Trees stay on their ageless cycle. Summer prepares them for fall, and fall readies them forwinter. Winter’s resting time prepares trees for spring, and spring unfolds the biological gloryof summer. Internal phosphorus and water contents, and external temperature and sunlight, help blend andmix leaf colors. From the first pale yellows of early fall through the bright oranges of Octoberto the deep burgundies coloring the last oak leaf, autumn paints a feast for the eye. The air sweeps over us in waves, no longer from the summer Gulf, but from the center of thecontinent. Cool winds drive the rains. Your senses can see, smell, hear, taste and feel thecoming of winter. For trees, autumn is a time long expected and prepared for. From the moment trees began toexpand their leaves and make food in the spring sunlight, a biological timer has been running. The scene changes daily and accelerates as winter comes closer. The colors break over us inthree waves. The first is composed of yellows and yellow-browns. Golden colors begin thesecond wave, which ends with oranges and light reds. The third wave is made of purples anddark reds. This timer is composed of sensors in buds, leaves and twigs that measure light and dark, daylength and other environmental clues. The tree’s genetic materials help define when and how atree will begin to shut down in fall. For many people, fall is a time for harvest celebrations and winter preparations. So it is withtrees. From soon-to-be-dead leaves, the tree withdraws many materials it has made or collected. Itleaves waste materials behind. These color waves sweep down from the higher elevations and farther north. Satellite imagesshow the moving color fronts. A short ride northward, and up in elevation, is like taking atime machine farther into the fall. Fall is a time of reorganization. All of nature is making changes, preparing for the comingwinter. People can enjoy the colorful rites of autumn in the forest, across the landscape and withindividual trees. The process of senescence presents amazing colors. The last bit of tree food is stockpiled in the living cells of the outer few annual growth rings.Twigs, branches and roots become the collection sites and warehouses of materials needed foranother season to come. The pallet of colors in leaves is varied and rich. Individual leaves actually can shift and changecolors over the senescence period. Within the tree, biological doors and windows are being closed, locked and weatherproofed. Some of the fall colors, such as the yellows and oranges, have just been revealed after havingspent the summer wearing green cloaks. Other colors, such as some of the purples and reds,have been made just for autumn. As Earth continues its journey around the Sun, the chill of northern climes creeps southward. Trees sense winter’s arrival, too. In trees, the topmost buds have sent a biological message that signals senescence. That’s a bigword for the ordered shutting-down of summer growth and conservation of valuable resources.Senescence brings the fall colors and leads to winter survival. We live among great forests and stands of trees. Autumn is a time to fully appreciate thevalues they bring. The trees’ biological preparations are colorful warnings of the winter tocome.
The Women in Agriculture Conference March 23-24 is geared to particular needs, problems and successes of women on the farm.The program will be at Callaway Gardens at Pine Mountain, Ga. Speakers will address everything from legislative and water issues, to coping with change and public relations.An $89 fee covers the classes, dinner Friday night, breakfast and Lunch Saturday and two breaks. To learn more, call the Georgia Healthy Farmers Program at 1-800-367-9083 or (770) 538-2747.
By Wayne McLaurinUniversity of GeorgiaPumpkins are one of the fun crops in the vegetable garden. They make delicious desserts and great fall decorations and can be painted or carved into jack-o’-lanterns. But to make the best use of them, you need to harvest and store them properly.Pick pumpkins when they develop a deep, uniform, orange color and, like any fall squash, a hard rind. The vines are usually dying back at this time.Avoid harvesting when the fruit is wet, as this will encourage decay. Pick a sunny, dry day.When harvesting pumpkins, handle them carefully to avoid cuts and bruises. Halloween pumpkins are most attractive when a stem or “handle” is carefully allowed to remain.Leave the stemsPumpkins with stems are less likely to rot, too. So, cut the fruit from the vine with sharp pruning shears, leaving a 4- to 5-inch “handle.”Don’t, however, carry pumpkins by their stems. They’re not really handles. Always pick up your pumpkin from the bottom. The stem may not be able to support the weight of the fruit and may break off, leaving it vulnerable to microorganisms that cause rot.Pumpkins can remain in the garden through a light, vine-killing frost. A light frost won’t damage the pumpkins themselves. However, all mature pumpkins should be harvested before temperatures drop into the mid to low 30s. Green, immature pumpkins won’t turn orange after a frost.Cure pumpkinsAfter the harvest, cure your pumpkins at 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 percent relative humidity for 10 days. Curing helps harden their skins and heal any cuts and scratches.After curing, store the pumpkins in a cool, dry place (50 to 55 degrees). When storing pumpkins, place them in a single layer where they don’t touch one another. Good air circulation helps prevent moisture from forming on the surfaces of the fruit and retards the growth of decay fungi and bacteria.Placing the pumpkins in piles generates unwanted heat which may result in the rotting of some fruit. Promptly remove and discard any pumpkins that show signs of decay.Properly harvested, cured and stored, pumpkins should be in excellent condition for Halloween painting or carving in late October to ensure a happy haunting.
By Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaTIFTON, Ga. – Corn farmers should have a lot to smile about in 2007. A massive demand for their crop has pushed prices to the highest in a decade, said experts here Tuesday. But it could be a volatile ride.”If you’re growing corn, you’re growing a product that has a home that doesn’t have to depend on exports or anything else … which is a big, big bonus,” Lewis Campbell, a corn marketer with South Carolina-based Palmetto Grain Brokerage, told participants at the 2007 Corn Short Course and Georgia Corn Growers Association meeting.Corn prices have jumped by almost $2 a bushel from last year to between $3.75 and $4 a bushel today. (A bushel is about 56 pounds.) Prices haven’t been this high since 1996, when there was a decrease in supply due to fewer planted acres and low yields in the United States.World corn supplies have decreased in recent years from about 181 million metric tons to 93 million, he said. But the surge in prices this year can be attributed largely to the increase in demand for corn to fuel the expanding U.S. ethanol industry, he said.A bushel of corn can yield almost 3 gallons of ethanol.Currently, 111 ethanol refineries in the United States produce about 5 billion gallons annually. Production is expected to double in the next two years, according to the Renewable Energy Association Web page.To meet the new demand, U.S. corn growers will need to grow an additional 10 million acres this year. Last year, farmers harvested about 71 million acres for grain.Prices should stay high. “But volatility will be the name of the game,” Campbell said.Increased trading by mutual funds and investors in commodities futures could make the market rocky through to harvest time. In recent years, corn prices would fluctuate little from week to week.”Now, it moves 20 cents in a day,” Campbell said. “It’s hard to take your emotions out of it, but it’s going to be like that all summer long.”Pencil to paper, corn right now looks as good or better economically than other traditional Georgia crops like cotton and peanuts, said Nathan Smith, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agricultural economist. This is not usually the case.”In Georgia, corn is not often the crop farmers plant to pay the bills,” he said in an interview after the meeting. “But this year, it should take care of a few.”It’s too early to say by how much, but farmers will certainly plant more corn in Georgia this year, he said. Georgia farmers harvested about 225,000 acres last year for grain. They’ll likely increase that to 300,000 or more this year, the highest since the late 1990s.Georgia is a corn-deficit state. Georgia farmers produce 30 million bushels annually, about a quarter of what is needed to feed the state’s livestock and large poultry industry each year.
