Friday, September 30, 2011

Grant Writing Tips for SARE Farmer/Rancher Grants

This is a listing of tips that you should take not of when writing and submitting a SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant.

o Read the Call for Proposals carefully.
Be sure you have a copy of the current Call for Proposals. There are changes to the application form each year and your proposal can be disqualified if you do not use the current form.

o Make sure your goals match SARE goals.
These grants are for farmers and ranchers to conduct on-farm research and demonstration/education projects that explore and advance sustainable agriculture. They are NOT for funding everyday farming expenses. Grant proposals are evaluated according to how well they match SARE’s unique goals and criteria. Proposals that are not a good match will not be funded. See the Call for Proposals for SARE’s criteria and visit our website: or call 1-800-529-1342 for an information packet about SARE’s goals.

o Follow directions.
Proposals can be disqualified if the applicant does not answer all questions or follow general format directions regarding the number of pages, spacing, signatures, etc. Do include a title that describes your project. Do NOT include photos or appendices. These will not be forwarded to the selection committee. Review the Checklist in the Call for Proposals before submitting your proposal.

o Involve other groups and people.
The strongest proposals demonstrate that the project will be planned and carried out by a variety of individuals or organizations. Successful grant projects have involved Extension educators; Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) staff including Resource, Conservation & Development (RC&D) Council staff; nonprofit group participants; other farmers or ranchers; and/or other members of the community.

o Include a detailed plan for outreach.
It is essential that applicants explain how they will communicate their project results to other farmers, agricultural educators, youth, or other appropriate audiences to help further research, education, and implementation of sustainable agriculture.

o Pay close attention to budget guidelines.
Ask for help if you are confused about items that SARE cannot fund or cannot fully fund. Research your expenses and use accurate figures rather than guesses for your budget. Double check your figures. Budget errors, like asking for more than the grant allows, can hurt your chances for funding.

o Keep the writing simple and be sure to explain terms and your link to sustainable agriculture.
Proposals with clear objectives and methods are the most successful. Focus on what you can actually accomplish in a project. Do not promise more than you can deliver. Farmers and ranchers will review your proposal and they know what is and is not practical. Explain in detail how your project contributes to sustainable agriculture: How is it good for the environment? How will it help you be more profitable? How does your project benefit your family and community?

o Have someone proof-read your proposal.
A fresh set of eyes can help you identify sections that are unclear, and find typographical errors that you might not otherwise catch. Handwritten proposals are acceptable, but only if they are written very clearly. If reviewers cannot read your writing, you will not get funded.

o If you would like a sample Call for Proposals or if you have questions, please contact:
Joan Benjamin, NCR-SARE Associate Regional Coordinator, phone: 800-529-1342 or 573-681-5545.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Management-intensive Grazing Workshop Offered at MU Forage Systems Research Center

Producers and conservation and agriculture professionals can learn how management-intensive grazing can improve profitability and have long-term environmental benefits at an upcoming workshop at the Forage Systems Research Center near Linneus, Mo.

The Center is part of a network of 20 research centers around the state at which the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources conducts impactful research benefitting Missouri farmers and agricultural professionals.

The three-day workshop begins Oct. 4 at 8 a.m. Experts in forage systems, nutrient management, beef nutrition, weed science, agricultural economics and grassland conservation will present the ins-and-outs of MIG and how producers can make it work for them.

Researchers at the Center have years of forage studies to share. The Center is the largest outdoor laboratory of its type in the eastern half of the United States. Attendees will explore the concepts they learn in class through field exercises each day.

The field exercises require them to allocate pasture size for a group of cattle with the objective of having them graze it to down to 2 inches. “They get graded every day on their performance, even the first day,” said Craig Roberts, MU forage specialist and one of the coordinators of the workshop. “It’s a real-life scenario and forces them to consider typical intake rates and generate all types of questions.”

The Center has hosted grazing schools since 1990, and many of the regional and national educational seminars are based on the research and workshops FSRC has done, said David Davis, superintendent of the Center.

For more information, contact David Davis at or 660-985-512, or visit.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Writing Workshop

Become a more effecitve grant writer for your innovative and unique farm ideas by attending the SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Writing Workshop which is being sponsored by Lincoln University Extension and University of Missouri Extension along with the Missouri SARE Program.

The workshop will be held on Wednesday, October 19th.  Registration begins at 9:00 am with the program starting at 9:30 am and ending by 3:30 pm.  The workshop will be held at the Pacific Fire House #2, 7376 Highway O, Robertsville, MO.  The cost is $15/person which includes lunch and materials.  Preregistration is required to be guaranteed a lunch.

The North Central SARE awards competitive grants to farmers and ranchers for on-farm research, demonstration and educational projects.  There are three types of grants - individual (one farmer and up to $7,5000); partner (two farmers and up to $15,000) and group (three or more farmers and up to $22,500).

