Chinese Privet

Community, Outdoors

Chinese Privet

Chinese privet is an invasive weed that grows in leaps and bounds. It is capable of taking over large areas of land. The Georgia Forestry Commission consistently lists it at the top of their Dirty Dozen for nonnative invasive plants. It can become a real problem in wooded areas, especially along wood lines and roadsides. Let’s talk about Chinese privet and how you can control it to keep it from overrunning our beautiful mountains.

Chinese privet was originally brought over to the U.S. in the mid 1800’s to be used as a hedge. By the 1950’s it had taken over entire forests. Privet puts on berries that birds and wildlife eat who spread the seeds and start new plants. Once established, the privet shrub will send up shoots around it to create a dense thicket that will force out native plants.

First, let’s talk about how to identify it. Privet is an evergreen, which means that it’s a lot easier to identify it during the winter because everything else has lost its leaves. It has thin bark with opposite leaves that are glossy. In early May, it puts on small white flowers that have four petals. It grows as a shrub, but it can grow up into the size of a small tree. The berries that it puts on are small, about the size of your pinky fingernail, and dark blue in color.

So, let’s talk about controlling this invasive weed. For starters, it’s good to be aware that controlling Chinese privet is not a one and done kind of deal. Repeated applications of herbicide will most likely be required.

Hand pulling is an option only when plants are very small. If the plant doesn’t come up easily, it’s most likely a lateral shoot off a main plant. In this case, the main plant needs to be removed. A weed wrench is a tool that can make hand pulling of plants more effective, by allowing you to hand pull bigger plants. Brush mulching will level thickets of privet, but because it doesn’t remove the roots resprouting will occur. However, that regrowth will be uniform, making it easier to control with herbicides.

The two main herbicides used to treat Chinese privet are glyphosate and triclopyr. There are a couple of different ways to make the application. A foliar application from a sprayer will work if you have a concentrated enough mix. Ready to use mixes are usually not strong enough. The issue with foliar applications is drift. Nearby plants will also be affected by the glyphosate.

A couple of other options are cut stump and basal bark. Cut stump will require a saw for you to cut the plant down to just a couple of inches above ground level. Then apply the triclopyr or glyphosate at a strong concentration using a brush on directly onto the tree where the stump is exposed. It may be beneficial to include a dye spray indicator so that you can tell which stumps have been treated. Basal bark means using triclopyr ester at the base of the plant, spraying the herbicide in a ring on the base. Herbicide treatments work well with controlling privet, but they can still be time consuming. Whenever applying any kind of pesticide always read and follow the label instructions.

If you have questions about privet control contact your local Extension Office or email me at

UCHS Receives STEM Certification

News, Panthers Corner

Blairsville, Ga – Union County High School (UCHS) named the fourth STEM certified public school in the state.

State Superintendent Richard Woods visited UCHS a few weeks ago and recognized the school as the 14th STEM certified program in the state and fourth public school to earn the honor.

STEM teaches students computational thinking and using scientific methods to solve real-world problems. It helps children to develop technological skills that they can use to one day find highly-sought after jobs.

At the May Board of Education, Superintendent John Hill presented the STEM certification award to Ms. Alecia Frizzell.

“Ms. Frizzell was extremely dedicated and instrumental in the high school receiving the certification, and it’s going to have a lasting impact on students of our county,” said Hill.

Ms. Frizzell also received the Outstanding High School Chemistry Teacher of the Year 2019.

“I have not met a teacher more dedicated to her students and her profession,” said Hill, “we’re very proud of her.”

“I had no idea I was getting the award. I think I was nominated by Mr. Hussion,” explained Frizzell, “I had a student write a recommendation letter that is framed and on a wall in my house.”

Three Partners in Education were recognized for their significant efforts to improve the schools’ facilities and life of the students.

Woody Gap

Gene Sprayberry donated his greenhouse to Woody Gap in memory of his wife, Louise.

Gene Sprayberry donated a large greenhouse to Woody Gap Schools in memory of his wife, Louise.

