Upcoming Events

Sixth Annual Food Entrepreneur Conference scheduled for March 21-22 in Auburn















Sixth Annual Food Entrepreneur Conference scheduled for March 21-22 in Auburn

By Karen Hunley


Five years ago, the Auburn University Food Systems Institute combined its knowledge of food safety and food business to organize the first Food Entrepreneur Conference for aspiring entrepreneurs and small farmers. Food business owners, faculty members from Auburn’s College of Business, and state organizations began supporting the event and participating in speaker panels. Participation in the event has grown each year, and now food business experts and entrepreneurs from all over the state travel to Auburn each spring to give advice and share their own stories.

This year one of those entrepreneurs will be Robert Armstrong, founder of G Momma’s “Southern-style bite-size cookies” based in Selma, who will be a keynote speaker at the event. This will be Armstrong’s first year participating in the conference, which is scheduled for March 21 and 22 at the CASIC building in the Auburn Research Park.

“I am excited to share the journey I’ve been on with G Mommas Cookies and hopefully I’ll share some valuable knowledge I’ve gained as well,” says Armstrong.

Armstrong says G Momma’s came about for two important reasons – his love for his “Gammy” (pronounced “Gah-mee”) as well as his desire to help boost the economy in his hometown. The melt-in-your mouth cookie recipe doesn’t hurt, either.

“Gammy would bake these little cookies for all our family ‘get-togethers’, and we would crawl all over each other to get a few,” Armstrong says on his G Momma website. “We would just keep coming back again, and again, and again. You really couldn’t eat just one!”

He also says he wants to help keep Selma alive, including its rich history connected to the Civil Rights Movements. “(Selma) has suffered from a declining economy for the last 40 years or so, and a big reason for that is young people generally don’t move back after college because the lack of opportunity,” Armstrong says. “It has always been a dream of mine to come back and help the area in some way.”

Armstrong will be joined by speakers like John Syzmanski, who works in recipe and new program development for The Kroger Company and can give the “big-box store” perspective of food entrepreneurship. Jimmy Wright of Wright’s Market will also be on hand to provide the viewpoint of a smaller, local grocer.

Audience interest in the event has grown each year, too. Last year’s Food Entrepreneur Conference was a turning point – more than 74 aspiring and current food entrepreneurs attended, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house.

Hosted by the Auburn University Food Systems Institute (AUFSI) in cooperation with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) the event is focused on offering “real life” advice for growing a food business as well as providing an opportunity for burgeoning entrepreneurs to make invaluable business connections. Representatives from the Alabama Department of Public Health along with ACES will cover topics such as food safety, regulations, and labeling, while a professor from the AU College of Business will cover business marketing.

Past keynote speakers include Patricia “Sister Schubert” Barnes; Stacy Brown of Chicken Salad Chick, an Auburn-based restaurant that now has locations throughout the Southeast; and Chuck Caraway of Southeastern Food Group, one of Alabama’s largest food processing companies. Caraway has agreed to come back this year as a panelist; in fact, most past presenters have seemed to enjoy inspiring others to take the next steps toward food entrepreneurship and are eager to return.

Armstrong says it will be important to share with the audience not only what worked well for him when starting his own business, but also what he would do differently if he had the chance.

“I hope to impart that there really is no magic formula or secret to becoming successful in the food industry,” he says.  “It all starts with the product and from there, it’s just a lot of hard work.”

In addition to the speaker panels and the Q&A sessions that follow, participants can also choose to attend up to two specialized breakout sessions on topics such as Cottage Food Law certification, which allows entrepreneurs to operate some types of food businesses from their homes; catering/food service/bakery; USDA meat products; food trucks; maximizing opportunities for minority-owned businesses; and the innovative aquaponics industry.


Registration for the two-day event is $150 before March 14 and $200 after that date. For a full conference agenda and to register, visit https://aufsi.auburn.edu/2018-food-entrepreneur-conference/ or call Regina Crapps at 334.844.7456. Also check the AUFSI Food Entrepreneur Conference Facebook page for updates to the conference agenda and other pertinent conference information.


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!




Chicken from Farm to Table

Farmer in field with free range chicken and basket full of eggs










What’s for dinner tonight? There’s a good chance it’s chicken — now the number one species consumed by Americans. Interest in the safe handling and cooking of chicken is reflected in the thousands of calls that the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline receive.  The following information answers many of the questions these callers have asked about chicken.   Many of these calls we also get at the local County Extension Office and the USDA website is where we go for many of the questions we get also.

Chicken Inspection

All chickens found in retail stores are either inspected by USDA or by State systems which have standards equivalent to the Federal government. Each chicken and its internal organs are inspected for signs of disease. The “Inspected for wholesomeness by the U.S. Department of Agriculture” seal  ensures that the chicken is free from visible signs of disease.

Chicken Grading

Inspection is mandatory, but grading is voluntary. Chickens are graded according to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s regulations and standards for meatiness, appearance, and freedom from defects. Grade A chickens have plump, meaty bodies and clean skin, free of bruises, broken bones, feathers, cuts, and discoloration.

Fresh or Frozen

The term fresh on a poultry label refers to any raw poultry product that has never been held below 26 °F (-3.3 C). Raw poultry held at 0 °F (-17.8 °C) or below must be labeled frozen or previously frozen. No specific labeling is required on raw poultry stored at temperatures between 0 and 25 °F (-17.8 °C and -3.9 °C).

Dating of Chicken Products

Product dating is not required by Federal regulations, but many stores and processors voluntarily date packages of chicken or chicken products. If a calendar date is shown, there must be a phrase immediately adjacent to the date that explains the meaning of that date, such as sell by or use before.

