Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Pulse Growers Workshop

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

MSU Liberty County Extension and CHS-Chester will be hosting a pulse growers workshop on Tuesday, February 6th at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall in Chester.  The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. and should conclude at approximately 12:30 p.m.
Perry Johnston with West Central, Inc. will begin the program by speaking about pulse crop fertility, discussing fertility issues in pulse crops and how to mitigate those issues, including the use of the product Levesol, a phosphate enhancement product. 

Following Perry’s remarks, Dr. Mary Burrows, MSU Extension plant pathologist, will speak on disease prevention in pulse crops.  Pulse crop rotations are important for disease prevention.  The presentation will include an overview of existing diseases as well as pointers on the uses of fungicides to control fungal diseases and preventative tools that can be utilized to assist growers in planting and maintaining disease free pulse crop production.

Dr. Kevin McPhee, associate professor with the Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology Department at MSU will then talk about the objectives, breeding approach and inheritance of agronomic traits for pulse crop variety development in Montana.

Dr. Kevin McPhee speaks at the Central Ag Research Center Field Day about pulse crops.  Photo courtesy of CARC.

Markets play a big role in deciding whether a grower plants pulse crops.  Jill Streit of Stricks Ag will discuss existing pulse markets and the potential outlook for pulse crops in 2018.  After Jill’s remarks Steve Leavitt of ATP Nutrition-Manitoba will talk about some foliar nutrition products that his company has to offer that work for both cereals and pulse crops.

There will be one private pesticide applicator credit available for growers.  Lunch will be provided at the conclusion of the program.
For questions regarding this program please contact Jesse Fulbright at the MSU Liberty County Extension office at 759-5625.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Next Generation Conference - 3 Things a Solid Transition Plan Should Accomplish

This weekend in Shelby, Montana was the 5th annual Montana’s Next Generation Conference. We had over 200 people attend from all over the state like Sidney and Plevna to name a few. We are able to put on this conference every year with the help of our sponsoring organizations and the help of local businesses in the area.

One of our keynote speakers was Amanda Radke from Beef Magazine., in her latest article, 3 Things a Solid Transition Plan Should Accomplish, she touched on topics she discussed at our conference from her speech and topics from our other keynote, Elaine Froese. There are only two certainties in life — death and taxes; however, it’s discussions about finances and what happens after we die that are two topics of conversations, it seems, a family works incredibly hard to avoid.

Yet, it’s these two topics that we must face head-on if we want to retire comfortably, be fair to our children, and transition our ranch legacy to the next generation.

Amanda shared her family’s experiences as she moved home from college with a new husband in tow. She explained how they have found their place on the ranch by adding to the pie through diversification rather than cutting the pie in half to support two families and offered advice for millennial producers on managing expectations and communicating with other family members.
Joining her in the discussion was Elaine Froese, a Manitoba seed farmer and certified coach specializing in farm/ranch transition planning, who hosted a five-hour workshop deep-diving into the tangible action items that need to be determined in a proper transition plan. Ultimately, she said a solid plan accomplishes three things — empowers the family, increases profitability and secures the agricultural legacy.

Empowering the family begs a few questions, which child is the best to take over the ranch? What is your personal timeline for an exit strategy? Are your kids aware of this plan, so they can make informed decisions of their own? Farmers need to talk openly about what the business means to each family member, discuss the memories on the farm or ranch, talk about the legacy created by the hard work and sacrifice, and everyone’s hopes and dreams for the future.

Increasing profits: We all want our operations to make more money. Profitability not only allows for a good life but having the flexibility to take advantage of opportunities for growth in the operation. Froese says, “Families who have regular business meetings are 21% more profitable. The older generation should share farm financial information with the next generation. Knowing about debt servicing, cash flow, and input costs is a great education in reality for young people, especially teens.”

Securing the farm’s legacy: According to the 2016 Agri-Food Management Institute survey of farmers, only 16% of farms had a succession plan, despite it being in the top three goals for the operation (right after profitability and debt reduction.)

In addition to having stressful, emotionally-charged discussions about the loss of a loved one, Froese says, “The younger generation may find it intimidating to ask for something that’s so valuable (financially, traditionally and emotionally) that their parents have worked so hard for. And some parents, who maybe are finally feeling financially stable, are frightened that transition could topple the boat again and take it in a riskier direction.” Don’t be afraid to ask these tough questions, but don’t wait for a farm accident, health scare, or family fight to have these discussions. Start having those family business meetings now and be confident in your future financial security, your family’s happiness and the long-term success of your farm and ranch legacy.

All of us at the Next Generation Conference would like to thank those who spent their weekend with us. Hopefully, they enjoyed the speakers and took some great information back to their operations. Be sure to catch us on Facebook at Montana’s Next Generation Conference for updates for next year’s conference.

Kim Woodring
Toole County Extension

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Beware the Pea Weevil this Growing Season!

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

There was a Montana Ag Alert sent out recently about the pea weevil.  This is not to be confused with the pea leaf weevil that we’ve been seeing for several years now.  Damage from this newer pest, the pea weevil, has been confirmed from the State Grain Lab in 2017.  While peas might not be the hot commodity they once were due to market prices, it is still important that we stay ahead of this pest and be aware of its potential in our region.

The pea weevil, or rather the larvae, feed inside the developing pea seed, leaving a circular exit hole and causing damage in the center of the pea.  Affected peas are unfit for human consumption, their seed germination rate decreases as well as the seed weight and yield, which in turn diminishes market value through dockage.  Let’s go back a step though to a stage we will typically see the pea weevil when scouting crops.  The pea weevil, similar to other weevils, is a small, gray-brown weevil flecked with light and dark irregular patches.  It can be surveyed in the field using a sweep net.  One weevil in 25 sweeps can result in a 10% infestation at harvest.  The threshold is considered to be two adults per 25 sweeps done in an 180 degree sweep.
Pea weevil damage to field peas.
The adult pea weevil overwinters as an adult and emerges about the time that peas are blooming.  Adults feed on flowers, leaves or pods, congregating on pea flowers at early bloom.  After mating the females will lays one to two eggs on the outside of the pea pod.  Larvae hatch within one to two weeks and burrow into the pod.  However, damage from the pest is most often discovered at the elevator. 

There are currently no pea weevil resistant varieties in the U.S.  From a cultural control standpoint, field sanitation can reduce infestations.  Sanitation measures include destroying crop residues, preventing shattering at harvest, eliminating volunteer plants and planting uninfested seed.  There are several chemical controls out there, including Carbaryl, Imidan, Malathion and Mustang Max.  Please read the individual pesticide labels for exact rates.  In regard to the pesticide label, please be aware of the preharvest interval.  These preharvest intervals can range from three to 21 days depending on the product.

I would encourage you to contact your local county Extension office if you have further questions about pea weevils, especially as we get closer to the growing season.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cold Weather Storage of Pesticides

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

In the throes of winter, we all do our best to winterize and protect our homes, our equipment, and anything else that might suffer from being exposed to the elements.  For producers, this includes making sure that pesticides are stored in a secure location where hopefully they won’t freeze. 

Always read the pesticide product label to determine whether a pesticide can freeze with no adverse effects.  Even if the product seems usable after being frozen, the separation of active ingredients and inert carriers often occurs.  A previously frozen pesticide can plug spray equipment, have poor product performance and damage crops if the proper thawing and mixing procedures aren’t followed.
Before attempting to thaw a pesticide, the container should be checked to make sure it is not ruptured or cracked from the expansion of the frozen liquid.  If the container is cracked, place a waterproof container or bucket under the damaged pesticide product container prior to thawing.  If sound, the container should be brought to room temperature by placing the container in a heated room. The thawing process may take several days.  Once the liquid has thawed, the container should be agitated by rolling or shaking to return the contents to a uniform suspension.  The container should also be inverted several times to ensure the product is completely dissolved.  Pesticide manufacturers caution if a pesticide cannot be totally dissolved (crystals are still present) the pesticide should not be used.

In general, pesticides should be stored in a cool, dry location away from extreme temperatures, ignition sources, animals and children.  Always store pesticides in their original containers and do not reuse pesticide containers. 
Photo courtesy of University of Florida Extension
The MontGuide “Cold Weather Storage & Handling of Pesticides” has some examples of pesticide product storage recommendations.  This MontGuide is available online or at your local county Extension office.  Pesticides that cannot be frozen must be placed in a heated or adequately insulated area to avoid sub-zero temperatures.  Wettable powders and granules, as a rule, are not affected by low temperatures.  These formulations should be stored in a dry place as moisture may promote caking or lead to certain chemical changes, reducing their effectiveness.  Products formulated in water-soluble bags require special winter storage.  These bags have a high affinity for moisture and become brittle when frozen.  If handled when brittle, bags may break open.  It is important they are stored in heated facilities. 
For further questions about pesticides and cold weather storage, I would encourage you to visit with your local county Extension office.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Zap! Static Electricity will Find You!

