Tag Archive: Plant

Fall is an Excellent Time to Plant Daylilies

Fall is an Excellent Time to Plant Daylilies

Daylilies in full bloom. Image credit UF / IFAS Solutions Website

“A penny saved is a penny earned” is the famously frugal advice from Poor Richard’s Almanac. The author Benjamin Franklin, elder statesman and founding father of the United States, offered this simple pearl of wisdom to 18th century American colonist to remind them to cautiously manage their assets.

This concept has met the test of time and had been resurrected in a variety of guises. Individuals, families, companies and governments have all applied a variation of this resource management concept, especially when their economic outlooks are challenged.

As basic as the idea is it can be applied to almost any situation, even the home landscape. Daylilies, the commonly encountered flowering ornamental in many 21st century Wakulla County gardens, is an excellent example of getting the most return for the least output.

The daylily is a popular flowering perennial with East Asian origins which has adapted well to Florida landscapes. Plants are available in a wide variety of growth habits, flower shapes and colors, including yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, near-white and shades and combinations of all of these.

Flowering starts in March for early-season bloomers with late-season cultivars starting in mid-May. The typical bloom period is about four to seven weeks, although some varieties bloom even longer.

Daylilies are colorful and easy to grow. Propagation is easy this time of year, just dig, separate, and replant.

As their name accurately indicates, daylilies are members of the lily family, in the genus Hemerocallis. “Hemero” is Greek for “day” and “callis” for “beauty,” so the scientific name translates to beauty for a day.

For the adventurous eater, the flower buds and petals of daylilies are edible raw, boiled, stir-fried, steamed, stuffed, or battered and fried. Dried daylily petals, called “golden needles,” are used in numerous Chinese dishes.

Many of the modern varieties of daylilies available today have been developed from native Chinese species. Early settlers from Europe and Asia brought many of the original species with them to America.

Daylilies grow best in full sun or filtered shade. The darker colored red and purple varieties flourish better in partial shade, while light colored yellows, pinks and pastels varieties need full sun to bring out their best colors.

The filtered light level under pine trees is ideal for growing daylilies. Heavy shade should be avoided because it will cause thin, spindly growth and poor flowering.

The soil pH should be between 6.2 and 6.8, with 6.5 being optimal.

The soil of daylily beds should be topped with three to four inches of organic matter, such as peat, compost, or well-rotted manure. The amended soil should be mixed or tilled, leveled and then moistened.

Daylilies survive dry conditions well because of their extensive root systems. However, the number and size of blooms, plant growth, and overall vigor can be adversely affected by prolonged drought.

Daylilies multiply fairly rapidly and plant division is an easy way to propagate them for new locations in the home landscape or to share with friends. Division is best done immediately after the flowering season.

Dig the entire clump and shake or wash off the soil without damaging the roots. It is easy to see where the divisions can be made with smaller clumps being easily pulled free to establish a new planting.

The home gardener can expand and share the beauty of these perennials and only spend a little time to accomplish this. No doubt Ben Franklin and Poor Richard would approve.

For more information, check out this excellent publication titled “Daylilies for Florida”.


Author: Les Harrison – harrisog@ufl.edu

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

Les Harrison

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/10/16/fall-is-an-excellent-time-to-plant-daylilies/

Plant Cupheas for Summer Flowers, Hummingbirds, and More


Cuphea ignea
Photo courtesy: Gary Knox

Cupheas are perennials that produce bright orange, red, yellow or purple flowers all summer and fall.  Some species are called cigar plants due to their tubular, cigar shaped flowers tipped in red or yellow (like a lit cigar). Others are sometimes called firecracker plants because their cylindrical flowers are bright red or orange (looking like a firecracker). By any name, their nectar-filled, tubular flowers are widely known for attracting large numbers of hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. In addition, young stems of some species are reddish, further adding color and contrast to the usually narrow, lance-shaped green foliage.


As a group, cupheas grow best in full to part sun (the brighter, the better) and well-drained, moderately fertile soil. Cupheas are drought tolerant once established, but grow faster and larger with regular moisture and occasional fertilization. Their origins in warm climates allow them to thrive in heat, but likewise make some species sensitive to cold winters. Those that are frost tender along the Gulf Coast are best placed in a sheltered location in the garden. Cupheas are pest and disease resistant and are not invasive in Florida. They are not truly deer resistant, yet reports suggest cupheas are not favored by deer.