The use-by date is for quality assurance; after the date, peak quality begins to lessen, but the product may still be used. It’s always best to buy a product before the date expires. If a use-by date expires while the chicken is frozen, the food can still be used because foods kept frozen continuously are safe indefinitely.

Hormones & Antibiotics

No hormones are used in the raising of chickens.  Antibiotics may be used to prevent disease and increase feed efficiency. Before the bird can be slaughtered, a “withdrawal” period is required from the time antibiotics are administered. This ensures that no residues are present in the bird’s system. FSIS randomly samples poultry at slaughter and tests for residues. Data from this monitoring program have shown a very low percentage of residue violations.


Additives are not allowed on fresh chicken. However, if chicken is processed, additives such as MSG, salt, or sodium erythorbate may be added but must be listed on the label.


Rinsing or Soaking Chicken

Washing raw poultry before cooking it is not recommended. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces. This is called cross-contamination. Rinsing or soaking chicken does not destroy bacteria. Only cooking will destroy any bacteria that might be present on fresh chicken.

How to Handle Chicken Safely

Fresh Chicken: Chicken is kept cold during distribution to retail stores to prevent the growth of bacteria and to increase its shelf life. Chicken should feel cold to the touch when purchased. Select fresh chicken just before checking out at the register. Put packages of chicken in disposable plastic bags (if available) to contain any leakage which could cross-contaminate cooked foods or produce. Make the grocery store your last stop before going home.

At home, immediately place chicken in a refrigerator that maintains a temperature of 40 °F (4.4 °C) or below. Use it within 1 or 2 days, or freeze it at 0 °F (-17.8 °C). If kept frozen continuously, it will be safe indefinitely.

Chicken may be frozen in its original packaging or repackaged. If freezing chicken longer than 2 months, overwrap the porous store plastic packages with airtight heavy-duty foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper, or place the package inside a freezer bag. Use these materials or airtight freezer containers to freeze the chicken from opened packages or repackage family packs of chicken into smaller amounts. Proper wrapping prevents “freezer burn,” which appears as grayish-brown leathery spots and is caused by air reaching the surface of food.

Safe Thawing

There are three SAFE ways to thaw chicken: in the refrigerator, in cold running water, and in the microwave. Never thaw chicken on the counter or in other locations. It’s best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. Boneless chicken breasts, bone-in parts, and whole chickens may take 1 to 2 days or longer to thaw. Once the raw chicken thaws, it can be kept in the refrigerator an additional day or two before cooking

Safe Cooking

All Chicken needs to be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F (73.9 °C) as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

Grilled spicy chicken breast with herbs on old cutting board.Food background.Top view.









For more information about Food Safety and Quality contact:

Angela Treadaway (205) 410-3696 or email (treadas@aces.edu)


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Basic Mineral Nutrition in Forages Frequently Fed to Horses

Wild horses on the mountain














Basic Mineral Nutrition in Forages Frequently Fed to Horses

This Timely Information Sheet provides an overview of mineral nutrition of horses (Ca, P, K, Mg, Na, Cl, Fe, and Cu) and the importance of the forage nutritional analysis.

Background Information

With pasture and hay being the cornerstone of the equine diet, knowing its composition is vital to assuring our horse’s needs are being met. Unfortunately, horse owners are learning the importance of hay testing after their horse’s health has deteriorated. The nutrient content of forage is comprised of a complex interaction of factors, which include: soil fertility, texture and pH, environmental conditions during growth and hay curing, stage of growth when cut, species, and variety of forage.

An important component of the forage analysis often overlooked is the quantity of minerals. Minerals in forages can vary significantly with soil mineral content, plant species, stage of maturity at harvest, harvest conditions etc. Consequently, forages should be sent to a laboratory for mineral analysis. The forage analysis will include the following minerals required by horses: Ca (calcium), P (phosphorus), K (potassium), Mg (magnesium), Na (sodium), Cl (chlorine), Fe (iron), and Cu (copper). Providing minerals at less than the recommended quantities can result in a dietary deficiency whereas providing minerals in excessive quantities can result in toxicity. Mineral requirements of horses can be found in Tables 1 and 2. For further reading and requirements for special cases, the National Research Council (NRC) 2007 has a publication entitled Nutrient Requirement of Horses available for purchase (https://www.nap.edu/catalog/11653/nutrient-requirements- of-horses-sixth-revised-edition).


Macromineral Content in Forages

It is useful to know approximate mineral percentages of legumes versus grass hays when making a decision on the type of forage to be fed. Ca content is 1.3% and 0.6% in legumes and grasses, respectively. P content of most forages is approximately 0.25-0.35%. Mg is approximately 0.25-0.3% and 0.20-0.25% in legumes and grasses, respectively. K ranges 2.0-3% and 1.5-3% in legumes and grasses, respectively. There is less than 0.5% Na in all forages. Cl is between 0.5 to 1.0% in legumes and grasses, respectively. Note: Fe and Cu are reported in ppm, or mg/kg. Fe is approximately 150 mg/kg in legumes and 50 mg/kg in grass. Cu is very low in many forages and ranges from 9-11 mg/kg.


Deficiencies and Toxicities

High quality forages are typically adequate in Mg, K and S. Magnesium is a vitally important ion in the blood; it participates in muscular contraction and it is also a cofactor in several enzymes. In rare cases, deficiency of Mg may lead to hypomagnesaemia, which is associated with loss of appetite, nervousness, sweating, muscular tremors, convulsions, and mineralization of pulmonary artery caused by deposition of Ca and P salts.

