Tag Archive: Managing

Managing Grazing Land to Enhance Bee Habitat

Managing Grazing Land to Enhance Bee Habitat

Jose Dubeux and Liza Garcia, University of Florida – North Florida Research and Education Center

Figure 1. Honeybee on white clover at UF-IFAS Citra. Photo credit: Jose Dubeux

Improved forages are not only good for livestock, but they can also help feed bees! Managing grasslands to enhance bee habitat requires similar management practices to those needed to enhance pasture for grazing livestock. Diversification of pasture species, management to increase the flowering period, and proper grazing management (no overgrazing) are key practices to enhance habitat for bees (Figure 1), and other native insects that also provide plant pollination. These practices are also important to improve livestock performance and sustainability of grasslands.

Bees are the primary pollinators and they benefit 1/3 of the world’s crop-based production. Bee populations are declining, affecting plants that rely upon them. Reasons for bee decline are diverse, and include land-use change leading to loss and fragmentation of habitats, agriculture intensification, pesticide application and environmental pollution, decreased resource diversity, alien species, the spread of pathogens, and climate change.

Both livestock and bees benefits from forage legumes. Cattle perform better on grass-legume mixtures compared to grass monocultures, because of the greater digestibility and crude protein found in legumes when compared to grasses. Legumes also add nitrogen to pastures via biological N2-fixation (BNF), enhancing forage productivity, and ultimately, stocking rate and gain per area. Bees benefit from legumes because of the flowers they feed on (Figures 2 and 3). Bees do benefit from grass flowering as well, however, diversifying the forage species also improves bee diet, providing opportunities for selection and improved nutrition.

Figure 2. Bumblebee on Crimson clover at UF-IFAS NFREC in Marianna. Photo credit: Jose Dubeux

Figure 3. Bumblebee grazing on crimson and white clovers at UF-IFAS NFREC in Marianna. Photo credit: Liza Garcia.

At the UF-IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Marianna, researchers are assessing the bee population on grass monocultures and grass-legume mixtures, under grazing conditions. For the grass-legume system, they are evaluating a bahiagrass-perennial peanut mixture during the warm-season, overseeded with rye, oats, and a blend of crimson, red, and ball clovers in the cool-season. The grass monoculture system they are comparing is bahiagrass during the warm-season, overseeded with rye and oats during the cool-season.  Over the last two years, they have been putting out traps for 24 hours and collecting bees every 28 days in these contrasting grazing systems (grass vs. grass-legume pastures). Thirteen bee species were already identified, including 11 native bee species. Native bees are extremely important, since they are generally better pollinators than honeybees. Wild native bees are mostly pollen collectors and help pollinate many of our agricultural crops, maintain productivity, and plant diversity. Adding forage legumes increased the flower density (flower number per unit area). As a result, some of the bee species occurred more frequently in the grass-legume system as compared to the grass monocultures (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Number of Melissodes communis per trap in grazed paddocks of grass monoculture and grass-legume mixtures.

Figure 5. Honeybee on perennial peanut flower. Photo Credit: Jose Dubeux.

Take home message

Bees and livestock might have more in common than you think! They both need a diverse forage diet, so adding forage legumes to the pasture benefits bees and livestock. Adding forage legumes extends the flowering period benefiting native bees. Legumes enhance cattle performance because of greater nutritive value. Enhancing bee habitat will also have a positive cascade effect on crop pollination over the long-term, enhancing crop productivity as a result. This win-win situation also benefits the environment. Cool-season forage crop planting time is here, so this is a good opportunity to integrate clovers into your grazing system.  Perennial Peanut is the most productive warm-season perennial legume for Florida.  Researchers at UF/IFAS are developing techniques to integrate perennial peanut into bahigrass pastures as well.  The investment to add legumes into your grazing operation is worth making just for the improved animal performance, but it will also enhance the habitat for pollinators that are so important for the environment and our food systems.


More information related to this topic:

2017 Cool-Season Forage Variety Recommendations for Florida

Winter Forage Legume Guide

Rhizoma Perennial Peanut

Bee Pastures Supplement Hive Nutrition and Enhance Honey Production

Improving, Restoring, and Managing Natural Resources on Rural Properties in Florida: Sources of Financial Assistance


Author: dubeux – dubeux@ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/10/06/managing-grazing-land-to-enhance-bee-habitat/

Managing Forests and Farms for Fish and Wildlife Workshop – January 12

Managing Forests and Farms for Fish and Wildlife Workshop – January 12

Photo: Doug Mayo

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) along with the Florida Forest Service, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Office of Ag Water Policy, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Credit of Northwest Florida, and University of Florida IFAS Extension will hold a public workshop on Thursday, January 12, 2017 in Marianna to discuss ways to manage forests and farms for fish and wildlife.

Featured topics for the workshop include, but are not limited to, Gopher Tortoise Habitat and Management, Prescribed Burning for Wildlife, Wildlife Best Management Practices, and Cost-share Programs.

The workshop will be from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., CST at the UF/IFAS Jackson County Extension Service Office, 2741 Pennsylvania Ave., Marianna.

Lunch will be provided free of charge, but pre-registration must be complete by January 9. To pre-register for the workshop, contact Billie Clayton at (850) 767-3634.

AGENDA (All times central time)

  • 8:30 – Registration
  • 8:50 – Welcome and Introduction – Arlo Kane, Roy Lima
  • 9:00 – Gopher Tortoise Biology and Management– Arlo Kane, Wildlife Biologist, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • 9:30 – SE American Kestrel Partnership – A new opportunity for landowners – Jeremy Martin, Wildlife Biologist, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • 10:00 – Fire and Wildlife, When and How Should You Burn – Don Buchanan, Wildlife Biologist, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • 10:30 – Break
  • 10:45 – The New Forestry Wildlife BMP’s for State Listed Species – Roy Lima, Forester, Florida Forest Service
  • 11:15 – The New Agricultural Wildlife BMP’s for State Listed Species – Daniel Stanley, Environmental Specialist, FDACS Office of Ag Water Policy
  • 11:45 – FORCES – A New Recognition Program for Forest Landowners – Sonny Greene, FORCES Coordinator
  • 12:30: – Cost Share Assistance Program Opportunities – Mary Jane Nelson, District Conservationist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Barry Stafford, Senior Forester, Florida Forest Service
  • 12:40 – Lunch – Courtesy of Farm Credit of Northwest Florida
  • 1:30 – Adjourn

Download the printer friendly flyer:  Marianna Wildlife BMP workshop flyer Jan 12



Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/07/managing-forests-and-farms-for-fish-and-wildlife-workshop-january-12/

Managing the Holidays without Breaking the Bank

As the holiday season quickly approaches many people become overwhelmed with all of the activities, decorating, and shopping that needs to be completed. Here are a few tips to save energy, time and your nerves.  Let’s begin with Five Steps to Seasonal Savings:

  1. Recognize Your Seasonal Stressors- Know your personal stressors—such as family, friends, work, travel, social outings and traditions (both old and new)—then you can be less stressed this holiday season. Marketing ploys sneak into every stressor, and retailers want to ensure they get their piece of the holiday pie by using marketing gimmicks to lure you into shopping with them. Do you find yourself with the overwhelming desire to get everything on your child’s list? If so, consider going without a list or setting limits, and communicate with your child. Often, parents do not involve their children in the holiday spending process. Children need help recognizing when and how they have been targeted and persuaded to want the latest and greatest item.  Children also need to understand that a budget is necessary and saying “no” to an overpriced item is okay.
  2. Develop a Holiday Spending Plan—Make a Budget.  Ask yourself: How much have I saved?  How much can I save before the holidays?  Am I comfortable creating debt?  Am I comfortable saying “no”?Start with knowing how much you can spend and create a spending plan, which is critical for successful money management for the holidays and all year long. A few dollars from your paycheck each week adds up quickly over a year. You can also take advantage of weekly automatic transfers into your bank account, or join a holiday savings club at a local credit union. If your holiday budget shows you are spending more money than you have, then you’ll likely take on debt. If this is the case, you should also create a plan for paying off purchases made with credit. Prioritize your purchases and consider omitting purchases that require taking on debt.
  3. Create a List and Stick to It- Make sure you have a list of everyone you plan to buy for during the holidays and of other additional expenses. Decorations, cards, postage, gift wrap, food/entertainment, and travel are additional costs that can drastically impact the holiday budget. Don’t forget to use catalogs, internet surfing for comparison shopping, and barcode scanning apps. Shopping online also limits impulse purchases, and it allows you to avoid long lines, huge crowds, and the lure to eat out while shopping. Be sure to use coupons whenever possible, and be sure to take advantage of the year-end sales. Once you’ve researched and set your budget, you’re ready to start shopping.
  4. Consider Alternatives to Pricey Presents- If you have a large family, start by thinking outside the box. Consider a gift exchange by drawing names from a hat, which can allow you to put more thought than money into selecting a single gift. You can also buy a single gift for an entire family—perhaps an entertainment basket filled with DVDs and microwave popcorn. Oftentimes, thoughtful and more creative gifts can come from shopping with local businesses. Locally grown fruits and vegetables, honey, or an item from a local artist are just a few suggestions of local products. If you are feeling crafty, then you could make and give holiday arrangements such as centerpieces and decorations. Another idea for the holidays is to donate to a charity in someone’s name instead of gift giving. You can even take the idea of giving to charity to your office. Pool money you would have spent on gifts with your participating colleagues, draw a colleague’s name, and donate the money to a charity of his or her choice. Another gift idea for close friends and/or family is the “gift of time.” Create a coupon book or certificate that gives a loved one the gift of your time (a specific chore, a trip to the park, babysitting, slumber party for the kids).
  5. Fine-Tuning Your Financials- Use cash and/or debit cards when at all possible. Money coming directly out of your pocket will likely make you think harder about your purchase. If you are going to use a credit card, make sure you have a plan in place to pay it off when the bill is due. You also need to understand the allure of paying with credit. When you’re not paying with “real” money, your buying can easily get out of control, and the shopping process may not seem as painful in that moment. It may be appropriate to tell your older children how much they each have in the budget for holiday spending. When the family is on the same page, it can alleviate some stress. Refocus your family’s thoughts from the material goods to the real meaning of giving and receiving. Knowing your specific situation, making informed decisions, and communicating with loved ones can reduce the effects of holiday stressors.

