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Pan Ag 10 Year AnniversaryOn April 3, 2012 the first Panhandle Ag email newsletter was sent out to 1,652 farmers and ranchers in the Florida Panhandle, and the first article links were shared through Facebook and Twitter accounts .  Since that time 1,975 articles have been published that were written by 66 Extension Specialists and County Agents on a wide range of topics related to commercial agriculture and natural resource management.  Since this project began the email subscription list has grown to 4,541 (175%), the Facebook  account followers have grown to 2,443, and the Twitter account to 998 followers.  The host website has received 1.8 million page views over this 10 year period.  In the first year, 2012, this site averaged 29 page views per day, and through March 2021 the site has averaged 1,281 page views per day, showing a growth of 4317%.  As the lead editor for this project I have been amazed to watch the popularity of this service grow, but it would not have been possible without the contributions from the dedicated team of authors on a wide range of topics.

To celebrate this milestone of success, I thought it would be fun to share the 10 most popular articles and jokes that have been shared over our first ten years.

Top 10 Articles of the Decade

  1. Doveweed: a Growing Problem in Warm-season Turfgrasses– 43,450 views
    • Dr Ramon Leon, Former UF/IFAS Weed Specialist (moved to NCState), wrote an article in 2015 about a very troubling turf weed.  Doveweed  is a summer annual weed that has become a serious weed problem in  commercial sod production and residential lawns.  He provided some options to help control this weed.
  2. Pasture Soil Fertility Essential to Prevent Broomsedge Infestations – 33,340 views
    • Mark Mauldin. UF/IFAS Extension Washington County, wrote an article about management practices to prevent a challenging pasture weed infestation.  Broomsedge grows well in acidic soils with low levels of nutrients. It is also rather tolerant of drought conditions. These factors help to make it very persistent once it is established. This persistence is a source of frustration for pasture managers because broomsedge is difficult to get rid of once it is established.  Efforts to prevent broomsedge bluestem are much more productive than efforts to control it. Broomsedge is not competitive with improved forage grass species, if conditions are favorable for the improved species.
  3. Hay Bale Size Really Does Matter – 32,845 views
    • Dr. Matt Hersom, Former UF/IFAS Beef Specialist (moved to Clemson), published an article that was an instant sensation on social media.  Large round bales can be made of many different sizes (diameter and height) which result in different total bale volumes. Bale volume is important, because when volume is combined with the bale density it results in the total weight of the bale. Because hay bales are generally sold by size rather than weight, there has been confusion about how much feed you are really buying.  Dr. Hersom summarized some data from Texas A&M that helps buyers get an idea of the weight of different size round bales.
  4. At What Weight Should I Sell My Feeder Calves? – 32,080
    • Chris Prevatt, UF/IFAS Livestock & Forage Econmist, wrote an article in 2017 that addressed a very popular question for beef cattle ranchers.  A commonly asked question around sale barns and at extension programs is “Should I sell light-weight feeder calves now or hold them and sell them when they are heavier?” The answer to this question depends on your individual situation. Evaluating the costs and returns for each incremental increase of 100-pounds of weight gain will help you decide when to pull the trigger to send calves to market. In general, it is more profitable to keep nursing calves with their mothers longer to add weight.
  5. Controlling Rats and Mice around the Farm – 27,188
    • Mike Donahoe, Emeritus UF/IFAS Extension Santa Rosa Extension Director, wrote a very popular article about controlling rodents around the farm.  The Norway rat, roof rat, and house mouse are destructive rodent pests in and around farm facilities. This can be especially true during the winter months, as they seek food and refuge indoors. Effective rodent control involves a three step process.  The first step is to “rodent-proof” the structure.  Good sanitation is step number two.  The third step is population reduction with traps and baits.
  6. The “Bud Box” and Double Alley Design for Cattle Pens – 22,451
    • Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension Jackson County Director, wrote an article in 2015 about a popular new design for cattle handling facilities.  Many ranchers and feed-yards have redesigned their working facilities using the “Bud Box” and double alley system to replace the popular sweep tub and, curved chute system, promoted by Dr. Temple Grandin that had become the industry standard. The Bud Box is a facility design that allows the handler to position themselves correctly to facilitate cattle flow out of the box into either the crowd alley leading to a chute or to a trailer load out.  The key to using the double alley and the Bud Box together is to keep cattle moving forward towards the chute, and not have the opportunity to circle back and get stressed.
  7. New Biosecurity & Interstate Transportation Requirements for Horses in July – 19,731
    • Dr. Saundra TenBroek, UF/IFAS Equine Specialist, wrote an article in 2019 about changes to transportation requirements for horses out of state that went viral on social media.  Beginning in 2020,the new Electronic Equine CVI, or EECVI, will require the vet to do the initial exam and then the owner must go online and request a permit for each movement or event. The change is being made to provide better documentation of movement of horses, so appropriate measures can be taken if there is a disease outbreak.Though recording gender, color, and markings is standard, digital photographs will be required for electronic CVI. Microchips are are also becoming more widely accepted across the horse industry. USDA 840-ID chips are considered universal by USDA.
  8. What are the Requirements to Sell Eggs and Dressed Poultry from Florida Small Farms? – 17,843
    • Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension Jackson County Director, wrote an article in 2017about the new Limited Poultry and Egg Farm Permit in Florida.  With a Limited Poultry and Egg Permit you can sell up to 30 dozen eggs and/or up to 384 dressed poultry in any one week within the state of Florida. Interstate sales or Internet sales are not permitted, however. Under these guidelines poultry includes chicken, turkey, duck, goose, guinea fowl, or quail. Poultry or eggs cannot be sold wholesale to a retail outlet or other vendor under this permit.
  9. Population Growing but US Farm Acreage Declining – 17,253
    • In 2016, Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension Jackson County Director, wrote an article that discussed the challenge of a critical concern world-wide.  How will we meet the food demands for a growing world population while farmland acres continue to shrink?  According to USDA’s estimates 6.6 million acres of US Farmland has been lost from 2008 through 2015.  The world population is growing, farm acreage is shrinking, and fewer people are willing to take the risk to spend a lifetime farming. Having enough food for more than 9 billion people in the next 30 years will require significant investment in innovation, a major boost in both productivity and profitability, and doing everything we can to keep our current farmland in production.

