Green Industries in the Panhandle

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Fertilizer Label Requirements for Urban Turf (Lawns)

 

As of January 2015 the labels on fertilizer bags have changed. Florida Rule 5E-1.003 required fertilizer manufacturers to modify their package recommendations and wording.

“Specialty fertilizers” was one of the more significant changes. This included packages that weigh 49 pounds or less and are labeled for home (residential) lawn use. The new labeling requirement for fertilizers labeled for use on urban lawns included that these products must be no phosphate or low phosphate. “No phosphate” fertilizers will be expressed as zero in the guaranteed analysis. “Low phosphate” fertilizers typically have 2% when labeled for residential lawns. Additionally, the recommended application rate must not exceed 0.25 lbs. P2O5 / 1,000 square feet per application and cannot exceed 0.50 lbs. P2O5 / 1,000 square feet per year. The only exception is “starter fertilizers”, which is a fertilizer formulated for a one-time application at planting or near that time to encourage root growth. A starter fertilizer can recommend a one-time application rate of 1.0 lb. of P2O5 / 1,000 square feet.

 

The Label is the Law

Application rates cannot be exceeded and the site must be on the label. The “site” refers to the specific grass area that the application is intended for. So, for fertilizer packaging under Rule SE-1.003 there a few definitions you need to understand:

  1. “Urban Turf” or “Lawns” means non-agricultural land planted in closely mowed, managed grasses except golf courses, parks and athletic fields.
  2. “New Urban Turf” means residential lawns established less than 12 months.
  3. “Actively Growing Turf” means turf that needs mowing at least once every two weeks to maintain the grass blade height according to the UF/IFAS recommendation.
  4. “Established Urban Turf” means residential lawns older than 12 months.

 

In addition to restrictions on phosphate, the Urban Turf Rule restricts the use of nitrogen. The amount that can be applied at once, as well as, annually and the seasonal application timing are defined based on the different regions of Florida. Local ordinances may be even more restrictive than the fertilizer label.

The following language must appear on all fertilizers sold at retail:

  • “Apply only to actively growing turf”.
  • “Do not apply near water, storm drains or drainage ditches”.
  • “Do not apply if heavy rain is expected”.
  • Apply this product only to your lawn and sweep any product that lands in the driveway, sidewalk or street back onto your lawn.

Finally, the labeling requirements for fertilizers that come in 50 pound bags or larger include that the directions for use cannot exceed rates recommended in the document entitled “Florida Friendly Best Management Practices for Protection of Water Resources by the Green Industries” (GI-BMP). The GI-BMP restricts nitrogen applications to less than what the label states. If the slow-release component of the overall nitrogen percentages is 30% or greater, the product can be applied at 1.0 lb. of N / 1,000 sq. ft. If it is less than 30%, then the rate is only 0.50 lb. N / 1,000 sq. ft.

 

The next time you are shopping for  fertilizer, take the time to read the bag. Know that you are applying it correctly and legally.

By the way, if you are being compensated for applying fertilizer, FDACS requires a Limited Urban Commercial Fertilizer application certification with a pre-requisite of GI-BMP training.

Upcoming classes in Northwest Florida

Statewide GI-BMP classes

 

New Exam Review and CEU Class Offered in Panama City: May 10-11, 2018

In December of 2017, a new Commercial Lawn & Ornamental Pest Control Operator exam was launched in Florida. This updated exam covers materials found in two new manuals not previously recommended as study guides: “Identification Guide to Common Florida Lawn and Ornamental Weeds,”  and “Lawn and Ornamental Pest Management.”. Photographic pest identification including knowledge of life cycle have nearly tripled when compared to the prior exam.

Because this exam is a statewide license, many pests may not be familiar to industry professionals in NW Florida if they are more commonly found in peninsular or South Florida.

The new exam also includes Green Industries Best Management Practices (GI-BMP) topics, Florida Statutes, Administrative Rules, safety concepts from “Applying Pesticides Correctly” and label reading – both fertilizer and pesticide calculations and label interpretation.

The paper exam has been offered twice in Apopka since the launch last year with pass rates below 50% at both sessions.