Here are a few affordable DIY gifts that will be truly appreciated by the recipient.

terrariumFor the gardener in your life: Terrarium Kit


  • One – 3 1/2″ x 7″ canning jar with top
  • Small stones (enough to fill 1 inch in jar) You can buy pretty river rocks at your local garden shop or just collect some stones outside.
  • A few tablespoons of activated charcoal (found at any pet store’s aquarium section)
  • 1 small Ziploc bag
  • 3 1/2″ x 5 1/4″ printed terrarium instructions card on card stock (download from witandwhistle.com or create your own)

Step 1: Put about an inch of small stones in the bottom of a jar.

Step 2: Slide an instruction card into the front of the jar.  Secure the card amongst the rocks.

Step 3: Pour a few tablespoons of activated charcoal into a small Ziploc bag and add it to the jar.

Step 4: If you’re feeling crafty you could add a decoration or two (plastic or clay mini mushrooms, insects, gnomes, fairies, etc.) in your terrarium kit.

Step 5: Tie some twine or ribbon around the jar, and you’re done. You don’t even need to wrap it!

bathFor someone you would like to pamper: Basic Silk Bath Bomb


  • 1 cup Citric Acid (found in canning section of grocery store)
  • 3 cups Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Essential Oil (purchase at local health food store)
  • Witch Hazel Spritz (purchase in pharmacy section)
  • Dry Pigment Colorant – if using
  • Round mold to shape the bath bomb (Molds are round plastic ornaments found at your local craft store.)


  1. Blend the citric acid and baking soda—add colorant and fragrance oil.
  2. Spritz, Witch Hazel onto your batch using a squirt bottle with one hand while stirring with the other until the bomb sticks together when squished. (it will have the consistency of wet sand)
  3. Form the bomb in the molds.
  4. Air-dry for 3 or 4 hours spritzing a few times – allow to set overnight (The Witch Hazel forms a crust on the outside that prevents them from cracking and falling apart; however, they’re still fragile)
  5. Wrap in tissue paper or cellophane. Tie a bow and you’re done.

Other DIY ideas…homemade soaps, herb infused oils, jams and jellies, baked goods and hot cocoa mix.  More ideas can be found in last year’s post, Making the Holidays More Affordable.

When we think of the holidays, we often think about family, togetherness, giving, and celebrating. While the holiday season should be a time of enjoyment, there are many events associated with the season that can cause stress. Remember in the long run the memories will be of time spent together, not the gifts they received. So, be sure to plan ahead, take a deep breath and enjoy the special holiday moments.

If you have further questions, please contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.  Many offices offer seasonal programs to help both youth and adults prepare for the holiday season.


Five Steps to Seasonal Savings” – UF/IFAS EDIS Publication #FCS5267

“Managing Stress During the Holidays” – UF/IFAS EDIS Publication #FCS5266








Author: Melanie Taylor – metaylor@ufl.edu

Melanie Taylor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/12/08/managing-the-holidays-without-breaking-the-bank/

‘My Head to Clearer Thinking:’ Managing Stress

“I pledge my head to clearer thinking” is part of the 4-H pledge. Clear thinking helps us to make wiser choices/decisions but when we are under a lot of stress our thinking can be cloudy and our bodies can experience short and long term negative effects.

