Social Media Wave

You may not be up on the latest tech trend, but here is a neat video relating the implications of social media. Wether you fax, email, twitter, blog, facebook, use the internet, or a cell phone, the social media trend is here and you should at least be aware of it and how it may benefit your marketing efforts.

This was from Dr. Charlie Hall's Making Cents Blog.


FL Certified Hort. Professional Training

Here is an email I received from Matt Freedman at the Institute of Florida Studies at HCC. There is a course being offered for the FNGLA CHP Training if you are interested contact Matt.

"Hi! I coordinate non-credit environmental education courses for the Institute of Florida Studies at Hillsborough Community College in Plant City. We are offering the FNGLA Florida Certified Horticulture Professional Training at the HCC Plant City Campus in Fall 2009. The course begins on September 10, 2009 and ends on November 14, 2009. The class will meet on Thursdays (6-9 PM) and Saturdays (8:30-11:30 AM) in the PEPC Educational Partnership Center. The course number is HOS 8001, Section 97544. The course fee is $260, and does not include the manual or Certification Exam fee. The FCHP manual is $75 for FNGLA members and $105 for non-members, and is required by the first day of class.

If you could please pass this information along to your associates or anyone who might be interested, I would really appreciate it! Please visit
http://www.hccfl.edu/departments/ifs/fngla.aspx for registration information. For more information and questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thanks for your help.

Matt Freedman
Continuing Education Coordinator
Institute of Florida Studies
Hillsborough Community College
1206 North Park Rd.
Plant City, FL 33563
Phone: 813-757-2186
Fax: 813-757-2148
www.hccfl.edu/departments/ifs.aspx (Institute Website)"

A Clean Sweep

Ever see those commercials with the catchy phrase "Want to get away?" That is the last thing you want experience when being inspected by WPS inspectors. Especially when they are asking you, "What is that unmarked chemical in the corner with the ripped bag?"

Why not just get rid of it. Operation Clean Sweep will help. Just fill out the form and schedule a pick up. It is that easy. Here is the link to find out more and the form to fill out to get on the pickup list. Any unwanted, mislabeled, out of date, or unneeded pesticides can be removed from your operation and the environment. That will be one less thing to worry about on the WPS inspection checklist.



Free Money for Water Conservation Projects

Act Fast! Sign up ends Monday 8/17/09. Here are the details.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Jeffrey Woods, (352) 338-9515
GAINESVILLE, FL, August 11, 2009 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Dave White recently announced nearly $58 million for water conservation and water quality improvements on agricultural working lands. The funding was made available for 63 projects in 21 states through the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP). Florida has two projects approved for $1,750,000. One project, with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), is approved at $1 million dollars and the second project was funded at $750,000 with the Suwannee River Partnership (SRP). If you are a producer in portions of Charlotte, Desoto, Manatee, Hardee, Polk, Hillsborough, Sarasota, and Highlands counties you may be eligible for the SWFWMD project. You may apply for the Suwannee River Partnership project if you are in portions of Jefferson, Taylor, Lafayette, Suwannee, Columbia, Union, Bradford, Alachua, Gilchrist, Levy, Dixie, Madison and Hamilton counties. Interested agriculture producers can sign up for the respective project at their local NRCS field office beginning on August 11, 2009. The sign up will end on August 17, 2009. The funds awarded under the SWFWMD’s project will be used to fund AWEP contracts with EQIP eligible producers that result in increased irrigation system efficiency by upgrading or retrofitting existing systems; development of surface water/tailwater capture and reuse; and precision irrigation systems within the Southern Water Use Caution Areas. Under the SRP project, EQIP eligible producers will be provided financial and technical assistance to improve irrigation water management and irrigation systems to conserve water. The Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) promotes ground and surface water conservation and improves water quality by helping farmers and ranchers implement agricultural water enhancement activities. With the services and resources of other conservation partners, AWEP allows the Federal Government to leverage investment in natural resources conservation. AWEP was established by the 2008 Farm Bill and funding comes from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the program for USDA. NRCS implements AWEP by entering into EQIP contracts directly with agricultural producers. All AWEP recipients must meet EQIP requirements. The sign up ends on August 17, 2009 so interested agriculture producers are encouraged to sign up for the respective project at their local NRCS field office as soon as possible. For more information about AWEP projects visit www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov/programs or contact Jeffrey Woods, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, 352-338-9515.


El Nino is Back!

I was once having a discussion on climate change with a teacher. He told me, "The weather men can't tell me what is going to happen tomorrow, how do they know what is going to happen in the future with the climate." Now whether you believe this line of reasoning or not is up to you. I do know that climatologists are telling us at this time we should expect a weak to moderate El Nino event this fall that should last into next year. They also caution that it could strengthen in the coming months.

An El Nino southern oscillation (ENSO) is a change of the surface temperatures of the Eastern Pacific Ocean. It has been noted back in the 1500's off the coast of Peru. It usually occurs around Christmas time. The event name El Nino or The Boy gets its name from happening in conjunction with the birth of the Christ child at the same time. It is characterised by a warming of the surface waters of the Pacific Ocean around the equator. It causes atmospheric conditions such as pressures and winds to change and can produce dramatic weather phenomena around the world.

What does this mean for what is going to happen in your neck of the woods? It means that El Nino pulls the jet stream down further over the South East. This means that during El Nino years we should experience a wetter than normal fall, a really wet winter, around normal spring, and a dryer summer. Rainfall can exceed 30% more than normal for this event. This would be most noticeable during the months of Jan., Feb., and March with rainfall in the 3 to 5 inches per month in this area. The probability of exceeding 4 inches in Jan. is about 80%. The probability of exceeding 5 inches of rain is 78% and the probability of exceeding 6 inches of rain is over 50%(These estimates are based on the publications below). The temperature for El Nino for this area shows that we can expect to see an average temperature of 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit below normal for the fall and winter.

What does this mean for production? I would look at how is a wetter winter going to affect my crops and how would colder temperatures affect what I grow. If you are growing crops for a particular time window you may want to add a little more time to finish. If you are holding plants then you may want to make sure to scout for fungi and diseases more regularly. Also look at your pest complex and see if that will make any differences. Another area to look at is how your fertilizers are going to work during a cold, wet winter. Slow release fertilizers generally will release slower during the colder months and nitrogen and potassium will leach quicker with more rainfall if you are growing outdoors. So this would be a deficit to the grower as well as your plants already growing slower due to weather events. This should be taken into account if you are trying to hit a window of market timing.

Some more information on how El Nino affects agriculture and how this can affect the bottom line can be found at the following publications: "Economic Approach to Valuing Information with Application to Climate Information" http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/FE801.

This publication gives you information on how to use climate data to make decisions for production purposes. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/AE267, "Climate Forecasts and Decision Making in Agriculture."

Here is a website that tracks the climate and makes predictions and forecasts: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/

I hope this helps with some of your predictions and decision this fall growing season. And if we don't see much of a change in the weather my teacher may be correct in his assumptions about weathermen and climatologists.
Reference: "El Nino, La Nina and Florida's Climate: Effects on Agriculture and Forestry." The Florida consortium. 1999.


You Are Reading My Post!

If you are reading this then you probably appreciate blogs and I appreciate the time you are spending on reading what I have to say. Blogs are a great way for the writer to get information to a wide audience on timely topics. It is also a way to communicate to a chosen audience. Businesses can use this approach to conveying information into a marketing method to reach customers. Blog readership has grown exponentially along with the use of the Internet. As of September 2008, blog search engine Technorati was tracking more than 130 million
blogs. Blog readership is estimated conservatively at 50% of those using the Internet.

If you are minimally creative and have something to say, starting a blog is extremely easy and you can be blogging within minutes of opening an account. This is is a great way to market to potential customers. A good marketing effort can help differentiate your company, or products or services from
others with similar offerings. This effort at differentiation is called branding. The creation of a
good or memorable brand can influence customers to prefer your offerings from other
companies. A good brand is a way to make your business unique or stand out from among
many competitors. A brand creates an identity that allows your customers to relate to or
identify with your product offerings. Brand awareness, developed through marketing, is an
effective tool to help generate new customers through word of mouth. One
useful marketing technique to create and reinforce brand awareness is the creation and use
of a blog.

I have published an article about blogs with Dave Palmer our District wide Tech integrator. Here is the link: http://hillsborough.extension.ufl.edu/Ag/AgOrnProd/A-ZPublications/BusinessBlogs.pdf

Check it out if you would like to know more about marketing via a blog.

If you read blogs, thank a blogger!


Tree Producer Information - Part II

I mentioned previously that I had spent some time in Gainesville with Dr. Ed Gilman and discussed his latest research. He also mentioned that he was finishing up a guide to producing trees. This guide is a great manual for the novice or the professional in how to grow quality container trees for the marketplace. There are topics about good root structures and root defects. There are also chapters about pruning to get the best trunk and branch structures and grow a quality tree faster. There is no information about fertility, water or pest control. This is simply a growing guide for meeting grades and standards and both root and shoot structure. There is also a section of reference for further reading.

I've added the web link to my extension page under publications. Here is the link:


Tree Producer Information-Part I

There seems to be a lot of information lately coming out to help tree growers. I will publish a two part series of articles related to the latest releases.

Safety and Tree Farms

Thankfully, I have never seen a serious accident in the ten years I spent working in or around tree farms. I have seen some actions that could have turned out badly but usually these were corrected in time before matters got complicated. The worst was the puller who thought that he had pesticide injury. He was shaking, sweating, his heart was racing, and he felt a bit dizzy. After questioning we found that he had drank three Red Bulls for breakfast and was experiencing caffeine overdose. Fortunately, we knew that we were following the rules and we had a hard time believing that he had been exposed to pesticides. It helps to have policy and procedures in place to suppress accidents before they happen and eliminate potential problems with lawsuits if something were to happen.

There are two new publications from UF/IFAS Dr. Carol J. Lehtola, Charles M. Brown, and Hilary Hartzell from the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department that helps tree growers implement a safety plan for their operation. The two publications are "Manager's Toolkit for Creating a Safety Program for your Tree Nursery Operation” and “Safety Policies and Procedures for a Tree Nursery Operation” which is a PowerPoint presentation. These both can be found at the following website:


The later is a nice presentation for using with new employees and safety meausures with different equipment.



Personal protective equipment is the name for the collective assembly of gadgets and clothing that applicators, handlers, and workers must wear if they come in to contact with pesticides or areas where pesticides are used. These articles must be worn to comply with the Worker Protection Standard. These are the spraysuits, gloves, masks, goggles, aprons, and other equipment that are used to protect workers from the effects of pesticides that they may contact in the course of their duties.

Since I was recently discussing my meeting with Mike Pikus of FDACS who conducts these inspections in my last article and he stated that this was a complaint he had with growers and their workers and their use of PPE, I thought it was very timely to see a new revision of an EDIS publication about PPE. It was revised about the same time as my article.

Dr. Fred Fishel's article "Personal Protective Equipment for Pesticide Handlers" describes the various types of PPE and how that relates to specific instructions on the pesticide labels. It gives a good breakdown of types of gloves, respirators, and materials that are used for PPE and how that matches up with label recommendations. It also has a bunch of pictures like the one above illustrating different examples of the PPE. It makes for a good training publication for new mangers or applicators and what they need to wear to be compliant. It also would be good as a refresher for those that are in charge of the PPE and WPS.

Here is the link to Fred Fishel's latest revision of Personal Protective Equipment for Handling Pesticides. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/PI061