Panhandle Horticulture Agents in partnership with FDACS (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services) will be holding a review class May 10-11, 2018, in Panama City. This class is designed to reinforce lawn and ornamental pest control concepts with a focus on newly introduced material for the CPO Commercial Lawn & Ornamental exam, but is not a replacement for independent study.

Exams will not be given in conjunction with this class. Anyone interested in taking the CPO Commercial Lawn & Ornamental exam is still required to meet all mandated qualifications of education and/or experience. Applicants must then apply online https://aesecomm.freshfromflorida.com/ with FDACS to obtain a voucher and schedule the test with a local Extension office.

This class will also provide CEUs for current license holders in the following categories (please check 2018 CEU Commercial L&O Flyer for dates – not all CEUs available both days): Commercial L&O, Limited L&O, LCLM, O&T, Private Ag, Limited Urban Fertilizer. Core CEUs will be available both days.

Registration is customized based on attendees needs as one-day of your choice or two-day. If you plan to take the Comm. L&O Exam, it is strongly encouraged that you attend both days.

To register please visit https://lawn-ornamental.eventbrite.com

For questions about the class, please contact Julie McConnell at juliebmcconnell@ufl.edu

April is National Safe Dig Month

This month, recognized by the Senate and Florida’s governor, reminds diggers why calling 811 before all outdoor digging projects is important to your safety. Before installing a mailbox, fence, deck, garden or tree make sure to call Sunshine 811 to have underground lines marked. 811 is the free national number designated by the Federal Communications Commission.  It notifies utility companies, who in turn send their professional locators to identify and mark the appropriate location of underground line with paint and flags in colors that identify the utility type.  The following colors represent the seven various utilities: red, orange, blue, green, yellow, purple and white.  To see which colors correspond with each utility click on the picture below:

Hitting an underground utility line while digging can cause injuries, utility service outages to an entire neighborhood and damage to the environment. Failure to call before digging results in one unintentional utility hit every eight minutes nationwide.  You could also be financially affected with costly fines and high repair costs.

Calling 811 in Florida is the law. At least two full business days before digging, do-it yourselfers and professional excavators must contact 811 by phone to start the process of getting underground utility lines marked.  This is a free service.  Be sure that all utilities have been marked before grabbing the shovel.  Follow up on your one call ticket by contacting 811 again on the third day.  For more information on Florida’s law, visit www.Sunshine811.com.

Celebrate Arbor Day

Bald Cypress. Photo: J_McConnell, UF/IFAS

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is Arbor Day. Florida recognizes the event on the third Friday in January, but planting any time before spring will establish a tree quickly.

Arbor Day is an annual observance that celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care. As a formal holiday, it was first observed on April 10, 1872 in the state of Nebraska. Today, every state and many countries join in the recognition of trees impact on people and the environment.

Trees are the longest living organisms on the planet and one of the earth’s greatest natural resources. They keep our air supply clean, reduce noise pollution, improve water quality, help prevent erosion, provide food and building materials, create shade, and help make our landscapes look beautiful.  A single tree produces approximately 260 pounds of oxygen per year. That means two mature trees can supply enough oxygen annually to support a family of four.

The idea for Arbor Day in the U.S. began with Julius Sterling Morton. In 1854 he moved from Detroit to the area that is now the state of Nebraska.  J. Sterling Morton was a journalist and nature lover who noticed that there were virtually no trees in Nebraska.  He wrote and spoke about environmental stewardship and encouraged everyone to plant trees.  Morton emphasized that trees were needed to act as windbreaks, to stabilize the soil, to provide shade, as well as fuel and building materials for the early pioneers to prosper in the developing state.

In 1872, The State Board of Agriculture accepted a resolution by J. Sterling Morton “to set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.” On April 10, 1872 one million trees were planted in Nebraska in honor of the first Arbor Day. Shortly after the 1872 observance, several other states passed legislation to observe Arbor Day.  By 1920, 45 states and territories celebrated Arbor Day.  Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day during his presidency in 1970.