For more information or to register, contact Joyce Rainwater at 314-800-4076.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Webinar to Address New Meat Labeling Rule

Confused about the new requirements for nutritional labels on meat? You're not alone. Join NMPAN and FSIS on October 4 to get your questions answered. The webinar is free and you don't even have to leave the comfort of your own computer.

Nutritional Labeling of Meat and Poultry: the New Rules – October 4

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service finalized new rules last year about nutritional labeling of meat and poultry products. The new rules are effective on January 1, 2012 -- that means everyone must be in compliance. Are you ready? If not -- or if you are, but still have questions -- join us on this webinar.

FSIS policy and labeling division staff will explain the rules and what you need to know to comply. Also, Brynn Kepler of the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP) will tell us about resources they've developed for processors to help with compliance.

There will be plenty time for your questions.

Date: Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Time: 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern
Duration: one hour
How to join: log onto

Monday, September 26, 2011

Accessing Farm Programs

If you are planning on coming to the "Accessing Farm Programs" Workshop, the last day to register is today.  Please either email or call Lorin Chann, 573-449-3518, to let her know you will be attending.

The "Accessing Farm Programs" Workshop is divided into two sessions. Session 1 will be held October 3rd from 1:00 pm to 7:30 pm. This session is a general overview of government agencies and their programs. The cost for this session is $15/person. Session 2 will be held October 4th from 7:30 am to 1:00 pm. This session begins with a farm tour to see the different types of cost share farm systems followed by a working session on how to develop a plan which is necessary in applying for government farming programs. Assistance from the NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) staff will be on hand to assist you in putting a list together of all the materials you will need when applying for the EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Program). The cost for this session is $10/person. You are welcome to attend either one or both of the sessions. Click here for the registration form.

SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Webinar

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program will conclude its monthly webinars in September with Greg and Nancy Rasmussen will talk about their SARE Farmer/Rancher grant. They are grass farmers raising cattle, sheep and poultry.  They direct market each animal they raise.

Meeting Name: SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Webinar with Greg and Nancy Rasmussen -
a 2010 Grant Recipient of Rainwater Capture and Re-use: Using Gravity and Solar Power
When: Monday September 26th, 7-8:30 pm (central time)
To join the meeting: and sign in as a guest

Grassland Meeting at Lake Ozark, Nov. 7-8, will give forage advice, economic outlook

At the annual meeting of the Missouri Forage and Grassland Council, Scott Brown, MU FAPRI economist, will tell beef producers the bright outlook for those who convert low-cost grass into high-priced beef.

“Record beef prices are coming in the years ahead, according the mid-year baseline,” Brown said. The outlook was issued by the University of Missouri Food and Agricultural Policy Institute (MU FAPRI) in late August.

The forage producers will meet Nov. 7-8 at Port Arrowhead, Lake Ozark, Mo.

Brown will be followed by Rick Rasby, beef specialist from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. His topic: “The Role of Forages in the Changing Beef Industry.”

At the meeting, MFGC will celebrate 25 years of promoting better grazing practices in the state. At the evening awards banquet, Nov. 7, Fred Martz, MU professor emeritus, will tell the group's history.

Martz, former superintendent of the MU Forage Systems Research Center, Linneus, Mo., was an organizer of the group. He is writing its history.

Much of the two-day program will aim to improve forage production livestock grazing. Specialists from land-grant universities and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service will share forage growing tips.

From Auburn University, Don Ball will give new information on the value of legumes in grass pastures.

From the NRCS in Springfield, Mark Green will tell of “Managing What You Have, before Buying that Silver Bullet.”

From the NRCS in Gallatin, Mo., Doug Peters will talk on soil quality and health.

Joe Bouton of the Noble Foundation, Ardmore Okla., will describe changing forages and will take a look ahead 25 years. Bouton has developed 17 cultivars to the commercial stage. That includes Max Q fescue, Alfagraze and two white clovers.

From the University of Missouri, Justin Sexten, Extension beef nutritionist, will describe the added gains, and profits, from delayed weaning of fall-born steers. The work was done at the MU FSRC.

From the Extension Center, Steelville, Mo., Will McClain will work through the math to answer “Can I Afford to Fertilize?”

Tim Schnakenberg, MU agronomy specialist, Galena, Mo., will tell about nutrient recycling on the farm.

Wesley Tucker, MU farm business specialist, Bolivar, Mo., will compare the costs of leasing land versus ownership.

A trade show will be open throughout the convention.  Full registration fee is $95 for members plus $45 for spouse. Non members pay another $15. Partial enrollments are offered.

Astute price watchers will see that it pays to become a member, said Joetta Roberts, who handles the business for the organization. To register, call Roberts weekday mornings at 573-499-0886.

On-site registration starts at 10 a.m., Nov. 7. Talks begin at 10:45 a.m. The meeting adjourns 3 p.m. Nov. 8.  The meeting site is at the south end of the Business Route Highway 54 at Bagnall Dam.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

OCIA Research & Education Micro Grants

OCIA International (Organic Crop Improvement Association) offers grants in the range of $300 to $1,500 for organic research, organic education, and other ideas supporting organic agriculture. Grants can be for any of the following areas that involve organics, and benefit multiple producers, processors and/or consumers.

1. Organic Research
  • Crop and/or livestock production, storage improvement, processing improvement
  • Marketing of organic products
2. Organic Education
  • Development of educational material (i.e. student related, producer related, consumer related, web related, etc.)
  • Development of programs supporting organic agriculture (i.e.e various types of camps, community gardens, grocery store taste tests, presentations to interested parties, etc.)
3. Other ideas supporting/promoting organic agriculture
  • Subject to board approval

Typical grants would be in the range of $300 to $1,500, on a first come-first served basis provided projects meet requirements. The intent is to spread grant awards among as many regions as possible. Therefore, there may belimitations on the number of grants given within any one region. Proposals must support organic agriculture in some form. A progress report or final report is due by December 31. The final report should be no more than two pages.
Project results must have the capability of being repeated by other individuals who may want to apply the concept to their circumstances. The final report becomes property of OCIA R&E, which reserves the right to distribute to appropriate venues. On-farm field research should include a control or check treatment, or compare at least two different treatments or variables so valid conclusions can be made.
For more information contact Angela Tunink at 402-477-2323 x 320.  To download an application click here.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

MU Forage Systems Research Center set to showcase latest research in pasture management at field day, Sept. 29

This summer’s drought and heat put pressure on many Missouri livestock producers. They can learn new strategies to alleviate forage shortages and hear many other strategies to improve their operations, from forage strategies to wildlife habitat and timber management, at Forage Systems Research Center’s annual Field Day, Sept. 29.

Located near Linneus, Mo., the Center is one of 20 around the state at which the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources conducts impactful research benefitting Missouri farmers.

The Field Day features two wagon tours and a walking tour. Each tour lasts about 30 minutes and will be available from 9 a.m. to noon. After learning how to improve forage quality, profitability and strategies to control resistant weeds, attendees can enjoy a free lunch.

The heat and drought during the summer have caused significant forage shortfalls around the state. Robert Kallenbach, MU professor of plant sciences and forage specialist, will present his research on summer annual forages to alleviate those shortages.

Craig Roberts, MU plant sciences professor, will address a common dilemma for producers: What will the toxin levels be if I make hay or silage from tall fescue? Roberts will explain strategies to reduce toxin levels and explain the factors that affect toxicity.

Winter feeding strategies, new technology to measure pasture production, how to background weaned calves on pasture, improving wildlife habitat and timber management also will be discussed. With all the dry weather throughout Missouri this year, David Davis, superintendent at the Center, expects lots of questions about summer forage options and endophyte toxin levels in fescue. The ongoing research at the Center and expert presentations will keep producers at the forefront of the latest developments in forage systems management.

Registration Begins 8:30 A.M.
Tours start at 9:00 A.M.
Lunch Provided
Driving Directions
2011 Field Day brochure

Program Tours Include:
•Warm season annual grass for summer grazing
•Backgrounding calves on pasture
•New technology to improve pasture management
•Winter hay feeding to maximize fertilizer value
•Pasture weed control
•Improving wildlife habitat
•Using weather data
•Timber management and sawmill demo

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact David Davis at 660-985-5121, or go to

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rural Champions Utilize USDA Programs to Promote Sustainable Farmland Practices

If after you read this story you wonder how you can take advantage of these types of farm programs in Missouri, then be sure to sign up for the "Accessing Farm Programs Workshop" on Oct 3-4 in Columbia, MO.

When Rick Huszagh and Crista Carrell purchased part of her family’s farm in 1995, their focus was on farmland preservation as much as the creation of a successful business enterprise.

Mountain Creek Farm started out selling Boer goats to purebred and commercial breeders and bermuda hay to neighboring horse farms. Goat kids were raised each spring to sell for breeding stock or meat. The couple improved their farm marketing by participating in shows, performance tests, and field days. The farm’s proximity to the University of Georgia facilitated their involvement in herd management studies related to the control of internal parasites. They took full advantage of resources offered by the Cooperative Extension Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and participated in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Rick and Crista’s interest in sustainability issues on the farm led them to research and implement small-scale biodiesel production for the tractors in 2005. In 2006, they intensified their renewable energy involvement when they were awarded a Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) grant and USDA guaranteed loan. Along with like-minded partners, they established Down to Earth Energy, a commercial biodiesel production facility located adjacent to the farm. Concern with some of the inefficiencies in the biodiesel process led them to partner with the University of Georgia to develop a more effective catalyst. The concept was further funded by an EPA Small Business Innovation Research Grant (SBIR) and a Venturelab grant.

