Seminole Crop E News

Agricultural News for Farmers and Agribusiness in SW Georgia

Frost – Nov 23, 2015

Posted by romeethredge on November 27, 2015

We had our first visual frost yesterday, Nov. 23 , 2015.  This is a little later than normal, we usually count on Nov 15 as our average first frost date. Today, Nov. 24th was a heavier frost but neither of them were very heavy and mostly in low shaded areas just as the sun was rising. Here’s a little on my roof, and below that some on some grass in a low area.


Here’s what Pam Knox, UGA College of Ag Climatologist, says about frost and why we often see it but freezing temperatures aren’t reported by weather stations. “Weather instruments are usually located about five feet above the ground over sod.  There can be a significant difference between the temperature at that level and what is happening at the ground.   Also, the surface temperature depends on what it is made of.  For example, metal like the roof of a car is better at radiating energy to space and so it cools down faster than the ground, which is also feeling warmer temperatures from deeper down.  Dry soil cools down faster than wet soil because all of the energy loss goes to dropping the temperatures rather than freezing water.  Areas that are exposed to sky and space get colder than areas under trees because the trees help prevent the radiation from leaving.

Another thing that affects frost is local topography.  We have frost pockets, or low-lying areas that had cold air drain into them, causing locally colder conditions.  We know these areas that are most likely to see frost early in the fall.  Cold air is more dense than warm air, and so when it forms, it tends to move downhill and settle in the lowest areas.  There are some places in Wisconsin which see frost every month of the year because of this effect.  It doesn’t even take mountains; sometimes a low-lying place that is just a few feet lower can have this effect.

Of course, local temperatures do vary quite a bit due to differences in soil, how near they are to water, and how much sun they get, so the temperature at the weather station may not be a good representation for conditions somewhere else in the county.  Even from one side of the house to the other, you can get enough difference to affect the kinds of ornamental plants you might be able to grow, and master gardeners take advantage of that in planning their gardens.  These are called differences in microclimate.”

Here’s info from our UGA Weather monitoring network, , that shows the recorded first freezing temperatures of the fall at our weather station here at the Airport for the last 5 years.

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Posted in Agriculture | 1 Comment »

Kissing Bugs and Chagas Disease

Posted by romeethredge on November 27, 2015

I’m seeing lots of news about the Kissing Bug and UGA Entomology’s Nancy Hinkle just shared this good information about it. We have a lot of bugs that look like the kissing bug but are different. There’s not much to worry about from them in Georgia.

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Kissing bugs have been in Georgia for maybe millions of years.  They, and their relatives such as leaf-footed bugs and wheel bugs, are common.  Kissing bugs are not deadly and most of them are not infected with the parasite that causes Chagas disease.

The Chagas disease parasite is transmitted only by the feces of specific kissing bugs.  In other words, being bitten by the bug will not harm you but rubbing the bug’s excrement in your eyes might make you sick.
While Chagas disease is not uncommon in Central and South America, only 23 cases acquired here in the U.S. have been reported in the last 60 years.  Areas of Texas just north of Mexico have lots of infected kissing bugs, and that’s why Texas is in the news.

For us here in the Southeast, the risk isn’t being bitten by a kissing bug (very little chance of that).  The riskier behavior would be cleaning up raccoon, opossum, skunk or armadillo nests; that’s where the bugs live and where kissing bug feces are most concentrated.   The animals aren’t the risk, nor is the bite of the bug; we can get infected with Chagas disease only by getting the bug’s feces inside us – through a break in the skin, through swallowing, through inhalation, or through rubbing our eyes.  Again, not much risk if we stay away from the nests of wild animals.
Not every potential reservoir is infected.  Here in the Southeast very few of the bugs carry the parasite.  In the U.S. we are more likely to die in an automobile accident than to ever in our whole lives get infected with Chagas disease.

What can you do?  Keep bugs out of your home by turning off porch lights at night to avoid attracting the bugs.  Seal around doors and windows with weather-stripping and replace door sweeps; if cold air can’t get in, neither can kissing bugs.  And, of course, freezing cold nights are sending kissing bugs into hibernation, so the risk is even lower this time of year.
Give thanks for your cozy home that protects you from kissing bugs.

Posted in Entomology | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Question of the Week – Honeybees and a YellowJacket

Posted by romeethredge on November 25, 2015

Last week I had a photo of some stinging insects or “bitey bugs” next to my hand. There were 2 Honeybees side by side and a Yellow Jacket behind one of them. This time of year we seem to see more of these insects partly due to the honeybees preparing for winter, and also because their normal nectar sources, flowers, are mostly gone for this period of time.


Generally bees are coming after sweet drinks that have been spilled and they are not much of a danger to people at this time especially due to their drive to get ready for winter. That is why I took the photo with my finger close to them, showing my bravery. What I didn’t know was that the yellow jacket had flown up and was very close as well. Yellow Jackets can be very aggressive and can sting repeatedly so we do need to beware of them at any time of year.

If you are having a problem with them, then frequently removing trash from the area will help or distance yourself from food and drink trash or spills. If a honeybee gets very close to you, then remain calm and they’ll almost always fly away. If I see yellow jackets or other wasps, I get away.




Honeybees live over the winter but insects in the wasp family mainly do not, most of them die off.

Yellow Jacket colonies start each spring when a single queen, who mated the previous fall and then overwintered in the soil or leaf litter or in an old log — starts a nest. The nest is made of horizontal combs completely surrounded by a paper envelope made of tiny bits of wood fiber that are chewed into a paper-like pulp. Wasps and hornets build new nests every year.

During the summer months, colonies rapidly increase in size and may reach several hundred workers by September. In late fall, new queens emerge from the colony, mate, and seek shelter for the winter. The old founder queen dies, and as winter arrives, the remaining colony also dies. Wasps and hornets don’t reuse the same nest the following year.


Here’s where a soft drink had spilled and the insects were abundant.



This week’s question is about this small tree growing here in Donalsonville.  I took this photo last week. It’s unusual to see anything blooming this time of year. What is this?



Posted in Agriculture, Wildlife | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner up very slightly

Posted by romeethredge on November 24, 2015

The American Farm Bureau, a great advocate for farmers and rural communities, has been checking out the price of Thanksgiving Dinner since 1986 and, for 10 people, it’s gone from about $25 to $50 but when you adjust it to today’s dollar its about the same price. From last year it’s only gone up 70 cents.

Thanks to the American Farmer we have very low food costs.

Click here for the full article, 2015 Thanksgiving.


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How Much Hay?

Posted by romeethredge on November 24, 2015

Calculating Winter Hay Needs
By Sam Ingram Effingham County CEA
“It was my understanding that there would be no MATH!”
To begin the process of calculating the hay inventory  needed for the winter, a producer does not need to do math! The first step is simple, send a forage sample in to a  certified lab to determine the forage quality. The cost of  this analysis is minimal and the lab does the math for you!  The quality of the forage will determine the amount needed  during the winter feeding period.
Once the producer receives and understands the forage quality analysis, they then can determine how much hay they will need to supplement. A simple example below shows how a producer can determine their hay needs.

A producer has 50 mature brood cows at 1,200 lbs., 2 bulls at 2,000 lbs and 10 weaned replacement heifers at 500 lbs.

If we assume these animals must consume 2.5% of their bodyweight per day, we can say that:
 Brood Cows will require 1500 lbs./day (= 1200 lbs X 2.5 lbs of DM/100lb of b.w. X 50 brood cows) 
 Bulls will require 100 lbs./day (= 2000 lbs X 2.5 lbs of DM/100lb of b.w. X 2 Bulls)  
 Yearling Heifers will require 125 lbs./day (= 500 lbs X 2.5 lbs of DM/100lb of b.w. X 10 Heifers) 
So, daily hay required would be 1725 lbs. of dry hay (that is at 0% moisture or on a dry matter basis).
The calculation of 1725 lbs. of forage is on a dry matter basis. This means that if we bale the hay or receive hay at 85% Dry Matter (DM), 15 % is water and we do not account for that during feeding. So, a 1,000 lb. bale at 85% DM, would be 850 lbs. on a dry matter basis.
To continue on the calculation we need to estimate our feeding period. For this example we will say a producer needs to feed 120 days.  So, if we multiply this number by our daily requirement we get an estimation of 120 days X 1725 lbs. = 207,000 lbs. of DM.  If we assume the producer has 85% DM hay, then the as fed total would be approximately 244,000 lbs.
To account for storage loss and feeding loss (assuming barn stored and fed with a hay ring), we can conservatively add another 15% to the “as fed” total and get a total of 280,600 lbs.  In this situation, for this moderate size herd, we need roughly 280 – 1,000 lb. round rolls of hay.  
Now, depending on where the producer’s brood cows are in their calving season during the winter feeding period will determine if further supplementation is needed. A great option to decrease the need for stored forage or hay is to grow some high quality winter annual grasses.  A cow is much more cost-effective at harvesting forages than we are with machinery and these annual grasses can save time producing and feeding hay.
In the end a producer needs to be thinking about his or her current hay inventory and start calculating for this coming winter. With current grain prices, a concentrate supplement may work out to stretch hay more cost-effectively. Either way, a producer needs to start planning their winter feeding program now, to avoid overpaying for any forage or supplement when supplies get tight.

