Monthly Archives: August 2021

Extension Master Gardeners Make a Difference with a Certified Monarch Waystation

In 2017, the Monarch Joint Venture organization reported that the iconic monarch butterfly has steadily declined by approximately 90% over the last 20 years. Warren County Extension Master Gardeners wanted to make a difference so they designed and installed a certified Monarch Waystation to provide habitat and to help increase the population of monarch butterflies.  A monarch waystation is a garden that includes milkweed plants which serve as the host plant for the monarch butterfly and a variety of nectar plants that the adult butterfly can use as a nectar source. This garden was situated on the Warren County Extension Office grounds to serve as an educational demonstration plot  so the general public would be encouraged to plant more native and pollinator friendly plants in their home garden and landscape.

A Monarch Waystation committee was formed to assist with the installation and timeline for the project. Committee      members worked closely with the agent throughout the 2020 – 2021 year to plan the certified Monarch Waystation. The committee secured a $1500.00 grant from the Warren County Soil Conservation District as well as other community donations. Other committee members contributed by checking and securing material costs and marketing for the project.

Extension Master Gardeners Interns from the virtual 2020  Master Gardener class were given the task of submitting      garden proposals for the future design of the Monarch Waystation. Completed proposals were reviewed by the     committee at the end of January 2021 and the final design was selected. The final design consisted of a combination of multiple designs submitted from the Master Gardener Interns with several native plants arranged in seven 4×8 feet raised beds. 

Warren County Extension Master Gardeners and Interns worked diligently together throughout the spring 2021 season to construct the Monarch Waystation gardens. Volunteers worked on different parts of the project to build the raised bed garden frames, add soil media components to the beds, plant hundreds of pollinator friendly plants, install the water feature and small bubblers for water sources, mulch plants, and water throughout the week. Visit the Warren County Extension Office website at www.warrencountyextension.com/monarch-waystation to see the entire process from start to finish. 

To highlight their efforts, Warren County Extension Master Gardeners received recognition through local media outlets. Their story was featured on WBKO-TV Channel 13, Spectrum News, and in the Bowling Green Daily Times newspaper.    Another TV segment appeared on the Extension Farm and Home Show during National Pollinator Week.

Warren County Extension Master Gardeners have also registered and certified their waystation through Monarch Watch which is the non-profit organization that manages the waystation. By registering their waystation, Warren County Extension Master Gardeners are supporting monarch conservation efforts and the preservation of the monarch      butterfly.

Master Gardeners have donated a total of 218 volunteer hours to the certified Monarch Waystation. According to the National Independent Sector, the value of volunteer time for the state of Kentucky is $23.10 per hour for 2020. If you multiply the hours donated by the hourly rate, Warren County Extension Master Gardeners have given a total of $5,035.80 to the Warren County community.  Plans are currently being made to install other features for the Monarch Waystation in the fall 2021 season.

Garden Spiders in Kentucky

If you have walked through the garden lately, you may have noticed several spiders. Now for some people, the thought of a spider makes them want to jump out of their shoes! But interestingly enough, spiders play an important role in a healthy ecosystem and there are benefits to having them in the garden. To help explain more about spiders, I called up Dr. Ric Bessin, University of Kentucky Extension Entomologist to discuss more about the specific types of spiders found in Kentucky. I was amazed to learn about all the different types of spiders and the benefits that they can offer in our environment! So, make sure to stay right here on the Sunshine Gardening Podcast to hear the full interview!  

Introduction

  • Spiders are known as “arachnids,” and they all have 8 legs, 2 body parts (cephalothorax and abdomen), and no antennae.  
  • Arachnids also have fang-like mouthparts called “chelicerae” which insects do not have.  Insects and arachnids both belong to the same Phylum (Arthropoda), but insects are not arachnids, and arachnids are not insects.
  • Spiders can be distinguished from other arachnids in Kentucky by the connection between the abdomen and the cephalothorax.  In spiders, the connection between the cephalothorax and the abdomen is a narrow stalk.  In other Kentucky arachnids, the connection between the two body regions is broad, so that the distinction between the cephalothorax and abdomen is not obvious.

