Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Monitoring for Spotted Wing Drosophila: An Insect Pest of Berries and Other Fruits in Missouri

Male SWD
2 black spots on wings

A Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) is a small vinegar or “fruit” fly that is about 2-3mm in length. For the past two years, it has been a problem in several areas of the U.S., including the Midwest.

The Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) (pronounced Dros-o-fill-ah) has caused economic damage to berries, grapes and soft-fleshed fruits, such as peaches. The SWD is also able to attack some vegetables, including tomatoes and peppers. Unlike most other vinegar flies that lay eggs on damaged or fermenting fruits, SWD females can cut into healthy fruit. They do this by using their serrated (saw-toothed) ovipositor (organ for depositing eggs) to inject eggs under the skin of the fruit. The adult SWD lives for about two weeks; during this time, each female can lay more than 300 eggs. The larvae hatch and feed inside the fruits, causing them to rot. This insect reproduces so quickly that a few adults can become thousands of flies in just a few months.
Female SWD
Lacks 2 black spots on wings

It is very important that farmers learn how to monitor for this invasive pest. A simple trap can help you determine whether the SWD is present. The most effective and economical trap can be prepared using a clear plastic cup with a fitted lid. Bait this trap with a mixture of water, dry active yeast and sugar, as shown below. Note that there are small holes in the sides of the trap that allow the flies to enter.

A small yellow sticky card can be placed inside the cup. In that way, flies that are attracted by the bait will enter the trap and be retained by the card. This allows for easier fly identification, which is the purpose of this trap. For small acreage (or in a high tunnel), researchers suggest setting one trap for plots up to one acre. However, for larger farms, a minimum of three traps per five acres should be used. These monitoring traps need to be placed inside the vegetation, in the shade.

It is also a good idea to put a trap in adjacent woods, where activity can occur earlier if there are plants bearing wild berries. Set traps just before the fruit starts to ripen. Check traps and replace yeast and sugar bait each week.

If you are interested in monitoring for this pest and need materials at no cost, please contact Dr. Jaime PiƱero at or (573) 681-5522.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Women Caring for the Land: Cover Crops Booklet

Women landowners say that they want their family farms to remain healthy and productive for future generations. But many feel they don't have all the information they need to protect their land. This booklet, developed by the Women Caring for the Land with support from a SARE grant, introduces cover crops as an option, one of the simplest techniques to try with the most visible benefits.  To download the entire booklet for free, click here.  To read about the SARE grant that created the booklet click here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tomato Field Day

Lincoln University and the University of Missouri Extension Programs will be hosting a Tomato Field Day on Friday, August 9, 2013 from 5:00 - 7:00 pm at the Southwest Research Center in Mt. Vernon, MO.

High Tunnel tomato production in southwest Missouri can be a lucrative venture for vegetable farmers. Please join us for an informative evening with presentations and a tomato tasting!

This workshop will be led by:
* Dr. Zelalem Mersha , Lincoln University in Missouri: Common Tomato Diseases

* Dr. Jamie Pinero, Lincoln University in Missouri: Monitoring and Management of Key Pests in High Tunnel Tomatoes

* Patrick Byers, University of Missouri: Soil Fertility and Management

* Nahshon Bishop, Lincoln University in Missouri: High Tunnel Tour and Tomato Tasting
For additional information contact Shon Bishop at 417-846-3948.  Click here for driving directions.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Successful Microclimate Modification in Difficult Climates Workshop

Ever wondered how and/or why some growers are able to persevere through the difficulty of growing in the Great Plains?  In this workshop to be held August 5th from 4-7 pm, we will cover basics of microclimate modification including the use of high tunnels, row covers, shade cloth and other methods for protecting crops from harsh weather conditions.

The workshop will be held at the K-State Olathe Horticulture Research and Extension Center, 35230 W. 135th Street, Olathe, KS 66061.

Paul Conway (Conway Produce) will discuss soil microclimate strategies utilized on his farm to produce fall potatoes.  Cary Rivard will provide results from recent research into managing winter injury on annual strawberries and Laura Christensen will cover practices used at Blue Door Farm for fall crops.

We will also tour the Olathe Research farm highlighting the various strategies used to protect our crops from harsh growing conditions.

4:00-4:30 – Cary Rivard, KSU Extension Specialist, Introduction to Microclimate Modification

4:30-5:00 – Paul Conway, Conway Produce, Growing Fall Potatoes in NE Kansas

5:00-5:30 – Cary Rivard, Advanced Row Cover Management for Reducing Winter Injury in Strawberries

5:30-6:00 – Laura Christensen, Blue Door Farm, Growing Great Fall Crops in the Midwest

6:00-7:00 – Farm Tour of Olathe Horticulture Research and Extension Center.

This workshop is being brought to you by the Growing Growers program.  Cost to attend this workshop is $15.  Please RSVP to Cary Rivard.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hands-On Learning High Tunnel Installation

Join Lincoln University's Innovative Small Farm Outreach Program's Farm Outreach Workers to gain hands-on learning at a high tunnel installation on July 30 & 31, 2013.  The learning will take place at Kenn White's Farm located at 1850 Drake Lane, Robertsville, MO.  The installation will begin at 8 am and will go until ? pm. Come, learn, and help a dream come true. Gain practical, hands on experience. High tunnel construction experience not required. Lunch will be provided.

Please RSVP to Janet Hurst at 660-216-1749 so there will be enough food and drinks.
BYOD – Bring your own drill, if available.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Marketing - Reap What You Sow!

For most farms, the fall season now contributes the most sales to the bottom line. I think it’s interesting that I’m often asked how to improve sales in November –when in fact, for the best income, we all need to concentrate on September and October.  That is when we draw the biggest crowds and the biggest potential for revenues.  Let’s make the money when the people are on the farm!

It’s always surprising to me to talk with farmers that don’t want to invest any of their time or money on marketing.  Of course, your time is precious; as is your hard-earned cash, but we all know you reap what you sow.  Your farm has to shine brightly to attract customers, and that can’t happen if you leave your light under the bushel.

You have probably already developed (at least in your head) your marketing plan for this fall season but it can always be improved upon. Based on my end of year survey in 2012, I’d like to share with you some of the marketing strategies that farms used last fall to grow their business and what they said they’d do differently this year.

It comes as no surprise that the top three most effective marketing strategies in 2012 were: 1. A good website, 2. Utilization of Facebook and 3. Sending e-newsletters to customers.  These three strategies certainly sound like the basics but let’s examine them more closely.

1.     Website
Have you updated your site to include your new activities, pricing and photographs for the fall season? Nothing is worse than a static website that doesn’t get changed and updated.  It doesn’t take long to get this done and should be a priority.  Your website is the gateway for new and return customers, and it is certainly worth a little time and money each year to keep it fresh and inviting.  If you are still showing photographs from 2009, it’s time you start taking more pictures and updating your site, if not for this year then at least be ready for next year.

2.     Facebook
Most everyone now seems to have joined Facebook (1.11 billion users!) and understand how to make posts and add pictures.  Without a doubt, the farms that effectively manage their Facebook page and make frequent posts and add pictures recognize that this has brought them increased business.  If you are still a farm that has a page and makes just one entry a week, it’s time you realized that in order to engage your customers you need to commit to frequent if not daily posts. Facebook is free and its potential value is priceless.

3.     E-Newsletters
Many farms have seemed to skip this or feel that it’s less important now that you are using Facebook and other social media, but that simply is not true.  There is still a need to deliver an e-newsletter to the mail boxes of your best customers on a regular basis.  They are now easy to produce with services such as Constant Contact and no one really should have an excuse not to use this tool. Of course, the first step is getting your customers to provide you their email addresses, but that is easily done at both your market and online at your website.

As an additional point of interest, I’ve recently been shown video e-newsletters through Talk Fusion and believe that this is a new strategy for the future.  A short video showing people in the pumpkin patch and seeing the kids running and trying to lift a heavy pumpkin in just 30 seconds can deliver a visual experience more than mere words.

