KJAN Ag/Outdoor

From County extension to conservation to grain prices, we provide lots of information every day on KJAN.  Here is some of that information on the web too!  We hope you find it useful.

Iowa State Fair officials are watchful for signs of swine flu

Ag/Outdoor

August 10th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The hundreds of head of hogs at the just-opened Iowa State Fair are being carefully monitored for signs of illness. Outbreaks of a new flu strain were reported at recent fairs in Ohio and Indiana. Iowa State Fair manager Gary Slater says they’re being vigilant at the big event in Des Moines for any indications of influenza.

Ten people got sick at the fair in Ohio. The new flu strain is called H-3-N-2, a disease in swine that’s slightly different from the H-1-N-1 strain that hit three years ago. Slater says H-3-N-2 can be passed from swine-to-humans but not from human-to-human. The H-1-N-1 strain could be passed human-to-human. Slater says they’re being watchful at the fair, but he says he’s not particularly worried.

He says the state fair’s livestock entries are steady in number with past years and he’s expecting a very good showing with all the species. Slater hopes to match or beat last year’s attendance of one-million-80-thousand fairgoers. He says the most unique exhibit this year is an 11-foot stainless steel moose, covered with two-inches of Dutch chocolate in the Food Building. It contrasts from the cow covered in butter in the Ag Building. The Iowa State Fair opened Thursday, and runs through August 19th.

Ethanol producers meet in Omaha during “incredibly challenging year” for industry

Ag/Outdoor

August 10th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Facing one of their most difficult seasons in history, hundreds of people involved in the production of ethanol are meeting this week in Omaha. U-S Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack will be the keynote speaker today (Friday) at the American Coalition for Ethanol conference. Brian Jennings, the coalition’s executive vice president, says the worst drought to hit the region in decades is hurting farmers, consumers and everyone in between.“This is going to be an incredibly challenging year financially for ethanol producers,” Jennings says. “As corn prices continue to climb, many ethanol plants across the country have had to adjust output accordingly because corn is the greatest cost component of an ethanol production facility.”

Iowa is the nation’s number-one ethanol producer with more than 40 plants operating. While one of the conference sessions is called “Proud History, Bright Future,” Jennings says the future is uncertain for many of those producers in Iowa and nationwide.
“We know of some plants that are not operating what-so-ever today,” Jennings says. “We know of others that have cut production back by as much as 20 or 30%. The challenges are very real for these producers.” While there’s much anxiety over the drought’s impact on the corn crop, Jennings says waiving the Renewable Fuel Standard — which insures more ethanol is blended into gasoline — is not the way to go.

“It simply would not reduce corn prices,” he says. “It certainly won’t make it rain or make more feed available and the consequences of removing that would result in higher gas prices and more costs on the refiners who benefit handsomely today from the cheap octane that ethanol provides them.” As the corn plants have withered in fields across the region in the hot, dry weather, the corn supply has thinned while demand has gone up. Gasoline prices have risen more than 20-cents a gallon in the past month. “Ethanol prices have tended to track along with corn,” Jennings says. “You see some instances where ethanol prices are increasing in association with corn but you also see gas prices are rising along with that and corn prices are rising far greater than ethanol prices.” This is the coalition’s 25th annual conference, drawing ethanol producers and other industry officials from as far away as Arizona and Michigan. Learn more at “ethanol.org

(Radio Iowa)

“Reggie” sets new record for Iowa State Fair big boar competition

Ag/Outdoor

August 10th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

One “must see” every year for many Iowa State Fair-goers is the big boar. This year, they’re seeing the biggest boar EVER at the fair.

“Reggie” (Radio IA photo)

“Reggie” was the last of seven supersized swine to waddle onto a scale before a big crowd gathered Thursday to witness the annual big boar competition. He posted a new Iowa State Fair record weighing in at 1,335 pounds. Reggie’s owner, Rick Stockdale of Madison, Indiana, says his big boar is not too picky about his diet.

“He’s a slop pig. He eats a lot of bread, Twinkies, Ho-Hos and donuts,” Stockdale said. “Then, of course, corn and produce. He’s a big fan of all the melons – watermelon and cantaloupe. He’ll eat virtually anything, except squash. He will not eat a squash.” Reggie also holds the Indiana State Fair record for biggest boar. At five years old, the Iowa State Fair prize may be Reggie’s last.

“This possibly was his last show, we don’t know. He is getting up in age,” Stockdale said. “We have his son…that is keeping the tradition alive.” A giant pig with the number 32 painted on his side was quite the crowd pleaser – despite finishing third in the competition.

Fred “Hoiboar” escorted by Fred Hoiberg (Radio IA photo)

Fred Hoiboar was escorted to the scale by Iowa State men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg. He was contacted late last year by some Cyclone fans who wanted to use the pig to raise money for charity.

“When I heard that, it was a no-brainer for me,” Hoiberg said. “It’s for a camp for kids with heart disease. I was up there last week to spend time with the kids and raise money for the organization.” Camp Odayin is located in northern Minnesota. Prior to Hoiberg’s return to Ames, he worked in the front office of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves. Hoiberg and dozens of others wore cardinal and gold t-shirts which feature a pig and a basketball. The group is selling the shirts to raise money for the camp.

(Radio Iowa)

Producer says drought will cause popcorn shortage

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

August 10th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

This year’s historic Midwest drought is having an impact on all crops — including popcorn. Gary Smith is President of the American Popcorn Company, the parent company of Jolly Time Popcorn. The company is based in Sioux City and has contracts with farmers in northwest Iowa and northeast Nebraska to grow the company’s popcorn. Smith describes this year’s crop as “okay,” especially when compared with conditions in other parts of the country.

“There is going to be a popcorn shortage because Indiana burnt up in June even, I mean, they didn’t even get started. And we’ve got a lot of competitors in the eastern cornbelt,” Smith says. Smith says about 90-percent of the company’s popcorn is grown under irrigation in northeast Nebraska. He says the dryland popcorn grown in the Sac City, Iowa area is in decent shape having received some rain in July that didn’t fall elsewhere. Still, he says there may be some quality issues in this year’s popcorn.

“I think the test weights will be down. When the test weights are down, then maybe your pops aren’t quite as good, we might struggle with quality issues, but that’s the way Mother Nature treats the product. And I’m just grateful we’re going to have a crop,” Smith says. With field corn prices at, or near, all-time record highs,- popcorn companies have to pay more to prevent farmers from switching away from popcorn production. Smith says the company is already paying record-high contracts to farmers, and he expects the contracts to be higher again next year. He worries, though, about an eventual consumer backlash.

“We’re at the highest point we’ve ever been because of the price of corn. Now with the drought, corn prices have rallied more, and so we’re looking at another increase, which is a big worry,” according to Smith. “Because at some point, America’s consumer is gonna say ‘your products too expensive, I don’t want you any more,’ and I don’t think we’ve gotten there yet. But where is that threshold? I’m not absolutely sure.” The American Popcorn Company has been in business for 98 years. Smith is a fourth-generation family member involved with the company.

(Radio Iowa)

IA DNR: Recent rain helped to lower water demand, but groundwater levels are unchanged

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

August 10th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has released its latest Water Summary Update. Officials say prior to the rains of August 8th, precipitation averaged 50 percent less than normal for the last two weeks. Shallow groundwater levels in parts of Iowa are at or near historic lows. Recent rainfall has helped to lower water demand, but has not impacted shallow groundwater levels. There have been reports in eastern Iowa, of private wells being drilled deeper or having pumps lowered to meet water demand.

The number of streams with “protected flow” (cannot be used for irrigation) have been reduced from 22 to 19. Streams in most of southwest Iowa are below normal flow, and the report shows shallow groundwater in all of southwest Iowa is not enough to meet the demand for irrigation. More than two-thirds of the State are now under Extreme Drought conditions, including every county stretching from northern Boone County southwest, through northwestern Fremont County. Cass County and the northwestern tip of Adair County are included in the Extreme Drought conditions, while the remaining southwest and south central counties are under Severe Drought conditions.

The past two weeks continued to be mostly hotter and drier than normal weather across Iowa. Temperatures averaged 4 degrees above normal while precipitation averaged 0.60 inches less than normal for the period. Rain totals varied from no rain at Underwood in western Iowa to nearly four inches at Nevada through August 6th. Storms on August 8th (after the cut-off time for the drought
monitor and for the precipitation map) resulted in a statewide average of 0.34  inches of rain, with almost everyone in the state seeing some rain. Among the areas with the most rain, was Audubon, Harrison, Page, and Shelby counties.

For a more thorough review of Iowa’s water resource trends July 23 through August 8, go to http://www.iowadnr.gov/watersummaryupdate. The report is prepared by the technical staff from the Iowa DNR, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the USGS, in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division.

“Breakfast with the Birds” program cancelled

Ag/Outdoor, News

August 9th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Cass County Conservation Service said Thursday, due to unforeseen circumstances the “Breakfast with the Birds” Program scheduled to be held Saturday morning at Sunnyside Park in Atlantic, has been cancelled. The program was to have begun at 9-a.m.

Map shows drought slightly worse in Neb., Iowa

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

August 9th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows conditions have worsened in the Corn Belt states of Iowa and Nebraska.  The map shows extreme drought has spread further into the western half of Iowa and covers all but a small section of southeast Nebraska, where severe drought is occurring. A few counties in central Nebraska are still listed as being under exceptional drought conditions.  The drought map is a project shared by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Weather Service. The latest map is based on conditions as of 6 a.m. Tuesday, so it doesn’t reflect rainfall from storms that passed through parts of both states later Tuesday and on Wednesday.

USDA Report 08-09-2012

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

August 9th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Max Dirks

Play

Livestock farmers seek pause in ethanol production

Ag/Outdoor

August 9th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

WASHINGTON (AP) — Livestock farmers and ranchers seeing their feed costs soar because of the worst drought in decades are demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency waive production requirements for corn-based ethanol. The Obama administration sees no need for a waiver, siding with corn growers — many of them in presidential election battleground states Iowa and Ohio — who continue to support the requirement. The livestock industry argues that at a time when supplies are precarious, the large share of the corn crop going to ethanol production is driving up prices and driving them out of business. The Renewable Fuel Standard, enacted in 2005 and then significantly expanded in 2007, requires that 13.2 billion gallons of corn starch-derived biofuel be produced in 2012.

Cass County Extension Report 08-08-2012

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

August 8th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Kate Olson

Play