Homeowners often call their Extension office after finding a hornets’ nest that is the size of a basketball. A nest this size wasn’t built overnight, and you’ve likely been living next to this colony all summer. I can sympathize with not wanting your closest neighbors to be a colony of hornets. However, I would also argue that if they haven’t bothered you by late summer, why worry about them now? The best course of action is to warn your family and neighbors about the nest and avoid contact. Mark the nested tree with caution tape to remind everyone to be extra cautious. Hornets are often attracted to porch lights. If they are becoming a nuisance, turn off your porch light and only use it when necessary. This is the time of year that Extension agents receive numerous calls about yellow jackets, hornets and how to control them. Many folks don’t know the difference between the various types of hornets and yellow jackets we have in Georgia. The confusion is understandable, considering yellow jackets, wasps and hornets are all in the Vespidae family, and they all make their home in the state. Even within the same species individual wasps, hornets and yellow jackets have varying color patterns, depending on whether they are a male, a worker or a queen. To add to the confusion, many people use the terms hornet and yellow jacket interchangeably. For example, the bald-faced hornet is actually a type of yellow jacket.In general, the term hornet is used for species that nest above ground, and the term yellow jacket is used for those that make nests in the ground. Colonies start each spring when a single queen, who mated the previous fall and then overwintered in the soil or leaf litter — starts a nest. The nest is made of horizontal combs completely surrounded by a paper envelope made of tiny bits of wood fiber that are chewed into a paper-like pulp. Wasps and hornets use a new nest every year.During the summer months, colonies rapidly increases in size and may reach several hundred workers by September. In late fall, new queens emerge from the colony, mate, and seek shelter for the winter. The old founder queen dies, and as winter arrives, the remaining colony also dies. Wasps and hornets don’t reuse the same nest the following year.Hornets Hornets will build their nests from the bark of thin-barked trees, like crepe myrtles or fig bushes, for nest building. This is generally not harmful to trees and shrubs, but may girdle small branches and cause some dieback. It is possible to treat and kill a wasp or hornet nest with pesticides. However, the odds of getting stung during the process are fairly high. If you leave the nest alone, your chances of getting stung are much less likely than if you try to tackle the problem yourself. The colony will die as winter approaches so leaving the colony alone late in the season is a practical solution the problem. They’re going to die soon anyway.Remember, hornets and wasps perform a valuable service in controlling many other insects that attack cultivated and ornamental plants.Yellow jacketsWhen dealing with ground-nesting yellow jackets, sometimes you have to take action — especially when you encounter them when mowing the lawn. Any attempt to destroy nests should be done in the late evening, when nest activity is at a minimum. Even at night, any disturbance will result in instant activity by the colony. Work cautiously, but quickly, and wear protective clothing. Yellow jackets are attracted to light, so do not hold a flashlight while applying an insecticide to a nest. A quick knockdown, jet-aerosol spray insecticide is preferred because yellow jackets may fly out to defend the colony. Direct the insecticide dispenser nozzle toward the nest entrance for best control. These spray compounds, which contain highly volatile solvents mixed with resmethrin, pyrethrins, carbamates or some of the newer pyrethroids, produce almost instant knockdown for wasps hit. Check the colony entrance the next day for activity, and reapply again if necessary. Sometimes, the location of the ground nest will make it hard to direct insecticide into the nest’s entrance. In this case, gently apply a dust type insecticide containing the active ingredient carbaryl to the nest opening. Yellow jackets will track the dust inside the colony over the course of several days and eventually the entire colony will die. As with all pesticides, read and follow all labeled application rates and safety precautions.For more information about hornets and yellow jackets, search for Bulletin 1412: Management of Pest Insects In and Around the Home at pubs.caes.uga.edu.
The Southeastern Citrus Expo will be held on the University of Georgia Tifton Campus this Saturday, Nov. 15, beginning at 9 a.m.The daylong event will educate farmers and backyard growers on growing citrus fruits. UGA Extension economist Greg Fonsah will discuss growing bananas, and UGA small fruits specialist Erick Smith will cover potassium’s importance in citrus plants. Wayne Hanna, a scientist based on the UGA Tifton Campus, will lead a tour of research plots on the Tifton Campus, where he studies different citrus fruits and the effectiveness of growing them in south Georgia.“If a homeowner wants to grow a lemon, tangerine or a grapefruit in their backyard, say in Cordele, from a straight line across the United States, they should be able to grow it in their backyard,” said Hanna. “That’s my goal.”While citrus fruits primarily grow in Florida, south Georgians are starting to plant citrus trees — lemons, grapefruit or tangerines. “There’s a tremendous amount of interest,” Hanna said. “A couple of years ago, I had the [Southeastern Citrus] Expo here, and I was interviewed on the local television station. My gosh, you couldn’t have imagined the emails and phone calls I got after that. It’s amazing how many people there are here in Tifton who are growing citrus in their backyard.”The meeting will be held at National Environmentally Sound Production Agricultural Laboratory (NESPAL), located on the UGA Tifton Campus, with registration from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.Registration is $15 per person and pre-registration is not required.
