Friday, August 31, 2018

Grain Storage

Adriane Good, MSU Extension Pondera County

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, harvest is rolling right along which means you may be thinking about storing your grain, at least for a short while. Now I’m sure many of you are already experts when it comes to storing your grain, but here’s a few tips for you to consider while you’re driving around in circles in your fields.

The first is to do an economic analysis of the cost and benefits of storing your grain long term. Researchers in Australia have found that producers that do a good job of storing their grain on farm long-term are being rewarded for it. Buyers who have access to insect-free quality grain that’s been stored on-farm are paying premiums for this grain throughout the year. While it can be tough to compare agriculture down under to agriculture in Montana, thinking about the costs and benefits to storing grain on your farm long-term is an important step in making grain storage decisions.

It’s also important to consider the pros and cons of different grain storage methods. Poly bags are a good option for storage if the grain is stored at the recommended moisture levels. However, they don’t do well at keeping insects out of your grain. They’re also not a great barrier from wildlife; wildlife can puncture the bags and allow moisture into your grain causing spoilage. Grain piles can be a very effective short-term solution; however, precipitation is not your friend if this is a strategy you are using. A 1-inch rain can increase the moisture content of 1 foot of grain by 9 percent. A cone-shaped pile that is about 25 feet high contains 59,000 bushels of grain. Losing just 1 foot of grain on the surface is a loss of about 13 percent of the grain, or $58,500 if the grain value is $6 per bushel. Luckily, 1-inch rains don’t seem to be very common around here, but it's still something to keep in mind when making your storage decisions.

Two of the most obvious things you can do is prepare your bins well and store quality grain. When preparing your bins, make sure they are nice and clean and there are no insects present. It also helps to check any under floor areas, as those are great places for bugs to hide in wait of your tasty grain. If you’re planning on storing your grain long-term, make sure it’s a good quality, at the right maturity, and dry enough for long term storage. The drier a grain is, the longer it will be able to store. Below is a chart to help you determine how long you can store your grain.
Courtesy NDSU Extension

Grain needs to breathe while it’s stored so that it doesn’t spoil. Making sure your bins are well aerated will make this happen. Properly distributing fines throughout the bin by using a grain spreader or repetitive coring will help increase aeration.

It’s also important to keep an eye on your stored grain throughout the year to make sure it is still happy. Check your bins about once a month from the top and the side to look for any evidence of spoilage or insects. A sour smell, grain clumped together, condensation present on the inside surface of the bin roof, webbing on the grain surface, or the presence of insect larvae, adult beetles or moths are all indicators of some sort of problem.

Hope those tips provided you something to mull over for a little while. If you have any follow-up comments or questions on this topic, feel free to shoot me an email or call me at the office to discuss.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Improving calf vaccination response

Kari Lewis, MSU Extension - Glacier County

For many producers, it’s nearly time for the second round of shots for calves prior to their fall weaning or shipping date.   When vaccinating, we want to make sure we can do everything possible to obtain a good response from the vaccine both for the calf’s future health and to ensure that our money spent on vaccine is effective. 
By gathering and working cattle efficiently and in a low-stress
manner, vaccine response is improved.  Photo by Kari Lewis.
The animal’s immune response to receiving a vaccination can be impacted by a multitude of factors.  Typically, human error, host response, and factors related to the vaccine are the most common causes of vaccine failure. 
If cattle have not been stressed, human error is most likely to be the cause of vaccine failure.  To minimize human error, always read and follow product label instructions to ensure the correct dosage and how to administer the product.  Be sure to never mix two products together in the same syringe and be careful to keep disinfectants out of the syringe barrel.  Residues of disinfectants left in the syringe barrel can break down modified live vaccines.  Vaccine barrels should be cleaned with water that has been heated to 180 degrees or higher. 
The animal’s ability to respond to a vaccine is affected by their plane of nutrition (including their mineral program), clinical infections, exposure to stress, a contaminated environment, etc.  Cattle that are handled in a low-stress manner respond better to vaccinations.   For example, by vaccinating calves two to four weeks prior to weaning, they are under much less stress as they are still on the cow, and therefore respond better to the vaccination compared to if they received the vaccination while being they were being weaned and under much more stress.  By working cattle in a calm and efficient manner, we can minimize an animal’s stress and therefore improve their potential response to the vaccine.
Vaccine should be kept in a cool place, out of direct sunlight. 
Photo by Michael Thomas, from
Third, improper vaccine storage can also lead to vaccination failure.  Vaccine should be stored at 40 to 50 degrees F and out of the direct sunlight or freezing temperatures.  Vaccine should be kept in an insulated cooler until it’s ready to be used.  By poking holes in a Styrofoam cooler, there can easily be a way to store vaccines in a cool, dark location while working calves.  Modified live vaccines must be used within an hour after the bottle has been opened, so make sure everything is in place before mixing vaccine. 
Also, remember to never re-enter a clean vaccine bottle with a dirty needle.  Any bent, dull, damaged, or contaminated needles need to be changed immediately, and needles should be changed every 10 to 15 head.  Each syringe should be labeled, and vaccines administered with the proper sized needle.  There should never be more than 10 cc administered per injection site, and multiple injections should be spaced at least 2 to 4 inches apart on the animal.  All injections should be given in front of the shoulder in the neck.
Lastly, always consult your veterinarian for formulating a complete herd health protocol, and have a great fall cattle working season!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Giving the Cold Shoulder to Indoor Pests

