Monday, July 27, 2015

Urban and Non-Traditional Missouri Department of Agriculture Matching Grants Available

The Missouri Department of Agriculture today announced a total of $50,000 for the Urban & Non-Traditional Agriculture Matching Grant Program. The department will award grants of up to $5,000 to assist the development of production infrastructure, direct distribution venues, education programs, workforce development and an increased understanding of the importance of agriculture.

Examples of projects include assisting farmers’ markets, developing small agribusinesses, implementing or coordinating youth initiatives related to promoting agriculture, and providing training and developing skills for the next generation of agricultural producers.

Applications must be received by September 1, 2015, and the award date is anticipated for October 1, 2015, with project completion by June 1, 2016.

For a grant application or more information about this and other grant opportunities available through the Missouri Department of Agriculture, visit the Department online at

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Cover Crops for Pest Management

Due to recent efforts by Cooperative Extension, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and many private groups, the phrase “cover crop” has become familiar to most vegetable farmers. It is now generally accepted that cover crops should be a part of any sustainable agriculture operation. For example, there is much information about how cover crops improve soil health and reduce the need for costly fertilizers. However, the focus here is on a lesser known role that cover crops play in the agro/ecosystem: pest management. Careful selection of cover crop species can help to fight pesky insects, diseases and weeds.

Following is a simple breakdown of which crops can be used in the spring and summer to battle uninvited guests. These include pigweeds (weeds often fed to pigs), nematodes (roundworms) and cabbage worms (a type of worm whose larvae eat cabbage and similar plants).

Weed Snuffers: Getting rid of weeds calls for a fast growing cover crop. It will quickly shade the soil and out-compete weeds. If a field is left fallow during the summer, a heat-loving grass, such as sorghum-Sudan grass or pearl millet, will choke out all but the toughest perennial (a plant with a life cycle of two or more years) weeds. The same crops can be seeded between plastic-covered raised beds. The cover crop should be mowed every so often to create a turf that feeds the soil while curbing weeds; it also creates a mud-free work area between rows. Sorghum-Sudan grass releases a chemical from its roots that acts like a pre-emergent herbicide; it prevents weeds from growing near it. A low-growing cover crop, such as buckwheat, can be used in the same manner along­ side vine crops that will not allow a mower between rows. Buckwheat will suppress weeds and diseases without competing too much with squash or melons.

Disease Eradicators: Cover crops help to fight plant disease in a few ways. First of all, cover crops with deep penetrating root systems help to improve drainage; this makes it hard for many diseases to thrive. Cover crops planted alongside cash crops help to protect plants from the damage caused by sun and wind. Less damage means there are fewer wounds where pathogens (agents capable of causing disease) can enter. Also, cover crops can help to reduce the splashing of soil onto cash crops, which is also a common route for infection. Lastly, some cover crops in the mustard family contain chemicals that are toxic to nematodes, diseases and even to small weed seeds. Some good examples of these bio fumigant (using natural aspects of a plant to reduce the number of weeds) cover crops are daikon (large, long, hard) radishes and mustards like ‘Pacific Gold’. With some careful management, these crops can work much like methyl bromide (a synthetic soil fumigant), with none of the environmental concerns.

Insect Annihilators: The relation­ship between cover crops and in­sects is a bit more complex than the relationship between cover crops and other pests. Unfortunately, there is no known cover crop that repels hornworms (certain caterpillars) or is toxic to cucumber beetles. But cover crops can help to kill bugs in­directly by providing resources for the predators that eat them. Many beneficial insects, both predatory and parasitic (feeding off a host), feed on nectar and pollen as adults; however, the less mobile larvae (in­sects in the juvenile stage of insect development) gorge themselves on aphids and caterpillars. Therefore, the key to attracting good bugs is having floral resources available at all times. Summer annual legumes, such as cowpeas and sunn (an In­dian herb with strong fibers such as hemp), produce nectar both in their flowers and at spots along the stems called extrafloral nectaries (a gland that releases nectar). Fast-flowering buckwheat can be planted any time after the last spring frost; it can begin producing nectar and pollen in as little as 30 days. Many clovers, such as crimson and red clover, can support large numbers of predatory insects when they are in bloom. Borders and hedgerows are great out-of-the-way areas than can be used to plant flowering cover crops for beneficial insects without giving up field space.

So, the next time you are shopping for cover crops, get creative and think beyond the soil. Consider what you can do for the total farm ecology by cutting back on pesti­cides through the innovative use of cover crops that are compatible with vegetable production.