Crista was appointed a Walton County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor in 2006. She has spearheaded the district’s sponsorship of community forestry activities in Monroe and served as the coordinator of Atha Road Elementary School’s outdoor classroom from 2003-2011. Her work as a district supervisor led to her being hired as the first full-time Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Conservation District Supervisors (GACDS) in 2007.
(copied from the USDA blog)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Farming Apprenticeships

EarthDance is now accepting applications for our 2012 Organic Farming Apprenticeship! Here’s what some of our current farmies have to say about the program:

• “I wanted a great learning experience and this is exceeding my expectations. Each shift I learn something.”

• “The apprenticeship is a commitment, but well worth it!”

• “What I’ve appreciated most is meeting so many amazing people. Truly enlivens what community farming is about.”

The EarthDance Organic Farming Apprenticeship is an opportunity to learn how to grow food on a productive farm, close to home. The program was designed to serve the needs of urban and suburban dwellers who are interested in learning to grow their own food or exploring careers in sustainable agriculture, but are not yet able to devote themselves to full-time farming.

The program is a commitment of 10 hours per week over the course of the growing season. The apprenticeship consists of hands-on learning through farm and market work, weekly enrichment sessions, and field trips to other local farms. Also, each week apprentices take home a share of the harvest!

You can find out more about the program from the Apprenticeship FAQ section of our website, or by attending one of our So, You Want to Be a Farmer? Info Sessions. To find out how to apply to be a 2012 EarthDance Apprentice, click here.

So, You Want To Be a Farmer? Info Sessions

Thursday, September 22, 2011 6:00p-7:30pm at Ferguson Middle School’s Library, 701 January Avenue, Ferguson MO 63135

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 7:00-8:30pm at Schalfly Bottleworks in Maplewood, 7260 Southwest Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63143

Thursday October 20, 2011 7:00-8:30pm at University City Public Library, 6701 Delmar Blvd, St Louis, MO 63130

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

High Tunnel Installation

Have you ever wanted to up a high tunnel? OR are you thinking you might want one in the future? OR maybe you are energetic and have some free time to lend a hand to a fellow producer?  And are you free on Monday, September 19th?

If YES is the answer to one or all of the above questions, please join us in constructing Paula Swayne's 30' X 72' High tunnel in Independence, MO.

Norman Kilmer from Morgan County Seed will be there all day to direct construction.

Paula has also offered to provide lunch for anyone who wishes to help.


When: Monday September 19th from 8am-5pm

Where: 2121 South Sterling Ave. Independence, Missouri What to bring: Power drill (accessories like drivers), gloves, and any other tools you think would be helpful.

There is no cost associated with this event.

Katie Nixon, Small Farm Specialist, Lincoln University, 816-809-5074 or Paula Swayne at 816-458-6880 to let us know you are coming to help!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Growing Garlic - Get Ready to Plant in Early to Mid October

Garlic is a very popular vegetable, and is very easy to grow in Missouri. Without garlic, many of our popular dishes would lack the flavor and character that make them favorites. Fortunately, garlic is relatively easy to grow in the home garden. The most difficult decision may be deciding what kind of garlic to plant since there are over 100 cultivars available from specialty suppliers!

According to University of Minnesota Extension, in their publication “Growing Garlic in Minnesota”, garlic can be a profitable crop for vegetable growers with average yields of 8,000-10,000 pounds per acre, and prices ranging from $5.00 to $10.00 per pound at farmer’s markets.

Garlic produces well in Missouri when planted in October or very early spring, using individual cloves or the small bulbils found on topsetting types. Fall or very early spring planting is required because dormant cloves and young garlic plants must be exposed to cold temperatures of 32 to 50 degrees F. for one to two months to induce bulb formation.

Softneck vs. Hardneck Garlic

Choosing which type of garlic to grow many be your most difficult decision! But the most important thing to keep in mind, is not to plant garlic you purchased at the grocery store.

There are two main types of garlic—soft neck and hardneck. Each has several distinct groups and cultivars. Hardneck garlic, Allium sativum subsp. ophioscorodon, produces a woody flower stalk and also is known as “top-setting” garlic because it produces clusters of bulbils after the mostly sterile flowers bloom. Many hardneck types tend to produce large underground bulbs made up of a few large cloves and yield best when planted in the fall. Research has shown that yields will increase if the flower heads are removed before the bulbils form. When removed, the young, tender flowerstems can be harvested and used for stir-frying or other dishes. If left to grow, the bulbils, which are about the size of a popcorn kernel, can be eaten or planted. If bulbils are used for propagation, it will take 2 to 3 years to produce a full-sized bulb. Bulbils can also be planted for garlic greens.

