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Articles from 2007 In July


Senate Farm Bill Could Include Controversial Tax Measure

When Democratic leadership in the House added a last-minute tax measure to pay for nutrition programs, Republican support for the bill all but vanished overnight. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says that provision will also appear in the Senate version of the bill.

According to Democrats, the measure closes a loophole allowing businesses to dodge U.S. taxes by setting up offshore headquarters and routing funds internationally. According to Republicans, it's an unnecessary tax increase.

"We're look at doing basically the same thing over here," Harkin said in a press call Tuesday. "That can give us some needed resources."

The Senate Agriculture Committee will not debate the bill until September, after Congress' August recess.

Blackberry Studies Spotlight Health Aspects

Blackberries are the No. 1 antioxidant food per serving of 1,130 grocery store products tested as part of a collaborative scientific study. A second study identifies an extract derived from fresh blackberries that reduces cancerous tumors and prevents the spread of cancer cells in animal models.

The two probes emphasizes the value of blackberries, a major Oregon farm industry.

The news has already impacted markets, with frozen berries sold in poly bags showing recent increases in sales of 12%.

The recent studies by U.S. and Norwegian scientists on blackberries are expected to give the industry a sales boost, reports the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission.

"Everyone has known for years that eating berries is good for you," says Oregon Department of Agriculture Commodity Commissions Program Manager Kris Anderson. "With the latest research on blackberries, we know even more about how much and why those berries are good for you."

The health message is being aggressively pushed by the ORBC which is using industry assessment income to promote and conduct research. Oregon grows nearly all of the nation's blackberries, valued as a $35-million-a-year business for the state.

Responding to the new health studies, Willamette Valley Fruit Company of Salem, Ore., feels the news is only good. "Aging baby boomers are more concerned about health and want to live longer," says manager Dave Dunn. "They're staring cancer and other health issues in the face, so they are changing their diets and habits. Blackberries are really good for the digestive system, aging properties and more. Plus, they taste good."

There is a sense of pride among Oregon berry producers and handlers in the health findings, he adds. "Growers are farming and producing something that has value for people's lives, not just putting something out on the table."

Aphid Alert

Flights of soybean aphids have landed in farm fields in northwest and east central Missouri creating havoc on soybean crops. Other locations may not be safe.

The tiny pests, which stunt soybeans by sucking the plants' fluids, can build large populations in a few days. "Soybean producers should be scouting their fields for the pest every couple of days," says Wayne Bailey, University of Missouri Extension entomologist.

"Cool nights have encouraged the invasion," Bailey says. When huge populations build up in a field, female aphids develop wings and fly upward. Once airborne, the insects can be blown hundreds of miles before dropping out of the sky.

First reports came from Gentry County, northeast of St. Joseph, and from Pike County, south of Hannibal.

Bruce Burdick, superintendent of the MU Hundley-Whaley Farm at Albany, says his soybean research plots have large populations of the tiny greenish-yellow aphids. "We'll have to spray." Burdick has also found aphid infestations in fields in Gentry and Worth counties. "Every field I've been in had populations near or above the threshold for economic damage."

Bailey says farmers should consider spraying a field once insect counts reach over 250 aphids per plant. Farmers looking for the pests should part the leaves and look up and down the plants. A hand lens of 10X magnification power is needed to identify an individual aphid. However, in mass, aphid colonies can be highly visible.

There is good news, Bailey adds. Large populations of ladybug beetles, natural predators of aphids, already live in the soybean fields. There also are other natural enemies of the aphids, which help control the infestations.

Upper Midwest Manure Handling Expo Set for August 21

North America's largest manure-focused farm show, "ManureTech 2007" will be held August 21.

The Upper Midwest Manure Handling Expo will be at the USDA Dairy Forage Research Center Farm near Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin (between Madison and Wisconsin Dells). Featured highlights of this year's event include demonstrations of pit agitation, tanker, dragline and solid manure application equipment, hose laying, live action confined space entry/rescue and manure spill response demonstrations. Educational seminars include compost barn management, sod and pasture manure application, tools for evaluating soil moisture in the field, runoff prevention and manure management in no-till. A trade show and equipment vendor display (from application to treatment, in-barn handling to environmental risk assessment) round out the event. There is no admission charge.

ManureTech 2007 is sponsored by the Professional Nutrient Applicators Association of Wisconsin, in cooperation with UW Extension and the USDA Dairy Forage Research Center.

For more information, a detailed agenda of educational seminars and demos, and a list of vendors exhibiting, visit www.wimanuremgt.org/.  

The 2006 show (www.msue.msu.edu/portal/default.cfm?pageset_id=212421_id=344459_portal_id=25643) drew more than 1,300 in Michigan. The 2005 show in Minnesota (www.manure.umn.edu/fieldday05/) drew 700 to Waseca. The 2003 show in Wisconsin drew 700+.

Stay Safe When Lightning Strikes

See the lightning? Hear the thunder? Then you're at risk of a lightning strike. The thunderstorms of July have rolled in and with them, the danger of lightning fires, injuries and fatalities.

One place people can turn for lightning safety information is Iowa State University Extension, which has an office in every Iowa county and has county staff who can help answer questions and track down information.

Lightning is a dangerous force to be respected. Because lightning affects only one or a few people at a time and does not cause widespread destruction, many people underestimate the severe risks it poses, according to the American Red Cross.

Kills more than hurricanes and tornadoes

Lightning kills more people each year on average than hurricanes and tornadoes combined, according to the American Meteorological Society. Nearly 100 lightning-related deaths and 500 injuries occur each year in the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Their statistics show that most lightning injuries and fatalities occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.

NOAA statistics also show that most casualties occur in open areas, including sports fields. The next largest number of casualties occurs when people go under trees to keep dry. Next come water-related activities, followed by golfing in the open and sitting in the open-exposed cockpits of farm and construction vehicles. Corded telephones are the leading cause of indoor lightning casualties.

Fertile Ground

Soil fertility will be featured on each of the three tours, even the beef tour, at the Greenley Memorial Research Center Field Day, Thursday, Aug. 2, at the University of Missouri farm near Novelty.

Fertilizers are a concern because of rising costs and changing technology. Alternatives to ammonium nitrate will be discussed, says Randall Smoot, superintendent.

Three tours featuring crops, pest management and beef will start at 8:30 a.m. Each four-stop tour will be repeated until noon. On the crop tour, Kelly Nelson, MU research agronomist at the center, will cover research on polymer-coated urea, slow-release nitrogen for crops. He also will show the fertility value of distillers dried grains, a co-product of ethanol. Chris Zumbrunnen, MU Extension livestock specialist, Milan, will describe the soil nutrients in a bale of hay fed on pasture. Clint Meinhardt, Greenley Center researcher, will report on studies of potassium fertility and fungicide applications to soybeans.

Other speakers will tell of variable-source fertilizer applications, fungicides on corn, management of glyphosate-resistant weeds, and feeding distiller's grains to beef cattle.

New opportunities

G.W. Dimmitt, representing Premium Ag Products of Clarence, will describe how the farmer-owned cooperative will help producers sell identity-preserved crops for added value. Karisha Devlin, MU Extension farm business specialist, Edina, will tell of a series of marketing and management lessons for farmwomen. Devlin has taught Annie's Project, which encourages women to become familiar with the business side of the family farm.

Lunch speaker will be Katie Smith, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

Milestone

The field day is the 30th one held at the Greenley Center. "The first field day was 31 years ago," Smoot says. "But, we didn't have anything to show in the drought of 1988, so we cancelled all tours that year." Smoot will be looking for those, like him, who have attended every field day.

FYI
For field day details, e-mail Randall Smoot at smootr@missouri.edu or call 660-739-4410.

View UNL Programs on WebVideo

From diabetes to issues of the 2007 Farm Bill, WebVideo is a one-stop resource for University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension archived programs and conferences.

WebVideo at webvideo.unl.edu provides numerous archived meetings that have been recorded and made available for viewing as streaming video using the free video player, RealPlayer.

One of the newest additions to the video archives is the program Control Diabetes for Life. Participants learn the basics of diabetes, weight loss and management, and a heart healthy diet in this program series.

"Forty percent of all medical costs are for the care of people diagnosed with diabetes," says Deb Schroeder, UNL Extension educator in Cuming County. "Medicine--oral and injections--is only 20% of the total management costs for patients with diabetes. The other 80% of a successful self management plan includes education, exercise, and meal/food intake.

"People in rural Nebraska have limited availability to diabetes education, and this is an opportunity for them to participate in the security of their own home."

Other UNL Extension programs and conferences archived for viewing include the Beef Satellite Short Course, Ag at the Crossroads, Range Beef Cow Symposium and the Equestrian Academy, just to name a few. Topics cover crop marketing, insurance decisions, water management, rural entrepreneurship, beef production and more.

"These programs that are available on the Web have been extremely valuable in getting complete and comprehensive information on a particular subject to a producer," according to Ivan Rush, beef specialist at UNL's Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff.

The programs are valuable if a subject comes up at the Range Beef Cow Symposium, such as the Sandhills Calving System.

"This makes it easy to direct them to the complete coverage of the subject that was presented at the meeting plus they can view it at their leisure in their easy chair," he says.

