Tag Archive: Summer

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.

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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/

Summer Temperatures Shorten Gestation Length of Early Fall-calving Cows

Summer Temperatures Shorten Gestation Length of Early Fall-calving Cows

Start checking early bred cows and heifers early this fall.  Research at Oklahoma State documents that hot summer temperatures shorten gestation by six days in early bred fall calving cows.  Photo: Matt Hersom

Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist

Each year in August, it is time for an important reminder.  Fall-calving season is here.  In fact, the start of the fall calving season often begins before some producers expect it.  The target date for the beginning of fall calving very often is September 1.  Most printed gestation tables predict that calving will take place 283 days (some 285 days) after artificial insemination or natural breeding.  Cows and heifers that gestate in hot weather will often calve a few days earlier than expected.

Oklahoma State University physiologists studied early fall (August) and late fall (October) calving cows. Data from two successive years were combined for 60 Angus X Hereford crossbred cows. The “early” and “late” fall calving cows had been artificially inseminated in early November or early January, respectively. Semen from the same sire was used for all cows. All cows were exposed to a single cleanup bull for 35 days at 4 days after the AI season. The weather prior to calving was significantly different for late pregnancy in the two groups. The average maximum temperature the week before calving was 93 degrees F. for the “early” fall group. The average maximum temperature the week before parturition in the “late” calving group was 66 degrees F. There was a 100% survival rate for calves in both groups and both groups of cows had very high re-breeding rates (90% and 92%, respectively).

The average gestation length for the “early” cows was 6 days shorter (279 days) as compared to the “late” cows (285 days) in year 1. The average gestation length for the “early” cows was 4 days shorter (278 days) as compared to the “late” cows (282 days) in year 2.  Keep in mind that the gestation lengths listed are AVERAGE.  This means that about half of the cows calved earlier than that.  Records from millions of Holstein dairy cows across the entire United States report a similar pattern (Norman, et al.2009 J. Dairy Sci; 92:5).  Holsteins bred in January and February (calving in October and November) averaged 2 days longer gestation than did Holstein cows bred in October (calving in July and August).  Many of these would be in Northern climates with less heat stress and more moderate temperatures in the summer months.  Here in the Southern Plains, late summer heat is more intense and persistent.  Therefore, producers with early fall-calving cows should expect calves to start coming several days ahead of the “textbook gestation table” dates. They should begin their routine heifer and cow checks at least a week to 10 days ahead of the expected first calving date. Source: Kastner, Wettemann, and co-workers. 2004 OSU Animal Science Research Report

 

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Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu

admin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/12/summer-temperatures-shorten-gestation-length-of-early-fall-calving-cows/

Summer Irrigation Tips

July’s hot summer weather has given way to August’s 31 days of what will likely be temperatures and humidity equally elevated and intense. Wishes for November’s cooler thermometer reading are already creeping into daily conversations. The lawns and gardens in Wakulla County have rains as a mitigating factor to counteract the wilting potential of normal to excessive temperature readings. Unfortunately the arrival of water from above is not on a set or easily predictable schedule.

Traditionally, summer is the wettest season in Florida, with more than half of the annual rainfall occurring during the June to September “wet season”. Florida’s highest average annual rainfall occurs in the Panhandle with averages exceeding 60 inches per year. The Pensacola and Tallahassee weather stations are listed among the ten “wettest” stations in the nation. Still, this pattern of seasonal precipitation can vary greatly between locations, years and even days.  This variability often results in the need to water the lawn, landscape and garden. By following a few guidelines, you can produce the best results for plants under stress and conserve a vital and limited resource.

It is most efficient to apply water between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. for several reasons. Only water that is in contact with roots can be absorbed by the plant. If water is applied after 10:00 a.m., a substantial portion of it will evaporate before it reaches the roots; more will then need to be applied and this resource’s productivity will be reduced. Never water late in the afternoon as evaporation will still be a problem, and wet turf and plants will invite a variety of fungal diseases to flourish as night settles.

Photo Courtesy: Les Harrison, UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension

In the case of landscapes and gardens, water should be applied only when the moisture in the root zone system has been depleted to an unacceptable level, usually by 1/2 to 2/3 of the stored soil-water. There are several ways to determine when the soil-water reservoir has been depleted beyond an acceptable level.  The simplest method is a visual inspection of the turf or plants. Common symptoms of water stress include leaf color changes to a bluish-gray tint, footprints which linger long after being pressed into the grass and curled or folded leaf blades. Be sure the sprinklers are delivering water to the target area as water which misses the soil and is applied to hard surfaces such as driveways and sidewalks will be wasted. It also may pose an environmental problem in the form of runoff.  Surface runoff that flows past the landscape will usually reach streams, ponds, or the Gulf of Mexico. If it picks up pollutants along the way, they too will reach the surface water bodies. 

