Tag Archive: Summer

Boating Safety Tips for REEL Summer Fun!

Boating Safety Tips for REEL Summer Fun!

Anticipation of the catch is what thousands of Panhandle boaters will have on their minds as they leave the docks this summer for a day of fishing. However, a hasty departure in their excitement to get to that favorite spot may be the recipe for an outing some would prefer to forget; or worse, a tragedy that could have been prevented.

Inshore fishing near Pensacola Pass
Photo: Molly O’Connor

Here are a few things to consider when planning a day on the water that will greatly increase your odds of having success in what matters most; a fun day and safe return for all. Heck, you can always make up some fish stories.

Equipment Check: A basic safety check involves many key aspects that can make or break a trip.

Trailer: (current tag, tires, lights, tie downs, safety chain and winch condition)
Boat: (current registration, navigation gear, vhf radio, motor condition, fuel/oil check, navigation lights, battery, anchor and rope, boat plugs, paddles)
Safety equipment: (flares, fire extinguisher, personal flotation, emergency locator beacon, sound producing device)
Tools: (basic kit with vice grips, needle nose pliers, wire cutters, screw drivers, adjustable wrench, etc.)
Miscellaneous: (sun screen, food, hat, rain gear, polarized glasses, drinking water, cell phone, dry bag, first-aid kit, medicine)
Fishing gear and bait, of course! (Insert garage full of “stuff” here)

Refer to this Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) LINK to know the legal requirements for safety gear on the size vessel you will be using. These vary depending on the length and design of the hull. In addition, the FWC provides information on the Boating Safety Education Course that is a requirement for anyone born on or after January 1, 1988; and a good idea for us “more mature” folks too.

Even if you are not taking to the water in a powerboat, many of the same common-sense and legal requirements apply to personal watercraft, kayaks and canoes. This FWC LINK provides the requirements for class-A recreational vessels less than 16 feet in length and canoes and kayaks.

In addition to all of the “stuff” you’ll need for a good day, you should also have knowledge of the waters that you will be boating on. Appropriate navigational charts are important but first-hand knowledge is always the best. If you are not familiar with the area you are boating on, at least talk to someone you know who has been in that area. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to take along this friend, who would probably enjoy a day on the water too.

When you think about it, there really is a lot of stuff to keep up with when you are going out on the water as the responsible party. But the last thing you want to do is skimp on the safety aspects of your planned adventure. You would be better off to have left your favorite rod in the garage, next to your lucky hat.


Author: Erik Lovestrand – elovestrand@ufl.edu

Erik Lovestrand

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/06/03/boating-safety-tips-for-reel-summer-fun/

Bust Boredom and Extend Learning through Summer

4-H summer programs allow youth to explore a variety of topics- from animal science to robotics! Photo credit: Heather Kent, UF IFAS Extension

With the end of the school year approaching, many parents are puzzling over what to do with their children during the 8-10 weeks of summer vacation.  Fortunately, 4-H has the solution to bust summertime boredom and extend learning while exploring a variety of topics- such as sewing, gardening, culinary arts or even robotics and engineering.  4-H camps are different from most other camping programs because they are framed around the essential elements of positive youth development and are intentionally structured to promote the development of life and workforce skills such as communication, decision-making and appreciation of differences.  4-H camps are staffed by caring teen and adult volunteers who have been screened, oriented and trained according to federal and state law, and incorporate best practices for risk management to insure a physically and emotionally safe environment.  The connection of 4-H to land grant universities like the University of Florida also means that camp curriculum is based on the best knowledge available about any given project utilizing inquiry and learn-by-doing methods.

Below you can find a list of day camps that will be offered throughout the Florida panhandle. Counties also offer week long overnight camps at Camp Timpoochee or Camp Cherry Lake.  In addition to camp, 4-H offers overnight leadership experiences for middle school and high school youth, such as Intermediate State (June 2-4th), 4-H Legislature (June 26-30th), and 4-H University (July 31-August 3rd).  Click on the county links below for more information or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.


