Help Spot Invasive Pests!

December 11, 2014 in Feature, Lawn and Garden

Adult spotted lanternfly courtesy of PA Dept. of Ag.

Adult spotted lanternfly courtesy of PA Dept. of Ag.

Invasive pests and plant diseases cause millions of dollars of damage to our food crops and landscape plants each year. Efforts of USDA APHIS, Customs and Border Patrol, and other inspections find and destroy many unwanted invasive or exotic pests, however, some do become established and cause problems for U.S. agriculture. Pests that are located in one area of the country may be spread to other regions by moving firewood or shipping plants or plant products. Home gardeners may be the first ones to see new pests.

One new insect pest is the spotted lanternfly, which may attack grapes, apples, tree of heaven (Ailanthus), and other hosts. Found recently in Berks County Pennsylvania, the inch long, black, red, and white insect is a plant hopper and a potentially harmful plant pest, but is not harmful to people. The spotted lanternfly is native to China, India, Japan and Vietnam, but has been an invasive species in Korea, where it has attacked 25 plant species which also grow in the United States. In the U.S. it has the potential to impact grape, fruit tree and logging industries. This time of year, look for grey egg masses on trees such as Ailanthus. Egg masses may look similar to chewing gum that has been smeared on a tree trunk or stone wall. Please take pictures and collect samples and report any suspect finds to your local Cooperative Extension office or Delaware Department of Agriculture.

Plant for nursery inspection for disease" N Gregory.

Plant for nursery inspection for disease” N Gregory.

This time of year, people bring firewood into homes and insects may emerge from the wood. Firewood should not be moved from state to state, due to the possibility of moving invasive insects. Unknown insects should be collected and sent to your local Cooperative Extension office or Delaware Department of Agriculture.

Plant diseases can also be spread from one area of the country to another. Home gardeners should be very careful, especially when ordering plants such as rhododendrons from home hobbyist growers. Ask whether plants have been inspected for diseases.

12/2/2014 NFG BAK



Delaware Ag Week – January 12-16, 2015

December 8, 2014 in Feature

Mark your calendars for the 10th Annual Delaware Agriculture Week, January 12-16, 2015.  This is an excellent educational opportunity for Delaware agriculture stakeholders to learn best practices and new technologies, meet vendors and network with other agricultural producers.  This year’s event will once again be located at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington.  Delaware Agriculture Week provides numerous sessions that cover a wide array of topics including small fruits, fresh market & processing vegetables, small flock & commercial poultry, grain marketing, grain crops, hay & pasture, beef cattle, irrigation, direct marketing, and much more.  Nutrient management, pesticide, and certified crop adviser continuing education credits will be offered.

Delaware Ag Week is sponsored by the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, Delaware State University Cooperative Extension and the Delaware Department of Agriculture. Agriculture is an $8 billion industry in Delaware according to a 2010 University of Delaware report which factors in agriculture jobs and related production, goods and services that support the largest industry in the First State.

“We are very excited to be celebrating the 10th year of DE Ag Week,” said Cory Whaley, University of Delaware agriculture Extension agent and Delaware Ag Week Chair. “Ag Week is great event where the ag community can come together for continuing education, to catch up with friends, and talk with local vendors.”

This year, Ag Week will begin on Monday evening with the Fruit session and Beef session.  Please take a look through the program book and make note of the new sessions for 2015 which  include:  Agriculture Best Management Practices- Financing, Weathering These Changing Times, Soil Health, and Growing Delaware’s Agriculture in Urban Communities.

The main meeting area will be located in the Exhibit Hall this year.  A trade show, with more than 8o exhibitors, will take place in the Dover Building.

There  is no fee to attend.  For more information, including an electronic version of the program booklet, be sure to visit the 2015 Delaware Agriculture Week website:

Tasty and Safety: Top Tips for Preparing Turkey

November 25, 2014 in Family and Consumer Sciences, Feature

Photo source: USDA Flickr

Photo source: USDA Flickr

As Thanksgiving approaches we all look forward to a joyful holiday feast with friends and family. However, good food hygiene and preparation is vital to avoid turning your happy celebration into a far less joyful nightmare. Food borne illnesses can cause serious health problems with symptoms of nausea, diarrhea and vomiting spoiling family plans and Black Friday shopping trips.

