Thursday, June 30, 2011

St. Louis Urban Farm Tour

On Wednesday July 13 Lincoln University wil host a St Louis Urban Farm Tour. This year we will be visiting six urban farms. Learn about beekeeping, intensive planting techniques, plant propagation, composting, tilapia farming and more all from the comfort of a tour bus.

The tour includes a visit to:

• The International Institute Global Farm
• New Roots Urban Farm
• Bee Sweet Orchard
• St Louis Catholic Academy
• Yours, Inc.
• Earth Dance Farm

Our day will begin at: Schlafly Bottleworks, 7260 Southwest Ave, Maplewood, MO 63143

Please arrive by 8:15 a.m.  The bus will depart at 8:30 a.m.

Lunch will be served at the St. Louis Catholic Academy. Cost is only $10.00 for the day, including lunch.

Seating is limited so registration is required. Please contact Miranda Duschack to register by calling (314) 406-4744 or email

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Value Added Producer Grants

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced that applications are being accepted for grants to provide economic assistance to independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives and agricultural producer groups through the Value-Added Producer Grant Program.

"By creating value-added products, farmers and ranchers can expand economic opportunities, create jobs and keep wealth in rural communities," Merrigan said. "These funding opportunities will promote business expansion and entrepreneurship by helping local businesses get access to capital, technical assistance and new markets for their products and services."

For example, in Caroline County, Md., Richard and Wenfei Uva owners of Seaberry Farm received a Value-Added Producer Grant to expand their processing capacity to produce beach plum jams and jellies, juice, and puree for retail and wholesale markets. The Beach plum, Prunus maritime, is a native fruiting shrub that grows in coastal sand dunes from southern Maine to Maryland. Seaberry Farm planted three acres of Beach plum in 2006 and will double the acreage in 2011.

Located in Oxnard, Calif., San Miguel Produce is owned by Roy Nishimori and Jan Berk, independent producers of organic and conventional cooking greens. In 2009, they received a Value-Added Producer Grant for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. With this grant, San Miguel Produce has been able to expand markets for their "Cut 'n Clean Green" products and increase revenues.

Application deadline is August 29, 2011. For further details about eligibility rules and application procedures, see the June 28, 2011, Federal Register. Value-Added Producer Grants may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and agricultural producer groups. Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage. To see a video featuring Deputy Secretary Merrigan discussing the VAPG program click here.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $150 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

Click here for additional information about the agency's programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Freshwater Prawn Production in Missouri

Freshwater prawns

Freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) are a tropical species of shrimp native to Malaysia. They have been produced in the southern United States since the 1970s. New cultural techniques and management practices for use in temperate climates have dramatically increased the potential for producing prawns commercially in the central United States.

Recent research has been conducted at the Lincoln University George Washington Carver Farm and at the MU Bradford Research and Extension Center to demonstrate that freshwater prawns can successfully and profitably be produced in mid-Missouri. A new MU Extension guide sheet, Freshwater Prawn Production in Missouri, provides research-based information on culture and management techniques that have been successful in producing freshwater prawns and making sound decisions before investing in a prawn production enterprise.

The three defined phases for culturing freshwater prawns are hatchery, nursery and pond grow-out. Producers in Missouri contemplating a freshwater shrimp production enterprise should initially forego the hatchery and nursery phase and purchase juveniles from a reliable supplier to stock ponds for grow-out.

Production of freshwater prawns involves stocking juveniles into ponds, followed by a four- to five-month period of grow-out, until they are ready for harvest. The exact grow-out time depends on the range of water temperatures within the growing season, which in most of Missouri is typically from mid- to late-May until mid-October. Stocking juveniles can begin when water temperatures warm up to 68 degrees F.

Successfully producing prawns in ponds during the grow-out phase begins with planning for a water source, pond site selection and pond construction. The production cycle requires prestocking preparation, stocking juveniles, feeding, and managing water quality until harvest.

Prawn pond half drained for harvest

Stocking rates that will provide a marketable prawn after a four- to five-month growing season generally range from 8,000 to 12,000 per acre. Lower stocking densities may yield larger prawns but lower total harvested poundage.

Like other types of animal agriculture, successful prawn production is dependent on realizing a high-value product (prawns) from low-cost inputs (fertilizer and feed). To achieve maximum growth, prawns must be provided a continuous source of nutrition as economically as possible without being overfed.

The length of the grow-out phase is significantly different between southern Missouri and central and northern Missouri, and will vary from 110 to 170 days, depending on the latitude of the pond. Harvest should occur when daily water temperatures range from 62 to 68 degrees F four to five days in a row, or before an anticipated cold front may cause lethal water temperatures (below 55 degrees F). In a pond where good water quality management has been practiced, survival may range from 60 to 90 percent at the end of the grow-out season. Yields will typically range from 600 to 1,200 pounds per acre. Weights of prawns will range from 10 to 13 per pound.

Freshwater prawns being harvested
Calculating the costs of production and potential returns is extremely important before investing in a prawn production system. The economics of raising freshwater prawns in temperate climates are quite variable. Fixed costs include land, pond construction and equipment. Annual variable costs include such items as fertilizer, feed, chemicals, juvenile prawns, energy and labor. Weather also plays an important role, as temperatures influence the length of the growing season and can impact profitability.