Softneck garlic, A. s. subsp. sativum, does not form a woody stalk but has flexible leaves that can be braided. Bulbs of softneck types usually have more individual cloves and yield higher than hardneck types. Softneck types also are generally better adapted to a wide range of climates. They can be spring- planted with more success than spring-planted hardneck cultivars. However, garlic connoisseurs say that softneck cultivars lack the subtle flavor differences found in hardneck cultivars.

Elephant garlic, Allium ampeloprasum, is not a true garlic, but is actually a bulbing leek.

Garlic Types & Cultivars

•Rocambole- hardneck. Bulbs off white with purple stripes. Clove skins brown and easy to peal. Stores about 4 to 5 months. Cultivars include Kilarney Red, German Red, Spanish Roja, and Capathian.
•Porcelian- hardneck. Smooth white skins. Cloves more difficult to peal than rocamboles. Stores about 5 to 7 months. Cultivars include German Extra Hardy, Georgian Crystal and Music.
•Purple stripe- hardneck. Bulbs white with purple streaks. Clove skins brown and more difficult to peal than rocamboles. Stores 5 to 7 months. Cultivars include Persian Star and Metechi.
•Silverskins- softneck. White bulbs and clove skins. Best adapted to warm climates with mild winters. Stores for up to one year. Cultivars include Silver White, Idaho Silverskin, and California Select.
•Artichoke- usually a softneck, but may flower following a cold winter. Bulbs white or purple blushed. Named for their layers of overlapping cloves. Difficult to peel. Stores 6 to 9 months. Cultivars include Inchelium Red, Kettle River Giant, and Early Red Italian.

Garden Preparation

Garlic grows best in well-drained, friable loam soils that are fertile and high in organic matter. If your soil is high in clay, add organic matter to break up clay particles for better drainage. Organic matter also will help a sandy soil hold more water. Like onions, garlic needs a steady and fairly high level of nutrients in the soil while actively growing, but they have shallow, coarse roots that are not as efficient at nutrient uptake as other crops.

So when preparing the soil for planting, apply 3 to 4 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet (or follow soil test recommendations) and spread one to three inches of organic matter such as chopped leaves, dry grass clippings, compost or sphagnum peat over the soil surface. Use a spading fork to turn over and break up the soil and begin mixing in the organic matter. A rototiller also can be used to prepare the soil, but remember that over-tilling can destroy the soil structure.

When incorporating organic matter that must be decayed, such as dry leaves and grass clippings, it is best to do it a few weeks before planting so soil microbes will have a chance to start breaking it down.


Just before planting, separate bulbs into their individual cloves and sort by size. Do not divide the bulbs more than a few days before planting because early separation results in decreased yields. Reserve the largest cloves for planting and use the smaller cloves for cooking.

For best yields, garlic should be planted in early- to mid- October. Planting before mid-September is not recommended. Garlic cloves should begin growing and then go dormant when cold weather arrives.

Plant the cloves 3 to 5 inches apart in an upright position (pointed end up) to ensure good emergence and straight necks. Cover cloves to a depth of about 2 to 3 inches. Allow 12 to 24 inches between rows. Garlic also lends itself well to wide-row planting; space cloves five inches apart in all directions in foot-wide rows or raised beds. This requires considerably less garden space for the same yield, but weeding must be done by hand.

Water thoroughly after planting to stimulate growth. The soil must be kept evenly moist during active growth. Garlic is quite drought-sensitive, so a weekly application of one inch of water will increase yields if rainfall is lacking. Dry soil will result in irregularly shaped bulbs.

A light application of mulch (1 to 2 inches) after the ground freezes will help prevent frost heaving throughout the winter.


Fall-planted garlic is ready to harvest from late June to mid-July so reduce watering and let plants dry down a week or so before harvest. The outer bulb covering disintegrates fairly quickly and the bulbs will shatter if they are not harvested at their peak, so carefully monitor their development. When the lower 1/3 of the leaves are yellow, dig or pull a few plants to check the development of the bulbs. If the bulbs have segmented into cloves that can be separated, it is time to harvest. If the bulbs haven’t yet segmented, leave the remaining plants for a week or two and then check them again. When mature, each bulb should be fully segmented and covered by a tight outer skin.

After pulling, lay the bulbs on screens in the shade or in a well-ventilated room to cure, protecting them from moisture. Bulbs should be cured for 2 to 4 weeks at 75 to 90°F and low humidity. If you want to braid your softneck crop, allow the tops to wilt for 2 to 3 days and then braid them tightly and allow them to finish curing. Tight braids are necessary since the stems will continue to shrink as they dry.