By Bodie PennisiUniversity of GeorgiaA vigorous, shrub-like annual, Firespike (Odontonema strictum) likes to show off its strikingly beautiful crimson flowers and shiny, pest-free foliage. The 2007 Georgia Gold Medal winner is a standout in late summer and can hold its own in any landscape. Volume XXXIINumber 1Page 20 Firespike is not a native to North America but grows well here. It’s a perennial in extreme south Georgia, where it can come back beautifully after being cut back to the ground and mulched during winter.Its sparse, stiff branches grow mostly straight up to about 4 feet tall in a plant that’s 3 feet tall. Firespike’s dark green leaves, 2 to 3 inches wide and up to 8 inches long, have wavy margins and long, pointed tips.In late summer, Firespike produces abundant upright panicles, each 9 to 12 inches tall, of brilliant red, tubular flowers. The individual flowers are about an inch long and two-lipped. The blooms produce a sweet nectar that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies like magnets. It’s an irresistible addition to your garden.Firespike prefers places with full sun to partial shade and moist but well-drained soil. It’s one of the few flowering plants that can still have striking red blooms in partial shade. And once it’s established, it can tolerate all but the longest droughts.Low maintenanceIt’s a low-maintenance plant. All you have to do is give it a light sprinkling of a complete fertilizer, such as 6-6-6, each four to six weeks during the growing season.For best effect, plant Firespike as background plants in mass plantings in mixed-shrub borders, where it can rise above smaller plants in the foreground.It’s a knockout in large, mixed containers, too. Combine it with other Georgia Gold Medal winners like Mickey Mouse cuphea (2006), Georgia Blue veronica (2005) or Blue Fortune hyssop (2004).Under those conditions, a weekly dose of a liquid fertilizer will keep Firespike looking its best all summer long. Pinch or prune back the shoot tips through early summer to encourage branching, compact growth and more flowers.The flowers can be striking additions to cut-flower arrangements, too.Firespike is easy to propagate from softwood cuttings. The cuttings you root in the spring should bloom by fall. Cuttings can also be taken in the fall and overwintered for planting the following year.Like all Georgia Gold Medal winners, Firespike was chosen because it’s underused but deserves to be more popular in Georgia. When you take one home for your landscape, you’ll be taking home a winner.(Bodie Pennisi is a Cooperative Extension floriculture specialist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
If something appears to be chewing off the ends of tree branches in your landscape, that something is most likely a twig girdler. Twig girdlers are long horned beetles – so named because their antennae are longer than their body. It is a pest of pecan and hickory trees, but may also attack persimmons, hackberries and other hardwood trees. Adults do the damageAdult beetles girdle twigs and small branches causing the ends to break away or hang loosely on the tree. It is not uncommon to see the ground under infested trees almost covered with twigs that have been cut off. The bugs don’t usually hurt adult tree unless they are munching in pecan orchards where the loss of branch tips could reduce nut production in the following few years. They can be detrimental to young trees by causing a deformity in branching, but the pests won’t kill the tree.Most girdled twigs are from 1/4 to 1/2 inch (occasionally up to 3/4 inch) in diameter, and 10 to 30 inches long. Cuts from outsideThe nature of the girdle itself distinguishes the twig girdler from other branch pruners and squirrels. The twig girdler’s cut is the only one made from the outside of the branch. The female lays her eggs in the tips of the branch, and then chews around the branch leaving a little wood attached in the center. This usually breaks off in the wind. The cut end of the branch looks like mini-beaver damage. Since the twigs are girdled while the leaves are present, the severed twigs retain the leaves for some time. Control by destroying eggsLook closely at the fallen branch, and you will see tiny holes where the eggs were laid. The holes will usually be by a bud scar or near a side shoot. The best way to control twig girdlers is to pick up the twigs and discard them since the larvae develop and pupate inside them. Insecticide is rarely justified or practical.For more information on controlling pests in home landscapes, find University of Georgia Cooperative Extension publications online at www.caes.uga.edu/publications.