In addition to being the most valuable fruit crop in Georgia, blueberries are one of the most popular fruit plants among backyard gardeners. They are fairly easy to grow, given the right soil conditions, and have very few insect or plant disease problems compared to other fruits. When problems do arise, mineral deficiencies or pH problems are typically the culprits. Blueberries are very well adapted to Georgia because they thrive in acidic soils with a pH between 4.5 and 5.2. To ensure that you have the proper soil pH and low calcium levels in your soil, complete a soil test prior to planting. In some backyard gardens, the soil pH and calcium levels can be very high, making the soil unsuitable for growing blueberries. High soil pH and calcium levels are often caused by excessive organic amendments or limestone (calcium carbonate) applications, which are necessary for growing most vegetables, lawns and landscape shrubs. Blueberries and a few other acid-loving plants are the exception. Limestone should never be applied around acid-loving plants. Acid-loving plants, such as blueberries, azaleas, rhododendrons, gardenias and camellias, should be segregated from other plants in your landscape or garden to avoid soil pH conflicts. When a client calls about yellow leaves on their blueberry plants, it’s almost always related to a nutrient deficiency. More specifically, if both young leaves and mature leaves are uniformly yellow, it’s most often a nitrogen deficiency.An iron deficiency can also cause yellowing of the youngest leaves, or newest growth, on blueberries.The leaf veins will remain a dark green color and will stand out in contrast to the yellow background of iron-deficient leaves. Iron deficiencies often occur when the pH is above 5.3 or when calcium or phosphorus levels are too high in the soil. If soil pH is greater than 5.3, sulfur will be recommended to decrease soil pH. Plants irrigated with water from deep wells in lime rock may exhibit a temporary iron deficiency during dry periods, when they are surviving solely on alkaline water. A magnesium deficiency is occasionally seen in Georgia, and it usually occurs on older leaves. On young rabbiteye blueberry plants, the most common symptom of a magnesium deficiency is mature leaves that are pink on the edges and yellowish between the veins. When magnesium is low, based on a soil test, you can add Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) at the rate of 3 ounces per plant to compensate for the deficiency. If calcium levels of the soil are too high, this will also amplify a magnesium deficiency. One situation we often encounter is blueberries and other acid-loving plants being placed too close to the foundation of a home, sidewalk or driveway. Concrete and other masonry work can leach limestone and calcium into the surrounding soil and raise the soil pH too high for these types of plants. In these situations, the best option is to move blueberries away from the masonry structure. When it comes to selecting blueberry varieties for home gardens, rabbiteye blueberries are the best choice. Rabbiteye blueberries are native to Georgia and grow well in all different parts of the state. It’s important to plant more than one bush, so that cross-pollination can occur. Be sure to select varieties recommended for Georgia when shopping for plants. A list of recommended rabbiteye varieties is given in UGA Extension Circular 946, “Home Garden Blueberries,” which can be found online at extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.cfm?number=C946. Georgia blueberry season is mid-April (south Georgia) through the end of July (north Georgia). Under good management, blueberry bushes will produce some fruit the second or third year after transplanting. By the sixth year, they will yield as much as 2 gallons per plant. The yield will continue to increase for several years as the plants grow larger.
