KJAN Ag/Outdoor

Strawberry season starting early this year


May 13th, 2015 by Chris Parks

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today said that the strawberry growers around the state are nearly ready to welcome customers with an earlier than normal harvest and a good crop of berries. Strawberry growers from the western part of the state are reporting that strawberries will be ready to pick within the week. Reports from the other parts of the state are showing that harvest season for strawberries should arrive in about two weeks.

“Strawberries are the first fruit crop of the season. Visiting a local farmers market or going to a you-pick farm is a great way to find fresh berries that can be enjoyed fresh, used in backing or preserved as jellies or jams,” Northey said. “Regardless of where you get your berries, act fast as strawberry season in Iowa only lasts a few weeks.”

Once picked strawberries do not continue to ripen like some fruits and vegetables so select vibrant red berries. Also, shop early and often because strawberries have a short shelf life and should be eaten within a few days of being picked.

If taste alone isn’t enough to encourage you to indulge in strawberries, here are a few more reasons to consider:

· Strawberries are low in calories and fat-free: one cup of unsweetened strawberries has only 55 calories.

· Your kids will eat them; over 53 percent of seven to nine-year-olds picked strawberries as their favorite fruit

· Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C and good sources of folic acid, potassium, and fiber.

Support a local grower and treat your family to a fun-filled trip to the strawberry patch and make memories that will last a lifetime. If visiting a strawberry patch, be sure to call or check the website for their harvest information.

You can find strawberry growers by visiting our Fruit and Vegetable Farms Directory at https://www.idalsdata.org/fmnp/index.cfm or on the Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association “farm search” page at http://www.ifvga.org/en/about_us/farm_search/.

Montgomery County Extension Summer Day Camps


May 13th, 2015 by Chris Parks

Montgomery County 4-H and Extension will be holding several summer day camps throughout the month of June. Day camps will include: Animal Science Feed & Nutrition Workshop, Overnight 4-H Horse Camp, Outdoor Day, and the Clover Kids Day Camp.

The Animal Science Feed & Nutrition Workshop will be held at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds Gold Building on Wednesday, June 3rd from 1-4:30pm and is open to all youth who have completed grades 4-12. During this workshop youth will learn about feed, animal nutrition, the digestive system and more with many hands on activities! This workshop will cost $5.00 per youth and registrations will be due to the Montgomery County Extension Office by Friday, May 25th.

The Overnight 4-H Horse camp will be held at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds on Friday, June 5 -6th with 4-H member’s horses present. This workshop is open to 4-H members from Southwest Iowa who have completed grades 4 – 8. During this camp youth will learn about safety, showmanship, moving their feet, improving your seat, and trail. This camp has a $50.00 per 4-H’er registration fee and registrations will be due to the Montgomery County Extension Office by Friday, May 22nd.

The Outdoor Day will be held at Viking Lake – Stanton on Tuesday, June 9th from 9am – 3pm and is open to all youth who have completed grades 4-8. Throughout the day, youth will learn about fishing, canoeing, leave and trees, nature, the environment, outdoor cooking, and much, much more! The day camp will be $20.00 per youth and registrations will be due to the Montgomery County Extension Office by Friday, June 1st.

The Clover Kids Day Camp will be held at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds Gold Building on Tuesday, June 16th from 9am – 3pm and is open to all youth who have completed kindergarten – 3rd grades. Youth will learn about insects, bugs, nature, the environment, and much more! This day camp will cost $15.00 per youth and registrations will be due to the Montgomery County Extension Office by Friday, June 5th.

All registration forms are available on the Montgomery County Extension Website
www.iastate.edu/montgomerycounty/4h . All registrations can be dropped off or mailed to the Extension Office at 400 Bridge Street, Suite 2, Red Oak, Iowa 51566. If there is anything you would like to learn more about, see a presentation on, or attend a workshop for, we are always open to ideas and would love to hear your interests! For any other questions regarding 4-H contact Hallie Peck at the Extension Office (712) 623-2592 or email hpeck@iastate.edu.



May 13th, 2015 by Chris Parks

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced today that funds are available to help farmers install nutrient reduction practices. Practices eligible for this funding are cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fertilizer.

The cost share rate for first-time users of cover crops is $25 per acre, no-till or strip till are eligible for $10 per acre and farmers using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer can receive $3 per acre. Any farmer not already utilizing these practices will receive priority consideration for this assistance. Farmers that have used cover crops in the past may be eligible for $15 per acre for cover crops.

