LSU AgCenter Communications produces news releases for print, radio, television and social media and provides help for the media in finding sources, experts, visuals and background information about topics related to agriculture, natural resources, the environment, nutrition, food sciences and youth development.
Poultry is Louisiana’s largest animal industry, and avian flu poses a threat to commercial production and backyard flocks. Theresia Lavergne, nationally known poultry scientist, can answer questions and do interviews explaining avian flu and on how to control and contain it. More about Dr. Lavergne and how to contact her.
A gallery of downloadable photos and other visuals arranged by topic. Each includes a caption and the photographer’s name.
2/12/2016 10:13:00 PM
(02/12/16) CROWLEY, La. – The LSU AgCenter will hold a meeting to provide information on new developments in rice weed control on Feb. 26 at the Acadia Parish extension office. The meeting will start at 9 a.m. and end at 11:30 a.m. Much of the program will involve products that are not yet on the market said AgCenter rice weed scientist Eric Webster. “It’s a look into what’s going to be available in 2017 and beyond.” Topics will include new technologies for rice weed management, the Provisia technology, using benzobicyclon for controlling weeds, controlling Nealley sprangletop and fighting herbicide-resistant weeds, he said. The Acadia Parish extension office is located at 157 Cherokee Drive, Crowley.
2/12/2016 6:43:00 PM
Caption The Edna Szymoniak live oak at the entrance to the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station near Hammond, Louisiana.
2/12/2016 6:03:00 PM
Caption Patrik Horsky, Slovak University of Agriculture student; Ivana Tregenza, coordinator, LSU AgCenter International Programs; Iveta Ubrežiová, vice dean of the SUA Faculty of Economics; Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture and dean of the LSU College of Agriculture; Elena Horská, dean of the SUA Faculty of Economics; David Picha, director of LSU AgCenter International Programs, and John Russin, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor.
2/12/2016 2:04:00 PM
Caption The LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden in Baton Rouge will be the site of the 2016 Gourmet in the Garden dinner on June 22.
2/11/2016 9:28:00 PM
(02/10/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – A year spent in Thailand and another in South Korea changed John and Annette Douthat’s world view.
2/11/2016 5:08:00 PM
(02/06/16) ABBEVILLE, La. – A major buyer of south Louisiana rice is testing a well-established medium-grain variety for use in cereal products, Vermilion Parish rice farmers learned at a meeting on Feb. 5.
2/4/2016 2:00:00 PM
()2/04/16) OAK GROVE, La. – The LSU AgCenter will host a workshop on March 2-3 in Oak Grove to educate produce growers, packers and processors about GroupGAP, a new food safety certification program.
2/4/2016 2:00:00 PM
(02/04/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter LaHouse Resource Center will offer a Lead Certified Renovator training course on Feb. 23 and a refresher course on March 10.
2/4/2016 1:30:00 PM
(02/04/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter has released a guide listing grain sorghum hybrids that offer resistance to the sugarcane aphid, a pest that has caused significant damage to Louisiana’s sorghum crop in recent years.
2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
(02/04/16) JENNINGS, La. – The possibility of exporting rice to China could become reality this year, and work continues to open trade with Cuba, the USA Rice president reported to rice growers at their annual meeting Wednesday (Feb. 3).
2/4/2016 12:30:00 PM
(02/04/16) HAMMOND, La. – Roses continue to be one of our most popular ornamental plants, and home gardeners should learn about and be aware of recommended management practices for them, said LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings.
2/4/2016 12:30:00 PM
(02/04/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – A group of Ascension Parish teachers spent a day away from their students to become students themselves. The teachers were learning how to develop school gardens as part of the LSU AgCenter’s Greauxing Gardens program at the AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden.
2/4/2016 10:30:00 AM
(02/04/16) BATON ROUGE La. – The LSU AgCenter will offer a seminar on Feb. 17 in Metairie to help educate home contractors, designers, inspectors and owners about new energy efficiency requirements.
2/4/2016 8:30:00 AM
LSU's mascot is known as Mike the Tiger, the only live tiger mascot in the country. Students in the LSU College of Agriculture's Residential College got an up-close look at Mike's habitat and learned what it is like to take care of such a magnificent creature. LSU AgCenter correspondent Craig Gautreaux has the story. (Distributed Feb.
2/4/2016 8:30:00 AM
An LSU AgCenter program is helping gardens sprout in schools across Louisiana. Teachers will soon be planting gardens at most public elementary and middle schools in Ascension Parish after a recent workshop aimed at getting school gardens growing. LSU AgCenter correspondent Tobie Blanchard has the story. (Distributed Feb.
2/4/2016 8:00:00 AM
It's nearly time to plant citrus trees here in Louisiana - that is, after freezes are gone. On this edition of Get It Growing, LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill explains which citrus are most and least tolerant of cooler weather and how to care for them.
2/4/2016 8:00:00 AM
Pineapple guava is a plant you can grow as a privacy screen or grow into a tree. But as LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill explains on this edition of Get It Growing, the pineapple guava has no major insect or disease problems and produces delicious fruit.
2/3/2016 12:00:00 PM
(02/03/16) HAMMOND, La. – The Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association in cooperation with the LSU AgCenter has scheduled a certified nursery and landscape professional manual review and exam for February 23-24, 2016, at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station. Manual reviews will be held on Feb. 23 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Feb. 24 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. The exam will begin at 1 p.m. on Feb. 24 with three hours allowed for completion. Information will be provided on plant classification, growth and development; pest management; culture of nursery stock; landscape contracting, including tree and turfgrass management; and plant identification, said LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings. Individuals working in retail garden centers and landscape contracting and maintenance are encouraged to participate; however, the course is also recommended for wholesale growers, irrigation contractors and Master Gardeners, Owings said. “The Certified Nursery and Landscape Professional program has been ongoing in Louisiana for many years and was established to provide a professional educational opportunity for nursery and landscape professionals,” he said. The manual review session can also be considered as good preparation for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry landscape horticulturist license exam, Owings said. “However, the LNLA certification is not recognized as a license needed to operate a business.” Dan Gill, LSU AgCenter horticulturist in the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences, is the primary instructor for the training. To take full benefit of the training, it is recommended that participants acquire and read “The Louisiana Nurserymen’s Manual for the Environmental Horticultural Industry” before attending the review workshop, Owings said. Pre-registration is encouraged. The fee is $100 for the review and exam and $50 for the review session without the exam. The manual costs $60 plus $7 postage and is available from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Interested persons can contact Owings at 985-543-4125 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or LNLA executive secretary Annie Coco at 985-789-4301 or email email@example.com for additional information or to register. The next review and exam is scheduled for July 12-13, 2016, at the Ira Nelson Horticulture Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
2/3/2016 8:00:00 AM
(02/03/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU AgCenter vegetable specialist Kathryn Fontenot has been named the recipient of the 2016 John E. Hutchinson Extension Award for Young Professionals from the Southern Region of the American Society for Horticultural Science.
2/3/2016 7:30:00 AM
(02/03/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter will hold a three-day workshop on April 20-22 to educate food processors about safety regulations and best practices for preventing contamination.
2/2/2016 12:00:00 PM
(02/02/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – 2015 was a challenge for many members of Louisiana’s diverse horticulture industry, which includes vegetable crops, fruit crops, pecans, sweet potatoes, sod farming, nursery crops, landscape contracting and retail garden centers, said LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings.
2/1/2016 12:30:00 PM
(01/02/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – Kids can decorate and make their own Valentine sugar cookie box and fill it with candy at What’s Cooking... @Burden on Feb. 13. Designed for children from 4 to 12 years old, the program will be held from 10 a.m. until noon at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden. “This will be a great opportunity for kids to have fun creating their own Valentine treats,” said Jeff Kuehny, resident director of the Botanic Gardens. The activity will be conducted by Jeanne Mancuso, pastry chef at the Culinard Culinary Institute of Virginia College. What’s Cooking... @ Burden will be held in conjunction with StoryTime, an activity for children ages 3 to 8 from 9 to 11 a.m. StoryTime features storybook readings and imagination-themed activities every half hour. The last reading begins at 10:30. StoryTime is sponsored by the Junior League of Baton Rouge. Admission for What’s Cooking is $10 per child and includes all materials. Participation is limited to 50 children, so registration is required by calling 225-763-3990. A limited number of take-home kits will be available for purchase at $10 each for people unable to attend. Admission to StoryTime is free.
