Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cut Flower Webinar April 1st

Join the Missouri Beginning Farmers Program this coming Monday, April 1st from 7-8:30 pm for the next monthly webinar.  The presenter will be Karen "Mimo" Davis, Regional Horticulture Specialist with Lincoln University.

In her previous years before joining Lincoln University Karen was the owner and operator of “Wildthang farms”, a farm concentrating on the production and marketing of high quality specialty cut flowers selling to over thirty florist and 3 farmers’ markets weekly.  Karen was so good at what she was raising and how she was selling her flowers that she became known across the country through the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers for her success.

Karen will tell about her journey as a cut flower producer but her main focus will be on marketing.  So whether you grow cut flowers or not, everyone will learn from Karen's unique perspective on marketing.

To join the webinar go to univmissouri.adobeconnect/debikelly and sign in with your name as a guest.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

First Green Grass of Spring - Not Enough to Supply Nutrient Needs of Grazing Cows

Turning cow herds out to graze pastures at the first sign of green grass harms forage growth later in the season. But there’s another big reason to wait, says a University of Missouri beef nutritionist.

Cows don’t benefit from early grazing as much as most herd owners believe.

Early grazing provides little quality and small quantity of grass, says Justin Sexten, Columbia. Herds need more nutrients than they get from early grass.

“Early pasture growth contains mostly water, only 25 percent dry matter,” Sexten warns. “Producers see this when they describe their cows as being ‘washy.’” Early grass has a high rate of passage through a cow’s digestive tract. In other words, don’t stand behind them.

After a hard winter, a cow nursing a calf needs extra feed until pastures are ready for grazing.

“With only 25 percent dry matter in the diet, a cow must eat 150 pounds of grass to meet her needs,” Sexten says.

A cow would walk constantly trying to find that much grass.

Quantity of growth at first green-up is minimal. “A cow can’t get a full mouthful of grass with each bite.”

The answer won’t appeal to farmers tired of winter feeding chores. Cows need continued feeding before grass grows large enough to supply nutrient needs. That means more hay and possible grain supplement.
Delayed grazing helps cows and pastures, Sexten says.

Rob Kallenbach, MU Extension forage specialist, agrees. “Grass that is nipped too short too early removes plant reserves needed for spring growth. Cool-season grasses stored sugar reserves in the lower stems last growing season. The reserves jump-start growth.”

Nipping too early removes reserves and the green leaves needed for photosynthesis. Early removal slows growth all season.

Early grazing makes a lose-lose situation, the specialists say.

Management may be more critical than usual this year as pastures recover from last summer’s record-breaking drought.

Sexten says to delay turning herds onto pasture until at least a 5-inch growth shows.

“Allow 2,000 pounds of dry matter per acre to accumulate,” he says. “Focus on the nutrient needs of the cows.”

A lactating cow’s daily nutrient demand equals 2.5 percent of her body weight. A dry cow requires 2 percent of body weight. Accurate cow-weight estimates are needed. Many producers underestimate how big their cows are when calculating feed needs.

Meeting nutrient demands may require buying more feed, or culling herd numbers.

Cows nursing a calf and preparing for rebreeding later this spring need nutrients. Cows with poor body condition scores are less likely to rebreed on time.

Spring-calving cow herds reach their highest nutrient requirements in April and May. Late snows delayed grass growth but brought moisture needed for that growth.

Both Sexten and Kallenbach advocate weekly or biweekly measurements of pasture dry matter growth and plotting the forage accumulation. That data guides the turn-in date for the next grazing paddock.

An MU website allows producers to enter their forage measurements to create a grazing wedge. Go to

The plant science and animal science specialists are in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
(By Duane Daily, MU Senior Writer)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

EarthDance Workshops

EarthDance is a teaching farm located in Ferguson, MO.  Since 2009, EarthDance has operated a part-time apprenticeship program at the historic Mueller Organic Farm, in order to train more farmers and gardeners for the St. Louis region. To view our complete listing of classes, and to register, visit  Questions about classes at EarthDance may be addressed to
April 1st, 6-7:30pm - Greenhouse and Hoophouse Growing at LaVista Farm
Tour La Vista Farm, in Godfrey IL.  La Vista is a nonprofit Community Supported Farm, in operation since 2001.  Eric Stevens and his wife Crystal manage the farm.  Their specialties include native plants, medicinal herbs, companion planting and gourmet cooking with seasonal vegetables.  During this field trip, Crystal and Eric will provide a guided tour of their heated hoophouse, where they raise their transplants in late winter.  In late spring, the structure is used as a high tunnel, where heat-loving crops are raised in the soil beneath plastic covering. 

April 8th, 6-7:30pm - Field Planning for Efficient Farming
Tour EarthDance's Mueller Farm, for a field walk focused on field planning. This class will include discussion of large equipment, including four- and two-wheeled tractors, and implements.  Learn how to determine the most efficient planting bed size and layout and choose your cultivation strategies.

April 15th, 6-7:30pm - Keeping Track: Harvest Procedures and Record Keeping
Review the basics of planning and implementing a successful harvest, as well as the necessity of keeping good records.  Rigorous record keeping is also a key to organic certification.  Learn what data to keep track of; systems that will facilitate your record keeping; and how you can use your records to improve farming practices and profitability.

April 22nd, 6-7:30pm - Keeping it Fresh: Post-harvest Handling for Quality and Safety
This class will cover food safety practices, as well as harvest procedures and equipment that will ensure high quality produce that maintains its freshness longer. Review the procedures that make for an effective harvest, gain insight into the factors that can diminish the quality of your produce, and learn how to establish a food safety plan for your farm.  A portion of this class will be devoted to cool-bot technology.  Cool-bots employ reconfigured air conditioning units to transform an enclosed space into a DIY walk-in cooler. Learn the basics of cool-bot construction, including cost, necessary materials, and assembly overview. Attendees will receive a manual with detailed instructions explaining the construction process. Light refreshments will be served.

April 30th, 6-7:30pm - To Market, To Market
This class will focus on farmers markets from the farmer’s perspective. Market “dos and don’ts” will be covered, as well as techniques for branding your products, establishing customer loyalty, and keeping your product fresh and appealing at market.

Monday, March 25, 2013

How much is organic certification worth?

To help ensure consumers get what they generally pay extra for, the USDA next month will enforce closer oversight over organic farms. But for some small family farms, the cost and time that go into securing the “organic” label is coming into question.

The organic farming industry is booming. Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched its federal organic certification program in 2002, the number of organic farms has more than doubled. U.S. organic food sales have also grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $31.5 billion in 2011, according to the Organic Trade Association.

Read the rest of this article about organic certification, a Central MO grocery store, a MO certified organic vegetable/CSA operation and a previously MO certified organic cattle/hog operation.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Horizon Point Custom Weather Analysis

Watching the weather is interesting to most folks, but it is critical to farmers whose crops depend on just the right amount of rain at just the right temperatures. Bad weather has plagued farmers for as long as there has been agriculture, and when good weather comes along, we have much to be thankful for.

While we can’t do much to change the weather, there are tools available to give precise information about the weather as it relates to your crop. Many of these tools take weather information, and using scientific models, they can predict when an insect pest will become a potential pest problem, a specific weed will emerge, or when a disease will have the conditions it requires to infect your crop.

The University of Missouri has developed a free program called “Horizon Point,” which provides custom weather analysis for your farm. When you sign up for Horizon Point, you provide the latitude and longitude for your farm. Horizon Point then starts capturing weather data for that specific site from the National Weather Service. Once it has the data, it combines them with similar data which have been collected from a nearby MU Agricultural Weather Station. It then processes all the data using research-based scientific models which have been developed at the University of Missouri. Finally, Horizon Point sends site specific information and advisories to you in an easy to access email report.

Just what kind of information is available? In addition to precipitation, temperature, and wind forecasts, Horizon Point includes advisories on potential rainfall runoff, animal comfort, weed and insect scouting aids, soil temperature at planting depth, and more.

Additionally, a web link will provide you with the latest weather conditions closest to your farm using the Commercial Agriculture Real-Time Monitoring Network.

