ST. PAUL, Minn. – Crop scientists at the University of Minnesota and officials at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) urge farmers to check fields for Palmer amaranth, an aggressive weed that can put corn and soybean crops at risk. A plant detected in a native seed planting plot on a Yellow Medicine County farm was confirmed today to be Palmer amaranth. This is the first confirmation of the weed in the state.
The MDA asks possible infestations to be reported by contacting the MDA’s Arrest the Pest line by phone at 1-888-545-6684 or by email at email@example.com. Landowners are encouraged to email photos of suspected infestations for identification.
“We encourage landowners to scout fields now before harvest for Palmer amaranth and report any possible infestations to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture,” said Geir Friisoe, MDA’s Director of Plant Protection. “The quicker we’re able to identify and start managing this weed, the better our chances will be to minimize the impact to our ag industry.”
Palmer Amaranth has been found in Minnesota and the Department of Agriculture wants farmers to keep an eye on their fields to help nip this in the bud before an infestation can occur. (Photo by Bruce Potter)
Palmer amaranth can grow 2 to 3 inches a day, typically reaching 6 to 8 feet, or more, in height. Left uncontrolled, a single female Palmer amaranth plant typically produces 100,000 to 500,000 seeds. It is resistant to multiple herbicides.
It has been found in 28 other states, including Iowa, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
“Palmer amaranth infestations have caused substantial yield losses and greatly increased weed management costs in cotton, soybeans, and corn in the southern states,” said Extension agronomist and crops leader Jeff Gunsolus. “This is a disconcerting, though not completely unexpected, discovery in Minnesota. We have been discussing proper identification procedures with crop consultants over the last three or more years.”
Palmer Amaranth has been found in Minnesota fields and it’s important for farmers to watch their fields in order to avoid an outbreak in farm fields across the state. (Photo by Bruce Potter)
Extension and MDA officials commend the grower and crop consultant who quickly contacted Extension after discovering a suspected Palmer amaranth plant. The weed is on MDA’s prohibited-eradicated noxious weed list, requiring all above- and below-ground parts of the plant be destroyed. Transportation, propagation or sale of the plants is prohibited.
MDA and Extension continue coordinating action steps to address the weed.
The MDA is investigating how the weed may have been introduced to the state.
Exporting soybeans overseas is one way to add value to Minnesota’s agricultural products. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has grants available for adding value to all kinds of agricultural products. (photo from archive.constantcontact.com)
Value added to agriculture sustains the long-term success of the industry and The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) wants to ensure the industry’s future. The MDA has up to $1 million in grants available through the competitive Value Added Grant Program. The grant was established to advance Minnesota’s agricultural and renewable energy industries through the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) Program.
The goal of the Value Added Grant is to increase sales of Minnesota agricultural products. Some of the ways to add value include diversifying markets, increasing market access, and increasing food safety of value-added products.
Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson notes that value added agriculture does a lot to support the state’s economy, including the off-farm sectors. (Photo from mda.state.mn.us)
“Value-added businesses benefit the state of Minnesota in lots of ways,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson. “They utilize Minnesota grown agricultural products in creative ways and the extra sales revenues help support our state’s economy. It’s exciting to watch Minnesota entrepreneurs improve their businesses with funding from the Value Added Grant Program.”
New or established for-profit businesses may apply for funding to help with the development of value-added agricultural products. Some of the ways value gets added to agricultural products include added processing, marketing, or manufacturing. Grant funds reimburse up to 25 percent of the total project cost. The maximum award is $150,000 and the minimum grant is $1,000. Equipment purchases and facility improvements are also eligible ways to add value to agricultural products.
The highlight of the night was a cow milking contest that took place at the end of the first inning. And this wasn’t a new idea, either. For over 20 years, the Honkers have been hosting an annual milking contest. This year’s edition featured coaches from both teams in a one-minute, old-fashioned milking contest. There wasn’t a milking machine to be found for miles. This one was done by hand.
St Cloud Rox Assistant Baseball Coach Phil Imholte is ready for the Dairy Night at the Ballpark main event, a cow milking contest intended to help promote agriculture at Mayo Field in Rochester, Minnesota. (Photo by Chad Smith)
Honkers Manager Trevor Hairgrove was the Rochester entrant and Rox Assistant Coach Phil Imholte was a good sport by jumping into the contest for St. Cloud. Hairgrove was the eventual contest winner in spite of the fact that his cow was much more agitated and jumpy than Imholte’s.
