Bad Cat Classic Catfishing Tourament

On September 25, 2021 the Bad Cat Classic Catfishing Tournament will be hosted on the Choctawhatchee River. The mission of the tournament is to get kids outdoors and involved in natural resources conservation, while spending time with positive mentors, and what better way to do that than with a rod and reel.

The tournament will consist of three person teams, with one member of the team being 16 years of age or younger. Teams will fish from boat on the Choctawhatchee River. Tournament Headquarters will be the Caryville Boat Ramp on Hwy 90. The tournament will start at 6 PM CST on September 25th and fishing will wrap up at 8 AM CST on September 26th with weigh-ins to follow.

The Bad Cat Classic is one of a series of programs that is hosted with the mission to involve youth in outdoor recreation and conservation. All proceeds from this contest will go to the Randy Adams Memorial with the mission to purchase lifetime hunting & fishing licenses for kids in the Holmes County, FL.

IMPORTANT LINKS

Rules and Regulations 

Team Entry Form

Big Cat and Target Wt. Entry Form

For more information please call Kalyn Waters, UF/IFAS Extension Holmes County at 850-547-1108. All contest information and updates can be found at the Holmes County Outdoor Expo Facebook Page.

Gardening in the Panhandle LIVE Program Summary: Weeds – February 4, 2021

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.

Alien Invaders

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:

  1. 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.
  2. When you see something suspicious, contact your local extension agent for help identifying the weed, insect or disease.
  3. 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.

Adventures in Fall

Adventures in Fall

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!

 

It’s not Too Late to Prep Your Landscape for Storm Season

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.

Bay & Gulf County Scallop Webinar

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 rbodrey@ufl.edu. *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.