Tag Archive: Problem

DNA Barcoding Our Way into Understanding the Lionfish Problem

DNA Barcoding Our Way into Understanding the Lionfish Problem

In the late 1980’s a few exotic lionfish were found off the coast of Dania Florida. I do not think anyone foresaw the impact this was going to have.  Producing tens of thousands of drifting eggs per female each week, they began to disperse following the Gulf Stream.  First in northeast Florida, then the Carolina’s, Bermuda, the Caribbean, and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.  The invasion was one of the more dramatic ones seen in nature.

The Invasive Lionfish

Lionfish are found on a variety of structures, both natural and artificial, and are known from shallow estuaries to depths of 1000 feet in the ocean. They are opportunistic feeders, engulfing whatever is within their range and fits in their mouths, and have few predators due to their neurotoxicity spines. These fish are well-designed eating machines with a high reproductive rate, and perfectly adapted to invading new territories, if they can get there.

 

And they got here…

 

Like so many other invasive species, humans brought them to our state. Some arrive intentionally, some by accident, but we brought them.  Lionfish came to Florida intentionally as an aquarium fish.  Beautiful and exotic, they are popular at both public aquariums and with hobbyists… Then they escaped.

 

So what now?

 

What impact will these opportunistic fish have on the local environment? On the local economy?

This is, in essence, the definition of an invasive species. The potential for a negative impact on either the ecosystem or local fishing is there.  We now know they are found on many local reefs, in many cases the dominant fish in the community.  We know they can produce an average of 25,000 fertilized per female per week and breed most of the year.  We also know they consume a variety of reef fish, about 70 species have been reported from their stomachs.

Over 70 species of small reef fish have been found in the stomachs of lionfish; including red snapper.
Photo: Bryan Clark

However, what impact is this having on local fisheries?

 

Well, we do know there have been more reports of fishermen catching them on hook and line. We also know that scientists are examining the DNA of their stomach content that cannot be identified visually, and some of the results indicate commercially valuable species are on the menu.

 

Area high school students are now conducting dissections using this same methodology. Under the direction of Dr. Jeff Eble, over 900 area high school students examined the stomach contents of local lionfish last year.  Students from Escambia, Gulf Breeze, Navarre, Pensacola, Washington, and West Florida high schools – along with Woodlawn Middle School – identified 16 different species in lionfish stomachs.  Of economic concern were snapper; 42% of the prey identified were Vermillion Snapper – 4% were Red Snapper.

 

Though the consumption of non-commercial species can affect the population of commercial ones, the direct consumption of commercial species is concerning. The commercial value of Vermillion Snapper landed in Escambia County in 2016 was about $ 800,000 (highest in the state).

 

This year two more high schools will participate in the dissection portion of this project; those being Tate and Pine Forest. These students need lionfish and we are seeking donations from local divers to help support this project.  If interested in helping, please contact me at roc1@ufl.edu or (850) 475-5230.

 

 

References

 

Dahl, K.A. W.F. Patterson III. 2014. Habitat-Specific Density and Diet of Rapidly Expanding Invasive Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans), Populations in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. PLOS ONE. Vol 9 (8). Pp. 13.

 

FWC Commercial Landing Summaries. 2017. https://public.myfwc.com/FWRI/PFDM/ReportCreator.aspx.

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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/2017/09/15/dna-barcoding-our-way-into-understanding-the-lionfish-problem/

Coastal Erosion–a problem with new solutions

Coastal Erosion–a problem with new solutions

Life on the Gulf Coast can be beautiful, but has its share of complications. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson, UF IFAS Extension

Life on the coast has tremendous benefits; steady sea breezes, gorgeous beaches, plentiful fishing and paddling opportunities. Nevertheless, there are definite downsides to living along it, too. Besides storms like Hurricane Harvey making semi-regular appearances, our proximity to the water can make us more vulnerable to flooding and waterborne hazards ranging from bacteria to jellyfish. One year-round problem for those living directly on a shoreline is erosion. Causes for shoreline erosion are wide-ranging; heavy boat traffic, foot traffic, storms, lack of vegetation with anchoring roots, and sea level rise.