“It was the 22nd annual Cow Milking Contest,” said Minnesota Farm Bureau Southeast Area Program Director Katie Brenny. “It was put on by the Olmsted County American Dairy Association and we were glad to join them and help promote agriculture.”
The cows were on loan from the Shea Dairy farm near Viola, Minnesota. June was officially Dairy Month across the country, but they wanted to continue to promote agriculture with the Rochester Honkers here in early July.
A dairy cow on loan from the Shea Dairy farm near Viola, Minnesota, isn’t excited about being in the Dairy Night at the Ballpark milking contest on Friday night, July 8, at Mayo Field in Rochester, Minnesota. (photo by Chad Smith)
“It’s important to do this because consumers have questions,” Brenny said. “They want to know where their food comes from and how it’s grown, and we hope they also want to know the people who are producing their food, getting up early in the morning to do the chores and drive the tractor.”
If agriculture doesn’t promote itself, she said consumers with questions typically get their information from non-factual sources . Farmers want to tell their stories, similar to the way a teacher wants to tell others what they teach or doctors want to talk about what they do.
“There’s always work to do to tell our story,” she said. “Agriculture changes almost every day, and if we’re not sharing the change, no one will know what we’re doing. For instance, 97 percent of our farms are family owned and we love to share that message with others. Farmers are more than willing to answer any questions about what they do.”
Heading home to the dairy farm after the Cow Milking Contest at Mayo Field in Rochester, Minnesota, on Friday night for Dairy Night at the Ballpark, sponsored by the Olmsted County American Dairy Association (Photo by Chad Smith
Katie is the Southeast Area Program Director for the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation. She spends a lot of time keeping things organized for Farm Bureau members in this part of the state.
“I work with all 11 counties down here in the southeast,” Brenny said, “doing anything from working with our elected officials on Ag policy to consumer events such as tonight, partnering with Ag commodity groups, county fairs, Ag in the Classroom, and more. We were just at the Rochester Farmer’s Market last weekend and doing all kinds of events to promote the voice of agriculture.”
Brenny and some volunteers spent some time Thursday at the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester. Some of the pictures can be found here.
In addition to the dairy contest, there was some pretty good baseball too as you’ll see in a few highlights I’ve put together here.
The second annual Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm was a big success at the Jary and Celene Holst dairy farm near Kellogg. (Photo by Chad Smith)
The second annual Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm took place on the Jary and Celene Holst dairy farm near Kellogg last Friday night. A warm summer evening saw a great turnout and a wide variety of activities for people of all ages to take part in.
The goal was a simple one: to introduce the non-farm public to the people behind the food they eat and to show them what goes into producing that food. Displays of old and new farm equipment lined the farmyard, as well as history displays, a petting zoo, a lunch stand, kids activities, and much more that made for a busy family night on the farm.
People of all ages had a chance to get up close and personal at Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm at the Jary and Celene Holst farm near Kellogg on a beautiful Friday evening. (photo by Chad Smith)
“This is the second year of doing this event,” said Katie Brown, a member of the group putting on the event. “Last year, many of us put together the first event last year at Klein’s Cow Palace near Lake City. This year, the Holst family graciously offered to host the event out here, so it’s a new event for our county but we’re hoping to make it a tradition.”
Brown described the turnout on Friday night as “amazing.” Events like this just don’t happen without a large number of people who are passionate about agriculture and want to tell its story to people who don’t have much of a connection to the farm.
“We want to make sure we tell the next generation about what farmers do every day and how hard they work,” said Brown, who lives in Millville, “and not just in the dairy industry but every segment of farming, including corn and soybean farmers, and hog producers. We just want to make sure we share that story with everyone.”
Ag history was on display with antique farm equipment at the second annual Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm near Kellogg. The non-farm public had a chance to learn more about ag history and see some of the newest available equipment on display too. (Photo by Chad Smith)
The list of activities was a long one on Friday night. The displays included the history of agriculture, with actual working equipment from back in the day as well as some of the newest equipment, a chance to watch the dairy farm at work, and plenty for the kids to do as well.
“We have a little bit of history,” Brown said as she took a break from helping at the lunch counter, “not just about the farm but how agriculture has changed. We have a cream separator, which a lot of people may not know how it works, so it’ll be interesting to watch that. We have a large sand pile for kids with hidden baseballs to find for a chance to win Twins tickets. We have old and new tractors, a pedal tractor, calf feeding, and much more.”