2/1/2016 11:30:00 AM
(02/01/16) AMITE, La. – The 2016 Camellia Garden Stroll at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station will be held on Feb. 21 from 1 to 4 p.m.
1/29/2016 1:30:00 PM
WEST MONROE, La. – Participants interested in gardening travelled from at least three states to attend the Sixth Annual Spring Ag Expo Gardening Seminar in West Monroe. The seminar, sponsored by the Northeast Louisiana Master Gardeners, was planned to give easy-to- follow tips that will help people get more from their gardens, said LSU AgCenter agent Kerry Heafner. “In previous years, we focused on the more historic aspects of gardening: heirloom plants, pass-along plants and restored 19th century homes and gardens,” Heafner said. “We decided to go in a slightly different direction his year and focus on current trends.” Speakers included Tony Tradewell, of Tony Tradewell Landscape, AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings and featured speaker Norman Winter, director of the University of Georgia Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm. Tradewell discussed garden design and reminded participants that design more than just gardens and a walk. “I really want to show how these are outdoor spaces we can live in,” he said. Owings’ presentation focused on some of the new Louisiana Super Plants in the north Louisiana area, where home gardeners have become interested in the new varieties. “We think a lot of the Louisiana Super Plants for the warm season have a lot of potential to be used in north Louisiana more than they are being used right now,” he said. Cultural practices and planting times were also topics Owings discussed to give the attendees the best chance at gardening success this spring. Winter discussed the current trends in gardening, such as the introduction of plants that will attract pollinators. “Gardeners are more and more interested in bringing in the bees, the butterflies and the hummingbirds,” he said. “And there are a lot of great plants, native and non-native, that tend to be like butterfly magnets.” Winter also shared some tropical trends that are continuing to catch on in many areas. “Plants like banana, elephant ears and ginger. Plants that almost make you think you’re in Jamaica.” Surprisingly, he said, many tropical plants are cold-hardy and can be grown in north Louisiana. “There are a few tropical plants that we like that won’t do well here, but there are substitutes that will do just as well in attracting butterflies,” he said. It’s not necessary for the plants to be annuals to be a great bargain. “The value of having a $10 tropical plant that blooms from the time that you plant it in May until the time that it freezes in December, then it is worth the money.” Monroe resident Naomi Grayson said her friend has invited her for the past three years, and this year she was able to attend. “I’m not a Master Gardener, but my friend is, and she has been telling me about all of the perks. And I have truly enjoyed the presentations and the exhibits,” Grayson said.
1/29/2016 1:30:00 PM
By Dan GillLSU AgCenter Horticulturist (02/26/16) Mention blooming wildflowers and most people think of country meadows and drives along rural roads. Wildflowers, however, are to be found everywhere – even along the interstates and in major metropolitan areas. Spring wildflowers delight the eye in the most unexpected places. From cracks in pavement to the banks of drainage ditches, these intrepid plants produce flowers of yellow, pink, white and purple, often softening a harsh landscape. When considering wildflowers, I think it’s important to get the term “weed” out of the way. We use the word weed to refer to plants that are growing where we don’t want them to. It is a human designation that often has little to do with the plant itself. St. Augustine grass is a weed if it’s growing in your flower bed. Many of the plants we regard as wildflowers may also appear in lawns and flower beds, and in those situations where they are not welcome, they could be considered weeds. The following wildflowers are native and naturally grow abundantly in Louisiana. Gardeners sometimes want to plant wildflower seeds in areas of a landscape, in a meadow or other places. If you would like to plant wildflower seeds, keep in mind it is best done in the fall in Louisiana. At this point, results would likely be less impressive from seeds planted this later in the year. Bright yellow is a common color for spring wildflowers in Louisiana. Perhaps the most showy and noticeable is butterweed (Senecio glabellus). This plant likes poorly drained, wet areas and can be seen along drainage ditches and in low spots. The upright plants grow from a basal rosette of irregularly cut leaves and produce clusters of golden yellow, daisy-like flowers in early to midspring. An annual that grows about 2 feet tall, individual plants are quite noticeable. But when an entire field of butterweed comes into bloom, the sheet of intense gold they produce is remarkably beautiful. I actually think they are attractive enough to be used in the flower garden. Another of my favorite yellow wildflowers is the hairy buttercup (Ranunculus sardous). You will notice that yellow wildflowers often have the word butter in their name. Also tolerant of damp locations and even shallow standing water, hairy buttercups produce branched stalks about a foot tall bearing numerous five-petaled flowers. The flowers are brilliant, true yellow without a trace of orange. They show up beautifully against the ground-level, bright green, shiny leaves that are round with ragged edges. Blooming from midspring to early summer is the lovely and delicate pink Mexican primrose (Oenothera speciosa). The color may be delicate, but the plant is as tough as nails. You frequently see this perennial plant blooming merrily along the edges of streets and highways in harsh, dry locations. Low-growing, Mexican primrose plants form a carpet about a foot tall where they grow, and the flowers may be dark pink to white. The four petals of the 3-inch blooms overlap to form a round cup shape. When they are in full bloom from late March to May, the foliage is completely covered by the flowers This is one native wildflower that has made the transition to the ornamental garden. Seeds and plants are available in many gardening catalogs (often at surprisingly high prices for a plant we tend to take for granted). It is easily grown from seeds and will bloom in spring from a fall sowing. You would think a plant that produced small, green flowers would not be very noticeable, but curly dock (Rumex crispus) is one of the most prominent of our spring wildflowers. This perennial plant produces large, strap-shaped, wavy leaves and flowering spires up to 3 feet tall packed with small green flowers. Related to the sorrel we put in salads, curly dock should not be eaten, but the flower and seed stalks look great in flower arrangements. The fresh green spikes add interest and filler to arrangements. When the seeds are mature, the spike turns reddish brown and dries well for use in dried arrangements. Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are a common Louisiana wildflower whose foliage is edible and nutritious, although it tends to be bitter. The low rosette of coarsely toothed leaves produces individual flower stems that bear showy, golden yellow flowers. The seeds are produced in fluffy, round heads which are irresistible to children – and the occasional adult – who pick them, make a wish and blow until all the seeds fly into the air. The common name is derived from the original French name for this plant, dent de lion, or lion’s tooth, referring to the jagged teeth along the leaf edges. Finally, look for the white to pale pink flowers of the annual daisy fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus). The plants grow about 2 feet tall and produce fuzzy leaves about 5 inches long close to the ground. At the top of the plant, daisy flowers about one-half-inch wide with bright yellow centers are produced in clusters. Rarely a garden weed, this delightful plant blooms until May. The term “daisy” is used to name many flowers that have a ring of petals surrounding a central, usually yellow, disk. It is derived from the old English term for the sun – day’s eye – because the flower’s shape reminded people of the sun. Look around as you travel, and you will see these as well as many other native wildflowers. Some people just see weeds, but with a little shift in viewpoint, you can appreciate that these delightful plants make a lovely addition to spring in Louisiana.