 

Many homeowners experiencing loss of property due to erosion unwittingly contribute to it by installing seawalls. When incoming waves hit the hard surface of the wall, energy reflects back and moves down the coast. Often, an adjacent homeowner will experience increased erosion and bank scouring after a neighboring property installs a seawall. This will often lead that neighbor to install a seawall themselves, transferring the problem further.

Erosion can damage root systems of shoreline trees and grasses. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson, UF IFAS Extension

Currently, south Louisiana is experiencing significant coastal erosion and wetlands losses. The problem is compounded by several factors, including canals dredged by oil companies, which damage and break up large patches of the marsh. Subsidence, in which the land is literally sinking under the sea, is happening due to a reduced load of sediment coming down the Mississippi River. Sea level rise has contributed to erosion, and most recently, an invasive insect has caused large-scale death of over 100,000 acres of Roseau cane (Phragmites australis). Add the residual impacts from the oil spill, and you can understand the complexity of the situation.

 

Luckily, there are ways to address coastal erosion, on both the small and large scale. On Gulf and Atlantic beaches, numerous coastal communities have invested millions in beach renourishment, in which offshore sand is barged to the coast to lengthen and deepen beaches. This practice, while common, can be controversial because of the cost and risk of beaches washing out during storms and regular tides. However, as long as tourism is the #1 economic driver in the state, the return on investment seems to be worth it.

 

On quieter waters like bays and bayous, living shorelines have “taken root” as a popular method of restoring property and stabilizing shorelines. This involves planting marsh grasses along a sandy shore, often with oyster or rock breakwaters placed waterward to slow down wave energy, and allow newly planted grasses to take root.

 

Locally in Bayou Grande, a group of neighbors were experiencing shoreline erosion.  Over a span of 50 years, the property owners used a patchwork of legally installed seawalls, bulkheads, rip rap piles, private boat ramps, piers, mooring poles and just about anything else one can imagine, to reduce the problem. Over time, the seawalls and bulkheads failed, lowering the property value of the very property they were meant to protect and increasing noticeable physical damage to the adjacent properties.”

 

Project Greenshores is a large-scale living shoreline project in Pensacola. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson, UF IFAS Extension

In 2011, a group of neighboring property owners along the bayou decided to take action. After considering many repair options, the neighbors decided to pursue a living shoreline based on aesthetics, long-term viability, installation cost, maintenance cost, storm damage mitigation and feasibility of installation. By 2017, the living shoreline was constructed.  Oyster shell piles were placed to slow down wave energy as it approached the transition zone from the long fetch across the bayou, while uplands damage was repaired and native marsh grasses and uplands plants were restored to slow down freshwater as it flowed towards the bayou.  Sand is now accruing as opposed to eroding along the shoreline.  Wading shorebirds are now a constant companion and live oysters are appearing along the entire 1,200-foot length.  Additionally the living shoreline solution provided access to resources, volunteer help, and property owner sweat equity opportunities that otherwise would have been unavailable.  An attribute that has surprisingly appeared – waterfront property owners are now able to keep their nicely manicured lawns down to within 30 feet of the water’s edge.  At that point, the landscape immediately switches back to native marsh plants, which creates a quite robust and attractive intersection. (Text and information courtesy Charles Lurton).

 

Successes like these all over the state have led the Florida Master Naturalist Program to offer a new special topics course on “Coastal Shoreline Restoration” which provides training in the restoration of living shorelines, oyster reefs, mangroves, and salt marsh, with focus on ecology, benefits, methods, and monitoring techniques.  Keep an eye out for this course being offered near you. If you are curious about living shorelines and want to know more, reach out to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Ecosystem Restoration section for help and read through this  online document.

 

 

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Author: Carrie Stevenson – ctsteven@ufl.edu

Coastal Sustainability Agent, Escambia County Extension

Carrie Stevenson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/25/coastal-erosion-a-problem-with-new-solutions/

Trying to Solve the Marine Debris Problem

A variety of plastics ends up in the Gulf. Each is a potential problem for marine life. Photo: Rick O’Connor

Since the early 1970’s, when Chief Iron Eyes Cody shed a tear on a television commercial, we have been trying to reduce the amount of solid waste found along our beaches and within our waters.   Though numerous agencies and civic groups, led by the Ocean Conservancy, have held beach and underwater clean ups over the last few decades, the problem still exist.