She said it’s incredibly important to do more activities like this because of that growing disconnect between urban folks and people on the farm. She sees that disconnect every day in her job as a Calf and Heifer Specialist with Land O’ Lakes.
Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm included a chance for the non-farm public to watch cow being milked in a working dairy on the Jary and Celene Holst farm near Kellogg. (photo by Chad Smith)
“I’ve been involved in the American Dairy Association and the dairy industry all my life,” Brown said. “I’ve become very good friends with a couple from New York, and when I explain what I do when working with dairy farmers on the nutrition side making diets for cows and calves, they said ‘you do what?’ It’s interesting to talk to people that have no experience on a farm and tell them about what farmers do on a daily basis.
“When they ask ‘how do you milk a cow,’ they see you sitting on a stool between cows,” she said. “We send them pictures showing that there’s a new way of milking cows in parlors which is more safe for humans and more efficient to operate. It’s interesting to hear their take on it.”
As Brown was watching people walk by, she did see a lot of people from the surrounding community but did notice a large number of people who came from far away to enjoy a night on the farm with their family. The other noticeable thing about the crowds was an incredible number of oranges shirts that signified volunteers who were helping the event run smoothly.
Family Night on the Farm organizer Katie Brown said there’s no way she could put an event like that together without lots of volunteer help, who were seen wearing bright orange shirts like this one all over the farm. (Photo by Chad Smith)
“I definitely couldn’t do it myself,” she said with a smile, “the Holst family has been great about bringing in family members and neighbors to help out. The tractor club helps out, and so does the Farm Bureau, the Farmers Union, and people sometimes just come in to help without being asked. They show up and say ‘give me a shirt and tell me what to do.’ That’s when you know you’re truly in an agricultural community when people step forward to help. They step forward to help even when sign-up sheets at local banks are filled up.”
Brown and many of the other people running the event have roots that run deep in agriculture. Katie grew up on a dairy farm and is very proud of what her family does. Although she and her husband don’t dairy farm, their kids still get the experience of being on a farm regularly when they want to. Not everyone is so fortunate to have farming in their immediate, or even extended, family.
A big goal of Family Night on the Farm is to educate the next generation of future adults about how agriculture works and introduce them to the people behind the food they eat. (photo by Chad Smith)
“I do worry about the next generation getting further and further away from understanding what is going on in farming,” Brown said. “It’s not generally even the grandparents that farmed any more, it’s getting further away in the family. It’s vital that we share our story with the next generation about where their food comes from, otherwise, they won’t appreciate it as much as they should.”
Last year, she was hoping for approximately 200 people to show up and they had an actual turnout closer to 600 people. This year, the goal was 900 people.
“It feels good to see the turnout and it’s a beautiful evening,” Brown said. “It’s exciting to see so many people show up.”
Here’s the complete interview with Katie Brown shortly after I pulled her out from behind the lunch counter for a quick chat. I think you can hear just how busy the place was in the background.
I had some serious flashbacks to the teen years when I got an assignment to take some pictures at a Tractor Safety Class in Rushford the other day. Watching some wide-eyed 12-15-year-old kids drive a tractor through an obstacle course and have to hook up the hydraulics of a commercial mower to the back of a different tractor looked like fun and a challenge all at the same time.
As a middle-aged man, the first thing you’re tempted to do is compare what the equipment of today is like to what you grew up on years ago. Of course, the biggest difference is electronics and buttons to push instead of hydraulic levers to yank every time you wanted to do something.
The other big difference is an enclosed cab versus an open air seat. I remember a lot of 90-100 degree days where air conditioning would have been nice, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
I also didn’t know that the hydraulic hoses are now color-coded to make it easier to hook up to a tractor, which is a nice change from the old days.
The kids that took the course had to sit in a classroom for a couple of days before they got to go outside on one of the most beautiful days of the year to take the practical tests. Did you ever have to back up farm equipment before and the implements appeared to do the exact opposite of what you wanted it to? You turn it the OPPOSITE way of the direction you wanted it to go? How aggravating could that be when you first were learning the business?
The Bobcat skid steer loader was always my favorite equipment to operate, but it wasn’t always an easy gig when you’re first learning how to operate it! (photo from bobcatrental.ca)
One of the more embarrassing flashbacks was learning to drive a skid steer. That was always my favorite thing to operate, but the first time I tried to load it up onto the trailer, I forgot you need to take it up backward. You can imagine what came next, right? It winds up on its backside, but all I needed to do was push the levers forward and it was back on all four wheels. It’s probably not hard to believe that it took awhile for me to stop hearing about that one!
