Monthly Archives: October 2015

Cover Crop Following Peanuts


With most of our peanuts out of the ground, we’re looking at putting in cover crops with  talk of an El Niño year. UGA Extension Soil & Fertilizer specialist Dr. Glenn Harris answers the question: Should we give that cover crop which follows peanuts a nitrogen (N) credit (lower than normal N fertilization) since our peanut harvest was good?

Short answer: No!

UGA Extension recommends 20 to 40 pounds per acre credit to a cover crop after peanuts.

UGA Nitrogen recommendations for Rye, Wheat & Oat fall planting are 20 to 40 pounds per acre at planting following peanuts and another side dress application in February are the standard nitrogen recommendation in Georgia.

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Cool Season Pasture Establishment Tips

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It’s been very dry for planting our grazing. Some grazing has been planted like this one but many growers are waiting for the rain. The rain is predicted for this week. This field was planted the first week of October. It’s Horizon 306 variety of oats. They harrowed, spread chicken liter, dressed again, then drilled in seed. Here is some information from UF Soil & Nutrient Extension Specialist Dr. Cheryl Mackowiak:

Preparing Land

Prepare land for winter grazing by closely grazing or mowing down the existing pasture in the fall, prior to planting. This results in less water, nutrient, and light competition with the emerging cool-season forages. You can also till an area for producing cool-season forages. Forages started in tilled soil will grow faster and often outperform over-seeded forages. A prepared seedbed minimizes competition for resources and during cooler periods, the exposed soil will warm more than soil under residues.


Target soil pH to a range from 5.5 to 6.5. If you find that your soil is near the low (acidic) end of the scale, consider applying lime. However, do not apply lime within a month of your fertilizer application, as you may increase nitrogen volatilization (N loss) and tie-up more soil phosphorous (P), leading to less available fertilizer for the plants. If you have not limed yet, you might consider waiting until winter, or before the spring transition into summer forages.


For cool-season grasses in Florida & SW Georgia, 30 lbs N/acre is recommended at or near planting, then another 40 to 50 lbs N/ac after the plants have established (beginning to branch or tiller). If you want greater clover competition, apply less N (30 to 50 lbs near planting and no additional application). Under grazing, you might find that applying another 30 to 50 lbs N/acre in early spring is required, particularly if there are leaching rains, or livestock are not redistributing excrement uniformly across the pasture. If El Nino conditions prevail through the 2016 winter/spring, you may find yourself under flooded conditions. Annual ryegrass and white clover survive saturated soils better than most other Florida cool-season forage options. Saturated soils will also lose N via denitrification (gaseous loss). Do not apply additional N fertilizer until the soils have adequately drained.

FaithPittman-Weed 031Planting Dates

Planting now through mid-November ensures well-established plants with deep root systems to capture nutrients that may leach during large rain events. Also, managing grazing to retain adequate forage (3 inches or more stubble height or grazing to remove only half of your canopy height) will insure adequate rooting mass and depth, in order to capture soil nutrients deeper in the soil profile and promote stronger, more resilient plants and faster regrowth.

Keep in mind that the fertilizer investment made for cool-season forages will be returned in animal gains and a healthier pasture. The root mass from winter forages decomposes in early summer, contributing organic matter and slow-release nutrients to the soil that will help support the summer pasture.

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Grain Sorghum Dessication


We still have some late grain sorghum left to harvest and we’ve been talking about dessication. We discussed this with UGA Extension Weed Scientist Dr. Eric Prostko who has received more questions this year about the dessication of grain sorghum. Dr. Prostko says, “Growers need to know that the use of harvest-aids in grain sorghum has shown little effect in reducing grain moisture content.”  A summary of 2 older papers is as follows:

1) Hurst, Harold.  1991.  The Use of Dessicants For Field Drying Grain Sorghum With and Without Weeds.  Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Bulletin #974.

“Overall, these studies did not result in any distinct advantage for application of dessicants to reduce grain sorghum moisture.”

2) Olson, B.L.S, T. Baughman, and J.W. Sij.  2001. Grain Sorghum Dessication with Sodium Chlorate and Paraquat in the Texas Rolling Plains.   Texas Journal of Agriculture and Natural Resources 14:80-83.

“Results from our 2-year study indicate that dessicant applications were generally ineffective (and most likely uneconomical) in reducing grain moisture in late-planted grain sorghum.”

In my opinion, the major (only?) benefit of using a harvest-aid in grain sorghum would be to reduce the amount of green plant material that goes through the combine and might end up in the grain.  I know of only 3 things that will dry down grain sorghum seed: time, a hard freeze, and/or a grain dryer.”

When we treat as a harvest aid, keep in mind that the grain needs to be past the milk stage of development. Dr. Prostko recommends treatment as close to harvest as possible to lessen the chance of morningglory regrowth.

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2015 Sunbelt Expo

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We had a great time at the Expo this year. The weather was nearly perfect each day. It was very cool Tuesday morning but got very warm by yesterday. I worked at the UGA building with the College of Agriculture holding down the “Ask an Agent” booth. We talked with lots of people from around the state about different types of agriculture, residential, and landowner issues. The booth showcases 4-H, FACS, and Ag Agents.

County Agents Brock Ward (Miller County), Stephanie Benton (Early County) and Melinda Miller (4-H PDC) talk with folks inside UGA Building

County Agents Brock Ward (Miller County), Stephanie Benton (Early County) and Melinda Miller (4-H PDC) talk with folks inside UGA Building

There is also lots of good food at the Expo. The Georgia Association of Agriculture County Agents worked their food booth once again this year. Pork sandwich, hot dogs and sausage dogs are on the menu. Many Ag agents in the state come down to help at the food booth. Here are some pictures of us working there yesterday:

GACAA Food Booth

GACAA Food Booth

Ben Shirley (Brooks County), Brock Ward (Miller County), and Dr. Bob Kemerait (State Pathologist)

Ben Shirley (Brooks County), Nick McGhee (Terrell County), Brock Ward (Miller County), Keith Mickler (Floyd County) and Dr. Bob Kemerait (UGA Pathologist)

FACS PDC Andrea Scarrow and Southwest District Director Mike Stewart

FACS PDC Andrea Scarrow and Southwest District Director Mike Stewart

At the Prefert Arena in the back, there were the stock horse demos and Florida whip crackers performing. We had local Thomas County 4-H riding all three days. Here are some photos from the arena yesterday:

Thomas County 4-H Agent Cindy Wynn announces Sunbelt Rodeo Queen Caitlan Hancock from Thomas County

Thomas County 4-H Agent Cindy Wynn announces Sunbelt Rodeo Queen Katelyn Hancock from Thomas County

Stock Horse Queen Hope Nelson from Thomas County

Stock Horse Queen Hope Nelson from Thomas County

2015 Sunbelt Expo and Stock Horse Queens

2015 Sunbelt Expo and Stock Horse Rodeo Queens

Thomas County 4-H Agent Cindy Wynn announces winners at Prefert Arena at the Sunbelt Expo

Thomas County 4-H Agent Cindy Wynn announces winners at Prefert Arena at the Sunbelt Expo



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2015/2016 Wheat Weed Control

Here is the 2015 Wheat Weed Control program for ryegrass and wild radish from UGA Extension Weed Scientist Dr. Stanley Culpepper.



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Potential Kernel & Pollination Issues

The crop has progressed well and has looked good overall to date. However, UGA Extension Pecan Specialist Dr. Lenny Wells has been contacted on issues with kernels of some varieties.

There are a few non-filled kernels or “pops” out there, which is not uncommon. More disturbingly, I had several calls about a problem that is showing up on multiple varieties but is most pronounced on ‘Oconee’. This problem appears as necrotic kernels which have turned to a gelatinous/liquid material inside an otherwise healthy-looking nut. These nuts are different in appearance from the normal “pop” or pollination related kernel abortion.


Photo by Dr. Lenny Wells

I also cut 25 nuts of several varieties, each from our production research orchard at the UGA Ponder Farm. All trees are healthy and receive commercial-level management. The percentage of rotten kernels for each variety is listed below:

Cape Fear: 24%

Oconee: 60%

Sumner: 36%

Desirable: 24%

Stuart: 35%

I saw kernels in various stages of this necrosis. It appears to start often on the bottom of the kernel, which begins to turn black and gelatinous, progressing from there.

Photo by Dr. Lenny Wells

Photo by Dr. Lenny Wells

This week, we looked at some Pawnee that are not falling off the tree. The shuck is very shriveled in appearance. Some shucks are split and we wondered about water shuck split. However, this does not usually occur on Pawnee. Dr. Wells believes this issue maybe related to pollination. At this point, these nuts will not be able to be harvested.



(Dr. Wells) From the calls I received, this appears to be a fairly widespread problem affecting the crop at varying levels. Unfortunately, we don’t really know what is causing this nor to what extent it will affect the crop. Most of these nuts will blow out of the harvester or cleaning plant. I have seen enough out there that I expect growers will notice it more and more as harvest progresses.

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Hay Help

Seminole Crop E News

Helping our Neighbors in South Carolina

You’ve seen the news. You’ve seen the devastation that has hit South Carolina in the wake of all the rain they received a few days back. What hasn’t been in the news is how much damage was done to their hay crops. For many farm families, their whole summer’s work has literally been washed away.

The Clemson Extension Livestock and Forages Team is trying to help with the relief efforts. They are attempting to connect folks from surrounding areas that might have hay available to sell. By visiting this web-based form ( and providing the pertinent details about the hay you have available, it may help connect you with a farm family in South Carolina that needs your assistance. For more information, visit the Clemson Extension Livestock and Forages Team‘s Facebook page.

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Don’t Forget The Minerals

Last year, we had many discussions and questions about supplementing minerals. Here is some information on this topic from UGA Extension Animal Scientist Dr. Lawton Stewart:

I have heard several comments that producers are cutting P out of their mineral, because they are using poultry litter as fertilizer. Although there is potential to improve the P levels in forage with little, assumptions are being made on the ability of the plant to make the P available to the animal. This is one of the examples of how we need to make sure we’re cutting cost and not cutting corners in our production system.

In fact, some producer may cut minerals out all together to help cut cost, because performance does not appear to change. Short term maybe, but the long term consequences may be more costly. If you look at a cow/calf annual budget, minerals represent only about 3.5%; a very small cost to insure health and performance. The greener pasture we’re seeing may reduce the feed bill, but we need to remember many forages in the Southeast are deficient in several minerals. Although minerals represent a small cost in total budget, we can cut some extra expenses by taking a second look. We can learn a lot by getting our forages tested and reading the mineral tag.

Forage Testing is the cheapest initial investment you will make. We must have a starting place if we want to know what minerals, and how much we need in our minerals.

  1. Calcium and Phosphorus – These are two macro minerals that need to be addressed together due to their interaction in the biological processes. On well managed pastures, forages are typically close to meeting the requirement of brood cows, but are deficient for growing cattle. However, almost as important as the quantity of these is their ratio. The ratio of Ca to P needs to be greater than 1.5:1.
  2. Sodium and Chlorine – More commonly referred to as salt, these minerals are the only ones cattle will crave and need to be offered daily.
  3. Magnesium – This is a crucial mineral when cattle are transitioning into and during lactation. Generally, extra Mg is only needed during this lactation while grazing lush pastures. Often times, producer do not realize they are feeding Mg unnecessarily through the summer.
  4. Sulfur – Although S is essential, it is not usually limiting in the diet. However it may be present in mineral mixes due to inclusion of other minerals as sulfates. The concern with S is its antagonism with copper, selenium, and the B vitamin thiamin. Therefore, it sometimes is necessary to feed additional copper and selenium to compensate this antagonism.
  5. Micro minerals – These mineral needed in smaller amounts such as copper, zinc, and selenium. Most forages are deficient in these minerals and need to be offered as a trace mineral pack.



Read the mineral tag

  • We can learn a lot by reading the mineral tag. Usually, the mineral company makes mixes to fit general needs. Some of these may fit your operation; however, there may be times your’re paying for ingredients you don’t need an/or not getting what you need.
  • Check for the right mineral levels. Going back to our forage test, make sure you are getting the appropriate levels of each mineral and Ca:P ratio. If a supplement is being used, make sure you consider the mineral content. For example, if distiller’s grains or corn gluten feed is being utilized, P should be adequate, but Ca should be supplemented to maintain the proper Ca:P ratio.
  • Look for additives. Often additives such as ionophores (Rumensin, Bovatec), antibiotics (chlortetracycline, GainPro), and fly control compounds (IGR) are administered through mineral mixes. Although these may improve performance, they may not be wanted in your operation and come at additional cost.

If the local feed store doesn’t provide the mineral that fits your production system, many will work with you to formulate a custom mix to provide the nutrients you need. The table below presents an example of a free choice minereal for lactating cows grazing in bermuda pastures. Remember, our goal is to cut cost and not corners to survive in the cattle business. For a complete description of both macro and micro please refer to the UGA publication Mineral Supplements for Beef Cattle.


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Protect Backyard Chicken Flocks From Avian Influenza

Chickens-ScalyLeg 017

The H5N2 strain of avian influenza doesn’t hurt people, but it can hurt chickens. Backyard chicken owners can bring the disease home to their flock if they are not aware of the potential threats or signs of sick birds.

Here is an article from UGA Extension Agent in Cherokee County Josh Fuder on Avian influenza:

Avian influenza is not a problem in Georgia, yet. Commercial chicken producers are prepared to fight the virus that kills birds, and backyard chicken flock owners should prepare, too.

While the commercial poultry industry in Georgia has the greatest risk in terms of potential for loss, it also has multiple safeguards in place and has limited exposure to migratory birds. Avian flu can more easily be introduced into Georgia through backyard chicken flocks.

There have been no cases of human infection by birds because the H5N2 strain of the virus is not zoonotic, meaning it cannot pass between humans and animals.

To protect backyard chickens, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offers small flock owners these recommendations.

Keep Your Distance

  • Restrict access to your property and your birds.
  • Consider placing the birds inside a fence, and only allow those who care for the birds to come in contact with them.
  • If visitors have backyard chickens of their own, do not let them come in contact with your birds.
  • Game birds and migratory waterfowl should not have contact with your flock.
  • Keep chickens inside a pen or coop, and do not let them run free.

Keep Clean

  • Wear clean clothes when coming in contact with your birds; scrub your shoes with disinfectant.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before entering the chickens’ pen.
  • Clean cages, and change food daily.
  • Keep stored feed in enclosed containers and protected from wild birds and vermin.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment that comes in contact with your birds or their droppings, including cages and tools.
  • Remove manure before disinfecting.
  • Properly dispose of dead birds.
  • Use municipal water as a drinking source instead of giving chickens access to ponds or streams. (The avian influenza virus can live for long periods on surface waters.)

Don’t Bring Disease Home

  • If you have been near other birds or bird owners, at a feed store or bird hunting, for instance, clean and disinfect your vehicle’s tires and your equipment before going home. Shower and put on clean clothing before approaching your flock.
  • Keep any new birds or birds that have been off-site separate from your flock for at least 30 days.

Don’t Borrow the Virus

  • Do not share tools, equipment or supplies with other bird owners.
  • If you do bring borrowed items home, clean and disinfect them before you bring them home.

Know the Signs of a Sick Bird:

  • A sudden increase in deaths, a clear-sign of the N5N2 strain of the virus
  • A drop in egg production, or eggs that are soft, thin-shelled or misshapen
  • A lack of energy or poor appetite
  • Watery and green diarrhea
  • Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs and legs
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Nasal discharge

Early detection is critical to prevent the spread of avian influenza. If you suspect your flock is infected, call the Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network at (770) 766-6810.

For more information on avian influenza, call the Georgia Department of Agriculture at (404) 656-3667. To learn more about how to care for backyard flocks, see the UGA Extension publications on the topic at

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Late Season Pasture Weeds

Here are some weeds we have seen in pastures the past few weeks. Some of the weeds have toxic properties, so we do need to be aware of these.

Tropical Bush Mint

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Leaves are opposite with serrated leaf margins. Stem is square.

Tropical Bush Mint

This is also called bittermint (Hyptis mutabilis). Originally, we thought this was perilla mint, which does have toxic properties.  We noticed a square stem with similar leaf shape. When we looked close, we could see the leaves appeared smaller than perilla, and the flower arrangement was different. It is in the same family as perilla mint – Lamiaceae. However, there are no known toxicities with this plant.

UGA Extension Livestock Scientist Dr. Jacob Segers reminds us the plants in the mint family are known to cross. This makes ID more difficult, since they all look similar. This is about as far north as tropical bush mint grows.




Showy Crotalaria

ShowyCrotalaria (2)

Showy Crotalaria

This is one we need to watch for. This is the time of year when showy crotalaria is blooming and everyone knows this one. It’s a summer annual in the bean family and is a tall growing weed along pastures. It’s leaves are alternate and waxy. Its flower has bright yellow petals, spirally arranged on the stalk. It forms an inflated-looking pod with kidney-shaped seeds. Showy crotalaria is toxic to all livestock. The seeds contain the highest amount of toxins. The leaves also contain enough of the alkaloids to be toxic. The leaves of showy crotalaria are toxic even when dried. Here’s some more information on Showy Crotalaria.





We are also seeing some grass weeds in pastures. Vasseygrass is starting in spots in this Bermuda pasture. This is a perennial grass with a bunch-type growth habit that does not have a significant rhizome system, like Johnsongrass. Vaseygrass is more commonly seen in wetter fields or ditches. It has a seedhead with alternating spikelets forming silky hairs around the seeds. Seeds are produced along the entire length of the seedhead branch, which is not the case with johnsongrass. One thing you will notice are hairs where the leaf and stem meet and toward the base of the plant. It also has a pretty prominent midbrib. Controlling vaseygrass is not as easy, but here is a good source for information on control of grasses in pastures: Identification and Control of Johnsongrass, Vaseygrass, and Guinea Grass in Pastures.



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Filed under Pasture, Weed Science