12/7/10

Thrips Management Document


If you battle thrips and want some help with a plan of action here is a great resource for that information. The following publication is a reference tool to help you develop a course of action in the management of thrips. This publication provides a decision key that asks different questions to help you develop the appropriate strategy. It even gives information on biological control as well as more natural type chemicals such as soaps and oils. What I found useful was the approximate duration of control and what life stage a particular pesticide would be useful.

If you would like to investigate further, please click on the link for further information.

12/6/10

USDA Seeking Grant Request

This just in from the USDA.

For Immediate Release

Proposals for Grants Requested to Help Farmers and Ranchers Improve Environmental Quality and Energy Efficiency
Applications must be received by December 28, 2010.

Gainesville, FL., December 1, 2010—The USDA is seeking proposals for grants to improve water quality, air quality and promote energy conservation. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is making available $25 million nationwide through the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program to address natural resource concerns.
Now in its eighth year, the CIG program offers funding dedicated to the adoption of technologies to address a broad range of agricultural issues. For example, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is working with several partners on the Florida Ranchlands Environmental Services Project (FRESP) to design and field-test a program that would pay ranchers in the Northern Everglades for providing environmental services of water retention and phosphorus load reduction.
Successful applicants will demonstrate that their projects use innovative, on-the-ground conservation approaches and technologies. Funds will be awarded through a nationwide competitive grants process with applications being accepted from all 50 States, the Caribbean Area (the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) and the Pacific Islands Area (Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). Applications will be accepted from all eligible individuals, non-federal governments and non-governmental organizations, including federally recognized tribes and private businesses.
This year, a two-phase competitive process will be implemented. In phase one, all applicants will be required to submit a pre-proposal; in phase two, only those applicants selected during the pre-proposal phase will be asked to submit a full application package. All proposed CIG projects must involve producers who are eligible for NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which offers financial and technical assistance to help producers implement conservation practices on agricultural land.
The federal contribution for a single project cannot exceed $1 million. At least 50 percent of the total cost of the project must come from non-federal matching funds (cash and in-kind contributions) provided by the grantee. Grants are available for single or multi-year projects, not to exceed 3 years. Proposed projects must comply with the description of innovative conservation projects or activities established in the Announcement for Program Funding (APF).
Pre-proposal applications must be received at the NRCS National Headquarters by close of business December 28, 2010. To view the complete APF, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/cig/index.html. To apply electronically, visit: www.grants.gov/. Additional information on NRCS and our programs is available on our website at www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov or at your local USDA NRCS office. To find the nearest office go to http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app .

Grow Native

Here are a couple of workshops that you might like to be in on. The Association of Florida Native Nurseries in corporation with UF Extension Osceola County will be putting on two workshops, one will be on the economics of plant production with Dr. Alan Hodges. The other one will be with three professors from the University of Florida, Dr. Mike Cane, Dr. Hector Perez, and Dr. Carrie Reinhardt-Adams. The focus of this workshop will be the wisdom of producing and using local ecotypes of native plants.

Native Plant Industry Workshop: Economics & Ecotypes
Offered by the Association of Florida Native Nurseries (AFNN)in cooperation with the UF/IFAS Osceola County Extension Service
WHEN: 10:00am-3:00pm, FRIDAY, JANUARY 28, 2011WHERE: Osceola County Extension Office, Osceola Heritage Park, 1921 Kissimmee Valley Ln, Kissimmee FL 34744

$35 for AFNN Members & partners (FNPS, FWF, FWGC) / $55 for potential members
Lunch included / $20 fee increase after Jan. 7, 2011
CEUS AVAILABLE: 4 FNGLA CEUs / ISA CEUs: 3.5 Certified Arborist, 3.5 Municipal Specialist, 2 BCMA-Practice, 1.5 BCMA-Management

AGENDA
10:00am – Welcome & Introductions
10:30am-Noon – Economics of the Nursery Industry
Noon-1:00pm – Lunch with Instructors
1:00-3:00pm – Native Plant Ecotype Production

For more information click the link below
http://www.afnn.org/native-plant-industry-workshop-economics-ecotypes

12/2/10

Plant Availability????


Are plants going to be in short demand? This blog post was sent to my attention from Hugh Gramling. Here is a perspective viewpoint from an anonymous broker with a guest post on Dr. Charlie Hall's blog. The perspective is that from what the broker sees around the industry is that plants might be in short supply. From his interactions with growers and the like, this broker seems to find plant availability might be wanting in the near future. This might be good as wholesale prices will rise to meet the limited supply thereby reversing the downward trend on pricing we currently see. You might have other opinions or comments from what you see at your nursery which you are welcome to leave a comment on this page for others to think about. Click on Dr. Hall's blog to read more...


Diseases and Insect Lessons From 2010

Here is an interesting Webinar sponsored from Miester Media Worldwide, as a grower you might like to listen to. You might find out what pests others are dealing with and how to cope with them.

Nancy Rechcigl, technical manager for Syngenta, will discuss some of the major disease and insect pressures growers are experiencing in 2010. From mums to pansies to poinsettias, her presentation will include an analysis of common issues growers faced and tips and preventative treatment options for next year.

Title: Disease And Insect Lessons From 2010

Date: Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EST

Space is limited.Reserve your Webinar seat now at:https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/662612097

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System RequirementsPC-based attendeesRequired: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Macintosh®-based attendeesRequired: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer

12/1/10

Misting Water to Protect from Cold


Here is an article I read from physorg.com written by Tom Nordlie. It is about research that Dr. Bob Stamps has been working on for the last few years looking at misters and foggers in protected structures to provide cold protection. I've copied the important stuff below.


"Now, a three-year study by University of Florida researchers suggests it would be more cost-effective to heat shade houses with water, using devices called foggers and misters that emit clouds of tiny airborne droplets.
The results were published in the current issue of the journal HortScience.
“This seems to be a very efficient way to heat in subtropical climates (in shade houses and greenhouses),” said Bob Stamps, an environmental horticulture professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “The systems are so much less expensive than heaters and reduce fossil fuel consumption.”
Misters and foggers are widely available and commonly used to irrigate plants and reduce air temperature in hot weather, Stamps said. Misters emit water droplets averaging about 150 microns in diameter; droplets from foggers average 90 microns. A micron is one one-millionth of a meter.
Depending on the season, well water can accomplish either heating or cooling because it has the same temperature year-round, ranging from about 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
In chilly weather, the tiny droplets quickly radiate heat into the air, because they have a large amount of surface area relative to their overall volume.
The study involved two types of misters and two foggers in commercial nurseries during three winters. They kept shade houses warm enough to protect all but one genus of plant, from at least nine tested.
With water conservation a major issue in Florida, UF researchers are eager to find ways of minimizing the amount needed to protect crops.
One fogging system evaluated in the study used only about 750 gallons per acre per hour, compared with 5,000 gallons for one of the misters. Stamps said the research team would like to investigate whether the devices can protect plants when used intermittently, which could save more water."


