News Release Distributed 08/31/11 A bowl of cereal can be a great way for school children or anybody to start the morning. “Studies show that cereal eaters have better nutrient intakes because cereals provide an important selection of nutrients,” said LSU AgCenter nutritionist Beth Reames. Studies also suggest that cereal can help with weight control. “Cereal eaters have better weights compared to those who don’t eat breakfast or perhaps eat other breakfast items that might not be as healthful,” Reames said. Choose the cereals your children will want to eat, but try to pick those that give you the most health benefits. “It’s important to read the nutrition facts label,” Reames said. “That helps you compare products.” It’s best if the first ingredient is something like whole-grain oats or whole-grain wheat, said Denise Holston, LSU AgCenter nutritionist. “The food companies are using more whole grains in their cereal products,” Holston said. “Some cereals that didn’t contain whole grains before, now do. “Parents should look for cereals with the ‘whole grain stamp’ developed by the Whole Grains Council,” Holston said. “The stamp is a quick and easy way to determine if a product has a minimum of 8 grams of whole grains per serving.” Because the Dietary Guidelines for the United States recommend less sugar in the diet, choosing cereals that do not have added sugars would be a good choice. Other names for sugar on labels include fructose and high fructose corn syrup. “If you choose a cereal without added sugar but add three or four teaspoons of sugar, this would be worse. Manufacturers have reduced the amount of added sugar in many cereals, and some studies have found that consumers added more sugar to unsweetened cereals than is in presweetened. One teaspoon sugar would be 4 grams, so you can look at the nutrition facts and determine approximate amounts of sugar,” Reames said. Eating a presweetened cereal for breakfast is better than not eating any breakfast at all, Holston said. “Research shows that kids who eat breakfast can concentrate better, are less likely to miss school because they’re sick, and they’re less likely to have a weight problem,” Holston said. If they’re not starving by lunchtime, they’re less likely to overeat at lunch, which can lead to obesity. Check the fiber content on the cereal label, Reames said. Cereals should supply at least 2.5 grams of fiber. Whole-grain cereals generally supply more. “Many Americans don’t get enough fiber,” Reames said. “Eating whole-grain cereal can help.” While most cereals contain little fat, Reames said to avoid those with trans fat. “Trans fats raise LDL-cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease,” Reames said. Also check the serving size listed on the nutrition facts label. “A big bowl may have more nutrients but also more calories, more sodium and more sugar,” Reames said. When you add milk to cereal, you get the added boost of calcium, and it’s critical that growing children get enough calcium, Holston said. “We recommend skim milk. But if your children won’t drink skim milk, then go for low-fat,” Holston said. She doesn’t recommend whole milk because of the higher fat content. Adding fruit to the cereal gives a nutritional boost, Holston said. Bananas add potassium. Strawberries add fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants, which help prevent cancer and heart diseases. “Any kind of berry is good,” Holston said. “Blueberries and blackberries are especially rich in antioxidants.
News Release Distributed 08/26/11By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings The new Drift series roses were created in response to increased consumer demand for smaller, everblooming plants. Drift roses fit a special niche in the shrub-rose market. These roses are from Conard-Pyle/Star Roses, the same folks that gave us the Knock Out series of low-maintenance landscape roses. Drift roses are a cross between full-size groundcover roses and miniatures. From the former they kept toughness, disease resistance and winter hardiness. From the miniatures, they inherited their well-managed size and repeat-blooming nature. The low, spreading habit of Drift roses makes them perfect for small gardens and combination planters. The first colors available in the Drift series were Coral, Pink, Red and Peach – all these varieties have been evaluated in LSU AgCenter plantings at the Hammond Research Station and Burden Center since 2009. Pink has been the best landscape performer, followed by Peach, Coral and Red. The newest colors released are Apricot (double apricot blooms), Sweet (clear, pink double blooms) and Icy (pure white, double blooms). These seven varieties bloom from spring to early frost. Ranging from scarlet red to bright soft peach, they provide a complete range of color solutions for landscape use or in containers. We find that Drift roses have about five flower cycles yearly. The spring bloom in April and the fall bloom in October, like with most other roses, are the peak times for best performance. The late-spring-to-early-summer second bloom is also impressive. Plant Drift roses in a well-prepared landscape bed. Fall is a great time to plant. Space individual plants a minimum of 3 feet apart. It would be best to plant them 4-5 feet apart if you are thinking long term. The soil pH for roses needs to be between 6.0-6.5. As with other roses, plant Drift roses in a location that gets full sun. Eight hours of sunlight daily is recommended. These ground-hugging, ever-blooming shrubs are perfect as a border or bedding plant. Drift roses should be fertilized in spring with a good dose of slow-release or timed fertilizer, which releases nutrients to the plant when it needs it most, and you're set for the season. Another application in late summer would help plants bloom better into the fall, especially in new landscape beds where nutrients may be lacking. Mulch is very important for roses. Mulching helps to buffer the cycle from wet to dry, keeps the feeder roots from drying out and helps to establish the roots more quickly. And you water less. Make no mistake; these are not finicky miniature roses. These hardy groundcover roses are true, low-spreading, dwarf shrub roses that grow only 2-3 feet tall by 2-3 feet wide and are covered with blooms that open to 1-1/2 inches. Drift roses are perfect in small gardens, splashing your landscapes with visual delight. Appealing to today's busy gardener, these low-maintenance roses are highly disease-resistant. They require no spraying. Blackspot disease has been very minimal on plants grown in Louisiana. Bed preparation, irrigation and proper fertilization management are the keys to success. This fall try planting some of the new Drift series roses in your landscape. They combine wonderfully with flowering perennials, ornamental grasses and more. Visit LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action. The home and landscape resource center is near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (Louisiana Highway 30) in Baton Rouge, across the street from the LSU baseball stadium. For more information, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/lahouse or www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.
News Release Distributed 08/19/11By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings Late summer through fall when temperatures begin to moderate and growing conditions become more favorable is one of the best times of the year to plant flowering perennials. This includes plants such as purple coneflower, Shasta daisies, gaillardia, rudbeckia, daylilies, verbena and more. Of these, you need give rudbeckia a try if you have not already done so. Rudbeckia is what we also call “Black Eyed Susans.” The best of the rudbeckia is the Goldsturm variety. It is widely available in Louisiana. Normally, this variety flowers twice during the year. A good bloom occurs in late spring through midsummer, and you also can get some fall flowers. This is the most reliably perennial rudbeckia variety for Louisiana. Divide them every three years to keep your planting vigorous. Indian Summer is another popular variety. It is a former All-America Selection winner and also has been named a cut-flower-of-the-year by the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Indian Summer produces gorgeous, golden flowers. Many of the flowers can have diameters of 7-8 inches, but 6 inches is probably the average. Plants reach between 3 and 4 feet tall. Mass plantings of these combined with purple- and blue-flowered plants are a real winner in Louisiana landscapes. These plants typically behave as an annual in Louisiana, but they may be perennial in north Louisiana. Bloom time of 3-4 months is common in late spring and summer. You have many other popular rudbeckia varieties to consider. These include Prairie Sun, Becky Mix, Toto and Cherokee Sunset. Prairie Sun is an All-America Selections winner from a couple of years ago, while Cherokee Sunset was an All-America Selections winner in 2002. Cherokee Sunset has rich autumn-like flower colors, and flowers are semi- to fully double. Plants reach about 30 inches tall. Prairie Sun has 5-inch, golden yellow flowers that have light green central cones. This makes the flowers very eye-catching. Toto is more compact-growing – it reaches only about 12 inches in height. It is early-blooming and tends to support itself better than other varieties. Toto is available in lemon, rustic and gold colors. Becky Mix is another compact grower with very uniform growth and flowering habit. Plants reach 12 inches tall and flowers are about 4-5 inches across. Colors vary from golden yellow to red with chocolate-colored centers. Rudbeckia are ideal for mass plantings in sunny locations. They need occasional irrigation but generally are considered fairly drought tolerant. Heat tolerance is also there. Seeds can be readily germinated in a couple weeks under ideal conditions. If you prefer, plants of many of these varieties are readily available at your local garden centers in 4-inch, quart and one-gallon containers. Rudbeckia are recommended for Louisiana landscapes. Give them a try this fall, or add some to your landscape next spring. You should be very pleased with the landscape color and low maintenance. Visit LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action. The home and landscape resource center is near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (Louisiana Highway 30) in Baton Rouge, across the street from the LSU baseball stadium. For more information, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/lahouse or www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.
News Release Distributed 08/17/11SHREVEPORT, La. – Just because a tree has turned brown or dropped leaves during a drought does not mean it is dead. “Before you cut, make sure the tree is dead,” LSU AgCenter forester Hallie Dozier said. “If it is alive, irrigate and protect the root zone.” LSU AgCenter horticulture agent Denyse Cummins concurs with not cutting down trees that have defoliated. “It happens in very dry summers, and it’s looking like fall in some areas right now,” Cummins said. Drought in Louisiana has lowered the soil water content to the point where plants, including trees, cannot extract enough water to support normal growth and maintenance, Dozier said. Trees under drought conditions lose the ability to grow normally, Dozier explained. Stressed trees essentially shift their energy and resources to survival rather than growth. Taking actions that redirect the tree’s energy to heal or grow hampers its efforts to survive. Trees will shift some of their energy to closing stomates on its leaves to help retain water, but that shuts down normal growth. They also shunt energy to grow more roots to capture limited water resources in the soil, and they tap into their food reserves – or stored starches – needed for future growth. As conditions get dryer, roots cease growth and function, leading to death. This may save the tree energy in the short term, but it severely restricts the tree’s ability to recover and resume growth once water again becomes available. Finally, the tree starts shedding fruits, leaves and branches. This is when most tree owners notice that the tree is under stress – long after drought stress-related changes have begun. During a drought, irrigation is necessary, Dozier said. “Water the tree deeply and slowly, roughly 10 gallons per inch of tree diameter at breast height.” To water deeply, lay a soaker hose in the critical root zone – between trunk and edge of canopy or the “drip line” of the tree. “But do not wrap the hose against the trunk or directly water the trunk,” Dozier said. “Turn the hose on low and let it run slowly.” Dozier offers the following tips for irrigating trees: – Check your flow rates after a few hours. If water is running off the surface, turn the hose lower. Slow water application allows you to water the tree roots without loss to runoff or evaporation. – If your tree is mulched, push mulch aside so water reaches the soil. Avoid disturbing the soil because doing so may disrupt root tissue and hamper the tree’s ability to absorb moisture. – Similarly, avoid digging or otherwise disturbing the soil during drought. “Limit mower, vehicular and pedestrian traffic under the tree during periods of extended drought,” Dozier said. Trees may need two or three days to be watered deeply, depending on soil conditions and tree size. Large trees should be irrigated every two to four weeks during drought. Smaller trees and new plantings may take less time to irrigate, but they need watering at least once a week. Be sure your irrigation plan complies with local water restrictions, if any. “The LSU AgCenter does not recommend pruning of live branches during drought unless necessary to correct immediate structural or safety issues,” Dozier said. She added that leaves are a tree’s food manufacturing center, and pruning basically removes some of a tree’s ability to make its own food. From the tree’s standpoint, pruning is “wounding,” and removing live branches forces the tree to direct energy to closing the wound against pathogens and insects. “When the tree is under drought stress, it needs to use all of its resources just to survive,” she said. “Sometimes it is necessary to prune a tree, and we do so to create and maintain strong structure of the tree, increasing the tree’s chances of survival, and to reduce potential hazards,” Dozier said. But removing live branches can retard the tree’s recovery from stresses such as root damage, wind and drought. Because of this, pruning should be done only for reasons that improve or maintain its health and safety, Dozier explained. “If you have potential hazards such as dead wood or diseased limbs, you can prune anytime during the year. Otherwise, wait until the dormant season to prune live branches,” Dozier said, “especially during times of stress, such as high heat or drought. “Trees under extreme drought may take several years to recover completely after rains resume,” Dozier said. Avoid unnecessary pruning and soil disturbance for a few growing seasons after the drought ends. “When water is plentiful, young trees may benefit from fertilizers that help them put on growth,” Dozier said. Larger trees rarely need fertilizing unless soil tests show a lack of necessary nutrients in the soil. Fertilizers are salts and may harm a drought-stressed tree by pulling water away from the roots. Hold off fertilizing trees until water is plentiful, and then fertilize only when there is a lack of nutrients in the soil or rapid growth is desired, Dozier said. “If the branch or the whole tree dies, you need professional help,” Dozier said. “Always hire licensed workers.” Louisiana has a state license that requires testing, continuing education and proof of insurance. “Do not hire anyone without first confirming that they are licensed by the State,” she said. To check, call the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry at 225-952-8100. By hiring someone who is not licensed, you are putting yourself at risk for poor work and liability in the event that something goes wrong, Dozier said.
News Release Distributed 08/12/11By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings Copper plants are great foliage plants for the landscape. These go by the scientific name of Acalypha, and they really put on a fantastic show in late summer and fall. You can choose from a tremendous number of these varieties – some old, some new. Proven Winners has introduced several the past few years, and we also have a number that are industry standards in Louisiana – such as Louisiana Red and Opelousas Red. The LSU AgCenter is working on collecting and evaluating copper plants. We have about 20 varieties thus far. Bourbon Street, Jungle Dragon, Tahiti, Curly Q and Bronze are some of the variety names you will see at garden centers. Copper plants that are planted early in the year can be in 4-inch pots. But if you plant them in late summer and early fall, try to get 1- to 3-gallon containers. Ornamental peppers are a unique, specialty-type plant for home landscapes. These are mostly sold in the fall and have appealing characteristics such as colorful berries and foliage. Ornamental peppers produce colorful fruit (which actually are peppers) in a wide range of sizes, forms and colors. Purple, orange, yellow, red, brown, blue, and white are common. Multiple colors can appear on the same plant. Flowering on ornamental peppers is not obvious – the fruit are the desirable feature. Plants can reach heights of 8 inches to 3 feet depending on the variety. Green foliage is common, but variegated foliage and plants with purplish-black leaves are also available. Popular varieties of ornamental peppers available at garden centers in late summer and early fall include Chilly Chili, Purple Flash, Black Pearl and the Explosive series. These are not cold-hardy. They are warm-season annuals usually used for 3-4 months of foliage and berry color in the landscape, containers or patio garden setting. Marigolds can also be called meri-mums and are used in fall even more successfully than in spring. They are a great replacement for garden mums in the fall landscape. You get eight-10 weeks of flower power with marigolds but only a month of flowers with garden mums. Select African types for larger plants with big flowers or select French types for shorter, smaller plants with smaller flowers. It is best to plant marigolds from mid-August through mid- to late September. Marigolds prefer full sun and do best when irrigation is minimized. Zinnias are another good fall-weather bedding plant that we normally think of for spring. Try the Profusion or Zahara zinnias. These are smaller-plant, smaller-flower varieties. Try the Dreamland or Swizzles, when available, if you want larger flowers. It’s getting late to sow zinnia seed in a landscape bed, so purchase plants already started for you. Plant them in the August-to-September window. Zinnias love the dry weather of fall. Typically by this time of year, your spring-planted zinnias are not performing very well, so replacing them may be in order. The new plants will last until killing frost arrives. Petunias can be planted a little bit later in the fall than the other plants previously mentioned. When planted early enough in the fall (October), they will bloom and give one to two months of nice flowering prior to a frost or freeze. Typically, petunias will live through winter in Louisiana, but they’re more prone to cold damage in north and central Louisiana than in south Louisiana. Petunias usually will not bloom through winter, but plants will produce new foliage as weather warms in February and perform well through May or June. Plants in the Wave series are popular varieties. If you want more of the old-time petunia look, try the Madness series. Try some color plants in your landscape the next few months. Whether color from foliage or color from flowers, all of these will perform well for you if you follow proper horticultural practices. Visit LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action. The home and landscape resource center is near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (Louisiana Highway 30) in Baton Rouge, across the street from the LSU baseball stadium. For more information, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/lahouse or www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.
News Release Distributed 08/11/11Raw and undercooked meat may contain harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness, and cooking meat and poultry to recommended temperatures will kill bacteria and decrease the risk of foodborne illness, says LSU AgCenter nutritionist and food specialist Beth Reames. “Bacteria are everywhere in our environment,” Reames says. “Any food of animal origin can harbor bacteria that cause foodborne illness, such as Salmonella and E. coli. These bacteria cannot be seen or smelled.” Using a food thermometer is the only sure way of knowing if your food has reached a temperature high enough to destroy foodborne bacteria. Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees as measured with a food thermometer before removing the meat from the heat source, she says. And cook all poultry to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. “Ground meats require higher cooking temperatures than whole or cuts of meat or poultry,” Reames cautions. “When meat is ground, more of it is exposed to harmful bacteria that may be present.” Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 degrees, and ground turkey should be cooked to 165 degrees. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. Meat and poultry may be cooked to higher temperatures as a matter of personal preference. Reames offers these additional tips to ensure that food is safe to eat: – Wash hands, utensils and work surfaces often, both before and after preparing foods. – Don't allow raw meats, poultry or seafood (or their juices) to contact and contaminate other foods. Keep raw food separate from ready-to-eat or already-cooked foods. – Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood. Thaw food in the refrigerator, under cold tap water or in the microwave, not on the counter. – Place leftover food in shallow containers and immediately put them in the refrigerator or freezer for rapid cooling. – Use cooked leftovers within four days. – Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees. – Discard any food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature was above 90). “You can become sick anytime from 20 minutes to 6 weeks after eating food with some types of harmful bacteria,” Reames says. “For some people who are at high risk — young children, pregnant women, people over 65 and people with chronic illnesses — getting sick from foodborne bacteria can cause serious health problems.” The Centers for Disease Control estimates that each year roughly one in six Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.
News Release Distributed 08/05/11By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings Late August and early September are the time to begin preparing for fall blooms on your roses. Rose flowering and overall performance aren’t great during Louisiana summers, but each year we have the potential to have great fall blooms due to the cooler conditions and typically drier weather. During summer the flower colors on roses are less intense and the blooms are smaller. This is simply a function of summer heat. The best flower color on roses occurs at first bloom in spring and at peak bloom in fall. Size is also best at these times of the year. You will see foliage color become darker green, too, especially if roses are maintained with a good fertilization program. Hybrid tea roses can be pruned back to a height of 30-36 inches. Remove crossing and competing canes, and remove canes in the center of the plants. This thinning-type of cane removal is generally recommended for late-winter pruning, but it’s beneficial in late summer, too. Floribunda, grandiflora and landscape shrub roses are typically pruned in late summer to reduce plant height by one-third. In north Louisiana, finish rose pruning by the end of August. In south Louisiana, complete pruning by the first or second week in September. Fall blooms normally will peak 45-50 days after pruning, although this somewhat depends on growing conditions. In conjunction with pruning, clear debris from rose beds and pull any weeds that may be present. Add a granular, pre-emergent herbicide for weed control and mulch with a 2- to 3-inch layer of baled or shredded pine straw. Any new mulch can just be added on top of old mulch already in the beds. Pine bark and other mulch materials can be used if pine straw is not available. Be sure to fertilize, too. Most people fertilize when they prune and mulch. A recommended rate of a slow-release fertilizer will produce nice, uniform foliage growth through September and promote October flowering. Rose beds that have been regularly fertilized and contain soil high in phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium may need less fertilization than newer beds or beds that have not been regularly fertilized. Liquid feed also can be included to encourage larger bloom size in early October. If your soil pH is wrong, fall is a good time to address this issue. The ideal soil pH for roses is 6.2-6.5. Irrigation also needs to be maintained during droughty periods. We have been dry many times this year and wet at other times. Roses need 1 inch of irrigation weekly when rainfall is lacking. Although it’s possible insects will appear on roses in the fall, they are more of an issue in spring and summer. Examine your roses once weekly. Spider mites, aphids, flower thrips and cucumber beetles are usually the main problem insects. A new insect causing major problems on roses in Louisiana is chilli thrips. These are foliage-feeding thrips instead of flower-feeding thrips. They are hard to identify and hard to control once a population is established. It’s important to continue disease control on roses in late summer and fall. If weather is dry, foliage diseases may not be a major problem. But if we have significant rainfall or overwater, have plants in partial shade or have air circulation issues, disease will be present. The amount of disease you have on roses largely depends on the kind of roses you grow. Landscape shrub roses rarely need regular fungicide applications, but the roses most susceptible to black spot fungus – hybrid teas – need spraying on a 10-day schedule until the first killing frost. Late summer also is a good time to plant new roses. Try low-maintenance landscape shrubs like the Knock Out varieties and Home Run. Good floribundas include Cinco de Mayo, Hot Cocoa, Julia Child, Easy Does It and Easy Goin’. You also can select lower-maintenance hybrid tea roses, but these are more available at garden centers in spring. The LSU AgCenter will be naming a Louisiana Super Plant rose variety this fall. Watch for the announcement in September. Visit LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action. The home and landscape resource center is near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (Louisiana Highway 30) in Baton Rouge, across the street from the LSU baseball stadium. For more information, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/lahouse or www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.