Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fruit Tree Pruning Workshop - Feb 17

MU Extension is offering two Fruit Tree Pruning Workshops this year. Join us for one or both to learn the basics of pruning various fruit trees. At each workshop, we'll spend a little bit of time in the classroom (15 minutes), then head out to the orchard to hear from the owners and see how they prune their trees. If you want, you'll have the opportunity to gain some first-hand experience, too.

Fruit tree pruning is an important practice which impacts yield, disease, and quality.  This workshop will provide an opportunity to learn the science and art of proper pruning in an informal learning environment.

Friday, February 17, 2012, Noon - 2:00pm at "Of the Earth Orchard" 38391 W 176th, Rayville, MO 64084, 816.352.6188.  Please register by February 14th to ensure your spot at the workshop. The cost of the pruning workshop is $10 per person.  Be sure to come prepared for the weather.  We will be spending time in the orchard.  Click here for more information including a registration form.

Saturday, March 7, 9:00 - 11:00am at "Alldredge Orchards" 10455 Highway N, Platte City, MO 64079, 816.330.3448. Please register by March 7 to ensure your spot at the workshop. The cost of the pruning workshop is $10 per person. Be sure to come prepared for the weather.  We will be spending time in the orchard.  Click here for more information including a registration form.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Beginning Beekeeping Class - Feb 11

Do you keep bees, or ever wanted to learn how? The Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association will offer courses for both the novice and experienced beekeeper on Saturday, February 11, 2012, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Maritz in Fenton, Missouri. Prominent bee researcher and Bee Culture columnist Jennifer Berry, certified master beekeeper Erin Forbes, and Missouri State Beekeepers Association President and frequent speaker Grant Gillard will lead the classes.

The Beginners Beekeeping course is intended for persons with no prior beekeeping experience. The class will cover all aspects of basic beekeeping to prepare students to start beekeeping in April, 2012.

The Experienced Beekeepers’ course will be tailored towards intermediate and expert level beekeepers, and will place special emphasis on spring management, nucleus colonies, queen rearing, mite control, and successful overwintering.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Registration packets will include course materials, an authoritative reference book, beekeeping periodicals, and equipment catalogs.

Online registration began December 15, 2011 at http://www.easternmobeekeepers.com/

Tuition cost is $90 per person for those registering on or after January 22nd. Registration closes February 4th unless filled sooner. Space is limited, and will be filled on a first-comefirst-served basis. There will be a waiting list, if needed. More information is available by calling 314-894-8737 or as listed on the EMBA website.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Keeping it Sharp

How sharp you make your tools is a matter of personal choice. I like my shovels to be sharp enough to cut through minor roots, but with my rocky soil, I won’t repair an edge to razor sharpness every five minutes. On the other hand, when I’m trimming back my lilacs, a razor-edged pair of pruning shears makes the job quick and easy.

Sharpening tools is a slightly more complicated procedure than removing rust. Some tools like shovels, axes, hoes, and trowels are best sharpened with a hand file, while other tools like pruning shears and knives call for a honing stone. Depending on how dull an edge is, some tools may require the use of a high-speed grinder.

A good guideline to use when sharpening is to follow the bevel already on the tool’s blade. Recommended sharpening angles range from 10 to 45 degrees depending on the tool and its use. In general, the angle of sharpness determines the length of the blade’s beveled edge, so use the angle of the blade as a guideline when sharpening.  For example, blades sharpened at low angles have relatively wide bevels. Knives and pruning  shears, tools that need finer edges for cutting, should be sharpened to between a 10- to 25-degree angle.  Tools used for heavy-duty chores that dull the blades quickly, like hoes, shovels, and mattocks, only need to be sharpened to a 30- to 35-degree angle. The bevel on these blades is relatively short. Understanding this relationship is the key to successful sharpening.

The tools needed for basic sharpening are neither expensive nor complicated. The most basic sharpening tool is an 8 or 10-inch-long mill file with a bastard cut which you can purchase at your favorite hardware store for about $8 to $12. When sharpening a tool with a mill file, work by drawing the cutting teeth in one direction over the edge being sharpened. For best results, hold the tool steady in a vise, or other bracing system, keeping the file at an angle from the plane of the cool’s working surface as you push it along the edge you are sharpening. And since sharpening edges with a mill file requires two hands, get one that has a handle on one end. This makes it easier to maneuver and get a good edge. Remove the hoe from the vise (if applicable) and test it in the soil. You should notice a measurable difference in the sharpness as it cultivates the soil.  Once you complete your sharpening work use a rag with some vegetable oil and wipe it on the tool to help prevent rust.