Seasonal demand for freshwater prawns does exist; however, it is important that your production goals and harvesting practices be developed to coincide with your specific marketing strategy. Financial loss due to lack of demand from live sales and not having adequate storage (holding) facilities can be a reality. Market demand suggests that large, live and iced with heads on freshwater prawns have a lucrative but small niche. A large percentage of markets in Missouri are seasonal and short-term. Most sales result from roadside stands or directly marketing products to restaurants and small grocery stores.

Be sure to read the entire guide sheet to get all the details of biology, preparation of the pond beds, feeding, production, harvesting and marketing that are not in this blog.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Berry and Grape Production Workshop

There is still room available for a number of beginning farmers to sign up for the Berry and Grape Production Workshop.  Below is the agenda for the day.  To register, fill out the registration form and mail to Sharon Naylor, 204 Gentry Hall, Columbia, MO 65211.  If you have any questions, email Sharon Naylor or call at 573-882-3776.
Blackberries ripening

A Beginning Farmer Workshop

July 12, 2011

Higginsville, MO Lafayette County Extension Center
9:00 am – Welcome to the Workshop – Debi Kelly, Missouri Beginning Farmers Program, University of Missouri

9:10 am – Introductions of participants

9:20 am – Introduction to Berry Crop Production – Marlin Bates, Horticulture Specialist, University of Missouri Extension

10:20 am – Getting Started with Strawberry Production – Tim Baker, Horticulture Specialist, University of Missouri Extension

10:50 am – Break

11:05 am – Getting Started with Blueberry Production – Tim Baker, Horticulture Specialist, University of Missouri Extension

11:35 am – Bramble Production – What You Need to Know to Start – Jim Pierce, Farm Outreach Worker, Innovative Small Farm Outreach Program, Lincoln University

Buckets of picked grapes
11:55 am – The Low Down on Grape Production – Marlin Bates, Horticulture Specialist, University of Missouri Extension

12:15 pm – Lunch

1:00 pm – Post-Harvest Handling – The Key to Good Berries and Grapes – Tim Baker, Horticulture Specialist, University of Missouri Extension

1:45 pm – Making Money from Berries and Grapes – Whitney Wiegel, Agribusiness Management Specialist, University of Missouri Extension

2:30 pm – Wrap-Up/Evaluation – Mary Hendrickson, Missouri Beginning Farmers Program, University of Missouri

2:50 pm – Introduction to the Tours – Katie Nixon, Small Farm Specialist, Innovative Small Farm Outreach Program, Lincoln University

3:05 pm – Depart Extension Office for Tours
Tour 1: Wood Mood Farms – Direct market Berry Producer, Higginsville
Tour 2: Buckeye Acres – CSA and U-Pick Operation between Higginsville and Warrensburg

Friday, June 24, 2011

MU Research Farms Set Summer Field Day Dates

Dates for field days at University of Missouri centers and farms have been set for 2011.

Field days feature agricultural research underway across the state. All are part of the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. State and regional specialists with MU Extension present information for farmers.

Field days allow producers to hear the latest research.

“It is important for producers to stay current with accurate information,” said Marc Linit, associate dean for research and extension. “They can do that at our field days across the state.”

Date, farm, location and contact person are:

- July 7, Bradford Research and Extension Center, Pest Management Day, starting 8:30 a.m. on Rangeline Road seven miles east of Columbia, Kevin Bradley, 573-882-4039.

- Aug. 9, Greenley Center, east of Novelty, Mo., 8:30 a.m., Randall Smoot, 660-739-4410.

- Aug. 23, Graves-Chapple Farm at exit 99 on I-29 at Corning, Mo., Jim Crawford, farm coordinator, Rock Port, Mo., 660-744-6231.

- Aug. 24, Hundley-Whaley Center, 1109 S. Birch, Albany, Mo., 9 a.m., Bruce Burdick, superintendent, 660-726-3698.

- Sept. 2, Delta Center, 147 W. State Highway T, Portageville, Mo., 9 a.m., Jake Fisher, 573-379-5431.
- Sept. 9, Southwest Research Center, Highway H, four miles southwest of Mt. Vernon, Mo., 9 a.m., Mike Collins, superintendent, Columbia, 573-882-3001.

- Sept. 20, Thompson Farm at the end of Highway C west of Spickard, Mo., 9 a.m., Rod Geisert, superintendent, Columbia, 573-884-0934.

- Sept 29, Forage Systems Research Center, 21262 Genoa Road, Linneus, Mo., 8:30 a.m., David Davis, superintendent, 660-895-5121.

- Oct. 7, Wurdack Farm, southeast of Cook Station, Mo., in Crawford County, 8:30 a.m., John Poehlmann, superintendent, Columbia, 573-882-4450.

Each of the farms has a website that will give field day programs closer to the events. See for links to farm websites.

Special events are also held at the farms throughout the year.
All events are open to the public and free, except for the Pest Management Day, which has a $10 fee that covers costs of a research-plot book and lunch. That is the only event that requires advance registration.

Most field days feature bleacher-wagon tours of research plots and extension demonstrations.

An annual Chestnut Roast will not be held this year at the Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center at New Franklin, Mo., because of budget cutbacks.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grow Your Farm Coming to St. Clair MO in Sept

Have a creative farming idea?  Need practical guidance to help turn your farm into a profitable business?

If you answered yes to these questions, then the Grow Your Farm course is right for you. Grow Your Farm will help you translate your farming ideas into a successful business venture.

Hear what Grow Your Farm farm mentors Greg and Nancy Rasmussen have to say about the Grow Your Farm course.

