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Pasco 4H Poultry Judging Team Wins State Competition!

    On Saturday June 4, 2016, five Pasco County 4-H Youth claimed 1st place in the Florida State Poultry Judging Contest conducted on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville. The competition consists of grading whole egg exterior quality, interior egg grades by candling, interior egg quality in broken out eggs, evaluating and placing live laying hens, providing verbal justification for placing live hen classes, grading whole ready to cook chicken, and identifying ten retail chicken meat cuts. Team members pictured are Austin Dykas, a Junior at Land 'O Lakes High School, Bailey McKendree, a Sophomore at Pasco High School, Kaylee Cummings, a Sophomore at Pasco High School, Tierani Johnson, a Junior at Land 'O Lakes High School, and Emily Jennings a Freshman at Zephyrhills High School (left to right). Individually, the team members excelled with Emily placing 1st in the state, Kaylee 3rd, Austin 4th, Tierani 5th and Bailey 6th. The University of Florida/IFAS Pasco Extension Office is proud to have these students represent Pasco 4H at the National Competition.

UF/IFAS Pasco Extension Offering Invasive Cogongrass Management Program & Cogongrass Treatment Cost-Share Program

The UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County Office is holding a cogongrass management program for all Agricultural interests on Thursday, June 23, 2016 from 6:30-8:00. During this seminar, detailed management techniques and strategies will be discussed as well as an overview of the Florida Forest Service’s Cogongrass Treatment Cost-Share Program. The event will end with a discussion on growing desirable forage grasses to replace cogongrass. The agenda for the program includes:
6:30 – Dr. Stephen Enloe “Cogongrass Management and Eradication.” UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Weeds
7:15 – Ms. Mona Neville “Overview of the FFS Cogongrass Treatment Cost-Share Program.” Pasco County Forester, Florida Forest Service
7:35 – Mr. Ed Jennings “Growing Desirable Forages to Displace Cogongrass.” UF/IFAS Pasco Livestock Specialist

    ~Managing Cogongrass for Agricultural Interests~ Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrical) is an aggressive, perennial and weedy pest found worldwide (Williams and Minogue, 2008). This invasive plant was introduced into the United States through Alabama in the early 1900s, and soon following introduction, the plant spread throughout the southeast (Sellers et al., 2015). Cogongrass invades quickly, displacing desirable species due to its extensive root system, ability to adapt to poor soil conditions (especially along roadways), and wind-dispersal through seeds (MacDonald et al, 2006). Growing in both full sun and shady areas, rhizomes of this plant allow it to penetrate to a depth of 4 feet so that short-distance spread is effective and quick (2015). Long-distance spread of seeds by wind, animals/livestock and mowing equipment is significant. Besides cogongrass’ ability to displace native vegetation through competition, cogongrass may produce allelopathic chemicals reducing the viability of neighboring vegetation (2015). Furthermore, cogongrass biomass burns extremely hot and fast, which may lead to fire hazards (2015). It should be noted that with high level of cogongrass infestation and limitations on control measures and methods, eradication is difficult in the long term due to the spread below ground (with rhizomes) and above ground (with seeds). Cogongrass is relatively easy to identify based on its distinctive features. Grass blades tend to be yellow to light green in color with flat, serrated leaf blades slightly yellowed along the margins (MacDonald et al., 2006). The white midrib (vein) is off-center on the blade which might extend 2-6 feet (2015). Seed heads are white, fluffy with flowering occurring in spring or following mowing (MacDonald et al, 2006). Each seed head may contain more than 3,000 seeds with silky hairs to help it float in the air (2015). Rhizomes are white and sharp-pointed, almost spear-like, and have segments (nodes) running the length of the rhizome (2015). Even for small patches of cogongrass, multi-year treatments will be necessary for control. For help reducing the spread of the invasive plant, the Cogongrass Treatment Cost-Share Program is offered to eligible non-industrial private landowners by the Florida Forest Service (FFS) through temporary grants from the USDA Forest Service. The primary objective of this program is to reduce the spread of cogongrass to new areas by helping private landowners control or eradicate existing infestations.
    Cogongrass Grazing Lands Fact Sheet
    Cogongrass Invasive Plant Info

    To Register or for more information, go to the following Eventbrite link:
    Eventbrite - Cogongrass Management and Eradication Symposium

