Upcoming Events

All Bugs Good and Bad

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.

Use this link: https://learn.extension.org/events/2849

(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

Location: TBA

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.

For more webinars in this series, click here:All Bugs Good and Bad Free Webinars.

The webinars are brought to you by the following eXtension Communities of Practice: Ant Pests, and Urban IPM; and by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension ServiceClemson Cooperative Extension and University of Georgia Extension.
Dani Carroll


Grassroots Meeting 2017: Thank You Autauga County!


County Extension Coordinator Darrue Sharpe presents information about ACES programs and services.

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.

Planting a Fall Vegetable Garden

side view of gardening activity, unrecognizable woman hands wearing gloves, with her work tool planting seeds.

Contributed by: Mallory Kelley, Regional Extension Agent

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.


July Crop Report-Crops Tour


Soybean field ripening at spring season, agricultural landscape. Sunset
Soybean field ripening at spring season, agricultural landscape. Sunset

Contributed by: Regional Extension Agent Christy Hicks

Regional Extension Agent Christy Hicks is busy preparing for the July Crop Tour. Before you head out to it, read Christy’s latest Crop Report for July 2017.

Click here to Read Christy’s July 2017 Crop Report

Central Alabama Crops Tour

Click Here for Crop Tour Directions

July 27, 2017

8:00 AM       Arrive at the Ingram Farm and Welcome from Jeff Clary

8:15 AM       Ingram Farm AU Cotton Variety Trial

  • Trey Cutts – Cotton Variety Updates
  • Ron Smith – Cotton Insect Control and Thresholds

Cross Road to AU Peanut Variety Trial

  • Kris Balkcom – Peanut Variety Performance
  • Austin Hagan – Peanut Diseases

  9:20 AM     Depart for Milstead Gin

10:00 AM     Arrive at Milstead Gin

  • Kathy Flanders – Wheat Insect Update
  • Brenda Ortiz – New Moisture Sensor Technologies

Planter Considerations for 2018 Planting

  • Brett Ennis & Taylor Bridges (SunSouth) – Planter Test Stand
  • Josh Carnley (Vantage-South) – DeltaForce Down Pressure

Weed Control – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

  • Steve Li – Extension Weed Specialist

11:40 AM     Depart for EV Smith Conference Center

12:00 PM     Sponsored Lunch at EV Smith Conference Center



For more information about this event, please contact Regional Extension Agent Christy Hicks at  334-704-3370

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


Be On the Watch for Ambrosia Beetles

Contributed by: Mallory Kelley, Regional Extension Agent

The Granulate Ambrosia Beetles have been causing quite a stir in home landscapes over the past few weeks.   This beetle was introduced into the United States in the early 1970’s in South Carolina and has since spread throughout the southeast and as far north as Maryland. This tiny beetle is a pest of woody ornamentals, fruit, and nut trees and can cause significant damage in nursery, landscape, and orchard settings.

Granulate ambrosia beetles emerge in early spring and attack thin-barked, deciduous trees.  Tree species most commonly reported with damage are dogwood, redbud, maple, ornamental cherry, Japanese maple, and crepe myrtle.  Other reported hosts include pecan, peach, plum, persimmon, golden rain tree, sweet gum, Shumard oak, Chinese elm, magnolia, fig, hydrangea, and azalea.

Young trees and small branches of mature trees are where these beetles attack.  Female beetles bore into the trunks and branches (1-4 inches in diameter) and excavate galleries in the wood.  In addition to boring damage, female beetles inoculate trees with ambrosia fungus, which can block xylem vessels and interfere with vascular transport.   Infested plants often die from boring damage, ambrosia fungus, or infection by a secondary pathogen.

These beetles attack seemingly healthy trees as well as stressed or unhealthy trees.  Visible symptoms include wilted foliage and strands of boring dust protruding from small holes. Serious attacks that result in tree death usually occur during the leafing-out stage.

Infestations can be easily be identified by toothpick-like strands protruding up to 1.5 inches from the bark of the host plant. The strands of boring dust are produced by the female beetle as she excavates her gallery. The strands are fragile and are easily broken off by wind or rain leaving only pencil-lead sized holes. This being the case, your tree may be infected and you would not even know it until you start seeing the dieback of the foliage.

Preventative applications of pyrethroid insecticides can protect trees by preventing Granulate Ambrosia Beetles from excavating galleries.  However, once beetles are inside trees they cannot be killed with insecticides and fungicides are ineffective against the ambrosia fungus.  Thus, the timing of preventative insecticide applications is crucial to protect trees from damage by this pest.  Dr. Charles Ray, Auburn University Extension Entomologist says “recent research of the first flight of granulate ambrosia beetle in spring has found it occurs at almost exactly the same time as Bradford pears beginning to bloom.  This gives a clear sign to a homeowner of when they should apply the preventative sprays.”

If you notice the white strands protruding from the branches or main trunk of your trees or shrubs the plant parts should be removed and destroyed.

Sources: Dr. Charles Ray, Auburn University, Extension Entomologist.

North Carolina State University http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/O&T/trees/note111/note111.html

If you have questions on a garden-related topic, the Master Gardener Helpline is open!

Call 1-877-ALA(252)-GROW(4769)

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.

Join us for a Gardening Lunch and Learn!

Interested in learning more about seasonal gardening topics?  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.  Call your local county office for more information! In Autauga County meetings are held in Prattville: The 1st Thursday of EVERY month, Christ Lutheran Church, 2175 Cobbs Ford Road. For more information: (334)361-7273.

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


ACMGA Members Give Building’s Entrance a New Look

new landscaping mulched in pine straw at the front of the building
After the work, there is a new look to the entrance!
This is the building before the ACMGA’s landscaping project.

The Autauga County Master Gardeners Association (ACGMA) has begun the first phase of giving the William Howard Smith Agricultural Building in Autaugaville a new look.

The William Howard Smith Agricultural Building is home to the Autauga County Extension Office, Autauga Forestry Commission, Farm Services Agency , and Natural Resources and Conservation Services.

In early June, Master Gardeners cleared away weeds and grass and installed beautiful flowering plants and shrubs in the entryway.

master gardeners pose for a photograph after completing the landscape project
Autauga County Master Gardeners who participated in the landscaping effort.

Master Gardener Glenn Huovenin spearheaded the effort. Huovenin said, ” With funding supplied by the Autauga County Commission, and with the help of Regional Extension Agent Mallory Kelly, we came up with a design and plant selection that will enhance the appearance of the entrance of the building”.

ACMGA members will care for the plants ensuring proper weeding, fertilization, and dead-heading of spent blooms. The ACMGA plans to extend the landscaping around the building in the near future.

Canning Class- Food Safety Is Important

Regional Extension Agent, Janice Hall, who specializeds in the area of Food Quality and Safety with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System recently held a canning class in Autaugaville.


During the June 9th workshop at the Autuaga County Extension Office in Autaugaville, Dozens of participants received information on ways to safely can fruit and vegetables. Hall stressed to participants that being careful when canning is paramount.

“Food safety practices should be followed when canning fruits and vegetables. If the proper methods are NOT followed, someone could possibly become ill or worse. The Autauga County canning workshop was designed to teach people the safe way of preserving a bountiful harvest they may have grown or purchased. A delicious triple berry jam (raspberry, blackberry, and strawberry) was prepared and properly canned during a hands on demonstration. The leftovers were spread over some hot biscuits and sampled by the participants”, Hall said.