Course specifics
Grow Your Farm is designed for prospective farmers, beginners with some experience and seasoned farmers who want to make a "new beginning" with alternative farming methods. MU Extension specialists and experienced, innovative farmers teach the sessions.  Grow Your Farm meets 11 times over a 3 month time frame. Classes include eight seminars with three farm tours.

Course objectives
Information on production techniques is relatively easy to find and use, but what many landowners need is help to develop the farm as a profitable business. With this in mind, Grow Your Farm is designed to assist you, the producer, in creating and planning your farm as a business.

This course will help you:
  • Identify and prioritize personal and family values and use them as the foundation for the farm mission statement and goals.
  • Learn how to "walk the farm" to assess the land and its facilities.
  • Learn to evaluate the feasibility of particular farm opportunities.
  • Understand the components of a business plan and create one of your own.
  • Understand financial aspects of a business plan and review popular tools to manage financial records.
  • Consider different types of agricultural marketing and draft a marketing plan.
  • Become familiar with a variety of legal issues that pertain to farming enterprises.
  • Network with other farmers. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wet and Warm Weather May Lead to Worm Problems in Sheep, Goats

Combining wet weather and warm days usually mean an increase in internal parasites or worms in sheep and goats.

According to Dr. Jodie Pennington, small ruminant educator with Lincoln University Extension, worms are the primary internal parasite of small ruminants and are the biggest problems in meat and dairy goats.

“They are also a problem with sheep, although not of the same degree as with goats,” said Pennington.

The only way to control worms is for goat and sheep producers to have a deworming and sanitation program in place and then adhere to it.

“Worms not only kill both young and old goats, they contribute to poor growth rates, an unthrifty appearance, coughing, diarrhea, and, in severe cases, bottle jaw,” said Pennington.
To minimize contamination of uninfected goats, maintain a dry, clean environment with a sound manure management plan. Depending on location and density of animals in the field, deworming may have to be repeated at different times during the year.

There are different types of deworming programs that can be effective for goats. One of the most effective includes monitoring the level of parasite eggs in the feces (fecal egg counts).

“You or your veterinarian may conduct FECs either on a routine schedule or when an animal is suspected of having worms and then deworm animals that have high FECs,” said Pennington.

Fecal egg counts can be used not only to monitor the level of infestation of internal parasites in goats but also to determine the effectiveness of the dewormers used to treat the goats.

“Many producers now use a dewormer until it is no longer effective before switching to another dewormer. This technique is believed to save effective products of unrelated compounds for future use in the parasite control program,” said Pennington.

All dewormers can be effective, but presently two of the most effective dewormers include moxidectin and levamisole (which recently came back on the market as a sheep drench).

General control recommendations for internal parasites include manure management by frequent removal of manure, rotation of pastures, decreased stocking rates and taller pastures for goats which will minimize exposure to larva of internal parasites.

Pennington says it is also a good idea to feed and water goats in troughs or racks that are above the ground to prevent manure contamination. A concrete pad around the base of the trough can prevent goats from getting close enough to get manure in the water.

“Goats should be dewormed as often as needed to control worms, as indicated by FECs. However, the need for deworming varies greatly among herds, depending on sanitation, forage management, and observation skills of the caretaker,” said Pennington.
(by David Burton, MU Communications Specialist)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Webinar Tonight

Tonight Lane will show us how to create a website for free!

When: Monday June 20, 7:00 - 8:30 pm CDT

To join the meeting to to

Pricing Goods for Profit

There are many small farm owners who would like to start a business on their farm. Before production has started, it is important to have a plan for marketing goods. When asked what is marketing, many people list marketing activities, such as: advertising, selling products, and delivering goods. Jay Levinson, author of Guerrilla Marketing, defines marketing as ―everything you do to promote your business from the moment you think of the idea until the customers buy and begin to do so on a regular basis.  Marketing is probably the most important part of a business.

The most important part of Jay Levinson’s definition of marketing that many people forget, is the statement ―begin to do so on a regular basis.  A good rule of thumb for businesses is that 80% of sales will come from 20% of customers. So how should a small business go about marketing their products to their customers? The first consideration is the customers’ needs and wants and then developing a product or service to meet those needs and wants. A business owner must also understand their competition and what they are offering. Finally, doing all of this with their number one goal in mind, PROFIT!

Price is the most visible element of all marketing efforts. If profit is the main goal of a business, pricing goods is an important step. A product priced too high in a market with competitors will likely not sell. On the other hand, a product priced too low will sell but may not be sustainable for the business owners. To price goods the cost of production and the break-even price must be determined.

Can you produce this product at a price that customers will spend? If consumers are used to paying $5 for pumpkins but you cannot produce them for less than $6 each, then it may not be a good business venture for your farm. However, if you can produce them for $3 each and the demand in the market can support another supplier, pumpkins could be a profitable enterprise for your farm. To determine cost of production, a producer must know their fixed and variable costs. Break-even price takes in consideration projected sales to determine the per-unit cost of production.

There are several pricing strategies that could be used. Premium pricing should be used when the product is unique, high quality, and has no substitutes. This is typically short term because the competition sees the price margin and will enter the market. Value pricing can be used when there is moderate competition, customers value the benefits provided by the product, and there are barriers for competitors to enter the market. If the objective is to develop market share and profit, then the cost/plus pricing strategy should be considered. This strategy uses break-even price plus a mark-up for each unit. The mark-up should be large enough to provide a significant profit, but not large enough to exceed what customers are willing to pay. The competitive pricing strategy is focused on cost reduction and to protect market share. In this strategy, competitors’ prices are determined and products are priced accordingly. A final strategy to consider is penetration pricing. This is typically used when a company launches a product in a market with several competitors. Price is set low to grow sales and attract new customers and then increases to market share.

Reaching the ultimate goal of profit in a business is easier to obtain when an appropriate price has been set and customers start purchasing goods. MU Extension Guides G648 ―Break-Even Pricing, Revenue and Units‖ and G649 ―Selecting and Appropriate Pricing Strategy are great resources to assist business owners set prices.
(by Randa Doty, MU Ag Business Specialist)

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Workshop on Berry and Grape Production

July 12, 2011 Registration starts 8:45 am

Program: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm

Lafayette County Extension Center, 14 East 19th Street, Higginsville, MO
Have you ever considered growing berries or grapes as a way to add income to your farming operation?
These highly marketable crops can provide income and agritourism opportunities for your farm. But how do you do it? Come to this workshop to find out:

 The best berry crops for Missouri

 Optimal siting for berry and grape crops

 Production and marketing strategies to make your crops profitable

 How to manage weeds, pest and diseases in berries and grapes
Workshop Registration: Contact Sharon Naylor at 573-882-3776.  Cost of the workshop is $20 for those who preregister by July 5th and includes educational materials and food. Registration is limited to 30 participants. Walk-ins cost $30 with no food or ma-terials guaranteed. Find registration form at the MO Beginning Farmers Program website.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Seeking Missouri’s Best Farmers

Nominate a deserving farmer – or apply yourself. The Missouri Master Farmer award program application deadline is July 1.

Missouri Ruralist and University of Missouri Extension, coordinators of the Missouri Master Farmer Award program, are calling for nominations and applications for the 2011-12 class of Missouri Master Farmers.

This year's winners will be recognized Dec. 10 in Kansas City at the 2011 National Young Farmers Educational Association Institute banquet. The Missouri Master Farmers will also participate in an educational roundtable discussion with young farmers. All in all, it’s an ideal opportunity to showcase Missouri agriculture and our top-notch ag producers to a group of 300 to 400 young farmers from around the country.

Hosted by the Missouri Young Farmers-Young Farm Wives Association, the NYFEA institute is being held Dec.7-10 in Kansas City. A MYF/YFW planning committee is working to finalize plans for event, which will include educational programs as well as agricultural tours in northwest Missouri. For more information, visit the website.

The Missouri Master Farmer award program is for Missourians involved in production agriculture – crop farmers, beef, swine, dairy and poultry producers, vegetable and fruit growers, tree farmers or vineyard owners. The award program seeks individuals with innovative ideas, business skills, sound conservation practices, agricultural leadership and community service, and young farmer mentoring abilities.

“This program will recognize farmers who have not only been successful in farming, but who are also assets to their communities and to agriculture,” says Ron Plain, MU Extension economist. “This is not meant to be a lifetime achievement award, but to recognize currently active farmers.”

For an application form, click on the Master Farmer Award link on this website, or visit the MU Extension website and click on the Master Farmer link there. An easy-to-fill out nomination form is also available in Missouri Ruralist magazine. The deadline is July 1.

If you have questions or would like to nominate a deserving Missouri farmer for this award, contact Ron Plain, University of Missouri Agriculture Economics Department, at 573-882-0134.
(by Jerilyn Johnson, Missouri Ruralist)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

High Tunnel Open House

Thursday, June 16, 2011 from 1:00 – 4:00 pm at the State Fruit Experiment Station and Simpson’s Family Farm

Free of Charge – Everyone is Invited

Program begins at the Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station, 9740 Red Spring Road, Mountain Grove, Missouri 65711

1:00 – 1:15 Welcome and Introduction – Pavilion in the Horticulture Garden, Missouri State University - Mountain Grove

1:15 – 1:30 Drive from pavilion to high tunnel

1:30 – 2:45 Mountain Grove High Tunnel

*  Morgan County High Tunnel Construction with the Automated Side Curtain Solar Powered Venting System – Joe Wright and available Field and Maintenance Supervisors

*  Temperature Management in High Tunnel – Marilyn Odneal and Joe Wright

*  High Tunnel Irrigation and Water Management – Craig Pisarkiewicz of MPR Supply and FES faculty and staff

*  Vegetable Crops in High Tunnel – Dr. Martin Kaps and Susanne Howard

*  Peonies and Raspberries in High Tunnel – Marilyn Odneal and John Avery

2:45 – 3:00 Travel north to Simpson’s Family Farm

3:00 – 4:00 Simpson’s Family Farm High Tunnel

* Farm Tech High Tunnel Construction on a Gentle Slope – Wayne Simpson

* First Year Experience with Vegetable Crops in the High Tunnel – Production and Marketing (tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, green beans, onions and cabbage) – Wayne Simpson and Deb French

* Thoughts on Strawberry Production in High Tunnels – Wayne Simpson

Sponsored by: Missouri State University

For additional information please contact: Pamela Mayer, Conference Facilitator, 417-547-7533, Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station, 9740 Red Spring Road, Mountain Grove, MO 65711-2999

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

High Tunnel Workshop a Success

The High Tunnel Production and Installation Workshop held last week was a huge success. 