  • Tailgating Grilling Workshop, June 5-9, 1pm – 5pm
  • Bots by the Bay, July 5-7, AF youth (active duty, guard, reserve or retired) age 13-15, 8am-6pm
  • Bots by the Bay, July 10-14, AF youth (active duty, guard, reserve or retired) age 16-18, 8am-6pm


  • Beginner Sewing Day Camp, June 13-15, 9AM -3PM
  • Breakfast Day Camp, June 21-22; 9AM-3PM
  • Tailgate Day Camp- July 5-9, 9AM-3PM
  • Intermediate Sewing Day Camp- July 18 and 20, 9AM-3PM
  • CSI Day Camp- July 17 and 19th, 9AM-3PM


  • Sew Fun, Sew Easy, June 26-30th, 8AM-5PM
  • Marvels of Engineering, July 25-28th, 8AM-5PM
  • Farm to Table: the Youth Experience, July 6th– 8AM-5PM
  • Youth Poultry Clinic- July 8th, 8AM-5PM


  • Poultry Perfection- June 2nd, 9:30AM-2PM
  • Cloverbud Crazy Art Day Camp- June 8th– 8AM-2PM
  • Tailgating Grilling Workshop- June 27-29th, 8AM-3PM
  • Animal Science Field Day- July 11th, 8AM-4PM
  • Junk Drawer Robotics Day Camp- July 25-27, 9AM-3PM


  • Poultry Perfection- June 2nd, 9:30AM-2PM
  • Tailgating Day Camp- June 5-7th, 8AM-12PM
  • Equine Clinic- June 13th, 9AM-3PM
  • Livestock Nutrition Workshop- June 29th, 9AM-2PM
  • Poultry Day Camp- July 7th– 9AM-3PM
  • Goat Workshop- July 13st- 9AM-3PM
  • Livestock Skillathon Camp- July 17th-19th, 8:30AM-11:30AM
  • Robotics Camp- July 25th-27th– 9AM-3PM


  • Wildlife Day Camp- July 10-15th
  • Cloverbud Camp- July 18-21st
  • 8-9 year old camp- June 5-9th
  • Cooking 101- August 2-4th
  • Reading Makes Cents- June 14-16th


  • Farm your Backyard Camp- June 27th-30th, 9AM-4PM
  • Sewing for All Skill Levels (FULL- call to be placed on the waiting list)
  • Junk Drawer Robotics Day Camp- July 25-27th, 9AM-4PM
  • Wildlife Explorers Camp- July 10-14th (FULL- call to be places on the waiting list)
  • Tailgate Grilling Camp- June 27-29th– (FULL- call to be places on the waiting list)
  • #Adulting- June 15, June 22, July 6, July 13th– 9AM-4PM
  • Poultry Day Camp- July 7tth 9AM-5PM (FULL- call to be places on the waiting list)
  • Gardening for Cloverbuds (5-7 year olds)- July 14th, 8:30AM-12PM


  • Tailgate Grilling Workshop, June 27, 28 & 29
  • Entomology Day Camp- July 11-12th
  • Robotics Day Camp- July 25-27th
  • 21st Century 4-H Day Camps- a variety of topics taught over the summer for youth enrolled in the 21st Century Learning programs at Tolar and Hosford schools


  • Cooking Camp- June 12-14th, 9AM-3PM
  • Gourmet Cooking Camp with Mr. John- June 15th-16th, 9AM-3PM
  • 101 Sewing Camp- July 10-12, 8AM-5PM
  • All About Animals- July 24-26th, 8AM-2PM
  • Insect Camp- July 19-21, 9AM-3PM


  • Tailgator Day Camp- July 10-12th, 8:30AM-4PM
  • Sew Fantastic Day Camp- July 6th
  • Cloverbud Chefs Extreme Cuisine- June 7-8
  • 4-H Extreme Cuisine- June 27th– 29th; 8:30AM-4PM
  • Ag-Ventures, July 18-19th, 8:30AM-4PM
  • Build a Bot Day Camp- July 25-27th, 9AM-4PM