 

However, we can say this – the problems have changed. Many groups collect data while they collect the debris to determine what, and how much, has been collected.  This information can give folks an idea of what the major issues are.  Because of this data, aluminum can pull-tabs and glass bottles are not as common as they once were.  Communities saw they were a large problem and either removed them from the market or developed ordinances that banned them from beaches – this is certainly a success story.  There are agencies and researchers who compile solid waste data to let people know what they are throwing away.  Once we know this, we can be more effective at reducing marine debris.

 

Solid waste is not just a problem for coastal beaches; it is problem throughout society. Landfills will fill up, and communities will then need another location, or a new method, to dispose of it.  Though the human growth rate has declined from 1.23% to 1.11% in the last decade, we are still growing and are currently at 7.5 billion humans on the planet.  Each human will require resources to survive and, thus, will generate waste that will need to be disposed of.  According to a paper published in 1990, humans were generating about 550 pounds of solid waste/person/year, which generated 1.3 billion tons of solid waste each year.  In 2009 that increased to 2.3 billion tons.

 

So how much of this solid waste is being recycled?

 

According to the U.S. EPA, 258 million tons of municipal solid waste was generated in the United States in 2014. 89 million tons (34%) was recycled.  This is an increase from the 30% reported in many environmental science textbooks 10 years ago and <20% 20 years ago.  Some states are doing much better than the national average, Washington reports they are now recycling 51.4% of their solid waste, and some nations are recycling more than 90% – so things are improving but there is room for improvement.

Recycling trends in the United States.
Source: U.S. EPA

What is the situation in the Pensacola Bay area?

 

A non-profit organization called Ocean Hour cleans selected beaches for one hour every weekend.  The team coordinates volunteers to help collect the debris by providing buckets, tongs, and gloves; they also dispose of the waste.  Part of their mission is to provide data on what they are collecting so that the community is aware of what their largest problems are.  Based on their data the top three items reported by volunteers for each year were:

 

Year #1 Item #2 Item #3 Item
2015

 

Cigarette butts Food wrappers Plastic bottles
2016 Plastic bottles Aluminum cans Cigarette butts

Foam

2017 (to date)

 

Cigarette butts Food wrappers Plastic and foam pieces

 

The graph produced from Ocean Hour’s data by Escambia County Division of Marine Resource Intern Ethan Barker, shows all of the items they have collected this year but the bulk of it is associated with smoking and eating. Marine biologist and artist Shelly Marshall used 1200 cigarette butts collected by the Ocean Hour team to create a 3-foot sea turtle she calls CIG.  She then used plastic bottles and plastic bottle caps, again collected by Ocean Hour, to create a 5-foot “bottle”nose dolphin called CAP.  Both of these pieces of marine debris art are displayed at different locations in the community, and at community events, to educate the public about our marine debris problems.

Marine debris collected by Ocean Hour during the first half of 2017.
Image: Ethan Barker

So what do we do about it?

 

That is really up to us. Again, agencies, researchers, and non-profits have been reporting on the problem for almost five decades now.  We will continue to produce waste, not much can be done there, but the question is what we will do with it.  The obvious answer is dispose of properly and recycle when we can.

 

Cigarette Butts

  • If you are a smoker, please dispose of your cigarette butt properly. There are “pocket ash trays” some folks use to keep the butt with them until they can find a place to dispose of it.

Food Wrappers – Foam

Much of the debris is related to eating – wrappers, plastic film, foam cups, straws, etc. Much of what we find is associated with this activity.

  • You can use your own cup and not the foam cups provided by food establishments
  • You can bring your own container to take leftovers home
  • If you have to purchase food and drink with all of the wrappers and foam, and I understand that there are times you must, then do your best to dispose of properly.

