Almost 800 Autauga County students and over 100 adult teachers,volunteers, and parents participated in the 2017 Farm City Day hosted by the Autauga County Extension Office. The event was held in the RH Kirkpatrick Agricultural Arena off Highway 14 West in Autaugaville.
Farm City Day 2017 kicked off with an hour long presentation by the Southeastern Raptor Center of Auburn University- including the finale, a presentation of “Spirit” who decided to talk to the group as he was walked around the arena.
Autauga County Extension Coordinator, Darrue Sharpe, praised the effort as a wonderful way to share research based information with youth, especially those considering careers in Agriculture.
Youth learned about: Honey Bee farming, dairy farming, show calves, horses, goats, hogs, preserving wildlife habitats and forests, cotton farming, use of tractors and farming equipment, and careers in agriculture. Youth presenters with the Autauga Young Farmers and a 12 year old resident who raises hogs impressed 6th graders with the hard work and dedication they exemplified when talking about their passions: animals and farming.
Future Farmers of America students who volunteered for Farm City Day 2017.
The day-long event was made possible through the support of local farmers and volunteers and sponsors including the Autauga County Commission; the Autauga Forestry Commission, the Autauga Wildlife, Forestry and Stewardship Council,the Autauga County Board of Education, Autauga Cattleman’s Association, Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Montgomery, the Autauga County Master Gardeners Association, members of the Future Farmers of America from Billingsley School, the Future Farmers of America from the Prattville Technology Center, and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
Many calls and questions have come in about two insects in particular this month. First, the webbing that many people see in trees this time of year indicate the presence of fall webworms. These worms have been known to web in over 85 species of trees in the United States and in our area are most commonly seen in, but not limited to; oaks, pecans, cherry, willow, and river birch.
Fall webworms become very visible in late summer and fall and create silken nests around leaves at the ends of branches. All of the feeding from the webworms occurs within the silken nests and last approximately six weeks and if food runs out new foliage will be encased.
Though the webs are very unsightly, damage to most trees is considered to be insignificant and especially if it is occurring close to fall when the trees will naturally be losing their leaves with the change of the season. One of your best measures of defense is sanitation. As limbs, nuts and leaf debris drop from the tree, clean this up to reduce sites for the insects to overwinter on the ground and come right back next year. As always, less stress to the trees throughout the year will make them less susceptible to the attack of insects and disease issues.
The second insect that has caused a great concern this month has been the Asian Wooly Hackberry Aphid. We as southerners are very familiar with the aphid, but this aphid has a little different appearance than what we are used to. Not seen in these great numbers every year, this insect has been described in central Alabama as hot dry “snow” but even if you have not seen them you might still be asking yourself, “Why is this sticky stuff getting on my car?” and “What’s making my trees turn black?”
The Asian wooly hackberry aphid is one of the many relatively new pests that have been accidentally introduced to the state. Adults are about 1/16 inch long and are covered with a white, cotton-like waxy material that makes them relatively easy to identify. Adults may be winged or wingless. During the past few weeks large numbers of winged adults have been seen in areas where there are a lot of hackberry trees.
Both adults and nymphs produce large amounts of honeydew, which accounts for the sticky accumulations on vehicles parked beneath hackberry trees. Heavy infestations of this pest can cause trees to defoliate prematurely. There is little risk of this pest attacking other plants.
While this insect can be controlled with sprays, few homeowners have the equipment needed to apply treatments to mature trees. Even when equipment is available, foliar sprays are often not an option because of the drift onto adjacent property. For now, the best approach is to live with the situation. They will go away in a few weeks.
November is National Family Caregivers Month, and in observance of the dedication of countless family caregivers in Autauga County, The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is holding a special conference.
The 2017 Central Alabama Family Caregivers Conference will be held on Thursday, November 9, 2017 at First Baptist Church, 138 S. Washington Street, Prattville, AL. The event will be held from 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Registration is required. Please call the Autauga County Extension Office at 334.361.7273 to register. You may also mail in this printable registration form2017 Caregiver Registration Brochure
The 2017 Central Alabama Family Caregivers Conference offers a chance for caregivers to meet with service providers in the area, and it provides a forum to learn new information about various topics impacting caregivers and those under their care. Partnering agencies are joining with he Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Urban Affairs, New & Nontraditional Programs, and the Autauga County Extension Office are holding this event, at no cost to participants.Exhibitors and sponsors of this event include: Oxford Health Care, Synergy Homecare , Alabama Family Trust,Davis & Associates Attorneys , and New Day Senior Care of Community Hospital, and Southern Care Hospice.
This event is free and open to the public, but attendees are encouraged to bring a canned good for donation to the Montgomery Area Food Bank. Also, anyone with expired medical prescriptions or medicine that needs to be destroyed may bring them to the Caregivers Conference. Members of local law enforcement will destroy the unwanted and unused medications.
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.
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.
Tune in each month for the free webinar, “All Bugs Good and Bad”.
On September 1, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. CST speaker, Molly Keck from Texas A&M Extension, will give a very beneficial talk on “Meet our Native Pollinators”. The webinar will be recorded, so you can watch it any time. To watch a webinar, just log in as a guest 15 minutes before the webinar begins.
(Photograph of native pollinator contributed by Dani Caroll)
2017 All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series: Meet Our Native Pollinators
Event starts: Friday, September 1 at 2:00 pm EDT
Event ends: Friday, September 1 at 3:00 pm EDT
Pollinators have been in the news a lot in the last couple of years. While many of us are familiar with the European honeybee, we are not so familiar with our native pollinators. Join Molly Keck, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension as she introduces us to some of our native pollinators, their habitats, and ways to preserve them. Moderated by Dani Carroll and Sallie Lee, Regional Extension Agents, Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Note: on September 1, the link to the live webinar opens about 15 minutes before the webinar. If you try to log in earlier, you will get an error message.
The annual Grassroots Meeting held by the Autauga County office of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) received great support on July 13,2017.
Autauga County residents learned about programs offered by Regional Extension Agents and Autauga County Extension Coordinator, Darrue Sharpe. Participants asked questions of Extension Agents, elected state and county officials, and service group leaders.
If you were unable to attend and would like to submit your thoughts about the needs of Autauga County residents, please complete this survey at this link ACES Survey.
If your summer vegetable garden was a bust, you are not alone. The cool late spring weather was wonderful and all this rain after the drought in the fall was much needed, but the problems they caused on our summer vegetables has been severe. If your tomatoes, peppers, beans and squash didn’t survive, don’t give up, you must try again and why not with a fall garden?
Fall vegetables are really my favorite to grow and I have just about decided I will leave the peppers and tomatoes to my grandfather and avoid the summer heat, afternoon rain showers and weeding all together and take my turn providing for the family in the fall. We are blessed by our warm Alabama climate that we can grow vegetables year round.
Many cool-season vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, lettuce and Brussels sprouts, produce their best flavor and quality when they are maturing during cool weather. In Alabama, the spring temperatures often heat up quickly causing vegetables such as lettuce and spinach to bolt (flower) or develop a bitter flavor. This is why planting these veggies late in the summer or early fall when we are transitioning to cooler temps is more ideal than in the spring.
Growing a productive fall vegetable garden requires thoughtful planning and good cultural practices. In Alabama, August and September are the ideal months for planting a fall garden. For a more accurate planting schedule, determine the average date of the first killing frost in the fall, and then count backward from the frost date, using the number of days to maturity to determine the best time to plant in your area.
Alabama in August and September is usually hot and dry. If you choose to plant your fall veggies from seed during these months you must be careful to keep the soil moist. Incorporating organic matter into the soil will help add nutrients and increase water holding capacity. Lettuce and spinach seeds will not germinate if the soil temperature exceeds 85 degrees F so for these you may need to wait a bit longer before sowing or plant from transplants. Also remember to mulch the garden to moderate moisture levels as September and October are our driest months with very little rainfall.
You can extend your summer vegetable crop and your semi-hardy vegetables on into the fall and winter easily by protecting them from frost. In Alabama, we often enjoy several weeks of good growing conditions after the first frost. Cover growing beds, rows or individual plants with burlap or a floating row cover supported by stakes or wire to keep the material from directly touching the plants.
Most hardy vegetables require little or no frost protection, but semi-hardy vegetables should be protected or harvested before a heavy freeze. Root crops such as carrots and radishes should be harvested or mulched heavily before a hard freeze. Mulched root crops can often be harvested well into the winter, and during mild winters, harvest may continue until spring.
So, if your summer garden was a flop, or you’re wanting to continue your progress of home vegetables into this fall and winter, it’s not too late. There is still time to plant, especially the HARDY vegetables that can withstand a light frost such as: Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Collards, Kale, Kohlrabi, Onions, Radishes, Spinach and Turnips.
If you have questions about any of these vegetables or others please call our Master Gardener Helpline!
March through August the Alabama Cooperative Extension System offers a Gardening Helpline for the general public each Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. This helpline is operated by Master Gardener Volunteers who use research based information to best answer all of your gardening questions.
If you’ve got home garden questions, we’ve got answers!
Call 1-877-252-GROW (4769)
Please join us for the FREE Master Gardener Lunch and Learn Program in your area EVERY MONTH from 12:00-1:00, Bring a Sack Lunch, Drinks Provided.
Coosa (August 1st)-11:00-1:00- Managing Fire Ants, Mallory Kelley
Montgomery (August 2nd) – Water Wisely- Drip Irrigation, Mary McCroan
Autauga (August 3rd) – Tough Native Wildflowers, Sue Webb
Elmore (August 8th)-Preserving your Gardens Bounty, Food Preservation Agent, Janet Johnson
Please join us and bring a friend!
For more information, call your local county extension office.
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.