Tag Archive: Panhandle

Panhandle Ag e-News 2016 Reader’s Choice Awards

The Panhandle Ag e-news project began in April of 2012.  Over the past five years,  1,131 articles have been published that are searchable by topic area, keyword, author, or by using the search engine box provided on the site.  The Panhandle Agriculture Extension Team is made up of 40 county agents and specialists serving commercial agriculture in Northwest Florida.  This faculty team contributed articles on a weekly basis to provide educational information to farmers and ranchers in the region related to farm management, pest management, best management practice recommendations, as well as announcements for upcoming educational events.  The electronic newsletter is made up of four parts:  a WordPress website that allows numerous authors to add content, weekly notifications via email using the Subscription Management System (SMS), as well as Facebook and Twitter accounts which provide direct links to newly published articles for subscribers.

2016 was an even more successful year for Panhandle Ag e-News.  18 county agents and 18 state specialists contributed 304 articles in 2016, that were posted to the website, with links shared through Facebook and twitter accounts. 46 issues of the electronic newsletter were emailed to 3,775 subscribers.  The newsletters, along with Facebook and twitter posts generated 167,881 page views (459/day) in 2016.  This represented a 26% increase in subscribers from the previous year, and a 52% increase in readership as compared to 2015. In 2016, the Facebook followers grew 240% from 318 to 1,084, and the number of twitter followers grew 30% from 350 to 456 at the end of the year.

There were quite a number of the articles that were very popular, but there were some articles that really stood out as favorites.  The following are the 30 most read articles, and the 10 most popular jokes published in 2016:

1st Place

Hay Bale Size Really Does Matter

The 2016 Reader’s Choice Award goes to an article written by Matt Hersom, UF/IFAS Beef Extension Specialist.  Matt’s article that discussed the difference in weight of round bales of varying dimension and the numbers of bales need to feed 25 cows per week.  His article was a smash hit on social media, because it was relevant to both hay producers and hay buyers, and was read 10,169 times in 2016.

2nd Place

What Happened to Your Pasture?

The runner up this year was an article written by Mark Mauldin, Washington County Ag Agent.  Mark’s article discussed issues that cause pastures to decline to the point they need to be renovated.  His article was read 1,409 times because he tackled such an intriguing topic.

3rd Place

Enhancing the Market Value of Your Next Calf Crop

The third most read article was written by Kalyn Waters, Holmes County Extension Director.  Kalyn captured some great advice to share from Ed Neel, Dothan Livestock Market on basic techniques to get more value from calves sold through a livestock market.  Her article was read 974 times.

Honorable Mention

USDA Confirms Screwworms in the Florida Keys

The fourth most popular article was written by Doug Mayo, Jackson County Extension Director.  Doug’s article shared the disturbing reports of screw worms that are infesting the native deer population in the Florida Keys.  This article was read 949 times.

The other most read articles, listed in order of popularity, are:

10 Most popular Friday Funnies

  1. Top 20 Cow One-liners – 1,707 page views
  2. You Might be a Farmer – 509
  3. Cowboy Math – 448
  4. Couple Sex – 429
  5. Football Rivalry Insults – 396
  6. The Cow Salesman – 353
  7. English is a Crazy Language – 336
  8. The Guard Mule – 309
  9. The Lifesaving Lie – 309
  10. Friday Not so Funny – 307

These articles were ranked based on the number of times readers opened the link to each page in 2016.  The editors and authors would love to hear your feedback on the articles that were most helpful to you.  Use the comment box below to share what articles, or types of articles you got the most benefit from this past year.

 

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Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-news – 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.
http://jackson.ifas.ufl.edu

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/07/panhandle-ag-e-news-2016-readers-choice-awards/

Panhandle Hay Production Conference and Trade Show – January 25

Panhandle Hay Production Conference and Trade Show – January 25

Regardless of weather conditions, the ability to supply ample and nutritious forage is critical for livestock production.  Learn more about this topic at the Hay Production Conference and Trade Show on Wednesday, January 25, 2017, at the Holmes County Ag Center, 1169 E Hwy 90, Bonifay FL.  Presentation topics will include: Fertility and Relative Forage Quality (RFQ), Decision Making for Variety Selection, Pest and Weed Management, Marketing Your Hay and Production Cost, and Understanding Weather Forecasting. Use the following link for the flyer with more details: 

Panhandle Hay Conference 2017

Agenda

  • 7:30 Registration
  • 8:00 Speakers
  • 10:30 Trade-show Break
  • 11:00 Speakers
  • 12:00 Lunch is Served
  • 2:00 Trade Show Closes

The $ 10.00/person registration fee includes lunch and proceedings.

