New CEU Core Article Now Available

The second article is now available on the Industry Sponsored Hillsborough County Extension Pesticide CEU Webpage. This is the second article of a series of free web CEU credits available to those who will need core CEUs to maintain their spray licenses.  The article is entitled "When Pesticides Fail to Work Properly. "  Just follow the link below, read the article, take and pass the short quiz, and get your CEU.  Couldn't be much simpler.  Thanks to Diamond R Fertilizer and Winfield Solutions for their sponsorship. Here is the link to the web page.  www.tiny.cc/ceus    


Realtors Optimistic on Home Sales Outlook

While homebuilders may be in the dumps, realtors are very optimistic about the housing recovery here in Florida.  According to the latest report of home sales in the US, investors have been purchasing homes and sales are up 3.9%.  The even better news is that Florida home sales are up 36% from February to March and they are up 15.8% from a year ago.  That sounds great.  The first thing that usually happens when a home is purchased is a complete makeover...translation...landscape upgrade and purchasing of enviromental horticulture products.  For more information about this topic please click on the link from the St. Pete Times.
http://tiny.cc/96x2o  Maybe the tide has finally turned for plant sales!


Homebuilders in the Dumps

Here is an article from Reuters this morning.  It looks like demand for woody ornamentals and trees will be slow to recover if you look at the outlook by US homebuilders.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. homebuilder sentiment slipped a notch in April as home prices continued to fall in most areas of the country amid widespread foreclosures, a survey released on Monday showed.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market index fell to 16 from 17, leaving the index in the pessimist range for a full five years.

A reading above 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor. The index has not been above 50 since April 2006.

"The spring home buying season is getting off to a slow start due to persistent concerns about home values as more foreclosures seem to be hitting the market, increasingly restrictive lending requirements for home buyers and builders, and the slow pace of economic recovery," said David Crowe, the NAHB's chief economist.

WASHINGTON Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:11am EDT
(Reporting Corbett B. Daly; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)


Money for Irrigation Conservation

Here is another update from USDA NRCS about how you can save money by upgrading your irrigation.

Funding Available for Producers to Improve and Conserve Water

Gainesville, FL., April 13, 2011 – Funding applications are being accepted for Dover/Plant City area farmers and ranchers to help conserve water and improve water quality on their agricultural working lands. The Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) 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.

$298, 215 is available this year through a multiyear project in which Florida NRCS partnered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Producers in the Northern Tampa Bay area of Hillsborough County and a small part of Polk County have until May 6, 2011, to apply for this program at their local NRCS office.
"Florida NRCS is working hard to support efforts to protect and preserve our water resources,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS state conservationist in Florida. “This AWEP funding will help producers in Hillsborough County begin or expand plans and projects to improve water quality.”

AWEP partner proposals are 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 dry land 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.

Producers interested in applying for funding must submit applications through their local NRCS Service Center, which can be located on the internet at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app. 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.


Propagating Viburnum obovatum "Walter's Viburnum"

"How do I propagate Walter's viburnum (Viburnum obovatum)?  I have received this question a few times as an agent and I thought it would be a good time to finally post a blog article on it.  In 1989 an article was published by UF's Dr. Bijan Dehgan in the Florida State Horticulture Society Proceedings entitled "Vegetative Propagation of Florida Native Plants: III Shrubs"  He looked at the cutting propagation of ten native shrubs over 5 different times of the year with three different treatments of hormones.  One of the plants was the Walter's viburnum.  The cuttings for the viburnum were taken from Polk County (Four Corners Mine).  He took terminal semi-hard wood cuttings.  The hormones were 0, 2500, and 5000 parts per million of IBA in a quick dip.  Cutting times were March, May, July, September and November.  Over all the combinations it seems that the best time was May with 5000 ppm IBA which yielded 75%  rooting.  Zero and 2500 IBA yielded 61% and 64% respectively.  September cuttings with 5000 ppm IBA yielded 60% rooting.   Here is a link to the original publication.  http://tiny.cc/vobovatum 
I have also read on Floridata that fast growing shoots in the spring root easily, but there was nothing else mentioned.  Let me know how it goes or let me know how your success is at propagating this plant.


New Contributing Writer

I would like to welcome our new contributing writer to this blog Dave Palmer.  He has agreed to add interesting articles as he finds them from time to time for our reading pleasure.  Some of you may remember Dave from when you got a pesticide license from Hillsborough County.  He has moved over to Manatee County and is a Commercial Horticulture Extension Agent there.  He has 25+ years in the horticulture industry and extension.  He has worked in landscape maintenance, retail garden centers, and as an agent.  He also is a whiz with technology.  Welcome aboard Dave!

UF Tree Production Website

I had a grower asking some questions about proper pruning techniques and the proper removal of lower branches along the trunk in field production oaks.  Specifically, how much, when, and how long  are the branches pruned.  We found the answers and a whole lot more information than could be digested at one sitting by going to UF's Environmental Horticulture website.  Here Dr. Ed Gilman has an extensive nursery production tree website.  He has got extensive information on how to prune during the production stages of nursery trees to arrive a quality product.  For further reading here is the link to the website.  http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/nursery_production.shtml 
By the way, the answer is to leave as much as possible of the lower branches as long as the diameter is not sufficient to compete with the trunk.  For live oaks, pruning the lower branches to a cone around the trunk is acceptable.  The longer the branches  the larger and stronger the trunk will grow.  Pruning to about 20" diameter cone around the trunk would work.  Then as the canopy develops and becomes about 90% of the entire tree canopy, you can prune the  lower branches to the main trunk.


Crystal Ball on Landscape Pick Up

Is the nursery business about ready to turn the corner? There seems to be a steady gain in the economy in non-residential construction. According to the crystal ball that is the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Reuters (March 30, 2011) relayed an article and was covered by Nursery Management reporting that the AIA announced that their Architecture Billings Index ticked up 0.6 to a score of 50.6 (A score over 50 is a positive indicator) meaning that billings by architectural firms are improving. This is the fourth month in a row that the indicator is above 50. This is an early indicator of construction plans that are on the drafting boards nine to 12 months away from breaking ground. Where there is construction plans, there is usually plans for landscapes as well. For further information about the article here is the link. www.tiny.cc/zvpgz