Monthly Archives: October 2016

Screwworms Back In Florida

It’s literally been a few generations ago that we last dealt with screwworms. There has been a reinvasion in South Florida, and an eradication program is underway. UGA Extension Livestock Entomologist Dr. Nancy Hinkle has good information on the current situation.

In late September the USDA’s National Veterinary Services confirmed that New World Screwworms had been found in deer on Big Pine Key in south Florida. Additional screwworm-infested animals have been located in the same area since.


Screwworms will lay their eggs on any wound in an animal–even an area as small as a tick bite. They are unusual in that the maggots feed only on living flesh (while other types of maggots consume necrotic tissue). Once the maggots have gotten as big as they are going to get, they crawl out of the wound, fall to the ground, burrow into the soil and pupate. A few days later the adult fly will emerge from the pupal case, seek a mate, and start the life cycle all over again.


Screwworms were a scourge of the Southeast from the 1930s to the 1960s. Cattlemen funded an eradication program to eliminate screwworms using the sterile insect technique, successfully eliminating screwworms from the Southeast in 1959. They were eradicated from the rest of the U.S. in the 1970s, and by the mid-80s screwworms had been eradicated from all areas north of Panama, where they have been maintained since. South American countries still have thriving screwworm populations, so risk of reintroduction persists.

This is a reportable disease, so veterinarians are being particularly vigilant. Cattlemen can watch their animals to ensure that screwworms do not develop in their herd. Other livestock such as goats, horses, swine, etc. can also be infested by screwworms, so should be checked regularly.

Back in the 1950s screwworms killed over 60% of white-tailed deer fawns born every year. Hunters may want to keep a ziploc bag with them in the field to scoop maggots out of wounds on deer they kill, so they can be submitted for identification.


Pet-owners should keep an eye on their animals to avoid screwworms infesting their pets. Contact your veterinarian to have any suspicious maggots checked out.

Any suspect maggots should be put into a container of alcohol and submitted to the County Extension office. Don’t just scrape the maggots off on the ground and let them crawl away! We want to eliminate these pests before they have a chance to re-establish in Georgia.

Screwworms can be treated and the animals will recover fully, if the infestation is caught in time.

Again, other types of maggots can be found in wounds, but screwworms are the only maggots that feed on the living tissue and enlarge the wound. Screwworms cannot live in dead animals. The University of Georgia will be glad to identify any maggots of concern.

Current Situation

We have several factors working in our favor. (1) Fortunately the screwworm infestation is hundreds of miles south of Georgia, so the risk is small. However, we realize that thousands of vehicles move from Florida through Georgia every day, including many with pets or other animals. When these stop at service stations, restaurants, or welcome centers there is the risk that any hitch-hiking maggots could disembark and try to make a home in Georgia. (2) We’re moving into winter, so it will soon be too cold for screwworm flies to survive in Georgia. (3) And we have a very vigilant network of veterinarians who are attentively watching to ensure none of their patients have screwworms. We can anticipate that Florida will eradicate screwworms this fall and by the time spring begins to warm Georgia, there will be no risk of screwworms moving north to our state.

Additional Information

If you want to know more about screwworms (and how much we don’t want them back in the Southeast), talk with someone whose family had cattle back in the 1950s. They can tell you about digging maggots out of calves’ navels and smearing insecticides in dehorning and branding wounds. Florida has lots of good information about screwworms on their website at

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Filed under Entomology, Livestock

Bermudagrass Leaf Rust


It’s not unusual for us to be dry in October. But it is unusual to go into October already dry. Many folks have not seen one measurable rain in the month of October. As we walked through this Alicia hay field, our boots were covered in rust spores. Clouds of rust were seen with each step. Leaf rust this time of year is pretty typical in Alicia. We may not see it exactly this bad with Coastal.


Will rust, you will see red to orange lesions on the leaf and stem. Look for a raised area or blister which is the rust postules like we see in wheat and corn. Rubbing your finger over the leaf will leave a rusty color.

Leaf Rust

Leaf Rust

Leaf Rust

Postules of rust are raised


We cannot use fungicides on our hay fields, so management is strictly avoidance. Coastal, Tift 44, and Tift 85 have some level of resistance while Alicia is extremely susceptible. But even less susceptible varieties are infected with leaf spot when POTASSIUM is low. Most reported leaf spot cases are directly related to low soil potash. Nutrients are removed from bermuda hay fields in about a 4-1-3 ratio of N, P2O5, and K2O with harvest. We need 75 percent as much potash as nitrogen  applied each season. Split applications of K are better in sandy soils. In these cases, nearing the end of the season, we need to go out with another shot of straight potassium.

Visit Leafspot Diagnosis and Management in Bermudagrass Forages for more information.

Leaf rust on boots

Leaf rust on boots

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Filed under Disease, Fertility, Forages

Soil Health & Cover Crop Workshop – November 3rd


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October 28, 2016 · 6:56 PM

2016 Pecan Market Prices & Harvest Update

We have some very good reports of pecan grades coming in from last week, at least in Pawnee’s and nuts which have been harvested. Click this link to check Current Pecan Market Price. You take the price per point and multiply by the kernel percentage to get price. They are updated throughout the season at this link. UGA Extension Pecan Specialist Dr. Lenny Wells gave us this update today:

The pecan harvest picked up momentum this week as many growers began harvesting Desirable, Stuart, and other mid-harvest season varieties. Desirables seem to be shaking out well while Stuart is probably not quite ready to really come out as we would like. I expect they won’t really shake well in most orchards for another couple of weeks. However, many growers with mid-November contracts are now under the gun and have to proceed and sacrifice a few green nuts to meet their contracts. Growers in East Georgia are still dealing with cleanup from the last storm and are trying to harvest around the debris in some cases. Prices remain very strong.

The most common question I have regards the drought throughout most of the state, not impacted by the Hurricane. Most of these areas have not seen rain since early September, and conditions are terribly dry. It makes for good harvest weather, but many growers are concerned about the tree’s water needs at this time. For mature trees, Continue irrigation at about 40% until shuck split is advanced enough to shake, then turn irrigation off 4-5 days prior to shaking to allow shucks to dry. My observation has been that this helps them to shake out better. After going over the orchard, turn water back on for about 6-8 hours a couple of times a week until we get a 1″ rain.

In many cases, hot weather like we are seeing puts some varieties that tend to spread out their shuck split, like Stuart, at risk for sprouting. So, that is a possibility under our current conditions.

Immature trees may benefit from irrigation once a week for 4-5 hours until rain arrives or until they lose their leaves. Don’t over-water young trees at this time of year because you don’t want to delay them going into dormancy and put them at a greater risk for cold damage when the cold weather arrives.

We do have a newly published extension bulletin on Pecan Water Requirements and Irrigation Scheduling. This is for mature trees only.

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Filed under Economics, Pecans

2016 Forestry & Wildlife Program – Nov 1st


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October 13, 2016 · 2:11 PM

What Is The Value Of My Hay?

We’ve been blessed with more rain overall compared to other parts of the state. We had a slow spring with a very dry April and May and some weird fertility issues to start the season. Below is bermuda field picture taken in May. You can see the yellow tint in parts of the field that we thought was related to fertility.


Many producers have cut hay three and four times. Our rain has been decent in amount, but it has all come at once. We started very dry, then would get 7″ and 9″ at a time. The summer was fair with more timely rain. We got dry before the tropical storm, and then had lots of rain from Hermine.


Today we did a forage sample to test hay quality. This is very important in determining if we need to supplement our hay. Will Lovett, Ag Agent in Bacon County writes a really good article on the value of your hay:

One of the most common questions I get asked as an extension agent is “What is the value of my hay?”  This common question does not have a simple answer. What I tell producers…. is it depends.

The first step in developing a value for your hay is determining your cost of production. This is important whether you plan to sell your hay or feed it yourself. The best way to establish your cost of production is by calculating your hay cost per ton or per bale. As you begin this process you will need to your fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs will include line items such as interest, rental, depreciation, taxes, insurance, etc. One thing I always advise my clients is to be sure and include machinery costs in their calculations, because as we all know eventually our equipment will need to be replaced.   Fixed cost may vary significantly between producers depending on the number of bales produced per year and each person’s investment in equipment. Variable cost will fluctuate with the level of production. Variable costs include items such as fertilizers, chemicals, labor, fuel, etc.

The following formula would be used to calculate cost per bale or ton.

Total Cost per ton(bale)=   Total Fixed Costs + Total Variable Costs

                                                                Total tons(bales) produced

As you move forward with cost determination, those who are planning on selling their hay need to be aware of what the market is willing to pay. Many niche or specialty markets, such as “horse quality” square bales can command a significant premium per ton over round bales. Take the time to investigate your area and include your findings when determining your selling price.

If you are producing hay for your own use or plan to market your hay based on Forage Quality, you need to know the nutrient composition of your hay. The concentration of nutrients (Crude Protein, TDN, Fiber Content or digestibility) cannot be determined by the feel, texture, smell or color. Just using these parameters can often times lead producers astray.


The photo below is a good example. Even though the bales in Lot 1 are sun bleached they actually test higher in overall nutrient content.

The only way to determine the true quality of a forage is to Forage Test. The average cost of a forage test is less than one round bale of hay. UGA’s recommendation is to sample each cutting of forage from each field. The information you gain from forage testing will allow you or your customer to make more informed feeding/supplement decisions. Table 1 shows how forage quality effects the supplement needs, i.e. cost of a lactating beef cow.


Table 1. The effect of bermudagrass and tall fescue maturity on hay quality, supplementation rate, and cost of supplementing a lactating beef cow.

So why not just use table 1 to estimate quality for my hay?

Even a small change in nutrient value can have an impact on hays’ dollar value. Using the nutrient ranges in the chart above, Good Bermudagrass Hay cut at 4 week intervals will range in “average” nutrient value from 10-12% for crude protein and 58-62 % in TDN (energy levels). So is there any difference in “worth” between 4 week Bermudagrass hay that is 12% protein AND 60 TDN AND 4 week Bermudagrass hay that is 10% protein and 58% TDN? Yes! I entered hay with both values into the UGA Basic Balancer for beef cattle to compare. The 10% protein and 58% TDN valued hay required almost 3 pounds of soyhulls/distillers grain supplement to meet protein and energy (TDN) needs. The lower nutrient value hay cost $0.13 more per cow per day to feed. This means that the higher protein and TDN is “worth” nine dollars more per ton. I also compared 4-week old hay to 8-week hay using the UGA Basic Balancer. This comparison revealed a $35 per ton difference in value at current commodity prices.

Like I said, the value of your hay depends on many different variables; however, it is key to know your production costs and the true nutrient content of your hay. This information combined will be the best predicator of what your hay is worth to you.

This article contains information from Dr. Curt Lacy’s Economics of Hay Production and UGA Extension Bulletin 1425, Understanding and Improving Forage Quality.

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Filed under Forages

Grub Damage In Pastures

General decline of forages in pastures or hayfields can be attributed to many things. Fertility is generally our first thought. Secondary factors are then assessed to see how they might have played a leading role in the reduction of productivity. These secondary factors include drought, diseases, weed pressure, herbicide injury, soil compaction, or insect damage. Producers that have areas declining in the late summer into fall can suspect insect damage from a soil borne insect complex we call grubs.

Miller County Agent Brock Ward wrote a good description of these beetles, and how to deal with them:

Grubs are the larval stage of beetles that feed on decaying organic matter and some of those species also feed on roots as well. Pastures and hayfields that have had chicken litter or other manure applied as a fertilizer are typically the areas where these grubs are the most severe. It is important to also identify the grubs that are causing the damage as control and management of them can be different. Perhaps the most troublesome is the May/June beetle (MJB). The grubs of the MJB have a characteristic “zipper” pattern in the hair on the underside of their “tail-end”. This helps you to distinguish it from other grubs like the Green June Beetle (GJB) or chafer beetles. When faced with the MJB complex of beetles, the larvae burrows deep into the soil for much of its yearlong lifecycle (as many as three years in Northern states), so treatment isn’t an option, because we can’t expose the grubs to an insecticide treatment with any repetitive certainty. In the case that you have grubs from the MJB complex, renovation or replanting after the emergence of the beetles is likely the best management strategy. Chafer beetles are much like the MJB complex of beetles but require many more of them to reduce a stand of pasture grasses. Typically the source of the forage decline in a pasture is linked to other causal agents when chafer beetles are found in heavy numbers.


If the Green June Beetle (GJB) is the source of your damaged forage, treatment can be managed with insecticide use. The GJB has a one year lifecycle and feeds up through the soil surface before burrowing down again. This feeding habit makes it easier to target the pest. Many pyrethroids are labeled for use on the GJB adults, however the larvae have fewer insecticides labeled for their control. It is unlikely that GJB alone is reducing the stand of forage. As with most secondary factors, it is likely a combination of stressors that begin to reduce the stand. An example, I have seen recently is where drought stress, soil compaction, and grubs were leading to stunted areas in a pasture.


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Filed under Entomology, Pasture

Tip Moths In Loblolly


This week, we looked 2-year-old loblolly showing dieback in the tips of branches. This turned out to be damage from tip moths, Rhycacionia genera. There are different species. Loblolly’s are susceptible to tip moths, especially young, less than 5 -6 feet tall. The damage is similar: the tips of terminals and laterals are killed as result of larval boring into base of the needles or buds, and then into the shoot itself.  They can also kill small trees.


Eggs are laid on the base of needles. When the eggs hatch, larvae bore into the needle sheaths and mine needles near their base. By midwummer, larvae move to buds and burrow in them. They stop feeding in August. They overwinter in the wound area. On the terminal of branches, we observed resin-coated webs, frass from worms, brown needles, and where worms were still present, you can see the tunnel in the branch. We also found a few caterpillars inside the stem. This is something we probably need to think about treating, though we are past effective treatments now. Here is a table from the book “Insects That Feed On Shrubs & Trees” showing species and hosts.



When it comes to treating, UGA Extension Forestry Specialist Dr. David Moorhead has a detailed guide to spray control. See the weather station locations in Table 4 to choose a site closest to your site for the spray date times.  There are numerous insecticides in the 2016 UGA Pest Control Handbook that are effective for control. These can be applied by fixed wing crop dusters or by ground rigs.

10 Bainbridge March 12-16 May 21-25 July 10-14 Aug 19-23



Resin soaked web from tip moth attack


Stem bored by tip moth


Tip moth larvae


Loblolly pine attacked by tip moth

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Filed under Entomology, Forestry

Citrus Field Day – October 13th

Mitchell County Citrus Grower Mrs. Lindy Savelle has put together a field day October 13th from 11:30am to 1:30pm for anyone interested. They will look at rootstock, recently planted trees and discuss young tree production practices. RSVP by calling/texting 850-830-2644 with a headcount for a sponsored meal.


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Filed under Citrus