Since there is no cure for TSW, prevention is everything — and the only thing — thatcan make a difference. But farmers now have a new tool to assess their crop’s risk for the deadly tomatospotted wilt virus. Now they can learn how to reduce that risk. In fact, about half the peanut butter produced in the U.S. is made from Georgiapeanuts. The average American eats about 3.3 pounds of peanut butter every year. Tomato spotted wilt is a viral disease that can wipe out a peanut crop. Georgia peanut farmers send about half their crop, nearly 700 million pounds, topeanut butter factories. It’s a virus, it’s incurable and it has cost Georgia peanut farmers more than $50 millionin just the past two years. The disease has infected Georgia peanuts only in the past 10 years. But it has becomemore important every year since it was found in 1986. In 1996, the scientists created a simple-to-use index of those risk factors. Farmers nowcan use the index to lower their risk of getting TSW in their peanut fields. Cochran used the risk index in 1996 and decided to change his peanut variety, hisplanting dates and how he treated for insect control. Brown said no single factor effectively controls the disease. But together they canchange how TSW affects peanut yields. “Peanut variety, planting date, plant population, virus history in the field andat-planting insect control all affect how likely the virus is to cause problems,” he said. Brown said the risk index is a unique way to manage a pest. “This is the first risk indexthat I know of,” he said. Albert Culbreath, a plant pathologist with the UGA Coastal Plain Experiment Station,said the virus attacks the plant, interfering with peanut production. Instead of growingleaves and peanuts, the plant begins making more viral cells. “There isn’t anything farmers can do for their crop once it’s infected,” said Steve L.Brown, an entomologist with the University of Georgia Extension Service. “We have toavoid high-risk situations.” In the past they’ve tried to control its spread by controlling the thrips that carry it fromfield to field. Those efforts have proven nearly worthless. By the time farmers spray tocontrol the tiny insects, the plants are already infected. The disease struck later in the season in 1996. The later it infests a field, the lower itsimpact on yields. It also makes the plant more susceptible to other diseases and more sensitive toenvironmental stress, including drought, excess moisture and insects. Research in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences shows thatmany factors affect whether and how severely TSW will infect a field. But they can change some practices that affect the disease’s severity. “We’ve got to approach this problem from several different directions to conquer it,”he said. Tomato spotted wilt virus struck fast and hard in nearly all of Georgia’s 533,000peanut acres in 1996. “We saw a higher incidence of it in 1996 than in 1995,” Brownsaid. “But yield losses were greater in 1995.” Worth County peanut farmer Johnny Cochran said TSW “nearly wiped out my 1995irrigated peanut crop — I had to do something!” Cochran figures he lost about 1,000pounds per acre. TSW cost peanut farmers as much as $33 million in 1995 — about 8 percent of thecrop’s total value. “Losses due to tomato spotted wilt were estimated to be greater than any other diseasein 1995,” Brown said. “You can’t cure it, but farmers can change their managementpractices to reduce the damage TSW can do.” “This isn’t the perfect answer to tomato spotted wilt,” Brown said. “But it’s a goodfirst step at dealing with the problem.”
Over the years, gymnastics has become a sport for little women. No one knows why thatis, though, or even whether it’s good or bad. But Universityof Georgia scientists hope a new study will provide some answers.The scientists will study children 4 to 8 years old. They hope to find how intensiveathletics at a young age affects future health, said Rick Lewis, a foods and nutritionresearcher with the UGA College ofFamily and Consumer Sciences.Lewis will lead the $1.2 million study, which is funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.He and his UGA colleagues began researching gymnasts’ health in 1993. They studied thesport’s impact on women of college age and those in their 30s and 40s.They thought they’d find that gymnasts’ higher risk for eating disorders and amenorrhea(absence of menstruation) could lead to a loss of bone mineral and to osteoporosis as thewomen grow older.”Instead, we found they had a much higher bone mass than nongymnasts,” Lewissaid. That was true even though many of the college-age women restricted their foodintake.Since that study, Lewis has compared college gymnasts with their peers. And for thepast two years, he has researched a dozen girls between 8 and 12 years old.But in all the studies so far, the subjects had been gymnasts for many years already.That made it hard to gauge the sport’s true impact.In the first studies, “the older women had started gymnastics training at about 12years old,” Lewis said. “Most of today’s college gymnasts started training whenthey were 6. And the trend is to start as young as 4.”Lewis plans to study 50 girls between 4 and 8 years old during their first two years ofgymnastics training. A control group will include some girls highly active in other sportsand others involved only in recreational sports.”Over the years, gymnasts who compete in the Olympics have become shorter andshorter,” Lewis said. “Is that a result of restrictive eating patterns and theimpact of high-intensity gymnastics on bone development? Or were these young women alreadygenetically programmed to have smaller builds and denser bones?”The study will look at whether gymnasts’ bones may develop differently as a result oftheir activity.”It may be that their bodies trade off bone length for bone density,” Lewissaid. “By spending two years following children just beginning gymnastics, we canassess whether gymnastics blunts growth velocity and significantly alters growthfactors.”Lewis will also study the sport’s psychological effect. In trimming their food intaketo stay thin, do young gymnasts develop attitudes that could place them at risk for eatingdisorders later?”The common assumption is that young women who engage in activities such asgymnastics and ballet are at especially high risk for developing eating disorders,”Lewis said. “But no large-scale studies of this issue have been conducted.”Young gymnasts do score higher on tests that indicate a higher risk of these problems.”But these scores may actually mean they have a healthy attention to mattersimportant to achieving athletic excellence,” Lewis said, “such as avoidingexcess body fat.”Young gymnasts eat fewer calories and calcium than is recommended for girls their ageand size. But so do girls who aren’t gymnasts.Lewis said it’s critical to study gymnasts’ dietary habits and energy expenditurebefore they begin training. And it’s vital to follow them over time and compare them withgirls with other and less intensive sports roles.By doing that, he said, “we should have a much clearer picture of the rolegymnastics plays in the diet of girls who excel in this sport.”
Swiss chard Tomatoes Turnips Watermelon Squash (Winter). (Acorn, butternut, buttercup, Hubbard, etc.) Harvest when well matured with hard rinds. Color should be fully developed and typical of variety. Brush gently to clean, or wash if essential, but don’t remove any waxy natural covering that may be present in some varieties. Leave about 1 inch of stem. Select sizes typical of the type or variety. Lima Beans. Select full-size, dark green pods that are still tender and fresh. Beans inside should be well-developed. Don’t use pods that have begun to yellow. Arrange neatly as described for snap beans. Photo: Wayne McLaurin Kohlrabi Lettuce Lima beans Okra Photo: Wayne McLaurin Chinese cabbage. Heads should be thick, firm and crisp. Allow two to four outer leaves to remain. Heads may be washed and dried before showing. Brussels sprouts. Sprouts should not be less than 1 inch in diameter. They should be round, fresh and firm. Stems should be smoothly trimmed to about 1/4 inch. Photo: Univ. of Florida Photo: Scott Bauer, USDA-ARS Onions. May be classed by type as flat (Bermuda), round, top shape (Grano or Granex) and torpedo, with further breakdowns by color (red, yellow, white). Select large, smooth, clean bulbs. The neck should be dry and trimmed to 1/2 to 1 inch. Brush clean and remove extremely loose outer dry skins. Leave on dry skin that is clean and fairly tight to the bulb. Don’t peel onions beyond dry, mature skins. Roots should be clean and left on the bulb, although they may be trimmed back to no less than 1/2 inch for a neater display. Never cut them off entirely. Parsnips. Select medium-sized, smooth, straight roots, free of side roots. Roots may be washed and dried. Trim tops to 1 to 2 inches. Peas (southern, blackeye, crowder). These are actually beans and should be displayed as described in the section on dried beans. Peppers (hot). Select for uniform color, shape and size. Leave about 1/2 inch of stem. A class of dried hot peppers is sometimes included. Peppers (sweet). Colors (green, red, yellow) should be displayed as separate classes. Green peppers should not be streaked with red. Select large, deeply colored, heavy fruits. Cut stem squarely 1/2 to 1 inch long. Select for uniform number of lobes. Wipe clean if necessary. Potatoes. White, red, russet. Select carefully for uniform shape and size. Don’t display any tubers with greening in the skins. Wash gently if necessary, but if they’re fairly clean, brush with a soft brush for best results. Skin should be mature and not flake up easily when rubbed or handled. Potatoes should not appear scrubbed. Squash (Summer) Squash (Winter) Sweet corn Sweet potatoes Radish Rhubarb Snap beans Spinach Cantaloupe or Muskmelon. Most melons will be of the netted type. These separate from their stems when ripe and should be shown without stem attached. Crenshaw melons should be represented in a separate class and shown with about an inch of stem attached. Select well-formed, round fruits with slightly sunken stem scar. Netting should be well-defined with the rind showing a grayish or yellowish tinge. Clean with a soft brush rather than washing. Broccoli. Select heads that are fresh, firm, tender, tight and crisp. Color should be dark green with a bluish cast, with no yellow florets. The head should be at least 3 inches, with the stalk 6 to 8 inches long. Remove all leaves below the head. Cabbage. Heads should be firm, crisp and heavy for their size. Don’t trim excessively, but remove loose leaves, keeping the last two to three wrapper leaves that show the field color rather than the shaded undercolor. Cut the stem squarely at the base of the outermost leaf. Cabbage Cantaloupe or Muskmelon Carrots Cauliflower Endive English peas Garlic Kale Sweet corn. Select fully filled ears with kernels at “milky” stage. Top end may be opened neatly and carefully to check for maturity and earworms. Check for complete filling of ears by firmly grasping ears in several positions. Husk should feel tight over entire surface. It’s best to carve “window” in side of husk to expose several rows of kernels. Dry silks that are firmly attached need not be removed, or may be trimmed back to about 1 inch. Neatly cut off shank about 1 inch below cob. “Roasting ears” of field corn should not be entered in sweet corn class. Brush any dirt off ears, and sprinkle with water occasionally before exhibiting to preserve freshness. Cauliflower. Select heads that are firm, crisp, white and free of graininess and roughness. The head should be 5 or more inches in diameter. It should not be granular or ricy. Remove lower wrapper leaves. Lettuce. Select full, crisp plants with well-colored leaves typical of variety. Wash roots and exhibit one entire plant with roots in water. Lower, discolored leaves may be removed. Garlic. Select plump, well-colored bulbs with dry necks. Trim top to 1/2 to 1 inch and roots to 1/4 inch. Dry Beans. Unshelled dry beans are harvested, selected and displayed in the same way as fresh beans. They may not be washed, but trash will have to be removed by careful brushing. Eggplant. Select normal-sized fruit, well-colored without greening or bronzing. Color should be deep purple, nearly black. The calyx or “cap” should be bright green with about 1/2 inch of stem remaining. Don’t oil fruits to increase shine, but polish lightly with a soft cloth. Endive. Select full crisp, fresh plants. Wash roots and exhibit with roots in water. English Peas. Select large, plump, bright green pods well-filled with seeds at the eating stage. Don’t wash, and handle carefully to preserve the waxy “bloom” on the pods. Exhibiting in a fair or gardening club competition can teach you how to make a picture-perfect display of your garden vegetables. Whether you plan to exhibit or just make the best impression at your table, here are some tips on making your veggies look their best. Cucumbers. Cut from vine with about 1/4 inch of stem. Wipe gently to clean and remove spines. Wash only if necessary. Select smooth, straight, crisp, dark green fruit. Yellowing or softening indicate overripeness. Cucumbers should have at least two classes: picklers and slicers. Picklers should not be more than about 1-1/2 inches in diameter and 5 inches long. Slicers should not be more than 2-1/2 inches in diameter and generally range between 6 to 9 inches. Longer types are OK if characteristic of the variety. Kale. Select plants with bright stems and dark green, crisp leaves. Wash roots and exhibit whole plant with roots in water. Lower leaves may be removed if discolored. Kohlrabi. Select firm, tender stems 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches in diameter. If dirty, they should be washed and dried. Trim tops to allow only 1 to 2 inches remaining, and trim bottoms to 1/2 inch. Rhubarb. Rhubarb should have uniform color. Stalks should be about 1 inch or more across the flat face at the center of the stalk. Stalks should be straight, not curved or twisted. Tops should be neatly trimmed, leaving 1 to 2 inches of leaves and prongs. Remove basal husks. Bundle stalks for exhibit. Snap Beans. Green or yellow, pole or bush. Display whole with about 1/4 inch of stem, cleaned and free of trash or spent blossoms. Pods should be plump and fleshy with small seeds from 1/4 to 1/8 inch in diameter. Select pods the same degree of curvature and arrange with stems and curves facing the same way. Spinach. Select thick, crisp, deeply colored plants. Wash roots and remove any lower, discolored leaves. Exhibit with roots in water. Squash (Summer). Straightneck, crookneck, zucchini, etc. Harvest close to time of exhibit and hold in refrigeration. Summer squash should be young and tender. Brush gently to clean, or wash if necessary. Largest sizes are undesirable in this crop. Best eating-stage size is as follows: Crookneck, 4 to 5 inches long; Zucchini, 6 to 7 inches long; Scallop, 2 inches diameter. Trim stems to 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Carrots. Select straight roots typical of the variety, free from cracks, knots and greening of the shoulders. Cut tops squarely about 1 inch long. Remove stumps of dead leaves. Wash free of soil carefully, but don’t scrub. Pumpkin. Select only symmetrical round or oval fruits. Each pumpkin should stand upright and have a uniform color typical of the variety. Cut stems 2 to 3 inches long, depending on the size of the pumpkin. Wash or wipe clean, but don’t polish away the natural wax on the surface. Sweet potatoes. Select and clean as for Irish potatoes. Avoid breaking stems and “tail” roots back into the main flesh. Avoid crooked potatoes or those with corky patches. Well-shaped roots of medium size are better than extremely large roots of poor shape. Very slender roots also are not desirable. Swiss chard. Select crisp, well-colored leaves with bright, tender stems. Leaves and stems should be 8 to 10 inches long. Wash if necessary, and exhibit with stems in water. Tomatoes. Tomatoes should be shown in separate classes by color or form: red, pink, yellow, cherry, pear, etc. They should be full-colored and at peak maturity, but not overripe. Varieties without cracking or green shoulders are best. Show with stem end down and stem and calyx removed. Clean carefully — don’t wash unless you absolutely must. Don’t cover with film or other moisture-proof material. Size should be typical of variety. Blossom end scar should be minimal although the accepted size may vary with variety. Turnips. Select smooth, firm roots with good color and no side roots. Roots should be 2 to 4 inches in diameter, but uniform in size within display. Cut tops back to about 1 inch. You don’t have to cut back the tap root, but may remove as much of the very thin end as needed to make it look its best. Watermelon. Select large, well-shaped, symmetrical melons with good color typical of variety. Mature melons may have creamy or yellow bottom. Don’t plug melon for exhibit, although the judge may plug it if competition is close and there is some question about maturity. Overripe melons often look dull and are somewhat springy when pressed. Melons at best eating stage should look velvety. When cleaning melons, don’t remove waxy covering. Leave 1 to 1.5 inches of stem on melon. Asparagus. Select straight, dark green spears at least 1/2 inch diameter at the butt end. Trim to a uniform length of 7 to 8 inches. Display in water to prevent wilting. Beets. Roots should be well-colored, smooth, tender and well-shaped according to variety. Select roots 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches in diameter. Allow most of tap root to remain. Trim tops 1 to 1-1/2 inches. Peppers (sweet) Potatoes Pumpkin Pumpkin (Cushaw) Chinese cabbage Cucumbers Dry beans Eggplant Pumpkin (Cushaw). This plant is a member of a small, intermediate species of pumpkins and squash and is sometimes listed as a crookneck squash. It is distinctive enough to be shown separately and should not compete with other pumpkins. It should have hard skin and prominent white and green streaking. The curve of the neck on all fruit in a display should be similar. Radish. Select smooth, brightly colored or pure-white roots characteristic of variety. Wash and dry roots, and remove discolored leaves. Exhibit with leaves in a bunch or bunches. Onions Parsnips Peas (southern, blackeye, crowder) Peppers (hot) Asparagus Beets Broccoli Brussels sprouts Okra. Select fresh, green, fairly straight pods no longer than 4 inches with about 1/2 inch of stem attached. Clean by gently brushing, but do not wash pods.
John Ruter University of Georgia professor John M. Ruter will receive the prestigious D.W. BrooksAward for Excellence in Public Service for research Oct. 2 in Athens, Ga.Ruter is a professor of horticulture and a researcher at the UGA College ofAgricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Coastal Plain Experiment Station in Tifton, Ga.In 1990, he began developing applied and basic research programs to support Georgia’scontainer and field nursery industries. He developed a nursery crop production researchsite which as become a design model for the industry.The research Ruter has developed in this facility includes a “Pot-In-Pot”production system for container-grown plants that reduces environmental stress on theplants’ root system. The system provides an inexpensive insulating layer around the potcontaining the root system of the growing plant. As a result, the plant’s roots have lowertemperatures and use less water, fewer plants are lost to toppling and growers and plantsgrow faster. The economic impact of the system is estimated at $45 million.National LeaderRuter is a national leader in developing improved fertilization and irrigationstrategies for the container nursery industry. The importance of the research is magnifiedby concerns about nutrient concentrations in runoff water. His research in slow-releasefertilizer formulations will save an estimated 30 million pounds of fertilizer use inGeorgia alone. His research is helping growers cope with a diminishing water supply andreducing the risk of contaminating groundwater.Another challenge facing the industry was cutting down on the amount of plastic wasteending up in landfills. Ruter’s research investigated using copper hydroxide-impregnatedfiber containers and expanded the market of fiber pots. He showed that fiber potsincreased plant growth over plastic pots and increased the growers’ profits. Ruter’sresearch is a benchmark for sensible scientific effort towards resolving emergingenvironmental concerns.D.W. Brooks Awards, LectureThe annual Brooks awards are presented to UGA College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences faculty who excel in teaching, research, extension and international agriculture.The awards include a framed certificate and a $5,000 cash award. Other honorees this yearare: Eddie McGriff, county extension programming; Michael Dirr, teaching; Steve L. Brown,extension; and Manjeet Chinnan, international agriculture.Before the awards ceremony, William F. Kirk, vice president of DuPont BiosolutionsEnterprise, will deliver the D.W. Brooks Lecture: “The 21st Century — AnAgribusiness Odyssey.”The lecture and awards are named for the late D.W. Brooks, founder and chairmanemeritus of Gold Kist, Inc., and founder of Cotton States Mutual Insurance Companies.Brooks was an advisor on agriculture and trade issues to seven U.S. presidents. File Photo
Athens, Ga. – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman told farmers and farm policy makers here that the United States must embrace freer trade with foreign countries “or our farmers will be left behind.”Veneman gave the keynote address at the third annual Symposium on the Future of American Agriculture Southern Region Thursday. “We have to pursue trade agreements that allow U.S. agriculture to compete across the world,” she said.The United States has to start and take part in more trade negotiations with other countries and expand into markets outside its borders, she said. Because of efficient farming practices and technologies, U.S. farmers can produce far more than the domestic markets demand.Because the United States dragged its feet during trade negotiations with Chile, she said, U.S. farmers are losing market shares to Canada, which has established trading ties with Chile.Foreign Markets ExpandingPopulation growth in Russia and in African and Asian countries will surge, she said. More than 600 million middle-class people in these countries will be “eager to spend more on better foods.”U.S. farmers should be allowed to supply that food.American agricultural exports have doubled over the past 15 years, she said, totaling about $1 billion every week. And domestic farm income has become more dependent on foreign trade in recent years. Agricultural exports account for 30 percent of U.S. farm receipts.Ongoing efforts in research and technology can allow U.S. farmers to enhance yields and crop production, “feed an expanding world population and maintain a critical role in meeting domestic and world food needs,” she said.Veneman said the administration has not taken a position concerning the current state of quota-based programs, such as peanuts and tobacco, two major programs for Georgia agriculture. The quota peanut program could be phased out over the next 5 years.Funds for Rural GeorgiaShe also announced that $3.65 million in loans and grants will be coming to meet business, housing, electric and wastewater infrastructure needs in rural Georgia.The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 2646, its proposed version of the 2002 Farm Bill. Experts compared the current farm bill to the House’s proposed version.Economists said without changes to the current bill, many U.S. farmers will continue to face serious cash flow problems.Abner Womack, a Texas A&M economist, said the future farm bill will have to be flexible. “When things are bad, it puts money on the table,” he said. “When times are good, it puts less.”House Version of Farm BillThe House’s proposed farm bill is not a complete remedy for the current farm crisis in the United States, said Ed Smith, also with Texas A&M University. But it does provide a chance for better farm cash flow in most cases.U.S. Senator Zell Miller (D-Ga.) said the current farm bill has failed to deliver adequate safety measures for U.S. farmers. “We must drastically change our current program,” he said.The nation will have to answer one question relating to any future farm policy, he said: “Do we want our food supply produced domestically, or do we want to import it? We’re at a crossroads in American farm policy.”The annual symposium is hosted by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Photo: Brad Haire Ann VenemanU.S. Secretary of Agriculture
By Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaSpring has started on a dry note for much of Georgia. If your lawn is a little thirsty, you can do some things to get the most out of your sprinkler system without getting in trouble.Since March 1, some places in north Georgia have had good rainfall. But some are 2 inches to 3 inches below normal. South Georgia has been dry, with only a half-inch to an inch of rain across most of the region, about 5 inches below normal.Just two weeks without water can be enough to hurt most grasses, said Kerry Harrison, an irrigation specialist with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.But you don’t want to just turn on the sprinklers anytime you feel the lawn needs a drink. This could waste water and damage lawns.”It could get you in trouble, too,” Harrison said.Georgia has statewide watering restrictions now. There are some guidelines.If your street address is an odd number, you’re asked to water only on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. If it’s an even number, you’re asked to do it on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. “There’s no outside watering on Friday,” he said.New automated irrigation systems, Harrison said, must be equipped with rainfall sensors to stop them when it rains. Watering guidelines are enforced by local authorities.But homeowners can easily supply their lawns with needed water and still follow the guidelines, he said.It doesn’t matter if you use a permanent system or a sprinkler attached to a hose. The first thing you need to know is how much water you’re applying and how fast.”Not knowing your water application rate is like driving a car with no speedometer,” he said.Different systems apply water at different rates. Hose-sprinkler systems vary the most. Space three rain gauges within the watering area of your system. Look at your watch. After an hour has passed, check your gauges to see how much water your system puts out in that time.Most lawns grow best when they get 1 inch of water a week, either from rain, irrigation or combination of the two. And they prefer long soakings. In dry weather, water only once or twice a week to get that 1 inch.Light, frequent watering can cause turf grasses to develop shallow roots. This can lead to many problems, including disease and insect damage and discoloring from poor fertility.The grass at the very end of a sprinkler’s trajectory may not get as much water as the grass closer to the sprinkler. Permanent systems should be set for overlap in sprinkler patterns to adjust for this. Remember this when you move your hose-sprinkler system. You want your lawn to be uniformly wet.Water at the right times, too: early morning or late at night, Harrison said. If you don’t, you could just waste time and water.”We have research and evidence to show that you can lose as much as half the water if it’s applied during peak daylight hours,” he said.High temperatures and high winds can evaporate water or blow it off-target, too, he said.Watering during the day also increases the time grass is wet. This can lead to diseases. Watering at night won’t hurt grass that’s already wet from dew. The turf gets the water it wants and is drier during the day.
Heading to a local pumpkin patch to pick the season’s best is a time-honored fall family activity. Thanks to University of Georgia researchers, a better, Georgia-specific pumpkin is available for carving or baking. “Most of the pumpkins traditionally grown commercially in Georgia are Cucurbita pepo types,” said George Boyhan, a horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “They’re in the same species as summer squash. And they’re highly susceptible to viruses and other foliar diseases.” Even with an aggressive program to control tiny insect pests called aphids, aphid-transmitted viruses can quickly devastate the crop, he said, at times resulting in complete loss.But Orange Bulldog is not so weak on the vine. The improved variety — developed from germplasm collected in the jungles of South America – has greater levels of resistance to viruses than conventional pumpkins. When Boyhan and retired CAES horticulturists Gerard Krewer and Darbie Granberry began working with the jungle seed, they discovered long, flat pumpkins, or ones not easily carved into jack-o’-lanterns. The team worked to develop a more disease-resistant variety with a good jack-o’-lantern shape that’s adapted to Georgia’s climate. Orange Bulldog debuted in 2004. It consistently yields 13,000 pounds to 20,000 pound per acre in northern and southern Georgia. Boyhan is now working to develop a variety with more uniformity in shape and color but with the same disease resistance as Orange Bulldog. “The goal of the variety was to produce a pumpkin with higher levels of disease resistance,” he said. “So, it lends itself to organic farming where herbicides and fungicides are limited to a few organic compounds. We are looking at small growers and farmers markets and organic fruit seems to fit there.”Organic seeds for Orange Bulldog will be available for next year’s crop. The pumpkin variety has a considerable amount of variability, something shoppers at roadside stands and pick-your-own farms find appealing. “People really like the variation of the pumpkin, they can use it for variety in decorating,” said Raymond Joyce, the UGA Cooperative Extension coordinator in Laurens County. T&T Farms, a pick-your-own farm in Dudley, added an agritourism activity for school groups as well as an additional fall crop when they planted three-acres of Orange Bulldog this year. Joyce said he was surprised to see how well the pumpkin did in the field. It was grown without irrigation and had to be sprayed only once with a fungicide and then once with a herbicide. “We had planted pumpkins in the past, but they always grew out too soon and never did too good,” said Nancy Tomlinson, owner of T&T Farms. “The neat thing about these pumpkins is they are all different. Some are long. Others are squatty. The color varies from light-yellow to bronze or deep orange. And some have green mingled in. It is neat to watch the variation in size, shape and color all come off the same vine.” Having a successful pumpkin crop meant more business to the family farm this season. So did adding a corn maze and hayrides. Apart from looking good, Orange Bulldog tastes good, too. In its immature state, it is bright yellow and can be prepared and eaten like summer squash. It’s particularly good sautéed with Vidalia onions, Boyhan said. The meat of a mature pumpkin can be cubed and cooked to make pumpkin pie filling. “I’ve used it in cakes, pies and candy and cooked it like squash. You name it, we’ve tried it,” Tomlinson said. To find pick-your-own pumpkin and other fruit or vegetable patches in your area, visit the Georgia Market Maker Web site at ga.marketmaker.uiuc.edu.
Clipping coupons and thrifty shopping are back in style. Reality shows and specialty blogs feature super coupon users who pay pennies on the dollar at the grocery store. Spending an hour or two preparing to shop before you head to the store can help you save money. Out of all of the categories in your personal spending plan, you have the most control over your food budget. The amount you spend at the grocery store depends entirely upon the choices you make. Here are some tips from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension for saving money when making food purchases.Make menus, then a shopping listPlan ahead. Think about the meals you need to prepare between now and the next time you will shop. The more detailed your menu is, the more help it will be when you get to the store. Better yet, use your menu to create your shopping list. Never go into the grocery store without a list. Shopping without a list makes you much more likely to buy impulse items and other things you may not need. Without a list, you are also more likely to forget something, which means making another trip to the grocery and more impulse buys. Get to know the store you use the most, and list the items you need in order of where they are in the store. Buy produce in seasonBuy fresh fruit and vegetables when they are in season. For example, instead of buying blueberries in winter months and paying for the shipping and import fees, buy them in the summer when they are more likely to be grown nearby. You get a fresher product and hang on to more of your money. The food section in your local newspaper usually features articles and recipes on seasonal items. Food companies release coupons to increase sales, especially for new products. Use coupons to save money on items you usually buy anyway. Avoid buying items you would not normally purchase just because you have a coupon. Even with a coupon, brand name products are often more expensive than other options. Consider buying the store brand instead of the national brand. If you compare ingredients, you will often find no difference between store and national brands. As far as taste goes, store brands are often as good and in some instances, even better than national brands.Use the unit price to compare costs. The unit price is how much the item costs per ounce, pound or other unit. Contrary to what many people think, the largest size is not always the cheapest. You can find the unit price on the shelf sticker. Paying attention to how you shop at the grocery store can help you get more for your food dollar. Saving a few dollars each trip to the store may seem to be more trouble than it is worth. Those few dollars each week can add up to a lot of money in a year or two.
Many Georgia farmers use their fish ponds as water sources for livestock. A pond located in a pasture is a convenient and dependable source of water for stock, but letting cattle have free access to a pond is not the best decision for the animals, the pond or the fish that live there. From the standpoint of animal health, diseases are spread throughout the herd when animals come into contact with urine and/or feces discharged from infected animals. Since farm animals defecate in or around ponds, infection can spread rapidly through the contaminated drinking water.Allowing livestock free access to a pond also interferes with its fish production. Livestock erode the dam and shoreline area by wading into the pond, literally muddying the pond water. Muddy pond water can interfere with fish reproduction and slow fish growth, and ponds where livestock wade tend to remain muddy throughout the year. Muddy ponds enriched with manure are more likely to have a fish kill from summertime oxygen depletion. To prevent these problems, farmers should install a fence to keep livestock away from ponds. Water should be supplied to livestock through a tank equipped with a float control and located below the dam. Using this method, the water is cleaner, the livestock do not damage the dam and the pond can be more easily managed. Some Georgia farmers are eligible for cost share dollars to help pay for a system like this. Contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service’s state conservation office at (706) 546-2272 for more information on cost share assistance. For more on how to provide cattle with a quality water supply, see University of Georgia Cooperative Extension publication SB 56 at extension.uga.edu/publications/.
In Georgia, the risk of serious illness from a tick bite is low, but there’s no reason to give them a free meal.Long pants, tall socks and a little common sense will go a long way in helping Georgians avoid ticks this summer, according to Elmer Gray, a public health entomologist with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. “From Easter on, our most common ticks are active,” Gray said. “Whenever you walk into grass that touches your legs, you need to take precautions or you could come home with ticks. You don’t have to be in the woods to pick them up.”By Easter, Georgia’s lone star tick — the state’s most common tick — has started “questing,” an entomology term for the tick’s search for a blood meal. They crawl up to the top of a tall blade of grass and wait to hitch a ride on unsuspecting hikers or gardeners, or pets and other animals. Then they climb their victim until they find a vulnerable, warm spot and dig in.No matter what part of the body becomes the tick’s dining destination, there’s an almost 100 percent chance that it started its assault on the victim’s legs, Gray said.The best defense against ticks is to stay out of tall grass or brush. Stay on marked trails or sidewalks and avoid overgrown areas.Cut off ticks’ access when walking through the woods or working in overgrown areas by wearing long pants that are tucked into boots or socks and tucking in shirts. This may not be the most comfortable or stylish look, but it will keep ticks at bay, Gray said.He also recommends using insect repellents with DEET to provide an extra layer of protection for casual outdoor activities.Those spending a lot of time in brushy areas or in the woods this summer should invest in a permethrin treatment for their work, hunting or camping pants. These products are available in the camping section of sporting goods and big-box stores.The permethrin based products are only approved for application to clothing and are very effective in repelling all of our most common pests including ticks, chiggers and mosquitoes. Gray urges those using these products to follow the instructions that come on their product’s label. As always, it’s important to check for ticks after working or playing in a tick habitat. The only safe way to remove ticks is to use tweezers or your fingers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and carefully pull it out. People should wash the bite site, and their hands, after removing any type of tick.Essential oils or other tick-irritating substances may force the tick to move, but not before the distressed tick expels additional saliva and possibly pathogens into its host’s bloodstream, increasing the chance of tick-borne disease or infection.Ticks carrying lyme disease — the black-legged or deer tick in the eastern United States — are in Georgia, but they are not as common as the other species and the adults are most active in the fall. More common are the American dog ticks that can carry the bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Georgia sees about 75 cases of this illness each year. All tick bites can cause welts and itching that can last up to 10 to 14 days, but Gray urges Georgians to visit the doctor if they experience fever or extreme headaches or if they develop a localized rash that’s larger than a dime. Tick-connected headaches or fever will emerge five to seven days after tick contact.“We are very fortunate that we don’t have a lot of disease-carrying ticks in Georgia,” Gray said. “But nothing good comes from letting ticks bite us. We just don’t want ticks on us if we can avoid it … We need to be tick-smart.” One emerging concern surrounding ticks in Georgia is the connection between lone star tick bites and the development of an allergy to mammalian protein, which includes beef and pork. In some instances, the saliva of the lone star tick triggers an immune reaction that leads to an allergy to mammalian meat. It’s not an epidemic, Gray said, but there is a connection between the state’s most common tick and the allergy. That’s just another very good reason to avoid ticks this summer. For more information about how to protect yourself and your family from ticks, visit tinyurl.com/UGAExtensionTickProtection or search “ticks” at www.extension.uga.edu.