Upcoming Events



Beginner Beekeeping Course Returns in January

Over the last few years, there has been a strong interest in honey bees and backyard beekeeping.  So much so that in 2014, Tallapoosa County Extension hosted a Beginner Beekeeping Course.    Surprisingly, over 70 people from all across the area participated in the first course.  Soon after, the local Tallapoosa River Beekeepers Association was revitalized.   Such success lead to another event in 2015 which resulted in over 50 folks attending the course. Beekeeping classes were offered again in 2017 and 2018 to train new prospects and future beekeepers. Beekeeping is in high demand.

Another Beginner Beekeeping Course is being planned and will be offered in January 2019.  This educational opportunity will again be hosted by Tallapoosa County Extension and taught by members of the Tallapoosa River Beekeepers Association. The course will begin January 17, 2019 and be held on Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.   Classes will be held on Thursdays – from January 17th through February 21st.  All two hour classes will be held in Dadeville; facility location to be determined.

During the six classes, participants will gain basic knowledge to begin keeping bees, acquire and assemble the necessary equipment for the bees, and have the opportunity to obtain bees to go in the equipment.

Class topics include:

  1. Introduction to Beekeeping, Honey Bee Biology
  2. Diseases and Pests
  3. Installing Bees and Hive Management
  4. 2nd Year Management, Products of the Hive
  5. Hive Construction, Using Equipment
  6. Plants and Review

Cost of the Course is $45, and includes one book.

Our hope is the Beginner Beekeeping Course will increase the interest and importance of beekeeping with both youth and adults. If you would like to become a beekeeper or have any questions, please contact the Tallapoosa County Extension office at 256-825-1050 or mail in the Registration Flyer.

2019 Master Gardener Course Begins February 1st

Ever had trouble achieving that perfect lawn?

Not sure how or when to prune those fruits trees and landscape plants?

Still confused about how much fertilizer to put around growing vegetables?

Frustrated by all the weeds that pop up each year in those flower beds and lawn?

Determined to win the battle against insect pests and plant diseases this upcoming growing season?

Want to learn how to compost garden and yard waste?

Tired of wasting time and money on plants and garden products that die or just don’t work?

Answers to all of these questions and so much more will be addressed in the 2019 Tallapoosa County Master Gardener Course.  Plus, if you have a passion for gardening and volunteering, then you should be a Master Gardener.  Even if you don’t have a green thumb, come take the course and join the fun; you’ll learn a lot.

The Tallapoosa County Extension Office will again offer the Master Gardener Volunteer Program in 2019, with a starting date on Friday, February 1st  All classes will be held during the day from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the county Extension office located in Dadeville.  Applications are now being accepted and will be accepted through Friday, January 25th. The fee associated with this course is $140 per person.

Topics to be discussed include soils and plant nutrition; composting; plant physiology; plant diseases; pesticide education; landscape design and plant selection; weed identification and control; entomology and pest management; fruit culture; plant propagation; home lawn care; vegetable gardening; care and maintenance of landscape plants; herbs; and bedding plants. Classes begin February 1st and will run 13 consecutive weeks until April 25th.

The Alabama Master Gardener training program will consist of 13 weeks of horticulture related classes and training. The course provides more than 50 hours of classroom and hands-on instruction in horticulture and related areas. Classes taught include soils and plant nutrition; composting, plant diseases; landscape design and plant selection; weed identification and control; entomology; pesticide education, fruit culture; plant propagation; home lawn care; vegetable gardening; wildlife control, care and maintenance of landscape plants; bedding plants, and more.

Courses are taught by specialists from Auburn University, Extension agents from the Alabama Cooperative Extension, fellow certified Master Gardeners, and local horticulture professionals.

Those interested in participating in the Master Gardener Program are encouraged to call the Tallapoosa County Extension office to sign up or receive more information.  Those of you that have put-off taking the MG course the last few years or wish to wait and take it at later date are highly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity this year.  Don’t miss out on this wonderful learning opportunity.

For more details. please contact the Tallapoosa County Extension office at 256-825-1050.

by Shane Harris,  is the County Extension Coordinator for Tallapoosa County.

Do Your Research Before Buying Fruit Trees

Don’t you just love eating those fresh picked ripe peaches, apples, pears, strawberries, and grapes. Having a home orchard with lots of fruit trees and eating fresh, home-grown fruit in the summer is a dream for many people. However, wanting a home orchard and having a home orchard is two different things. It can be a wonderful thing if managed right or it can turn into a nightmare if done wrong.

Much of the success or failure of having a home orchard lies primarily on your first decision – the variety of the fruits chosen.  Simply going out and buying just any type of fruit tree from just any source is easy enough and sounds like a good idea, right?  Wrong.  Doing just that and not doing your homework can result in a very bad investment.

Before you select a fruit tree and take it home and plant it, find out what varieties of fruit trees and small fruits grow best in our area. The truth is that it is very difficult to grow most of those types of fruits you see in the grocery store.  Alabama climate conditions of hot and dry summers and mild winters just won’t let you have that perfect orchard full of fabulous fruit. That is why other states are known for growing certain fruits. Peaches tend to grow better in Georgia, oranges do well in Florida, apples are perfect in Washington, and everything grows well in California.  But don’t worry, fruit can be grown in Alabama and be grown successfully.  You just have to know which varieties will work in Alabama.

If you want to grow apples, then try these varieties: Gala, Fuji, Rome, Gingergold, Jonagold, Cumberland Spur, and Granny Smith.  There are hundreds of commercial varieties of peaches, but gardeners might wish to try Redhaven, Sweethaven, Cresthaven, Fireprince, Contender, Georgia Belle, Jefferson, and Redskin.  If you like pears, then you might want to try Orient, Kieffer, or Moonglow (soft).  AU Producer, AU Roadside, and AU Cherry are great varieties of plums.

You won’t go wrong with varieties of figs like Brown Turkey, Celeste, Alma, LSU Gold, and LSU Purple.  Our traditional blueberry varieties are Tifblue, Premier, Brightwell, and Climax but some news ones worth planting are Alapaha, Vernon, and Yadkin.  Cardinal, Earliglow, and Chandler are a few suggested types of strawberries.  Navaho, Kiowa, Ouachita, Arapaho, and Apache are examples of blackberries that will do great.  If you like grapes, go with muscadines such as Ison, Pam, Darlene, Fry, Black Beauty, and Supreme since they will do much better than bunch grapes.

Also keep in mind where you purchase your fruit trees and small fruit crops. Always buy from a local reputable nursey, garden center, or specialty catalog source.  Many of the variety choices shipped in and sold by retail stores do not grow or do well in Alabama.  Nor are they usually labeled and named properly; you will have no idea what you are getting or what size it will be.

Regardless of what fruits you like to eat and are consider growing, pay close attention to the maintenance requirements. Having a home orchard is not a simple and easy task and can be very labor some and time consuming.  Almost all fruit plants take 3-5 years to get established before they begin producing their first crops. Many fruit trees like apples and peaches, require a strict and weekly spray program to prevent diseases and insect pests.  Almost all require yearly pruning and training, especially muscadine vines.  And if all goes well, you still have to keep the deer, squirrels, and crows at bay from eating the precious harvest before you do.

– by Shane Harris, County Extension Coordinator for Tallapoosa County.

Farming 101 Class: Vegetable Production in Alabama

We receive many calls and visits at the Extension Office from people who have land and do not know what to do with it. “What can I grow?” is a very common question, and “It depends” is the most common answer. It depends on how much time you will have to work on the land, water availability, slope of land, location, available equipment, market, etc. Extension conducts many meetings every year discussing production practices for many different areas of agriculture including horticulture, forages and livestock, agronomy, pond management, wildlife management, etc. for the beginning or experienced grower.

This Farming 101 program is specifically designed for the beginning grower, but anyone can attend. A beginning grower does not mean you have never grown anything. You may be a very experienced grower of peach trees, but a beginner at greenhouse lettuce. This program is to teach you the basic practices of growing certain crops. We have other meetings with more detailed information that are available for more experienced growers.

The Farming 101 program will held on Fridays during the month of October at the Tallapoosa County Extension office. The first meeting will be October 5th, and the last meeting will be October 26th. The classes will begin at 9:00 a.m. and will end at 12 noon. Pre-registration is required, and the cost per class is $10 or $40 for the entire course. Please mail the registration fee to the Tallapoosa County Extension Office, 125 N. Broadnax Street, Room 23, Dadeville, AL. 36853. If registering for individual classes, please indicate which class(es).

Classes

  • October 5th – Soil Health
  • October 12th  -Vegetable Production
  • October 19th –  Greenhouse and Hydroponic Vegetable Production
  • October 26th – Vegetable Insect Pest Management

If you have questions concerning the Farming 101 program, please contact Shane Harris at 256-825-1050 or Chip East at 256-846-0314.

Farming 101 Registration Flyer

Extension to Host an Outdoor Photography Course

With the availability of today’s technology, taking pictures is more easier and popular than ever.  Just pull out that smart phone and use its camera to shoot a quick photo.  That seems adequate for most people and situations.  Yet capturing that unique moment and getting that outstanding photo, as of today, still requires more skills and better equipment.  Serious amateur photographers demand a higher standard and are always wanting to improve there skills and abilities.

I’ll admit, I am one of those amateur photographers.  Over the last few years, I have become more interested in photography and really enjoy doing outdoor photography.  My camera equipment has expanded and goes along with me on vacations or when such Kodak moments arise.   Not only am I wanting to capture such moments but I want to learn how to do it better.  There nothing so disappointing as when a photo didn’t quite turn out as good as I had hoped.  Recent trips to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks have given me wonderful opportunities to practice my photography skills and have inspired me; but more practice and knowledge is needed.

So if you are like me and can relate, you too need an opportunity to get better.  We need to attend a photography class and learn from other photographers how to improve our skills.   This idea lead me to ask local photographers Kenneth Boone and Fletcher Scott for help and teach an Outdoor Photography Course for our area.  They have happily agreed to do so and Extension will host it.

So mark your calendars for Tuesday, September 18th and join us for an amateur outdoor photography course.  There will be 6 unique classes:

  • Sept.18    –  Basic Photography
  • Sept. 25   –  Wildlife Photography
  • Oct. 2       –  Macro Photography
  • Oct. 16   –   Water Photography
  • Oct. 30   –   Low Light Photography
  • Nov. 13  –   Landscape Photography

Knowledge and use of a DSLR camera,  tripod, multiple lens, and off-camera flash is recommended. This is NOT a beginner course. There will be homework assignments each week.  Cost of the course is $50.  Class location will be in Alexander City on Tuesday evenings from 6 – 8 p.m.  Instructors will be Kenneth Boone and Fletcher Scott.  Hosted by the Tallapoosa County Extension office.

Registration is required!  To participate or for more information, contact the Tallapoosa County Extension Office at 256-825-1050.

-Shane Harris, County Extension Coordinator

2018 4-H Camp Out at Wind Creek State Park

Tallapoosa County 4-H is partnering with Wind Creek State Park to host a camp-out. See the flyer below for more details and give us a call if you have any questions!

Other Upcoming Summer 4-H Events

  • May 25 – 4-H SportFishing Day at Camp ASCCA
  • June 27 & 28 – 4-H RiverKids Kayaking Kamp along Sandy Creek in Dadeville
  • July 11 – 4-H Sewing Class
  • July 17 & 18 – 4-H Great Outdoors Camp

Decorating With Nature

 

camellia blossoms on the shrub

November 14th from 9 am  to 11 am in the Extension Auditorium. 

Learn to collect plant clippings and materials from nature to create beautiful décor.

Demonstrations on Garland and wreath making along with other ideas.

Bring a bucket of your own clippings from your yard or just come and watch Mallory work her magic. Click on the link below for more information and registration.

Decorating with Nature- Tallapoosa

RCS Alabama Announces Drought Funding

 

Eligible Landowners with Grazing Lands Encouraged to Apply

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2017 – USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist for Alabama Ben Malone announced that the agency is providing funding to assist landowners impacted by last year’s extreme drought. Agricultural producers statewide suffered losses from months with low rainfall. Eligible landowners are encouraged to apply by July 28, 2017. Alabama landowners living in counties identified as high priority will be assigned the highest priority for financial assistance because they were impacted the most by the drought.

Funding will be provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and will address fencing, water troughs, pasture, hay land re-establishment, wells, and prescribed grazing. In addition to others, these practices will not only help landowners recover losses from the drought, they will serve as a proactive step to help landowners in the event of future drought situations. Measures such as planting drought affected cool season grasses such as fescue and installing water tanks and fencing will make lands more sustainable.

“Landowners across the state have weathered the drought for months and these funds will assist them in replenishing losses and doing what they can to help their grazing lands recover,” said State Conservationist Ben Malone.

During the worst of the drought, USDA reported more than $30 million in disaster funds were distributed nationally for livestock feed programs and non-insured disaster support. In addition, because livestock feed was in short supply, cattle sales were 19% ahead of 2015. This impacted the value of livestock that was sold.

Alabama landowners who are interested in applying for drought funding should contact their local USDA NRCS service center in Tallapoosa County at 256-329-3084, Ext 2, Monday-Friday 7:30 – 4:00 and in Coosa County at 256-377-4750, Monday, Wednesday & Friday, 7:30 – 4:30 to learn more.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to:  USDA Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).

Youth Kayaking Lessons Top 4-H Summer Activities

Kayaking continues to be one of the fastest growing outdoor recreational activities.  It has always been very popular with adults but has increasingly become a great way to introduce youth to water sports and experience the outdoors.  The demand for kayaking programs is so great that the Tallapoosa County 4-H Team will host and teach multiple 4-H RiverKids kayaking lessons this summer across Tallapoosa County.

Kayaking Kamp

Our 3rd Annual 4-H RiverKids Kayaking Kamp returns on June 27-28th. This fun filled event is designed to introduce youth to the world of paddle sports. The half day program in Dadeville will teach water safety, how to paddle a kayak, and include a fun 2 mile float trip down Sandy Creek. Kayaks, life jackets, and shuttle service are provided. Cost is $10 for 4-H youth ages 9 to 18 (includes lunch).  Registration deadline is Friday, June 23, 2017 and spots will fill up quickly.

Schedule

4-Her’s will participate in a ½ Day Camp. Date and time preference will be assigned upon received registration.

River Kids_LOGO_COLOR copyJune 27th   –    Session A   –   8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

June 27th   –    Session B   –   12 noon – 5 p.m.

June 28th   –    Session C   –   8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

June 28th   –    Session D   –   12 noon – 5 p.m.

Review this Kayaking Kamp promotional flyer & agenda for more details and schedule.


Kayaking 101

Tallapoosa County 4-H will also host youth 4-H RiverKids Kayaking Lessons at Wind Creek State Park and Willow Point Cabana in Alexander City this summer.  One event will be Tuesday, June 2oth @ Wind Creek State Park and another event will be on Thursday, July 27th at Willow Point Cabana.The program will teach water safety, how to paddle a kayak, and include a fun 2 mile float trip along Lake Martin.  Kayaks and life jackets are provided.

Review these flyers for more details and schedule:

June 20th – Wind Creek State Park – Kayaking 101

July 27th – Willow Point Cabana – Kayaking 101


To participate in any 4-H RiverKids Event, a parent or guardian of each youth participant must complete and sign the:

Completed forms must be turned in to the Tallapoosa County  Extension Office prior to the event. Space is limited. Contact the Tallapoosa County Extension office at 256-825-1050 to sign up or for more details.

What did the Drought do to my Calving Season?

Memories of the fall of 2016 and its impacts on pasture availability and cow nutritional status are still fresh on most every Alabama cattle producer’s mind.  As fall calving programs move past the breeding season and spring programs focus on this important time, many producers are likely scratching their heads as to what impacts the drought may have on their cowherd’s breeding season success. This is rightly so, as lowered grazing availability likely led to some loss of body condition in many herds, and stand loss may leave some producers without adequate summer forage emergence.

The drought’s effects on your herd’s breeding season can be closely tied to the nutrition you were able to provide your animals to maintain their body condition score (BCS) throughout the calving and breeding season. Cows that calved at BCS lower than five could have experienced poor performance in the breeding season for two reasons:

1. Cows that calve at a BCS lower than five take more time to return to cycling than their BCS 5+ herdmates. Expect thin animals at calving to take an added 20+ days to return to cycling past their appropriately conditioned herdmates.

2.Animals that have a BCS lower than five during the breeding season experience lower pregnancy rates per breeding. Animals of BCS 4 or lower may experience a conception rate 10-30% lower than their BCS 5+ pasture mates.

Follow these two links (link 1, link 2) to learn more about BCS and its impact on pregnancy outcomes in your herd.

