Little worms have big effect on farms
By Faye Ellison
Does your turf look like nothing more than sticks in sand? There may be two problems, either you are not a gardener or you have fallen victim to the fall army worms marching their way across the southeast.
These creepy crawlers have been attacking grass or turf all over Georgia, including right here in Jefferson County. Most of the turf that has been devoured includes Bermuda, St. Augustine and Bahia. There is one exception, Jefferson County Agriculture Agent Jim Crawford said, centipede.
This year they have been particularly bad,” he said. “The ones in the grass and cotton are different species, basically it is a grass problem right now.”
But the worms got their names honestly, Crawford said the reason they are called army worms is the fact they are always in large numbers and are not isolated.
“They can devastate acres and acres of grass literally overnight,” he said. “They last three to four days and will literally march across the field and devour everything in sight.”
Crawford explained that the fall army worms get up to about one and a half inches long, they are usually gray green to dark brown, with longitudinal stripes, and an inverted Y on their face. He also said that the worms feed for about 14 days, but do the most damage in the last two days.
“They then cycle out and become moths,” Crawford added.
Crawford contributed the outbreak to so many of the eggs being laid in the late part of summer.
“We have new ones hatching out everyday,” he explained. “It’s continuous army worms right now. This has been such a year for that species to proliferate and lay eggs.”
While Crawford, does not believe the army worms have affected many home lawns, it has affected the farmers who bale hay or have pastures on which their cattle feed. He said many farmers are trying to make one more cut of hay in September, with many of them fertilizing about two to three weeks ago.
“They need to be particularly watchful, they are out there,” he reminded. “I have had probably about two calls a week about the army worms. But once the word got out, people started looking. They are all over the state this year.”
While Crawford said he has not had reports of lawn damage here in Jefferson County, he has heard of problems with the army worm as close as Richmond County.
“It’s rare in yards,” he said. “Now in Augusta, it has been a problem in their yards. These yards are probably adjacent to the golf course or a large standing of grass. If you live on an asphalt road, you probably will not be bothered. People who have property adjoining a large expanse of grass or field can have it eat their yards.”
While the army worms may eat a pasture overnight, Crawford said attentiveness to yards and fields will stop the worms before they have a chance to begin.
“They are not hard to kill,” he said. “It is a matter of getting to them and being diligent in checking for them. You may not see them and then wham, no grass. You will see a worm hanging on a grass stem. It looks like a bunch of sticks.”
Crawford said farmers should use a Pyrethrin insecticide and add Demlin to that, which is a systemic growth regulator.
“The little ones feed on the lower leaves and it will kill them too,” he said. “I recommend this, for a little more long lasting control.”
Paradise Turf Farm owner Jeff Jones chalks the infestation up to nature.
“In the fall, the fall army worms can be a pretty good builder,” Jones said. “They can be very devastating with grass, especially Bermuda grass. You have got to be able to spot it. They don’t kill the grass, just eat foliage and move on.”
Jones added that a little fertilizer and water will bring the grass right back.
“We’ve had a larger than normal outbreak this year,” he said. “We used some relatively safe chemicals to put out on the grass. They eat mainly Bermuda grass, but will eat other things. When you have a dry year like this, they tend to go to the irrigated, greener, lusher grass. We got some rain a little while back, which made them spread because everything was flush with the growth.”
Jones said he began to get calls about six weeks ago, warning of the outbreak.
“We sprayed our turf and they did not affect it,” he said. “We had a lot of customers calling with yards that had a minor infestation. We caught it early and sprayed for it and had no loss. We had one little small patch later, where we found a handful of worms. We are now pretty much on the downside.”
Jones said chemical brand Sevin is a good insecticide to control the army worms on a homeowner’s smaller yard.
“They are not that hard to control,” Jones added. “You have to scout and see them there and not let them take over and eat it all up. If you do, it will turn into an infestation like nobody’s business. Another way to check is seeing birds, like black birds, eating in the lawn. They are there for a free meal.
“County Agent Jim Crawford started reporting it before we had them around here. I let some of the people around me know. The farmers are financially hurt more than the homeowner. Like a friend of mine that had his pasture eaten up. Now he is kind of worried of what his cows will eat.”
Jones said over the years of being in the turf business, every five to six years, there seems to be an outbreak.
“It depends on beneficial insects,” he said. “Nature within itself, normally controls that type stuff. But it was so prolific when it began, it makes it harder. I have probably seen it more in lawns this year than in several years. It is not a normal every year phenomenon.”
Event planned to pray for our country
By Bonnie Sargent
A Cry Out America event will be held at the Jefferson County Courthouse on Saturday, Sept. 11. Cry Out America is a division of the Awakening America Alliance, whose goal is to help Christians in America come together to pray for a spiritual awakening in the country.
This is the second year the Cry Out America event will be held in Louisville. Approximately 50 people attended last year’s event, with only a few days notice before the meeting took place.
“I hope this will become an annual event,” said Judy Tatum, who helped organize the event.
Tatum lives in Jefferson County and feels she is responsible to do what she can to awaken the people around her for the need to pray, she said.
“Prayer is needed in every county in our nation,” Tatum added. “Not just Jefferson.”
Tatum said several pastors from the Louisville, Wadley and Wrens area will be participating, including pastors David Hibbert, Pat Holbert and Dennis Thompson. Rep. Mack Jackson (D-142) will be a special guest speaker at the event.
Jackson will be speaking about the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
“It is something we must never forget because it has changed our world in so many ways,” Tatum said. “Terrorism was brought to our shores...people died...we can no longer be complacent and take for granted our freedom. We must pray so that we do not lose the freedom so many have died to preserve.”
Cry Out America starts at noon on Saturday and should last about an hour. Everyone is invited to attend. It is non-denominational and non-partisan. Tatum asks that everyone bring their own folding chairs, as there may not be enough for everyone.
Diane Evans of Avera to run for senate as write in
By Carol McLeod
The Reverend Dr. Diane Evans of Avera is working on a new project – getting elected for the Georgia state senate seat for District 23, formerly J.B. Powell’s seat.
Evans started working behind the political scene when she was 17, she said in an interview Tuesday, Aug. 31.
At the time, she was working in county government when her best friend was running for probate judge.
“I went to Zell Miller’s victory party,” she said, adding it was when he ran for lieutenant governor.
“I loved it and I’ve been working behind the scenes ever since,” she said.
Evans, a native of Screven County, has been in living in Jefferson County for the past 27 years, she said.
Evans is not only a pastor of the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Sylvania; she is the CEO of C&E Water Testing in Louisville.
She said her concerns for the people throughout the community led her to decide to run for office.
One issue important to her is the high unemployment rate in rural communities.
“Our unemployment rate has gone sky high,” she said, adding she has visited counties throughout the district.
“Jenkins County has 20 percent unemployment rate,” she said. She said several areas, including Screven and Jefferson counties, have lost industry.
“I look at families and that’s what drives me,” she said.
She said she asks herself, “What can I do? What can we do? What can I do to help them?”
As a teacher and a pastor she said she has always been a public servant.
“I’ve always been out there with issues, discussing them, even been there when people have their losses or even their successes,” she said.
Evans said her former students use Facebook to connect with her.
She said they want to know why they can’t find a job.
She said other issues that concern her include veterans, funding, education and senior citizens.
“My late husband was a veteran. He was in the US Air Force and I have compassion for veterans,” she said.
She said she wants to help local officials find funds to help with infrastructure and work for the success of public schools, colleges and universities.
“I want to work and fight for jobs in our area,” she said.
Evans said she is concerned about the elderly having to sell or give up their homes when they go to nursing homes.
Although Evans will not have her name on the ballot in November, anyone wishing to vote for her will be able to choose the write-in option and add her name, said the county’s voter registration clerk, Chandrel Evans.
Trexler pleads in animal cruelty case
By Carol McLeod
Hazelene Trexler, who was charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty more than two years ago, has pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated animal cruelty, District Attorney Hayward Altman announced recently.
Trexler had been charged in a case involving more than 70 horses the state determined to be malnourished after a Georgia Department of Agriculture investigation.
Jefferson County Code Enforcement Officer Jimmy Kitchens had notified the agency after receiving reports from concerned neighbors.
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State equine health inspectors removed the more critical horses and took them to critical care centers for recovery.
All of the horses had been placed under quarantine. About 30 horses were taken from the site and later found to be in South Carolina, where other charges against Trexler are pending.
Trexler, whose attorney had stated was unable to attend her trial because of mental health problems, was sentenced in Jefferson County Superior Court by Judge Bobby Reeves the first week in August.
“Judge Reeves gave her first offender,” Altman said in an interview.
“She was evaluated and her evaluation came back that she was competent to stand trial,” he said.
Tony May, an assistant district attorney who worked on the case, said Trexler, 72, also was given 10 years probation, fined $5,000 plus surcharges, special condition not to be the owner of any livestock and has been banned from Georgia while she’s on probation.
May said the one exception to the ban is she is allowed to be in Richmond County. He said the surcharges being added to the fine will bring the amount to around $7,000 or $8,000.
“She’s a first offender so if she violates her probation she can be sentenced up to 20 years in prison,” he said. “Five years for each of the four counts she pleaded guilty to.”
Kitchens said he was glad to see an end to the case. Every horse taken from Trexler and her sons, who were also charged, has been rehabilitated and adopted, he said.
“I just want to say thanks to the people of Jefferson County for all of their support during this case. It was because of their concern for these animals that we were able to investigate this case and bring the Trexlers to justice,” Kitchens said.
The officer said he was grateful to many people who worked on this case but was especially grateful to Marei Hunter, an equine inspector.
“We definitely want to thank Marei (Hunter) for her help in making this case. Her knowledge of equine matters was instrumental in our investigation. She helped us make a strong case and I really appreciate all of her efforts,” Kitchens said.
“This was a situation that involved a lot of people from a variety of agencies and departments. You could say that everyone was just doing their jobs; but it was doing their jobs to the best of their abilities that made this a successful investigation. I really appreciate everybody who was involved in this. I’m glad we can put a closure to it,” he said.
Kitchens said he was grateful for the results for the horses.
“None of them had to be destroyed because of their condition. The animals were adopted and are doing well. It’s nice to see a case turn out like this,” he said.