SWFWMD approves Stage IV water restrictions

The SWFWMD Board has approved a move to tighten water restrictions and move to a Stage IV water ban for those who are being serviced by Tampa Bay Water. The tighter restrictions are as follows:

First, the changes described below will only apply to the customers of member governments, other utilities that purchase water from member governments, either directly or indirectly, and the customers of other utilities that are exceeding their permitted quantities (Aloha and Mad Hatter utilities in Pasco County). Persons using other sources of water, either private well water or water from other utilities, remain under the current Modified Phase 3 restrictions.

Lawn and landscape (non-low volume) irrigation, under 1 acre, using an in-ground irrigation system (rotors and sprays) - limited to one day per week (same days as currently), the hours are restricted to between midnight to 4 a.m.

Lawn and landscape (non-low volume) irrigation, 1 acre or greater, using an in-ground irrigation system (rotors and sprays) - limited to one day per week (same days as currently), the hours are restricted to between midnight to 4 a.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight

Handwatering, or irrigating with hoses with attachments, of lawns, any size area, limited to one-day per week, the hours are restricted to between 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Handwatering and microirrigation of landscapes, any size area, limited to 3 days per week (the Order will specify the days by address), the hours are restricted to between 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

All fountains and other water-based aesthetic features are prohibited

Residential and charity fund raising car washing is prohibited unless partnered with a commercial car washing facitlity

Pressure washing - non-commercial uses prohibited

Public spaces in buildings with water-based cooling must be kept at or above 78 degrees Fahrenheit

The establishment period for new lawns does not change (first 15 days any day; next 15 days 3 times per week, by address). The establishment period for landscapes is first 15 days allowed any day; next 30 days allowed 3 times per week (by address); next 15 days twice per week (by address).

Stay tuned for more updates. The climate prediction for the next 3 months are showing below average rainfall for the area!


Water resources being rationed!

As nursery producers we are inextricably linked to the availability of water. We are now in a three year drought and in the middle of our driest time of the year. There are many governing boards meeting or have already met to determine where a scarce resource will be portioned out. As we have seen the City of Tampa reduce lawn watering to a handheld hose once a week. The Hillsborough Board will be meeting to discuss what actions they need to take at their April 1st meeting. It starts at 9 a.m. and is in the BOCC board room on the second floor. There will also be the SWFWMD meeting which will discuss tightening their restrictions at the Board meeting Tuesday in Brooksville. That also starts at 9 a.m. It might be useful to be present at these meetings and offer your input than try later to overturn a ruling that adversely affects your operation.


Tri-County FNGLA Chapter Meeting 3/26/09 18:00

Our annual Tri-County Chapter Meeting will be held at J.R. Johnsons in Sun City. This meeting is usually well attended and we always have a good meal. I will be introducing myself and giving a run down on the county extension mission. We will also have the speaker Michael White, owner of 4 Season's Lawn Care. He will give us an uplifting, encouraging, and motivating speech "N-P-K4 Life." Here are the details.... Arrival Time 6 pm, Social Time 6-7 pm, Dinner 7 pm, Speaker around 7:30-8 pm
The address for the meeting is: 3030 Cockroach Bay RD, Sun City, FL 33586.

Please introduce yourself to me and mention any extension programs you might find helpful in the future.


Stress Kills!

Driving home the other night I was listening to National Public Radio. The radio piece was about following a small business owner's collapse during this economic downturn. He is unable to make payments, his bank accounts are frozen, he no longer can buy merchandise and he is taken to bankruptcy court. He still is trying to save his business and is working feverishly day and night to pull out of his quagmire. Then he suffers a stress related collapse and is rushed to the hospital. It got me thinking about the stress we feel in the nursery business and how it can take a toll on us, our families and employees.

Diana Converse at the Hills. Co. Ext. office has developed a web-based stress workshop. The lessons will discuss the causes and symptoms of stress and how to take control of your stressors by making changes in your feelings, attitudes and behaviors. In lessons five, six and seven you will experience three relaxation exercises to help calm your mind and body. Learn about and control your stress. Here is the link: http://hillsboroughfcs.ifas.ufl.edu/Stress-Management.html


Horticulture BMPs for Water Conservation and Treatment

We will be having a seminar and farm tour called Horticulture BMPs forWater Conservation & Treatment. We will be starting out with a tour of Riverview Flower Farm and then it's on to Balm to learn about water reuse and recycling. Here are some of the topics.
Using recaptured water, surface ponds, and reclaimed water sources
• Managing diseases, algae, and salt problems in irrigation water
• Water treatment, plant pathology, and irrigation
• New information from industry, grower, & university experts
• Funding opportunities for water conservation improvements
• Specialized topics for nursery/greenhouse/foliage or strawberry/vegetable
There will be free lunch and CEUs. The seminar is free when you register on line and then it will cost $15 at the door. You can register online at http://hillsborough.extension.ufl.edu/Ag/AgOrnProd/OrnamentalProduction.html#Upcoming_Events just click on the link and then click register here. you can also see the brochure as well.


