Lowndes – Echols Ag News

Sunbelt Expo Field Day

By Clint Thompson for CAES News

Georgia farmers can learn about agricultural research while interacting with University of Georgia scientists during the annual Sunbelt Field Day in Moultrie, Georgia, on Thursday, July 25.

From 8:30 a.m. to noon, UGA agriculture specialists and other industry leaders will present their findings from various crop research projects conducted on the 600-acre farm.

Among the UGA experts whose research will be highlighted is UGA Cooperative Extension soils and hydrology specialist Glen Harris. He’s researched cotton and peanuts at Sunbelt for more than 20 years and believes the research done here is vital to the Georgia farming community.

“My research experience at the Sunbelt Ag Expo goes back to the days of Darrell Williams, who the research farm is named after,” Harris said. “It’s a place to be able to show the cutting-edge research that the University of Georgia is known for.”

Harris’ research this year focuses on soil nutrient needs on cotton, specifically how fertilizer impacts cotton’s growth. Sulfur-based fertilizer, foliar potassium and side-dress nitrogen fertilizer are part of his research, which is replicated every year.

Cotton, peanut, weed, vegetable and forage researchers will speak to field day attendees about the statewide impact of their research. Along with Harris, other UGA scientists presenting this year include Lisa Baxter, UGA Extension forage agronomist; Stanley Culpepper, UGA Extension weed specialist; Dennis Hancock, UGA Extension forage specialist; Jeremy Kichler, Colquitt County Extension coordinator; Monique Leclerc, Regent’s Professor on the UGA Griffin campus; Scott Monfort, UGA Extension peanut specialist; and Jared Whitaker, UGA Extension cotton specialist.

“The research partnership that we have with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences researchers gives us a healthy blend of university and corporate research plots on our Darrell Williams Research Farm at the Sunbelt Ag Expo. Working with the UGA researchers, we are able to stay on the cutting edge of the latest agronomic research as it pertains to seed and forage varieties, crop protection, irrigation and water management, soil fertility, and precision agriculture,” said Chip Blalock, executive director of the Sunbelt Ag Expo.

For more information about the Sunbelt Field Day, see https://sunbeltexpo.com.

Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.

Two Weaning Methods

Jason Duggin, PC Southeast Update, July 2019

 

One of my dad’s favorite sayings was, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” When it comes to types of calf weaning methods, this phrase could easily be used.  However, my dad tended to tell me this when I was using the wrong method.  In the South, operations are often times limited in terms of space, pens, and sufficient fencing to hold curious calves.  Thus, weaning in the Southeast can be a challenge.

 

For demonstration purposes, let’s look at 2 weaning types.  Option 1: Gather the calves, load them on the trailer and ship them to the closest market or buyer.  If your jaw just dropped out of your mouth, I don’t blame you.  I’m not suggesting this is a good strategy, but it is a method that is commonly used.  This is the old standard from days gone by, but some cattle are still managed this way. What’s the cost of using this method? Well, the biggest cost is not being able to capitalize on selling a “weaned” product.  Weaned calves are worth $20 to $40 more per head.  You might ask, “Why are Option 1 calves cheaper?” This is an important question to consider.  To ask it another way, who wants to buy bawling calves?  It’s certainly not the feedlots. Those are train wreck scenarios riddled with respiratory breakouts and increased death loss.  The answer: Those looking to cash in on the cheapest calves on the market.  These buyers are willing to take on the risk of a highly stressed calf at a cheap price in hopes of “straightening” them out health wise, and then over the course of a couple of months, selling them at heavier weights.

 

So, what method is better than option 1?  Just about anything!  Now let’s consider another option which can consist of weaning with nose to nose contact between calf and dam.  This is ideal for reducing calf stress, bawling, and sickness.  After a typical 45- or 60-days preconditioning period, these calves will have an advantage at the market.  They should also gain another 2.0 lbs. per day, conservatively.  Combine that with a good deworming protocol, and there can be some serious payweight added to your sale ticket.    Good weaning management is important and includes- abundant, clean water; quality forage; a good growing diet; good shade; secure fencing; sanitary pen conditions.  It’s not the only way, but it’s the best way.

Row Crop Disease Update

Corn:  Southern corn rust is now confirmed in 7 adjoining fields in Baker County.  I don’t think it is a coincidence that we are finding it now; development is following the rain periods of recent weeks.  I expect (stay tuned) to have more identified very soon.  Bottom line:  I think that the amount of southern rust is fairly low in the state right now, but that could change fairly quickly.  Wind and more wind yesterday and rains certainly were PERFECT for moving spores.