Cupheas are great summer performers in bright, hot and dry locations. Flowering begins in summer and continues through fall until short days and cool weather reduce flowering or frosts cause dieback. Along the Gulf Coast, cool winter weather slows them down, so re-growth doesn’t occur until mid to late spring, and flowering usually doesn’t begin until days and nights are warm. Growth and appearance of many cupheas are improved if plants are pruned or cut to the ground in late winter.

Over 200 species of Cuphea are native to Mexico and the warm-temperate and tropical Americas. Of these and their hybrids, the cupheas listed below are great summer-flowering perennials for the northern Gulf Coast.


Cuphea micropetala
Photo courtesty: Gary Knox


Cigar Plant (Cuphea ignea)

This fine-textured plant produces red to orange tubular flowers about an inch long. This cigar plant is hardy to about 20°F. It grows about 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide along the Gulf Coast, though it would be a larger, evergreen shrub in warmer climates. This cuphea tends to have lanky growth, so occasional summer pruning will stimulate branching which results in more dense growth.


Cigar Plant or Candy Corn Plant (Cuphea micropetala)

Flowers are 1.5 inches long, emerge pale yellow and gradually turn orange from the base upwards, offering a colorful, two-tone effect. Foliage is hardy to 25-30°F and this cigar plant is root hardy to at least 15°F. Stems should be cut back to ground level in late winter to keep the plant tidy. Clumps spread slowly outward by rhizomes, and the plant will reach 3 feet tall and wide along the Gulf Coast.


Cuphea schumannii
Photo courtesy: Gary Knox


Orange Cigar Plant or Schumann’s Cuphea (Cuphea schumannii)

This sprawling, floriferous cigar plant prefers moist, well-drained soil to thrive. Barrel-shaped, 1- to 1½-inch blooms are orange and yellow and sometimes have small purple petals at the tips. Flowers cover the branch terminals in the heat of summer and into fall. This plant is hardy in Zones 8 to 9 (at least down to the mid 20s°F). Unlike many other cupheas, leaves of orange cigar plant are oval- to heart-shaped. Stems grow 2 to 3 feet tall and readily flop or fall over. Plan to give orange cigar plant lots of room to sprawl through the garden!


Cuphea ‘David Verity’
Photo courtesy: Gary Knox


‘David Verity’ Large Firecracker Plant (Cuphea ignea × micropetala ‘David Verity’)

This floriferous hybrid produces flowers that are dark orange with a short yellow-orange flared tip and purple filamentts. Well-adapted to the Gulf Coast, this plant is foliage hardy down to 25-30°F and root hardy to at least 15°F. In Zone 9 this plant will grow as an evergreen shrub up to 4 to 5 feet tall and wide, but it will be smaller in areas where frost or freezes occur. This selection is believed to be a hybrid between Cuphea ignea and C. micropetala that was given in the mid 1970s to David Verity, then the manager of the UCLA Mildred Mathias Botanic Garden. It was subsequently named for him when later brought into commercial production.


‘Vermillionaire®’ Large Firecracker Plant (Cuphea ‘Vermillionaire®’)

This new hybrid appears to be a superior cuphea because it grows as a naturally compact plant that produces more flowers than other selections. ‘Vermillionaire®’ grows about 24 inches or more tall and wide with a compact, mounding habit. Orange tubular flowers are produced continuously until late fall. This cuphea is too new to know the full extent of its hardiness, but it is expected to be a perennial in Zones 8 and higher.


Mexican Heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia)

Unlike the previous cupheas, this plant has small purple flowers, and some selections sport white flowers. Another difference is Mexican heather’s finely textured, bright green leaves. Gulf Coast Zone 8 plants are usually killed to the ground in winter, often recovering by summer but resulting in a compact plant growing less than 24 inches tall and wide. In Zones 9 and higher, Mexican heather is a larger-growing semi-evergreen tropical shrub. Reported pests are leaf-chewing beetles (Altica and Colaspis spp.) and the twig-dwelling lesser snow scale (Pinnaspis strachani). Mexican heather works well for edging beds or sidewalks, helping to define and soften pathways. Cultivars include Allyson, Lavender Lace, Purple Nurple™ and the white-flowered Monga (Itsy Bitsy° White) and ‘White Whispers’.