Ocean Hour will continue their efforts to remove the debris from area beaches. If you can, volunteer to help now and then.  You can find their schedule at https://www.oceanhourfl.com/.

 

If Ocean Hour is not conducting a clean up in your area, consider having your own. The Ocean Hour team can assist with the logistics of how to conduct one.

 

Again, we are not going to stop waste production – but maybe we can do better with waste disposal.

 

CIG is a sea turtle created by artist Shelly Marshall using 1200 cigarette butts collected by Ocean Hour in a 40 minute period on Pensacola Beach.
Photo: Cathy Holmes

CAP is a 4-5′ bottlenose dolphin created by artist Shelly Marshall from plastic bottles and bottle caps collected by Ocean Hour on Pensacola Beach.
Photo: Shelly Marshall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources:

 

Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures. 2017. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov/smm/advancing-sustainable-materials-management-facts-and-figures.

 

Al-Salem, S.M., P. Lettieri, J. Baeyens. 2009. Recycling and Recovery Routes of Plastic Solid Waste (PSW): A Review. Waste Management. Vol 29 (10). Pp. 2625-2643. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956053X09002190.

 

Miller, G.T., S.E. Spoolman. 2011. Living in the Environment; Concepts, Connections, and Solutions. Brooks/Cole Publishing. Belmont CA. 16th edition.  Pp. 674.

 

Solid Waste Recycling. 2016. Department of Ecology. State of Washington. http://www.ecy.wa.gov/beyondwaste/bwprog_swDiverted.html.

 

Sullivan, C. 2017. Human Population Growth Creeps Back Up. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/human-population-growth-creeps-back-up/.

 

WorldoMeters. 2017. http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/.

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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/2017/08/12/trying-to-solve-the-marine-debris-problem/

Technology at Camp = Problem Solvers

HughesNet and Florida 4-H have teamed up to help youth learn how to use science and technology to solve problems!

Most people think of camp as a break from the fast-paced technological world, but that’s not always the case.  With a $ 10,000 grant from HughesNet, Florida 4-H is introducing technology in a meaningful way across our state this summer!  As a result of the sponsorship, 340 youth will learn about the engineering design process, and how to use technology and engineering to solve real world issues such as energy, water and conservation.

 “We are grateful for the partnership with a technology leader like HughesNet to get more kids interested in how STEM affects our lives and offers great career paths,” said Michael Gutter, UF/IFAS associate dean for Extension and state program leader for 4-H youth development, families and communities. “Camp is a fun way to learn about STEM and a great way for youth to spend part of their summer.”

During one camp, youth learned how civil engineers design safe bridges to transport people, food and medical supplies. STEM in action!

STEM at Camp is part of a national effort by HughesNet and National 4-H Council to spark youth interest in STEM topics.  Florida was one of four states selected to receive a Summer Camp STEM grant. The other states include Illinois, Maine and Virginia. This is the third consecutive year that HughesNet has supported STEM at Camp programs and the first year that Florida has been a recipient of this funding.

Next week, Florida Panhandle youth have two camps to choose from: Bots by the Bay at 4-H Camp Timpoochee and Wildlife Camp in Monticello, Florida.  During Bots by the Bay camp, youth will learn how to program 3-dimensional printers to print, build and test robots and cars.  During Wildlife Camp, youth will learn how technology is used to protect natural resources and grow our agricultural industry.  Our goal is to spark an interest in using technology to solve real world problems that affect our food safety and supply, as well as our overall quality of life.

National 4-H Council and HughesNet are dedicated to sparking youth interest in STEM topics through hands-on, community-based STEM learning. In addition to STEM at Camp, HughesNet works with National 4-H Council to support STEM programs such as the 4-H Youth In Action STEM Pillar award, National Engineering Week and National Youth Science Day – the world’s largest youth-led STEM challenge.  This year’s experiment, Incredible Wearables, helps youth explore the world of wearable technology as the design, built and test a fitness monitor.  If you have a passion for technology, or simply like to help kids learn, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer.  For more information about 4-H, visit our website or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.

