Thursday, May 31, 2012

Selling Directly to Grocery Stores

An increasing number of farmers and ranchers are selling their products to nearby restaurants and grocery stores. Those businesses want to satisfy their customer's demand for meals made from products grown close to home. Producers may have a greater degree of control over quality and price when they sell close to home, rather than to distant wholesalers.


• You may be able to sell larger volumes.
• The store may buy a range of products once you have introduced your first product.
• There is potential for a long-term relationship with the store, especially if you build a brand identity for your farm.


• The first sale may be difficult because grocery stores have a limited amount of shelf space, already have regular suppliers, and may prefer to buy from fewer suppliers.
• Payment is not immediate but generally occurs on a predictable monthly cycle.
• Standard packing and postharvest practices are required. Produce should be delivered clean and cold.
• Grocery stores may require a PLU (product lookup number) or UPC code (Universal Product Code, represented by a barcode).

Tips for Direct Sales to Grocery Stores

• Be professional, reliable, and on time when communicating and delivering products.
• Visit or call the store and ask for an appointment with the produce buyer before the season begins. Provide the buyer with product samples, a product list for the full season, and a price list.
• Always provide a bill or invoice when you deliver your products. Ask the receiving clerk to sign a copy that you keep for your records.
• Build relationships with everyone who handles your product.
• Ask about and follow the store's expectations for pack, size, grade, or post-harvest practices.
• Communicate with buyers weekly during the growing season about your product availability.
• Plan your plantings for continuous harvest and adequate volume to meet expected demand from the store.
• Offer the store lots of opportunities to promote and profile your farm along with your products.
• Offer to provide farm tours, pictures of your farm for display, and in-store demos of your products.

Key Questions to Ask Yourself

• What products do local grocery stores want that I could supply, including specialty ethnic foods?
• Does a particular chain have an interest in purchasing locally?
• What is my plan to ensure a consistent supply of a few key products over a period of several weeks?
• Do I have a Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) plan? Does this buyer require it?
(from ATTRA News)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Selling Directly to Restaurants

Some restaurants, especially locally owned ones, want to feature dishes and menus that use local produce. This presents a good marketing opportunity for farmers to sell to them directly.


• Chefs value fresh, high-quality products.


• Expect small order size and frequent delivery.

• Chefs value top-quality produce.

• It's important to provide the buyer with a weekly availability list.

• Chefs may require a consistent supply of particular items.

Tips for Direct Sales to Restaurants

• Be consistent. Chefs expect a product will be delivered if they put it on the menu.

• Build a relationship with the entire staff. Chefs move frequently.

• Chefs are on a tight schedule and generally require deliveries when they're not busy, such as before 10 a.m. or between 2 and 5 p.m.

• Introduce new products by dropping off free samples with your regular deliveries.

• Fax or email a list of available products for the chef to order from.

• Use the chefs as your best source of market information. They may know what the next big thing is before you do.

• Know how the chef is using your product and be prepared to talk about other ways to use it.

• In the autumn, ask the chefs what products they want you to grow next season.

• Ask about each restaurant's needs: pack, size, variety, post-harvest preferences, new items, and how they would like to place orders (by fax, text message, phone, email).

Key Questions to Ask Yourself

• How far in advance do the chefs need to see an accurate schedule of product availability in order to allow them to plan their menus?

• What restaurants are the best fit for my product profile? Ethnic? High-end gourmet? Specialty bakeries?

• What production, handling, storage, and delivery methods will I use to ensure the freshest and highest quality products to high-end chefs? Highlight these in outreach to chefs.

• How frequently and quickly am I able to deliver to restaurants? What are the chef 's expectations about this?

• How do the restaurants want to communicate with me? Cell phone, text message, email, fax?

(from ATTRA News)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Flash Drought

This just popped into my inbox and thought it worthwhile to share right now!

“Call it a flash drought,” said Pat Guinan, University of Missouri climatologist. The fast developing drought slows growing crops.

No rain and high temperatures cover most of Missouri and nearby regions. Abnormally dry weather covers much of the mid-western Corn Belt.

Soil moisture reserves are drawn down by high evapotranspiration rates. That's a combination of solar radiation, temperatures, relative humidity and wind to evaporate water from soil and plants.

“Those combined with many cloudless days in May to hasten loss of soil moisture,” Guinan said.
May, usually the wettest month of the year is on track to be abnormally dry. “According to weather records, the Missouri Bootheel has one of the driest April-May periods in 118 years,” Guinan said.

Those unusually dry conditions affected only the Bootheel in early spring, but cover the entire state as Memorial Day weekend approaches.

“It's going to seem more like the Fourth of July,” said Guinan. Temperatures will climb well into the 90s, with low humidity and drying winds, especially in the southern half of Missouri.

Missouri Soil Testing Association State Approved Labs

The Missouri Soil Testing Association (MSTA) Approval Program is designed to assure that results provided by participating public and private labs serving the citizens of Missouri agree with allowable statistical limits. This is accomplished by evaluating the soil testing laboratories in their performance through inter-laboratory sample exchanges and a statistical evaluation of the analytical data. Based on this premise, soil test results from MSTA approved labs will be accepted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Services (NRCS) in federally assisted cost share programs and nutrient management plans in the state of Missouri.