Four N.D. Counties Get Disaster Declaration

Gov. John Hoeven has issued a disaster declaration for four counties in eastern North Dakota and requested a preliminary damage assessment from FEMA.

"We have seen significant wind and hail damage across a widespread area resulting from thunderstorms and other weather-related incidents," Hoeven said, in a statement released by his office. "We're now asking FEMA to conduct damage assessments of electrical power transmission infrastructure and other widespread storm damages that have affected farm families and small business owners. The assessment is a prerequisite to obtaining additional federal recovery assistance."

The losses resulted from a storm that occurred on Sunday, July 15, 2007, in Barnes, Cass, Ransom and Steele counties.

Cass County Electric Cooperative reported scattered power outages on the evening of July 15 from Hope to Sheldon, with line crews tracing a 54-mile long, 12-mile wide path of damage through their service area. The Western Area Power Administration reported that a total of 36 towers supplying electricity between Jamestown and Fargo were knocked down. Early WAPA estimates show damages up to $3 million. Minnkota Power Cooperative estimated additional losses at approximately $1 million with at total of 49 power transmission towers and power poles down.

The National Weather Service reported possible tornado activity near the western edge of Tower City where a house roof was ripped off, and an area south of Embden where a high voltage electrical transmission tower was plucked out of its anchor system, indicating significant updraft. Nearby electrical transmission towers were likely blown over as a result of downdraft winds.

"The disaster declaration for the four additional counties enables us to provide needed assistance to communities and rural electric cooperatives that have had damage to their public infrastructure from recent severe storms," Hoeven said "We're making state resources available to support local emergency management agencies currently involved in recovering from the storm."

A National Weather Service storm damage survey team assessed portions of the July 15 storm path and determined that tornadoes had touched down in Cass and Ransom counties. Downburst wind damage was nearly continuous in a path from five to seven miles wide indicating winds often exceeded 80 miles per hour (mph) and may have reached over 100 mph in some locations. Hail ranging in size from one-half inch to two inches in diameter accompanied the high winds causing a 70-mile long path of destruction from the town of Hope in Steele County, continuing south through the town of McLeod in Ransom County. Hail damage ranged from stripped leaves and corn tops to decimated crops with nothing but stubble remaining.

Hoeven cited the storm as a strong example of the need for disaster assistance in the upcoming Farm Bill. "Storms like this demonstrate why it's so important to have permanent disaster assistance incorporated into the new Farm Bill. That is the message we carried to Washington, D.C. this week when we met with congressional and administration officials, and we will continue to press that message at every opportunity."

"Severe summer storms can develop quickly and can be very destructive, as demonstrated by these recent storms," said Division of Homeland Security Director Greg Wilz. "It is important for everyone to be well-informed and prepared to cope with severe summer storms. We urge those impacted by severe storm activity to document and report damages to their local emergency management official to aid in identifying necessary response measures."

The Bank of North Dakota has disaster relief loan programs available for affected farmers and businesses in any North Dakota county. More information on Bank of North Dakota lending services can be found on their website, www.banknd.nd.gov/bndhome.jsp.  

Source: N.D. governor's office

Sprouted Wheat: Marketability, Feed and Seed Quality

The 2007 wheat crop in central and eastern Kansas had more than its share of problems. In addition to freeze damage, flooding, and heavy disease pressure, continuous rains in late June and early July caused pre-harvest sprouting in some fields, says Jim Shroyer, K-State Research and Extension crop production specialist.

Shroyer says producers have three options for sprouted wheat that has been harvested: sell it to a grain elevator, sell it to a livestock feeding operation, or save it for seed:

  • Marketing to a grain elevator - This is the easiest option, but can be costly. Grain elevators will often discount sprouted wheat. Some elevators may even refuse to take sprouted wheat, said Leland McKinney, Extension grain science specialist.
  • Livestock feeding - Sprouted wheat can be fed to cattle if it is processed. As long as sprouted wheat has good aeration in storage, it will have feed quality similar to non-sprouted wheat, says K-State animal scientist Twig Marston. "Sprouted wheat can make up to 50% of the total amount of grain fed to the cattle. Sprouted wheat will make better feed for heavier cattle than lightweight cattle. It is not well suited for hog rations, however, because of the low test weights," Marston says.
  • Saving for seed - Can producers use sprouted wheat seed for next year's crop? The answer is "sometimes," Shroyer says. A K-State study showed that seed with a split seed coat can germinate – even after storage, but seed showing visible plant parts should not be used. In all cases, it's best to conduct a germination test.

Details about the research can be found in the K-State Research and Extension publication, "Planting wheat seed damaged by sprouting before harvest" at: www.oznet.ksu.edu/library/crpsl2/srl115.pdf.