(by Jeff Yearington, Farm Outreach Worker, Lincoln University)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

USDA Unveils New Plant Hardiness Zone Map

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released the new version of its Plant Hardiness Zone Map (PHZM), updating a useful tool for gardeners and researchers for the first time since 1990 with greater accuracy and detail. The new map—jointly developed by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Oregon State University's (OSU) PRISM Climate Group—is available online. ARS is the chief intramural scientific research agency of USDA.

For the first time, the new map offers a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based interactive format and is specifically designed to be Internet-friendly. The map website also incorporates a "find your zone by ZIP code" function. Static images of national, regional and state maps have also been included to ensure the map is readily accessible to those who lack broadband Internet access.

"This is the most sophisticated Plant Hardiness Zone Map yet for the United States," said Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. "The increases in accuracy and detail that this map represents will be extremely useful for gardeners and researchers."

Plant hardiness zone designations represent the average annual extreme minimum temperatures at a given location during a particular time period. They do not reflect the coldest it has ever been or ever will be at a specific location, but simply the average lowest winter temperature for the location over a specified time. Low temperature during the winter is a crucial factor in the survival of plants at specific locations.

The new version of the map includes 13 zones, with the addition for the first time of zones 12 (50-60 degrees F) and 13 (60-70 degrees F). Each zone is a 10-degree Fahrenheit band, further divided into A and B 5-degree Fahrenheit zones.

To help develop the new map, USDA and OSU requested that horticultural and climatic experts review the zones in their geographic area, and trial versions of the new map were revised, based on their expert input.

Compared to the 1990 version, zone boundaries in this edition of the map have shifted in many areas. The new map is generally one 5-degree Fahrenheit half-zone warmer than the previous map throughout much of the United States. This is mostly a result of using temperature data from a longer and more recent time period; the new map uses data measured at weather stations during the 30-year period 1976-2005. In contrast, the 1990 map was based on temperature data from only a 13-year period of 1974-1986.

Some of the changes in the zones, however, are a result of new, more sophisticated methods for mapping zones between weather stations. These include algorithms that considered for the first time such factors as changes in elevation, nearness to large bodies of water, and position on the terrain, such as valley bottoms and ridge tops. Also, the new map used temperature data from many more stations than did the 1990 map. These advances greatly improved the accuracy and detail of the map, especially in mountainous regions of the western United States. In some cases, advances resulted in changes to cooler, rather than warmer, zones.

While about 80 million American gardeners, as well as those who grow and breed plants, are the largest users of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, many others need this hardiness zone information. For example, the USDA Risk Management Agency uses the USDA plant hardiness zone designations to set some crop insurance standards. Scientists use the plant hardiness zones as a data layer in many research models such as modeling the spread of exotic weeds and insects.

Although a poster-sized version of this map will not be available for purchase from USDA, as in the past, anyone may download the map free of charge from the Internet onto their personal computer and print copies of the map as needed.

As USDA's chief scientific research agency, ARS is leading America towards a better future through agricultural research and information. ARS conducts research to develop and transfer solutions to help answer agricultural questions that impact Americans every day. ARS work helps to:

• ensure high-quality, safe food, and other agricultural products;
• assess the nutritional needs of Americans;
• sustain a competitive agricultural economy;
• enhance the natural resource base and the environment; and
• provide economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities, and society as a whole.

(taken from USDA Office of Communications blog, Jan 25, 2012)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

16th Annual Greenhouse Growers' School - Feb 2 in Columbia

The Missouri State Florists Association and University of Missouri Extension announce the Sixteenth Annual Greenhouse Growers’ School (Presented jointly with MLNA ‘Nuts and Bolts’ Event) on Thursday, February 2, 2012 at the Bradford Research and Extension Center, 4968 Rangeline Road, Columbia, MO (From U.S. 63 travel east on Rt. WW to Rangeline and turn right)


8:30 - Registration/Coffee and donuts

9:00 - What Growers & Garden Centers Need to Know About Growing Media - Panel discussion

10:15 - Break

10:30 - New Ornamentals for 2012, Mr. Derek Schrof, Ball Seed Co.

11:30 - Lunch (furnished) - Various program updates will be presented during lunch.

Concurrent sessions in the afternoon — your choice of topics.

Room A (Greenhouse programming)

1:00 - Experiences with Using Compost as a Medium Amendment, Pat Bellrose, Fahr Greenhouses

2:00 - Alternative Greenhouse Fuels, Don Day, MU Extension

3:00 - Break Break – Visit with vendors

3:15 - Success with Baskets and Containers, (Speaker to be announced)

4:15 - Water Quality and Greenhouse Nutrition, Dave Trinklein, MU Plant Sciences

Room B (Nursery/Landscape programming)

1:00 - How to Think Big—Business Lessons Learned on Growing a Major Landscape Project, Tim Rost, Rost Landscaping

2:00 - Irrigation Scheduling – the Plant, Soil & Water Relationship, Craig Pisarkiewicz, MPR Supply Inc.

3:00 - Break Break – Visit with vendors

3:15 - What’s New in Organics & Hardgoods?, Steve Cook, Hummert International

4:15 - Insect, Disease, & Weed Control in the Landscape,  Andy Seckinger, OHP Inc.

Registration is $20 per person (includes lunch) payable at the door.

For additional information contact David Trinklein, State Floriculture Extension Specialist at 573-882-9631.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Missouri Organic Association's Conference - Feb 2-4 in St. Louis

Make plans now to attend MOA Annual Conference 2012. The dates are set, February 2-4, and the venue is the beautiful Union Station Marriott in St. Louis. Speakers include nationally known author/filmmaker, Jeff Smith; Garden of Life founder, Jordan Rubin; and, from the Rodale Institute, organic farm expert, Jeff Moyer!

Concurrent workshops include:
Thursday, Feb 2 - Soil Fertility, Greenhouses/Hoop Houses, Poultry Production, and Culinary

Friday and Saturday, Feb 3 & 4 - Alternative Gardening Methods, Soil Fertility, Vegetable Production, Alternative Horticulture Crops, Greenhouse/Hoop House Production, Organic Grain Production, Organic Livestock Production, Fruit and Bramble Production

To see the full agenda and speakers click here.

Click here to register.

We need volunteers...help us with your time and talents and attend MOA Annual Conference 2012 for a reduced fee. Just complete the application and contract and return to Sue Baird.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Webinar this evening

join us this evening for the second part of "Assessing the Economics of Crop Choices on a Start-up Market Farm" with Eric and Joanna Reuter from Chert Hollow Farm.

Jan 23-Webinar - Assessing the Economics of Crop Choices on a Start-up Market Farm, Part 2, 7-8:30 pm. To join the meeting: http://univmissouri.adobeconnect.com/debikelly/ and sign in as a guest

Friday, January 20, 2012

Growing Growers Apprenticeships

Growing Growers is a collaborative effort of K-State Research and Extension, University of Missouri Extension, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension, the Kansas City Food Circle, the Kansas Rural Center and Cultivate KC. Our goal is to provide training and educational opportunities to current farmers and to help new growers get started. We focus on sustainable vegetable production, but also work with other types of producers.

If you or someone you know currently farms, or if you are considering farming in the future, Growing Growers offers several options to help you learn and connect with other growers and resources:

* Our Apprenticeship program is a great opportunity for aspiring growers to get training and on-farm experience.
* Our Workshop Series covers many aspects of market farming and often includes farm tours where concepts can be seen in action. Workshops are open to the public and suitable for experienced, new or aspiring growers.

* Our Email Listserv is a great way to connect to others interested in sustainable agriculture and local foods.
The deadline to apply for the 2012 Apprenticeship Program is March 10th, but early application is strongly recommended, as apprenticeship slots fill up quickly. As of today, both paid and volunteer apprenticeships are still available on several area farms. No experience in farming or growing in necessary, but a willingness and ability to work hard and learn "on the fly" is required!

If you or someone you know is considering farming, or wants more information on Growing Growers, please check out our newly updated website at www.growinggrowers.org for more information on our apprenticeship program, a list of potential host farms, our workshop series and email listserv.

Laura Christensen
Growing Growers Training Program
(816) 805-0362

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Energy Training for Small Farms Workshop

Butterfly Energy Works is offering free Energy Training classes for small farms.  The class will be offered Monday, Jan 30, 2012 – 1:30 – 5:00pm.
Classes are free to attendees, and refreshments will be provided as well! This class will be a halfday event divided between "classroom" presentations and time on the ground at EarthDance Farm.

The class will cover a range of topics designed to help you understand energy use on your farm and in your home, give you useful information to help ur energy use and expenses, and that will help you plan for the future. Topics will include the following:

Energy efficient building science
Heating and cooling systems
Motors (fans, pumps, compressors)
Low-input farming practices
Renewable energy systems
Financial support programs

We'll emphasize a “big picture” approach to your farm’s energy usage. Energy conservation will be stressed – along with low-tech options for reducing your usage. To help you apply the training where it matters most – your farm and home - we'll provide you with guidelines to help you perform your own farm energy audit.

The final class is scheduled for at EarthDance Farms in Ferguson, MO (North St. Louis County). The class will run from 1:30-5:00. Please call if you would like more information or would like to reserve a slot. These classes will fill fast, and are offered on a first come, first served basis.

Field Day: Energy Training
Monday, January 30, 2012
RSVP by Wed. January 25th, 2012
Email: fieldday@butterflyenergyworks.com
Phone: 314-961-8418
RSVP by Wed. January 25th, 2012

Email: fieldday@butterflyenergyworks.com

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Grow Your Farm begins Feb 13 in Central Missouri

Grow Your Farm classes offer opportunities for land and livelihood.  New session begins Feb. 13 in central Missouri.  Winter presents a perfect opportunity for farmers to think about the future.

University of Missouri Extension’s Grow Your Farm classes equip participants to start, transition or expand any sort of farming operation. The next offering of the eight-week course begins Feb. 13 in Columbia.

“We help people identify the resources on their land and around them so they can make wise decisions on what they should be producing on their farm and how to market those products,” said Debi Kelly, MU Extension’s state Grow Your Farm coordinator.

From cattle to row crops and pumpkins to poultry, participants come to the class with diverse dreams and aspirations for their farms, Kelly said. Grow Your Farm gives those dreams a framework to help make their farms a successful business reality.

“Most farmers in alternative agriculture do not have a written business plan, but successful businesses happen across the U.S. because of preparation,” Kelly said. “The concept of Grow Your Farm lets participants walk out of the class with a business plan that they can start implementing, take to a bank, the Natural Resources Conservation Service or the Department of Agriculture for loans to help them get started in their farming enterprise.”

Grow Your Farm attracts all types of farmers wanting to transition for the future or increase their profit.

“These classes attract people on traditional farms who want to look at their operations differently, older farmers nearing retirement with the next generation in mind and people just starting out,” Kelly said. “For all of them, it’s about understanding the opportunities and the different resources available on or near their land.”

Some of those resources might be hiding in plain sight.

“It’s not only their land,” Kelly said. “Their farm may be on the crossroads of a blacktop, and that’s a huge resource if they want to start a ‘U-pick’ farming operation.”

While MU Extension specialists teach the beginning of the course, veteran farmers will lead discussions in the second half of the course. They will explain trials, tribulations and successes experienced in their operation. Two farm tours will also allow the class to see a good business plan in action.

For many participants, bouncing ideas off farmers who have been in their shoes is one of the biggest benefits of Grow Your Farm.

“So many of them come out of the class relieved that there are other people who want to think differently about farming,” Kelly said. “The networking helps them develop valuable relationships with classmates and lets them know they aren’t alone.”

Grow Your Farm classes will begin Feb. 13 at the MU Bradford Research and Extension Center in Columbia. The course fee is $225 per farm. Space is limited to 20 farms.

To sign up, email Debi Kelly or call 573-882-1905.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Upcoming Webinars

Just so everyone can put these on your calendar, here are the next couple of months webinars:

Jan 23-Webinar - Assessing the Economics of Crop Choices on a Start-up Market Farm, Part 2, 7-8:30 pm. To join the meeting: http://univmissouri.adobeconnect.com/debikelly/ and sign in as a guest

Feb 6-Webinar - Food Safety and Good Agricultural Practices, Part 1, 7-8:30 pm. Go to http://univmissouri.adobeconnect.com/r2p5x0tx6la/ and sign in as a guest

Feb 13-Webinar - Food Safety and Good Agricultural Practices, Part 2, 7-8:30 pm. Go to http://univmissouri.adobeconnect.com/r8zbe67rkcd/ and sign in as a guest

March 5-Webinar - Financing for Beginning Farmers, Part 1, 7-8:30 pm. Go to http://univmissouri.adobeconnect.com/r4jg7mvonrj/ and sign in as a guest

March 12-Webinar - Financing for Beginning Farmers, Part 2, 7-8:30 pm. Go to http://univmissouri.adobeconnect.com/r62qx1pe4s3/ and sign in as a guest

April 2-Webinar - Grazing Goats, Part 1, 7-8:30 pm. Go to http://univmissouri.adobeconnect.com/r447hpprlts/ and sign in as a guest