Bat-Faced Cuphea
Photo courtesy: Gary Knox

Bat Face Cuphea (Cuphea llavea)

Each 1-inch flower consists of a purple tube lipped with two red, upright lobes. By viewing the flower with its tip facing you, it takes only a little imagination to see the two red lobes resemble large “ears” above the purple “face” of a bat, hence the name. Along the Gulf Coast, bat face cuphea grows mound-shaped 8 to 24 inches tall and wide, depending upon the selection. It is very heat and drought tolerant but requires better drainage than the other cupheas. Bat face cuphea is evergreen down to the upper 20s°F and root hardy into the lower 20s°F. Improved forms of bat face cuphea include the cultivars, Flamenco Samba, Georgia Scarlet, Mellow Yellow, Miss Priss, Tiny Mice®, Sriracha™ Pink, Sriracha™ Violet, Torpedo, Vienco° Lavender and Vienco° Red.


Author: Gary Knox – gwknox@ufl.edu

Gary Knox is an Extension Specialist and Professor of Environmental Horticulture with the University of Florida at the North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy. Dr. Knox’s research interests focus on evaluating species and cultivars of woody plants for their invasive potential as well as for ornamental characteristics. In addition to research plantings, Dr. Knox is working with a nonprofit volunteer group to develop “Gardens of the Big Bend,” a series of botanical, teaching and evaluation gardens at the Center.

Gary Knox

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/17/plant-cupheas-for-summer-flowers-hummingbirds-and-more/

Pickleweed – A Novelty Plant

I encountered pickleweed (Salicornia sp.) on a recent trip to Utah. I first noticed the plant growing in the bank of a pond at a salt factory. A sample was pulled for further investigation and it was determined to be some type of pickleweed. Pickleweed also happens to be a common name for a plant that grows here in Florida. The scientific name of the pickleweed found in Florida is Batis maritima. This article will focus on the pickleweed found in Utah.

A salt factory in Utah.

A salt factory in Utah. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS Extension.

A pickleweed pulled out of a pile of salt.

A pickleweed pulled out of a pile of salt. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS Extension.

As you might have guessed, pickleweed is a salt loving (halophylic) plant. It is a member of the plant family Amaranthaceae (previously Chenopodiaceae), which also includes Russian thistle (Salsola iberica) a.k.a. tumbleweed. You won’t be happy to know that Russian thistle has found its way to our beautiful Florida beaches and is spreading. At first look, pickleweed seems to have no leaves, but its central stem is surrounded by succulent, salt storing leaf tissue. It is often spoken of as the “cactus” of the Great Salt Lake since it has no visible leaves and only a smooth green stem.

Pickleweed can be found growing in both coastal and interior portions of the United States. The variety growing around the Great Salt Lake is different from the coastal varieties due to its adaptation to this extremely salty environment. The Great Salt Lake has a salt content of about 30% whereas the Gulf of Mexico has a salt content of around 3%.

Pickleweed can also be found growing in the western landscape adjacent to the Great Salt Lake. These areas contain an interesting type of soil made up of ooids. Ooids are brine shrimp feces coated with layers of aragonite (a form of calcium carbonate CaCO3). Ooids can also be found on the east coast of Florida.

Pickleweed and other plant species growing in the Utah landscape near Timpie Springs.

Pickleweed and other plant species growing in the Utah landscape near Timpie Springs. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS Extension.

Although you probably won’t find pickleweed (Salicornia sp.) growing in a typical Florida Panhandle landscape, you might want to give it a try in your container garden or kitchen window. As you can see in the pictures, this plant likes to be neglected. It is difficult to grow at home. It needs a good amount of nitrogen and water. And it may benefit from periodic additions of table salt (sodium chloride). It needs to be in an area that receives 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. Seed and cuttings will be hard to come by. You will most likely have to take a trip to Utah to find a source.

