Gadsden Tomato Forum – December 6

Gadsden Tomato Forum – December 6

Freshly picked tomatoes

Freshly picked tomatoes. Credit: UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

The annual Tomato Forum will be held in Gadsden County on Thursday, December 6, 2018.  The event will be hosted by the North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy, Florida from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM eastern time.

Topics to be covered will include tomato variety selection, recommended production practices, pest and disease management, and best management practices for water quality protection. Pesticide CEUs will also be provided for restricted pesticide applicators who attend this event.  The annual meeting of the Gadsden County Tomato Growers Association will be held immediately following a sponsored lunch.

Meeting Agenda (All Times Eastern)

  • 8:00 AM     Registration and coffee
  • 8:15     Opening remarks – Dr. Glen Aiken – NFREC Center Director
  • 8:30     Update on Tomato Varieties and Soil-borne Pest Management Strategies – Dr. Josh Freeman, UF NFREC
  • 9:00     Update on Tomato Diseases Management for 2019 Planning – Dr. Mathews Paret, UF NFREC
  • 9:30     Use of Soil Moisture Probes for Irrigation Scheduling Rad Yager – Certified Ag Resources, Camilla, GA
  • 10:00   Break
  • 10:15   Pest Management Updates in Tomatoes – Dr. Xavier Martini, UF NFREC
  • 10:45   Cover Crops for Tomato and Vegetable Production – Dr. Cheryl Mackowiak, UF NFREC
  • 11:15   Drone Research on Melon Disease Assessment Dr. Melanie Kalischuk, UF NFREC Research Associate
  • 11:30   Continuous Water Tracking for Optimum Crop Productivity – Doug Crawford – BMP Logic, Inc.
  • 11:45   BMP’s and Available Cost Share for Producers – Dr. Andrea Albertin – UF Regional Specialized Water Agent
  • 12:00 PM  Q&A and Sponsors Presentation
  • 12:15   Lunch
  • 1:00   Annual meeting of Gadsden Tomato Growers

The meeting location address is:

North Florida Research and Education Center (Quincy)
155 Research Road,
Quincy, FL  32351

For more information, contact:
Shep Eubanks


Gadsden County Certified Pile Burner Course – December 10

Gadsden County Certified Pile Burner Course – December 10

In response to the large amount of storm debris from Hurricane Michael, the Florida Forest Service and the University of Florida Gadsden County Extension Service will be offering a Certified Pile Burner Course in Quincy, Florida. Normally this course includes a $50 per person registration fee, but the fee has been waived to assist with storm recovery.  For the next several months, because of the risk of wildfires and the challenge of private property access, only certified pile burners will be issued commercial permits in the primary impact region of Hurricane Michael.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Class size will be limited, so register early.  This course will show you how to burn piles legally, safely, and efficiently. This training will be held from 8:30 am till 4:30 pm at the North Florida Research & Education Center, 155 Research Rd, Quincy, Florida.

There will be a test at the end of the session. You must receive a grade of 70% or higher on the exam to pass the course.  After passing the course, you will need to demonstrate a proper pile burn with approval from your local Florida Forest Service (FFS) office to become certified.

Florida’s Certified Pile Burner Training Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why should I be a certified pile burner?
A: Certified pile burners are trained to burn piles legally, safely and efficiently. Most importantly, it could save a life. Also, when the weather is dry, certified pile burners will receive priority for authorization to burn by the Florida Forest Service (FFS). Also, certified pile burners are allowed to burn up to two hours longer per day and get multiple day authorizations.

Q: What is a Pile Burner Customer Number?
A: When you call the FFS for an authorization to burn, you will be assigned a personal customer number.  This number references your information, so it doesn’t need to be gathered each time you call for an authorization. You must have your individual FFS customer number in order to be certified.

Q: Is there a test?
A: Yes, the test is 20 questions and open-book. You must receive a score of at least 70% to pass.

Q: What if I don’t pass?
A: Very few people fail the test but if you do, you will be provided another opportunity to take the test at a later date. If you fail the second time, you must re-register and take the training again.

Q: Why do you ask for my email on the application form?
A: Email is the fastest and most convenient method to inform registrants of their registration status. If no email address is provided, then all correspondence will be sent through the federal mail. This can take several days to relay messages, and this may not be practical if changes are made to the course schedule or for last minute registrations.

Q: Is there a cost for the training?
A: No. This is a special class in response to Hurricane Michael, the traditional $50 fee has been waived for these courses.

Q: How long does my certification last, and how long do I have to complete the certification from the time I finish the class?
A: As long as the person with the certification uses their number at least 5 times in a period of 5 years their certification will not expire under the current program. You MUST complete the certification burn within a year of taking the class.

Q: Will certified burners be notified if their certification expires?
A: Yes, notification will be sent out to them to let them know of their upcoming certification expiration date.

Q: Will I be certified at the end of the one-day training?
A: No, you will need to follow the written instructions that you will receive from the FFS to become certified. You will need to complete a simple burn plan, have it reviewed and approved locally by the FFS and also have the burn itself reviewed and approved by the FFS.

Q: Is there a minimum age to be a certified pile burner?
A: Yes, you must be at least 18 years old to take the test and be a certified pile burner.

Quincy Pile Burner Certification Course Registration Packet


For more information, contact: 

Florida Forest Service
Sabrina Willey

Controlling Prickly Pear after Pasture Establishment

Controlling Prickly Pear after Pasture Establishment

Photo 1. Prickly Pear after cultivation and pasture establishment in Gadsden County. Credit: Shep Eubanks UF/IFAS

Prickly Pear is one of those tenacious, tough to handle weeds that you hate to find growing in your pastures and hay fields.  It can be very difficult to control and eradicate.  This weed typically spreads and reproduces via fragmentation of original plants, such as occurs in the cultivation and planting of new pastures.  Each individual piece can root and produce a new colony of plants.  Mowing is not a good option for controlling this weed, as it actually encourages rapid increase of the plant population.  The barbed quills are a hazard to grazing livestock and can be a source of infections in addition to decreasing animal utilization of the forage, as livestock will avoid infested areas.

Photo 2. Hand removal of prickly pear in small fields Credit: Shep Eubanks UF/IFAS

Hand removal (Photo 2) is one possible option in small fields, but is very labor intensive and costly.  This operation also can cause increased fragmentation increasing populations of the weed.  Repeated trips across the field will be required but may be the only practical option if the crop is a legume such as perennial peanut.

In grass pastures we do have some options for chemical control.  Dr. Jay Ferrell and Dr. Brent Sellers, UF/IFAS weed specialists, recommend the following plans of attack.

Spot Applications

For spot spray situations, Vista XRT can be applied in water at 0.5 oz. per 1 gal, while TrumpCard can be applied at 2 oz per 1 gal of water. Spray the pads to achieve good coverage but not to the point of runoff. Over-application can result in grass damage, but will not likely be as severe as with the traditional triclopyr and diesel program.

Broadcast Applications

Recent experiments conducted at UF/IFAS have found that broadcast applications of Vista XRT herbicide at a rate of 22 oz/A, applied in either spring or fall, can effectively control prickly pear. Additionally, a split application of Vista XRT at 11 oz/A in the spring followed by another 11 oz/A in the fall was also effective. Likewise, TrumpCard can be applied at 48 oz/A followed by an additional 48oz the following season. Failure to make two applications of TrumpCard with a total of 96 oz over two growing seasons will likely result in marginal control.

Photo 3. Prickly Pear After Herbicide Application. Credit:  Jay Ferrell UF/IFAS

It is important to note that even though Vista XRT and TrumpCard are effective on prickly pear, control is generally very slow. After the application, the quills will turn gray and dry out while the pads will swell and turn a green/gray color (Photo 3). It is common for treated plants to persist this way for 6–8 months after the application. But don’t get discouraged when the plants do not disappear quickly.  This does not mean the herbicide is not working.  Prickly pear grows fairly slowly so it takes longer for the herbicides to take full affect.

For newly established pastures, the Trump Card product label recommends allowing establishment prior to herbicide application.  It is generally recommended that bahiagrass should not be treated with herbicides until the seedlings are at least 6″ tall after planting.  Both herbicides have a seven day grazing restriction following application.

Trump Card Label: 

Do not apply to newly seeded areas until grass is well established. Reseeding is not recommended for at least 30 days following application. Addition of a surfactant may increase the risk of injury to newly seeded grasses.

