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.The meeting location address is:
North Florida Research and Education Center (Quincy)
155 Research Road,
Quincy, FL 32351
For more information, contact:
105 cattle and hay producers, industry representatives, extension agents, and researchers from three states took part in the Forage Legume Conference in Marianna, FL. Credit: Doug Mayo
Jose Dubeux, Forage Management Specialist, North Florida Research and Education Center, lead the team that organized the Forage Legume Conference, that was held on March 15, 2018, in Marianna, Florida. There were 105 cattle and hay producers, industry representatives, as well as extension and research faculty, and students from the University of Florida that participated in the event. The morning session featured presentations from five forage experts from Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. The morning session concluded with a panel of four forage producers, who have successfully integrated legumes on their operations. The afternoon session featured a tour of forage legume research at the Marianna Beef Research Unit, at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center.
Legumes are plants that are able to secure their own nitrogen from a symbiotic relationship with specific beneficial bacteria. Adding legumes to forage grass systems offers many benefits, such as increased soil nitrogen availability for the grass, higher nutrient quality for increased animal performance, and increased production from extension of the grazing season. The six invited speakers provided the most current research-based recommendations for integrating legumes into grazing and hay operations. Many of the participants at the Conference asked for a copy of the presentations that were provided, so the purpose of this article is to share them in a printer friendly PDF format.
1. Alfalfa in the South
Dennis Hancock, UGA Forage Extension Specialist.
Dr. Dennis Hancock, UGA Forage Specialist, provided an update of several years of research and on-farm testing for interseeding alfalfa into Bermudagrass hay fields. The main idea of this project was to evaluate use of alfalfa to reduce nitrogen fertilization, and also increase hay nutrient quality. In addition to the presentation below, Dr. Hancock also has a web page with links to more information on this topic: Alfalfa in the South
2. Integrating Rhizoma Peanut in Grazing Systems
Dr. Lynn Sollenberger, UF Agronomy Department, shared the results of several years of research on techniques to integrate rhizoma peanut (aka perennial peanut) into bahigrass pastures. The main concept was to develop a management system which could reduce or eliminate nitrogen fertilization, with equal or improved animal performance. His team’s research has been focusing on variety selection, timing of planting, and the challenges with the grass suppression and weed control needed to establish strips of rhizoma peanut in existing bahiagrass pastures.
3. Using Clovers in the Southern Coastal Plains
Dr. Don Ball, emeritus Alabama Forage Extension Specialist, shared some of his vast knowledge from a career of research and on-farm work with integrating clovers into grass based grazing systems. In his presentation, Dr. Ball answers the key question of, “Why grow clovers?”
4. Warm Season Annual Legumes: Past, Present, and Future
Dr. Joe Vendramini, Forage Specialist, UF Range Cattle Research and Education Center, provided a presentation summarizing research that his team has conducted on three warm season annual legumes: aeschynomene, cowpea, and sunn hemp. Aeschynomene is a proven reseeding annual legume that grows better in wetter, poorly drained soils than other legumes. Cowpea can be utilized as a cover crop, or temporary grazing, but was not competitive when integrated into grass pastures. Sunn hemp has shown real potential, so current research is focusing on the best varieties and management techniques to integrate it with grass pastures.
5. Economics of Forage Legumes vs. N Fertilization
Chris Prevatt, UF Livestock Economist, shared a presentation that analyzed comparison of past research on grazing systems that included legumes, versus grass systems for stocker cattle performance. He is also currently contributing to the ongoing research with Jose Dubeux’s team by calculating the cost/benefits of rhizoma peanut/bahiagrass systems, as compared to traditional nitrogen fertilized grass only systems.
For more information on forage legumes, contact your local County Extension Agent, or use the links to fact sheets on the following topics:
On January 31, 2018 the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released their annual January 1 Cattle Inventory Report. The total U.S. cattle inventory was estimated to be 94.4 million head, which was a 1% increase as compared to 93.7 million on January 1, 2017. Since January 1, 2014 the total cattle inventory has risen from 87.7 million to 94.4 million head, a 7% increase. The U.S. beef cow herd increased to 41.1 million head, up 2% last year, and the dairy herd increased 1%, up to 31.7 million head.
