Paycheck Protection Program Update

The Economic Aid Act reauthorized the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through March 31 and made several modifications beneficial to farmers. It also authorizes second draw PPP loans.

Eligible expenses paid with PPP loans are deductible for tax purposes. And Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance grants are not taxable. See your tax preparer for details.

New rule for farmers only. Calculation of PPP loans is now based on gross income instead of net farm income. Gross income comes from Line 9 of Schedule F. The rule applies to sole proprietors and eligible self-employed farmers who report on Schedule F and were in business as of February 15, 2020.

This means farmers who did not qualify before may now qualify. It also means farmers who did not qualify for the maximum amount may request an increase in the original PPP loan if the loan has not been forgiven.

For those without employees the maximum is now $20,833. Those with employees add the higher of 2019 or 2020’s monthly payroll multiplied by 2.5.

Increase in existing loan amount. Borrowers may be able to request an increase in the original amount of the loan under certain circumstances if SBA has not remitted a forgiveness payment to the Lender (the loan is forgiven). This includes the new loan calculation for farmers and partnerships that did not include partner compensation in the application. Contact the lender that made the PPP loan to request the difference.

Other New Rules. Borrowers may use 2019 or 2020 for purposes of calculating their maximum loan amount. And they may now choose a covered period to pay or incur eligible expenses stretching from 8 weeks up to 24 weeks from the date loan proceeds are disbursed.

Eligible expenses for PPP loans have been added including payments for certain business software and services, cost for goods that are essential to the operation, and rent and business interest paid on obligations incurred before February 15, 2020. These eligible expenses apply retroactively to existing unforgiven PPP loans. PPP loans still require that at least 60 percent of the proceeds be used for payroll costs.

There is a simplified loan forgiveness application for PPP loans under $150,000.

New Loans (First Draw). A borrower who did not receive a PPP loan in 2020 may apply for a new loan based on the new rules. This applies to small businesses, self-employed and sole proprietors with or without employees, partnerships, and others in operation on February 15, 2020.

Second Draw Loans. Borrowers who received a PPP loan during 2020 may be eligible for a second PPP loan, even if the first loan has been forgiven. A qualifying borrower:

  • has 300 or fewer employees,
  • will have used all the original loan funds for authorized purposes before the new loan payments are dispersed, and
  • can show gross receipts in any one quarter of 2020 was reduced by at least 25% compared to the same quarter in 2019.

A borrower in operation all four quarters of 2020 need only show that gross receipts for 2020 was reduced by at least 25% compared 2019. PPP forgiveness received in 2020 is not included in gross income.

This is based on SBA guidance through January 13, 2020.  SBA intends to issue guidance on loan forgiveness and the loan review process later.


Author(s) Contact Information: 

Jerry Pierce  |  KFBM Program Coordinator  |  jerry.pierce@uky.edu

2021 Weed Control Options Come into Clearer View

The recent announcements of the EU approval of RR2XtendFlex (RoundupReady 2 XtendFlex) soybean and EPA approval of three dicamba products has brought a clearer view of soybean weed control options available to Kentucky farmers in 2021.   Prior to these two announcements the waters were murky with unknowns of if the flexibility of the RR2Xtendflex system would be available and if any dicamba formulations would be available to spray on any dicamba tolerant soybean acres.   With the recent announcement came answers and clarification, but also prompted a few more questions and restrictions.

Palmer amaranth

The most recent event to occur was the approval of Xtendimax (Bayer), Engenia (BASF), and Tavium (Syngenta) for applications to DT (dicamba tolerant) soybean.   The three labels stayed largely unchanged from previous versions although crops outside of DT soybean and DT cotton have been removed from the labels.  Restrictions of nozzles, tank mixes, sprayer speed, boom height, wind speed, and temperature inversions remain the same as previous labels.  The restrictions that have changed are rate changes for Xtendimax burndowns, application cutoff date/growth stages, increases in buffer requirements, and the new requirements of a volatility reduction agent or buffer agent.  Each change is described below:

