Greg administers the Georgia Certified Landscape and Plant Professional programs through the Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture. His diverse background in the industry includes landscape management, retail nursery sales, landscape installation, site planning, and landscape architecture. He is the recipient of the Georgia Green Industry Association (GGIA) Communicator of the Year Award (2019), the GGIA Educator of the Year award (2015) and the Southern Crescent Technical College Rick Perkins Award for Excellence in Technical Instruction (2012).Mr. Huber is a Georgia Registered Professional Landscape Architect. Greg is active in professional, educational, and community clubs and activities. He brings enthusiasm, passion, and expertise to every one of his program areas.
The lack of rainfall in the second half of the growing season has hindered the production and storage of energy that normally takes place in warm-season turfgrasses from late summer through fall. In effect, warm-season turfgrasses could enter winter dormancy with depleted carbohydrate reserves. Dr. Clint Waltz, Extension Turfgrass Specialist with the University of Georgia, is concerned that winter hardiness and spring green-up issues could result from a rough end to the growing season. The weather over the next few weeks will decide how warm-season turfgrasses cross the finish line into dormancy.
“The limiting factor is water,” said Waltz. The biological activity that is necessary to gather and store carbohydrates requires water and we need some rain. With soil temperatures at the 4″ depth holding in the 60’s for October and the forecast through the end of the month calling for high temperatures near 80 degrees for much of the state, there may be some opportunity for growth where irrigation is available. However, gains will be marginal as the day length, temperatures, and radiant heat levels continue to drop. Applying 1/2″ inch of irrigation per week may be sufficient to help mitigate spring green-up issues and prevent crown desiccation if dry weather continues. Fertilizer is NOT recommended for warm-season grasses at this point in the season, especially nitrogen. Applications of potassium are generally recommended to promote winter hardiness, but without adequate water, the benefits of these applications may not be fully realized.
What can turf managers do to prepare? Irrigate if you can, do not fertilize, minimize mowing and wear damage, and avoid practices such as aeration that would induce additional plant stress as the turfgrass enters dormancy. When using irrigation systems, be sure to follow the parameters of the Georgia Water Stewardship Act of 2010 and stay informed on the latest drought information at www.georgiawatersmart.com. For more information on landscape watering visit www.Georgiaturf.com and download the publication “Best Management Practices for Landscape Water Conservation.” Most importantly, contact your local UGA County Extension Agent at http://extension.uga.edu/about/county/index.cfm or call 1-800-ASK-UGA1
On September 9, 2016, a drought level 1 response was issued by GEPD for 53 counties in northwest and central Georgia. Georgia’s drought management plan, as outlined by the Georgia Water Stewardship Act of 2010, establishes a three-tiered approach to water resource conservation and monitoring. The first tier of the system is called “Drought Level 1” and initiates a conservation and public awareness campaign by local water utilities in affected counties. Look for forthcoming information regarding the drought level 1 response from local water authorities in these counties to help citizens better understand drought, its impact on water supplies and the need for indoor and outdoor water conservation.
Outdoor watering: Is it okay to plant trees and irrigate turfgrass? Yes, normal outdoor watering is allowed between the hours of 4pm and 10am and new landscapes can be watered any day, any time for 30 days in accordance with the Georgia Water Stewardship Act. However, proper plant care and responsible watering practices should always be followed.
Contact your local University of Georgia Extension Agent for scientific publications, bulletins, and fact sheets regarding plant care and irrigation practices. Key practices include mulching, proper plant selection, raising mower heights, and proper irrigation. In addition, the Georgia Urban Ag Council and the Georgia Green Industry Association launched a website called Georgiawatersmart.com outlining best management practices for indoor and outdoor water conservation.
According to the 2012 Annual Report, the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District estimates that the 15 County Metro Atlanta area reduced per capita water consumption by as much as 20% between 2000 to 2010 through local water stewardship and conservation efforts. Spread the word about water conservation and drought awareness and stay informed on the latest practices for managing drought stressed landscapes. For more information about the level 1, 2, and 3 drought responses, visit the Water Conservation page of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division website.
The Georgia Dept. of Agriculture will host a Pesticide Waste Collection (Clean Day) event on September 30, 2106 at the Cordele State Farmers Market in Crisp County from 9:00am to 3:00pm. The Georgia Department of Agriculture is excited to have the funding to support this excellent program as a benefit to all Georgia citizens and the environment. The collection day is open to all who would like to participate. Due to collection limits, pre-registration is required and must be completed by September 26, 2016. Additional information and registration forms can be found online at http://agr.georgia.gov/georgia-clean-day.aspx
Don’t leave pesticide waste sitting around in storage waiting for an accident or spill to happen, take advantage of this rare opportunity to dispose of pesticide waste safely and responsibly.
