There is a blight on the landscape that forever damages great trees. It’s a blight arborists and foresters have fought for two decades. It’s called topping. People have been told their trees are too tall, too big or due for a “haircut.” They feel compelled to allow trees to be flat-topped, rounded-over, tipped, hedged, hat-racked or buzzed — all terms for topping. Whatever you call it, the result is abused and seriously injured trees. Trees are prone to abuse because of their strength, longevity and resilience to damage. Because trees survive abusive cutting practices, people believe they have done no harm. If only trees could whimper or moan, we would all see less tree damage in our yards and along our streets. To take care of trees requires understanding how they grow and thrive. Trees grow in segments. Children’s toys can help us see how trees are structurally connected. Interlocking building blocks, or modular toys, come apart the way they went together — in parts. Trees grow starting from a bud or leaf zone, called a “node.” The tree pushes out a long segment of twig, called an “internode,” and then forms another node. Long intervals of internodes separate short sections of nodes, where the leaves, flowers and buds are found. The node and internode growth patterns of trees represent growth units. They’re like Tinker Toys, which have long rods (internodes) separating round hubs (nodes). To take Tinker Toys apart, you don’t cut the long rods in half. You pull them apart at the nodes. Trees and Tinker Toys are segmented and modular. You build (or grow) each in segments and then, if needed, take them apart in segments. Reduce trees’ size, if you must, by removing growth units. Proper pruning uses tree anatomy as a guide to properly control growth. The highly abusive and permanently damaging process of topping a tree cuts branches anywhere. Tree parts aren’t removed in segments at their bases or at connecting nodes. Topped trees have branches cut in the middle of long internodes. This type of stub-cutting, hacking or tipping assures the tree of further damage to come. They lead to pest attacks, storm damage, decay problems and the need to cut further. Many people see poor tree care practices surrounding them and believe the wrong way is right. If you want your trees’ life shortened, your safety threatened and your liability risks magnified, then use these topping cutting methods. On the other hand, if you want good tree health, strong structure and reasonable safety, nodal cutting procedures work best. Pruning at the segment nodes is scientifically proven to help trees grow and remain safe. If you can see stubs of branches cut off in their middles on the outside edge of the tree crown, you see a victim of topping. If you can see large, round, branch cross-cuts with many new sprouts growing around them, you see a victim of topping. If you can see large, squared-off cuts high in the crown without a large, supporting side branch, you see a victim of topping. Don’t allow your valuable trees to be victims. Trees don’t — they can’t — heal wounds. They just seal off and grow around wounds. Once damaged, a tree is injured forever. It’s critical that you help prevent abusive cutting practices even if it is only one time. Trees provide so many things to our lives and communities. Don’t allow topless trees to blight the landscape for another generation. We must all work to stop tree-illiterate maintenance practices like topping.
During the week ending June 4, the Georgia Ag Statistics Service reports that 59 percent of the Georgia corn crop is in fair, good or excellent condition. But only 22 percent of farmers report adequate soil moisture.A critical time Despite the summer drought, the Georgia corn crop could still make good yields, said a University of Georgia scientist.”It all depends on where the rain falls,” said Dewey Lee, a UGA Extension Service grains scientist. “Overall, the potential for a good crop yield is still there.” J. Cannon, UGA CAES “Corn is in the critical water-need stage of silking and grain fill,” Lee said. At this stage, corn needs about a third of an inch of water every day. Without water now, the kernels won’t fill out properly.Georgia’s corn value Lee estimates Georgia farmers planted about 340,000 acres of corn this year. Last year’s 265,000 harvested acres was valued at $54 million. About 35 percent of Georgia’s corn acreage, 120,000 acres, is irrigated. Lee said farmers with irrigation need to make sure their systems work properly throughout the season so the crop gets the water it needs.Problems other than water A CRITICAL TIME for corn in Georgia is when silking begins. University of Georgia scientists say corn needs about one-third an inch of water daily to ensure grain fill and a full crop. In spite of a recent lack of water, the ‘potential is still there’ for the Georgia crop. But farmers who use irrigation face problems besides a lack of water. With water come diseases. Lee said common rust is showing up, particularly in irrigated fields. “But I’m sure the farmers would rather deal with rust than dry stalks,” he said. Though common rust has some farmers concerned, Lee said as average daily temperatures rise, it will be less of a problem. On the remaining 210,000 acres of dryland corn, Lee said hit-and-miss rain showers make all the difference. “I’ve seen some dryland corn that looks really good,” he said. “Other fields, well, they’re just about burned up.”Need more corn Whatever the crop outcome, Lee said Georgia is still a corn deficit state. Georgia farmers could grow four times what they do and just barely have enough to provide feed for the poultry and hog industries. “Georgia’s poultry industry uses far more (corn) than we produce,” said George Shumaker, a UGA Extension Service economist. “We have the actual acres, but other crops, particularly cotton and peanuts, are more profitable. And farmers won’t stop growing those to grow corn.” Feed processors import corn and other grains from the Midwest to fulfill the livestock feed demands.