  • Xtendimax can only be applied at a rate of 22 fl oz/a per application, regardless of application timing.  Previous labels allowed up to 44 fl oz/a Xtendimax for preplant/burndown applications, but that rate is no longer labeled.
  • All three labels have a federal cutoff date of June 30th and no application can be made after that date.   The Xtendimax label also indicates a cutoff soybean growth stage of R1,  whereas the Tavium label has a soybean growth stage cutoff of V4.   In both cases whichever occurs first (date or growth stage) takes precedent.  The Engenia label does not include a cutoff growth stage, thus June 30th is the cutoff for this product. 
  • Down wind buffers have been extended from 110 ft in the previous labels to 240 ft in the new labels. Similar to previous labels these buffers can be included in directly adjacent roads, mowed grassy areas, corn fields, DT soybean fields, fields prepared for planting, and/or areas covered by a building.   THIS BUFFER IS NOT INTENDED FOR PROTECITON OF DICAMBA SENSITIVE CROPS,  THE LABELS REMAIN THE SAME IN THAT APPLICATIONS CANNOT BE MADE IF THE WIND IS BLOWING TOWARDS A SENSITIVE CROP SUCH AS NON-DT SOYBEAN, TOBACCO, VINEYARDS, AND TOMATOES.
    • These buffers can be reduced with the use of hooded/shielded sprayers or other approved drift reduction technologies (DRT), as outlined on each label website.
    • Areas in which endangered species are present may need a 310ft downwind buffer plus a 57 ft omnidirectional buffer.  A list of these areas can be found on the Bulletins Live 2 website. 
  • The addition of a volatility reduction agent (VRA) or buffer agent is also required for all three labels in addition to drift reduction agents (DRA) that were required by previous labels.   The list of approved VRA or buffers can be found on each respective products label website.

As in the past, dicamba specific training will still be required prior to application of Xtendimax, Engenia, and/or Tavium.  This training will be offed by the registrants and will largely be available online.

The additional restrictions bring some clarification to past issues of the previous dicamba labels, but the additional restrictions certainly do not make their application easier.  The extension of the downwind buffer to 240 ft may cause havoc as many Kentucky fields are surrounded by trees and thus the buffers will have to be placed within the production field being sprayed.   While the distance in necessary to protect our natural resources and endangered species,  240ft can add up to numerous acres very quickly.  In some cases, the area will be large enough for applicators/farmers to question the feasibility of applying the product to a given field.

The addition of the June 30th cutoff date places a hard deadline on applications, whereas past labels in which growth stages were used allowed many applications to continue to occur in the hot and humid months of July and August.  Weather conditions in Kentucky in July and August simply are not ideal for dicamba applications in any crops, not to mention the numerous sensitive crops that are out during those time of year including tobacco.  This cutoff date does however eliminate a lot of possible uses for double crop soybeans that likely will not be planted until late June and early July, so growers may need to seek an alternative herbicide programs for double crop soybean acres.

Despite the increase in restrictions of the new dicamba labels, the announcement of these labels comes on the heels of the approval of RoundupReady 2 XtendFlex soybean by the EU and thus full clearance for commercial production of those soybean varieties.   The availability of RR2XtendFlex soybean varieties brings versatility to the Xtend platform that can be compared to its closest competitors.   The XtendFlex soybean offers resistance to glyphosate and dicamba the same as RR2Xtend, but also offers glufosinate resistance.   The addition of glufosinate offers postemergence flexibility for farmers who are dealing with glyphosate resistant broadleaves such as Palmer amaranth or waterhemp.   The biggest fallacy, in my opinion, of the RR2Xtend soybean varieties was that farmers were largely married to dicamba for postemergence applications when dealing with waterhemp and Palmer amaranth, especially with the increasing incidence of PPO-resistance in these two weed species.   In many cases a farmer/applicator was stuck in between a rock and a hard place when deciding when to apply dicamba under restrictive conditions and a rapidly growing weed.   The addition of glufosinate offers a bit more flexibility and can allow a farmer to make an effective postemergence application of glufosinate if environmental conditions or surrounding crops do not allow for a timely application of dicamba.   It must be said, though, that glufosinate is very capable of drifting the same as any other herbicide and thus if the wind is blowing at high speeds towards a sensitive crop no herbicide application, glufosinate, dicamba, or other should be applied.

As has been the message from University of Kentucky Weed Science in the past, the specific dicamba formulation one wants to apply and/or when to apply glufosinate matters less than the residual herbicide applied.   Anybody choosing to raise RR2Xtendflex soybean who is dealing with Palmer amaranth or waterhemp must remain vigilant and apply robust preemergence herbicides.  Research supported by the Kentucky Soybean Board has shown that even with the flexibility of the RR2XtendFlex soybean platform the use of a residual herbicide with 2 to 3 effective sites of action is more influential on end of season waterhemp and Palmer control than the choice or sequence of postemergence herbicides.   This message applies to all herbicide tolerant soybean systems, and will continue to be the message for these two troublesome weeds.

Up to the recent two approvals of RR2XtendFlex soybean and Xtendimax, Engenia, and Tavium there was a lot of unknowns in weed control going into 2021.  These recent approvals have brought a lot clarification to what farmers will have available for weed control in 2021 and their options are now fairly large which is great for soybean farmers.