While K deficiency in adult horses is rare, young foals may become deficient in K as a result of persistent diarrhea and this in turn tends to precipitate acidosis. Adult horses that are exercised strenuously are also at risk of deficiency due to the resulting spontaneous changes in plasma K. The Na and Cl requirements are met by providing salt. However, a performance horse that sweats a great deal may require K, Na and Cl supplementation to replace excess mineral loss via the sweat.

A critical consideration in mineral nutrition of the horse is the calcium to phosphorus (Ca:P) ratio. The functions of calcium and phosphorus are considered together because of their independent role as the main elements of crystal apatite, which provides the strength and rigidity of the skeleton. The elements of bone are in a continual state of flux with Ca and P being removed and redeposited by a process that facilitates the reservoir role and enables growth and remodeling of the skeleton to proceed during growth and development.

The Ca:P ratio should be approximately 2:1 with twice as much Ca as P; with acceptable ratios ranging from 1.5 to 3:1 in the young growing horse and 1:1 to 6:1 in the mature horse, assuming that adequate levels of P are provided. A ratio less than 1:1 where the P content actually exceeds that of the Ca content, even if the absolute amounts of Ca and P are adequate, will result in interference of the bioavailability of Ca which can cause orthopedic or bone disorders, especially in young, rapidly growing horses. The Ca and P content in forages can be variable.  Legumes typically have higher Ca concentrations than grasses whereas grains are usually high in P and low in Ca. Consequently, it is important to know the Ca and P content of all feedstuffs to ensure that the appropriate Ca:P ratio is achieved.

Copper is involved in cartilage formation and development and is of particular concern in growing horses. Since 1989, several studies have found that low Cu diets are associated with an increased incidence of developmental orthopedic disease in growing horses. Iron is used in formation of hemoglobin, which involved in oxygen transport in the body. Fe deficiencies are rarely reported and most forage sources meet the daily requirements of horses.

Table 1. Daily Nutrient Requirements of Horses (adapted from 1989 NRC for horses)
Item Weight (lb) Ca P Mg K Na Cu Fe
Maintenance lb g g g g g mg mg
880 16.0 11.2 6.0 20 6.7 67 268
1100 20.0 14.0 7.5 25 8.2 82 328
1320 24.0 16.8 9.0 30 9.7 97 388
Preg. mare
9 mo. 880 28.3 21.4 7.1 24 6.6 66 331
1100 34.6 26.2 8.7 29 8.1 81 405
1320 40.9 31.0 10.3 34 9.6 96 479
10 mo. 880 28.8 21.8 7.3 24 6.7 67 336
1100 35.2 26.7 8.9 30 8.2 82 412
1320 41.7 31.6 10.5 35 9.7 97 487
11 mo. 880 30.6 23.2 7.7 26 6.7 67 335
1100 37.4 28.3 9.4 31 8.2 82 410
1320 44.2 33.5 11.2 37 9.7 97 485
Lactating mare
Early lact. 880 44.8 28.9 8.7 37 8.8 88 440
1100 56.0 36.1 10.9 46 10.9 109 544
1320 67.2 43.3 13.0 55 12.9 129 647
Late lact. 880 28.8 17.8 6.9 26 8.1 81 403
1100 36.0 22.2 8.6 33 9.9 99 496
1320 43.2 26.7 10.3 40 11.8 118 590
Working horse
Light work 880 20.4 14.6 7.7 25 20.5 68 273
1100 25.0 17.8 9.4 31 25.1 84 335
1320 29.6 21.1 11.2 37 29.7 99 396
Moderate work 880 24.5 17.5 9.2 31 22.8 76 303
1100 30.0 21.4 11.3 37 27.8 93 371
1320 35.5 25.3 13.4 44 32.9 110 439
Intense work 880 32.7 23.3 12.3 41 28.2 94 376
1100 40.0 28.5 15.1 50 34.5 136 460
1320 47.3 33.8 17.8 59 40.8 136 545


Table 2. Daily Nutrient Requirements of Growing Horses (adapted from 1989 NRC for horses)
Age Ca P Mg K Na Cu Fe
Mo g g g g g mg mg
18 21.2 11.7 5.3 17 6.4 64 318
4 34.2 19.0 3.7 11 5.0 50 248
6 29.4 16.3 4.0 13 5.2 52 259


Prepared by: Courteney Holland, Extension Equine Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, Auburn University, AL. January 2018. CMH – 2018.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University) is an equal opportunity educator and employer.






Alabama Extension Offers Tax Bill Workshops for Farmers









Alabama farmers can learn more about how the new tax law affects them individually and their farming operation at tax bill workshops from Alabama Extension’s Agribusiness Management Team. After the training, famers will be better equipped to navigate the new tax provisions.

Dr. Robert Tufts, an Alabama Extension farm management specialist and attorney, will conduct the workshops at 13 locations during February and March from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Three exceptions include the Feb. 1 Fairhope workshop from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Additionally, the March 1 workshop in Opelika will be from from 8:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., while the Shorter workshop lasts from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The workshop will highlight estate tax changes, individual tax changes and business tax changes in the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” The workshop will also include a comparison of pass-through entity taxes to C-corporations taxes using case studies showing effects on small-, medium- and large-sized operations.


A complete workshop agenda and location schedule is available by visiting the following link: http://www.aces.edu/agriculture/business-management/taxes/.

There is a $15 registration fee per individual or $50 for any person requesting continuing education credit. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Continuing education credit will also be available for accountants, attorneys, foresters and professional logging managers.