  • Poultry Perfection Workshop- June 2; 9:30 am-2 pm
  • Tailgate Grilling Workshop, June 27, 28 & 29, 8 am-Noon
  • Beef Research Center Workshop- July 11; 8 am-2pm

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/2017/05/17/bust-boredom-and-extend-learning-through-summer/

Plan to Reduce Summer Weeds

Plan to Reduce Summer Weeds

Remember last summer? The hot, dry days.  Grass drying up and turning brown.  Yet, the weeds are green and doing fine.  However, every herbicide label warns against applying when the temperatures are above 85 degrees and especially under drought conditions.  Those weeds flourished and dispersed seed everywhere.  Now, they are just sitting there ready to sprout again.

It’s time to start thinking about weed prevention.  Pre-emergent herbicides need to be applied prior to seed germination.  Late winter is the time to focus on summer annual weeds.  The narrow window of application is challenging.  Homeowners often wait too late into spring to put out preventative products.  A general rule of thumb for pre-emergent herbicide timing is February 15 – March 1 in North Florida.

However, weed seeds germinate in response to soil temperature, not calendar dates.  By monitoring day time temperatures, one can determine a more effective application date.  When there are 4-5 consecutive days that reach 65 to 70 degrees weeds will germinate.  This generally coincides with the first blooms appearing on azaleas and dogwood.  With a warm winter it may occur as early as mid-January.

Some of the active ingredients in pre-emergent herbicides include dithiopyr, isoxaben, oryzalin, pendimethalin, prodiamine and simazine.  Always read the label for specific weed controlled and observe all directions, restrictions and precautions.

Weed and feed products that contain nitrogen are not suitable as pre-emergent herbicides.  Irrigation before and after application is necessary to activate these products.  The chemical binds to soil particles, creating a barrier that remains effective for 6-12 weeks.  Reapplication will be necessary for season long control, especially with constantly fluctuating winter temperatures.  Now is the time to purchase pre-emergent herbicides and prepare to apply them. For more information on weed control in lawns go to: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep141


Author: Sheila Dunning – sdunning@ufl.edu


Sheila Dunning

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/02/04/plan-to-reduce-summer-weeds/

Summer Blue Flowers Enjoyed by People and Bees

Summer Blue Flowers Enjoyed by People and Bees

VitexThe showy chaste tree makes an attractive specimen as the centerpiece of your landscape bed or in a large container on the deck. Easy-to-grow, drought resistant, and attractive to butterflies and bees, Vitex agnus-castus is a multi-stemmed small tree with fragrant, upwardly-pointing lavender blooms and gray-green foliage.  The chaste tree’s palmately divided leaves resemble those of the marijuana (Cannabis sativa) plant; its flowers can be mistaken for butterfly bush (Buddleia sp.); and the dry, darkened drupes can be used for seasoning, similar to black pepper, making it a conversation piece for those unfamiliar with the tree.

Vitex, with its sage-scented leaves that were once believed to have a sedative effect, has the common name “Chastetree” since Athenian women used the leaves in their beds to keep themselves chaste during the feasts of Ceres, a Roman festival held on April 12.  In modern times, the tree is more often planted where beekeepers visit in order to promote excellent honey production or simply included in the landscape for the enjoyment of its showy, summer display of violet panicles.vite_ag8bee

Chaste tree is native to woodlands and dry areas of southern Europe and western Asia. It will thrive in almost any soil that has good drainage, prefers full sun or light shade, and can even tolerate moderate salt air. Vitex is a sprawling plant that grows 10-20 feet high and wide, that looks best unpruned.  If pruning is desired to control the size, it should be done in the winter, since it is a deciduous tree and the blooms form on new wood.  The chaste tree can take care of itself, but can be pushed to faster growth with light applications of fertilizer in spring and early summer and by mulching around the plant.  There are no pests of major concern associated with this species, but, root rot can cause decline in soils that are kept too moist.