For More Information Contact and to pre-register, please contact:
UF/IFAS Extension Holmes Co. Extension Office
Kalyn Waters, County Extension Director
Phone: 850-547-1108
Email: kalyn.waters@ufl.edu

 

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

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

Kalyn Waters

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/07/panhandle-hay-production-conference-and-trade-show-january-25/

UF/IFAS Extension Peanut Butter Challenge Tackles Hunger in the Panhandle

UF/IFAS Extension Peanut Butter Challenge Tackles Hunger in the Panhandle

bay-co-2016-peanut-butter-challenge

Paul Davis, 4-H youth development agent (L), and Julie McConnell, horticulture agent (R), both with UF/IFAS Extension Bay County, stand next to peanut butter donations. This year, UF/IFAS Extension Bay County collected 866 jars of peanut butter.

Samantha Grenrock, UF/IFAS Communications Service

Thanks to a partnership of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and the Florida Peanut Producers Association, food pantries from Pensacola to Monticello will receive thousands of jars of donated peanut butter this December.

“The Peanut Butter Challenge not only raises awareness about the important contribution of north Florida’s peanut growers to the state peanut industry, but also helps provide a healthy, locally produced product to food-insecure families in northwest Florida,” said Libbie Johnson, agriculture agent for UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County and co-organizer of the Challenge.

Since 2012, the Peanut Butter Challenge has collected jars of peanut butter from residents, volunteer groups and businesses in 16 northwest Florida counties, Johnson said. This year, UF/IFAS Extension county offices received 3,236 jars of peanut butter.

In addition to these donations, the Florida Peanut Producers Association also contributes, supplying more than 3,000 jars each Challenge, Johnson said.

On Dec. 14, Johnson will lead a team of UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County faculty and staff as they distribute donated peanut butter to nearly 20 food pantries in the Florida Panhandle. Each year, Johnson and her team find themselves handing out more and more peanut butter, due in part to generous contributions from local growers.

Rodney and Mike Helton of Helton Brothers Farms have participated in the Challenge since the beginning. The two brothers believe it’s important to give back to one’s community.

This year, the Heltons have donated 10 pallets – 17,400 jars – of peanut butter, up from 6 pallets the previous year.

“At first, we made a small contribution to the Challenge, but then I got several nice thank you letters that made it clear how great the need was,” Rodney Helton explained. “Once I got to see firsthand the good it was doing, I wanted to do more.”

 

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Author: Libbie Johnson – libbiej@ufl.edu

Agriculture agent at UF IFAS Escambia County Extension.
http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/

Libbie Johnson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/12/16/ufifas-extension-peanut-butter-challenge-tackles-hunger-in-the-panhandle/

Three Panhandle Farms Recognized through the 2016 SE Hay Contest

Three Panhandle Farms Recognized through the 2016 SE Hay Contest

Bill and Donna Conrad, Bascom were recognized for their 3rd place alfalfa hay entry in the 2016 SE Hay Contest. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Bill and Donna Conrad, Bascom, FL were recognized for their 3rd place alfalfa hay entry in the 2016 SE Hay Contest with an RFQ score of 238. Dr. Dennis Hancock, UGA Forage Specialist (right)  coordinated the 12th annual contest and recognized the winners at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie Georgia.  Photo credit: Doug Mayo

The 2016 Southeastern Hay Contest (SEHC) presented by Massey Ferguson was a fierce competition, with 269 entries vying for the top spot. Three Florida Panhandle Farms were recognized for excellent quality hay:  Bill Conrad, Bascom had the third place entry in the alfalfa division with an RFQ score of 238, and Stoltzfus Farms, Blountstown  RFQ-168 and Basford Farms, Grand Ridge RFQ-155 placed first and second in the perennial peanut division.

