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July 2012 Archives

If you notice your lake or pond is covered with mats of green or looks like "pea soup" this July or August, it may be from an algae "bloom."

Drought-stressed crops are more susceptible to pest damage, and two-spotted spider mites are making the most of this year's hot, dry weather.

University of Minnesota Extension researched spider mite control during the last major outbreaks in 1988, 2007 and 2009; the recommendations below are based on that research.

Drought conditions continue to intensify in areas across the state. According to the July 24, 2012, U.S. Drought Monitor report, the southwest corner of Minnesota is now rated in the "Severe" drought category. The western half and southern counties of the state are rated "Abnormally Dry" or in "Moderate" to "Severe" drought.

In areas hardest hit by the drought, growers are assessing grain yield potential and considering if and when they should harvest drought-stressed corn for forage.

As communities recover from the recent flooding in northeastern Minnesota, people have many questions. Recovery is a long-term process. University of Minnesota Extension has educational resources available for those with flood-related questions. Citizens can access the most up-to-date information on flood recovery by visiting Extension's website at

Late summer is a time when the garden is well established and producing. "Some people like working in their garden so much that they have a hard time just enjoying the bounty," said Jeff Gillman, a University of Minnesota Extension Horticulturist.

The political talk this summer is all about jobs and job creators. Much of this discussion often seems to focus on urban jobs in manufacturing plants. That focus overlooks the important role agriculture plays in creating jobs in both rural communities and big cities.

Minnesota's farm families created jobs throughout the Great Recession. The strength of agriculture is a big reason why our state unemployment rate remains lower than the national average.

Seventy-six families from around the state, one from each participating county, have been named a "2012 Farm Family of the Year" by the University of Minnesota.

The summer months can bring about heat stress in livestock. Pigs are especially challenged because they do not have functional sweat glands to assist them in efficiently reducing body heat.

Although most pigs today are raised in modern facilities that provide some climate control, we are still limited in most facilities with our ability to cool pigs during extreme heat.

Rural Minnesota continued to attract new residents aged 30 to 49 between 2000 and 2010, according to a new study of U.S. Census data from University of Minnesota Extension.

Tassels became visible in early-planted corn fields around Minnesota at the beginning of last week, coinciding with a week of unusually hot and continually dry weather. While some isolated areas in Minnesota received a little rain late last week, most did not.

With the occurrence of three botulism foodborne illness outbreaks in the past two years associated with improperly home-canned green beans, ensuring canning recipes are up to date is essential to ensuring food safety. According to University of Minnesota Extension food safety educator Suzanne Driessen, one key mistake many home food preservers make is that they want to continue to use canning recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.

There are several treatments a homeowner may use to correct the minor damages that storms inflict. Before any of these techniques are attempted, consider hiring an arborist. "Except for the cases of pruning small branches, and straightening slightly leaning, small trees, consult an arborist," said Gary Johnson, a forester with University of Minnesota Extension.

With no electricity in thousands of homes after recent storms, keeping food safe is a challenge for many families. Debbie Botzek-Linn, University of Minnesota Extension food safety educator, has some tips to help you meet the challenge.

With major pork buyers like McDonald's, Hormel and Safeway announcing plans to move toward gestation stall-free suppliers, Minnesota hog farmers may be exploring group housing options.

Research through University of Minnesota Extension and the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris, Minn. has uncovered the factors most likely to lead to success in group housing systems.

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