During periods of hot and dry weather, certain modifications to your lawn maintenance practices will help to carry your turfgrass through periods of inadequate rainfall and reduce losses. The height of the warm-season turfgrass growing season spans May through August. Given average conditions (regular rainfall and moderate temperatures), bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, St. Augustinegrass, centipedegrass, and other warm-season species respond quickly to cultural and maintenance practices such as mowing, fertilizing, aerating, topdressing, and weed management. However, the summer of 2016 has delivered hot and dry weather with less than normal rainfall. With August approaching, now is the time to fine tune your turf management program to salvage an acceptable appearance while minimizing growth until environmental factors improve.
The first order of business is to recognize moisture stress in turfgrasses in the early stages. Look for areas with a dull bluish-gray cast. Additionally, take note of footprints and tire tracks in the turf that do not seem to rebound.
Dr. Clint Waltz, UGA Extension Turfgrass Specialist, suggests these tips for managing turfgrass during drought periods:
Raise the cutting height within the recommended mowing range
Reduce fertilizer applications until conditions improve
Modify herbicide programs during high temperatures and moisture stress
Water deeply & Infrequently
Use water conserving and drought tolerant turfgrasses
Raise the Cutting Height
Turfgrass stress can be reduced by using a sharp mower blade and raising the cutting height by 1/2″ or to the tallest allowable height of the recommended mowing range during drought. A clean cut also reduces moisture loss through wounds and minimizes entry points for disease. Taller shoots promote deeper roots and a dense canopy can help to reduce ground surface temperatures and conserve moisture. Grasscycling (mulching clippings versus bagging) can also help to conserve moisture.
Reduce Nitrogen Applications
Plant growth requires water. Without water, the benefits of nitrogen are not optimized and you may be wasting product. Promoting heavy top growth amidst drought conditions increases water demand. Reduce rates or postpone fertilizer applications until environmental conditions improve to fully realize the benefits of fertilizer while saving water and reducing turfgrass stress.
Modify Herbicide Programs During High Temperatures and Drought
Many herbicides act upon plant growth processes and can be less effective during periods of drought when weeds are not actively growing. In addition, certain herbicides may cause damage to drought-stressed turf or non-target landscape plants due to volatilization and drift during high temperatures. Review your pesticide labels for specific information regarding temperature requirements, watering requirements, and proper application.
Water Deeply and Infrequently
The optimum watering schedule can be roughly determined by observing the number of days that pass between signs of moisture stress. Apply sufficient water to saturate the root zone to a depth of 6-8 inches. Clay soils and sloped areas may require staggered watering intervals to allow time for water infiltration between cycles and prevent runoff. Irrigating in early morning conserves water by reducing evaporation and drift. A good practice is to align watering schedules with drought management rules so that in the event of a declared drought, the appropriate watering program is already in place. As of July 26, 2016 there are no official declarations of drought by state or local authorities in Georgia and responsible landscape and lawn watering may take place between the hours of 4:00pm and 10:00am in accordance with the Georgia Water Stewardship Act of 2010. In the event that water resources require a drought response level 2, watering programs would need to be adjusted for the odd-even schedule by address.
Use Water Conserving and Drought Tolerant Turfgrass Cultivars
The University of Georgia Turfgrass breeding programs continue to make excellent strides in developing improved cultivars with low water use and high drought tolerance. For new installations or where turfgrass replacement is needed, look for improved certified cultivars such as TifTuf bermuda. Visit www.GeorgiaTurf.com for more information on selecting turfgrasses.
Without a doubt, surviving the past decade has been a challenging stretch of road for the Green Industry. In retrospect, the burst of the housing bubble, the drought, $4 per gallon gasoline, and the recession were just a few of the the factors that shut down over half of Georgia’s ornamental growers and scattered the labor force in all directions looking for work. However, with great challenges comes great opportunity and the winds appear to be changing. The demand for ornamentals and turf is rising, and the green industry is ramping up this spring. The professional organizations have regrouped and are poised and ready to launch the industry into a new era with some exceptional events in partnership with the University of Georgia.
Inherently, agricultural and outdoor workers experience a greater risk of mosquito bites that can vector illnesses such as chikungunya, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile, and Zika virus disease. The CDC and EPA recommend using EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol to protect workers against these infections. Fact sheets and posters have been released by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) outlining the Zika virus to promote education and communication regarding practices to reduce worker exposure.