Beginning in 1999, MSTA combined its efforts with the North American Proficiency Testing Program (NAPT). In order to be approved by the Missouri State program, the participating labs should participate in all four quarter exchanges of the NAPT program and submit the MO State data release form each year to the NAPT coordinator. The NAPT coordinator in return sends soil test data from quarterly sample exchanges of the labs participating in MSTA program to the Missouri state coordinator. The MU Soil Testing Lab director serves as the state program coordinator and performs statistical analysis of the data as specified in the MSTA program. If a lab's results fall within the allowable limits, the lab will be placed on the Farm Service Agency's (FSA) list of approved labs. A lab that is not approved may re-apply after six months. An updated listing of Missouri State Approved Soil Testing lab list can be found here.

List of Missouri State Approved Soil Testing Labs (Updated April, 2012)

Custom Lab
204 C St.
Golden City, MO 64748

Delta Soil Testing Lab
University of Missouri
PO Box 160
Portageville, MO 63873

MU Soil and Plant Testing Lab
University of Missouri
23 Mumford Hall
Columbia, MO 65211

Perry Agricultural Lab
PO Box 418
State Highway 54 East
Bowling Green, MO 63334

Ag Source Cooperative Services
106 N. Cecil Street
PO Box 7
Bonduel, WI 54107

Ag Source Harris Laboratories
300 Speedway Circle #2
Lincoln NE 68502

A&L Analytical Laboratories, Inc.
2790 Whitten Road
Memphis, TN 38133

A&L Great Lakes Laboratory, Inc.
3505 Conestoga Drive
Fort Wayne, IN 46808

A&L Heartland Laboratory, Inc.
111 Linn St.
PO Box 455
Atlantic, IA 50022

Brookside Lab Inc.
308 S. Main St.
New Knoxville, OH 45871

Ingrams Soil Testing Center
13343 Fitschen Road
Athens, IL 62613

Midwest Laboratories, Inc.
13611 B St.
Omaha, NE 68144-3693

Mowers Soil Testing Plus Inc.
117 East Main St.
Toulon, IL 61483-0518

MVTL Laboratories Inc.-New Ulm
1126 North Front St.
New Ulm, MN 56073-0249

Olsen's Agricultural Laboratory
210 East First St.
PO Box 370
McCook, NE 69001

Servi-Tech Laboratories
1816 East Wyatt Earp Blvd.
Dodge City, KS 67801

Spectrum Analytical
1087 Jamison Road
PO Box 639
Washington Court House, OH 43160

Ward Laboratories
4007 Cherry Ave.
PO Box 788
Kearney, NE 68848

Waters Agricultural Laboratories, Inc.
257 Newton Highway
PO Box 382
Camilla, GA 31730

Waters Agricultural Laboratories, Inc.
2101 Old Calhoun Road
Owensboro, KY 42301

Note: Approval of soil analysis does not imply approval of fertilizer and limestone recommendations by the individual labs. The approval allows the clients to use the University of Missouri soil fertility recommendations as required by the federal and state agencies for cost share and nutrient management planning programs. In order to use the University of Missouri soil fertility recommendations and get meaningful results, it is recommended that the labs use the soil test procedures required by the MSTA program.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bluegill Production

The bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) is a species of freshwater fish that is native to a large region of North America, from Quebec to Northern Mexico. The species is a popular sport fish and a member of the sunfish family(Centrarchidae), which is also the family of several other species of sport fish popular in Missouri, including crappies (Pomoxis spp.) and the black basses (Micropterus spp.).
Bluegill, often called bream, brim or perch, are among the most popular and widely known sunfish species as they are an enjoyable sport fish for anglers. Besides being an excellent sport fish, bluegills can be produced and sold to various aquaculture markets, including recreational pond stocking or food-fish production. Various marketing opportunities are available at three primary bluegill growth stages:
* Fingerlings (2 to 4 inches) for initial pond stocking and for remedial stocking
* Sub-adults (4 to 7 inches) for remedial or advanced pond stocking or for stocking in cages for food fish production
*Larger size classes for food markets, remedial pond stocking and trophy fish stocking for special fishing programs
Each of these products provides a marketing opportunity for Missouri producers.
Food markets typically demand a bluegill that weighs from 3/4 to 11/4 pound at harvest. Production of a food-sized fish with a marketable fillet has typically taken over three years, precluding the bluegill from being a profitable aquaculture species to produce. However, research conducted to better understand bluegill feeding preferences, hybrid growth and vigor has resulted in the development of improved brood stock and culture techniques. These techniques have reduced the production time needed to raise food-sized fish in a sustainable and profitable manner.
To learn more about bluegill production in Missouri, check out the new MU Extension publication titled "Bluegill Sunfish Production in Missouri."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Introduction to Small Fruit Production Workshop

Looking for a way to complement your market offerings throughout the season? Small fruit is one of the best ways to diversify and increase profitability for market producers. This workshop is designed to cover basic principles of production for a variety of small fruit including: Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Strawberries, and Grapes. Hear from producers and Extension educators about these crops to see if you want to add one or all to your production system.

