Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Haying management to produce high quality forage

Haying management to produce high quality forage
Kari Lewis

Loosely made bales, such as this one, will have more surface area
to absorb moisture, compared to a densely wrapped bale that better
sheds precipitation.  Photo by Kari Lewis
We’re not to the 4th of July yet, but the swathers seem to be rolling already!  Today, I wanted to visit a bit about management practices at haying that can affect the quality of your end product.  The main factors affecting hay quality include moisture content when hay is baled, forage species and stage of maturity at baling, and storage conditions.  

Today we’ll touch on when to cut hay, nitrate management, and equipment maintenance. For grass type hays, the greatest forage quality is achieved when the plant is in a vegetative state of growth.  Grass hay should be cut just as seedheads are beginning to emerge.  After this point, there will be very minimal increases in tonnage, but quality will decline rapidly.  Hay that tests greater than 10% crude protein is sufficient to meet a lactating beef cow’s protein requirement, however, low quality hay will require additional protein supplementation.  Low quality forage generally has very similar production costs to high quality forage, but is even more expensive to feed as it necessitates additional supplementation for livestock. 

Now is a good time to go through haying equipment to lube and
grease equipment.  Each piece of equipment should have a charged and
 working ABC fire extinguisher.  Photo by Kari Lewis
If you will be putting up cereal forages, such as oats, wheat, barley, triticale, etc., it is critical to have it tested for nitrates before swathing!  When a grain hay sample comes in to our office before it’s been swathed, we can do a nitrate quick test and let you know if the hay is safe to cut.  When a grain hay sample comes in after its been swathed and it tests high for nitrates, there is nothing that can be done at that point.  So, please, bring a sample into your local Extension office, approximately 20 stalks, cut at ground level that we can use to test for nitrate presence.  Nitrates are lowest in the afternoon, so that’s the best time of day to cut grain hay. 

As bales are stacked, make sure to record which
stacks came from which field, and number
of bales.  Photo by Kari Lewis.
When hay is baled, it should not exceed 18 to 22 percent moisture.  If the moisture content is greater than these levels, there are large amounts of dry matter loss, molding is likely to occur, and spontaneous combustion is possible. 

In terms of storage, dense bales will shed more precipitation, sag less, and have less surface area to absorb moisture, therefore storage losses will be lessened.  Net wrap also makes a tight, smooth surface that is more resistant to damage from weather, insects, and rodents.

Lastly, if you haven’t begun haying yet, now is a good time to make sure that equipment is greased, lubed, and in good working order.  Don’t forget to order extra filters, commonly used parts, etc. so that replacements will be ready when needed (which typically seems to occur on the weekend).  As you work on equipment, keep all shields and safety guards in place, and replace those shields immediately after maintenance is complete.  Those shields and guards are on there for a reason!  Finally, always be prepared for a fire.  Make sure there’s a class ABC fire extinguisher on all equipment, and that fire extinguishers are charged and in working order.

Northern Ag Research Center Field Day

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

This week, on Thursday, June 29th the M.S.U. Northern Ag Research Center in Havre will be having their annual Field Day.  I wanted to provide you with further details about that fantastic opportunity to meet with researchers and learn about current research topics as well as network with other growers.
Registration for the annual field day at the Northern Ag Research Center south of Havre- will begin on Thursday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. with the first set of tours beginning at 4:00 p.m.  Tours will also be offered at 5:30 p.m. with a dinner scheduled for 7:00 p.m. 

There are four possible tours to choose from for the afternoon and early evening.  All tours will depart from the research center and conclude there and will last approximately 90 minutes.  Please remember to bring hats, sunglasses and sunscreen as all tours are outside! 
Tour A will have stops where wheat streak mosaic virus, alternative cropping systems, nutrient management and cover crops are discussed.  Tour B will focus on variety trials of winter and spring wheat, durum, and pulse crops.  Tour C will focus on beef production issues.  Tour D will include stops involving drones, precision agriculture, saline seep reclamation and pulse crop root scanning technology. 

At the conclusion of the tours dinner will be cooked and served by the Ag Committee of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce.  For any further questions about the Northern Ag Research Center Field Day, feel free to contact your local county Extension office or the Northern Ag Research Center at 265-6115.  I can guarantee the time you spend there at the field day will be well worth it!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"Slow down! And be safe!"

This last weekend my husband told me that he thought we needed a four-wheeler upgrade as the
I am constantly reminding my husband to, "Slow down, and be safe!" when he's
using a four wheeler.  From 2013 to 2015, there were 28 reported deaths
associated with ATVs in Montana.  Photo by Kari Lewis.
current ride was, “Just too lethargic for chasing cows.”  Having seen his four-wheeler riding skills, I don’t think any more speed is needed, as I am constantly telling him (and my dad) to slow down, and be safe!  Personally, I can think of at least five individuals who’ve had a four-wheeler accident within the last year or so, with four of the five being in their teens or early 20’s.  With school out and many more youth on All Terrain Vehicles (or ATV’s), hearing of accidents seems to become much more common.

In Montana, there was 28 reported deaths associated with ATVs from 2013 – 2015, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Nationwide, 12% of the nearly 600 ATV-related deaths were children under 16 years of age. 

Data from the Journal of Pediatric Child Health notes the following:
  • Males are involved in over three-fourths of ATV crashes leading to injury.
  • Children less than 16 account for almost one-third of ATV injury-related emergency department visits and 30% or more of ATV injury hospitalizations. This 16 and under age group is responsible for almost half of all ATV related deaths. 
  • Three-wheeled vehicles have been shown to increase the risk of injury three-fold, and are not recommended due to their increased instability.
  • Passengers are commonly cited as a risk factor for ATV crashes and injury, as they reduce the driver’s ability to control the ATV, and also throw the ATV off balance.  In studies of children hospitalized for ATV injuries, the driver was carrying a passenger nearly 30% of the time.

If you have a youth who will be riding an ATV, make sure they are riding an appropriate youth sized machine.  Most ATV’s commonly weigh 600 to 800 pounds, and children are not physically mature enough to handle an ATV of that size.  Kids’ small size, combined with their inexperience and immature decision-making skills contribute to children’s increased risk of injury.  Before operating an ATV, drivers should be able to operate the throttle and brake levers with one hand, know how to shift their weight on an ATV, and have at least three inches of clearance between the seat and their pants when standing up. 

Often, the only instruction on riding an ATV that a youth may have, is what they’ve seen in an ad or on a video game.  If you know a child who will be riding an ATV this summer, please make sure they have an appropriate sized machine and take the time to teach them how to properly operate it.  Lastly, no rider should be allowed to ride double on an ATV as that changes the center of gravity and can make an ATV more prone to tipping. 

While my message today focused on youth on ATV’s, the message of slowing down and driving safely on ATV’s applies to all who use them.   And chances are, as long as we keep using ATV’s to move cows, I’ll keep telling my dad and husband, ‘Slow down, and be safe!’  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Staying Hydrated

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

Many times we only think of hydrating our bodies during the summer heat, but hydration is important at all times.  Drinking water every day helps us stay alert and keeps our body systems working efficiently.  Reasons for drinking enough fluids is to keep joints lubricated, assist in expelling waste materials, keeping our body temperature low and more.  These are essential functions that each depend on us to take in enough fluids every day to help our bodies function properly.  There are also sensitive tissues that need fluids, such as the spinal column.
When it comes to hydration the first thing that usually comes to our mind is “water” or “H2o.”  It is important to hydrate by drinking water, but there are other ways to get small amounts of hydration.  For example, soups are comprised of mostly water.  According to Center for Disease Control (CDC) other hydrating foods include celery, tomatoes, oranges and melons.

The human body often gives signs to indicate its need to increase hydration.  Dark urine, the inability to sweat in extremely hot conditions, or lack of tear formation when crying, are signs that indicate a need to increase fluid intake.
A basic rule to follow is to simply drink when you are thirsty, however extra hydration is needed during the hot summers and when doing physical activity.  Some people drink plenty of water to promote an optimally operating system.  Other individuals may need to develop daily habits, perhaps setting aside certain times of the day such as breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime to add adequate water to their routine.  Water can easily be added to school or work routines because of the accessibility of water fountains, bottled water and travel water containers.  Whatever your situation is, keep a water bottle with you so you have easy access to liquids.  It is best to drink water, but if you choose to drink other flavored surgery or caffeinated drinks, be aware of what comes with those drinks.  Many times there are hidden calories or caffeine.

