Monday, June 21, 2010

Herbicide-Resistant Weeds Defy Being Rounded Up

The argument continues for environmentalists and anti-GM (genetically modified) protesters against chemical use in agriculture. David Mercer, AP is reporting on Breitbart:

The weed killer, known generically as glyphosate, is absorbed through plants' leaves and kills them by blocking the production of proteins they need to grow. At the same time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers it to have little toxicity to people and animals, and aside from the plants it's sprayed on, it's less of a threat to the environment because it quickly binds to soil and becomes inactive.


With increased reliance on Roundup, herbicide use on corn decreased from 2.76 pounds an acre in 1994 to 2.06 in 2005, the most recent year for which the U.S. Department of Agriculture has data. Spread that out over the 81.8 million acres planted in 2005, and it's a decrease of more than 57 million pounds of herbicides annually.

Farmers also found they could cut back or in some cases eliminate tilling, reducing erosion and fuel use.


But with any herbicide, the more it's used, the more likely it'll run into individual plants within a species that have just enough genetic variation to survive what kills most of their relatives. With each generation, the survivors represent a larger percentage of the species.

St. Louis-based Monsanto maintains the resistance is often overstated, noting that most weeds show no sign of immunity.


In Australia, weed scientist Stephen Powles has been a sort of evangelist for saving Roundup, calling it a near-miraculous farming tool.

Australia has been dealing with Roundup-resistant weeds since the mid 1990s, but changes in farming practices have helped keep it effective, Powers said. That has included using a broader array of herbicides to kill off Roundup resistant weeds and employing other methods of weed control.

As with most agricultural practices, specific herbicides are not silver bullets, especially when abused. Multiple, holistic approaches are needed for management. Overuse of any chemical, fertilizer, ingredient that is humanly applied will lead to Mother Nature arguing defensively on what actually should happen to her planet. We ultimately learn our lessons the hard way and the answer is usually a Goldilocks strategy, Not too much, not too little but just right.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In Your Backyard: Humidity Wins When You're Outside

You know summer is here when you open your front door and it feels like a laundryroom with the dryer going full blast. The heat and humidity is hard to overcome in our tropical climate. At least we have cross breezes from the ocean which bring us afternoon showers. I'll take them if we can get them but dont count on the weatherman's rain chance percentages.

What we could be seeing in the landscape are damages from fertilizing and using herbicides during the wrong time of year. When plants are dehydrated and heat-stressed, they are not able to absorb the chemicals adequately and can die.

Reading the manufacturers' instruction label is critical for all chemical applications. The label will tell you explicitly "Do not apply this product to turf under stress from drought, insects, disease, cold temperatures, high temperatures of above 85 degrees."

Don't have the label? Here's a great site to look up MSDS sheets: CDMS Agro-Chemical database.

Father's Day coming up - let him take a break from yardwork. Tell him that for the next two months he doesn't need to fertilize or spray pesticides and you'll mow the lawn for him! Keep the grass cut high at 3-4 inches. Another great Father's Day gift is to have the lawn mower blades sharpened. He'll be able to get through that thick St. Augustinegrass. Sharp lawn mower blades keep the grass blades cut evenly, which means less susceptibility to pest problems!

If you have missed any of the last month's "In Your Backyard," you can find them at and click on the Past Shows.

Listen and call in with your gardening questions today at 11:06 am! Tell me what's going on in your backyard!

Get A Spine!

Click to Mix and Solve

South Africa World Cup Turf Not A Level Playing Field

It's winter. There will be high traffic. Short-lived. It's not green enough. It's South African's native grass kikuyu. Not green enough? What is it with people having expectations of turf "green-ness?"

Well, when it's South Africa's World Cup games and literally, millions of people around the world are watching, the grass may not be green enough. Which is not settling well with black South Africans. They are proud of their native grass and reject the notion that it's not good enough for Europe.

Kikuyu is a fast-growing grass that spreads through rhizomes and stolons that was first introduced to the United States in 1915 . It tolerates sun, shade, and warm temperatures. But don't look for it here in the United States. It has the temperment of bermudagrass and is considered a federal noxious weed. The FIFA's solution is a combination of ryegrass and for the first time in World Cup history, artificial turf.

Millions of Africans have been saying it for years: the grass is greener in Europe. Now the world's football bosses have decided that Africa's indigenous grass is not bright enough for international television audiences.

In a major blow to South African pride in hosting next year's World Cup, stadiums used for top matches have been told to scrap their hardy African kikuyu pitches and switch instead to tender European ryegrass.
With warm season grasses, it's going to need more maintenance, more water, more fertilizer on the football (Soccer to us Yanks) stadium field than the kikuyu. Over-seeding with rye isn't catching on with South Africans who are frankly insulted that their field isn't up to European and HD television standards.