Author: Sheila Dunning – sdunning@ufl.edu


Sheila Dunning

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/06/23/summer-blue-flowers-enjoyed-by-people-and-bees/

May and T.S. Colin Weather Summary and Summer Outlook

National Weather Service estimates for rainfall across the Florida Panhandle in May 2016.

National Weather Service estimates for rainfall across the Florida Panhandle in May 2016.

May Rainfall

May was a more typical rainfall month for the Panhandle with El Niño disappearing.  In the graphic above you can see that only small portions of northern Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties received more than 8″ for the month, while the areas in green less than 2″.  Most of the region ranged from 2-5″ in May 2016.

16 May Panhandle FAWN Rainfall 2The Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN) stations recorded rainfall in May that ranged from a low of 1.7″ at the Marianna station to a high of 3.7″ in Monticello.  Only the Monticello station recorded rainfall totals above historic averages for these six locations.  All six stations average 2.5″ for May 2016.

Through the first five months of 2016, the five stations averaged 25.3″ (Quincy had a gauge error in parts of March and April).  Monticello had the highest rainfall total so far in 2016 with a total of 28.6″, and the lowest total of 20.3″ was recorded at the Carrabelle station.  All 5 stations averaged 25.3″ from January through May.  Only the Marianna site was slightly below average for the year, with the Monticello almost 6″ above the historic average for this location.

May Temperatures

16 May Marianna FAWN Summary

Temperatures climbed up significantly in May, with an average air temperature of 73 and an average soil temperature of 82.  The data gathered at the Marianna station shows the wide variation of temperatures, however, ranging from a low of 48° to a high of 94° in May.

Tropical Storm Colin

Rainfall that came the first week of June associated with Tropical Storm Colin.

Rainfall that came the first week of June associated with Tropical Storm Colin.

In most of the Panhandle, Tropical Storm Colin brought much needed rain for the region.  While not included in the weekly drought monitor, most of the Panhandle was starting to really dry out. The areas around Tallahassee, Gainesville, Palatka, and Tampa received more than 7″ with this storm, but most of North Florida had 2-5″ over the past week.

FAWN 7-day rainfall data the first week of June with Tropical Storm Colin.

FAWN 7-day rainfall data the first week of June with Tropical Storm Colin.

The FAWN stations show how some areas of Florida had much higher rainfall totals associated with this storm than most of the Panhandle.  The Bronson FAWN station recorded 9.9″, Putnam Hall 9.1″, Monticello 8.1″, and Dover 7″ over the past seven days.

Summer Outlook

Climate Prediction Center's outlook for June through August weather.

Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for June through August weather.

The climate prediction center is expecting temperatures to climb up over the next three months, but makes no projection for rainfall in the Southeast.

El Niño to La Niña

The 2015-16 El Niño is officially over.  There is still a good chance of a weak to moderate La Niña developing this summer or fall, but as of right now the official stage is neutral.  La Niña may bring good news for crop harvest this year, but may not be as favorable for winter crop and forage production.

El Niño dissipated and ENSO-neutral conditions returned in May.   ENSO-neutral conditions are present and La Niña is favored to develop during the Northern Hemisphere summer 2016, with about a 75% chance of La Niña during the fall and winter 2016-17.  Climate Prediction Center



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.

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/06/11/may-and-t-s-colin-weather-summary-and-summer-outlook/

Summer Hive Management for Panhandle Beekeepers

Summer Hive Management for Panhandle Beekeepers

Hive maintenance must be top priority for beekeepers during the summer months.

Hive maintenance is a high priority for beekeepers during the summer months.

It’s harvest time for many choice honey crops. That means it’s also time to plan for hive maintenance concerning next year’s harvest.

Summer is great time for hive maintenance, as there are limited active pollen producing plants. So, honey production will be at a minimum. Therefore, integrated pest management is a top priority. Beware, Varroa mites and small hive beetles are very active during summer months.