April 9-Webinar - Grazing Goats, Part 2, 7-8:30 pm. Go to http://univmissouri.adobeconnect.com/r5ldmre8w7b/ and sign in as a guest

May 7-Webinar - Legal Issues with Direct Marketing, Part 1, 7-8:30 pm. Go to http://univmissouri.adobeconnect.com/r8rvewyda9u/ and sign in as a guest

May 14-Webinar - Legal Issues with Direct Marketing, Part 2, 7-8:30 pm. Go to http://univmissouri.adobeconnect.com/r4fwlpfel1u/ and sign in as a guest

Webinar info from last night

For those of you who missed the webinar last night, you missed a great one. Luckily it was being recorded and you can watch it later this week. In the meantime, here are some links that you might like to review that were mentioned in the webinar.

If you want to review immediately look at a similar PPT Eric gave at the Great Plains Growers Conference in 2011 - http://www.greatplainsgrowers.org/2011%20Information/Powerpoints/AssessingEconomicsOfCropsSmall-Reuter%20Revised.pdf

Eric Reuter: http://www.cherthollowfarm.com/transfer/crop_income_comparison_model.xlsx

Eric Reuter: http://www.cherthollowfarm.com/transfer/crop_income_comparison_model_oldExcelVers.xls

Hottest Restaurant Menu Trends in 2012 Include Locally Sourced Ingredients

Small-scale, local food producers can look forward to stronger markets this year, if the National Restaurant Association’s predictions prove accurate. According to the association’s What’s Hot in2012 survey of nearly 1,800 professional chefs, children’s nutrition and local sourcing will be the hottest trends on restaurant menus this coming year.

The top 10 menu trends for 2012 will be:
  1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
  2. Locally grown produce
  3. Healthful kids’ meals
  4. Hyper-local items
  5. Sustainability as a culinary theme
  6. Children’s nutrition as a culinary theme
  7. Gluten-free/food allergy-conscious items
  8. Locally produced wine and beer
  9. Sustainable seafood
  10. Whole grain items in kids’ meals
“The top menu trends we’re seeing in our What’s Hot in 2012 survey reflect the macro-trends we have seen grow over the last several years,” said Joy Dubost, Ph.D, R.D., director of Nutrition & Healthy Living for the National Restaurant Association. “Nutrition—especially when it comes to children—is becoming a major focus for the nation’s nearly one million restaurants, in tune with consumers’ increasing interest in healthful eating.”

“Local sourcing of everything—from meat and fish, to produce, to alcoholic beverages—is another big trend for 2012. Local farms and food producers have become an important source of ingredients for chefs and restaurateurs wishing to support the members of their business community and highlight seasonal ingredients on menus,” Dubost added.

“The American Culinary Federation has a long history of working with families to ensure that children receive adequate nutrition, so we are delighted that chefs have chosen to include healthful kids meals in the top 10 menu trends for 2012,” said Michael Ty, CEC, AAC, ACF national president. “We are also pleased to see an emphasis on local sourcing across major ingredient categories, including produce, a vital component of children’s diets.”

If you’ve not already pursued area restaurants as a market for your locally grown products, this could be an opportune time to do so. Chefs are often willing to pay a premium for healthy, fresh, local products, and with an anticipated increase in demand, they could be looking for additional suppliers.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Webinar this evening

When: Monday January 16th, 7-8:30 pm
To join the meeting: http://univmissouri.adobeconnect.com/r35toikn7k7/ and sign in as a guest

Friday, January 13, 2012

Elderberry Research Program Focused on Developing Cultivars of this Missouri Native Fruit for Profitable Crop

Several Extension reseachers are working together to try and develop a new cultivar of elderberry that can be profitable for growers in Missouri.

The “Elderberry Development Program” is a joint research project between the University of Missouri, Missouri State University, and Lincoln University that focuses on the elderberry, a native Missouri fruit plant. The project was initiated in 1997 and has attracted over $120,000 in grant funding.

’Wyldewood’ elderberry is a new cultivar
being developed in Missouri.

The program is coordinated by Patrick Byers, a horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension, and Andy Thomas, a researcher at University of Missouri’s Southwest Research Center in Mt. Vernon.

“Processors interested in elderberry wine, jelly/jam, juice, and health supplements are driving an interest in elderberry production in Missouri,” said Byers.

Little is known about the commercial cultivation of this fruit crop. The research project is focused on testing elderberry cultivars, developing new cultivars, investigating elderberry culture in Missouri, and studying the health benefits of elderberry consumption.