AGR-256, Identification of Palmer Amaranth, Waterhemp, and Other Pigweed Species: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/AGR/AGR256/AGR256.pdf

Author: Travis Legleiter, Plant and Soil Sciences

Create a Winter Container Garden

The holidays are literally right around the corner! Have you gotten all your decorating done? You may have answered yes to that question, but have you thought about the outdoor decorations? Have you ever heard of a winter container garden? Yes! You can create a container garden in the winter time. To find out just how to create a winter container garden, stay with me on the Sunshine Gardening Podcast for my secrets on creating a gorgeous winter container garden for this holiday season! 

Remember that pretty container filled with annual flowers that was used all summer and maybe even to fall if you weren’t too tired? Well, the same container can be re-worked and situated in your home’s entryway to welcome close family and friends in for the holidays!

To begin creating a winter container garden, use a hard plastic or wood container that can withstand the harsh winter elements filled with potting soil mix. Make sure the potting soil is a little below the top rim of the container. If not, add more potting soil or use newspaper to bring it closer to the top.

Next, collect clippings from different landscape trees and shrubs growing around your home or neighborhood. Examples of greenery might include southern magnolia, white pine, Eastern red cedar, holly, heavenly bamboo, spruce, boxwood, and Eastern hemlock. Cut varying lengths of greenery when gathering samples. The thought is to use the longer pieces to “spill” out of the arrangement and the shorter pieces to “fill” in around the spiller plants.

Kentucky’s landscape is filled with different varieties of evergreen trees and shrubs that can be cut and used as fresh greenery in a number of holiday decorations for the home! Take a look around your yard to see what greens are available in your neighborhood.

  • White Pine, scientifically known as Pinus strobus, offers a blue green color to arrangements and provides a nice fragrance when situated in the home. Not to mention, it has excellent needle retention.
  • Another readily available greenery item is Eastern Redcedar, Juniperus virginiana, which possesses fleshy blue berries for good color and smells wonderful when brought indoors.
  • Southern Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora, a favorite among Southerners has glossy, dark green leaves with velvety, brown undersides that give an interesting contrast when placed against other leaf textures.
  • Holly is another traditional holiday green that adds interest depending on the variety that is being used. Some leaves give a blue color while other holly varieties can be variegated. If looking for berries, make sure to collect from the female plant.
  • Eastern Hemlock, Tsuga Canadensis, is one of my favorites to use around the holidays for decorating. This evergreen gives a lacey effect to fresh arrangements. The leaves are flat and the undersides have more of a white appearance on the undersides. At the ends, find small pinecones that look like little ornaments attached.
  • Other types of greenery such as Colorado Blue Spruce, and Boxwood are acceptable, too.

Things to know before cutting. Make sure to use clean, sharp cutters and cut at an angle for better transport of water and nutrients. Before cutting greenery from trees in the landscape, carefully consider which branches need to be cut. It is best to distribute cuts evenly throughout the tree or shrub to preserve its natural form.

The tips to know to ensure freshness! After cutting the greenery, immerse stems into a bucket filled with water and soak it overnight to maximize moisture. An optional step would be to allow the greenery to dry and then spray it with an anti-transpirant such as Wilt-pruf to help seal in additional moisture. However if you are using blue spruce, juniper berries, or cedar avoid using anti-transpirants, since this product can damage the wax coating that gives the plants their unique color.  

Now comes for the fun part—creating the winter container garden! Here are some items that you will need before you begin the process.

Gather up a round tomato cage and turn it upside down where the wire stakes are pointed up. The round part of the tomato cage should be positioned on the bottom with the 4 prongs facing upward to look similar to a Christmas tree. This piece will serve as the thriller in this arrangement and also give the container some height.

For some added cheer, attach Christmas lights to the tomato cage using floral wire. Use a spiral pattern when adding the lights to the tomato cage, or if you prefer more lights, place strands on each wire of the tomato cage. Don’t forget to place the plug-in towards the back of the container and next to a plug-in.

After getting the lights attached, put a block of green floral foam in a sink filled with room temperature water. The floral foam will support the greenery in place and keep it fresh by holding in moisture. Avoid forcing it down in the water where air bubbles form and allow the water to slowly soak into the block like a sponge and sink to the bottom. Floral foam can be purchased at most big box stores or at your favorite craft and floral supply store.

Place the block of wet floral foam in the middle of the container, and put the round base of the tomato cage over the foam. Next, take a roll of clear tape and secure the sides of the cage and floral foam to the container to keep it from falling over.