If not braided, trim the tops to about 1/2" long and roots to 1/4" after the bulbs have cured. If there is moisture in the stem when you trim the tops, continue to cure the bulbs for a few more days, then check again. Softneck garlic usually takes longer to cure because there are more layers of cloves in each bulb. Leave the outer covering on to reduce moisture loss and mechanical damage. Store garlic in mesh bags so there is good air circulation around the bulbs.

(by By Laurie Hodges, UNL Extension Vegetable Specialist)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Black Walnuts: Pick Them and Clean Them Up Quickly

If you have walnut trees on your property, you could gather the nuts and sell them as an alternative.  Here is some info about that.  To learn more about the varieties you might have, check out "Flowering and Fruit Characteristics of Black Walnuts: A Tool for Identifying and Selecting Cultivars:  Compare the nuts of walnut cultivars side by side".

Now is the time to take advantage of the wild black walnuts as trees are shedding their nuts rapidly. Since there are over 97 million wild black trees in Missouri, there is likely one near you!

While commercial producers typically harvest with a mechanical tree shaker, homeowners can enjoy the nuts picked from the tree or from the ground after falling from the tree. The highest quality nuts are those still attached to the tree. To determine the right time to harvest nuts from the tree, a “dent test” can be used. This is performed by holding a walnut and depressing the husk with the thumb. When more than 75% of the black walnut husks dent, the walnut tree is ready for harvest. Research at the University of Missouri has shown that husk softening is associated with walnut maturity. An instrument, such as the durometer, which measures husk hardness, is another way to determine the harvest date for black walnuts. However, if you are too late to harvest the nuts from the tree, it is important to collect the nuts soon after they drop to enjoy them before squirrels find them.

Another reason to harvest them when the hulls are softening and green is that the kernels will be mature and flavorful, but not dark in color or taste rancid. With a two week delay in husk removal, kernels turn black and the less desirable flavors will have developed. Not only is it important to collect the walnuts quickly, but it is also important to remove the husks as soon as possible after harvest. For large scale production, mechanical hulling (husk removal) is used, but homeowners often use other creative methods such as running over the nuts with a vehicle or using grinders or other abrasive means to remove the husks.

Once husks are removed, walnuts are hung in bags and dried for about five weeks. Onion bags or other loose-woven bags that permit air movement are ideal. After the nuts have dried, either crack them immediately or store them at 32 to 40 ºF. Before cracking, inspect the shells to make sure that there are no fissures or cracks in the shell. Walnuts with cracked shells are often infected with microorganisms and should be discarded. Bright yellow, blue streaked, or black kernels should not be consumed. For black walnuts with sound shells, heavy duty crackers are needed to break open the thick shells. An example of such a nut cracker can be found at: After cracking, walnuts for immediate use can be placed in an airtight container in the refrigerator or they can be stored in the freezer until next year’s harvest.

To enjoy black walnuts year round, try some of the recipes at:
(Source: Michele Warmund, MU Professor of Horticulture)

Friday, September 9, 2011

September Webinar - SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program will continue its monthly webinars in September with a presentation by Debi Kelly, MU SARE State Coordinator, with an overview of the SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant. The webinar will be Monday, September 12th from 7:00 to 8:30 pm with a PowerPoint presentation. There will be two additional opportunities to learn about the SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant from past Missouri farmer recipients. On September 19th hear from Linda Hezel and on September 26th Greg and Nancy Rasmussen will talk about their grant.

Meeting Name: Overview of the Farmer/Rancher Grant - Debi Kelly, MO State SARE Coordinator
When: Monday September 12th, 7-8:30 pm
To join the meeting: and sign in as a guest

Meeting Name: SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Webinar with Linda Hezel - a 2008 Grant Recipient of Comparison of Coverings over Permanent Raised Beds to Extend the Growing Season for Year Round Food Production
When: Monday September 19th, 7-8:30 pm
To join the meeting: and sign in as a guest

Meeting Name: SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Webinar with Greg and Nancy Rasmussen - a 2010 Grant Recipient of Rainwater Capture and Re-use: Using Gravity and Solar Power
When: Monday September 26th, 7-8:30 pm
To join the meeting: and sign in as a guest

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Organic Cost Share

The fiscal year for the USDA NOP Organic Cost Share Program comes to a close September 30, 2011. For this year only, producers are eligible for both the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 cycles.  If you received an organic certification between October 1, 2009 and September 30, 2011 you are eligible for a 75% or up to $750 reimbursement for each certification, or classification in which you are certified.  If you have not received funds in either year, please apply by the end of the month.  Future funding for organic programs is determined largely by how much is used or not used the year before.