Today, all 50 states in the U.S. have official Arbor Day, usually at a time of year that has the correct climatological conditions for planting trees. For Florida, the ideal tree planting time is January, so Florida’s Arbor Day is celebrated on the third Friday of the month.  Similar events are observed throughout the world. In Israel it is the Tu B Shevat (New Year for Trees). Germany has Tag des Baumes. Japan and Korea celebrate an entire week in April. Even Iceland, one of the treeless countries in the world observes Student’s Afforestation Day.

The trees planted on Arbor Day show a concern for future generations. The simple act of planting a tree represents a belief that the tree will grow and someday provide wood products, wildlife habitat, erosion control, shelter from wind and sun, beauty, and inspiration for ourselves and our children.

“It is well that you should celebrate your Arbor Day thoughtfully, for within your lifetime the nation’s need of trees will become serious. We of an older generation can get along with what we have, though with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed; and because of that want you will reproach us, not for what we have used, but for what we have wasted.”

~Theodore Roosevelt, 1907 Arbor Day Message

2016 Formosan Termite Swarm Report

 

Formosan-termite The genus Coptotermes contains the largest number of termite pests (28 species) worldwide, with the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosansus, being the most widely distributed and most economically important.  During the 1960’s it was found in Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina. The first well-established colony in Florida was reported in 1980.

A single colony of Formosan subterranean termite may contain several million termites that forage up to 300 feet in soil. Once established, the Formosan subterranean termite has never been eradicated from an area.  Therefore, monitoring of movement of the species is critical. Beginning in 2015, the Florida Department of Agriculture of Consumer Science (FDACS) began trapping the alates. Termites have three primary castes: the reproductive, soldiers, and workers. Within the reproductive caste, the young females, referred to as alates, are the ones that leave the colony. They are able to form wings and seek new areas to become established.  Dispersal flights or “swarms” are massive and begin at dusk on calm and humid evenings from April to July. Alates are attracted to lights.

The objective of the FDACS Formosan Termite Alate project is to trap alates throughout the four most western counties of the Panhandle during their major swarm season in May and June, which is the time they are most active in that part of Florida. Trapped alates were counted on a weekly basis to determine peak swarming weeks.  White, gridded 7”x 4” sticky card attached to 6’ stakes are placed under strong, predetermined street lights.  Twenty-two trap locations were selected, each representing a key Panhandle community with at least one location North of I-10 within each of the four counties.Capture 2

In 2016, sixteen out of the 22 traps were positive for Formosan termite alates throughout the four Panhandle counties. Formosan alates were caught during 7 of the 8 weeks of trapping. The largest spike in numbers trapped was during the week of May 8th.  A subsequent swarming spike occurred during the week of May 22nd.  Trap locations that were positive in 2016 and not 2015 included Pensacola Beach, Destin, Blue Mountain Beach, Okaloosa Island and Choctaw Beach. The project will be continued each year in order to determine some of the problem areas.

For more information go to:

http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Agricultural-Environmental-Services/Consumer-Resources/Protect-Your-Home-from-Pests/Termites/Formosan-Termite-Program

Should a Red Maple be Planted There?

profileautumnblazemapleRed Maples are among the most frequently planted urban trees. Many of its features, especially its leaves are quite variable in form.  Its flowers, petioles, twigs and seeds are all red to varying degrees.  But, it is best known for its brilliant deep scarlet foliage in autumn.  Red Maple is adaptable to a wide range of site conditions, perhaps more so than any other tree in eastern North America.  It can be found growing in swamps, on poor dry soils, and most anywhere in between.  However, the tree health and appearance decreases when trees have more impervious surfaces around them.

North Carolina State University research has developed the impervious surface threshold (http://content.ces.ncsu.edu/impervious-surface-threshold-for-sustainable-urban-tree-planting-and-landscaping-design) which can be used to identify planting sites where Red Maple will thrive. Landscape architects, urban planners, arborists, landscapers, and other professionals can use these impervious surface thresholds to reduce Red Maple management and replacement costs.

Trees surrounded by less than 33% impervious surface cover will most likely be in good or excellent condition. Trees surrounded by 33%-66% are likely to be in fair condition.  Trees surrounded by 67% or more tend to be in poor condition.  Impervious surface cover can be measured by using the “Pace to Plant” technique.