Impacts of the project include development of two new elderberry cultivars adapted to Midwestern growing conditions; development of fertility regimes for elderberry, which will lead to more efficient use of fertilizers; development of management strategies for elderberry pest issues; and the production of 18 publications.

There have also been 31 invited presentations that have shared Missouri’s elderberry experience regionally, nationally, and internationally.

“Most importantly, as a direct result of this research, a project is the development for Missouri’s commercial elderberry industry of 35+ acres, worth an estimated $140,000 annually to Missouri farmers,” said Byers.

For more information, or answers to your specific lawn and garden questions, contact Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist, University of Missouri Extension or the Greene County Master Gardener Hotline at (417) 881-8909.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Missouri Organic Association Regional Conference - Feb 2-5

The Missouri Organic Association's Regional Organic Conference, hosted by MO, KY, and TN will be held at the Union Station Marriott in St. Louis MO, Feb 2-5, 2012. 

The lineup of speakers include such famed presenters as Jeff Moyer, farm manager of Rodale Institute; Jeffrey Smith, author of “Seeds of Deception”; Jim Long, author of 23 books on urban edible landscapes; Jordon Rubin, founder of Garden of Life and Beyond Organic; and a full day of “Iron Chef” competition featuring some of the best of St. Louis chefs.

Friday and Saturday will be filled with 8 concurrent hands-on workshops being presented on such topics as aquaponic production of tilapia and shrimp by Kentucky State University experts; tree grafting classes by Stark Brothers; best of bramble cultivars for Midwest climates; cheese-making; showing of the documentary, “What’s Organic about Organic;” and the list goes on and on.

Check out the full agenda at http://www.missouriorganic.org/.  All 3 days of invaluable training and great networking is only $195.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Farmers’ Market Workshop - January 31st

Tuesday, January 31, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at the Black River Electric Cooperative in Fredericktown, MO.  Cost is $10 per person.
Come Hear Topics About:
  • Health Department Regulations
  • Conventional and Biological Insect Control
  • Educational and Grant Funding Opportunities
  • Marketing at Farmers’ Markets
  • Building the Soil Organically
  • Growing Specialty Crops
  • Bring Your Scale to be Re-Certified from 8:30-9:00 a.m.
Great opportunity to introduce your area Farmers’ Market & Welcome New Vendors. Great way to
meet other vendors & share information about growing, produce and markets.

This Workshop is Sponsored by the University of Missouri Extension and the MO Dept of Agriculture. If you have questions, please call 573-238-2420.
Registration and $10 Fee Required for Attendance. Lunch will be served. Please let us know of any dietary restrictions.  Please mail registration to:  Bollinger County Extension Center, P.O. Box 19, Marble Hill, Mo 63764

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Low Stress Livestock Handling For People and Livestock

Handling livestock can sometimes be stressful for both people and the animals. A lot depends on our attitude, methods, and our understanding of how an animal behaves. Trying to load a balky horse into a trailer, gathering or herding animals in a pasture, or trying to pen or catch animals for treatment can all be stressful situations and even unsafe at times for all involved. But to reduce this stress on the owner and livestock try using low stress livestock handling methods.

The best way to handle livestock is to work in harmony with their natural behavior. Livestock see the world differently than we do. Because they are prey animals, their eyes are shaped differently and are located on the sides of their heads. Livestock have excellent peripheral vision. They have excellent distant vision, though they may have difficulty judging distances. Livestock also have blind spots where they can’t see. A blind spot for horses and cattle is directly behind them. That is why it is extremely important not to approach a horse or cattle from the rear without the animal knowing you are there. They may kick out in a defensive or protective manner and injure the unsuspecting person.

Livestock have a keen sense of hearing and also a good memory. Loud voices and yelling can scare animals more than clanging gates and chains. Animals may not be able to pinpoint where the loud noises are coming from but they are very disturbing to them. All loud noises can frighten animals, even if we understand that the noise should not be an issue. Livestock have long memories. If they are handled roughly in the past they will be more difficult to handle and stress more easily. Try to make animals’ first experiences with a new place, piece of equipment or person a favorable one. An initial experience that is averse can create a permanent fear memory in that animal.

A good livestock handler understands two key principals: flight zone (the “bubble” around an animal that, if invaded, will cause the animal to move away) and the point of balance (the point, usually around the front shoulder, at which pressure in front of that point will cause the animal to stop or back up, and vice versa). When an owner is at the edge of the flight zone and properly balanced, only slight movements are needed to control the animals in a low-stress manner. To make an animal speed up, walk against their direction of travel: to make them slow down, walk with them. As you pass the point of balance, notice how each animal responds to your movement and position. This concept is evident when many times it is easier to lead an animal by the halter if we are walking beside them near the shoulder rather than being ahead of them and trying to pull on the halter to get them to go forward.