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Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/07/technology-at-camp-problem-solvers/

NISAW 2017: It is Common and Abundant, but Torpedo Grass is Still a Problem

Torpedo grass. Photo credit: Rick O’Connor.

They say the best time to attack an invasive species is early in its arrival. In the early stages is your best chance, using the most cost effective methods, of eradicating an invasive species from a region.  Hence our focus on Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) list.  That is not the case with Torpedo Grass.  It is now found in all Gulf coast states and along the Atlantic border to North Carolina.  In Florida, it has been reported from 64 of the 67 counties and has also been reported in California and Hawaii.  However, it is a problem plant and property owners should try to manage it as best they can.

 

There is a discussion as to the origins of torpedo grass (Panicum repens).  Some say Europe, others Australia, but we do know it is not native to the United States.  It was first introduced here in the late 19th century as a forage grass for livestock.  Being a tropical-subtropical plant, the introduction was in the southeastern U.S.  The young shoots have been selected by forging mammals, livestock and otherwise, but older plants become tough and the livestock ignore them for other species.  There are reports of waterfowl and songbirds using torpedo grass as habitat.  However, the cons out weigh the pros on this one.

 

Torpedo grass grows very quickly using underground rhizomes. Though they do produce seeds, these rhizomes, and their fragments, are the primary method of propagation for this plant.  It has been found that rhizomes buried as deep as 20 inches can sprout shoots.  This aggressive plant spreads quickly, outcompeting native grasses in disturbed areas.  They will displace forage grasses that livestock prefer and can inundate a pasture very quickly.  Though it is drought tolerant, torpedo grass prefers moist soils and can grow in water as deep as 6 feet.  Many property owners have used this grass to control shore erosion but here is where it has causes problems for others.  As on land, it grows very quickly.  Spreading across shallow waterways making them unnavigable.  It has caused problems with irrigation systems, stream flow, and flood control in some areas.  It has also invaded citrus groves and gold courses.

 

So how do we deal with this plant if it is on our property?

Torpedo Grass Photo Credit: Graves Lovell, Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, www.bugwood.org

 

Well, we know it is not a fan of cold weather, but we are in Florida; even north Florida is suitable for it. We know it will not survive extreme hot periods.  We can only hope that it will get warm enough to knock back large acres of this thing; but warm temperatures like this are not good for most plants in our area – or animals for that matter.  There are no known biological controls at this time.  So that means we turn to herbicides.

 

Experience has shown that herbicides alone will knock it back, but rarely eradicates it from the area. Chemicals that have had success are glyphosate and imazapryl.  In both cases, an aquatically registered surfactant may be needed for good results.  When the torpedo grass is in water, herbicide treatment can be a problem.  First, the chemicals used are non-selective and may kill plants you do not want to lose.  Second, mats of dead torpedo grass have been known to decrease dissolved oxygen levels (due to decomposition) to levels where fish kills can occur.  Some studies have found that burning a field of torpedo grass and then treating with both glyphosate and imazapryl has had some success.  Treating first and then burning has not been as successful, nor has leaving one of the three out of the program.

 

As common and aggressive as this grass is, you may feel any attempt to control is feudal, but doing nothing can be very costly as well. We recommend properties with patches of this grass begin treatments soon, and if you have very little – remove as soon as you can.  To learn more visit one of the following websites:

Torpedo grass in Aquatic Environments

Torpedo grass Management in Turf

 

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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/2017/02/28/nisaw-2017-it-is-common-and-abundant-but-torpedo-grass-is-still-a-problem/

Lack of Winter Chill a Problem for Fruit

Lack of Winter Chill a Problem for Fruit

Arapaho blackberry has chill requirements that match those received in our area. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension

Many of us are enjoying warmer temperatures this winter, but many deciduous fruit crops really need cold temperatures in order to break dormancy for the year.  In areas that experience cold temperatures, plants have evolved the ability to survive by slowing growth and protecting sensitive tissues by going dormant.  In order to break out of dormancy and begin growth again, plants experience an amount of chill hours (temps between 32 and 45 degrees F) that is suitable for specific areas.  In our area, we normally range between 400 and 600 chills hours.