Over watering can be just as damaging as too little water. Excessive irrigation water can infiltrate the ground and reach groundwater aquifers. This issue is complicated when groundwater runs close to the surface. Excessive nutrients or pollutants can be discharged into surface bodies or move vertically into the deeper land layers.  The connected springs and sinkholes in Wakulla County make the movement of surface water a common concern.  Responsible and efficient irrigation will have positive effects far beyond the front yard.

To learn more about the effective use of water in Wakulla County’s landscapes, contact your UF/IFAS Wakulla Extension Office at 850-926-3931 or http://wakulla.ifas.ufl.edu/

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Author: Daniel J. Leonard – d.leonard@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Walton County

Daniel J. Leonard

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/12/summer-irrigation-tips/

Beekeeping in the Panhandle Summer Series – Starts August 17th

Beekeeping in the Panhandle Summer Series – Starts August 17th

European Honey Bees
Photo: Ashley N. Mortensen; University of Florida

The UF/IFAS Extension Panhandle Agriculture Team is pleased to offer three intermediate level beekeeping classes.  These classes will be offered via interactive web-conferencing at a number of Extension Offices across North Florida and will be taught by state and nationally recognized specialists.  This summer series will be Thursday evenings from 6-7:30 pm Central Time, 7-8:30 pm Eastern Time.  Each presentation will be followed by a question / answer period with the speaker.  Registration for all three classes is $ 15 per person, or $ 25 for a family up to four, and covers course materials and refreshments. 

Here is the lineup:

Thursday August 17th, Fall Pest and Disease Management -Varroa Mites and Nosema presented by Cameron Jack, UF/IFAS Bee Lab Apiarist

Thursday August 24th, Working With Pollination Contracts, presented by Jeanette Klopchin, FDACS Bureau of Plant and Apiary Inspection

Thursday September 7th, Minimizing Honey Bee Exposure to Pesticides, presented by Jeanette Klopchin, FDACS Bureau of Plant and Apiary Inspection.

Here is a link to a printable flyer and further details: Beekeeping in Panhandle Summer Series 2017. 

Please call your local UF/IFAS Extension Office to register.

Call and register today!

 

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Author: Judy Biss – judy.biss@ufl.edu

Judy Biss is the Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent in Calhoun County, Florida

Judy Biss

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/11/beekeeping-in-the-panhandle-summer-series-starts-august-17th-2/

Summer Rain in the Florida Panhandle

Summer Rain in the Florida Panhandle

ARTICLE BY DR. MATT DEITCH; water quality specialist – University of Florida Milton

Summer is a great time for weather-watching in the Florida panhandle. Powerful thunderstorms appear out of nowhere, and can pour inches of rain in an area in a single afternoon. Our bridges, bluffs, and coastline allow us to watch them develop from a distance. Yet as they come closer, it is important to recognize the potential danger they pose—lightning from these storms can strike anywhere nearby, and can cause fatality for a person who is struck. Nine people were killed by lightning strike in Florida in 2016 alone, more than in any other state. Because of the risk posed by lightning, my family and I enjoy these storms up-close from indoors.

Carpenter’s Creek in Pensacola
Photo: Dr. Matt Deitch

A fraction of the rain that falls during these storms is delivered to our bays, bayous, and estuaries through a drainage network of creeks and rivers. This streamflow serves several important ecological functions, including preventing vegetation encroachment and maintaining habitat features for fish and amphibians through scouring the streambed. High flows also deposit fine sediment on the floodplain, helping to replenish nutrients to floodplain soil. On average, only about one-third of the water that falls as rain (on average, more than 60 inches per year!) turns into streamflow. The rest may either infiltrate soil and percolate into groundwater; or be consumed and transpired by plants; or evaporate off vegetation, from the soil, or the ground surface before reaching the soil. Evaporation and transpiration play an especially large role in the water cycle during summer: on average, most of the rain that falls in the Panhandle occurs during summer, but most stream discharge occurs during winter.