To register online and pay via credit card, complete online registration here. Participants may also call the local contact to register by phone and pay at the door.

Tax Bill Workshop Locations

Feb. 1 — Baldwin County
1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center
8300 State Highway 104
Fairhope, Alabama
Contact : Ken Kelley
(251) 238-0373

Feb. 6 — Sumter County
ALFA Environmental Hall
University of West Alabama – Rodeo Drive
Livingston, Alabama
Contact: John Ollison
(205) 652-9501

Feb. 12 — Henry County
Wiregrass Research and Extension Center
167 AL Highway 134 East
Headland, Alabama
Contact: Jessica Kelton
(334) 693-3800 

Feb. 13 — Coffee County
5 County Complex
1055 East McKinnin Street
New Brockton, Alabama
Contact: Gavin Mauldin
(334) 894-5596 

Feb. 15 — Escambia County
Grace Fellowship Church
1412 East Nashville Avenue
Atmore, Alabama
Contact: Anthony Wiggins/Ken Kelley
(251) 867-7760

Feb 19 — Lauderdale County
Lauderdale County Extension Office
802 Veterans Drive
Florence, Alabama
Contact: Heidi Tilenius
(256) 766-6223

Feb. 20 — DeKalb County
Sand Mountain Research and Extension Center
13112 AL Highway 68
Crossville, Alabama
Contact: Robert Page
(256) 201-2465

Feb. 22 — Talladega County
Talladega County Extension Office
130 N. Court Street
Talladega, Alabama
Contact: Henry Borough
(256) 362-6187

Feb. 26 — Marion County
Marion County Extension Office
372 7th Avenue Southwest
Hamilton, Alabama
Contact: Lisa Murphy
(205) 921-3551

Feb. 27 — Dallas County
Black Belt Research and Extension Center
60 County Road 944
Marion Junction, Alabama
Contact: Jamie Yeager/Ken Kelley
(334) 872-7878

March 1 — Lee County
8:15 a.m.-11:15 a.m.
Lee County Extension Office
600 S. 7th Street, Suite 4
Opelika, Alabama
Contact: Tara Barr
(334) 749-3353

March 1 — Macon County
1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
E.V. Smith Research Center
4725 County Road 40
Shorter, Alabama
Contact: Jessica Kelton
(334) 693-3800

March 8 — Tuscaloosa County
Courthouse Annex
2513 7th Street
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Contact: Lisa Murphy
(205) 349-4630

More Information

For additional questions about the program email Robert Tufts (tuftsra@aces.edu) or call (334) 734-2120.


Image by photofriday/shutterstock.com.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Winter Hair Coats & Blanketing

Horses On Rural Farm Wearing Winter Coats In Daytime













 Winter Hair Coats & Blanketing

This Timely Information Sheet provides an overview heat regulation in horses and blanketing tips.


Hair Coat

Most horses have the capacity to grow a winter hair coat that will keep them sufficiently warm in the coldest weather. Winter hair growth is triggered primarily by the change in photoperiod or day length, and the winter coat starts to enter in mid to late August. While the process is directed by the change in daylight, external temperatures will also play somewhat of a role, in that a horse that is blanketed early will not develop as thick a coat. If a horse is blanketed in the fall to maintain a slick hair coat for fall and winter shows, the winter hair that grows in will be shorter than it would be if the horse were left unblanketed.

Once a horse’s winter hair coat is in place, the body heat will be trapped by the hair as it “fluffs up” providing warmth. Most horses can withstand even the coldest, snowiest weather without additional protection, provided there is shelter from rain and wind. A wet, flat hair coat will lessen the ability of the hair to “fluff”, thus lessening a horse’s ability to stay warm, resulting in more energy used to try to regulate body temperature. This energy will either come from nutritional sources, or directly from body stores, resulting in weight loss if added feed is not provided.

Effects on Energy Requirements

Forages (hay) or other fiber sources actually produce additional heat when digested by the horse and hence are the best feeds to increase in cold weather. Horses require 1-2 percent of their body weight in forage for optimum health. To maintain adequate body heat, the average horse needs an additional 2 pounds of forage per day for every 10 degree change below 40 degrees

Fahrenheit, or the lower critical temperature (see Tables 1 & 2).

Given the use of nutritional reserves for temperature regulation, there are some horses that have the potential to benefit from blanketing, including geriatric, sick, very young, or very thin horses, or horses that are moved to cold climates before they have fully developed an appropriate winter coat for conditions. Other examples include horses that continue to work in the winter

and those that are body or trace clipped or kept under lights likely need the additional protection that blankets provide.

Blanket Management

If a horse is turned out in winter weather for extended periods, it is important to use a waterproof blanket and to make certain that the blanket continues to provide protection underneath. If blankets become soaked, they should be removed and replaced with a dry blanket, especially if the horse becomes wet underneath.

Horses should be checked daily and blankets should be removed regularly to assess body condition. A horse’s body condition score should remain at 5 or 6 with additional feed provided should it drop below 5.

Blanketing fit is very important! Horses can develop rub marks or sores where the straps securing the blanket fit improperly. If the horse is continuously blanketed the blanket should be removed regularly to inspected for damage and reposition due to twisting. Make sure blankets are kept dry and do not put a blanket on a wet horse; wait until the horse is dry before blanketing. Or take a wet blanket off a horse to keep it from becoming chilled. Days that the temperature becomes warm remove the blanket so the horse does not sweat and become wet under the blanket. Air out the blanket and dry out the horse’s hair coat.