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

The mornings and evenings have been a bit brisker lately and with that briskness I’ve seen a few more insects and spiders trying to make their way into our home.  This is a common thing as they are trying to escape the cold and survive.  One of the spiders you might find in your home, at least with more prevalence right now, is the hobo spider, otherwise known as the aggressive house spider.
Photo courtesy of Utah State University
Spiders, while not my favorite thing (and I’m a bug guy!) often cause unnecessary concern among people.  There are a few things to keep in mind if you do find a spider inside.  First, spider bites are rare.  Generally, their fangs are small and lack the musculature to pierce the human skin.  They typically only bite if threatened or if trapped in clothing, shoes, etc.

There is also no conclusive evidence that hobo spider venom causes necrosis in humans; and a large body of scientific research that proves it does not.  The most common cause for necrotic lesions (wounds not healing) in the West is a bacterial infection called MRSA.  MRSA and other bacteria can enter the body through punctures which could include a spider bite, as well as many other more likely wounds.  If a wound from any bite or scratch becomes inflamed, or if soreness persists, medical care should be sought as secondary infection that enters the body through the wound may need to be treated.
As far as keeping spiders and insects out of your home at this time of year, there are a few things you can do.  First, check your screens and doors for tight fitting seals and no holes.  If there is a hole in your window or door screens they will find it.  Also, keep shrubs, trees branches, wood piles and other outside debris away from your home.  These are havens and homes for insects and spiders so as you clean up around the yard you also diminish future infestations of insects and spiders coming inside. 

If you want to prevent having to prepare eviction notices to all these little creepy-crawlies when they enter your home you can also spray for them around the perimeter of your home.  There are several sprays out there at most hardware or home and garden stores that should do the trick for you. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Marias Fair Carcass Contest - What Happens After the Fair?

Kari Lewis

One component of the Marias Fair that isn’t always quite as visible is the carcass contest, which follows the fair.  Following the fair and the processing of the fair animals, carcass data is recorded by a judge, and the animals are then ranked for their carcass merit with awards being given for the best carcasses as well.  While contests vary a little bit depending on the species, the carcass is weighed, the size of the ribeye or loin eye and fat thickness is measured, and characteristics that determine the carcass’s quality are graded. 
As extension educators, we strive to teach the youth about raising a quality product throughout their project.  4-H members receive Livestock Quality Assurance training where they learn about proper animal health and vaccination protocols along with how to provide a safe and healthy environment for their animal.  Throughout the year, we strive to educate members on how an animal’s genetics, nutrition, and the care they receive impact the final product that they produce.  The carcass data is an opportunity for members to evaluate the final quality of the product that they produced for the buyer. 