If you would like to read the rest of the article click on the following link: http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-11-fogging-misting-ornamental-foliage-cold.html

11/30/10

Communicating Ag in an Urban Age

The University of Florida would like to know how as ag producers do you communicate with your neighbors in a increasingly urban area about your production practices. Please take the time to read the following post and take the short survey by clicking on the link. This information will help IFAS develop information that will help communities understand the importance of agriculture in the local area.


As the rural-urban interface becomes less distinct we would like to know what kind of communication tools you as agricultural producers need to educate your neighbors and the school children in your community about agricultural practices in their community. We can only do this if we know current practices. How do you communicate with your neighbors? Let us know by completing this survey that is being conducted by the University of Florida IFAS Extension in partnership with Florida Farm Bureau. Based on the survey we will be designing a Good Neighbor Program (GNP) that will help people living in urban-rural interface communities understand more about the importance of agricultural practices. We are also asking School Systems to complete a survey asking how they communicate with you. Please share your communication practices with us and we will use them as part of the new Good Neighbor Program. The survey will take 5 to 10 minutes to complete and we will only use your answers after they have been combined with other respondents' answers and will be completely confidential. Thank you for participating.Email Survey Link:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5B2MPY9

If you have any questions, please call (352) 273-3971, or send an email to FOI@ufl.edu. Thank you for your participation.

11/22/10

Water Restrictions Begin


Here we go again...This in from SWFWMD, a list of their new water restrictions. Remeber that this is a La Nina cycle so it will be drier than usual possibly making the drought conditions worse.


Effective Date and Areas


The District’s Phase I Water Shortage Restrictions go in effect Dec. 1, 2010, except where stricter measures have been imposed by local governments. Always refer to your local government or utility restriction guidelines first.
Restrictions apply to all of Charlotte, Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas, Polk and Sumter counties; and portions of Lake and Levy counties. View map.
The unincorporated parts of Hernando, Pasco and Sarasota counties have local ordinances and are on one-day-per-week restrictions.
The City of Ocala and unincorporated Marion County will continue to follow the St. Johns River Water Management District’s water restrictions; however, the City of Dunnellon and The Villages remain under the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s water restrictions.


Lawn Watering Schedule and Times


Lawn watering is limited to twice per week.
Lawn watering days and times are as follows unless your city or county has a different schedule or stricter hours in effect:
Even addresses may water on Thursday and/or Sunday before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
Odd addresses may water on Wednesday and/or Saturday before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
Locations without a discernable address, such as rights-of-way and other common areas inside a subdivision, may water on Tuesday and/or Friday before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.


Irrigation Systems


Under Phase I, residents are asked to check their irrigation systems to ensure they are working properly. This means testing and repairing broken pipes and leaks, and damaged or tilted sprinkler heads.
Residents should also check their irrigation timer to ensure the settings are correct and the rain sensor is working properly in accordance with state law.
Landscape Watering Schedule and Times
Hand watering and micro-irrigation of plants (other than lawns) can be done on any day and at any time.


New Lawns and Plants


New lawns and plants have a 30-30 establishment period, which allows any-day watering during the first 30 days.
During the second 30 days, watering is allowed three days per week: even-numbered addresses may water on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday; odd-numbered addresses may water Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.


Reclaimed Water


Reclaimed water remains subject to voluntary watering hours, unless blended with another water source or restricted by the local government or utility.


Fountains, Car Washing and Pressure Washing


There are no restrictions on fountains, car washing and pressure washing. However, the District asks that residents be as efficient as possible, such as using a shutoff nozzle on their hose so water isn’t wasted.


Utilities


Water utilities and their local governments are expected to review and revise water restriction enforcement procedures, begin monthly enforcement reporting and communicate with customers about water restrictions and water conservation.

Job Posting for Ecologist in Central Florida

GroundLevel has asked that I help post a position that they have available for hire. They are looking for an entry to mid-level Ecologist to join their team. The position will include restoration projects, plant id, travel, and develop environmental permit applications. They have a native plant nursery as well do restoration work. They have around 100 employees (and growing). For more information please call Debi Lane 863-428-2571

11/17/10

Open Letter to Agricultural Producers about EPA Numeric Nutrient Criteria

Here is an open letter from
the Commissioner of Agriculture Charles Bronson and Micheal Sole the Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection encouraging all agricultural producers to sign and implement the Best Management Practices for their respective operations. Just click on the link below to read the letter.

The EPA has finalized the levels for nutrients that are allowed in the waterways of Florida in order to meet water body standards of quality and reduce the amount of impaired water bodies in the state. The new standards will go in effect 15 months from now. This will require stakeholders to implement plans and remediate affects of nutrient runoff to waterways. As a producer you will eventually either verify that you are not causing nutrient runoff from your nursery or sign up and follow the FDACS Best Management Practices for Nurseries. This is extremely important that you sign up with the BMPs if you haven't done so already. You can call me to talk about it or Jemy Hinton 813-478-6630. This regulation will have far reaching consequences and as a producer you need to be proactive to minimize risk. Here is more information from an article from Growing Produce http://www.growingproduce.com/news/?storyid=4644 and here is a publication from UF about the entire Nutrient Numeric Criteria regulation entitled, "A Guide to EPA's Proposed Numeric Nutrient Water Quality Criteria for Florida" http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/SS/SS52800.pdf

11/12/10

Longleaf Pine Conservation from USDA

This just in from USDA NRCS. Just another thought...There are no longleaf pine seedlings available from Southern nurseries this year, partly due to this government program. You might want to consider growing them.

For Immediate Release

Longleaf Pine Initiative Funding Available to Private Landowners

Gainesville, FL., November 10, 2010 -- Longleaf pine forests once covered millions of acres throughout the Southeastern United States. Today, only a few thousand acres of this vital habitat remains. To help sustain, enhance and restore longleaf pine forests, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White announced the availability of $400,000 to help private landowners in Florida restore and manage longleaf pine.
“The longleaf pine is one of our key native species; providing a home to hundreds of plant and animal species as well as being a tremendous economic resource,” White said. “Restoring and expanding this species is only made possible through voluntary partnerships with conservation-minded landowners who share our goal of healthy forests.”
Longleaf pine habitat can contain as many as 300 different species of groundcover plants per acre, and approximately 60 percent of the amphibian and reptile species found in the Southeast. Additionally, this forested habitat is home to at least 122 endangered or threatened plant and animal species including the fox squirrel, northern bobwhite, red-cockaded woodpecker and gopher tortoise.
“We’ve taken great steps toward conserving longleaf pine forests in Florida,” said Jeffrey Woods, acting state conservationist for Florida. “Through this initiative, and the great works of our landowners, we will be able to enhance and protect more of this essential habitat.”
The Longleaf Pine Initiative will incorporate, through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP), both technical and financial assistance to help landowners in Florida to improve habitat on agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest and Tribal land. Although WHIP has a continuous signup, landowners have until January 7, 2011 to apply for FY2011 funding for the Longleaf Pine Initiative.
Nine states are included in the Longleaf Pine Initiative: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
Approved participants will receive financial assistance for implementing conservation practices including planting longleaf pine, installing firebreaks, conducting prescribed burning and controlling invasive plants.
Additional information on NRCS and our programs is available on our Website at www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov or at your local USDA NRCS office. To find the nearest office go to http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app .