Producer's Resource Workshop Link

For those of you who may have missed the Producer's Resource Workshop. With the fantastic help of the tech gurus here at the HCES (Dave Palmer, Carol Carson, and Billie Lofland), we have made the seminar available to you! We have taken the PowerPoint presentations and made them available to you to view at your leisure. The slides are not animated by the presenters but you can get the gist of the information from the slides. If you need more information you can get a hold of me. Here is the link. Just click on the flyer for the presentations you wish to see.



Ag Economic Development Council Meeting

Yesterday was my introduction to the Ag. Econ. Development Council (AEDC)Advisory Meeting. It was a veritable who's who in Hillsborough County agriculture along with all the supporting government agencies. This meeting helps set the agenda for the office of AEDC in Hills. Co. and how the county government works for the agricultural clientele. Topics of discussion were how South West Florida Water Management District defines who pays for the remediation of homeowner wells during the draw down of the aquifer during freeze protections. They said that the draw down level was 32 feet causing nearby residents to burn up their pumps. It is defined by law that if remediation is necessary the last person to put in a large well is the person who will need to pay for the damages. This should cause nursery and greenhouse operators to think really hard about where to start new operations. We also discussed the purchasing of ag land for conservation using the ELAPP (Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program). This program helps protect environmentally sensitive or surround land to be purchased in order to preserve the unique environmental benefit function of that land. Also discussed was the ag. innovation program (which looks like it will not have funding), the residential model fertilizer ordinance (which is in the works and is frowned upon by the AEDC Board), and the legislative priorities of the AEDC. If you would like any more information on this meeting please call me.


Producer Resource Workshop

We had a great workshop yesterday for agricultural producers at the Hills. Co. Cooperative Extension Service Building (HCES) Our agricultural industry development person Stephen Gran did a great job of bringing together government agencies that could help producers in these troubling economic times. There was someone from the county Small Business Information Center, Ag Teams and AGSWM from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, FL Department of Ag (Fresh from Florida Marketing and Farm to Fuel), USDA Rural Development programs, Farm Service Agency, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. I will post more information from these talks with links to my web page on the side bar and hopefully will include there powerpoint presentations.


Agent's Bio

Here is a bio. of myself and what I will be doing.

Many of you worked with Laura Miller at the extension office for many years. She did a great job of helping growers with their problems and bringing timely and useful information in the forms of workshops and seminars. As of last week I have replaced her as the commercial ornamental production extension agent. I hope to continue the University of Florida/IFAS tradition of the extension mission by bringing you helpful information for your commercial operation needs. I have had an ornamental background since leaving the University of Florida with a B.S. degree in horticulture and a M.S. degree in horticulture with a minor in agronomy weed science in 1998. I was employed as a propagation manager with Speedling, Inc., Cherry Lake Tree Farm, and Holmberg Farms. I have consulted and scouted for pests for a few agricultural operations. I also own a small diversified farm in Plant City which produces woody ornamentals, tree and woody liner and starter material, and organic vegetables. My position with the cooperative extension service is a multi-county role which includes both Hillsborough and Polk counties. My program efforts will help improve commercial greenhouse, nursery and sod operations through the adoption of Best Management Practices, integrated pest management, sustainability, and resource management. I will help commercial operators become more efficient with natural, human, and time resources in their operations to increase productivity. My job is also to help producers gain useful information from the university research efforts and to be a clearing house of information via talks, seminars, workshops and electronic media. I hope that all of you will introduce yourselves to me in the near future. Please don’t hesitate to call or email me with any problems or informational needs. My program in extension and the resources at my disposal are only as useful as your voicing of what the problems and needs are in your operations. So if you get the notion, drop by, call, mail, or email what you would like to see in future programs. I look forward to working for you.

The New Guy!

Greetings from my new desk at the Hillsborough County Extension office located in Sefner, Florida. This is my second week on the job and so far, so good. I will be the new commercial environmental horticulture agent for both Hillsborough and Polk Counties. This is where I will help nurseries, greenhouse growers, and turf grass operations find timely information and research to help them become more efficent producers.