I didn’t know this course was federally mandated. You obviously will need the certification to work on farms, but it’s also necessary to work on the big commercial-scale lawnmowers as well, so keep that in mind.
On this next edition of the ChadSmithMedia podcast, I had a unique opportunity to visit with a woman named Sandra Levering, a cattle producer from Comanche County in Kansas. If that rings any kind of bells, it’s because they were part of a large area on the Kansas and Oklahoma border affected by the biggest wildfire they’d seen in that area’s history. It burned roughly 400.000 acres. Thankfully, there was no loss of human life, but livestock was badly affected as was a lot of pasture and grazing areas.
A shot of the grass fires that roared through the Kansas and Oklahoma border areas in late March. It totaled nearly 400,000 acres of land before it was put out. (photo from KFDI.com
The amazing part of the story is this: With apologies to the movie Pay It Forward, that’s just what the situation turned into. Levering was one of the folks who took it upon themselves to coordinate aid to those farmers who needed it. They brought in loads and loads of hay to help feed cattle that literally had nothing. Loads of people came down from the north to help with repairs, including a whole lot of fencing to put up.
The one thing I want you to remember is this: If you hear a so-called “expert” tell you that farmers don’t care for their animals, listen to the emotion in Sandra’s voice when she spoke about the animals that were badly injured in the fire. You’ll either change your mind or have to check your pulse to make sure you’re still alive.
Harvey County, Kansas lands that were burned by a 400,000-acre wildfire in late March. Recovery efforts are well underway, and reports of green grass growing in the affected areas are starting to come in. (photo from ksn.com)
She is out in wide open spaces, so her cell phone dips a little, but I think you’ll get the gist of what’s happening and how that area has slowly begun to bounce back from a horrible tragedy. After all, as she puts it, “In agriculture, we don’t wait for the government to come help us, we do it ourselves.”
I thought we’d talk spring planting on the chadsmithmedia.com weekly podcast. I wanted to introduce you to Ryan Martin, the owner of advantageweathersolutions.com, and it’s not just because I work for him. I was in radio a long time and read thousands of weather forecasts, and his is the most accurate I’ve seen in a long time. No weather forecast will be 100 percent accurate, but a reliable forecast can be really hard to find nowadays.
Ryan Martin of Warsaw, Indiana, is the Chief Meteorologist at Hoosier Ag Today, pictured here at a recent weather seminar. He’s also the owner of advantageweathersolutions.com)
I can remember during my last radio gig at KLGR radio in Redwood Falls there were more than a few times I’d read the weather forecast and have no idea where they were getting their information. Just for the record, I wasn’t the only one that paused more than once due to confusion over what we had just read in the forecast.
Certain parts of the country have had spring planting challenges, and the challenge vary based upon where you are at. The deep south has been wet, other areas have been extremely windy, and still others have been well below normal in terms of temperatures. Let’s talk weather with Ryan, who happens to be the Chief Meteorologist for Hoosier Ag Today…tape
Steve Olson is director of the Minnesota Chicken and Egg Association. He says the push to move producers to cage free production methods will double the cost of production, and drive up the cost of eggs at the grocery store. (photo from BrownfieldAg.com)
Time to hit some agriculture highlights, and eggs, weather, and weeds all get some time on the air today. Let’s do another edition of the ChadSmithMedia weekly podcast on chadsmithmedia.com. This week, we’re talking about cage free eggs in Minnesota. Steve Olson of the Minnesota Chicken and Egg Association says get ready for the cost of your scrambled eggs to get even higher. A large Minnesota grocery chain will be buying only from cage free producers in the coming years, and that will do nothing but double the cost of production for the farmers who make those sunny side up eggs possible.
Iowa State climatologist Elwynn Taylor said he expects good growing conditions during the season ahead, and if El Nino sticks around, there’s a chance yields may come in slightly above trend line in the fall. (Photo from extension.iastate.edu)
We’ll also discuss weather, which has to be one of my favorite topics because you’re guaranteed to get different answers from each person you talk to. Elwynn Taylor is the Iowa State University Extension Climatologist, and he’s talking about yields after this growing season possibly coming in slightly above trend, but that could depend a lot of El Nino sticking around, and reports have come in about the phenomenon actually beginning to weaken. Should be interesting to monitor during the growing season.