For more information, use the following UF/IFAS Extension fact sheet link: 

Prickly Pear Cactus Control in Pastures



Controlling Adam’s Needle in Forages

Controlling Adam’s Needle in Forages

Adam’s Needle in newly established Ecoturf perennnial peanut – photo by Shep Eubanks

Although not an extremely common weed in established and well managed pastures and hayfields, Adam’s Needle (Yucca filamentosa L.) can be a persistent and unwanted weed, especially in pastures that have been recently established in reclaimed timberland, or in areas of deep sandy soils.

This field of Ecoturf perennial peanut has a small infestation at this time, but like many difficult weeds, it can proliferate quickly if left unchecked.  The plant is easily recognized by the long white, threadlike filaments along the fringes of the needle like leaves as seen in Photo 2 below.

Photo 2. Adam’s Needle – Note the white filaments on leaf edges Photo by Shep Eubanks

Photo 3. Adam’s Needle tap root and ramets
photo by Shep Eubanks

Yucca plants are well adapted to sandy, dry sites.  It has a large well-developed tap root, and thick, rhizomatous roots, which are water and energy reservoirs that allow the plant to survive drought, and grow in many soil types including the deep sands of Florida.  It can regenerate even after completely losing the top of the plant. The sharp blue green leaves are a hazard to both humans and livestock.  Moderate to dense populations decrease forage utilization and availability.  If left untreated, the population density can reach 2,000 plants per acre!

New plants can be produced by seeds, but the parent plant can also colonize an area through the growth of ramets (clones of the mother plant).  These structures are easily seen in Photo 3.

The plant has an interesting history.  It was used by Native Americans to produce soaps, and for medicinal uses (see the USDA Fact sheet on Adam’s Needle for more information on the history and biology of the plant).

The most effective control measure for this undesirable pasture weed is individual plant, spot spray treatments of a triclopyr ester such as Remedy Ultra as a 20% solution mixed with either 80% diesel or basal oil.  Apply the herbicide directly to the middle of the crown of the plant.  Careful application only on the targeted weed is essential. This mixture can cause significant damage to non-target grasses and legumes from over-spray.   Currently there are no effective broadcast treatment options available.


Bermudagrass Stem Maggots Plague Panhandle Hay Producers

Bermudagrass Stem Maggots Plague Panhandle Hay Producers

Stem maggots are a relatively new pest of Bermudagrass hayfields in the Southeast.

Stem maggots are a relatively new pest of Bermudagrass hayfields in the Southeast.

Bermudagrass Stem Maggots continue to be a cause of consternation to producers of high quality hay in the Panhandle in 2016. Research in Georgia indicates that, since their first discovery in that state in 2010, stem maggots have spread across the southeast.  In Georgia the documented incidence of Bermudagrass Stem Maggot (BSM) has increased each year since. In 2015, some fields in Georgia reported 80% yield losses.  In Gadsden County,  it has been my observation that this is another year of increasing pressure from this pest.

Dr. Dennis Hancock at the University of Georgia conducted some interesting trials in Tifton, Georgia in 2015 (Table 1) that highlighted the potential yield losses from BSM in both fine and coarse stemmed varieties of bermudagrass.  In their trial they compared yields and stem damage of plots that received control measures as opposed to plots with no control.  Yield loses were high in the fine stemmed varieties, but significant yield losses occurred in the coarse stemmed varieties like Tifton 85 as well.  Yield losses were also higher in September versus August in this study.

Table 1. Yield Losses and Percentage of Stem damage on Bermudagrass with no Chemical Control - UGA 2015 Study in Tifton, GA

Table 1. Yield Losses and Percentage of Stem damage on Bermudagrass with no Chemical Control – UGA 2015 Study in Tifton, GA

Bermudagrass Stem Maggot identified in Holmes County Bermudagrass hay field. Photo Credit: Liza Garcia-Jimenez

Bermudagrass Stem Maggot identified in Holmes County Bermudagrass hay field. Photo Credit: Liza Garcia-Jimenez

We still do not have a sure fire way to control the stem maggot and there is a lot of research to be done to quantify a more precise protocol.  Damaged fields that are close to harvest (within 2 weeks) should be hayed or grazed.  For now, in fields where producers have experienced previous losses, scouting for the adult flies and spraying when they are observed with two sprays of the lowest labelled rate of a pyrethroid for suppression is the best solution.  Infested fields should receive the first application 7-10 days after harvest, followed by the second application 7-10 days after that.

For more information use the following publication links, or contact your local Extension office:

Bermudadgrass Stem Maggot – A New pest in Florida

University of Georgia 2016 Bermudagrass Stem Maggot Update