The “Pace to Plant” technique is a tool to quickly and accurately quantify the amount of impervious surface surrounding a tree or planting site. Begin by standing at the planting site and identify the closest impervious surface edge.  Take 25 steps at 45⁰ to the nearest impervious edge, counting only the steps that land on the impervious surface.  Then, return to the identified planting site and begin walking 25 steps in the opposite direction.  Again, only count the steps that fall onto impervious surface.  If you encounter a building or wall, count the remainder of the steps as impervious.  One more time, return to the starting planting site.  This time turn 90° and begin walking 25 steps and count the steps that fall onto impervious surface.  Finally, turn around and go back to the planting site and begin walking in the opposite direction for 25 steps.  This will be the fourth time that steps falling onto the impervious surface are counted.  Having walked in four directions located 90°  from each other, completing an “X” through the planting site, the transect is final with a total of 100 steps have been taken.  By totaling the number of steps that fall onto impervious surfaces the percentage of the surrounding ground area can be determined.  For example, if the total number of steps falling on impervious surface is 65 (out of the potentially 100 steps), the percentage of impervious surface is 65%.  Using the established criteria, the site would not be suitable for planting a Red Maple.Frame4_PtP

While North Carolina State has only researched the Red Maple tree species, the “Pace to Plant” technique could be used to determine suitable sites for many different trees being considered for commercial urban planting.

By evaluating the impervious surface restrictions, better tree species selection may be possible. If the right tree for the right place is chosen well, stress to urban trees, including pest infestations, can be reduced.

Growing Healthy Palms Workshop

palms

University of Florida palm and disease Extension specialist Dr. Monica
Elliott will share information on palm installation and best management
practices.

  • Timing and techniques for proper palm planting.
    Establishing and care for palms through proper watering,
    fertilization, and pruning.
  • Learn the cold hardy palms to plant along the Gulf Coast and
    palm issues and diseases associated with cold weather
    injury.
  • Where to focus your palm care when funds are limited.

Wednesday July 27, 2016

Pensacola (10-11:45am), Escambia County Central Office Complex, 3363 West Park Place Pensacola, FL 32505

REGISTER: Program is free but register for a spot by calling 475-5230 or emailing bbolles@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa Beach (3-4:45pm), Walton County Extension Annex 70 Logan Ln, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

REGISTER: Program is free but register by calling 850-892-8172 or emailing haneyc@ufl.edu

 

CEUs to be available

Cattle Grazing on My Trees…

Cattle aren’t really grazing on the trees (this time), but tree cattle (a.k.a. bark lice) are grazing on the trees.  The scientific name for tree cattle is Cerastipsocus venosus.  Adults have shiny black wings that are held at a sharp angle resembling an old style camping tent or an F-117 Nighthalk stealth fighter.  Wingless adults also exist.

The nymphs have an ovate abdomen with dark gray and light yellow banding similar to a honeybee.  A related species, Archipsocus nomas, is known to produce unharmful webbing that covers the trunk and branches of trees, but not the leaves.

Tree cattle herd on a crape myrtle.

Tree cattle herd on a crape myrtle. Photo Credit:  UF/IFAS Extension.

An F-117 Nighthawk. Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Jason Colbert, U.S. Air Force.

An F-117 Nighthawk. Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Jason Colbert, U.S. Air Force.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These insects are usually seen in a colony containing a mixture of nymphs and adults.  Unlike hair lice, bark lice are not parasites and are classified as beneficial insects.  Unlike most beneficial insects, they do not feed on other insects.  Instead, they clean the bark by eating excess accumulations of fungi, algae, lichens, dead bark, and other nonliving material.  Tree cattle are not bark borers and do not eat leaves or living bark.

They are often seen on crape myrtles, but have been reported to graze on oaks and Bradford pears.  Bark lice are more prevalent during hot and humid summer months.

Tree cattle are classified as beneficial, therefore no management is required.  Because clientele may consider the term beneficial insect to be an oxymoron, it is important to supply supplemental educational materials to back up your claim.  Publications are available from Clemson University and Auburn University.