 Recommendation:  Any corn in the dough/dent stage as of now, i would likely not advise spraying for rust in SW Georgia, or anywhere else.  Corn in  late milk stage, I would likely not spray either, because, again, the amount of rust is low.  Any corn in SW Georgia that is at early milk, silking or tasseling stages in SW Georgia, I would certainly think about protecting with a fungicide.

 IF YOU THINK YOU FIND SOUTHERN RUST, PLEASE LET US KNOW

 Peanuts:  We are in a combat situation I believe now with white mold.  I am getting pictures of young plants that are affected.  Very warm soil temperatures followed by moisture followed now by hot temperatures creates PERFECT white mold conditions (southern stem rot, Nickie).  Typing this at 7:30 AM, it is already 79 degrees and 100% humidity.  I can almost hear the white mold…..

 Recommendations:  Now is not the time to be timid on white mold control.  The weather is here, teh crop is developing, protect the crop with fungicides from leaf spot and white mold.

 Cotton:  No target spot or areolate mildew, but conditions are favorable.  Please advise your growers to pay attention and scout.  FIRST BLOOM is an important time to check your crop for target spot.  Even if you don’t spray, be aware.  Also, keep your eyes open for reddened, stunted, distorted plants that COULD be our new viral disease.  If you find plants like that, please let me know so we can check them out.

 Soybeans:  Asian soybean rust is present in kudzu across the Coastal Plain.  Conditions (windy and passing storms) are PERFECT for moving it to soybeans.  IF THEY WERE MY BEANS, I WOULD DEFINITELY APPLY A FUNGICIDE BY R3, POD SET STAGE, especially if I was putting out dimilin and boron, and even if I wasn’t.  GOOD INSURANCE.

By  Bob Kemerait 

Slippery Algae in Turfgrass

Published on 06/13/19

Rain, overwatering can cause slippery algae to pop up in turfgrass lawns

By Clint Waltz for CAES News

Recent dry weather encouraged the use, and possible overuse, of irrigation systems. Followed by tropical conditions characterized by heavy rainfall and humidity, there have been reports of a jelly-like substance growing in turf.

The jelly-like matter is Nostoc, a genus of cyanobacterium formerly classified as blue-green algae. The algae — commonly known as star jelly and witch’s butter, among other names — may appear suddenly in lawns and other turf areas in warm temperatures following a period of rain, and the algae can also be an indication of overwatering.

In turf, Nostoc generally emerges on a site where the grass is growing poorly due to severe compaction, overwatering or both. It does not cause the turf to decline or die, but it does colonize areas where it has favorable growing conditions and the grass was already thin.

Poor drainage and compacted soils create a favorable environment for Nostoc. It dries out when moisture or rainfall diminishes, but it has only gone into dormancy. With enough moisture, it will come back to “life.”

In its hydrated, gelatinous, green state, it can be a safety hazard because it’s slippery — so be careful walking on it.

However, when it dries out, it can restrict turfgrass growth. Nostoc dries into a black crust that can prevent stolons from rooting, or “tacking,” into the soil. This delays the growth and spread of turfgrass.

Nostoc can be difficult to control. To discourage its growth, encourage the growth of the grass. Algae is less of an issue with an actively growing turfgrass canopy.

The first step is to check the irrigation system to make sure it is watering properly (i.e., not too often or too much). The turfgrass species grown in Georgia perform better when grown on the slightly dry side, so scaling back irrigation and adjusting the irrigation schedule will benefit the grass and can discourage algae.

The second step is to improve the internal soil and surface drainage. Core aeration opens the soil, allows oxygen into the root system and reduces compaction.

Allow the soil surface to dry out, then break up the Nostoc “crust” by cutting the upper ¼- to ½-inch. Breaking the algae into pieces will encourage it to spread. This also permits the turfgrass stolons to root into thin areas and outcompete the Nostoc.

With proper irrigation and core aerification, the grass can cover, and eventually predominate, the area where the Nostoc was present.

For more information about turfgrass in Georgia, go to www.GeorgiaTurf.com.