Introduction to Small Fruit Production
Powell Gardens – Heartland Harvest Garden
1609 NW U.S. HWY 50, Kingsville, MO 64061

Saturday, June 23, 2012
8:30 am - 4:00 pm

8:30-8:45 - Opening Remarks/Overview of Workshop
8:45-9:45 - Table Grape Production – Marlin Bates, Horticulture Specialist, MU Extension
9:45-10:00 - Break
10:00-11:00 - Blueberry Production – Patrick Byers, Horticulture Specialist, MU Extension, SW Region
11:00-12:00 - Strawberry Production – Jerry Wohletz, 4th year U-Pick Producer (Lawrence, KS)
12:00-1:00 - Lunch at one of Powell Gardens’ eateries (Café Thyme or reFresh)
1:00-1:45 - Bramble Production – Buck Counts, 2nd Generation U-Pick Producer (Warrensburg, MO)
1:45-2:30 - Tour of Powell Gardens Heartland Harvest Garden
2:30-4:00 - Farm Tour at Pam’s Berries (Pleasant Hill, MO)

This workshop is being brought to you by University of Missouri Extension, a partner of the Growing Growers program. Cost to attend this workshop is $15 and includes lunch. Support for this program is being provided by the MO Beginning Farmer Program. To register, fill out the form below and mail with payment by June 19, 2012. If you have questions, or for further information, contact Marlin Bates at 816-270-2141.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The One Page Business Plan and One Page Financial Plan

The National Good Food Network  is presenting a webinar on "The One Page Business Plan and One Page Financial Plan" on Thursday, May 31 from 8:00 AM - 9:15 AM (CDT).

No matter what type of farm or food enterprise you envision, a business plan will serve you well. In this webinar, we will introduce the One-Page Business Plan and the One-Page Financial Plan that goes with it. These tools are designed to get you started on formalizing your thoughts about your enterprise, and are the first step in clearly articulating your business to partners, employees, or lenders.
We’ll take you through the documents, including examples and hints, give you a sense of what your next steps will be after the One-Page documents, and then open the floor to your questions.

Join us for this morning webinar, and take your farm business to the next level.

Special Note: This webinar's primary audience is producers, and is also highly relevant to other small food businesses such as processors and food hubs. If you work with this audience, please alert them to this free webinar.

Free! Register Now to reserve your spot - click here.

The River Hills Elderberry Producers are offering a Comprehensive Elderberry Workshop & Farm Tour on June 7 & 8, 2012 at the American Legion Hall in Hartsburg, MO.  Cost is $60 for first person and $40 for each additional person from the same farm.  Cost includes 2 lunches, snacks and banquet.  For more information or to register call 573-424-9693 and leave a message or email .


Thursday, June 7

9:00 – 9:15 am - Introduction & Welcome Terry Durham, River Hills Elderberry Producers
9:15 – 10:15 am - The Elderberry Crop Improvement Project Andrew Thomas, MU SW Research Center
10:15 – 10:30 am - Break
10:30 – 11:30 am - Commercial Production of Elderberries, Terry Durham, Eridu Farms
11:30 – 12:00 - 2012 Elderberry Pest Research Michele Warmund, MU Fruit Extension Specialist
Noon – 1:00 Lunch - Buying Elderberry Plants with NRCS Funds, Joe Wilson, Elderberry Grower
1:00 – 2:30 pm - Marketing Seminar
   *  The Economic Assessment Tool, Michael Gold, Center for Agroforestry
   *   Elderberry Market & Market Potential, Ina Cernusca, Center for Agroforestry
   *  Consumer Preferences for Elderberry Products, Phillip Mohebalian, Grad. Asst., Forestry MU
2:30 – 3:00 pm - Value-Added Product Development, Rodger Lenhardt, Elderberry Life Products
3:00 – 3:15 pm - Break
3:15 – 3:45 pm - Elderberries from the Ground-Up, Paul Olson, Natura Farms LLC
3:45 – 4:45 pm - Elderberry Cultivars, Past, Present & Future, Patrick Byers, MU Extension
5:00 – 6:00 pm - Elder Beverage Consumption & Networking
6:00 – 8:00 pm - Elderberry Banquet

Friday, June 8th

On The Farm
9:00 am – Noon
   *  Noon Elderberry Fields – from Planting to Harvesting & Beyond, Terry Durham, Eridu Farms
   *  Meet the Bugs – Field Research, Michele Warmund, MU Fruit Extension Specialist
   *  Propagation Workshop – Hands On, Paul Olson, Natura Farms LLC

At American Legion
Noon – 1:00 pm - Lunch & Networking
1:00 – 1:30 pm - Introduction to MidWest Elderberry Growers

Sponsored by The Center for Agroforestry at MU, North Central Region SARE, Elderberry Festival, Agri-Missouri

Monday, May 21, 2012

2012 MO Blueberry School

The 2012 Missouri Blueberry School Spring/Summer Blueberry Management Workshop will be held on Saturday, June 2, 2012 from 9:00am-3:00pm at Highland Blueberry Farm, 2607 Perry County Road 616, Perryville, MO 63775, 573-547-4448.

Join the Missouri Blueberry School for a hands-on workshop that focuses on blueberry site selection and preparation, irrigation system use and maintenance, and harvest management.

Pre-registration is required to attend the workshop.  The cost is $20 per person, which includes lunch, refreshments, and educational materials. The workshop will be limited to 30 participants.

Workshop Topics:
*  Designing, using and maintaining trickle irrigation
*  Choosing a site for blueberry production
*  Blueberry site preparation
*  Blueberry harvest management
*  Blueberry production at Highland Blueberry Farm

Lunch, breaks, and educational materials are included in the registration. Bring your soil test reports for ex-pert advice.

Please pre-register by May 30 by contacting: Katie Kammler, Agronomy/Plant Sciences Specialist MU Extension, Ste. Genevieve County Extension Center, 255 Market St., County Services Building
Ste. Genevieve, MO 63670, 573-883-3548

Save the date for additional 2012 Missouri Blueberry Workshop sponsored events:
*  Fall Missouri Blueberry School Conference, Springfield, October 2012
Contact Patrick Byers for additional information.