  10. When is Hay Dry Enough? – 17,074
    • Number 10 on the list was a contribution form a guest author.  Dennis Hancock, former UGA Forage Extension Specialist (moved to USDA in Wisconsin), wrote an article about a very popular question.  There is a great misconception that once hay is “dry” and baled it is plain and devoid of life. The truth is that hay is never completely dry, and it is full of microscopic life. If the hay is not dry enough, those microscopic life forms can cause major problems. The temperature of these hay bales, stacks, and barns can get very hot. In extreme cases, it can get so hot that the bales can catch on fire. Even if the temperature does not reach these extremes, these microorganisms can also form spores that give the hay a moldy smell.

Top 10 Jokes

It still amazes me how popular the weekly “Friday Funny” jokes were for our readers. From June 2015 through October 2017, jokes were shared each week to help build a following for the service and end the newsletter on a positive note.  This campaign was very successful in building our Facebook and Twitter followers.  The truth is I ran out of sources for new farm jokes that were funny but not to offensive, so I made the switch to sharing a YouTube Video each week.  If you have not read them already, there is a link on the site to the collection of 67  Farm Jokes.  The following were the 10 most popular of the group.

  1. Top 20 Cow One-liners – 103,178 views
  2. Gathering Pecans in the Cemetery – 7,784
  3. PTO Quick Connector – 5,030
  4. The Pig with a Wooden Leg– 4,377
  5. Cold Water Clean – 4,161
  6. The Donkey’s Revenge – 3,209
  7. English is a Crazy Language – 2,999
  8. The New Preacher – 2,988
  9. The Cow Salesman – 2,727
  10. You Might be a Farmer – 2,678
Doug Mayo
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