If it is flavor you’re looking for you could try adding fresh fruit to your water for added flavor. Just wash any of your favorite fruits, then slice and let it soak in your water for about a half hour and you will have a flavored drink.  Drinking plenty of water is an easy way to add to your overall health.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Summertime Sun Safety

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

With summertime activities fully underway I bring you today, some tips from Iowa State University Extension on sun protection.
Research has shown that cumulative sun exposure is a major factor in development of skin cancer.  Small changes occur in the skin each time it is exposed to sunlight.  People who burn easily, rarely tan, freckle or have a fair complexion, have blonde or red hair, or have blue or gray eyes, experience greater skin changes.  Skin cancer usually is not associated with a single, painful sunburn, but rather with repeated exposure to the sun and changes in the skin’s makeup.  The sun’s rays are more damaging during summer months and at midday hours than other times.  However, you can get a sunburn on a cloudy day during other seasons and at other times of the day.  Cumulative sun exposure is the major concern.  The back of the neck, ears, face, and eyes are sensitive to sun exposure. Luckily, these and other body parts easily can be protected by wearing proper clothing, sunglasses, or sunscreen.
Sunscreens recommended for outdoor workers should have a sun protection factor (SPF) rating of at least 15.  This means that you are protected from a reaction to the sun’s effects 15 times longer than you are without the sunscreen.  Read the label to know when to re-apply sunscreen and whether it is waterproof, but the general rule for reapplication of sunscreen seems to be every couple of hours.
Additional protection for the face and other parts of the head can be as simple as wearing a hat.  When selecting a hat, consider how much of your head, neck and face it covers.  Clothing also helps block the ultraviolet (UVR) rays the sun when it covers the skin.  Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks.  Closely woven or knitted fabrics are more protective because they lack open spaces to let UVR through to your skin.  Clothes dyed in dark colors (black, navy, red) have more dye to absorb UVR and shield your skin than light colored ones.  Light colored and white clothes may be manufactured to block UVR or washed using detergent with brighteners to improve their protection.
Even the most effective hats can block only 50 percent of the ultraviolet rays that reach the eyes. A good shade hat combined with the use of sunglasses is a better way to pro¬tect eyes from sun exposure.   Use caution when selecting sunglasses because they vary widely in the amount of protection from ultraviolet radiation. A peel-off label on the lens indicates its UV rating, or percentage of ultraviolet rays blocked by the sunglasses (the best rating is 100).  If no information is provided by the manufacturer, the sunglasses may not offer any added protection.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hantavirus in Montana by Alice Burchak

As we approach the summer months there is an increased risk of Montana residents being exposed to Hantavirus. According to Montana Department of Health and Human Services epidemiologist Rachel Hinnenkamp, hantavirus infection can occur during any month but risk of exposure is increased in the spring and summer as people clean cabins and sheds, and spend more time outside in the vicinity of rodents.

Montana has one of the highest rates of infection in the United States with 43 reported cases since 1993 when data started being tracked.  Early symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches with progression include coughing and extreme shortness of breath. Hantavirus infection can cause severe illness; about 25 percent of Montana’s cases have resulted in death. Early diagnoses and supportive medical care is essential for a person to recover from Hantavirus.

Deer mice are the most common host of the virus, and are well dispersed throughout Montana. People can become infected with Hantavirus when saliva, urine, or droppings from an infected deer mouse are stirred up and inhaled. It is important to avoid activities that raise dust, such as sweeping or vacuuming, if there are signs of rodents in the area.

The best way to protect yourself from Hantavirus is to control rodent populations by sealing up holes to prevent entry and using snap traps to eliminate any mice indoors. You can also reduce rodent populations near dwellings by keeping grass and shrubbery near the home well-trimmed, and moving woodpiles at least 100 feet from a building and raising them at least one foot off the ground.

You can protect yourself while cleaning areas contaminated by rodent droppings by taking the following precautions:

·                   If cleaning an area such as a cabin, camper or outbuilding, open windows and doors and air-out the space for 30 minutes prior to cleaning.

·                   Wear rubber or plastic gloves.

·                   Thoroughly spray or soak the area with a disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water to reduce dust. Let soak for 5 minutes.

·                   Wipe up the droppings with a sponge or paper towel, and discard after use.

·                   Clean and disinfect the entire area with disinfectant or bleach solution.

·                   Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after removing and discarding the gloves.

·         Avoid sweeping or vacuuming areas with rodent droppings and urine, as the action can stir up dust and lead to inhalation of the virus.

If you would like further information on Hantavirus the Montana DPHHS has a great information website.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

How much should I water? Lawn and tree watering guidelines for summer

Kari Lewis, MSU Extension - Glacier county

We had some hot, windy weather the end of May that added some stress to our crops and trees.  While we’re dependent upon Mother Nature when it comes to watering our dryland crops, there are a few guidelines for watering lawns and trees that I wanted to share to keep them vibrant and healthy.

When watering trees, we need to remember that most of the small feeder roots that are responsible for water uptake are located in the top 12 to 18 inches of soil.  Trees and shrubs should be watered when the top 6 to 9 inches of soil in the root zone are dry.  A relatively easy way to check this is to take a long screwdriver and push it down into the soil near the tree.  You can also take a shovel or hand trowel and dig a small hole under the plant canopy and feel the soil.  If the soil is cool and moist 6 to 9 inches below the surface, no water is needed.  If the soil is dry, or its very hard to push the screwdriver down into the soil, it’s definitely time to water. 