Pasco Master Gardeners Hit the Road with New Mobile Plant Clinic

~ Expert plant advice can now be found at many festivals and special events ~

    Pictured from left to right: Pasco County Master Gardeners - Deb Hamilton, Dorothy Moore, Liz Angelini, Dr. Whitney C. Elmore (Pasco County Extension Director & Master Gardener Coordinator), Lorne Becker, Adah Weitzel, Jim Moll (Master Gardener Instructor) and Corrine Goodman.
    The University of Florida/IFAS Pasco County Master Gardeners are proud to announce the addition of a new Mobile Plant Clinic. The Mobile Plant Clinic, funded by Pasco County Master Gardeners, the UF/IFAS South Central Extension District, UF/IFAS Communications, and sponsored by Local Wraps, Inc. of Pasco County, will be available at various festivals, special events, and activities held throughout the year. Pasco County Master Gardeners will be on hand to assist homeowners with plant and landscape related issues wherever the Mobile Plant Clinic is seen. Special thanks go to the sponsors and to Michele Wood, with UF/IFAS Communications, for designing wonderful graphics for all to see. Stop by the Mobile Plant Clinic for expert plant advice and to learn more about Florida Friendly Landscaping™.

Tampa Bay Cottage Industry Expo

The first annual Tampa Bay Cottage Industry Expo will highlight the finer aspects of marketing and regulations of value-added products associated with growing fruits and veggies conventionally and through hydroponic production.

    The expo will also detail the requirements for production and marketing of animal products for sale (eggs, milk, etc.). University of Florida and Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Sciences experts as well as cottage industry entrepreneurs will share their experiences and offer knowledge for starting and growing a cottage industry. Speakers will focus on production, marketing, regulatory considerations and food safety. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Soo Anh will kick off the event at 9:00. Registration begins at 8:30. Food trucks will offer lunch and snacks throughout the day.
    To Register or for more information, go to the following Eventbrite link:
    Eventbrite - Tampa Bay Cottage Industry Expo

Tampa Bay Water Wise Awards 2015

Now’s the Time! Submit your Florida-Friendly Landscape for Evaluation and a Chance to Win the Tampa Bay Water Wise Award!

    The Community Water-Wise Award Program recognizes individuals, businesses and non-profits that are committed to conserving our water resources and protecting the environment by using Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM principles. Winning landscapes balance attractive design with plants, landscape elements and water efficient irrigation techniques that have a positive impact on our environment. The winner receives a handmade mosaic stepping stone for their garden which is presented at a local government meeting. Just go to http://tampabaywaterwise.org/ for more information and to complete the application form. This program contest ends June 30, 2016 so be sure to complete and submit your application at the above website before that date. It’s free to apply! Good luck!!!

Congratulations to UF/IFAS Pasco Extension Agent, Ed Jennings!

    Ed received the Agriculture Appreciation Award from the Pasco Sherriff’s Office in April at the 2016 Sherriff’s Ag Dinner. Ed is a livestock and pasture specialist and helped develop the Livestock Education and Certification for Agriculture Law Enforcement.

UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County Receives USDA Grant to Develop a Community Garden at the Boys & Girls Club of Lacoochee

    Students attending the Boys & Girls Club of Lacoochee, in Pasco County, now have their own community garden and 4-H Club. Students are learning to grow their own veggies and enhancing their knowledge of food systems. Students are working with UF/IFAS Pasco Extension Agents Dr. Whitney Elmore (Urban Horticulture) and Jean Hink (4H and Youth Development) and Pasco Master Gardeners as well as Tabitha Villa and Linda Tesar (Program Assistants) from the UF/IFAS Pasco Extension Food and Nutrition Program to enhance their knowledge of healthy eating and physical activities. Jim Moll, Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program Coordinator, is also teaching the students how to conserve and protect valuable water resources.

Just the Facts: What you need to know about the Zika virus

    Many of you have no doubt read about the Zika virus, and you may be a bit concerned. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, mostly by those within the Aedes genus common to our area. The virus is very similar to dengue fever, West Nile virus, yellow fever, etc. but it’s not a new virus. In fact, it’s been known throughout the tropics since the 1940’s. It has an interesting history with the name referring to a forest in Uganda, the Zika Forest. Sporadic outbreaks have occurred for years, but in 2015 the virus had spread into South and Central America and the Caribbean.Read More...

Florida 4-H Poultry Judging Contest

    Pasco County had seven youth members competing in the Florida 4-H Poultry Judging Contest in Gainesville on June, 5th. The Senior team was: Spencer Brass, Kaylee Cummings, Bailey McKendree, and Jeffrey Mitchell. The Senior team placed 3rd. Individually, Jeffrey Mitchell was 3rd and Bailey McKendree was 5th. Also, Ashley Cummings and Emily Jennings competed as individuals in the Junior/Intermediate division.

Master Gardeners Butterfly Release

    Edited and provided courtesy of their Media Tech, Susan Forgas.
    The Master Gardeners have done an incredible job reaching out to the Pasco County Community and providing unique opportunities for our students. They recently attended a local elementary school to show how they release Butterflies. If you would like to get involved with Master Gardeners, please contact Extension Director, Dr. Whitney Elmore, for more information.
    A speacial thanks to Dorothy Moore for providing several of the photos of the Butterflies and Blooms event.

Grace Reich receives Star Performer Award

    Congratulations to Grace Reich for receiving the Star Performer Award by Pasco County Government for her leadership and innovative ideas at the Extension Office.

Pasco County Recycling Program Changes

The “Blue Bag” curbside recycling program has changed to “Choose and Use Your own Container.” Blue bags are still acceptable along with clear bags, and now you can use a bin, cart or can. Blue or clear bags don’t need a sticker, but bins, carts or cans will need a reflective sticker to designate the contents as recyclables. Consider recycling something from around the house to use as a recycling bin. As long as you use a reflective recycling sticker on the container, you’re all set! Simply place your bags or bins out the night before your recycling pick-up date. Your trash collector can provide you with a recycling schedule if you aren’t sure of your neighborhood’s day of the week. Even if you don’t have curbside trash service, please consider recycling at the many locations available for drop off. While the service does not pick up paper or cardboard, you can drop these off in the GreenFiber paper bins located at more than 100 locations throughout the county. Most all county schools have a paper bin and the program earns revenue for local libraries, parks, fire stations and schools.  Visit www.pascocountyutilities.com for information and locations concerning recycling and paper drop-offs and for a list of acceptable items to recycle. As a general rule of thumb, you can recycle: metal food cans, glass containers that are clear, brown or green, plastic containers with numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 7 resin codes, and aluminum cans. Just remember to remove caps and lids and to rinse the item before dropping it into the bin or bag. For recycle bins stickers, you can call Recycling and Education at 727-856-4539 or drop by the UF/IFAS Pasco County Extension Office Monday-Friday from 8:00-5:00.

The Pasco County Reclaimed Water System Reuses 22 Million Gallons of Water Every Day

With statistics like that, it’s not surprising that The Pasco County Reclaimed Water System is saving approximately 7 billion gallons of potable water (drinking/well water) every year. Pasco County reclaimed water reservoirs, which include a 100 million gallon reservoir and a 500 million gallon one in design, store irrigation water during low demand periods of wet weather and supply water for periods of high demand during dry weather. Reclaimed water can safely be used for irrigation on golf courses, school grounds, agricultural lands, industrial complex grounds, and rapid-rate infiltration basins (RRIBs) based on Florida Department of Environmental Protection rules and guidelines. While reclaimed water is great for irrigation, it is not suitable for consumption by humans, bathing, cooking or flushing toilets in homes, recreational use such as swimming or outdoor showers, irrigation of vegetables or other edible crops that are not peeled or cooked prior to consumption, interconnection with other water sources, or in areas where above-ground hose connections might be used or confused with hoses used for any of the above. With drinking water levels at a critical low point, alternative sources of water must be efficiently employed. The use of reclaimed water for irrigation is obviously an important alternative. However, we all must do our part to eliminate wasteful use of drinking water. The most important thing you can do is to use the following watering guide, and always keep in mind that irrigation is prohibited between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM. If you have a property with two or more acres and use reclaimed water irrigation sources, you may irrigate between the hours of 12:01 AM to 10:00 AM or 4:00 PM to 11:59 PM using the schedule below. Remember to only water once on your designated day. WATERING DAYS AND TIMES