Gardeners worldwide and throughout time have bemoaned weeds. In Florida, we get to enjoy weeds all year long! Our February Gardening in the Panhandle (GIP) Live episode focused on weeds and weed control. Many homeowners are interested in ways to control weeds and UF/IFAS Extension and your local extension agents are here to help. The following is a summary of the topics we discussed and links for more research-based information on weeds.
What is a Weed?
Many folks come to the extension office holding a plant and ask, “Is this a weed”? Well, whether it is a weed or not is more up to each homeowner, as the only definition for a weed is “a plant out of place”. Bermudagrass and Oxalis are good examples of plants that some try to grow while others try to kill. One person’s weed is another’s wildflower! However, to be clear, plants classified as invasive by UF/IFAS and governmental entities are officially weeds. There are resources to help identify several common plants that are generally considered weeds by most homeowners and landscapers.
Weed ID Links
Common, and aggravating, weeds.
How to Prevent Weeds?
There are some general gardening practices that can help prevent weeds so there is less of a need to control them. A lawn that is healthy is less likely to be invaded by weeds and the use of mulch can greatly reduce weed growth in planting beds. Other practices, like the placement of weed fabrics/cloths are less effective and/or practical in many garden situations.
Weed Prevention Links
How to Control Weeds?
Once you know and/or decide that what you have is a weed and that it needs to be dealt with, then you have to consider your control options. Prevention, as mentioned above, is key but sometimes you may need to use other methods of control, such as physical, mechanical, and/or chemical means. With chemical weed control, it is important to always read and follow the product label.
Weed Control Links
General dates of common annual weed emergence. Credit: Dr. Ramon Leon, UF/IFAS.
Specific Weed Recommendations
When managing pests, proper identification is key to effective control. Because some weeds are annuals, and present either during the cool or warm season, and others are perennials, proper weed identification can provide a more detailed control strategy. Use the weed ID links above and the document links below for more precise, and effective, weed management.
Species-Specific Control Links
If you need additional assistance with weed control, please contact your local county extension office. Please tune in for future GIP LIVE episodes for more research-based information on gardening topics.
Sounder of hogs in a corral trap. Photo Credit: Jennifer Bearden
Aliens are invading our forests, pastures, fields and lawns. Well, okay, it’s not aliens but it is invasive species. Invasive species are species that are non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. These invasive species have become the number one threat to biodiversity on protected lands. However, invasive species do not know boundaries, and as a result, public, private lands, natural and man-made water bodies, and associated watersheds are all affected as well.
It is estimated that Florida Agriculture loses $179 million annually from invasive pests (http://www.defenders.org/sites/default/files/publications/florida.pdf). Generally, eradication of an invasive species is difficult and expensive. Most of the mitigation efforts focus on control rather than eradication.
EDDMaps (Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System), a web-based mapping system for reporting invasive species, currently has 667 different invasive plants reported in Florida. Many invasive insects, animals and diseases have also landed in Florida. Some famous invasive species in Florida include cogongrass, wild hogs, red imported fire ants, Chinese tallow, and lionfish.
You can help us control invasive species in several ways:
- Always be cautious when bringing plants or plant materials into the state. Plants or even dead plant material can harbor weeds, insects and diseases that can become invasive in our state.
- When you see something suspicious, contact your local extension agent for help identifying the weed, insect or disease.
- You can volunteer your time and effort. Invasive species control is difficult and requires a cooperative effort for funding and manpower. The state has several Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CISMA) in which public and private organizations work together to control invasive species in their area. These CISMAs hold work days in which volunteers can help remove invasive species from the environment. https://www.floridainvasives.org/cismas.cfm
For more information about invasive species, contact your local county extension agent.
Fall is such a spectacular time in the Florida Panhandle. The crowds are gone and the thermometer rests at a pleasant 50-70-something degrees. It is the perfect time of year to enjoy our amazing environment. Nature has a magical way of boosting our energy levels and immune systems and improving mood and focus. We can all use a heaping helping of that right now.