11/4/10

USDA Conservation Stewardship Program

Here is an announcement from the USDA NRCS. You can call the NRCS in Plant City 813-759-6450 or click on the links below for more information.

Gainesville, FL., November 4, 2010 – The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has extended the ranking period cut-off date for their Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Producers now have until January 7, 201, to finalize their applications; but are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.
The CSP program, authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, offers payments to producers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and who agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship. Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, rangeland and nonindustrial forestland.
“We’re extending the deadline for applications to CSP to provide agricultural producers more time to complete their applications,” said Acting State Conservationist Jeffrey Woods. “This will help farmers, ranchers and forestry producers by giving them more time and hopefully allow even more producers to participate in this program.”
CSP is offered in all 50 states, District of Columbia, and the Pacific and Caribbean areas through continuous sign-ups with announced cut-off dates for ranking periods. The program provides many conservation benefits including improvement of water and soil quality, wildlife habitat enhancement and adoption of conservation activities that address the effects of climate change.
A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if CSP is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, contract obligations and potential payments. It is available from local NRCS offices or online at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/new_csp/csp.html .
For information about CSP or other NRCS conservation programs, visit: www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov/programs or the USDA-NRCS Service Center nearest you, http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app .
NRCS is celebrating 75 years helping people help the land.

11/1/10

Job Posting for Horticulture Retail Sales

Here is a retail sales position that is needed to be filled from Robert at Colorfield Farms.

We need a plant salesperson for the retail nursery garden-center who knows the plant names and common problems with their remedies. We seek a well-spoken, helpful” teacher-type” person. We sell to mostly retirees. There is no educational requirement except skill and success. Some QuickBooks POS experience would be a plus but just ordinary computer skills is enough, Microsoft OS. Some marketing and plant upkeep knowledge is good.
Must be OK with some lifting and warm summers. $24,000/year and up, permanent. Contract after trial period. References etc. Start immediately.

Anne and Robert
Colorfield Farms, Inc.
(813) 672-4121
8221 S.R. 674
Wimauma, Florida 33598

La Nina

It looks like we are in the La Nina climate cycle of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) this winter and predictions are that it will extend into the spring. This means that we are generally going to experience a warmer and drier than average winter. What does that mean for my neck of the woods and what does that mean for my production of plants? How will my operation be affected? Well here are some things to think about.


Here are some graphs that will better explain the averages. Remember that these are averages!
This graph shows the La Nina years and how that compares to the normal average.


This graph shows higher than usual temperatures during the winter for the Tampa area when looking at the averages of the La Nina years.


I find that this is an interesting graph as it shows that we might have more freezes than usual depending upon whether or not the La Nina is strong or weak even though overall winter temperatures may be warmer.

How does this affect production? If you are scheduling plants for a particular week remember the growing degree days will be higher and therefore development of plants will be more rapid. It means that you will probably use more water as water loss from the plants is a function of temperature. That might mean that your costs might be slightly higher for production. It means that you will more rapidly use fertilizer if you are using controlled release fertilizers. It means that spring sales will probably start a little earlier and you should have your labor lined up for production, shipping, and delivery. It means pests may stick around longer and start earlier and you will need to be vigilant. It means you shouldn't think that freezes wont be a problem this winter. They might and you will need to keep an ear to the forecast. I'm sure that you can probably think of a few other ways that this climate phenomenon will affect production. If you like please share with the other readers of this blog and post a comment!

For more economic analysis on climate data refer to my previous post about climate by clicking on the label heading called "climate" on the side bar of this blog.









10/15/10

FNGLA Plant Auction

The FNGLA Tampa Chapter will be having their annual plant auction tomorrow at the Hillsborough County Fair Grounds on Hwy 60 and Sydney Washer Road. If you are a grower come on out for our grower appreciation 4-H lunch at 11:30. If you are the general population the live auction starts at 1:30 pm. Hope to see you there!

10/5/10

Speedling is Hiring

Speedling Inc. is looking to find a couple of people to fill two positions one is a quality control inspector for Sun City, FL location and the other is a plug growers at their Blairsville, GA location. Here is a link to their website and information about the positions. http://www.speedling.com/content.cfm?page_id=281

9/29/10

WPS Train-The-Trainer Class

We will be having a WPS Train-the-Trainer Class in Bartow on November 8, 2010 starting at 10:00 AM until 1:00 PM. If you have employees that need to be trained for the Worker Protection Standards then you will either need to be a licensed pesticide applicator or you will need to have a WPS Train-the-Trainer certificate. You can sign up for this class by clicking the link and registering online.
http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e2z41m5x572f8fe5
If you have trouble or cannot register online please call me at the office 813-744-5519 ext. 147.

9/27/10

Tampa's National Park(ing) Day

I participated in an interesting event in downtown Tampa called National Park(ing) Day. This is an event whereby the community re-imagines the utility of parking spaces in public areas. Click on the link to see a short video of what it was all about with viewpoints from Shaun Drinkard, Sarah Howard (the event coordinators) and collaborator Will Womack (FNGLA Tampa Chapter President). The public space is a reflection of the attitudes, values, and leadership of the local citizenry. Here is an event that will stretch your mind when it comes to questioning the use of public space in our community.


9/22/10

SWFWMD Plant City Freeze Management Plan

To minimize the potential harmful affects of pumping too much water during freeze events in the Plant City/Dover area SWFWMD has proposed new rules. Here is a list of the proposals for this area.

1. The management district will create a new water use caution area (WUCA) in the Dover/Plant City area. It will encompass a 256 sq. mile water use caution area from McIntosh east to the county line and bounded on the North at Knights Griffin and continue south to Keysville road. SWFWMD will put limitations on new ground water requests, and implement a strategy to minimize loss of the aquifer during a freeze event.

2. All new residential well consturction within the WUCA will need to be dug deeper and have a greater casing depth.

3. SWFWMD will communicate to residents before a freeze event using media, letters, and phone calls to alert residents to turn off their pumps.

4. SWFWMD will allocate dry well repairs in a more equitable fashion.

5. SWFWMD will expanding the FARMS Program and increasing incentives for alternative frost/freeze protection methods.

6. SWFWMD will increased groundwater monitoring through drilling new monitoring wells and putting meters on all existing wells in the area to record water use and temperatures during a freeze event.

Here is the SWFWMD website that has all the information and potential rules affecting the area.

http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/agriculture/freeze-management/

If you would like to comment to SWFWMD about these rule changes 9/24/10 is the deadline. Send emails to Pamela.gifford@watermatters.org

9/20/10

Design Water Star Projects Seminar

The Southwest Florida Water Management District is offering this free program for landscape architects, designers, builders and other industry professionals involved in the landscape and irrigation design process of new construction projects. Participants will learn the techniques needed to successfully design and implement the Florida Water Star℠ (FWS) program into their projects.

During this 3-hour workshop, site considerations, tree preservation, plant selections and placement, using turf in water conserving landscapes and buffering stormwater runoff, as well as basic irrigation application will be covered. Attendees will learn the Florida Water Star℠ project design process and how to achieve points that will lead to FWS certification. Upon completion of the workshop, professionals will be featured on the District's FWS website as FWS landscape qualified partners.