The University of Georgia and Georgia Department of Agriculture continue to make Georgia’s No. 1 industry a top priority.UGA President Jere W. Morehead and Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, along with UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) Dean and Director Sam Pardue, headed the fourth annual state agriculture tour, this time through middle and south Georgia, on Sept. 7. Accompanied by State Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman John Wilkinson, State House of Representatives Appropriations Committee Chairman Terry England and State House of Representatives Agriculture Chairman Tom McCall, their objective was to learn more about the state’s top industry and see what makes it an international success.“We are excited to continue our spirit of cooperation and education with the university through the coordination of our annual farm tour. President Morehead has been extremely responsive with his deep commitment to the agriculture industry, and these tours have been a great opportunity to open the communication channel between our farming community and those who support it,” Black said.From watching how a peach is picked, packaged and delivered, to learning how federal and state regulators ensure that only the highest quality produce is shipped from Georgia, the day covered a wide range of agricultural topics. “This tour is a great reminder of the strong partnership that exists between the University of Georgia and the agriculture community,” Morehead said. “As a land-grant institution, UGA remains focused on providing research, education, and outreach programs to help the state’s No. 1 industry continue to thrive.”The tour started in Fort Valley with a visit to Lane Southern Orchards, a business that gives visitors a close-up view of a real working farm. Peaches are picked, processed on the packaging line and then delivered to neighborhood grocery stores. Next, the group traveled to Super Sod sod farm, also in Ft. Valley.Tour members also learned about how crops originate. In Plains, they stopped at the Georgia Seed Development Commission facility, where various seed types relating to high-value crops such as peanuts, soybeans, blueberries, muscadine grapes, rye, wheat and forages are reproduced and marketed. Most of the cultivars at the Georgia Seed Development Commission were developed by scientists from UGA’s CAES.The tour concluded with a trip to Albany, where the group visited Plantation Seed Conditioners and the Georgia Federal-State Inspection Service. At this facility, regulators inspect more than 35 different commodities, including peanuts, fruits, vegetables and pecans.“One of the things that has impressed me since coming to Georgia is the deep appreciation people have for art and science of agriculture. To see that appreciation extend to the President’s Office at the University of Georgia is significant,” Pardue said. “It’s good for our college, and Georgia agriculture, that the university’s commitment to the ag industry is strong and still growing under President Morehead’s vision and leadership.” This was Morehead’s fourth tour with Black since Morehead took over as UGA president in 2013. Last year, the group visited the northeast part of the state and learned about food processing and food safety. The year before, the group toured south Georgia and learned about cotton ginning and the day-to-day operations at Brooksco Dairy in Quitman.According to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, Georgia’s total agricultural production reached $14 billion in 2014, the most recent year for which data are available, up $398 million from 2013. Agriculture contributes more than $74 billion annually to Georgia’s economy. Georgia’s top five commodities remain broilers, beef, cotton, eggs and timber. Georgia also leads the nation in peanut and blueberry production. One in seven Georgia residents works in forestry, agriculture or related fields. In 2012, there were 42,257 farms in Georgia, a total of 9,620,836 acres of land; the average size was 228 acres.
Sixty-five Georgia 4-H’ers participated in the 2020 State Land Judging Contest held Aug. 24 at Flinchum’s Phoenix, located in the University of Georgia Whitehall Forest in Athens, Georgia. Teams from eight counties all over Georgia competed, a 23% increase in participation from previous years.The Georgia 4-H Land Judging Program offers youth the chance to build critical-thinking skills, science-based knowledge, and life skills in soil science. The youth analyze north and south Georgia soils in pits and trays at four different stations. At each station, they must identify soil characteristics and determine best soil management practices for crops, pastures or forestry uses.“Youth learn practical skills related to soil science and agriculture,” said Craven Hudson, UGA Cooperative Extension 4-H specialist. “When they become adults, these skills will help them understand if their home could have a basement, or the workings of home septic systems. This is very practical material.”The State Land Judging Contest consists of two competition brackets. The junior competition is for youth in fourth through eighth grades, and the senior competition is for ninth through 12th grades. A county may bring up to 20 youth in up to three teams. The youth compete individually for the high individual winner and as a team by combining the top county individuals. The First Place Senior Team Winners will represent Georgia at the 2020 National Land Judging Contest in May in Oklahoma.Junior division winners are:First place team: Cassidy Roberts, Kye Lachowsky and Kyra Burmeister, Liberty CountySecond place team: Venya Gunjal, Sandhya Rajesh, Aarsheya Gunjal and Prayushi Padhi, Cobb CountyThird place team: Eli Sapp, Jacob Sowards, Wesley Duncan and Nicholas Wilson, Brooks CountyJunior high individual: Cassidy Roberts, Liberty CountySenior division winners are:First place team: Makayla Nash, Kelly Lachowsky, Jonathan Woolf, Melvin Kimble, Liberty CountySecond place team: David Han, Alicia Carnes, Nelley McCommons, Camille Stephenson, Oconee CountyThird place team: Kai Thomas, Thane Nye, Aman Boricha-Masand and Zoe Economides, Bibb CountySenior high individual: Makayla Nash, Liberty CountyGeorgia 4-H’s Land Judging Program is growing as newly certified coaches help establish new teams in many counties. This event was made possible by the collaboration and support of land judging coaches, 4-H Extension staff, UGA soil science student volunteers and other volunteers.Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become true leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the largest youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches more than 175,000 people annually through UGA Extension offices and 4-H facilities. For more information, visit georgia4h.org or contact your local UGA Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1.