Posted in Forages, Livestock | Leave a Comment »

Moldy Hay

Posted by romeethredge on November 24, 2015


Minimize Your Risks from Moldy Hay

By Dr. Dennis Hancock, Associate Professor and Forage Extension Specialist

Because of the wet fall, many producers have faced extremely difficult field curing conditions for their hay. Additionally, hay that was bone dry in the field has, in many cases, developed mold problems in the barn. This later issue has been problematic for us in 2015, resulting in a large number of square and round bales covered with black sooty mold. It is arguably more problematic because this is often a barn design issue (e.g., open sides, poor air drainage, lack of ventilation, inability to close off ventilation, etc.). Under the high levels of humidity that we’ve had (because of periods of nearly continuous rain and cool weather) the last 2 months, dry hay will draw moisture from the moist air. For example, hay that is 12-15% moisture (the appropriate moisture for hay storage) may have a 6-12” layer along any exposed surface that may equilibrate at about 30%+ moisture if the surrounding environment is cool (< 70 F) and moist (relative humidity stays > 60%). Any moisture level greater than 20% on the surface could result in significant mold growth/discoloration, and levels greater than 30% moisture can result in the entire stack’s exposed surface being covered in black sooty mold.

As a result, our County Extension Agents and I have had an extraordinary number of emails and calls about feeding moldy hay, especially to horses. First, let me clearly state: moldy or dusty hay should NOT be fed to horses. Moldy and dusty hay can lead to respiratory issues in the horse, and can also pose health risks to the men and women who feed the hay to the livestock (e.g., farmer’s lung, etc.). Here’s a link to an excellent Extension article on the subject. Soaking the hay in a water trough before feeding will reduce the “dust” (which is usually mostly mold), but it will also leach out soluble sugars and lower forage quality. This may not reduce the risk of mycotoxins (and yes, hay can have mycotoxins in it just like moldy grain, peanuts, or oilseeds can have in them). For a discussion of mycotoxins, see this article I wrote on the subject. Several companies now sell hay “steamers,” which is a chamber or box wherein hay bales are placed and steam is pumped into the chamber. In addition to the expense, the downside of these steamers is that they will lower the forage nutritive value of the hay and they are unlikely to change the mycotoxin levels appreciably.

Ruminant animals aren’t as sensitive to mold problems as horses, but they still can be negatively impacted if care is not taken to prevent health challenges. Feeding slightly to moderately moldy hay (mold spore counts up to 1 million cfu/gram) is relatively safe if feeding cattle or small ruminants, as long as the animals are fed outside or in a very well-ventilated feeding area. Keep in mind that palatability is likely to be a challenge. Hay that emits a substantial cloud of “dust” or continues to emit dust after the disturbance ceases should be assumed to be > 1 million cfu/gram. A test can confirm mold levels. Hay that is obviously moldy (moldy or “mousey” smell or sending off visible “dust” or mold spores when disturbed) should be tested for mycotoxins before being fed. UGA’s Feed and Environmental Water Laboratory (our forage lab) is not equipped to conduct the mold spore count test or the mycotoxin screen. (To my knowledge, Waters Agricultural Labs in Camilla, GA is also not equipped for these tests, but you can contact them to confirm.) You can, however, work through the UGA lab to arrange for these tests to occur. Alternatively, you can submit samples directly to labs that do conduct these tests (e.g, Cumberland Valley Analytical ServicesDairy One).

Bales that are covered with black sooty mold on the exterior can be removed and discarded, and usually the interior bales are not affected. Bale stack design can help minimize the surface area exposed and, thereby, minimize the damage. Barn design issues can also be corrected to prevent this problem in the future. Barns that can be open to allow moisture to escape during the initial 2-4 weeks of storage and then shut during prolonged periods of high humidity and cool temperatures will offer flexibility in this regard.

For more information on forage management issues, visit our website at If you have additional forage management questions, visit or contact your local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office by dialing 1-800-ASK-UGA1.

Posted in Forages | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Corn Meeting on Wednesday

Posted by romeethredge on November 23, 2015

We will be having our Field Corn production meeting early this year. We will have it on Wednesday,  Dec 2 at Noon at the Lions Hall in Donalsonville. Dr. Dewey Lee and Dr. Eric Prostko, UGA Extension Scientists,  will be here to talk about Corn production and weed management.  We look forward to seeing you there.


The 2015 Corn production Guide can be accessed here. Here’s an excerpt from it.

Corn production in Georgia has remained relatively steady in the past decade due to limited opportunities for profit and increased risks from higher production costs. Corn acreage in the 1970s averaged 1.64 million acres in Georgia, however, it declined almost 50 per cent in the 1980s to 0.86 million acres due to poor prices and extended periods of drought and further still during the 1990’s. Since then, acreage has stabilized averaging 380,000 acres in recent years. It is predicted that acreage will drop slightly in 2015 from 2014 due to lower corn prices and increasing cost of inputs.