Food safety expert Kathleen Splane from the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension shares her top tips.

• Make sure you thaw your turkey thoroughly. The best way to do this is to thaw it in the refrigerator. A 15-pound bird can take 3-4 days so allow plenty of time.

• Never thaw a turkey on the kitchen counter or in the microwave. If you don’t have time to thaw the bird in the fridge, don’t panic – there is another method to use in an emergency – however this takes time and some work. Submerge the bird in cold water in a clean sink or pan and set a timer to change the cold water every 30 minutes. It will take around 30 minutes to thaw per pound of turkey using this method. A large bird could take up to 10 hours.

• Cross contamination is a big risk in the kitchen – raw and ready to eat food should be prepared on different cutting boards and separate areas of the counter and always make sure you wash you hands thoroughly.

• Wash fruit and vegetables with water and a brush – harmful bacteria can be found on the skins

• Buy a meat thermometer – never rely of the color of the juice to ensure your turkey is cooked. The thickest part of the bird should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

• If you stuff the turkey ensure that the stuffing reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If the stuffing has not reached that temperature but the rest of your bird is cooked – remove the stuffing and cook it separately until it reached 165 F.

• Planning a buffet? Don’t leave food out for too long and ensure you keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Put cold foods on ice and consider using a hot plate for hot foods.

• Never leave leftovers out for longer than 2 hours. Once you have finished – refrigerate it, freeze it or discard it.

• Lose the restroom hand towel and use disposables.

• Ice in cocktails can be problematic. Make sure that the bar person is not using their hands to scoop ice or has touched the rim of your glass.

• Lastly – throw a packet of dish cloths in your cart when you go to the grocery store. Cleaning cloths support the growth of harmful bacteria and can be a petri dish for harmful bacteria. Wash them daily or throw your scubbies in the dishwasher.

Top Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

November 18, 2014 in Family and Consumer Sciences, Feature

o-HOLIDAY-STRESS-facebookThe stress of upcoming holidays can overshadow the joy of spending time with family, exchanging gifts, nibbling on holiday goodies and relaxing with friends. No one wants to be too frazzled to enjoy what the holidays are all about. Here are some tips for memorable holidays.

  1. Sit down with your family and talk about what this holiday means.
  • Ask each person to share, “What are the most essential (important) parts of this holiday?” “What would really be missed if we didn’t do it together as a family?”
  • What can you do for others who may find it difficult to have a happy holiday? Not only will this be helpful to others, but it will also be a big boost to your health and happiness.
  • What will each person do to help get ready for the holiday? Make a list of who will do what when.
  1. Whittle down the plans until you feel confident you can accomplish them. This will give you a sense of “being in control” (one of the key characteristics of good stress managers) — rather than feeling overwhelmed (which is a major stress generator).
  • One of the biggest sources of stress is unrealistic expectations – trying to accomplish more than is reasonable – and trying to have everything perfect. Some things may need to be postponed for the next holiday.
  • Are there family rituals that need to be dropped or modified? Family rituals are very important, but they may need to evolve as children grow up and families change.
  • Stay within your budget. Feeling in control of your money (no matter how much you have) is a priceless feeling.
  1. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and relax deeply.
  • Taking good care of yourself is one of the cornerstones of stress management, and it’s especially important at holiday time – for you and everyone else in the family (especially children).
  • Your stress can splash over onto other family members – so it’s a kindness to everyone when you take good care of yourself. Too much stress can cause you to feel fatigued, can mess with your blood sugars and send your hormones out-of-whack.
  • Holiday stress and the elevated cortisol hormone that stress releases can cause people to eat excessive amounts of comfort foods and gain weight. Curb your hunger and overindulging at holiday gatherings by eating a light, low-fat snack such as soup, fruit, or cereal before parties.
  • When things get too stressful, call a 10-minute time out. Get a cup of tea, run around the block or just relax with your feet up. You will come back to face any challenge with a refreshed mind and body.
  • Plan time to relax deeply.
    1. Practicing meditation and mindfulness are well documented stress management strategies.
    2. If it fits in your budget, sign up for a massage. Massage can give a wonderful psychological boost and help reward you for all you’ve done to manage your stress in positive ways.
  1. Spend fun time together – and roll with the punches.
  • Planning time together with your family may be the most important thing you can do for each other.
  • The best laid plans of mice and people regularly go astray! Expect glitches and make the best of what comes your way. .

Happy Holidays!

Dr. Pat Tanner Nelson, Extension Family & Human Development Specialist


Cheryl D. Bush, MS, RDN, LDN

Extension Agent


Food Insecurity in Delaware

October 7, 2014 in Family and Consumer Sciences, Feature, Impact Stories

hunger awareness-nocropAccording to the United States Department of Agriculture, 14.3% of American households were considered to be food insecure in 2013. Food insecurity can be divided into two different categories:

  • Low food security: reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake.
  • Very low food security: Reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.

The 2013 National percentage of 14.3% can be broken down specifically to 8.7% households with low food security and 5.6% households with very low food security. This hunger problem is an issue that Delawareans are faced with as well. In Delaware, 12.9% of households are food insecure, with 5.1% being very low food security. To put this in a different perspective, about 1 in every 8 Delawareans has experienced food insecurity in the past year.

How Does Cooperative Extension Help?

Through federally funded programs, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed), Cooperative Extension educators increase participants’ knowledge of health and wellness. One educational focus of both the EFNEP and SNAP-Ed programs is to help participants develop necessary skills to use their resources wisely. Data from 2013 shows the impact that both programs have had on food and resource management for participants in Delaware:

  • 72% of EFNEP participants improved one or more food resource management skill
  • 38% of EFNEP participants ran out of food less often
  • 70% of SNAP-Ed participants improved one or more food resource management skill
  • 36% of SNAP-Ed participants ran out of food less often

How Can You Help?

R.A.I.S.E. awareness of food insecurity:

  • Recruit: Tell people about our EFNEP and SNAP-Ed programs
  • Advocate: Share your knowledge and awareness with others
  • Involve Yourself: Volunteer your own time to programs, shelters, food banks, and food kitchens
  • Support: Donate resources to programs, shelters, food banks, and food kitchens
  • Educate: Become aware of hunger problems and food insecurity, generally and locally

By: Sarah Bercaw

Fall Fertilize and Go Native

October 2, 2014 in Feature, Lawn and Garden

residential landscape

Fertilize in the fall to promote a healthy lawn

Fall is for fertilizer (and for planting native plants)! Now is the time to fertilize your lawn. Grass puts most of its energy into growing roots in the fall, so by fertilizing now you promote root growth, which helps establish a healthy lawn. A relatively new program –Delaware Livable Lawns—has been promoting this type lawn management to professionals and their campaign is now adding homeowners to its focus. If you want to manage your lawn as simply as possible, apply one application of a slow release fertilizer in September, using 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet (for example, 12 ½ pounds of 16-3-7 fertilizer). If you don’t want to use a slow release fertilizer product, you can split the application of fertilizer into two applications-one in August/September and one in October/November. If this sounds complicated, watch the videos on the livable lawns website for a simple explanation (

A number of Delaware environmental agencies and organizations want to encourage you to apply the right amount of fertilizer to your lawn at the right time, as well as increase the number of native plants in Delaware’s suburban landscape. So this fall, Delaware Livable Lawns is launching a new program for homeowners. Your lawn can become a certified Livable Lawn; either by hiring a certified Livable Lawn company to manage your lawn maintenance (see for the certified company nearest you), or by managing your own lawn following the livable lawns guidelines ( If you become a certified Livable Lawn, the program will provide you a $50 voucher to purchase native plants from participating retailers to plant in your landscape.