Florida Water Star℠ is a certification program for builders that saves money and protects the environment through efficient water use and water resources protection in new home construction FWS aligns with other “green” certification programs, such as the Florida Green Building Coalition, EPA’s WaterSense, ENERGY STAR™, and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. This workshop will also demonstrate how getting FWS certification adds points to applications for certification in these other programs. To register for the October 20, 2010 workshop, go to: http://www.fwsdesigntampa.eventbrite.com/

October 20, 2010 9 a.m. to Noon
Hillsborough County Extension Office
5339 S. County Rd. 579
Seffner, FL 33584

October 26, 2010 9-Noon
Sarasota County Extension Office
6700 Clark R., Twin Lakes Park
Sarasota, FL 34241

For the October 26, 2010 workshop go to: http://fwsdesignsarasota.eventbrite.com/If you have any questions about the workshop, contact Angela Maraj at (941) 685-9397 or via email at Angela.Maraj@WaterMatters.org.

9/15/10

Another Reason in Favor of Environemental Horticulture


This article was posted on Science Daily. "Tranquil Scenes Have Positive Impact on Brain" Brain imaging software was used to look at the brain when shown environmental scenes such as the sea and man-made images such as roadways. Imaging showed that natural scenes induced feelings of tranquility and brain harmony. That might be one of the reasons why I like eat my lunch in the gardens. To read more here is the link to the ScienceDaily article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100914095932.htm

9/14/10

Fusarium Wilt of Queen and Mexican Fan Palms


This disease affects queen and Mexican fan palms. The causal agent is Fusarium oxysporum (palmarum). The disease starts out on the older leaves first and only affects one half side of the frond at first. The palm dies quickly within a few months after the initial symptoms. Here is an updated Fact Sheet on Fusarium Wilt of Queen and Mexican Fan Palms.




9/13/10

USDA Incentives for Sustainable Producers

Here is the latest in government programs to help producers become more sustainable:

Opportunities Available Now for Conservation Assistance and Funding
Act now before October 29, 2010 cut-off date


GAINESVILLE, September 2, 2010 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Florida has set a cutoff date of October 29, 2010, to submit applications for several voluntary conservation programs that may help eligible participants pay for conservation practices to prevent soil erosion, improve water quality, restore wetlands and provide habitat for wildlife.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a conservation program that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who face threats to soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. Through EQIP, NRCS develops contracts with agricultural producers to voluntarily implement conservation practices. Persons engaged in livestock or agricultural production and owners of non-industrial private forestland are eligible for the program. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, private non-industrial forestland, and other farm or ranch lands.
The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program for developing or improving high quality habitat that supports fish and wildlife populations of National, State, Tribal, and local significance. Through WHIP, the NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to private and Tribal landowners for the development of upland, wetland, aquatic, and other types of wildlife habitat.
The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners and Tribes to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands in exchange for retiring eligible land from agriculture.
The Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) is a program for landowners and operators to protect grazing uses and related conservation values by conserving grassland, including rangeland, pastureland, shrubland, and certain other lands.
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is available on Tribal and private agricultural lands and non-industrial private forest land. CSP encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by undertaking additional conservation activities; and improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities.
NRCS encourages interested parties to visit with our staff as soon as possible. Applicants who apply early have more time to resolve any program or land eligibility issues.
Although applications are accepted on a continuous basis, Florida NRCS has established a cut-off date of October 29, 2010 for evaluation and ranking of eligible applications for the 2011 program year.
For more information on conservation assistance contact your local NRCS Field Office listed in the telephone directory under “U. S. Government” or
www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/index

8/27/10

A Bright Idea for Lightning Protection


I came across Dr. Richard Beeson's field research site while taking a class called Plant Water Relations. I spoke with him about lightning protection at his site with all his solenoids and data collection devices going out to his field. He explained he uses a small device that is wired from any wires or controllers coming from the field. The component is called a varistor. It is similar to a fuse and is wired to a grounding strip. If a lightning bolt is nearby and there is a voltage spike traveling back from the field the voltage spike will encounter the varistor. If the voltage spike is higher than the rating on the varistor it will automatically shunt the power to the grounding strip. In a direct lightning strike it probably will not protect you. Lightning is so unpredictable. But from a nearby lightening strike and power surge it would probably do the job of protecting your equipment. For more information than you probably care to know, here is a link about varistors and their use http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varistor they cost about $0.05-$0.10 each and you will need one for each wire coming back from the solenoids in your field. (The picture to the right is a varistor from the link above from wikipedia)

In order to show a better picture of what I'm talking about I've included a short video of the setup. Here's the link to click to watch the video: http://hillsborough.extension.ufl.edu/Ag/AgOrnProd/Video/LightningVideo.html

If you happen to watch this video, post a comment on what you think about this new format for learning about new things from Extension.

8/19/10

Farm to Fuel Update

This just in from the Farm To Fuel Folks.

By all accounts the 2010 Farm to Fuel Summit was a huge success. If you were unable to attend the Summit, or would like to see it again, sessions from the Sebastian L Ballroom will be aired on The Florida Channel beginning on Saturday, August 21, at 8 a.m. and again at 8 p.m. The agenda is posted at http://www.floridafarmtofuel.com/summit_2010.htm for your reference. There may be additional airings, but they have not been scheduled yet. Viewers can check The Florida Channel web site for the channels in your area by visiting www.wfsu.org and clicking on "The Florida Channel" in the upper right corner. In the left margin, click "Where to Watch" and select the "Display All" button for a list of cable systems around the state and when they carry The Florida Channel. You may also watch us on the Web by clicking on Webstream 1 on The Florida Channel web site at the designated times.

In addition, PowerPoint presentations from the Summit can be viewed at
http://www.floridafarmtofuel.com/summit_2010.htm.

8/18/10

New Grape Varieties From UF/IFAS

Here is a video of some of the latest releases from Dr. Dennis Gray's grape breeding program. I thought that I might inspire some of the growers of woody ornamentals to try a new edible crop in their production scheme. During my field tour with Dr. Gray I was really impressed by the large yields of these and other grapes they had in the field at Apopka Mid-Florida Research and Education Center. The vineyard rows looked like something you would see in California with beautiful ripe clusters hanging down from the wire trellises and lush green foliage above. These grapes are easily propagated from softwood to medium cuttings and grow rapidly to a salable plant in either a one or 3 gallon container.

Click on the following link to see the varieties and meet Dr. Gray
http://hillsborough.extension.ufl.edu/Ag/AgOrnProd/Video/GrapesVideo.html

If you would like more information on where to obtain the varieties shown in this video please call me at the extension office in 813-744-5519 ext.147

Slower Growing Plants Help Inherent Defenses

It seems that nursery growers are in losing battle with insect pest and a rapid turn of plant crops. Here are the summaries of two articles I've come across recently.



Plants can either protect themselves or grow fast; but not both.