Prepared by: Courteney Holland, Extension Equine Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, Auburn University, AL. January 2018. CMH – 2018.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University) is an equal opportunity educator and employer.









State’s Fruit Growers Understand Managing Cold Weather










Alabama fruit producers are keeping their eyes on the thermometers, but professionals with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System say producers are used to dealing with cold weather.

Dr. Edgar Vinson, an Alabama Extension fruit specialist who works closely with the state’s peach producers, said most are not worried about the frigid weather.

“This season’s cold weather has kept peaches and other tree fruits dormant,” Vinson said. “When trees are dormant, cold damage is less of a threat.”

Cold is Important

Peach trees and most deciduous fruit trees need cold to produce a good harvest.

Jim Pitts with Auburn University’s Chilton Regional Research and Extension Center said getting adequate chill hours is critical for peach production.

“Trees accumulate chill hours between 32° and 45° F,” said Pitts. “Currently, about 90 percent of peach trees in the state have gotten adequate chill hours.”

Pitts said Chilton center researchers have logged about 800 chill hours.

“We would like to get 1,000 chill hours,” said Pitts. “Additionally, we would like to see it stay cool for another month. Right now, it won’t take much warm weather to get trees to break dormancy and start moving toward bloom.”

Icy Satsumas

Concerns are higher along the Gulf Coast where satsumas are raised. Satsuma, a type of mandarin (a classification of citrus) similar to a tangerine, is one of the more cold vulnerable tree fruits raised in Alabama.

James Miles, a regional Extension agent based in Mobile, said producers were proactive in guarding their investments.

“Growers used overhead irrigation to ice the trees. Growers that initiate this technique are committed to keeping the system running until all the ice has melted. This could easily be two to five days.”

Miles said using irrigation to put a protective ice layer on the trees is one of the most common freeze protection measures that citrus growers use for prolonged freeze events.

Safeguarding Strawberries

Strawberries are vulnerable to cold, but Doug Chapman, a regional Extension agent in north Alabama, said strawberry producers have their crops covered with floating row covers.

“Most growers use one layer of row covering, but some producers are adopting a practice used further north—covering strawberries with two layers of covering,” said Chapman. “Using two covers allows growers to protect plants and to capture ground heat and keep it in the plant canopy at night.”

Growers who use two covers peel the top layer back during the day to allow for better light penetration and gas respiration for the strawberry plant. The top cover will be returned at night.

Snow and Ice Threat to Greenhouses

While producers who raise their crops outdoors may not be overly worried, it’s a different story for those raising crops such as strawberries, lettuces and tomatoes in greenhouses, said regional Extensioncommercial horticulture agent Chip East.

“The cold weather is eating into their profits because they are spending more dollars to keep greenhouses at the correct temperatures.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, East said, even worse is snow and ice.

The extra weight of snow and ice can easily cave in a greenhouse, destroying the crop inside as well as the house.

“Growers can’t risk their investment both in the plants and the actual structures. They will be raking and sweeping the snow off those greenhouses.”


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!


Apples Purchasing, Storing and Preparing

Apples are one of the few fruits you can find fresh any time of the year. However, fall means lots of fresh apples of all kinds.
An apple is a colorful and delicious package of nutrition and good eating. A medium-size apple has:

  • fiber, nearly 20% of what you need each day
  • vitamins including C and beta carotene (if you leave the peel on)
  • minerals including potassium
  • and only 80 calories

Choose kinds of apples that suit family tastes and the uses you have in mind. There are many good all-purpose apples. Others are best for using in certain ways.   Apples that turn to sauce when cooked are best for recipes that call for applesauce and those that hold their shape are best for baking whole or cut in chunks. Tart apples are good for cooking like granny smith and sweeter apples like gala and red and yellow delicious are best for eating raw.


Use this list to help you choose the type you want.
















When buying:

  • Look for smooth skin with few bruises. Too many bruises mean the apple may rot.
  • Choose apples with a bright and sparkly color.

When storing:

  • Apples keep best when refrigerated. Store them in a plastic bag or the drawer to keep them fresh.
  • Check them often. Remove any decayed apples. One rotten apple can indeed spoil the whole barrel!
  • Raw, cut apples may darken. Prevent this by dipping them in a fruit juice – lemon, orange, grapefruit, or pineapple – before adding other ingredients.
  • Wash apples always before eating by running cold water over the surface and then wiping with a clean paper towel.
  • Keeping apples crisp means keeping them cold. All apples should be refrigerated to prevent quick ripening.
  • Apples ripen 8 to 10 time faster at room temperature.
  • Store apples in a ventilated plastic bag or hydrator drawer to prevent absorbing other food flavors.
  • Storing these fruits in close proximity to each other may hasten the ripening process. Oranges, pineapples, and tangerines make good storage companions for apples because they do not produce ethylene gas and are not sensitive to it.


Due to the many variables such as moisture content, size, and variety, it is impossible to give specific recommendations as to quantities to buy. The recommendations below are approximations only.

  • 1 pound = about 3 medium apples
  • 1 pound = approximately 1½ cups applesauce
  • 2 pounds (6–8 apples) = a 9 inch pie
  • 1 bushel (48 pounds) = about 16–20 quarts canned or frozen sauce (an average of 2¾ pounds per quart)


Eat more apples by using some of these ideas:


Apple-Carrot Salad

3 c. diced apples
1/3 c. salad dressing or mayonnaise
1 large carrot, shredded
1/3 c. raisins
1 T. lemon juice
1/8 t. salt

Combine ingredients and mix well. Makes 8 servings.