These facts are helpful in managing cattle to have a successful breeding season, but if the season has passed and you are questioning exactly what impact the drought had on your operation’s reproductive success, keep this factor in mind:  

You can know the pregnancy status of your herd quickly and economically. It is extremely important to perform annual pregnancy examination in your herd to identify and cull open cows. However if you are resistant to pregnancy check your herd, keep in mind that this year may be the most important year to implement this management practice. If cows became thin during the breeding season and you move forward on “faith alone” until calving time, there is a very high chance that you will experience lower calving rates than you had hoped for or seen in previous years. Pregnancy check cows 60 days after the conclusion of the breeding season or at calf weaning time to gain a true perspective on your herd’s reproductive status. With no pregnancy exam, you may feed open cows for 6-7 months before realizing that there is a problem. Without this information, you cannot manage your herd for profit potential as you look into the near future. Click here to read more about pregnancy exam options and how such knowledge can impact your herd.

Once you know your herd’s pregnancy status, you can make management decisions to increase your profitability outlook. You will also have tools to help you cull appropriate animals if the drought returns.

1. You will know which cows are not doing their job. Regardless of your breeding season existence or length, cows that are not pregnant by the time of traditional  calf weaning are not performing up to par. These animals are keeping you from reaching your profit potential and are consuming resources away from their herdmates. They need to go – even if they may become pregnant after weaning. Keeping such animals will only lower your herd’s overall reproductive performance and slowly suck dollars from you bottom line.

2.You will know what to expect for the upcoming calving season. If the drought led to thin cows at calving and breeding, you may have a higher percentage of late calving animals. Knowing your expected calving distribution will help you divide your manpower at calving time and begin thinking of a plan for calf marketing and how to manage cows to calve earlier in subsequent years.

3. You can combine body condition scoring with pregnancy examination to help identify thin, pregnant cows that may need additional supplementation to improve their condition before calving. Remember, we want cows to calve at a BCS 5-6. Post weaning is the best time to improve condition on thin cows. Evaluate your pasture availability and consider your ability to get weight on thin cows. Keep in mind that cows should gain about 80 pounds to improve one BCS. It is critical to return thin cows to an acceptable BCS before calving to limit the negative impacts of last year’s drought on your herd. If you do not have adequate pasture for such gains, you will need to supplement feed. Thin, pregnant cows with low production records may be a logical culling option if pasture availability is low and you do not have the resources to supplement feed.

If you have a large number of open cows at pregnancy check, you may be faced with hard decisions. There are several options to successfully move past this disheartening news:

1. Evaluate your cowherd. Discover possible reasons for the very low pregnancy rates. What is the herd average BCS? Were many cows of all ages open, or just your 2-3 year olds? What is the bull’s BCS and age? What was your bull:cow ratio? Did the bulls pass a breeding soundness exam before the breeding season?

2.Thin cows can be expected to gain weight at calf weaning if adequate grazing or supplement is available. If calves are still nursing and you are early in the breeding season, consider early weaning to allow cows to gain weight and hopefully avoid the low pregnancy rates we are currently discussing. Follow these two links to learn more about early weaning options (link 1, link 2)

3. If your breeding season is well over, consider the advantages and disadvantages of converting to a spring and fall calving season. In some herds, this management scheme works extremely well. Thin, open cows at this year’s pregnancy check can be moved to the opposite breeding season to reduce culling rates and still maintain a defined calving season. It is important to maintain a strict culling of animals in subsequent years to avoid creating a “reproductively lazy” herd. Using this second breeding season to strategically produce bred cows for sale versus open cull cows is also a viable option.

4.Retain your high standards. If your pasture availability is very low and you need lower stocking rates for your fields to recover, these open cows may be just your ticket. Culling of higher than normal numbers of open cows will lead to an increase in immediate monetary intake while decreasing your stocking rates for the near future as your pasture recovers. Rebuild your herd as your forages recover.

If the drought wreaked havoc on your breeding season, remember that it may take a few years to return to an ideal breeding season length. However, through proper management strategies of correct nutrition, strict culling, and replacing open or late calving animals with early calving heifers or purchased cows you can recover your herd from possible impacts of the 2016 drought.

If you have questions about determining and improving your herd’s reproductive performance, contact myself or other members of the ACES Animal Science and Forages Team.

Sarah Dickinson, M.S.

Regional Extension Agent I – Animal Science & Forages

Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Ph.D. Student – Reproductive Physiology / Molecular Genomics

Cell: 256-537-0024

Office: 256-825-1050

Email:sed0029@auburn.edu

Serving Chambers, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Lee, Randolph, Shelby, Talladega, and Tallapoosa Counties