The water that flows in streams carries with it many substances that accumulate in the landscape. These substances—which include pollutants we commonly think of, such as excessive nutrients comprised of nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as silt, oil, grease, bacteria, and trash—are especially abundant when streamflow is high, typically during and following storm events. Oil, grease, bacteria, and trash are especially common in urban areas. The United States EPA and Florida Department of Environmental Protection have listed parts of the Choctawhatchee, St. Andrew, Perdido, and Pensacola Bays as impaired for nutrients and coliform bacteria. Pollution issues are not exclusive to the Panhandle: some states (such as Maryland and California) have even developed regulatory guidelines in streams (TMDLs) for trash!

Many local and grassroots organizations are taking the lead on efforts to reduce pollution. Some municipalities have recently publicized efforts to enforce laws on picking up pet waste, which is considered a potential source of coliform bacteria in some places. Some conservation groups in the panhandle organize stream debris pick-up days from local streams, and others organize volunteer citizens to monitor water quality in streams and the bays where they discharge. Together, these efforts can help to keep track of pollution levels, demonstrate whether restoration efforts have improved water quality, and maintain healthy beaches and waterways we rely on and value in the Florida Panhandle.

Santa Rosa Sound
Photo: Dr. Matt Deitch

 

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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/2017/07/29/summer-rain-in-the-florida-panhandle/

Beekeeping in the Panhandle Summer Series – Starts August 17th

Beekeeping in the Panhandle Summer Series – Starts August 17th

Bees and Brood. Photo by Judy Biss

The UF/IFAS Extension Panhandle Agriculture Team is pleased to offer three intermediate level beekeeping classes.  These classes will be offered via interactive web-conferencing at a number of Extension Offices across North Florida and will be taught by state and nationally recognized specialists.  This summer series will be Thursday evenings from 6-7:30 pm Central Time, 7-8:30 pm Eastern Time.  Each presentation will be followed by a question / answer period with the speaker.  Registration for all three classes is $ 15 per person, or $ 25 for a family up to four, and covers course materials and refreshments. 

Here is the lineup:

Thursday August 17th, Fall Pest and Disease Management -Varroa Mites and Nosema presented by Cameron Jack, UF/IFAS Bee Lab Apiarist

Thursday August 24th, Working With Pollination Contracts, presented by Jeanette Klopchin, FDACS Bureau of Plant and Apiary Inspection

Thursday September 7th, Minimizing Honey Bee Exposure to Pesticides, presented by Jeanette Klopchin, FDACS Bureau of Plant and Apiary Inspection.

Here is a link to a printable flyer and further details: Beekeeping in Panhandle Summer Series 2017. 

Please call your local UF/IFAS Extension Office to register.

Call and register today!

 

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Author: Judy Biss – judy.biss@ufl.edu

Judy Biss is the Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent in Calhoun County, Florida

Judy Biss

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/29/beekeeping-in-the-panhandle-summer-series-starts-august-17th/

The Summer of Sharks

The Summer of Sharks

I am calling this “Summer of Sharks” as if this summer is more of a problem than others are. In fact, it is not… no more, so than any other summer –so we could call any summer the “summer of sharks”.

 

“Shark Fever” is more correlated with when and how the press covers the topic. During summer, more people see sharks near shore – and this is unnerving.  So are there more sharks? Are there more attacks? Do the unusually warm winter and Gulf waters cause the increase?

Pregnant Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas) cruses sandy seafloor. Credit Florida Sea Grant Stock Photo

Let us start with the first question – are there more sharks in the Gulf than there used to be?

Though most of the papers I reviewed were published over 10 years ago – they suggest several species of sharks have actually been on the decline due to incidental catch in long line operations. This reduction due to by-catch suggest a need for population management.  According to the NOAA Fisheries site, the quota for commercial sharks in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico for 2016 was 127.8 metric tons (amount varied by species).  The actually percent of the quota landed was around 70%.  In the Western Gulf during 2016, 350.4 metric tons were allowed and between 49 – 141% of the quota (depending on species) was logged by March of 2016; at which time those federal waters were closed to shark fishing.  So far, in 2017 the Western Gulf is again closed due to quota already taken while the Eastern Gulf has reached between 30-40% of the quota.

These data suggest that the fishermen in the Western Gulf are either dealing with a lot of sharks and making the quota quickly or there is heavy fishing pressure on this population.

 

So why more coastal encounters?

