Archive for February, 2012

Agricultural & Forestry Leaders meet with Congressman Fleming in Beauregard Parish

February 23, 2012

A group of agricultural and forestry leaders met with Congressman John Fleming at the War Memorial Civic Center in Beauregard Parish to discuss issues involving the production of local food and forest products. Rather than speaking, Congressman Fleming wanted to hear from local Beauregard producers about the challenges they are facing.

Attendees included:

Thomas Avant, Gulf Coast Blueberries; AgCenter advisor

Clyde Gehron, Beauregard Farm Bureau, Board Member

David Smith, Beauregard Farm Bureau, President; Farmer, Leonard Smith Farms

George & Merlyn Giltner, Beauregard Forestry Association, past officers; Master Gardeners

David Vidrine, USDA Farm Service Agency, County Director; AgCenter advisor

Dick Myers, Louisiana Forestry Association , President; Boise Paper, Governmental Affairs

Chuck Melsheimer, Beauregard Cattlemen’s Association, President; Melsheimer Farms; AgCenter advisor

Topics included the high cost of fertilizers, child labor, minimum wage, bioenergy, the Farm Bill, the national debt, trade with China, and environmental regulations. The discussions were informal as these leaders sat around a table to exchange concerns and thoughts.  Congressman Fleming, when asked, commented about the composition of the House and Senate after the upcoming elections, and he said that  he expected the next Congress will be friendlier to businesses.

Fleming affirmed the hard work and character of these citizens and thanked them for this discussion.

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Beauregard Parish Landowners Have Opportunity to Affect National Policy

The USDA is seeking comments regarding a new strategy regarding climate change and wildlife. Please see the pasted narrative below. Landowners have an opportunity to act on their own behalf during a time that our personal freedoms are eroding. Please make thoughtful, respectful comments to support your position.

National Climate Change Wildlife Adaptation Strategy

 The Department of Agriculture would like bring to your attention the release for comment of the “National Strategy Proposed to Respond to Climate Change’s Impacts on Fish, Wildlife, and Plants”.  Public response to this report is welcome.

 A key point to keep in mind is the report is draft and thoughtful comments can influence this and future efforts.

 National Strategy Proposed to Respond to Climate Change’s Impacts on Fish, Wildlife, and Plants

Public encouraged to review and provide comments

In partnership with state, tribal, and federal agency partners, the Obama Administration has released the first draft national strategy to help decision makers and resource managers prepare for and help reduce the impacts of climate change on species, ecosystems, and the people and economies that depend on them.

 The Strategy represents a draft framework for unified action to safeguard fish, wildlife and plants, as well as the important benefits and services the natural world provides the nation every day, including jobs, food, clean water, clean air, building materials, storm protection, and recreation.

The draft National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy is available for public review and comment through March 5, 2012, at the web site www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov.  The site provides information on submitting comments, and the dates/locations of five public information sessions and two webinars designed to provide details and encourage dialogue on the strategy and its development. To register for these meetings and for more information on the public comment process, visit http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/public-comments.php

 

 

 

 

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Forestry Forums – A Valuable Tool for Tree Farm Management

The Southwest Louisiana Forestry Forum, an educational program of the LSU AgCenter, will be coming up soon. It will be on Saturday, March 17, at the Southern Forest Heritage Museum, Longleaf, LA. It is also the Annual Meeting of the SW LA Forestry Association.

I asked Mr. George Giltner, a Tree Farmer and past President, Beauregard Forestry Association, to share his comments about the benefits of attending Forestry Forums. Here are his thoughts:

This is the time of year to get updates, make new contacts, and to review management plans with the assistance of forest forums throughout the state.  These meetings provide experts from the LSU AgCenter and other agencies to help deal with everything from estate planning to prescribed thinnings to maximize forest health and yield of our timber products.  While we are in the information age with computers and online information, human to human communication is by far the best means of disseminating forest information.

 Our Tree Farm has benefited over the years with professional advice from forest specialists. Dad first experimented with Timber Stand Improvement with a garden tractor modified to power a heavy drill that he used to inject herbicide.  That did not work as the cull trees simply continued to grow with dead holes in the trunk.  After attending one of the first available forestry meetings, he learned about girdling to destroy the cambium layer for hardwood control. Then we were off deadening hardwoods every weekend to improve our pine stands.  From that time on, we made every effort to keep up with the educational information at forestry seminars.  Probably the most significant seminars were on marketing timber for final rotation sales.  We doubled our expected returns by using sealed bids and the services of foresters for sales.  Estate planning seminars also had a profound effect on our ability to send the kids to college and to retain capital in the Tree Farm after Dad passed.

 Last year after hearing emphasis on fire protection, budget cuts affecting response times of fire fighters, and the need for continued management in a down market, we took our forester’s advice for a thinning on our home 80 acres.  Most of our fire lanes are now 20 to 25 feet wide, yaupon and other flammable brush has been reduced to ground level, and crowded pine beetle Ips infected areas have removed or opened up for healthy forest growth.

 Forestry forums have always been a catalyst for action.  The emphasis of subject matter that they bring forward, a better way to manage forests, and just the private discussions and interactions at meetings with professionals, lead to making the family forest more profitable and viable.  Plan on attending one or more!

Attitude of gratitude: Thank you, George for your comments.

 

 

 

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PLANTS Profile for Tetradium daniellii (bee-bee tree)

Recently, I received an email from Mr. Bob Eaves, the President of the SW LA Beekeepers Association asking about the “bee-bee tree” and its suitability for Louisiana.

After learning about this tree, I asked LSU AgCenter Extension Forester, Dr. Hallie Dozier, about the bee-bee trees’ invasiveness because Dr. Hallie works a lot in the area of non-native, nuisance plants. She sent this message for this blog:

“It [bee-bee tree] looks like a smallish, easy to grow tree. Few pests, not picky about pH (but likes consistently moist, well-drained soil). I cannot find examples of escape, and Gilman at UF says “little invasive potential.” Everything I read backs that up, with one exception (see reference below). It has most of the characteristics of other invaders – short-lived, fast growth, heavy fruiter, bird dispersed, not too picky about soil, other than moisture mentioned above. Like many other of our invaders, it also seems to have potential for medical use.

Having said that, even though it’s been here a while (since early 1900s), I don’t know how it performs in different areas. I am assuming that someone wants to plant it to support apicultural efforts in your area? Keep in mind that planting anything non-native probably carries some risk, especially if you are talking about group (plantation, orchard) plantings.

Here is Gilman’s assessment:  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st242.

And the one thing I could find related to invasiveness or escape from cultivation: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/mbot/0497763.0043.105?rgn=main;view=fullt.

Bottom line: if you recommend it, do so with a pound of salt and caveats that folks should keep a close eye on it.

Hope this helps!”

Yes, Dr. Hallie, your information is helpful. Thanks much!!

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Beauregard Parish Private Pesticide Applicator RECERTIFICATION Training

Monday, February 27th, 1 pm and 7 pm, War Memorial Civic Center, 250 West 7th St., DeRidder, LA

If your applicator’s license will be expiring after March 31st, 2012, then you need to attend recertification training. The LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) will hold two applicator training classes at the War Memorial Civic Center, DeRidder La at 1:00 PM OR 7:00 PM. This is only for those folks who need to RECERTIFY, and cost is $25. For more information, contact Keith Hawkins at 337-463-7006 or email at khawkins@agcenter.lsu.edu

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Firewise in Southwest Louisiana

During the weekend of February 11th, my wife (who wants to be cyberly anonymous) and I celebrated our 24th anniversary in the Hill Country of Texas. While my wife was interested in the chick shops in Wimberley, TX, I was interested in the landscape of the Hill County which is markedly different from SW Louisiana.

Hill County has rocky soils with scrubby trees while we have a lot less stones and many more tall trees. I saw a few cattle, a few goats, and a sign for alpacas, but little else regarding agriculture. The only forest products I saw was a small woodyard stacking mesquite posts.

As a former firefighter, I was also intrigued with how close homeowners have allowed the scrub cedar and other trees to grow near their homes. It seemed as if these folks were living in a sea of gasoline given how volatile these small trees are when ignited.

Southwest Louisiana is similar to the Hill Country in one aspect. Folks who build their homes in the woods are susceptible to losing their homes to wildfire because of the trees with resinous content are close by. These evergreen trees would pose a dangerous threat to any improved property.

Our friends at the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) recognize the danger of wildfires destroying rural homes and participate in the “Louisiana Firewise” program which educates homeowners and volunteer firefighters on how to make homes safer and more fire resistant. This link, http://www.ldaf.state.la.us/portal/Offices/Forestry/InformationEducationUrbanForestry/LouisianaFirewise/tabid/245/Default.aspx, discusses the need for vigilance by citizens to protect their property. There is also information on whom to contact on becoming “Firewise”.

Another source of information for protecting rural home is www.firewise.org.  This website provides online educational materials to aid homeowners, firefighters, and even educators in self-protection. The topics include which materials on a home are susceptible to fire and which are resistance. Another topic includes how to manage vegetation for a “defensible space” which will better ensure a structure’s survival from a wildfire.

After two years of record drought in southwest Louisiana,  homeowners need to examine their own vulnerability with respect to wildfire and to avail themselves of resources to help them and their property to survive a fire event.

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Two Events in Early February: Beekeeping & Master Cattlemen’s Program

SW LA Beekeepers Association: Louisiana Apiary Laws and Regulations; Income Taxes & Bees

Monday, February 6th, 7-9 PM, War Memorial Civic Center, 250 W. 7th St., DeRidder, LA

The topic for this meeting is the Laws and Regulations regarding beekeeping in Louisiana. Mr. Allen Fabre, State Apiarist, will cover the rules and regs and will answer legal questions regarding bees. Copies of the laws and regulations will be available as handouts. Also, Mr. Leonard Wilfert, a CPA and an Acadiana beekeeper, will be talking about income taxes and beekeeping.

New folks are welcome to join. Dues are $15 per year.

For more information, please contact Keith Hawkins, County Agent, 337-463-7006. Also, you may also obtain regular “beemail” updates about beekeeping by sending your request by email to khawkins@agcenter.lsu.edu.

Master Cattlemen’s Class Orientation

Thursday, February 9th, 6 PM, War Memorial Civic Center, 250 West 7th Street, DeRidder, LA

            The LSU AgCenter in partnership with the Beauregard Cattlemen’s Association will start Master Cattlemen’s classes. The program will outline the costs, expectations, class topics and schedule. Interested cattlemen from any parish may enroll at this meeting. Classes will officially start on February 23rd.

            For more information, please contact Keith Hawkins, County Agent, 337-463-7006. Also, you may also obtain cattle updates from LSU AgCenter by sending your request by email to khawkins@agcenter.lsu.edu.

 

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