Beyond these three basic strategies other ideas planned by farm marketers for this year include:

  • Buying more online advertising – Facebook & Search Engines
  • Improve Search Engine Optimization of website
  • Use Instagram to share pictures
  • Create a mobile website
  • Post on Pinterest
  • More networking with local organizations
  • Add more billboards
  • Create a “texting” list with special offers
  • Increase use of special dinners & classes
  • Link farm website to more tourism based organizations & community calendars
  • More emphasis on Google +
  • Develop co-op programs with local organizations
  • Improved roadside signage
  • Contact the media for local PR
  • Create contests to involve customers
  • Groupon & Living Social coupon offers
  • Partner with local radio with giveaways
  • Use QR code banners on the farm

It’s not too late to add some of these ideas to your marketing mix for this fall. Now is the time to sow—invest the time and effort now to be sure that families know about your farm and want to make a trip to visit you.
(By Jane Eckert, founder of Eckert AgriMarketing (, a full-service marketing and public relations firm that helps farmers to sell directly to consumers, diversify operations and become tourist destinations. She is also CEO of, a search directory for agritourism farms and ranches in North America.)


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Meat Sales at Kansas City Farmers’ Markets

I get most of the Missouri county extension newsletters and saw this one from a livestock specialist.  I thought it was interesting and thought I’d share it with you.  debi

A few weekends ago while visiting my son in Kansas City we went to a couple of big farmer’s markets. I’m always interested in vendors with beef for sale and their pitch.

The vendors I talked to came from Moberly, King City, Leeton, Lee’s Summit and Welch, OK. All had a pretty long trip. The man from Welch said he’d driven the 181 mile trip for 5 years. He felt it was worth his time.

The breed makeup for the different vendors was quite a mix. Included were: Scotch Highland, Charolias x Longhorn, straight Longhorn, Angus x Devon and Angus.

All were promoting their beef as natural with one, claiming their beef was organic certified. Some were grass fed. I asked what their customers were looking for and they said lean beef that was safe for their families. They do not worry or ask about the grade of beef. They want it to be free of antibiotics and hormones and if they wanted to take their family to the farm and see the cattle, they could. The latter indicated their interest in it being locally produced.

One seller said he felt anyone with 30 cows, who is willing to work can make a decent living producing all-natural beef. He is a strong advocate of using a management intensive grazing systems. He didn’t describe, “a decent living.” I did notice all their beef was priced fairly high, as you might expect. However, there were lots of shoppers and they appeared to have the finances to pay extra for the beef.
(by Eldon Cole, MU Livestock Specialist)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Scrapie Tags Required for Sheep and Goats

As a general rule, all sheep and goats should be tagged with official scrapie identification tags before leaving the farm.  The USDA provides tags free of charge.

To receive official USDA sheep and goat ear tags at no charge, call 1-866-USDA-TAG (866-873-2824) or the USDA veterinary services office in Jefferson City, MO, at 573-636-3116.  You also may request a premises (flock or herd) number ID be assigned to your flock which is required to get the tags. You may request the number of tags that you will need for a one year period and a tag applicator.  Additional federal information concerning requirements for scrapie ear tags  by clicking here.

If you would prefer to purchase a different kind of ear tag or device, contact one of the approved tag companies at the web site above to purchase the ear tags or devices. Approved ear tag companies offer a wide range of colors and styles. There are restrictions on the use of implantable and RFID devices.

Missouri also has additional rules concerning scrapie tags which can be found by clicking here or by calling the Department of Agriculture at 573-751-3377.  An exception includes animals at custom slaughter plants where the meat is used for personal consumption not needing scrapie tags.  Also, registered animals with visual ID on papers may not require a scrapie tag for local shows, but it is better to check with the specific show.  It should be noted that sale barns in Missouri will put in tags if the animals do not have scrapie tags and will charge $1.50 to $3.00 per animal for tagging, an important consideration since you can get the tags at no charge from USDA.
(by Jodie Pennington, Lincoln University Extension Small Ruminant Specialist)

Friday, July 19, 2013

MU Bradford Research Center Holds 1st Organic Field Day

The University of Missouri Bradford Research Center in Columbia will hold its first Organic Field Day, Aug. 1 from 1-6 p.m. The field day will feature a variety of tours, demonstrations and activities.

Researchers in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources are looking at greenhouse gas emissions when using cover crops and compost in organic production, organic no-till planting, organic vegetable production, and how to transition from conventional to organic production. Funding is through grants from the Ceres Trust and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“As part of these grants we do a lot of outreach activities,” says Kerry Clark, a research specialist at Bradford. “We have an organic page on Bradford’s website, we present at field days, and the apex of our outreach activities is this field day.”

Visitors can choose from 3 concurrent wagon tours: 1. will look at organic vegetable production, hoop house production and soil health assessment; 2. will highlight organic grain production, winter cover crops and the use of cover crops and no-till; 3. will cover heirloom tomato production, composting, soil amendments and trap cropping for insects in vegetable production.

There will be presentations on equipment for organic farming, adding native plants and pollinators, and using your soil test results. The Missouri Department of Agriculture will demonstrate a mobile flash freezer facility, which will also be open for tours. Visitors can try organic snacks made from food grown at the Bradford Research Center.

“Not only do we hope we can get new information out to farmers, this is also an opportunity for us to network with farmers and get their experiences and their ideas for further research,” Clark says.

The Bradford Research Center Organic Field Day is free and open to the public, but attendees are asked to register by contacting Clark at 573-884-7945.

For more information about organic research at Bradford. For directions to get to the organic field day click here.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Look Out for Ergot in Pastures

Missouri farmers are reporting cattle deaths due to widespread ergot infection of common pasture grasses. Producers should immediately move cattle or other livestock from infected fields.

Ergot, a fungus, normally appears in small pockets throughout the state, but this year seems to be prevalent statewide, said Craig Roberts, University of Missouri Extension forage specialist.

Wet, cool weather followed by high heat and humidity created ideal conditions for ergot growth across Missouri, said Roberts, who is also a professor of plant sciences in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. “With that amount of moisture in the ground and in the plants, once it gets hot the state turns into an incubator.”

A farmer in northeastern Missouri reported the death of four cattle in early July after he moved some of his herd to a tall fescue pasture, which was in the seed head stage, said Tim J. Evans, a toxicologist in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. The farmer said the cattle appeared to suffer from extreme heat stress.
“The cattle were apparently acting very ‘hot’ the day before,” Evans said. Cattle may seek relief in shade or stand in water. Other symptoms might include overall malaise, rapid breathing, sloughing of the switches of tails and tips of ears, abortion, and possible decreased milk production.

Ergot produces alkaloid compounds that are toxic to livestock and humans.  The toxins constrict blood vessels, increasing respiration rates, raising core body temperatures and limiting blood supply to the extremities. Ergotism can be confused with fescue foot or fescue toxicosis because the symptoms are similar.
The hard ergot bodies look like small rodent droppings and are easily visible in the seed head of cereal grains such as barley, oats, wheat, triticale and rye, as well as many common grasses such as timothy and tall fescue.

In addition to removing livestock from infested fields, farmers should inspect stored hay for ergot bodies, Evans said. If hay is infested, destroy it or dilute with other feed.

It might be possible to reduce ergot toxins by ammoniating the hay, but there is little published research on this approach. Roberts said at least half of the alkaloid concentration would remain even if the hay were field-cured and stored more than a year.

Ergot alkaloids are toxic to many species, including other ruminants, llamas and alpacas, horses, and even swine, dogs and humans eating infected grains.

Ergot poisoning has been linked to human epidemics in the Middle Ages. The alkaloid toxins in ergot are chemically related to LSD, and some scientists suggest that bread made from infected rye may have played a role in the 17th-century witch trials in Salem, Mass., and even the French Revolution.
(by Linda Giest, MU Writer)

Rural Development Community Facilities Program

“Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” (KYF2) is a USDA-wide effort to create new economic opportunities by better connecting consumers with local producers.  It is also the start of a national conversation about the importance of understanding where your food comes from and how it gets to your plate.  The “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative includes supporting local farmers and community food groups, strengthening rural communities, enhancing direct marketing and farmers' promotion programs, promoting healthy eating, protecting natural resources, and helping schools connect with locally grown foods.

Consider the USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Program
·       Offers direct and guaranteed loans and grants designed to finance the development of over 80 different types of essential community facilities serving rural areas.
·       Facilities include, but are not limited to, hospitals, elderly care facilities, child care centers, fire and rescue stations, vocational and medical rehabilitation centers, schools, public transportation infrastructure, and projects that support local and regional food systems.
·       Eligible applicants include rural communities and non-profit organizations.
·       Loans are made at below-market, fixed interest rates.
·       Grants are limited to projects with high financial need that serve low income communities.
·       Eligible expenses include land acquisition, construction of facilities, necessary fees, and equipment.
·       Community must be under 20,000 in population.
·       Grants range from 15%-75% and require matching funds.

Eligible projects that support local and regional food systems include but are not limited to:
·       Food Banks/Shelves – purchase building and equipment, purchase vehicles for food delivery, renovations, and new construction
·       School Cafeterias – purchase equipment, renovations, and central processing and distribution centers.
·       Farmers Markets – purchase building, renovation, and new construction.
·       Community Gardens – purchase real estate and infrastructure to connect to the water sources and/or provide irrigation.
·       Community Kitchens – purchase equipment, renovations, or new construction.

Ineligible projects include:
·       Purchase of small tools.
·       Individual market stalls, tables, or signage for individual farmers.
·       Flea markets.

Contact Information:
For your local USDA Rural Development contact click here.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cover Crop webinar - July 18

Join the MU Organic research Program tomorrow, July 18th, for its last in a series of cover crop webinar with Tim Reinbott, Superintendent of MU Bradford Research Farm, who will be discussing selecting and planting cover crops this fall.  He will talk about methods for example, drilled vs. broadcast, as well as seeding rates and mixes.

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

Farm Liability Insurance: Do You Have Enough Coverage?

Farm owners should periodically review the coverage limits on their liability insurance, says a University of Missouri Extension agriculture business specialist.

“Over the past few years, market values for land and other farm assets have increased substantially, which has contributed to the growth of farm balance sheets,” says Whitney Wiegel. “While many farmers’ asset values have increased, fewer farmers have taken the time to review their liability coverage to ensure that they are adequately protected.”

Farm liability insurance protects farm owners from claims arising from unintentional injuries or damage to other people or property. An increase in total farm assets suggests a need for increased liability coverage to maintain consistent risk protection, Wiegel says.

 “Many commercial farms have an umbrella insurance policy that provides liability coverage up to a certain threshold,” he says.

For example, a farmer who has $1 million in liability coverage is protected from liability claims of not more than $1 million for the number of occurrences and coverage period specified in the insurance policy.

“While a $500,000 or $1 million policy may have been adequate for many farms 10 years ago, changes in farm profitability and asset values have altered many farmers’ insurance needs,” Wiegel says.

To reduce exposure to loss, Wiegel advises farmers to regularly examine their balance sheets and coverage limits and ask themselves, “Is my liability coverage limit anywhere near the total value of my farm? If an accident were to occur, would my current insurance policy protect me from exorbitant losses?”

“If the answer to either of these questions is ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know,’ it is probably time to talk with your insurance agent,” he says.

In addition, supplemental coverage may be necessary if your farm business has evolved to include nontraditional activities such as agritourism or direct sales to consumers.
(by Milly Carter, MU Extension Associate Urban Region)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hands-On Produce Packing and Grading Workshop

A Hands-On Produce Packing and Grading Workshop will be held on Monday, July 29th 2013 from 3-7 pm at the Fahrmeier Farms in Lexington, MO.
University of Missouri-Extension is hosting a hands-on produce packing and grading workshop for producers interested in selling to institutions or wholesale markets. As demands for locally grown produce continue to rise, it’s important for producers to add practical skills and marketing tools to their arsenal.
At this FREE workshop, representatives from the USDA, Missouri Department of Agriculture, Institutional buyers and producers will be on hand to lead workshop activities and speak to their experience in buying and selling locally. Participants will gain skills in packing and grading specialty crops such as tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers and blackberries along with other in season crops.
This learning opportunity will be a great chance to network with other growers and learn from each other during this informative evening session. Feel free to bring a couple of your farm employees so they may gain experience and learn alongside the professionals.
For reservations please contact Lorin Fahrmeier at 816-655-6015.
Fahrmeier Farms
9364 Mitchell Trail
Lexington, MO 64067
Directions to Fahrmeier’s from I-70: Take exit 37 which is Wellington/Odessa/Missouri Hwy 131. Turn north onto Missouri Hwy 131 (about 8 miles). Turn right onto US-24 E (1 ½ miles) – Turn right onto Howe Road – Take the first gravel road to the right, Mitchell Trail to the farm.

*This workshop is in partnership with the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.*

Friday, July 12, 2013

Soil Health Expo - August 9-10

The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the University of Missouri (MU) are hosting a free Soil Health Exposition August 9-10. The exposition will be at MU's Bradford Research and Extension Center (4968 Rangeline Road), about six miles east of Columbia.

The two-day exposition will feature vendors, tours, demonstrations and two nationally known leaders in the use of cover crops. MU professors and technicians from a soil health laboratory established by MU and NRCS will have a training session each day on how to sample fields for soil health and how to interpret the results of soil samples that landowners send to the lab.

Steve Groff
The exposition features an open admission, with events occurring from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day. A complete itinerary is available for viewing online at under "Events & Deadlines."

Steve Groff will speak at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Friday, August 9. He and his family farm 200 acres of vegetables and crops on hilly land in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He pioneered the permanent cover cropping system which includes utilizing no-tillage, cover crops and effective crop rotations to increase profits, enhance soil and water quality, and reduce the use of pesticides. The cornerstone of his system is an emphasis on maintaining crop residues and cover crops on the soil surface and having plants living in the soil at all times. Some of his fields have not been touched by tillage equipment in more than 30 years.

Joel Gruver
Joel Gruver will speak at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 10. He discovered his fascination with crops and soils while growing up on a family farm in rural Maryland. He has taught courses related to soil science and agroecology at several universities and colleges. He is an assistant professor at Western Illinois University, and he also manages an 80-acre research farm. His recent research has focused on cover crops and their value in suppressing weeds, improving nutrient cycling, building organic matter and alleviating soil compaction.

Admission to the exposition is free, but attendees are asked to preregister by calling (573) 884-7945, sending a text message to (660) 351-4696 or an email to Provide a name and the expected number of people in the group. Lunch will be available for purchase on site.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Landowners Have a Responsibility for Thistle Control

Flower head weevil
After the recent years of drought, thistles have taken advantage of weakened grass stands and full-bloomed plants are visible in many fields through the area.

“Many tracts of land in Southwest Missouri are inundated with heavy populations of musk and bull thistles,” said Tim Schnakenberg, an agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension. “Some landowners have taken extra steps this year to keep the problem in check, while others have done nothing.”

As a reminder for all Missouri landowners, section 263.190 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri read: “It shall be the duty of every owner of lands in this state to control all Canada, musk or Scotch thistles growing thereon so often in each and every year as shall be sufficient to prevent said thistles from going to seed.”

“Thistle control can be very difficult but it is not impossible,” said Schnakenberg. “I know farmers who spot sprayed thistles throughout the spring and still have a few patches of thistles that slipped through. It is common to have a few here and there, but large tracts of uncontrolled thistles make it more challenging to neighbors who have worked hard to keep thistles on their side of the fence from going to seed.”

Best Method Now

What is to be done at this point in time? Since the majority of the seed for the growing season is already produced, control measures at this time are after-the-fact. Most thistles are biennials, meaning they germinate in the fall, bolt with a seed head in the spring, produce seed and die by mid-summer.

“Since the plants that have seeded out are almost dead because of the proximity to the end of their lifespan, spraying is almost fruitless now,” said Schnakenberg.

Mowing is the first impulse of many to control it now, but one risk of mowing is the spreading of the seed to other areas on the mower deck, making matters worse for the fall germination period. Sometimes this is what it takes however to clean up a mess.

Weevil Control

Over 30 years ago, University of Missouri Extension and USDA introduced the flower head weevil and rosette weevil to Missouri fields. These weevils specifically target thistles.

“There is lots of evidence that these weevils are doing a massive job of consuming many of the seed in the flower heads scattered across our county. There is no way that they can keep up with all the seed produced, but if they are getting perhaps 30-40 percent of the billions of seeds that are produced each year, they are having an impact,” said Schnakenberg.

Schnakenberg says to watch for dried up seed heads and cut them open for evidence of weevil damage. Many times, a person will find two to four flower head weevils in the heads.

“At this time of year, the weevil is probably the best control,” said Schnakenberg. “Biological control does not take us, as landowners, off the hook for keeping thistles from going to seed. Obviously the weevils need our help.”

Spray Options

Other control options include spraying at appropriate times of the year with products such as 2,4-D, dicamba, Grazon P+D, GrazonNext, Chaparral or other registered products.

Schnakenberg says the best times to spray are when the plants are still in the rosette stage which is the stage these plants are in for 70-80 percent of their lifespan. This corresponds with an ideal time of the year to spray being in the fall (October) or early spring (March-April). Sometimes widespread broadcast spraying is necessary for control over spot spraying.

Mowing multiple times is also an option in the spring or early summer. A Kansas study found that only 11 percent of the musk thistles mowed at the early bud stage were killed. When mowed a second time four weeks later, 79 percent of the thistles were controlled.

The best time to start mowing is within two days after the terminal flower head blooms in order to inhibit seed production and prevent rebolting. Remember however, that viable seed can start to develop within seven days of the first pink coloring in the heads.

“Let’s all do our part to keep thistles from going to seed,” says Schnakenberg. “It is challenging but it will make our property more productive, keep our neighbors happy with us and improve property values in the long-run.”

More Information

MU Extension publications “IPM1010, Biological and Integrated Control of MuskThistle in Missouri” and “IPM1015, Thistles and Thistle-like Plants of Missouri” can provide additional information on identification of the different thistles and how to control them in your fields.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pest, Disease and Weed Management Workshop

Growing Growers of Kansas City is offering a workshop on Pest, Disease and Weed Management on Saturday, July 13th from 9 am to 2 pm.

Start at: The Master’s Community Church—2548 South 42nd Street, Kansas City, KS 66106

Farm tour at: Cultivate Kansas City/Gibbs Road Farm—4223 Gibbs Road, Kansas City, KS 66106

This workshop has endearingly been named the “plagues workshop” by the Growing Growers Kansas City Organizing Committee. It will equip farmers and soontobe farmers with strategies to combat problems that damage your crops, hurt yields and could drive you insane. The presenters will focus on organic and environmentally friendly ways to control pests, disease and weeds. Presentations by the specialists will occur all morning. Come prepared to soak up detailed and valuable information. After you are fed lunch, you will spend the second portion of the workshop walking Gibbs Road Farm (aka Cultivate KC Farm). Here you will learn about their operation and how they combat the three plagues.

The cost to attend the workshop is $30. The workshop is brought to you by Lincoln University Cooperative Extension (LUCE), a partner of the Growing Growers program. To register or for more information, contact Katie Nixon at (816) 809-5074.


9 a.m. 10 a.m. - Weed Behavior and Management Strategies: Dr. Reid Smeda, Plant Sciences,
University of Missouri

10 a.m. 11 a.m. - Pests and Utilizing Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Jacob Wilson, IPM
Program, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension

11 a.m. 12 p.m. - Identifying and Understanding Plant Diseases and How to Manage Them:
Dr. Zelalem Mersha, State Plant Pathologist, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension
12 p.m.12:30 p.m. - Lunch (provided)
12:30 p.m.
2 p.m. - Walk the Gibbs Road Farm: Tour this organic farm with farmer Alicia
Ellingsworth and experience handson identification with pest and disease specialists