(Newton & Townsend, 2010)

There are many different types of spiders found in Kentucky. Here are a few types mentioned in this podcast episode.

Types of Spiders

Wolf spiders

Size: Wolf spiders range in size from tiny (the size of a pencil eraser) to about the size of a U.S. silver dollar, with legs outstretched 
Color: There are many species of wolf spiders in Kentucky, but most are dark or light brown, usually with contrasting spots or stripes. 
Features: Wolf spiders are fast-moving and they are typically seen running on the ground. They are not web builders. 
Notes: Wolf spiders often wander into homes. Because they are brown in color, wolf spiders are often mistaken for brown recluses. Like most Kentucky spiders, the bites of wolf spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals. Wolf spiders are among the most common kinds of spiders in Kentucky.

(Newton & Townsend, 2010)

Funnel web/grass web spiders

Size: About the size of a U.S. quarter, with legs outstretched.
Color: Brown with prominent longitudinal gray or tan stripes. 
Features: Prominent hind spinnerets: these are two, small, finger-like projections on the end of the grass spider’s abdomen (used to spin the web). Many other spiders have spinnerets, but they are very large and distinctive in grass spiders. 
Notes: Grass spiders are very common in Kentucky lawns where they build large, funnel-shaped webs. They also occasionally wander into homes. Because they are brown and of a similar size, grass spiders are often mistaken for brown recluses. Like most Kentucky spiders, though, the bites of grass spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals.

(Newton, Townsend, 2010)

Fishing spiders

Size: A little larger than a U.S. silver dollar, with legs outstretched.
Color: Brown with contrasting, darker brown patterns. 
Features: Very large brown spiders; sometimes seen running on the ground or sitting motionless on tree trunks. 
Notes: Fishing spiders are common near streams and wooded areas in Kentucky, and they sometimes wander into nearby homes. They are among the largest spiders in our state, but they are not considered dangerous. Like most Kentucky spiders, the bites of fishing spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals. They are sometimes mistaken for brown recluse spiders, but adult brown recluses are smaller and lack the fishing spider’s distinct dark brown patterning.

(Newton & Townsend, 2010)

Jumping spiders

Size: Typical jumping spiders are about the size of a U.S. dime, with legs outstretched. 
Color: There are many species of jumping spiders in Kentucky. Many are gray or black, while some are vividly colored. 
Features: Jumping spiders have distinctive, large eyes and a “flat faced” look. They are characterized by quick, herky-jerky motions and they do not build webs. 
Notes: Jumping spiders are common on the outsides of homes and buildings and they often wander into homes. Because some are brown in color, jumping spiders are sometimes mistaken for brown recluses. Like most Kentucky spiders, though, the bites of jumping spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals.

(Newton, Townsend, 2010)

Crab spiders

Size: Typical crab spiders are about the size of a U.S. nickel, with legs outstretched. 
Color: There are many species of crab spiders in Kentucky. Some are brown or tan, but most common species are bright white or vivid “neon” green or yellow. 
Features: Crab spiders are low and flat and their front two pairs of legs are very long. Crab spiders are not web builders. 
Notes: Crab spiders are very common in Kentucky flowers (where they hunt for bees), but they sometimes wander into homes. Because some crab spiders are brown in color, they are occasionally mistaken for brown recluses. Like most Kentucky spiders, the bites of crab spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals.