Discussing the recent increase in contact between anglers and mako sharks near Pensacola, Dr. Wayne Bennett (University of West Florida) believes this is due to more divers/fishermen in the environment and thus more encounters; and not more makos interested in inshore waters. In other words, they have always been here – there are just more of us in the environment, and thus more of us seeing them.  With Go-pros and cell phones, these encounters are moving through social media and more of us are aware of these encounters.  Dr. George Burgess (University of Florida) has a similar comment about recent white shark encounters along the Gulf coast.

 

Are there more attacks?

To answer this – we review the International Shark Attack File housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida.

According to the ISAF data – 2016 was “average”. 84 unprovoked shark attacks occurred worldwide in 2016; compared to the annual mean of 82. 2015 however was a busy year with 94 unprovoked attacks logged.  ISAF goes on to state there is a correlation between the time humans spend in the sea and the number of attacks that occur.  They go on to state that if shark populations remain the same or increase; you might expect an increase in attacks.  However, if the populations were low or declining, you would expect a decrease in attacks.

ISAF has unprovoked shark attack data going back to 1580. During that time, the United States and Australia account for 67% of all attacks – but these are two nations where the citizens really love water sports.  The U.S. alone accounts for 46% of all attacks.  Within the U.S., Florida accounts for 58% of all shark attacks, followed by Hawaii, California, and the Carolina’s – all states where water sports are very popular.

Just because we are interested – in Florida, 54% of the attacks have occurred in Volusia (Daytona) and Brevard counties – both very popular with the surfing public. Along the Florida Panhandle, we have Bay County (Panama City Beach) with 9 attacks, Escambia (Pensacola Beach) with 6, Okaloosa (Destin) with 3, Gulf (Port St. Joe) and Franklin (St. George Island) both with 2, and finally Walton (Seaside), and Santa Rosa (Navarre) both with 1 attack each.  This is a total of 24 attacks that equates to 3% of the total number of attacks in the state of Florida since 1580.

White Shark (Carcharhinus carcharias). Credit: Florida Sea Grant Stock Photo

So what does all of this mean?

  • There is concern about the decline of some shark populations due to either commercial catch or commercial by-catch. NOAA is trying to manage this.
  • More people are encountering sharks, but this in not believed to be due to more sharks in the water – actually, because there are more people in the water.
  • Shark attacks are rare, and in the panhandle – very rare.

 

Therefore, the sharks are here and it is fair to say that if tourism in the Panhandle continues to increase the number of human-shark encounters will as well. It will continue to be “the summer of sharks”.

 

 

Resources:

 

Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico: Facts

http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/fact-sheets/2012/03/12/sharks-in-the-gulf-of-mexico-the-facts

Shifting baselines and the decline of pelagic sharks in the Gulf of Mexico

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2003.00564.x/full

Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishery Landings and Retention Limit Update from January 1 – December 31, 2016

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/news/news_list/2017/1/shk_landings_update_011717.html.

ISAF 2016 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary

https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/fish/isaf/worldwide-summary/

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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/2017/07/12/the-summer-of-sharks/

Four Must-Have Native Perennials for Summer!

Four Must-Have Native Perennials for Summer!

Let’s be honest with each other and have a moment of transparency, one gardener to another. Even though we are plant people, most of us get a lot less enthusiastic once the mercury explodes over 90 degrees each June. All the things that were fun in the spring (watering our favorite fickle plants, deadheading spent flowers, staking, tying, fertilizing, the list goes on) have ceased to be fun.  At this point, like a baby bird pushed out of the nest, the plants in our yards have to either fly or die.  Fortunately, if we select the correct, tough-as-nails plants to start with, our gardens do not have to decline when we retreat into the air conditioning!  The following are four of my favorite ironclad native perennials that will reward you with color, texture, and overall excellent performance all summer and ask very little in return!

Black-Eyed Susan ‘Goldsturm’ (Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivanti ‘Goldsturm’)

There is no more reliable plant in the garden than plain old Black-Eyed Susan. This beauty delivers yellow-gold flowers with its namesake black, cone-like centers perpetually from May to frost in the Panhandle and returns like clockwork each spring to do it all over again! While not exactly native, the 1937 selection ‘Goldsturm’ is still easily the most popular Rudbeckia eighty years later, with good reason.  ‘Goldsturm’ improves upon the native Rudbeckias in almost every way.  It is a more compact plant, forming a spreading mass of flowers about two feet in height, sports larger, showier flowers than the species, and flaunts lustrous dark green foliage.  If low-maintenance, raw flower power is what you are after, Black-Eyed Susan ‘Goldsturm’ is right for you!