While the total number of cattle in the U.S. has steadily increased, there were some classes of cattle that declined in 2017. This may be a signal that expansion has peaked? Beef replacement heifers declined 4%, and two year old beef heifers that are expected to calve in 2018 declined 5%. Dairy replacements grew 1%, while bred dairy heifers declined 1%. Since 2014 the U.S. beef cow herd has increased 9%, but 2017 was the first year since 2014 with a reduction in the number of replacement heifers being added to the U.S. herd.
Since 2014 the U.S. beef cow herd has increased 9%, but 2017 was the first year since 2014 with a reduction in the number of replacement heifers being added to the U.S. herd. Source: NASS Cattle January 2018
Much of this increase in national inventory has not taken place in the Southeast, however. The chart below compares beef herd expansion in five Southeastern states to expansion in Texas and Oklahoma. Only Alabama has seen significant beef herd increase over the past four years. Much of the herd expansion in other parts of the country relates to long-term weather condition improvement.
Why is there so much focus and discussion about U.S. cattle herd expansion? It is the old economic principles of supply and demand. Typically as supply increases market prices fall. Last year was somewhat unique in that cattle prices actually improved later in the year, even though there were more cattle to sell. The basic reason was the export and domestic demand improved as the economy improved. As supply continues to increase, many experts are predicting lower returns for cow-calf producers with each increase in supply. Randy Bloch, Cattle Fax CEO recently shared his best estimates for 2018 at the NCBA Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. CattleFax expects the national average price for a 550 pound weaned steer in 2018 to be $1.58 per pound with a range of $1.80 this spring to a low of $1.35 this fall. Remember that Southeastern cattle are discounted due to freight going west, so these predictions don’t directly relate to local prices. He also said, “2018 will be the largest beef production year in our history. That will build as we go into the end of the decade.” As supply increases, prices will adjust, unless there is an equal increase in domestic or export demand.
The Bottom Line
Cow-calf ranchers will need to find ways to reduce costs and be even more efficient in the years ahead to remain profitable. As the U.S cattle herd continues to expand, market prices will continue to fall, unless demand increases significantly. Eventually these lower prices will force herd liquidation, but it may take a while. Expansion appears to be slowing down, but the herd is still very large compared to four years ago.
So as a cow-calf rancher what should you do to fine-tune your management? This is the exact focus of the Northwest Florida Beef Conference & Trade Show that was held on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 in Marianna. Five experts shared ideas to make suggestions on how cow-calf ranchers can reduce costs or improve the efficiency of their operations. For more information, use the following link:
Sources used for the information in this article include:
This week a Qantas jet flew from the United States to Australia using biofuel generated from Brassica carinata (carinata). This event was just one of several exciting developments involving carinata that have happened over the past year. Strong markets exist for the fuel, co-products and meal that can be produced from carinata seed. This is creating an opportunity to establish carinata as a winter crop for producers here in the Southeastern U.S. To accelerate the establishment of commercial carinata production in the southeastern US, a consortium known as the Southeastern Partnership for Advanced Renewables from Carinata (SPARC), will work to address barriers to production, and reduce risk along the supply chain. The SPARC team is comprised of scientists from several Southeastern universities, government agencies, industry (Agrisoma Biosciences Inc., and Applied Research Associates Inc.), and a consortium representing the commercial aviation industry. The establishment of this team was made possible with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
“Our goal is to commercialize Carinata to produce jet fuel and feed for livestock while mitigating risks along the entire supply chain,” says David Wright, project lead and an agronomy professor at the University of Florida.
In this article, two key objectives of the SPARC feedstock development team are highlighted: to assist with the selection of varieties suited to the Southeastern U.S., and to optimize the cropping systems fit of carinata with traditional crop rotations.