Ozark Natural Foods, LLC
Fifteen beginning farmers attended Track 1 "Production of Crops in High Tunnels."  Wednesday evening was set in a classroom style with an overview presentation by Patrick Byers, MU Regional Horticulture Specialist, followed by a presentation by Sarah Becker, LU Program Educator, on Environmental Controls of a High Tunnel.  Frank Gieringer of Gieringer Orchard gave a wonderful slide show presentation of his high tunnel raspberry and tomoto production.  Last on the agenda for that evening was a panel of farmers all whom grow with high tunnels.

Urban Roots Farm
On Thursday evening, the second part of Track 1, participants toured 3 different farms each with high tunnel production.  The first farm was Ozark Natural Foods, LLC, the second tour was Urban Roots Farm right in the middle of Springfield and the last tour which ended way past dark was at Millsap Farm just north of Springfield.

Millsap Farm
Friday and Saturday brought Track 2 "Installation of a High Tunnel."  Ten participants assisted in the construction of a high tunnel on Sunshine Valley Farm which is just east of Springfield.  Beginning farmers were able to work side-by-side with Patrick Byers and Sarah Becker, whose experience of having constructed 5 high tunnels already, led many participants to learn quicker than if they attended other high tunnel installation venues.

Look for the PowerPoint presentations, pictures and more from this High Tunnel Production and Installation Workshop soon at the MBFP Online Learning Community.

Below are a number of pictures from the installation of the Sunshine Valley Farm high tunnel.  Unfortunately, due to the end walls being constructed of cedar walls and the hired construction contractors not able to finish both end walls before the end of the workshop on Saturday, participants were not able to add the plastic over the roof.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Webinar Tonight

MO Beginning Farmers Program - Webinar Tonight

Meeting Name: Social Media Marketing Part 1 - Lane McConnell will demonstrate how to start a blog and a Facebook page

When: Monday June 13, 7:00 - 8:30 PM CDT

To join the meeting:

Green June Beetle Can Damage Fruits, Vegetables

As an adult, the Green June Beetle can cause losses by feeding on ripe apples, peaches, grapes, blackberries and other fruits and vegetables according to Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

Although the adult Green June Beetles can become airborne, they are not known for their swift skills in flight.

"These beetles have poor navigational skills and seem to fly until they hit something," said Byers. "But don’t let the lack of flight skill fool you, they can be great eaters and survivors.”

The Greene June Beetle begins as a large annual white grub. In Missouri a side kick culprit of the June beetle is the Japanese beetle.

“Both adult insects can cause damage to plants. The Japanese beetle seems to have a larger host of plants, especially ornamentals that are not affected by the Green June beetle,” said Byers.

In comparison, the Green June beetle is mostly attracted to juicy ripe fruits and vegetables with high sugar content, like corn and tomatoes.

The Green June beetle has a one-year life cycle. Eggs are laid underground in small earthen balls in areas with high levels of decaying organic matter such as grassy areas and grass pastures.

The Green June beetle larvae can also display feeding damage to the root systems of home lawns.

Other grub feeding insects -- like the May beetle and Masked Shaffer beetle -- may pose greater turf root damage since egg laying is more directed to the turf areas than Green June beetles.

What are specific visual distinctions between the Green June beetle and Japanese beetle?

Most distinguishable is the size difference and color. The Green June beetle is over one-half inch in length with dull velvety green wings and shiny, metallic green heads, legs and undersides.

The Japanese beetle is much smaller. The length is about 3/8 inch with a bronze colored body and metallic green head. The Japanese beetle will have white tufts emerging from the sides under the winged area.

In large numbers, the Green June Beetles may cause damage to crops like sweet corn, blackberries, peaches and other fruits or vegetables in a garden.

Several general-use insecticides can help control the noisy insect, including Sevin, which discourages feeding. For those who use Sevin, there is a zero-day waiting period between spraying and harvest on sweet corn and a one-day waiting period on peaches.

Friday, June 10, 2011

New Site Opens Door to Sustainable Agriculture Grants and Information

Grant information, videos, books, online courses, profiles of cutting-edge, on-farm research and much more--it's all available with a click of your mouse at the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program's (SARE) new websites.

Visit any of SARE's redesigned national or regional sites and navigate seamlessly between them to find a wealth of information about where America's farmers, ranchers and ag professionals live and work. A state-of-the-art search function makes it easier than ever to find grant information and dig deep into SARE's library of educational materials, database of research projects and calendar of sustainable ag events in communities across the country.

And all sites are mobile-device friendly and offer a bare-bones mirror site for people with slow internet connections. You can share SARE, too, with RSS, Facebook, Twitter and other share functions.

SARE Nationwide:
Visit this go-to site for SARE-wide information or seamlessly navigate to regional sites. Stop at the Learning Center for free downloads of SARE books, bulletins, fact sheets, videos, online courses and a host of other information products searchable by topic or type.

North Central SARE: For those who live in the Missouri visit the North Central SARE site for grant information specific to America's central states. Or read the latest North Central SARE news and research in the region or in each state.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Would Corn by Any Other Name Taste as Sweet?

Nothing is quite like sinking your teeth into this year’s first ears of sweet corn.

Tim Reinbott, superintendent for the University of Missouri Bradford Research and Extension Center, admits that sometimes he doesn’t even get out of the field before succumbing to that tempting first bite.  “Some varieties are so good that I’ll eat four ears right off the plant without even cooking them,” he said. “If you ask people what their favorite sweet corn is, many will say Peaches and Cream because that was one of the first bicolor varieties that tasted really good, but actually there are hundreds of sweet corn varieties out there.”

Reinbott wants farmers and consumers to realize all the options available. Each year he plans a sweet corn tasting event where more than 150 people get acquainted with new genetic hybrids as well as old corn mainstays.

“We ask people to rate corn types from 1 to 5,” he said. “Last year we found popular varieties like Peaches and Cream came in at 2.5, varieties like Bodacious and Incredible you often see at farmers markets came in around 3.8, but newer varieties like Honey Select and Vision – which are heterozygous with supersweet and tender genes in them – get 4.6s and 4.7s.”

Sugar and starch
Juicy, delicious goodness starts with selecting and planting the right varieties of corn.  Farmers and backyard gardeners have to wade through a lot of choices, and new varieties continue to enter the picture. But it might be hard to find some of the best varieties at your local store.

“In the case of seed racks in hardware stores, those varieties are selected according to historical records of what varieties sell, so you are going to see varieties of corn and tomatoes that might be decades old,” said David Trinklein, an MU Extension horticulturist.  He suggests looking for newer varieties online through vegetable seed retailers if you can’t find them locally.

To enhance the flavor of corn, researchers developed hybrids in the early 1900s with an enhanced sugar-inducing gene, which they called “su.” In the 1950s they came out with the sugary enhanced gene (se), followed by shrunken-2 (sh2), also known as supersweet.

“The supersweet has four to 10 times the amount of sugar of regular varieties, with the idea that if it sits on the grocery store shelf for a week it still will be sweeter,” said Trinklein, “The problem is that supersweet isn’t as visually appealing and the kernels are slightly chewy with a shriveled kind of look.”

To take advantage of the best traits of different varieties, researchers developed “synergistic” and “augmented” varieties. Synergistic corn ears contain 25 percent su genes, 25 percent se and 50 percent sh2 genes to balance sweetness, look and field performance. Augmented varieties combine sh2 kernels with a few su and se kernels sprinkled throughout an ear. These typically score at the top of taste tests.

Some recent varieties, such as Attribute, also integrate a Bt gene, much like in field corn. That gene acts as an insecticide, protecting the plant from European corn borer, cutworm and corn earworm.

Much of the drive to develop sweeter varieties has to do with what happens after the corn is harvested.

“As soon as the corn is picked, the sugars start to convert into starch,” Trinklein said. “You have these old stories about having a pot of water boiling on the stove and you send someone with fast foot speed to the field to pick the corn, and as they run back to the kitchen they shuck it because when they drop it into the boiling water it stops the conversion of sugars to starch.”

Some newer hybrids convert sugar to starch much more slowly and also have more sugar in them, so they preserve the corn’s sweet taste for a few days longer.

Making your sweet corn plot grow
While tomatoes rank at the top in popularity, corn has a place in many vegetable gardens. Compared to tomatoes, corn is one of the easier vegetables is to grow. With tomato plants, gardeners might have to deal with a number of different blights and wilts, but there aren’t many diseases that affect sweet corn, Trinklein said.

Sow corn in a furrow about one inch deep, spacing rows 30-42 inches apart. Once they sprout, thin your rows to get one plant every 8-10 inches. Since sweet corn is wind-pollinated, plant in blocks several rows wide instead of making one long row. Because you are truly eating the offspring of corn with each ear, separating varieties keeps each one true to its flavor.

“In the case of sweet corn you are eating the product of pollination and fertilization, so it does make a difference what the male parent is in regards to the taste of sweet corn,” Trinklein said.

Corn needs 1-2 inches of water per week. This becomes more important when the corn tassels. After corn silks and is pollinated, the kernels start to fill and if water is scarce, ears won’t be juicy.

For multiple harvests, plant a few rows then allow 10 days between each subsequent planting. Three or four plantings will give you corn up to the first fall frost.  Typically corn is ready to be eaten 22-24 days after silking, but the exact number of days depends heavily on how hot it is.

“Sweet corn is rated according to days to harvest, but there’s a big difference between 75 days in southern Florida and northern Minnesota,” Trinklein said. “Temperature influences maturity and commercial growers use ‘heat units’ instead of days to predict ripening. In July it might only take four days to accumulate the same number of heat units that might take 8-10 days to accumulate in the cooler month of May.”

Those ears are still a few months off, but Reinbott hopes producers broaden their taste horizons.  “The whole idea is to educate the public and farmers that there really is something different out there besides Peaches and Cream or Bodacious,” he said.

Click here for results of Bradford Farm’s last two years of sweet corn variety tasting.

For more information on sweet corn:
"Sweet Corn" (from the Missouri Master Gardener Core Manual)
MU Extension vegetable planting calendar
Popular varieties
Variety, Maturity, Color,  Comments

Bodacious, 75 days, yellow, high yielding; good seedling vigor

Frisky, 69 bicolor, early with great flavor; excellent early vigor
Gold Nugget, 75 days, yellow, superior holding ability; gaining popularity

Jackpot, 80 days, bicolor, excellent quality; good disease tolerance

Incredible, 85 days, yellow, leading market-garden variety; great flavor

Peaches and Cream, 85 days, bicolor, excellent flavor; tender kernels

Silver King, 85 days, white, sweeter version of the popular Silver Queen

Sugar Baby, 65 days, bicolor, very early; tolerant of cool soil; very sweet

Tender Treat, 95 days, yellow, slow conversion starch to sugar; tall stalks

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cucumber Beetles and Bacterial Wilt

Insects can cause two kinds of damage in plants. First of course, is their direct feeding on the plants. But some insects can also transmit diseases to those plants as well. A good example in muskmelons is the cucumber beetle. These insects can be extremely damaging to a crop, not only because of their feeding, but because they can also vector bacterial wilt, which can quickly destroy infected plants.