“We continue to hear from farmers interested in doing even more to limit nutrient loss and better protect water quality and these funds will help them try new voluntary science-based conservation practices on their farm,” Northey said.

Farmers are eligible for cost share on up to 160 acres. The funds will be made available in July, but farmers can immediately start submitting applications through their local Soil and Water Conservation District office.

Farmers are also encouraged to visit their local Soil and Water Conservation District office to inquire about additional opportunities for cost share funding through other programs offered at their local SWCDs.

“As farmers are busy planting, we wanted to get the announcement out as soon as possible so our staff and partners can prepare to sign-up interested farmers if there are rain delay or as field work is wrapped up,” Northey said.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received $4.4 million for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative in fiscal 2015. These funds will allow the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to continue to encourage the broad adoption of water quality practices through statewide cost share assistance as well as more intensive work in targeted watersheds.

In the last 2 years this program has been available, over 1,400 farmers put in new nutrient reduction practices on over 144,000 acres. The state provided about $3.4 million in cost share funding to help farmers try a water quality practice for the first time and Iowa farmers provided at least another $3.4 million to support these water quality practices.

More bird flu cases in Iowa

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 13th, 2015 by Chris Parks

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Four more Iowa farms are testing positive for bird flu.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture says an egg-laying farm and a turkey farm in Buena Vista County bring to 15 the number of cases in that county in northwest Iowa. A broiler farm in Osceola County is the state’s first indication of the disease on a farm raising chickens for meat. Officials said Tuesday the farm has 700 birds. Most of Iowa’s affected chickens are egg layers.

Lyon County also has its first case. It’s on an egg farm.

Iowa has 49 cases of bird flu in 13 counties. More than 26 million birds will die.

Minnesota and Wisconsin have no new cases but Nebraska reported its first on a farm with 1.7 million chickens.

Guess the weight; win a plaque on an elevator – and help save it

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 11th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

In carnivals, a carny might tempt take your money and offer a prize for guessing your weight correctly. In the Audubon County town of Ross, you may rewarded for guessing the weight, of the last wooden grain elevator, and help to save it. Bob and Janet Nelson, owners of the 130 year old elevator have been raising money to help restore what appears to be the oldest wooden elevator still standing, in Iowa.

Photo from www.saverosselevator.com.

Photo from www.saverosselevator.com.

Bob Nelson says the elevator in Ross was built in the early 1880’s by Civil War veteran, Capt. Charles Stuart, who also founded Stuart, Iowa. Nelson says a family who has owned the elevator since the 1930’s, offered him the chance to buy the structure with hopes that it would be restored to the best possible condition. The elevator came about when the railroads were built, shortening the length of time it took to get crops to market, and making a spot where people could gather to socialize.

Wooden elevators typically were built to last 40-years, but more often than not, they were destroyed by fires created by sparks from passing railroad steam engines. They usually lasted no more than 10-years. A fundraising effort has allowed enough money begin the process. The effort began, according to Nelson, after they received a $25,000 grant from the Iowa Barn Foundation. The grant required matching funds, which Nelson has been able to accomplish.

He says they won’t be enough to completely cover the cost of restoration, so a contest is being held to guess the weight of the structure as it’s lifted off the limestone foundation, which has collapsed on three-sides. The foundation is the first thing set to be restored. The weight of the elevator roughly 25-by-30-to 60-feet high elevator will be measured by specially calibrated heavy-duty equipment.
Guess3 :16 Q:”…May 18th.”
(Nelson says people that want to guess the weight of the elevator can do so by donating when they log-on to www.saverosselevator.com. The structure is scheduled to be lifted-off the foundation next week, weather permitting.  The person with the closest guess will have a plaque with their name displayed inside the elevator, once restoration work is completed.

Iowa: Bird flu to claim 4 million more egg-laying chickens

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 8th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa agriculture officials say bird flu will claim an additional 4 million Iowa egg-laying chickens on two more farms in a county already hit by the disease. Officials are waiting for preliminary tests on two farms in Wright County to be confirmed. The county earlier reported a farm with 2.8 million chickens affected. Iowa’s chicken loss is approaching 25 million, more than 40 percent of the state’s egg-laying flock.

Officials on Friday also announced detection of the virus on five more turkey farms, including one with 42,000 birds. That brings the state to 44 cases in 12 counties. Minnesota and Wisconsin, two other states hit hard with the disease, reported no new bird flu cases Friday. The virus has spread to well over 30 million birds in 13 states.

Emerald ash borers detected at 2 spots in Polk County

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 8th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Officials have found emerald ash borders in Polk County, home of the state capitol in Des Moines. A news release from the Iowa Agriculture Department said Friday that the tree-killing pests were found in Urbandale and West Des Moines. The department says the confirmation brings to 22 the number of Iowa counties where the insects have been found.

The larva of an emerald ash borer cuts off an ash tree’s flow of nutrients when deposited below the bark. Once infected, trees typically die within five years. The insects are native to Asia and were first spotted in the U.S. in 2002, when they showed up in the Detroit area. They devastated ash trees in Michigan and have spread to at least 21 other states.

Mills County landfill could be the final resting place for bird carcasses

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 8th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A site in Mills County could become the final resting place for millions of chickens, turkeys, and at least one flock of ducks who have been killed for having the H5N2 Avian Bird flu. State Senator Mark Costello and Representative David Sieck, of Glenwood, both told the Council Bluffs Daily NonPareil, the birds could end-up at the Loess Hills Regional Sanitary Landfill, near Malvern. The officials have been in talks with the United States Department of Agriculture and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources about the matter.

At least 20 million chickens, 750,000 turkeys and a herd of ducks are among the dead. Turkeys may be disposed of by letting them decompose in piles inside a barn, which creates heat to kill the virus. Chickens would be placed in bags and heated to about 150-degrees to kill the germs before the birds are buried. Composting the remains is also a possibility, but incinerating all of the birds isn’t possible, according to Sieck, because there isn’t enough equipment for the job.

Four Iowa landfills are in talks with the USDA to handle this responsibility. The Mills County landfill is privately owned, which means it can move faster to execute the operation.The landfill has clay liners and gravel underneath, to prevent the spread of remains from leaking out.

So far, none of the dead birds have been moved from their quarantine zones.

Decomposing turkeys and chickens lead to odors, flies

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 7th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Millions of dead chickens and turkeys lie in stinking, fly-swarmed piles near dozens of large Iowa farms due to the H5N2 bird flu virus.
Neighbors say they understand the challenge in disposing of more than 20 million bird carcasses, but are eager for quick action, especially as temperatures rise and create more decomposition odor and flies.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources environmental supervisor Ken Hessenius says the state must look at “all methods of disposal” and called the virus a “crisis.” Some of the birds are piled up and covered with dirt or other material, turkeys are often composted inside barns and at least one chicken farm is burying them in trenches. Portable incinerators have been set up and state officials are working with landfills.

Tick season underway in Iowa

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 7th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Spring in Iowa means planting fields and gardens, outdoor recreation, warm days, cool nights and, as a reminder from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), it also means the start of tick season. IDPH encourages Iowans to enjoy the many opportunities to be active outdoors, while remembering to protect against ticks. Ticks can carry the organisms that cause Lyme disease (the most common tick-borne disease), Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichiosis. In 2014, there were 194 confirmed and probable cases of Lyme disease in Iowa; so far this year, there have been two cases.

IDPH Public Health Veterinarian & Deputy State Epidemiologist, Dr. Ann Garvey says “The best way to prevent tick bites is to avoid wooded and tall grassy areas, where ticks are usually found.”. If you do spend time in these areas:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long, light-colored pants tucked into socks or boots.
  • Stay on trails when walking or hiking and avoid high grass.
  • Use insect repellants that contain DEET. Read and follow the label directions for application (DEET is not recommended for use on children under 2 months of age.)
  • Check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks as soon as you get back home. Ticks tend to prefer the back of the knee, armpit, scalp, groin, and back of the neck.

Not everyone who gets Lyme disease will have the same symptoms, but the best and earliest sign of infection is a rash that may appear within a few days to a month, usually at the site of the tick bite. The rash will first look like a small, red bump, then expand until it begins to look like a bull’s eye, with a red center and a red ring surrounding a clear area. It is important to contact your health care provider immediately if you develop this type of rash.

The Iowa State University Medical Entomology laboratory conducts tick surveillance across the state and encourages Iowans to send in tick samples for identification. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/1F5Zloa or call 515-294-0581. To learn more about Lyme disease, visit http://bit.ly/1FPGoEN.