A recent published article in Science magazine by UC Irvine's Kailen Mooney et. al. came to the research conclusion that when plants have traits to grow fast, they are more prone to attack and need outside help from the attack of pests. The converse is true as well. A plant with slower growing traits favor more protection from insects that feed on them. It seems that faster growing plants are more tasty and preferred by plant eating insects.

Here is a link to a brief from the research from Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100325143051.htm



Reduce fertilizer amount and reduce pest pressure.



This article was in NM Pro, March Issue. It was a summary of the researcher Andrew Chow and his colleagues work. They looked at reducing fertilizer inputs in rose crops and the pest status of introduced two spotted spider mites. They used 100, 50, and 33% of the recommended 15-5-15 Cal-Mag fertilizer and placed the same number of female mites on each plants and then grew them out. Mite egg count was 2 times higher with 100% fertilizer compared to the 50 or 33% fertilizer rate. Flowering shoots and quality was not compromised at the 50% fertility rate. This study showed that reducing fertilizer reduced the pest numbers and had positive monetary savings in sprays, labor, and fertilizer. The complete article was in Journal of Economic Entomology Vol. 102, Issue 5.

My take on these articles would be that if I had some plants that were insect magnets and I didn't need them produced for a market window, I might try to reduce the amount of fertilizer to them. Or even, spread out the production of this plant over the year and reduce the amount of fertilizer so that the slower growing plants would be reaching maturity throughout the year for sales. Then watch to see if the reduction of fertilizer reduced the pests to a non-economic damaging level. If you try this let me know how it works out!

8/12/10

Grasshoppers Abound


As you may have noticed lately, grasshoppers populations have increased substantially. They may have even increased to an economically damaging level at your nursery. The eastern lubber grasshopper is especially prevalent during this time of the year. These are the large ones that practically knock you down when they bump into you. I have scanned through some of the fact sheets on the IFAS EDIS (Electronic Data Information Source) to find some information on what you can do to prevent lubber grasshopper damage to your plants. The following paragraphs are taken directly from (EENY-006 Eastern Lubber Grasshopper, Romalea microptera (Beauvois) (= guttata (Houttuyn)) (Insecta: Orthoptera: Acrididae) C. W. Scherer and J. L. Capinera, originally published 1996, revised 2008) here is the factsheet if you would like further information http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in132

“Adults of Romalea microptera exist nearly throughout the year in Florida with their numbers dwindling during the fall and winter period. They have one generation per year, with eggs beginning to hatch in February in South Florida while the rest of the state usually doesn't see this species until March. Eastern lubbers, like all grasshoppers, grow through successive stages after molting. These stages (instars) are referred to as nymphs. Lubbers have a total of five instars before molting into the adult stage. The length of these instars vary slightly but average 15 to 20 days each. The highest number of adults can be observed during the months of July and August.
Females will begin laying eggs during the summer months. After mating, females use the tip of the abdomen to dig a small hole into a suitable patch of soil. Usually at a depth of about two inches, she will deposit up to 50 eggs contained within a light foamy froth. Each female will lay from one to three egg masses. These eggs will remain in the soil through late fall and winter and then begin hatching in March. The young grasshoppers crawl up out of the soil upon hatching and seem to congregate near suitable food sources. Lubbers are often found in damp or wet habitats, but seek drier sites for egg-laying.

Populations cycle up and down, possibly due to the action of parasites. The tachinid fly Anisia serotina (Reinhard) attains high levels of parasitism, sometimes 60-90%

The size of the eastern lubber grasshopper is a little misleading when one considers they require far less food material than most of the more injurious species of grasshoppers that are only one-third as large or smaller.

Grasshopper abundance can be regulated through management of the vegetation. If you deprive grasshoppers of their favored food, often they will leave or perish. Keeping the vegetation mowed is very helpful, as short vegetation does not often support grasshoppers
Lubber grasshoppers will often develop initially in moist areas around ponds and irrigation ditches, then later migrate to homes, yards, and crops. Rather than waiting for the grasshoppers to come to you, it is often best to take the battle to them. So check potential breeding or feeding sites for signs of grasshoppers. The young grasshoppers remain clustered in groups, but as they get older they are more likely to be solitary.

Grasshoppers are not easy to kill, even with insecticides, once they become large. Among the insecticides that will kill lubber grasshoppers are carbaryl, bifenthrin, cyhalothrin, permethrin, and esfenvalerate (note: these are the technical names, which appear in the 'ingredients' section on the label). You likely will have to apply the insecticide directly to the insects; the small amount of insecticide residue remaining on sprayed plants may not adequate to kill the grasshoppers.”

Along with chemical control there are a few biological control options that can be used. Nosema locustae, a naturally occurring protozoan that causes disease and death in crickets and grasshoppers and sold under the trade name Nolo Bait® and Grasshopper Attack®. This biological control is best used when grasshoppers are in the younger stages of maturation. With ingestion of the protozoan, the grasshopper reduces feeding activity and egg laying and between 60 to 90% will die. The next generation of grasshoppers can become infected with egg contamination from adult female grasshoppers. Derived from Eny-275. Microbial Insecticides. R. Weinzierl, T. Henn, P. G. Koehler and C. L. Tucker. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/IN/IN08100.pdf
The fungus Beauveria bassiana is yet another biopesticide registered for grasshopper control. This is a soil fungus that has a broad spectrum of insect control. It is sold under the trade name BotaniGard®. The spores of this fungus penetrates the insects cuticle and consumes it from the inside.
Remember to decide if the level of economic damage is sufficient to warrant control measures. Culturally, there can be some control of grasshoppers with disking in the winter time to expose eggs and mowing in the spring and summer to remove food sources for the grasshoppers to eat.

8/4/10

25th International Coastal Cleanup


I thought I would mention this notice as a partial follow-up of yesterday's blog post. As plant producers we already place a high value upon the benefits that our product brings to the end consumer. I thought it was worth mentioning, along those same lines, that a healthy clean environment is essential for furthering the health of the local residents. So here is your opportunity to help clean up our local environs. Please check out the 25th International Coastal Cleanup.


8/3/10

Trees Can Heal Us

For those of us who work in the green industry we already know how rewarding it can be to see our products creating lasting landscape impacts. One of the perennial issues we face is getting the public to recognize the benefits of environmental horticulture. As producers we also appreciate the beauty that our plants can bring to an environment. Here is an article from ScienceDaily. Although it mentions forests in the article, I have no doubts that the same experiences can be felt in beautifully landscaped places. I hope that this article might reassure you of the beneficial impact of plants on people. I also hope that this article will bolster your spirits in the summer slowdown while you produce your plants for everyone to enjoy. Here is the article from ScienceDaily below.

