Here’s a quick roundup of stories you may have missed today. Cursed Child Will Make Us CryMuggles, you will need tissues when you go see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in London’s West End. Set 19 years after the end of the original series, J.K. Rowling has warned that if the play doesn’t make you cry, “we’ll be checking your vital signs.” Starring Jamie Parker, Paul Thornley and Noma Dumezweni as Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, respectively, the production is scheduled to begin performances at the Palace Theatre on June 7.Switcheroos for West End’s Kinky BootsDavid Hunter (Once), is set to replace Killian Donnelly as the West End’s Charlie Price in the Tony and Olivier-winning Kinky Boots. Also joining the London production from August 15 will be Elena Skye as Lauren, Alan Mehdizadeh as Don and Cordelia Farnworth as Nicola, stepping in for Amy Lennox, Jamie Baughan and Amy Ross, respectively. The departing cast members will play their final performances at the Adelphi Theatre on August 13.Celia Imrie & More Set for Glenda Jackson’s King LearFurther casting has been announced for London’s King Lear, led by two-time Oscar winner Glenda Jackson in the title role. She will be joined by Celia Imrie (Bridget Jones’s Baby) as Goneril, Morfydd Clark (Les Liaisons Dangereuses) as Cordelia and William Chubb (Lawrence After Arabia) as Albany, alongside the previously reported Jane Horrocks, Rhys Ifans, Simon Manyonda and Harry Melling. Shakespeare’s classic will play a limited engagement October 25 through December 3 and officially open on November 4 at the Old Vic.Jessie Mueller Will Melt Your HeartIt’s Memorial Day weekend! To get us in a delicious mood, here’s Tony winner Jessie Mueller with the number “She Used to be Mine” from Waitress. Sara Bareilles’ musical is currently cooking up a storm at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. See you on Tuesday! View Comments ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’
Ruthless! The Musical Related Shows The off-Broadway revival of Ruthless! The Musical will end its 14-month run on September 10 at St. Luke’s Theatre. A national tour is planned for November; the original cast recording, produced by Robert Sher, is set for release this fall.Ruthless!, a musical sendup of child stars and overbearing adults, features direction, book and lyrics by Joel Paley, with music by Marvin Laird.The cast currently includes Kim Maresca, Paul Pecorino, Tori Murray, Rita McKenzie, Andrea McCullough and Tracy Jai Edwards.Broadway.com customers with tickets to canceled performances will be contacted with information on refunds or exchanges. ‘Ruthless’ View Comments Show Closed This production ended its run on Sept. 10, 2016
Television star Judson Mills (Walker, Texas Ranger, The X-Files) will star as the titular bodyguard Frank Farmer in the North American premiere of The Bodyguard, alongside previously announced Grammy nominee Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron. Performances of the musical adaptation are set to begin on November 25, for a limited run through January 1, 2017 at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse, prior to the official national tour opening at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN, on January 10.In addition to Mills and Cox, the cast of The Bodyguard will feature Alex Corrado as Tony Scibelli, Rachel’s personal security guard, Charles Gray as manager Bill Devaney, Jonathan Hadley as publicist Sy Spector, Jorge Paniagua as the Stalker, Jasmin Richardson as Rachel’s sister Nicki Marron and Douglas Baldeo and Kevelin B. Jones III alternating in the role of Rachel’s son Fletcher.The musical’s ensemble includes Arielle Campbell, Brendon Chan, Willie Dee, Jarid Faubel, Megan Elyse Fulmer, Emily Jenda, Alejandra Matos, Bradford Rahmlow, Benjamin Rivera, Sean Rozanski, Matthew Schmidt, Jaquez André Sims, Lauren Tanner and Naomi C. Walley.The Bodyguard musical is based on the Warner Bros. film written by Lawrence Kasdan, and features a book by Alexander Dinelaris, direction by Thea Sharrock and choreography by Karen Bruce. Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard Frank Farmer is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge; what they don’t expect is to fall in love. A romantic thriller, The Bodyguard features a host of classic songs, including “So Emotional,” “One Moment in Time,” “Saving All My Love,” “Run to You,” “I Have Nothing,” “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” and one of the biggest selling songs of all time—“I Will Always Love You.”The creative team for The Bodyguard includes scenic design by Tim Hatley, lighting design by Mark Henderson, sound design by Richard Brooker and video design by Duncan McLean. View Comments Judson Mills