Let's hope FIFA gets the aesthetic look they want to achieve. Cape Town has wet winters this time of the year and the ryegrass hopefully will not turn yellow.

Tournament spokesman Rich Mkondo, agrees with the Sports Turf Research Institute in Yorkshire, England. He thinks that eventually South African soccer athletes will get used to the fancy, temporary turf. He reminds the world that as a boy, he played soccer with a tennis ball on gravel.

Teresa' note: Now those vuvuzelas are another story! A whole month of listening to those might send me looking for the world's largest flyswatter! Those should be banned from the world!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Florida's Fishing And Beaches Still Not Affected By Oil Spill

UPDATE: Oil has reached Florida's beaches.

Florida's fishing industry wants Floridians and tourists to know that the fishing in Florida is great! Despite all the MSM's devastating reports, rumors, and dire predictions about the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Florida's beaches and waters remain at this time normal.

Noting that misconceptions spawned of misinformation have already levied heavy tolls on Florida's recreational fishing industry, Florida Guides Association President Capt. Pat Kelly said it best:

"I think somebody cried Big Bad Wolf, but the Big Bad Wolf hasn't started biting on us yet," Kelly said. "When we have some of the best guides in the state losing trips, something is wrong."

Like most that make their living from Florida's natural resources, Kelly said he harbors deep concern for any potential harm to local ecosystems. Highlight "potential." The damage to Louisiana's coastal marshes is sadly inescapable. Harm to Florida is not a foregone conclusion. In fact, as of this writing, no documented reports of oil in or near Florida waters exist. Beaches remain clean, state waters remain open and anglers are having no trouble bending rods with trout, redfish, Spanish mackerel, cobia, tarpon, snapper, grouper and many others.
Read what is actually going on the men who are out there on the ocean.

Don't let your summer plans be ruined by assuming that you won't be able to fish or that the fish will be contaminated or killed by the oil.

This is the message of Florida's recreational fishing industry: Don't worry about something that has not happened, don't trust hype over facts and don't cancel plans to experience the nation's most diverse saltwater fishing.

In Your Backyard: Preparation Is Critical

June 1st signals the first day of hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin. This year NOAA has issued their projections of fifteen hurricanes with eight major storms. The hurricane names will be:

1. Hurricane Alex
2. Hurricane Bonnie
3. Hurricane Colin
4. Hurricane Danielle
5. Hurricane Earl
6. Hurricane Fiona
7. Hurricane Gaston
8. Hurricane Hermine
9. Hurricane Igor
10. Hurricane Julia
11. Hurricane Karl
12. Hurricane Lisa
13. Hurricane Matthew
14. Hurricane Nicole
15. Hurricane Otto
16. Hurricane Paula
17. Hurricane Richard
18. Hurricane Shary
19. Hurricane Tomas
20. Hurricane Virginie
21. Hurricane Walter

How many will hit Florida is yet in Fate's hands. But you need to be prepared!

By June 1st, all your preparations to weather a Category 1-5 hurricane should be completed. That means that you have enough food and water to last a few days, that weather stripping and house renovations are finished, and that your landscape and yard have had a walk-through to remove anything that could damage your house or be windblown during a storm.

Have you inspected your trees? Large limbs in older trees that form a vee and deep crotch could be weak and break or mask a hollow interior that will easily uproot with strong winds. Check out any limbs hanging over homes or are growing together. Look closely for heavy limbs that hang over homes, cross or rub together.

It's important to understand that it's not just pruning a tree, or cutting off limbs that will make it safe and healthy. Cutting trees improperly can make them more dangerous in a storm or and actually reduce the life of the tree. Never try to cut large trees yourself. Always use a certified arborist.

A certified arborist is the only person who should help homeowners make a decision on what limbs to prune or if a tree should be removed. You can easily find certified arborists through the International Society of Arborculture. By inputting your zip code, city, you can find several qualified arborists in your area. If you have an arborist's name or license number, you can verify his certification and good standing.

Before hiring an arborist, it's always a good idea to get three bids so that you feel comfortable that the service is actually needed and with the cost. Professionals understand that you will be calling other arborists for bids. That's part of the business. Don't be afraid to say that you need to check them out or get other bids to price check.

The best advice is to make sure that you're planting the right tree in the first place. The University of Florida/IFAS has enough studies that they now have determined which trees are the most wind-resistant. You can read that study here. It will save a lot of work and money in protecting your home during hurricanes if you select properly for your site.