Stoltzfus Farms, Blountstown was recognized for the 1st place perennial peanut hay entry in the SE Hay Contest. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Stoltzfus Farms, Blountstown, FL was recognized for the 1st place perennial peanut hay entry in the SE Hay Contest with an RFQ score of 168. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Final results for the 2016 SE Hay Contest are listed below:2016-se-hay-contest-results

The results are broken down into the Contest’s categories of the contest: warm season perennial grass hay (bermudagrass, bahiagrass), alfalfa hay, perennial peanut hay, perennial cool season grass (tall fescue, orchardgrass, etc.) hay, mixed and annual grass hay, grass baleage, legume baleage, and high moisture legume or grass-legume mix hay. This contest is held in conjunction with the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo in Moultrie, GA. Winners were announced during the opening ceremonies at the Sunbelt Expo on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. In each of the categories, the highest three entries in terms of relative forage quality (RFQ) received cash prizes. First place received $ 125, second received $ 75, and the third place entry received $ 50. Top honors in terms of highest overall RFQ also received their choice of the use of a new Massey Ferguson DM Series disc mower or RK Series rotary rake for the 2016 hay production season plus $ 1,000 in cash! This year, the overall high RFQ was 254, which was from some extremely high quality alfalfa made at Bohlen and Son Farm in Madison, GA.

Boheln & Son Farms was the overall grand prize winner with their 1st place alfalfa hay entry with an RFQ score of 254. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Boheln & Son Farm, Madison, GA was the overall grand prize winner with their 1st place alfalfa hay entry with an RFQ score of 254. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Weather is always a major limiting factor when attempting to produce high quality forage. This year, dry conditions throughout most of the growing season caused drought to be a major limitation for many producers. Drought stress increased the incidence of high nitrate levels in the forage in 2016, and 9% of the samples submitted to the contest were disqualified because nitrates were greater than 5,000 ppm. Still, the forage quality this year was very high. The average relative forage quality (RFQ) was on par with, or equal to, the winning values in the Contest’s 12-year history. Good management can make a remarkable improvement in forage quality in both favorable and unfavorable weather conditions.

What is Relative Forage Quality?

In the past, hay quality prediction equations were based on the fiber concentration of the hay crop. However, forage crops can have similar fiber content yet have very different digestibility. For instance, Tifton 85 bermudagrass often has a higher fiber concentration than other bermudagrass varieties, yet it is more digestible. This improved digestibility results in enhanced animal performance, but is not reflected using traditional forage testing methods. The Relative Forage Quality index was developed by the University of Florida and the University of Wisconsin to predict the fiber digestibility and animal intake of harvested crops. Since 2003, hundreds of warm season samples have been used to refine the RFQ equation for bermudagrass and other warm season forages. Currently, all forage sample results from the UGA’s Feed and Environmental Water Lab in Athens contain an estimate of Relative Forage Quality. This value is a single, easy to interpret number that improves producer understanding of a forage’s nutritive quality and helps in establishing a fair market value for the product.

How can Relative Forage Quality help me?

Relative Forage Quality allows hay producers to easily categorize and price hay lots based on relative quality. Producers can purchase hay lots depending on its end use. For example, there is little need to feed high-quality hay to livestock that could easily utilize poorer quality forage. Hay with a RFQ of 100 or more can usually be economically fed to maintain beef cows, while hay with an RFQ of 125-150 is adequate for stocker cattle or young growing replacement heifers, and hay with an RFQ of 140-160 is suitable for dairy cattle in the first three months of lactation. It is also easy to see that Relative Forage Quality could provide the framework for a quality hay marketing system. For example, hay with a RFQ of 155 could conceptually be labeled “premium” hay, while hay with an RFQ of 100 could be labeled “fair.” This simple system could allow producers to price hay consistently and fairly across harvest maturity, fertilization regimes, or plant species (i.e. bermudagrass, bahiagrass, perennial peanut, or tall fescue).

For more information on the SE Hay Contest, other upcoming events, and forage management issues, visit www.georgiaforages.com or contact your local County Extension Office.

 

Source: Dr. Dennis Hancock, Associate Professor and Forage Extension Specialist

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Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-news – 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.
http://jackson.ifas.ufl.edu

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/10/22/three-panhandle-farms-recognized-through-the-2016-se-hay-contest/

Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference Highlights

Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference Highlights

The Panhandle Ag Extension Team hosted the inaugural Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference on Tuesday, October 11.  The conference featured three concurrent session tracks for participants to choose from, a keynote address on whole farm business profitability, and a locally sourced lunch cooked by the Jackson County Master Gardeners.  More than 120 people attended the conference.

Trade Show Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference.

Participants of the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference enjoying the trade show. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

The conference was sponsored by 18 different businesses and organizations.  A Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Specialty Crop Block Grant provided funding for the educational resources for the conference.

Dr. Pete Vergot welcomes attendees to the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.

Dr. Pete Vergot welcomes attendees to the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.

Dr. Pete Vergot, Northwest District Extension Director, welcomed attendees to the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference by sharing his first-hand experiences about growing up on a vegetable farm in Michigan.