Some consider me to be one of the most positive, inspiring people they know but I too have to deal with stress. Recently a lot of change has happened in my personal and professional life. Like many, I just pushed through with my daily routines. My body had been giving me clues, tension in shoulders, headaches, and the final kicker, elevated blood pressure. Gasp!

Stressed defined in “Fact Sheet on Stress” by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) as the brain’s response to any demand. Yes, any demand can be a stress trigger. Often we see the word “stress” in a negative way but not all stress triggers are negative. For example, finding out you just landed your dream job and will have to move. What creates high stress in one person may not do the same in another person.

Prolonged unaddressed stress will have negative effects mentally, physically, or both. Know your personal stress thresholds and do not ignoring those signals. You don’t want to get the frowny face from your doctor like I did.

Though stress is a part of life, being prepared to deal with it is key to successful living. If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to be more healthy, coping or reducing stress in your life and have many health benefits.  There are several great publications from University of Florida IFAS Extension concerning recognizing and dealing with stress. Below are just a few.

To read more of the NIMH’s Fact Sheet on Stress go here: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml

Here are a Few Stress Busters:

  1. Be creative (Have you tried the adult coloring books?)
  2. Laughter (Find your favorite funny movie/person and laugh out loud but not at work.)
  3. Have a good support network & get the help you need.

Author: Yolanda Goode – yygoode@ufl.edu

4-H Youth Development Agent for Gadsden County

Yolanda Goode

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/01/22/my-head-to-clearer-thinking-managing-stress/

Managing Cow Body Condition has Long-term Impacts

Managing Cow Body Condition has Long-term Impacts

Figure 1. Cow-calf pairs shortly after calving, cow body condition score affects milk production and reproductive success (Gainesville, FL; Photo credit: Matt Hersom).

Figure 1. Body condition of Cow-calf pairs shortly after calving affects milk production and reproductive success. (Gainesville, FL; Photo credit: Matt Hersom).

Dr. Matt Hersom, Associate Professor, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida

The body condition score of a cow and the herd overall is the best indicator of past nutritional status or success of the overall nutritional program, and the best indicator of near-term nutritional needs. Body condition score is an assessment of the fat cover that the cow is carrying. Surplus nutrition (energy) causes fat to be deposited; whereas an energy deficit causes fat to be mobilized (used). The amount of fat present also has an influence on the hormones and physiology of the cow.

If you are not familiar with body condition scoring your cow herd, you should be. Cows are scored from 1-extremely thin to 9-obese.   If you want help, contact your local County Extension Agent who can help train your eye. It is the least expensive, but greatest return management technique that a cattle producer can adopt. Unlike other management techniques body condition scoring is free, can save feed resources and dollars, and can increase returns to the cow herd enterprise.

Cow herd nutrition is a year-round concern. The cow’s nutrition can’t always be relegated to minimal input supplement choices in the fall and winter; rather cow nutrition is an on-going assessment of the balance of cow requirements and nutrient supplies. The attention to cow herd year-round nutritional status arises for two primary issues.  First is the relationship of nutritional status, body condition score, and cow herd reproductive productivity. The body condition score of the cow herd has a lot to do with reproduction, and reproduction has everything to do with profitability. Second is the concept of cow nutrition during gestation impacting offspring performance – referred to as fetal imprinting or fetal programming.

Body Condition Score

Numerous studies have examined the effect of cow body condition score on any number of reproductive and productive traits. Analyzing data from three studies that cover a range of body condition scores and locations provides a nice summary to which we can apply some simple economics examining the economic impact of cow body condition.

Table 1 presents my interpretation of the economic impact that different cow body condition scores (3 to 5) have on productive outcomes. Because low body condition score cows have decreased pregnancy rates, wean fewer calves, wean lighter calves, and return less overall dollars to the herd. The impact of body condition score on cow herd profitability is considerable. Certainly estimations of profitability are sensitive to calf sale price, but it is undeniable that an adequate cow body condition score, and thus adequate cow nutrition is imperative to profitability.Hersom Table 1 Impact of BCSCow Nutrition During Gestation

The second issue is the concept of cow nutrition during gestation impacting offspring performance – often referred to as fetal imprinting or fetal programming. The developing fetus is completely dependent upon the dam for its nutrient supply from conception until sometime before weaning. As a result, any nutritional insult to the cow may result in a nutritional insult to the developing fetus. Throughout gestation there are critical points of development for the fetus: development of the digestive system and reproductive organs, fat cell appearance, blood flow through the placenta, and growth of all tissues. Critical shortages of key nutrients including protein/amino acids, fats, vitamins, mineral, and cow energy supply can result in sub-optimal development in the growing fetus. We already know that decreased energy supply to the cow can affect placental development, fetal development, calf birth weight, and ultimately reproductive performance. Additionally, if their dam was nutrient restricted during gestation, sickness and death rates increase in those calves even after they are born.