Baked Apples

6 baking apples
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 c. sugar
1 T. margarine
1/2 c. raisins
1 c. water
1/2 t. cinnamon

Core apples without cutting through the bottom end. Peel about one third of way down. Place in baking dish. Mix sugar, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg and fill centers of apples. Dot with margarine and pour water into baking dish. Bake at 375°F about 50-60 minutes or until apples are tender.



Applesauce Nugget Cookies

2 c. flour
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 t. salt
1 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. ground cloves, optional
1 c. applesauce
1 egg, well beaten
1 c. chopped nuts
1 pkg. (6-oz.) butterscotch bits

Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg, applesauce and baking soda and stir well. Add dry ingredients and mix again. Stir in nuts and butterscotch bits. Drop by teaspoons 2-3 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for 12-15 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen.

**Some info was taken from the Illinois Extension Service.


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!


Important Weights, Measures, Conversion Tables, and Rules of Thumb

Individual using a measuring spoon for cooking


Beware! Ounces can be used for measuring both volume and weight and they are very different. An ounce of water by volume will weight MUCH more than an ounce of flour by volume. It is OK to measure wet ingredients by volume, but dry ingredients are better measured by weight.

When measured by volume, dry ingredients can be way off because they contain a lot of air. Some flours are ground into larger bits than others, and they will have more air between grains than finely ground flour. The same is true for salt. Morton’s kosher salt has almost twice as much air than the same volume of table salt because Morton’s kosher salt grains are shaped like flakes while table salt is shaped like cubes, and cubes can pack together more tightly. That’s why more and more bakers are weighing flour and why I measure salt for brines by weight.

When ounces are called for in a recipe for liquids it means by volume as in a measuring cup, but when ounces are called for in solids it should, in a professionally written recipe, be measured by weight. So a recipe that calls for 4 ounces of grated cheese means by weight. If you grate cheese and pour it into a measuring cup to the 4 ounce mark, it will weigh only about 2 ounces.

Dry measurements

Remember these are all leveled at the top which means that a tablespoon has a level top, not a big round hill in the center and valleys along the edges.

Cups Decimal Tablespoons Teaspoons
1 1.00 16 48
3/4 0.75 12 36
2/3 0.67 11 32
1/2 0.50 8 24
1/3 0.33 5 16
1/4 0.25 4 12
1/8 0.13 2 6
1/16 0.063 1 3

3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
1 coffee scoop = 1 tablespoon
1 ounce = 28 grams
1 pound = 16 ounces = 454 grams
1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds
8 quarts = 1 peck
4 pecks = 1 bushel
1 pinch = about 1/16 teaspoon = the amount you can hold between your thumb and two fingers

1 can of beans = 15 ounces undrained = about 10 ounces drained = 1/4 pound dried beans
1 pound dried beans = about 2 cups dried beans = makes about 5 cups soaked beans = makes about 7 cups cooked
1 pound dried beans = 4 cans drained

1 pound cheese = about 4.5 cups shredded
1 cup shredded cheese = a little more than 4 ounces by weight
1 cup cottage cheese = about 1/2 pound

1 cup cocoa = 1/4 pound
1 ounce chocolate = 1/4 cup grated
1 cup chocolate chips = 6 ounces by weight

Small clove of garlic = about 1/2 teaspoon
Medium clove = about 1 teaspoon = 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Large clove = about 1.5 teaspoons
Extra-large clove = about 2 teaspoons

1 cup flour = 5 ounces by weight = 250 grams
1 tablespoon flour for thickening = 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 pound white flour = 4 cups sifted flour
1 pound cake flour = 4.5 cups sifted flour
1 pound whole wheat flour = 3.5 cups

1 pound trimmed fresh mushrooms
= about 5 cups chopped
= 1 (8 ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained
= 3 ounces dried mushrooms, rehydrated
= about 2 cups sautéed

Pasta and rice
4 ounces dry macaroni = 1 cup = 3 cups cooked and drained
4 ounces dry spaghetti or other noodles = 1.75 cups = 4 to 5 cups cooked and drained
1 cup uncooked white rice = 1/2 pound
1 cup uncooked white rice + 2 cups boiling water = 3 cups cooked
1 cup brown whole grain rice = 1/2 pound 2.25 cups boiling water = 4 cups of cooked rice

1 teaspoon Morton’s table salt
= 1.25 teaspoons Morton’s Kosher Salt
= 1 teaspoons Morton’s Pickling Salt

Here’s the inverse:

1 teaspoons Morton’s Kosher Salt
= 0.8 teaspoon of table salt
= 0.8 teaspoons Morton’s Pickling Salt

1 cup table salt = 8 ounces (1/2 pound) by weight
Salt is 2.16 x density of water

Dry brine. Sprinkle the meat with about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per trimmed pound, wrap in plastic wrap to keep other foods from contacting meat juices, and refrigerate for 2 to 12 hours depending on thickness.

Basic wet brine. Add one cup of hot water to a two cup measuring cup. Then pour in salt, any salt, until the water line reaches 1.5 cups. Produces a 6.3% brine.