 Plant corn as soon as temperature and moisture become favorable for seed germination and seedling growth. Soil temperature in the seed zone should be 55 F or greater before planting. Corn seed will sprout slowly at 55 F while germination is prompt at 60 F. Delay planting if  cold weather drops soil temperatures below 55 F at the two-inch level. However, if soil temperatures are 55 F and higher, and projections are for a warming trend, corn planting should proceed.

Extremely early planting introduces a risk to frost or freeze damage and subsequent loss of stands, however, producers yields are greatest with early planting. Usually, as long as the growing point is below ground level, corn can withstand a severe frost or freezing damage without yield reduction. It is best therefore to monitor soil conditions and weather if your desire is to plant as early as possible.

Generally it takes corn seed 7 to 12 days to emerge when planted in soils there are 55 F. Early planted corn out-yields late planted corn. Depending on your location, planting dates may range from early March in south Georgia to mid-May in north Georgia. Early planting helps avoid periods of low rainfall and excessive heat during pollination, both of which lead to internal water stress during critical periods of corn development. Early planting is essential when double cropping soybeans, grain sorghum, millet or vegetables following irrigated corn. As planting is delayed into the summer, corn yields decline. In general, yields decline at ¾ a bushel per day rising to about 2.5 bushels per day.

Posted in Agriculture, Corn | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Question of the week – Monarch Butterfly – Migration

Posted by romeethredge on November 19, 2015

Last week I had a photo of some butterflies we saw down on the coast of Florida. They were abundant due to it being migration time for them. They were getting ready to fly over the Gulf of Mexico to their wintering grounds. What an amazing creation the Monarch is!

Here’s more information from the University of Florida concerning them.

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“The monarch is the only butterfly species in the world to undertake a long-distance roundtrip migration. Each fall, monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains travel to specific sites on the California coast, while monarchs from the eastern U.S. and southern Canada undertake a much longer journey, up to 3,000 miles, to wintering grounds in the mountains of central Mexico (Figure 2). The scope of this migration resembles that of many bird species, and the fact that it is being undertaken by a paper-thin insect weighing less than one gram is truly a source of wonder. Researchers are still uncertain how monarchs navigate their journey, but believe that they use a combination of directional aids such as the magnetic pull of the earth and the position of the sun, rather than a single method. More amazing still, the butterflies that migrate each fall are three or more generations removed from those that made the journey the previous year.

Birds and mammals learn migratory routes from their parents, but monarchs don’t live long enough to “teach” their children how to migrate! The migratory generation originates in the fall with adults living for eight or nine months, just long enough to travel to Mexico or California, endure the winter, and return to the southern U.S. to lay eggs before dying. Over the summer, three or four generations of monarchs are produced. These summer generations have a much shorter lifespan than the migratory generation—only three to five weeks because they devote much of their resources to reproduction. By the end of the summer, the third or fourth generations make their way back to the place their grandparents or great grandparents came from the previous spring.”


Here’s this week’s question… What are these and why are we seeing a good many now in public places in town?IMG_9446

Posted in Entomology | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Georgia Commercial Pesticide Applicator Credit – 5 Hours

Posted by romeethredge on November 19, 2015

Do you need …

Commercial or structural pesticide applicator credits or

ISA Arborist CEUs or Society of American Forester CFEs


Don’t miss this opportunity to earn up to 5 hours of recertification credits!

Green Pro University

Tuesday, December 15, 2015 – Tifton, GA


Register online at or find all info at or contact Willie Chance at (478) 972-9981 or  


Registration fee is $55 until Tuesday, December 8 and $65 afterward


Earn up to 5 hours of recertification credit!

 5 hours GA Commercial Pesticide Credit that can be divided between categories  21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 31, 32, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 or 41


2 hours Georgia HPC credits requested


International Society of Arboriculture CEUs – Arborist: 5; Utility Specialist: 5; Municipal Specialist: 5; BCMA – Science: 3; BCMA – Practice: 0.5; BCMA – Management: 1.5


Society of American Foresters – 4 CFE credits (category 1)


Class organizer – Willie Chance – (478) 972-9981 or

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Aphids in Grazing

Posted by romeethredge on November 18, 2015

We are seeing aphids in winter grazing. I saw an abundance of Bird cherry-oat aphids in a field of oats and a lower number in another field. The warm weather we have had has contributed to high aphid numbers. The bad thing about them is that they cause direct feeding damage and can transmit Barley yellow dwarf disease.  Symptoms in wheat vary from yellowing to reddening or purpling of the upper leaves beginning at the leaf tips and extending backward toward the base. Symptom color varies with the variety and may be similar to those caused by nutrient imbalances.IMG_9463 IMG_9464

Here’s some Barley yellow dwarf on oats that Decatur county agent Kyle Brown and I found today in another field of oats being grown for grazing. . The reddening starts at the tips and is usually in the top of the plants and in spots. Aphids were present in this field as well.

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Posted in Entomology, Plant Pathology | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »


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