Extension Agent Bob Hochmuth reviewed various hydroponic media during a Protected Ag session at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.

Extension Agent Bob Hochmuth reviewed various hydroponic media during a Protected Ag session at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.

The Protected Agriculture sessions were organized by Leon County Extension Agent Molly Jameson.  Bob Hochmuth, UF/IFAS Regional Extension Agent  is a vegetable production specialist.  He spoke to participants about different hydroponic production systems and about fertilizer management.

Members of the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance presented during a Protected Agriculture session at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.

Members of the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance presented during a Protected Agriculture session at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.

Tallahassee’s Red Hills Small Farm Alliance members Herman Holley, Katie Harris, and Wayne Hawthorne discussed their farming and marketing experiences with attendees at one of the Protected Agriculture sessions.  The Red Hills Small Farm Alliance is a 501c3 non-profit organization that assists small farms in the Red Hills Region with production and marketing.

Dr. Jeff Williamson presenting on blueberry varieties at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Matt Orwat, UF/IFAS Extension.

Dr. Jeff Williamson presenting on blueberry varieties and production at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Matt Orwat, UF/IFAS Extension.

The Fruit & Berry sessions were organized by Washington County Extension Agent Matt Orwat.  UF/IFAS Blueberry Specialist Dr. Jeff Williamson talked to participants about blueberry production practices and blueberry varieties.

Dr. Violeta Tsolova presenting about grape varieties at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Matt Orwat, UF/IFAS Extension.

Dr. Violeta Tsolova presenting about grape varieties at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Matt Orwat, UF/IFAS Extension.

Dr. Violeta Tsolova gave participants an in-depth review of grape varieties suitable for North Florida.  Dr. Tsolova is a Viticulture Specialist at Florida A&M University.

Dr. Ayanava Majumdar presenting at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference.

Dr. Ayanava Majumdar presenting at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference.

The Diversified Agriculture sessions were organized by Dr. Josh Freeman.  Dr. Freeman is the UF/IFAS Vegetable Specialist housed at the University of Florida’s North Florida Research & Education Center in Quincy, FL. During one of the Diversified Agriculture sessions, Dr. Ayanava Majumdar, from Auburn University, taught participants about various Integrated Pest Management strategies for insect management in vegetable crops.  Dr. Majumdar also presented in one of the Protected Agriculture sessions.

Participants lining up for Southern Craft Creamery ice cream at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

Participants lining up for Southern Craft Creamery ice cream at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

After the morning sessions were complete, the attendees of the conference were treated to a home cooked meal prepared by the Jackson County Master Gardeners. The lunch featured squash from farmer Allen Childs in Sneads, FL and peas from J&J Produce in Cottondale, FL.  The lunch was capped off by ice cream from Southern Craft Creamery in Marianna, FL. Snack breaks included chocolate milk from the Ocheesee Creamery in Blountstown, FL.

Keynote Speaker Richard Wiswall (Cate Farm, East Montpelier, VT) talked to participants about building a farm business. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

Keynote Speaker Richard Wiswall (Cate Farm, East Montpelier, VT) talked to participants about building a farm business. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

To kick off the afternoon events, Farmer Richard Wiswall from Cate Farm in East Montpelier, VT talked to participants about managing a successful farm enterprises.  He shared his experiences about starting with a small farm and growing over time as finances allowed.  Richard also led a farm business seminar in the afternoon.

Mack Glass welcomes Citrus Tour participants to Cherokee Satsuma's packing house. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

Mack Glass welcomes Citrus Tour participants to Cherokee Satsuma’s packing house. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

Attendees had to make a difficult decision when choosing between an afternoon tour, a farm business discussion, or a hands-on vegetable grafting demonstration.  Participants on the Citrus Tour got to see Mack Glass’ packing house and his satsuma grove south of Marianna.

Grafting tomato transplants at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

Grafting tomato transplants at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

UF Grafting Specialist, Dr. Xin Zhao, came in town to teach participants how to graft vegetables.  Participants got to practice grafting tomato plants.

Participants of the Protected Agriculture Tour visited Fox Family Farm in Cottondale, FL. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.

Participants of the Protected Agriculture Tour visited Fox Family Farm in Cottondale, FL. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.

The Protected Agriculture Tour visited Fox Family Farm in Cottondale.  Fox Family Farm utilizes high tunnels to grow heirloom tomatoes and other vegetables.  They are a Certified USDA Organic Farm.

The Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference was a success thanks to the volunteers, sponsors, and Extension Agents and Specialists that made it all possible.  We are looking forward to the next Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference.

 

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Author: Matt Lollar – 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.

Matt Lollar

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/10/22/panhandle-fruit-vegetable-conference-highlights/

The Color of Fall in the Panhandle

The Color of Fall in the Panhandle

Monarch butterfly on dense blazing star (Liatris spicata var. spicata). Beverly Turner, Jackson Minnesota, Bugwood.org

Monarch butterfly on dense blazing star (Liatris spicata var. spicata).
Beverly Turner, Jackson Minnesota, Bugwood.org

Each fall, nature puts on a brilliant show of color throughout the United States. As the temperatures drop, autumn encourages the “leaf peepers” to hit the road in search of the red-, yellow- and orange-colored leaves of the northern deciduous trees.  In Northwest Florida the color of autumn isn’t just from trees. The reds, purples, yellow and white blooms and berries that appear on many native plants add spectacular color to the landscape. American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, is loaded with royal-colored fruit that will persist all winter long. Whispy pinkish-cream colored seedheads look like mist atop Purple Lovegrass, Eragrostis spectabilis and Muhlygrass, Muhlenbergia capillaris. The Monarchs and other butterfly species flock to the creamy white “fluff” that covers Saltbrush, Baccharis halimifolia. But, yellow is by far the dominant fall flower color. With all the Goldenrod, Solidago spp., Narrowleaf Sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius and Tickseed, Coreopsis spp., the roadsides are golden.  When driving the roads it’s nearly impossible to not see the bright yellows in the ditches and along the wood’s edge. Golden Asters (Chrysopsis spp.), Tickseeds (Coreopsis spp.), Silkgrasses (Pityopsis spp.), Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.) and Goldenrods (Solidago spp.) are displaying their petals of gold at every turn.  These wildflowers are all members of the Aster family, one of the largest plant families in the world.  For most, envisioning an Aster means a flower that looks like a daisy.  While many are daisy-like in structure, others lack the petals and appear more like cascading sprays.  So if you are one of the many “hitting the road in search of fall color”, head to open areas.  For wildflowers, that means rural locations with limited homes and businesses.  Forested areas and non-grazed pastures typically have showy displays, especially when a spring burn was performed earlier in the year. Peeking out from the woods edge are the small red trumpet-shaped blooms of Red Basil, Calamintha coccinea and tall purple spikes of Gayfeather, Liatris spp.  Visit the Florida Wildflower Foundation website, www.flawildflowers.org/bloom.php, to see both what’s in bloom and the locations of the state’s prime viewing areas. These are all native wildflowers that can be obtained through seed companies. Many are also available as potted plants at the local nurseries. Read the name carefully though. There are cultivated varieties that may appear or perform differently than those that naturally occur in Northwest Florida. For more information on Common Native Wildflowers of North Florida go to http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep061.

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Author: Sheila Dunning – sdunning@ufl.edu


http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu

Sheila Dunning

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/10/07/the-color-of-fall-in-the-panhandle/

Panhandle Estuaries – National Estuaries Week

Panhandle Estuaries – National Estuaries Week

Humans have been settling on, and around, coastal estuaries since they first arrived in the panhandle over 10,000 years ago. These bodies of water have provided food and recreation as long as anyone can remember.  They are a magnet for those looking to build homes or businesses – and we continue to be attracted to them today.

Black Needlerush is one of the species of marsh grasses that live in brackish conditions.

Black Needlerush is one of the species of marsh grasses that live in brackish conditions.

Estuaries are defined as semi-enclosed bodies of water where fresh and sea water mix.  The point where the freshwater enters is called the head of the bay; the point where seawater enters is called the mouth. Seawater is denser than freshwater so during incoming tides the saline water tends to “wedge” it’s way into the upper estuary along the bottom.  Under certain conditions, it is possible to catch freshwater fish near the surface and marine species on the bottom at the same location.  The mixture of fresh and seawater makes for an interesting cocktail of salinities termed brackish water – which is required for the development of almost 90% of the commercially valuable seafood species we enjoy.  This ecosystem supports stands of vegetation which are also important in the development of some species – some of these systems are the most biologically productive on the planet.

 

We are lucky to have several large estuaries along the Florida panhandle. All of our bays are what are called drowned river valleys.  Most are very wide and pretty shallow, with the highest average depth being 17 feet in Choctawhatchee Bay.  The rivers that feed these estuaries begin in states north of us and bring with them needed freshwater and nutrients.  Each of the panhandle estuaries is unique and provides different resources for their neighboring communities.  Below is a breakdown of some of these characteristics.  This information was provided by GulfBase.org.