Directions to Highland Blueberry Farm - From Interstate 55:

From the south: Exit I-55 at Exit 123; head southwest on State Hwy B for 1.5 mi; turn right onto State Hwy O and drive 2.7 mi; turn right onto State Hwy K and drive 2.9 mi; turn left onto Co Rd 616/Pcr 616 and drive 2.7 mi. Desti-nation will be on the left.

From the north: Exit I-55 at Exit 129; head south 7.9 mi on Hwy 51 to State Hwy O, turn left and drive 1.9 mi to Co Rd 616/ PCR 616. Turn left and drive 1.7 mi to destination on the right.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Harvest Time

Since I was in Washington DC this week and not prepared for a blog today, I thought I would share this that someone emailed to me.  It made me giggle.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Quail, Pollinators Featured at June 1st Farm Field Day

You can learn about the birds and the bees June 21 when University of Missouri’s Bradford Research Center hosts a field day on bobwhite quail and native pollinators.

What do bobwhite quail and pollinators have to do with each other? Quite a bit, according to Bob Pierce, state fisheries and wildlife specialist for MU Extension.

“Bobwhite quail require early-successional plant communities – that means forbs and legumes – or weedy vegetation – for food and cover,” Pierce said.

The flowers of these native plants produce nectar that attracts pollinating insects, including certain bees, wasps, butterflies and moths. Others may serve as host plants that provide breeding and feeding areas, he said.

“In fact, some species of butterfly require a specific host plant to successfully breed because only those plants meet the nutritional needs of the larvae or caterpillars hatched from eggs,” Pierce said.

Insects found in these plant communities are also an important food source for quail chicks, he said.

Bobwhite quail, a once-abundant upland game bird, have suffered a steep population decline in Missouri and across their range during the past few decades, partly due to modern farming practices that have erased prime quail habitat. In recent years, MU Bradford Research Center has served as a laboratory for implementing practices that integrate habitat management for bobwhites into modern farm operations, Pierce said.

Pollinators play a vital part in agriculture as well as in wildlife habitats. “About 30 percent of food and fiber crop production relies on pollinators for reproduction, and Missouri is no exception with our abundance of fruit and vegetable crops,” said Tim Reinbott, superintendent of the MU Bradford Research Center.

The decrease in populations of European honeybees due to colony collapse disorder has triggered interest in other pollinators, which include native bees and other insects as well as certain bat and bird species. Native forbs and legumes found in field borders and in native vegetation around crop fields not only attract pollinators, they also draw other beneficial insects that prey on potential insect pests.

The field day will highlight the benefits of managing your farm or property for a diversity of habitats that support populations of bobwhite quail, rabbits, songbirds and, of course, insects and pollinators, Pierce said.

The field day begins at 1 p.m. with management demonstrations in ATV sprayer and drill calibration, tree planting and bird dog training.

The featured speaker will be Pete Berthelsen, senior field coordinator for Quail Forever and Pheasants Forever. Berthelsen was the winner of the 2011 Farmer/Rancher Pollinator Award from the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign and the National Association of Conservation Districts.

Berthelsen played a key role in making pollinator planting guidelines part of federal Conservation Reserve Program practices and other farm bill conservation programs. He will talk about enhancing habitats for pollinators.

Walking and wagon tours will look at landscaping and attracting pollinators with native plants; the economics of field borders and edge feathering to integrate wildlife habitat and farmland; and a private landowner’s perspective on implementing wildlife practices on the farm.

“We will also be conducting an afternoon and evening workshop on bobwhite quail ecology, management practices for improving habitats on the farm, the impact of predators, as well as other useful management tips,” Pierce said.

Sponsors include the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; MU Extension; Lincoln University; the Missouri Department of Conservation; the Missouri Soybean Association; and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The event is free and reservations are not required. Drinks and hamburgers will be provided after the event to those who complete a brief evaluation form.

Bradford Research Center is 6.5 miles east of Columbia at 4968 Rangeline Road. Click here for directions and for other information call 573-884-7945.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

CSA Benchmark Project: How Well is My Operation Really Doing?

National Good Food Network Webinar
The CSA Benchmark Project: How Well Is My Operation REALLY Doing?
Thursday, May 17 from 3:30 - 4:45pm ET - FREE
Click here to register.

Farm Credit East, part of the nationwide Farm Credit System of lending cooperatives, has made loans to many farms that use a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model.  Generally CSAs work by collecting up-front capital from consumers before the planting season, which buys them a weekly portion of the farm's bounty during the growing months. The basic CSA business model is now a widespread direct-to-consumer marketing strategy.

But how is a farmer to know if their operation's financial performance is adequate, or find out how they can improve their profitability? As part of their strategy to serve the needs of their farmer-members, Farm Credit East has aggregated and analyzed the data from a sample of their CSA borrowers, and has established some preliminary financial benchmarks and performance standards.

With benchmarking, it's as if farmers can peer into the financial results of many CSA farms in order to understand how their business financial performance compares to others. That data will help CSA farmers identify where they can improve business practices to increase profitability.

This webinar will illustrate what you need to measure (the key evaluation factors),  what expectations can be set from comparison to best practices (benchmarking), and what management strategies can help move financial performance to a higher level (implementation of leading edge practices).

Monday, May 14, 2012

Webinar Tonight - Legal Issues with Direct Marketing - Part 2

Join us this evening for Part 2 of  “Legal Issues with Direct Marketing.” Many beginning farmers find it hard to rummage through all the legal issues when it comes to marketing the crops and livestock they have grown. If you have found yourself in this predicament, then you’ll surely want to join us for these two webinars.

