Can foliar diseases in forage grasses cause economic losses for livestock producers?

CN-MR-5-Can foliar disease 1by Daniel Hudson, UVM Extension Agronomist
Most garden enthusiasts are familiar with fungal diseases in fruit and vegetable crops. These diseases can induce a range of experiences from mild gardener irritation to complete crop loss. Late blight in tomatoes, powdery mildew in squash, leaf spot, phytophthora and pythium, just to name a few. The most frustrating diseases are those that spoil the quality of the product just before it is ready to harvest! The insidious fact about most plant pathogens is that their spores are everywhere. Given the right conditions, they can devastate a crop. While some species and varieties of plants have varying degrees of resistance to certain pathogens, no plant is entirely immune.
Fungal infection of fruit and vegetables can render a crop completely unmarketable, a fact that looms large in the minds of producers. In field crops and forages, however, fungal pathogens often do not prevent harvest or marketing, but often compromise yield and quality in ways that are not immediately evident. Until recently I had the impression that foliar disease on forages was not a ranking concern among livestock farmers or hay producers. This is why I was exceedingly surprised when I recently heard a farmer state that mid-summer grass diseases (foliar) are the most significant agronomic problem on his farm! [Read more…]

Sterling College hosts Governor’s Institute on Farms, Food and Your Future

CN-MR-2-Sterling College hosts 1by Bethany M. Dunbar
CRAFTSBURY COMMON, VT — Toby Marx-Dunn, a high school student from Jericho, was listening to National Public Radio one day, and it got him thinking about the food he eats. He decided he wanted to know more and get better, healthier food. This impulse led him to sign up for a brand new summer Governor’s Institute of Vermont — one called, Farms, Food and Your Future.
The impulse led him to a spot standing behind the back ends of a pair of large, patient work horses in a farm field at Sterling College in Craftsbury Common on July 31.
Marx-Dunn seems to be not alone in his impulse, judging by admissions numbers at Sterling. Last year the college — which teaches sustainable agriculture and food-related topics — had about 90 students. This fall the doors will open to a full class of 110. Tim Patterson, director of admission and financial aid, said the dorms are full. [Read more…]

What young farmers are taking on

CM-MR-3-What young farmers 1by Steve Wagner
Recently Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and First Lady Susan Corbett hosted a breakfast for officers and advisors of the FFA and 4-H at the Governor’s Mansion. Though overcast outside, a homey yet sumptuous meal was served indoors at a long table on highly polished hardwood floors and lit in chandeliered splendor. After breakfast, Governor Corbett spoke to Country Folks. The question was: with all the serious concerns that farmers are facing today — drought, floods, tornadoes, overly ambitious federal regulation, tax burdens, nutrient management issues, and so on — what is it that makes these young people want to lead with their chins when deciding to pursue farming? Corbett answered by saying that it is in 4-H’ers and FFA members to “have a profession, have an ability to take care of themselves, and have a challenge of growing something, whether it’s an animal or livestock or flowers, trees, vegetables, whatever. But I think it’s also an independence issue. In many cases these young people come from families that do this, so it is continuing a culture that is the number one industry in Pennsylvania. People forget that. Small businesses are the majority of businesses. [Read more…]

Producers learn to make the most of tall fescue

CM-MR-3-Producers learn 1by Jennifer Showalter
Even though fescue has earned such a bad name throughout the Shenandoah Valley over the years, producers are accepting that it is here to stay and are trying to learn how to best manage it in a way that minimizes the negative side effects of endophyte infection. Recently a group of around 50 gathered at the Augusta County Government Center to learn the results of a recent study conducted by the Virginia Extension Service on the entophyte found in fescue seed heads in the valley and to learn how to make the most of fescue.
Matt Booher with the Virginia Cooperative Extension shared that of the 25 farms he tested in Rockbridge, Augusta, and Rockingham Counties for entophyte infection levels, 65 percent of the pastures were 100 percent infected and 30 percent of the pastures were 80 to 90 percent infected. With livestock experiencing moderate to severe effects from entophyte infection at a 40 percent level, Booher concluded that the valley has some ‘hot’ pastures. [Read more…]

Trowbridge Farms

CEW-MR-3-Trowbridge Angus4by Katie Navarra
When the 2013 National Angus Conference and Tour descends on Albany, NY, this Aug. 28-30, it will be a proud moment for Phil Trowbridge of Ghent, NY.
As the current President and Chairman of the Board for the American Angus Association and owner of the Trowbridge Angus Farms in Ghent, NY, he has the opportunity to showcase the proud tradition of agriculture in New York State.
“A lot of people don’t realize there is so much agriculture in New York,” he said. During the three-day National Conference, participants will learn about topics facing the Angus industry including understanding the importance of transparency, marketing genetics, business issues and preparing for the future. The three-day event also includes tours of local farms.
Following a day of seminars and workshops, Phil has the honor of hosting Convention attendees for dinner and a special sale organized as part of the National Tour at his farm in Ghent. “There will be 100 cows sold in 70 lots,” he said. Sellers and buyers will come from across New York, Pennsylvania and the entire Northeast. [Read more…]