(Newton & Townsend, 2010)

Orb web spiders

Size: Orb weavers range in size from tiny (the size of a pencil eraser) to a little larger than a U.S. silver dollar, with legs outstretched. 
Color: There are many species of orb-weaver spiders in Kentucky. Some are solid tan or brown, while others are colorful with vivid patterns. 
Features: Orb weavers are distinguished by their webs: no other common Kentucky spiders make organized, circular, grid-like webs. Orb weavers are almost always encountered inside their webs. 
Notes: Orb weavers are commonly found on porches and gardens in Kentucky, especially in late summer. Occasionally, they will wander into a home and build a web in a doorway or windowsill. Some orb weavers are very large, but, like most Kentucky spiders, the bites of orb weavers are harmless except to allergic individuals. The Yellow-and-black Argiope (pictured below, top left), one of the largest spiders in Kentucky, is a type of orb weaver.

(Newton & Townsend, 2010)

Harmful Spiders

There are two Kentucky spiders that can cause harm to humans: the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider. Tan to dark brown, a brown recluse’s abdomen and legs are uniformly colored with no stripes, bands, or mottling. The legs are long and thin and lack conspicuous spines. They have a dark violin-shaped mark on their back, with the neck of the violin pointing toward the rear of the spider. This feature is consistent in adult brown recluses, but is less obvious in younger spiders.

Their bites are serious and require immediate medical attention, but brown recluses are timid and unlikely to bite unless handled. These spiders are common in all areas of Kentucky. They tend to occur in hidden locations indoors and outdoors, such as piles of cardboard or paper, stacks of cut wood and wall-voids of buildings.

Black widow spiders are also common throughout the state. The female black widow is about a half-inch long and is glossy black with a variable number of red markings on the top and/or bottom of her abdomen. Adult males smaller and are similar in color, but with a few added white markings. Juveniles are highly variable. Their bites are very serious and require immediate medical attention, but the spider is timid and unlikely to bite unless handled. They tend to hide out in concealed outdoor locations such as piles of rocks or firewood and dark corners of garages and out-buildings. Females are common; males are very rarely encountered.

If interested in learning more information about spiders found in Kentucky, check out the Critter files that are posted on the University of Kentucky Extension website. Find the link to these files posted below in the references section. Field guides can also be a useful tool to keep on hand.

I hope that you enjoyed our discussion today with Dr. Ric Bessin on Garden Spiders in Kentucky! A big thank you to Dr. Ric Bessin for being our guest!

Dr. Ric Bessin, University of Kentucky Extension Entomologist

Thanks for listening to the Sunshine Gardening Podcast! As always gardeners, keep digging into gardening and remember to add a little sunshine!

References:

Newton, B. & Townsend, L. (2010, January). Urban spider chart. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/spider-chart#widow.

Bessin, R. & Newton, B. (2016, May 18). Kentucky Critter Files. University of Kentucky Department of Entomology. http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CritterFiles/casefile/casefile.htm.  

Using Wheat for Grazing

Source: Jimmy Henning, Chris Teutsch, Ray Smith, UK Extension Forage Specialists and Tim Phillips, UK Plant Breeding and Genetics

It may surprise you that producers use as much as 25% of Kentucky’s wheat crop for forage or cover crops rather than harvesting it for grain. Wheat is a very attractive option to forage and livestock producers because it is winter hardy, planted later in the fall and adapted to most soils in Kentucky.

Livestock can graze wheat as forage in the fall and spring. The crop performs best as a forage on ground that is limed to a pH of at least 6.4 or higher and fertilized according to soil test recommendations. If you plan to graze the wheat, splitting the nitrogen application between fall and spring will increase total forage production. Make the fall application before seeding and a late winter/early spring application to stimulate early spring growth.

If you plan to harvest wheat for a stored forage such as hay, baleage or silage, soil test each year and fertilize based on test results. Wheat harvest will remove nutrients from the soil.

If you plan to have livestock graze wheat in the fall, plant it in September or as early as your crop rotation and soil moisture allow. Be aware that this early planted wheat is at a greater risk for aphids, which can transmit barley yellow dwarf virus. Since the wheat is grazed by livestock when it is in a vegetative state, it should be protected from Hessian fly damage if only used for grazing.           