A thorough understanding of the behavior of the animals we are working with is the first step towards developing and effective method of handling livestock. A good livestock handler is calm and patient. The golden rule of low-stress handling is slow and quiet resulting in less stress for you and your animals.

Try to use low stress handling methods every time you work with our animals. The idea is to start with low stress handling from birth and throughout the animal’s life. It will be good for them and for you too.

There are many excellent resources on low stress livestock handling methods. Web sites, books, DVDs, are readily available and provide good information for using low stress handling methods for domesticated and wild animals.

Sources: Dr. Temple Grandin, Colorado State University; Steve Cote, NRCS; Ryan Reuter and Kent Shankles, Noble Foundation; eXtension Horse, Susan Schoenian, University of Maryland; Ben Barlett and Janice Swanson, Michigan State University; Heather Larson, South Dakota State University, Ashely Griffin, University of Kentucky, Nebraska Farmer, October 2010.

(By Steve Tonn, University of Nebraska - Lincoln Extension Educator)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Webinar Tonight - Assessing the Economics of Crop Choices on a Start-up Market Farm

NOTE:  This is one of those webinars you don't want to miss. If you do, remember they are archived and can be viewed at the OLC (online learning community).

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program will continue in 2012 with its monthly webinars. January will begin with two webinars on "Assessing the Economics of Crop Choices on a Start-up Market Farm" with Eric and Joanna Reuter of Chert Hollow Farm. Chert Hollow Farm has been certified organic since 2009. They minimize off-farm inputs and rely heavily on low-overhead, low-impact, non-mechanized methods as they work to integrate their diversified operation. The Reuter's sell their products through a farmers' market, on-farm sales, CSA and restaurants.

When: Monday January 9th, 7-8:30 pm
To join the meeting: http://univmissouri.adobeconnect.com/r4j3g8echub/ and sign in as a guest

When: Monday January 16th, 7-8:30 pm
To join the meeting: http://univmissouri.adobeconnect.com/r35toikn7k7/ and sign in as a guest

Friday, January 6, 2012

Understanding Good Agricultural Practices - Jan 26

The 2012 Growing Growers Workshop Series will kick off with "Understanding Good Agricultural Practices" on January 26. Contact the Platte County MU Extension Office to register.  The workshop fee is $15/person and is due prior to the registration deadline on January 20.

The Platte County University of Missouri Extension Center is located at 11724 NW Plaza Circle, Kansas City, MO 64153. The workshop will take place January 26, 2012 from 3:30-6:00 pm.

Increasingly, fresh fruit and vegetable producers are being asked whether or not they have a food safety plan on their farm to reduce the threat of food borne illness in the food supply. Additionally, the Food Safety Modernization Act may require some producers to certify their operations by seeking third-party audits of their food safety plans. This workshop will help producers understand what Good Agricultural Practices really are, what it takes to prepare for an audit, and how to develop an on-farm food safety plan.

3:30-4:30 An Introduction to Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) with Jennifer Smith, K-State Research & Extension Horticulture Agent, Douglas County - Find out how water management, employee activity, manure management, and post-harvest handling can affect the potential of microbial contamination of food.

4:30-5:00 Implementing GAPs on the Farm with Marlin Bates, University of Missouri Extension Horticulture Specialist, West-Central MO - You don't have to seek certification to implement Gaps on your farm. Whether or not you intend to seek certification, documentation will play a big role in implementing GAPs. We'll discuss common policies and standard operating procedures for the farm.

5:00-5:15 Break

5:15-6:00 The Food Safety Plan with Marlin Bates, University of Missouri Extension Horticulture Specialist, West-Central MO - We'll review some resources and look at common structures of food safety plans.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Good Agriculture Practices (GAP)

With all we are hearing in the news about contaminated foods, especially the one on canteloup from a farm in Colorado, farmers should begin reading up on Good Agriculture Practices.

The USDA’s Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs) program for fresh fruits and vegetable producers is a voluntary, third-party verification program. Buyers know that GAPs-certified farms are meeting guidelines set forth by the FDA to reduce the potential of microbial contamination of the food supply. Interest in GAPs certification continues to increase, especially because laws from the Food Safety Modernization Act may require certain producers to seek third-party audits. Additionally, many wholesale buyers are requiring producers to provide evidence that they have passed such an audit on their farms.  Farmers market vendors, Community-Supported Agriculture, U-Pick and other direct-to-consumer producers are also seeking GAPs certification as a way to communicate their commitment to safe food to their customers.