“When soil temperatures consistently measure 65 degrees (F) at the 4″ depth and are trending upwards, it’s time to fertilize warm-season turf,” says Dr. Clint Waltz, UGA Turfgrass Extension Specialist. Resisting the temptation to fertilize warm-season turf too early in the season not only conserves valuable time and resources, but encourages a healthy competitive lawn. Spring season air temperatures often fluctuate from lows in the mid 40’s to highs in the mid 70’s, resulting in wide swings in soil temperature. The best time to fertilize warm-season turfgrasses such as bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, St. Augustinegrass, and centipedegrass is during the active growth season spanning May through August when air temperatures reach highs in the mid 80’s to 90’s and soil temperatures remain well above 65 degrees.
Following a late winter or early spring pruning of Maple, Birch, Elm, or Grapevines it is common to observe “bleeding” from the pruning wounds. This phenomenon usually occurs just before and during leaf emergence in the spring, especially during years of abundant soil moisture. The temporary bleeding is generally not detrimental to the health of the plant and primarily consists of a watery sap solution. The bleeding usually ceases once the leaves have fully emerged and water begins to evaporate through the leaf stomata, creating transpirational pull that overshadows the root pressure.
The upward flow of water is caused by osmotic pressure in the root system that begins with the imbalance of water molecules between the soil and the root system. A high concentration of minerals and carbohydrates in the root system generally translates to a lower concentration of water molecules when compared to the surrounding soil. Water molecules enter the root cells to equalize distribution, causing root cells to become turgid and force water upwards in the vascular system. (Incidentally, the reverse is true when too much fertilizer is applied and a higher concentration of minerals in the soil prevents the osmotic absorption of water into the root system.)
Occasionally, bleeding can be a nuisance where these plants drip on parked cars and pedestrian spaces. In such cases, delay pruning of these species until late spring-early summer to help to reduce the issue.
If prolonged bleeding occurs and you observe any unusual signs or symptoms of pests or disease, report the information to your local extension agent for further assessment.
The Urban Ag Council, a professional organization representing the Georgia landscape industry, reports that members are experiencing an uptick in equipment theft at worksites, offices, and storage facilities. To address the issue, the UAC is summoning a “call to action” from all landscape companies and compiling data from those who have experienced recent or past theft (2014-2016). Armed with this data, the UAC hopes to meet with law enforcement agencies, equipment manufacturers and suppliers to determine a course of action to reduce these losses.
Here are some general equipment theft prevention strategies to consider:
1. Train employees on company procedures to deter equipment theft. In addition, discuss what to do in the event of a theft or robbery. 2. Take Inventory: Establish a routine of equipment inventory. Keep documentation and photo records of serial numbers, makes, and models of equipment. 3. Parking strategy: Be strategic about where you park your vehicle on each jobsite or lunch destination. Park in well lighted locations visible to the work crew and avoid leaving equipment unattended in back lots or hidden areas that are conducive to theft. Position trailers so they aren’t easily accessed or swapped to another vehicle. 4. Deterrents: Lock vehicles, trailers, trailer tongues, and secure equipment when unattended. Don’t leave keys in trucks or commercial mowers. 5. Tracking Devices: Install tracking devices on large equipment. 6. Be Alert: Pay attention to suspicious activity. 7. Insurance: Review your policy and ask your insurance provider about theft prevention.
On Thursday, January 28th, the testing room at the GGIA Wintergreen Conference was buzzing with industry professionals and middle school students who gathered to take the written and plant identification exams for the Georgia Certified Plant Professional and the GGIA Jr. Plant Professional Certification Programs. Congratulations to the six industry graduates who achieved professional certification and the six middle school students who certified in the junior division.
Georgia Certified Plant Professional Graduates: Anna Testa Dan Smith Michele Sarti Amy Rothenberg Amy Collier
Georgia Certified Landscape Professional Graduates: Charles Daniel
Please congratulate these graduates when you see them.
Special thanks to GGIA executive director Chris Butts, Jennifer Addington, Sarah Mickens, and the entire group of energetic staff and volunteers who sponsored the testing site, provided reservations, contributed prizes for the Junior certification, and hosted a terrific conference that brought the industry together. Thanks to Josh Allen and the Ag Education Instructors for challenging their students and creating this opportunity for young people, the future of the industry. Thanks to Wayne Juers for thoughtfully collecting, presenting, and labeling an excellent variety of fresh plant samples for the participants. Thanks to Betsy Norton of Going Green Horticulture for speaking to the Ag Education students about careers in the green industry. Thanks to Aaron Paulson, Katherine Buckley, and the students of Gwinnett Technical College for helping with setup, speaking to the Ag students about educational opportunities, providing prizes, and helping with all the details to make it happen. I want to thank Todd Hurt and Becky Johnson for testing support and all of the University of Georgia Extension Team who provided educational outreach and support to the green industry.
For more information about the Georgia Certified Plant Professional, Georgia Certified Landscape Professional, and other programs visit the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture certification page at https://ugaurbanag.com/certification/.