So where do you start? Here are some ideas.
Take in a sunrise or sunset. The beach is often one of the best places to do this, but anywhere will do. Last weekend, I was at the Okaloosa Island Boardwalk and Pier and the sunset was magnificent. While there, take a walk along the beach, let the cool sand squish between your toes and discover what might be hiding in the wrack. The wrack is that line of seaweed deposited after high tide. Upon close inspection, it contains many treasures including seagrasses, sponges, shells, worm tubes, small crabs and other oddities.
Take a nature hike. I love the nature trails at our local state and national parks, Henderson Beach, Topsail, Blackwater and Grayton Beach State Parks all have great trails. You may see some wildflowers this time of year. Look for animal tracks and resident birds. You may also see some monarch butterflies on the saltbush, resting as they continue their migration to Mexico.
Check out the springs. Morrison Springs and Ponce de Leon Springs in the state park in Walton County are an easy drive. Sit and enjoy the beauty and peaceful nature that surrounds the springs. Dip your toes in the cool water for a refreshing tingle or jump right in if you dare.
If you have a kayak, canoe or paddle board, it’s a great time to be on the water. Look for migrating shorebirds, schools of fish or pods of dolphins. Did you know we have over 60 dolphins that call the Destin area home year-round? You can often find them cruising in the Choctawhatchee Bay, or hop aboard one of our local dolphin cruises to catch a better glimpse.
Finally, our local fresh seafood is available year-round. Plan a picnic with some fresh shrimp or smoked mullet dip. Seafood offers many of the same benefits as time in nature, so double up on all the goodness that fall has to offer. Get outside and get happy!
We’re now in the prime of hurricane season. Living in Florida, preparing for possible destructive storms is just part of life. So, it’s important to plan and take steps to protect ourselves, our homes and our landscapes.
This time of year, we need to have a contingency plan against powerful winds and flooding rains. Ornamental trees and shrubs are especially vulnerable.
An important protective measure is to stake and attach guide wires to any recently planted (within 12 months) trees or large shrubs. Although root systems may very well be established, the young roots may not yet have anchoring capacity and could snap under strong winds. Stakes should be 2’-3’ in length. Using three or four stakes and driving them away from the plant at a 45-degree angle for 18” or more should be sufficient. So, how far should the stakes be from a tree? A good practice is to drive the stake approximately the same distance from the base of the tree as the height above ground from where guide wires will be attached.
Studies have shown that 20% of storm damage is caused by trees during hurricane or tropical storm events. Just a cubic foot of pine branch weighs 52 lbs. A branch ten feet in length can deliver as much as one ton of force. Imagine what that can do to a roof! So, check your trees now. Look for signs of weakness, like bark falling off, internal decay, root rot and branching too close to a structure. If a structure is in question, if possible, the tree canopy should be thinned, or the outer edge pruned. Any trees that had roots cut during new home construction is a red flag, also. The tree will most likely fall during a storm event in the future.
As we saw with Hurricane Michael, older trees and pines do not hold up well against major storms. Maple, Live Oak and Elm trees have good wind resistance as they age. Bald Cypress, Crape Myrtle and Dahoon Holly are a few ornamental tree species that also fit the category of resistance.
For more information contact your local county extension office.
UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.
Tuesday, August 11th from 6-7 PM ET
Join us to learn more about recreational scalloping!
Hear from UF/IFAS, Florida Sea Grant, FWC, and FWRI presenters and stay for Q&A.
The pandemic has been challenging, to say the least. We must all must be contentious to all residents and visitors looking forward to spending some good quality time on the bay. The 2020 recreational scalloping season is set to take place August 16th – Sept. 24th for St. Joseph Bay and Gulf County. This region includes all state waters from the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County to the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.
During this event, UF/IFAS Extension & Florida Sea Grant Agents, along with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will give updates and hold Q & A about the status of scallop populations in the area and the ongoing monitoring projects. There will also be information presented regarding regulations, as well as boat safety reminders so that everyone will have a safe trip out of the water this season!