NOTE: This year, several of the cover crop options described above will be showcased by the Lincoln University Cooperative Extension (LUCE) IPM Program at the uni­versity farm field day at the Alan T. Busby Farm and late August for the Veg­etable/IPM Festival at the George Washington Carver Farm).

(By Jacob Wilson, IPM Extension Technician)

Friday, July 17, 2015

USDA to Hold Free Webinar on Backyard Bird Biosecurity

Through the Biosecurity for Birds initiative, the USDA will hold a free webinar and Twitter chat on Thursday, August 6 at 7:00 p.m. EDT.

Get expert tips to keep your birds and your family safe and healthy. During the webinar, you will be able to submit questions during a simultaneous Twitter chat using #Chickenchat2015. Whether you are just getting started or are an experienced hand at raising birds, you’ll find lots of valuable information for free!

Webinar Title: Practice Backyard Bird Biosecurity: Learn from the Experts

When: August 6, 2015, 6:00 p.m. CDT

Reserve your webinar space on USDA's registration website.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar. For more information, visit USDA Biosecurity for Birds.

What you will learn
§  How to recognize and protect your birds from devastating diseases like highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI)
§  How to protect your family from illness caused by your birds
§  Ways to keep predators and disease-carrying wild birds away from your flock
§  Where to find resources to help you keep your flock safe and healthy
§  The do's and don'ts of live bird markets
§  The whys and woes of raising backyard chickens
§  What to expect from your flock in the fall
§  How to get your birds ready for winter

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What You Should Know About Buying Livestock

What a bargain! The price looks great, but are you really getting a bargain? When buying livestock, there are a number of things you should consider before you make the commitment to purchase. Here are a few things to take a closer look at.

Disease Risks
Even though a herd or flock looks healthy, they could potentially be carrying organisms that cause disease. If your current herd or flock has not been exposed to these diseases, you could very quickly have a disease outbreak that could make animals sick or even cause them to die. When animals are trucked to a new location, the traveling and new environment causes these animals to become stressed. This stress can then show up in the form of disease in the new animals or they may be more likely to shed the organisms that cause the disease at their new location.

Vaccination is a great way to prevent disease not only in the new animals, but also in your current herd or flock. Animals should be vaccinated when they are healthy and at least several weeks prior to moving to a new location. Be sure to follow the same vaccination protocol for the existing herd or flock and for the new animals.

There are a few other very simple things that livestock producers can do to prevent spreading diseases to their farm. Anytime a producer visits another barn he or she should be careful not to carry diseases home. Change footwear and clothing prior to entering your own barn. Be sure to disinfect any footwear that was worn in another barn prior to wearing in your own barn.

New animals should be isolated from their new herd or flock mates for three to four weeks after they arrive at their new location. Also, once new animals have arrived on your farm, be sure to feed them last so that diseases aren’t spread to the existing herd or flock by care takers.

Clean Truck or Trailer
Always haul new animals in a clean truck or trailer. Disease organisms can live in the bedding of dirty trucks or trailers and can possibly infect new animals. For further insurance, disinfect the tuck or trailer prior to hauling any other animals.

Pre-purchase Testing
Where possible, test newly purchased animals two to four weeks prior to transporting them to their new home. Known disease carriers can then be removed before transporting the animals and their disease to your farm.

Once the new animals arrive, a very important task is to spend 5 to 10 minutes each time you feed just observing the animals. This will help identify any disease problems very quickly and before the disease spreads through the rest of the new acquired animals. Following these few simple tips can make purchasing new animals a good experience rather than a lasting nightmare.

(By Melanie Barkley, Penn State Extension Educator)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Grow Wise, Bee Smart site launches

TheHorticultural Research Institute, the research affiliate of AmericanHort, today announced the launch of the Grow Wise, Bee Smart™ website. This resource is a key component of the Horticultural Industry’s Bee and Pollinator Stewardship Initiative, which was created to provide leadership and guidance to the industry on pollinator health. The site serves as the communications hub for the latest research and developments related to the role horticulture plays in supporting pollinator health.

Grow Wise, Bee Smart™ currently features information on the importance of bees and pollinators, threats to their health, and steps everyone can take to improve habitat and forage. Links to the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge and Pollinator Partnership further guide retail and landscape firms and their customers on how to plant and register new gardens and habitats for pollinators.

As the Grow Wise, Bee Smart™ stewardship program for plant production is launched, and as funded and directed research yields results and guidance, the site will feature timely new information and insights.

The Horticultural Industry’s Bee and Pollinator Stewardship Initiative has three goals:

1.  fund and guide research to answer urgent questions regarding impact of pest management practices and bee and pollinator attractiveness of major plants we grow and sell;
2.  develop a plant production stewardship program based on best practices; and,
3.  partner with other interested groups to improve and expand pollinator habitat and forage.

Great progress is being made on all fronts. The Horticultural Research Institute has directly funded five related research projects totaling $160,100. AmericanHort and HRI helped to secure another $272,000 for a priority project that received special Farm Bill funding. A grower and scientist task force has developed key components for the stewardship program. And, AmericanHort was one of eight founding partners of the National Pollinator Garden Network, which in early June launched the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge.

“Horticulture, the health of pollinators, and the success of our industry are intertwined,” said Harvey Cotten, past president of the Horticultural Research Institute and a leader in the Bee and Pollinator Stewardship Initiative. “We are the original green industry, and our plants and expertise can make a difference for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators,” he added.

Funded by hundreds of green industry philanthropists and businesses, HRI provides effective, efficient, and relevant solutions for horticultural business. Supporting research and guiding efforts that form best practices is exactly how HRI helps build prosperous businesses, advance the green industry, and fulfill its core vision.
(By Horticultural Research Institute)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Farm to School - Mid-Missouri Road Trip

In an effort to connect schools to local farmers, producers and food, sign up for a bus tour through Mid-Missouri on Friday, July 31, 8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Join food service directors, chefs, farmers & others interested in Farm to School for a road trip across Mid-Missouri.

8:00 a.m. Welcome / Meet & Greet
Farmer’s Market (Kmart parking lot, US 50 Jefferson City)

8:15 - 8:45 a.m.* Load Bus / Travel to Clarksburg School

8:45 - 9:00 a.m. School Garden Talk w/ Carrie Long

9:00 - 9:20 a.m.* Travel to Central Missouri Produce Auction

9:20 - 10:30 a.m. Central Missouri Produce Auction Tour

10:30 - 11:00 a.m.* Travel to Troutdale Farms

11:00 - 12:00 a.m. Troutdale Farms Tour

12:00 - 1:00 p.m.* Travel to Seven Springs Winery

1:00 - 2:00 p.m. Lunch at Seven Springs Winery
Rest, relax & enjoy lunch featuring Troutdale Farms & other local producers.

2:00 - 3:00 p.m.* Travel to Jefferson City Farmer’s Market

3:00 - 3:30 p.m. Boys from Chamois & Farmer’s Market Shopping
Ben & Alex, of Boys from Chamois, have been selling produce locally for over 15 years. They grow sweet corn, watermelons, cantaloupe & pumpkins. They have been selling across Mid-Missouri & hope to keep putting great produce on the plates of Missourians for years to come!

*Information relevant to upcoming stops will be shared along the way. James Quinn & Lindsey Jones will also discuss Farm to School concepts.

Registration Information: Cost: $25.  Make check/money order payable to Seven Springs Winery. For cash payment, contact Lindsey Jones at 573-645-1588.  All reservations must be made by July 24.

Please mail registration and payment to:
Lindsey Jones, Farm-to-School Coordinator
Missouri Department of Agriculture
1616 Missouri Boulevard
Jefferson City, Missouri 65102

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

High Tunnel Workshop

A High Tunnel Workshop will be held in Mountain Grove on Thursday, July 23rd, 2015 from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm.

The workshop will be held at the Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station in Mountain Grove at 9740 Red Spring Road.

Topics and features include High Tunnel Construction with Norman Kilmer, Morgan County Seed; Tomato Production in High Tunnels with Patrick Byers, MU Extension; High Tunnel Raspberry Production in High Tunnels with Jennifer Morganthaler and Marilyn Odneal, MSU. We will have a Discussion Panel Luncheon with Craig Jennings of Three Oaks Farm, Deborah French and Wayne Simpson of Simpson’s Family Farm, Randy Stout or Jeremy Emery of MSU as well as the program speakers.

After the presentations we will visit the research and demonstration plantings in the high tunnel at the Fruit Experiment Station. An optional tour of our winery/distillery will be featured after the event.

Please visit our website for the complete schedule and to download the registration form.
Registration is $5.00 and pre-registration is required.

Funds for this workshop were provided in part through the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Spotted Wing Drosophila: Monitoring and Management

Why is Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) a concern? This invasive insect primarily attacks blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, strawberries, elderberries, and peaches. Less preferred fruits include grapes and wine grapes, figs, boysenberries, plums, nectarines, and persimmon. Unlike other vinegar flies, SWD attacks sound ripening fruit and once eggs are laid inside fruit, insecticides will provide no control. Thus, it is imperative to control SWD before females lay eggs. Its short lifecycle and overlapping generations make spray timing difficult. An added problem is that for successful control farmers need to spray near harvest time and multiple sprays using the same insecticide class can lead to pesticide resistance. Thus, it is important to rotate insecticide classes.

Below is a summary of our 2014 experiences in terms of monitoring tools and an overview of the SWD monitoring approach for 2015.

2014 evaluation of commercial and home-made lures for SWD. From late July to late October 2014 the LU IPM program conducted a field study aimed at comparing the attractiveness of a new synthetic lure (trade name: SWD Pherocon, by Trece Inc.) versus that of the standard yeast / sugar bait (home-made lure) to male and female SWD. The study took place in an unsprayed elderberry plot at the Lincoln University Carver farm (Jefferson City, MO). Traps were deployed in pairs (n= 4), about 10 ft. apart, on fruiting plants. Traps were inspected once a week and all insects captured were taken to the lab for identification. Every week, the one-week old traps were replaced with traps having new baits / lures.

Key findings: As shown in the graphs on the right, the active dry yeast + sugar bait consistently out-competed the new commercial lure.
The table below summarizes captures across the entire season. It reveals that the standard sugar / yeast bait was on average 4.8 and 20.3 times more attractive to males and females, respectively, than the new lure.    
Monitoring for SWD in 2015. The first adult Spotted Wing Drosophila was captured by a monitoring trap in the Jefferson City area on May 27th, 2015. This trap was hung from a mulberry tree that has ripening fruit. Since then, SWD has been found in most locations where SWD monitoring traps have been setup by the LU / MU IPM programs. Consequently, farmers are encouraged to monitor for this insect pest.  Ideally, monitoring traps should be deployed starting 3-4 weeks before berry ripening and throughout the harvest season. Place one monitoring trap baited with active dry yeast (1/2 tablespoon), sugar (2 tablespoons) and water (6 ounces) per acre. The trap needs to be hang on a plant, stake, or trellis 3–5 feet above the ground on the most shaded / cooler side of the plant canopy. Because SWD reproduces so quickly under warm weather conditions, the first SWD trapping data are vital to activate pest management programs to prevent rapid population increases and potential infestations on a farm.

For 2015, the Lincoln University and the University of Missouri IPM programs will be monitoring the presence and abundance of SWD in selected locations throughout Missouri. Information will be posted weekly at the MU IPM Pest Monitoring Network website.

SWD Management for the 2015 season. Farmers are advised to apply an insecticide as soon as SWD is detected and fruit is at susceptible stage. Cultural controls such as sanitation (i.e., clean up and destroy over-ripe fruit) and pruning to reduce amount of foliage can help reduce breeding sites and can also improve insecticide coverage. Articles discussing the importance of SWD monitoring, how to make your own monitoring trap, management option including organic tools can be found at: Note that the Spotted Wing Drosophila tab has a scroll down menu. Fact Sheets and Guide Sheets listing the most effective organic and reduced-risk insecticides that can be applied against SWD are available the LU IPM program website.
By Dr. Jaime PiƱero - Lincoln University (LU) IPM program

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Contaminated Compost

NOTE:  This post is relevant for both farmers as well as home gardeners.  There are 3 sections to this post:  
1. Article from MU on contaminated compost; 2. Green bean test for contaminated compost; 3. US Composting Council response and action on your part if you have purchased contaminated compost.

Contaminated Compost
Many Missouri home gardeners made a horrible discovery this year. The compost they worked into their garden soil is contaminated with persistent herbicides.

David Trinklein, horticulture specialist for University of Missouri Extension, said the contamination is coming from the composted manure and bedding of animals that have grazed on forage sprayed with new-generation herbicides. These new herbicides, called pyralids, are designed to control broadleaf weeds in pastures and to last a long time. They are not broken down in a grazing animal’s digestive tract or in the composting process.

Contaminated compost worked into your garden will contain enough active herbicide to damage sensitive plants. These include many plants prized by home gardeners, such as tomatoes, beans, strawberries, marigolds and some varieties of roses, Trinklein said.

Fixing contaminated soil isn’t easy. Trinklein said it’s better to check for contamination before you buy or apply compost. This includes compost you made yourself using animal manure.

“I think the safest thing to do would be ask for a small sample of compost and do the green bean seed test,” Trinklein said. “That way you’ll know before you buy, and certainly before you apply, whether there’s any chance of contamination.”

The seed test is simple, he says. Grow green bean seeds using the compost. Since green beans are very sensitive to these herbicides, the sprouts will grow twisted and gnarled if the compost is contaminated.

Another option is to avoid compost made with horse manure or bedding, unless it can be verified that horses were fed hay that was not treated with pyralids. Horse manure is more frequently a source of contamination than manure from other common livestock animals.

“This might be due to the fact that most horse owners are particular about what they feed their animals, therefore they insist on hay that is weed-free,” Trinklein said. “It’s easier to obtain weed-free hay if it has been treated with these herbicides.”

What can you do if you unknowingly add contaminated compost to your garden? There aren’t a lot of options, Trinklein said. You can try to remove the contaminated soil and replace it with new topsoil. That’s neither easy nor inexpensive.

“The other thing that you can do would be to apply activated charcoal,” Trinklein said. “The finer the grind of the charcoal, the more effective it’s going to be.”

A moderate amount would be about 7 pounds of activated charcoal per 1,000 square feet, equivalent to a 20-by-50-foot garden, he says. He warns to be ready for sticker shock.

“I found it online in bulk for about $5 per pound plus shipping,” Trinklein said.

Another option is to wait for the herbicides to break down in the soil naturally. This usually occurs over time because of microbial activity. But how long would you need to wait?

“That’s the scary part. We don’t know,” Trinklein said. “We cannot tell people if you only wait weeks, months, years, your soil will be safe. Our learning curve about the problem still is steep.”

Green Bean Seed Bioassay for Contaminated Compost

1. Use six 6-inch plant pots.
2. In three of the pots, put a 50-50 mixture of compost and potting soil.
3. In the other three pots, put potting soil only.
4. Plant green bean seeds in all six pots and wait.
5. If the green beans in all six pots come up looking normal, then the compost is probably safe.
6. If the beans in the 50-50 mixture come up twisted and gnarled, then the compost is likely contaminated with herbicides.

US Composting Council Response
The US Composting Council is continuing to pressure EPA to force the chemical companies to reduce the persistence and take steps to reduce nontarget impacts, and articles like this help.

If possible, could you encourage readers to report any suspected incidence of contaminated compost using our confidential reporting form:

We also just released 3 fact sheets on persistent herbicides, including detailed instructions for a home bioassay:

(by Debbie Johnson, MU Senior Writer)

Ecological Management of Insect Pests and Diseases in Vegetables Workshop and Field Day

Gain the knowledge and experience you need to manage pests using ecologically-based methods on your own farm! You are invited to participate in one of 3 identical upcoming Integrated Pest Management (IPM) workshop / field day.

RSVP is required since each workshop is restricted to 25 participants.  To register call the following for each location.

There will be 3 identical workshops with a field day to a local farmer participant:

Friday, July 17th – Truxton, MO, 8:00 am
Workshop and field day will be held at Lee Farms LLC, 39358 Pin Oak Church Road, Truxton, MO 63381
To register call (573) 681-5312 or

Monday, July 20th – Hillsboro, MO, 8:45 am
Jefferson County Extension Office, 301 3rd Street, Hillsboro, MO
Followed by field day at Sandy View Acres, 3843 Sandy Church Rd, Hillsboro, MO 63050
July 20th in Hillsboro – 636-797-5391 or

Wednesday, July 22nd – Springfield, MO, 8:00 am
Library Station, 2535 N Kansas Expy, Springfield, MO 65803
Followed by field day at Millsap Farm, 6593 Emu Ln, Springfield, MO 65803
To register call (573) 681-5312 or

This FREE grant funded workshop and field day will demonstrate sustainable IPM (integrated pest management) approaches such as mass trapping, trap cropping, and cover crops.

8:45 am – Registration

9:15 am – Welcome and introductions

9:30 am – Dr. Zelalem Mersha: Coping with Bad Weather and Preventing Vegetable Diseases

10:30 am – Dr. Jaime Pinero: Using Mass Trapping and Trap Cropping for Insect Pest Control

11:30 am – Mr. Jacob Wilson: Integrating Cover Crops with Vegetable Production: Benefits and Challenges

12:15 pm – Networking Lunch with Discussion

1:15 pm – Dr. Pinero: How to enhance biological pest control using farmscaping / insectary plants
2:00 pm – Mr. Wilson: Overview of Key Invasive Insects

2:45 pm – Drive to Field Day Site

3:30 pm – Field Day with Demonstrations of ecological pest management (insectary plants, trap cropping, cover crops, identification of plant diseases and insect pests and beneficials)

NOTE: Hillsboro location start time is adjusted to 8:45 am start and field tour to start at 3:30 pm