Georgia 4-H students from across the state met at Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton, Georgia, June 26-28 to learn more about what it means to be an American with the right to vote. The students also elected a new crop of student-leaders for the state’s largest youth organization, annually serving more than six million youths.Each Georgia county sent voting delegates to the statewide event to elect a president, vice president, district representatives and two at-large representatives.Formally called “Georgia 4-H State Council,” the weekend of events centering on citizenship has been held since 1959, when then-Georgia 4-H Leader Harald Darden created the program. During an official citizenship ceremony held the last day, senior 4-H members pledged to become engaged Americans, to vote and to make a difference in their communities.Following the ceremony, former Washington County 4-H’er and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal addressed the group.“I have fond memories of Rock Eagle and of 4-H. It’s where I discovered a little bit about who I am and who I could be,” said Deal, who, as a 4-H’er, grew 135 bushels of corn on an acre plot in the corn demonstration competition. “You never leave 4-H, by the way. And there’s always a way for you to still be a part of Georgia 4-H.”Deal encouraged the group of young Americans to remember, “democracy is our way of protecting liberty.”“It will be in your hands to protect the freedoms that our forefathers gave us,” Deal said. “We are Americans. We’ve had problems in our history that we’ve overcome. We have to stop focusing on what makes us different and concentrate on what makes us the same.”Georgia State 4-H Leader Arch Smith also encouraged the students to “live the ideals that our forefathers built this country on.”“If you work hard and do the right thing, you will have a good life,” said Smith, who first participated in the ceremony in the 1970s as a Georgia 4-H’er in Warren County.“I would say that the citizenship ceremony is one of the highlights of the 4-H year for me, personally,” he said. “It is a reminder to all who participate to value our freedom and voting rights, which allow Americans to participate in our governance.”The newly elected Georgia 4-H State Board members are Ben Lord, of Ben Hill County, president; Elizabeth Hanson, of Pike County, vice president; Maggie Plott, of Union County, state representative; Zach Tellano, of Hart County, state representative; Trent Whisenant, of Murray County, state representative; Mackinzie Wurst, of Clarke County, Northeast District representative; Carrianna Simmons, of Spalding County, Northwest District representative; Julie Bacon, of Tattnall County, Southeast District representative; and Ben Murray, of Berrian County, Southwest District representative.To learn more about the Georgia 4-H program, go to Georgia4H.org.
Trash discarded in waterways kills fish and other aquatic life, and trash thrown out on roadsides is an eyesore that clogs drains and other infrastructure. To combat this problem, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office in Camden County, Georgia, coordinates annual Rivers Alive cleanup events.Since 2014, the UGA Extension office has organized at least two cleanups per year in Camden County, which is located in southeastern Georgia and borders the Atlantic Ocean.“I started doing this because, in a coastal community, and everywhere, water quality is important,” said Jessica Warren, Camden County Extension coordinator and Agriculture and Natural Resources agent. “It’s so important for people to know why they should care about what they leave behind.”This year’s cleanup events will be held on Saturday, Sept. 30, at Crooked River State Park in St. Marys, Georgia, from 10 a.m. to noon and on Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Satilla River Waterfront Park in Woodbine, Georgia, from 10 a.m. to noon.River and stream cleanup volunteers remove much more than discarded plastic foam fast-food containers. The volunteers often find fishing and boating debris and, further inland, they find larger items, like coolers.“Some things, especially when you’re on a boat, can go overboard by accident,” Warren said. “However, even cigarette butts contribute to a large amount of litter, and they accumulate quickly. A lot of people just don’t even think of that as litter.”Warren’s volunteers once found a boat’s holding tank buried in mud. She stresses that this trash can be harmful to area aquatic life. Marine animals can mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and ingest them. The bags may clog their digestive systems, resulting in the animals starving to death, Warren said. When discarded items, like plastic, stay in the water for an extended period of time, they can break down into small particles that marine life consume.Programs that promote clean communities help to prevent trash from building up. But citizens need to be personally accountable and responsible for their trash for Rivers Alive cleanups to be successful, according to Warren.“People just need to think about the impact their litter has and why they should be more careful about what they drop and what they leave behind,” Warren said. “Cleaning up after themselves, especially when you’re talking about fishermen and boaters, can make a difference.” To learn more about marine cleanup efforts, visit riversalive.georgia.gov. Cleanup days are usually held in the fall.“Water is an increasingly important resource and, as populations and communities grow, it is even more crucial that we are good stewards of our environment and our water resources, not only for the environment’s sake but for our own health and safety as well,” Warren said.(Julia Rodriquez was an intern for the UGA Tifton campus.)
