Monthly Archives: November 2011

Protecting Shrubs/Trees from Rabbits

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!  As I looked into my backyard this weekend, I realized I needed to protect the new shrubs I planted from rabbit damage this winter.  Kelly Feehan, Extension Educator in Platte County shares some good information on how to do this.  She says trees are at particular risk when they are young and the bark is thin. Feeding by rabbits on tree trunks can girdle and kill a tree; or stress a tree and increase susceptibility to insect borers, disease and decay.  Ideally, place at least a two foot tall cylinder of one inch mesh poultry netting (chicken wire) or hardware cloth around tree trunks. A cylinder of black plastic drain tile, cut to length and slit down one side also works well.

Most multi-stemmed shrubs will survive having the majority of their stems removed. However, desirable bud, flower and/or fruit development may be harmed. While rabbits will nibble the tips of shrub stems growing through poultry netting or above snow, a two foot high cylinder still provides helpful protection. 

Taste and odor repellants are another method used on landscape trees and shrubs. They can be effective if rabbit populations are not too high and when rabbits have another source of food to turn to.  The effectiveness of any repellent will be reduced by time, wind and moisture. Repellants need to be reapplied according to label directions.

Taste repellents make plants less tasty for rabbits and are typically applied directly to plants. Examples are those containing capsaicin or hot pepper extract such as Get Away™ or Scoot™. Their effectiveness tends to be short-lived and requires reapplication.  Odor repellents keep rabbits away from an area by fear or foul smell. They are typically applied to soil in the perimeter area and/or on plant foliage to repel rabbits. Check the label for proper application rate, method and site before applying any repellent. Most cannot be used on plants used for human consumption.  A wide variety of active ingredients are used for odor repellants, including: ammonium or potassium salts of soaps (M-pede™; RoPel™), eggs (DeFence®), zinc dimethyldithiocarbamate (Earl May® Rabbit Scat), predator urine (Shake-Away™), or garlic (Sweeny’s® Deer & Rabbit Repellent ).  Naphthalene is another ingredient in commercial repellents (Dr. T’s™, Enoz Skat™) but the alternative chemical, paradichlorobenzene (found in many moth balls) is illegal for use outdoors. Some concern also exists over the safety of napthalene products. There are no toxicants (poisons) registered for rabbits in Nebraska. 

It is not recommended to provide an alternate source of food for rabbits to try and reduce damage to desirable plants. Providing other food, such as clover or alfalfa, may simply attract more rabbits and lead to increased damage.  Rabbit numbers may be reduced by removing brush piles and tall weeds, particularly those located near new windbreaks. Mow to remove vegetation within three to four feet of recently planted trees and shrubs.  Although rabbits eat most plants, especially when food is in short supply; a partial list of plants most often eaten by rabbits can be found in the Managing Rabbit Damage Nebguide available at local Extension offices or at http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/sendIt/g2019.pdf.

If a plant is killed by rabbit feeding, consider replacing it with a plant on this list. Keep this in mind though; rabbits do not read our lists!

Thanksgiving Reflections

Thanksgiving is upon us and every day I’m reminded I have so much for which to be thankful!  It seems like there’s such a rush to go from Halloween to Christmas and it’s sad to me that Thanksgiving seems to be lost in the shuffle.  Today as I gather with my family, I’m thankful for so many things God has blessed me with:  salvation, my wonderful family, my faithful husband and all our men and women serving overseas, my home/career/dogs, wonderful food and our farmers who grow it, so many things!  May you have a blessed Thanksgiving reflecting on the blessings in your life as well!

Sunday night was our 4-H Achievement program.  Watching the youth receive their awards, I was thankful for the parents, grandparents, leaders, and volunteers who helped those youth achieve success in their projects.  I’m thankful to work in a county with such wonderful people!  Every organization or board our office works with understands that the 4-H program and fair are about the youth-developing life skills and successful young people for the future.  I’m so thankful for these relationships and the fun we all have at 4-H activities and the fair!  I’m also thankful for all the sponsors of our 4-H program and the youth and parents appreciate you as well!  It was a great night with a great turnout and a nice conclusion to the 2011 4-H year. 

Speaking of being thankful, IANR released a special feature entitled “Feeding the Future”.  It shares a Thanksgiving message from Dr. Ronnie Green and how IANR’s research, teaching, and extension efforts are helping to ensure success in feeding the future throughout Nebraska and around the globe.  Check it out here:   http://www.unl.edu/ucomm/ucomm/special/20111115/

Upcoming Farming Workshops

Let the season of Workshops begin!  Hope you are able to attend!

***Nov 30-Farmers and Ranchers College with Dr. David Kohl:  “Global Economic Impacts on the Farm and Ranch” will be the topic of Dr. Kohl’s presentation on November 30th from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at the Bruning Opera House in Bruning, NE.  There is no fee.  