 

Bay Surface Area (km2) Drainage Area (km2) Avg. Daily Inflow (m3/sec) Avg. Depth (m) Avg. Salinity (ppt) Area of Wetlands (km2) Area of Submerged Vegetation (km2)
Perdido 130 3,100 62 3.0 15 688 ND
Pensacola 370 18,100 328 4.0 23 991 32
Choctawhatchee 334 14,000 241 5.0 25 1,133 12
St. Andrews 243 2,800 127 4.0 31 1,016 53
St. Joseph    ND
Apalachicola 554 53,100 824 3.0 22 2,396 36
Apalachee 412 11,900 150 3.0 30 2,813 130

 

You can see some of our estuaries have large areas and tremendous amounts of freshwater inflow. Others not so much, the bays with less freshwater inflow have higher salinities – and support a different ecology than the others.  Is one better than the other?… no… certainly our ancestors understood this.  Higher salinities meant more seagrass, scallops, and urchins – certain species of fish and maybe even marine turtles could be found here.  Lower salinities meant a different group of fish, oysters, and crabs.  It’s all good!  Residents should benefit from what the bay provides – and not try to make “your bay” more like “another bay”.

 

They have suffered some over the years – discharge containing organic and inorganic chemicals have tainted some drinking water supplies as well as reduce valuable aquatic resources. Increased sediments from development have darkened the waters reducing light and reducing submerged plants.  Heavily fishing and recreation have impacted both the habitats and the species that inhabit them.  Through the efforts of universities, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private citizens many of the problems have been addressed – and recovery is occurring… but there is still more to do.

 

National Estuaries Week is a chance for all who live in the panhandle to realize how important these bodies of water are to our locally economy and to our quality of life. We hope you will appreciate them and do your part to help protect them. HAPPY NATIONAL ESTUARIES WEEK!

PG

Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/09/23/panhandle-estuaries-national-estuaries-week/

Perennial Peanut, A Great Choice for Panhandle Pastures and Landscapes

Perennial Peanut, A Great Choice for Panhandle Pastures and Landscapes

perennial_peanut

Figure 1: Perennial Peanut Field. Credit: Ray Bodrey, UF/IFAS.

Driving through rural parts of the Panhandle this time of year, one will find pastures with thick green canopies, exploding with the yellow-gold flowers. Perennial peanut is in bloom. This is a highly nutritional forage option for livestock, but also makes for a beautiful urban groundcover.

Perennial Peanut was introduced from Brazil in the mid 1930’s. Though a non-native, the perennial peanut has not been shown to be a nuisance nor an invasive. The plant is in the same genus as the peanut that humans consume, however, this plant is a true perennial, living year to year. Perennial peanut, Arachis glabrata, does not reproduce by seed. Therefore, wildlife, specifically birds, are unable to disburse the plant into unintended areas.

As a side note, a few perennial peanut cultivars, such as Arachis pintoi or “pinto peanut,” can be planted by seed. This species has stolons or “runners” and will produce advantageous roots at the nodes. The pinto peanut has become confused in the nursery trade with the Florida-developed perennial peanut. There has been limited research to date on how well pinto peanuts perform as groundcover. The pinto peanut is more susceptible to winter kill, insect damage, and nematodes than the cultivar Arachis glabrata.

The Florida developed perennial peanut is used mostly for hay or grazing by livestock such as horses, beef and dairy cattle, sheep and goats, as well as wildlife such as deer, rabbits, and turkeys. The most common cultivars for pastures are “Florigraze” and “Arbrook.” These cultivars were released by UF/IFAS and USDA in 1978 and in 1985. Since the release, these cultivars have also has been used in citrus groves as a cover crop as well as a ground cover in roadway medians. In Florida, it has been planted on approximately 30,000 acres.

Perennial peanut is high in nutritional value and is easily digestible by forage animals. It’s also a nitrogen fixer. Like all legumes, perennial peanut obtains its nitrogen from a bacteria associated with the plant’s root system. Therefore, it naturally adds nitrogen to the soil, reducing the amount of nitrogen fertilizer needed, if used with other crops or plants in a landscape.

Perennial peanut will reach ½ – 1 ½ feet in height. The plant is propagated using rhizomes and can be purchased as mats of sod or in containers. With its extensive root system, rhizoma perennial peanut spreads across the ground as a sod grass would perform. Perennial peanut grows best in sandy to sandy loam soils with a target soil pH of 6.0. Although, a soil range of 5.8 – 7.0 is adequate. It does require at least 30 inches of rain per year.

In home landscapes, several cultivars are available and have limited maintenance issues. “Ecoturf” and “Arblick” are the most popular cultivars used due to their lower growth and profuse flowering. These cultivars thrive in coastal areas as they are considered salt tolerant. Salt spray, drift and short term salt water flooding have little effect. Mowing is not required, but edging may be needed as the plant spreads. Weed control is the most concerning, especially during establishment. For pest management, peanut stunt virus cases have been reported. The symptoms are leaf mottling and yield depressions, but are rarely diagnosed unless the plant is under drought or nutrient stress.

All information considered, perennial peanut is a great option for Panhandle livestock producers or home landscape enthusiasts. Contact your local county extension office for more information.

Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS EDIS publications:

Guide to Using Rhizomal Perennial Peanut in the Urban Landscape”, by Robert E. Rouse, Elan M. Miavitz and Fritz M. Roka

Rhizoma Perennial Peanut”, by M.J. Williams, Y.C. Newman and Ann Blount

Perennial Peanut: A Quick Reference”, by Yoana C. Newman, Cheryl L. Mackowiak, Ann R. Blount and Jason Ferrell

Rhizoma Perennial Peanut (Arachis glabrata) – The Perennial Peanut for Urban Conservation in Florida”, by USDA NRCS

 

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Author: Ray Bodrey – rbodrey@ufl.edu

Gulf County Extension Director, Agent II Agriculture, Natural Resource & Community Development

Ray Bodrey

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/09/17/perennial-peanut-a-great-choice-for-panhandle-pastures-and-landscapes-2/

Unusual Outbreaks of Sweetpotato Whiteflies in the Panhandle

Unusual Outbreaks of Sweetpotato Whiteflies in the Panhandle

Figure 1. Whitefly adults and eggs (photo credit James Castner)

Figure 1. Whitefly adults and eggs (photo credit James Castner)

Xavier Martini, Mathews Paret, Josh Freeman, UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center

Outbreaks of sweetpotato whiteflies (also called silverleaf whitefly) Bemisia tabaci (Figure 1 above) have been recorded recently in the Florida Panhandle and South Georgia on tomatoes and other vegetables. Whitefly is a generalist herbivore insect that feeds on 600 host plants. Sweetpotato whitefly damages plants directly by feeding and cause silverleaf disorder in cucurbits (Figure 2), and irregular ripening in tomato. It also vectors over 111 different plant viruses such as the Squash Vein Yellowing Virus that can kill watermelon plants and results in necrotic areas on the fruit, the Cucurbit Leaf Crumple Virus that is mainly destructive for squash, but also affects other cucurbits, and the Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus that affects tomatoes.

Figure 2. Silverleaf disorder on squash

Figure 2. Silverleaf disorder on squash

This arrival of whitefly is quite unusual at this time of the year in the Florida Panhandle.  Whitefly densities usually increase in October when cotton is defoliated and soybean senesces. This early arrival of whiteflies requires attention given the recent outbreak of Q biotype whiteflies in the Florida landscape. Sweetpotato whitefly is a complex of 28 cryptic species. In the US, the most common are the B and the Q biotypes. The Q biotype is a particular source of concern, as it is more resistant to insecticides than B biotype, and is replacing B biotype in other parts of the world. Since July 2016, Q biotype has been found in 8 counties in Florida, but not in the Panhandle to this point.

Biotype Q and B are indistinguishable visually, and must be discriminated by genetic analysis. The whiteflies collected so far by the NFREC in Gadsden County were all B biotypes, but it is important to pursue the monitoring of our whitefly population to be sure that the Q biotype does not settle in our area.

To sample for biotyping, sample one whitefly per plant, and collect between 10 to 50 whiteflies. Keep whiteflies collected on different host plants separate. Adults can be collected by hand or nymphs, and pupae (Figure 3) can be detached from leaves with a small knife. Store in 95% ethanol or freeze and immediately bring them to the NFREC, or to your local extension agent who can send them to a lab for biotyping. Alternatively, infested foliage can be brought directly to NFREC for processing.