If you would like to enroll for Horizon Point email reports, you will need to access the web site

You will then provide an email address and other contact information, the latitude and longitude of the field or fields for which you desire reports, which advisories you want to receive, and finally, when to receive your email reports.

If you would like more information, please contact the Horizon Point team at 573-884-6311.

(by Tim Baker, Horticulture Specialist)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New App Helps You Name that Weed

 University of Missouri Extension has released a free app for iPhones, iPads and Android devices to help people easily identify weeds in the field, lawn or garden.

Kevin Bradley, MU Extension weed scientist, unveiled the app at the MU Crop Management Conference, December 19, 2012 in Columbia.

The app, called ID Weeds, has information on more than 400 plant species that could be encountered as weeds in crop fields, pastures, lawns, gardens or aquatic areas in Missouri and surrounding states, Bradley said.

ID Weeds lets users narrow the list of suspects with a series of drop-down boxes for various plant characteristics. Do not worry if you are not familiar with technical terms such as “ligules” or “spatulate.” For most characteristics, users can click on “what’s this?” to see an illustration.

Clicking on “Identify” will produce a list of weeds that match the characteristics you have chosen. The more characteristics you specify, the shorter the list will be. Selecting a weed on the list brings up detailed information and one or more photographs.

You can also look up a weed by searching for its common or scientific name, or select from an alphabetical list, from “Alligatorweed” to “Yucca.”

“Proper identification of weeds is important so that you choose an appropriate and cost-effective method of control,” said Bradley, who is also an associate professor of plant sciences in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

The app was developed by James Meng, a programmer for MU Extension Technology and Computer Services (ETCS).

ID Weeds is compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad running iOS 5.1 or later, and devices running Android 2.2 or later.

To download:
 iPhone and other iOS devices:
 Android: Search for “ID Weeds” at
 A web version is available at

For more information about weeds and weed management:
 MU Extension Plant Protection Programs:
 MU Weed Science Program:
(by Curt Wohleber, MU Senior Information Specialist)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

MU Weather Stations Provide Real-time Data

Monroe City boasts the newest of the state’s automated real-time weather stations operated by University of Missouri Extension’s Commercial Agriculture Program, said Pat Guinan, MU Extension assistant professor of climatology.

Located at the Capt. Ben Smith Airfield on the south edge of city limits, the weather station records variables including temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, solar radiation, soil temperature and precipitation. There are 30 automated weather stations in the network. The Monroe City station is one of 19 stations in the network that provide real-time data.

The weather stations record information important to the agriculture community and collect historical weather information for the National Weather Service and others, providing data for numerous meteorological, agricultural and hydrological research projects.

One of the most-used agricultural applications is for making spraying decisions based on real-time wind speed and wind direction information. Other agricultural applications of Missouri’s network include farm chemical application recommendations, irrigation schedules, planting and insect advisories. Advances in wireless communication and acquisition of grant funds have provided the opportunity to report weather conditions every five minutes over the Internet.

The Missouri network, which is a type of weather network that meteorologists call a “mesonet,” was established in 1992 with four automated weather stations. Three were in northwestern Missouri and one in the south-central part of the state. By 2000, the mesonet had expanded to 21 stations. They are comprised of hardware and sensors including 3-meter towers and dataloggers. Some stations have supplemental sensors to observe fuel moisture (an indicator of wildfire risk), soil moisture, leaf wetness and barometric pressure.

For more information from the Missouri Climate Center through the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, go to

Data from each of the weather stations is available online at

For real-time weather from the Monroe City station, go to
(by Linda Geist, MU Senior Information Specialist)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New Generation Energy: Sustainable Power for Your Farm or Homestead Webinar Series

Are your farm energy bills on the rise - and are you wondering what you can do to reduce them?  Are you looking for more sustainable sources of energy? Join us online for a webinar series of farmer-led virtual tours and fun, informational tips for saving energy and converting to renewables on your farm or homestead!

This four-part lunchtime webinar series will provide examples of energy conservation measures, solar arrays, wind turbines, compost heat, and a variety of other ecological production techniques and introduce you to farmers and professionals who are successfully harnessing the power of renewable resources to produce affordable, sustainable energy.  Tune in to learn if solar, wind, geothermal, and even compost power are right for you!