Join us to learn more about recreational scalloping! Don’t miss out!
This event is free, but you must register here: https://www.facebook.com/events/329876454812541/
For more information, contact Gulf County Extension at 639-3200 or email at email@example.com. *Due to COVID-19, our physical office location is closed to public traffic at this time. However, please call or email us for assistance with extension related needs. Sorry for the inconvenience.
UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.
A spotted seatrout caught last summer in the St. Andrew’s Bay system (an area now included in the new Western Panhandle Management Zone).
Photo credit: Mark Mauldin
Recently FWC (Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission) announced rule changes relating to spotted seatrout.
The text was taken directly from FWC press releases; details not pertinent to NW Florida were removed.
Several rule changes for spotted seatrout [went] into effect Feb. 1, including a closure to spotted seatrout harvest in the new Western Panhandle management zone. Spotted seatrout are one of Florida’s most popular inshore fisheries. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) made these changes after reviewing the results of a recent stock assessment and gathering input from anglers. These changes were made to benefit spotted seatrout populations while continuing to provide quality fishing opportunities.
The following rules [went] into effect Feb. 1, 2020:
- Creating two new zones by splitting the Northwest spotted seatrout management zone into the: (See maps below.)
- Western Panhandle (Escambia County through the portions of Gulf County west of longitude 85 degrees, 13.76 minutes but NOT including Indian Pass/Indian Lagoon).
- Big Bend (remaining portion of Gulf County plus Indian Lagoon, and Franklin County through Fred Howard Park Causeway in Pinellas County).
- Reducing bag limits
- Western Panhandle: three fish (was five).
- Big Bend: five fish (no change).
- Modifying the recreational slot size limit from 15-to-20 inches to 15-to-19 inches total length.
- Allowing one seatrout over 19 inches per vessel (currently per harvester).
- Prohibiting captain and crew from keeping a bag limit on a for-hire trip.
- Re-establishing the February recreational closure in the Western Panhandle zone.
Learn more about spotted seatrout by visiting MyFWC.com/Marine and clicking on “Recreational Regulations” and “Spotted Seatrout.”
Newly-approved FWC Spotted seatraout management zones, effective February 1, 2020
Image source: www.myfwc.com
New boundary between the Western Panhandle and Big Bend spotted seatrout management zones effective Feb. 1, 2020.
Image source: www.myfwc.com
Earlier this week Governor DeSantis announced the dates for the 2020 Gulf Red Snapper Season – June 11 through July 25.
Governor Ron DeSantis Announces 2020 Gulf Red Snapper Season
Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the popular 2020 Gulf red snapper recreational season is set to open June 11 through July 25, with a possible fall reopening if quota is available. This season will apply to those fishing from private recreational vessels in Gulf state and federal waters, and to charter vessels that do not have a federal reef fish permit and are limited to fishing in state waters only.
Earlier this month, Florida was delegated authority to manage recreational red snapper harvest from private vessels in Gulf federal waters.
“I’m pleased to announce that our state’s good conservation practices are allowing us to have a 45-day Gulf red snapper season this year,” said Governor DeSantis. “Gulf red snapper season is always an exciting time for anglers and is just another reason why Florida remains the Fishing Capital of the World.”
“Gulf red snapper is a conservation and management success story for Florida anglers,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) chairman Robert Spottswood. “Just a few years ago, a 45-day season for red snapper in both state and federal waters was out of reach. Thank you to all the stakeholders and anglers who helped make this season possible by providing input and sharing information about their fishing trips.”
“FWC is proud to be able to work with our stakeholders to balance conservation with fishing opportunities for Gulf red snapper and we are excited to see what the future holds as FWC takes the unprecedented step of managing this resource in both state and federal waters of the Gulf,” said Spottswood.
For more on recreational snapper regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Snapper” under the “Reef Fish” tab.
Follow the link for more information on Snapper fishing in Florida – FWC Snappers