Recent work in cows has identified protein supplementation and higher quality forages as important contributors to improved reproductive performance in heifer offspring, through decreased age at puberty, increased pregnancy rate, and an increase in the percentage of heifers that calved in the first 21 days of the calving season. Additionally, steer progeny had greater weaning weights, feedlot average daily gain, carcass weights, and better carcass quality.

Often our cow herds experience periods of nutritional restriction during the annual production cycle. Nutritional restriction of the cow not only affects her ability to maintain herself, but also affects the cow’s ability to become pregnant, maintain pregnancy, and can negatively affect the developing calf. Early nutritional restriction of the cow can affect placental development and the cow’s ability to deliver nutrients to the fetus. Late nutritional restriction of the cow negatively affects the development of organs and uptake of nutrients by key tissues. The opportunity to negatively or positively affect a calf crop and the economic return from the calf crop ultimately starts with cow nutrition and adequate body condition both while pregnant and after calving.

Figure 2. Cow body condition has long-term effects on calf weaning weight and total cow economic productivity (Alachua, FL; Photo credit: Matt Hersom).

Figure 2. Cow body condition has long-term effects on calf weaning weight and total cow economic productivity.(Alachua, FL; Photo credit: Matt Hersom).

For more information on cattle body condition scoring, download:

Body Condition Scoring Beef Cows

Body Condition Scoring Beef Cattle

Implications of Cow Body Condition Score on Productivity



Author: Matt Hersom – hersom@ufl.edu

Matt Hersom

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/12/18/managing-cow-body-condition-has-long-term-impacts/

Managing Bacterial Wilt in Tomatoes with Grafting and a Plant Defense Inducer

Fig. 1: A tomato field in Florida with severe incidence of bacterial wilt. Photo credit: Mathews Paret

Fig. 1: A tomato field in Florida with severe incidence of bacterial wilt. Photo credit: Mathews Paret

Sanju Kunwar, Mathews Paret, Jeff Jones, Laura Ritchie, Steve Olson, and Josh Freeman, UF/IFAS NFREC

Field tomato production in the southeastern United States is highly affected by bacterial wilt disease caused by Ralstonia solanacearum. In Florida, race 1 (biovar I, phylotype II) strains of Ralstonia solanacearum has been reported to cause more than 80% yield loss in field tomato production under disease favorable conditions (Fig. 1).

Although, use of resistant cultivars has been universally identified as the most effective method for managing the disease, the currently available commercial varieties in Florida do not have resistance to bacterial wilt. Recent studies by our group have demonstrated the effectiveness of grafting a bacterial wilt susceptible variety (BHN 602) to resistant hybrid rootstocks (BHN 998) to manage bacterial wilt disease in field tomato production with significant improvement in marketable yield (Fig. 2)

Fig. 2: Demonstration of the use of grafting as a successful tool for bacterial wilt management

Fig. 2: Demonstration of the use of grafting as a successful tool for bacterial wilt management

Also, in previous studies conducted at NFREC, Quincy in 2005, foliar applications of the plant defense inducer, Acibenzolar-S-Methyl (ASM; Syngenta Crop Protection), has been shown to provide effective bacterial wilt disease control in moderately resistant tomato genotypes with significant improvement in marketable yield compared to the susceptible control. Thus studies were conducted from 2013-2014 to evaluate the effect of ASM, applied as foliar or drip on grafted plants and impact on bacterial wilt incidence and total marketable yield.


Studies conducted in 2013-14 validates the usefulness of grafting to effectively control bacterial wilt disease of tomato with significant improvement in total marketable yield compared to non-grafted control (Table 1). These studies also demonstrated that drip application of ASM on grafted plants maintained the yield similar to grafted plants. However, there was a negative impact of foliar applications of ASM on yield of grafted plants. There were no statistical differences in bacterial wilt incidence between grafted plants and grafted plants treated with foliar and drip application of ASM.Paret table 1


Author: Mathews Paret – paret@ufl.edu


Mathews Paret

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/09/11/managing-bacterial-wilt-in-tomatoes-with-grafting-and-a-plant-defense-inducer/

Managing Winter Pastures

Santa Rosa Rye

Rye pasture in Santa Rosa County is not ready for grazing yet. Small grains need to at least 8-12 inches tall before grazing, and ryegrass at least 6-12 inches. Photo credit John Atkins

Winter feeding of the cow herd accounts for 40 to 50% of the total variable cost for producing weaned calves. Because winter nutrition is vital to both the calf’s health and the cows reproductive performance, adequate nutrition is essential.

