By Sharon DowdyUniversity of GeorgiaGeorgia’s strawberry crop wasn’t damaged much by the recent cold snap and snowfall that hit the state’s midsection. Strawberry blooms can withstand cold temperatures because of plant genetics and farmer action.“The plants are making new flowers right now and will continue to do so until late spring,” said Gerard Krewer, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension horticulturist. “They aren’t like peaches and blueberries where the flower buds are all formed in the fall.” Protected by iceThe recent snowfall didn’t hurt the flowers. To protect strawberry plants from cold weather, farmers cover them with an ice-water mixture, creating an ice blanket of sorts, he said. Ice forms at 32 degrees, but strawberry blossoms don’t freeze until 28 degrees.“The overhead irrigation coats the plants with ice and if you keep the sprinklers running, the ice freezes and releases heat to protect the blossoms,” Krewer said. The method worked for Ron Hayes. The certified public accountant grows two acres of pick-your-own strawberries in Canon, Ga. “I only had a few blooms, and the snow just formed a blanket on them,” he said. Even if a cold snap did wipe out all the early flowers, strawberry plants continue to produce more side branches and more flowers, Krewer said. Georgia plants, which typically come in the fall from Northern states and Canada, already have a few flowers in the mother crowns when they arrive.Growers all across GeorgiaThere are roughly 65 strawberry producers in Georgia, totaling about 300 acres in production. Unlike blueberries, which are grown extensively in the southeast and south-central parts of the state, strawberry production is spread over the state. Most growers sell berries through pick-your-own operations or local sales. “It’s more profitable for our growers to focus on producing fresh vine-ripe strawberries,” said Krewer. “Our growers don’t need to compete with the 800-pound gorilla otherwise known as California.”Like tomatoes, vine-ripe is bestWhen it comes to taste, Krewer likens strawberries to tomatoes and peaches. “They will turn red if picked on the green side, but a vine-ripe strawberry is a superior product,” he said. “When you’re in the field, push back the plant’s leaves and you’ll find succulent berries tucked under the canopy.”Growers in the Savannah area are already harvesting berries. Growers in north Georgia, like Hayes, will harvest in mid-April or early May and finish in June. A trip to a u-pick farm is a great family outing, Hayes said.“It’s a good little adventure to bring your kids out to,” he said. “Whether they are four years old or 12 years old, they love it.”For a list of pick-your-own strawberry farms, see the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium Web site atwww.smallfruits.org/Strawberries/Marketing.htm. Or, go the Georgia Strawberry Growers Web site at www.gastrawberries.org.
Japan may restart business trips to and from Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and Thailand in the next few months, easing an entry ban to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, the Yomiuri daily said on Thursday.Up to 250 business travellers a day will most likely be allowed into Japan from the four countries, which have seen their infection situations stabilize, the newspaper said, without citing sources.Prospective visitors will be required to submit a document ahead of their trips to Japan showing they are not infected, and will be asked to go through a PCR, or polymerase chain reaction test, upon entry, the paper said. Japan, which bans entry from more than 100 countries, will negotiate with the four countries with a view to a partial reopening in the summer, it said.Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said nothing specific had been decided.”It is important to resume comings and goings of people partially and gradually,” the government spokesman told a regular news conference.”Relevant ministries are looking into the matter, while taking into consideration infection situations in and outside of Japan and exchanging views with various countries.” In another step to ease coronavirus-related restrictions, the Tokyo metropolitan government is set to lift the “Tokyo alert”, issued last week to urge residents to keep their guard up, and allow more businesses to resume operations, public broadcaster NHK said.The capital saw 22 new cases of coronavirus infection on Thursday, up from 18 on Wednesday. The average daily infection tally over the past week has remained below the capital’s threshold of 20 for the easing of restrictions.The Tokyo metropolitan government plans to advance its business resumption process to “step 3” on Friday, after holding talks with medical experts, NHK said.Under the new phase, such businesses as videogame arcades and amusement parks will be allowed to reopen. Topics :
Chelsea winger Mohamed Salah “is not available” for a January loan, according to QPR boss Harry Redknapp. Redknapp also said he had not even considered trying to bring in the Egypt international, scotching rumours linking QPR with signing the out-of-favour forward this month. The Hoops boss, who is still looking for another striker despite the arrival of West Ham’s Mauro Zarate, also rejected any fresh interest in Ajax forward Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, while confirming QPR were only looking at loan deals in the January window. Argentinian forward Zarate has made the switch from West Ham vowing to “show what I can do” after being snubbed by Hammers boss Sam Allardyce. Allardyce said Zarate was “not good enough” after falling behind Enner Valencia, Diafra Sakho and Andy Carroll in the Upton Park pecking order. Former Velez Sarsfield