Max Carter’s Coffee County farm doesn’t impress you with its neatness. “I like myfarming on the trashy side,” Carter chuckled as he checked his cotton and peanutfields.The beauty of Carter’s farm, though, is beginning to catch the eye of more than onebeholder. The scruffy look of crops planted into the stubble of previous crops hides asimple success a growing number of farmers are embracing.”It’s hard to say for sure how many farmers are using conservation tillage,”said Glen Harris, an Extension Service crop and soil scientist with the University ofGeorgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.”We’ve been saying 15 percent of row crops,” Harris said. “Last year,though, I really think it might have been as high as 20 percent or even 25 percent.” Other than Carter, only the insects work his fields. “After I got into no-till,all my help wanted to work at Wal-mart or uptown, so I started doing it all myself,”he said. “And I take a swing at a golf ball once in a while.”Carter won’t say he’s making big money. “We’re saving money, naturally, from lessplowing and less chemicals,” he said. “If we’re going out of business, we’re atleast going out slower.”Improved Soil QualityHe and Harris agree that conservation tillage’s single greatest benefit is improvedsoil quality.”Everything goes back to building the organic matter in the soil,” Harrissaid. “That’s a real challenge, especially in our sandy south Georgia soils. It’s nota one-year thing. But a farmer should see a real difference in three to five years.”Carter figures the new millennium will see more of this low-input farming.”Conservation-tillage people will be the ones to bring the flag out when it’s allover,” he said.”They can stay longer than a person who’s wearing out tractors and letting histopsoil leave while he’s sleeping,” he said. “If you don’t have a healthytopsoil, you’ll lose somewhere — now or the next generation.” Photo: Glen Harris Photo: Glen Harris This story is another in a weekly series called “Planting the Seed: Science for the New Millennium.” These stories feature ideas and advances in agricultural and environmental sciences with implications for the future. In conservation tillage, farmers use special equipment to loosen the soil in narrow grooves or strips soil and plant rows of summer crops into the stubble of previous winter grain crops like this field of rye. It may not be the prettiest farming, but these cotton rows emerging from the stubble of a winter rye crop are economically attractive to a growing number of farmers. Planting in StripsTraditionally, farmers make as many as five passes over their land in the process oftilling their soil and planting their crops.Carter and others who use conservation tillage don’t do all that plowing. They usestrip tillage equipment to plant rows of summer crops into the stubble of small-grainwinter crops.”It saves a lot of time and money,” Harris said. “It has a lot of otherbenefits, too. It greatly improves the soil’s water-holding and nutrient-holding capacity.For years, we promoted it as a means to control soil erosion. But now, the economics aremaking it catch on.”Carter said he started his “ugly farming” on a small scale. “I startedplaying with this with soybeans behind wheat 24 years ago,” he said. “I’ve beenfarming since 1954. I call myself doing it wrong for 20 years. We plowed these fields atremendous amount. We built ponds and pumped water.Less Plowing, Watering”And finally, after 20 years,” he said, “we realized we weren’t gettinga lot accomplished. Over the past 24 years, we’ve grown into a no-till situation.”Now, Carter has crops growing on his 200 acres virtually year-round. He usually makesnearly two bales of cotton per acre and has equally impressive peanut yields. But hespends far less money and effort to produce his crops.”We don’t irrigate anymore since we quit plowing,” he said. “We sold offthe irrigation equipment. We maintain enough straw on the land to give us a kind of mulchto preserve the water that falls.”Less Labor, TooNear the end of the season, Carter still hadn’t put any insecticide on his cotton orpeanuts. “We attribute that to beneficial insects,” he said. “They come inand work the fields.”