Interestingly enough, some cultures use this plant as a vegetable/herb. You will need to conduct some more research if you wish to cook with pickleweed and remember to lay off the salt!


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/2017/08/01/pickleweed-a-novelty-plant/

Lemon bacopa, a beautiful pond plant or a weed?

Lemon bacopa, a beautiful pond plant or a weed?

Bacopa caroliniana, also known as lemon bacopa, is a popular aquatic plant. It is mostly found in the southeastern United States in states such as Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi and even Texas. Lemon bacopa has a perennial life cycle which could make it a weed to some, or desired plant to others. Also, it can be found submersed or emersed.

Lemon bacopa
Photo: UF

It tends to grow near shorelines and sometimes in water that is less than 3 inches deep. Lemon bacopa has a single stem with opposite leaf growth. The leaves are thick and juicy. The reason some people enjoy and even encourage planting this plant is because of the pretty, attractive, purple-blue flower that sprouts. They are a popular plant used to add beauty to water gardens and to provide habitat in wetland enhancement as well as restoration projects. However, this plant can be easily propagated which could lead to it becoming weedy if not paid attention to carefully. Lemon bacopa roots easily from cuttings, so whether if it is purposely cut or by natural causes it can easily spread and take over a water garden.


This species is very adapted and common throughout Florida. Although lemon bacopa can be weedy in some situations, it is most often considered a beneficial native plant that brings a number of desirable characteristics to almost any aquatic setting.


Source:  UF IFAS EDIS publications


Author: zadwiggins – zadwiggins@ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/29/lemon-bacopa-a-beautiful-pond-plant-or-a-weed/

What Plant is This?

What Plant is This?

Winter flowers and small leaves with serrated edges lead to identification as Camellia sasanqua. Photo: J_McConnell, UF/IFAS

A common diagnostic service offered at your local UF/IFAS Extension office is plant identification. Whether you need a persistent weed identified so you can implement a management program or you need to identify an ornamental plant and get care recommendations, we can help!

In the past, we were reliant on people to bring a sample to the office or schedule a site visit, neither of which is very practical in today’s busy world. With the recent widespread availability of digital photography, even the least technology savvy person can usually email photos themselves or they have a friend or family member who can assist.

If you need to send pictures to a volunteer or extension agent it’s important that you are able to capture the features that are key to proper identification. Here are some guidelines you can use to ensure you gather the information we need to help you.

Entire plant – seeing the size, shape, and growth habit (upright, trailing, vining, etc.) is a great place to begin. This will help us eliminate whole categories of plants and know where to start.

Stems/trunks – to many observers stems all look the same, but to someone familiar with plant anatomy telltale features such as raised lenticels, thorns, wings, or exfoliating bark can be very useful. Even if it doesn’t look unique to you, please be sure to send a picture of stems and the trunk.

Leaves – leaf color, size and shape is important, but also how the leaves are attached to the stem is a critical identification feature. There are many plants that have ½ inch long dark green leaves, but the way they are arranged, leaf margin (edges), and vein patterns are all used to confirm identification. Take several leaf photos including at least one with some type of item for scale such as a small ruler or a common object like a coin or ballpoint pen; this helps us determine size. Take a picture that shows how leaves are attached to stems – being able to see if leaves are in pairs, staggered, or whorled around a stem is also important. Flip the leaf over and take a picture of the underside, some plants have distinctive veins or hairs on the bottom surface that may not be visible in a picture taken from above.

Flowers – if flowers are present, include overall picture so the viewer can see where it is located within the plant canopy along with a picture close enough to show structure.

Fruit – fruit are also good identification pictures and these should accompany something for scale to help estimate size.

Any additional information you are able to provide can help – if the plant is not flowering but you remember that it has white, fragrant flowers in June, make sure to include that in your description.

Learning what plants you have in your landscape will help you use your time and resources more efficiently in caring for you yard. Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office to find out who to send requests for plant id.