Cool season grasses provide valuable winter and spring grazing when the warm-season perennial grasses are not growing.

  • Rye is the small grain most widely used for winter grazing. Rye is more cold tolerant than oats, and some varieties produce more forage than either oats, wheat, or triticale. Producers should only plant varieties recommended for the southeast, due to disease issues and/or decreased production.
  • Wheat is similar to oat in forage yield and palatability. Wheat is less susceptible to freeze injury than oat. Wheat should not be planted for grazing before October 15.  Producers should only select Hessian-fly resistant varieties for grazing in the Southeast.
  • Oat is very palatable, but is susceptible to freeze damage. Oat may be planted and grazed earlier than rye. In 2013, a new strain of crown rust was identified on all commercially available eastern oat varieties, with symptoms that ranged from mild infection to early plant senescence, so plantings may need to be scouted for rust and treated with fungicide applications, particularly if grown for silage or grain.
  • Triticale is a hybrid cross of wheat and rye. It is well adapted to the Southeast. Triticale has the forage quality of wheat and the excellent disease resistance of rye. Triticale does not respond well to close grazing, however. If planted for grazing, consider blending tricale with ryegrass to provide a longer season of growth.
  • Ryegrass is a valuable winter and spring grazing crop for use on flatwoods soil,s or the heavier sandy loams in Northwest Florida. Ryegrass may be seeded alone or with a small grain on prepared seedbed or overseeded onto permanent grass pastures.

Winter Legumes are important to forage production in Florida. They are frost tolerant and can supply highly nutritious feed during the winter and spring months. When properly inoculated, they supply nitrogen for their own growth and may provide 50 to 200 pounds of nitrogen for subsequent growing plants.  More information on legumes is available in this UF/IFAS publication: Winter Forage Legume Guide

Grazing and Fertility Management
Allow plants to establish before grazing. This is, without a doubt, one of the most frequent errors made when cool season annuals are utilized. In fact, many farms overseed bermudagrass with rye or ryegrass and never remove the cattle. Allowing plants to develop a root system will improve drought tolerance and improve forage production, over the long term. Delay grazing cool season annuals until the forage is ready.  The small grains (rye, wheat, oat, and triticale) need to at least 8-12 inches tall before grazing, and annual ryegrass at least 6-12 inches.  Significant time and money are invested in annual pastures  You do not want to damage the forage by over grazing. Animals should be removed for forage regowth when rye and ryegrass are grazed down to a height of 3-4 inches, and removed at a height of 3-5 inches for wheat or oat.  More information on this topic is available in this UF/IFAS publication:  2014 Cool-Season Forage Variety Recommendations for Florida

Supplying adequate fertility can actually decrease the acreage needed to feed your herd. Winter pasture, in Northwest Florida, can benefit from split applications of fertilizer, just as your spring garden does. Applying 40-50 lbs per acre nitrogen (N) at planting or soon after is critical for tillering. A second application of N should be applied in mid-January to early February to increase winter and spring forage production. If winter annual legumes were used, and they make up 30-40% or more of the stand, then 25 lbs of N per acre is adequate.  More information is available in this University of Georgia publication:  Fertilizing and Grazing Winter Annual Stands

The author would like to thank the following University Extension Specialists for their input and expertise on these topics:

Dr. Ann Blount, University of Florida/IFAS, Extension Forage Specialist

Dr. Dennis Hancock, University of Georgia, Forage Extension Specialist

Dr.John Andrae, University of Georgia, Extension Agronomist-Forages



Author: John Doyle Atkins – srcextag@ufl.edu

John Doyle Atkins is the Agricultural Agent in Santa Rosa County.

John Doyle Atkins

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/11/22/managing-winter-pastures/

Managing Cattle “Shrink” at Shipping to Increase Profits

Herman Laramore loading a truck with 700 lb. steers at the Bar L Ranch near Marianna.

Herman Laramore loading a truck with 700 lb. steers at the Bar L Ranch near Marianna.