1/2″ thick meat should be brined for about 1/2 hour in the refrigerator
1″ thick meat should be brined for about 1 hour in the refrigerator
2″ thick meat should be brined for about 4 hours in the refrigerator
3″ thick meat should be brined for about 12 hours in the refrigerator

1 cup granulated white sugar = 8 ounces by weight
1 cup packed dark brown sugar = 6 ounces by weight = 250 grams by weight
1 cup packed dark brown sugar = 1 cup granulated white sugar + 2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup packed dark brown sugar = 1 cup of granulated white sugar + 1 tablespoon molasses
1 cup honey = 3/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup water
1 cup corn syrup = 1 cup sugar dissolved in 1/4 cup water
Simple syrup is 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water thoroughly dissolved

1 stick butter = 8 tablespoons = 4 ounces = 1/4 pound = 1/2 cup by volume = 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 pound solid fat (lard or shortening) = 2 cups

The info below is estimated and can vary depending on the size of the nuts and their freshness.
Fresh nuts have a higher water content.

Almonds. 1 pound unshelled = 1.5 cups nut meats
Almonds. 1 cup = 5.5 ounces

Pecans. 1 pound unshelled = 2.25 cups nut meats
Pecans. 1 cup = 3.8 ounces

Walnuts. 1 pound unshelled = 2 cups nut meats
Walnuts. 1 cup = 3.6 ounces

Cashews. 1 cup = 5.0 ounces
Peanuts. 1 cup = 6.0 ounces

Ground Beef
Ground chuck usually is 15% fat
Ground round usually is about 10% fat
Ground sirloin usually is about 5% fat
1 pound boneless meat = 3 cups cubed meat

 1 medium apple = about 1/2 cup slices or chopped
Bread Crumbs.
 1 slice bread = 1/2 cup bread crumbs
Gelatin. 1 tablespoon = 1 envelope = 4 sheets leaf gelatin
Herbs. 2 to 3 parts fresh herbs = 1 part dried (most of the time)
Mustard. 1 tablespoon mustard = 1 teaspoon dry mustard
Onion. 1 large onion = about 4″ diameter = about 1 1/4 cup chopped
Pasta. 1 pound serves 4 people
Popcorn. 1/4 cup popcorn = 5 cups cooked
Tomatoes. 1 pound tomatoes = 1.5 cups chopped
Yeast. 1 packet active dry yeast = 2.25 teaspoons





Wet measurements

Wet volumetric measurements like tablespoons, teaspoons, allow for a little bubble in the center but the edges of the liquid should meet the edges of the spoon. In cups it is the center of the meniscus that you measure too. The meniscus is the upward slope where the liquid contacts the sides.

Cups Decimal Ounces Tablespoons Teaspoons Milliliters Grams
1 1.00 8 16 48 237 236.56
3/4 0.75 6 12 36 177 177.42
2/3 0.67 5 11 32 158 157.71
1/2 0.50 4 8 24 118 118.28
1/3 0.33 3 5 16 79 78.85
1/4 0.25 2 4 12 59 59.14
1/8 0.13 1 2 6 30 29.57
1/16 0.063 0.5 1 3 15 14.785


1 dash = about 3 drops = about 1/16 teaspoon
3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
1 pint = 2 cups = 1 pound (“a pint’s a pound the world around”)
1 quart = 2 pints = 4 cups = 32 fluid ounces = 0.95 liters
1 gallon = 4 quarts = 128 fluid ounces = 3.785 liters = 3785 cubic centimeters
1 liter = 100 centiliters = 1000 milliliters = 34 fluid ounces = 1.0 quarts

1 fluid ounce of water weighs 1.043 dry ounces = 0.0652 pounds = 29.574 grams
1 gram of water = 0.0022 pounds = 0.1408 ounces
1 mg of water = 0.0014 ounces

Light cream = 18% butterfat
Light whipping cream = 26-30% butterfat
Heavy cream = whipping cream = 36% or more butterfat
Double cream = extra-thick double cream = clotted or Devonshire cream = 42% butterfat
1 cup cream = 3/4 cup milk + 1/4 cup unsalted butter (use only in cooking)
1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup plain yogurt = 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup half and half = 1/2 cup cream + 1/2 cup milk

Tomato Juice. 1 cup tomato juice = 1/2 cup tomato sauce + 1/2 cup water
Lemon or Lime Juice. 1 medium lemon, lime = about 2 tablespoons of juice = about 1 ounce
Orange Juice. 1 medium orange = about 4 tablespoons juice = about 2 ounces

1 large egg = 2 ounces by volume = 3 tablespoons
1 large egg’s white = 2 tablespoons
1 large egg yolk = 1 tablespoon
1 cup = 4 to 6 whole eggs without shells

 1 tablespoon mustard = 1 teaspoon dry mustard
Vinaigrette. A classic vinaigrette is 3 parts oil and 1 part vinegar

Conversion formula
Celsius or Centigrade = (Fahrenheit – 32) / 1.8
Fahrenheit = (Celsius x 1.8) + 32°C

Important temperature equivalents
400°F = 204°C = hot oven
350°F = 177°C
300°F = 149°C
250°F = 121°C
225°F = 107°C = ideal smoking temperature
212F = 100°C = water boils
203°F = 95°C = pork butt, beef brisket, and beef ribs are done
180°F = 82°C
170°F = 77°C
160°F = 71°C
130°F = 54°C = medium rare
72°F = 22°C = room temperature
32°F = 0°C = water freezes
0°F = -18°C

Cooking at altitude
Boiling point goes down about 2°F for every 1,000 feet above sea level.


1 quart = about 16 Kingsford briquets
1 Weber chimney holds about 5 quarts, or about 80 briquets
Figure 100 square inches of cooking surface per person when buying a grill

Slow cookers & crockpots

Low. Approximately 200°F
Medium. Approximately 250°F
High. Approximately 300°F

If there is a lot of liquid in the crock, then the water temp will rise to 212°F and stay there no matter what temp you have on the dial.


