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February 2012 Archives

Radio Transcript from Minnesota Farm Network, On the Farm radio show with Tom Rothman

This is Bev Durgan on the Farm. Spring is always a nervous time for farmers. This year there is more tension than normal. I see that tension in the faces of farmers I talk to at Extension meetings and I see the reason for that tension in fields as I drive across the state.

Thursday, March 8 is National Agriculture Day. Much has changed since University of Minnesota grad, Don Neth, started this day to honor agriculture more than 40 years ago. Back then, talk about agriculture focused on "the farm problem" and what to do with surpluses. Today the surpluses are gone, and some are suggesting this might be the Golden Age of Agriculture.

Waterhemp, a summer annual weed species in the pigweed family, has been a significant issue for corn and soybean growers in the central and western Corn Belt states for more than a decade. The latest challenge in this fight is managing for waterhemp's growing resistance to various herbicides, including glyphosate.

A drought threat posed across southern and western Minnesota is the most serious in over a decade, according to University of Minnesota Extension climatologist Mark Seeley.

Climate outlooks currently favor more rain than normal this spring across much of the state, but it might not be enough, Seeley said: "Many areas are so deficient in stored soil moisture they will need 150 to 200 percent of normal rainfall during March and April to make up the difference."

The effect of a good year for Minnesota agriculture is evident in the University of Minnesota Extension Farmer-Lender Mediation Program's annual report. The number of lenders sending notices requesting mediation of troubled Minnesota farm debts dropped by 24 percent during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2011.

This is the first time in four years the activity in the program decreased, according to Dick Senese, Extension senior associate dean.

This year's unseasonably warm winter weather and little snow cover makes woody plant control easier in home and agricultural landscapes. Removing invasive plants like buckthorn is more successful in the winter months, when the plant is dormant.

When the course wraps up in mid-February, the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener class of 2012 will be the 35th in the volunteer program's history. This year's cohort includes 178 people from 42 counties plus the Fond du Lac tribal nation.

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