During the spring and summer, trees should be watered about three to four times a month, approximately two inches per watering.  Trees should be watered not at the base of the trunk of the tree, but instead at the dripline.  The dripline is the area at the edge of the tree’s canopy, which is the most effective way to water the tree’s feeder roots which are responsible for water uptake. 
To determine how much water a tree needs, you can track how long it takes for a watering session to moisten those top 9 to 12 inches of the soil.  Also, the trunk diameter of the tree at chest height is correlated to how much water the tree needs.  For example, if the tree is four inches in diameter, at your chest height, that tree needs approximately four gallons of water each week. 

Regular watering throughout the spring and summer helps the tree grow and flower, transport nutrients, cool the tree, and defend against pests and other stresses.  During August, watering should be decreased to allow the tree to harden off for winter.  Once the leaves fall off the deciduous trees, trees should be watered well again prior to going into winter.  If there’s no snow during the winter, trees should be watered twice/month as well.  When watering trees, do not water the foliage of fruit or deciduous trees, that encourages blight, rust and mildews. 

Lawns should receive at least one inch of water per week, which is best applied in a heavy soaking, versus numerous, shallow waterings.  One inch of water equates to the amount of a tuna fish can, so you can set tuna fish cans on your lawn and then time how long it takes to fill the cans to allow you to determine how often to water to ensure the lawn receives one inch of water/week.  If the weather is hot and dry, the lawn will likely need more than one inch per week. 

For both lawns and trees, early morning is the best time to water, as the temperature is rising.  It provides for the most efficient use of water.  Watering in the evening can lead to disease issues as the leaves are wet going into the cool, dark night.  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tick Talk

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

With warm weather all sorts of critters come out to play, some more desirable than others.  I’m going to talk about a less desirable one today, or in other words, we’re going to have a little tick talk today, pardon the pun. 
There are simple steps that each of us can take to protect ourselves from tick bites.  Ticks can be encountered in a variety of wooded and grassy environments, ranging from river bottoms to mountains in Montana, from early spring through late summer. 

Wearing light colored clothing allows you to see ticks that are crawling on you.  Pant legs can be tucked into your socks so that ticks can’t crawl inside your pants.  If you wanted to go one step further you could also duct tape around the sock-pant interface to further prevent ticks from crawling inside your pant legs.
                                               Rocky Mountain Wood Tick
Use a repellent with DEET.  Using a repellent with more than 20% DEET can be applied to skin and clothing to prevent ticks from crawling on you.  Repellents last only a few hours before reapplication is necessary.  As always, make sure to read the label instructions before applying anything.
After being outdoors, check your body for ticks, especially in your hair.  Ticks may also attach later by being carried into the house on clothing and pets, so both of those should also be examined carefully as well.

If you do find a tick on you be careful how you remove it.  Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible using tweezers.  Pull upward with steady pressure, without twisting or jerking the tick, which could break off mouthparts which would remain in the skin.

For more information, please contact your local county Extension office for a copy of the publication, “Ticks of Veterinary and Public Health Importance in Montana.”  I hope that you can enjoy a tick free summer!

Monday, June 5, 2017

New App is a Handy Resource for Canning Food at Home by Alice Burchak

Today I have some good news for experienced home canners who like to use technology. Oregon State University Extension has developed a new smartphone app that is a handy resource for canning food at home. The new app offers step-by-step information and checklists for home canners who already have some experience preserving food.
The recently released app “Canning Timer & Checklist” includes a step by step checklist to walk you through successfully and safely can foods at home. The information contained in the app uses researched based recommendations from the United States Department of Agriculture.

The easy to use app includes checklists for canning vegetables, fruits, meat and seafood. While using the app you will be asked to input the type of food you are preserving, the jar size, rather you are raw or hot packing, what type of canner you are using and your elevation. 

After your make your selections, a list will appear with all the steps needed to complete the process. As you finish each item on the list, there is a place to check it off. After you complete the check off list a built-in timer will appear for timing the processing. There will be no more looking for the timer at the last minute or forgetting to turn it on.

The app is not designed for a first-time canners. There is not enough in-depth instructions for each step. If you are a new to canning and would like more in-depth instructions contact your local extension office or visit the MSU Extension website at http://msuextension.org/

The “Canning Timer & Checklist” app is a great new tool for home canners that always keep their mobile devices near them. Home canners should always use current, tested recipes to make sure your final product is safe and of good quality.  

Download the new canning app at https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/pnw689