Testing Advanced Carinata Varieties Across the Southeast
Over the past 5 years, scientists at the University of Florida and Agrisoma have been screening advanced carinata varieties to identify high yielding, early maturing, cold hardy, and disease tolerant varieties, with high oil content, and desirable fatty acid composition. As a result, several varieties have been identified that provide opportunities to increase carinata seed yield by 40%, and increase oil yield by 2%, over existing commercial varieties. After benefiting from several years of selection and testing in the region, Agrisoma’s breeding pipeline of varieties promise even higher yielding, earlier maturing varieties, that would complement prevalent summer crop rotation systems in the US Southeast. Successful commercialization of carinata based renewables will depend on reliable and sustainable year round availability of feedstock; therefore expansion of carinata production across the Southeastern U.S., as determined by adaptability, will strengthen the supply chain.
To establish the suitability of locations in the Southeast for carinata production, SPARC cooperators planted 16 advanced carinata breeding lines that have potential for near future commercial deployment at 15 locations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina. This multi-site regional testing approach will assess the yield potential, determine production sensitivity to resource management and climate variables, and identify productive regions for commercialization and supply chain development.
Figure 1. Carinata yield trials at the North Florida Research and Education Center, Quincy, FL. Photo credit: Ian Small
This regional study is already yielding useful information about these advanced lines. The cold weather at the start of the 2018 year provided a major test of the resilience of the varieties against cold damage. This information will be key to selecting the next commercial varieties for the Southeastern U.S.
Testing Sustainable Crop Rotations with Winter Carinata in the Southeast
As commercial carinata acreage expands from the Panhandle of Florida to more northern states in the Southeast, it is important to determine the latitudinal limits of winter production, and quantify cultural practices that enhance cold tolerance. Tillage practices are expected to play an important role in the degree of frost tolerance of carinata due to the maintenance of crop residue on the soil surface which may protect the crop from freeze damage, and due to differences in soil temperature during establishment. Integration of fertility management is important on the characteristic sandy soils of the Southeast in order to meet crop demand as well as limit nutrient movement to water bodies and groundwater. Fitting carinata into current crop rotations will provide growers with additional income, but rotations that are economically and agronomically feasible are still being investigated. Existing common cropping systems in the Southeast include corn, cotton, peanut, soybean, and sorghum. The selection of regionally appropriate cropping systems for double cropping carinata is currently limited by the planting and harvest window of summer cash crops.
Figure 2. Carinata production field in Central Georgia. Photo credit: Christine Bliss
Research on early maturing carinata lines, combined with harvest management practices ideal for the Southeast, will help overcome that limitation. Integration of tillage, fertility, and rotations for sustainable carinata production may provide enhanced ecosystem services for water quality, carbon sequestration, and integrated weed management. The effects of previous summer crops on carinata production, as well as the effects of carinata production on subsequent summer crops, will be determined in two long-term cropping systems studies in Jay and Quincy, Florida. Researchers will determine regions suitable for sustainable carinata production in the Southeast, and identify those rotations that are both economically and agronomically viable. Tillage effects on frost tolerance of carinata will be quantified, and recommendations will be developed and extended to growers and industry professionals through field days and workshops.
For more information, consider attending of the upcoming Carinata Summit or one of the regional field days:
February 27 at WFREC Jay, FL – Contact Michael Mulvaney (email@example.com); 850-382-5221
March 29 at NFREC Quincy, FL – Contact Ramdeo Seepaul (firstname.lastname@example.org); 850-875-7159
April 5 at Milstead, AL – Contact Austin Hagan (email@example.com); 334-321-8248
April 17 at Tifton, GA – Contact Dewey Lee and Bill Anderson (firstname.lastname@example.org) 229-392-6607; email@example.com; 229-386-3170)
June 2 FAMU Extension Center, Quincy, FL – Contact Alex Bolques (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For more information on carinata production and recent projects with the biofuel made from carinata, use the following links:
Applied Research Associates (ARA)
Join us for the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference on February 19 & 20 in Pensacola! Registration includes a farm tour, dinner after the tour, breakfast & lunch the next day, and excellent educational sessions. The complete agenda is now available. Use your mouse or finger to “click” on the image below for full screen viewing. Register online at: Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference Registration Page
Click your mouse on the image for full screen viewing.
The Panhandle Ag Extension Team hosted the inaugural Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference on Tuesday, October 11. The conference featured three concurrent session tracks for participants to choose from, a keynote address on whole farm business profitability, and a locally sourced lunch cooked by the Jackson County Master Gardeners. More than 120 people attended the conference.