The series will run from noon-12:45pm (Eastern Time) every Friday from March 29th through April 19th.  All of the webinars are free and open to the public.  To sign up, please complete and submit our New Generation Energy Webinar Sign-Up form.   You will receive an email approximately one week before your chosen webinar(s) providing a link and instructions for you to access the series.

Sponsored by NE SARE (Northeast Sustainable Ag Research and Education) and the Cornell Small Farms Program.  To learn about funding opportunities available from NE SARE, visit  To learn more about sustainable energy resources visit
March 29: Dreaming of Local Lemons - Solar Energy Virtual Tour. Noon - 12:45pm - with Leo Siemion of Summit Naturals Organic Farm, Summit, NY
Leo Siemion of Summit Naturals Organic Farm will give a virtual photo tour of the sustainable energy features on his 25-acre organic farm. The farm produces 11 varieties of garlic in raised fields, eggs from heritage Buff Orpington breed chickens, and bottled honey, comb honey and beeswax candles from 12 bee colonies. Leo and his farm crew have spent the past several years raising approximately 450 pond-bred Koi fish for retail sale. Their 60×21 foot high tunnel is double walled plastic and excess solar heat is circulated through 250 feet of corrugated pipe 2 feet underground. The active solar heating system allows Summit Naturals to grow greens throughout the winter. Their smaller glass greenhouse attached on the south side of the family home has 520 feet of corrugated pipe, 5 feet underground which runs through an insulated stone pit and radiates back up through the concrete floor. Leo has been able to produce tropical fruits such as oranges, lemons, pineapples and figs in this greenhouse. In addition, they have two pole mounted solar arrays totaling 10-kW and an evacuated tube solar hot water system. The farm has acquired a restored 40 year old GE Electrak electric tractor to use the excess electricity they now produce and reduce diesel fuel needs.

April 5: Powering Your Farm Off the Grid - Virtual Tour. Noon - 12:45pm - with Raymond Luhrman of Fox Creek Farm, Schoharie, NY
Is it possible to operate a farm off-the-grid, and what are the challenges and opportunities? Raymond Luhrman will take us on a virtual tour of Fox Creek Farm and describe how his family operates their 350 member CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) operation from electricity produced right on site. The Lurhman's have installed two 1.3 kW solar arrays and a Bergey XL1 wind turbine on a 100 foot tower. Raymond will describe how he sited, sized, funded and installed these systems. He'll also present some additional energy conservation features of the farm, including the passive solar barn, and the CoolBot regulator that makes his walk-in cooler extra energy efficient. Aside from these technical aspects, he will also share thoughts on the challenges and opportunities that come with off-grid farming.

April 12: Compost Power! Noon - 12:45pm - with Sam Gorton, Compost Power, Systems Engineer and Design Consultant
Composting is a sustainable process for transforming farm wastes into a stable soil amendment. But, did you know that an active compost pile may be able to generate enough heat to keep your greenhouse warm in the wintertime, offset your water heating fuel needs or even heat a small-scale biogas digester? Composting is a sustainable process for transforming farm wastes into a stable soil amendment. But, did you know that an active compost pile may be able to generate enough heat to keep your greenhouse warm in the wintertime, offset your water heating fuel needs or even heat a small-scale biogas digester? Sam Gorton, a PhD student at the University of Vermont (Burlington, VT) and co-founder of the Compost Power Network (Waitsfield, VT) will describe strategies to power your home, greenhouse or barn on the heat produced from high-Carbon compost recipes.

April 19: Ask an Installer: Wind, Solar and Geothermal. Noon - 12:45pm - with Conor Kays, Alternative Power Solutions
Energy prices are rising, and who knows where they will be in 10 or 20 years. Investing in renewable energy now can turn a variable cost into a fixed one over the life of the system. Conor Kays from Alternative Power Solutions of NY will talk about how to choose between geothermal, solar or wind (or all three), how to size a system, current financial incentives and offsets, and services that installers will provide.

We will be using WebEx to host this webinar series. To use WebEx, all you will need are functioning speakers (a sound card in your computer) and a good Internet connection - a cable modem or DSL are preferable, but dial-up, mobile wireless, and satellite Internet connections can also work. If you have any questions about the Internet or hardware requirements necessary to use WebEx, please contact Hannah Koski at




Monday, March 18, 2013

Aquaculture Videos

A series of online aquaculture workshops were held November 12-15 and the recordings have been posted to Please note the recent workshops are at the bottom of the page while earlier presentations are at the top of the page. The topics that were covered included:

·        Introduction to Aquaculture

·        Aquaculture: What is it? Is it important? Why should I care? – David Cline, Auburn University

·        Business planning and economics – Matt Parker, University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension

·        Pond Culture – Forrest Wynne, Kentucky State University 

·        Recreational Pond Management (Bass/Bream) – Russell Wright, Auburn University

·        Aquatic Plant Management – Gary Burtle, University of Georgia

·        Yellow Perch – Laura Tiu, Ohio State University

·        Sunfish – Charles Hicks, Lincoln University

·        Walleye – Allen Pattillo, Iowa State University

·        Clam Culture – Joshua Reitsma, Woods Hole Sea Grant Program

·        Oyster Culture – Vanessa Weldon, eXtension

·        Aquaponics – Patricia Duncan, Fort Valley State University


Friday, March 15, 2013

Northwest Missouri Cover Crop Work

There is tremendous interest in the use of cover crops. In response to producer’s desire to know how they work and how to best use them, two different projects are being conducted in northwest Missouri by University of Missouri Extension, MU Agricultural Experiment Station and NRCS.
Cover crop plots are located at both the Hundley-Whaley Center in Albany and the Graves-Chapple Farm near Corning. Both studies are examining improvements to soil health and fertility and also for nutritive value of the forage produced for beef cattle. The Corning location is also looking at their use specifically in soils that have experienced flooding.
A variety of different cover crops (cereal rye, triticale, wheat, oats, tillage radishes, turnips, hairy vetch, Austrian peas, red clover, white clover, etc.) and mixtures of these are being evaluated.
These pictures were taken at Hundley-Whaley in Albany the first week of February. Although it is hard to tell from the picture, the cereal rye has a significant amount of growth and would provide some excellent forage for beef cows. Although the turnip tops have died back, the turnips themselves are quite large (and yes cows will eat them). As we continue to face dry weather conditions and decreasing pasture availability, cover crops may help producers fill gaps in their overall pasture/forage program. In a related demonstration, tall fescue plots were overseeded with either wheat, cereal rye, triticale or oats on February 6 to see if they would provide additional spring grazing in drought stressed pastures. Plans are in place to look at summer annual forages as well.

MU is hosting field days at each locations on April 1 and 2 in Corning and Albany respectively. The events will run from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. each day and will feature hands on discussion of the various plots. There is no charge to attend either event and for more information contact the Holt County MU Extension office at (660) 446-3724 or Gentry County MU Extension at (660) 726-5610.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Finding Land

One of the most expensive and often the hardest thing for a beginning farmer to purchase is land.  I get calls from time to time asking if I know of a farm for sale.  Just the same at times I get calls from farmers looking for good people to buy their farm.  I don't keep such information in my office and unfortunately Missouri does not have a farm link program as some states do.

However I did run across this document that might be a bit helpful for those looking to buy a farm -
Finding, Assessing, and Securing Farmland.  Although this was written specifically with Massachusetts in mind, it does offer great concepts that are transferable to just about anywhere.
Topics in the publication include:
* What kind of land am I looking for?
* What sort of land tenure situation is right for me?
* How do I get started with my land search?
* What should I look for during a farmland visit?
* How do I negotiate with a landowner and sign an agreement to use the land?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cover Crops Can Provide Many Benefits

Crimson Clover
Having plant growth in fields year-round can improve the soil, according to Tim Reinbott, superintendent of the University of Missouri Bradford Research Center. He says using cover crops in the fall and spring can provide large benefits.
“We have our grain crops in the summertime, but crops in the fall and spring are extremely important in helping soil health,” Reinbott said.