Lastly, we talk a lot about scouting weeds, and we have a reminder from Chris Reat of FMC to get your scouting done before spring planting, and be diligent. We’ve talked a lot about resistance issues, especially around glyphosate, and it’s always good to mix up your program as you tackle grasses and broadleaf weeds.
There you go. I do enjoy podcasting, and would love to know what you want to hear in the months ahead.
Many management strategies, including prescribed burns, can be used against invasive plants.
In most cases, no single strategy used by itself will provide the desired long-term solution that landowners and managers seek. However, when used together as part of a larger integrated strategy, they can provide significant benefits for achieving successful, long-term management.
A prescribed burn is used as an invasive plant control tool, and to manage native plant communities and large landscapes.
At the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), one goal of prescribed burns is to improve the health of desirable vegetation. Ken Graeve with MnDOT says they use prescribed burns to promote the growth of desirable vegetation in combination with other treatments such as herbicide applications. With these combined methods, a healthy ecosystem is better able to outcompete invasive plants.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) uses prescribed burns not just for managing native plant communities, but also for controlling woody invasive plants.
An autumn prescribed burn is used to improve the health of native vegetation at a wetland mitigation. (Contributed photo)
For example, after initial work of cutting and treating with herbicide application, the DNR may use prescribed burns in subsequent months and years to help control infestations of buckthorn, honeysuckle, or Japanese barberry. Shawn Fritcher from the DNR says prescribed burns can be effective against these invasive woody plants because burns can cover large areas faster than cutting and treating can. Multiple burns are often needed to reduce the vigor of woody invasive species.
Fritcher also says it is important to note that repeated fire is most appropriate in fire-dependent woodlands.
At both MnDOT and the DNR, staff who work on prescribed burns go through training. They learn about fire behavior, weather prescriptions, and how to design and write an effective burn plan. Fire breaks, or the breaks in combustible material, are often established ahead of time using a variety of equipment like tractors, mowers, ATVs, rakes, and leaf blowers. Fire breaks are controlled using trucks or ATVs that carry water, or with hand tools where access by ATV is limited. The appropriate permits must be acquired, and traffic control measures are utilized for burns along roadsides.
Timing prescribed burns depends on the management objective. Desirable plant species often respond well to early spring burns. Smooth brome and other cool season grasses can be managed with late spring burns. Burning woody invasive species after leaf-out may be the most effective since much of the plant’s energy is invested in new above ground growth. Summer burns can be effective at controlling brushy species in prairie areas. Fall burns provide another opportunity to target some invasive species.
For landowners thinking about utilizing prescribed burns, they must first get a burn permit.
Farmers use prescribed burns intheir fields to encourage growth by removing competition from weeds (Photo from farmprogress.com)
Proper planning for the burn is critical to success. The landowner needs to think about many factors such as fire break location, wind direction, smoke, control measures, and many other parameters to make decisions for the burn plan. There are multiple resources through the DNR website (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/rxfire/index.html) to assist landowners with planning prescribed burns.
It’s time now for another edition of the chadsmithmedia weekly podcast. Let’s talk a little agricultural news, just for fun. We’ll discuss the GMO labeling debate, which, as you know, still toils on with really no end in sight in the short term. I wrote an article on Genetically Modified Organisms awhile ago, and I thought you may listen to this and decide you want more information, so here’s the link. Just to give the cliff notes version: We’ve been modifying the genes in our food since we started GROWING our food. We’ve crossbred traits in and out of plants since time began. We’re just using technology to do it more efficiently. But because it’s “technology,” it’s dark and scary? We’ll get into the GMO labeling debate, because it’ll take compromise to end this thing, and no one seems to want to do that.
Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said he’s not in favor of lifting the 50-plus year old trade embargo the USA has in place against Cuba until he sees more effort from the Cuban government to improve the lives of it’s citizens. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
We’ll also get into the debate over Cuba and the USA potentially normalizing relations and ending a 50-plus year old trade embargo. On the surface, it looks like a good move for American farmers and the Agriculture industry, but I did find a Midwest Senator who said ‘not so fast.’ I don’t think this debate will be over anytime soon, either.
I love doing podcasts, although you wouldn’t know it because I don’t do a lot of them. I would absolutely take suggestions on possible podcast topics, so don’t be afraid to share some ideas with me. I take suggestions!