"The Healing Effects of Forests
ScienceDaily (July 26, 2010) — "Many people," says Dr. Eeva Karjalainen, of the Finnish Forest Research Institute, Metla, "feel relaxed and good when they are out in nature. But not many of us know that there is also scientific evidence about the healing effects of nature." Forests -- and other natural, green settings -- can reduce stress, improve moods, reduce anger and aggressiveness and increase overall happiness. Forest visits may also strengthen our immune system by increasing the activity and number of natural killer cells that destroy cancer cells.
Many studies show that after stressful or concentration-demanding situations, people recover faster and better in natural environments than in urban settings. Blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the level of "stress hormones" all decrease faster in natural settings. Depression, anger and aggressiveness are reduced in green environments and ADHD symptoms in children reduce when they play in green settings.
In addition to mental and emotional well-being, more than half of the most commonly prescribed drugs include compounds derived from nature -- for example Taxol, used against ovarian and breast cancer, is derived from yew trees, while Xylitol, which can inhibit caries, is produced from hardwood bark.
Dr. Karjalainen will coordinate a session on the health benefits of forests at the 2010 IUFRO World Forestry Congress in Seoul. "Preserving green areas and trees in cities is very important to help people recover from stress, maintain health and cure diseases. There is also monetary value in improving people's working ability and reducing health care costs." she says."

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100723161221.htm

7/29/10

Lake Region Meeting Invite

The FNGLA Lake Region Chapter would like to invite you to their next meeting at the new Danielle Fence Outdoor Living Center. This is a great place to send your clients for ideas for outdoor living and combining landscape plants. The meeting will not only be a get-together but will also be a mini trade show. Here is the rest of the information:

Join Us For Chillin and Grillin
at the new
Outdoor Living Center at Danielle Fence
4855 W State Road 60
West of Mulberry near County Line Road

You're invited for a special private preview of Danielle's Fence's New Outdoor Living Center, featuring Central Florida's premier outdoor living showroom, featuring one stop shopping for all your outdoor living needs.

The Lake Region FNGLA Chapter is showcasing this event as a mini trade show. Bring a small table and a couple of chairs to display your products and/or services to attendees. We have invited a large number (but select group) of trade people who will benefit from your participation.

Date; Thursday August 5, 2010

Time: 6 to 9 PM

Menu: Grilled specialties served by two Master Chefs, who's culinary talents will be enjoyed from the finest outdoor equipment available.
Dessert after dark, features a special light show. Complimentary adult beverages will be available.

Cost: A requested $5.00 donation per person. Funds raised will help support our education and scholarship fund.

Reservations Appreciated: Please call Karen at Peterson Nursery @ (863) 644-6491, to let her know to expect you.

7/27/10

Conservation Science Course at Extension

Here is a course being offered at Hillsborough County extension by Rob Northrup Hillsborough County's Urban Forester. The course is being offered to those who might be interested in conservation. Here is some of the information below.

Course Purpose
This course is designed to educate people in the concepts, language, and science related to conservation needs, planning, and action. People that complete this course will better understand the complexities of conservation, which will make them both better educators and participants in local conservation efforts. This course will cover concepts such as species diversity, measuring biodiversity, the processes that generate and maintain biodiversity, types of ecosystem services, ecological processes, habitat fragmentation, effects of human activities on ecosystems, the history of conservation in North America, and strategies for conservation planning.

Course Goals
1. Understand the role that biodiversity plays in conservation science.
2. Understand the factors that sustain or threaten ecosystem integrity.
3. Understand the strategies and approaches used to conserve biodiversity and maintain ecosystem integrity.

Each one-day workshop is designed to include a morning classroom session and discussion,
followed by a field trip and/or practical activity.

Here is the link if you would like more information:
http://tampabayforest.org/UpcomingEvents.htm

The same link will be able to register you online.

7/20/10

NRCS EQUIP Funding for Local Growers

A press release came across my desk for immediate release. This press release is from the USDA for Hillsborough County farmers to implement water savings, environmental enhancement, and runoff remediation projects. It is a cost share grant based on criteria and rankings set by NRCS. Here is a Web link to projects that are potentially grant funding under this NRCS program. ftp://ftp-fc.sc.egov.usda.gov/FL/eqip/EQIPpractices.pdf


Contact: Jeffrey Woods, 352-338-9515
Katura Wright, 352-338-9510
For Immediate Release


Project Funding Available in Florida to Improve Water Quality and Quantity

Gainesville, FL., July 12, 2010 – Hillsborough County area farmers and ranchers can help conserve water and improve water quality on agricultural working lands through the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP), which leverages additional resources and services from conservation partners. The program is administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which enters into agreements with conservation partners to help landowners plan and implement conservation practices in project areas established through the agreements. Florida NRCS has partnered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on one project funded in 2010 for $750,000. Producers in the Northern Tampa Bay area of Hillsborough County have until July 23, 2010, to apply for this program at their local NRCS office.

"NRCS is working hard to support efforts to protect and preserve our water resources,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS state conservationist in Florida. “The funding announced today will help producers in Florida begin or expand plans and projects to improve water quality.”

AWEP partners include federally recognized Indian tribes, states, units of local government, agricultural associations, and non-governmental organizations. Partner proposals were selected using a competitive process that considered several factors including statutorily defined priority areas, emphasis for water conservation activities such as conversion of irrigated land to dryland farming and assistance to farmers and ranchers to meet regulatory requirements. Approved partners enter into multi-year agreements with NRCS to promote ground and surface water conservation or improve water quality on eligible agricultural lands in the project area. Additional information about AWEP is available at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/awep.
Information about other NRCS conservation programs can be found at www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov/programs.

NRCS is celebrating 75 years helping people help the land in 2010. Since 1935, the NRCS conservation delivery system has advanced a unique partnership with state and local governments and private landowners delivering conservation based on specific, local conservation needs, while accommodating state and national interests.

---------------------------------------------------
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

If you have any other questions you can call your local NRCS service center in Plant City at 752-1474.

7/19/10

Lightning

When I got back from the National Association of County Agriculture Agents National Conference, I was greeted at the airport by my wife and bad news. After greeting me she proceeded to tell me that lightning had struck our irrigation clock and our valves. The lightning caused our pipe to burst at the valve. I believe it struck the solenoid at the valve and traveled back to the clock. The charge then proceeded to blow apart the clock and traveled back to the power strip and blow that apart. The charge then tripped the breaker. The charge also fried the brains of another clock nearby and charred the wall where they were mounted. So instead of catching up with my family I spent the evening repairing the damage.


With this event fresh in mind, I figured it would be a good time to do a blog post on lightning and its effects. Florida is the lightning capital of the U.S. and it's probably good to refresh ourselves on the hazards of working outdoors in the rainy season in Florida. Here's a link to an IFAS document on lightning. http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/families_and_consumers/lightning_safety.html

This page has some basic information on lightning. It also has a section on what to do in emergencies where someone has been struck. This might be a good read considering the amount of time that nursery producers and fieldworkers spend in the outdoors.

I learned one lesson from this event. Make sure not to store any flammable material near a potential route for lightning to travel. I am glad that I did not have anything that could have caught fire next to where the clocks were. I could see from the char marks on the wall that if there was something flammable nearby it definitely would've caught. Below is a picture of the powerstrip that got blown in half. I am still looking for the remaining parts of the irrigation controller.