Cover crops promote microbial activity and loosen the soil. Several studies conducted at Bradford show that cover crops will help rainfall more easily soak into the soil, he said.

“Using a cover crop, you’ll get a lot more water infiltration, maybe up to 50 percent more than without a cover crop,” Reinbott said. He said cover crops are particularly helpful with water infiltration on no-till fields.

Cover crops can also put nutrients down in fields. Reinbott says that winter annual legumes like hairy vetch, Austrian winter peas or crimson clover biologically fix nitrogen, which then can be released to a succeeding crop. He says that the seed cost of cover crops is considerably less than other nitrogen sources.

“Our studies show maybe 50 to 75 pounds of nitrogen a year,” Reinbott said. “Another part of this is that our cereal ryes or tillage radishes can capture a lot of the nitrogen that is left over at the end of the year. So instead of nitrogen being washed off or lost through leeching or denitrification, cover crops can actually help capture that nitrogen, and when they are destroyed, it’s released back to the next crop.”

Reinbott says researchers at Bradford are looking at several different methods of destroying the cover crops, including applying herbicides, using a roller crimper, and mowing them down.

The best results have been when they plant directly into the standing cover crop and then desiccate it, he said. “It’s easier to get good seed-to-soil contact that way. When we mow it down or roll it down, we’re dealing with 6 to 7 inches of mulch that we have to try to plant through, and that becomes a problem. One of the things we’re going to have to look at is how to manage that thick cover that we want, yet at the same time get a good stand.”

Cover crops can also provide weed control, reduce water runoff and pull up phosphorus and potassium from below the claypan.

There are a wide variety of cover crops that have different advantages. Hairy vetch has a wide window of planting, is winter-hardy and produces a lot of biomass. Crimson clover blooms early enough in the spring that you can plant corn and, if allowed to bloom, it will reseed itself. Tillage radishes and cereal rye have tremendous roots that can loosen the soil. Less compaction equals greater root density deeper in the ground following rye and radishes.

“Cover crops are very exciting and I encourage farmers to try some,” Reinbott said. “Don’t plant your whole farm because each farm is a little different. Try to figure out how to make it work on your property. I guarantee there is a system that will work with your soil type and slopes.”

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Southwest Missouri Sheep and Goat Conference on March 23

The Southwest Missouri Sheep and Goat Conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, March 23 at the McDonald County Fairgrounds, 100 Mustang Lane (near intersection of Hwy 76 and 71B and adjacent to the high school), Anderson, MO.

"If you want to raise sheep or goats for meat or milk, you can learn how to raise them successfully at this conference," said Dr. Jodie Pennington, small ruminant educator with Lincoln University Cooperative Extension who is located at the Newton County Extension Center in Neosho. The conference will provide basic information that participants need to work with sheep and goats, including a panel discussion by producers on how to maximize profits with sheep and goats.

Speakers at the conference include Mark Kennedy, Missouri State Grasslands Specialist with NRCS and a long-time goat producer, who will talk about profits with sheep and goats and fencing and facilities. Dr. Charlotte Clifford-Rathert, State Small Ruminant Specialist with Lincoln University, will talk about sheep and goat diseases and proper techniques for diagnosing worms, including a fecal egg count demonstration in the afternoon. At the beginning of the conference, Pennington will conduct an interactive session with an automated response system where attendees answer questions on their management and then get feed-back for the answers from all in the audience. Pennington also will discuss the increase of hair sheep in the industry and the proper management for them.

After lunch which is provided in the registration fee, the conference will include an information-exchange panel of sheep and goat producers who will discuss how they maximize profits with sheep and goats followed by questions from the audience.

Producers may bring a fecal sample for the fecal egg count demonstration if they want their animal or animals checked for worms. Dr. Clifford-Rathert will explain how to conduct fecal egg counts and how to check for FAMACHA scores. Worms are the primary internal parasite of small ruminants and remain one of the biggest problems of meat and dairy goats. “Internal parasites can also be a problem in sheep but not to the same extent as goats,” said Clifford-Rathert. “In order to control worms, you must set up a deworming and sanitation program and stick to it.” Worms not only kill both young and old goats, they contribute to poor growth rates, an unthrifty appearance, coughing, diarrhea, and, in severe cases, bottle jaw.

John Hobbs, McDonald County Program Director of the University of Missouri Extension, says that “there should be something for everyone who has an interest in sheep and goats, whether hair or wooled sheep and dairy or meat goats.”

For those who pre-register before March 19, the cost is $10 per person for the conference with lunch. Simply mail your registration information to the Newton County Extension Center, Smith Hall (Crowder College), 601 Laclede Avenue, Neosho, MO 64850. Registration is $15 at the door on the day of the event. You also may contact the Newton County Extension Center at 417-455-9500 or email  to register or for more information.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) projects "solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.” Specialty crops are defined by the USDA as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, maple syrup, honey, horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture).

Specialty Crop Block Grant Concept Paper Application Process
SCBGP funds may be used for a specialty crop project lasting up to two years. Concept Paper applications are considered on a competitive basis and ranked by an internal review panel. Only two submissions per entity (i.e. institution, organization, non-profit) are allowed with a limit of $5,000 total for personnel and fringe benefits. Selected Concept Paper applications will be invited to submit a full proposal and will be ranked by a peer review panel. Selected full proposals are included in the Missouri Specialty Crop State Plan and reviewed and approved by the USDA. Projects must impact and produce measurable outcomes for the specialty crop industry and/or the public, rather than a single organization, institution or individual. Single organizations, institutions and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners. The Missouri Department of Agriculture’s funding priorities include expanding local, regional and international markets and distribution channels for specialty crops, as well as facilitating education and marketing.

Applicants must be a legal entity and have the legal capacity to contract. Applicants are encouraged to provide a cash match for their projects. Grant funds may not be used for administrative overhead.

Applications received from participants who have applied and received SCBGP grant awards at least twice will be reviewed and considered for funding after first-time applicants have the opportunity to compete.

Friday, March 1, 2013 - Request for concept papers published
Friday, March 29, 2013 - Concept paper applications due to MDA (Late submittals will not be accepted)

Monday, April 22, 2013 - Invitation by MDA to submit full grant proposals
Monday, May 13, 2013 - Full grant proposals due to MDA
Friday, June 14, 2013 - Subgrantee partners selected by MDA
Friday, June 28, 2013 - MDA state application submitted to USDA
October/November 2013 - Award announcements from USDA


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Six Feet Under, the Drought Lives On

Even if the Midwest gets normal rain and snow, it will take almost two years for soil moisture deep in the earth to recharge and sustain normal crop growth, said a University of Missouri soil scientist.

Randall Miles, associate professor of soil science at the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, said that two years of drought in the Heartland have left many prime growing areas bone dry to at least five feet down. This is where the roots of the crops live, sucking up moisture and nutrients. Without enough water, these crops produce poor yields.

“Don’t count a full recovery of soil moisture soon,” Miles said. “Even if parts of the Midwest receive a lot of snowfall and rain, that moisture will take time to move deep into the soil where the driest conditions exist.”

Miles said that roots have had to go down as deep as eight feet to extract water. Soil moisture recharge is a hydrologic process where water from rain and snow moves
downward from surface water and fills in the pore space found in soil. The soil is recharged naturally by rain and snowmelt.

Hurricane helped a little - Parts of Missouri, Indiana and Illinois caught September rains from the remnants of Hurricane Isaac, which helped some of the recharging process there. Other areas, though, weren’t as fortunate. The most recent U.S. Drought Monitor shows a stage 4 (most severe on the rating scale) drought in the central Great Plains of South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma, with neighboring regions showing increased degrees of drought.

Miles has been observing the depths of soil moisture around Missouri. Places where Hurricane Isaac dropped extra rainfall are wet down to a few inches, but the ground is still dry below that level.

Miles pointed out that moisture near the surface can evaporate with just a few days of high winds, higher-than-normal temperatures or low relative humidity. This can prevent moisture from having a chance to move deep into the soil where it is needed.

“The rain and snow will have to come almost continuously – an almost London type of weather pattern – if the soil is to be recharged soon,” Miles said. “It will have to come down slow and steady to minimize runoff.”