Peanut studies of twin rows in strip tillage and of other tillage techniques, and a look at “AU-Pnut,” an advisory program for peanut growers.Cotton studies on stack gene varieties, fungicides, thrips control, skip-row cotton in conservation tillage options and others.Corn, soybean and cotton variety trials.Double-crop systems including wheat with cotton or Bt corn.Cover crops, potash options, equipment, herbicide symptomology, sod-based rotation and others. The CSRA (Central Savannah River Area) Conservation Tillage Demonstration Farm in Burke County will host the annual Conservation Tillage Field Day July 19.The field day will begin at 8:30 a.m. and finish with lunch. It will have a great array of research and demonstration plots showing aspects of conservation tillage. Among them will be: To get to the field day from Waynesboro or Augusta on U.S. Highway 56, head southwest on U.S. Highway 23, then left onto Hancock Landing Road. Turn right onto Thomas Road. The CSRA Conservation Tillage Demonstration Farm is on the left.To get brochures, a map and a final program, contact Richard McDaniel, Burke County coordinator for the University of Georgia Extension Service, at (706) 554-2119. (Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
By Mike IsbellUniversity of Georgia”You need to hear this frog,” the caller said. “I’ve never heardone make a sound like this.”I’m always interested in strange things in nature. Maybe thisfrog was something special. I decided to check it out.Bill met me out in the yard of the old frame house. We walkedover to a 5-gallon bucket he had out under a huge shade tree.Inside the bucket was the frog. After a few misses, Billretrieved the frog from the bucket.The big bullfrog Bill was holding was a good 5 inches long, andthat didn’t include its legs. Bill placed the frog on the groundand began to rub its back. The old frog raised itself off theground and arched its back, like a bow, and began to emit a veryunfroglike sound.Just like a catDarned if it didn’t sound just like a cat. And a very mad cat atthat.Now, I’m no frog expert, but I told Bill I suspected the catsound the frog was making was probably a cry of distress becauseit was caught. I told him I would try to confirm my suspicionwith someone who’s an expert.”I don’t guess we need to contact ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’just yet, huh?” Bill said jokingly.”No, I wouldn’t just yet,” I said.Toads and frogsToads and frogs range from just above the Arctic Circle to justabout the southern tips of Africa, Australia and South Americaand on many islands, including New Zealand. They’re the mostwidely distributed of all the amphibians.The typical toad has warty skin and short legs for hopping, whilethe typical frog has smooth skin and long legs for leaping. Butthere are no hard-and-fast rules for distinguishing a toad from afrog.Bullfrogs prefer larger bodies of water than most other frogs.You can find them in lakes, ponds and sluggish streams. You canusually see them along the water’s edge or amid the vegetationwhere they can hide.’Jug-o’-rum’Their deep, soothing, “jug-o’-rum” sound is what you would expectfrom bullfrogs.My research on frog sounds led me to Whit Gibbons in Aiken, S.C.Whit’s a reptilian and amphibian expert.He confirmed my suspicion that the sound was a distress cry ofthe frog. Whit said it’s a sound some bullfrogs will make inresponse to a predator. He didn’t know if all bullfrogs make itor just certain frogs.But evidently it’s rare to hear one.A bullfrog that sounds like a cat. Isn’t that the frog’s meow!(Mike Isbell is the Heard County Extension Coordinator withthe University of Georgia College of Agricultural andEnvironmental Sciences.)
By Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaThey’ve been called to duty and are being deployed to Iraq next month. Their mission is simple: Provide Georgia soldiers a familiar taste of home. It’s “Operation Boiled Peanuts.”Georgia 4-H’ers across the state are mobilizing to raise money for a statewide project to package and send boiled peanuts to Iraq to the 4,300 soldiers of the Georgia National Guard’s 48th Brigade.Homegrown hankeringThe seed of the project was planted when Clark Rountree, 21, a specialist with the 48th, called his mother, Patricia Anderson, earlier this month. The Wilcox County, Ga., native told her to tell Rex Bulloch he had a hankering for his favorite homegrown snack and wanted a few to share with his comrades in Iraq.”Anything Clark and those boys want, and I can get it, I’m going to get it done,” said Bulloch, 57, a Wilcox County peanut farmer for 35 years. Rountree worked on Bulloch’s farm before being sent to Iraq earlier this year. He knew that from now until November plenty of fresh, Georgia peanuts would be harvested.Bulloch figured a few bags of peanuts wouldn’t do. He wanted to get enough for the entire brigade. Family-owned Hardy Farms in Hawkinsville, Ga., specializes in ready-to-eat boiled peanuts in pouches and cut Bulloch a good deal. But the cost was still around $6,000.”Folks told me I should ask around for some help,” Bulloch said in a phone interview Monday.Statewide helpOn Aug. 10, he called on his county University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office.”I said, ‘Why don’t you let 4-H help with that,'” said Suzanne Keene, a Wilcox County 4-H program assistant. “I thought this would be a great opportunity for Georgia 4-H and the (UGA) College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to send a farm product unique to Georgia and let the troops know we support them.”She called the 4-H state office in Athens, and “Operation Boiled Peanuts” was launched. “It has ballooned and blossomed from there,” she said.The Georgia 4-H Foundation fronted the $6,000 to keep the soldiers from waiting any longer.Now, 2 tons of Georgia boiled peanuts, about 4,800 bags from Hardy Farms with Georgia 4-H stickers proudly stamped on them, are staged and ready to be sent to the men and women of the 48th Brigade around Sept. 10, Bulloch said.From collecting donations to organizing events, each county 4-H club is doing something different to raise money, said Laura Perry Johnson, the southwest district 4-H program development coordinator.To give a donation, make out a check to the Georgia 4-H Foundation and send it to 304 Hoke Smith Annex, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602. Write “Georgia 4-H: Operation Boiled Peanuts” on the envelope. Or go to your county UGA Extension office.”We’d like to raise enough money to do it more than once,” Keene said. “Maybe send them something once a month.”Special thanks”Clark is like one of mine,” Bulloch said. “I’ll do anything for him to make it a little easier. He promised he’d be careful, keep his head down and come home. That’s what I’m expecting from him and the rest of them.”Bulloch hasn’t spoken with Rountree. But he’s heard that the soldiers know the Georgia delicacy is on the way. They’ve seen some TV news stories about it.But Bulloch already has been personally thanked. Jason Henderson, another Wilcox County native and a 48th Brigade soldier, was injured in Iraq and was back home last week.”He thanked me and asked if he could give me a hug for the men of the 48th,” Bulloch said.(Brad Haire is a news editor with the University of GeorgiaCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
In northwest Georgia, Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Towns, Union, Walker and Whitfield counties are in severe drought.Moderate drought conditions are found in the north and central Georgia counties of Banks, Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Harris, Heard, Henry, Lamar, Lumpkin, Meriwether, Muscogee, Pike, Rabun, Rockdale, Spalding, Stephens, Talbot, Troup, Upson and White. The other north Georgia counties are in a mild drought.What it meansDrought categories are based on many indicators. Some of these are rainfall over the past one, three, six and 12 months and soil moisture, stream flow and groundwater levels.Extreme drought conditions are defined as those we expect once in 50 years, based on the multiple indicators. Severe drought conditions are those we expect once in 20 years, while mild drought conditions are once in 10 years.Rainfall deficits for Jan. 1 through April 23 include Athens at 4.73 inches, Augusta 4.87, Columbus 5.04, Savannah 6.17, Macon 6.71, Plains 7.19, Brunswick 7.48, Tiger 8.64, Atlanta 8.74, Alma 9.09, Tifton 9.78, Blairsville 10.81 and LaFayette 12.22.The U.S. Geological Survey reports daily record-low flows for April 23 in southeast and south-central Georgia. The record lows for the day were on the Ochlockonee River near Thomasville, the Alapaha near Alapaha and at Statenville, the Suwannee at Fargo and the Satilla near Waycross and at Atkinson.Record low flows for the same day were reported in north and central Georgia on the Ocmulgee River at Macon and near Jackson, the Alcovy above Covington, the Oconee near Athens, the Flint near Griffin, the Oostanaula near Rome and at Resaca, the Coosawattee near Ellijay and the Conasauga at Tilton.Little relief expectedLittle if any relief from the drought is anticipated in the foreseeable future.If Georgia has normal weather through the summer, the soils will continue to dry out, and stream flows and groundwater levels will continue to decrease. Water levels in reservoirs and farm ponds are expected to continue to lower over the next several months.The entire state remains under the level-2 outdoor water-use schedule. Outdoor watering is allowed only from midnight to 10 a.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at odd-number street addresses and on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at even-number addresses. It’s banned all day on Fridays.Local water authorities may further restrict outdoor watering.Get updated drought information at www.georgiadrought.org. The state drought Web site includes information on how to deal with the drought.Get updated weather information at www.georgiaweather.net. This University of Georgia network has 71 automated weather stations statewide.(David Stooksbury is the state climatologist and a professor engineering and atmospheric sciences in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.) By David Emory StooksburyUniversity of GeorgiaAthens, Ga. — Extreme drought conditions have developed across southeast and south-central Georgia. Another week with little or no rain and temperatures in the 70s and 80s have led to worsening drought conditions statewide.Extreme drought now grips the southeast and south-central Georgia counties of Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Berrien, Brantley, Brooks, Camden, Charlton, Clinch, Coffee, Cook, Echols, Glynn, Jeff Davis, Lanier, Lowndes, Pierce, Thomas, Ware and Wayne. The drought is severe in Ben Hill, Bryan, Chatham, Colquitt, Evans, Grady, Irwin, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Montgomery, Tattnall, Telfair, Tift, Toombs and Wheeler counties.The rest of south Georgia is experiencing moderate to mild drought conditions.
Painters, carpenters and home renovators who renovates will benefit by attending a training Aug. 10 in Macon that will explain new Environmental Protection Agency regulations for lead-based paints.Offered by University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and Greenville Tech, the training will be held from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. at Central Georgia Technical College. The EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule took effect April 22 and affects contractors, property managers and others who work in housing or childcare centers built before 1978.Participants will learn how to minimize lead dust generation and soil contamination during maintenance, renovation and remodeling projects. Following these procedures will reduce the risk of lead exposure to employees, children and residents.Participants in the class will perform hands-on activities and be tested at the end of the class. Those who earn a passing score will be certified as renovators, a certification that is valid for five years.The cost of the course is $260 and is limited to the first 20 registrants. For more information, or to register, go to the website www.fcs.uga.edu/ext/housing/training/lead_training.php.
Gardeners often argue about when tomatoes should be picked — when they’re ripe, almost ripe or green as the stalk that supports them.Tomatoes are considered to be vine ripe if they are at the “breaker stage” of maturity when they are picked. The breaker stage is when pink color first becomes noticeable. These tomatoes are physiologically mature and will develop their tomato-red color naturally. These breaker stage tomatoes can be handled and shipped with less damage than those that are more mature when picked.However, most home gardeners don’t plan on transporting their tomatoes any farther than to their own kitchen table or maybe their neighbor’s front porch, so they don’t have to worry about shipping damage. In that case, it doesn’t hurt to wait to pick the tomato past the breaker stage. Waiting a few extra days also ensures that you can eat the tomato right off the vine. You can harvest at the breaker stage if you need to take or ship tomatoes to an out-of-town friend. Just remember to tell your friends to spread the tomatoes apart, so they can continue ripening once they reach their destination.For shipping many tomatoes are picked at the mature green stage. At this stage there is jelly-like material in all the internal cavities of the tomato, and a sharp knife cannot cut the seeds when the fruit is sliced. Growers use ethylene-based gas to finish ripening tomatoes (and other fruits) that are harvested at the mature green stage. This allows the fruit to be picked, packed and shipped with the least amount of damage, and it extends the shelf life at the supermarket. Tomato connoisseurs love to argue over whether a tomato that was picked when it was green and ripened with ethylene gas can ever taste as good as vine-ripened tomato. Some folks believe that the only real tomato is one picked red off the vine. Others think that tomatoes picked green and ripened during shipping taste just as good. This controversy will likely continue as long as there are tomatoes to be picked. Probably the only point of agreement between these debaters is that the green version is quite good when fried.
Area stargazers are sure to enjoy the next Saturday at the Rock program where visitors will use special telescopes to gaze safely at the sun’s surface.The session is set for May 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton. Guest presenters from the Charlie Elliott branch of the Atlanta Astronomy Club will deliver the program. The presenters are trained by NASA as NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassadors. Following a short presentation about the sun and how it is studied, guests will participate in guided observation of the sun. Using white light and H-alpha telescopes, participants will examine the structure of the sun’s surface, including filaments and prominences. This cannot be replicated at home. This session is appropriate for all ages and costs $5 per person. Observations will be subject to weather conditions. Advanced registration is required. For more information contact Matt Hammons at (706) 484-2862 or by email at email@example.com.
When Gov. Nathan Deal signed the budget recently passed by the Georgia state legislature, a long-awaited renovation project for the University of Georgia Tifton campus finally moved forward.The budget includes $4.7 million for the renovation of the Tift Building, which has been vacant for years. Once renovated, it will house administrative offices as well as offices for key support personnel and new scientific positions.“This project has been in the works for a long time,” said Joe West, assistant dean for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Our entire state legislative delegation did an outstanding job to secure this funding, and we really appreciate all of their efforts and their recognition of the mission of the UGA Tifton campus and this community.”The Tift Building was built in 1922, four years after the Coastal Plain Experiment Station was founded in Tift County, thanks mostly to the efforts of H.H. Tift. Appointed by Gov. Hugh Dorsey, Tift was the first chairman of the board for the experiment station. He was instrumental in bringing the campus to Tifton to serve agriculture in south Georgia. Sen. John Crosby helped move the funding through the state Senate and believes the renovation will bring long-lasting progress to the university.“We’re very pleased that we got that money in the budget and that it stayed there through the session,” he said. “It was the result of a lot of hard work with our entire delegation and, as I’ve said many times, working hard together brings great rewards. I think that people in Athens and Atlanta recognize that UGA Tifton is very important to us, and with Dr. Joe West leading the charge, we will continue to grow and prosper. When it all comes together, it’s going to be a unique experience.”The building will undergo a total restoration internally and externally. The finished construction will yield almost an entirely new building. A timeline for completion has not been set.“It depends on the sales of state bonds and the hiring of an architectural firm and lots of other things before we can know definitely,” West said. “But I hope and believe that it will be completed sometime in 2015.”Rep. Penny Houston, a member of the state’s House Appropriations Committee, also ushered the process through the legislature. “I think one reason (the renovation project) is so needed is that we want to make doubly sure that the UGA campus stays in south Georgia,” Houston said. “It’s so important when people go to school down here that they have the opportunity to stay down here. The funding is important to the UGA Tifton campus, and we will continue to work together to make sure that we support them any way that we can.”West said he is thankful to the rest of the Tift County delegation, including Reps. Sam Watson and Jay Roberts and Sen. Tyler Harper, for their hard work in seeing the project added to the budget. State agencies have faced drastic budget cuts over the last few years and UGA has had “some of the deepest,” West said. “We’ve had a number of positions that had gone unfilled for awhile, but that has changed, and we are now able to add new scientist positions to better support agriculture.