I’m a member of the North American Agricultural Journalists, and one of the group’s directors recently emailed me and other members a link to a music video featuring some young farmers.
The music isn’t really to my taste, but the video is clever and well executed. My compliments to the people responsible.
Here’s the link:
People who aren’t involved in agriculture don’t always understand the importance of the timing of rain during the growing season.
An inch of rain at a critical time in a crop’s development can do more good than an inch, or even two inches, a few days later. A timely rain or two can make the difference between a good crop and an average one, or an OK crop and a bust.
In working on several Agweek stories this week, I’ve talked with farmers and ag officials from across the Upper Midwest. They all say the same thing: many farmers and ranchers in their state or area received timely shots of precipitation over the past few weeks, while other producers need rain quickly and badly.
Farmers and ranchers need many skills to survive in modern agriculture. Perhaps the most important is the ability to manage risk successfully. But even the best risk-managers are more successful when they receive a few timely rains.
If you enjoy unusual, distinctive names, it’s hard to beat “false chinch bug” and “Goss’s wilt.” But both can do a lot of damage to area crops, and both are showing up in South Dakota, according to the most recent issue of the South Dakota State University crop and pest newsletter.
False chinch bugs — so named to distinguish them from a related group of insects known as true chinch bugs — particularly like plants in the mustard family, which includes canola and radishes. The small, grayish insects feed by sucking sap from plants. The bugs are seldom a problem, but need be monitored this summer, at least in parts of South Dakota.
Goss’s wilt is a dangerous crop disease that damages plant leaves. It’s most often associated with fields in which corn is grown year after year.
Le’s hope neither the insect nor the crop disease becomes a major problem in the region this growing season.
Drought is a growing concern in the Corn Belt and remains a serious problem elsewhere, including Texas, Russia, Mexico and Australia.
Though the Upper Midwest is no stranger to drought, most of the area is doing pretty well on moisture this summer, at least so far.
When weather-related problems in some parts of the world cut into production and push up prices, farmers in areas that enjoy a good harvest make more money.
A basic reality of agriculture is that the other guy’s pain is often my gain. It’s not something to be proud of or ashamed of. It’s just the way it is.
The way things are shaping up so far, farmers in the Upper Midwest could be the ones with the gain. A lot of years they’ve been the ones with the pain.
If you’re a student of history, you’ve probably heard of late blight. The highly contagious fungus, which caused the disastrous Irish potato famine in the 1840s, can hurt both yields and quality in spuds.
The crop disease has struck potatoes in western Minnesota and eastern North Dakota in each of the past three summers.
Fortunately, late blight hasn’t been reported in the region this summer and the danger of the disease popping up is only moderate, according to the North Dakota State University Blightline, which tracks the conditions that cause the disease to appear.
Still, area potato farmers should continue to check their crops closely and be ready to spray protectant fungicide, according to the Blightline.
Back when I was a farm kid, I spent several days one summer spreading chemical by hand throughout a big, deep coulee in which leafy spurge had become a major problem. The chemical helped, but only temporarily: the spurge soon returned in force.
Years later, after I’d left home, flea beetles were released in that coulee. The insects, which attacked leafy spurge’s tenacious root system, did more long-term damage to spurge than the chemicals.
Leafy spurge is an old, familiar enemy in the Upper Midwest. It can take over large areas of land and choke out all other vegetation, especially in hilly pastures where chemicals are hard to apply. Flea beetles, introduced from Europe, have been a big help in controlling leafy spurge.
But area residents planning to make use of the bugs this summer will need to do so sooner than usual. Read the story in the June 11 issue of Agweek.
The U.S. Senate is considering the new farm bill, and a group of celebrity chefs is calling on Congress to cut subsidies to farmers and use the money instead for conservation and healthy food programs.
The Environmental Working Group, a critic of U.S. ag policy, coordinated the letter that the chefs wrote to Congress in which the policy change was requested.
People who agree with the chefs will say they’re concerned citizens responsibly expressing their professional judgment. People who disagree with the chefs will say they’re elitist publicity seekers with limited knowledge of the issues.
I’m not smart or wise enough to ascertain why the chefs got involved. You’ll have to do that on your own.