“I’m thankful that the school system accepted the schoolhouse in memory of Louise,” said Sprayberry, “She would be so thrilled to see that it was doing some good, and students might take up her passion. She loved it.”

This year the Chamber of Commerce had an entire night dedicated to recognizing Union County Schools’(UCS) students and set up two committees devoted to finding ways to help students.

“Our local chamber has always supported our school system, but this past year they have truly been a partner in education,” said Assistant Superintendent David Murphy.

“We appreciate the opportunity for the chamber to participate in the program,” said Chamber of Commerce President Steve Rowe, “These students are the future of Union County.”

RC&D Council sponsored a number of learning opportunities for the students of UCS and Woody Gap, including sponsoring a steer for middle school agriculture day, a pig for the cafeterias, fire-wise programs, a high-wind tunnel, drone software, wick-whacking device, and a number of the members.

Jason Moore’s recognized for his outstanding service on the middle school governance team.

UCMS, Board of Education

UCMS Principal Gwen Stafford recognized student Jason Moore for his commitment to the School Governance Team.

“Jason Moore has been our representative at the middle school for the past two years, and he has done an outstanding job, said Principal Gwen Stafford, “If he doesn’t know what the students would like, he goes out and sees them. He gets there opinion and comes back and reports to us.”

UCHS FFA Students also received recognition for winning first place in state competitions.

Isaac Hunter placed first at the state level for the ocular estimation event at the junior foresters’ field day.

“Ocular estimation is where I have to stand five feet away from the tree and guess the diameter of it,” said Hunter.  He can’t use any tools to assist with the process, just his best sight guestimation.

UCHS, Board of Education, FFA Awards

Isaac Hunter and Timothy Dye both won first place in the state FFA competition.

Next, Timothy Dye won first place at the state competition for timber cruising for board volume.

“You have to stand 66 feet away from the tree using logger tape, diameter tape, and clinometer. The diameter get the actual diameter of it, and with the clinometer, you get the height of it,” explained Dye.

The Union County Primary School recognized two teachers who achieved perfect attendance for the 2018-2019 school year. Kelsey Miller teaches Pre-K, and Tina Payne is an RTI specialist who teaches Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade students.

UCPS, Board of Education

UCPS Principal Millie Owenby recognized the two primary school teachers Kelsey Miller and Tina Payne for their perfect attendance.

“We all know that as teachers that the more we are there, the better the students perform,” said Principal Millie Owenby, “Sometimes at the primary school that is quite an accomplishment.”

The board also presented Superintendent with an award to commemorate his 15 years of service.

Fire Ants


Fire Ants

Fire ants are very common throughout Georgia. Thankfully, we don’t have as many in the mountains as they do south of us. But, once you experience a fire ant bite, you won’t ever forget it. Another problem with fire ants is that you rarely get just one bite. Fire ants were first reported in Georgia in the 1950s. They’ve been found all the way from North Carolina to Texas, and down to Florida.

The summer after my first year of college I worked at an orchard picking peaches. We’d be going from tree to tree picking fruit. You’d look up into the tree when all of a sudden your leg would feel like it was on fire. That person would usually run off into the trees ripping their shoes and socks off trying get the fire ants off. Let’s talk about fire ants and things that you can do to control them so that they don’t take over your lawn or pasture.

If you can manage to get an up close look without being bitten and stung you’ll see that fire ants have two nodes between their abdomen at the end of their body and the thorax in the middle of their body. Fire ants generally like to stay in open grassy areas.

Fire ants are most active when temperatures are between 70 and 85. In the fall fire ants are most active because they are foraging for food. This makes Fall the best time to treat them. Treatment during the spring and summer is also possible, but effective population control will be less likely.

Using a bait will be the most effective way of controlling fire ants. Either broadcast the bait over the mounds, or in a four foot circle around each mound. There are a number of baits that can be used. Amdro B, Ascend, Distance Fire Ant Bait, Spectracide, Once ‘n’ Done, and Extinguish are baits recommended in the Georgia Pest Management handbook. If a few mounds remain after seven to ten days, a follow up application of Orthene will be effective against those problematic mounds. Take a long stick and quickly put a hole in the center of the mound. Then fill the hole with insecticide to eliminate those mounds. When applying pesticides always make sure to read and follow the label.

Pouring about 3 gallons of water onto a mound will usually eliminate the mound, if it is done in the morning when more ants are close to the soil surface. It is also possible to coerce fire ants to move from sensitive areas by continually knocking down their colonies.

There are not many natural controls for fire ants in the United States because they are an invasive species. Fire ants are native to South America and have many natural enemies there. Researchers have to be very careful about introducing a natural predator, because the effects of that introduced species are unknown on our ecosystem.

If you have any questions about fire ants and fire ant control, contact your local Extension Office or send me an email at

Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Municipal Clerks Week

Featured Stories

Blairsville, Ga – May 5-11 marks the 50th anniversary of Municipal Clerks Week, and the Blairsville City Council recognized all the hard work that goes into the job during the monthly meeting.

“The office of the municipal clerk is the oldest among public servants, whereas the office of the municipal clerk provides a professional link between the citizens of local governing bodies and agencies of government at all other levels,” Mayor Jim Conley read from the proclamation.

These individuals have “pledged to be even-minded, ever mindful of their neutrality and impartiality” when serving everyone in the community. They are the center of information for all and continually strive to improve the office through constant training.

50th-anniversary logo for Municipal Clerks Week,

Mayor Conley and the entire council expressed their appreciation for Municipal Clerk Kaye McCann. She told the council, “Thank you, I love what I do.”

The council also signed proclamations for Safe Digging Month in April and National Infrastructure Week for May 13-21 through the GMA.

Safe Digging Month teaches the importance of knowing an area before you start a project. By researching the property before digging, people can protect underground utilities and themselves.

National Infrastructure Week focuses on educating the public about the importance of infrastructure to the nation’s economy, workers, and communities. During the week, businesses and citizens across the country host events and show policymakers their support for long-term, sustainable infrastructure.

Verizon Wants to Enhance Network Coverage in Blairsville

Business, Featured Stories
Verizon logo

Blairsville, GA – Spokeswoman from Verizon Wireless presented a plan to bring small cell towers into the city to improve the area’s network coverage.

Traffic engineers from Verizon noticed the need for increased network capacity within the community. “The exponential growth or hockey stick growth is putting a lot of demand on the [current] cell towers and [Verizon] would like to pull another tool from their tool kit with small cell towers,” said Eleanor Callaghan, a Verizon engineer.

Callaghan proposed partnering with the city to add small cell towers to existing structures, such as light poles and traffic signs. By installing these towers, Blairsville will have faster wireless service on the 4G network. Also, Verizon will install the towers at no cost and won’t build new large towers unless absolutely necessary.

Small Cell Towers from Verizon Wireless

Example of Verizon’s Small Cell Towers

The minimum height requirement for a pole needs to be 26 feet with a maximum height of 50 feet. The set height requirements serve to keep wireless emissions lower than the general population of the area. The radios are about the size of an answering machine, and the antenna transmits at a low frequency. Verizon operates below the FCC emissions standards.

The small cell towers do not affect other services in the area and would take at least a year to be fully installed.

“Small cells in existing infrastructure would give [Blairsville] faster upload and download speeds, and give you the extra capacity for all connected devices for merchants running transactions and online ordering,” stated Callaghan.

55 percent of homes are wireless only, and the enhanced connectivity allows for faster triangulation of people’s location. The closer signals can improve response times for first responders and create an efficient method for gathering information.

The small cell towers also cut down on search times when people look for entertainment or restaurants on their phones. Also, the towers could bring services like Uber and Lyft to the area since it’s easier to locate people who want to use the service.

Mayor Jim Conley asked, “Do you have a model ordinance that other cities use?”