1 centimeter = 0.4 inches
1 meter = 100 centimeters = 1000 millimeters = 3.28 feet
1 inch = 25.4 millimeters = 2.54 centimeters
1 foot = 0.305 meters

If you can’t find a conversion you need on this page, you might try here.


1 gram of carbohydrates contains 3.75 calories
1 gram of fat contains 9 calories
1 gram of protein contains 4 calories
1 gram of alcohol contains 7 calories


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!



Alabama Extension to Offer Financial Analysis Workshops Dec.– Feb.










Financial assistance supplied by banks and agricultural lenders is an integral part of daily farm operations, in addition to the development of new ag technologies and techniques.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is offering workshops throughout the state in December through February. These workshops will help farmers determine their financial health and learn how lenders analyze credit applications.

Financial Analysis Workshops

Ag lending is a key business line for many banks, especially those in rural areas. Lending in the agricultural market involves seasonal funding, generally repaid after harvest. If a renewal is hanging in the balance, Extension professionals want to help producers understand the importance of conducting a financial analysis.

Alabama Extension’s Farm and Agribusiness Management Team will conduct a series of workshops titled, “How Does a Lender Determine Whether to Renew My Line of Credit?” developed by Extension specialist Dr. Robert Tufts.

“The purpose of the program is to reinforce the importance of records so a farmer can determine his financial health, and to show the value of automated recordkeeping. It is hard to pull a balance sheet out of a box of receipts,” Tufts said.

Extension personnel will discuss financial statements and the ratios calculated from that data. The ratios are then used to measure the financial health of the farmer.

In addition, credit analysts from First South Farm Credit, Alabama Ag Credit, Alabama Farm Credit, and PNC Bank will speak at each program. These lenders will also discuss the inner workings of the agricultural credit approval process and answer questions.

Workshop Locations

Dec. 11                      Dallas County

Jan. 9                         Lauderdale County

Jan. 10                       Limestone County

Jan. 15                       Escambia County

Jan. 17                       Talladega County

Jan. 18                       DeKalb County

Jan. 23                       Henry County

Jan. 24                       Macon County

Jan. 30                       Chilton County

Feb. 1                         Baldwin County

Feb. 13                       Coffee County

Feb. 26                       Marion County

Feb. 27                       Tuscaloosa County


For a workshop agenda, location addresses or to register, visit the workshop website at www.aces.edu/lender.


Image by shutterstock.com/avilon.


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!


Kids and Food Preservation for Holiday Gifts

Preparing Homemade Strawberry, Blueberry and Raspberry Jam and Canning in Jars









As the holidays approach, spend some time in the kitchen with kids and make some jams and jellies or other items for them to give as gifts.  You will be giving them a gift that will last a lifetime too with some great memories.

Do you have a hard time buying gifts for family and friends during the holiday season? Here is an idea for this holiday season: Grab your kids and head into the kitchen to prepare some homemade preserved gifts. Food preservation is a science allowing kids to explore and understand the science of safe food preservation, so lifetime skills are being learned and experienced in the kitchen.  Starting with jams and jellies is a great way to begin preserving with youth. Jam’s high acidity, large amount of sugar, and lack of available water slow the growth rate of microorganisms like mold, but freezing or boiling water canning is needed to fully stop spoilage.

There are a wide variety of recipes available allowing you and your children to select favorite flavors to prepare for homemade gifts.  You want to make sure to follow recipes that you get from a trusted source like the Extension Service and the National Center for Home Food Preservation.  Other websites like Pinterest or Facebook might not be USDA tested recipes and they may not recommend for you to water bath can your jams and jellies after filling your jars.  A safe jellied product is one that is water bath canned which creates a vacuum seal that allows your jellied products to set on self and not mold or create yeast which will spoil your product.

It is also critical to remember when teaching youth to use current, research-based methods for preserving food at home. Paraffin or wax sealing of jars is no longer considered an acceptable method for preserving any jellies. Any pinholes or cracks in the wax paraffin can allow airborne molds to contaminate and grow on the product.

For proper texture, jellied fruit products require the correct combinations of fruit, pectin, acid, and sugar. The fruit gives each spread its unique flavor and color. It also supplies the water to dissolve the rest of the necessary ingredients and furnishes some or all of the pectin and acid. Good-quality, flavorful fruits make the best jellied products.

These are a few of my favorite recipes for giving at Christmas time for gifts:

Ginger Pear Preserves

Pears with lime and gingerroot combine to make a delicately flavored preserve with an exotic island taste.

You will need:

5-1/2 cups finely chopped cored peeled pears (about 8 medium)
Grated zest and juice of 3 limes
2-1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp freshly grated gingerroot
7 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Yield: About 7 (8 oz) half pint jars


  • 1.)PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
    2.) COMBINE pears, lime zest and juice, sugar and gingerroot in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and test gel. If preserves break from spoon in a sheet or flake, it is at the gel stage. Skim off foam. If your mixture has not reached the gel stage, return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, for an additional 5 minutes. Repeat gel stage test and cooking as needed.
    3.) LADLE hot preserves into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
    4.) PROCESS jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.


Apple Preserves

  • 6 cups peeled, cored, sliced apples
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 package powdered pectin
  • ½ lemon, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg or cinnamon or allspice

Yield: About 6 half-pint jars



Procedure: Combine apples, water and lemon juice in a large saucepot. Simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Stir in pectin and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring frequently. Add lemon slices (optional) and sugar. Return to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; add nutmeg. Pour hot preserves into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids. Process in a Boiling Water Canner for 10 minutes.


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!