If the landscape calls for a plant with flowers hotter than the July sun, Scarlet Sage is hard to beat! This tough, prolific perennial boasts fire engine red, tubular-shaped flowers throughout the warm season in Northwest Florida and is one of the very best attractors of a host of pollinators including butterflies and hummingbirds. Growing this native couldn’t be easier, it is not picky about soil type and texture so long as it doesn’t stay waterlogged, it requires little to no supplemental fertilizer or water, and will thrive in full sun or partial shade.  A word of warning before planting Scarlet Sage however, be aware that the plant will self-sow prolifically, potentially appearing in unwanted places and becoming a nuisance.  Though with a plant this undemanding and pretty, I do not mind one bit if it decides to ramble through the landscape.

Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea)

Carolina Petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis) (note: Not to be confused with Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex), which, despite its popularity, is an invasive weed and should not be planted)

For those of you that lament hot weather because it means the decline of the showy annual petunias sold by the thousands at big box stores across the South, there is a summer solution for you! Carolina Petunia is a compact (growing to 24” in height), hardy plant whose many outstanding ornamental qualities, including soft purple flowers produced in profusion, make it a great addition to virtually any garden border.  It is not picky regarding soil and while flowering is best in full sun, it grows just fine in the dappled shade of pines or other taller perennials and shrubs.  Like Scarlet Sage, Carolina Petunia will seed around in the landscape but is easily managed and never wears out its welcome.

Dwarf Fakahatchee Grass (Tripsacum floridanum)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ornamental grasses have gained in popularity over the last few years and with good reason! Ornamental grasses tend to be drought tolerant, laugh at the summer sun, and require little maintenance.  However, many popular ornamental grass species like Miscanthus, Muhlenbergia, Pennisetum, and others tend to grow too large for most gardens and end up being replaced a few years later.  Dwarf Fakahatchee fits this niche perfectly, with its emerald green leaf blades only growing 2-3’ in height and width.  It is also more adaptable than most ornamental grass species as it will thrive in sun or partial shade and is tolerant of both wet and dry sites!  While it lacks the colorful flower panicles of Muhly Grass or Miscanthus, Dwarf Fakahatchee does possess interesting brown flower stalks and seed heads as well!

All of these awesome low-maintenance, native perennial selections can be purchased at member nurseries of FANN (Florida Association of Native Nurseries) or local independent garden centers. As always, if you have any questions about this or other horticultural topics, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office.

 

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Author: Daniel J. Leonard – d.leonard@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Walton County

Daniel J. Leonard

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/05/four-must-have-native-perennials-for-summer/

Cattle Markets Slide into Summer Decline

Cattle Markets Slide into Summer Decline

January-May feedlot placements are up 9.2 percent over 2016. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist

With July 4 wholesale beef purchases complete,  beef prices have dropped sharply the past ten days.  Beef and cattle markets, have defied gravity by staying stronger, longer than most expected this spring.  However, with seasonal pressure prevailing, beef and cattle markets have weakened and will likely struggle seasonally for the next six plus weeks.  Beef markets often weaken during the summer doldrums, that period of summer heat between Independence Day and Labor Day.  The summer slump may be mitigated somewhat if July 4 beef sales are strong prompting follow-up beef sales.  Wholesale markets will likely struggle until August when Labor Day purchases will pick up to support beef features for Labor Day, the last big grilling holiday of the summer.  Cash fed cattle prices have correspondingly dropped over $ 10/cwt. in the past ten days or so.  Feeder cattle prices have dropped $ 10-$ 12/cwt. in the past week.  Domestic and international beef demand will continue to be a key as beef supplies will undoubtedly continue to increase year over year in the second half of the year.  Recently released retail meat prices show that Choice and All-Fresh retail beef prices increased from April to May. Choice retail beef prices in May were up 1.0 percent from last year while the All-Fresh retail beef price was down 3.9 percent year over year.

Beef production for the year to date in 2017 is up 3.8 percent, with cattle slaughter up 5.7 percent but being offset by sharply lower carcass weights so far this year.  At the current time, steer and heifer carcass weights are down 17 pounds from the same time last year.  Steer and heifer carcass weights bottomed seasonally in early May and are expected to increase seasonally into the fourth quarter.  However, a normal seasonal increase from current levels would still have carcass weight down significantly year over year and will continue to moderate larger slaughter numbers.

