Drought Response Level 2: Outdoor Watering Information

Prolonged dry weather has prompted an elevated drought response for northwest Georgia. Effective November 17, 2016, fifty-two counties have entered a drought response level 2 and fifty-eight counties are exercising a drought response level 1.  Rainfall has been scarce since August and water conservation is the banner message.  The Georgia Water Stewardship Act of 2010 establishes certain outdoor watering protocols to conserve water during times of drought.  These rules apply to all properties served by state permitted water systems.

Highlights of Drought Response Level 1:
A drought response level 1 initiates a public information campaign to explain drought conditions and the need for water stewardship and conservation.  Normal outdoor watering should follow best management practices and is allowed between the hours of 4:30pm and 10am any day of the week.

Highlights of Drought Response Level 2:
For existing landscapes, a drought response level 2 initiates the odd/even watering schedule by address for sprinkler systems.  For even addresses (ending in zero, 2,4,6,8) watering is allowed as needed on Wednesdays and Saturdays between the hours of 4pm and 10am.  For odd addresses (ending in 1,3,5,7,9) watering is allowed as needed on Thursdays and Sundays between the hours of 4pm and 10am.  Sprinkler systems should always be properly maintained and adjusted.  Evapotranspiration is much lower during the fall and winter and minimal irrigation is needed to prevent winter desiccation using a rate of 1/2 inch precipitation per week or less during periods of dry weather.

New Landscapes:
Under all levels of drought response, a 30 day exemption period is allowed for the establishment of new landscapes. Once the establishment period has expired, drought response watering practices should be followed accordingly.

Other Allowable Exemptions:
Handwatering using a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle
Food gardens
Hydroseeding
Drip irrigation or soaker hoses
Horticulture crops intended for sale, resale, or installation
Athletic fields, golf courses, and public recreation areas
Maintenance or calibration of an irrigation system
Water from private wells and bodies of water on property (not exceeding state withdrawal limits)
Water from an alternate source (grey water, rain water, air-conditioner condensate)
Commercial Pressure Washing

Summary:
Stay informed on the latest drought information for your area (see helpful resources and information below).  While natural precipitation is generally sufficient to prevent plant desiccation in established landscapes during fall and winter, extremely dry conditions may require supplemental watering to help mitigate plant damage. Follow responsible watering practices and properly manage irrigation systems to protect plant health while promoting a culture of water conservation in Georgia.  Register for training opportunities such as the upcoming “Irrigation Training for Landscape Professionals” at the EDGE Expo at the Gwinnett Infinite Energy Center on December 8, 2016.

For more information on proper watering practices and training opportunities, contact your local UGA Extension Agent or call 1-800-ASK-UGA1.

Helpful Resources and Information:
http://extension.uga.edu/publications/
www.GeorgiaTurf.com
www.GeorgiaWatersmart.com
https://epd.georgia.gov/water-conservation

 

Water Conservation and Drought Awareness: Information about the Georgia EPD Drought Level 1 Response

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.  drought_level_1_9-15-2016

 

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.

Related Articles:

Tips for Managing Drought Stressed Turfgrass

Drought Level 1 Declared in Georgia

 

 

Fire Up with the Saw Safety Team

Saw Safety, a weekly newsletter of safety tips is brought to you by the UGA Saw Safety Team. This newsletter is for professionals in tree care and landscape, men and women who put a saw in wood. One tip per week, short and sweet, easy to share, perfect for a tailgate meeting.

Check out our past issues.


Get on the List

Sign up today. Get on the mailing list at your county office, the next training, or from your computer.

Pesticide Waste Collection (Clean Day) Event

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.

For more information, please contact:

Rick Hayes
Georgia Department of Agriculture
19 MLK Jr. Dr. Room 410
Atlanta, Ga. 30334
Office: 404-656-4958 Ext. 4113
E-Mail: ricky.hayes@agr.georgia.gov

Related Post:

Disposing of Excess Pesticides in a Safe Manner

They’re Back – Handling Japanese Beetles in Your Garden

They are indeed back.  You have probably already seen Japanese Beetles (Popillia japonica) in your landscape.   They enjoy munching the leaves of roses, maple trees, cherry trees, peaches and grapes.  They actually are a pest to over 300 plant species.  A single beetle doesn’t do much damage.  Unfortunately once a beetle finds a food source other beetles soon follow.  It is the groups of beetles that do real damage.

