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Farmers encouraged to consider resources in times of financial distress

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Dec. 17, 2018)—For many Minnesota farmers, 2018 was a tough year financially. Free, confidential help is available for those who are struggling.

For farmers like Liz and Bob Krocak of Montgomery, programs such as the farm financial counseling service offered through University of Minnesota Extension have been much-needed. The Krocaks decided to share their story publicly to encourage other farmers to ask for help. “We felt pretty alone out there, without an advocate, without anyone on our side,” Liz Krocak said. “This is our livelihood, our legacy. We’ve worked our whole lives and find ourselves in a position we never expected.”

After four-plus years of low milk prices, the Krocaks—who farm with their son and daughter-in-law—had to sell their 150-head dairy herd in May. Their efforts are focused on keeping the farm that has been in their family for 130 years. They are in their first year as a certified organic farm, growing organic corn, alfalfa, oats and cover cr…
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Six savory facts about Minnesota turkeys

ST. PAUL, Minn. (11/14/2018) —This year, you might want to create an entirely local Thanksgiving feast, starting with the turkey, of course. Minnesota leads the nation in turkey production.
University of Minnesota Extension has been collaborating with the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) since 1939 on research and educational programs in bird nutrition, bird health, management, genetics and breeding. Minnesota youth learn poultry science through Extension 4-H projects.
It’s still a family affair on the farm
While hatcheries and processing companies provide many jobs, growing the turkeys happens on family farms. Four hundred and fifty family farmers raise 42.5 million turkeys each year. Get to know some turkey farmers by watching videos produced by Minnesota Turkey.

You can raise turkeys in cold weatherOne of the major changes in Minnesota’s turkey production was the transition from a seasonal to a year-round operation. In the early-to-mid 1980s Extension researchers, turkey fa…

Farmland rental meetings take place through early 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. (11/2/2018)—A series of 40 meetings on fair farm rental agreements begins in early November and continues into 2019.

The program is free and designed to help meet the needs of farmers, landlords, agri-business professionals and others.

“Farmland rental rates have been heading lower the last couple of years due to lower commodity prices,” says David Bau, Extension educator in ag business management. “Following earlier records, the prices for corn and soybeans in recent years are significantly lower. Determining a fair, profitable farm rental agreement is a challenge in today’s economy.”

Extension educators will examine several ways to negotiate fair rental agreements that satisfy the landowner and farmer. Examples and factsheets will be provided, along with worksheets that look at 2019 input costs and crop prices to determine affordable rent, rate of return to the landlord and flexible rental agreements.

More details are with workshop schedule are available at: https:…

University of Minnesota salutes 2018 Farm Families of the Year

ST. PAUL, Minn. (7/17/2018) — Eighty families from throughout Minnesota are being honored as 2018 Farm Family of the Year by the University of Minnesota.

The farm families will be recognized in ceremonies beginning at 1:15 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 9, at the annual Minnesota Farmfest on the Gilfillan Estate near Redwood Falls. The event is in the Wick Buildings Farmfest Center on the estate grounds.

The families were chosen by local University of Minnesota Extension committees based on their demonstrated commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture.

“The University of Minnesota takes pride in honoring these families. The farm families receiving this year's honors exemplify what makes Minnesota agriculture strong,” Extension Dean Bev Durgan said. “They bring innovation, science and hard work to farming. They care greatly about the land and animals and delivering quality products to consumers worldwide.”

A sampling of farmers and their contributions to agriculture follows. All th…

Dealing with impact of flooded fields and saturated conditions

ST. PAUL, Minn. (7/10/2018)--Flooding, ponding, and saturated soils continue to impact crops across southwestern and south central Minnesota. Intense rains, ranging from 6 to 8 inches or more in several counties in southwestern Minnesota on July 3, exacerbated the wet conditions.

Potential damage to crops depends on several factors, including:
crop stage during the flooding/ponding duration of the flooding/ponding air/soil temperatures, and rate of drying and soil type  Crop development stage is quite variable this season due to a wide range of planting dates. Partially submerged plants have a better chance of survival than completely submerged ones, although root development and nutrient uptake will still be impacted.
Corn impacts Corn at the V5 stage (five leaf collars) can generally survive two to four days of flooding, although plants may not survive more than 24 hours when temperatures are above 77°F. Corn at the V7 to V10 stage can generally tolerate standing water for seven …

Beltrami County 4-H’ers take top Science of Ag

ST. PAUL, Minn. (7/2/2018) — A team of Beltrami County took home top honors in the fourth annual Minnesota 4-H Science of Agriculture competition.

The team of Theresa Gustafson, Lily Krona and Haley Mouser earned first place for their research into promoting understanding genetically modified organisms through youth education. The group was coached by Michelle Mouser. Each member received a $1,000 college scholarship.

Science of Agriculture is a hands-on learning experience to inspire Minnesota youth. Teams of three to five participants in grades 6-12 work with volunteer coaches and mentors to identify agriculture-related issues in their communities and develop and share solutions.

Second place went to 4-H’ers from Le Sueur County with a project on improving nitrate testing and mitigation in local waters. Team members were Adam Pankow, Anna Prchal and Julianne Pankow; the youth were coached by Jodi Prchal. Third place went Mower County 4-H’ers for their project, focusing on buildin…

Are you 'bee-friendly'? U of MN Extension survey shows Minnesotans improving yards and gardens

ST. PAUL, Minn. (6/20/2018) –Is your garden pollinator-friendly? What about your neighbors?

“The good news is people are trying,” said Julie Weisenhorn, Extension horticulture educator. “People are being more careful when it comes to pesticides and the plants they chose to grow.”

To help gardeners, University of Minnesota Extension launched a pollinator landscape survey in 2017, the first university-based online tool of its kind. So far, more than 950 people have taken the five-minute survey.

The first year of the survey showed more gardeners stop and think before using pesticides. Nearly half never use them and more than a third reported they might use chemicals if they thought a plant was going to die from disease or insect damage.

“It shows that people are stopping and thinking about it before they’re reaching for the spray bottle,” Weisenhorn said. “In the past, people would say, ‘something is chewing on my leaves, I need to spray.’ Hopefully, they are first identifying what’s…