Biweekly Update – November 4, 2021

New Announcements:

1.    New version of the Plant Disease Diagnostic Form available (#450-097): Please download this form and begin using it at your earliest convenience. Here is the link to the form on the VCE Educational Resources page:

2.    Central Rappahannock Area Master Gardeners 6th Annual Seed Swap!  January 29, 2022; 9am – 1pm Rowser Building, 1739 Richmond Hwy., Stafford VA

a.    Join the Central Rappahannock Area Master Gardeners for our 6th Annual Seed Swap. Package your saved seeds for swapping + bring any garden related items you want to swap (such as garden books and magazines, cookbooks, pots, tools, plants, cuttings, etc). The event will be held at the Rowser Building, 1739 Richmond Hwy. (formerly Jefferson Davis Hwy.), Stafford VA, from 9:30am to 1pm. Don’t have seeds to swap? Come anyway! Volunteers will be on hand to answer your gardening questions and offer tips, and there will be seeds, seed catalogs and to give away. Interesting and knowledgeable speakers will talk about Climate Change and You (10am) and Monarch Butterflies (11:30am). For more information:   

3.    BASF Slug and Snail Collection: Do you have slugs and/or snails in your garden? If so, we would love to have your participation in a citizen science project geared towards slug collection across the Commonwealth!

a.    BASF (a global chemical company) is interested in studying the nematodes that are native to NC and Virginia and are hoping to document the existence of one nematode species in particular, Phasmarhabditis californica. Documentation of this species will aid in the development of a chemical-free insecticide that will help prevent future crop loss.

b.    Collection is incredibly simple as BASF will mail you a slug collection kit with all the supplies you need including prepaid packaging to send your collected slugs to the lab. They are requesting folks collect as many slugs as they can (preferably a minimum of 20) and are hoping to have slug collection completed by the end of the month. And, if you are worried you don’t have enough slugs or snails around your home…this makes for a great neighborhood activity! I requested a kit myself and worked with some of my neighbors to complete our neighborhood slug collection — all of whom (especially the kids) ended up getting super excited to hunt for slugs! So if you’re interested in assisting, simply follow the steps below…

c.     How to contribute:1. Request a kit here. 2. Wait until dark, or early morning and then start digging for slugs and snails! 3. Collect as many as you can (20, 30 or more) and place them in the provided containers. 4. Ship your slugs back to us in the prepaid box.

Old Announcements

1.    Tree Steward Manual released! Thanks to the dedication of a group of EMG volunteers, we now have a NEW, rewritten Tree Steward manual! View it online here or find a downloadable PDF here

2.    ALERT: Laurel wilt found in Virginia! In June, laurel wilt was discovered in Scott County. Laurel wilt is caused by the fungal pathogen Raffaelea lauricola, which is carried by the redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus). All species in the laurel family (Lauraceae) native to North America are susceptible to laurel wilt. In Virginia, these are primarily redbay (Persea borbonia), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), and spicebush (Lindera benzoin).

a.    Fact sheet:

3.    Plant Disease Clinic will begin charging for sample diagnosis – The Plant Disease Clinic will begin charging for sample diagnosis beginning Oct. 1, 2021. The attached memo provides an overview of the process. This memo provides more information. A few important notes on the memo:

a.    In the table on p. 2 there are links to some downloadable relevant resources, such as a public relations flyer, to help VCE offices and their clients transition to this fee. We hope you will post the public relations flyer in your offices and/or share it with your clientele, so they will have some fore-knowledge of the fee. There are also links for downloadable electronic and hardcopy handouts to provide to clients to help them navigate payment via Destiny One.

4.    Fall armyworm update: Fall armyworms are a statewide/regional problem on lawns in 2021. A new publication with information on management was just released:

5.    UPDATED COVID GUIDANCE – Effective August 10, 2021, all individuals at all Virginia Tech and VCE associated facilities located in areas of substantial or high transmission are required to wear a mask in indoor public spaces.  These areas include lobbies, foyers, atriums, hallways, and elevators accessible to the general public.  This mask requirement does not apply to private work spaces, such as an office, work area, or employment meeting space that is not open to the public in the normal course of business. Please review the new COVID-19 Guidance and 4-H In-person Guidance.

6.    Have you ever found a typo in the training handbook? – We are embarking on a handbook update process and need help identifying existing errors in the handbook! If you’ve ever noticed a typo, error, or other mistake in the training handbook, please let us know! Submit your typos, errors, or other corrections here:

7.    Better Impact: Important information for you to know as we launch BI: 

a.    We’ve created a helpful video to walk you through the basic use of the system. It’s only 30 minutes long, so please watch it before you use the new system:

b.    Between the training document here and the video linked above, you should have the information you need to get started in Better Impact! Your unit may have additional instructions and training for you, so please watch for communications from your program leads. They have been hard at work behind the scenes getting things ready to go!

c.     If you have questions as you navigate this new system, please contact your local volunteer coordinator or Extension Agent.


Other Announcements:

1.    Send us your announcements! Have you converted educational programs to an online format? You can still submit those announcements for the biweekly email! Submit an item for the biweekly update here.

2.    Follow the State Office on social media: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

3.    Subscribe to In Season, our quarterly newsletter

4.    View our most recent webinar

                                               i.     View a recording of our most recent state office webinar:

5.     Resources for fertilization of lawns and for those involved with Healthy Virginia Lawns programming  

6.    Do you have questions coming in to your Extension Master Gardener program and need to find some answers? Extension Search Resources for EMG Questions

Posted in biweekly update.

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