In previous years funds have run out early.  As a result Missouri received a substantial increase for 2010-2011 and there are still funds left.  This year applications are up almost 40% to date, and everyone who has applied has been funded in each cycle.  Help us exhaust these funds to help ensure that future increases match the amazing growth of Missouri’s organic producers, processors and handlers.

For more information or to apply visit the Organic page on the MO Department of Agriculture's website or send an email to Charlie Hopper.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Northeast Beginning Farmer Project

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program does make a huge effort to reach everyone in many different formats.  However, our grant was not written to create any online courses.  Therefore, I am posting today about the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project that has created 7 online courses.  Be forewarned that the production courses may be a bit different than what would be expected here in the Midwest, but I would expect some of the information to be applicable.

The growing season is still in full swing, but here at the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project, we're already thinking about "education season". Six of our 7 online courses - including 4 new topics - are still open for registration, ready to help you continue your farming education. As always, our courses are taught by experienced Cooperative Extension educators, farmers, and other specialists. Courses are usually 6 weeks long, cost $175, and include both real-time meetings (online webinars) and on-your-own time reading and activities. We do not offer any academic credit, but those who successfully complete a course will receive a certificate and are also eligible for Farm Service Agency (FSA) borrower training credit, which can improve your eligibility to receive a low-interest FSA loan.

We've got several courses that will help you build the "invisible infrastructure" of your farm business:

• If you're ready to write a farm business plan, sign up for the BF 202: Planning to Stay in Business course, which will help you document the feasibility of your business and prepare to seek funding from banks and other lenders

• Financial records are the foundation of tracking your farm's progress toward profitability. Need some guidance in setting up your recordkeeping systems? Then BF 104: Financial Records is for you.

On the production side, we offer:

• BF 120: Veggie Farming - back by popular demand, this jam-packed course has now been divided into two parts (with BF 121 being offered in January). BF 120 covers the planning, budgeting, site selection, and planting, while BF 121 will pick up where BF 120 leaves off and take you through considerations in season-long care, harvest, and marketing.

• Raising poultry is a popular enterprise for many small farmers, so this Fall we're introducing a new course, BF 130: Poultry Production, to cover the basic requirements of producing and profiting from chickens, ducks, and turkeys.

• Before you sink a lot of money into equipment, consider taking BF 105: Machinery and Equipment, another new course designed to help you weigh your options and make smart decisions about what's best for your farm scale and situation.

• BF 110: Soil Health returns again this Fall to introduce growers at all levels of experience to practical on-farm applications of soil health concepts. This course will again incorporate an optional in-person field day at an amazing farm in Northern NY that will demonstrate improvement of soil health on a working farm.

To learn more about each course, please visit the Northeast Beginning Farmers website. From this site you can visit our Annual Course Calendar, learn more about our Instructors, see answers to Frequently Asked Questions, read details for each course, and even visit a sample online course.

Courses often fill very quickly, so don't miss your chance to sign up today!

Development of new online courses has been partially funded by the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program, project #2009-49400-05878. Course coordination is provided by the Cornell Small Farms Program.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Rescheduled: Accessing Farm Programs Workshop

Have you ever wondered what all those letters meant from the federal agencies that are supposed to help farmers? Do you know the difference between cost share, grants and loans? Do you know what it takes to sign up for those government programs to help you with your farm? If not, then join us for the Missouri Beginning Farmer Program Workshop on "Accessing Farm Programs" on October 3rd and 4th at the Bradford Research and Extension Center in Columbia, MO.

The "Accessing Farm Programs" Workshop is divided into two sessions. Session 1 will be held October 3rd from 1:00 pm to 7:30 pm. This session is a general overview of government agencies and their programs. The cost for this session is $15/person. Session 2 will be held October 4th from 7:30 am to 1:00 pm. This session begins with a farm tour to see the different types of cost share farm systems followed by a working session on how to develop a plan which is necessary in applying for government farming programs.  Assistance from the NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) staff will be on hand to assist you in putting a list together of all the materials you will need when applying for the EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Program). The cost for this session is $10/person. You are welcome to attend either one or both of the sessions. Click here for the registration form.