Author: Julie McConnell – juliebmcconnell@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Bay County Horticulture Extension Agent I

Julie McConnell

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/17/what-plant-is-this/

Is it Too Late to Plant Winter Grazing?

hancock-winter-annual-no-till-drillDennis Hancock, UGA Forage Extension Specialist

A number of livestock producers have been asking about making late plantings of winter annuals for forage. I recently updated an older factsheet that I wrote in 2007 with Dr. Don Ball, now Professor Emeritus at Auburn University. This factsheet, entitled Late Plantings of Winter Annual Forages, provides more details on what one should consider when thinking about a late planting of winter annuals. Here’s a summary of the most pertinent parts for consideration:

Planting winter annuals late should be considered VERY RISKY and every consideration to alternatively feeding low-price commodities and by-products (corn gluten, soy hulls, wheat mids, etc.) should be evaluated from an economic standpoint.  When making a late planting of winter annuals, it is important to remember that one should consider not only the cost of seed, but also fertilizer, fuel, labor, and other costs, as well as the risk involved.  If planting in late fall and early winter, focus on planting annual ryegrass. Annual ryegrass is fairly cold tolerant in the Deep South, and ryegrass seed is relatively inexpensive. Still, if a producer is going to try ryegrass in a planting in late fall or early winter, it makes sense to plant a variety known to have the potential to make early growth. Regardless, one should remember that the late planted crop is at significant risk of winter injury and the grass plants will not have a chance to reach their tillering potential. Certainly, productivity of these forages will be greatly reduced from normal expected yields. It is impossible to predict how much yield reduction will occur, but a good manager that receives favorable weather MAY produce 2000-4000 lbs of dry matter per acre if planting in late fall or early winter with a good ryegrass variety.

Rain this week did us some good. But it did not end this drought. We are by no means “out of the woods.” This may be your best shot at getting decent winter annual forage growth started, but you should count the costs. If you can afford to take the risk and it is your best option, go for it. But, if you are literally betting the farm on a late winter planting, don’t. The risk is too great! A more expensive alternative that has less risk would be a far better choice.

For more information on how to manage during this drought, visit the drought management page on georgiaforages.com, which includes management advice, links to hay directories, and much more.



Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/12/03/is-it-too-late-to-plant-winter-grazing/

Want Fall Color? Plant These Trees !

Want Fall Color? Plant These Trees !




Florida has so much to offer!  It is home to the world’s most beautiful beaches. It has one of the largest agricultural economies nationwide.  

But among all these things, Florida is lacking in one area that is very noticeable come fall:  all the beautiful red, yellow, and orange leaf colors that paint the autumn landscape just a few hours to the north!

As frustrating as the lack of fall color in Florida’s native forests may be, this situation is easily amended in yards throughout the state by planting some autumn color standouts!  Here are three of the very best for Northwest Florida:


  • Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

This holdover from the Jurassic Period (Literally! Fossil records indicate Ginkgo has existed virtually unchanged for well over 100 million years!) has much to offer as an ornamental tree, including spectacular golden-yellow fan-shaped leaves in fall!  Somewhat ungainly in youth, a mature Ginkgo is truly a sight to behold, an 80-100’ tall, imposing specimen.   Ginkgos are very tolerant of all soil conditions except waterlogged, have few insect and disease pests, and are remarkably drought-tolerant once established. Be sure to select a male cultivar however, as female trees produce extremely odiferous seeds that remarkably resemble rancid butter!

  • Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis)
Chinese Pistache

Chinese Pistache

A little-known, much underused tree in the Deep South, Chinese Pistache will light your landscape aflame with brilliant, orange-red fall foliage.  One of the last trees to turn color in the fall, Chinese Pistache can help extend the show deep into November!  It is a small to medium sized tree that will not overwhelm any but the smallest landscapes.  As with Ginkgo, the habit of the tree in youth is awkward at best and the tree’s full potential is not realized until maturity when it becomes a dense, oval-round specimen.  Chinese Pistache is close to bulletproof, tolerant of drought and poor soil conditions.

  • Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica)

One of Northwest Florida’s best native trees for fall color is Black Gum.  Black Gum is a standout tree, pretty in all seasons, possessing dark, almost-black bark, a tall pyramidal habit and vivid fall foliage in the deepest shades of red and purple.  As a bonus, Black Gum usually begins its color change very early, occasionally in September.  The addition of this tree to a lawn dominated landscape can deliver at least an extra month of color!  Black Gum prefers moist, deep soils but is found in dry flatwoods and swamps alike, betraying its adaptability.

Young Black Gum Tree

Young Black Gum Tree

Including the above trees in new or existing landscapes is an easy, smart way to extend the fall color show from September through November and make home gardeners long a little less for the colorful northern autumns!  Happy Gardening!




Author: dleonard – d.leonard@ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/11/18/want-fall-color-plant-these-trees/

Which Winter Annual Should You Plant for Optimal Cattle Performance?

Which Winter Annual Should You Plant for Optimal Cattle Performance?

Nicolas DiLorenzo, State Beef Specialist, University of Florida NFREC

Successful business people will say that one of the keys to maintaining a high level of productivity in a company relies, partially, in making good decisions. The ability to stay competitive in any enterprise is often related to the ability to access and interpret the information available to make sound decisions. In summary, information is a very hot commodity when it comes to making the right decisions.

Agricultural enterprises are not much different than other businesses, and the same rules apply when it comes to the role of technology and timely access to information on the success of the operation and overall profitability. Because cattle prices have dropped significantly from a year ago, and margins have tightened considerably, the ability to make informed decisions on the day to day operation becomes more relevant than ever.  As winter approaches, producers again the decisions of how to supplement cattle, what type of winter annuals to plant for grazing, and when to plant?  Making an educated decision (or an “educated guess”’ for that matter) can ultimately improve the economic sustainability, or help achieve the production objectives of a cattle operation.  For example, when choosing the optimal winter annual for grazing, one of the goals is to maximize the production of beef per acre when compared to other alternatives. In order to do so, a combination of quality and quantity are necessary. Quantity of forage produced is one of the key aspects on variety selections, and many of our State Forage Specialists work diligently in this area. As an example of this, the 2016 Cool-Season Forage Variety Recommendations for Florida was made available in a previous issue of this e-newsletter, containing very useful and timely information about winter annual varieties available.

Figure 1. Greenchoping winter annuals for digestibility experiment at NFREC. Photo: Nicolas DiLorenzo

Figure 1. Greenchoping winter annuals for digestibility experiment at NFREC Beef Unit. Photo: Nicolas DiLorenzo

The quality of the forage, on the other hand, is determined by the concentration of nutrients in it, and the ability of animals to digest it. The digestibility of a forage dictates its energy content, and thus is essential in determining animal performance. Measuring the digestibility of a forage can be very tricky and involves either: 1) a laboratory in vitro procedure that provides a very reliable estimate; or 2) an in vivo measurement of digestibility (the “gold standard”) that involves daily feed and fecal sample collections, individual animal intake measurements, and laboratory analyses. Thus, by knowing the digestibility of a forage we can have an idea of its energy content, often expressed as Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN). In turn, knowing the digestibility of a forage can help decide which forage or combination of forages may be best in terms of individual animal productivity.

Figure 2. Hand feeding grenchopped winter annuals in the Feed Efficiency Facility at NFREC Beef Unit.

Figure 2. Hand feeding grenchopped winter annuals in the Feed Efficiency Facility at NFREC Beef Unit. Photo: Nicolas DiLorenzo

Taking advantage of the technology available with the University of Florida Feed Efficiency Facility (UF-FEF) at NFREC, researchers designed an experiment aimed at, among other objectives, to measure the digestibility of winter annual forages fed free-choice. For two consecutive years, cattle were fed greenchopped winter annual pastures comprised of: 1) rye + ryegrass; 2) triticale + ryegrass; or 3) oat + ryegrass to growing beef cattle housed at the UF-FEF.  Figures 1 and 2, above, illustrate the procedures followed. This was a very labor intensive enterprise, with daily chopping of forage and transport from the pasture to cattle housed in the Feed Efficiency Facility (UF-FEF), thus we restricted the data collection each year to a total of 28 days: 14 days of adaptation, and 14 days of intake and digestibility measurements. As can be seen in the summary below (Figure 3) the digestibility of oat + ryegrass or triticale + ryegrass was superior to that of rye + ryegrass in this two-year trial. Also note the digestibility of these winter forages is quite high (approx. 80% TDN), which can be comparable to the energy provided when feeding corn gluten feed to cattle.

Figure 3. Total tract OM digestibility of various winter annuals fed as greenchopped forages (OAT was Horizon 201, RYE was FL 401, TRIT was Trical 342 triticale, and RG was Prine ryegrass).

Figure 3. Total tract organic matter (OM) digestibility of various winter annuals fed as greenchopped forages (OAT was Horizon 201, RYE was FL 401, TRIT was Trical 342 triticale, and RG was Prine ryegrass).

Take Home Message

As for when and if to plant, it all really depends on when and how much rain you get.  The later in the season you have to wait, the shorter the grazing season and the lower the return on investment.  Hopefully adequate rain will come soon.  When deciding on which winter annuals to plant, take into consideration the tools made available by the University of Florida in terms of varieties with both optimal yield potential and nutritional quality. When comparing some of the most common winter annual grazing systems in central and north Florida, the combination of either oats or triticale (at 85 lb/ac each ) with ryegrass (15 lb/ac) seems to have a greater digestibility than the combination of rye (70 lb/ac) and ryegrass (15 lb/ac). The high digestibility in these annual forages certainly contributes to the average daily gains (ADG) observed in some of our studies, where cattle grazing the mixtures containing oats and triticale gained an average of 2.1 lb/d over a 112 day period.



Author: ndilorenzo – ndilorenzo@ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/11/11/which-winter-annual-should-you-plant-for-optimal-cattle-performance/

Skunkvine – A Stinky Invasive Plant

Skunkvine – A Stinky Invasive Plant

Skunkvine illustration. UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants.

Skunkvine illustration. UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants.

North Florida gardeners have many non-native, invasive plants to deal with, but none quite as stinky as skunkvine (Paederia foetida). As the name implies, skunkvine has a noticeable smell, especially when the leaves are crushed, and it is an aggressive-growing vine, capable of smothering desirable landscape plants. Gardeners should learn to recognize and control this plant before it gets a foothold in the garden.

Skunkvine is native to eastern and southern Asia and a member of the coffee family (Rubiaceae). It was introduced to Florida prior to 1897 as a potential fiber crop, but quickly spread and is now considered a Category I invasive plant by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC) and as a noxious weed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences (FDACS).

Skunkvine can be identified by the following characteristics:

  • Aggressive twining vine
  • Leaves are opposite each other
  • There is a thin flap of tissue on the stem between the leaves
  • Leaves have a strong skunk-like odor when crushed
  • Clusters of small, tubular, lilac-colored flowers appear in late summer to fall
  • Fruits are shiny brown and can persist through winter


Skunkvine flowering. Photo by Ben Ferrin (UF/IFAS).

Skunkvine flowering. Photo by Ken Ferrin, UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Used with permission.


Once you have identified skunkvine in your garden, the next step is to work to remove it. For small patches, pulling by hand can be effective but will require monitoring to ensure it doesn’t resprout. When hand pulling, you want to be sure to get as much of the root as possible. For larger areas, chemical control using herbicide products that contain triclopyr, imazapic, or aminopyralid are most effective. Carefully reading the product label will help determine which product to purchase.

Since skunkvine can be easily spread by seed and fragments of stem, care must be taken when disposing of it. The best solution is to place plant debris into a trash bag and dispose of it with your regular household garbage.

By knowing how to identify and manage skunkvine, north Florida gardeners can keep it from stinking up their own gardens, their neighbor’s gardens, and surrounding natural areas that support our native wildlife.



Langeland, K. A., Stocker, R. K., and Brazis, D. M. 2013. Natural Area Weeds: Skunkvine (Paederia foetida). Agronomy Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. EDIS document SS-AGR-80.


Author: Mark Tancig – tancig00@ufl.edu

Mark Tancig

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/08/20/skunkvine-a-stinky-invasive-plant/

Determining Optimal Plant Populations for Your Variable Rate Planter

Determining Optimal Plant Populations for Your Variable Rate Planter

You’ve spent good money on precision ag, GPS guided equipment.  Your rows are planted straight, your pesticide sprays are very precise, and you have improved harvest efficiency.  You’re set up for variable rate planting and you have a yield monitor, but aren’t quite sure what else to do with them?  Here are some ideas to use your existing technology to further increase the efficiency of your farm.