7/8/10

Pesticide Resistance In Whitefly


I am finally getting to some of those trade magazines that pileup on my desk throughout the year. I came across an article from The Grower in the November/December 2009 issue. The article is entitled Efficacy on the Decline by Vicky Boyd. The article summarizes some examples of pest resistance in whitefly. Specifically, the article talks about imidicloprid and how whiteflies are gaining resistance to this compound. The article states two researchers, one from the University of Arizona in Yuma and one at the University of Florida Gulf Coast Research and Education Center that have been seeing trials of whitefly resistance. John Palumbo states that he's seen a steady increase in imidicloprid resistance in the past 5 to 6 years. At the University of Florida, David Schuster has seen an increase of whitefly resistance to imidicloprid increase eight-fold from the years 2000 to 2006. I'm sure that many growers can probably say the same thing of their crops from the use of this chemical. When the chemistry came out it worked great, but now it seems that the pests don't respond in the same way. This is why it is recommended to rotate with different modes of action in remedying specific pests. As always make sure that you have correctly identified the past in which you want to control. A good publication from the University of Florida is http:edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pi121. This publication classifies insecticides based on mode of action from that Insecticide Resistance Action Committee. You can use this publication to help you rotate through different types of motive action when dealing with specific pests. Rotating through different types of motive action is a Best Management Practice in the nursery industry. It will also help keep certain chemistries available longer to control pests.

6/29/10

Stop Biting Insects

This time of the year working in the nursery can be tough. Heat, rain, lightning, tropical storms, and biting insects all take their toll. We can control the weather but you can alleviate the mosquito bites. Here is an article from Chemically Speaking newsletter from the Pesticide Information Office.

The EPA has recently updated its insect repellent Web page (http://www.epa.gov/repellentfinder). By reading and following label directions, the use of repellents can reduce or eliminate the discomfort of insect bites. Ticks can transmit serious diseases such as lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other serious diseases. Repellents also curtail the spread of such mosquito-borne diseases as St. Louis encephalitis and West Nile virus. The Web page serves as a one-stop-shop for information on registered repellents. It provides up-to-date listings of mosquito and tick repellents as well as tips for choosing the right product. One of the key features of the revamped site is easy access to information about protection time. It will help people choose the right product for the length of time they will be outdoors. (EPA, 5/18/10).

I hope that this info helps you to make better decisions when battling mosquitoes in the nursery. Also remember to make sure that stored, used containers and any old tires are stacked or covered to eliminate water puddling and creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

6/24/10

Tree Planting Bills Need Your Help

There are two bills working their way through Congress. Both Houses are considering the Small Business Environmental Stewardship Assistance Act. This would provide a grant to assist in tree plantings and their care in the landscape. You may want to contact your Representatives and voice your support. Here is the story from NM Production:

National tree planting program would provide an economic impact of $741 million Trees mean jobs and a much-needed boost in a struggling economy. The reauthorization of a national tree-planting program would generate an estimated economic impact of $741 million during the next five years according to a recent study. The report was released in mid-May by Alan Hodges of the University of Florida, and Charles Hall and Marco Palma at Texas A&M University. The program would create a total employment impact of more than 6,000 jobs during those five years, generating more than $87 million in revenue for federal, state and local governments at a time when municipal greening budgets continue to be cut.The Small Business Environmental Stewardship Assistance Act (SBESA) is currently being considered in both chambers of the U.S. Congress. The SBESA Act reauthorizes the SBA National Tree Planting Program at $50 million annually between fiscal years 2011 and 2015. The money supports planting trees throughout public areas. This program also requires a 25 percent match for any grant under the program, including in-kind contributions such as the cost or value of providing care and maintenance for a period of three years after planting. This match ensures that both private and community investments are made for the installation and care of trees funded by this program. Between 1991 and 1994, more than 18,000 green industry firms were employed to plant more than 23 million trees across the country through the SBA program. ANLA has launched a new Web-based, grassroots campaign in support of the SBESA Act. The full report, as well as more information on H.R. 4509 and S. 3279, can be found at www.treesmeanjobs.com

You can click on the link above for more information.

6/22/10

Low Volume Irrigation Class Being Offered

Here is a class being offered by the Florida Irrigation Society on low volume irrigation. Below are the specifics. To attend contact the Florida Irrigation Society 813-839-4601.

Skip Wright, representing the Florida Irrigation Society, will teach a 4-hour class on low volume irrigation at the District’s Tampa Service office on July 2. The cost is $85 for non-FIS members. The registration form is attached.

Course Title : LOW VOLUME IRRIGATION


Course Description:

Increasing emphasis on water conservation as well as the passage of many local ordinances has emphasized the use of low volume irrigation. The course will serve as an overview of the use, design and installation of low volume irrigation.

Course timeline - Summary – 4 hours total.
1. Introduction to low volume irrigation – Time 15 minutes.
3. Understanding general irrigation design considerations - Time - 45 minutes.
4. Understanding of Pipe sizing - Time – 30 minutes.
5. Understanding of equipment selection - Time – 60 minutes.
6. Understanding of low volume design and layout issues – Time – 30 minutes.
7. Management of low volume irrigation. Time – 30 minutes.
8. Examination – Time – 30 minutes.

COURSE OBJECTIVES - DETAILED TIME LINE

1. Introduction to low volume irrigation systems – Time - 15 minutes.
Identifying the general design considerations including, water source, plant materials, plant groupings, and soil types.
Identifying the advantages of low volume irrigation including water conservation, controlling soil moisture, use of low pressure water supplies, reduced weed growth, reducing liability by reducing chance of slips and falls and no spray on building foundations.
Identifying the disadvantages including high maintenance, frequent visual inspection of plant material, filtration and pressure control, pipe & tubing exposed, and consumer’s lack of confidence.

2. Understanding general irrigation design considerations - Time - 45 minutes.
Explaining definitions related to irrigation in general and low volume in specific.
Describing the overview of irrigation components/design.
Describing Water sources including potable, reclaimed pump/well. Pump/surface water, and pump sizing considerations.
Explaining Plant material evaluation – Type of plants and plant groupings.
Describing the different Soil types and the use of low volume for course,
medium and fine soils.

3. Understanding of Pipe sizing - Time – 30 minutes
Explaining sizing considerations for PVC pipe.
Explaining sizing considerations for poly pipe.
Explaining sizing considerations for “spaghetti” tubing.

4. Understanding of equipment selection - Time – 60 minutes.
Emitter types and uses.
Controller selection.
Backflow considerations.
Filter use.
Automatic valve selections.
Flush Valves
Air/vacuum relief valves.
Pressure reducers.

5. Understanding of low volume design and layout issues – Time – 30 minutes.
Hydro zoning - Different irrigation methods should be separated.
Separate trees from shrubs.
Flushing considerations.
Run time consideration.

6. Management of low volume irrigation - Time – 30 minutes.
Maintenance considerations.
Scheduling considerations.

METHOD OF COURSE PRESENTATION – Course will include power point presentation on low volume, student work sheets on low volume design, and group discussion.

METHOD OF EVALUATION - Examination – Time – 30 Minutes.

6/16/10

Knock Out Roses Illegally Propagated

Here is a story from Greenhouse Grower about an unnamed illegal propagator of knock out roses being caught and fined. The nursery was in Central Florida but will remain unnamed due to the clauses of the settlement.