Callaghan stated that ordinances are not necessary due to the comprehensive nature of the FCC Small Cell Law, but provided the Sandy Springs ordinance and permit process for the city council to review. “We may have to do an ordinance because of our charter,” said Mayor Conley.

Councilman Buddy Moore asked for more information about the need of the towers to review before making a decision.

“I see how this can help us, but I don’t feel like we can give you answer tonight without reviewing the ordinance to see what other folks have put into it because this is all new to us. Mrs. Callaghan if you want to send that ordinance to us again, and we can arrange to have you come back once we review this ordinance,” said Mayor Conley.


Featured Stories


I think that most people enjoy eating a handful of blueberries. Eating them always reminds me of my grandfather because he always puts them on his cereal in the morning. Blueberries grow pretty well here, but there are a few things to be aware of so let’s talk about those so that you can have a successful blueberry crop.

Blueberry bushes can be planted in the early spring or in the fall. In North Georgia, the most common type of blueberry planted is rabbiteye. There are many different varieties of rabbiteye blueberries, ranging from early to late season in ripeness. If you plant a rabbiteye variety, it is important to make sure that you plant more than one variety, as they need to be able to cross-pollinate to bear fruit. Northern highbush is another type of blueberry that can grow here. They are self-fertile, but they require more maintenance. Rabbiteye blueberries are native to Georgia.

If you are selecting a site to plant blueberries, choose a place that will receive full sun for at least half a day. They can grow in shady spots, but the fruit production will be less. Blueberries like soil with a pH of 4.5 – 5.2. This trait makes them well adapted to native soils because most of our soils will naturally be in that range. Therefore, lime is probably not needed when planting blueberries. Rabbiteyes do best with 5 – 6 feet between plants in row and 11 – 12 feet between rows. When planting make sure you don’t plant too deep. After planting prune back 1/3 to ½ of the plant. This will cause the plant to focus on developing its root system. The first year you want to pick off any blooms, because you want the plant to put its energy into growing roots and not fruit. You can apply 1 oz. of 10-10-10 after the plant has begun to put on leaves the first year. The second year after planting put out 2 oz. of 10-10-10 in March and July. Make sure not to over fertilize blueberries, as that can harm them. After the third season, apply 1 oz. of 10-10-10 per foot of height on the bush.

Blueberry bushes do require pruning each year. Once plants reach 6 feet high you’ll want to start cane renewal pruning. This means removing 1 – 3 of the biggest canes each winter at ground level. Over a period of 5 years the bush will be completely renewed. New canes are going to bear more fruit than old canes so it’s important to maintain this pruning process. If you have bushes that haven’t been pruned for a few years, it might take several seasons to get bushes into the 5-year rotation. After you’ve picked the fruit, you can top plants if they are over 6 feet tall. This will keep bushes at a more manageable height.

Blueberries aren’t bothered by many insects or diseases. However, one disease to look out for is mummy berry. It will cause berries to shrivel up and drop. The berries that drop carry the pathogen over to the next year. Therefore, it’s important to keep the space beneath your bushes sanitary. Remove any old berries, wood, and leaves. Placing thick mulch around the base of plants will help prevent the disease from spreading as well. Captan is an effective fungicide at controlling mummy berry if it’s sprayed at bud break and first flower.

If you have questions about growing blueberries contact your local Extension Office or send me an email at


Erosion Control


Georgia, along with much of the southeastern US, don’t have a positive past with erosion. Repetitive
cropping of cotton in the piedmont resulted in seven inches of topsoil being washed away into the
ocean. Soil takes hundreds of years to create, meaning that the loss of soil is something that will be
felt for generations. By the 1950s, new policies and programs began to change Georgia from endless
cotton fields to forestland and other uses that are less susceptible to erosion. In the mountains, there is
always a threat of erosion if we aren’t proactive with protecting our landscape. Let’s talk about why we
should care about erosion and some things that you can do to make sure that your land isn’t eroded