Photo: Wayne McLaurin If the prospect of free mulch interests you, look no farther than your own backyard.Grass clippings, leaves and pine needles are an excellent source of mulch. A generous2- to 3-inch layer of these organic materials can cut your watering needs by as much as 50percent. It can trim weed growth drastically, too.Research shows that when the air is 100 degrees, a 3-inch layer of mulch can cool thesoil by as much as 25 degrees.Healthy Root GrowthThis promotes healthy root growth, which allows for a more efficient uptake of water.The same layer of mulch will also help protect your plants from freeze damage in thewinter.As you place mulch around your planting beds, take care to pull it slightly away frommain stems. Don’t just pile it on. Organic mulch degrades over time, adding nutrients tothe soil. So you’ll need to replenish your layer from time to time to maintain itsthickness.By using your own free mulch, you’ll improve your soil at no cost. You’ll also reducethe amount of waste that ends up in area landfills. This is truly a win-win situation. The grass clippings, leaves and pine needles in your back yard are an excellent source of free mulch.
University of Georgia researchers are hoping solar-powered wells will help preserve water quality and cattle health on isolated Georgia cattle farms. The system uses solar panels to power an electric well pump that provides water for cattle on isolated pastures. It has been used for the past year in Madison County where a farmer found that less than five hours of sunlight a day was enough to keep water tanks full. “Isolated livestock need water, and either the farmer has to take water to the livestock or we can use solar power to pump water (from a well),” said Gary Hawkins, the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences researcher who designed and installed the system. The Madison County site is a demonstration system installed as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant. The grant provided funds to test how these systems work and how much they cost to operate. Hawkins and Madison County Extension agent Adam Speir hosted a field day on December 6 that attracted about 40 farmers from middle and northeast Georgia. The solar-powered pumps allow farmers to install watering troughs on their most isolated pastures, helping keep livestock out of streams and ponds. Allowing cows to wade into and drink from farm ponds and streams can have a severely negative impact on water quality across the state. Well-fed troughs also offer farmers a way to guard against drought, which often dries up surface water drinking sources rendering some pastures unsuitable. “It’s been shown that livestock can have higher weight gains on fresh water rather than from surface water,” Speir said. “It’s definitely a good risk management strategy for livestock producers.” One of the largest challenges to providing well water to pastures has been running the electrical lines needed to power the well pumps from the nearest electrical feeder line to far flung pastures. This system circumvents that problem. Where it could feasibly cost a farmer $20,000 to run an electrical line to a pasture, setting up the solar power stations costs about $8,000. The solar panel power stations can also be mounted on a trailer and moved from well to well depending on the location of the cattle, Hawkins said. “The power that’s used to pump the water from the well isn’t the largest benefit,” Speir said. “It’s the cost savings of not having to run electricity to that well if it’s a long way from the main electrical lines.” And the alternative energy system offers farmers a way to hedge against rising electricity or diesel prices.David Allen, the farmer who hosted the field day, installed a 1,500-gallon storage tank so that water would be ready for his cattle at night or on cloudy days. The storage tank replaces the need for expensive batteries that require maintenance.The hyper-efficient pump used in Allen’s system pumps about 6.9 gallons per minute and will fill his storage tank on just four hours of sunlight. “(Hawkins) sized the system so even if we just had four or five hours of sunlight you still would have the power you need to pump what you need for your situation,” Speir said. Farmers can contact their local USDA-NRCS office for potential cost-share assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), which could reimburse them for a percentage of the solar powered system if this is included in the local working groups plans.
One of Georgia’s top agricultural commodities was showcased this week as part of an annual peanut tour throughout south Georgia.Approximately 150 peanut scientists, producers and industry experts were in Moultrie and Tifton on Wednesday to talk about the latest news and research being conducted within Georgia’s $2 billion industry.“It’s important because we bring the buyers of the peanut products to Georgia at the start of harvest to see the quality effort, in regards to all stages — from the grower level all the way to the processing end,” said John Beasley, University of Georgia peanut agronomist on the Tifton campus. “Quality is the main issue, and we want them to buy Georgia peanuts. We want them to know we have the highest quality peanuts.”Georgia leads the nation in peanut production with 48 percent of the country’s crop coming from the state.The Georgia Peanut Tour, now in its 27th year, started on Tuesday with a hot topics seminar in Valdosta. On Wednesday, the tour moved to Moultrie for a demonstration of unmanned aerial vehicles, and how they could potentially impact the peanut crop. In Tifton, the tour stopped at the UGA Gibbs Farm. Researchers from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences discussed various peanut-related topics, from nematode damage to insects and diseases.“We try to let these folks know how connected the UGA Peanut Team is with the peanut industry. We’re very responsive to the state level of what our producers need in regards to research. All of our research focuses on economics, obviously. They’ve got to be economically profitable and sustainable,” Beasley said.The number of participants attending the tour has consistently stayed around the 150 mark since the tour’s inception in 1987, Beasley said. What has changed, however, are the faces. Newly hired personnel are sent by peanut companies to learn more about the peanut industry.“What we’ve noticed is the companies — major peanut processors — when they hire new people, the first thing is, ‘You want to learn how peanuts are grown? You go on the Georgia Peanut Tour.’ Over a three-day period you will see peanuts being grown, research being done, peanuts being handled at the buying points,” Beasley said. “It really allows someone new to come in and gain experience.”The Georgia Peanut Tour is sponsored by UGA, the Georgia Peanut Commission and U.S. Department of Agriculture. The tour concluded on Thursday with farm stops in Brooks County and Lowndes County.
