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Articles from 2010 In August

Application Deadline for Swine Jobs School Is Today

Application Deadline for Swine Jobs School Is Today

Swine Jobs School trains interested students for positions on modern swine farms though a combination of hands-on and classroom learning.

The next session of Swine Jobs School begins September 7. Applications are currently being accepted and are due Sept. 1.

Classroom sessions will take place at the Schoolcraft Township Building in Vicksburg.

During the first two weeks of Swine Jobs School, the class meets for eight sessions combining classroom instruction and on-farm supervised training. These sessions will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 7–10 and Sept. 13–16.

During the following nine weeks, students will spend 16 hours a week gaining on-farm work experience on local swine farms. On-farm work experiences will be arranged to meet the needs of the student and the schedule of the host farm.

Swine Jobs School focuses on students who have completed high school and are looking for immediate employment or workers who are currently unemployed and looking for opportunities to re-enter the workplace. The program, taught by Michigan State University (MSU) Extension swine specialists and educators, is designed to teach the skills needed to work on swine farms as well as teach the job and interpersonal skills needed for employment.

Anyone interested in working on a hog farm or employers who would like to have their employees obtain further training should contact one of the following people:

Beth Ferry via e-mail at or 269-445-4438

Jerry May at or 989-875-5233

Dale Rozeboom at or 517-355-8398

Swine Jobs School applications, a class syllabus and expectations for the on-farm training are available on the MSU Pork Team's website at

Planting Time Lays Foundation for Good Wheat Harvest

Planting Time Lays Foundation for Good Wheat Harvest

The best time to work for good yields in wheat fields next summer is now, says Kansas State University research and extension agronomist Jim Shryoer.

Getting a good stand of wheat with strong root and tiller development in the fall and winter provides the foundation for a good harvest, he said.

In the Extension Agronomy e-Update, available at, Shroyer advises that the best practices to ensure effective planting include proper tractor speed of 5 to 6 miles per hour, uniform seeding at about 1.5 inches, good closing with adequate down pressure, planting around the Hessian fly-free date, and making sure the seedlings have adequate nitrogen.

He also advises using a seed treatment, and adjusting nitrogen levels when planting into row crop stubble.

What to Do With Nubbins When Making Ear Counts

What to Do With Nubbins When Making Ear Counts

Different people handle various situations differently when making estimates in the field. When I helped Dave Smith, the Johnson County Ag Educator, count plants in a twin-row plot in Rush County in June, trying to get accurate population counts, we counted a double dropped by the planter, with two plants within two inches of each other, as one. He didn't want to give too much credit to the extra plant, because he figures one will turn out to be a weed.

When Jeff Phillips and I counted plots in the Indiana Prairie Farmer/Tippecanoe County Extension/ Precision Planting plots earlier this summer, we counted every plant, no matter what.. But our goal was somewhat different. We were testing factors relating to planting itself. If a planter dropped a double, we wanted to know. Later we came back and measured spacing between those plants to determine whether a certain combination of planting speed, pressure on the planting units, and planting depth did a better or worse job or not. Results from both of these tests will be available after harvest.

Meanwhile, at this time of year, what do you do when you're estimating yield in a field, and come across nubbins in the process? Bob Nielsen, Purdue University Extension corn specialist, doesn't use them in determining number of rows and number of kernels per row, unless they are representative of the entire field.

You're likely to run into ears that are 'pinched' toward the tip, with more rows of butt kernels that rows of kernels near the tips. That happens when stress develops during the development process. Heat, and in some cases dry weather, are the biog stresses for this year's corn crop in Indiana, or so it appears.

Count rows of kernels in the part that best represents the ear, he notes. Don't include extreme counts from butts or tips, in either direction. And don't count aborted kernels. The ear tried to give you all it had, but made the decision to pull those kernels. Chances are they won't add anything to yield estimates.

Finally, if all rows don't have the same number of kernels per row, use an estimate. This can happen when ears are deformed or abortion of kernels occurs on one side of an ear and not the other side.

Southern Rust Shouldn't Cause Concern

Southern Rust Shouldn't Cause Concern

Common rust on corn leaves is, well, common. It's not unusual to find some there, especially later in the season. However, southern rust doesn't appear every year. There are confirmed cased of it now in the southern counties where you might expect it- Vanderburgh, Posey, Jennings and Knox, but also in Tippecanoe County, where you wouldn't necessarily expect to find it. Thee reports are confirmed by Kiersten Wise, Purdue University Extension disease specialist.

Southern rust is usually found only on the upper surface of corn leaves, while common rust will infect both the top and lower sides of leaves. There are also differences in color of the pustules. Southern rust pustules tend to be more densely packed with infectious material, waiting to spread to other leaves, carrying a deeper orange color.

There is actually good news in this story. While southern rust can cause yield loss if it comes into an area early enough, it did not arrive early enough in most of Indiana to cause yield impact this season, Wise says. It's more of a curiosity and something not to worry about rather than something that will be a major driver on corn yields this fall. The same is true for common rust. It didn't invade quick enough to be a yield threat in most cases.

The other good news is that just because the rust is here this here, either southern or common, it doesn't follow that it will be back next year. It doesn't over winter here, but instead has to be brought up by Gulf Winds blowing northward. The winds blow both forms of the disease up from the Gulf region as spores. Then when conditions are right they can infect corn leaves.

To make matters more confusing if you're trying to determine if you have rust on leaves and which one you have, both types can occur on the same leaf. Just remember that southern rust is more likely to be found only on the top side of laves. Refer to the Purdue University Diagnostic Training Center publication, the Purdue Extension Corn & Soybean Field Guide, for more help in identifying which form you have.

Of all possible problems that could befall this year's crop, leaf rust is not likely a major one to worry about. It won't impact yield coming in this late, and that's the bottom line.

Sunflower Crop 15 Days Ahead of Last Year

Sunflower Crop 15 Days Ahead of Last Year

Much of central North Dakota sunflower crop looks like its 15 days ahead of last year's development pace and five days ahead of the five-year average, according to the latest report from the National Sunflower Association.

"The crop planted on May 25 is at or near petal drop. Harvesting at this planting date could easily take place in September with a harvest aide, depending on growing degree days from here on," the NSA says.

 There are late planted sunflower in areas that were too wet for timely planting in the first half of June. This late planted crop is now approaching the bloom period so additional time and growing degree days will be needed for that late planted crop.

"In general, the sunflower crop throughout the production region is progressing well with good yield potential," the NSA reports.

Source: National Sunflower Association

Annette Zwald Named to Vita Plus Dairy Nutrition and Management Fellowship

Annette Zwald Named to Vita Plus Dairy Nutrition and Management Fellowship

Annette Zwald has been named to the Vita Plus Dairy Nutrition and Management Fellowship in the Dairy Science Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  This one-of-a-kind program combines leading university research with practical experience in the field.  Zwald is a 2009 graduate of UW-Madison with a double major in dairy science and life sciences communication.  She has worked as a Vita Plus Dairy Service Specialist in Michigan for the past year.  This fall, she will return to Wisconsin to continue working with Vita Plus as she pursues a master's degree in dairy science. 

Zwald has an extensive background in the dairy industry and worked on her family farm since childhood.  She also gained experience as a membership assistant for the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin and as a sales and marketing intern for Elanco Animal Health.  On campus, Zwald was active in many student organizations, including the Sigma Alpha Sorority, Badger Dairy Club and National Agri-Marketing Association.  In addition, Zwald participated in research projects with the UW-Madison Dairy Science Department and served as a member of the UW-Madison Dairy Challenge Team, which placed first at national competition.

Through this fellowship, Zwald will work part-time with Vita Plus as she pursues her graduate studies.  She will also participate in an extensive on-farm research project in collaboration with the Dairy Science Department.  The fellowship is funded and directed by Vita Plus.

Horses Are Victims of Economic Turmoil

Horses Are Victims of Economic Turmoil

A double whammy of economic recession and a ban on horse slaughter in the United States has resulted in a steadily growing number of unwanted horses with owners who are unable to care for them. Equine veterinarians are seeing more thin, poorly cared for and unwanted horses than ever before, and as a result, are attempting new efforts to control the horse population.

Equine veterinarians at the University of Missouri and around the state are seeing more cases of unhealthy and unwanted horses due to the economic recession and ban on horse slaughter in the U.S.

Alison LaCarrubba, a veterinarian who heads the equine ambulatory section at the University of Missouri, Columbia, reports that the unwanted horse population has risen as the cost of purchasing a horse has dropped, but the cost of keeping a horse has stayed the same. LaCarrubba notes it costs about $60 per month to feed a horse hay and grain, depending on pasture availability. With regular veterinary costs for hoof trimming, de-worming, vaccinations and dental work, combined with the costs for fencing and shelter, the price to keep a horse adds up quickly, to as much as $15,000 per year.

"It's a supply and demand issue," LaCarrubba says. "It used to be that you could buy an entry level horse at auction for about $700, but now you can buy that same horse for $50. It is still expensive to feed and keep a horse, however, and there aren't a lot of options when that cost becomes too great. We're seeing more and more horses that are not getting enough to eat, and we have been looking for solutions to the problem."

In addition to economic woes, horse slaughterhouses have been closed in the United States since 2007. From 1993 to 2007, approximately 75,000 to 150,000 horses were sent to slaughter each year in the United States. The meat was sent to countries in Europe and Asia where horsemeat is considered a delicacy and consumed by humans. With the U.S. slaughterhouses out of business, many horse owners cannot afford to euthanize their unwanted animals. 

One approach to controlling the horse overpopulation in the United States is a low- or no-cost castration clinic planned for this fall at the University of Missouri. Stallions that are referred by area veterinarians or equine rescue organizations will be brought to the university's Middlebush Farm, where students will assist with the procedures and gain valuable experience. The effort is modeled after a similar project in Minnesota that was successful.

"We have certainly seen the evidence that the service is needed," LaCarrubba says. "This is a win/win situation for horse owners, our students and the horses that will come here. It's just a small effort to tackle a growing problem."

LaCarrubba is asking for donations to offset the cost of the sterilization clinic. For more information and how to donate, contact the development office at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine at 573-882-1902.

Source: University of Missouri News Bureau

Nebraska Athletics, Farmers Start Cornhusker Co-Op

Nebraska Athletics, Farmers Start Cornhusker Co-Op

On the field or in the fields, Nebraska athletes and farmers share values, a bond and a commitment to hard work, statewide pride and national leadership, according to Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne.

Osborne recently announced creation of Cornhusker Co-Op, a new fundraising partnership between Nebraska Athletics and farmers.

"Working together, we think we can take our athletic department to a higher level," Osborne says. "There's a healthy respect for what athletes and farmers are required to do every year to be successful, so we believe with some teamwork and some trust, we can produce a partnership that will be truly unique."

With agreements between Nebraska Athletics and large grain elevators in Aurora, Dorchester and York, and other local locations that will be announced, elevator managers are authorized to designate portions of a farmer grain as a donation to Nebraska's Athletic Department.

"The only thing the local farmer needs after driving up to the local grain elevator is to designate what portion of that particular harvest will go to Nebraska Athletics," says Mike Dobbs, Nebraska Development Officer.

Using an existing account at a trusted business makes contributing to Nebraska Athletics hassle-free, according to Dobbs, who is working with co-ops and farmers to broaden the program across the state.

"We appreciate the support from Nebraska farmers," Dobbs says, "and we've earmarked various forms of recognition from the Athletic Department to give something back--from decals and special hats to facility tours and picnics. We see this partnership as an extension to our athletic family."

Farmers interested in participating in Cornhusker Co-Op can contact the Nebraska Athletic Development Office at 402-472-2367.

U of I Will Not Conduct the Annual European Corn Borer Survey for 2010

U of I Will Not Conduct the Annual European Corn Borer Survey for 2010

The corn harvest has begun in some areas of Illinois, and some may wonder about the annual European corn borer survey.

For 2010, the survey will not be conducted. It has been well documented that densities of this once-prominent insect pest of corn have continued to hit historically low density levels for many successive years. The survey was stopped for two years (1997 and 1998) after the commercial introduction of Bt hybrids in 1996 and was renewed in 1999.

In the past three years, the University of Illinois' Mike Gray says it has been increasingly difficult during the survey to find European corn borers in most producers' fields, and moth flights have been negligible. If in the future U of I confirms elevated levels of European corn borer injury and note increases in moth abundance, they may elect to renew some targeted survey efforts.

Data from the European corn borer survey, begun in 1943, have never consistently predicted subsequent infestations of corn borers, as the original architects envisioned. However, Gray says the survey did offer a look in the rearview mirror regarding how much yield loss could be attributed to this insect pest.

It's not unreasonable to estimate that during outbreak years, such as 1949, 1989, and 1991, European corn borers took 15% to 20% of the yield for themselves, Gray adds. "No wonder so much time and so many resources were initially devoted to developing IPM strategies and ultimately to commercializing Bt hybrids to combat this formidable insect," he notes. "We are fortunate to date that no field-level resistance by the European corn borer to Bt has been confirmed; however, insects are adaptable, and we should not take this transgenic technology for granted."

For now, the staff plans to redirect survey resources to western corn rootworm adults (summer 2011) and to potentially new insect pests of soybean (like the redbanded stink bug).

Pennsylvania Pumps Up Gas Well Regs

Pennsylvania Pumps Up Gas Well Regs

This spring, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began its squeeze-down on total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. So it's no surprise that, on August 21, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection began enforcing tightened standards for total dissolved solids (TDS) in natural gas drilling wastewater.

The combination of this Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Rule and the new rule requiring 150-foot buffers for Pennsylvania's approximately 20,000 miles of high-quality streams give waters in the state the strongest legal protection in history, says DEP Secretary John Hanger. 

The new permitted limit for discharges of wastewater from gas drilling is 500 milligrams per liter of total dissolved solids and 250 mg/l for chlorides. All new and expanding facilities treating gas well wastewater must meet these discharge limits.


"DEP's proposal of these new limits has already driven industry investment in new technologies to treat this wastewater which is high in TDS," he notes. Since DEP proposed these new rules, some businesses began treating gas well wastewater for recycling by the natural gas industry rather than discharging it into waterways.

Pennsylvania's streams receive total dissolved solids from a variety of wastewater sources. Primary sources of these pollutants are storm water runoff and discharges from coal mines and other industrial activities. That wastewater can affect the taste and odor of drinking water and, in high concentrations, can damage or destroy aquatic life. 

Drinking water treatment facilities aren't equipped, points out Hanger, to treat the solids and chloride contaminants. They rely on normally low levels of chlorides and sulfates in surface waters used for drinking water supplies.