Here’s how it works. This fall, you register online to agree to the Certified Livable Lawn requirements. If you haven’t taken a soil test recently, start with testing your soil to discover the nutrient status and pH. Once you have applied your fertilizer for the reporting time period (July 2014 – June 2015), you fill out the reporting form online and within 2-3 weeks you should receive a voucher for $50 to spend on native plants at a participating garden center (look at for a list of retailers). You can buy your plants this fall or next spring. If you chose to fertilize once in early spring for quick green-up, you will need to wait until that spring fertilizer application to fill out your reporting form and receive your voucher.

Check the Livable Lawns website ( for more details about this exciting new program.

Poultry Growers’ Field Day

September 26, 2014 in Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cooperative Extension Scholars, Feature, Special Events

University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, in partnership with Delaware State University, University of Maryland and Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. will hold a poultry grower’s field day on Friday, October 31, in Hurlock, Md.

The field day will concentrate on managing energy, labor and environmental resources.  Demonstrations and workshops will cover the following areas:

  • Solar panels in broiler houses
  • Managing LED lamps
  • Poultry farm energy audit
  • Fan and shutter operation and efficiency
  • Vermin control strategies for composters
  • Managing HUPs and on-farm manure storage
  • Dry cleaning broiler houses (Buffalo Turbine)
  • Rapid chick box feeding (Feed Caddy)
  • Comprehensive rodent control program
  • Assessing and troubleshooting poultry house tightness
  • Managing vegetative buffers

Maryland and Delaware Nutrient Management credits will be awarded to those attending the sessions.

There is no charge to attend this event, however, preregistration is required. A maximum of 225 people will be accepted. All registrations include the full-day program and lunch.
To Register: Contact  Lisa Collins by Friday, October 24,  2014.  (302) 856-2585 x 702

Event Information:  Download  Poultry Grower’s Field Day flier

Friday, October 31, 2014
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Location: Maple Breeze Farm
6743-2 ENM Elwood Road
Hurlock, Md. 21643  Google Map

For more information contact: Bill Brown (302) 236-1887

Summer Turf & Nursery Expo

September 12, 2014 in Feature, Lawn and Garden

Extension agent, Dot Abbott and Hagley’s Richard Pratt demonstrate the proper pruning of crape myrtles and hydrangeas

Extension agent, Dot Abbott and Hagley’s Richard Pratt demonstrate the proper pruning of crape myrtles and hydrangeas

The Delaware Nursery & Landscape Association (DNLA) and UD Cooperative Extension joined forces for the Summer Turf & Nursery Expo which was held on August 13th at East Coast Garden Center in Millsboro. More than 140 green industry professionals visited with exhibitors and participated in advanced training classes led by industry professionals and extension staff. Topics covered were as follows:

  • LED Lighting – Maintenance & Troubleshooting
  • Designing with Conifers
  • Container Combinations
  • CNP Plant ID & Their Potential Pest
  • Health Insurance – Understanding Policies and your Options in the New Marketplace
  • Weed ID – A Process of Elimination
  • Winning Plants for the Landscape
  • Proper Pruning of Crepe Myrtles & Hydrangeas

Additional advanced training workshops for green industry personnel will be offered in November and January when the DNLA and UD Cooperative Extension team-up once again for the Ornamental & Turf Workshop (Nov. 19th in Hockessin, DE), and the DE Horticulture Industry Expo & Annual Pesticide Conference (January 28th & 29th in Dover, DE). For further information, contact Valann Budischak

21 named as 2014 Delaware 4-H Hall of Fame laureates

August 29, 2014 in Feature, Kent County, New Castle County

Delaware 4-H Hall of Fame logo
The Delaware 4-H Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of the 2014 class of laureates to the Delaware 4-H Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be held on Friday, October 3, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at the Dover Downs Hotel and Casino. Tickets for the event will be available to the public beginning August 1 on the State 4-H website and reservations deadline is September 25, 2014. Please join us in congratulating these incredible people who have made Delaware 4-H not only the largest youth development program in the state with 41,000 members yearly, but also the most effective, based on data from the Tufts Study of Positive Youth Development. Following the names of the laureates are pictures from the inaugural 2012 Hall of Fame Ceremony.