As the Summer comes to an end, harvest time begins.  When we think of harvest we often focus only on crops, but when ranchers ship calves to market or to a buyer, they are really harvesting a crop almost two years in the making.   Florida ranchers typically wean and sell calves from six to nine months of age, the cow is pregnant for nine months, and how we feed and care for a cow before and after calving has a great deal to do with her next pregnancy.  So when ranchers harvest their calf crop at weaning, it is the end result over more than two years of effort.  With so much time, money, and labor involved in getting a calf to a marketable age, ranchers need to do everything in their power to protect this valuable product, which of course is sold by the pound.

When it comes to cattle marketing, one area of management that is often overlooked is shrinkage, or weight loss due to stress commonly called “shrink” in the cattle business.  Calves start losing weight as soon as they are separated from their mothers, so the quicker they get from the pasture to the scale the calves will be sold on the better.  Calves lose 1% of their body weight per hour for the first four hours, and then 0.25% per hour for the next 8-10 hours.

Source:  Alabama Beef Cattle Pocket Guide

Source: Alabama Beef Cattle Pocket Guide

A study in North Dakota shows the difference in shrink in heifer calves that were weaned and sold the day of the sale versus those weaned the day before the sale.  This study was conducted over 24 years ago, but the basic principles are still the same today, but with the change in price, reducing shrink is even more valuable.

James L. Nelson and D. G. Landblom ND State 1989

James L. Nelson and D. G. Landblom ND State 1989

Heifers in this weight range sold for $ 1.42/lb. at Alabama livestock markets this week.  As is often the case in real world comparisons, the two groups of heifers in this study were not exactly the same weight (599 vs 585).  If we use the average weight of all 80 heifers,  592 pounds, and only contrast the shrink,  the heifers weaned and sold the same day would be worth  $ 841, versus those weaned and sold the next day $ 784.  The convenience of dropping cattle off the day before causes 3.7%  more weight loss, and $ 57 per head income. Certainly there are circumstances where it is necessary to wean and sell the next day, but if possible it is best to sell calves as soon after weaning as possible.

The scenario above may be the most extreme, but any delay or added stress decreases the pay weight on cattle that are sold.  Shrink comes with stress, so anything producers can due to minimize stress protects the value of the calf when it is sold.  Delays before selling, overcrowding on a trailer, limited access to water, rough handling, and working in the heat of the day can all add stress and ultimately the value of calves before they are weighed on the scales that set their sale value.  The whole point is to make sure everyone who is helping wean, sort and ship cattle work together to minimize calf stress and ultimately protect the valuable weight you worked so hard for two years to grow.

Download the BQA On-Farm Training Manual to use to train employees, friends and family members who help out with cattle handling on your ranch, to make sure everyone understands how important it is to minimize cattle stress.

Cattle being sorted prior to shipping at Bigham Farms near Marianna.

Cattle being sorted prior to shipping at Bigham Farms near Marianna.


Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Jackson County Extension Director, & Livestock & Forages Agent

My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/09/07/managing-cattle-shrink-at-shipping-to-increase-profits/

Managing Hive Robbing Behavior in Bees

Managing Hive Robbing Behavior in Bees

Robber bees, like the one shown here...Kathy Keatly Garvey UC Davis

During periods of scarce food resources, foraging bees, like the one shown here, invade weaker hives and rob them of their honey.  Photo by Kathy Keatly Garvey, UC Davis

Honey bees laboriously gather their food (nectar and pollen) from flowers in bloom and store it in the hive for use when needed.  When nectar sources are scarce or unavailable locally, bees are attracted by the honey stored in neighboring hives.  Bees from strong colonies raid hives that are unable to defend themselves and steal the weak colonies’ honey or sugar syrup.  This behavior of thievery as opposed to the customary colony collections of nectar from flowers is termed “robbing.”

Guard Bees keep robber bees from entering the hive.  Kathy Keatly Garvey UC Davis

Guard Bees keep robber bees from entering the hive. Kathy Keatly Garvey UC Davis

Generally, robbing occurs especially during a dearth, or scarcity, of nectar.  Bees will never rob during a nectar flow or as long as abundant nectar is available in the field.  As nectar becomes more scare, the intensity of robbing increases.  Strong colonies rob the weaker ones or those that are poorly guarded.  The robber bees are the forager, or scout, bees.  They are after honey, and do not steal pollen or damage brood.

From a bee’s point of view, robbing is just a type of foraging behavior.  A potential robber is a scout bee seeking resources for her colony.  She lands at the entrance of a weak hive and fights with a guard bee; these battles are fierce and one of the bees may die.  If the robber wins entry, she seeks out cells of honey or syrup, fills her crop with it, and returns to her colony to deposit her spoils and recruit more robbers.  A robber bee will try to enter the colony any way possible, including under the lid, around the area where supers join, at other joints in the colony, or any cracks and holes in old wooden-ware.