These beetles will eat the leaves and petals of plants in the rose family.
These beetles will eat the leaves and petals of plants in the rose family.

Japanese beetles first arrived in the United States around 1917.  As with many non-native species, in their home country of Japan they are not a major problem.  This pest causes damage in the adult beetle stage as well as the larval stage.  The larvae, or grubs, live in the soil and can do damage to plant roots.

We often get questions from gardeners about these pests and thought it might be helpful to share them with you:

Do you need to worry about this pest?   

The Japanese Beetle season lasts 4-6 weeks, so realize they won’t be around for very long.  They are not a major pest of vegetable gardens and generally eat the leave margins leaving a lacy-type leaf.  They sometimes also eat petals and can damage fruit.

Do the Beetle Traps Work?

Yes, the beetle traps do work by attracting beetles from all over your area and bringing them to your yard! The traps contain a pheromone, a sex attractant, that can attract beetles that may not have visited your garden on their own.

If you decide to use traps, do not put them in the middle of your garden as you would just be bringing in additional numbers of the pests.  Also, the traps will need to be emptied often.  The dead beetles give off an ammonia scent that will repel other beetles.

Wouldn’t it be nice if your neighbors put out traps to attract your beetles to their yards?

Is Their a Non-Chemical Control?

Most home or community gardeners can control Japanese Beetles by simply picking the insects off the plants and dropping them in a container of soapy water.   By regularly scouting for these insects and removing them, you will prevent any real damage.  This is a great job for kids.

What if I Decide I Need an Insecticide?

There are insecticides available to kill Japanese Beetles but realize that the chemicals don’t affect just those beetles but possibly beneficial insects as well.  Contact your local UGA Extension Agent for a specific chemical recommendation.  As with all pesticides you will want to follow the label directions to the letter.

Wishing you a Japanese Beetle free garden! 

Spring Bleeding: Maple, Birch, Elm, Grapevines

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.

Landscape Alert: Companies Report an Uptick in Equipment Theft

Equipment theft

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.

The organization is collecting information via a confidential “equipment theft worksheet” available from the Urban Ag Council. To access the worksheet, visit https://urbanagcouncil.com/call-to-action-equipment-theft-crisis-help-needed/

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.

 

Blueberry Chill Hours. What are they?

BlueberriesBlueberries are a perennial shrub that is relatively easy to grow.   Rabbiteye types are popular statewide and their fruit is delicious!  You may have read in agricultural science articles about “chill hours.”   What are they?  Why do they matter?  To answer those questions we are going to turn to science so, please pardon the charts!

According to UGA scientists Gerard Krewer and D. Scott NeSmith (Blueberry Cultivars of Georgia) blueberries require a certain number of chill hours each winter to produce the optimum fruit harvest.  Chill hours are the number of hours of winter temperatures 45 degrees F and below.  If blueberry plants do not receive the adequate amount of chilling, bloom and leaf development can be late and erratic.  This can result in a lackluster harvest.  To sum it up – blueberries have to have some cold winter weather.

Rabbiteye Cultivar Chilling Requirement
Premier550 hours
Climax400 to 450 hours
Brightwell350 to 400 hours
TifBlue600 to 700 hours
Powderblue550 to 650 hours
Vernon500 to 550 hours

How do we know how many chill hours we have had in our area?  The weather stations of georgiaweather.net have chilling hours calculators.  As of February 22nd:

Weather StationNumber of Chill Hours between Oct 1, 2015 and February 22, 2016
Blue Ridge1357
Atlanta941
Cordelle661
Valdosta369

So what does this all mean?  As noncommercial blueberry growers, it can give us some scientific information about our blueberry harvest and it gives us some insight into plant biology.  It also gives us another reason to watch the weather forecast and welcome cold winter weather.