Cut stems of greenery at an angle and insert them into the wet floral foam. Start on the sides, then the front, and back of the arrangement, so the greenery appears as if it is cascading over the sides of the container. Add smaller pieces of greenery to fill in around the spiller until the foam is no longer visible.

After the greens are placed, for the finishing touch, incorporate natural elements like red berries, magnolia pods, or pine cones for a creative personal touch. Place your arrangement near the entrance of your home and watch how it glows with glamour from top to bottom! Guests will enjoy viewing these fresh arrangements around the holidays, and you will appreciate it more, knowing that you created it yourself using natural materials from around Kentucky’s landscape!

I hope that you enjoyed this episode of the Sunshine Gardening Podcast! For more information about today’s show, make sure to see the show notes on the blog at Warren County Agriculture, https://warrencountyagriculture.com/

To stay up to date on all the latest episodes, make sure to hit the subscribe button wherever you get your podcasts. By hitting the subscribe button, you will be notified of future shows where gardening tips and tricks will be shared to help gardeners reach their gardening goals and to help the sun shine a little brighter over your Kentucky garden.

Find Inspiration at the Virtual Specialty Crop Conference!

Make plans to attend the Virtual 2020 Specialty Crop Conference planned for Thursday, December 10th! This conference is geared toward both new and experienced growers looking to diversify their farming operations.

With the timing of this conference, producers can gain knowledge and inspiration to utilize on their farms! The conference is free and open to anyone who is interested in learning more about growing specialty crops in Kentucky. We have a great line-up of specialty crop growers, Extension specialists, and other speakers planned for this conference! View the photos below to see the specialty crops which will be highlighted at the conference.

To view the entire schedule for the Virtual 2020 Specialty Crop Conference, see the schedule listed below.

Virtual 2020 Specialty Crop Conference Agenda

If interested in attending the Virtual 2020 Specialty Crop Conference, register HERE by clicking on this link:

https://uky.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEucequrTIpE9ST7CKXdDfV_-2_roqoxpkn

If you have other questions related to the conference, please contact the Warren County Extension Office at (270) 842-1681!

7 Fun Ways to Use Pumpkin this Season!

#1. Eat Them!

Pumpkin is a nutritious food to consume. They are low in fat and sodium and provides an excellent source of vitamin A and fiber. To prepare fresh pumpkin at home, wash the pumpkin and cut lengthwise. Remove the guts of the pumpkin and place it in a baking dish. Bake in the oven on 400 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour or until tender. For some nutritional pumpkin recipes, check out the Chocolate Pumpkin Snack Cake and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN SNACK CAKE

• 1 (18.5 ounce) box Devil’s Food cake mix

• 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin or 2 cups fresh pumpkin (cooked and mashed)

1. Mix cake mix and pumpkin in a large bowl. Batter will be thick. 2. Spread batter into a greased 13 x 9 inch cake pan. 3. Bake according to cake mix package directions for a 13 x 9 inch pan. 4. Cool and cut into 15 pieces. OPTION: Try using other flavors of cake mix, such as spice or butter pecan. Cupcakes can also be made with this recipe.

NUTRITION FACTS PER SERVING: 140 calories; 2.5 g total fat; 1 g saturated fat; 0 g trans fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 260 mg sodium; 29 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 2 g protein; 30% Daily Value of vitamin A; 2% Daily Value of vitamin C; 4% Daily Value of calcium; 8% Daily Value of iron

Use fresh pumpkin in the Plate it up! Kentucky Proud recipes for the pumpkin apple muffins for breakfast or make fall spiced pumpkin bread to serve as a bread or dessert.

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Ingredients: 

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1¼ cups honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups fresh pureed pumpkin
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 cups Granny Smith apples, finely chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt and spices. In a small bowl, combine honey, eggs, pumpkin and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in apples. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups, two-thirds full. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Yield: 18 muffins

Note: Can substitute two cups granulated sugar for honey, decrease baking soda by ¼ teaspoon and increase oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Nutritional Analysis: 200 calories, 7 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 160 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 20 g sugar, 3 g protein

Don’t forget that the pumpkin seeds can even be eaten too! Take the seeds and roast them in the oven. Add your favorite seasonings and you have a healthy snack or seasonal salad topper.

#2. Decorate Them!

One fall activity that youth look forward to is pumpkin decorating! Take your family to a local pumpkin patch to pick out their own pumpkin. Once you have picked out a pumpkin then your child can select their preferred method on how to decorate their pumpkin, without the hassle of having to carve them too! Options may include painting their pumpkins with acrylic paints or creating their own designs. Parents may want to purchase decorating kits at local crafts stores. The kits can be purchased in all different designs like dinosaurs, cats, Disney characters, or funny jack-o-lantern faces. The best part about these kits is they can be recycled year after year. Another option is fun 3-D stickers where kids can make funny faces on their pumpkin. The last kit used was a cat kit that came with foam parts and pipe cleaners. With the foam Halloween decorating kits, it contains everything that a parent would need to help their child decorate their pumpkin.  If you do plan on carving the pumpkin, carving design books are available where the design is perforated instead of having to use scissors to cut them out. 

#3. Create a Fresh Pumpkin Centerpiece using Natural Elements!

With pumpkins in a huge supply this October, create a fresh do-it-yourself pumpkin centerpiece to brighten up your lovely abode! First, gather a few materials to begin your project — a sharp knife, a big spoon, one block of wet floral foam, clear tape, scissors, a small pie pumpkin, and a variety of seasonal flowers and natural elements from the landscape such as garden canna, dried hydrangeas, purple basil, sedum, and goldenrod.

Begin by soaking a block of floral foam in a sink filled with cold water to get it wet. Allow the water to gradually soak up into the foam and avoid pushing it down in the water where it can gather air bubbles. While the block is soaking, take the pie pumpkin and with a knife carve a circle around the top of the pumpkin’s stem to hold the wet foam of your arrangement. Remove and discard the seeds and pulp.

Next, place the water saturated block of floral foam inside the pumpkin. You may have to cut it with a knife to make sure that it fits in the opening of the pumpkin. This is the perfect membrane for holding the mechanics of the arrangement.

Add the thriller of the arrangement first which would be the tall garden canna to give it some height. Make sure to cut stems at a diagonal so water will easily transport up the stem. Next, add dried hydrangeas to serve as the main flower for the arrangement. Place the purple basil greenery around the hydrangeas to give a nice pop of color. Lastly, add the stems of sedum and goldenrod as the filler flower to fill in the dead space and finish the arrangement.

#4. Make a Gratitude Pumpkin!

Spend time with family by creating a gratitude or a thankful pumpkin. To create this pumpkin, take a black permanent marker and have each member of the family write what they are thankful for each day. Keep the pumpkin on the table until Thanksgiving to serve as a reminder of what your family is thankful for this season!

#5. Assemble a Table Centerpiece using Pumpkins!

Another way to use other pumpkins this season is to create a pumpkin centerpiece! Grab a white plate or tray from around the house, other types of pumpkin whether it be multi-colored ones or small white ones, and collect fall clippings from trees and shrubs around the landscape to create a simple fall centerpiece for the table!

To begin this process, place one type of tree cutting on the bottom of the white plate or tray to serve as the base. In the picture above, we used a deciduous shrub showing bright red berries. In the picture below, we selected heavenly bamboo. Next, place the pumpkins on top of the leaf clippings. Make sure to use an odd number of pumpkins like 3’s or 5’s. Next, add another type of colorful fall foliage around the pumpkins for some accent color like the red maple or even the Northern Sea Oats. For some extra embellishment, place small raffia bows around the stems of the pumpkins. You can also add little tea lights around the pumpkins if you have any extra room. Another added touch would be to personalize the pumpkins with Thanksgiving sayings or blessings for the table. Have fun and be creative!

Other pumpkins used in a centerpiece.

#6. Make a Pumpkin Bird Feeder!                                 

This is a fun project and activity to perform at home and involve the kids. Plus it helps to feed the birds at the same time!

To make the pumpkin bird feeder, use a small to medium sized pumpkin and with a knife cut and remove all the guts of the pumpkin. To make the hanger for the pumpkin bird feeder, take heavy-duty string and attach it to the sides of the pumpkin by drilling a hole. Another option is to place the string around the sides of the pumpkin and in the grooves and secure it down with clear tape. Tie the string together in a knot if using several pieces of string. Place birdseed in the center of the pumpkin, based on the birds you wish to attract. If you want to provide a place for the birds to perch when feeding, add tree branches or small twigs to the sides. Hang up the finished pumpkin bird feeder in a tree and watch the feathery friends from your favorite window.

#7 Lastly, recycle the pumpkin to the compost pile!

It is always good to return nutrients to the soil by composting it. Cut up the pumpkin(s) into sections or quarters and add it to the compost pile. Add water and turn it often with a garden fork to incorporate with other materials from the compost pile. In a few short months, the compost pile will reduce in size and finished compost will smell earthy, feel crumbly, and appear dark in color.