Let’s say you’ve always planted a certain crop population (# of plants / acre) like the guidelines for 36″ rows in the chart below, but you know that some areas of your field are more productive than others.  It makes sense to plant the more productive areas with a higher population, and the weaker areas with a lower population.  The problem is you really don’t know the ideal plant populations for these different areas of your field?Mulvaney Plant Pop ChartStart with a map of your field.  I recommend choosing a field with large variability, because your return will be greater.  Pencil in the areas of high and low productivity. (There are other ways to delimit your field, such as by soil type or zone mapping.)  Your map might look something like this:

Figure 1. Divide your field into zones. This example map is based on experience with zones of high, low, and medium productivity. Zones could be by soil type, zone mapping, or grid sampling.

Figure 1. Divide your field into zones. This example map is based on experience with zones of high, low, and medium productivity. Zones could be by soil type, zone mapping, or grid sampling.

Now choose some rates that you’d like to try.  Suppose your usual population is 34,000 plants/ac.  You want to choose some higher populations and lower populations.  Let’s say 30k, 36k, 42k and 48k plants/ac.  You want to select populations that will give yield loss at both ends of the extreme so that you can find the sweet spot in the middle.

You need to repeat each of those populations in each zone so that we can get a good average yield for each zone.  In this example, you’ll repeat four times.  So you have four populations repeated four times in each zone, for 16 ‘plots’ in a zone.  Randomize the populations across each zone.

Now it’s time to fit those plots on the map.  It’s best to have larger plots so we can see the data on the yield monitor; 100’ x 100’ plots are a good size, but just a suggestion.  If you have a 4-row planter on 36” rows, eight passes will make a 96’ wide plot.  So we’ll make our plots 96’ wide by 100’ long out of convenience.  So now our map looks something like this:

Figure 2. Four populations repeated four times in each zone. Bring this map to your dealer with a USB drive. Note that the lower number in each plot is the population. You’ll also note that we could not fit four replications in the ‘medium’ zone, but we’ve fit in what we could.

Figure 2. Four populations repeated four times in each zone. Bring this map to your dealer with a USB drive. Note that the lower number in each plot is the population. You’ll also note that we could not fit four replications in the ‘medium’ zone, but we’ve fit in what we could.

Now bring this map to your dealer, who should be happy to help write the prescription for you using the right software package for your planter.  Bring a USB drive with your field on it.  Ideally, they should be able to work with your map, hand it back to you when it’s ready (they may need some time), so you can plug it into your display, and the planter will know what to do.  The dealer may need to visit your field to mark out boundaries.  Regardless, the map they give you would look something like this:

Figure 3. An example of the prescription map you’ll get back from the dealer. This information will be on the USB drive, so your planter will automatically plant the correct populations in each area.

Figure 3. An example of the prescription map you’ll get back from the dealer. This information will be on the USB drive, so your planter will automatically plant the correct populations in each area.

Prior to harvest, make sure your yield monitor is calibrated, or all your work will be for nothing.  After harvest, overlay your yield map with your plant populations, and average each population within a zone.  The data for each zone might look like this (this data is fictitious):

Figure 4. We have identified the optimal plant population range in this example zone for that year.

Figure 4. We have identified the optimal plant population range in this example zone for that year.

The solid blue line are the actual data, which would lead us to think that 36,000 plants/ac is the best population for this zone.  If you enter the data into Excel, it can generate a curve on the graph (the dotted line). To determine the optimal population for this zone, you can find the maximum yield on the curve and draw a line down to the population, which is about 40,000 plants/ac (solid arrow line), which corresponds to a little over 250 bu/ac.

You will now know, for that year, that your optimal plant population in that zone was 36,000 to 40,000 plants/ac.  Repeat this for at least three years to get a good idea of what your populations should be for each zone.

If you want assistance setting this type of on-farm trial, contact your county extension agent, so they can set up an appointment with me to develop something that will work for your farm.



Author: Michael Mulvaney – m.mulvaney@ufl.edu

Cropping Systems Specialist, University of Florida, West Florida Research and Education Center, Jay, FL

Michael Mulvaney

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/08/05/determining-optimal-plant-populations-for-your-variable-rate-planter/

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