1/29/2016 1:30:00 PM
By Dan GillLSU AgCenter Horticulturist (02/12/16) February weather often includes heavy and frequent rain, and this should remind us that Louisiana has a relatively wet climate. Periods of drought certainly do occur here, especially during the hot months of summer. But it is important for gardeners to realize that plant selection and the gardening techniques we use are largely influenced by the generous amount of annual rainfall we receive in Louisiana. Periods of rain saturate the soil with water, and for most plants it is important for the water to drain away efficiently. Other than plants adapted to boggy or swamp conditions, plant roots need oxygen in the soil. They can literally drown if the soil stays saturated with water for extended periods, so we often plant in beds that are raised somewhat above the surrounding soil. Beds are typically raised about 6 to 12 inches, which allows the water to drain from them more quickly. Raised beds work well in handling a heavy rain, such as when 2 or 3 inches or more fall in a single day. What is more difficult to defend against is frequent rain over an extended period. Frequent rains do not allow the soil to drain completely every time the water from one rain drains away because another rainy day quickly comes along to saturate the soil again. Too much rain causes another danger to plants. Fungal disease organisms that attack plants and cause root rots and crown rots are far more likely to damage plants when the soil stays wet. This occurs partly because a plant’s roots are weakened if they are deprived of the oxygen they need. But these fungi also prefer and are more active in a soil high in moisture. So plants growing in beds saturated with water for extended periods are prone to root and crown rots, which can be disastrous because these diseases are often fatal. Fortunately, excessive rain in February is not so dire. Many plants are still dormant, which makes them more forgiving of saturated soils. Roots are not as active and will better tolerate the reduced oxygen levels. In addition, the fungal organisms that are responsible for root and crown rots are not nearly as active when the soil is cool. So despite the frequent rains and wet soils, we generally do not see major problems. If this were July, the situation would be quite different. Root rots are common when rainy weather occurs during the hot months of June, July, August and early September and can be devastating. There are, however, some negative effects we might see in some plants as a result of rains now. First, the flowers of cool-season bedding plants that produce relatively large flowers, such as pansies and petunias, may really get hammered by rain. Pinch or cut off any damaged, unattractive flowers if possible. These plants will recover when the weather becomes drier. It also is possible to see some rot occurring to cool-season bedding plants because they are in active growth now. But it isn’t typical. Caladiums cause special concern Caladiums are tropical plants that thrive in shady beds during our hot, humid, rainy summers. Because our soil never freezes, we have the option of leaving caladium tubers in the ground over the winter. However, we can’t always get away with this. Although caladiums enjoy abundant moisture when they are in active growth, they prefer to be dry when they are dormant. (Their ancestors evolved a dormant period to survive the dry season in their native Brazilian habitat.) Exceptionally wet winter weather, such as we may experience in February, can cause the tubers to rot. This is why even though we can leave caladium tubers in the ground over winter, it is generally more reliable to dig them in fall and store the tubers indoors. If you left your caladium tubers in the ground and they don’t show up by the end of May, you will know why. Plants for dry climates Typical wet February weather should also remind us to be cautious about using plants native to dry climates unless they have a proven track record in our area. It’s true that we do have periods of drought during most summers. For that reason, I often encounter gardeners who are interested in landscaping with plants that grow in dry areas, like the southwestern United States. But I always remind these gardeners that we garden in a warm, humid Gulf Coast climate, and on average we get plenty of rain. Even in a relatively dry year, one major rain from a tropical storm or hurricane in August can kill off dry-climate plants. Because we tend to get abundant rain, never forget to consider drainage when designing beds and choosing plants. Raised beds are generally the best way to ensure good drainage. If you have a low area that tends to stay wet and you don’t want to put in a raised bed, you can landscape the area with plants that enjoy wet soils. It is often better to choose plants adapted to the drainage in an area rather than to try to radically change it. Even with good drainage, you must choose plants that are adapted to the amount of rainfall we get. If you read a plant description that indicates a plant prefers to be dry in winter, it will have difficulty thriving in our climate. Although we may have relatively dry summers on occasion, you can pretty much rest assured that we will generally have abundant rain during our winter months.
1/29/2016 1:30:00 PM
By Dan GillLSU AgCenter Horticulturist (02/19/16) Color is very important to us. We use it everywhere in our surroundings and on our bodies. We carefully consider which colors to combine and use in our interior decors. People take their time (sometimes too much) deciding on what colors they will wear for a day or even for a few hours. Yet, how many gardeners spend time to carefully consider and develop a color scheme for their flower beds and landscape? Plan your color scheme It is not hard to introduce color into the landscape. A trip to the local nursery will convince you of that. Many different trees and shrubs provide color through flowers or foliage. You can find annual bedding plants and perennials in every color of the rainbow – plus some. But in all the excitement of introducing color into the landscape, it is easy to forget that the colors themselves require careful consideration in their use, placement and combinations. Anyone can combine colors that suit their taste in the landscape. It’s no different than picking out the clothes you are going to wear in the morning or choosing drapes, carpeting and furniture for the living room. And just like getting dressed or decorating a room, you need to give it some thought. Nature provides a great source of inspiration and examples when placing color in the landscape. One of the first lessons is that color needs to occur in drifts or clumps large enough to make a visual difference when viewed from the farthest vantage point. Nothing is more insipid than a few individual spindly flowers of different colors spaced out across the front of the house. On the other hand, look at the drifts of wildflowers along the highway. If your budget won’t permit purchasing large numbers of plants, concentrate what you can buy in smaller, strategically placed beds and areas where they can be viewed at closer range. Nature may display colors riotously or subtly, but green will always predominate. In our more colorful home landscapes, green will still be the major color. This can be monotonous, even when other colors are added, if all the greens are alike and the shapes are similar. That’s why you should vary the greens in your landscape from the lightest yellow-green to dark blue-green, and vary the leaves from broad and large to thin and tiny. Choose a dominate color One of the most important (and rarely done) steps in using color in the landscape is choosing a dominate color. A dominate color can be chosen for the entire landscape, or individual, separate sections may each be assigned different dominant colors – the front yard may have yellow as the dominant color, for example, while the backyard, pool or patio area has blue. Plan to use major masses of flowers in light tones or pastel variations of your chosen color. Augment that tone with related colors. For example, if yellow is the chosen color, other colors could be shades of chartreuse, gold, yellow-orange, orange and orange-red. Use pure, brilliant hues, even of your chosen color, sparingly. The dominant color idea can be taken to the ultimate degree by planting a garden totally in variations of one color. This might sound like it would lack interest and energy. But this approach, if carried out properly, can produce an effect that is harmonious and anything but boring. White gardens are written about in magazines and books fairly commonly. The yellow garden at Longue House and Gardens in New Orleans is always a delight. Color accents When it comes to using color in the landscape, you can also make use of color accents. They function like the addition of a contrasting scarf or necktie to an outfit or colorful pillows on a couch. Color accents relieve the monotony of masses of related colors and add interest to your plantings. Generally, colors complementary or near-complementary to the dominate color are used as accents: yellow to accent the violets and purples; red to accent the blue-greens, greens and yellow-greens; bright blue to accent peach, orange and rusty red. Accent plants will stand out in the landscape and become important parts of the composition. Balance the colors so that your composition invites the eye to linger and find something interesting to see but soon be tempted on to something else just as attractive. Final colors You may make some mistakes, as we all do. If that happens, a certain amount of resolve is necessary to make corrections. When what seemed a perfect color combination in your mind doesn’t work in the garden, don’t be shy about digging up and moving plants. Don’t live with a planting that doesn’t thrill you just because it’s there. Despite the many recommendations in this article for using color, there is really only one bottom line. I believe that everyone has an absolute right to their own taste. If you enjoy and are comfortable with a color combination – go for it. But think about it first.
1/29/2016 1:00:00 PM
By Dan GillLSU AgCenter Horticulturist (02/05/16) Gardeners often wait until April or May to purchase blooming roses from nurseries and plant them. But planting earlier has advantages. If you’re thinking about adding roses to your garden, here is some advice that will help you get them off to a good start. Roses are sold in containers or bare root, and they generally become available at nurseries around January. Buy the highest-quality bushes available. It is well worth the extra cost for a healthy, vigorous plant that will produce lots of flowers. It is best to purchase and plant roses in late winter or early spring so they can get established before beginning to bloom. Avoid purchasing bare-root roses after February when they have already begun to sprout in the package. Container roses can be planted as late as May with acceptable results, but an earlier planting is much better. The great advantage of early planting is that the rose bushes have a chance to make root growth in the bed where they will grow and begin to get established before they start to bloom. They also have more time to settle in before the intense heat of summer arrives. Both blooming and heat place stress on the plants and make establishment more difficult for them. So the more time they have to make root growth before blooming and the onset of high temperatures, the better. When deciding what kind of roses to grow, first determine how you want to use roses in the landscape and why you intend to grow them. The trend these days is to incorporate roses into landscape plantings just like any other shrub. This works particularly well with the old garden roses, shrub or landscape roses, polyantha roses and floribunda roses. If you want to grow roses with perfect flowers on long stems for cutting, you will probably choose the hybrid tea or grandiflora roses. These rose bushes often have rather awkward shapes that don’t combine easily with other plants. That, along with their exacting cultural requirements, is why these roses are often grown in separate beds. If you want to train roses on a trellis, arbor or fence, you’ll want to choose rose varieties from among the climbers, ramblers and old garden roses that produce long, vigorous canes. Don’t plant roses in partly shady or shady areas. They must have at least six to eight hours of sun to perform up to your expectations. Any shade they receive should, ideally, come in the afternoon. Morning sun helps dry the foliage early in the day, which can help reduce disease problems. Roses also need excellent drainage, so avoid low areas that stay wet. Whether planting your roses into a bed devoted exclusively to them or including them in existing beds with other types of plants, prepare the area where they will be planted carefully. – First remove unwanted vegetation (weeds, turf grass, etc.) from the area. – Turn the soil at least 8 to 10 inches deep. – Spread amendments over the turned soil. Add at least 2 inches of organic matter, such as compost, processed manure or composted ground pine bark. Next, sprinkle a general-purpose fertilizer appropriate to your area over the bed according to label directions. – Thoroughly blend the amendments into the existing soil and rake it smooth. You may choose to build a raised bed and fill it with a purchased topsoil or garden soil mix. This can work very well, especially if drainage needs to be improved and you want to grow your roses together in a bed. Choose a high-quality soil mix rich in decayed organic matter such as compost. To plant roses For bare-root roses, remove the roots from the wrapper and put them in a bucket of water. Dig a hole in a well-prepared bed as deep and wide as the root system. Build a cone of soil in the hole, place the plant over the cone, and spread out the roots over and around it. Hold the plant in place so the graft union (large knob on the lower part of the plant) is about 2 inches higher than the soil of the bed. Use your other hand to push and firm soil into the hole to cover the roots. Make sure the graft union is 2 inches above soil level when you finish. For container roses, dig a hole in the prepared bed about the same size as the root ball in the container. Slide the plant out of the container and put the root ball in the hole. Its top should be level with or slightly above the top of the soil of the bed. Make sure the graft union is about 2 inches above the soil level. The graft union is the knobby structure from which the main canes of the rose bush grow. Fill in around the root ball and firm the soil with your hand. Sometimes roses have not been potted long enough for their roots to hold the soil together. If the soil falls away, that’s OK. Just follow the procedure for planting bare-root roses. Whether planting bare-root or container roses, once they are in the ground, water the plants in thoroughly to finish settling the soil and mulch the area with your favorite mulch about 2 or 3 inches deep. Pruning Early February is also the time to prune repeat-flowering roses. Landscape roses, like Knock Out roses, are generally cut back about one-third to one-half their height. This also works well with old garden roses. Cut back hybrid tea roses and grandiflora roses to about 2 feet from the ground. Be sure to prune out any dead canes while you are pruning. Fertilize in March.
1/29/2016 8:00:00 AM
(01/29/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture are working with a Chinese university to set up a collaborative undergraduate degree program in agricultural economics and to expand exchange programs.
1/27/2016 1:00:00 PM
News Release Distributed 01/27/16 WEST MONROE, La. – With forestry being the largest agricultural crop in the state, keeping landowners, loggers and others aware of the market conditions was the goal of the forestry forum held at the West Monroe Convention Center. The annual forum featured a lineup of professionals with information to keep those involved in the forest industry abreast of the latest market trends. LSU AgCenter forestry economist Shaun Tanger told the group that no one item determines price, but a combination has to be taken into account. On average, “Seventy-five percent of structural wood products go to housing – construction or remodeling,” Tanger said. Forestry consultant Steve Templin discussed the benefits of using the services of a forest consultant. “Studies have shown that the use of forestry consultants are known to increase income to landowners,” he said. “There are some basic questions that need to be asked before hiring a consultant, like are they licensed and insured, and what is their philosophy toward stewardship of the land?” Templin said currently 28 consulting foresters operate in the state. “As landowners become more educated, they are utilizing forestry consultants more, but some are still consulting friends, loggers or maybe timber buyers to advise them.” Tax attorney Paul Spillers discussed the three classifications for timberland ownership; hobby, investment or business property. “If your primary purpose of owning land is for your personal enjoyment such as hunting, fishing or a family retreat, your property may be taxed as hobby property,” Spillers said. Many timber landowners are paying more than their fair share of taxes, he said. “Frankly, many are simply paying taxes they don’t owe.” Russell Hatcher, certified forester and procurement manager with Drax Biomass, gave an update on what’s happening in the wood pellet industry. He explained the importance of sustainability in the forest industry as the pellet export business continues to increase. “A great amount of the wood biomass that goes into pellets are being exported to Europe to generate electricity,” he said. Louisiana Tech GIS program coordinator Wesley Palmer brought a few drones to show landowners what’s available and how they can be used to help in their forestry enterprise. “These vehicles can be used in a number of forestry applications, such as to determine number and size of trees and the types of trees on a particular property,” Palmer said. Maidie Johnson, who owns a small tract of timber in DeSoto Parish, attended the forum for the first time and said she came to learn more about the industry. “My family has 170 acres, and I’m interested in making it a business and learning how to make our land work for us,” she said. Louisiana Forestry Association director Buck Vandersteen gave an update on forestry issues in the state. “It’s very encouraging to know that our new governor is a forestry landowner and a member of LFA,” Vandersteen said. He reminded those in attendance that there is a lot of uncertainty in the legislature right now. “But one thing is for sure, and that is we will all be paying more in the future,” he said. “The question is in what form? Will it be in sales taxes or income taxes?” One of the high notes of the meeting came from AgCenter agritourism coordinator Dora Ann Hatch and Mississippi State University natural resource enterprises program coordinator Daryl Jones, who discussed how forest landowners can generate additional income with agritourism. “You have recreation opportunities on your land, such as hunting, fishing, wildlife watching and horse trails,” Hatch said. “We have 90 million people out there enjoying recreation on lands, and they are spending $145 billion.
1/27/2016 9:00:00 AM
(01/27/16) HAMMOND, La. – Because rose growers and enthusiasts surveyed in Louisiana and Mississippi have been impressed with the great landscape performance of Cinco de Mayo, the Gulf District of the American Rose Society has named the variety as the 2016 Gulf District Rose of the Year.
1/26/2016 1:00:00 PM
(01/26/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service will present a series of workshops on producing commercial vegetables and cut flowers using high tunnels, or hoop houses, in several Louisiana locations in February and on March 1.