Fall Home Lawn Improvement Practices

Do you have trouble establishing a good stand of grass in your home lawn? Do you notice bare spots? Do you have more weeds than grass? If you answered yes to any of these questions, fall is the absolute time to carry out several home lawn improvement practices to help improve the appearance of your Kentucky home lawn. Today on episode 11 of the Sunshine Gardening Podcast, I am sharing the top 4 secrets to improving your home lawn this fall. For all the details, stay right here on the Sunshine Gardening Podcast!

#1. When is the best time to perform lawn care practices in Kentucky? The turf care calendar for cool season lawns in Kentucky is found at the beginning of this guide. It shows each month of the year and highlights the best and second best times to perform specific lawn care practices for the Kentucky lawn. There are also foot notes located at the bottom of the page that gives more explanations related to the specific lawn care practices.

Preview of the Turf Care Calendar for Cool-Season Lawns

#2. Select the right grass for the Kentucky lawn. Based on research from the University of Kentucky, turf-type tall fescue performs the best for Kentucky Home Lawns. Tall fescue has good qualities including: There are also some slight drawbacks which include good traffic tolerance. For a link to see the publication on Selecting the Right Grass for your Kentucky Lawn, make sure to see the show notes. This publication explores the different types of grass species that can be grown in Kentucky and lists major qualities and problems associated with each grass type. Recommendations for the top performing varieties of tall fescue and other cool-season grasses are also included in this guide.

#3. Soil Test, Soil Test, Soil Test! The secret to having a nice looking lawn is by conducting a soil test. I often say that the secret to good plant growth is through the soil and by testing the soil, this process gives homeowners the exact recommendations of lime and fertilizer rates needed to reach optimum plant growth. To improve the appearance of the lawn, first start with a soil test.   

To test the soil for a home lawn, sample the top 2 to 4 inches of soil using a garden shovel or trowel. Collect soil from different locations in the lawn at random and make sure to avoid getting any grass clippings or leaves when sampling. Some people sample their front and back yards separately. Place soil in a clean five-gallon bucket. Repeat this same process 10 to 12 times and mix all the samples together. If there is any excess moisture in the soil, allow the sample to dry on newspaper for 24 hours.

After collecting soil, bring samples to the local extension office. Some basic information about the crop being grown is needed to go along with the sample before being mailed. There is a small fee to pay for conducting a soil test, but I assure you that it is the best money that you will spend since it gives you the exact amounts for lime and fertilizer that is needed. When results come back, extension agents review and sign the soil test recommendations. Soil test results generally take about 7 to 10 days to be processed.

#4. When should I fertilize my home lawn? Fertilization is an important part of maintaining a home lawn. Fall is the absolute best time to fertilize cool season grasses in the Kentucky home lawn. By performing this practice in the fall, the root system is stronger and can make it through the winter months. September, October, and November are the best months to apply fertilizer according to soil test recommendations.

The number of times nitrogen fertilizer is applied depends on the lawn quality desired. Most general home lawns with no irrigation system are maintained at the low to medium maintenance levels. These levels require either one or two applications of nitrogen. Make sure to have the soil tested to know these exact recommendations for the home lawn.

If interested in knowing more information about home lawn fertilization, make sure to see the link in the show notes to achieve the publication for Fertilizing your Lawn, AGR-212.

While I know that I gave the top 4 secrets to improving your home lawn this fall, I also have a free resource that I am offering up today that can offer more help in home lawn improvement practices! This free resource is called the Home Lawn Improvement Guidebook. This guidebook will assist you in making the best decisions for how and when to improve the appearance of your Kentucky lawn. Material in this guidebook is provided by University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Turf Specialists and other Extension Professionals. If you would like a copy of this guidebook, make sure to contact the Warren County Extension Service at (270) 842-1681 or contact Kristin Hildabrand at kristin.goodin@uky.edu.

I hope that you enjoyed this episode of the Sunshine Gardening Podcast! For more information about today’s show, make sure to see the show notes on the blog at Warren County Agriculture.

To stay up to date on all the latest episodes, make sure to hit the subscribe button wherever you get your podcasts. By hitting the subscribe button, you will be notified of future shows where gardening tips and tricks will be shared to help gardeners reach their gardening goals and to help the sun shine a little brighter over your Kentucky garden.

Thanks for listening to the Sunshine Gardening Podcast! I hope to see you again soon when the sun shines again!

Helpful Resources:

Turf Care Calendar: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/agr/agr55/agr55.pdf

Selecting the Right Grass for your Kentucky Lawn: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/AGR/AGR52/AGR52.pdf

Fertilizing your Lawn AGR-212: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/AGR/AGR212/AGR212.pdf. 