Our webinar presenter will be Edward Cox. Ed is a staff attorney with the Drake University Agricultural Law Center. He grew up in a small town in the Missouri Ozarks and received a B.S. from Missouri State University in Springfield, MO. Ed is a 2009 graduate of Drake University Law School, graduating with a Certificate in Food and Agricultural Law. He began his fellowship with the Drake Agricultural Law Center in the Spring of 2010. Ed currently resides in MO. Probably the best known publication on legal information for direct marketing for farmers is The Legal Guide for Direct Farm Marketing (1999) which was written by Ed’s colleague Neil Hamilton and published from Drake University.

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

The webinars will be archived on the OLC (online learning community) a couple of days after the event.  The OLC can be accessed at

Friday, May 11, 2012

Reducing Heat Stress and Insect Pressure in Crops Using Kaolin Clay (Surround WP) - Part 2

Case study - MELON: Melon field studies and years of commercial use in melons show Surround WP applied close to harvest can dramatically reduce sunburn, thereby boosting marketable yields. If applied throughout the season, Surround has been shown to increase melon size and brix, and cause more uniform ripening. For reducing sunburn damage to melons, Surround should be applied at 50 lbs/per acre prior to the occurance of sunburn-causing conditions. Make one to two applications seven days apart to provide thorough coverage of the plant and fruit. Surround can suppress cucumber beetle and grasshoppers on melons. To be effective, Surround must be used in a preventive program and should be sprayed on plants before insects appear.

Case study - CUCUMBER and EGGPLANT: In 2010, research aimed at investigating the effectiveness of kaolin clay at reducing flea beetle numbers and damage to young eggplants and cucumber beetles numbers in young cucumber plants was conducted by Dr. Jaime Piñero at Lincoln University Carver Farm. Four varieties of eggplants were used for the first study. For each variety, half of the plants (8 inches tall) were treated with Surround WP formulated at 4% and the other half was left untreated. Damage by flea beetles was recorded every day for a 3-day period. Substantial decreases in the numbers of flea beetles were recorded in plants treated with Surround WP compared with untreated plants, although some differences were noted amonst eggplant cultivars. In cucumber, one application of Surround WP resulted in significant reductions in the numbers of striped and spotted cucumber beetles for up to a 10 day period in the absence of rain. The four graphs below show the numbers of spotted and striped cucumber beetles in Surround-treated and untreated cucumber plants for a 96-hour (4 days) interval. Insects were counted daily at 06:00 AM, when cool temperatures allowed insects to be counted.

Case study - TOMATO: Excessive heat can stress the entire tomato plant, causing irreversible damage to plant function or development. Temperatures higher than 90 to 95°F can interfere with pollination and fertilization, contributing to poor fruit set. Higher temperatures may result in blossom and fruit drop or oddly shaped fruit. Heat also affects fruit color, as lycopenes and carotenes are not synthesized above 86°F. High daytime temperatures can increase evaporation – resulting in high transpiration rates and poor water uptake – resulting in reduced plant vigor. This can lead to early canopy collapse, ultimately exposing the fruit to more heat and solar radiation – and increasing the potential for damage. In trials where temperatures regularly exceeded 90 to 95°F, Surround WP reduced the temperature of treated tomato leaves by 9°F. The engineered particles in Surround do not inhibit carbon dioxide uptake in leaves. Therefore by reducing plant temperatures Surround increases net photosynthesis. Trials where Surround was used season-long produced significantly decreased the proportion of tomatoes that had sunburn and increased tomato weights and yields.

Case study - APPLE: In experiments conducted in two apple orchards in Missouri, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of Surround WP against important insect pests of apple such as plum curculio and red-banded leafroller. Surround WP was successful at suppressing plum curculio damage to fruits, red-banded leafroller damage to leaves (but not consistently to fruits), and flyspeck and sooty blotch diseases on fruits, but was not consistently effective against cedar apple rust. Overall grade of apple was improved with applications of Surround WP. Generally, higher rates and more frequent applications resulted in better pest suppression. The particle film coating also reduced plant stress during extreme temperature conditions. Altogether, these results suggest that kaolin-based particle films have potential applications in integrated management of apple pests, while providing some physiological benefits to the plants. Organic farmers have reported good results in apple.

Case study - STRAWBERRY: Researchers in Florida reported that the application of Surround WP on the strawberry foliage the following morning after either 6 or 8 days of sprinkler irrigation had the same plant establishment, plant canopy diameter, and early fruit weight as the 10-day irrigated control. Application of Surround WP resulted in a 40% reduction of establishment irrigation volumes, which might represent major water savings for strawberry production in West Central Florida. The white film of kaolin clay dissipated within three to five weeks, and it did not show reduction in plant growth, flowering, and yields.

Some considerations for applications of Surround WP: According to the manufacturer, fruits and vegetables that are to be marketed fresh but have a white film of Surround remaining at harvest may be washed to remove the film. Though Surround is designed to have moderate adhesion to fruit surfaces the film is normally removed with common washing techniques found in packinghouses. Field-packed fruit that will not be washed may be applied with Surround early in the season for heat stress. The sprays should be discontinued when the fruit are still small. The remaining film coating will eventually weather off the fruit from rain and wind attrition. This attrition will be more pronounced in rainy climates. Note however, that when Surround applications are discontinued and the crop begins to lose its protective coating, sunburn protection will be lost.