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension will be offering a free, online school garden symposium for educators starting at 10 a.m. June 16.Four one-hour presentations will be presented on the following topics:Fruit in the school garden — Ashley Hoppers, Gilmer and Fannin County Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension agentSeed saving — Rosann Kent, lecturer, Department of Education, University of North GeorgiaVermiculture — Josh Fuder, Cherokee County Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension agentUsing the Great Georgia Pollinator Census with school gardens — Becky Griffin, Extension school and community garden coordinatorParticipating teachers will learn four presentation-related activities that they can take back to the classroom with them, according to Griffin, who is organizing the workshop. There will be time during the webinar for questions and networking.“They’ll be activities that teachers can use during the first couple of weeks of school,” she said.Educators who attend all of the presentations and complete the activities are eligible for a certificate of completion for continuing education credit. The topics covered were requested through teacher surveys and to address previous problems that some school garden coordinators have reported. “We are also aware of what school gardeners could face going into the school year, so we’ll be ready for those things. I’ve had some teachers contact me and ask how they can participate in the pollinator census even if they’re not back in school, so we’re going to address that,” said Griffin.To register for the event, visit schoolgardenwebinar0616.eventbrite.com. To learn more about school garden resources from UGA Extension, visit extension.uga.edu/programs-services/school-garden-resources or call 1-800-ASK-UGA1.
As we approach the harvest season for watermelon, bell pepper, tomato, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumber, sweet corn and other crops, Georgia vegetable growers can move ahead and prepare seasonal workers to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during harvest time.According to the National Watermelon Association, there was an increase in the incidence of COVID-19 amongst seasonal workers in the watermelon industry of north Florida during harvest, and positive coronavirus tests were reported in 75% of seasonal workers. That means that 3 of every 4 workers tested are positive for COVID-19.Florida is a few weeks ahead of the Georgia watermelon industry for harvesting, and similar numbers can be expected in our state if agricultural operations don’t take action. Prepare for the possible transmission of coronavirus on your farm, packinghouse or other agricultural operation by stocking proper personal protective gear, instituting social distancing measures, and protecting the health of your employees, workers and customers.Regardless of the crop and how long or short the season may be, growers can do their part and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is here to help. Below is a list of actions recommended by the National Watermelon Association:Require all workers and employees to wear masks. There can be no exceptions outside of ADA restrictions.Explain to workers that it’s in their best interest to take precautionary steps.Put social distancing practices in place on the farm, in the sheds and in H-2A housing as much as possible.Require workers and employees to regularly wash their hands and use hand sanitizers, if available.Limit ridership on buses to allow for social distancing, and keep teams of workers together.Sanitize buses and living spaces (H-2A housing) regularly. Pre-screen workers with temperature checks daily before work begins.Ask workers to help with reporting. Encourage them to speak up if they see that others have symptoms.Provide separate housing to quarantine workers who test positive. For more information on COVID-19, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov. For more resources on COVID-19 from UGA Extension, visit extension.uga.edu/emergencies. Contact your local Extension office by calling 1-800-ASK-UGA1.
Sugarbush Resort announced that it has acquired the Blue Tooth, a Warren restaurant and bar located on the Sugarbush Access Road.Formerly owned and operated by Hobs Moyer for more than 20 years, the Blue Tooth was built by Tom Storrs in 1963. Once named one of the top ten ski resort nightclubs in the country, the Blue Tooth has a rich history as part of the Mad River Valley apres-ski scene of the 1960’s through 1980’s.According to Sugarbush president and general manager Bob Ackland, the resort plans to add “new life” to the restaurant without making large changes in the immediate future. Sugarbush’s acquisition of the property is intended to provide more diversity for on-mountain entertainment.“We plan to make small but noticeable changes immediately,” said Ackland. “A new menu was created and we will continue with the tradition of casual dining. We’ll also continue with the apres-ski traditions that made the Blue Tooth famous—free popcorn and hot soup as well as live music.”Sugarbush Resort is also pleased to announce that it has added World Cup Freestyle Skier David Babic to its corps of Sugarbush Ambassadors. Babic, a native of Washington, Vermont, is a member of the 2003 U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. He appears in the new Warren Miller film, “Storm.” As a member of the Sugarbush Celebrity Ambassador Team, Babic will make appearances at Sugarbush between competitions in the U.S. and abroad.In his first World Cup competition of the season in Tignes, France, Babic placed sixth overall. He qualified for the event’s finals with a run that included an off-axis 720 on the bottom jump. In the finals, Babic was one of only two skiers to perform a newly allowed off-axis jump in competition. According to Babic, “I stomped the landing and the crowd erupted. This 6th place finish in my first competition of the season was a welcome result after intensive off-season preparation.” Babic now looks forward to competitions in Italy and Finland. “I am proud and thrilled to represent Sugarbush and Vermont as I compete on the World Cup Circuit,” Babic noted.“David Babic will be a wonderful addition to our already spectacular team of Ambassadors,” noted Sugarbush President Bob Ackland. “We look forward to his visits to the resort. David will present clinics which our guests can attend. He’ll also perform some of his stunning big air moves live for our guests. This harks back to Sugarbush’s glory days when Stein Eriksen would perform his trademark aerial somersaults right behind the base lodge.”
David Blow of Granite State Development Corp, Vermont s #1 SBA 504 Loan Specialist, has announced that the US Small Business Administration has approved its statewide expansion allowing it to serve all Vermont communities. For more information, contact Granite State Development Corp. at (802) 865-8094 or www.granitestatedev.com(link is external).
Secretary of Administration Neale F. Lunderville has released General Fund revenue results for the month of July, the first month of Fiscal Year 2010. General Fund revenues totaled $83.54 million for July 2009, +$0.62 million or +0.75% above the $82.91 million consensus revenue forecast for the month and year-to-date.“While the General Fund finished above target for the first month of the new fiscal year (FY 2010), this was achieved only after the FY 2010 target was reduced on July 16th,” said Secretary Lunderville. “The pattern of quarterly reductions that we saw throughout FY 2009 has continued into the new fiscal year,” said Lunderville.The monthly targets reflect the recently revised Fiscal Year 2010 Consensus Revenue Forecast that was adjusted downward by the Emergency Board on July 16, 2009. The State’s Consensus Revenue Forecast is normally updated two times per year in January and July. However, with the unstable economic situation, the Emergency Board has been scheduling interim revenue reviews. The next consensus forecast is scheduled to be reviewed by the Emergency Board in mid-November, 2009.Personal Income Tax receipts are the largest single state revenue source, and are reported Net-of-Personal Income Tax refunds. Personal Income Tax receipts for July were $45.35 million, +$1.51 million or +3.44% ahead of the monthly target. Sales & Use Tax fell short of target by -$0.06 million (-0.33%) and Rooms & Meals Tax was +$0.40 million (+4.32%) above target for July. Corporate Income Tax receipts of $0.90 million significantly fell below target for the month by -$0.99 million or -52.42%.The remaining tax components include Insurance, Inheritance & Estate Tax, Real Property Transfer Tax, and “Other” (which includes: Bank Franchise Tax, Telephone Tax, Liquor Tax, Beverage tax, Fees, and Other Taxes). Results for July were as follows: Insurance Tax, $0.36 million (-6.44%); Estate Tax, +$0.46 million (+43.74%); Property Transfer Tax, +$0.06 million (+9.26%); and other, -$0.72 million (-10.28%).Transportation FundSecretary Lunderville also reported on the results for the non-dedicated Transportation Fund Revenue, revenue of $15.99 million for the month or -$0.45 million (-2.73%), below the monthly target for July. Revenue from the Gasoline Tax, Diesel Tax and Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use Tax were all below target for the month of July, while Motor Vehicle Fees and Other Fees were both above target. The Transportation Fund revenue results for July were: Gasoline, $5.26 million or -13.68% below target; Diesel Tax, $0.54 million or -13.20% below target; Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use Tax, $2.97 million or -0.79% below target; Motor Vehicle Fees, $5.77 million or +5.48% above target; and Other Fees, $1.45 million or +15.23% above the monthly target.Education FundSecretary Lunderville released revenue results for the “the non-Property Tax” Education Fund revenues (which constitute approximately 11% of the total Education Fund receipts). “The Education Fund receipts totaled $11.88 million for the month of July, or -$0.43 million (-0.36%) below the $11.92 million consensus revenue target for the month. The Education Fund revenue results for July were: Sales & Use Tax, $9.39 or -0.33%; Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use Tax, $1.49 million or -0.76%; and Lottery Transfer, $1.0 million – which was exactly on target. There was no Education Fund Interest targeted or recorded for July.ConclusionSecretary Lunderville concluded that “July is normally a relatively low revenue month and is historically a poor predictor of the year to come as a whole. However, it is important to note that the July 2009 revenue receipts for each of the three major funds fell well below the corresponding receipts for July 2008 as follows: General Fund, -13.58%; Transportation Fund, -2.27%; and Education Fund, -9.46%. We cannot be certain when we will reach the bottom of this recession and begin a genuine recovery. We continue to be vigilant for future revenue declines,” said Lunderville. Source: Secretary Lunderville’s office. August 14, 2009.