If we choose a fruit plant whose chill requirements match the amount of chill in our area, the plant will generally resume growth when it is safe for buds and tender tissues to develop.  If we choose a plant with chill requirements higher than the amount our area receives, then the plant is not signaled to break dormancy and we end up with very sparse growth and no fruit.

So far in the winter of 2016-17, some areas have not received ‘normal’ amounts of chilling temperatures.  Common fruit like apple, peach, some blueberries, and certain selections of blackberries may be affected by this by not breaking out of dormancy.  This can impact your flower and fruit formation.  For commercial growers, it can impact the amount of fruit available and even fruit prices at markets.

Since fruit trees are an investment of time and money, these are not plants that can be easily replanted to match chill hours with changing weather patterns. Perhaps planting fruit crops with a range of chill hours required might be beneficial  Your future decisions to grow fruit trees may include crops that don’t rely as much on chill hours to be successful. For more information, please consult the Dooryard Fruit Varieties guide from UF / IFAS Extension.

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Author: Beth Bolles – bbolles@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Escambia County

Beth Bolles

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/02/14/lack-of-winter-chill-a-problem-for-fruit/

Coral Ardisia, A Pretty Problem

Coral Ardisia, A Pretty Problem

Coral ardisia is also known as coral berry, spice berry, and scratchthroat. It was introduced into Florida in the early 1900’s for ornamental purposes.

Coral ardisia. Photo credit: Les Harrison.

Coral ardisia. Photo credit: Les Harrison.

In the ensuing years it has since escaped cultivation and become established in hardwood hammocks and other moist woods of natural areas and grazing lands. Specimens have been collected from 19 western and south-central Florida counties as of 2004.

This evergreen sub-shrub reaches a height of 1.5 to six feet and tends to grow in multi-stemmed clumps. Leaves are alternate, 8 inches long, dark green above, waxy, without hairs, and have scalloped margins and calluses in the margin notches.

Flowers are typically pink to white in stalked axillary clusters, usually drooping below the foliage. The fruit is a bright red, globose, single-seeded berry, measuring approximately 0.25 inches in diameter. White-berried populations are also known to exist.

Coral ardisia is considered invasive. Control of coral ardisia may be accomplished by two methods. A low-volume foliar application of Garlon 4 or Remedy provides suppression of this plant. Complete foliar coverage is essential to success and retreatment will be necessary for complete control.

Basal bark applications with Garlon 4 or Remedy in an oil carrier can also be utilized for suppressing this invasive weed. Do not apply more than 8 quarts of Remedy or Garlon 4 per acre and treat no more than ten percent of the total grazed area if applying greater than two quarts per acre.

For more information:

Identification and Control of Coral Ardisia (Ardisia crenata): A Potentially Poisonous Plant

 

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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/2016/05/12/coral-ardisia-a-pretty-problem/

NISAW 2016 – Coral Ardisia, A Pretty Problem

NISAW 2016 – Coral Ardisia, A Pretty Problem

NISAW 2014 3 and half

Coral Ardisia (Ardisia crenata)

photo courtesy of Les Harrison

photo courtesy of Les Harrison

Coral ardisia is also known as coral berry, spice berry, and scratchthroat. It was introduced into Florida in the early 1900’s for ornamental purposes.

 

In the ensuing years it has since escaped cultivation and become established in hardwood hammocks and other moist woods of natural areas and grazing lands. Specimens have been collected from 19 western and south-central Florida counties as of 2004.

 

This evergreen sub-shrub reaches a height of 1.5 to six feet and tends to grow in multi-stemmed clumps. Leaves are alternate, 8 inches long, dark green above, waxy, without hairs, and have scalloped margins and calluses in the margin notches.

 

Flowers are typically pink to white in stalked axillary clusters, usually drooping below the foliage. The fruit is a bright red, globose, single-seeded berry, measuring approximately 0.25 inches in diameter. White-berried populations are also known to exist.

 

Coral ardisia is considered invasive. Control of coral ardisia may be accomplished by two methods. A low-volume foliar application of Garlon 4 or Remedy provides suppression of this plant. Complete foliar coverage is essential to success and retreatment will be necessary for complete control.