Plant wheat used for stored forages after the Hessian fly free date in October. This date varies each year but most often occurs by Oct. 15. Plant wheat two to 2.5 bushels per acre and 1 to 2 inches deep using a no-till drill into crop stubble or by broadcasting seed and lightly discing the ground to get the seeds at the proper soil depth.

Wait to turn livestock into wheat pastures until the plants are well established and at least 6 to 8 inches tall. Monitor fields for wetness and trampling of plants by the livestock. This is especially a concern during spring grazing. Only allow livestock to graze plants to 3 to 4 inches and allow the forage to recover to 6 to 8 inches long before grazing again.  Small grains fit well into rotational grazing systems as they recover and increase production similar to pasture grasses.

If you still want to get a grain crop from the wheat, only allow livestock to graze it lightly in the early spring. Do not graze wheat after plants reach the Feekes 6 growth stage, which is when the first node is visible above the soil surface and at the beginning of stem elongation. Grazing after this stage removes the growing point and prevents the seed heads from developing.  

For the best quality stored forages, harvest the crop at the boot to early head stage. Early cut wheat will ensile easier because it contains higher amounts of fermentable carbohydrates and forms denser bales. Feed early cut wheat to livestock with high nutrient needs like calves or lactating cows.

Nitrate poisoning is very unlikely under normal plant growth and weather conditions. However, periods of cool, cloudy weather, hail damage, frost and drought can cause nitrates to accumulate in wheat. The ensiling process removes about 50% of nitrates and reduces toxicity risk.

More information on using wheat for forage is available in the University of Kentucky publication AGR 263: Growing Wheat for Forage. It is available online at https://bit.ly/3eK5Z9x or by contacting the Warren County office of the UK Cooperative Extension Service.

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

2021 Annual Flower Garden Trial

The Warren County Extension Master Gardeners planted 20 new cultivars of annual flowers in May for the University of Kentucky Flower Trial Program. The University of Kentucky (UK) flower trial is a state-wide cooperative effort with the Master Gardener program to help evaluate performance of new flowering bedding plant cultivars in Kentucky. The main trial garden is located at the UK Arboretum in Lexington which contains 35 bedding plant cultivars.

Angelonia “Aria Purple”

Warren County is a trial site along with other counties including  Barren, Boyle, Breckinridge, Christian, Daviess, Hardin, Hopkins, Marshall, Mason, Mercer, Pulaski, and Washington.

The goal of the trial garden is to provide a fair evaluation of the garden performance for each flowering plant species and cultivar included.  To achieve this goal, it is necessary to use uniform cultural practices across the garden and to minimize environmental effects.

Pentas “Butterfly Red”

Extension Master Gardeners maintain the demonstration plots by watering and weeding the beds each week. Twice each month from mid-May until October, they rank the flowers on a scale of 0 to 5 with “5” being the best and “0” being the poorest.  

Lantana “Havana Sunset”

Here are some of the annual flower varieties that you will find in the 2021 growing season.

Bidens “Bidy Gonzales Top”
Canna “Cannaova Yellow”
Canna “Cannaova Red”
Lantana “Havana Harvest Moon”
Pentas “Butterly Light Lavender”
Catharanthus “Tattoo Papaya”
Catharanthus “Tattoo Cherry”

If interested in  viewing the annual flower garden trials, please feel free to stop by the Warren County Extension Office located at 5162 Russellville Road in Bowling Green, KY.

Buy Kentucky Fresh from Local Farmer’s Markets

Local foods tastes better. Fruits and vegetables grown  locally and sold at the farmer’s market spend more time maturing in the field, and less time on the road. They aren’t picked green and sprayed with hormones to ripen. They are naturally at their peak flavor and nutrition, and ready for your family to enjoy.

Tips for shopping at the farmers’ market

· Mind your budget. Before you go, decide how much you have to spend. Bring along a calculator or paper and pencil to track spending. Don’t buy more that you can store safely and eat or preserve before it spoils.

· Bring the kids and let them help pick out some of the fruits and vegetables. They will learn how to shop wisely and might even get excited about trying new foods.

· Arrive early for best selection. Popular items may sell out fast.

· Shop late for best prices. Some farmers will sell items at a lower price, rather than taking them home. Don’t be afraid to bargain.

· Make a lap around the market before making  purchases.  This will allow you to see which booths have the best quality food for the lowest prices, which vendors accept EBT or nutrition program benefits, or offer promotions such as Double Dollars.

· Keep an open mind. Produce sold at the farmers’ market is usually grown for taste, not appearance. It may look imperfect, but taste great.

· Ask for seconds. Sometimes farmers have good     produce that didn’t look good enough to display. Ask if they have seconds that they will sell at a reduced rate.

· Buy fruits and vegetables in season. That’s when they’re at the height of quality and lowest price. See below for information for when produce is in season.

· Ask questions. Farmers are usually happy to answer questions about their produce, and they often have good cooking and serving suggestions.

· Take notes to help you remember which vendors have good prices on high quality food. Next time you visit the market, refer to your notes.

· Buy now, enjoy later. If possible, buy large amounts of produce in season and freeze, can or dry it for the winter. Contact your county Extension office for   classes in food preservation.

Bowling Green Farmers’ Markets

Summer Produce Items

Other Available Items

Flies and Pink Eye a Problem Again This Summer

By Ric Bessin and Jonathan L. Larson; UK Entomology Extension Specialists

Face flies are annoying pests for cattle that can impact the animal’s welfare by just constantly molesting the eyes of our animals. These flies are looking to feed on tears but will also feed on saliva, blood, and nasal discharges. They do this by using their unique mouthparts, which resemble sponges and help them consume their liquid foods. Recently, county Extension agents informed us that they have received a large influx of questions regarding the connection between these pests and their transmission of pink eye.

Identification & Life cycle

Face flies look very similar to house flies in shape and coloration but are slightly larger than their close relative. They are dark grey with four black stripes that run down their back. As with a lot of flies, the maggots develop in fecal material. Specifically, face fly maggots develop in freshly deposited cattle manure. The maggots will hatch from eggs and then go through four stages of development over 15 to 25 days, depending on the weather. During the summer, face flies are not often found in structures, but the adults do overwinter in barns or attics and will become active again in the spring to start the next generation of flies.

Figure 1: Face flies are in the same genus as house flies and look very similar to that species. They are slightly larger in comparison and are less common in structures in the summer. Adults can be found resting on plants and fences when not on animals. (Photo: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org)

Pink Eye Transmission

High numbers of face flies are associated with higher rates of pink eye issues. The feeding style of the flies causes more avenues of introduction by scratching the eyes, and the flies have been demonstrated to carry the causative agent of pink eye as well. Some estimates put the cost of pink eye in cattle at about $150 million annually.

Figure 2: Face flies feed on tears they induce from the eyes of cattle. The feeding style of the flies leads to irritation and can open the eyes up to infection by pathogens, in particular pink eye. (Photo: Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, Bugwood.org)

Management Must Be Multifaceted

Fly control is essential, but can be difficult as face flies are only on the animal for a small percentage of the time. Therefore, addressing the egg and larval stages of the fly, as well as the adults, is most effective. A moderate to heavy fly infestation is when there are 10 to 20 flies per animal during the middle of the day. A single fly-control program will not work on every farm, so it often takes multiple tactics of control to achieve good results.

Fly tags (mid- to late May, through mid-September-October)(one ear tag or session or two sessions; be sure to use the number of tags required by the manufacturer), insecticide pour-ons, back rubbers (no 2 diesel), dust bags and knock-down sprays (Bachpack or ATV) are helpful in reducing the number of adult face flies on your animals. Fly traps in barns can also be helpful in reducing the number of flies. Feed additives with insect growth regulators are available that target the maggots that are laid in the manure. Encouraging dung beetles, which break down the manure pat, will also decrease egg survival.