1/26/2016 10:00:00 AM
(01/26/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – The presence of a top predator of other invertebrates in Louisiana’s coastal marshes may shed light on how the marshes are recovering from the effects of the BP oil spill in April 2010. Almost immediately after the Deepwater Horizon began spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, LSU AgCenter entomologists Lane Foil and Claudia Husseneder headed for the Louisiana coast to start gathering data on coastal insects. Foil joined the LSU AgCenter in 1980, when he began studying horse flies as vectors of diseases of horses and cattle. Husseneder’s specialty is insect population genetics. They combined their specialties and Foil’s knowledge of the Louisiana coast to study the effects of the oil spill. And they chose the greenhead horse fly as their research subject. The greenhead horse fly is one of few insects that are native to and tightly bound to specific coastal marsh habitats in Louisiana. This insect inhabits coastal marshes that range from Texas to Nova Scotia. Foil and Husseneder assumed that the prevalence of greenhead horse fly populations would be an indicator of the relative health of the marsh. The researchers selected six locations along the Louisiana coast and began gathering population data on adult greenhead horse flies – a biting nemesis of people and animals alike – as an indicator of the health and recovery of the oil-damaged marshes. As it turned out, oil from the spill reached three of the locations, and three remained “pristine,” giving the researchers the opportunity to compare how oil intrusion affected the marsh. Using funding from the National Science Foundation, the researchers began their study by comparing horse fly populations in the unaffected marsh areas with those in areas subject to the oil spill. They then used population data and genetic analysis to evaluate and compare the health of the horse fly populations in the different locations. The oiled sites were located on Grand Bayou, Grand Isle and Elmer’s Island in southeast Louisiana. Pristine trap sites were located in southwestern Louisiana – Ship Channel in Cameron Parish, Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge at the border of Cameron and Vermilion parishes and Cypremort Point in St. Mary Parish. They collected adult horse flies from June to October in 2010 and 2011. In addition, they collected the predatory larvae in 2011 from four of the sites. “Their abundance is reflective of the health of the invertebrate food web around them in the mud of the tidal marshes,” Foil said. “Therefore, we hypothesized that horse fly populations could serve as bioindicators of marsh health and toxic effects of oil intrusion.” After they started their research, Foil and Husseneder obtained a bridge grant from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) that allowed them to continue their study. Results from the initial research were reported in a Nature journal, Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 18968 on Jan. 12, 2016. (www.nature.com/scientificreports) This initial research assembled data on population size and genetics of horse flies trapped in the various locations. Initially, the researchers discovered sharp population declines, or “crashes,” among adult horse flies. “Our study showed decreased effective population size, number of breeders and family clusters in oiled populations that experienced genetic bottlenecks compared to populations in unaffected areas,” Husseneder said. “The severe population crash caused fewer parents to be available in oiled populations to contribute offspring.” The most likely reasons the adult population crashed in oiled areas immediately after the oil spill were the flies’ need for fresh water and attraction to oil sheen, the researchers said. The effective population size will probably continue to be decreased for several generations until other horse flies move into the areas to replenish the gene pool, Husseneder said. In oiled areas, the traps captured fewer than five flies per hour, indicating they had been affected immediately after the oil reached the research sites. Horse flies captured at the unoiled sites, meanwhile, ranged from nearly 37 to more than 92 flies per hour. The researchers recently received nearly $2 million in funding from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) Research Board to continue their study by focusing on horse fly larvae and the invertebrate food web. Horse fly larvae are at the top of the food chain in marsh soil, so their presence can be used to evaluate marsh health. “We know oil had an impact on the species,” Foil said. “We want to find out if the affected environments are recovering.” The larvae live in marsh mud for three to nine months while they grow into adult flies. They are the top predators of invertebrates in that environment and feed on smaller invertebrates in the soil, Husseneder said. “As the larvae grow, their diet changes, consuming larger organisms.” Samples of marsh soil showed far fewer larvae in the oiled areas than in the pristine sites. “We discovered genetic bottlenecks in all but one of the oiled populations,” Husseneder said. Bottlenecks are reductions in the gene pool of a population because portions of the original population are lost, reducing genetic diversity and possibly the vitality of the populations. “This sustained population suppression was likely due to toxic effects directly to the larvae or their food web,” Husseneder said. “Therefore, this top predator species with sediment-dwelling larvae did not show the quick recovery seen from plant-feeding insects in spartina marshes.” The researchers are continuing with genetic studies and larval surveys to identify bioindicators to determine whether increases in populations are the result of new flies moving into the area or if the marsh sediment has detoxified sufficiently to allow the local populations to recover. “We know oil had an impact on the species,” Foil said. “We want to find out now if these environments are recovering.” “We want to identify genetic markers to assess and monitor the presence or absence of bioindicators,” Husseneder said. “Insects and the food chain will tell us a lot about the biology – how populations improve and how populations are replenished.” The application of the results of the completed and future studies also will be an important element in evaluating mitigation and coastal restoration efforts, she said.
1/25/2016 1:00:00 PM
(01/25/16) OPELOUSAS, La. – Low grain prices are not expected to increase soon because of excess supply and lower demand, according to an LSU AgCenter economist who spoke with farmers at a wheat and feed grain meeting on Jan. 21.
1/25/2016 12:30:00 PM
(01/25/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – Researchers in the LSU College of Agriculture’s Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising are using body scanning technology to study how body shapes change during weight loss.
1/22/2016 8:00:00 AM
News Release Distributed 01/22/16BATON ROUGE, La. – Guillermo Scaglia, a beef cattle researcher at the LSU AgCenter Iberia Research Station in Jeanerette, and Stan Dutile, an LSU AgCenter extension agent in Lafayette Parish, each received the Merit Award from the American Forage and Grassland Council. According to the AFGC, the Merit Award is presented to individuals who have made important contributions to some phase of forage and grassland agriculture. Recipients have earned recognition among their colleagues for work and productivity in research, teaching, extension, production or industrial development. Scaglia has studied the effects of management strategies on productivity and sustainability of forage systems for growing beef cattle. He and a team of scientists recently received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative to gather comprehensive information on grass-fed beef production. Dutile conducts beef and forage educational programs in a three-parish area. Part of his responsibilities include ryegrass variety demonstrations and pasture weed-control projects. LSU AgCenter forage specialist Ed Twidwell said Dutile’s forage work has benefited cattle producers. “He is very knowledgeable in both livestock and forage production and always makes sure that a forage topic is on the program at one his beef cattle meetings or field days,” Twidwell said. The AFGC is an international organization dedicated to advancing the use of forages as a prime feed source for cattle.
1/22/2016 7:00:00 AM
News Release Distributed 01/22/16 WEST MONROE, La. – The Best of Agriculture: Producing food and fiber…safely, efficiently and abundantly was the theme of this year’s Ag Expo held at the Ike Hamilton Expo Center on Jan. 15-16. Since 1982, the annual event has been providing a unique agricultural experience and education for the people of the region. Ag Expo is a combination of several events. An educational “Ag Alley” conducted by the LSU AgCenter and Southern University Ag Center includes a mini-farm that targets youth but is enjoyed by all ages. Other activities include a junior livestock show, stock dog trials, a trade show and an Agricultural Awards & Legislative Appreciation Luncheon, which recognizes regional agricultural leaders and legislators. Other events included a forestry forum and the Sixth Annual Master Gardener seminar. Ag Alley featured booths that provided information on nutrition, gardening, youth development, crops grown in the area and the Germ Cave to show students the importance of handwashing. An addition to Ag Alley this year was a full-size corn combine to give students an idea of what real farm equipment looks like, said LSU AgCenter agent Carol Pinnell-Allison, of Franklin Parish. “There is also a video of the machine at work, so it really is a self-walkthrough exhibit,” she said. Corn has been a major row crops in north Louisiana, but Allison said soybeans are now competing for the No. 1 spot. Karol Osborne, LSU AgCenter agent from Madison Parish, provided an activity for the students to make living necklaces with soybean seeds. “They wear the seeds around their neck in a plastic baggie and after three days the moisture in the bag and their body heat will cause the seeds to germinate,” Osborne said. Once the seeds have germinated, the students can plant them in the soil, she said. One of the most popular events this year was the livestock show, with 151 youth involved with 351 animals and 25 adult volunteers. “It is a relief to me to be surrounded by others who are as passionate about livestock shows and strive for the same high standards of offering a top-notch opportunity to our 4-H and FFA livestock exhibitors,” said LSU AgCenter regional livestock specialist Jason Holmes, of Union Parish. Officials expected nearly 12,000 visitors for the event.
1/21/2016 2:00:00 PM
Herbs can complete the taste of that tantalizing dish. Now is a great time to grow these delicious plants. On this edition of Get It Growing, LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill introduces you to some of the more popular herbs.
1/21/2016 2:00:00 PM
You might not think winter is a good time to visit a nursery, but think again. On this edition of Get It Growing, LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill gives some reasons why now is a great time to visit your nurseries and select plants like trees and shrubs.
1/21/2016 12:00:00 PM
News Release Distributed 01/21/16GONZALES, La. – Ralph Sellers Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM has signed on as corporate sponsor for the 2016 LSU AgCenter Livestock Show with a contribution of $25,000. “This is a great opportunity to invest in the future leaders of agriculture in Louisiana,” said Max Sellers, general manager of the dealership. “And it’s a small way we can thank all our agricultural customers who reflect our customer base for RAM trucks.” “We’re the No. 1 RAM truck dealer in Louisiana,” Sellers said. “And we’re sponsoring the No. 1 livestock show.” The 81st annual LSU AgCenter Livestock Show will be held on Feb. 13-20 at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.