October 3rd
1:00 - 1:20 pm - Welcome and Introductions

1:20 - 2:00 pm - Overview of FSA, NRCS, RMA, SARE, and MDA

2:00 - 2:4:5 pm - Difference between Loans, Grants and Cost Sharing

2:45 - 3:00 pm - Break

3:00 - 5:00 pm - Curbside Consulting (spend 20 minutes with each of the different agencies - FSA, NRCS, RMA, SARE, MDC)

5:00 pm - 6:00 pm - Local Foods Dinner

6:15 pm - 7:00 pm - Farmer Panel (discuss with farmers about their experience with access programs)

7:00 - 7:30 pm - Virtual Tour of Jefferson Farm and Garden from the NRCS Perspective

October 4th
7:30 - 8:30 am - Tour of Jefferson Farm and Garden (see the government programs installed on the farm)

9:00 - 1:00 pm - Components of the EQIP Program and the Beginning Development of Your Farm Plan (start gathering information needed to put your farm plan together)

For additional information contact Lorin at 573-449-3518.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The 2011 Missouri Blueberry School

Why should you consider attending the 2011 Missouri Blueberry School? Are you a commercial blueberry grower, with specific production issues? Are you considering blueberry production for the first time, with basic questions concerning growing and marketing blueberries? Are you a home blueberry grower, with a desire to build your blueberry knowledge? All of these topics, plus more, will be part of the 2011 Missouri Blueberry School.

The Missouri Blueberry School will be held Oct 7-8, 2011 at the MSU Darr Agricultural Center, 2401 S. Kansas Expressway, Springfield, MO 65807 along with tours to two area blueberry farms.

Blueberries offer huge potential for Missouri farmers. Though a challenging crop to produce, blueberries are in high demand for many markets. The Blueberry School will offer educational sessions and a tour of innovative blueberry farms. Join local and nationally known blueberry specialists to gain expertise on:

• Selecting adapted blueberry cultivars
• Establishing blueberry plantings
• The economics of blueberry production
• Constructing and maintaining blueberry irrigation systems
• Blueberry fertility management
• Experiences of Missouri blueberry producers
• On-farm tours of innovative blueberry producers


Friday, Oct 7 - Blueberry Educational Sessions
8:30 - Registration
9:00 - 9:45 - The Missouri Blueberry Industry, Ben Fuqua, Missouri State University and Patrick Byers, University of Missouri Extension
9:45 - 10:00 - Break
10:00 - 11:00 - Blueberry Planting Establishment, Bernadine Strik, Oregon State University
11:00 - 12:00 - Blueberry Cultivars, Martin Kaps, Missouri State University
12:00 - 1:00 - lunch
1:00 - 2:00 - Cash Flow Realities with Blueberries, Ed Browning, University of Missouri Extension
2:00 - 2:45 - Blueberry Nutrition Management, Bernadine Strik, Oregon State University
2:45 - 3:00 - Break
3:00 - 4:00 - Blueberry Irrigation, David Bryla, ARS at Oregon State University
4:00 - 5:00 - Missouri Experiences Grower panel
5:00 - 7:00 - supper (on own)
7:00 - 9:00 - Reception, round table discussions, Blueberry Council meeting

Saturday, Oct 8 - Blueberry Farm Bus Tour
8:00 - Tour bus departs from Darr Agricultural Center
8:30-10:30 - Sunshine Valley Farm tour with demonstration of blueberry irrigation design
10:30-12:00 - Travel time
12:00-1:00 - lunch
1:00-3:00 - Persimmon Hill Berry Farm tour with discussion of blueberry disease issues
3:00-4:30 - Return to Darr Agricultural Center

Workshop Registration: Please contact Sabrina Brown at 417-881-8909 or for more information on the Missouri Blueberry School.

Friday, October 7, 2011 Blueberry Educational Sessions

The October 7 Blueberry Educational Sessions will take place at the Bond Learning Center, located at the MSU Darr Agricultural Center, 2401 S. Kansas Expressway, in Springfield. The Friday program includes presentations on a wide range of blueberry topics, by national experts and local blueberry specialists. In addition, the Missouri Blueberry Council will meet Friday evening, following the reception, with an educational program as a part of the meeting.

Registration for the educational sessions is per family or farm, with the first registration from a family or farm at $50.00. This registration is for one person per family or farm, and includes lunch, refreshments, educational resources, complimentary evening reception, and a complimentary copy of Highbush Blueberry Production Guide (a $48 value, one per family or farm). In order to make the Blueberry School as affordable as possible, additional registrations from the same family or farm are at the reduced rate of $35.00 each, this includes lunch, re-freshments, and the evening reception. Please fill out the enclosed registration form, and return with payment to register. Please include an email, as we will send registration confirmation and updates by email.

Saturday, October 8, 2011 Blueberry Farm Bus Tour

The Missouri Blueberry School bus tour will visit two premier blueberry farms, interact with the growers, and provide plenty of time to ask questions. Learn how to get started in blueberries, how to address the challenges related to blueberry production, and how to market the blueberry crop. In addition, two special on-farm presentations will be delivered. The first presentation will focus on design and use of drip irrigation systems, and the second presentation will give an up-to-date picture of the blueberry disease situation in Missouri. Registration for the blueberry farm bus tour is $50.00 per person, and includes the bus trip, lunch, refreshments, and educational resources.