Upcoming Events

Improve your Farm Financial Records

Kevin Burkett teaching


Farming in the New Year

As we get started in a new year, resolutions abound and we set our sights on making improvements over the previous year. In conjunction, the mission statement of Alabama Extension is to ‘enable people to improve their quality of life and economic well-being’. One main goal of the farm management Extension team is to reach more producers and enable them to improve the quality of their financial records. In 2018, we met with a number of producers and were encouraged by both the feedback and progress we made.

One question that’s always important to answer is: why? Why would a producer care to maintain their financial information? There are several reasons but one major factor is simply being able to make good decisions for the farm. It’s hard to fully understand a situation with incomplete information. In this regard, how could an owner know if the business is doing well or making money without an accurate record of what is happening? Other benefits include: having information necessary for other parts of the business, knowing the value of the business, support in case of an audit, and the ability to see and make changes over time.

Profitable producers generally are the ones able to make incremental changes to their business from year-to-year. Meaning a small reduction in cost and a small increase in revenue from last year could end up being the difference between making money or not. Good records enable producers to see areas where changes are possible and likely ways that the business can improve upon what they are currently doing. If you think you or someone you know could benefit from improving their farm financial records, reach out to your local Extension office.

As is typically the case, appointments and training received are at no-cost to anyone, part of the Extension mission of helping citizens without regard to compensation, ability / income of producers, or any other characteristic. Training can come in the form of a one-on-one meeting set up at a preferred date and time, or with enough interest classes can be held to accommodate up to 10 farmers in one meeting. Producers should leave with enough knowledge and know-how to set up a simple and effective system for tracking financial information. Again, if you think you or someone you know could benefit from improving their farm financial records, reach out to Autauga County Extension office at (334) 361-7273 and ask to speak to a farm and agribusiness agent.

BY: Kevin Burkett, Regional Extension Agent – Farm and Agri-buisness Management

Upcoming Animal Science and Forages Programs

Contributed by: Josh Elmore, Regional Extension Agent

2018 Animal Science and Forage Webinar Series


Mark your calendars for the 2018 Webinar Series, held the second Wednesday of the month at 10:00 am CST. Join us for timely updates on management topics from members of the Animal Science and Forage Extension Team! https://auburn.zoom.us/j/198428318

Date Speaker Title
Jan 10 Dr. Leanne Dillard Grazing Management and Maximizing Forage Utilization on Cool-Season Forages
Feb 14 Dr. Audrey Gamble Improving Soil Health in Grazing Systems
Mar14 Courteney Holland Nutritional Needs of Horses – Steps to Meeting Their Demands
April 11 Dr. Kim Mullenix Forage Management Practices and Mineral Availability for Beef Cattle
May 9 Landon Marks Native Warm-Season Grasses
June 13 Michelle Elmore Marketing Beef Cattle
July 11 Dr. Brittney Goodrich Pasture, Rangeland and Forage Insurance
Aug 8 Alex Tigue Alabama Pasture to Rail Program
Sept 12 Dr. Rishi Prasad 4 R’s in Animal Waste Nutrient Management
Oct 10 Sarah Dickinson Estrous Synchronization and Artificial Insemination
Nov 14 Kent Stanford Nutrient Management Update


For more information and registration regarding any of these upcoming programs contact your local county extension office or Josh Elmore, Regional Extension Agent Animal Science and Forages.  205-646-3610 or 334-850-7859

Crop News and Updates     

Contributed by: Christy Hicks, Regional Extension Agent, Agronomic Crops

Upcoming Events

December 12-13 – Auburn University Row Crop Short Course

Last Effective Bloom Date for Cotton

The last effective bloom date is the calendar date you normally expect a bloom to have time to fully mature into a boll.  The estimated date for Central AL is September 5th.  Cotton needs at least 4 weeks of bloom.  A cotton crop needs to be at first bloom no later than August 9th in our area.  As you know every growing season is different, however using the last effective bloom date can provide information on the risk and potential of a cotton crop.

Fusarium Wilt

Many fields in the area have Fusarium Wilt.  Affected plants are first darker green and stunted, followed by yellowing of the leaves and loss of foliage.  First, symptoms appear on lower leaves around the time of the first flower.  The leaf margins wilt, turn yellow, then brown, moving inward.  Infected plants fruit earlier than normal with smaller bolls that open prematurely.  A diagonal cut across the stem will reveal vascular discoloration.

(Picture below from on-farm variety trial)

Timing of Harvest Aid in Soybeans

When 65% of the pods are mature color, and 70% defoliation, they should be ready to desiccate.  You can also collect pods from the top third of the plant at random across the field.  Open the pods and look for separation of beans from the white membrane inside the pod.  If this is observed, the seeds have reached physiological maturity and have reached their maximum dry weight.  Yield will not be lost.

Target Spot in Soybeans

(info from Tom Allen, MSU)

Target Spot has been detected in some soybeans fields this year.  Target Spot is a soil-borne fungus, moved by wind and rain.  It can overwinter on crop residue.  Target Spot starts in the lower canopy, unlike Frog Eye that is primarily in the upper canopy.  Lesions on leaves are reddish brown, circular and variable in size up to ½” in diameter.  Spots may also be found on petioles, stems, and pods.  Larger lesions often show a distinct concentric zone of dead tissue and may have a narrow, indistinct yellow halo.  Severe infections may cause premature defoliation.

The environment is the main ingredient that determines the severity of Target Spot. The amount of rainfall and duration of rainfall events at specific growth stages has a lot to do with if the disease will cause a yield loss.  Defoliation during the mid  R5 growth stage would cause significant yield loss.

Christy Hicks
Regional Extension Agent
EV Smith Research Center

What Does The Alabama Cooperative Extension System Do?

Contributed by: Chip East, Regional Extension Agent, Commercial Horticulture

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is an extension of our land grant schools. In Alabama, we have Alabama A&M University, Auburn University, and Tuskegee University. We are here to bring education from these schools out to all parts of the state.

There is no way I can write down everything the Alabama Cooperative Extension System does, but I will provide some general ideas of the kind of questions people commonly ask. Keep in mind that I work in the area of agriculture, so many of the questions unrelated to agriculture are never forwarded to me.

What variety of tomato, corn, watermelon, or any other vegetables are recommended? What is the best way to propagate a particular plant? What disease or insect is on my vegetables, fruit, turf, or ornamental shrub, and how do I manage it?  Why doesn’t my pecan tree produce? What is the best way to manage weeds in my lawn, garden, landscape, pasture, hayfield, or pond? What is the best fertilizer for my garden, hayfield, turf, pasture, food plot, or landscape? What is the best method to irrigate a garden or lawn? Should I fertilize and lime my fishpond? Should I record how many fish I harvest from my pond? I need to stock my fishpond, what kind of fish and how many should I stock? Do you have plans for a bat, duck, bluebird, or owl nesting box? How do I manage ticks, ants, mosquitos, rats, snakes, etc. around my home? What is the best way to can or freeze produce from the garden? Should I test my well water? How do I attract wildlife such as deer and turkey to my property? How do I discourage wildlife from my property? What is the cost of production for tomatoes, cotton, soybeans, corn, blueberries, strawberries, etc.? One of the common questions clients ask me is, “I have land and want to farm. What should I grow?”

There is no way to list all the information that Extension has to offer. We have Extension agents and specialist that can provide information in most anything in the area of home horticulture, commercial horticulture, money management and workforce development, animal science and forages, 4-H and youth development, forestry, wildlife and natural resources, agronomic crops, human diet, nutrition, and health, family and child development, as well as food safety and quality.

We would like to provide this information in a proactive way, such as conducting meetings in locations across the state. We can reach more people in a shorter time if we have educational meetings in different counties, but we still work one-on-one with clients as well. There are few of us Extension Agents and many clients, so it would help if you have a question to take a look at our website at www.aces.edu and type in your topic in the “Search Our Site” box in the top right corner of our webpage. You can also find a calendar on our webpage that lists all the upcoming meetings. I was attending Extension meetings long before I became an Extension agent. If you are not using the Cooperative Extension System, you are missing out on lots of information.

Much of our information can be found on our website, but feel free to email or call your county Extension Office when you need information (Autauga County Extension, 334-361-7273). You can also contact your County Extension office to find other ways of receiving information such as newsletters, email, and social media.

Dr. Chip East

Regional Extension Agent

Commercial Horticulture

Alabama Cooperative Extension System


June Crop Report

Contributed by: Christy Hicks,Regional Extension Agent

Upcoming Events

  • July 13th SunBelt Expo – Moultrie, GA
  • July 19th Stored Grain Workshop – Marion Junction
  • July 27th – Central AL Crops Tour

tractor crossing swollen stream

Cloudy and Wet Weather Effects on Crops

Since May 1st, I’ve had 18.7” of rain at my house, and it is continuing to rain as I write this newsletter.  I’ve walked in many cotton fields that are suffering from lack of adequate oxygen in the soil due to water logged soils.  Pre-emergence herbicides have broken early this year because of all the rain and timely POST applications are delayed because of field conditions.  Cloudy wet weather favors grass weeds over broadleaf weeds.  I have heard that grasses are out competing pigweeds in some field. Here are a few thoughts that may be helpful as we hope for sunny days ahead.

POST Herbicide Leaf Burn (info from Larry Steckel, UT)

The cloudy and wet weather cotton and soybeans have been through has left the cell walls in the leaves very thin and therefore susceptible to herbicide injury.  High humidity also makes the herbicide more active.  Will the POST applied herbicide injury effect yield?  Expect a good recovery in soybeans and no effect on yield.  POST injury in cotton can cause a delay in maturity.  If we have good, warm weather in September the delay in maturity will not likely effect yield.  However if the fall weather is cool, a yield penalty could occur.  Applying Dual separate from Liberty or Roundup will greatly reduce injury.  However a number of factors must be considered before making this decision.  These include:  the degree of weed infestation in the field, maturity of the cotton and logistics of coming back over the field with Dual a day or so after applying Liberty or Roundup.

Cotton Fertility Information (info from William Birdsong and Christy Hicks)

 June is cotton sidedress time in Central AL.  Auburn University recommends applying all P and K at planting or just prior to planting.  Some farmers split apply potassium.  This is certainly not wrong, however much of the split applied K may not be available to the plant soon enough to receive maximum benefit.  I conducted potassium trials in 5 locations last year.  The plots that had all potassium applied at planting out yielded the plots that had potassium split applied.  This was true for all locations.  Nitrogen is a different story.  Nitrogen will leach more than P or K.  The general amount of N recommended for cotton is 90 lbs./acre plus or minus 30 lbs depending on soil type, previous crop and history of rank growth on certain soils.  Sidedress is recommended between the 5th and 10th leaf.  It is better to be early than late this year with all the rain, much of our at plant N has leached out of the root zone.  Waiting till peak bloom (90 DAP) is the equivalent of not applying any N according to a study in the FL panhandle.

Christy Hicks

Regional Extension Agent

Agronomic Crops

EV Smith Research Center


Crop News and Updates

Contributed by: Christy Hicks, Regional Extension Agent

Upcoming Events
June 6th – Autauga County Crop Scouting School
July 27th – Central AL Crops Tour


Cotton Re-plant Decisions (info from Univ. FL and Texas A&M)

Rainfall in our area from Saturday range from 3”-8” with more on the way.  Some fields may need to be accessed for replant decisions.  Here are some things to consider.

Cotton has a tremendous capacity to recover from adversities.  For cotton, there is little difference between 20,000-70,000 plants per acre when the stand is uniform.  That translates into 1.5-4.0 plants per foot.  Acceptable yields can be obtained from stands as low as 1-2 plants per row foot if the plants are uniformly spaced.  Later maturing varieties grown in our area are better able to compensate for low plant density than early maturing varieties grown in the Texas High Plains for example.  6’ skips with plants on either side have resulted in 13% yield losses.  Skips of 3’ with 3’ skips in adjacent rows result in more loss than longer skips with good stands on either side.  It is best to delay the final stand evaluation until after the cotton is exposed to 2-3 days of good growing conditions.  If the decision to replant is difficult, there are probably enough plants to keep the stand.

