Traditional cotton with dicamba drift injury on one row vs healthy. Photo – Jay Ferrell
The past two months have been life altering for many farmers in the southeast, especially the Florida Panhandle. Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Panhandle on October 10th and left a path of destruction spanning several counties as it continued into Southwest Georgia. With the aftermath of Michael, farmers from Walton to Gadsden counties were left without power and severe damage to crops and equipment.
On October 31st, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it was extending the registration of Dicamba for over-the-top (OTT) use for weed control in transgenic cotton and soybean. Dicamba products approved for use on dicamba-tolerant crops include Engenia (BASF), XtendiMax (Monsanto), and FeXapan (Corteva). This announcement came during a period when much of Jackson and Calhoun Counties, a large cotton producing area, wwere without power. The purpose of this article is to help promote the announcement and raise awareness regarding label changes for products approved for use in Dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybean. Another product to follow is chlorpyrifos, better known as Lorsban, which, depending on outcomes of legal/regulatory proceedings, will likely still be available for use during the 2019 season.
Along with the EPA announcement of the two-year extension in registration of dicamba products used in row crops (now through 2020), new restrictions were revealed that will be integrated into product labels. It is imperative that growers read these labels and understand what these changes mean regarding product use. Dicamba is currently registered for OTT use in cotton and soybean in 34 states, including Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.
In 2019, only restricted use pesticide applicators will be allowed to make applications. The purchase and application of dicamba products used on herbicide tolerant crops will not be permitted by those without a pesticide license and the appropriate category, even under the supervision of a licensed applicator. This means that authorized purchasers on an applicators license will no longer be able to purchase the products, only the certified applicatorthemselves. Everyone must now have their own license if they wish to buy or apply these products registered for use on Dicamba-tolerant crops. Depending on their situation, Florida growers will be required to have a Private Applicator or commercial license with the Row Crop category. Obtaining a license means individuals must pass the two necessary pesticide exams with at least a 70 percent, the Core exam and the category exam (Private or Row crop). Exams can be administered at your local Extension Office, but please call ahead to make an appointment. They can also help you decide which license designation (private or commercial) bests applies to your situation. On top of having a restricted use pesticide license, applicators will also be required to attend a 2019 dicamba training, which will be similar to what was provided in March 2018. All individuals who will want to purchase or apply these products (or want the future option) during the 2019 season will need to attend the new dicamba training, regardless of if they attended the one in 2018. A training date has not yet been selected for Florida, but it will likely be a similar timeframe to the 2018 training. Early spring probably around March, using a web format, broadcast from one central location to participating Extension Offices. The date will be announced once the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has finalized the specifics, stay in contact with your local Extension Office.
The training will address updates to product labels such as the postemergence application window, number of applications, buffer zones, sensitive areas, application hours, record keeping, spray solution pH, and more.
For more information regarding the 2019 dicamba updates, check out the links below:
Registration of Dicamba for Use on Dicamba-Tolerant Crops
EPA Announces Changes To Dicamba Registration
Dicamba: Moving Forward- 7 Label Changes
Since 1965 chlorpyrifos has been used as a pesticide in the agricultural sector. It is commonly used as an insecticide in the production of crops such as corn, peanut, and soybean, among others. It is recognizable to most farmers under the brand name Lorsban. Chlorpyrifos is a cholinesterase inhibitor which can cause problems in people exposed to high enough doses. This means that it can overstimulate the nervous system resulting in symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, and confusion.
Since 2000, the EPA has evaluated and modified the use of chlorpyrifos several times. In 2017, the EPA denied a petition requesting to revoke of all pesticide tolerances (residue level allowed in food) for the chemical and for the cancellation of all chlorpyrifos registrations. On August 9, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos within 60 days. In September the EPA appealed the decision, and the Department of Justice asked the Ninth Circuit to reconsider its opinion. Over 100 days have passed since the ban was requested with the 60-day deadline, and it appears that chlorpyrifos will remain available for use until the legal/regulatory proceedings are finished.
For more information regarding the 2019 use of chlorpyrifos or the EPA’s history regarding this product, check out the links below:
Lorsban should be available for 2019 use, MSU finds
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.
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.
