By Sharon Dowdy
This summer's drought conditions have made pond levels across Georgia drop and toxic algae grow. There have been four cases of cattle being killed as result of drinking infected water and many more cases likely unreported.
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension fisheries specialist Gary Burtle will discuss ways to control algae and weeds in Georgia ponds at the Agroforesty and Wildlife Field Day set for Sept. 20 on the UGA campus in Griffin, Ga.
"Right now in Georgia we have a serious situation related to the drought causing algae blooms in ponds," he said. "In ponds used to water cattle and horses, this might lead to problems with toxic algae and unsightly algae water."
Color changes in a pond can be a clue that algae is blooming. Bright green water or water with a pea-soup-like surface scum should be avoided, and special care should be taken to keep livestock, pets and children away.
There are numerous species of common algae in the Southeast that are capable of producing toxin, but algal blooms in a pond do not always mean the water is toxic.
The blue-green algae connected to the recent cattle deaths was identified as the toxin-producing species microcystis, a cyanobacterium that produces a potent liver toxin.
At the upcoming field day, Burtle will discuss algae ecology and how to control algae in ponds. He will also talk about management of watershed.
In a typical year, the most popular pond-related topic is aquatic weed control, so Burtle will cover this topic as well. "There isn't just one weed that's invading the state and has earned the label of public enemy number one," Burtle said. "We've got a lot of trouble weeds that are popping up due to water levels dropping. What's a burning issue for one farmer won't be for the next farmer down the road."
There are chemical and nonchemical control methods available for tackling aquatic weeds.
Jay Shelton of the UGA Warnell school will discuss sportfish management in Georgia ponds at the field day pond site.
To register for the field day and see a list of the 30 topics that will be covered, visit the website www.caes.uga.edu/events/awfd.