Doug Peterson’s life has revolved around agriculture for as long as he can remember. The soon-to-retireMinnesota Farmers Union President has been a strong advocate Minnesota agriculture for decades. Peterson received another honor from a major agriculture group in the state, winning the 2016 Distinguished Friend of Extension award winner on Tuesday, October 4.
The award was announced on Tuesday by Dean Bev Durgan, who said that Peterson’s advocacy “has strengthened the University of Minnesota’s ability to create a strong Minnesota agriculture.”
Retiring Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson was named a Distinguished Friend of Extension by the University of Minnesota Extension Service this week. (
President Peterson was lauded for his support of 4-H, including visionary contributions to the Minnesota’s pioneering 4-H Science of Agriculture program and the 4-H Purple Ribbon Auction at the State Fair.
Peterson and the Minnesota Farmers Union have played an important role helping secure legislative funding for Extension to create positive impacts across Minnesota. One of the biggest impacts is the Farmer-Lender Mediation program that helps farmers facing financial challenges.
Bev Durgan, Dean of the University of Minnesota Extension Service, presented the Distinguished Friend of Extension Award to Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson earlier this week. (Photo from extension.umn.edu)
“I’m proud to accept this award on behalf of the Minnesota Farmers Union members and in support of the hard work that the University of Minnesota and Extension does to advance family farming,” Peterson said.
Doug was always someone I looked forward to visiting with during my time as Farm Director at KLGR in Redwood Falls. He was very patient with the new guy covering agriculture and I learned an awful lot from visiting with him. Agriculture had a friend in Doug and I bet we haven’t heard the last of him on the state level. Best of luck in your retirement, Doug!
Want to see some of the things the Minnesota Farmers Union has been up to over the last year?
Minnesota Farmers Union, standing for agriculture and fighting for farmers (www.mfu.org)
Low growing form of poison ivy. (Photo from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans and T. rybergii) is the only plant native to Minnesota on the noxious weed list. Poison ivy contains toxic compounds that can severely irritate human skin. The leaves, roots, and stems of poison ivy contain an oily resin that causes a rash, blisters, or swelling to human skin. Poison ivy can be found growing in woodland habitats, along fencerows, ditches, pastures, and natural areas. It must be controlled for public safety along rights-of-way, trails, public accesses, business properties open to the public or on parts of lands where public access for business or commerce is granted. It must also be controlled along property borders when requested by adjoining landowners. Though harmful to humans, poison ivy is beneficial for wildlife.
Poison ivy is a perennial that can grow as a climbing vine (T. radicans) or shrub (T. rybergii). The vine form is found only in southeastern Minnesota and the small shrub form is found throughout the state. Depending on its growth habit, the height of the plant can vary from one to two feet in the shrub form, and three to 12 feet in the vine form. It can reproduce by seed and shoots that grow from the roots.
The leaves of poison ivy are an important identification characteristic. The leaves are compound and consist of three leaflets that are 2-7 inches long and 1-4 inches wide. The leaves have pointed tips and irregularly toothed margins. They also have prominent mid-veins.
Always be cautious when working in and around this plant, and be aware that the toxic compound can be spread by freshly contaminated clothing, gloves, footwear, and pet hair.
Do not burn poison ivy.The toxic compounds can be inhaled from the smoke and cause serious respiratory problems.
Control or eradication by hand is not recommended.
Mowing may reduce the spread and population size of a poison ivy stand. Wear protective clothing and completely rinse any equipment after operating in poison ivy.
Various herbicides have been used successfully to control poison ivy. Check with your local University of Minnesota Extension agent, co-op, or landscape care expert for assistance and recommendations.
“Persistent.” Not exactly the word many Minnesotans may choose to describe this winter, but it’s appropriate, according to Mark Seely, University of Minnesota Extension climatologist.
U of Mn Extension climatologist Mark Seely (photo from minnesotaalumni.org)
According to a recent Google search, the word ‘persistent’ has many interesting synonyms: tenacious, determined, single-minded, relentless, interminable, and uninterrupted. Seely said the reason all these words fit is it hasn’t been this consistently cold in Minnesota and the Midwest in a long time. In fact, the Minnesota Public Radio website calls this “the coldest winter in 30 years.”
Seely said the interesting thing about this bitterly cold winter is, “it didn’t necessarily start early. The winter that we know it as, frankly, didn’t start until the first week of December.” Since then, Seely said the state has been in a deep freeze, the likes of which it hasn’t seen in some time.
“Since December, it’s been the coldest weather, by any measure, since the winter of 81-82.” Winter this consistently cold is a new experience for many young Midwesterners:
Seely said the Midwest has had colder winters, but few that have been this persistent. “It has been so consistently cold, we’ve had many of our observers report large numbers of nights with below zero readings.”
How this winter stacks up against past winters (graph courtesy of the Twin Cities NWS) (photo from blogs.mprnews.org)
What is driving the cold?
According to the Weather Underground website, a weather phenomenon known as the polar vortex may be driving this relentlessly cold weather in the Midwest. The polar vortex is an area of very cold air that typically centers over Siberia and Canada’s Baffin Island. A piece of the vortex broke off, and was forced south in part by the Jet Stream, into the Great Lakes Area of the US.
DTN Senior Meteorologist Mike Palmerino said “An unusual area of warm air over Alaska and northwest Canada pushed the cold air south. They’ve had a lot of warm weather in Alaska this year.” The polar air has pushed south in the past, so it’s not an unusual occurrence.
DTN meteorologist Mike Palmerino (Photo from www.dtnprogressivefarmer.com)
Uneven snow cover
“I would say the eastern half of the state ended up with fairly decent snow cover that’s pretty consistent,” said Seely. “However, the western half of the state, because of the high winds, ended up with variable snow cover. In areas unprotected from the wind, our weather observers have reported seeing areas of bare soil in their farm fields.”
Seely said in unprotected areas, the lack of snow cover has allowed the permafrost has driven 4 to 6 feet deep, and that’s something, “We haven’t seen that in a long, long time.” That means the ground is going to take time to thaw for spring planting in Minnesota.
One of the few areas where wild grass pokes through snow cover in SE Mn (photo by Chad Smith)
What is ahead?
“The weather models are coming together and showing some moderation for the rest of the winter,” said Seely. “That’s not to say we won’t have colder than normal days, but the sheer number of below zero days are going to go away.”
Palmerino said soils “east of the Mississippi River are in pretty good shape moisture-wise. If anything, I think the main concern going into spring is that it’s too wet.” He said “a stormy weather pattern and cooler than normal temperatures would definitely interrupt spring planting.”
Seely said the good news is the future models are showing moderating temperatures into March. However, not all the predictions are positive:
Palmerino said it’s a fine line when farmers look to spring. You want the weather to warm up and melt the snow, but not too fast either:
SE Mn has a lot of snow to get rid of before spring planting (photo by Chad Smith)
Here’s what it’s been like to drive in the Midwest this winter: