DeSoto County 4-H open house

DeSoto County 4-H holds an open house Aug. 22 at the Turner Center Exhibit Hall, 2250 NE Roan, Arcadia. The event running 5:30-7 p.m. is the chance to learn about 4-H, to talk with the county extension agent, leaders, members, volunteers and staff. 4-H is open to kids 5-18 and interested in such activities as raising animals to other experiences. The event is free and light refreshments will be available.

Citrus black spot in Florida

Citrus black spot is a fungal foe that just won’t go. Just ask Florida growers. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently expanded the disease’s quarantine area in the Southwest part of the Sunshine State by adding eight sections in Charlotte County, nine sections in Lee County, 28 sections in Hendry County, and five sections in Collier County. The latest quarantine expansion marks the first time that citrus black spot has been detected on a residential property since the disease was first found in Florida in 2010.

The action is in response to the confirmation of the fungal disease during annual surveys conducted by APHIS and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Division of Plant Industry. The quarantine is updated annually at the completion of grove surveys.

A list of the current related quarantine areas, federal orders, and APHIS-approved packinghouse procedures can be found at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/planthealth/blackspot.

Paul Rusnak is the Senior Managing Online Editor of Florida Grower, American Vegetable Grower, American Fruit Grower and Greenhouse Grower magazines.

Fruit growers upset over trade war

Earlier this month, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced Chinese companies have ceased to purchase agricultural products. This was in response to new 10 percent tariffs levied on $300 billion of Chinese goods. These new tariffs are set to go into effect on Sept. 1.

U.S. Trade Representative Office recently announced that certain items were being removed from the new tariff list, while duties on others would be delayed until mid-December.

While this news is good for the overall U.S. market, fruit and nut growers are still nervous as harvest is either nearing or occurring.

Christina Herrick is the Senior Editor of American Fruit Grower magazine and Western Fruit Grower magazine.

Driverless tractors on the horizon?

Another new driverless vehicle debuted early this summer in California, bringing with it a whole new set of opportunities for specialty crop growers — in more ways than one.

Kingman Ag Services, a partnership between Connor Kingman and Ted Sheely, who farms about 8,000 acres of wine grapes, pistachios, watermelons, cotton, and other crops in the San Joaquin Valley, rolled out an autonomous tractor in June.

Kingman, the company’s CEO, is a 2017 mechanical engineering graduate of the University of California, Irvine. He says the chief advantage to his tractor is that other than being autonomous, it’s a standard tractor capable of pulling equipment the farmer already employs.

“You can use one of our implements, though some growers have custom implements they want to use,” he says.

By “one of our implements,” Kingman is referring to the fact his company won’t be selling the tractors to growers. Instead, the tractors will be provided as a service, with operators employed by Kingman controlling them remotely — perhaps even from a great distance.

Since the machine’s debut last year, they have now sprayed more than 32,000 acres. It’s helping them to work out all the bugs in preparing for sales. The sticker price for a single unit is $285,000. Even at that price, Thompson says he expects the typical customer will eventually employ multiple units.

David Eddy is editor of Meister Media Worldwide’s American Fruit Grower and Western Fruit Grower magazines.

EPA sued over pesticide

Today, health and labor organizations sued EPA for refusing to ban a pesticide growers view as a useful tool, but that the plaintiffs say is linked to damaging children’s brains.

Earthjustice filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Pesticide Action Network North America, Natural Resources Defense Council, United Farm Workers, Farmworker Association of Florida, Farmworker Justice, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, National Hispanic Medical Association, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos, Learning Disability Association of America, League of United Latin American Citizens, and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.

Advocates and seven states have been battling the Trump administration in court to get a chlorpyrifos ban. Moreover, some states are not waiting for the EPA and have filed bills of their own to ban the pesticide.

Nationally, in response to a court deadline, last month EPA said chlorpyrifos can still be used on fruits and vegetables, even though studies show that exposures to chlorpyrifos in infants and children are associated with reduced IQ, attention disorders, and autism.

Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate (OP), a class of chemicals developed for chemical warfare, and later repurposed for agricultural uses. Chlorpyrifos and other OP pesticides are used on a wide variety of fruit, nut, and vegetable crops.

Chlorpyrifos and the other OP pesticides were banned from almost all home use nearly two decades ago. EPA proposed banning chlorpyrifos from food crops in 2015. But shortly after Trump took office, the EPA in 2017 refused to finalize the proposed ban, stating the science is “unresolved.”

David Eddy

Florida avocado smoothie

Ingredients

2 cups fresh Florida avocado, peeled and pit removed

1 cup low-fat milk

2 cups vanilla frozen low-fat yogurt

8 ice cubes

Preparation

Place avocado and milk in blender (make sure lid is on tight). Blend on high speed until smooth. Add frozen yogurt and ice cubes and continue to blend until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately. Pour any leftovers into an icecube tray and freeze for later use.

freshfromflorida.com

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