Now is the time to plan and plant for future gardens. The Cass County Master Gardeners group is offering a total of $1500 in grant money to be used in the 2014 growing season, to encourage gardening to grow food and/or beautify local communities. The money may also be used for gardening education purposes. The David Williams Master Gardener Grants are offered to honor the many years of service Master Gardener David Williams provided as a long-time volunteer, with the Master Gardener program and other community organizations, including a term as Cass County Master Gardener president in 2012.
Any Cass County not-for-profit group or individual may apply. Schools, churches, libraries, 4-H clubs, Scouts, and individuals working to improving their communities can use the money to begin or improve gardens or landscaping, or to provide education for their members or the public. To ensure the money is helping a wide variety of community organizations, groups who were funded by 2012 and 2013 grants will not be eligible to apply in 2014. Each grant has a maximum value of $300. The application must also include plans for teamwork and sustainability. Consideration for the environment is also an important selection factor.
Applications must be received by Thursday, April 10th for consideration. They may be submitted by mail or email. Grant recipients will be informed of their selection by the end of April. More information, and a grant application, is available on the Cass County Extension website, www.extension.iastate.edu/cass or by calling the Cass County Extension office at 712-243-1132, emailing email@example.com, or stopping by the Extension Office at 805 W. 10th St in Atlantic. You may also contact committee members Judy Kennedy, LaVon Eblen, Connie Jones or Carolyn Hartmann for more information.
The Master Gardener program trains volunteers to develop their knowledge and skills in horticulture. These volunteers then give back to their communities through gardening service and education. The program is available in all 50 states and Canada through land grant university Extension programs such as Iowa State University. Education courses are available throughout Iowa on a regular basis. Contact Cass County Extension Program Coordinator Kate Olson, at 712-243-1132 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
An energy analyst with the Iowa Department of Agriculture is predicting higher prices for propane are here to stay. Harold Hommes says prices in Iowa have dropped dramatically since hitting the $5 a gallon level in late January, but Iowans should expect to pay more than they did last summer when the average price was around a dollar. “We’re not going to return to the prices we saw this past winter, we’re far from that, but I believe higher prices are here to stay in that market,” Hommes says.
Traditionally, domestic customers have held down values, according to Hommes, but the marketplace is evolving and producers now send the propane to places like Asia where they can make the most profit. “We now export about 400,000 barrels a day and that demand is likely going to continue for the foreseeable future. I don’t see that situation changing,” Hommes says.
This week’s survey places the average price per gallon of propane at two dollars and 59 cents ($2.59). About 15-percent of Iowa homes are heated with propane, mainly in rural areas.
A meeting set for March 4th near Lewis will bring together a group of about 80 farmers and landowners from across southwest Iowa, who are always looking for ways to improve the agricultural income of farmers, and members of the Wallace Foundation. Members of the IQPA Organization (Iowa Quality Producers Alliance) will hold their 14th annual meeting at the ISU Armstrong Research Farm, from 8:30-until 9:40-a.m.
The IQPA Meeting is being held before the Wallace Foundation’s 23rd Annual Meeting, since many of the IQPA members belong to both groups. The IQPA meeting will include election/reelection of Board Managers, whose terms are expiring, filling any vacancy on the Executive Committee, and IQPA financial report.
An update on the Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy Ethanol Plant (SIRE) will be given by IQPA Board member Ted Bauer. IQPA member, Veral Bailey of Anita, will present a 20 minute program entitled “Walking on the Moon comes to Southwest Iowa, Understanding TELEMETRY”. Bailey will review some of the current ways equipment monitoring data is used by farmers such as yield maps, grid sampling maps, and codes to indicate equipment repair problems.
New items now appearing on the horizon such as CLOUD, mega data analysis, predict crop yields, precision field and animal management are just a few items. Bailey will share his thoughts on how these Challenges and Opportunities can be of value to individual farmers if they understand these new developments in agriculture.
For more information, call Mrs. Billie Wilson, President of the IQPA Organization, at 712-789-0705, or Ag Consultant Ron Sanson at 712-303 – 8222.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Hunters in Iowa are concerned about the state’s dwindling deer population. The state has actively worked since 2003 to reduce the deer numbers which had been increasing rapidly resulting in damage to crops and contributing to millions in dollars in damage from car-deer collisions.
The Des Moines Register reports some Iowans believe the state has gone too far. Last year the number of harvested deer dropped below 100,000 for the first time since 1995. Sen. Dick Dearden, a Des Moines Democrat, says deer should be allowed to repopulate through the issuance of fewer female deer permits. He says Republican Gov. Terry Branstad bows too much to the influence of farm and insurance groups.
Branstad’s office says the governor believes in a balanced approach to maintaining the deer population.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Gov. Terry Branstad says a statue of Norman Borlaug will be installed in the U.S. Capitol next month. Branstad will attend the official installation on March 25, which is the 100th anniversary of Borlaug’s birth. In 2011, Iowa officials agreed to replace a statue of Sen. James Harlan at the U.S. Capitol with one of Borlaug. Borlaug was a Cresco native who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his role in combating world hunger.
South Dakota artist Benjamin Victor created the sculpture. The statue is finished and is in Aberdeen, South Dakota, awaiting transport to Washington. Each state can display two sculptures in the Capitol. The Borlaug statue will replace one of former senator and Interior Department secretary James Harlan. The Harlan statue will return to Iowa.
DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today (Wednesday) said the recently released 2012 Census of Agriculture preliminary data show Iowa has seen dramatic increases in the total value of agriculture production, value of crops sold and value of livestock sold. The growth has allowed Iowa to move in to 2nd place nationally in each category since the last Census of Agriculture in 2007.
“The impact of Iowa’s agriculture industry is tremendous, and it continues to grow,” Northey said. “The growth over the last five years is a testament to the hard work, creativity and persistence of our farmers. Even with the recent softening of commodity prices, Iowa agriculture is well positioned to continue to be a key driver of the state’s economy.”
Iowa’s total value of agriculture production increased more than 50 percent from $20.4 billion in 2007 to $30.8 billion in 2012. The value of crops sold in Iowa increased by 2/3 from $10.3 billion to $17.4 billion. The value of Iowa livestock production increased by 1/3 from $10.1 billion to $13.5 billion.
Iowa moved from 3rd nationally in each category in to 2nd place national, passing Texas in the total value of production, passing Illinois in the value of crops sold and passing California in the value of livestock sold. Additional preliminary Census of Agriculture date can be found at www.AgCensus.usda.gov. The final census results will be released in May and will include U.S., state and county data on livestock inventory, crop acreage and production, energy, land use practices, and production expenses.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is hoping landowners will take a look at a new program to create habitat for pheasants. D-N-R wildlife biologist, Todd Bogenschutz (bohg-in-shuts), says it’s part of the Conservation Reserve Program and 50-thousand acres are available in Iowa. He says they weren’t able to get people signed up until the new Farm Bill was approved. “We’re hoping with the new Farm Bill being done here, hopefully in the next couple of months we’ll actually be able to market this and get a few landowners interested in putting some good pheasant habitat on the ground,” Bogenschutz says.
The program called “Iowa Pheasant Recovery. “Basically it’s kind of the bedroom, kitchen room, living room all right there in one spot for the birds,” Bogenschutz explained. He says having all the areas together makes it easier on the pheasants to nest and get food and grow their population. Bogenschutz says the program would work best on ground that isn’t that productive. “Corn prices are tumbling, you know there’s already predictions that corn could be under four dollars by this fall. So, especially on some of the less productive land, C-R-P rental rates are paying upwards of 300 dollars plus on some soils in Iowa,” Bogenschutz says. “So for those that are interested in helping pheasants, I think it’s probably worth looking at.”
Bogenschutz says the most recent winter storm that saw a mix of rain, sleet, hail and snow is a key example of the need for diverse habitat for pheasants. “I thought maybe this storm wasn’t going to be a big deal, but the way it came in — being warmer yet it still fell as snow — really stuck to vegetation. And it was very wet and really collapsed all the grasses under the weight of that wet, heavy snow,” Bogenschutz says.
He says that left pheasants will fewer places to hide and their food sources covered. “A lot of our grass habitats got eliminated. A lot of the fields are now locked in a sheet of ice,” according the Bogenschutz. He says that will make it hard for birds to scratch through the snow and ice to get to food. And he says they may have to move greater distances to find food, which leaves them open to predators. Weather has taken its toll on the state pheasant population in recent years. Bogenschutz says adding these C-R-P acres tailored to the birds could help turn that around.
Even though another polar vortex has the Midwest in its crosshairs, Iowans’ attention is focused squarely on spring and going camping. The reservation window for the Memorial Day Weekend campsites for a Friday arrival opened on Sunday. Officials with the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources say that 9-a.m. today (Tuesday), six state parks had filled all reservable campsites for Memorial Day Weekend that offer electricity or full hook ups. Camping options for the big holiday weekend in a state park are quickly shrinking.
Campers wanting to spend the holiday weekend at Elinor Bedell, Lake of Three Fires, Lewis and Clark, Pleasant Creek, Viking Lake, and Waubonsie should plan to arrive a few days early for one of the walk up sites with electricity – all the reservation sites have been taken. Other parks are close to hanging up the no reservations sign.
Ledges, Green Valley, Prairie Rose, Lake Anita and Rock Creek state parks only have the handicap accessible site available. Brushy Creek had one equestrian site; Backbone, McIntosh Woods and Walnut Woods have three; Fairport, Maquoketa Caves and Union Grove have four; Dolliver, George Wyth and Wapsipinicon have six and most include a handicap accessible site.
Lake Geode is not taking reservations until construction on the wastewater system is complete. The park is open and accepting campers while the work is underway. Most parks will have nonelectric sites available for the Memorial Day Weekend.Campers can make reservations for a site three months ahead of their first night stay.
Not every campsite is available on the reservation system. Parks maintain between 25 and 50 percent of the electric and non electric sites as non-reservation sites, available for walk up camping. Information on Iowa’s state parks is available online at www.iowadnr.gov including links to the reservations page.