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

I think it is one my eight-year old son’s greatest delights to come running up to me when I’m home and touch me with his finger to shock me.  With that simple zap of electricity and a maniacal giggle he scampers off and I have to defend myself from subsequent shocks for the next several minutes.  Today, January 9th is National Static Electricity Day.  So, let’s talk briefly about what static electricity is and how we can possibly avoid it. 

Picture courtesy of phys.org
Static electricity is an imbalance of electric charges within or on the surface of a material.  The charge remains until it is able to move away by means of an electric current or electrical discharge.  What makes it is so bad during the winter?  It's not the lack of heat; it's the lack of humidity.  Heat in the home takes moisture out of the air, leaving less water vapor in the air to conduct charges away from us.  As humidity drops, the voltage of static electricity goes up.
So, as a result, one way to avoid static electricity is to increase the humidity in your home.  A humidifier helps but so does boiling water on the stove.  It has been reported that having houseplants can also increase the humidity in a room.

Other solutions to zapping static electricity include changing the type of clothes you wear such as switching to natural fibers, since synthetics pick up more of a static charge.  On a related note, try going without wool as it acts like an insulator, letting your body build up a charge until you ground yourself by touching something.  Cotton is a much safer choice.  Consider changing shoes too.  There are special conductive shoes in a variety of styles.  They are made for people working in the electronics industry.  You will need to find a store or catalogue that sells or can order them for you.  If you don’t want to change shoes, consider walking barefoot.  For your hands, if your skin is very dry try an anti-static hand lotion. 
You can also try carrying coins and use them to touch grounded metal objects as often as possible.  This will not eliminate the static discharge, but will stop the pain you feel in your fingertips. 

As one last warning, be sure to ground yourself before touching sensitive electronic equipment.  I blew up a DVD player this way when we first moved to Chester.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

MSU Cropping Seminar Series Next Week!

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

The MSU Extension Cropping Seminar series is coming up Jan. 8-11 in Fort Benton, Chester, Havre, Shelby, Cut Bank, Choteau, Conrad, Stanford and Great Falls. 

Topics for the whole series will include integrating beef cattle into cover crops, soil fertility, why pesticides may not work as designed and partial budgeting analysis.

Jones will explain why protein levels were not as high as expected for many producers in 2017, as it relates to nutrient management during and after dry or wet years. He will also cover managing nitrate in forages during years with variable precipitation. The presentation will include data on soil acidification, which has become an increasing issue in Chouteau and Cascade counties.

Cecil Tharp, MSU Extension pesticide specialist, will address how producers can most effectively utilize their pesticides. Tharp will cover common problems when applying pesticides, with a focus on the importance of calibrating sprayers, understanding active ingredients, understanding the product label and the impacts of environmental conditions on your spray application.

Kate Fuller, MSU Extension specialist in ag economics and economics, will share “Partial budget analysis: why and how to estimate cost of production.” Producers will explore enterprise budgeting and partial budget analysis during Fuller’s presentation. Available estimates, along with tools to help estimate and benchmark cost of production for both current and potential enterprises, will be shared. Participants can also explore current market conditions and how they will impact producer profitability.

Darrin Boss, MSU Northern Ag Research Center superintendent, will share his results from four years of cover crop grazing research at MSU NARC near Havre. He will present management recommendations and an economic analysis focused on integrating beef cattle into cover crops, specific to the Golden Triangle area.

No pre-registration is required, and all producers are encouraged to attend. All seminars begin with registration at 8:30 a.m., and the day’s seminar should conclude by 3 p.m. The Havre seminar will begin at 4 p.m. and conclude by 8:30 p.m. Commercial and private pesticide licensing recertification credits will be available.

Dates and locations for each cropping seminar are as follows:

Monday, Jan. 8th in Fort Benton at the Ag Center at 1205 20th Street, at the Stanford City Hall, and in Havre at the Northern Ag Research Center, 3710 Assiniboine Road.

Tuesday, Jan. 9th in Shelby at the Comfort Inn Conference Room, at 455 McKinley Ave. and in Chester, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall, located at 10 E. Madison Ave.

Wednesday, Jan. 10th in Cut Bank at the Voting Center, 913 Railroad St., and in Conrad at the Pondera Shooting Sports Complex, 972 Granite Rd.,

Thursday, Jan. 11th in Choteau at the Stage Stop Inn, 1005 Main Ave N., and in Great Falls, Montana ExpoPark’s Paddock Club Gold Buckle Room.