star Zarate is yet to deliver on high promise in a turbulent career that includes spells at Birmingham, Lazio and Inter Milan. Redknapp, though, said he had no qualms recruiting a player who had struggled for starts at West Ham, hailing the 27-year-old’s talent. “We hope he comes in and does well for us: he is obviously a player with bags of ability,” said Redknapp. “Sam has got Valencia, Andy Carroll and Sakho scoring goals for fun as well as Carlton Cole, so I could see what Sam was saying that they are flying so he couldn’t get in his side. “My situation is different, I have Charlie (Austin) and Bobby Zamora as two out and out strikers, so it’s different when they have four and we have two. “Hopefully he can come in and make an impact.” Driving rain flooded QPR’s Harlington Sports Ground training pitches on Thursday, but Redknapp sent his players out for training undeterred. “The groundsman is saying the pitch is all under water so we only have about a 10-yard strip to train on, so it is not easy,” said Redknapp. “We haven’t got anywhere else, it’s a problem. “It’s not ideal when you have pitches that flood when it rains heavily. “We will go outside and splosh through the puddles if we have to – we are training outside whether they like it or not. “We’ll go out there for sure.” Press Association “Of course I would take him (Salah) on loan but he is not available,” said Redknapp of the Egyptian, who has been limited to just seven Stamford Bridge appearances this term. “I don’t think Chelsea would loan him, I haven’t thought about him, he’s a good player but I don’t think Chelsea will let him go. “We’re only looking at loans really, a couple of loans, that’s where you’re at. “You can only take two loans from this country so we haven’t got an awful lot left up our sleeve, it’s difficult. “We’d like to have another (striker) if possible, it would help. “It was quite a while ago that we made an approach for him (Sigthorsson). “So there’s nothing happening there, no.” Redknapp admitted QPR’s tricky battle to boost their Premier League survival fight in the January transfer window when limited to loan recruits.
By Jack StubbsMOSCOW, Russia (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) records leaked by hackers raised a lot of questions with healthy athletes seemingly taking banned substances, TASS news agency reported.“It raises a lot of questions,” Putin said. “It seems as if healthy athletes are taking drugs legally that are prohibited for others, and people who are clearly suffering from serious illnesses, major disabilities, are suspected of taking some kind of substances and banned from the Paralympic Games.”“What they did, cannot fail to be interesting to the international community, the sporting community first of all,” Putin said.His comments came just hours before hackers released a third batch of drugs test data involving 11 more athletes.As recently as Wednesday WADA had confirmed athlete data had been leaked by a Russian cyber espionage group with hackers releasing information on 25 athletes from the United States, Germany, Britain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland, Romania, and Russia.The hacking group, known as APT28 and Fancy Bear by U.S. cyber-security researchers, was also blamed by WADA on Tuesday for posting medical data about U.S. athletes Simone Biles, Elena Delle Donne, and Serena and Venus Williams.The group yesterday posted further doping test results of athletes from Britain, Spain, Australia, Germany and Denmark.Among them were several Rio Games champions including Britain’s cycling gold medallist Laura Trott and boxing champion Nicola Adams as well as Australian rowers Kimberly Brennan, who won gold, and silver medallist Alexander Belonogoff.The International Olympic Committee (IOC) called the release of the data an “outrageous” breach of confidentiality and offered to assist WADA in communicating with Russian authorities over the matter.“This is an unacceptable and outrageous breach of medical confidentiality that attempts to smear innocent athletes who have not committed any doping offence,” IOC president Thomas Bach said yesterday.“In some cases, it is also a breach of confidentiality for athletes whose cases have not yet been finalised.”WADA considers the attacks are being carried out as retaliation for the agency’s investigations that exposed state-sponsored doping in Russia and led to virtually the entire track and field team being banned from last month’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.Russia was also banned from sending a team to the Paralympic Games.“The IOC fully supports the actions taken by WADA to deal with the leak, including the measures that are being taken to bring this activity to an end with the help of IT experts and in requesting assistance from the Russian authorities,” Bach said in his statement.“I have informed the WADA president Sir Craig Reedie that the IOC will also assist WADA in any way required, including communicating with the Russian authorities, to underline the seriousness of the issue and request all possible assistance to stop the hackers.”WADA has said it believes the hackers gained access to its anti-doping administration and management system (ADAMS) via an IOC-created account for the Rio Games.According to WADA, the account includes confidential medical data such as Therapeutic Use Exemptions, which are issued by sports federations and national anti-doping organisations to allow athletes to take certain substances.The agency’s independent McLaren report, released in July, said that Russians had swapped positive doping samples for clean ones during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, with the support of the Russian secret service.