Cooperative Extension Service 
________________________________________________

  Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Southwest Florida Vegetable Newsletter



Hendry County Cooperative Extension Office
PO Box 68
Labelle, Florida 33975
863-674-4092

May/June 1999

Index:
 


Calendar

July 14-17, 1999                          Florida Fertilizer & Agrichemical Associations Annual Meeting
                                                    Ritz Carlton, Naples, FL
                                                    Contact FFAA at 941-293-4827

September 7-10, 1999                 24th Annual Joint Tomato Conference and Florida Tomato Committee Meeting
                                                    Ritz Carlton, Naples, FL
                                                    Contact Charlie Vavrina for program information at 941-658-3400
                                                    For hotel information contact the Florida Tomato Committee at 407-894-3071

September 23-26, 1999               57th Annual Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association Convention
                                                    Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island, FL
                                                    Contact FFVA’s Marketing & Membership Division at 407-894-1351.

September 28-29, 1999               Florida Agricultural Conference and Trade Show (FACTS), Lakeland Center,
                                                    Lakeland, FL.
                                                    Contact Kathy Murphy, PO  Box 2247, Goldenrod, FL  32733
                                                    Phone 407-678-5337, fax 407-678-6494

October 31-November 2, 1999    Florida State Horticultural Society Annual Meeting
                                                    Indian River Plantation Marriott Resort, Stuart, FL.
                                                    Contact Kathy Murphy at FSHS at 407-673-7595
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Note  from Gene
Gene McAvoy
Vegetable Extension Agent II
Hendry County Extension Office
PO Box 68
LaBelle, Florida, 33975
863-674-4092
gmcavoy@ifas.ufl.edu
Hope this finds you all well and that everyone is able to take advantage of the lull in the action to take some well deserved rest and recreation.

While you are not physically growing crops at this time, it would pay to give some thought to the next season and the future of farming in general.   For next starters,  the methyl bromide ban is one season closer.

Growers would be well advised to begin to evaluate various methyl bromide alternatives on farm to begin to learn how they work and how they can best be incorporated into each individual operation in advance of the 2005 cutoff date.  Each is different and will require some modification of existing equipment, cultural practices and weed, pest and disease management.

At our May Vegetable Meeting,  Bob Kreger of Hy-Yield Bromine had some important reminders for users of methyl bromide, that should be repeated here.

Due to various factors, the 25% reduction level indicated in the projected phase out schedule will feel more like a 30 or 35% reduction in phase 1.

When using methyl bromide 67/33, the time to planting is longer than with methyl bromide 98/2 due to the higher concentration of chloropicrin. Plants should not be set out until 14 days and possibly longer under cool or wet conditions to avoid injury.  Times for alternative fumigants such as Telone or Vapam are even longer!  Be sure to budget the extra time.

All  methyl bromide alternatives have some limitations and are less effective then methyl bromide.  In most cases, an herbicide plus the alternate fumigant will be necessary.

It really is coming and it would be wise to evaluate alternative programs in advance.  Another reality that is approaching rapidly is the probable loss of certain pesticides under the FQPA.  Growers would be well advised to stay on top of this and continue to make your needs and opinions heard to minimize the impact on the vegetable industry.

By now you are probably saying to yourself -”Thanks for another dose of gloom and doom.”  Despite all the challenges ahead,  I am convinced that growers will persevere and Florida will remain a leader in vegetable production.  Twenty five years ago, while I was working in New Jersey, many predictions about the impending demise of the industry were being made - yet the Garden State continues to be an important producer of vegetables.

The ability to change and adapt to challenge as well as unity among all players in the vegetable industry will be key to the continued well being of the industry.  Strong partnerships between growers,, research and extension, and all other vegetable industry groups will be vital.  To this end, UF/IFAS is currently formulating a five year plan of work to guide research and extension efforts.  We welcome your participation and ideas in this process and look forward to a bright future for agriculture and vegetable production in the Sunshine State.
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Trap Crops - New Tactic Against Diamondback Moths

Cabbage, broccoli, collards, kale, and other cole crops are an all-you-can-eat salad bar for diamondback moths, a pest named for the diamond shaped markings embellishing its wings.

Moth larvae, which chew on plant leaves, take a big bite out of cabbage and other crops worldwide, costing billions of dollars in control costs and losses.  To the farmer's dismay, diamondback moths are becoming resistant to almost everything,
including Bacillus thuringiensis-based insecticides that are widely used to kill certain pests while preserving beneficial insects.

Now entomologist Everett R. Mitchell is taking another approach to spoiling the moth’s meal.  He says giving the pest a heaping serving of another vegetable - collard greens - spoils its appetite for cabbage.  The moths can’t resist the collards when planted completely around the edge of cabbage fields, a strategy called trap cropping.

“Invading diamondback moths stop and deposit their eggs on the collards., rather than on adjacent cabbage plants,” says Mitchell.  “Diamondback populations continue to recycle in collards as long as plants remain green and continue to grow.”

Mitchell heads the Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research Unit, which is part of the ARS’ Center for Medical Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, Fla.

Mitchell recently conducted experiments on nearby farms in northeast Florida that showed that the moths prefer to feed on highly fertilized collard plants.  he tested this approach for more than two years.  In all cases, he says, there was minimal cabbage damage from diamondback moth larvae.  The quantity and quality of cabbage produced equaled that from conventionally sprayed fields.

Mitchell says Diadegma insulare, a naturally occurring parasitoid that attacks diamondbacks, builds in numbers in the collards and helps keep diamondback populations in check.  The tiny D. insulare wasp stings the larvae, preventing them from developing into adults and laying more eggs.  Once stung, a larva becomes sluggish and stops feeding.  The wasp doesn't attack other insects or humans.

By Tara Weaver
The Vegetable Grower News
May 1999
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FLDAC's Takes Action

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford has taken action against a Lee County produce firm for trying to pass off Mexican cucumbers as U. S. grown produce.  he filed an administrative complaint and proposed settlement in a case involving L & M Farms Inc., of Raleigh, N. C.

Inspectors found the repacked cucumbers during a surprise check of L & M’s Bonita Springs packing plant in February.

FloridAgriculture
May 1999
 
 
 
For Real:  A Store Bought Tomato with Vine Ripened Taste
Changing the levels of a key hormone in tomatoes could lead to fruit that tastes better and lasts longer, Agricultural Research Service scientists report.  Research shows such a tomato to be only a few years away.

ARS plant physiologist Jerry D. Cohen and colleagues have genetically altered the levels of auxin, a hormone which causes a tomato to grow and ripen.  It’s the best known and probably the most important of the five major plant hormones.

Scientists have been studying auxin for more than 120 years.  They’ve been able to change auxin levels, but the changes were expressed throughout the plant, not just in the fruit.  The aim is to control the hormone production so that it can be introduced into specific, targeted tissues - such as the fruit - without affecting the growth processes in other parts of the plant.

At the ARS Horticultural Crops Quality Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., Cohen and colleagues inserted a backwards copy of iaglu - a gene from corn - into a tomato to turn this gene off.  Because the gene was put in with a fruit specific promoter, only the tomato fruit was affected.  The resultant fruit ripened more slowly.  This work is in collaboration with scientists in the ARS Climate Stress Laboratory in Beltsville.  ARS is the chief scientific agency in the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Another plus for auxin:  Decreasing the gene's level of expression throughout receptor plants caused them to easily form large numbers of roots from cuttings and spurred rapid root growth in germinating seedlings.  This could be significant for plants that are difficult to root from cuttings and could increase the survival rate of seeds planted in dry soils.

Cohen expects this research to produce a store-bought tomato with vine ripened taste in about 3 years.

ARS News Service
May 12, 1999
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Several Management Practices Needed to Control Late Blight
Late blight is an extremely destructive fungal disease of potatoes.  It attacks both tubers and foliage at any stage of development and is capable of rapid development and spreading.  Soft rot of tubers often occurs in storage following tuber infections.  Consequently, the tolerance for late blight is usually very low.

The fungus survives the winter in infected, stored potatoes or in infected tubers missed during harvest and remaining unfrozen over winter.  The fungus can be transmitted from infected tubers to potato foliage.  Thus, the sources of initial inoculum can be piles of infected cull potatoes, infected seed tubers or infected volunteers.

The spores of Phytophthora infestans are carried by wind, splashed rain and animals from diseased plants in one field to healthy plants in neighboring fields.

Development of late blight is favored by high moisture (rain, dew, sprinkler irrigation, high relative humidity) and moderate temperatures (600F-800F) for periods of at least eight to 10 hours.  The spores require water to germinate and penetrate the potato tissue.  Lesions on leaves and stems become visible as small flecks within three to five days after infections.  These expand to produce large lesions.  Initially, infected tissue is water soaked (gray/green), but becomes necrotic (brown or black) in a few days.  Lesions are often surrounded by a halo of lighter green tissue.  Stems are also susceptible to attack.

Moist conditions for at least seven to ten hours are required for spore production.  Thus, spores or lesions are most commonly apparent after wet nights and after periods of rainfall.  They are seen as white, velvety growth at the edge of a lesion, primarily on the underside of the leaf.  It is this white growth that distinguishes late blight from several other foliar diseases of potatoes.  Wind or rain carries the spores to healthy plants where the cycle begins again.  Many reproductive cycles are possible within the season.  This accounts for the rapid increase in disease once it becomes established in the field.

Tubers are infected by spores washed from lesions to the soil.  Tuber infections are characterized by patches of brown to purple discoloration on the potato skin.  Cutting just below the skin reveals a dark, reddish brown, corky rot.

Control

A combination of several management practices is necessary to achieve consistently good control of late blight.  The first practice is to avoid introducing late blight into a field.  Thus, disease free seed tubers should be planted and cull and volunteer potatoes should be destroyed.

Second, resistant varieties should be planted.  No cultivar is resistant to late blight, but several are moderately resistant and could be planted if blight was expected to be a problem.  The third practice is to apply fungicides as needed throughout the growing season. Several forecasting techniques have been developed that predict when a spray will be necessary based on environmental conditions favorable to the development of the fungus.

Fourth, hilling and vine killing reduce the incidence of tuber infection.  Infected tubers should be removed before potatoes are stored.

The Vegetable Growers News
May 1999
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OSHA’s Top Violations
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) ranked the violations cited in 1997.  The following list might give you some idea about what the OSHA inspector will be looking for when.....or if he comes to call.

1 Hazard Communications
2 Scaffolding Construction
3 Lockout/Tag out
4 Fall Protection
5 Electrical Wiring
6 Mechanical Power Transmission
7 Machine Guarding
8 Electrical Problems
9 Personal Protective Equipment
10 Respirators

Out of the items on the list, the ones listed in bold are the areas you are most likely to be cited in.

Solid Waste Division Newsletter, Safety & Loss Control Service, July 1998, Volume 11
Glades Manpower Development Newsletter
November 1998
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Labor Web site

The University of California Cooperative Extension agricultural labor management advisor, Gregory Bilikopf, has put together a wonderful web site for ag labor.  The site is available at http://www.cnr.berkeley.edu/ucce50/7grisha.htm

The site includes information on farm safety, personnel management, publications and laws. Spanish web pages are also available and users can ask about, or comment on, specific agricultural issues. The site’s section on labor law has links to government offices and references.