BURLINGTON, Vt.–Champlain College’s Workforce Development Center and EpikOne, an online marketing consultancy in Williston, will deliver two days of customized training this fall to State of Vermont employees from 13 different departments whose responsibilities range from tourism and economic development to vocational rehabilitation and fish and wildlife.On the Champlain College campus on October 5 and November 2, the state employees will explore podcasting, blogging, online visibility, search engine optimization (SEO), Web ads, YouTube, and social networking.In almost every state outreach and marketing effort, we are seeing the Internet grow in importance and use. We all agreed that we need to be better informed on how to take advantage of these new tools, said Christine Werneke, the State of Vermont’s chief marketing officer. Champlain’s Workforce Development Center and EpikOne developed a customized training to specifically meet the State’s needs.This area of marketing is burgeoning and weve seen increased interest in training, said Melissa Hersh, Champlains director of workforce development and strategic growth. “With our on-campus expertise and partners such as EpikOne, we’re able to tailor business and technology training for clients of all sizes so they can put the latest tactics to work in their organizations.This training will provide state employees with an understanding about various online media, how it works and how it can help us promote Vermont to tourists, new businesses, and to deliver online services to Vermont citizens, Werneke said. The Rutland Economic Development Corporation and the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center will also participate in the training.Due to popular demand, Champlain’s Workforce Development Center will offer a second intensive Online Marketing Boot Camp open to the public from November 12 16 at the Courtyard Burlington Harbor Hotel. Attendees are expected from throughout Vermont, the U.S. and Canada. Registration is available at www.ombootcamp.com(link is external). Topics include: moving business online, effective online strategies, forecasting online growth, maximizing online ad revenue, choosing the right media mix and Google AdWords training. Seminars will be delivered by instructors from Vermont, New York City, and Denmark.Champlain College’s Workforce Development Center was established in January 2006 to deliver professional education and training including new master’s degrees, bachelors degrees, professional certificates, non-credit customized training, boot camps, and industry certification. For more information about the Workforce Development Center at Champlain College, visit www.champlain.edu/workforce(link is external) or contact Melissa Hersh at (802) 865-5402 and firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail).# # #
The Legislature has included in the state budget language intended to keep open the prison in St Johnsbury. Among the Douglas Administration’s budget reduction proposals was closing the Northeast Regional Correctional Facility and laying off most of the employees. The inmates likely would be sent to prisons out of state. It costs the state less to pay another state to house inmates than to incarcerate them in Vermont. The House and Senate Appropriations Conference Committee included language that would require the governor to get legislative approval before he could close the prison. The prison in St Johnsbury is a vital part of our economy in the Northeast Kingdom, which is why I worked closely with the conference committee to make sure this language was included in the budget, said Representative Robert South, D-St. Johnsbury. Our region is one of the hardest hit by the current economic crisis and it s critical the state do everything it can to keep Vermonters working, our businesses open and our communities vibrant.The budget language stipulates that the Douglas Administration cannot close or significantly reduce operations at the St Johnsbury facility without approval from both the legislative Joint Corrections Oversight Committee and the Joint Fiscal Committee. The Northeast Kingdom has among the highest unemployment rates in the state already, said Representative Lucy Leriche, D-Hardwick. With so many families in the region relying on jobs at the prison and so many local businesses counting on the facilities positive impact on our local economies, I am happy to follow Rep. South s lead fighting for these jobs.The House is expected to take the final vote on the budget on Saturday.