Face flies can develop resistance to pesticides over time, so switching the drug mode of action of pesticides used every year is important. For example, if pyrethrins are used one year, then organophosphates should be used the following year. Waiting until the start of fly season to apply fly tags and removing the old fly tags in the fall also decreases the development of resistance. It is also extremely important to follow the safety precautions recommended by the manufacturer, as these insecticides can be toxic to people if handled improperly.

Appropriate grazing, along with clipping pastures will prevent seed-head development, reducing the irritation to the eyes of cattle, as well as reducing the resting areas for the flies. Clipping pastures to a low stubble height in May just after the seed heads emerge and again in mid-summer when weeds appear is recommended. Shaded areas need to be available to decrease the ultraviolet (UV) exposure and, in Herefords, breeding for pigmented eyelids has been successful, as this is a heritable trait. A good management program, including an appropriate vaccination program [especially infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) and bovine viral diarrhea (BVD)] and having good quality nutrition and minerals available at all times, will improve the overall condition of the cattle and decrease the incidence of this disease. Overhead hay feeders should be lowered and round bales should be rolled out. Ensuring adequate bunk space will decrease direct contact between the animals. Animals that develop pinkeye should be isolated if possible.

Late summer is the best time to establish cool-season forages

Source: Jimmy Henning, Extension Forage Specialist

The period from late summer into early fall is the best time to establish common cool-season grasses such as orchardgrass, tall fescue, timothy and bluegrass for pasture or hay in Kentucky. These four grasses make up 95 percent of our pasture acreage.

Many years of research have shown this period provides the best chance for successful establishment. Mother Nature has a hand in this because seed produced in late spring remains dormant until late summer, and early fall rainfall provides the moisture necessary for the seed to germinate. To increase your success rate, remember these four points:

First, address soil fertility needs by applying lime and fertilizer based on a current soil test. Inadequate levels of phosphorous, potassium or limestone will limit the success of late-summer seedings. For pure grass stands, apply nitrogen at the rate of 40 to 60 pounds per acre.

Second, control competition. Late-summer seedings most often fail from competition and lack of water. When you control existing vegetation with herbicides or tillage, the emerging seedlings will have access to whatever water and nutrients are present without having to compete with weeds.

To maximize the success of seedings, use a burn-down herbicide ahead of planting to kill annual weeds. Translocated herbicides can be used where labeled to kill or suppress perennials such as johnsongrass.

Remember to wait two to three weeks after spraying translocated herbicides before you plant in no-till situations. This will allow time for killed weeds to dry out and for residual effects of the herbicide to decay.

Third, select high quality seed of an adapted variety. Planting high quality seed is an essential step toward establishment and longevity of a pasture. These seeds have high percentages of germination, low percentages of weed seed and freedom from noxious weed seed.

Use varieties that have a proven track record of performance in Kentucky. The University of Kentucky conducts extensive research on varietal performance, which can be found on the UK Forages website, https://forages.ca.uky.edu/variety_trials. Here you will find all of the current results for the major forage crops in Kentucky, including cool-season grasses.

Look for varieties that have performed well across several test years and locations. These varieties will have improved yield, quality, persistence, disease resistance or other positive traits.

If you’re uncertain about a variety’s adaptation and performance, you can obtain information on the leading performers in the UK forage variety tests by contacting me at the Warren County Cooperative Extension Service.

Fourth, seed at the proper time and depth. Seed legumes and grasses before mid-September. Grasses are less sensitive to later seeding than legumes. The major cool-season grasses will not do well if you simply broadcast them onto existing overgrazed or mowed pastures. Forages should be seeded no deeper than one-fourth to one-half inch.

Late-summer alfalfa seedings are susceptible to sclerotinia stem and crown rot. If sclerotinia has been active in your area or farm, strongly consider waiting until next spring to seed.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.