A weak colony does not have enough bees to defend against large numbers of robbers from a more populous colony.  Robbing bees become accustomed to a source of syrup/nectar/honey and may rob a weak colony for several days in a row.  This relentless attack dooms the colony unless the beekeeper intervenes.

As with many other problems in beekeeping, robbing can be reduced by maintaining queen-right colonies of uniform strength. Weak colonies set among stronger neighbors are at great risk.  Once stronger hives begin robbing weaker ones, an escalating feeding frenzy can engulf the whole apiary, with bees from many hives robbing each other.

If robbing begins in an apiary, it is nearly impossible to stop the first day.  However, the following management practices should help:

  1. Eliminate the stimulus.  Clean up or cover exposed honey or syrup and tape shut cracks between supers.
  2. Reduce entrances of vulnerable colonies with entrance reducers or grass.

Note: If you take these steps, robbing usually will not resume the next morning.

If robbing is a chronic problem in your apiary:

  1. move weaker colonies to another location.
  2. Fix the problem that made the hives weak in the first place; requeen, feed, or equalize as needed.
Sometimes escalating feeding frenzy can engulf the whole apiary, with bees from many hives robbing each other. Photo by: University of Florida Honey Bee research and Extension Lab

Sometimes an escalating feeding frenzy can engulf the whole apiary, with bees from many hives robbing each other. Photo by: University of Florida Honey Bee research and Extension Lab

If you must work hives during robbing conditions, take precautions to protect colonies.

  1. Work hives carefully but quickly.
  2. As you remove supers and set them aside, cover them with lids to contain the honey odor.
  3. If you spill honey or syrup on the ground, cover it up with earth or leaves.
  4. Avoid dripping syrup on the outside hives.
  5. Work bees later in the day.  This gives robbing bees less time to work into a frenzy.

As a final note, you should not use chemical repellents, such as carbolic acid or phenol, at the entrance of a hive to keep robbing bees away.  Though the robbing bees may be repelled by the odor, bees living in the hive may also be repelled as well.

Sources of Further information:

Brown’s Bee Farm

Robbing bees prey on the weak

How to handle robbing in your beehive

Honey Bees and Beekeeping – A Year in the life of an Apiary – By Keith S. Delaplane.  138 pages Published January 28th 1996 by University of Georgia, Georgia Center for Continuing Education, Cooperative Extension Service



Author: Roy Carter – rlcarter@ufl.edu

Roy Carter

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/06/29/managing-hive-robbing-behavior-in-bees/

Managing Cotton Irrigation


Right now, the maturity of the cotton crop across the panhandle is highly variable, with some fields just cracking, and others approaching layby in a couple of weeks. That being said, this is the time of year for growers to implement strategic irrigation plans that will, regardless of maturity, carry their crops to harvest without wasting money from over or under application.

On average, cotton uses about 22 inches of well-timed water per season to achieve maximum yields. Water-use is very low as the crop emerges on through the development of the first squares. From the first square, water-use steadily increases until it reaches its peak daily demand around the time when the first bolls start to open. During this period, a cotton crop  can use over an inch of water per day from evapotranspiration (plant transpiration plus soil evaporation).

Water use curve for a cotton crop where the red line shows actual cotton water use through the season. Published by Cotton Inc.

Water use curve for a cotton crop where the red line shows actual cotton water use through the season. Published by Cotton Inc.

How often and how much should I irrigate?

This is a hard question to answer, as there are many variables that affect crop water use including crop stage, soil type, rainfall, humidity, and temperature.  However, there are tools that can help the grower manage irrigation more efficiently. These tools include, soil moisture sensors, growing degree day (GDD) calculators, checkbook irrigation schedulers, and others.

Checkbook Irrigation Scheduling

A checkbook irrigation scheduling method works very similar to balancing a check book for a bank account. All that is required is that you keep track of deposits (rainfall and irrigation amounts) and withdrawals (the amount of water used by the crop each day). When the balance gets close to zero you would irrigate (deposit) to bring the balance back up.

If you are interested in using a paper-based or Microsoft Excel version of an irrigation scheduler checkbook for cotton, peanut, or soybean, contact Josh Thompson at the UF/IFAS Jackson County Extension Service. For more information on cotton water use, see Water Use and Irrigation Management of Agronomic Crops.



Author: Josh Thompson – j.thompson@ufl.edu

Josh Thompson is a regional agricultural agent based in Jackson County who focuses on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and agronomic crops.

Josh Thompson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/06/21/managing-cotton-irrigation/

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