Thrips in Central AL corn this year.

Corn and N Loss by Denitrification and Leaching.

Every inch of rain can move nitrate 6-8” deeper in the soil profile in lighter textured soils.  Denitrification losses take place much slower than nitrate leaching.  Average N loss is usually around 2% of the nitrate per day of saturation.  The longer the soil remains saturated and the higher the temperature the more N is lost via dentrification.   The table below is based on Nitrogen loss mechanisms and experience from researchers at Purdue University.

Estimated Nitrogen Applications to Replace Lost Nitrogen in Corn (info from Purdue University)

Field Scenario Fields where urea or UAN applied more than 2 weeks prior to excessive rain if:
Silt loam or poorly drained field saturated long enough to kill the crop.
Sandy fields received more than 8” rain
Fields where urea or UAN applied 1-2 weeks prior to rain if:
Silt loam fields or poorly drained areas were saturated more than 3 days and crop survived.
Sandy fields received 4”-8” rain
Fields where N applied 2-7 days before an excessive rain if:
Silt loam or poorly drained field saturated less than 3 days.
Sandy fields received less than 4” rain
Should I apply N Likely additional N required Additional N may be required Not likely required
What Rate of N should I apply? 60-120 lbs N/ac. 30-60 lbs N/ac. none

Source: Camberato, J., Joern, B., and Nielsen, R.L. 2008. Nitrogen loss in wet and wetter fields. Purdue University. http://www.agry.purdue.edu.

Christy Hicks
Regional Extension Agent
Agronomic Crops
EV Smith Research Center

Plant Nutrition

Contributed by: Chip East

I talk with many people each year who are having problems with their plants. Usually insects, disease, weeds, and nutrition top the list. I recommend understanding the crops you grow as well as the problems associated with those crops as this would aid in scouting.

The Extension office will be happy to talk with anyone about potential pest problems with particular crops. Insects, disease, and even weed pressure can vary from year to year depending on the environmental conditions. Keep in mind that a pest that was a major problem last year, may or may not be a problem this season. However, providing plants with proper nutrition is something the grower is also responsible for every year and should be thought about in advance of planting. Once a nutrition problem is visible, it takes time to correct the problem, and production could be greatly reduced.

What can a grower do to reduce the chance of having nutrition problems? Organic matter increases the soil nutrient holding capacity of the soil, so the more organic matter, the better. Planting cover crops is a good way to increase the soil’s organic matter, but it does take time and should be something you work at each year. When you have decided what crop or crops you are planning to grow, you will need to soil test. We know what plants need. What we do not know is what elements are in your soil. A soil test simply analyzes the soil. A soil test analysis from our lab at Auburn costs $7 and provides valuable information for the grower. Once we know what is in the soil, we will know how much of what element or elements to add. I recommend the growers who market produce have their soil tested for each field on a yearly basis. A soil test can be done at any time of year, but I had rather test before planting.

At planting time, we would add half the recommended nitrogen, all the phosphorus, and half the potassium. Then two to three weeks after planting, we would apply another fourth of the recommended nitrogen and potassium. Two to three weeks after the second application, I would add the other fourth of the recommended nitrogen and potassium.  Of course this is just one example, and different growers apply fertilizer in different ways. Some will apply the fertilizer in only two applications, others will use drip irrigation, and it is easy to inject fertilizer through the drip on a weekly basis. I will be glad to help anyone calculate the needed fertilizer to inject in the drip.

In addition to soil testing, an analysis can be preformed on leaf samples at our lab. A deficiency would show up in an analysis long before it is visible in the field. Many growers do this regularly on crops such as strawberries, pecan, field tomatoes, greenhouse tomatoes, and others. This test costs $16 and gives the farmer valuable information.

Some plants that appear to be nutrient deficient may not always have a problem related to nutrients. Insects, disease, and other stresses can cause plants to look off color. Strawberries can develop a bronzing color due to a spider mite infestation and adding additional nitrogen will not solve the problem.