In the lamb carcass contest, the top four lambs were raised Danny Habets, Carly Behr, Dylan Clark, and Cole Waldusky.  Danny Habet’s lamb, who was also the Reserve Champion in the live contest, also earned Certified Lamb status and will be enjoyed by its buyer, 3 Rivers.  Danny’s lamb had a 3.6 in.2 ribeye, graded Choice-, and had 0.2 inches of backfat. 

In the goat contest, the top three were Logan Waldusky, Alyson Leach, and Landan Omdahl.  Logan’s champion carcass, purchased by Turner Angus, had a 2.4 in.2 ribeye area, 0.6 inches backfat with the heaviest carcass weight and highest cutability as well.

In the swine contest, the top four were Sadie Vermulm, Elyse Bengtson, Karra Lohr, and Payton Vermulm.  There were 16 members who had pigs that earned Swine of Excellence distinction for their carcass merit from the Marias Fair, which is quite impressive!  The Champion carcass, exhibited by Sadie Vermulm and purchased by Marias Ridge Ranch, had an 8.6 in.2 loin eye, just 0.5 inches of backfat, and scored well for marbling, color, firmness, and wetness.

In the beef contest, the top four were from Jordyn Fields, Ruger Winkowitsch, Coley Cundall, and Grady Kerfoot.  Jordyn Fields’s steer also earned Steer of Merit status, which is a special distinction from the Montana Stockgrowers Association.  The Champion carcass, exhibited by Jordyn Fields and purchased by Naturener, had a 14.6 in.2 ribeye, had a Choice- quality grade, and a 1.7 yield grade with just 0.25 inches of backfat. 
The Reserve Champion beef carcass, exhibited by Ruger
Winkowitsch.  Of the 2018 Marias Fair steers, 98% graded Choice-
or better, compared to the national average of 79%

It was interesting to see that out of the 56 steers in the Marias Fair carcass contest, 98% had a quality grade of Choice- or better, which is pretty amazing!  The national average in that same time frame was right around 79% Choice- or better, so our Marias Fair steers did very well compared to the national average in terms of their quality grade. 

As always, thanks to all those who support our 4-H youth!  Carcass data is available at  

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Master Gardener Level 3

Master Gardener Level 3 

Last weekend, Toole County had two Master Gardeners attend the Master Gardener Level 3 training in Bozeman. Lisa Hurley and Sue Smith were the attendees from Shelby. Sue and Lisa had taken the Level 1 Master Gardener course before I was hired as an agent, but I was lucky enough to have them both in Level 2 this past year! Sue and Lisa both show a great passion for gardening. Sue is the Treasurer of the Shelby Community Garden and she helped in getting the Community Garden started in Shelby. Lisa is such a dedicated Master Gardener that she took Level 2 a second time for a refresher and she has been watering the flowers down Shelby’s Main Street this summer for her volunteer hours.
Lisa Hurley - Master Gardener Level 3

The Level 3 Training in Bozeman is a three day hands-on intensive training. The attendees get a crash course in Plant Diagnosis, Insect Identification, Disease Identification, and Sustainable Food Production.  Friday morning, the Master Gardeners were led around campus by Toby Day, former Master Gardener Coordinator and movie star of the Master Gardener videos. He gave them an interactive, hands-on tour of the different diseases and species of trees on campus. The Master Gardeners then toured the MSU Horticulture Farm where they were given a catered dinner and opportunity to ask questions. Sue explained, “The Hort farm is big and they have many projects going on.  They have a fruit orchard, including experimental pears, apples, plums, flowers, lots of veggies and of course weeds!”  Saturday, the gardeners attended the Farmers Market at the fairgrounds and were bussed to Livingston to see the Livingston Food Resource Center. Lisa shared, “The Livingston Food Resource Center is a wonderful example of how a food bank can be operated if funding is available.”

Sue Smith Master Gardener Level 3

It wasn’t just fun and games in Bozeman for three days though, these ladies had to do their homework! They were each given an insect or a plant and had to give a short three minute presentation. Lisa presented on Western Salsify and Sue had Hoary Cress. Now, these ladies have to gain 40 more hours of volunteer community service to be certified Level 3 Master Gardeners.  Sue wanted to share that it was a very interesting trip and, “I would strongly encourage everyone to check out and sign up for the next Mater Gardener class as soon as you can.”