Microbial health and river depth a problem too - It could take two years of good rains for beneficial microbes and insects to recover as well, Miles said. “The soil lives in a balance of water and biological activity,” Miles pointed out. “The deep drought has disrupted that biological activity.”

The dry soil has impacted the Midwest’s corn crop. Without the drought’s influence, the USDA’s trend line called for an average yield of 162 bushels of corn per acre. In 2012, that yield was only 122 bushels per acre. There have been four years of below-trend-line production in many areas. Many Midwestern ranchers have culled their herds because there isn’t enough feed forage or water from ponds and streams that have dried up.

Miles said that a lack of moisture passing through the soil and into waterways could also affect barge traffic on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Those river levels could be down for another two or more years, too.

(by Randall Miles, MU Associate Professor of soil science)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Help for New Farmers at Tax Time

Tax time can be daunting for any business, and farming operations bring their own set of challenges—particularly for beginning farmers.

A new tip sheet from the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) can take away some of the mystery as April 15 approaches.

Tips About Farmer IncomeTax” stresses the importance of working with a tax professional who is experienced working with farmers. At the same time, it provides a brief overview of some important income-tax issues that farmers need to be aware of:

·       Business deductions
·       What to file as a capital gain
·       When to use IRS Schedule F or IRS Schedule C
·       Depreciation
·       How the IRS defines a “hobby farm”
·       Arranging farm income over a period of years
·       Farm-vehicle expense deductions

It also offers a list of resources where beginning farmers can find answers to their general income-tax questions.

“Tips About Farmer Income Tax” is part of a series of business tip sheets for beginning farmers produced by the NCAT with support from the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (OASDFR) program offered by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

“Tips About Farmer Income Tax” and the other tip sheets in the series can be downloaded for free or purchased as a paper publication for a small handling fee at the ATTRA website

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Food Safety – from Field to Market Workshop

As workshop on Food Safety will be held March 15th from 1 to 4 pm at Missouri State University, Fruit Experiment Station, Faurot Hall 102, Mountain Grove, Mo

Topics to be covered:

 What is Food Safety

 Importance of Food Safety

 State Regulations for Selling to the public

 Food Safety Concerns in the Field: Field preparation & planting, manure usage & crop cultural guidelines

 Irrigation Methods and Associated Issues

 Harvest and Post Harvest Safety

 Food Safety- Field to Market

 GAP- Good Agriculture Practices on the farm

Presenters include:

Russell Lilly, Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services

Patrick Byers, Horticulturist, University of Missouri Extension, Green County

John Avery, Fruit Grower Advisor, Southwest Missouri State University 

Participants who complete the workshop will receive a certificate of completion and a laminated sign similar to the one at right for display at their market stand.

There is no fee, but please call 417 547-7533 or e-mail to register if possible. Walk-ins are welcome.

Directions: From Hwy 60, take second Mtn. Grove exit (Hwy 95). Turn north, go past Wal-Mart. Take next right (Red Spring Rd). 9740 Red Spring Rd. Mtn. Grove, Mo

The Missouri Department of Agriculture has funded a portion of this project, using Specialty Crop Block Grant funds provided by the USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service to the Webb City Farmers Market. Hosted by Missouri State University Fruit Experiment Station Mtn. Grove


Friday, March 1, 2013

Safe Poultry Processing Webinar

Join the Missouri Beginning Farmers Program's monthly webinars on Monday, March 4th from 7-8:30 pm.  This coming Monday's webinar is being presented by Kevin Backus from Backus Poultry Processing in Loose Creek, MO.  He will present on "Safe Poultry Processing".

Kevin and his family have been in the poultry processing business since the early 1900's.  They are one of the few poultry processors in the state that contract with small independent poultry farmers to process birds.  With Kevin being raised in the business he has seen healthy and not so healthy birds arrive at the family processing facility.

Kevin received a SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant to give workshops across the state on how to on-farm process poultry safely.  He has also written a short manual "Safer Management Practices for Small Poultry Processors as part of his grants as well.

To join the webinar go to and log in as a guest . 

If you miss the webinar, it will be archived and can be found at the Missouri Begining Farmers Program's Online Learning Community.