Career Development Event 2010

We had our Hillsborough County Nursery, Landscape & Floriculture Career Development Event yesterday. Nearly one hundred students and their sponsors from around Hillsborough County descended upon the Extension office for a grueling half day of testing related to the nursery, landscape, and floriculture industry. All students belonged to their respective high school or middle school’s Future Farmers of America Chapter and have been preparing for this test with their teachers for the last few months. The students were tested on identification skills with landscape and floriculture plants, insects, weeds, and disease pests, and industry related tools. They were also tested on their book knowledge on materials related to the production of plants, and the installation of Florida Friendly Landscapes. This is also a practice run for the state and national championships for similar FFA events. Multiple volunteers and staff noted how well mannered and behaved the students were during the event. The students really did a great job on their tests showing off how much they worked up to this event.

This extension agent sponsors the event with designing the tests, scoring and procuring all the materials as well as helping to provide lunch to the students, sponsors, and volunteers. There is also a great deal of industry supporters during the event, which was welcomed from ProSource One providing the drinks for the event, Tampa Bay Wholesale Grower members J and R Nursery, Riverview Flower Farm, and Tampa Wholesale Nursery providing the plants for identification. The food was provided from Holmberg Farms and Pam Walden from Hillsborough County schools. We also received help from volunteers of 4-H, and Hillsborough County Extension Staff. The awards and trophies are supplied from the Tampa Chapter FNGLA. The money that they buy awards with is from the Fall Plant Auction held during the Hillsborough County Fair. They will supply trophies and plaques for the overall school winners in a Jr. and Sr. division. They will also award checks and certificates to the highest individuals overall and for individual test winners.

I will be placing all the winners on my web page as well as a short video segment of the days’ event. Thank you all who helped and donated time, talent, and treasure to making this event flow so smoothly. Here is the link to my webpage: http://hillsborough.extension.ufl.edu/Ag/AgOrnProd/YouthCDE.html


Freeze Protection Refresher

Most of the growers I have surveyed have fared pretty well during these last couple weeks of freezes. I thought that I would put a few links of information related to cold protection from UF/IFAS researchers that growers could brush up on. Most growers are already dong a great job of protecting their crops but I thought that I might add a publication on freeze cloth as an alternative to pumping large quantities of water.

Here are the links:
This one is titled Row Covers for Commercial Vegetable Culture in Florida http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/cv201
The information is fairly applicable for ornamental growers.

This one is about ornamental freeze protecting: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/MG/MG02500.pdf

Remember to make sure the ice that is forming is clear and forms icicles. If the ice is milky water may not be applied in adequate amounts.

Also remember to turn water off after the wet bulb temperature rises above freezing if it is windy or dry to avoid evaporative cooling.


More Freeze Warnings

These last few weeks of pumping water for our freeze protection are taking their toll. Not just with a lack of sleep but with a drawdown of the water table in our area from all the agricultural pumping. There are some wells running dry and sinkholes forming as well as some accidents attributed from icy roads from sprinklers.

It looks like the majority of the growers I have talked with in our area are making it through with minimal damage. We will need to see how the plants look in a few weeks to see if they made it through.

Here is another letter from Hugh Gramling about the issues surrounding the water pumping and what growers of the TBWG should do.

I hope you survived the freeze(s) and are finally planning on a good night’s sleep. You deserve it.

We now are entering the aftermath of the extended cold period. SWFWMD has had over 70 complaints yesterday of dry wells caused by agricultural pumping. Water use permit holders are responsible for any damages which occur to their neighbors and their wells. If you are notified of a neighbor’s complaint, please do the following:

1) Immediately respond to SWFWMD that you will look into the complaint.
2) Within 36 hours contact the person who filed the complaint and let them know you are looking into it. Don’t agree you caused the problem unless you are ready to assume the financial responsibility.
3) To the best of your ability, make sure you were pumping during the periods involved and there is no one closer than you to the neighbor.
4) SWFWMD will help you identify wells in your area.
5) Call me if you need to check any items and don’t get the responses you need.

If you caused the damage (or might have), be a good neighbor and take care of it promptly.

Another issue which came up during the last few nights of the freeze is unintended consequences of pumping. There were at least two accidents caused by ice building up on the road outside an agricultural operation. The farmer will be liable for such actions.

I know you are busy during freezes but please make sure you don’t have irrigation drift onto road, you don’t have sprinklers which hit road surfaces and the runoff of your property is not filling ditches and getting on the roads.

Let's hope that it warms up soon!


Freeze Alert

I'm sure as a grower you are mindful of the freezes that are expected. I just wanted to remind of the link to FAWN Florida Automated Weather Network.

http://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu/ There are tools that can help you decide when to start the pumps running if you are freeze protecting and how low temperatures are expected to go.

Also here is a letter to growers from Hugh Gramling at TBWG.

We are expecting some of the coldest temperatures in the next few days we have seen in years. I know you already have made you plans on how to deal with the freeze.

Please make an accurate record of any watering you do for these next few days. Mark down the start times, start meter reading (if you have one), finish time, finish meter reading, volume, and any other pertinent information. This may make a big financial difference to you in the future. The aquifer in the central part of the county is being stressed by all the agricultural pumpage. While it will bounce back when everyone stops pumping, damage still may occur to shallow wells before that time.

If you have a water use permit, a condition is you must repair or replace any neighbor’s pump or well it is presumed you damaged as a result of the pumping. Adequate records may help you mitigate the cost associated with that. If you don’t have a permit, it still is good information to keep and may help you in some other way. Already one grower has been called by a neighbor wanting help with a well. Since the grower did not pump he acted like a good neighbor but had no financial obligation.

Also remember to report your frost/freeze quantities separately when you send in your monthly report. They do not count against your permitted water allocation.

Governor Charlie Crist has issued an executive order lifting weight restriction on the movement of agricultural products on FL roads for the next 14 days. This is to allow all ag producers a chance to move products quickly as a result of the freeze.

If you have any questions, please give me a call.

Hugh M. Gramling
Executive Director
Tampa Bay Wholesale Growers, laa
(813) 655-1914