MCA Virtual Field Day

Join in on the Mammoth Cave Area Virtual Field Day that will be held on Tuesday, October 27th from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. This program will be held exclusively on Zoom video conferencing technology. The program is of no cost, but interested producers are required to pre-register. Participants will tour and learn about the following farms in the Mammoth Cave Area:

  • Ag Diversification: Producing and Selling Ear Corn For Profit: McKinney Farms – Butler County
  • High Tunnel Strawberry Production: Kevin Lyons – Monroe County
  • Managing Mud in High Traffic Areas with Winter Feeding Pad: Ricky & Kay Keen – Simpson County


Participants will also have the opportunity to talk with each farmer during the program to help answer any question attendees may have. Pre-registration is required. To register go to this registration link
https://uky.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMlc-ygrTkqHtK9UBZUNbaKGepf7gwHVh0x or contact your local extension office. This event is being hosted by agriculture and horticulture agents in the Mammoth Cave Area.

Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses look good throughout the seasons and provide texture and movement in the garden too. Grasses are selected for their attractive foliage, distinctive form, and/or showy flowers and seedheads. Make sure that the grass selected fits into the landscape plan. It must be the right size, shape, color, and needs to bloom in the correct season. Here is an overview of how to plant and grow ornamental grasses successively in the garden as well as a list of ornamental grass varieties that would be good to plant for great autumn color.

Maiden Grass

Growing Recommendations

When: The best time to plant grasses is spring, so they will be established by the time hot summer months arrive. Container-grown grasses can be planted during the summer as long as adequate moisture is supplied. Cool-season grasses can be planted in early fall, but plenty of mulch should be used to protect fall plantings from winter kill.

Soil: Most grasses will grow in good or heavy clay soils. Those that have special soil requirements should be found on the print label when purchased.

Spacing: A general rule is to place plants as far apart as their eventual height. Grasses that have a mature height of 3 feet may be placed 3 feet apart from center to center. If quick cover is desired, and your budget allows, plant closer.

Switch Grass

Planting: Keep the following guidelines in mind when planting ornamental grasses.

  • Always try to match the original soil line of the plant.
  • Do not plant too high or too low below the crown.
  • Newly planted grasses are susceptible to drying out, so water them immediately after planting, and keep them well watered until they are established.

Mulching: Mulching is important to get your grass plant off to a good start. Mulch reduces weeds, conserves soil moisture, reduces soil temperature, and provides winter protection. A two-to-three-inch later of organic mulch is best.

Watering: Except in extreme periods of drought, most established grasses should receive enough rainfall in Kentucky without supplemental water. Drip irrigation, applied directly to the root zone, is best during flowering because overhead irrigation may cause rapid decline of flowers.

Cutting back foliage: Ornamental grasses should be cut back just before or as the new season’s growth begins to appear. For most grasses in Kentucky, cut back ornamental grasses in late February or March. This will allow you to enjoy the attractive tan and reddish foliage during the winter months Most grasses should be cut back to a few inches above the ground. A pair of hand pruners or string trimmers will work for most plants. However, most species that grow more than 10 feet tall will have large, woody stems that can be cut only with a string trimmer blade attachment, pruning saw, or chainsaw.

Feather Reed Grass

Dividing and transplanting: Grasses may need to be divided or transplanted to propagate more plants, renew older clumps that tend to die within the center of the clump, or move plants to a better location. Warm-season grasses should be divided in late fall, winter, or early spring. Divide the plants into good-sized divisions with multiple tillers (stems). They can be divided into smaller divisions, but these require more time to reach mature size. Keep newly divided plants moist and shaded until planted in their new location.

For more information on ornamental grasses for the Kentucky Landscape, contact your local Extension Office.

Information from this article was taken from Ornamental Grasses for Kentucky Landscapes, HO-79.

Cover Crops for the Kentucky Garden

Crimson Clover & Cereal Rye Cover Crop
Photo Source: Rachel Rudolph, UK Extension Vegetable Specialist

Our gardens are finally slowing down for the season. One thing you may ask yourself is should I consider sowing a cover crop for my Kentucky garden? Your mind may wonder next what type of cover crop should I sow? How is the best way to sow a cover crop? To find out more information about cover crops, I contacted our UK Extension Vegetable Specialist Dr. Rachel Rudolph to see what recommendation she had on cultivating cover crops. After talking with her, I discovered selecting a cover crop comes down to what you are hoping to accomplish for your garden plot.

Interview Guest: Dr. Rachel Rudolph,
University of Kentucky Extension Vegetable Specialist

Why would gardeners want to sow cover crops for their gardens? What are the advantages or benefits? Cover crops have the potential to lend several benefits for the Kentucky garden. Most of the benefits proven through research are increased soil organic matter, weed suppression, soil structure improvement, pest and pathogen suppression, soil micro-organism promotion, improved nutrient cycling and management, increased water infiltration, reduced soil erosion, and even attract and provide habitat for native pollinators to the garden.