Post-harvest techniques for washing Surround-treated fruits and vegetables are available at  and

(by Jaime Pinero, State IPM Specialist, Lincoln University)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Reducing Heat Stress and Insect Pressure in Crops Using Kaolin Clay (Surround WP) - Part 1

Based on the extreme heat and drought that most farmers experienced not only in Missouri but in many areas of the Midwest, in this article I discuss the advantages of using kaolin clay (one trade mark is Surround WP, an OMRI-approved product that has both sticking and spreading agents incorporated) to protect plants against excessive heat and sun radiation while reducing insect pressure.

What is kaolin clay? Kaolin is a naturally occurring clay resulting from weathering of aluminous minerals such as feldspar with kaolinite as its principal constituent. Kaolin is a common mineral, considered “generally regarded as safe” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is used as an anti-caking agent in processed foods and an additive to cosmetics, toiletries and health products. It is also used as an “inert” carrier in some pesticides, and enhances the performance of some microbial products. Kaolin is ground and processed further to reach a uniform particle size for application as a plant protectant. Applied in suspension in water, kaolin produces a dry white film layer of interlocking microscopic particles on the surface of leaves, stems, and fruit after evaporation of the water.

How does it work? This material has several modes of activity. According to the manufacturer, the principal use of Surround WP is to reduce heat stress; thus, the use of Surround WP can increase overall fruit yields in regions with high light and temperature levels because Surround’s specially engineered kaolin particles reflect harmful infrared and ultraviolet radiation. With less radiation and cooler fruit there is less sunburn damage. However, kaolin also acts as a physical barrier preventing insects from reaching vulnerable plant tissue. It acts as a repellent by creating an unsuitable surface for feeding or egg-laying. The uniform white film may also disrupt the insect’s host finding capability by masking the color of the plant tissue. Furthermore, particles of kaolin act as an irritant to the insect. After landing on a treated surface, particles of kaolin break off and attach to the insect’s body triggering an excessive grooming response that distracts the pest.

Formulation and application guidelines: Kaolin clay is available as a wettable powder (i.e., Surround WP) to be mixed with water. Application can be made with most commercially available spray equipment but large amounts of water are required. To prevent caking, it is suggested that the material be added while mechanical agitation is running, or to first completely mix the needed amount in a small amount of water before filling up the tank to the recommended volume. It may be tank mixed with soaps, and most pesticides, but not copper, sulfur, or Bordeaux mixtures. Precipitation, curdling, uneven film formation or changes in viscosity are signs of incompatibility. Periodic shaking is recommended for a backpack sprayer or use of an automatic agitation mechanism for larger equipment in order to keep the material suspended in water. Efficacy is only successfully achieved with thorough coverage. Care should be taken to cover the entire surface of the crop. Hydraulic sprayers at full dilution apply a better covering than mist blowers using concentrated sprays.

Reentry interval (REI) and pre-harvest interval (PHI): 4 hour REI. May be applied up to the day of harvest.

Tomorrow you will read case studies of kaolin clay with different crops.
(by Jaime Pinero, State IPM Specialist, Lincoln University)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vegetbale Garden Tour - June 1st

On June 1 from 12:30-4:30 pm, there will be a garden tour at the farm of Duane and Janice Carney and Thomas and Chris Yunick of Unionville. These experienced gardeners have a lot to see! It’s amazing to see all the rain barrels, raised beds, fruit trees, greenhouses and garden areas these local gardeners have on their farms. You won’t want to miss this tour. There will be fresh, local produce available for sampling if available at that time.

We will start at the Carney farm. Directions to the farm: Address is 39694 State Hwy. W, Unionville, MO. Coming from the south (i.e. Kirksville), take Highway 63 north to Queen City. Turn right (west) onto Highway W. Follow Highway W until you go through Martinstown and go 2 miles outside the town. They will be on the north side of the road. They have a gray-sided house with a three-car garage next to it and a couple of other outbuildings to the west. Coming from the north, you can take either Highway W off Highway136 if you are coming from the west or Highway 149 if you are coming from the east. If you take Highway W, go 8 miles and we will be on the north side of the road. If you take Highway 149, go approximately 6 miles until you see Highway W going to the west. Go down Highway W 2 miles. The house is on the north side of the road.

Mark your calendars, ask for the afternoon off, and come see these amazing gardens. You will learn some things from these experienced gardeners that you can incorporate into your own garden. If there is enough interest we will provide transportation. There is no cost to attend, but pre-registration is required so we know how much food to prepare and if we need to rent vans. You can call the Adair County Extension Office at 660-665-9866 or email.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hunting Mushrooms: Who Needs a License and Who Does Not

Mushrooms are in season. And although a person does not need a license to hunt them, if someone wants to sell them, a licensed or certified inspector must attest to their safety first.

When hunting mushrooms, it is important to be 100% sure you know the mushrooms you find are safe to eat. For example, morel mushrooms vary in size and color, but one identifying factor for them is their hollow, cone- or globe-shaped head connected at the base to a hollow neck. The convolutions on the head make them look very porous. The cap is from one to five inches high and the stem is about the same height. They are generally found in various shades of brown from tan to black. A description and picture of morels (and other edible types) can be found on the Missouri Department of Conservation's website.

If it is a morel, as described above, it is safe to eat. If, however, it is shaped and sized similarly, but is NOT hollow, it is poisonous. So be very careful.

If you find lots, you may consider selling some. The state of Missouri requires that a certified inspector confirm that they are a safe variety for sale. Certification is done through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Since certification classes are not yet available in Missouri, the department has a process for recognizing certification from other states, such as Iowa. Heather Benedict, Agronomy Specialist with MU Extension in Harrison County, has more information on this process.