Clint Waltz is a Cooperative Extension turf specialist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Sunscalding on Fruits and Vegetables

Published on 06/14/19

High temperatures, few clouds lead to sunscalding concerns for Georgia producers

By Clint Thompson for CAES News

Even with the welcomed rain Georgia farmers experienced this week, sunscalding on certain fruits and vegetables remains a concern as producers continue with this year’s harvest, according to University of Georgia Cooperative Extension vegetable specialist Andre da Silva.

When temperatures are high and the sun is able to shine for weeks at a time with very little cloud cover, which had been the case in mid-to-late May, certain crops are vulnerable to developing sunburnt conditions — notably watermelons, tomatoes and bell peppers.

“The sun has definitely been too aggressive for some of our vegetable crops, especially with bell pepper, tomato, and watermelon. Growers have been asking for products to protect their crop from the sun,” da Silva said. “Unfortunately, there is not much research on this topic for us to make a recommendation. However, the first UGA research trial is being conducted this season.”

Watermelons are most susceptible to sun damage if they endure a prolonged dry period. Without moisture, the vines will begin to wilt and the fruit will be more exposed to the sun. When watermelons burn, the rind will appear yellow, rendering the crop unmarketable.

“Growers that need to exercise the most precaution are the watermelon growers who are using plastic mulch with overhead water application. If they haven’t been applying enough water, they will see their plants shrink. It’s hard for the root systems of those plants to get the water that the growers are applying,” da Silva said.

If watermelon producers can protect their crop from the sun, they’ll extend their harvest window into late June and around July 4 when watermelons are at peak demand and prices for farmers are at their best.

“We don’t expect temperatures to get this hot, this early,” da Silva said. “We need a little bit of rain every day with a little bit more clouds to avoid future sunburning, and then we’ll have good soil moisture.”

Prior to the June 8 weekend, the last substantial rainfall in south Georgia was during the weekend of May 11. According to the United States Drought Monitor, (www.droughtmonitor.unl.edu) drought conditions are considered moderate, though da Silva believes they’re still likely much worse. Along with fellow UGA vegetable scientists Bhabesh Dutta and Stormy Sparks, da Silva has traveled across south Georgia to survey the damage inflicted by the weekslong drought.

“If growers hadn’t been pumping up their irrigation this spring, they could very easily lose their crop this year,” da Silva said.

Direct contact of fruit to sunlight can cause blossom end rot disorders. Previous research trials from da Silva and colleague Tim Coolong on the UGA Tifton campus showed that fertilizer strategy, mainly those consisting of calcium nitrate, is key to reducing blossom end rot, a calcium-related disorder that affects mostly peppers and tomatoes.

For up to date information about weather events in Georgia, see the UGA Weather Network website at www.georgiaweather.net.

Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.

App Helps Fruit Growers

Published on 06/18/19

App helps fruit growers in Eastern U.S. diagnose disease and insect problems

By Denise M Hatcher for CAES News

Walking through his peach orchard, a farmer notices something he has not seen before on the leaves of a few trees. He quickly pulls out his cell phone and accesses the MyIPM smartphone app.

Through a series of descriptions, audio and images, the free mobile app and tool can help users diagnose crop diseases, insect pests and disorders of fruit crops grown in the Eastern U.S., including apple, blackberry, blueberry, bunch grape, cherry, cranberry, peach, pear and strawberry.

The app was first developed by plant pathologists at Clemson University to give growers a “one-stop shop” to access all of the resources they might need for disease management, says Brett Blaauw, an assistant professor and peach specialist with the University of Georgia Department of Entomology. A couple of years later, two more apps were created: one focused on insect pests and another geared specifically for the Northeastern region of the U.S.

“When I came to UGA, I worked on merging the three separate apps into one master app, which included new tools, crops and functionality,” Blaauw said. “The single MyIPM app currently has nine crops with disease diagnostic tools and six crops for insect diagnostic tools.”

To date, the app has been downloaded more than 2,100 times. Designed to promote integrated pest management in commercial fruit crop production, one of Blaauw’s favorite aspects of the app is that it’s full of useful information for users of both Apple iOS and Android mobile operating systems.

“Not only is there a large list of chemistries that are labeled for each disease or insect pest, but users also have the ability to view high-resolution pictures to identify symptoms and signs of disease and insect injury,” he said. “With that said, my real favorite aspect is that the app is free.”

The app is continually being updated by leading Extension specialists at seven land-grant universities and the Southern IPM Center.

Feedback from users has been overwhelmingly positive. Of the users surveyed, 65% say that the app has helped them manage pests and 70% say that it has increased their knowledge of pests and IPM, according to Blaauw.

“Nearly everyone I talk to about the app is pleased with its functionality and ease of use,” he said.

The app has been downloaded to more than 70 different countries, including India, Mexico and Canada.

Blaauw is currently working on adding a section on beneficial insects to help growers identify “good bugs” using the app. He hopes to see the app expanded to include more crops.

For more information on the MyIPM app, visit https://apps.bugwood.org/apps/myipmseries/.

Michele Hatcher is the editor of the Hexapod Herald, the newsletter of the University of Georgia Department of Entomology.

Bermudagrass Stem Maggot in Hayfields

By Will Hudson, Lisa Baxter and Dennis Hancock

We’ve had a number of calls from growers and agents in the last week or so concerned that they should be spraying for BSM.  Even in south GA, the flies are just now starting to show up.  You may be able to find some damaged stems, but most of the widespread browning of the grass is probably due to the extreme heat and dry weather following an unusually cool and wet spring.  BSM damage kills just the last 2 leaves, and does not turn the tips of the leaves brown.  They generally do not affect leaves lower on the tiller than the top 2.  Even in our well-watered research plots in Tifton, we are only seeing 10-20% damage in the most susceptible varieties.  The current drought situation has many producers delaying their hay harvest.  This means we have more mature bermudagrass than usual (and so there appears to be more damage).  There is likely no need to spray yet, but growers should be alert and be ready to spray after the next cutting if there is a noticeable amount of damage.

Downy Mildew Disease

Published on 06/04/19

Georgia vegetable growers need to apply fungicides to stay ahead of downy mildew disease.

By Clint Thompson for CAES News

Georgia vegetable farmers should be on alert as downy mildew disease has been spotted in at least three southern Georgia counties this spring. Additional counties could follow as weather conditions remain favorable for the disease into early June, according to University of Georgia Cooperative Extension plant pathologist Bhabesh Dutta.

Cucurbit crops — like cucumbers, melons, squashes and pumpkins — are susceptible to the disease. Dutta ranks downy mildew among the top diseases in cucurbit crops, along with Fusarium wilt and Phytophthora fruit rot.

Downy mildew disease can destroy plant foliage and cause the leaves to curl and die. Without healthy leaves and vines, a plant is vulnerable to blisters and sunscald during hot days, conditions most of Georgia has experienced since early May.

Much of the state has not experienced a substantial rainfall event since the weekend of May 11, and many growers have had no relief from temperatures that reached or eclipsed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We really need some balanced days, not full-blown sunshine with 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day like we’ve experienced here recently, and also not heavy dew nights,” Dutta said. “We need some cloudy days, but most importantly, we need some rain.”

High temperatures during the day, followed by dew at night and in the early morning hours for the past three weeks, have led to the disease developing in cucurbit fields in Crisp, Decatur and Lowndes counties.

“Most of our growers are doing preventative sprays for downy mildew. We do have fairly effective fungicides that can manage downy mildew. I think growers are diligently following UGA recommendations and they should continue to do so,” Dutta said.

Growers need to be aware of what downy mildew symptoms look like and the damage it can inflict on vegetable crops. The pathogen thrives in wet, humid conditions and needs moisture on the surface of the plant for successful spore germination and further infection.

The pathogen that causes downy mildew can’t survive a hard frost, so it overwinters in frost-free regions like southern Florida. During May and early June, wind currents blow the spores into Georgia.

For up-to-date information about potential diseases impacting Georgia’s vegetable production, see https://site.caes.uga.edu/vegpath.

Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.

Turf Grass News

Turfgrass Blog: 2019 Edition

Clint Waltz, Ph.D.

University of Georgia Turfgrass Specialist

June 10, 2019

 

With the recent dry weather encouraging the use, and possible overuse, of irrigation systems then the recent tropical conditions – rainfall and humidity – I have had several pictures and questions about a jelly-like substance growing in the turf.  The jelly-like “stuff” is a Nostoc algae, a genus of cyanobacterium formerly classified as blue-green algae.  It has multiple common names like star jelly, witch’s butter, and others.  Under warm temperatures Nostoc may appear suddenly in lawns, and other turf areas, following a period of rain and can be an indication of overwatering.  In turf, it is generally on a site where the grass is growing poorly due to severe compaction, overwatering, or both.  It does not cause turf decline or death; it colonizes areas where it has favorable growing conditions and the grass was already thin.  Poor drainage and compacted soils create a favorable environment for Nostoc.  It will dry-out if the water or rainfall diminishes but it has only gone into dormancy.  With enough moisture, it will come back to “life”.