For more information, contact:
Florida Forest Service
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam and the Florida Forest Service released requirements for open burning, effective November 2, 2018, in the following counties impacted by Hurricane Michael: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty and Washington.
The Florida Forest Service created two geographical zones, primary and secondary, to identify hurricane-impacted areas with specific open burning requirements. Effective immediately through January 7, 2019, burning hurricane vegetative debris in the impact area zones requires an on-site inspection and burn authorization from the Florida Forest Service. Zone parameters are as follows:
- Certified pile burning is allowed.
- Non-certified pile burning is allowed at Disaster Debris Management Sites approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection or with an Air Curtain Incinerator.
- On-site inspections are required for all burn authorizations.
- Broadcast burning is not allowed.
- Certified pile burning is allowed.
- Non-certified pile burning is allowed.
- Broadcast burning is allowed.
- Fire Supervisor approval is required for all burn authorizations.
“We have thoroughly evaluated the wildfire risks in these areas hardest hit by the storm,” said Jim Karels, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service. “Our plan will effectively reintroduce open burning into these areas with firefighter and public safety as the primary focus.”
Due to the immediate need for certification, the Florida Forest Service is offering two courses:
Hurricane Michael’s destructive path through the Florida Panhandle resulted in significant damage to homes and property, including nearly 3 million acres of timberland. The volume of timber on the ground has created a serious threat, causing great concern for catastrophic wildfire danger in the short and long term. The Florida Forest Service has transported additional heavy equipment into the area and is working with state and federal agencies to assist with re-establishing fire lines.
To obtain a burn authorization in Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Jackson or Washington County, contact (850) 373-1801. To obtain a burn authorization in Franklin, Gadsden or Liberty County, contact (850) 681-5951. Certified burn authorizations may also be obtained by downloading the free FLBurnTools app in Apple App Store or on Google Play.
The Florida Forest Service will continuously evaluate current requirements to determine if restrictions are appropriate. For current wildfire conditions, interactive fire maps and more information on burn authorizations, visit FloridaForestService.com.
A track of mature loblolly pines in Washington County severely effected by hurricane Michael. Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin
Hurricane Michael was particularly devastating to the timber industry in the Central Panhandle. The Florida Forest Service has released a report quantifying the extent of the damage. As we move from emergency response, towards recovery there are a variety of resources available to help landowners.
There are federal programs available to provide financial assistance with tasks like debris removal. (Follow the link for more information on the federal programs currently available.)
The Florida Forest Service and the Florida Forestry Association have both complied resources to help landowners begin to move through this challenging time. Perhaps the most sought after resource right now is contact information for loggers and consultants. This information is available through the FFS Vendor Database and the FFA Master Logger Contact List.
UF/IFAS Extension has released a new publication, Assessment and Management of Hurricane Damaged Timberland, to assist timberland owners navigate the plethora of post-storm challenges they are facing.
Hurricane Michael left the area with an incredible number of downed trees. All of these trees are now potential fuel for wildfires. In areas, estimates are as high as 100 tons of available fuel per acre. As time passes and the fuel dries the risk of devastating wildfires increases. To help prevent wildfires there is a complete burn ban in effect for Bay, Calhoun, Gadsden, Gulf, and Jackson Counties. In other counties burning is only permissible with a Burn Authorization from the Florida Forest Service. Do Not burn without an authorization – it is unsafe and irresponsible. Throughout the impacted area, even after the burn bans are lifted, burn authorizations will be issued on a very limited basis; possibly only to certified burners. In an effort to increase the number of certified burners in the impacted area the FFS is offering two Certified Pile Burner Courses. Courses will be held at the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Marianna on November 27 & 28. Contact your county forester to register for the courses.
There is a complete burn ban in place for the 5 counties shown in orange. Source: Florida Forest Service
Supplemental water is necessary for good crop yields in fruit and vegetable production. Water quality is equally as important as water quantity when it comes to fruit and vegetable production. Unfortunately, water can transport harmful microorganisms from adjacent lands or other areas of the farm. The water source and how the water is applied influence the risk for crop contamination to occur.
Water is used for various purposes during production: harvesting, and handling fresh produce, irrigation, cooling, frost protection, as a carrier for fertilizers and pesticides, and for washing tools and harvest containers, hand washing, and drinking.