 

Basal bark applications with Garlon 4 or Remedy in an oil carrier can also be utilized for suppressing this invasive weed. Do not apply more than 8 quarts of Remedy or Garlon 4 per acre and treat no more than ten percent of the total grazed area if applying greater than two quarts per acre.

 

For more information contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office and read the following publication: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag281

 

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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/2016/02/22/nisaw-2016-coral-ardisia-a-pretty-problem/

Doveweed: A Warm Season Turf Problem Most Visible In Fall

Doveweed: A Warm Season Turf Problem Most Visible In Fall

Figure 1. Doveweed patch in St. Augustinegrass sod.

______________________Figure 1. Doveweed patch in St. Augustinegrass sod.__________________________

Ramon Leon, WFREC Weed Specialist

Doveweed (Murdannia nudiflora) is a summer annual weed species that belongs to the dayflower family. Over the last three years, this weed has become an important weed problem in residential lawns and sod production.

This weed has two key characteristics that make it successful. First, its seeds germinate late during the spring when soil temperatures reach 65-70°F. This represents a problem because at this time the effect of preemergence (PRE) herbicides applied in February or March might be too low to provide good doveweed control. Second, the leaves of this weed can be confused with St. Augustinegrass and centipedegrass leaves, and many people do not notice doveweed until the plants are large and are displacing the turf. Doveweed leaves are thick with a shiny rubbery texture. The plant produces creeping stems (stolons), and mowers can break these stolons spreading this weed across the field.

It is very important to keep in mind that doveweed prefers wet areas, so drainage issues or over-watering will favor the establishment and growth of this weed. For this reason, ensuring irrigation is not excessive is a key management practice to control this problem. Another cultural practice that plays a major role on doveweed management is mowing. Mowing too short and too frequently will favor doveweed because its leaves will grow horizontally avoiding the mower blades. Chose a mowing height that allows good ground cover , yet only removes a third of the turf leaf blades.

Figure 2. Individual doveweed plant showing flowers, fruits, and stolons with root in nodes.

___________Figure 2. Individual doveweed plant showing flowers, fruits, and stolons with root in nodes.________

Control

Doveweed is easier to control before emergence than when plants are well established.  Atrazine is one of the most effective herbicides to control doveweed. A maximum rate of 1 lb. of active ingredient (ai) per acre (A) and no more than 2 lb. ai per year are recommended to achieve both adequate control and avoid turfgrass injury. Atrazine should be applied right before or soon after doveweed emerges to maximize control.

For PRE control, S-metolachlor (Pennant Magnum™), dimethenamid-P (Tower™), and indaziflam (Specticle™) are herbicides that can considerably reduce doveweed establishment, especially if the application is done closer to doveweed emergence timing. These herbicides also provide good control of other important weed species such as crabgrass and goosegrass, which emerge earlier in the spring. In order to control early emerging weeds and doveweed, split applications are preferred. For example, the first application is done at the end of February or early March and the second one 4 to 6 weeks after. In this way, we can extend PRE control until doveweed starts emerging.

If we observe doveweed emerging after PRE applications, we have several postemergence (POST) herbicides that will provide control, as long as the plants are less than 2 inches in size and have not produced stolons. Products containing 2,4-D and dicamba can provide fair control of doveweed. However, repeated applications or applications in combination with other herbicides will be required for adequate control. There are commercial products with formulations that combine 2,4-D or dicamba with other herbicides such as mecoprop-p, carfentrazone (Quicksilver™), thiencarbazone and iodosulfuron (e.g., Celsius™, Tribute Total™). This type of three− or four−way combination can provide enhanced doveweed control.  If doveweed has fully displaced the turf in spots, it is probably easier and more effective to kill doveweed with a directed application of glyphosate (RoundUp™) and re-seed or re-sod the area.