However, GAPs can be implemented on any fresh fruit/vegetable farm, regardless of the farmer’s intent to be audited. Protecting the food supply from microbial contamination is a responsibility that we all bear. While we can’t eliminate the potential of this sort of contamination, there are some great principles in the Good Agriculture Practices protocol that all producers can easily implement in their operations.

A good resource to learn more about GAPs is from Cornell University.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Potential Pest Raises Big Stink

NOTE: I have blogged about this before making sure you were aware of the brown marmorated stink bug and now it appears it is closer than we thoughtAlso a St. Clair County vegetable producer found 2 on her front porch which she identified as the brown marmorated stink bug but they have yet to be identified by an entomologist.

A new stinkier stinkbug may hitchhike into Missouri this year to destroy crops and upset homeowners, says a University of Missouri Extension entomologist.

The brown marmorated stink bug, a pest found in 33 states mostly to the east and south, will likely be found for the first time this year in Missouri, says Wayne Bailey of the MU Plant Sciences Division.

Dead specimens were found in Columbia in a stored travel trailer from the East Coast. Live stink bugs were found at the end of the growing season at an Interstate-70 rest stop near Kansas City, Kans.

The new stink bug destroys fruit, vegetable and field crops.

However, homeowners may be the first to detect the pest, Bailey says. It invades homes, as well as injuring crops.

"A crushed marmorated stink bug can be quite repugnant," Bailey said. "The smell makes some people sick and some have had to vacate their homes for a few hours.

"The stink bug invasion might make ladybug home intrusions seem like nothing," he adds. Like the ladybug, the stink bug enters homes in large numbers seeking over- wintering sites. Stink bugs are winter hardy however they seek warm place to live."

First found in Pennsylvania in 1998, the pest has spread slowly. Starting in the Mid-Atlantic States, stink bugs are now working their way through the Midwest.

The stink bug probably came in cargo from China or a neighboring country, Bailey says. It travels as a stowaway.

The new stink bug has become a problem for truck farms and orchards. As it moved west it gained an appetite for corn and soybeans.

The marmorated stink bug joins local stink bugs that already attack crops. "It is a juice-sucking insect that heads for the developing fruit or pods," Bailey said. "It can shrivel all of the kernels on an ear of corn. Heaviest crop damage has been on soybeans, a concern to Missouri farmers."

All stink bugs are difficult to control with pesticides, Bailey says. They don't eat foliage, but pierce the plant to suck juices.

The new pest has proven more resistant to control. However, more insecticides are becoming available for use on the various host crops, Bailey adds.

Truck farmers have found that insect netting offers one method of control on fruits and vegetables.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working on finding biological controls. "The most likely control will be from wasps that attack the eggs," Bailey says.

In the United States, the pest has not been as prolific as in China. There it has five or six generations in a crop season. Here, the pest has one generation a year. It is not a prolific egg layer.

The adult insect grows to about three-fourths of an inch in length. The shield-shaped body has alternating black and white triangles on the back edge of the wings. White bands are shown on the pair of long antennae and the hind legs. The distinguishing feature is a white underbelly. Common stink bugs have brown or green undersides, Bailey says.

When disturbed, the bug emits a powerful odor. "If one is attacked, the other stink bugs around it emit the defensive odor. Inside a house, that odor can be repulsive," Bailey says.

For crop farmers, the new insect will require weekly scouting of fields. As pod feeders, stink bugs can be quite destructive, Bailey adds.

If by chance to happen across the insect, please contact your local county extension office.
(by Duane Daily, Senior Writer, MU Cooperative Media Group)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Food Safety for Local Growers

Consumers value fresh and local, but above all, they want to trust in the quality and safety of the products they buy. That’s why the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), the trade organization supporting the fresh produce supply chain, Schnucks Markets and Sysco Corporation have joined forces to develop and deliver a series of one-day programs uniquely-tailored to help local growers explore the challenges of implementing a company food safety plan, meet the requirements of restaurant and retail outlets, and above all, protect your business and bottom line.

Through hands-on demonstrations and discussions with experts, you will leave with the tools you need to build your own customized food safety program, based upon your specific business model.

Date: Thursday January 19, 2011
Location: 3850 Mueller Road, St. Charles, Missouri
Registration: 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Cost: $35.00 per person
Food Safety Training: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
For Agenda & Registration Information contact: Michelle Lewis