It is common for calcium deficient tomatoes to develop blossom end rot. It is caused from a lack of calcium in the plant, but adding additional calcium may not solve the problem. I have seen many times where the grower has sufficient calcium in the soil, but the plant is showing signs of a calcium deficiency. Plant stresses from things such as improper irrigation can cause the plant not to take up the needed calcium. In this case, mulching and irrigating the plants can help with nutrient uptake. It is hard to write an article about plant nutrition without mentioning pH. More elements are available for plant uptake at a pH of around 6.0 to 6.5, and we do not know the pH without a soil test. Calcium happens to be one to the elements that is not available for the plant at a low pH.

If you can visibly see that you have a nutrition problem, it will take time to correct, so it is important to scout fields regularly for any plant problems. If you have problems, just contact your local Extension office, and we will be glad to help.

Extension System Offers Private Pesticide Applicator Training Classes

Contributed by: Dr. Chip East, Regional Extension Agent

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System will be teaching several private pesticide applicator training classes. These classes are designed for the farmers who need to take the private pesticide applicator test in order to purchase restricted use products. However, we will be discussing chemical safety and sprayer calibration at this class, so anyone who sprays pesticides on a large scale will benefit from this training even if a restricted pesticide license is not needed.

A fee of $20 will be charged for this training and testing. An additional licensing fee of $25 will be sent to the Department of Agriculture and Industries by the applicant. The licensing fee is not included in the training and testing fee. Please plan to pay with a check (checks are preferred) made out the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) in the amount of $20 or pay with the correct cash amount.

tractor spraying row crops with pesticide

Classes will be offered on September 12th at the Tallapoosa County Extension Office [(256) 825-1050]. The Chambers and Russell County meetings begin at 8:00 a.m. and will end around 12 noon (EST).  If you would like to attend any of these classes please call the Extension office in the county you would like to attend to make a reservation.

Restricted Pesticide Training Class Flyer 2017

Remember to read and follow the label directions before applying pesticides. On our web site, we have information on pesticides that are labeled for certain crops, such as insects, disease, and weed control in turf, ornamentals, vegetables, fruit, forages, and other areas such as insects in wood structures. For people who spray large areas, remember that sprayer calibration is extremely important. Sprayer calibration is the process of figuring out how many gallons of water is being applied to a known area and making needed adjustments so that the correct volume of water is applied. The particular pesticide label will give a range of desired gallons of water per acre that is needed to be applied along with the recommended rate of pesticide. Simple math calculations and a little time are needed to properly calibrate a sprayer. If you need more information on sprayer calibration, just contact your local County Extension Office or visit our web site at www.aces.edu and type sprayer calibration in the “Search Our Site” box.


Autauga County Farm Safety Day

farm buildings with a dirt road

Wednesday November 16, 2016
R.H. Kirkpatrick Agriculture Pavilion
Autaugaville, Alabama
9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

6th Grade Students


A Canned Food Item for the
Alabama/Auburn Canned Food Drive

Reserve your spot today by calling the
Autauga County Extension office at (334) 361-7273
Reservation Deadline October 3, 2016
Limited Space Available

Transportation expenses will be covered by the
Autauga County Extension office, but the
arrangements must be made through the school.

printable poster for the Autauga County Farm Safety Day 2016

Click here for Contest Information 2016-farm-city-contest-information

Tomato Problems


Fresh tomatoes on wood background

We get a lot of calls every year from people with gardening questions, and if you have questions I encourage you to continue to contact your local Extension office. Tomatoes are one crop that we get many calls about each year. This article will discuss a few of the more common tomato problems, but keep in mind that many tomato problems are hard to identify in the field and need to be sent to our pathology lab at Auburn or Birmingham. Information on collecting and mailing plant samples can be found on our website or by contacting your local Extension office.

Keep in mind that many tomato problems can be identified from sending pictures to your local Extension office or describing the problem over the phone.  We have many publications with pictures and descriptions of tomato diseases that are available on our web site or at the Extension office.