Mushrooms keep in the refrigerator for only 2-3 days. If you have more than you can use in that time, consider freezing some within a day of picking to maintain best quality. MU Extension has a guide, GH1507, Freezing Unusual Fruits and Vegetables, to explain how to do that: . Drying is another option and is described in publication GH1563, How To Dry Foods at Home.

Unlike some other mushrooms that are enjoyed raw, morels must be well cooked to be eaten safely and avoid the irritation to the stomach that can otherwise occur. The first step, and perhaps the most tedious, is getting them clean. All the cracks and crevices make for lots of places for sand, dirt and small insects to hide. To clean, rinse several times quickly and carefully under running water to remove dirt and sand. Then set in salt water for about an hour, changing the water often to draw the bugs out. Avoid over-soaking as this can dilute the flavor. Use freshly collected mushrooms within two to three days.
(by Janet Hackert, MU Extension Nutrition and Health Education Specialist)

Monday, May 7, 2012

May Webinar--Legal Issues with Direct Marketing

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program’s continues its monthly webinars with “Legal Issues with Direct Marketing.” Many beginning farmers find it hard to rummage through all the legal issues when it comes to marketing the crops and livestock they have grown. If you have found yourself in this predicament, then you’ll surely want to join us for these two webinars.

Our webinar presenter will be Edward Cox. Ed is a staff attorney with the Drake University Agricultural Law Center. He grew up in a small town in the Missouri Ozarks and received a B.S. from Missouri State University in Springfield, MO. Ed is a 2009 graduate of Drake University Law School, graduating with a Certificate in Food and Agricultural Law. He began his fellowship with the Drake Agricultural Law Center in the Spring of 2010. Ed currently resides in MO. Probably the best known publication on legal information for direct marketing for farmers is The Legal Guide for Direct Farm Marketing (1999) which was written by Ed’s colleague Neil Hamilton and published from Drake University.

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

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

The webinars will be archived on the OLC (online learning community) a couple of days after the event.  The OLC can be accessed at

Friday, May 4, 2012

Meat Goat Video Resources

Meat Goats are still considered a relatively new enterprise across the US. While some producers have been at this awhile, there are still others who are new to meat goat production, or even other acreage owners who may be considering it. Why don’t we take a look at eXtension (pronounced e-extension, found at This site can provide some great resources for those with an interest.
What is eXtension?

eXtension is an interactive learning environment delivering the best, most researched knowledge from the smartest land-grant university minds across America. eXtension is unlike any other search engine or information-based website. It's a space where university content providers can gather and produce new educational and information resources on wide-ranging topics.

If watching a video to learn how to do something suits you, then this list may be of great benefit.

Goat Videos and Resources
There are some great video resources on this website, plus many, many Extension publications to review. Here is a list of the videos currently available:

Animal Behavior
Animal Behavior

Kid Management
Bottle Feeding a Goat Kid
Tube Feeding a Goat Kid
Hand Milking a Doe with Udder Problems

Goat Basic Hoof Care
Body Condition Scoring
Making Money with Meat Goats
Mortality Composting

Selling and Raising Meat Goats

Predator Control
Problem with Coyotes

There are also numerous publications to browse. You can search for a specific word or topic, view publications or “ask an expert”. You can send an expert your question, and then receive a timely response to the question.

There are many ways to find information on the internet, but this site provides non-biased, research based information from Extension systems across the nation. If you have an interest in learning how to improve your meat goat enterprise, or how to get one started, there are a lot of great resources to start the process.
(By Sara Ellicott, UNL Extension Livestock Educator)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Top 10 Restaurant Food Trends for the Year

As diners become more sophisticated in their tastes and desire for flavorful, healthful foods, quick-service and fast casual operators are plating up additional items that satisfy those demands, National Restaurant Association research finds.

Consumers questioned for the NRA's 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast ranked their top 10 food trends for the year, with several geared toward children's meals. The trends, in order, are:

1. Healthful kids' meals
2. Fruits and vegetable sides in kids' meals
3. Gluten-free items
4. Lowfat or nonfat milk and 100-percent orange juice options in kids' meals
5. Locally sourced produced
6. Lower-sodium items
7. Spicy items
8. Lower-calorie options
9. Mini-desserts or dessert bites
10. Low-fat foods

According to Joy Dubost, PhD., R.D., the NRA's director of nutrition and healthy living, consumers today are much more attuned to making more healthful choices and know that childhood obesity is an issue in the United States.

"There has been increasing awareness around childhood obesity and ensuring that future generations remain healthy," Dubost said. "Additionally, it's become a family affair for adults who also are looking for healthful options that meet their dietary needs. As a result, the demand for those options has grown."

Restaurant operator- and industry-focus has shifted to children's menus in recent years. In 2011, the NRA partnered with HealthyDining to launch its Kids LiveWell program.

Despite this increased interest in healthful items, however, the Forecast reported that consumers still have their perennial favorites on limited-service menus. Those items include soft drinks, French fries, iced tea and beef items.

Read more about restaurant trends and statistics.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

LU's Busby Farm Open House

Lincoln University will have an Open Housse at their Alan T. Busby Agriculture Farm this coming Friday, May 4th from 9 am to 4 pm.  Busby Farm is located at 5124 Goller Road, Jefferson City, MO (off Hwy 54 West).

Come and learn about a variety of topics: Organic Blueberry Production / Integrated Pest Management / Aquaculture / Silvopasture / Multi-species Grazing / Composting.  Busby Farm promotes sustainable and organic agriculture.

