Thank you from the UF/IFAS Extension Northwest District

Thank You for a Wonderful Year!

As we come to the end of our 100th year of serving the citizens of Florida, the University of Florida/IFAS Extension Faculty located in the 16 county offices of the Florida Panhandle thank you for making 2014 another great year!

Extension has come a long way assisting farmers and their families with relevant information since the beginning of the 20th century. Today, 100 years later, UF/IFAS Extension continues to provide science-based information to the citizens of Northwest Florida.

This year our County Extension Faculty provided valuable information and educational programs to 1000’s of individuals, families, businesses, and agricultural producers across the panhandle. As you know, our educational programming includes topics in areas such as Agriculture, Natural Resources, Horticulture, Family and Consumer Sciences, and 4-H Youth Development. UF/IFAS has a Solution for your Life!

We are excited about, and dedicated to providing our clients the most recent and science-based information on a wide range of topics such as:

  • agricultural production and marketing,
  • providing youth with exciting opportunities that develop life skills, teamwork, and responsibility
  • food preservation, cooking
  • helping individuals and families with health and wellness, parenting and manage budgets,
  • consumer assistance within the home,
  • wildlife and land management,
  • coastal and inland fishery management,
  • home gardening and commercial landscaping,
  • acquiring Continuing Education Units for a variety of licenses.

Though the first 100 years of UF/IFAS Extension have been very productive we do not plan on sitting back and resting on the accomplishments of the past. We will continue to provide you and your family the best information and education available to provide “Solutions for Your Life!”

Thank you once again for participating in our Extension programs! We look forward to seeing you in 2015, and as always, if you have a question on any topic, or a suggestion to help us help you better, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can find your local County Extension office on the web at http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/IFASNW.2014agentsXmas

Happy Holidays & Best Wishes for the New Year!

From,

Dr. Pete Vergot III, Professor, and Northwest District Extension Director and your County Extension Faculty and Staff of the UF/IFAS Extension Northwest District serving Panhandle Florida

Underperforming Food Plots? 3 Possible Reasons Why

Underperforming Food Plots? 3 Possible Reasons Why

Deer grazing test plots at the NFREC in Quincy. Quality food plots take effort and planning.

Deer grazing test plots at the NFREC in Quincy. Quality food plots take effort and planning.

Deer hunting season has begun in Northwest Florida. As hunters venture into the woods and sit for hours on end they have plenty – sometimes too much – time to contemplate what they could have done or should do to make there hunting experiences better. These plans for improvement may involve all kinds of things; if they involve improving underperforming food plots allow me to offer a few points for contemplation.

  • Are your plots the optimum size? Small plots, less than one acre, don’t stand much of a chance. If you plant something deer like and there is a substantial deer population in the area the young plants will be “mowed” down before they have time to establish. At best, you’ll create a low growing green carpet. This might make you feel better as a hunter but it’s doing very little in the way of providing nutrition to the deer herd. Deer will get the maximum benefit from multiple plots (2-3 acres in size) that total around 10% of the area you are managing. This scenario is ideal for the deer, it might not be ideal or even feasible for the hunter.
  •  Are your plots properly fertilized? This is a very common issue with underperforming food plots. That bag of 10-10-10 really doesn’t do much. Hunters who have no farming experience are often amazed and disheartened at how much fertilizer it takes to produce a crop – food plots are simply forage crops. Consult your county’s agriculture agent for assistance with soil testing and fertilizer recommendations for the specific crops you are producing. UF/IFAS fertilizer recommendations for forage crops reference additional applications after a grazing rotation or haying; how does this translate for food plot management? A cool season food plot planted in mid-October will be productive for about six months. During that six months you should apply Nitrogen at least three times, Potassium twice, all required Phosphorus can be applied at planting. This steady supply of nutrients keeps the food plot going throughout the entire growing season. Using slow release or enhanced efficiency fertilizers can simplify this process somewhat, since the number of applications is reduced.
Soil testing and the resulting fertilizer recommendations are key to successful food plots.

Soil testing and the resulting fertilizer recommendations are key to successful food plots.

  • Did you plant the right crop at the right time? There are lots of choices when it comes to selecting what to plant in your food plots remember plant varieties that are suited to your particular environment not the one that have the prettiest packaging or the most TV commercials. Planting time can be an issue; when cool season crops are planted too late they are unable to establish enough roots and top growth to withstand grazing pressure through the middle of winter when short days and cold temperatures greatly slow growth rates. Even if planted at the correct time most “winter” forages produce the majority of their biomass in the spring, once day length begins to increase.

 

Hopefully considering these points will help you to improve your food plots. Remember, producing high quality food plots can be a challenging endeavor but the process makes more sense and is less frustrating if you view food plots as long term habitat improvement designed to provide additional nutrition to the deer herd not simply an attractant during hunting season. For more information on any of the topics addressed contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension Agriculture or Natural Resources Agent.