Blossom-end rot is a very common tomato disorder, but can affect many other crops including pepper, watermelon, squash, etc. It is decay usually on the blossom end of fruit caused by a lack of calcium in the plant. The lack of calcium in the plant could be a result of deficient calcium in the soil, but it could also be the result of the roots being too wet or too dry (stress). The best thing to do for blossom-end rot would be to soil test and add the proper nutrients including calcium and maintain the soil pH at 6.0 to 6.5. Mulch the plants and irrigate when needed. I usually do not like the idea of spraying calcium products on the leaves because it is easy to burn the leaves and the plant can not take in the recommended amount of calcium through the leaves. Calcium fertilizers are available and will increase the calcium in the plant by providing it to the roots.

Blossom drop is not a disease but another very common tomato disorder.  It is the result on some tomato varieties when daytime temperatures exceed 85oF and nighttime temperatures stay above 72oF. Often times it is the high nighttime temperatures that reduce flowering the most. Plants should start producing again as temperatures become more favorable. Many heat set tomato varieties are available that continue to set fruit in higher temperatures.

Tomato plants can get several viruses, but tomato spotted wilt is usually the most common virus that I see. The plants’ growth rate will become stunted, they will turn a lighter green color, and the leaf veins may have a purplish tint. If fruit develop they will have ringspots and quality will suffer. The disease is commonly spread by a tiny insect called a thrips. Thrips feed on many plants including weeds around the garden/field. Managing thrips by destroying weeds adjacent to the field may help but may not stop the problem. Planting tomato spotted wilt resistant varieties is the best method for managing the disease and many tomato spotted wilt resistant varieties are available.

Fusarium wilt, southern blight, and bacterial wilt are three common wilt diseases of tomatoes. Fusarium wilt enters the plant through the roots and can cause the plant to wilt. It may start with one stem before spreading to the rest of the plant. Cutting into the stem at the base will show a brown discoloration in the vascular system. This fungus may persist in the soil for many years so crop rotations may not help with this disease, but many fusarium wilt resistant tomato varieties are available. Southern blight symptoms include wilting and yellowing of the plant along with a white fungal growth at the plant base. Best management practice includes destroying infected plants and crop rotation. It is advisable not to plant tomatoes or susceptible crops in the tomato family more than once every four years. Bacterial wilt causes plants to wilt and die rapidly without any other symptoms. To check for bacterial wilt a grower can place a cut section of stem in water.  If bacterial wilt disease is present, a white milky substance will seep from the stem. A management option is the same four year rotation as for southern blight.

Early blight, late blight, septoria leaf spot, bacterial spot, and bacterial speck are common foliar tomato diseases. Management options include planting disease free seeds or transplants, crop rotation, mulching, and no overhead irrigation. A regular fungicide spray program will help as well. We have information for spraying vegetables at our office if you are interested.

Tomato plants can get many diseases other than the ones mentioned in this article. We have publications at our office and on our website that describe these diseases or disorders in more detail if you are interested. It is sometimes hard to identify diseases from pictures or descriptions and for a positive diagnosis a sample may need to be sent to our lab at Auburn or Birmingham. Information for sending samples can be found on our web site or by visiting your local Extension office. There is a small fee of $10 to $15 for sending samples, but losing a crop is much more expensive.

What can be done to reduce the number of gardening problems? Choose a location with well-drained soil or at least try to avoid low areas that stand in water for extended periods. An area that receives full sun and is close to a water source would also be beneficial. Having more than one garden spot will allow you to grow summer cover crops and aid in crop rotation as well.  Growers should soil test to determine the amount of elements that are in the soil in order to determine what elements need to be added. Plant nutrition is a very common problem and one that many overlook. Plant disease resistant seed/plants as much as possible, many problems can be avoided at planting. Amending the soil with organic matter, weed control, mulch, and drip irrigation helps reduce stress on the plants which in turn makes plants healthier. If you have any questions, just give us a call here at the Extension office at 334-361-7273.

Contributed by: Dr. Chip East, Regional Extension Agent