Volunteerism and community service. “In Moldova,” she said,”people tend to get money for everything they do.”School is easier but more interesting, with more groupactivities and projects and teachers more focused on motivatingstudents.There is a minimum alcohol drinking age, so drinking is abigger deal to kids here than in Moldova, which has no drinkingage. By Dan RahnUniversity of GeorgiaThe land of her dreams is everything Irina Melnic hoped it wouldbe, but with some big surprises.”The people here are so different,” said Melnic, a 17-year-oldstudent from the smallish town of Calarasi, in the heart ofMoldova. “People come from so many different countries. I had anidea it would be like this, but it still surprises me.”That’s the way international student exchanges are supposed towork, said Jeff Buckley, state coordinator of 4-H internationaland citizenship programs.Melnic is in Georgia through the Future Leaders Exchange, aprogram through which high school students in former Sovietstates spend a school year in the United States. She’s asophomore at Greenbrier High School near Evans, Ga.’Biggest dream'”My biggest dream since the second grade was to come to America,”Melnic said, who calls her host parents, Bill and Carol Jacksonof Evans, “wonderful.”Her favorite Georgia place: Six Flags Over Georgia. Her favoriteactivity: caving. Her biggest surprises: Four exchange programsFLEX is one of four exchange programs through Georgia 4-H,Buckley said. The other three are all through the Labo Party, ayouth development group similar to 4-H in Japan.The Labo programs include both inbound and outbound one-monthsummer visits, he said. A third program brings a Japanese studentto Georgia for a year.Host families for exchange programs must sign up by May 1. Thosewho want to host for a month must have children between 10 and 20years old. Those who want to host either a FLEX or Labo studentfor a whole year, however, don’t have to have children.Kayla Perry, a Madison County High School freshman, has been inall three Labo programs. Her family hosted a girl, MisatoHoriuchi, for a month in 2003, then hosted a boy, Jun Katayama,for the 2003-04 school year.Parents, too”It was a wonderful experience for us,” said Donna Perry, Kayla’smom. “We learned so much about Japanese culture. And they learneda lot about our culture. Misato was from Tokyo, and we live on afarm. She just loved going trail riding.”Last summer, Perry traveled to Japan for a month. “I never eventhought about going to Japan until Misato started talking aboutit,” she said. “Going there was pretty scary. But after the firstfew days with my host family, I started to relax.”Before it was over, she bubbled with enthusiasm. “I had a blast,”she said. “My host family showed me so many things. They werewonderful.”At 6 feet tall with blonde hair, the 15-year-old Georgianattracted attention. “Everybody there was Asian,” she said. “Eventheir immigrants were from Asian countries, so I really stoodout.”‘Hello!’That turned out to be a good thing. “Everybody speaks someEnglish there,” she said, “and they all wanted to say the Englishwords they knew to me. They were very friendly.”Her biggest surprise was her host dad’s taking her to “meet hisgrandmother.” The revered grandmother’s ashes were at a shrine,where her host family kept incense burning and brought rice eachmorning and tea each evening.”They knew I was a Christian and respected that,” Perry said.”But they introduced me to their religion, too, and I respectedthat. We all understood each other.”To learn more about international exchange programs throughGeorgia 4-H, contact Buckley at (706) 542-8756 firstname.lastname@example.org. Or go to www.georgia4hinternational.organd click on “Exchange Programs.”(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of GeorgiaCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
Those attending the “Plant Propagation from A to Z” seminar on Jan. 25 in Athens can expect hands-on fun, and that includes smashing berries for their seeds. The class may get messy, but attendees will go home with useable skills, seeds and trays of plant cuttings.“The purpose of this workshop is to give the average person who really loves plants the know-how to replicate them, to make more of them,” said Thomas, an associate professor of floriculture and Cooperative Extension specialist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.The workshop, coordinated by Pennisi, will be held from 8:25 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Classic Center in downtown Athens and covers the basics from seed to cuttings. Thomas started the class in 1993 with 300 attendees, and Pennisi has successfully enlarged the scope of the program over the last five years.“We fill the room every session,” said Pennisi, a UGA Extension floriculture specialist. “People really enjoy this workshop and we have a great time sharing what we know.”The speakers will start the workshop by boiling down the finer points of using seeds. Every type of seed is different and has different needs. Lettuce seeds, for example, can’t be buried, Thomas said. For lettuce to germinate, the seeds must be placed on top of the soil to get an adequate amount of sunlight and moisture. Light triggers their germination.A significant feature of the program is the great variety of plants the attendees will take home.“We run around the campus and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia looking for native seeds,” Thomas said. “We also bring in unusual tropical and herbaceous materials. We cover the entire gamut.” The fundamental principles of plant propagation will also be covered at the workshop. Methods and techniques in rooting perennials and woody plants and how to set up a successful propagation program will be taught, too.Workshop activities also include hands-on seed and woody plant propagation. Thomas said the group will cut up oranges, smash rotten fruit and smear berries to collect seeds and then learn the proper way to take a plant cutting.“We have them leave with several dozen cuttings to root out at home,” he said. “It doesn’t end with this class. We give them one heck of a homework job. They find out what it’s really like to be a horticulturalist.”Other workshop speakers from the University of Georgia include horticulture greenhouse manager Pam Lewis.For more information on the workshop, call (706) 632-0100.(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University ofGeorgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.) By Stephanie SchupskaUniversity ofGeorgiaBodie Pennisi and Paul Thomas promise purple hands, and it won’t be due to the cold.
By Faith PeppersUniversity of GeorgiaWater restrictions aren’t the only threat to green Georgia lawns.The searing summer heat is scorching landscapes across the state.If your landscape plants are taking a beating from the heat,they’ll send out signals. University of Georgia horticulturistssay the hydrangeas and impatiens in your flower beds are theposter plants for heat and drought stress. If they look droopy,take this as a sign that all your plants need water. Cut back and help rootsIf your annuals and perennials continue to be heat stressed, UGAexperts say cut them back about halfway. If they are wiltingbadly, cutting them back will help them survive.Reducing the plant’s top will place less demand on its roots. Theplant will come back in a few weeks and bloom again in the fall.The same strategy works for woody ornamentals like gardenias orhydrangeas. Cut them back to one-half or one-third of theirnormal size.When summer weather brings dry weather and heat for more than 20days, homeowners have to make lifesaving, or life-losing,landscape decisions. UGA horticulturists suggest basing yourdecisions on replacement value. Select your most valuable treesor shrubs, and water them. Herbaceous plants can be easilyreplaced. Water fescue firstFlowers aren’t the only plants that suffer from heat stress. Yourhome lawn suffers, too.If your lawn is fescue, you must keep it watered if you want itto survive. Bermuda and many other grasses go semidormant andturn a little yellow when heat- and drought-stressed. But, unlikefescue, they will recover pretty well with the first rainfall.UGA experts recommend giving your lawn about an inch of water perweek. And they suggest watering early in the morning for the bestuse of water.
By Faith PeppersUniversity of Georgia For the past five years, 4-H’ers from across America have been collecting and donating dimes to finance building a Habitat for Humanity house in Atlanta. On Saturday, Nov. 25, at National 4-H Congress, more than 1,200 4-H members will make a final donation during a citizenship ceremony that will bring the total funds raised to $52,000.“When 4-H celebrated its centennial in 2002, each Congress participant brought 100 dimes to donate to a good cause to mark the anniversary,” said Susan Stewart, executive director of National 4-H Congress. “They have continued the tradition each of the past five years to reach their goal of more than $50,000 to fund the house.”Lt. General Russel Honore, commander of the 1st Army at Fort Gillem near Atlanta and an outstanding former Louisiana 4-H’er, will speak to the 4-H’ers during the citizenship assembly. Honore gained national attention when he commanded troops in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.The 4-H’ers partnered with employees of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta to build the house. Building began in October, and the ribbon will be cut Monday, Nov. 27. Miss America 2006, Jennifer Berry, will be on hand for the ribbon-cutting.Besides the money collected, each state will bring the new homeowner a housewarming gift. Each region of the country was given a designated room to donate gifts for.National 4-H Congress is the annual gathering of selected 4-H members from across the nation in the ninth through the 12th grades to participate in leadership, citizenship and community service.The 4-H program is a nationwide youth development program of land-grant universities in each state and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.There are 6.5 million 4-H’ers in the United States. The 4-H program is supported by 538,000 adult volunteers and more than 60 million 4-H alumni.Among the many notable 4-H alumni are Johnny Bench, Rosalynn Carter, John Glenn, Vince Gill, Al Gore, Archie Manning, Reba McEntire, Pat Nixon, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Alan Shepard, John Updike and Herschel Walker.
By Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaDespite a late, damaging spring freeze and a summertime drought, or maybe because of it, Georgia’s pecan crop is on target to be the best in years, says a University of Georgia expert.”The trees have a big crop set on them now, and it’s looking really good,” said Lenny Wells, a pecan specialist with the UGA Cooperative Extension.Georgia pecan farmers could produce 90 million to 95 million pounds this year, he said, double last year’s near-record low production and the most since 2001.A harsh Easter freeze damaged many central and east Georgia trees just as they were blooming. It entirely wiped out a few orchards, he said. But most trees weathered it well in southwest Georgia, the hub of pecan production.Georgia has been in extreme drought for much of the summer. It has stressed trees at times. But it also has kept disease and insect damage very low, he said, which has helped trees and saved farmers money. About 60 percent of Geogia’s orchards have irrigation to supplement water during drought.Pecan farmers almost always battle scab, a fungal disease that can defoliate trees and cut yields. But due to dry conditions this year, “you’d be hard pressed to find any, even in susceptible varieties,” he said.In a wet summer, farmers may spray for the disease more than 15 times trying to keep it from taking over. This year, however, they’ve sprayed half that many times. One spray can cost $10 to $14 per acre.Because heat and drought slow insects’ feeding and reproduction, he said, farmers have sprayed much less to control bugs such as aphids, mites and shuck worms, too. And recent high temperatures have almost completely shut these bugs down.But the crop isn’t harvested yet. In the next three to four weeks, the trees will enter a critical time for water. Harvest starts in mid-October and runs through Thanksgiving. Any hurricanes or storms with high winds between now and then could cut the crop short of expectations.Pecan trees are alternate-bearing, meaning they produce a full crop every other year. Most trees in the state are on the same cycle, and this is an “on” year for Georgia pecans.Some farmers are interested in evening out this cycle, Wells said, and have started using a technique called fruit thinning.The technique has been around a long time in farming. The idea is to remove some developing fruit, or nuts, early in a season, reducing the overall load on a tree. The tree then concentrates energy into the remaining fruit, ensuring better quality fruit.”Fruit thinning basically helps ensure better quality in a year like this,” he said. “And it can lead to a bigger crop the following year in pecans.”The idea for doing this with pecans started in the early 1990s, but it’s only now gained a little popularity. It has to be done at the right time for pecans, he said, and some care needs to be taken to prevent tree damage.For more than half a century, Georgia farmers have been major U.S. pecan suppliers. They now grow pecans on 140,000 acres. The crop is worth $50 million to $100 million annually.
When the ants stop foraging, the colony weakens. Scientists at the University of Georgia, the USDA-ARS in Gainesville, Fla., and other universities in the Southeast are releasing parasitic flies with the hopes of reducing the fire ant population in the South.Didn’t bring their enemies“Fire ants came from Brazil and Argentina,” said Wayne Gardner, an entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Unfortunately for us, they didn’t bring their 30 to 50 natural enemies with them.” “They rear the flies in their laboratory and provide them to cooperators in the individual states,” Gardner said. “The flies are then strategically introduced to sites in each state.”Off with their headsThe female fly stings the ant and lays an egg inside her body. “It’s a painful sting,” Gardner said. “You can tell by the way the ant goes into contortions.” The egg hatches in the ant, and the larva grows and develops inside the body. “When the larva hatches, it eats the ant from the inside out and the ant’s head falls off,” said Gardner. “It’s basically a decapitating fly, which is amazing.” When a new species becomes an invasive pest, like the fire ant, controlling it is like “constantly playing catch up,” he said. USDA scientists are coordinating the release of phorid flies to sites in southeastern states, including Georgia. The flies, which are smaller than gnats, come from areas in South America where fire ants are native. Gardner and his UGA colleagues have used natural enemies to fight insect pests for 15 years. “It’s not as easy as just finding a natural enemy of the ant and bringing it here,” he said. “It takes time and resources to go into their native range, collect and study them and get a point where we know it’s safe to introduce them here.” The scientists are testing the effectiveness of nine species of parasitic flies. Each species attacks different size ants and at different times of day. Cuts their appetites“The flies definitely kill fire ants, but they actually cause more harm to fire ant populations by looking for ants to sting,” Gardner said. “The ants sense the wing beat of the adult flies, know that their enemies are in the area and quit foraging.” By Sharon OmahenUniversity of Georgia If you’ve ever been stung by a fire ant, you probably wished they’d all get sick and their heads would fall off. Agricultural scientists are working to do just that. Gardner’s team has introduced two species in at least 6 sites in central and south Georgia. They are also seeing flies spread into northern, western and southern counties from releases made in the bordering states of Tennessee, Alabama and Florida. The researchers don’t expect the flies to solve the fire ant problem in the South. “Will we see areas that are totally devoid of fire ants?” Gardner said. “No, but we may see one mound instead of 10 in a row.”
5. Plant now and save water – Sorrow These articles are written each year by University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences specialists and news editors especially for Georgia gardeners.This edition includes the following articles:1. Don’t dance around fire ant control – Stephanie Schupska2. Fall garden maintenance – Terry Kelley3. Fall vegetable crops – Kelley4. Native plant guide – April Sorrow 7. Landscape chore list is long – Sorrow 6. Cover crops build soil – Bob Westerfield This year’s edition of the fall garden packet includes eight articles on topics ranging from saving water and killing fire ants to planting fall vegetables and cover crops. 8. Time to plant Southern favorite – Sharon Dowdy(Sharon Dowdy was the principle editor of the 2008 Fall Garden Packet and is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.) 2008 edition of the annual UGA Fall Garden Packet
Plant the 2010 Georgia Gold Medal deciduous tree winner – the Ogon Dawn Redwood – for a dazzling focal point in large public spaces. Its brilliant, golden-yellow foliage glows in the sunlight, grabs the attention of passing motorists and pedestrians and draws them into the landscape.Ogon Dawn Redwood is a large, deciduous conifer reaching 70 to 100 feet tall and 25 feet wide at maturity, so it may not be the best tree for residential landscapes. However, it makes a spectacular showing when planted in groups of two or three along ponds or lakes where its golden foliage can be reflected by the water. It also is a great plant for framing golf course fairways or creating a focal point in large scenic vistas within public parks.At first glance, Ogon Dawn Redwood looks a lot like our native bald cypress. However, the redwood has larger needle-like leaflets that are arranged in a flat plane along the stem. Those of the bald cypress spiral around the stem.The leaflets emerge golden yellow in spring and hold their color well throughout the summer, eventually fading to orange-brown in the fall.Like other dawn redwoods, Ogon Dawn Redwood contains male and female flowers on the same tree. Male flowers are borne on long panicles up to 12 inches long, while female flowers are solitary, becoming pendulous cones 1 to 2 inches long by the end of the growing season.The bark is reddish brown on young trees. It becomes chocolate-brown with age and exfoliates into narrow strips that peel back from the trunk and appear to be flaking off.Ogon Dawn Redwood is a moderately fast grower when provided with moist, well-drained soils. It reaches 50 feet in 25 years. It has a natural pyramidal form, so little to no pruning is required.Ogon Dawn Redwood hails from the Eastern Szechuan Province in southwestern China, but it is perfectly adapted to our North American climate and soils. It prefers full sun and grows well in hardiness zones 5 to 8.
Homeowners may know to inspect potted plants for diseases, insects and other signs of an unhealthy plant before buying them. But University of Georgia Cooperative Extension specialists say sod should be inspected, too, before it’s rolled out and installed.When buying grass sod, inspect it carefully. The sod should be strong, uniform, free of pests and have a dense covering of grass blades. It should neither be dried out nor waterlogged.Buying sod certified by the Georgia Crop Improvement Association guarantees the sod is free of noxious weeds.Make sure the sod has not been sitting on pallets for more than a couple of days. The longer the sod remains on pallets, the larger the chance it suffers from lack of water and heat stress. This can diminish its overall quality and ability to take root into the soil once installed. If you are planning to install any new turfgrass this year, UGA Extension specialists say wait until late April or early May. Late spring conditions are more suitable for establishing warm-season grasses.Warm-season grasses grow best during the warm months when temperatures reach 80-95 degrees in the spring, summer and early fall. They grow vigorously during this time and become brown and dormant in the winter. They also have poor shade tolerance.These grasses include bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass, centipedegrass, zoysiagrass and seashore paspalum.For more advice on UGA turfgrass varieties, visit www.georgiaturf.com. Or, call your local UGA Extension agent at 1-800-ASK-UGA1.
For the past two years, Georgia agricultural climatologist Pam Knox has kept Georgians up to date on the way the state’s climate impacts the state’s largest industry. Starting in April, she started providing daily updates on climate and agriculture on her new blog “On the CASE (Climate and Agriculture in the Southeast)”. The blog, which can be found at blog.extension.uga.edu/climate/, features her monthly climate reports, climate and weather news from around the country, resources for farmers coping with extreme weather and crop updates. She is also hoping to share the stories of producers around Georgia and the Southeast who are being impacted by remarkable weather or climatic conditions. Please feel free to email her notes or photos about weather and climate across the Southeast impacting your farm or garden at email@example.com.