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Snake sighting? Keep calm and mow on to avoid unwanted human and snake interactions

by Michael J. Wheeler, University of Georgia

Not many animals elicit the extreme emotional response that snakes do, but the truth is they’re an ordinary part of the landscape in Georgia.

They live in every corner of the state and serve an important purpose in the ecosystem, whether that ecosystem is a suburban backyard or an isolated pine forest. Without them, Georgia would have an overpopulation of rodents and other pests. Continue reading

Weather and pests can make summer squash a frustrating crop for home gardeners

by Sharon Dowdy, University of Georgia

Pests and diseases make summer squash one of the most challenging vegetables to grow in Georgia home gardens, according to University of Georgia plant pathologist Elizabeth Little, who studies plant diseases and control methods at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

“Through my plant pathology experience and observations, I’ve noticed what is most difficult to grow in Georgia’s hot, muggy summers. Squash tops the list,” Little said. “That’s why summer squash will grow better where summer conditions are cooler and drier.” Continue reading

Floating rig battles invasive lake vegetation

In StarNews Online

by Terry Reilly

The lakes at Boiling Spring Lakes are not bubbling with scalding water. Instead of steam rising, the tentacles of invasive vegetation protrude from the city’s three main lakes.

The city launched a partial attack last year but retreated due to a lack of funds. Continue reading

New Texas A&M AgriLife facility trains pest control pros

by Gabe Saldana, Texas A&M AgriLife

A new training facility for pest management professionals has opened its doors at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Dallas, where entomologists converted a graduate student dormitory into what they now call “ground zero for pest control training in Texas.”

The facility is called IPM Experience House after the science-based approach to pest control known as integrated pest management. Continue reading

APHIS Seeks Comments on Draft Pest Risk Assessment for Potato Tubers for Consumption from the United Kingdom

The government of the United Kingdom has asked USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to authorize the importation of potato tubers for consumption into the continental United States.  APHIS has drafted a pest risk assessment that lists potential pests likely to remain on the commodity upon importation if no mitigations are applied.

APHIS shares draft pest risk assessments to determine whether stakeholders have information that might lead us to revise the draft assessment before we identify pest mitigations and proceed with official rulemaking. Continue reading

USDA Invests $17.7 Million in Plant Health and Production Workforce

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced 54 grants totaling more than $17.7 million for plant research that helps optimize crop production, mitigate disease, and increase yield. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Plants are the foundation of diet for both humans and animals,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “It is imperative to invest in research to stay ahead of the biological and environmental constraints, and develop new technologies to produce a secure, nutritious food supply for a growing population.” Continue reading

University of Kentucky resources help growers manage diseases sustainably

by Candace Pollock-Moore, Southern SARE

University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension, through a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) On-Farm Research Grant, has developed a series of outreach materials for small fruit producers to aid in disease management.

“Like many diseases of small fruit, they are best managed using cultural practices, such as sanitation. Thus, we developed outreach materials to assist fruit growers with virus and disease management,” said Nicole Ward Gauthier, University of Kentucky Extension plant pathologist. Continue reading