Washing lettuce. Photo Credit: Cornell University Extension
The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) proposed water compliance date is not until 2022, but it will be here before you know it. Water quality is an important component of a Food Safety Plan. A good first step in ensuring compliance with FSMA water quality standards is to evaluate the water sources on the farm. For more information on compliance dates, please visit the Produce Safety Alliance’s Website.
The three common sources of water used on farms are surface water, well water, and municipal water.
Surface water includes ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams. It is at the highest risk for contamination because there is limited control on what flows downstream or from adjacent land. Wild and domestic animals, manure piles, and sewage discharges are all potential sources of contamination in surface waters.
The most common water source for North Florida farms is well water. Well water used for farming is at a moderate risk of becoming contaminated, when compared to surface water (highest risk) and municipal water (lowest risk). Wells are at a higher risk of becoming contaminated when located near flood zones, septic tanks, drainage fields, and manure/compost storage areas. The risk of contamination is further heightened if the well was not constructed properly, or if the casing is cracked. Wells should be properly sited, constructed, and maintained to keep contamination risks lower.
A recently installed well pump on a North Florida watermelon farm. Photo Credit: Matt Lollar, University of Florida/IFAS Extension
Well Design and Construction
- Preliminary Investigation – A preliminary investigation helps determine the design of a well. Existing wells in the area should be checked out to help determine depth and potential capacity. If records for the area aren’t available, then test holes should be drilled to determine the best location for water production.
- Casing – Casing material should be determined based on site characteristics. The casing needs to extend above the surface water level to reduce contamination risks. The casing is sealed in place with grout. A poor grouting job can also promote contamination. Casing diameter is selected based on well capacity.
- Well Screen – A commercially designed well screen should be installed to minimize hydraulic head loss. Screen diameter and material should be determined based on the preliminary investigation results. Gravel packing is recommended in some areas.
For more recommendations on well design and construction, please visit the University of Florida/IFAS publication: Design and Construction of Screened Wells for Agricultural Irrigation Systems
Please note that it is important to monitor your well water quality at least twice during each growing season. A list of FSMA approved water testing methods can be found at Cornell University’s Law School Website.
Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered new dicamba herbicide product formulations for making applications to dicamba tolerant cotton and soybean crops. As a result, many states were overwhelmed with drift complaints regarding sensitive crops. This led to the 2018 EPA announcement requiring that anyone who wishes to apply dicamba to dicamba tolerant crops MUST participate in an auxin herbicide training before making applications in 2018.
[warning]This training is required of anyone applying newer dicamba products registered for use on dicamba tolerant cotton and soybeans.[/warning]
Product examples include XtendiMax, Engenia, and FeXapan. Applicators using older dicamba formulations in other crops (corn, forages, small grains, sorghum, and turf) can still apply dicamba products without having this training but thoseproducts CANNOT be used on the dicamba tolerant crops. If you have questions regarding the use of these products or if you need the training, call your local Extension Office before making any applications.
On March 16, Extension Offices from across the state hosted an online two-hour dicamba training, which was broadcasted live from Gainesville. This training was overseen by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), who determined that the CEU form received from completion of this training would serve as the official documentation of attendance. If applicators desire to use the form for CEUs towards renewal of their pesticide license, they are required to keep an additional copy in their possession as proof of completing the dicamba training.
The training was recorded live and made available to all participating Extension Offices (see below). If you plan to make dicamba applications to dicamba tolerant cotton or soybean, you MUST complete this training before making any applications. The training is not required before planting dicamba genetics, but without the training dicamba cannot be sprayed on the crop. If you plan to spray the crop with dicamba, or want the weed control option later in the season, the training is mandatory.
[important]The recorded training has been made available to all participating Extension Offices. Applicators are required to watch it at the Extension Office, where it can be proctored by an agent who is a certified CEU provider and can issue/sign the CEU form. There are no exceptions, you must watch the training at an Extension Office. In the Panhandle, participating Extension Offices with access to the training include: Calhoun, Escambia, Gadsden, Holmes, Jefferson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Washington Counties. Contact information for the different offices can be found using the following link: Florida County Extension Offices.[/important]