2014 Laureates (in alphabetical order)

Frances Clinton* and Earl Clinton* – Kent County

H. Wallace Cook, Jr. (Hap) – New Castle County

H. Wallace Cook, Sr. (Wallace)* – New Castle County

Susan Benson Cox* – Kent County

Jane Everline* – Kent County

Lola Gibbs* – Kent County

Betty Lou Gooden* – Kent County

Jay Hukill – Sussex County

Carlene Jones – Sussex County

Ruth Ann Messick and Robert Messick* – Kent County

Frances Millman* – Sussex County

Sally Moller* – Kent County

Patricia Shaffer* – New Castle County

Barbara Taylor* – Sussex County

Grace V. Tinley* – Kent County

William (Bill) and Ellen Vanderwende – Sussex County

Carole Vincent – Sussex County

Betty Jo (BJ) Van Kavelaar – Kent County

* Deceased

Enjoy these photos from the first Delaware 4-H Hall of Fame ceremony in 2012:




Planning and Executing a Winning Tailgate Party

August 29, 2014 in Family and Consumer Sciences, Feature

tailgateEvery football fan knows that an unbeaten football team needs a powerhouse offense and a great defense.  Likewise, a successful tailgate party requires offensive moves to defend against harmful microbes that cause foodborne illness.  What are these offensive moves?

Keep Foods Cold

  • Keep cold perishable foods in an insulated cooler with several inches of ice, frozen gel packs, or another cold source.  Cold items should be held at 40°F or below in a cooler.  Use a refrigerator thermometer in your cooler to monitor the temperature.
  • Pack foods in your cooler in reverse-use order, which means packing foods first that you are likely to use last.  Remember to securely package raw meat and poultry to prevent cross-contamination with other items.  Or better yet, use a separate cooler for raw meat and poultry items.
  • Keep drinks in a separate cooler from foods.  Beverage coolers are opened frequently while the food cooler stays cold.
  • When traveling, transport the cooler in the coolest part of your vehicle.  Although the outside temperature may be quite cold, sunshine will heat up the trunk so it may not be the best place for the cooler.  Remember to keep the cooler out of direct sunlight.

Keep Food Hot

  • To keep home prepared foods like sloppy joes or chili hot, insulated thermos containers work well.  Fill the container with boiling water, let it stand for a few minutes, empty, and fill with hot food.
  • If electricity is available on site or you have an auto converter, slow cookers are an option for keeping hot foods hot.  To retain heat, keep the cover on the slow cooker until serving.
  • Hot foods should be held at 140°F or above.  Use a food thermometer to monitor the temperature.  Be sure to clean the thermometer after each use.
  • When grilling, the only safe way to determine doneness is to use a calibrated food thermometer.  When cooking meat, check the temperature in the thickest part, avoiding bone, fat and gristle.  Reaching a safe minimum internal temperature ensures that harmful bacteria will be destroyed.  These temperature are
All poultry (whole, parts, ground) 165 °F
Ground meats (beef, pork, lamb) 160 °F
Beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, roasts, and chops 145 °F
Hot dogs and bratwursts 165 °F
All reheated items 165 °F


  • Grilled food can be kept hot until serving by moving it to the side of the grill rack, just away from the coals to avoid overcooking.
  • When bringing food to a tailgate, do not partially cook meats and finish cooking on the grill.  Partially cooked meats are at increased risk for bacterial growth.
  • Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food or cut fresh fruits or vegetables sit out for more than two hours before putting them in the cooler (one hour when the temperature is above 90 °F).

Keep Food (And Everything Around It) Clean

  • Prevent cross-contamination by using clean utensils and platters for cooked food.  Never put cooked food on the same plate that held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.  Prepare a tailgate handwashing station by bringing water, soap and paper towels.  Hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes will work in a pinch, but they are not as effective at removing dirt and bacteria from hands.
  • Be sure to clean food-contact surfaces with water and soap or with disinfecting spray or wipes.

To celebrate a victory, bring non-perishable snacks for after the game, so you aren’t tempted to eat perishable food that has been sitting out for two or more hours.  You may experience the agony of defeat, by eating perishable food prepared when you arrived at the game unless it has been kept hot (140°F or above) or cold (40°F or below).