Branching out, Bayer, Mid August 1998, Southern Edition
Glades Manpower Development Newsletter
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Florida Agsafe Network Web site

To access safety related information on everything from regulations to disasters, the Florida Agsafe Network is now up and running.  The address is: http://agen.ufl.edu/~clehtola/agsaferef.htm

Glades Manpower Development Newsletter
November 1998
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Tomato Web site

The Florida Tomato Committee has a page on the World-Wide Web - http://www.floridatomatoes.org.  This site will provide recipes, technical information and the latest tomato news.

The Florida Tomato Committee’s address is PO Box 140635, Orlando, FL  32814, 407-894-3071, fax 407-898-4296

Citrus & Vegetable Magazine
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University of Florida Graduate Student Seeks Biological Control for Pepper Weevil Control
Marco Toapanta, a  UF doctoral student in  entomology, is  evaluating a parasitic  wasp from Mexico as  a biological control  agent of the pepper  weevil.

A University of Florida graduate student and his professor Dr Phil Stansly collected pepper samples in Mexico in the search for a biological control agent for the pepper weevil.

The researchers are evaluating the ability of a parasitic wasp, which appears to be native to Mexico, to block the development of the pepper weevil, which lays its eggs in various types of peppers and damages them.

Although the adult weevils are vulnerable to pesticide applications, the larvae are not because they are protected by the peppers they inhabit, said Marco Toapanta, a UF doctoral student in entomology who is studying the weevils and the parasitic wasps for his dissertation.

"The immature stages of the weevil are protected by the fruit," said Toapanta. "That has been a real problem for growers in Florida and the southern United States."

Toapanta’s work is important because it could directly benefit Florida agriculture. It is also underscores the importance of international research in providing solutions to problems in Florida agriculture. Because of Florida’s subtropical climate and proximity to tropical Countries, it is a common site for the invasion of foreign pests. Many of these pests have no natural enemies in Florida.

The weevil first appeared in the United States over 50 years ago. It has infected pepper plants throughout Florida and other southern states and is considered the most serious threat to pepper production in Florida.  The larvae eat the inside of peppers, causing them to fall from the plant.

Toapanta and UF entomologist Phil Stansly visited pepper production areas in Nayarit, Central Pacific Mexico in March.  With the help of Mario Urias of Mexico’s National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIFAP) infested peppers were collected in the field. The peppers were double packaged and brought the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection station in sealed coolers to be opened in the quarantine facility at the Division of Plant Industry in Gainesville. There the wasps were allowed to emerge and will be subjected to biological study until a permit can be obtained for field release.

The pepper weevil lays its egg in a tiny puncture in the pepper skin and covers the hole with a substance that includes its excretion. In a few days, the egg hatches and the pepper weevil larva burrows inside the pepper, where it feeds on the fruit.

The parasitic wasp uses the reproduction cycle of the weevil for its own reproduction.  The female wasp, probably attracted by the excretion of the weevil, lays its egg within the weevil egg.

If a wasp has not parasitized the egg of the weevil, a weevil emerges from the pepper. If the egg is parasitized, a wasp emerges.

Toapanta said the wasp could prove an ideal biological control agent for the weevil because the wasp depends on the weevil for its reproduction, yet it reduces weevil populations. Thus, enough wasps could reduce the weevil population to the point where the populations of both organisms dwindle.

"We believe this wasp will reduce the population of pepper weevils," said Toapanta. "It will also reduce damage to fruit."

Release of foreign pests such as the parasitic wasp requires approval of the U.S. Department of  Agriculture. Approval will be based in part on the findings of the Toapanta and his UF research professors, Stansly and David Schuster. Over the next year, this team will study the biology of the wasp to determine not only its ability to reduce weevil populations but also its potential impact on Florida.
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Don't Let Drift Hit Where It Hurts
Not only can spray drift injure your neighbor's begonias, it can hit a good farm manager where it hurts most, in the wallet.  Off-target pesticide applications are basically throwing your money away.  Spray drift wastes an expensive input and may result in reduced pest control that cuts yield or necessitates another application.  Losses or costly litigation may result if sensitive crops in adjacent fields are damaged.

Simply put, spray drift is when a pesticide moves through the air to a neighbor's garden or over the fence row to non-tolerant crops. Improved spraying technologies can help reduce drift, but wind remains the most influential factor.  If you have any doubts about a spraying job that might result in drift, wait until you  no longer have that element of doubt.

Small droplets tend to be more susceptible to winds than larger, coarser ones, so use nozzles that produce coarser droplets when spraying on targets that don't require small, uniformly distributed droplets.

Manufacturers are designing equipment to help control drift. Keep up on latest developments when making new purchases. Among these improvements are low drift nozzles. Keep several nozzle types on the sprayer boom and change nozzles in accordance with wind speed changes.

When the wind picks up, you should be able to switch from a low flow rate nozzle to another one with a larger flow rate, then adjust your travel speed, and you should still end up with the desired gallonage without the drift problem.

Air-assisted sprayers can reduce drift of smaller droplets by using air to replace part or all of the water carrier. Some air-assist systems atomize the spray solution, while others use a high-velocity airflow to transport spray mixture to the target.

Also relatively new are sprayers that produce electrostatically charged droplets with an electrical charge opposite of that of plants.  The opposites attract, creating a magnetism between the herbicide and plants. More research is needed, however, to verify the effectiveness of these sprayers.

Here are other drift-reducing principles to practice:

Money spent on pesticides won't do a farmer much good if the wind blows the product from the intended site to a neighboring field or garden. Spray additives or "drift retardants" can help keep the pesticide on target.

Drift retardants increase viscosity, which helps enlarge droplets to the larger range of the nozzle's spectrum while reducing the portion of the spray volume contained in small, drift-prone droplets.  Larger droplets are less vulnerable to air currents and are more likely to stay on target.

However, with 40 retardants on the market, choosing the right one can be challenge. Tests of about a half dozen products found they all had the desired effect on droplet size, but they were not equally effective due to differing amounts of active ingredients.

To make the right choice, check the concentration of the active ingredients. If two products have the same price, buy the product with the highest concentration of active ingredient. The least effective product turned out to be the one with the lowest sale price by volume.

(From: AgAnswers by Amy Raley-6-8-99)
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Pick the Right Protective Gloves to Wear When Handling Pesticides

We wear gloves to protect ourselves from contact with pesticides.  All pesticide labels give options for the type of glove material to wear.  These options are not random selections, but based on the ability of that material to withstand the pesticide formulation for the longest time.

The pesticide active ingredients are dissolved in carrier solvents such as water, alcohol's and petroleum distillates.  Most solvents (except water) are able to penetrate glove materials faster than the pesticide active ingredient alone.  In other words, the solvents carry the pesticide through the glove material and into contact with your skin.

Glove materials differ in their resistance to particular solvents - the ones that hold the solvent at bay the longest, protect you from pesticide contamination the longest.  Gloves can be reused because the solvents evaporate.  Be sure to allow time for gloves to air out between wearing.
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EPA Glove Chart

Selection Category
Type of Personal Protective Material
Listed on Pesticicde Label
Barrier
Butyl Rubber
>14 mils
Nitrile Rubber
>14 mils
Neoprene Rubber
>14 mils
Natural Rubber*
>14 mils
Polyethylene
Polyvinyl Chloride
(PVC)
>14 mils
Viton
>14 mils
A**
high
high
high
high
high
high
high
high
B
high
high
slight
slight
none
slight
slight
slight
C
high
high
high
high
moderate
moderate
moderate
high
D
high
high
moderate
moderate
none
none
none
slight
E
high
slight
high
high
slight
none
moderate
high
F
high
high
high
moderate
slight
none
slight
high
G
high
slight
slight
slight
none
none
none
high
high
slight
slight
slight
none 
none
none
high
* includes natural rubber blends and laminates
** dry and water based formulations
High - Highly chemical resistant. Clean or replace PPE at the end of each days work period. Rinse off at each rest break.
Moderate - moderately chemical resistant. Clean or replace PPE within an hour or two of contact.
Slight - slightly chemical resistant. Clean or replace PPE within 10 minutes of contact.
None - no chemical resistance. Do not wear as PPE when chemical contact is possible.
Labels - glove chart

On the EPA glove chart above, the letter designation refers to the carrier solvent and its concentration in the pesticide formulation, not the type of pesticide.  It is not necessary to remember what each letter stands for as long as you use the EPA glove chart to choose the most protective types of gloves.  The letter designation is found on labels under precautionary statements.  There will also be several choices of glove materials listed on the label.  They include:

A)  Any dry or water-based pesticide formulation.

B)  Any pesticide with acetate as the carrier solvent.

C)  Any pesticide with alcohol as the carrier solvent.

D)  Any pesticide with halogenated hydrocarbons as the carrier.

E)  Any pesticide with ketones (such as acetone) as the carrier solvent.

F) Any pesticide with ketone and aromatic petroleum distillates mixture as the carrier solvent.

G)  Any pesticide with aliphatic petroleum distillates (such as kerosene, petroleum oil or mineral oil) as the carrier solvent.

H)  Any pesticide that has aromatic petroleum distillates (such as xylene) as the carrier solvent.

By Sandy Perry
MSU Pesticide Education Program
The Vegetable Growers News
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Comparing Symptoms of Heat Stress and Pesticide Poisoning
You’ve come across a pesticide applicator who is sweating profusely, complaining of having a headache, feeling fatigued, and nauseous.  He seems confused and is exhibiting a loss of coordination.  It’s 2 p.m., the air temperature is 930 and the applicator has been applying an organophosphate insecticide since early this morning.  He is wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment except the recommended organic vapor respirator.  What is the applicator suffering from?

Initial speculation might be that he is suffering from acute organophosphate poisoning, since reported symptoms are commonly seen in the early stages of OP-type poisonings.  However, these exact symptoms are also early indications that the applicator could be suffering from heat stress.  Heat stress is just as serious as pesticide poisoning, and it can be just as deadly.  When the body becomes overheated, less blood goes to the active muscles, the brain, and other internal organs.  The victim gets weaker and becomes less alert.  As strain from the heat becomes more severe, there can be a rapid rise in body temperature and heart rate.  The victim may not realize that this is happening because there is no pain.  Mental performance can be affected if the body’s temperature increases 20 Fahrenheit above normal, and an increase of 50 can result in serious injury or death.  In fact, it has been reported that more than 20% of people afflicted with heat stroke (the most serious heat illness) die, even young and healthy adults.  Heat illness may also be an underlying cause of other types of injuries, such as heart attacks on the job, falls, and equipment accidents arising from poor judgement.

Heat related stresses include early heat illness (mild dizziness, fatigue, irritability, impaired judgement) heat rash (tiny heat blister-like spots commonly found on clothed areas of the body) heat cramps (painful spasms of the leg, arm, or abdominal muscles) heat exhaustion (fatigue, headache, dizziness, muscle weakness, loss of coordination, fainting, collapse) and heat stroke (headache, dizziness, confusion, irrational behavior, coma).

When a pesticide handler becomes ill while working with OP or carbamate insecticides in a hot environment, determining whether the handler is suffering from heat exhaustion or pesticide poisoning can be difficult.  These illnesses share similar symptoms, and combined problems of heat stress and pesticide poisoning can occur.  The following chart compares and contrasts symptoms of these two diseases.

Just as in managing pesticide exposure, managing heat stress is the responsibility of both the person exposed and management.  Just as in pesticide exposure prevention, a heat stress control program should be in place and geared to protect all persons exposed at an establishment, especially those who are not in the best physical shape.  Government regulations (29 U. S. code 654 (a)(1)) requires that employers provide working conditions that will not cause illness or death from the effects of heat, as well as from other recognized hazards.  There are times here in Florida when the temperature is well into the 90’s on a daily basis during the growing and harvesting season.  These high temperatures, and the area’s high humilities, put exposed persons at special risk of heat illness.

Pesticide handlers and early entry workers are at even greater risk because of the special clothing and equipment worn for chemical exposure protection.  This protective equipment can restrict the evaporation of sweat, blocking the body’s natural way of cooling itself, which results in a buildup of body temperature.  Exposure to certain pesticides can also produce sweating, and there can be combined effects with exposure to heat.  Additionally, pesticides are absorbed through hot, sweaty skin more quickly than through cool dry skin.

So was our theoretical victim suffering from OP poisoning or from heat exhaustion?  If there is any doubt about what the illness is, get medical help immediately.  Both pesticide poisoning and heat stroke can be life threatening.  Both also require prompt treatment.
 
Heat Exhaustion Symptoms OP/Carbamate Poisoning Symptoms
Sweating
Headache
Fatigue
Sweating
Headache
Fatigue
Nausea Nausea and Diarrhea
Dry Membranes
Dry Mouth
No Tears
No Spit Present
Moist Membranes
Salivation
Tears
Spit Present in Mouth
Fast Pulse
Dilated Pupils
Slow Pulse
Dilated Pupils
Central Nervous System Depression
Loss of Coordination
Confusion
Fainting
Central Nervous System Depression
Loss of Coordination
Confusion
Fainting
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Textbooks Mislead Kids About Agriculture
Have you looked at our child’s current science text?  Social studies text?  Math book?  If not, I suggest you sneak a peek.  As a farmer, landowner, farm manager or hunter, it may be the most important look you’ve taken in a while.

We all express concern over bad legislation, environmental regulation, property rights and a host of other issues.  But how many of us suspect that when our kids come home from school, they may be bringing all those issues with them?  They may be packed neatly between the pages of a brand new science book with a catchy title like “Protecting Our Planet.”

A couple of years back, agricultural leaders here in Texas made the editorial pages of major newspapers when they protested the adoption of an environmental science text.  Ag leaders of all persuasions lobbied successfully for new textbook selections.

We fought hard only to find that there were still no controls or review on the “ancillary materials,” that is, the free teaching aids that came with the books.

Our complaints over this and other texts proposed for adoption was that the books contained erroneous and defamatory statements about farming, ranching, hunting and wildlife management.  One text states, “When cattle feed, they remove all the vegetation from the soil and compact the dirt with their hooves.”  That should be news to everyone who responsibly manages range lands and pastures.

One “enrichment workbook” reads, “Farmers are usually subsidized by the federal government or the chemical manufacturers to use chemical pesticides.”  I’d better get out to the mailbox to pick up that big check from the feds for all the cattle wormer I’ve bought over the years!

These textbooks have such a bias that they indict everyone in agriculture as destroyers of the earth.  I recently picked up a middle school science text currently used in a rural Texas school system and there in black and white were incorrect statements about farming and pesticide use.  One paragraph stated that DDT, banned in the U. S. since the 1970s, could still be used for “emergency purposes.”  Try that and see how quickly you get thrown in the federal clink.

So what can we do?  Farmers and ranchers need to attend science teacher conferences and then be prepared to be scared out of your Tony Lamas.  The folks who would love to control your life and property have been there for years supplying glitzy materials to unsuspecting teachers.

Don’t blame the teachers.  Chances are the youngest of them don’t have rural backgrounds, and many of the older ones still trust established “environmental” organizations.  Get involved with your favorite wildlife or farm organizations and help them sponsor free summer teacher workshops that tell the real story.  Teachers love the workshops, and when they learn the truth the textbooks’ biased treatment of a topic takes a back seat.

As I drive around rural Texas in my old brown truck, I wonder why those of us in agriculture get blamed for everything from species extinction to receding hairlines.

Believe it.  You are being badmouthed in those books, and you should go down to your local schoolhouse and examine them.

(This article originally appeared in Progressive Farmer magazine)
By David Langford
Executive Vice President,
Texas Wildlife Association
The Vegetable Growers News
May 1999
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Pesticides Contribute to Health
Baby Boomers are the first generation to grow up eating food treated with pesticides.

Environmental activist groups continue to attack pesticide use.  Lately, the rhetoric has become more reckless and desperate.

If pesticides are as harmful to human health as the Environmental Working Group and Consumers Union would have you believe, then there ought to be plenty of proof of this in the Baby Boom generation, which has lived 50 years with pesticide-treated food.  The facts say otherwise.

Global life expectancy has grown more in the last 50 years than over the previous 5,000 years.  If anything, pesticides have contributed to the good health and longevity of Americans.  They’ve made it possible for us to eat a healthy diet, one with plenty of fruits and vegetables.

It may well be because of - rather than in spite of - pesticides that today’s baby boomers are the healthiest middle-aged adults that ever lived.

FloridAgriculture
May 1999
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Vegetable Farmers Face an Era of Transition

Farming has always been an occupation beset by uncertainty.  Variable weather conditions, disease and pest attacks, not to mention price swings, test the ability and commitment of any farmer.

But for many Florida vegetable growers, the 1990s have introduced a novel challenge of cheap, imported produce.  The primary source of this challenge has been Mexico.

Climate conditions in portions of Mexico facilitate vegetable harvest on the same schedules available to Sunshine State farmers.  By utilizing an extremely low cost of production, a 1993 peso devaluation and new access to the U. S. market, as underscored by the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexican vegetable growers have captured steadily larger shares of the total US market.

Figures compiled by John Van Sickle, a marketing economist at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, indicate the scope of this trend.  Since 1990, for example, Florida’s share of the U. S. tomato market has declined from 36% to nearly 25%.  Imported tomatoes now account for 33% of the domestic market, compared to 19% in 1990.

The volume of the crop sold has also changed.  Florida growers harvested 1,508 million-pound units in 1997.  This figure is 10% less than their 1990 total.

Foreign producers have doubled their exports to this country during the same period.  In 1997 they shipped almost 1,637 million-pound units of tomatoes into the U. S.

Cucumber market shares have changed even more dramatically,  In 1997 the Florida product held just over 16% of the U. S. market share; foreign cucumbers accounted for nearly 38%.

According to the Florida Tomato Committee, intense import pressure has forced a majority of Florida tomato farmers out of business.  Between 1990 and this year, the number of tomato producers declined from 400 to approximately 80.

Van Sickle pointed out that cheap imported commodities have also taken a toll on Florida’s market share of bell peppers, snap beans, squash and eggplant.

“There have been a number of issues that have affected our production of fresh vegetables over the past few years,” Van Sickle explained.  “Along with the increased competition from Mexico, we have faced an increased regulatory environment, as well.

“The cost of meeting land, labor and water regulations have had significant effects,” he added. “We also have strong regulatory controls over crop protection materials.  Mexican growers do not have to conform to those regulations.”

Paul DiMare produces tomatoes in both Homestead and Ruskin.  He has reduced the volume of his tomatoes production by 40% since the 1991-1992 season.  He has made even larger reductions in his cucumber and bean acreages.

Mexican imports have made the smaller production necessary, DiMare said.  “There is so much labor involved - whether it’s the growing part, the picking part or the packing part - it takes a lot of hand labor,” he explained.  “their wage base is such that you can employ 20 people in Mexico for every one person we have here.

“I would say they have a tremendous advantage.  It’s very tough to compete against a country that has such cheap labor with very few governmental regulations.”

Jim Barfield produces tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, citrus, watermelons, and cantaloupes in Collier and Hendry counties.  He said Mexican imports have forced him to reduce his full-time work force by 50%.

“We have slashed our overhead as much as we can,” Barfield reported.  “We have laid off a lot of people.  We contract out as much as we can to cut our costs.”

But like a number of other vegetable growers, he is convinced that Florida farmers can remain in the business.  Diversification can be a protective strategy for all farm owners, Barfield said.

His operation has recently begun producing cantaloupes to take advantage of an early spring market.  “The people who have diversified in agriculture seem to be able to withstand tough markets a lot better than people who are exclusively in vegetables,” he said.

Moreover, Florida’s products have excellent quality.  In February 1999 consumer test commissioned by the Florida Tomato Committee, 1,200 consumers in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, and New York were given samples of a Florida field tomato, a Mexican product and a greenhouse variety.

65% of the consumers preferred the Florida tomato; 17% rated the import as their top choice; 19% preferred the greenhouse variety.

Barfield was not surprised by the results.  “The wholesomeness of our tomatoes is a lot better than the imports,” he said.  “The quality is a lot better.”

He also pointed out that Florida vegetable farmers can attract a strong market share by capitalizing on how they produce food.  Safe, responsible practices can boost sales to a public that expresses concern about the conditions under which farms are operated.

“Without a doubt, we grow vegetables more safely,” Barfield declared.  “We do not use child labor.  We use state-of-the-art Best Management Practices.  We are always refining them so that we use less inputs.  We also pay a competitive wage.”

Barfield emphasized that vegetable production “is a good business.  We still have a lot of work to do.  But I don’t see the mass exodus of farmers out of it in the foreseeable future-nothing like the previous five years.”

Phyllis Gilreath, vegetable extension agent in Manatee County, also offered a word of optimism about the vegetable industry.  “There are an awful lot of tomatoes and other crops that come out of this part of Florida,”  Gilreath noted.  “I don’t see that ending anytime soon.”

“I think what will be the key is that the growers who are willing and able to adapt and to try new technologies will be the ones who survive,” she said. “It has always been like that.”

Some Florida growers have been able to carve out a favorable marketing niche with a unique commodity.  For example, Dwayne Williams, a Dade County farmer, produces table potatoes for the winter U. S. market, along with his father, Charles, and his brother, Dale.

The Williams family grows this crop on sandy marl soil east of U. S. Highway 1.  This land, suitable for potatoes, remains outside of the area targeted by Everglades restoration plans.  The Dade farmers harvest potatoes while producing in the crop’s major growing areas of the northern U. S. is not possible.

“I think this is a stable market in that the only potatoes grown in the middle of winter are grown here in South Florida and in some parts of Arizona and California,” Williams explained.  “Our biggest obstacle is the large number of summer crop potatoes put in storage by northern state growers.”

He noted that his direct competition stems from increased potato production in portions of southwest Florida, not Mexico.  “They can grow in the same window we have,” he said.  “There is not an unlimited demand for potatoes throughout the country.”

Williams said the increasing cost of farming - particularly expenses for insurance, labor, and meeting regulatory standards - may determine the future of his operation.  “We are price takers, not price makers.  We get what we get for the product and nothing more.  The one thing that everybody faces is, can we survive the cost of doing business?”

Van sickle agreed that Florida vegetable farmers do have some reason for optimism.  But he emphasized that the scale of a farm business may not be an indicator of success.

Large farms must sell to regional and national buyers.  To do this, they must be able to offer fresh, superior quality vegetables in volume.  In practice, this means that owners must have access to diverse production sites.

“I don’t believe that you can support a large, corporate farm in a single growing area - particularly one that is as disadvantaged as South Florida is,” Van Sickle said.

Small growers, on the other hand, can specialize.  “They can get a product into the market without saturating it.  they will be able to do that well.  You remove some of the risk just because you are depending upon your own labor and time.”

Statewide vegetable production is still a substantial agribusiness.  According to the Florida Agricultural Statistics Service, the 1997-1998 vegetable harvest generated sales worth more than $1.3 billion.

If Florida growers can deliver superior commodities to proven, reliable markets, there may be profitable opportunities for vegetable production here in spite of the Mexican deluge.

By G. B. Crawford
FloridAgriculture
May 1999
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What About Spray Suits?

PVC aprons should be worn when mixing and loading. - True or False.

 TRUE - PVC aprons will protect you and your clothing from spills and splashes of the concentrated materials when you are mixing and loading.  Proper protection is more critical at this phase of the spray operation because you are handling the chemicals in their strongest form.

What about spray suits, Indeed?

Anybody on a diet would love to wear them because they really take the pounds off!  But should they be so hot??  The most popular and advertised material these suits are made of is Tyvek, which is a synthetic total barrier-like material that will really keep everything out.  These are the suits that the environmental guys use to clean up the deadly acid spills on the highways...but are we required to use it for spraying?

Let’s go back a little and look at what we are doing:

We dilute and mix our spray chemicals, which are very concentrated, into the tank using the required PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) which is gloves, masks, eye protection, aprons etc., and then we go out to spray this solution, where the  concentrate has been broken down maybe 500 times, and have to wear what the labels can call “overalls, coveralls, spray suits”.

Now, do we really have to wear the Tyvek suits, or can we comply with the label and be a little more comfortable in suits that can actually “breathe” and yet keep pesticides and most airborne particles from reaching our skin and clothes?

Every body sells Tyvek.  But a more comfortable option is out there and available.  Kimberley Clark (the people that brought you Kleenex) make a spray suit out of polyolefin weave they call “KleenGuard”, while UPC of Purvis, MS, makes a suit called the “BP Suit” (Basic Protection Suit).

The label on the UPC suit says that it complies with ANSI/SEA Standard #101-1996, and both claim to “breathe” while still offering adequate protection from foreign matters.  This weave makes you at least a little more comfortable when having to spray in hot areas, although it is not as strong and tear resistant as the Tyvek material.

Since there are several options and types of spray suits available, it is important to know which one will give you the adequate protection, according to the materials you are spraying.  Labels will indicate that you must wear a coverall or spray suit, but do not generally define the material.  Consequently, contact the dealer or manufacturer for the data sheet on the suit they are selling you so that you are sure that you are not only protected, but complying with the WPS.

There are also several different features to the suits, such as elastic wrists and ankle, integral boots, and hoods.  Tight wrists and ankles generally are not necessary since you want to be able to wear the sleeves over the gloves and the pants legs over your rubber boots.  (tucking the pants legs inside the boots will allow the pesticides to trickle down and seep into your socks), The only time you tuck the sleeves into your gloves is if you are spraying upwards such as at tall trees, otherwise, you wear the cuffs outside the gloves to keep the pesticides from seeping into your hands.

Hoods are certainly recommended as they protect the sensitive skin areas of the neck, ears and scalp.  Integral boots are not necessary if you are warring rubber or vinyl boots.

Spray Tips 5/15/99
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Bad W-4s Mean Bad W-2s

Employers are required to obtain certain information from employees on IRS Form W-4  on or before the employee’s first day of work.  An employee’s willful failure to provide accurate information on Form W-4 can result in an assessment of up to a $1,000.00 fine against her or him.

A California IRS representative recently offered some practical advice for employers caught by Social Security Administration for filing large numbers of W-2s that don’t match the SSA’s “master record.” (Presumably, this is for employers voluntarily working with the SSA by using the “Enumeration Verification system” (EVS).

1.  “Contact the affected employees by phone, letter, or in person,” she said.  If the employee says “Oh I’m sorry, here’s the correct number,” file a form W-2c with the SSA at Data Operations Center, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18769-0001.  Have the employee file a corrected W-4.  “Staple the old W-4 to the back of the new one.” She suggested.

2.  If the employee says “That is my correct social security number - I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the employer should note and date in the employee’s file that the employee was contacted and how (phone, mail, in person).  “Make two attempts, six months apart,” she suggested.

If an IRS examiner ever sees these document attempts, “there’s no way we could assess that $50 penalty (for each W-2 filed with a missing or incorrect SSN),” she said.  When a farm labor contractor pointed out to her “You know these migrant workers don’t keep a permanent address.”  She replied, “Keep the returned letter in the employee’s file.  Thirty-two cents is less than $50.”

Forms W-4 (correct or incorrect) should be retained by the employer for 4 years.  An employer who willfully fails to keep these required records is subject to a possible fine up to $25,000 ($100,000 for corporations).

AG-HRNT@UCDAVIS.EDU
Glades Manpower Development Newsletter
November 1998
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New Fungicide Options for Tomato Disease Control

Tomato growers, now and in the future, will have a broader range of fungicides to choose from for their disease control options.

“In some cases, we are looking at entirely new chemistry and chemicals that are being referred to as ‘reduced-risk fungicides,’ called strobilurins.”

Some products that have been labeled for other uses, and now have been recommended and deployed to combat blight disease such as early and late blight.

Growers continue to rely heavily on preventative and protective fungicides that have “stood the test of time,” he said.  Included are such materials as maneb or mancozeb, substituted benzenes such as chlorothalonil, curative fungicides like the benzimidazoles (benomyl) and phenylamides like metalaxyl (now sold as mefonaxam).  All have their place.

Also still around are some of the oldest products used by man for disease control, the inorganic fungicide sulfur and organometallics, also referred to as fixed coppers.

The Tomato Magazine
April/May 1999
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Preventative and Curative Fungicides

 A new class of fungicides, some with systemic activity (xylem only), translaminar movement,  some with good broad-spectrum activity (some with activity against four classes of fungi), and multiple crop usage, plus being recognized by the EPA as reduced risk pesticides.  They have a similar mode of activity, namely, the disruption of electron transport in cytochrome bc 1 complex, and although a single site of action exists, resistance is expected to be a multi-step process.  Still, in order to prevent resistance development, products should be used at labeled rates, used preventatively and in early stages of disease development, and no more than two consecutive sprays before switching to a fungicide with different chemistry.  Many potential products are being investigated, and other labeled uses may be made.

Azoxystrobin (Quadris, Zeneca) - The first product with this chemistry currently registered nationally for use on tomato.  This product has provided excellent control of early blight, Septoria leaf spot, late blight, powdery mildew, Rhizoctonia soil rot, and good control of anthracnose.  It has been field tested in Ithaca following label rates and directions, or in an alternating program with chlorothalonil (Bravo) with excellent results.  No spray must come in contact with apple trees, and separate sprayer must be utilized because of phytotoxicity for apples.  Material should work well in IPM and TomCast programs.  In March 1999 this product was also approved for use on cucurbits and potato.

Trifloxystrobin (Flint, Novartis)- Not yet registered in the U. S. for any food crop (could be registered on certain crops in 1999), and not yet tested by us on tomatoes.  It is reportedly a broad-spectrum fungicide, especially good against powdery mildew, but also with control of early blight, late blight and other diseases.  When this fungicide is sprayed on the plant, part remains available for redistribution, while part forms a weather resistant layer on the leaf;  an additional portion moves to provide systemic activity on underside of leaf (translaminar movement), and there is also some vapor action.  The term “mesostemic” has been coined by Novartis to explain these properties.

The Tomato Magazine
April/May 1999
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Seed Companies Introduce New Hot Set Tomato Varieties

Citrus & Vegetable Magazine
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New Adjuvant

Terra Industries has introduced Riverside Arrow 3, a new liquid adjuvant with ammonium sulfate that contains drift reduction polymers and a defoaming agent.

“Arrow 3 is a convenient three-in-one liquid formulation that growers will like and is a great fit with Roundup Ultra, Touchdown and other products recommending ammonium sulfate,”  said Bob Lucia, Riverside product manager.

Arrow 3 is said to have advantages that distinguish it from other brands.  It contains a defoaming agent to reduce spray-tank foaming and polymers to increase dispostion and minimize off target drift.  Arrow 3 also contains humectants that slow evaporation, allowing better pesticide absorption.

For more information contact Terra Industries Inc., PO Box 6000, Sioux City, IA  51102-6000 or call 712-277-1340.

Citrus & Vegetable Magazine
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Changes in CEU Requirements

Revisions made by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services last year to certification and licensing regulations for the Florida Pesticide Law affect Continuing Education (CEU) requirements for certain licensing categories.  The changes do not apply to licenses issued for the Florida Structural Pest Control Law.  The changes include:

· The number of CEUs required to renew applicator certification in the Aquatic Pest Control Category has been increased from 8 to 16 CEUs.

· The number of CEUs required to renew applicator certification in the Ornamental and Turf Pest Control and Regulatory Pest Control Categories has been increased from 8 to 12 CEUs.

The Aquatic and Ornamental and Turf Pest Control Categories may be renewed with 8 CEUs until January 1, 2000.  The increased number becomes effective on that date.  No changes were made in the required number of CEUs to renew certification in other categories.

Also, starting January 1, 2000, applicators licensed in all categories established by the Florida Pesticide Law (except Aerial and Demonstration and Research) must earn a minimum of 2 general standards (Core) CEUs.  Additionally, at least one-half of the CEUs required for a category must be earned in topics approved specifically for that category.  Any remaining CEUs may be earned in general standards (Core) or category specific topics.  Applicators who are licensed in Aerial and Demonstration and Research (considered secondary categories) must earn the required CEUs for the category in topics approved for the specific category.

Pesticide Information Office
UF/IFAS
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Pesticide Registrations and Actions

         These include:

            * “Agricultural Aircraft Calibration and Setup for Spraying”;

            * “Agricultural Aircraft Spreader Setup,” by D. Gardisser, University of Arkansas;

            * “Aerial Pesticide Drift Management,” by R. T. Noyes, D. Gardisser, and D. K. Kuhlman, Oklahoma State Univ. and

            * “A Summary of Aerial Application Studies” by the Spray Drift Task Force.

            The manual and the four publications are packaged together and are available from the University of
            Florida/IFAS Publications, PO Box 110011, Gainesville, FL  32611-0011.  (800)226-1764.  The cost
            is $15 plus tax.

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On the Lighter Side
A marketing specialist, formerly a sailor, was very aware that ships are addressed as “she” and“her”.  He often wondered what gender should be used when referring to computers.  To answer that question, he set up two groups of computer experts.  The first was comprised of women, and the second of men.  Each group was asked to recommend whether computers should be referred to in the feminine gender or the masculine gender.  They were asked to give 4 reasons for their recommendation.

The group of women reported that the computers should be referred to in the masculine gender because:

1.  In order to get their attention, you have to turn them on.
2.  they have a lot of data, but are still clueless.
3.  They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they are the problem.
4.  As soon as you commit to one, you realize that, if you had waited a little longer you could have had a better model.

The men, on the other hand, concluded that computers should be referred to in the feminine gender because:

1.  No one but the Creator understands their internal logic.
2.  The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else.
3.  Even your smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for later retrieval.
4.  As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

Quotable Quotes

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you are 1000 miles from a corn field.”  - Dwight D Eisenhower in reference to government  bureaucrats.

“Be nice to people on your way up, because you will need them on the way down.”  - W Migner.

“Two step formula for handling stress:
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
2. Remember, it’s all small stuff.”
 - Anthony Robbins

“Good judgement comes from experience - experience comes from bad judgement!” - Bill Mansour.

“Everybody is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.”  -  Yiddish Proverb

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