A Mitchell County 4-H’er and Pelham FFA member, Courtney Conine is one step closer to pursuing her dream career in livestock.Conine, 15, of Camilla, Georgia, was recently chosen for Showpig.com’s All-Star Team. A student at Pelham High School, Conine was one of 18 high school students selected nationally. She is the only member of the all-star team from Georgia. The honor is bestowed on students within the swine industry who have a passion for agriculture, leadership and service learning.“Not only is Courtney a leader in community service activities and youth agriculture, but she is also an awesome, young, Christian lady with high morals and outstanding character,” said Jennifer Grogan, University of Georgia Extension 4-H agent and Mitchell County Extension coordinator. “Courtney will be a great ambassador for Mitchell County and Georgia while serving as a member of the Showpig.com All-Star Team.”Conine will travel to Romney, West Virginia, July 8-13 for a six-day leadership conference. She and other all-star students will learn advanced show ring and production skills from industry leaders while experiencing agricultural and livestock culture in West Virginia. “This is a team I’ve been trying to get on for about two years, and I was so excited when I got selected,” Conine said. A key to Conine’s success, which includes being awarded the 2015 Harry Lee Kemp Achievement Award in Mitchell County, is her ability to develop a rapport with the pigs she trains and shows at different competitive events in Georgia. “Especially with your showmanship pig, you always want to have a bond. I guess that just comes with working (with the pig) every day. You’re together with your pig every day, so they get used to you,” Conine said. She trains her pigs in the wee hours of the morning and late at night. “It was difficult at first, especially with me being so young. Sometimes you get a stubborn pig that doesn’t want to cooperate no matter how much you train them,” she said. “But you’ll get another that’s just a baby doll that’s really easy to train.”While Conine has found her niche in livestock judging, it could soon be the career she studies and trains for in college. She aspires to study veterinary medicine and possibly pursue a career as a swine geneticist.“Courtney pursues excellence and takes pride in her work, whether it be showing pigs, cooking a recipe for a 4-H competition or honing her livestock judging skills,” Grogan said. “As Courtney’s 4-H agent, it is easy for me to see her leadership abilities, her dedication and her determination; she is a hard worker. I always count on Courtney to complete her 4-H projects, and she has never disappointed me.”Along with a passion for animals, Conine demonstrates a tremendous work ethic. She has barn chores, including cleaning pens and feeding her animals. Through years of feeding and caring for her animals, Conine has learned about nutrition in animals and financial responsibility. “There’s a lot of hard work and dedication. You have to get out here and walk your pig every day, training them from when they’re really little to when they’re 280 pounds and ready to go to state (competition). You want to train them to hold their head up and walk and make sure they’re at a good pace and not going too fast. You want to present your animal to the judges the best you can,” Conine said.While Conine’s unbridled passion for pigs and other animals has been evident her whole life, it wasn’t until she joined Georgia 4-H that Conine could showcase that love as a member of the Mitchell County Livestock Show Team.“4-H has helped me so much. 4-H gave me the opportunity to actually show pigs for the first time. I have to brag on Miss Jennifer. She is one of the best people I’ve ever met. She’ll help me with anything. If there’s a clinic going on, she’ll make sure I’m there,” Conine said.In addition to her Georgia 4-H activities, Conine is an active member of student council, Pelham FFA and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Pelham High School. She is also a part of the Camilla United Methodist Church youth group and Hopeful Baptist Church.
Avian influenza can’t make humans sick, but it has driven the cost of eggs up and will result in consumers paying more for their holiday turkeys. Avian flu has affected 21 states and 48 million birds to date since the discovery of the current outbreak of the disease on North American shores in December 2014. Commercial and backyard poultry in Georgia have gone untouched so far, but the state’s agriculture industry is preparing for the potential arrival of the pathogen.There have been no cases of human infection by birds because the H5N2 strain of the virus is not zoonotic, meaning it cannot pass between humans and animals. (Zoonotic avian influenza, also referred to as “bird flu,” can be transmitted from birds to humans.)Strictly an animal health issue and not a food safety or public health issue, avian flu still impacts consumers, especially those who enjoy eating eggs. The price of eggs has increased this year because the U.S. egg-layer industry has lost 10 percent of its average inventory to the disease. The U.S. turkey industry has lost 7.45 percent of its average inventory. As a result, consumers can expect higher prices for this year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys.Commercially produced poultry is tested for avian flu in the U.S. prior to being processed, so poultry products are safe to eat.Agriculture is the largest segment of Georgia’s economy, and the poultry industry tops the commodity list. Georgia’s poultry/egg industry contributes an estimated $28 billion annually and supports nearly 109,000 jobs in the state. Believed to have originated in Asia and spread through wild waterfowl to northern North America, avian flu has been spread across the U.S. by migrating birds.The virus cannot survive above 65 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 10 days, which helps to safeguard Georgia poultry. However, as birds begin migrating south this fall, Georgia will become more susceptible. Before now, the disease has been concentrated in the Pacific Northwest and upper Midwest. While Georgia’s commercial poultry industry has the greatest risk in terms of potential for loss, it also has multiple safeguards in place and limits commercial birds’ exposure to migratory birds. However, avian flu can easily be introduced into Georgia through backyard chicken flocks. For more information on avian flu, call the Georgia Department of Agriculture at (404) 656-3667 or see the UGA Extension website at extension.uga.edu/topics/poultry/avian-flu.For information on keeping backyard poultry flocks healthy, contact your local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agent or read UGA Extension publications at extension.uga.edu/publications.
Researchers project that Georgia’s cotton farmers will plant more than 1.45 million acres this year, an increase from 1.28 million acres in 2017, according to Jared Whitaker, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension cotton agronomist.Farmers plant cotton this month, and prices have increased due to increased demand and strong U.S. exports. The UGA Cotton Team believes that farmers can expect to price a portion of this year’s crop between 72 and 75 cents per pound.“There’s a fair amount of optimism from the farmers I’ve talked with this year compared to the last couple of years. Yields have decreased because of things out of our control, like weather and insects, namely whiteflies, but we hope that’s not the case this year,” Whitaker said. “Prices have improved, which should encourage our farmers.”Silverleaf whiteflies and Hurricane Irma dampened cotton farmers’ spirits a year ago. An unprecedented outbreak of whiteflies in Georgia in 2017 forced many producers to treat for the pest for the first time.Whiteflies are tiny, winged insects found on the underside of leaves. They leave behind a sticky substance, called honeydew, that prevents plants from conducting photosynthesis.“Historically, less than 20 percent of our crop even deals with silverleaf whiteflies,” Whitaker said. “If we see problems again this year, it will cost growers money, but many will be better prepared to make treatment decisions.”The arrival of Irma in early September 2017 damaged most Georgia cotton fields, especially those that were affected close to harvest time.“We obviously want good soil moisture throughout the growing season, but we don’t want big storms that bring excessive rainfall and tremendous winds that damage yields,” Whitaker said. “Storms can be a blessing at times, but we don’t need another Irma.”In 2017, Georgia’s average cotton yield was 863 pounds per acre, significantly below the state record of 1,091 pounds per acre, set in 2012.Whitaker advises farmers to make timely production decisions and pay attention to how and where they spend their money.“I want our growers to set realistic goals with respect to yields because growing cotton can be costly,” he said. “We want to make a lot of cotton, but also be profitable doing it.”Georgia remains the second-largest cotton-producing state in the U.S., second only to Texas. According to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, Georgia’s farm gate value for cotton in 2016 was nearly $967.7 million.Julie Jernigan is an intern at UGA-Tifton.