Monday, October 29, 2018

Pumpkin Prattle

Today I wanted to take a look at an industry that isn’t quite what comes to mind when you talk about agriculture. With Halloween coming up, I wanted to talk about the pumpkin industry.
The top six pumpkin producing states are Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California. They produce over half of the pumpkins harvested in the US. Illinois is the leading processed pumpkin producing state. They produce more than the other five states combined. The soil and the climate in Illinois are ideal for growing the best pumpkins.

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Pumpkins range in size from less than one pound to more than 1,000 pounds. Pie pumpkins range in many sizes, however, the 5- to 10-pound pie pumpkins are most often grown.  Pumpkins in the 10- to 25-pound range are primarily used for fall decorations, carved into jack-o-lanterns, but can also be used for processing. Pumpkins above 25 pounds are called giant. Giant pumpkins typically range between 25 to 1,000 pounds in size. The potential size is determined by the variety grown and growing conditions.
Americans seem to be obsessed with pumpkins as soon as the weather turns cold. From pies to lattes, you can’t turn a corner in the grocery store without seeing something orange or pumpkin flavored. This is the time of year when families head to a pumpkin patch or their local store in search of that perfect pumpkin to carve for their doorstep. Pumpkin patches have become a lucrative agritourism business around the US. For the last few years, Shelby has had our own pumpkin patch at the community garden.
America’s passion for pumpkin dates back to Native Americans, who roasted pumpkins over the fire, but also used the vegetable for medicinal purposes, and weaved mats out of its fibers. Pumpkins are also credited with keeping New England settlers alive when they failed at growing wheat and corn. Centuries later, Irish immigrants would start a new pumpkin tradition: carving jack-o-lanterns. In Europe, they used turnips or potatoes to celebrate their version of Halloween, but after arriving in the United States, they discovered it was much easier to carve pumpkins.
These are just a few fun facts about pumpkins you can use when carving pumpkins with your families this week.


Kim Woodring
Toole County Extension

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Minimizing Shrink at Shipping

The trucks are starting to roll, with more and more calves being weaned from their mothers and shipped off to greener pastures.  Some of these calves will head to Kansas and Oklahoma where they will graze winter wheat pastures, while others will head to Nebraska and Iowa where they will graze corn stalks this winter, before being finished.  With shipping on the forefront for many ranchers, today I’ll share a few tips for managing shrink at shipping time.
                “Shrink” is weight loss that occurs when cattle are gathered, transported, processed, or off feed or water.  The greater the weight loss, the lower the pay weight on the cattle.  There are two types of shrink – fill shrink and tissue shrink.  Fill shrink is the loss of rumen fill, manure, and urine that occurs when cattle don’t eat or drink.  This type of shrink is recovered relatively quickly after they begin eating and drinking again.  Tissue shrink, however, is a decrease in the weight of the carcass and body tissues, it’s the loss of extra-cellular and intra-cellular fluid loss, and is associated with long periods without feed and water.  Fill shrink occurs first, and as time goes on, tissue shrink accounts for increasingly more of the weight loss.
                The amount that cattle shrink is affected by the type of feed they are consuming, the gathering and sorting process, if they are weaned or not, the length and conditions of the haul, and any unusual conditions such as weather that may add additional stress.
                Cattle on highly digestible, lush, green grass shrink more than if they are on a less digestible, dried grass or hay.  A Montana study showed that cattle off dry pasture shrank 3.5% after a two-hour haul, compared to cattle that had been on lush, green forage that shrank 5.3%.  If you will be feeding hay prior to shipping, feed a forage type that cattle are used to.  Otherwise, a change in diet (such as from native grass to alfalfa hay) can cause digestive upsets and alfalfa hay also results in greater shrink.
                Cattle that are handled quietly and efficiently shrink less than cattle that go through an extensive gathering, sorting, and hauling process.  Take time now, before shipping day, to make sure your facilities are in good order so that you can quickly and efficiently sort and ship cattle.  If you can take the time to sort steers from heifers, sort out any calves that won’t be going on the truck on shipping day, pick replacement heifers, etc. ahead of time, that will allow the rest of the calves to get to the scale that much faster, with less shrink and a greater payweight.  For every 30 minutes that a group of cattle are moved around in a corral, expect an additional 0.5% weight loss.  So, if you spend extra time on shipping day repairing corrals, sorting out replacement heifers, or even taking 20 minutes for a coffee and a donut, realize that shrink that is increasing with each of those activities.
                Newly weaned calves can shrink as much as 8% if they are forced to stand in the yard for several hours or overnight.  On a 650 pound steer, an 8% shrink is over 50 pounds lost.  Weaning prior to shipping minimizes these losses. 
                The length of haul and conditions of haul greatly impact shrink as well.  Cattle will shrink about 2% more during shipping than if they were drylotted for the same number of hours.  Just loading and hauling cattle a short distance results in a typical 3% shrink.  Making sure to not overload the truck and that there is good footing in the truck helps minimize shrink during transport. 
                May you have a safe and successful fall shipping season!  This has been Kari Lewis with the MSU Extension Minute from Glacier County, have a great week!

Protecting Our Ornamental Plants Around the Yard

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

Whether it be sun, wind, cold or snow, we live in a potentially harsh environment, especially in the winter.  From year to year it can be brutally difficult to keep plants alive.  I lost most of my pie cherry tree this year, and while it isn’t completely dead, I’m afraid I’ll have to do some extensive trimming next spring if it makes it through this winter.  With some of our smaller ornamental plantings though, what can be done to prepare them for winter and whatever the next 5-6 months holds?

The following information comes from Michigan State University Extension, but is still applicable in our climate.  Watering trees and shrubs, especially coniferous ones, before they go totally dormant can help them better tolerate winter conditions, which is something I’ve mentioned previously.  Our winter winds and southerly sun can dry out foliage of these plants and make them turn brown over the winter.
Knowing where our winds come from will help when looking over your yard for how to protect sensitive trees and other ornamentals.  For conifers planted in areas that regularly suffer from winter desiccation injury the best way to prevent this type of damage is to erect some type of barrier in front of susceptible plants to block the winter winds.  Barriers constructed of burlap or wooden or plastic snow fence can be used and should be installed soon to block the prevailing winter winds and reduce winter injury.

Burlap wrapped ornamentals provide added protection
against the winter elements.

In areas around the home where snow loads can accumulate over the winter such as from falling off the roof, from snow blowing or just from prevailing winds that cause the snow to drift in certain spots, the heavy weight of snow and ice can cause significant damage to trees and shrubs, especially if we get a wet snow.  Therefore, some type of protection should be installed right now around or over the top of plants most prone to damage to prevent snow from piling up on top of these plants that can eventually cause twigs and branches to break off from the trunk or worse.
After leaves fall off of deciduous trees and shrubs in the fall, homeowners can often see plant problems that may not have been very noticeable with the foliage on the branches.  A good example is crossing or rubbing branches and other structural defects in the branches of a tree or shrub.  Severe problems can be pruned out now if necessary or perhaps a homeowner can make a mental note to prune that plant before the new leaves emerge in the spring.

Overall, fall is a good chance for homeowners to inspect their landscape plants and begin to plan ahead as to what type of tree and shrub maintenance that may be needed in the next growing season.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Pheasants and 4-H Enrollment

by  Wendy Wedum, Pondera County

4-H members across Pondera and neighboring counties are re-enrolling for the new 4-H year which started on October 1st. The 4-H program is open to youth from 5 to 19 years of age. There are two age groups where children can enroll. The youngest children from 5-7 years can participate in the Cloverbud program. We have two leaders, Becky and Trina who do hands on activities for the Cloverbuds once a month in Conrad and Valier. All Cloverbud activities are non-competitive and these children explore and discover new ideas about the 4-H program while having fun with other children the same age.
Once children are 8 years of age, they can join the regular 4-H program and enroll in over fifty project areas in animal science, engineering, technology, natural science, family and consumer sciences, communications, health and leadership development. We will also be starting the shooting sports program taught by certified 4-H leaders in archery, rifle and pistol after Thanksgiving.  Youth must be at least 9 years old to participate in the shooting sports program.
All these activities wouldn’t happen without the 31 volunteer adults who share their time and talents with the 91 kids who are enrolled.  Pondera County has four 4-H Clubs, two in Valier and two in Conrad. These caring adults help 4-H members with their projects, they do fun club activities, organize service activities to help others and 4-H members grow their life skills to help them be successful adults.  If you want to know more about the 4-H program, call our office at 271-4054.
I also want to share information about a really neat project to raise pheasants that is starting in Pondera County.  Coming up are two parent meetings for the pheasant project. The first meeting will be at 5:15 pm October 17 in the EOC room downstairs in the courthouse. The second meeting is at 7 pm on October 17 at the Valier Civic Center. If you are interested in learning about pheasants and raising them from day-old chicks to adulthood, this project is for you! You don’t have to be currently enrolled in 4-H to attend this meeting, we’d love to see some new faces as well as old! This meeting will be informational to ensure everyone is on the same page about the project before we begin, so if you are unable to make it, please call Adriane at 271-4054 and she will fill you in with the details about the pheasant project!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

4-H - Inspiring Kids to Do!

Kari Lewis
Outside of school, 4-H is the largest youth development program in Montana that reaches nearly 20,000 youth in all of Montana’s 56 counties.  Within the Glacier county 4-H program, 81 4-H members have been learning to, “Make the Best Better,” this past year under the leadership and guidance of caring adults and the MSU Extension office.  The 2017-2018 4-H year included learning opportunities, leadership development, and community service activities. 
                4-Hers contributed to their community in a variety of ways throughout the 4-H year.  As part of their Teen Leadership project, JR Seewald and Coalter Littrell organized a pork raffle to benefit a fellow 4-H member, Clark Diemert, who had been injured in a motorcycle accident.  Their efforts raised over $1,700 for Diemert’s medical expenses!  4-Hers baked 12 dozen homemade rolls for the Community Thanksgiving dinner, while the Cloverbuds created cards for the table decorations.   All three clubs teamed up to host a Soup and Bread luncheon in January which raised over $700 for the Parkview Senior Center to provide meals to homebound senior citizens.  4-Hers also supported the Glacier Care Center through doing Christmas shopping for residents, ‘adopting’ residents and visiting them monthly, and planting flowers outside the Center. 
Glacier county members took advantage of numerous travel opportunities available through 4-H.  Myla Cundall attended the National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, Georgia, as a result of her winning the state Fashion Revue contest.  Grace Rooney, Sienna Cundall, and Coley Cundall were participants at the Montana 4-H Rec Lab in Thompson Falls where they developed leadership skills and networked with over 100 4-Hers from across Montana.  In April, Brandeon Molenda, Jed Winkowitsch, Ken Winkowitsch, Katelyn Suta, and Addisyn Bengtson attended the first GROW (Goals, Recreation, Opportunities, and Will) event that was targeted at middle school 4-H members.  Sienna and Coley Cundall also attended Montana 4-H Congress on the Montana State University campus where they competed In the Fashion Revue contest.
                Throughout the year, members took advantage of numerous learning opportunities available.  Thanks to project leaders, volunteers, and teen leaders, members had opportunities to hone their skills in livestock, sewing, poultry, cake decorating, and small animal showmanship.   The Horse and Livestock camp held in June at the Marias Fairgrounds taught members livestock showmanship, livestock judging, and horse skills.  The shooting sports program grew this past year with Shotgun being added as a discipline available to Glacier county 4-Hers, in addition to the established archery and air rifle programs.  
                Members honed their leadership and communications skills through club involvement and leadership trainings.  Teen leaders, Sienna Cundall, JR Seewald, Coalter Littrell, and Canon Bradley served as camp counselors at the Multi-County 4-H camp in the Bear Paw mountains this summer.  Fourteen members competed in the county communications contest where they presented a demonstration, illustrated talk, or impromptu speech before a panel of judges for evaluation.  Prior to the fair, members practiced mock interviews and then at the Marias Fair each member competing completed an individual project interview with a subject matter expert in their project.  Nearly twenty members competed in the Roundtable awards interviews where they interviewed with fellow members before a judge, explaining their goals, project work, and learning experiences. 
                Glacier county 4-Hers excelled throughout the year.  As a club, the Curry Comb 4-Hers took second place in the Parade of Lights with their float.  Wyatt Berkram was awarded a NILE Merit Heifer and joins the ranks of fellow 4-H members, JR Seewald, Mat Tuma, and Coalter Littrell, as receiving heifers from this prestigious program to jumpstart their herd.  Camille Bradley entered a picture of her fair painting in the national 4-H Youth Artwork contest and was a selected artist who will have her picture featured on a calendar or other 4-H promotional items!
Don and Carolyn Popelka, local 4-H archery leaders, were selected as a 2018 recipient for the Tribute to Volunteer Excellence Award as the District 2 Volunteer of the Year.  The Montana 4-H Foundation recognized their efforts for creating a standard of excellence that helps motivate and encourage others and awarded them with a cash award of $100 for the 4-H event or activity of their choice.   
  The 4-H program in Glacier county continues to grow, thanks to the efforts of leaders and parents willing to contribute.  In the past five years, enrollment has grown from 41 4-H members to 81 members this past year.  Jodi Duncan leads the Cloverbud program which is a non-competitive, educational program for youth ages 5 to 8 that meets monthly during the school year.  Youth ages 8 to 19 may join a regular 4-H club and choose individual projects which can range from cooking, sewing, leathercraft, livestock, shooting sports, welding, cake decorating, quilting, and everything in between.  The Clever Clovers, Curry Comb, and Longview 4-H clubs are led locally by leaders Hapi Seewald, Jo Dean Rooney, and Raylee Johnson Suta, respectively.  In addition, 20 plus leaders help provide project learning activities throughout the year. 
If you are willing to share your time and talents with 4-H youth or are interested in learning more about 4-H, please contact the MSU Extension-Glacier county office at 406-873-2239 or, visit the website at, or stop by the office at 1210 E. Main, Cut Bank, MT. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Happy New 4-H Year!!

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

In 4-H, we celebrate the new year on October 1st, as in the start of the new 4-H year.  This week, I wanted to provide everyone with a few tidbits of information about 4-H.  Some of the following information comes from a Tufts University study on positive youth development. 

According to Tufts University, 4-H’ers are nearly 4 times more likely to make contributions to their communities.  Community service is a large portion of what 4-H promotes.  On a local level, one particular Liberty County youth put in well over 200 hours of community service over the past year.  That was on top of carrying a full academic load, sports schedule and family life.  Related to service, 4-H’ers are also about 2 times more likely to be civically active.
4-H youth are nearly 2 times more likely to participate in Science, Engineering and Computer Technology programs during out-of-school time with 4-H girls being 2-3 times more likely compared to girls in other out-of-school time activities. 

Here in Montana, over 19,000 youth take part in 4-H.  Accompanying those 19,000 youth are nearly 4,000 volunteers that step forward and contribute of their time and talents to help lead project meetings, club meetings, and run local 4-H councils among other things.  Our local fairs would also cease to exist as they are run with the support and efforts by our 4-H volunteer leaders. 
4-H youth have the opportunity to take part in 200 different projects.  Traditional 4-H projects such as beef, swine, cooking and sewing are popular among youth, as well as more recent additions such as shooting sports in all its varieties and robots, among others.
The 4-H year runs from October 1st to September 30th of each year and next week, Oct. 7-13th is National 4-H Week, when you’ll see displays around your town, 4-Hers wearing 4-H t-shirts to school and other promotional activities.

For further information about 4-H or how to join 4-H, I would encourage you to contact your local county Extension office.