If you don’t grow blueberries yet, give it a try!  See Home Garden Blueberries for more information.  Also contact your local UGA Extension office.  Many of them have plant sales this time of year and blueberries are often for sale.

Happy Gardening!

Congratulations Georgia Certified Plant Professional and GGIA Jr. Plant Professional Graduates!

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/.

Pollinator Protection Plan for Georgia

Pollinator Protection Plan for Georgia

Because of real concerns about our pollinator population the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked each state to develop a customized pollinator protection plan with recommendations on improving pollinator health.  This is not a regulatory document but just guidelines to help our pollinators.

Georgia’s plan is finished!  Protecting Georgia’s Pollinators (PGP) was developed as a joint effort between UGA’s Department of Entomology and the Georgia Department of Agriculture.  The author committee is made up of Jennifer Berry, Kris Braman, Keith Delaplane, Mike Evans, Philip Roberts, and Alton Sparks.  Those of you who are beekeepers may recognize several of these names as people heavily involved in pollinator research.

The draft of the plan was sent to over 35 groups across the state for their input – Georgia Beekeepers Association, Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, the Peach Commission, the Blueberry Commission to name a few.  The result is a plan that has a role for all of Georgia’s citizens.

As community and school gardeners we have a vested interest in pollinator health.  More pollinators means more food from our gardens.  Not to mention the beauty of enjoying the insects at work.

Guidelines from the pollinator plan that we can garden by include:

If possible leave areas of your property permanently undisturbed for soil-nesting bees.  Sun-drenched patches of bare soil, roadsides, ditch banks, and woodland edges are prime bee habitats.

Dedicate pollinator habitat spaces in your garden.  UGA’s Pollinator Spaces Project has many resources to help with this.  Bees need a season-long unbroken succession of bloom.  Many plant species bloom in the spring.  Remember to plant plants to bloom in mid- to late-summer including Vitex, sages, and sunflowers.  Your local UGA Extension office will have information on what pollinator plants grow well in your area.

Pollinator Protection Plan for Georgia
Pollinator spaces are useful and beautiful!

Know the beekeepers in your area.  If your garden has a bee hive you want to be very careful about pesticide application and you will want to review in detail the section on pesticide users in the plan.

Pollinator Protection Plan for Georgia
Bee hives can be located in urban areas

Consider increasing bee nesting sites by providing bee homes.  These consist of solid wood pre-drilled with 1/4 to 1/2 inch holes that are at least 3-inches deep.  It is important that the tunnels terminate in dead-ends.  These are easy to create and a nice addition to any garden.

Pollinator Protection Plan for Georgia
A easily constructed bee home – photo from PGP

Educate your gardeners about insect behavior.  For example, the flight and nesting behavior of certain solitary bees happens in bursts of extreme activity.  In the spring or summer you may see a large number of bees flying out of tunnels in the grass over your garden all at once.  These are solitary bees and they are gentle, and their sting risk is extremely low!  Enjoy watching them!

Pollinator Protection Plan for Georgia
Digger Bee Nests

If you think insects are a problem in your garden take steps to correctly identify the insects and determine, with the help of your UGA Cooperative Extension Agent, if remedial action is necessary.

If your garden is located in a park or other public space that is maintained by local landscape crews, make sure that if they need to apply insecticide for turf pests that they mow the grass immediately before applying the pesticide.  The mowing will get rid of weed flowers that may attract bees.

White Clover
Clover, a bee favorite, is often found in lawns.

Follow all pesticide label directions and precautionary statements.  THIS IS THE LAW.  EPA is now requiring a “Protection of Pollinators” advisory box on certain pesticides labels.  Look for the bee hazard icon and instructions for protecting bees and other pollinators.

Pollinator Protection Plan for Georgia
Bee Hazard logo – photo from PGP

Take some time to look at Protecting Georgia’s Pollinators and you will see we all have a role to play.  If you need any information about the plan or protecting pollinators contact your local UGA Cooperative Extension Agent.

Happy Gardening!