The June USDA Cattle on Feed report showed another month of large year over year increases in May placements pushing June 1 on-feed inventories to 102.7 percent of one year ago.  May placements were 112.2 percent of last year.  May marketings were 108.8 percent of last year, a continuation of strong marketings that began in mid-2016.  For the year to date, January-May, feedlot placements are up 9.2 percent while marketings have been up 7.0 percent year over year.  Most of the increase in May placements were cattle under 700 pounds which means that those cattle will be marketed towards the end of 2017.

Strong beef demand has helped make the first half of 2017 a pleasant surprise to all cattle industry sectors.  Strong demand in the third and fourth quarters may help significantly but supply pressures are likely to weigh a bit more heavily on cattle and beef markets in the second half of the year holding markets generally to a sideways pattern for the remainder of the year.

 

PG

Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu

admin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/03/cattle-markets-slide-into-summer-decline/

Staying Healthy At Summer Camp

Staying Healthy At Summer Camp – 7 Keys to a Healthy Camp Counselor Experience

It’s getting hot outside and that means summer camps are heating up! Being a camp counselor is a fun summer job and it’s a great way to learn leadership skills. As a camp counselor, it is your job to take care of the children that are under your supervision, but your own health and well-being is as important as the campers.  If you’re not healthy, you won’t be able to properly care for the campers.

Here are 7 keys to staying healthy throughout your summer at camp:

  1. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER : When working outside in the summertime, it is essential for you and your campers to stay hydrated and avoid developing heat-related illnesses. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/plain-water-the-healthier-choice.html recommends between 6 to 8 glasses of water daily for good hydration. However, the amount of water that your body needs should be based on your individual need. Some of the symptoms of dehydration are: Mouth Dryness, Fatigue, Headache, Lightheadedness, Dizziness and Thirst. If you or a child in camp shows signs of any or all of these symptoms, immediately seek medical attention
  2. GET SOME SLEEP: Everyone feels a lot better after a good night’s sleep. One of the most critical threats to wellness for camp staff members is sleep deprivation. It’s easy to burn the candle at both ends when you’re working at a summer camp.  Try to stick to your normal bedtime whenever possible. Routine is important for a good night’s sleep!
  3. EAT HEALTHY: During the hectic pace of summer camp, it is easy to forget to eat properly. What you eat can determine how well your body is fueled and how efficiently it functions. The MyPlate https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate guidelines call for making half your plate fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced meal.  Eating a balanced diet is important for good health and increased energy, especially when working with campers.
  4. HANDWASHING & FOOD SAFETY: Bacteria and germs are hiding anywhere: in your kitchen, on your plate and even on your hands! It is important to wash your hands and hard surfaces often. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Foodborne bacteria can’t be seen, smelled or tasted, but they can make you sick! Therefore it is important to practice good food safety and food preparation practices. When in Doubt, Throw it out!
  5. SUN SAFETY:  While enjoying the sun and outdoors, protect yourself from overexposure to sunlight by wearing a hat and using sunscreens. Severe sun burns (also known as sun poisoning) can also lead to extreme dehydration for you and your campers. Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA/UVB), and re-applying every 2 hours or after swimming will help prevent a sunburn. As a camp counselor, you should remind kids to play in shaded areas to reduce their exposure to UV rays, especially between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM, when the sun’s UV rays are at their peak.
  6. BUGS AND TICK BITE PREVENTION:  Bugs and summer go together.  To avoid getting bug bites, you should apply insect repellant that contains DEET to exposed skin, and wear long sleeves, pants, and other light-colored clothing. Campers should also try to avoid areas where ticks can be found, such as high grass and wooded areas. Campers should check for ticks every day, and remove them right away. Tick bites can lead to Lyme disease, which is particularly dangerous in the summer.
  7. STRESS MANAGEMENT: Stress can occur when we feel overloaded or under pressure in a demanding situation. Stress is a common problem among camp counselors. Managing your stress level is just as important as maintaining your physical health. Even though stress can be uncomfortable, it’s not always a bad thing, some stress can be a good thing and can help us better handle difficult situations.

 

As a camp counselor it is vital that you learn to relax, eat right, stay hydrated, and make sleep a priority, wash your hands, protect yourself from the sun, and take care of yourself!

Extension is a great resource for tips to stay healthy during the summer. You can find fact sheets and more information in our Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS) publications: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/

 

PG

Author: Laurie Osgood – osgoodlb@ufl.edu

Laurie B. Osgood is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent at the Gadsden County Extension office. You can contact her at: (850) 662-3287
http://gadsden.ifas.ufl.edu/

Laurie Osgood

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/03/staying-healthy-at-summer-camp/

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