1/20/2016 10:00:00 AM
News Release Distributed 01/20/16BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter will host a seasonal children’s garden activity at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden on Feb. 20. The program will focus on vegetable gardening and present information on which plants are native to America and which are not, said AgCenter fruit and vegetable specialist Kiki Fontenot. “Kids will have an opportunity to come play in the soil and learn about gardening,” Fontenot said. “They will create vegetable characters and vegetable gardens.” East Baton Rouge Master Gardeners will participate in the program, which be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Children will receive snacks and take-home garden crafts, Fontenot said. The event will require a small fee of $15 per child, and an adult must accompany each child. Reservations may be made by email to Angie Wall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Attendance will be limited to 15 for each session. The Botanic Gardens at Burden is located off Interstate 10 at 4560 Essen Lane in Baton Rouge.
1/20/2016 9:00:00 AM
News Release Distributed 01/19/16BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden will conduct a volunteer orientation on Jan. 27 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Ione Burden Conference Center in the gardens. The brief orientation is for new and current volunteers to help them understand the wide variety of outdoor and indoor volunteer opportunities available at the Botanic Gardens, said resident director Jeff Kuehny. “Volunteering at the gardens provides opportunities to meet new people and make new friends, receive practical hands-on experience, share interests and hobbies with others, work in a beautiful and stimulating environment and make your community a better place to live,” Kuehny said. “An added benefit is the satisfaction that comes with helping the gardens fulfill its mission by providing valuable services and programs for schoolchildren, gardeners, nature enthusiasts, professional horticulturists, homeowners and others in the community,” he said. The program will be conducted by Kuehny and John Hough, vice chair of the Burden Horticulture Society. More information is available from Kuehny at 225-763-3990.
1/19/2016 12:30:00 PM
News Release Distributed 01/19/16BATON ROUGE, La. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have recently released new dietary guidelines to help Americans eat healthier diets. Denise Holston-West, a registered dietitian with the LSU AgCenter, said the goal is for Americans to improve their overall eating patterns. “We know the sum is greater than all of its parts, so we really need to look more at the overall dietary pattern rather than specific food groups or specific nutrients,” Holston-West said. The dietitian said the guidelines remove previous restrictions on cholesterol but limit intake of sugars, saturated fat and sodium. “The recommendations limit added sugars to 10 percent of total calories and the same thing with saturated fat, limiting them to 10 percent of our total calories,” she said. The recommendation for sodium is to consume fewer than 2,300 milligrams per day. Holston-West said strategies for limiting sodium include eating out less and eating fewer packaged meals. Individuals can reduce sugar intake by drinking water instead of soda or flavored water. Eating more vegetables and fruit can help limit overconsumption of saturated fat, which is mainly found in animal products. The dietitian said heeding the guidelines is important for the health of Americans. “More than half of adult Americans have a nutrition-related chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes or hypertension,” Holston-West said. The LSU AgCenter has several programs across the state to help entire communities improve their health profile. Holston-West said different parishes have different needs, but these guidelines can help reach those needs. “Our part here is working with the community to identify what their assets, barriers and challenges are and come up with plans for that community to be successful in improving health through better eating patterns,” she said. Dietary guidelines are revised every five years and serve as the foundation for nutrition policies and programs across the United States.
1/15/2016 9:00:00 AM
News Release Distributed 01/15/16By Allen Owings LSU AgCenter horticulturist HAMMOND, La. – Loquat, frequently called Japanese plum, is an attractive small tree or shrub that is frequently planted in landscapes as an ornamental in Louisiana. The tree has large thick evergreen leaves with a moderate rate of growth and does well in most well-drained soils. It can be used as an edible landscape plant. The oval fruit is pale yellow to orange and usually about an inch long in ornamental types but may be up to 2 inches long in some named varieties. The flesh is similar to a peach and surrounds several seeds. Harvested as it starts to turn yellow, the fruit makes excellent jellies, jams and pies. Loquat pies have a flavor similar to cherry pies. Fruit that has fully ripened and is slightly soft is sweet and can be eaten fresh. You may be able to locate named varieties of loquat, but most sold at garden centers are seedlings and vary in fruit quality. Fruit from seedling trees is sweet but may be small. Loquats can self-pollinate well, but having multiple trees and several varieties will enhance fruit set. Loquats are adapted to most soil types as long as they have good drainage. They also are tolerant of dry conditions, although tip-burn of the leaves can occur during hot, dry periods. Weed control is important; loquats do not compete well with weeds and turfgrass. Removing competing vegetation 2 or 3 feet from the base of the tree is beneficial. Loquats produce fragrant white flowers in fall and early winter. The small green fruit hang on the trees until spring when they enlarge and ripen. Blossoms and fruits can be killed by temperatures in the 20s, but after a late freeze fruits may continue to develop although they will be smaller and the seeds will not be viable. The Big Jim variety has produced thumb-size fruit without a live seed. Mild winters such as this year favor a good loquat crop statewide. A good fruit crop normally occurs about every three to four years in north Louisiana and typically each year in south Louisiana. Planting trees in protected areas on the south side of buildings, near rivers and lakes and under tall pines where they can receive at least half a day of sun may increase the chances of fruit surviving the winter. Plants are normally hardy to 10 degrees, but the large leathery evergreen leaves can sometimes suffer significant cold damage at slightly higher temperatures. Loquats are related to apples and pears and are generally basically low-maintenance plants that have little requirement for fertilizer, irrigation, pesticide and pruning. Fire blight is the most destructive disease and can sometimes be a significant problem. Pruning out diseased limbs often gives adequate control. Heavy fertilization can increase fire blight damage. An application of one pound of 8-8-8 fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter during March is adequate in most Louisiana soils. Fertilizer may be split into March and late May or early June applications in sandy soils or soils where severe runoff could occur.
1/15/2016 7:30:00 AM
News Release Distributed 01/15/16BATON ROUGE, La. – Lawrence Datnoff has been named to receive the 2016 Alumni Award from the Virginia Tech University Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science. Datnoff is a professor and department head in the LSU AgCenter and LSU College of Agriculture Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology. He received his master’s degree from Virginia Tech in 1981. The award recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of plant pathology, physiology or weed science. Datnoff has been a professor and department head with the AgCenter since 2008. Before that, he served on the faculty of the University of Florida for 20 years. He also was a research affiliate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service in Fort Detrick, Maryland. He worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development-Zambian Agriculture in Lusaka, Zambia, and served with the Peace Corps in Brazil. Datnoff earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and his doctorate from the University of Illinois. “I am honored and thrilled to be this year’s recipient,” Datnoff said. “At Virginia Tech, I received excellent training in conducting research, presenting seminars and working with scientific and agricultural communities. I also developed many life-long friends and colleagues.” The award will be presented at a banquet at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center on April 1.
1/13/2016 1:00:00 PM
News Release Distributed 01/13/16BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden will present the sixth annual Brush With Burden art exhibition on March 13-20. This event celebrates Louisiana’s talented artists and their depictions of the state’s cultural and natural resources, said Jeff Kuehny, director of the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden. “A juried multi-media exhibition, Brush With Burden features all types of art inspired by Louisiana's natural beauty under the theme ‘Southern Sights’ and will include paintings, 3-D work and photographs,’” Kuehny said. The Brush With Burden exhibition will be open to the public in the Steele Burden Memorial Orangerie and the Ione Burden Conference Center 1-4 p.m. Sundays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. other days March 13-20. The exhibition will kick off with a free reception from 4-6 p.m. on March 12. A ceremony at 5:30 will present awards for Best in Show, Judges’ Choice, People’s Choice and Merit for the best artwork in various categories, including painting, 3-D work and photography. Earlier that day, Laurin McCracken will present a seminar “Why and How I Paint Realism in Watercolor” from 9 a.m. to noon in the Ione Burden Conference Center. McCracken, an internationally known watercolorist, a practicing architect and a published photographer, also will be a juror and judge for the art show. Jurors and judges for photography will include Richard Sexton, a photographer, artist, writer, critic, teacher and author; Thomas Neff, a landscape, architecture and people photographer; Reni Zietz, a Baton Rouge photographer; and Jim Zietz, director of photography for the LSU Division of Strategic Communications. The event is sponsored by the Burden Horticulture Society and the Botanic Gardens. In addition to this exhibit, winning artwork will be displayed at the Shaw Center for the Arts during the month of April. All artwork will be priced for sale. Commissions from any sales will be used to support initiatives of the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden, which is located on Essen Lane near I-10. For more information about Brush With Burden, contact Kathleen Meares at 225-763-3990 or email@example.com. Information also is available online.
1/13/2016 1:00:00 PM
News Release Distributed 01/13/16LAFAYETTE, La. – The newest graduates of the Louisiana Master Farmer Program were honored Jan. 12 during the annual convention of the Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts. Nineteen graduates of the program were recognized, along with 24 previous graduates who were recertified. Also, Scott and Angie Tyler, of Lincoln Parish, received the Outstanding Master Farmer Award. Rogers Leonard, LSU AgCenter associate vice president, said participating in the Louisiana Master Farmer Program is “a welcome opportunity to do the right thing.” The Master Farmer program is a cooperative effort among the LSU AgCenter, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana Farm Bureau, the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “There’s no way any of these single entities could put a program like this in place,” Leonard said. Scott and Angie Tyler have a long list of accomplishments that were considered in their selection as Outstanding Master Farmer, Leonard said. They were certified in 2010, and they have a broiler and cattle operation. Using several conservation measures, such as drop pipes and filter beds, the Tylers have met the challenges posed by the hilly terrain on their farm with a nutrient management plan. They also have converted discarded cooking oil into fuel for 14 years. The couple has traveled to Washington, D.C., to advocate for agricultural interests, meeting with Gina McCarthy, administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Krysta Harden, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. James Hendrix, Louisiana Master Farmer area agent in north Louisiana, said the Tylers have become role models for agriculture. “Angie and Scott are producers that represent the future of agricultural sustainability,” he said. The couple demonstrates the effectiveness of conservation practices. “They further the mission of the Louisiana Master Farmer Program by outreach and by showcasing the benefits of best management practices to other producers,” Hendrix said. Ernest Girouard, Louisiana Master Farmer Program coordinator, said several environmental issues affecting agricultural producers have risen to the national level, increasing interest in the Master Farmer program. “We can be at the forefront in addressing those issues,” he said. Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain said conservation measures in the Master Farmer program are essential to protecting natural resources. “Conservation is the key,” Strain said. “Without conservation, without sustainability, we will not have productivity or profitability.” Graduates obtaining certification were Cindy Beard, of Webster Parish; Jason Benoit, Charles Bruchhaus, Ross Bruchhaus and Kyle Fontenot, all of Jefferson Davis Parish; Ralph Buford, Royce Buford and Charles Schultz Jr., all of Calcasieu Parish; Renee Cottrell, of Webster Parish; Randell Fletcher, of Grant Parish; Dana Frey, Gerard Frey and Dale Thibodeaux, all of Acadia Parish; Mary Hardwick, of Tensas Parish; Brad Judice and Ray Judice, both of Iberia Parish; Kelly Precht, of Cameron Parish; Wesley Volentine, of Caddo Parish, and Lesley Tom Walker, of Natchitoches Parish. Those who were recertified are Glenn Austin, of Winn Parish; Dennis Courtright and Paula Courtright, both of Grant Parish; Jess Crosier, C.J. Durand, Daniel Durand, Greg Durand, Edgar Durand and Jeff Durand, all of St. Martin Parish; Martin Frey, Wesley Jones, J.A. Rummler and Jens Rummler, all of Pointe Coupee Parish; Harvey Gonsoulin, of Iberia Parish; Jay Hardwick, of Tensas Parish; John Lance Harris and Clay Robertson, both of Rapides Parish; Kevin Landry, Kent Lounsberry, George Sagrera, Mark Sagrera and Allen Schriefer, all of Vermilion Parish; Dezere Richard, of Calcasieu Parish; and Dana Shuff of Grant Parish. The next Louisiana Master Farmer class will be held April 6 for phases I and II at the LSU AgCenter Dean Lee Research Station at LSU of Alexandria. For more information, contact Donna Morgan at 318-613-9278 or by email.
1/13/2016 9:30:00 AM
News Release Distributed 01/13/16BATON ROUGE, La. – Two Louisiana 4-H’ers were recognized for their winning submissions in a grazing management essay contest sponsored by the Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council. The awards were presented during a luncheon on Jan. 11 at the American Forage and Grassland Council annual conference. Westin Cobb, of Livingston Parish, was named first-place winner, and Kailey Bailey, of Beauregard Parish, placed second. Cobb was awarded a cash prize of $200, and the Livingston Parish 4-H program received $450. Bailey received a $100 cash prize, and the Beauregard Parish 4-H program received $250. The funds for the award came from Teddy Gentry, a member of the country band Alabama. Gentry owns Bent Tree Farm near Fort Payne, Alabama, that focuses on raising grass-fed beef and where he developed the South Poll breed of cattle. Gentry, who participated in 4-H and FFA in his youth, gave his $1,000 speaker fee to fund the special contest. The annual conference usually is held farther north in such locations as Louisville and Cincinnati, said Gary Wilson, of Findlay, Ohio, current president of AFCG. Next year, the event will be in Virginia. “We select our sites through bids, and Baton Rouge was this year’s selection,” Wilson said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been in the South.” The conference drew 250 people, said Tina Bowling, AFCG executive director. The opening speaker at the conference, Gentry talked about reproduction, fertility and longevity in cow herds and about how he and a partner developed the South Poll breed of cattle. The breed is a cross of Hereford, Red Angus, Senepol and Barzona breeds. “I have a passion for the small farm; the family farm,” Gentry said. “You can’t make progress by chasing extremes.” Gentry said he developed the South Poll breed to have a type of cattle that would thrive in the heat and humidity of the South and still produce tender grass-fed beef. A cow eats her weight every 30 days, Gentry said. “A 1,000-pound is more efficient,” he said. “And efficiency goes down as weight goes up.” Gentry’s presentation kicked off the two-day meeting of more than 35 workshops and 36 poster presentations. Attendees also had an opportunity to participate in a pre-meeting farm tour in East Feliciana Parish led by Ed Twidwell, LSU AgCenter forage specialist and Louisiana contact for the national organization. In one workshop, LSU AgCenter beef researcher Guillermo Scaglia presented results of his research on beef production on different Bermuda grass hybrids. He measured how much weight an animal gained compared with the amount of forage it consumed. “The better the forage, the less herbage mass you need for the same gain,” Scaglia said. Lisa Fultz, an AgCenter assistant professor for soil microbiology of cropping systems, presented her research linking soil microbial ecology and ecosystems functions to systems management. Increased microbial biomass in the soil leads to increased activity and nutrient availability to plants, she said. Galen Iverstine, with Iverstine Family Farms near Kentwood, Louisiana, participated in the forage spokesperson competition. Iverstine told about his operation that includes pasture-based beef, chicken and turkey production and wood lot hog production. His 130-acre operation produces 10,000 broilers, 500 turkeys, 80 head of cattle and 200 hogs that he markets through the Red Stick Farmers Market in Baton Rouge as well as to eight restaurants and other consumers.
1/13/2016 9:00:00 AM
News Release Distributed 01/13/16 OAK GROVE, La. – Although the 2015 sweet potato season was marked by difficult weather conditions – excessive rains that delayed planting followed by a hot and dry summer, then more rain that interfered with harvest – Louisiana growers still ended up with a good crop, LSU AgCenter experts said at a Louisiana Sweet Potato Association meeting on Jan. 12. Farmers harvested an average of 450 bushels per acre this fall, down only slightly from 2014’s average yield of 480 bushels per acre, said AgCenter extension associate Myrl Sistrunk. Statewide acreage increased to more than 9,300 acres in 2015, the majority of which was planted in the popular AgCenter-developed Beauregard variety. Sweet potatoes have a $110 million yearly impact on Louisiana’s economy, Sistrunk said. West Carroll Parish is the No. 1 sweet potato-growing parish with about 3,780 acres. The Orleans variety is still gaining popularity in Louisiana, said Don La Bonte, AgCenter sweet potato breeder. It is similar to the Beauregard variety but has a more consistent shape and higher yields. The high-yielding Bayou Belle variety, copper-skinned Bellevue and sweet, dark red-skinned Burgundy also have good potential, La Bonte said. They are resistant to some key diseases and fill niches in the market. Several AgCenter scientists gave updates on their work to help growers control pests and make better management decisions. AgCenter entomologist Julien Beuzelin said he saw significant cucumber beetle damage in sweet potatoes this past season. A combination of the Lorsban, Admire and Belay insecticides provides good control of the beetles, Beuzelin said. Resistant varieties also help prevent insect damage, he said. In one study, cucumber beetles damaged nearly all Beauregard potatoes, but only 75 percent of the white-fleshed Murasaki variety saw damage. Jie Chen, an LSU graduate student in entomology, talked about her studies on the sweet potato weevil. The weevils prefer laying eggs on Beauregard potatoes over Evangeline and Murasaki, and their presence can lead to an increase of other insects, such as the green peach aphid. The Telone and Velum nematicides, whether used alone or together, make a significant difference in yields for fields affected by nematodes, said Tara Smith, director of the AgCenter Sweet Potato Research Station. The AgCenter Foundation Seed Program recently joined the National Clean Plant Network, Smith said, which has brought in new funding that the station is using to improve its greenhouses. Some old diseases are reappearing in sweet potatoes, including scurf and black rot, said AgCenter plant pathologist Chris Clark. Both are seedborne diseases that can survive for up to three years in the soil. Black rot, which causes black lesions that make the sweet potato taste bitter, became a major problem in North Carolina in 2014. The disease has not been a problem for 40 to 50 years in Louisiana and has not yet resurfaced here, Clark said. It is much easier to avoid black rot than to fix the problem, Clark said. Some of the best defenses include using disease-free seed and keeping packing lines clean. It is important for growers to test their soil so they can optimize fertilizer applications, AgCenter agronomist Arthur Villordon said. “If you put too much of a certain nutrient, it creates limitations for other nutrients,” he said. For example, excessive nitrogen can cause vines to grow too rapidly and result in a higher percent of decay in roots during storage. Villordon is also studying ways to reduce erosion, including the use of prohexadione calcium, which creates a coating over the soil and helps beds retain their shape. Two new herbicide technologies – the Enlist Weed Control System and Roundup Ready Xtend – expected to hit the market this year could help row crop farmers control resistant weeds. But they must apply those herbicides carefully, especially in fields near sweet potatoes, said AgCenter weed scientist Donnie Miller. As little as one-tenth of an application rate of the herbicides – an amount comparable to what’s left behind if sprayer tanks aren’t cleaned properly – can harm sweet potato yields, Miller said. “If you grow multiple crops and use the same sprayer, it is imperative to follow all the cleanout procedures,” he said. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has updated its standards that protect farm workers, pesticide handlers and others during pesticide application, said Bruce Garner, AgCenter agent in West Carroll Parish. One requires farm employers to inform workers about potential exposure to pesticides and mitigate exposure. They must also offer EPA-approved pesticide training every year and keep records of the training. To help minimize sprayer drift, applicators should follow label directions closely and identify sensitive areas, such as susceptible crops, bodies of water and wetlands, Garner said. They should also consider weather conditions before making applications. Sweet potatoes are exempt from a rule that requires produce growers to take more steps to prevent contamination, but processing facilities must comply with another rule that is part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), said AgCenter food safety specialist Achyut Adhikari. Those facilities must make an effort to reduce contamination and document their practices. Many Louisiana sweet potato growers participate in a certification program called Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and already meet the similar FSMA standards, which give buyers the assurance that their produce is safe, Adhikari said. The AgCenter’s sweet potato production budget publication has been updated for 2016 and is available online, said AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry. The budget includes projected per-acre costs and returns for mother beds and three harvest strategies. It can be found by going to www.lsuagcenter.com and searching for “sweet potato budget.” Also at the meeting, the Louisiana Sweet Potato Association presented Distinguished Service Awards to Tad Hardy of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, and to Villordon.
1/12/2016 1:30:00 PM
News Release Distributed 01/12/16BATON ROUGE, La. – Tiger Stadium is usually packed for Saturday night football games. But on Jan. 7, the club level of the stadium was filled with turfgrass professionals at the annual 2016 Louisiana Turfgrass Association conference. More than 230 people ranging from landscapers to golf course and football field managers attended the event. “It was easily a record crowd, and the participants were impressed at the south stadium view overlooking the football field and the quality of speakers and vendors,” said Ron Strahan, LSU AgCenter turf specialist and a coordinator of the event. “It’s designed to bring in turfgrass professionals to look for ways to improve the industry through research and extension,” he said. The event featured expert speakers and offered attendees credit toward pesticide recertification with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. It also provided an opportunity for continuing education units with the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. Ben Wherley, assistant professor of turfgrass ecology at Texas A&M University, offered the latest scientific research in addressing a top dilemma with turfgrass – managing growth in the shade. Wherley asked the audience if they had ever heard the term DLI before, and no one had. “One of the things researchers are looking at in terms of shade is something called DLI, or daily light integral,” Wherley said. “DLI is a 24-hour measurement of light in a given location. From a biological standpoint, that’s what’s most important.” Key research in the future will relate to establishing the minimum DLI for an area, he said. Inexpensive DLI meters are now available to help industry professionals with shade grass management. “Place them in any location, turn them on, and let them run 24 hours,” he said. The data will show which grass varieties require which DLI. Raj Singh, director of the LSU AgCenter Plant Diagnostic Center, talked about ways to manage St. Augustine grass to minimize common damage from fungal diseases like large patch, take-all and gray leaf spot. Along with proper identification of the disease, Singh encouraged attendees to be wary of overdoing care on landscapes. “The rate of application is very important. If your grass is looking a little yellow, that doesn’t mean you need to add another dose of nitrogen to it,” he said. “Irrigation is the most important factor when we talk about disease management,” Singh said. He recommends irrigating lawns in the early morning because watering in the evening causes more pathogens to grow. Without following proper management practices for turfs and lawns, fungicides are not very effective, ultimately costing professionals more time and money, Singh said. Kevin Vidrine, owner of Scotts Lawn Service in Scott, Louisiana, was attending his eighth conference. This marked the first year he brought all his employees to the event. “I learned some things about fungicides we didn’t know,” Vidrine said. Half of Vidrine’s employees are currently licensed to apply chemicals, but his goal is to have them all certified. “Every year there’s good information, and it’s a great place to network with other professionals,” Vidrine said. “What we receive here helps us manage customer expectations.” A major point of emphasis from many of the speakers was minimizing chemical inputs on landscapes to prevent negative environmental impacts. Wherley recommends “reconsidering the amounts of turf nutrients to apply when evaluating soil tests” as part of a nutrient management program that is sensitive to environmental concerns. “Turf is the largest irrigated crop in the United States,” Wherley said. “There’s more irrigated turf than there is corn in the United States. We are visible and people see us out there fertilizing lawns.” Conference attendee Kyle Huffstickler, landscape superintendent for East Baton Rouge Parish, said his department is responsible for tree management, plantings and maintaining grass along Interstates and highways. “There’s a lot of shifting regulation,” Huffstickler said. “This conference made it clear we’re dealing with the public. We’re under scrutiny.” “I realize it is a very sensitive issue with the environment,” he said. “There’s so much that can go wrong, so we need to be prepared.” Jeff Beasley, with the LSU AgCenter School of Plant Environmental and Soil Sciences, presented an overview of research projects on growth of zoysia and Bermuda grass varieties, research on slow-release fertilizers and the need for voluntarily developing best management practices. Beasley implored Louisiana sod producers to contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about providing sod for upcoming installation projects on levees. Kim Pope Brown, LSU AgCenter pesticides safety education coordinator, reported on her research analyzing levels of atrazine in waterways and provided some pesticide education, reflecting changes in regulations, particularly for sod farmers. Allen Owings, resident director at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station, introduced participants to top-performing flowers, shrubs and trees for commercial and residential landscapes. Brooke Inzerella, LTA president, provided a compelling talk about how he shifted from the profession of financial investment to start a landscape company in Lafayette that has become successful. “The turf industry is an important component of the multimillion dollar green industry,” Strahan said. “We work very closely with lawn and turf professionals. It’s important that we help train and teach them.