 

In its hydrated, gelatinous, green state it can be a safety hazard.  It is slippery.  Be careful walking on it.  However, when it dries-out it can become restrictive to turfgrass growth.  Nostoc dries into a black crust that can prevent stolons from rooting, or “tacking”, into the soil, delaying turfgrass growth and spread.

 

Nostoc can be difficult to control.  To discourage its growth, encourage the growth of the grass.  Algae is less of an issue with an actively growing turfgrass canopy.  The first step is to check the irrigation system to make sure it is watering properly (i.e. not too regular or too much).  The turfgrass species we grow in Georgia perform better when grown on the slightly dry side, so scaling back the irrigation and adjusting the irrigation schedule will benefit the grass and can discourage the algae.

 

Improve internal soil and surface drainage.  Core aeration opens the soil, allows oxygen into the root system, and reduces compaction.  While allowing the soil surface to dry-out then breaking up the Nostoc “crust” by scarifying the upper ¼- to ½-inch can break the algae into pieces and encourage its spread, it also permits the turfgrass stolons to root into thin areas and outcompete the Nostoc.  With proper irrigation and core aerification the grass can cover and eventually predominate the area where the Nostoc was present.

Clint

 

Summer Heat

Published on 05/23/19

Spring season brings summer heat to Georgia

By Clint Thompson for CAES News

Georgia temperatures are rising, and the weather is only going to get hotter with little rain in the forecast. That’s not good news for Georgia’s cotton producers who are in the middle of planting this year’s crop, says Jared Whitaker, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension cotton agronomist.

According to the UGA Weather Network at www.georgiaweather.net, temperatures eclipsed 90 degrees Fahrenheit in most of south Georgia this past weekend and are expected to reach 100 F by the middle of next week.

“Cotton is going to be the most sensitive crop to these types of conditions just because of the relatively poor vigor of cotton seedlings compared to other crops Georgia producers plant,” Whitaker said. “Cotton seed is very small and conditions need to be near perfect for several days after planting to ensure we get a suitable stand. When soils dry and temperatures rise, it becomes increasingly difficult for producers, especially in nonirrigated fields.”

Whitaker says that an informal survey he conducted last week revealed that around 50% of the state’s farmable fields had been planted. Progress was a little further along than usual because of good planting conditions in late April. Also, producers are trying to minimize their risk from losses that could occur at harvest by planting some cotton earlier than usual.

He is concerned that poor conditions could delay planting to the point that yields are affected.

“We really need to have a good stand established before the end of the first week of June to ensure that we have enough time to make an entire crop,” Whitaker said. Growers need rainfall within the next couple of weeks to get this crop started in the right direction.

“We’re always a week away from a drought,” Whitaker said. “And that’s certainly the case this year.”

The last substantial rainfall was recorded during the weekend of May 10 through May 12. Three days of rain yielded 1.5 inches in Tifton, Georgia; 0.81 inches in Alma, Georgia; 1.2 inches in Griffin, Georgia; and 1.52 inches in Vienna, Georgia.

But since much of the state’s crops are grown in south Georgia’s sandy soils, any moisture that region receives is soaked up quickly.

UGA Extension peanut agronomist Scott Monfort says that approximately 65% of Georgia’s peanut crop has been planted. But like the state’s cotton farmers, Georgia’s peanut producers will need to monitor their crop’swater needs during this extremely hot and dry period.

“To have high temperatures this early is pretty tough. It means these plants are going to go through heat stress earlier than normal this year and farmers are going to have stay on top of it as far as irrigating,” Monfort said. “While we normally wouldn’t irrigate this early, we might have to start if we lose too much moisture.”

Growers also need to be careful planting in fields with marginal moisture.

Summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21. Pam Knox, UGA Extension agricultural climatologist, believes that temperatures in June, July and August will depend largely on how much rainfall Georgia gets.

“There is not much correlation between early season heat waves and the rest of the summer. However, if it stays dry, then hotter-than-normal conditions are likelier just because all of the sun’s heat goes to warming the air instead of evaporating water from the soil and plants,” she said.

For more information about what weather to expect this summer, read Knox’s climate outlook on her blog at https://t.uga.edu/4YB.

Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.