If you are interested in the Master Gardener program, I recommend visiting with your local Extension Agent or going online to to see if this program is offered in your area. Toole County will be starting Level 1 again in the winter.

Toole County Extension

Preserving the Fruits of Your Labors

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

We are in the season now where you may lock your car doors for fear of uninvited zucchini popping up.  Or, you may be preserving some of your labors from the garden.  Either way, let’s talk about food preservation today.  Much of this information comes from MSU Extension MontGuides on food preservation. 

Safely canning foods at home requires using processing methods that not only preserve the food but also destroy bacteria and molds that cause foodborne illness, such as botulism.  Botulism, caused by a toxin of the bacteria Clostridium Botulinum, can be fatal.  This bacteria can grow and reproduce in improperly processed home-canned foods.  Protect yourself and others when sharing home-canned foods by learning safe preservation techniques.  The safest recipes and resources are those that have been researched and rigorously tested by the United States Department of Agriculture and Extension Services associated with land-grant universities.  Many home-preserved recipes are not tested for safety, so it is critical to use research-based resources. 
Liberty County residents work together raw-packing peaches during an
MSU Extension workshop.
There are a couple of questions you should ask yourself before beginning any home food preservation.  First, what is your altitude?  In order to decrease the risk of food-related illness and death, determine the correct home-canning processing times and pressures for your altitude.  While water boils at 212°F at sea level, it boils at a much lower temperature at higher altitudes.  Consequently, at higher altitudes home-canned foods must be processed for longer times or at higher pressures. 

Secondly, is the food you are planning on preserving a low-acid or high-acid food?  Most high acid foods, such as fruits and properly acidified tomato products, such as salsa, can be processed using either a boiling water canner or a pressure canner.  Other foods, such as many of your vegetables, as well as meats will need to be preserved using a pressure canner. 
One quick note on salsas, in recent years, the recommendations for safely canning salsas have changed.  As tomatoes grown today may have less acidity, they need to be acidified before canning by adding 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or ½ teaspoon of citric acid per quart.   When canning salsa, only use recipes based on USDA recommendations. These salsa recipes have been tested to determine a safe level of acidity.

Friday, August 17, 2018

National Potato Day- August 19

Adriane Good, MSU Extension - Pondera County

I recently learned that August 19 is National Potato Day. I’m sure there are a lot of ways you could celebrate this very important holiday, and if you have a national potato day tradition, I’d love to hear about it. I’m going to celebrate by sharing a few potato growing and harvesting tips with you.

Much like most plants, potatoes don’t like acidic soils. They prefer soils with a pH of 5.3-6. Anything higher or lower than that will inhibit some potato growth. If your potatoes aren’t growing well this year, soil pH or soil fertility could be part of the problem. Luckily, I have a soil probe here in the office, and I’d be more than happy to test your soil for you and see what amendments might be needed.

Potatoes have also been known to have their fair share of pests. Both early and late potato blight can be detrimental to your garden potatoes, but the late blight can be far more dangerous. Late blight can form spores that spread and can affect potatoes miles away. If you need a reminder about how terrible late blight can be, it is the pest that caused the Irish potato famine in 1845. Luckily, we have significantly more options to control blight in our potatoes now than they did in Ireland back then. Stop by the office or give me a call if you have concerns about blight in your potatoes. Of course, blight isn’t the only issue we have to worry about with our potatoes. Potato beetles, aphids, and all sorts of weeds can also wreak havoc with your spud crop, luckily there are lots of pesticides available to help control all of these. Not to mention, good old-fashioned cultivation between rows and hand pulling weeds always help.

We’re still a few weeks away from potato harvest time, they tend to be one of the last plants harvested. Once the temperatures have started to drop and you’re ready to harvest your potatoes, make sure you pull the tops off at least a week before harvest if they haven’t already died. When digging your potatoes up, use a tool that can lift them out of the soil carefully without damaging them. Handle your potatoes very carefully, as they will bruise. Make sure you store your potatoes somewhere dark, cool, and moist to avoid greening or rotting. Make sure only the healthy, intact potatoes are stored. Any potatoes that are damaged or diseased can spread their problems to the healthy potatoes.

Hopefully your potato harvest is bountiful this year and your National Potato Day celebrations go exactly as you planned! If you have any more questions about growing potatoes, or gardening in general, I’m more than happy to answer them if you stop in or call the office!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Native Berry Jelly

This weekend I was over on the other side of the mountains and noticed the huckleberry stands were lining the highway. When I got back to the office this morning I received a call from a client wondering how to make chokecherry jam. That got me thinking that this would be a great subject for today’s extension minute.

Our area is fortunate to have several native berry’s available that can be easily made into  jelly’s and preserved to be enjoyed in the long winter months.

The first step to making jelly from native fruit is to extract the juice. For chokecherries, cover the fruit with water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and stir constantly for 15 minutes.
Strain contents through jelly bag or cheesecloth. The jelly will be clearer if you don’t squeeze the bag but that only affects appearance of jelly.  You will yield about 1 cup of juice for every pound of chokecherries.

The next step is to turn the juice into jelly. Making jams and jellies successfully depends on having the right proportion of the main ingredients: fruit, acid, sugar and pectin, the gelling agent. Locate a recipe to follow and make sure to measure accurately to ensure success

Pectin is found naturally in fruits and is the ingredient, when combined with sugar that causes the fruit to gel.  You can choose to not use commercial pectin if you include one quarter unripen fruit in your fruit mix. Since that it isn’t always convenient to control the ratio of your ripe and unripe fruit you can test your berries for pectin.

Pectin in fruit decreases as the fruit ripens. To test for pectin, you can use one of two methods:
Method one is to place 1 tablespoon of cooked, cooled fruit juice in a dish and add 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol in a closed container and shake. Do not taste this mixture as it’s poisonous! Fruit high in pectin will form a solid jelly-like mass that can be picked up with a fork. If the juice fails to gel or clumps into several small particles, there isn’t enough pectin for gel without commercial pectin. The second method is the cook test.  Measure 1/3 cup of juice and ¼ cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring constantly until all the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil until it passes the sheeting test which I will discuss in just a minute. Pour the jelly into a clean small bowl and let cool. If the cooled mixture is jelly-like, your fruit juice will gel.

After you have extracted your juice and determine if you need to use commercial pectin or not find an appropriate recipe for your jelly and follow directions.  The order in which the ingredients are combined depends on the form of pectin. Powdered pectin is mixed with unheated fruit juice. Liquid pectin is added to a boiling juice and sugar mixture.

There are three methods to test to see if the jelly is ready. There is the temperature test. Use a candy thermometer and the jelly is ready when the temperature of 214 degrees for our altitude in Toole County. You can also use the spoon method to test the jelly for doneness. Dip a cool metal spoon into the boiling jelly mixture and lift the spoon out of the steam so the syrup runs off the side. When the mixture first starts to boil the drops will be light and syrupy as the syrup continues to boil, the drops will become heavier and will drop off the spoon two at a time. When the two drops form together and sheet off the spoon the jellying point has been reached. The last method is the Freezer test. Pour a small amount of jelly on a plate and place in the freezer for a few minutes If the mixture gels it should be done.

Pour jelly into hot jars leaving ¼ inch head space. Wipe jar rims, apply the jar lids and rims and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.  A reminder that paraffin was is no longer recommended to seal jars because of food safety concerns.

If you would like recipes for native berry jelly or more information on hot water canning method visit the Master Gardener Booth at the Shelby Farmers market this Thursday. You may also contact your local extension office for recipes and resources.

Alice Burchak
Toole County Extension FCS Agent

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Harvest time fire safety reminders

Kari Lewis, MSU Extension - Glacier County

This week’s weather forecast is very concerning as related to our potential fire danger.  With harvest starting, I wanted to review a few points related to fire safety and using a fire extinguisher. 

For those out in the fields, make sure to conduct a thorough inspection of equipment prior to starting, and grease and oil as needed.  The owner’s manual should be consulted for instructions on proper inspections and cleaning.  Chaff and debris should be cleaned from the equipment regularly, and even more so in windy or especially dry field conditions. 

As vehicles enter the field, watch closely for potential fires and certainly keep vehicles on roads and trails as much as possible.  Make sure to have an easily accessible bulk water tank available at the field, and shovels on the vehicles as well.  There should be fire extinguisher available and everyone should be trained as to how to use them. 
As harvest begins, make sure to give farmers a little extra space
on the roads.  Photo by Kari Lewis.

In terms of carrying a fire extinguisher, it is recommended that there be two ABC-type extinguishers – one in the cab and one at ground level, on combines, and for tractors and other vehicles to have at least one ABC-type extinguisher available. 

The fire extinguishers should be ready and fully charged for use, and all operators should know how to use them.  It’s worth the time to review how to use a fire extinguisher and your other fire safety protocols with any seasonal haying or harvest help you may have, especially any youth workers as well.  The PASS acronym is suggested for using any portable fire extinguisher.  PASS stands for:

P – Pull the pin in the fire extinguisher handle, which allows you to squeeze the handle and release the extinguishing agent.
A – Aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire. If the spray is not directed at the base, then the chance of extinguishing the fire is lost.
S – Squeeze the handle firmly to start the flow of extinguishing agent. Starting and stopping extinguishing agent flow is controlled by squeezing the handle.
S – Sweep the fire extinguisher back and forth – not too fast or too slowly because it does make a difference in how effective you’ll be in extinguishing the fire.

Again, PASS is P-Pull the Pin, A-Aim at the base, S – Squeeze the handle firmly, and S-Sweep extinguisher back and forth.

Portable fire extinguishers only last a few minutes so the time to control the fire is limited. Always
remember that no equipment is worth sacrificing your life over, and to call for professional help as soon as possible if needed. 

Lastly, for those of us who aren’t out harvesting, remember to give those farmers and truck drivers a little extra room on the corners and space on the roads during this harvest season.  They will be putting in lots of long hours, and courteous drivers who are willing to give them a little extra space will be much appreciated. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Glyphosate-Resistant Russian Thistle

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

As of March of this year glyphosate-resistant Russian thistle has been identified in Chouteau County with more counties likely to be added, according to a new publication from MSU Extension on Russian thistle.  Glyphosate-resistant Russian thistle has resulted from the repeated use of a single mode of action herbicide, i.e. glyphosate, which is in Group 9, for weed control for decades.  Group 2-resistant Russian thistle was first identified in Montana wheat fields in 1987.  Since then resistance to this group of herbicides has continued to increase.

Photo by Peggy Lamb, NARC, Havre, MT.
To combat glyphosate-resistant Russian thistle, it is critical that a multi-faceted approach be utilized.  Prevent seed production, destroying any plants that survive herbicide application prior to flowering using alternative herbicides, handpulling, or tillage.  Consider diversifying your crop rotation and integrating pulse crops into wheat rotations to add diversity to weed control options.  Also, consider increasing crop competitiveness by decreasing row spacing, increasing seeding rate, and adjusting planting dates.  You could use green manure and incorporate legume green manure into the rotation instead of fallow to reduce the number of burndown applications needed.  Manage field borders as allowing resistance-prone weeds to produce seed in field borders may make resistance problems worse.  If you know of weed problems, clean planting, tilling, and harvesting equipment to reduce the spread of resistant weed seeds into uninfested fields.  Lastly, limit bare fields to reduce the spread of Russian thistle if it has gone to seed.

When applying herbicides, do so at the labelled rates as repeated exposure to low doses of herbicide allows weeds to develop resistance.  Scout fields regularly as scouting prior to and after spraying can help you find and destroy any surviving weeds immediately.   As you diversify herbicides and rotate herbicide modes of action or groups and use tank mixes with multiple modes of action you can hopefully avoid developing resistance.  Last, use recommended rates of adjuvants, water conditioners/pH buffers to enhance herbicide efficacy. 
When using herbicides use best herbicide application techniques by reading and following the pesticide product label as improperly calibrated sprayers, incorrect nozzles, low (< 10 GPA) spray volumes, poor water quality, dusty and hot/dry weather conditions decrease herbicide effectiveness and can perpetuate resistance.  Target Russian thistle in the early spring for effective control.  Plants should be sprayed as early as 3-4 inches of growth.  Use fall-applied soil-residual for extended residual activity into the following season and reducing selection pressure from glyphosate burndown.  When applied in the fall, these herbicide programs also minimize the risk of injury to dry pea under unfavorable conditions in the spring.

Five Harvest Safety Tips

Many people in the area are gearing up to begin harvesting or have already started harvesting, I wanted to share a few safety tips to prevent farm accidents. Safety is something that often goes overlooked during stressful times like harvest.  
Suta Farm Harvest - by Kim Woodring

1. Always provide training to your workers. It is always good to re familiarize yourself with the machines during the new season. Lack of training is dangerous, not only for the inexperienced person, you have greater risk of injuring yourself but the people you are working with as well.

2.  Get plenty of rest and take frequent breaks. Drink plenty of fluids and have healthy snacks on hand to keep your energy levels up. Accidents are more likely to happen once fatigue sets in. It is important to get a good night’s sleep before heading back to harvesting in the morning.

3. Tell family and employees where you’ll be working and when. Plan to communicate at set times of the day to ensure everyone is safe. Develop an emergency plan so everyone can be on the same page if there is an accident, they can respond right away. You might want to consider an accident emergency plan and a fire emergency plan and keep a water truck near. Cell phone service is limited in some areas in the Golden Triangle. My family uses a radio system, walkie talkies may be good option too!

4. If you have young children, know where they area at all times. Teach your children to avoid climbing on the equipment while it’s in the field. Designate a safe play area for them, making sure they are not hiding underneath the combine. Before you exit the machinery, make sure it is turned off and in park with the parking break engaged.

5. Watch out for moving parts. It may take just a second to remove some debris from an auger or the header but it could also put you at risk for losing your arm or leg! Make sure to keep your hands and feet to yourself in those situations. Avoid wearing loose clothing around these moving parts, as well

These are just a few safety tips for you to keep in mind when you are harvesting this year. One conversation about harvest safety could save your operation from a tragic accident that could be prevented. I hope you all have a smooth, accident free harvest this year!

Kim Woodring
Toole County Extension - Ag Agent

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Considerations before haying hailed-out fields

Kari Lewis

Typically, every year somewhere in the Golden Triangle there are grain fields that receive hail damage and questions arise related to haying those hailed out fields.  Here are a few considerations related to haying a grain field that received hail damage.
·         Stage of the grain – For best hay quality, haying should occur between the heading and soft dough stages.  For wheat hay cut early, before the head emerged, protein content may be 11 to 12%.  However, if it’s headed out, crude protein may be 10% or less.  If the grain has headed out and there are beards, that can also present concerns when feeding the hay to livestock as the beards can cause irritation of the gums.  A producer who has a processor and can chop up bearded grain hay is likely in a better position to manage feeding it.

·         Nitrates – When plants are stressed due to hail, drought, etc., they tend to accumulate nitrates.  Grains, such as oats, barley, and wheat are crops that we tend to be ones we are especially concerned with.  A crop that was originally intended for grain production may have received a greater amount of nitrogen fertilizer than a typical hay crop would, so nitrate tends to be greater already due to that.  Always make sure to bring 15 – 20 stalks randomly collected from the field in for a nitrate test at your local Extension Office before beginning to cut grain hay.  Grain hay should always be cut in the afternoon to lower nitrate risk as well.
·         Pricing - In terms of how to price hailed out forage as hay, I strongly recommend once the hay is baled to use a hay probe and sample at least 10% of the bales to get a nice, random hay sample for nutritive testing.  Once a lab completes a forage nutritive analysis and crude protein, energy, and nitrate values are known, the hay can be priced based off of its quality.  There is typically not a lot of data available on the price of hailed out grain hay, but by knowing its quality it can be priced similar to what hay of similar quality would be.  If the grain hay has protein and energy value to CRP hay or straw, that provides a good starting point for a price.    
Before grain hay (or hailed out grain) is cut for hay, a nitrate test should always be
done first.  Different varieties, planting dates, maturity levels, hail, drought, nitrogen
fertilizer applied, etc. can all impact if nitrate has accumulated in the plant.  Photo by Kari Lewis.