In June and July, the pesky Varroa mite populations begin to grow, so this is a good time to monitor colonies closely and treat if necessary. There are a number of treatment options such as Apiguard or MiteAway II.

August is a tricky time of year for beekeepers. The threat of Varroa mites should still be monitored, as well as small hive beetles. There are two viable chemical controls for small hive beetles. Gard Star, a soil drench pesticide for the perimeter, and Check Mite +, a strip of material dosed with pesticide placed around the hive, are both effective. As for all pesticide usage, it is important to follow the product direction label.

American or European foulbrood caused by a spore forming bacteria, is by far the most damaging disease that can occur to a hive. However, if found early, the hive can be treated with Terramycin dust. Colonies will likely need to be feed during this time as well, especially if the size of the colony has decreased. Also, it’s quite hot in the Panhandle at this time. Be sure that the hive is well ventilated.

Remember, Florida black bears are active this time of year. Although they pose a minor threat to bee colonies, it’s always wise to have preventative measures in place. Investing in an electric fence is probably the best deterrent. However, for nuisance bear issues please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922.

Other than integrated pest management strategies, some beekeepers also replace their queen in late summer or early fall on an annual basis. New queens lay at a higher rate than older ones. The result is a larger population of worker bees, which increases honey production.

The Florida Beekeeper Management Calendar is a handy guide that every beekeeper should possess. The calendar includes recommendations for major management considerations like when to treat for parasites or pathogens, and the local flora in bloom at that time. This management calendar is NOT exhaustive. It is meant merely as a reference or starting point for honey bee colony management in Florida.

Following these hive management measures will help ensure your honey production will yield great results year after year.

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

Florida Beekeeper Management Calendar
by Dr. James D. Ellis and C.M. Zettel Nalen



Author: Ray Bodrey – rbodrey@ufl.edu

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

Ray Bodrey

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/06/11/summer-hive-management-for-panhandle-beekeepers/

More Grazing Dishes for the Summer Salad Bar

More Grazing Dishes for the Summer Salad Bar

 Figure 1. Jed Dillard, Jerfforson county Extension kneels in a pasture of Tifleaf 3 millet and cowpeas that awere no-till drilled into ryegrass and red clover.

Figure 1. Jed Dillard, Jerfforson county Extension kneels in a pasture of Tifleaf 3 millet and cowpeas that were no-till drilled into ryegrass and red clover.

We’ve heard “North Florida can grow forage 365 days a year!” for ages, and that’s true. However, those of us who’ve carried livestock through more than one winter with our own money, or worse, a bank’s money, know that it’s just not that simple. The long-time goal of getting grazing from fall seeded winter annuals by Thanksgiving seems as elusive as Bigfoot in many years. Records from state climatologist, Dr. Dave Zierden, show May has become increasingly dry over the years

Typical forage programs are based on Bermuda or Bahia grasses and some type of winter supplement such as hay, commodity feeds, protein feeds, or winter annuals. Of course costs vary, and each operation has a unique set of resources, requirements and opportunities. Use your head and your pencil to decide what works best for your situation.

One of the more common strategies is to graze winter annuals as protein and energy supplements, either on a prepared seedbed or overseeded on permanent pastures. Prepared seed beds work best for cereal grains (Oats, rye, triticale, wheat), and clovers and ryegrass are preferred for overseeding. However, clover and ryegrass can be also combined effectively with cereal grains to extend the grazing season on prepared land.

Generally, grazing crops on prepared land is converted to cash crops in the spring. Corn ground goes first, followed by peanuts and cotton. Soybeans and sorghum can go in early or late.  If row crops aren’t in the immediate future for your land, what are your options as the days warm and dry weather hits you in May? I’ve seen a variety of options recently. Take a look and see if these might work for you, especially as you plan for next year

Clover Mixtures

Take advantage of the complementary growth periods of clover and other cool season legume varieties. The peak production begins with common vetch followed generally by crimson clover, ball clover, hairy vetch, arrow leaf clover, red clover and white clover. All these can be broadcast into dormant or short permanent pasture. Figure 2. shows a mixture of legumes that were broadcast into Bahiagrass that already had ryegrass and crimson clover reseeding in it. The mixture includes, common vetch, hairy vetch, arrow leaf clover and Osceola white clover; the photo was taken in mid-May. The white and arrow leaf clover and white clover are still going today, and red clover would have extended the blend even further.

Figure 2. A broadcast mix of legumes in Mid-May Photo Credit: Jed Dillard

Figure 2. A broadcast mix of legumes in Mid-May
Photo Credit: Jed Dillard


The bane of row crop farmers and a primary source of income for the lawn pesticide industry, crabgrass fills one of our grazing gaps as winter annuals play out on prepared seedbeds. It can last into August with decent rainfall and fertility. It’s a high quality forage and frequently is already a part of the seed bank in many North Florida fields. Improved varieties of crabgrass are available. Hay growers won’t want it as it doesn’t dry at the same rate as Bermuda, but grazers should capitalize on the opportunity.  Clovers and crabgrass are the simplest options to implement for the May – July window, but overseeding with a no-till drill opens up several more options on winter annuals that were planted on prepared land.

Figure 3. Tifleaf 3 Millet emerging in Oats and Clover in Late April Photo Credit: Jed Dillard

Figure 3. Tifleaf 3 Millet emerging in Oats and Clover in Late April
Photo Credit: Jed Dillard

No Till Annuals

Pearl millet is the most common summer annual in our area, and the photos show two approaches. Figure 3. shows millet coming up in oats and clover in late April. This approach provides continuous availability of high quality forage, but requires the ability to use grazing to manage the competition between the two plantings. Close grazing of the growing crop allows the emergence of the millet. After emergence and during the transition to millet grazing, management must find the balance between allowing the millet enough light and grazing the millet too hard, too soon.  Figure 4. was taken in early June shows a field of Southern Bell red clover with Tifleaf 3 millet and iron clay peas no tilled into it. With proper grazing management, this mix can last into late summer.  These options run the gamut from requiring hardly any equipment to the use of high dollar no till drills, and you need to make your own financial decisions based on your own financial situation.

Figure 4. Allen Skinner, Suwanee Co.

Figure 4. Allen Skinner, Suwannee County in millet, cow peas and red clover in early June. Photo Credit: Joel Love

As you examine your situation think of these questions:

  • Does a no till drill cost more than a hay baler, cutter, rake and fluffer?
  • How many times would you need to go over your land per year with a no till drill versus a hay baler, cutter, etc.?
  • Would I rather my livestock harvest my forage, or would I rather cut, rake and bale it, haul it to the barn and then haul it back to my livestock?
  • Would I rather grow more of my nitrogen with legumes or buy it?

Growing forage 365 days a year? Check. Growing good forage economically 365 days a year? More thinking, maybe more work, maybe more money. These aren’t easy production decisions, and they’re even more complicated economic decisions. For further information on variety selection, seeding options, and financial considerations contact your local Extension Agent and/or see the following related UF/IFAS Publications:



Author: Jed Dillard – dillardjed@ufl.edu

Jefferson County Livestock and Natural Resources Agent with a commercial cow/calf background. My degree is in animal breeding, but I do more work wth forage systems. Long time clover/legume booster for both livestock and wildlife

Jed Dillard

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/06/11/more-grazing-dishes-for-the-summer-salad-bar/

Cotton Marketing News: A Watchful Summer Lies Ahead

Shurely header 6-3-16The 64-cent area (Dec16 futures prices) seems to be the limit that this market is willing to go at this point.  Additional positive market factors could take us to 66 cents—but 64 cents has been tested twice over the past month or so and the market shows no ability, or reason quite yet to push higher.

