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Florida expert: Keep pets, livestock away from false parasol mushrooms

Topic(s): Environment, Families and Consumers, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden

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Downloadable broadcast video available at https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10837916/20130502_PETPOISON.zip

By Tom Nordlie, 352-273-3567, tnordlie@ufl.edu

Contact: Matthew E. Smith, 352-273-2837, trufflesmith@ufl.edu

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Dogs are notorious for eating just about anything, and the nastier, the better – which is why a University of Florida expert is advising canine owners to keep an eye out for poisonous mushrooms as summer approaches.

One particularly common species is known scientifically as Chlorophyllum molybdites and often called the false parasol, said mycologist Matthew E. Smith, an assistant professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The large, light-colored fungus grows in grassy areas such as lawns throughout the Eastern United States and in California.

“Mushrooms can grow very quickly, so it’s important to be observant,” Smith said. “If you have a puppy or a dog, you should check the yard before you let the dog out, or supervise it when it goes outside.”

Though poisoning cases are rare, the false parasol causes intense gastrointestinal distress in people and may be deadly to dogs and horses. Puppies and adult dogs that like to chew are especially at risk for ingesting the fungus.

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Free soil testing at UF/IFAS soils open house Saturday, March 16 on campus

Topic(s): Announcements, Extension, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Vegetables

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With the weather warming up, it’s time to get out and garden – but plants need optimum soil conditions to reach their full potential, and that’s where the University of Florida Extension Landscape and Vegetable Garden Soils Open House can help.

The event happens 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, at the UF Extension Soil Testing Laboratory on the UF main campus in Gainesville. Visitors can bring in soil samples for free pH testing at the lab and get advice on a wide range of gardening and landscaping topics. There will also be free refreshments and hourly drawings for door prizes.

“We encourage residents to bring us their questions and concerns,” said Rao Mylavarapu, a professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and one of the event organizers. “We’ll have experts from numerous fields available to help.”

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Turfgrass alternatives offer residents additional groundcover choices, UF/IFAS experts say

Topic(s): Environment, Extension, Florida Friendly, Green Living, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Spring is right around the corner, and for some residents it may be time to think about sprucing up the yard with new landscaping.

Covering more than 5 million acres in Florida, turfgrass is the state’s most popular groundcover – but it may not be the ideal choice for every situation, say experts with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Emphasizing the Florida-Friendly Landscaping principle “right plant, right place,” UF/IFAS Extension faculty members suggest that residents who are considering groundcover options start by assessing their needs and site conditions.

“We need turf for recreation, for that open front-yard spot in your landscape, and to give us that green look,” said Wendy Wilber, an Alachua County environmental horticulture Extension agent. “A good-looking Florida-Friendly Landscape can have a mix of plants and features, if the conditions call for it.”

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To help homeowners, industry personnel, UF/IFAS posts videos on turfgrass research

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Cultivars, Environment, Green Living, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Researchers with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences recently completed the state’s largest-ever study of landscape turfgrass and fertilizer use, and new online videos will help homeowners and lawn-care professionals understand the findings.

The eight-year, $4.2 million study was funded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to determine the effectiveness of current UF/IFAS fertilizer recommendations, which have been in use since about 2000, said John Hayes, UF/IFAS dean for research. Florida has more than 5 million acres of home and commercial turf.

“This work is an important body of information generated here to address important questions about nutrient management,” Hayes said. “We’re proud to communicate our findings and we hope they will play a substantial role in helping residents, industry personnel and policymakers protect water quality.”

Three hours of technical presentations from a Jan. 15 live symposium are available at http://tinyurl.com/be2la7q and a three-minute video aimed at educating the public has been posted at http://tinyurl.com/ajy4ytr.

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UF/IFAS entomology department is new home to School of Ants project

Topic(s): Agriculture, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Pests, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The nationwide School of Ants has set up shop at the University of Florida, but picnickers can relax – none of its “students” are the six-legged variety.

The school is an example of citizen science, a project where ordinary people collect and submit data for experts to review and compile. Participants collect ants from their yards and neighborhoods, then entomologists identify each species and plot its location on digital maps that, eventually, will provide a snapshot of ant distribution around the country.

“Knowledge of the presence of a species of ant might help for things like quarantine and control, if the species is a problem,” said founder Andrea Lucky, an assistant scientist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “If we find a rare ant, or an ant that’s way outside its known range, we may want to keep an eye on it purely for academic purposes.”

The school was launched at North Carolina State University in 2011, a collaboration between Lucky and Rob Dunn, a biology assistant professor. Then last semester, Lucky took a position with UF’s entomology and nematology department. Though the North Carolina branch will remain active, Lucky says she’s thrilled to relocate the project headquarters to Florida, which has more ant species than any other state.

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Crazy ant control strategies taking shape for UF/IFAS researchers

Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Pests

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Their name is comical, but when crazy ants infest a neighborhood it’s no laughing matter.

The fast-moving, invasive insects are present in Florida and several other Gulf Coast states. They can establish colonies with multiple queens and millions of workers, blanketing lawns and sidewalks, killing native species, shorting out electrical systems and creating headaches for homeowners and pest-control operators.

So far, efforts to control crazy ants have involved a patchwork of approaches, many of which failed. But a team of University of Florida researchers is developing an integrated pest management system tailored to the species’ unique characteristics and habits.

This week at the Entomological Society of America annual meeting in Knoxville, Tenn., two of those researchers presented findings on 15 insecticidal baits evaluated for the system.

Though none of the products were developed specifically for crazy ants, the researchers found that two granular baits – Amdro Pro and Maxforce Complete – killed crazy ants fastest in laboratory testing, probably because those baits had the most “appetite appeal” and were eaten more readily than other products, said Dawn Calibeo, an entomology doctoral candidate with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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New public television show aimed at Southern gardeners hits the air May 9

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, Florida Friendly, Green Living, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Vegetables

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Southern gardeners will soon have a new tool to help them in the garden. “Your Southern Garden” with Walter Reeves is an educational television show created to help gardeners of all levels learn new tricks, get fresh ideas and visit interesting sites.

“This show provides the opportunity to really educate Floridians and others in the region about landscaping and outdoor water conservation,” said Millie Ferrer, interim extension dean for the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “Watering in the landscape is such an important issue right now and the faculty at UF and UGA can provide great tips and information to help conserve water.”

The show, produced by University of Florida IFAS Extension and the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is a one-of-a-kind program specifically for the Southeast.

The 2009 season of “Your Southern Garden” premieres May 9 on public broadcast stations in the Tampa Bay and north central Florida areas. Beginning in April 2010, it will air throughout most of north and central Florida area and the Georgia Public Broadcasting viewing area. (more …)

UF on Discovery’s Science Channel

Topic(s): Landscaping, Stand-Alone Photos, Vegetables

DISCOVERY CHANNEL

In this photo released from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, environmental horticulture professor David Clark discusses chemicals that contribute to the fragrances of flowers and tastes of fruits and vegetables as a cameraman prepares to shoot video footage, in Clark’s laboratory on the main UF campus in Gainesville – Tuesday, April 7, 2009. Clark was one of several researchers interviewed for an upcoming television program on Discovery’s Science Channel. (AP photo/University of Florida/IFAS/Tyler Jones)

UF Releases New Bahiagrass Cultivar with Celebration Honoring Forage Pioneer Edwin Hall Finlayson, Longtime Agriculture Supporter Rep. Allen Boyd

Topic(s): Cultivars, Landscaping, RECs

Ann Blount shows off a new variety of bahiagrass, UF-Riata
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GAINESVILLE, Fla.—Southeastern cattle production may have just entered a new era, thanks to University of Florida researchers who’ve developed a bahiagrass that withstands cold temperatures better than other varieties and produces forage longer, saving money for ranchers and dairy farmers.

Named UF-Riata, the forage officially debuted today at a ceremony in Greenville, attended by industry leaders and officials with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. It took place on the sod farm of U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla., a fifth-generation farmer and longtime supporter of agricultural research and extension programs. (more …)

Overfertilizing St. Augustinegrass Could Encourage Chinch Bugs, UF Researcher Warns

Topic(s): Cultivars, Entomology and Nematology, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden
  • By:
    Tom Nordlie – (352) 273-3567
  • Sources:
    Eileen Buss – (352) 392-0400
    Fred Baxendale – fbaxendale1@unl.edu, (402) 472-8699

Eileen Buss holds a vial of Southern chinch bug specimens
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A little fertilizer can perk up a St. Augustinegrass lawn as spring arrives, but homeowners who overdo it may find they’re growing more than grass.

A University of Florida study suggests that repeatedly using large amounts of nitrogen fertilizer can ignite a population explosion of Southern chinch bugs – the No. 1 insect pest of St. Augustinegrass, the state’s most popular turfgrass. (more …)

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