With the high amount of rainfall that we receive in the mountains, erosion caused by water is the
biggest concern that we have, so I’ll focus on that. Erosion is also caused by wind and gravity. According
to the US Department of Agriculture, 2 billion tons of topsoil are lost each year in the US because of
erosion. The topsoil is the most nutrient-rich part of the soil, and so plants rely heavily on it for growth.
Therefore, losing topsoil is going to reduce your plant growth. Erosion can also lead to water quality
issues. Not only does the topsoil muddy up our lakes and rivers, but also the nutrients that the topsoil is
carrying can create algal blooms leading to decreased aquatic life. That is bad news for our lakes and the
fish that inhabit them. Erosion can also create a hardpan that will repel water and increases surface

So let’s talk about what you can do to reduce erosion. Firstly, construction makes soil very susceptible to
erosion. Removing all the vegetation from the top of the soil leaves it open to the rainfall. Whenever
possible in construction, surround the project site with hay bales and silt fences, preserve the already
existing vegetation, and keep any piles of loose vegetation or gravel covered.

Keep stream banks covered with vegetation and trees. Those plant roots will solidify that stream bank so
that the natural erosion process will be slowed down. It will keep the stream from widening. In gardens
and around the home use mulch or compost when possible to protect bare soil. This will improve water
infiltration into the soil and reduce runoff.

Minimizing impermeable surfaces such as the driveway or walkway on your property will also reduce
erosion. Obviously, you will need some impermeable surfaces at your property, such as a roof for your
house. For cases like that, it’s important to design pathways for the water from those impermeable
surfaces to travel so that they can be deposited in a rain garden or pond. Rain gardens collect water
to allow the water to infiltrate back into the soil instead of having it run downhill. Usually, they have plants
that are adapted to living in damp soils.

If you have any questions about erosion or what you can do to prevent erosion at your property, please
contact your local Extension Office or send me an email at

Georgia Agricultural Forecast


Georgia Agricultural Forecast

By:  Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent

The Georgia Ag Forecast seminar series will be held Jan. 22 through Feb. 1 at six sites across the state. University of Georgia agricultural economists will present insights into the latest market and regulatory conditions for the state’s largest industry – agriculture. Hosted by the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the 2019 seminar series will be held in Macon, Carrollton, Watkinsville, Lyons, Bainbridge, and Tifton. Registration for the series is now open at

“The main objective of the Ag Forecast seminar series is to provide Georgia’s producers and agribusiness leaders with information on where we think the industry is headed in the upcoming year,” said Kent Wolfe, director of the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. “It helps producers plan for the next year, but it’s also good for bankers and others who have businesses involved in agriculture or who will be impacted by the farm economy.” Economists from the center and from the college’s department of agricultural and applied economics will deliver the economic outlook, which will focus on Georgia’s major commodities and the way that global markets, weather patterns and historical trends will affect them.

This year, CAES Dean Sam Pardue will highlight how UGA is working to meet the needs of producers and agribusinesses across the state. He will share insights on rural initiatives and opportunities for statewide connections to the land grant university.  This program also provides state and local leaders with current demographic data and detailed population projections that enable Georgia leaders to more effectively address issues and plan for the future.

The 2019 Georgia Ag Forecast sessions will be held on the following dates at the following locations:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 22: Macon – Georgia Farm Bureau Building
  • Wednesday, Jan. 23: Carrollton – Carroll County Ag Center
  • Friday, Jan.25: Watkinsville – Oconee County Civic Center
  • Tuesday, Jan. 29: Lyons – Toombs County Agri-Center
  • Thursday, Jan. 31: Bainbridge – Decatur County Agricultural Center
  • Friday, Feb. 1: Tifton – UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center


Individual seats are $35 per person. All seminars begin at 9 a.m. and are followed by a networking lunch, except for the Tifton event which will open with a 7 a.m. breakfast, followed by the seminar.  The Georgia Ag Forecast seminar series is supported by the Georgia Department of Agriculture and Georgia Center of Innovation for Agribusiness. For more information on the 2019 Georgia Ag Forecast series, visit or search for #gaagforecast on social media.


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