Shurley Dec Futures 6-3-16As we are now nearing the end of planting season and looking ahead over the summer months, factors that will impact prices include crop conditions, China’s reserve sales, and global cotton use or demand.  For the grower, the challenge will be if and when to take price protection, and if so, how to do it.  Just looking at the Dec16 chart, we can see potential for prices to fall to the 56 to 60 cent area under negative outlook scenarios.

Shurley planting progress 6-3-16After having caught up, planting is again running behind normal.  As of May 29, planting was 10 percentage points behind average for that date.  Texas (56% of expected US acres) was 15 points behind normal; North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia (6% of expected acres) were an average 13 points behind.  Georgia (12% of expected US acres) was just slightly behind normal.

Shurely rainfall 6-3-16

National Weather Service estimates of the percentage of normal rainfall for the past two weeks.

Rainfall over the past two weeks has been well below normal for most of the cotton area in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama; well above normal for the some areas of the Carolinas and Virginia, which has slowed planting but growers are getting caught up; and well above normal for most of Texas which has also slowed planting.  A large area of the Mid-South has also been above normal on rainfall, but planting has been on schedule.

Chinas government reserve sales now (as of June 2) total an estimated 2.75 million bales (equivalent 480-lb bales)—30% of the targeted total of 9.3 million bales through August.  This consists of approximately 1.3 million bales (47%) imported cotton and 1.45 million bales (53%) of China’s own cotton.

The proportion of sales consisting of imported cotton has declined.  This is because the volume of imported cotton offered for sale has dwindled to almost nothing.  One report suggests that sales of imported cotton from reserve would be limited to 300,000 metric tons—the equivalent of 1.31 million 480-lb bales.  Of the 2.75 million bales sold—74% has been bought by spinners, 24% by “local traders”, and 2% by “international traders”.

As these sales proceed further, if the limit has been reached of imported cotton, sales will be determined in part by the quality of and demand for domestic cotton in reserve and prices will respond accordingly.


Cotton News Sponsor

William Don Shurley, University of Georgia
229-386-3512 / donshur@uga.edu




Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/06/04/cotton-marketing-news-a-watchful-summer-lies-ahead/

Spring versus Summer Weaning for Fall Calving Cows

Spring versus Summer Weaning for Fall Calving Cows

Ona Cows

Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist

Cow calf producers with fall-calving cows have options as to the optimum date to wean the calves.  Traditionally fall-born calves are weaned at an older age than spring-born calves.  Late summer grass will usually allow cows to regain body condition before the next calving season begins in early September.  Questions may arise about any benefit to weaning the calves at 7 months of age in April rather than wait until early July when they are 9 to 10 months of age.

Oklahoma State University animal scientists evaluated weaning dates of 158 Angus fall-calving cows over a 4 year period.  Cows were allowed to nurse their calves for about 210 days (April Weaning) or 300 days (July Weaning).  All cows calved in September or October and were weaned in mid-April (April Wean) or mid-July (July Wean).  April-weaned young cows had greater re-breeding percentages (98.4% versus 89.3%) than July weaned young cows.  However, there was no advantage in the re-breeding performance of April-weaned mature cows  compared to July-weaned mature cows (90.2% versus 96.7%).  April-weaned cows were heavier and fleshier at calving than July weaned cows.

Calves weaned in July were 90 days older and 204 pounds heavier (642 lb versus 438 lb) when weaned than were the April-weaned calves.  The April-weaned calves were allowed to graze native pasture after weaning and weighed 607 pounds in mid July.  For most years, it appears more advantageous to delay weaning of calves born to cows 4 years or older to July, while considering April weaning for cows 3 years of age or younger.     Young cows in marginal (BCS=4) or thinner body condition would benefit from April weaning of the fall-born calves.

