KJAN Ag/Outdoor

Parts of Iowa still battling wet planting conditions

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 9th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The latest U-S-D-A crop report shows continued problems last week with wet weather slowing planting in south-west and south-central Iowa. This is a critical week for southwest Iowa — which has lagged behind the rest of the state most of the spring — as the calendar days continue passing. Iowa State University Extension Agronomist, Aaron Sauegling monitors 14 counties in the southwest corner of the state where wet weather has put them behind.

“The majority of all the corn is in in southwest Iowa. Soybean planting lags behind where we would like to be at this time of year. There’s still portions of southwest Iowa that have over half or 50 percent of the beans to be planted yet,” Sauegling explains. The forecast is calling for some warm and dry days that farmers have been needing.

“We’re optimistic that this week is going to provide us with the break that we need, that we just simply did not get the entire month of May for planting soybeans,” Sauegling says. Sauegling says the delay in planting beans is forcing some farmers to make crop management changes.  “I may increase my plant population. I’d like to narrow up the row — because what I need to do now as a soybean producer, I need to maximize my days,” according to Sauegling. “So, how I can do that is simply have more simply soybeans covering the ground, for ‘A’ weed control and ‘B’ I have to maximize yield. Corn at this point — I would probably be a little more panicked if I didn’t have my corn in.”

Soybean planting reached 88 percent complete and that’s nine days behind 2014, and one day behind average. The crop report shows 96 percent of the corn crop has emerged, which is four days ahead of the five-year average.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa students encouraged to participate in Farmers Market Scavenger Hunt

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 8th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is encouraging Iowa students who were in kindergarten through 8th grade this past school year, to take part in a “Farmers Market Scavenger Hunt” at any of the 37 participating farmers markets across the state. The Iowa Farm to School program, which is part of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, is sponsoring the initiative.IDALS logo

Northey says “We are fortunate to have wonderful farmers markets all across the state and I hope students will take advantage of this opportunity to get out and learn more about all the fresh, delicious products that are available and support their local market.”  To participate, students simply need to complete the “Farmers Market Scavenger Hunt” form. Forms may be picked up at any participating farmers market or can be printed from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website at www.IowaAgriculture.gov under the “Hot Topics” section.

When they have completed the form, they can submit it to the market manager at the main market booth for the farmers market. Upon submitting the form, students will receive a free item from the market, such as a fruit, vegetable or honey, and will be entered into a drawing for additional prizes. In addition, the classroom with the most participation over the summer will receive a grow light that can be used to help them grow their own fruits and vegetables.

In western Iowa, farmers markets participating in the program include those in Shelby County (Harlan), and the Missouri Valley Welcome Center. More information about the Iowa Farm to School program and other upcoming events can be found at: http://www.iowaagriculture.gov/AgDiversification/farmToSchoolProgram.asp.

One acre of sweet corn to be donated to Iowa food banks

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 8th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Many low-income Iowa families, that might not be able to afford a summertime staple in the state, will get the chance this year. Cory Berkenes, executive director of the Iowa Food Bank Association, says his agency is partnering with a sweet corn grower to provide thousands of FREE ears of the vegetable to hungry Iowans. “This first opportunity, we’ll have about 500 dozen ears of corn, so about an acre of corn for this first time,” Berkenes says.

The sweet corn seed, donated by Monsanto, was planted by Jacob and Emily Van Manen, owners of J & E’s Delicious Sweet Corn of Kellogg. If the weather cooperates, the sweet corn will be harvested in July and donated to the Food Bank of Iowa for distribution. “A lot of families, you know, just can’t afford the fresh produce,” Berkenes says. “So, having this chance to bring this into their homes…is an added bonus.”

Once harvested, Berkenes says the sweet corn will travel from the farm to the table in less than one week. He’s hoping the effort might be expanded next year.  “This is just the first project like this we’ve done and we’re hoping it maybe can grow into something more in future years. We’re really excited about it,” Berkenes says.

(Radio Iowa)

New hybrid grapes help grow wine industry in cold US regions


June 7th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

CORINTH, N.Y. (AP) — A host of new grape varieties have enabled a boutique wine industry to take root in areas of the country that were previously inhospitable. One of them is Marquette, a red grape released for production by the University of Minnesota in 2006. It’s now growing in vineyards in the upper Hudson Valley and southeastern Adirondacks, where new wineries like Ledge Rock Hill are producing award-winning wines.

Another success story is the white grape Traminette out of Cornell University. Wine made from the Traminette grape has been adopted as the “signature wine” of Indiana. Cornell researcher Bruce Reisch says new varieties have spurred tremendous growth in the wine industry in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois and Ohio as well as northern New York.


Groups call for volunteers for Missouri River cleaning

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 6th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) – The Missouri River between Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska, is in for a spring cleaning this month. The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil reports that three groups – Missouri River Relief of Columbia, Missouri, and Back to the River and Fontenelle Forest, both of Omaha – will team up for the river cleanup project on June 13.

The event headquarters will be the boat ramps at Lake Manawa State Park in Council Bluffs, with the cleanup running from 9 a.m. until noon. Organizers will provide volunteers with gloves, trash bags, an event T-shirt and reusable water bottle. Volunteers are encouraged to bring sunglasses and bug spray and wear appropriate clothes for the work, including boots or tennis shoes and long pants to protect against poison ivy.

Warmer weather means mosquitoes are already swarming

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Summer will arrive June 21st and already Iowans are being buzzed and bitten by mosquitoes. Brendan Dunphy, an entomology researcher at Iowa State University, says he’s been studying the habits of these tiny flying pest for years and spotted his first mosquito of 2015 in Boone County back in March. “What was happening was, they were simply coming out of their winter hiding places,” Dunphy says. “Now that we’re in the time of year when we’ll have consistently high temperatures, we have the type of environment that could sustain mosquito activity for months to come.”

Dunphy said the mosquito bites can make people sick but the bugs are much worse on other continents. “They are capable of transmitting human disease agents, plenty of viruses, West Nile virus would be the best example here in Iowa,” Dunphy says. “Also, a number of other things that are even more pathogenic and cause death in other parts of the world. Thankfully, in a place like Iowa, we have it relatively easy compared to sub-Saharan Africa.”

He urges Iowans to police their yards to make it harder for mosquitoes to find a home “Getting rid of sources of standing water on your own property,” Dunphy says. “Bird baths, tires, buckets, children’s swimming pools, turned-over truck toppers, anything that can collect water can essentially be a reservoir or a breeding ground for future generations of mosquitoes, including ones that can transmit viruses.”

Another recommendation is to wear long-sleeve shirts and use insect repellant when outdoors and staying indoors around dawn and dusk when mosquito activity is often the highest.

(Radio Iowa)

Rural Summit in Atlantic June 17th

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Residents, business owners and community and economic development leaders in Cass and surrounding counties can share their thoughts about opportunities and challenges facing rural Iowa when Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa, visits Atlantic on Wednesday, June 17th. A rural summit will take place starting at 10-a.m. at Southwest Iowa Planning Council’s office, 1501 SW 7th Street in Atlantic.USDA Rural Development  logo

USDA Rural Development’s funding continues to have a dramatic impact on rural communities across Iowa. Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has invested more than $3 billion on essential public facilities, small and emerging businesses, water and sewer systems, and housing opportunities for Iowa families. Today, more than 1.7 million Iowans live in rural communities and areas, and nearly half of the state’s communities have fewer than 500 residents.

This past year USDA Rural Development’s investment in rural Iowa helped create or retain more than 1,000 jobs, aided 2,400 families in buying their own homes and assisted more than 50 communities as they made improvements to their facilities, services and infrastructure.

For more information about the event, contact the Southwest Iowa Planning Council at (712) 243-4196 or email swipco@swipco.org.

Produce in the Park draws more than 100 shoppers

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The first of many “Produce in the Park” events in Atlantic saw more than 100 shoppers congregate in the downtown City Park, Thursday evening. Event organizers say those who stopped by found locally grown strawberries, lots of greens and more. They also grabbed up fresh made pies, rolls and breads, while enjoying music provided by Atlantic High School band chorus members.

The YMCA kept kids busy making flubber and jumping in bounce houses. Teamwork by vendors, organizations, businesses and volunteers make it possible to provide the farmers market in Atlantic City Park every Thursday, from 4:30-until 6:30-p.m.

New legal protections for county landfills accepting bird flu carcasses

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 4th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The legislature is passing new liability protections for county landfills that accept the dead carcasses from poultry operations that have been hit by bird flu. Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm, a Democrat from Cresco, says it’s a protection for county taxpayers who would have to pick up the tab if their local landfill is sued. “If they take on the responsibility of accepting these birds, that if they follow Homeland Security, DNR, federal regs, if somebody wants to sue them for whatever reason, they’re not going to be held responsible because they’re following all the rules,” Wilhelm says.

The issue is being addressed in a budget bill that outlines spending for the Iowa Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Legislators are also asking landfills to submit a report to the state next year, detailing the volume of bird carcasses buried and the fees charged by the landfill. Wilhelm says it’s a check against excessive landfill charges. “The feds are paying for the tipping fees,” Wilhelm says, “and so we don’t want to have them take advantage of, drastically increasing the tipping fees.”

More than 30 million chickens and turkeys have had to be killed in Iowa due to the bird flu outbreak. All of the turkeys and some chickens are being composted in their barns. Some dead chickens are being buried just outside on the farms. Some are being burned and others are being shipped to landfills. A large incinerator at a landfill near Cherokee is currently burning about seven loads of dead birds a day, with plans to increase capacity in the coming days.

A privately-owned landfill near Malvern and a county landfill near Sheldon are burying “bio-secure” bags of the dead chickens. Officials with Polk County’s landfill have indicated a willingness to make bird burials, too, but to date none have been taken there. The legislature’s new liability protection for landfills would not apply to the landfill near Malvern, but would apply to the other two county-owned landfills.

(Radio Iowa)

Farmer’s Market coupons available for older Iowans & eligible WIC recipients

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 4th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today (Thursday) announced that Farmers Market Nutrition Program applications are now available for eligible WIC recipients and low-income older Iowans.

Farmers Market Nutrition Program

The WIC Farmers Market Nutrition and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs provide eligible Iowans with checks that can be redeemed for fresh, locally grown produce at authorized farmers markets and farm stands from June 1 through October 31, 2015.

The WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides eligible WIC recipients with nine checks valued at $3 each. Again this year, sets of WIC FMNP checks will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Eligible individuals may pick up checks at arranged appointments or at regularly scheduled clinic appointments. The checks will be distributed on a statewide basis.

A combination of state and federal funds will be used to make benefits available to more than 23,900 eligible WIC recipients this year. Eligible individuals include children ages 1 through 4, and pregnant, breast-feeding, and post-partum women that participate in Iowa’s WIC Program.

The state’s twenty local WIC agencies have begun to distribute checks and nutritional education information. WIC recipients interested in obtaining the benefits are encouraged to contact their local WIC clinic or visit www.idph.state.ia.us/wic/ for more information.

The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides eligible seniors with ten checks for $3 each. Applicants throughout the state are offered the checks on a first-come first-served basis and the checks are available through Area Agency on Aging offices. A combination of state and federal funds will be used to make benefits available to more than 19,700 eligible seniors this year.

Eligible seniors must be sixty years of age or older with a household income less than $21,775 if single or $29,471 for a married couple. Iowa seniors will be asked to complete a one page application verifying their eligibility, by providing their birth dates and the last four digits of their social security numbers.

The Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) have begun to distribute checks and nutritional education information. To find an Area Agency on Aging near you, contact the Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging (i4a) toll free at 866-468-7887 or at www.i4a.org.

The Farmers Market Nutrition Programs are administered through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa Department on Aging.