Any plants that are patented are the property of the patent holder and the propagation of those plants will need to be allowed or permission given from the patent holder. This is an easy financial risk to eliminate from your business operation. I have seen people inspecting large nurseries for the potential of illegal propagation. Here is the link to the rest of the story.



http://www.greenhousegrower.com/news/?storyid=3439

6/11/10

Small Farms Conference



Did you know that the majority of farms in the State of Florida are small farms? A small farm is defined as farms that generate less than $250,000 per year. I just wanted to share with you that the Small Farms Alternative Enterprises Conference will be taking place in Kissimmee on July 31 - Aug 1, 2010. This is a great conference for those that are thinking about diversification of their operations. I know that many of our producers have been dabbling in food production. This is a good conference for ideas and networking. Also, Will Allen the CEO of Growing Power will be giving the keynote address to kick off the conference.


Here is a link to the flyer on the conference.



Early registration is $110.00 and will increase to $160.00 on July 16, 2010.

If you would like to register...here is a link: https://mail.ufl.edu/OWA/redir.aspx?C=812cbbfa58ba472aa72caf254169c1ff&URL=http%3a%2f%2fsmallfarms.ifas.ufl.edu%2ffloridasmallfarmsconference%2f2010%2fregistration.shtml

6/3/10

Hurricane Season Predictions


This year is seemingly being predicted as an "very active" hurricane season. Dr. Gray's team at Colorado State University is predicting 18 named storms, 10 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes (Category 3-5 intensity). What exactly does that mean? Well, His research is stating that this season is having similar conditions to the 2005 hurricane season which was one of the most active ever, causing the most loss of property and one of the deadliest seasons on record. This is the same year that Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma hit the US. If this is an early indicator of the season coming up I hope that you prepare for it. It is much easier to clean out ditches and pick up possible debris before you have a deadline to get it done in the face of an approaching storm. It would be a good idea to clean out ditches at the beginning of the rainy season anyway. Also check on insurance, generators, equipment, etc. early so there are no surprises. And have a preparedness plan!!!
For more information on Dr. Gray's report here is a link http://tropical.atmos.colostate.edu/forecasts/2010/june2010/jun2010.pdf (it is very technical but has some interesting information).
Also, here is an excellent recap of the 2005 hurricane season from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_Atlantic_hurricane_season


New Energy Grants Through NRCS

Here is the latest update for energy savings grants.

Initiative Announced to Improve Agricultural Energy
Conservation and Efficiency in Florida

Applications due June 17, 2010 for 2010 Funding

Gainesville, FL., June 3, 2010- Carlos Suarez, State Conservationist for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today announced an initiative under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) designed to help agricultural producers in Florida transition to more energy efficient operations. While this is a continuous signup, applications for 2010 funding must be received by the June 17, 2010 cut-off date.

Through EQIP, NRCS will pay up to 50 percent of the cost of an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP). The evaluation of energy conservation activities includes energy used in the cultivation, protection harvesting, processing, and storage of agricultural crops and in the feeding, housing, and processing of animals and animal products. The AgEmp initiative is designed to save both money and energy when fully implemented. Applications will be funded as requests are received and eligibility has been determined.

USDA and agriculture producers have a common interest in improving sustainability of their agricultural operations through the promotion of on-farm energy audit evaluations as well as assistance in the implementation of energy conservation and efficiency measures. Energy audits will be individually tailored to ensure coverage of each farm's primary energy uses. Simple changes in a landowner’s agricultural operations can help farmers and ranchers achieve significant cost and energy savings.

AgEMPs will be developed by a Technical Service Provider (TSP), who is certified by NRCS and placed on an “approved list” to provide technical assistance to producers for specific conservation programs administered by USDA. Your local NRCS office can provide you with the name(s) of certified TSPs. EQIP payments will be made directly to program participants for development of an AgEMP by a certified TSP.

Interested producers should visit their nearest USDA Service Center to determine eligibility. Individuals are not eligible for EQIP until they have completed the Farm Bill eligibility requirements. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office to begin this process.

For more information about agricultural energy management plans visit http://www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/flagemp.html or you may contact Kenneth Morgan, Conservation Program Specialist, at (352) 338-9545, or via email at kenneth.morgan@fl.usda.gov.

6/2/10

Sales Help Wanted

Ivan Martinez at Pine Lake Nursery is looking for a sales person. If interested please call him at 813-948-6209.

Live Oak Trees for Sale

I have been speaking with a live oak field owner about the sale of her oak trees. She owns about 1600 live oak trees and is wanting to sell them. They are about 4" - 7" caliper about 20'+/- tall and around 12' wide. They are comprised of about 5% Fancy, 25% #1, and the rest #2 or culls. They will need to be spaded to haul as the owner doesn't have equipment to move/lift/dig. If you are interested please call me at the extension office for more details

5/24/10

More Assistance for Clean Energy Projects

Here is another announcement from FDACS:

Florida Clean Energy Grants ($10,000,000) Grant Solicitation Open
The Clean Energy Grant program will provide funding to promote energy efficiency measures and renewable energy deployment for eligible public, not-for-profit, and agricultural entities. The maximum amount for an individual award is $500,000 with a minimum amount of $100,000. The program will be subdivided into two categories. Eligible applicants under Category 1 ($8,000,000) include Florida state and local governments who did not receive a direct allocation of funds from the U.S. DOE for the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant Program, school districts, public universities and colleges, Florida Constitutional Officers, independent special districts, and not-for-profit companies. Existing Florida farms and farm operations will be considered eligible applicants under Category 2 ($2,000,000).
Florida Clean Energy Grant Application (pdf 266.17 kB)

5/20/10

USDA Assistance for Tree Growers


This was released from the USDA for tree growers.

Isabel Benemelis (202) 720-7809

USDA Announces Assistance Program for Orchardists and Nursery Tree Growers

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today said that orchardists and nursery tree growers can begin applying for benefits under the Tree Assistance Program, which was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. Signup begins Monday, May 10, 2010, at local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices.

"This program helps our orchardists and nursery tree growers replant and get back on their feet after natural disasters,” said Vilsack.

The Tree Assistance Program (TAP) provides help to orchardists and nursery tree growers who produce trees, bushes and vines for commercial purposes, to replant or rehabilitate trees, bushes and vines damaged or destroyed by natural disasters. The 2008 Farm Bill expanded eligibility to include Christmas tree and nursery tree growers that were ineligible under prior legislation. Trees grown for pulp or timber or not grown for commercial purposes are not eligible.

To be eligible for TAP, producers must have suffered more than a 15 percent death loss due to the natural disaster after adjustment for normal mortality. TAP is a cost-reimbursement program, with payments covering up to 70 percent of replant costs and 50 percent of pruning, removal and other salvaging costs for replacing or salvaging damaged trees.

Producers can receive assistance for up to 500 acres of trees, bushes or vines. Producers must also have purchased a policy or plan of insurance under the Federal Crop Insurance Act or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, or for 2008, obtained a waiver of the risk management purchase requirement through the buy-in provision. Eligible losses must have occurred on or after Jan. 1, 2008, and before Oct. 1, 2011.

For more information on the new TAP program, please contact your county FSA office or the website at
http://www.fsa.usda.gov/tap

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).