Source: Hudson and co-workers. Journal of Animal Science 2010 vol. 88:1577



Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/04/02/spring-versus-summer-weaning-for-fall-calving-cows/

The Giant Banana Spiders – part of our panhandle summer

The Giant Banana Spiders – part of our panhandle summer

The elongated body of the Golden Orb Weaver.  Photo: Molly O'Connor

The elongated body of the Golden Orb Weaver. Photo: Molly O’Connor

TELL ME NO!  Please tell me these huge spiders are not a part of our summer. People are afraid snakes… that’s a given – but there are just as many afraid of spiders.  Honestly, after years of leading field hikes into the north Florida environment, when we encounter a spider web on the trail I have heard more screams from the boys than from the girls.  But most are afraid and there nothing is more terrorizing than the huge, almost hand-size, Golden Orb Weaver (or banana spider).


The Golden Orb Weaver is one of 180 species of orb weavers from around the world; one from Australia is large enough to feed on small birds.  The local species is Nephila clavipes and is found throughout the southeastern United States; in the warmer months it may reach as far north as New England.  Female Orb Weavers are the really big ones you find on the webs.  Their body lengths can reach 2” (not including the extended legs) and the males are much smaller at 0.02”.  They have long inward pointing legs with hair-like tuffs at the joints.  These are very useful in web building.  They have the typical “red/yellow/black” coloration of a venomous animal and their mimics; but N. clavipes is no mimic… though mild, they do have venom. There is another orb weaver spider that is large a constructs large webs. This is the Black and Yellow Argiope (Agriope aurantia). One way to distinguish this spider from the Golden Orb is the “zig-zag” pattern it adds to its’ web near the center (where the spider spends a lot of its time).


The zig-zag pattern of the Black and Yellow Argiope spider helps to distinguish from the Golden Orb.  Photo: Molly O'Connor

The zig-zag pattern of the Black and Yellow Argiope spider helps to distinguish from the Golden Orb. Photo: Molly O’Connor


The name “Golden Orb” does not come from their body coloration but from the color of the silk produced for their webs.  It is believed that the yellow/golden color of this silk makes it difficult for others to see in open sunny areas.  Many hikers can attest to this… they are hard to see, until you become entangled… then become aware the large spider is very close and heading your way… then the scream.  N. clavipes can actually adjust the hue of yellow in the silk to match the sunlight conditions where it is building its web.  It is amazing to see how quickly they replace their large webs, over 3 feet in diameter, after they have been removed by people.  Actually they mend and move their webs regularly.  They tend to build them off ground, at eye level to the tree tops, in open areas near a line of trees.  I have actually seen one build the web across a dirt road between two stands of pines as if it were going to try and capture a truck!  Though species of Orb Weavers feed on small birds and snakes, N. clavipes prefers flying insects.  They do not wrap their prey in silk for later feeding, as many spiders do, but rather consume them almost immediately.  This may be because of a small slivery spider called Argyrodes.  This spider feeds on the captured food of other spiders.  N. clavipes feeding may be an adaptation to combat this kleptoparasitic spider.  Another interesting behavior I have noticed is when the heavy rains come.  I have noticed the web remains but the spiders leave.  I am not sure where they go, most likely a hiding spot nearby, but they do leave.


The fear of spiders is most likely similar to the fear of snakes… they are venomous.  Venom is used to kill prey and many times is not strong enough to kill humans, but the fact that some species can kill makes folks a bit nervous.  Despite local tales that say otherwise, the venom of N. clavipes is mild.  It is a neurotoxin, which can be potent, but the bite from this spider is not lethal.  The typical response is pain and redness at the site of the bite, blisters may form, but it is actually less potent than a bee sting.


Like many other species of spiders, the Golden Orb Weaver is a beneficial backyard creature consuming hundreds of biting (in some cases disease carrying) insects.  The large webs can be a nuisance around backyard patios and swimming pools but they can easily be moved to other locations with a rake or broom.  We have many of them in our yard, one out of my office window, and enjoy watching them work.  They are good panhandle neighbors.

For more information on these beneficial creatures visit:







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/2015/08/07/the-giant-banana-spiders-part-of-our-panhandle-summer/

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