Tag Archive: Panhandle

Frequent Rains Induce Slime Mold in Panhandle Lawns

Frequent Rains Induce Slime Mold in Panhandle Lawns

Slime Mold Sporangia. Image Courtesy Matthew Orwat

Although black or white streaks are shocking when they appear on an otherwise healthy lawn,  slime molds are rarely harmful.

Slime mold is actually caused by the small round fruiting bodies of a special type of fungal-like organisms called Myxomycetes. While regularly present in the soil, they usually make a visual appearance on warm humid days in late spring or early summer after extended periods of rain. This extended period of heat and humidity, currently being experienced in the Florida Panhandle, initiates the perfect climate for slime mold development.

As depicted in the picture, slime mold makes the lawn look like it was just spray-painted with black or grey paint.  They can sometimes be pink, white, yellow or brown as well. The round fruiting bodies, called sporangia, carry the spores which will give rise to the next generation of the mold. After a few days the sporangia will shrivel up, release the spores and leave no noticeable trace on the lawn.

Closeup: Slime Mold in Centipedegrass. Image courtesy Matthew Orwat

Currently, no fungicide exists to control slime mold because chemical control is not necessary. An excellent method to speed up the dissipation of slime mold is to mow or rake the lawn lightly. This will disturb the spores and hasten their departure. Another effective removal method is to spray the lawn with a forceful stream of water.  This process washes off the slime mold sporangia and restores the lawn to its former dark green beauty.

Excessive thatch accumulation also increases the probability of slime mold occurrence.

For more information consult your local county extension agent consult the UF / IFAS Slime Mold Fact Sheet, or read the Alabama Cooperative Extension publication Slime Mold on Home Lawns.

Slime Mold in Centipedegrass. Image Courtesy Matthew Orwat

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Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/about/

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/06/16/frequent-rains-induce-slime-mold-in-panhandle-lawns/

Sea Turtles of the Panhandle: 2016 Nesting Numbers and Notes

Sea Turtles of the Panhandle: 2016 Nesting Numbers and Notes

There are five species of sea turtles that nest from May through October on Florida beaches. The loggerhead, the green turtle and the leatherback all nest regularly in the Panhandle, with the loggerhead being the most frequent visitor.  Two other species, the hawksbill and Kemp’s Ridley nest infrequently.  All five species are listed as either threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Due to their threatened and endangered status, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission/Fish and Wildlife Research Institute monitors sea turtle nesting activity on an annual basis. They conduct surveys using a network of permit holders specially trained to collect this type of information.  Managers then use the results to identify important nesting sites, provide enhanced protection and minimize the impacts of human activities.

Statewide, approximately 215 beaches are surveyed annually, representing about 825 miles. From 2011 to 2015, an average of 106,625 sea turtle nests (all species combined) were recorded annually on these monitored beaches.  This is not a true reflection of all of the sea turtle nests each year in Florida, as it doesn’t cover every beach, but it gives a good indication of nesting trends and distribution of species.

If you want to see a sea turtle in the Florida Panhandle, please visit one of the state-permitted captive sea turtle facilities listed below, admission fees may be charged. Please call the number listed for more information.

  1. Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory, 222 Clark Dr, Panacea, FL 32346 850-984-5297 Admission Fee
  2. Gulf World Marine Park, 15412 Front Beach Rd, Panama City, FL 32413 850-234-5271 Admission Fee
  3. Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, 1010 Miracle Strip Parkway SE, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548 850-243-9046 or 800-247-8575 Admission Fee
  4. Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Center, 8740 Gulf Blvd, Navarre, FL 32566 850-499-6774

To watch a female loggerhead turtle nest on the beach, please join a permitted public turtle watch. During sea turtle nesting season, The Emerald Coast CVB/Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council offers Nighttime Educational Beach Walks. The walks are part of an effort to protect the sea turtle populations along the Emerald Coast, increase ecotourism in the area and provide additional family-friendly activities. For more information or to sign up, please email ECTurtleWatch@gmail.com. An event page may also be found on the Emerald Coast CVB’s Facebook page: facebook.com/FloridasEmeraldCoast.

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Author: Laura Tiu – lgtiu@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent – Okaloosa and Walton Counties

Laura Tiu

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/06/03/sea-turtles-of-the-panhandle-2016-nesting-numbers-and-notes/

Manatee Sightings in the Panhandle

Manatee Sightings in the Panhandle

On May 7, 2017 Marsha Stanton spotted a manatee swimming by her pier in Big Lagoon near Pensacola. I am sure this was an exciting moment and Marsha was interested in letting someone know so that the unusual encounter could be logged.

Manatee swimming by a pier near Pensacola.
Photo: Marsha Stanton

There are four species of manatee in the world; the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus) is the one native to the South Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf region.  The Florida Manatee (T. manatus latirostris) is a subspecies that is found in Florida.  The historic range of the Florida Manatee included all of the Gulf coast and the east coast as far as the Chesapeake Bay.  However, the increase in humans triggered a decrease in manatees.  In the 1970’s it was rare to find the animal outside of the Florida peninsula.

 

Florida first began protecting the animal in 1893 and today it is protected by the state with the Manatee Sanctuary Act, the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the federal Endangered Species Act. In the 1970’s the population of Florida Manatees was estimated to be about 1000 animals, today there are an estimated 6000.  Due to the increase throughout its range, the animal has now been moved from ENDANGERED to THREATENED.  In 2016, 521 manatee deaths were logged with FWC.  The average for a month was 43.  The majority of these were logged as unknown or perinatal (associated with the weeks before and after birth) and the highest for a month was in February.  Boat strikes were logged as the largest problem for the months of January and July.

 

All that said, we would certainly like to protect any manatee that visit’s our area. So what can we do?

  • If boating, use the marked channels. There is evidence that manatees try to avoid boat traffic by staying out of the boating areas.
  • If you must leave the channel to reach your dock or the beach do so at idol speed. Wear polarized glasses and have a look out. Manatees do not break the surface as dolphins do, rather they generate “swirling eddies” as they move beneath the surface. So slow your movement and have a watchful eye and we can help reduce problems.
  • If snorkeling, diving, or swimming near a manatee do not approach the animal; this can be stressful for them and could be reported as harassment by FWC; which could come with a fine. Allow the animal to move as it wishes and enjoy the experience.
  • The same goes for a kayak or paddle encounter. Do not chase the manatee or separate mother from calf.
  • Another issue has been feeding manatees or providing them freshwater from a hose. This practice has gone on a long time but researchers now know that this decreases the fear of humans by manatees and they return. This can cause boat strikes to increase. It is also considered harassment.

Marsha was interested in letting researchers know about this unusual encounter. However, researchers, and FWC, do not necessarily consider this as unusual as we think.  Manatees have become a main stay at Wakulla Springs State Park during the colder months and are common enough in the Mobile Bay area that a manatee watch program has been developed.  If the animal is distressed, injured, or you find a dead one you can report this to FWC at (888) 404-3922.  If the animal is fine, healthy, and swimming just follow the basic rules listed above and enjoy a really cool experience with this really cool Floridian.

More information on “do’s” and “don’ts” can be found at

http://myfwc.com/education/wildlife/manatee/viewing-guidelines/.

http://myfwc.com/media/415226/manatee_fltreasure_bklt.pdf

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Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/05/27/manatee-sightings-in-the-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.

PG

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/

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