This is a free event open to the public. A box lunch will be available for $ 5.00 benefiting the Lincoln University Agriculture Club.  Register by calling 573-681-5543.  Please let us know if you need special accommodations.

The Program begins at 9:00 am.  All sessions will be 45 minutes each will be held concurrently from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. During lunch from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm, Dr. K.B. Paul will provide an overview of the Missouri SARE Program.

Silvopasture—Dr. Charlotte Clifford-Rathert - Researching the best management techniques and goat breeds most suitable to control weeds and brush. Lincoln University has 42 acres dedicated as a natural laboratory that will also serve as a demonstration area to evaluate the benefits of using goats for vegetation control in woodland settings and the integration of pastureland.

Integrated Pest Management—Dr. Jaime C. Piñero, State IPM Specialist and Jacob Wilson, Extension IPM Tech. - The Lincoln University (LU) IPM Program promotes organic insect pest management through research, extension and education. We increase farmers’ awareness that effective organic pest management starts with an understanding of both IPM and the National Organic Program (NOP) final rule (USDA, 2000) which emphasizes the use of preventive and cultural practices than enhance crop health such as crop rotation, crop covers, sanitation measures, cultural and biological control. At this event, we will provide and overview of pest management in organic blueberries including Japanese beetles.

Aquaculture—Dr. James Wetzel - Our mission is to develop & diversify the aquaculture industry of Missouri. Our efforts concentrate on native sunfish such as bluegill, redear, black crappie and largemouth bass. We concentrate on culture methodology, nutrition and genetic makeup. Ongoing trials involve larval rearing and feeding trials.

Multispecies Grazing—Dr. James Caldwell - The grazing trials include various rotations and combinations between cattle, goats and sheep. Field data and lab data will help determine the differences in forage utilization and per-acre production for forages and pounds of livestock. Our research will also include the use of alternative forages and their effects on internal parasites. The trials will also compare the suitability of various fencing and watering options for multispecies grazing, as well as researching which mineral supplementation program is best suited to this type of grazing system

Solar Watering System—Chris Boeckmann - The solar powered pumping system will utilize water stored in the reservoir to provide water for livestock and irrigate the blueberries and, eventually, the organic fruit trees.

Composting Programs—Dr. Hwei-Yiing Li Johnson - The LU Composting Facility has several programs that are designed to improve waste management and environmental quality. You will be introduced to various composting methods such as aerobic composting and vermi-composting. Other programs to be shown will be green roof, green walls, rain garden, rain barrel usage, and winter heating with electric and solar thermal system for worm beds.

2012 SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Recipients

Congratulations to the following 2012 Misosuri SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Recipients!  It will be exciting to see how each of these grants come to fruition on their farm.  Of the total 53 projects that were awarded in the North Central Region, 16 were awarded to Missouri Farmers!

FNC12-893 - Formulating a Beneficial Organic Chicken Feed to Produce Soy-Free and Corn-Free Eggs for $7,057.13 by Jeri Villarreal

FNC12-886 - Increasing the Sustainability of Our Farm by Learning how to Best Produce Sorghum Molasses for $7,224.00 by Ron Rushly

FNC12-887 - Blogging about the Establishment of a Manage Intensive Grazing Farm in Missouri that is Environmentally Friendly for $7,482.00 by Allan Sharrock

FNC12-888 - Introducing Locally Grown Produce to Childcare Centers during Winter While Promoting Sustainable Nutrition through Education and Marketing for $7,500.00 by Jennifer Sikes

FNC12-891 - Notrition Enhancement OF Produce Grown with a Micronutrient Mineral and Trace
Element Supplement for $1,264.46 by Robert Teerlinck

FNC12-845 - Teaching Pastured Poultry Producers On-Farm Processing Best Management Practices for a Safer Product for $4,877.00 by Kevin Backes

FNC12-844 - The Cheapest Way to Produce the Best Egg: Comparing how Different Supplemental Feeds Affect the Cost and Nutrient Density of Eggs from Heritage and Hybrid Pastured Hens for $7,500.00 by John Arbuckle

FNC12-878 - Phase 2: Burgundy Truffle Orchard Establishment - The Burgundy Truffle as a new sustainable agro-forestry crop for Missouri for $7,500.00 by Nicola Macpherson Hellmuth

FNC12-866 - A Comparison and Evaluation of Heritage Breed Broiler Chickens on Pasture for $6,534.54 by Wesley Hunter

FNC12-873 - Scaling Up the Use of Trap Crops for Insect Control in Mechanized Squash Production for $7,039.00 by Rusty Lee

FNC12-876 - Hoeing Hens for $5,251.26 by Pieter Los

FNC12-867 - Reducing Input Costs for Urban Aeroponic and Hydroponic Farming for $6,991.50 by Gibron Jones

FNC12-883 - Rural Food Network: Growing and Keeping Food in Gasconade County, Missouri for $22,404.50 by Alan Nolte

FNC12-852 - Comparative Analysis of Unpasteurized Organic Milk vs. Organic Fish Emulsion and Kelp as an Organic Fertilizer for Livestock Forages for $14,980.00 by Thomas Colonna
FNC12-855 - Whey as a Natural Insecticide $2,568.17 Debra DeWeese

FNC12-858 - Vertical Oblong Wheel Planter System: Scale Up Yield, Increase Production, Increase Profits, Feed More in the Community, and Improve Worker Ergonomics for $7,379.75 by Lisa Firsick