Cucumber beetles come in two varieties, the striped cucumber beetle and the spotted cucumber beetle, which is also known as the southern corn rootworm. These insects overwinter as adults in protected places. Eggs are then laid in the soil near host plants. The larvae feed on the stems and roots of the host plant, with pupation in the soil. Up to 4 generations per year may be seen in the southern United States.

Feeding damage can be destructive, especially on young plants. All parts of the plants are fed upon, including roots, stems, leaves, tender terminals, and flowers. Occasionally, damage may occur to the fruits as well, attacking the rinds. Many growers have told me that they don't usually try to control cucumber beetles after the plants are older, since they don't cause as much problems then. This may be true in some years, but it's risky to assume that. It's true that a larger plant has a better chance of withstanding attack, simply because there is more plant to regenerate new growth compared to a small plant. But damage can still occur, and in some years, the fruit may be attacked as well, rendering it less marketable. In addition, you are only providing more meals for adult beetles who will give you more offspring for the following season.

The other type of damage that cucumber beetles inflict is bacterial wilt disease. Cucumber beetles are the only known vector of this disease, which is spread around from plant to plant through their feeding. After the disease is transferred to the plant by the beetle's feeding, the bacteria reproduce and are transferred through the plant's vascular system. Eventually the bacterial material plugs the vascular system and the plant wilts. Without the ability to transport water to the leaves, the plant quickly dies.

This is another reason why control of the cucumber beetle is needed no matter what the age of the plant. Even mature plants are subject to bacterial wilt infection from cucumber beetle feeding. While every cucumber beetle may not carry the disease, it’s risky to assume that your crop will be safe. It only takes a little feeding from an infected beetle to transmit the disease.

Once bacterial wilt is established, cucumber beetles spread the disease around the field. They feed on infected plants, then move to uninfected plants and inoculate them. Even if your crop is symptom-free when you plant, the beetles can pick up the disease from other cucurbit crops and weeds.

The key to controlling this disease is to control the cucumber beetle. If they are not there, you shouldn't have a problem. If you already have some diseased plants, controlling the beetle activity should reduce the spread of the disease. If only a few plants are infected, you might have better results if you remove those plants along with spraying for beetles. This would be impractical on a large scale, and is only effective if it is done when the disease is first noticed. If the disease is widespread, the better approach is to eliminate the beetle.
(by Tim Baker, Horticulture Specialist, Grundy County)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

MO Organic Association Farm Tours

The Missouri Organic Association has brought back farm tours!  They have numerous tours planned for this summer and fall.  Below are the first two tours.  Be on the lookout on this blog for future announcements of upcoming organic tours.

June 13, 2011 - Sappington's Farmers Market and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Training

Join us on June 13 from 10am - 3pm for a tour of Sappington Farmers Market..."owned by a Missouri Cooperative effort of small family famers and rural entrepreneurs producing food the way it should be, naturally".  Nancy Smith, Sappington Marketing Director, will give a tour of the market and a presentation on the requirements of selling products through the store.

After a provided lunch, attendees will caravan to St. Louis University for a training session on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) taught by Sue Baird of SueBaird Organics LLC and MOA Board of Directors Chair.  Participants limited to 60.

This tour will begin at 10:00 am at Sappington Farmers Market, 8400 Watson Road, St. Louis, MO 63119, 314-843-7848.  After this tour is completed, the group will follow by caravan to St. Louis University for the GAP training at 3404 Rutger, St. Louis, MO 63104, 314-977-8523.  Training will be in Room 2030 on the Second Floor.  Lunch will be served at 12:00 pm at SLU.

July 8, 2011 at Rutherford Farms (Poultry) and Lavy Dairy

MOA Vice-President Desiree Rutherford gives a tour of Rutherford Farms, a Certified Naturally Grown farm growing without any pesticides or man-made chemicals on gardens or pastures. The farm free-ranges 350 Sexlink laying hens who are organically raised, and are strictly fed an organic, nutritious layer ration and produce eggs that are some of the very best in Missouri. The tour also includes the Rutherford Farms greenhouses for edible flowers, herbs, perennials, and vegetables.

After a provided lunch, a tour of Lavy Dairy Farm, a family-owned and operated certified organic Grade A licensed dairy. They milk Jersey, Holstein/Guernsey cross cows.  Lavy dairy Farm sells quailty organic raw milk and cows are cross bred for high protein and butterfat.  Participants limited to 60.

The tour will start at 9:30 at Lavy Dairy Farms, 125 Cemetary Road, Silex, MO, 573-656-3367

After Lavy Dairy Farms, the tour will continue to Rutherford Farms. It will start at 11:00 for a farm tour on Certified Naturally Grown/organically produced poultry, waterfowl, Red Wattle Hogs.

The address for Rutherford Farms is 741 Highway TT, Silex, MO 63377, 636-279-5350.  Lunch will be served at the farm.

Registration for each workshop is $25/person and includes lunch.  Make checks payable to "MOA" and indicate which tour you will attend.  Mail to:

Meghan Dixon, MOA Secretary
33519 Highway E
Green Ridge, MO 65332

Monday, June 6, 2011

Webinar Tonight

Don't forget about the webinar tonight!