Which cover crops perform best for Kentucky gardens? Generally not one cover crop will capture all the benefits listed above. The question goes back to the home gardener to decide “why do I want a cover crop?” and “what am I hoping to accomplish in my garden?”. Once you answer that question, it gets much easier to implement a cover crop for the garden. For example, let’s say that you desire a cover crop for weed suppression. The next question you may ask is what time of year do I want to deal with weed suppression? You may answer this question as the winter and summer months are needed more for weed suppression. Make sure to know what growing location you are located in as well as the soil type. Also, consider what type of crops are being grown in your garden. What will happen after these crops come out of the garden? What does your timeline look like? Once you answer some of those basic questions, you will better understand what cover crop is needed or wanted for your garden.

If you are looking for a cover crop that might check multiple boxes for benefits with the home gardener, cereal rye might be a good option! With cereal rye, it will increase organic matter content in the soil, reduce weeds, improve soil structure, promote soil micro-organisms, decrease soil erosion, increase water infiltration, and help improve nutrient cycling.

Cereal Rye mixed with Crimson Clover
@ The UK Horticulture Research Farm

How should we prepare before sowing cover crops in the garden? Before getting started, home gardeners should do their homework to know how much biomass will be produced from their specific cover crop being grown. For instance, cereal rye can get several feet tall at maturity, so ask yourself, are you equipped to handle it. Make sure that you are prepared and ready for when that times comes. Also, understand when the cover crop needs to be terminated.

When it comes to seeding these cover crops, most of them can be sown by broadcast seeding it. To know how much to apply over the area, measure the acreage of the garden and know what the recommended seeding rate for the cover crop. Next, prepare to broadcast the cover crop seed over the area. It may be helpful to mix it other additions such as potting soil or sand, so you feel it better and achieve better coverage when broadcasting the seed over the ground.

Next, prepare the soil before sowing the cover crop. Soil should be loose, crumbly, and soft on the top like planting for a vegetable garden. Gardeners should be able to rake the soil softly over the entire area. Avoid rocky or compacted soils.

If someone would like to learn more about cover crops, here are some other good resources to consider adding to your library.

Managing Cover Crops Profitably Resource Book

Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide

To listen to the full interview with Dr. Rachel Rudolph on Cover Crops for the Kentucky Garden, check out Episode 10 of the Sunshine Gardening Podcast!

I hope that you enjoyed our discussion on things to consider when selecting and growing a cover crop for the Kentucky garden! To view the show notes for Episode 10 on Cover Crops for the Kentucky Garden, visit me on the blog at Warren County Agriculture. Go to www.warrencountyagriculture.com

If you would like more information about cover crops for Kentucky gardens, make sure to contact your local Extension Office in your area.

Thanks for listening to the Sunshine Gardening Podcast!

Gardeners keep digging into gardening and remember to add a little sunshine!

References:

Winter Cover Crops for Kentucky Gardens and Fields, ID-113- http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/id/id113/id113.pdf

Have you noticed Hammerhead Worms?

Last week, a client sent me a photo of a hammerhead worm. To be honest, I had never seen one or even heard of it before. I thought this article would shed more light on this unique creature. Read here to find out more information about hammerhead worms.

Hammerhead worms are flattened, very long earthworms, and have a broad shovel-like head. They can be 10 or more inches in length. Please see the picture below received from a Warren County resident.

Photo Source: Judy Lacefield, Warren Co. Resident

Hammerhead worms are earthworm and mollusk predators and have been a problem in earthworm farms. These are terrestrial planarians. They are able to detect secretions left by earthworms in the soil, and then track, kill, and consume those earthworms. They are able to kill earthworms many times their size as hammerhead worms can use a neurotoxin (tetrodotoxin) to paralyze the worm. Hammerhead worms have the potential to greatly impact local earthworm populations. These hammerhead worms have few predators.

Reproduction can be sexual, or asexual as all the species are hermaphroditic.  Some species can use fragmentation, fission of posterior body fragments. These diverse reproductive strategies enable hammerhead worms to spread rapidly.

While there are native hammerhead worm species, this species appears to be invasive from southeastern Asia; however, I am not able to confirm this. This species is widely distributed and has been in the United States for over a century.

Information for this article was taken from Ric Bessin, Entomology Extension Specialist Kentucky Pest News article published on September 8, 2020 found at https://kentuckypestnews.wordpress.com/2020/09/08/hammerhead-worms/.