Figure 3. Whitefly nymphs and pupae (photo credit Lyle Buss)

Figure 3. Whitefly nymphs and pupae (photo credit Lyle Buss)

Simple cultural practices can help reduce whitefly damage. Sanitation is one of them. After harvest, crop residue such as tomato plants should be removed to reduce virus reservoirs in the crop. Natural enemies are an important part of whitefly control. It has been found that whitefly outbreaks occurred more often when natural enemy populations are absent, because of repeated insecticidal sprays. Natural enemies of sweetpotato whitefly include parasitoids, lacewing, minute pirate bug and some minute species of ladybird beetles. It is always important to assess the presence of natural enemies before applying an insecticidal treatment.

If whiteflies are present in high density, and natural enemies are not found, insecticide application is advised. Based on experience, these populations will likely need to be managed until early November. It has to be noted, that sweetpotato whitefly is particularly challenging to control with insecticides because they live on the underside of the leaf, and easily develop resistance against insecticides. To optimize insecticidal efficiency against sweetpotato whitefly it is preferable to use systemic insecticides such as neonicotinoid (imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran) and diamides (cyazypyr). Additionally, Pymetrozine (Fulfill) has been found to reduce virus transmission in tomatoes. Foliar application of neonicotinoid should be restricted to the period before flowering because of toxicity to bees. For organic producers, neem oil or insecticidal soap are potential alternatives to synthetic insecticides. Because whitefly is prone to development of resistance, it is crucial to rotate insecticide modes action (which can be found in the Vegetable Production Handbook and on pesticide labels).

For more information, use the following publication links:

Sweetpotato Whitefly B Biotype, Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) (Insecta: Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae)

Recommendations for Management of Whiteflies, Whitefly-Transmitted Viruses, and Insecticide Resistance for Production of Cucurbit Crops in Florida

Management of Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV) in Tomato in North Florida

Vegetable Production Handbook of Florida 2016-17 (371 pages)

 

 

 

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Author: Josh Freeman – joshuafr@ufl.edu

Dr. Freeman’s program focuses on vegetable and melon cropping systems important to the state and region. Much of his research and extension efforts are focused in the area of soil fumigants and fumigant alternatives for soil-borne pest and weed management. Many of the vegetable crops in Florida are produced using the plasticulture production system. For decades growers have relied on the soil fumigant methyl bromide for pest management. This chemistry is no longer available and Dr. Freeman’s program is addressing this issue.
https://www.facebook.com/NFRECVegetable

Josh Freeman

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/09/17/unusual-outbreaks-of-sweetpotato-whiteflies-in-the-panhandle/

Growing Hops in the Panhandle

Growing Hops in the Panhandle

E. Anderson Hops ConesWhen one thinks of hops, one most likely thinks first of beer. The brewing of beer, and especially its subsequent consumption, are likely to eclipse thoughts of any other part of the process that brings such a tasty beverage to the table.  There’s considerably more to the craft than just the end result. It takes careful cultivation to get hops to grow, especially in an area where they aren’t commonly planted. Even though they are more often grown in cooler climes, they can be grown in the Florida Panhandle.

Hops have been used in brewing for centuries. The fragrant cones of this climbing vine are used primarily to impart a bitter flavor to beer that balances the sweetness of the malt. They may also be used to flavor the beer, adding desirable season and aroma to the finished product. Hops also have some antibacterial properties, which can help brewer’s yeast compete against other, less desirable microorganisms.

E. Anderson Hops TrellisesE. Anderson Hops VinesBeing a vining crop, hops need plenty of room to stretch out. An aspiring hop farmer will need a source of poles upon which to string trellises. A standard height for hops trellises is 18 feet, which means that some method for harvesting at such heights is also required. A portable ladder of some sort is one option, as one of our local hop growers uses, or an adventurous farmer might try the antique method of using stilts.

Where problems arise is with pests and diseases in Florida.  The hot, humid weather, is an ideal environment for organisms that cause harm to crops. Some of the traditional problems that hop growers encounter are spider mites, aphids, loopers, various fungal pathogens, and even a couple of viruses. In Walton County, one of our growers has also had troubles with some less common hop pests, including plant hoppers, yellow-striped armyworms, and even some buck moth caterpillars (than normally feed on oak leaves).

The important thing for anyone growing hops, or any out-of-the-ordinary crop, is to scout regularly for problems and use the resources that are available to solve them. Extension is one of those resources – contact your local extension office if you need help!

For more information on hops in Florida, use the following EDIS publication link:

Florida Edible Garden Plants: Hops (Humulus lupulus)

 

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Author: eanderson350 – eanderson350@ufl.edu

eanderson350

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/09/10/growing-hops-in-the-panhandle/

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