for medical emergencies and children with a medical condition necessitating an exception are exempt from the law.

While this law by no means provides adequate protection for Florida’s older children, it is at least a step in the right direction.  By a slim margin, Florida will no longer be the most unsafe state in the nation for child passengers.


Author: Ginny Hinton – ghinton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent with UF/IFAS. Focus areas include nutrition, food safety, injury prevention, and healthy families. Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from University of West Florida. Master’s degree in Public Health/Health Education from University of South Florida.

Ginny Hinton

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/05/12/floridas-big-kids-just-got-a-safety-boost/

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