Meeting Name: Social Media Marketing Introduction (Everything You Wanted to Know)

When: Monday June 6th, 7:00 - 8:30 pm Central Time
To join the meeting:

Grape Field Day

June 15, 2011 from 5:30 to 8:00 pm

Get the latest information on vineyard development, disease management, nutrition management and on-going viticulture research taking place at your local research farm from trusted extension specialists and area producers!

Join us at the Southwest Research Center Farm located at 14548 Hwy H, Mt. Vernon, MO on June 15th from 5:30-8pm for a FREE field day on grape production!

Andy Thomas, MU Horticulture Researcher
Keith Striegler, ICCVE Director
Andy Allen, ICCVE Extension Viticulturist
Patrick Byers, MU Extension Horticulture Specialist

Friday, June 3, 2011

June Webinar - Marketing on the Web

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program will continue its monthly webinars in June with a presentation by Lane McConnell, "Marketing on the Web." The webinar will be Monday June 6th from 7:00 to 8:30 pm with a PowerPoint presentation. There will be two additional opportunities to learn from Lane, June 13th and 20th, both from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Join the Missouri Beginning Farmers Program's monthly webinars for the month of June. This month we will take a look at just how social media can boost your marketing plan and sales. Lane is an agriculture marketing consultant who grew up on a livestock farm in southwest Missouri. She has worked for the Brownfield Farm Radio Network and Missouri Department of Agriculture, where she specialized in the local foods industry. Lane runs Agri-Comm Services, a marketing business in Hollister, MO and works with the businesses on developing innovative marketing campaigns, including social media. She is also spear-heading "The Market Lady" specialty crop grant project in southern Missouri this summer.

In the first webinar Lane will introduce all the different arenas of social media (facebook, blogs, twitter, etc.). In the second and third webinars, Lane will present live demonstrations on the step-by-step process of these different social media outlets. If you've been thinking about social media or have been wondering how to increase the sales on your farm, join in for each of these webinars and get a jump start on marketing your farm and farm products.

Meeting Name: Social Media Marketing Introduction (Everything You Wanted to Know)
When: Monday June 6th, 7:00 - 8:30 pm Central Time

Meeting Name: Social Media Marketing Demonstrations Part 1
When: Monday June 13, 7:00 - 8:30 pm Central Time

Meeting Name: Social Media Marketing Demonstrations Part 2
When: Monday June 20, 7:00 - 8:30 pm Central Time

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ag Opportunities

The June 2011 issue of Ag Opportunities is now available online.  Please forward to anyone you know who may have interests.

June Webinar - Marketing on the Web

Missouri Beginning Farmers Program's Archived and Future Monthly Webinars and Forums

Missouri Beginning Farmers Program Workshops

Mycorrhizal Fungi: Beneficial Symbosis for Increased Plant Health

Grants and Assistance

High Tunnel Production and Installation Workshop

2011 Green Hills Farm Project Farm Walks

Regional Grazing Schools for 2011

Making and Using Rain Barrels

Insects on the Farm



Past Issues


Edamame is a rising trend that can help differentiate your market offering Market farmers and wholesale producers alike are becoming more interested in vegetables like specialty eggplants, bok choy, Asian greens and other ethnic crops to meet increasing consumer demand for these products. Edamame may be one of the better options for producers who are considering breaking into this market.

Edamame is a sweet, nutty, nutrient-rich soybean that is harvested when it is still green.  Traditionally an Eastern Asian vegetable, the beans can either be shelled and added to soups and salads or boiled in salt water and served in their pods for a nutritious snack. Many varieties of soybean (Glycine max) can be grown for edamame production, but they are different from field soybeans. Generally, edamame beans are larger, more tender and milder-tasting. In fact, several breeding efforts in the U.S. have been targeted at increasing the sweetness of edamame.

In general, edamame production is similar to field soybean production. The two types of soy are usceptible to the same insect and disease issues. Worth noting, edamame are harvested while they are still green so late-season problems that plague field soy are not an issue.

Edamame soybeans are classified into maturity groups just as field soybeans are. Look for edamame beans in groups III, IV and V. The primary difference in the production of these two types of beans is how they are harvested. Fresh, green edamame beans are often picked by hand, because the scale of production for this vegetable is limited due to the lack of processing facilities in the Midwest. With an optimum harvest window of less than a week, timing is likely the largest factor in maximizing marketable yield of an edamame crop.
(by Marlin Bates, West Central Regional Horticulture Specialist)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


“Can you discuss some of the issues that are particular to family farms and explain how agroforestry can address them?

“As we all know, small farms are struggling to make ends meet (and by small farm I mean a farm with a gross farm income of less than $250,000 per year) and these are the ones that can benefit most directly from the adoption of agroforestry practices.

For example, enterprises with trees such as Chinese chestnut can increase farm income tremendously. Based on our studies, we have found that Chinese chestnut can increase gross farm income by $3,000 to $6,000 per acre per year, starting in the seventh year. We also have shown that silvopasture can bring in an additional $43 per cow-calf pair, so if you are talking about a 100-head operation, that is $4,300 in additional income as a result of weight gain in cattle alone. The value of trees is not included in this calculation. For a small farmer, combining these multiple opportunities can significantly increase their economic potential.

There are also other types of specialty crops, such as elderberry, or other medicinal plants like ginseng or gourmet mushrooms that can bring in significant additional revenue to a small farm. Growing biomass for biopower or advanced biofuels is another potential opportunity or emerging enterprise for farms practicing agroforestry.”
(from Action in Agroforestry, Vol 2, No 5)