IFAS News

University of Florida

Wet ‘dry season’ damaged valuable ornamentals

Topic(s): Economics, Extension, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, RECs, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s winters are usually dry, but the wet winter of 2015-2016 helped spread pathogens that destroyed ornamental plants in Miami-Dade County. That’s a problem in an area where the industry generated an estimated $998 million annually in sales in 2015, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers say.

Damage figures are not yet available from the 2015-2016 winter rains, but UF/IFAS scientists have found the pathogens Phytophthora and Pythium caused the most destruction. Rain spreads those pathogens, said Georgina Sanahuja, a post-doctoral researcher at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida.

Meteorologists consider Florida’s “dry season” to run from Oct. 1 to March 1 and the rest of the year to be the “wet season.” But last year, the “dry season” wasn’t so dry, because of El Niño, which brought more rain than South Florida has seen since records were kept starting in 1932, a new study published in the journal HortTechnology says.

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UF/IFAS experts help growers ready for tonight’s cold snap

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Plants, Weather

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Growers are bracing for a cold snap tonight that could cost them thousands of dollars in damage. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension agents and researchers are here to help.

A hard freeze warning is in effect from 2 a.m. to 9 a.m. Thursday, March 16 for many counties in North Florida, according to the National Weather Service in Jacksonville. Temperatures are predicted to be 24 to 27 degrees during these hours.

UF/IFAS Extension specialists are available to give growers advice for the cold spell. Find your county’s UF/IFAS Extension specialists by clicking here. Then click on your county.

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UF workshop to help homeowners navigate HOA issues for landscaping

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

Landscaping at a home garden.

SANFORD, Fla. — Wondering if that new lawn will mean a discussion with your Homeowner’s Association? The University of Florida Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM  program offers a workshop on April 26 to help homeowners navigate the process.

“Legally Speaking: FFL in The Planned Community” will run from 12:45 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County office. The location is 250 County Home Road, Sanford, Florida 32773.

“We are offering the course to help homeowners learn about current legal issues, and to give them strategies they can use when working with an HOA board to install a Florida-Friendly landscape,” said Claire Lewis, UF/IFAS statewide Florida yards and neighborhoods coordinator. “We want homeowners and HOA members to work together and also be able to avoid problems by learning the science-based ways to landscape.”

The workshop will include topics such as a review of issues and outcomes of installing a Florida Friendly landscape, a presentation by a community association attorney on disputes arising between HOAs and homeowners, and 10 strategies for working with an HOA.

Cost to attend is $5. Click here to register. For more information, contact Claire Lewis at clairelewis@ufl.edu or 352-273-4518.

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By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

‘Gloom’ and doom when these insects are on hot, dry red maple trees

Topic(s): Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, Forestry, Green Living, IFAS, Landscaping, Pests, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — They are known as gloomy scales, and these insects can make a red maple tree’s life downright dreary. This is because the arthropods feed and thrive on them, especially in warm and dry urban landscapes, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher says.

Melanaspis tenebricosa, or gloomy scale insects, reproduce more, especially when the trees they live on are under the stress of heat and drought, according to new study led by UF/IFAS entomology assistant professor Adam Dale.

Dale’s new research is important as residents and urban landscapers decide when and where to plant red maple trees, which are native and widely distributed in North America from Florida to Canada and whose canopy helps cool urban areas.

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Faculty to share helpful information at UF/IFAS Urban Landscape Summit

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

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Protecting the water Floridians will need for the 15 million additional residents projected to live here 50 years from now means getting today’s 20 million Floridians to conserve water, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher says.

Michael Dukes, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering, said water conservation will be one of many topics at this year’s UF/IFAS Urban Landscape Conference, scheduled for March 16-17 at the Straughn Center, 2142 Shealy Drive, Gainesville.

UF/IFAS experts will share information on landscaping and the issues that go along with it, such as water, horticulture and human behavior, said Dukes, who also works as director of the UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology.

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UF/IFAS help snowbirds navigate Florida gardening, landscaping

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Florida Friendly, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Vegetables

A watering tin and gardening gloves at a home garden.

OCALA, Fla. — Robert and Christy Cathcart had just moved to Florida, and wondered how soon they could replicate their bountiful garden back home in Connecticut. They soon realized that they would need help with gardening and landscaping in their new home state. They turned to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Marion County office.

“Back in Connecticut, we had 13 raised beds and we grew everything from corn to tomatoes to herbs, pumpkins and lettuce,” Christy Cathcart said. “Here, the soil is sandy, and there is a finite amount of available water. There’s not as much rain in Florida as in the Northeast, so gardening and landscaping are very different.”

UF/IFAS Extension Marion County offers a course to the state’s snowbirds, and the Cathcarts eagerly signed up. “From Newbie to Native: Transitioning to Central Florida,” is offered in Ocala to residents who hail from other parts of the country, but spend part of the year in Florida, or who have recently made the state their permanent home.

“Often times, the newcomers will want to garden or have nice landscaping, but are not use to the Florida soil or climate,” said Jack LeCroy, the Florida Friendly Landscape UF/IFAS Extension agent Marion County. “Also, they don’t know the state’s rules and regulations on irrigation, so they end up wasting a lot of water.”

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What’s easier: Turning off water indoors or outside?

Topic(s): Economics, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Landscaping

Setting the sprinkler head for an irrigation system. UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Apparently, it’s more convenient to Florida residents to save water while brushing their teeth than to cut back on lawn irrigation, according to a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension report.

Alexa Lamm, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agricultural education and communication and Extension specialist, surveyed 932 people deemed to be high-water users in Orlando, Tampa/Sarasota and Miami/Fort Lauderdale.

Respondents were asked how often they engage in water-related behaviors. Among the results, 68 percent saved water when brushing their teeth, but only 29 percent reduced irrigating their lawns in the summer, according to the document, http://bit.ly/2bjQGSm.

To put this data into context, about 50 percent of Floridians’ daily water use is for outdoor purposes, such as landscape irrigation, according to the South Florida Water Management District. The 50 percent figure is 20 percent more than the national average, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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UF/IFAS Extension shows horse owners that the grass can be greener

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, IFAS, Landscaping, Livestock

before and after pasture LARGE

AUGUSTINE, Fla. — When Diane Musil put in three acres of grazing pasture for her horses five years ago, she had more grass than she could mow. But over time, weeds began to take over, and bald patches appeared. The pasture was not the lush, green plot it used to be.

Unsure of how to deal with the problem, Musil decided to pull out all the weeds by hand — backbreaking work. “I hand-weeded all three acres,” she said. “It took me six weeks.”

Musil knew she needed expert help, so she signed up for the weed management seminar offered by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension St. Johns County. There she learned how to properly use chemical treatments to target weeds choking out her pasture. This gave her the confidence to buy a sprayer and start applying the treatments herself.

A few weeks later, Tim Wilson, director of UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns County, stopped by to see how her pasture was progressing. Soil samples revealed that the grass was under-fertilized, so he walked Musil through the process of adding nutrients to the soil.

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UF/IFAS expert has five tips to reduce mosquitoes around your home

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Extension, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, RECs

A water-filled tank of a bromeliad, in which mosquito immatures stages, including A. albopictus, occur. Photo by Dr. Phil Lounibos.

Please see caption below the story.

AUGUSTINE, Fla. — During Florida’s wet summers, your backyard or patio area can easily become a breeding area for container mosquitoes, said Jim DeValerio, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension horticulture agent. Though there are no reports that mosquitoes are transmitting the Zika virus in Florida, residents should still take measures to prevent mosquitoes from living and breeding in their home landscapes, he said.

Here are DeValerio’s five tips homeowners can use to reduce mosquitoes on their properties.

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Water-wise awards honor landscaping that saves water without sparing looks

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

Winners of the Water-Wise Awards receive a garden stepping stone created by a local artist

Please see caption below story.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Most people who look at Scott and Lisa Freeman’s yard probably assume it takes a lot of water to keep it so green and lush. They couldn’t be more wrong — this sub-tropical oasis requires nearly no water at all, thanks to its Florida-Friendly Landscaping.

The Freeman’s yard won the 2015 Water-Wise Award for single-family residence in Pinellas County. This annual award is co-sponsored by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and Tampa Bay Water.

This award goes to landscapes in the Tampa Bay area that use little water but are pleasing to the eye. UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County staff will spend this coming summer visiting these landscapes to judge their water-wise design.

“The purpose of this program is primarily to promote water conservation and Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles,” said Brian Niemann, a UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County agent and one of the landscape judges.

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