Participants of the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference enjoying the trade show. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.
The conference was sponsored by 18 different businesses and organizations. A Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Specialty Crop Block Grant provided funding for the educational resources for the conference.
Dr. Pete Vergot welcomes attendees to the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.
Dr. Pete Vergot, Northwest District Extension Director, welcomed attendees to the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference by sharing his first-hand experiences about growing up on a vegetable farm in Michigan.
Extension Agent Bob Hochmuth reviewed various hydroponic media during a Protected Ag session at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.
The Protected Agriculture sessions were organized by Leon County Extension Agent Molly Jameson. Bob Hochmuth, UF/IFAS Regional Extension Agent is a vegetable production specialist. He spoke to participants about different hydroponic production systems and about fertilizer management.
Members of the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance presented during a Protected Agriculture session at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.
Tallahassee’s Red Hills Small Farm Alliance members Herman Holley, Katie Harris, and Wayne Hawthorne discussed their farming and marketing experiences with attendees at one of the Protected Agriculture sessions. The Red Hills Small Farm Alliance is a 501c3 non-profit organization that assists small farms in the Red Hills Region with production and marketing.
Dr. Jeff Williamson presenting on blueberry varieties and production at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Matt Orwat, UF/IFAS Extension.
The Fruit & Berry sessions were organized by Washington County Extension Agent Matt Orwat. UF/IFAS Blueberry Specialist Dr. Jeff Williamson talked to participants about blueberry production practices and blueberry varieties.
Dr. Violeta Tsolova presenting about grape varieties at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Matt Orwat, UF/IFAS Extension.
Dr. Violeta Tsolova gave participants an in-depth review of grape varieties suitable for North Florida. Dr. Tsolova is a Viticulture Specialist at Florida A&M University.
Dr. Ayanava Majumdar presenting at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference.
The Diversified Agriculture sessions were organized by Dr. Josh Freeman. Dr. Freeman is the UF/IFAS Vegetable Specialist housed at the University of Florida’s North Florida Research & Education Center in Quincy, FL. During one of the Diversified Agriculture sessions, Dr. Ayanava Majumdar, from Auburn University, taught participants about various Integrated Pest Management strategies for insect management in vegetable crops. Dr. Majumdar also presented in one of the Protected Agriculture sessions.
Participants lining up for Southern Craft Creamery ice cream at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.
After the morning sessions were complete, the attendees of the conference were treated to a home cooked meal prepared by the Jackson County Master Gardeners. The lunch featured squash from farmer Allen Childs in Sneads, FL and peas from J&J Produce in Cottondale, FL. The lunch was capped off by ice cream from Southern Craft Creamery in Marianna, FL. Snack breaks included chocolate milk from the Ocheesee Creamery in Blountstown, FL.
Keynote Speaker Richard Wiswall (Cate Farm, East Montpelier, VT) talked to participants about building a farm business. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.
To kick off the afternoon events, Farmer Richard Wiswall from Cate Farm in East Montpelier, VT talked to participants about managing a successful farm enterprises. He shared his experiences about starting with a small farm and growing over time as finances allowed. Richard also led a farm business seminar in the afternoon.
Mack Glass welcomes Citrus Tour participants to Cherokee Satsuma’s packing house. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.
Attendees had to make a difficult decision when choosing between an afternoon tour, a farm business discussion, or a hands-on vegetable grafting demonstration. Participants on the Citrus Tour got to see Mack Glass’ packing house and his satsuma grove south of Marianna.
Grafting tomato transplants at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.
UF Grafting Specialist, Dr. Xin Zhao, came in town to teach participants how to graft vegetables. Participants got to practice grafting tomato plants.
Participants of the Protected Agriculture Tour visited Fox Family Farm in Cottondale, FL. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.
The Protected Agriculture Tour visited Fox Family Farm in Cottondale. Fox Family Farm utilizes high tunnels to grow heirloom tomatoes and other vegetables. They are a Certified USDA Organic Farm.
The Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference was a success thanks to the volunteers, sponsors, and Extension Agents and Specialists that made it all possible. We are looking forward to the next Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference.