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.

Cass County Supervisors upset with people destroying Level B roads

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors are not happy with whomever is using their vehicles to traverse County Level B (dirt/mud roads) when they are wet, and in the process destroying the road, making it difficult if not impossible for farmers to move their equipment, livestock and crops, when the road dries out. Engineer Charles Marker says his Secondary Road crews normally stay off Level B Roads because of a lack of manpower and equipment to maintain Rock, Level B, and C-type roads.

Marker says they often receive requests to smooth Level B roads which have been damaged by 4-wheel drive vehicles, but those requests are typically not filled until Spring, due to the current work load. He says the only way to stop the destructive activity is if someone calls in a license plate number of the vehicle doing the damage after it rains. He added that the signs marking roads as Level B, say “Enter at your own risk removes the County’s liability if the person responsible for tearing-up the road has an accident, or if ruts that have not been fixed caused damage to other vehicles once the road dries up.

Supervisor Charles Rieken said it’s too bad people feel the need to tear-up the roads used by farmers to haul hay and for other, legitimate purposes. On top of that, the mud from their vehicles is brought into town and messes up city streets. Rieken says it’s not just young people who are behind the destruction. Some older people are just as irresponsible, according to Rieken.

Rieken says when it rains, rural residents should watch for vehicles that are causing the damage, take down a license plate and report it to the Sheriff’s Department. If you are willing to prove who caused the damage, the person responsible, he says, can be assessed the cost of repairs to the road.

The cost for fixing those roads doesn’t come cheaply, according to Marker. He says it could take several hours to fix a damaged road, at a cost of about $30 and hour to operate a grader, plus an average of $20 for the employee’s salary to run the machine and conduct the work.

Rieken said he’s used the roads when he farms, and the ruts caused by 4-wheel drive vehicles “Shakes the tar out of” planters, grain carts and combines. Marker said they’ve seen vehicles in the cities covered in mud, and they know how they got that way, but unless citizens step forward and prove where those vehicles were and when, the damage will continue to occur.

Analyst says Iowa likely will have to import corn

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – An analyst says Iowa will likely have to import corn to meet the demand of ethanol producers and livestock operations.   Iowa is the nation’s top corn-producing state, but The Des Moines Register reports economic policy analyst Ross Korves says a delay in spring planting due to flooding and last year’s reduced yields due to drought mean the state won’t have enough corn to meet demand.  Korves works for Michigan-based ProExporter Network and spoke Tuesday at an Iowa Farm Bureau Federation event in Ames.

Korves says forecasts call for 149 bushels an acre this year. That’s better than last year but far below the state’s normal output. The reduced yield comes as ethanol plants are resuming full production and poultry and pork operations see a small expansion in their operations.

Cass County Extension Report 07-24-2013

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

July 24th, 2013 by Chris Parks

w/ Kate Olson


Detasseling underway in Iowa fields


July 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

One of the summer jobs is a right of passage for many Iowa teens is now underway after a slow start due to the wet spring. Seed corn companies hire thousands of workers — mostly teenagers — to pull the tassel off the top of select corn plants to control the plant breeding and produce the coveted hybrids. DuPont Pioneer has five production facilities across Iowa including one in Grundy County near Reinbeck. Field safety technician Dale Wambold greets the busloads of detasslers to make sure they’re ready for the day.

“We provide them with gloves, we provide them with safety goggles, those kinds of things. We haven’t required it yet, but we highly recommend that kids wear high-topped shoes — because these fields are very uneven out her and there could be a chance that somebody could twist an ankle or something like that,” Wambold says. The minimum age to detassel is 14, but many crew leaders who started as teens are now in their 50s and 60s. Don Sullivan teaches eighth grade science during the school year in Waterloo, this is his 39th year detasseling.

Zimmerman says his job starts the night before as he looks at his spread sheet to see who is going to show up. “And then I organize them into groups so that when we hit the field we are not just a mad mob, so there’s some kind of organization so we don’t waste a lot of time,” Sullivan says. He’s seen a lot of changes through the years in the way things are done. “When I first started, there were not a lot of big contractors, you had little contractors out doing small acres and then gradually over time it grew to be bigger and bigger contractors hiring more and more workers,” Sullivan says. “And then a lot of things changed in the sense of providing transportation for us, everybody rides the bus. And then more recently, the emphasis on taking care of the workers.”

Detasseling is manual labor and you are in a farm field where there is due in the morning, bugs, stifling heat and the danger of sunburn. Twenty-one-year-old MacKenzie McLaughlin is a seven-year veteran detasseller, who says despite the tough nature of the work, the financial reward keeps her coming back. “It’s a lot of walking. It is really hard on your body, but even though I wake up really early, I am done before most of them even go to work. I have the rest of my day, and it really does make you appreciate every other job that you do,” McLaughlin says.

The importance of doing the job right can mean thousands of dollars for the seed corn companies and eventually for the farmers who buy it. A recent study by Iowa State University found that the seed alone costs nearly 109 dollars an acre and that doesn’t include fuel or fertilizer. ReinbecK production facility manager Colby Entriken says even with all the advanced technology available in other agriculture sectors, using people to get things right. He says they have to make sure they don’t have any outcrosses or impurities and that takes the human hand and detasseling crews to get that right. Entriken says the crews have for the most part been able to rearranged schedules to allow for some of the workers who need to leave early for camps or to head back to school. He expects the work will wrap in mid August.

(Radio Iowa)

Climatologist: Iowa in 25-year period of “volatile” weather

Ag/Outdoor, Weather

July 23rd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A climatologist with Iowa State University Extension says regional weather patterns have entered an erratic period, but farmers can reap high rewards if they play the markets right. Climatologist Elwynn Taylor says over the last 140 years, there has tended to be 18 years of “benign” weather followed by 25 years of “volatile” weather.  “The kind of thing that gives much greater risk to the production of crops,” Taylor says. “Some years might be great, but other years might be a disaster. Of course 1936 — the worst production year in the Midwest in the past century — was in the middle of one of those 25-year periods.”

The major droughts of 1983 and ’88 and the massive flooding in 1993 were in the last “volatile” weather cycle, according to Taylor. “It was extreme weather and we also had some years with record-high crop yields,” Taylor says. “….We can get very good years (and) very bad years during what we call the ‘extreme years’ that go on for a 25-year period, historically.” Plant breeders have developed seed varieties that can endure heat, excessive moisture and drought — and Taylor says the pressure is now on farmers to analyze weather patterns and figure out when to sell their crop.

“People that work in the selling and buying of crops find that their greatest income is in periods of greatest volatility — where prices are going up and down, they can take advantage of this,” Taylor says. “Our farmers can do the same thing.” Taylor says buying crop insurance and selling their crops at the right time will help farmers yield greater profits during this 25-year cycle of “extreme” weather than during the previous18-year period of “benign” weather.

Taylor spoke today (Tuesday) at the Iowa Farm Bureau’s Economic Summit in Ames.

(Radio Iowa)

DNR plans osprey release in 2 Iowa locations

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 23rd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says it will release nine young ospreys at two spots as part of an effort to build a sustainable population of the birds. The DNR says the 42-day-old birds will be released in the next few weeks at Mud Lake, along the Mississippi River north of Dubuque, and Swan Lake, near Carroll.

The young birds of prey can tear apart fish but aren’t yet able to fly. The DNR says residents of Dubuque and Carroll counties can help by donating fresh fish for the birds. The ospreys will begin flying in a couple weeks and should quickly become self-sufficient.

The osprey release is part of a program to establish the birds in Iowa. Since 1997, 247 ospreys have been released at a dozen sites.

Vilsack cautions against another extension of current farm law


July 23rd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says farmers should not accept another one-year extension of the Farm Bill. Congress was unable to pass a new Farm Bill last year and the legislation’s current one-year extension is set to expire September 30th.  “Honestly, an extension removes an impetus for getting a Farm Bill done and the challenge and the risk of not getting it done this year is that you’re not likely to get it done in an election year, as we saw in 2012,” Vilsack says. “If you don’t get it done in election year then you have a new congress that begins in 2015 and you start the process over again and the chances of getting it done in the latter part of the second term of a president (are) equally problematic, so if we don’t get it done now, the chances are that we won’t get it done.”

The U.S. Senate has passed its own version of the Farm Bill, but the House split the bill in two and has only passed one part. Vilsack says he’s not sure what path the House intends to take. “I’m not sure whether what they’ve done up to now is for real or for show,” Vilsack says. House leaders have said they’re not ready yet to begin negotiating with senators to find a compromise until the other half of the Farm Bill — the part that deals with federal food and nutrition programs — passes the House.

“It does raise the concern that what’s happened up to this point is not necessarily going to lead to a Farm Bill and I think time’s running out to get it done by September 30th,” Vilsack says.

Without a new, five-year Farm Bill, Vilsack says there’s no disaster assistance for livestock producers, no assistance for beginning farmers, no reform of commodity programs and “no savings to speak of” for taxpayers. Vilsack delivered a luncheon speech at the Iowa Farm Bureau’s “Economic Summit” on Monday and spoke with reporters afterwards.

(Radio Iowa)

Reports say more rain is needed for crops

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

July 23rd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Rain fell in parts of Iowa this weekend providing some much needed moisture to Iowa corn and soybean fields, but the showers were isolated, for soil that has been drying back out. Iowa State Extension Agronomist Clark McGrath covers the counties from Carroll to the Missouri border. He says it’s dry, but conditions are better than last year.  “Last year at this time, it was entire fields, and this year, luckily, it’s portions of fields. So, yeah, we could us moisture,” McGrath says. “But after talking to people from across the state — actually RAGBRAI just came through and I talked to farmers from southeast Iowa and east-central Iowa — and they said that they felt like southwest Iowa here was some of the best stuff they’d seen, and I kinda agree with that.”

Joel DeJong is another extension agronomist who covers nine-western-Iowa counties from Sibley to Missouri Valley. He says the rain is important as the corn crop hits a critical stage.
“We’re entering that time period when it’s the most critical time period. It’s at pollination where we really determine where how many kernels we end up with on those ears. The next five weeks after that, it’s kernel fill, but the next four weeks determines what our ultimate potential is,” Dejong explains. “And so, if we can’t get rainfall we would like to bring our average daily temperatures down into that highs into the lower to mid-80s rather than the lower to mid 90s because, that drops daily moisture demand almost in half.”

Dejong says the crops are showing moisture stress. “We haven’t had but a half inch of rain in the last three, four weeks, so we’re starting to see more and more on a daily basis, those plants curling, particularly in the corn fields — and in the lighter soils — the corn is basically turning white,” according to DeJong. He says the plants need an inch of rain daily at this stage of their growth.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa interactive trail app under development

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 23rd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A new interactive smartphone and computer app featuring Iowa’s trails is under development and organizations behind the development hope to launch it later this year.  Once completed, the “Iowa by Trail” app will feature an interactive map that allows users to locate their position, find the closest trail and find points of interest along the way. It also will keep track of distance, weather, news and events and communicate with friends and followers about their experience.

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is working with the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the City of West Des Moines, and other private partners to raise money to produce the app and website. The foundation needs $59,000.  The expected release date for the app is late this year.

Iowa topsoil moisture declines in hot dry week

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 22nd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – After a very wet start to this planting season, Iowa crop conditions are quickly reversing from too wet to too dry.  The USDA says topsoil with adequate or surplus moisture declined 22 percentage points last week from the week before with 43 percent of the state’s topsoil now adequate or in surplus. Temperatures statewide averaged 4.8 degrees above normal and average precipitation was barely measurable while normal for the week is just over an inch.

Corn and soybeans remain behind schedule with just 35 percent of the corn crop tasseled, behind the five-year average of 70 percent. Overall, corn is about 10 days behind normal in development.  Thirty-six percent of the soybean crop is blooming, behind the normal 70 percent.