Because doveweed seeds can live for several years in the soil, it will take two to three years of continuoous control to eliminate doveweed populations. Although herbicides are useful tools to control doveweed, the most important factor to prevent doveweed problems is to have vigorous healthy turf. Doveweed requires a lot of sunlight, so if the turf effectively shades the ground, doveweed will have a hard time growing and producing new seed.

For more information on managing turf weeds download:

2012 UF Turgrass Pest Control Guide

PG

Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu

admin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/12/04/doveweed-a-warm-season-turf-problem-most-visible-in-fall/

Fireweed: A Burning Problem for Farmers

Fireweed: A Burning Problem for Farmers

The fine hair along the stem puncture the skin and introduce the toxin.  Note the small flowers at the axils.  Source:  http://www.bio.utexas.edu/courses/bio406d/images/pics/urt/Urtica%20chamaedryoides.htm

The fine hairs along the stem of Fireweed puncture the skin and introduce the toxin. Note the small flowers at the axil. Source: http://www.bio.utexas.edu/courses/bio406d/images/pics/urt/Urtica%20chamaedryoides.htm

Fireweed (Urtica chamaedryoides), may not be a pasture weed that causes great economic losses from competition, but it can cause distress to people who come in contact with it in their pastures or around the farm.  Also known as heartleaf nettle, this plant is notorious for causing a burning sensation when it makes contact with bare skin.

Wendy B. Zomlefer shares in the publication “Stinging Nettles of Florida: Urtica” these details about the plant: “Irritant compounds (histamines and acetocholines) that cause reddening and intense itching fill the stiff, hypodermic-needle-like stinging hairs on the stem and leaves.  When the tip of the brittle, tubular hair is broken, pressure on the bulbous hair base injects the irritants into the skin. The usual reaction, reddening and intense itching, is usually of short duration, although sensitive individuals may experience some swelling and burning. Washing the affected area, or immediate application of baking soda paste soothes the stinging sensation for most people.”

Although it is a winter annual, it can become a prolific plant that is often found on disturbed ground and livestock loafing areas, often in the barnyard, around fencelines, or around the base of trees.  The leaves resemble that of a young strawberry plant.  It has square stems and pale green flower clusters that are not showy but produce viable seed.  The seed is surrounded by a sticky coating that adheres readily to mowers and animals.  As a result, fireweed can easily move from spot to spot on a farm.   According to the EDIS publication, Fireweed (Heartleaf Nettle) Control in Pastures, cattle tend to avoid it but horses may ingest it.  It is better to be safe than sorry, so livestock producers should take every precaution to keep themselves and their animals from coming into contact with it.

Picture of the Leaf Source: Wunderlin, R. P., and B. F. Hansen. 2008. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants (http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/).[S. M. Landry and K. N. Campbell (application development), USF Water Institute.] Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa.

Picture of the Leaves
Source: Wunderlin, R. P., and B. F. Hansen. 2008. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants (http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/).[S. M. Landry and K. N. Campbell (application development), USF Water Institute.] Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa.

This weed can be controlled rather easily with the right herbicide.  The following table clearly shows that Pasturegard HL, GrazonNext HL, and Remedy Ultra were the most effective for controlling the weed.  Although glyphosate is the most cost effective, it does not completely control the weed and it will leave bare patches on the treated area.

Dr. Sellers and Dr. Ferrell (UF IFAS Weed Scientists) have this to say about the chemical controls: “It is our recommendation that GrazonNext HL, Remedy Ultra (or comparable triclopyr ester product), or Pasturegard HL be used for effective control of fireweed. These herbicides can be applied any time of year to warm-season forage grasses. There are no grazing restrictions for beef cattle with these herbicides, but lactating dairy animals must be removed for 0 and 14 days with GrazonNext HL and Remedy Ultra, respectively, and one season for Pasturegard HL.”

Herbicide efficacy and cost to treat for fireweedMowing may seem like a good way to control this weed, but unfortunately it results in smaller plants with more stinging hairs.  Seed can adhere to the mower blades and be dispersed to non-affected areas.

For more information, use the following links:

Stinging Nettles of Florida: Urtica

Fireweed Control in Pastures

 

PG

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/2015/04/25/fireweed-a-burning-problem-for-farmers/

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