***Nov. 30-Specialty Crops Grants Available:  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided a grant to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) to administer a project that is designed to provide small, competitive grants, in amounts of up to $4,600, to a limited number of Nebraska specialty crop growers for the sole purpose of extending the growing season for specialty crops.  Growers who want to be considered as a potential project applicant for the 2012 year can find more info. and complete the application by Nov. 30th at: http://www.agr.ne.gov/promotion/2011_specialty_crop_block_grant_program.pdf 
Farmers wishing to apply and needing assistance with the application process and writing their proposal are welcome to contact NSAS through healthyfarms@gmail.com or the Nebraska Cooperative Development Center with Elaine Cranford at, ecranford2@unlnotes.unl.edu

***Dec. 2-Symposium to Feature Fruit and Vegetable Production, Marketing Strategies:  Fruit and vegetable growers are invited to attend the Tri-State Fruit and Vegetable Growers Symposium Dec. 2 from noon to 5:15 p.m. at Stoney Creek Inn, 300 Third Street, in Sioux City, Iowa. Featured speakers include South Dakota State University Professor of Forestry John Ball with an overview of specialty crops and Tim Vala of Vala’s Pumpkin Patch near Omaha providing marketing tips. Growers can choose from a variety of fruit/vegetable production and marketing sessions led by university extension horticulture specialists and experienced local growers. Topics include fruit trees, aronia berries, grapes, ethnic vegetable varieties, organic insect and pest control, and community supported agriculture strategies. The symposium is planned in partnership with University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and South Dakota State University Extension. Cost is $25 for the first person and $15 for the second person participating from the same farm or business until Nov. 23. Cost at the door is $30. For more information or to register call ISU Extension in Woodbury County at 712-276-2157 or visit http://www.flavorsofnorthwestiowa.org.

***Dec. 3-Explore Farming Class Planned:  Do you have dreams of self-sufficiency and living off the land? Are you a budding entrepreneur?  If so, you may wish to attend the free Explore Farming Class at UNL Extension in Lancaster County on December 3, 2011 from 10 – noon. This two-hour seminar will help you think through the resources, skills, and time you will need to launch a successful farm business. Local farmers and participants in the Community CROPS Growing Farmers Training Program will be on hand to answer questions. Information about various training opportunities in the 2012 season will also be available. The class is free, but you must register to attend. To register, simply send your name and phone number to warren@communitycrops.org. For more information, check out this website: http://www.communitycrops.org/

***Dec. 5-Summit on the Proposed Revised 2011 P-Index:  A Dec. 5 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Animal Manure Management team workshop will help those who work closely with livestock operations and their nutrient management plans. The “P-Index Summit” will be at the Nielsen Community Center, 200 Anna Stalp Ave. in West Point, Neb. The program will be from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Central Time. Topics include: the science and history of the P-Index, discussion on proposed revisions, case studies illustrating the differences between the 2007 and 2011 versions and discussion of livestock environmental issues of interest. CCA continuing education units will be available.
     For more information and to register, contact Leslie Johnson at 402-584-3818, email ljohnson13@unl.edu. Registration is $20 per participant if sent with your registration or $25 at the door. The use of a computer with Microsoft Excel is necessary; please bring your laptop as there will only be a few extra computers. To save time the day of the event, old and new versions can be downloaded at http://go.unl.edu/847 These workshops are sponsored by the UNL Extension AMM team which is dedicated to helping livestock and crop producers better use the state’s manure resources for agronomic and environmental benefits. For additional information and other resources for managing manure nutrients, visit http://manure.unl.edu.

***Dec. 6-Landlord/Tenant lease workshop:  I can’t stress enough for you to consider attending this workshop and it is recommended that the landlord and tenant attend together!  Cash Rental rates for farmland has nearly doubled in the past 6 years.  Volatility in the grain markets is wilder than ever.  These and other land lease issues will be discussed Tuesday, Dec. 6th at the Adams Co. Fairgrounds in Hastings.  The program begins with registration at 5:00 p.m. and concludes at 9:00 p.m.  The main purpose of these workshops is to help with establishing and maintaining positive farm leasing relationships.  A meal and handouts will be provided. The workshop is free to participants because it is sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Board.  Participation is limited, thus you will need to pre-register to reserve your spot.  To pre-register, please contact the UNL Extension Office in Adams County at 402-461-7209. 

***Dec. 9-10-Returning to the farm:  If you are considering a family member returning to the farm in the future, please consider attending this returning to the farm program!  It will be held Dec. 9-10 and Jan. 6-7  the Holiday Inn Downtown in Lincoln and it is required that you attend both weekends and that all members of the farm management team attend.  Bringing a young person into a farm/ranch operation presents challenges. However, the business operation can accomplish numerous goals by helping the young person get a solid start in the operation, keeping the farm/ranch in the family, and ensuring a comfortable retirement for all involved.  Blending a variety of talents and personalities into one farming or ranching operation takes planning, communication, and management.  The Returning to the Farm program is designed to assist families and operations in developing a financial plan and successful working arrangements that will meet the needs of multiple families. For more information call 800-472-1742 or check out:  http://agecon.unl.edu/rtf.

Fall Conference and Feeding the World

Last week was our UNL Extension Fall Conference and Nebraska Cooperative Extension Conferences.  The energy and excitement involved with getting the entire Extension faculty together and seeing each other again never ceases to amaze me! Regardless of the technological advances in how we conduct programming and business, there’s still something to be said about meeting face to face.  We discussed programming at the national, state, and local levels and are currently working on dates and topics for winter programs.  A unique professional development opportunity was taught via jeopardy and pictures to help agricultural Extension faculty understand precision agricultural technologies and UNL research related to it.  We also received updates on herbicide resistant weeds, atrazine, stinkbugs, and evapotranspiration research.

The conference was completed by watching the video stream from the 2nd Heuermann lecture.  Dr. Stephen Baenziger, UNL Small Grains Breeder, spoke to the topic of “Why Agriculture?”  At the early age of 18, he couldn’t accept the fact that as human population growth increased, that there would not be enough food to feed the world.  He has been about agricultural team research and feeding people and has made an enormous impact on farmers and consumers in Nebraska, the U.S., and the world.  A few of the quotes I jotted down from his seminar were:  “Agriculture is team research and failure cannot be an option unless you are willing to accept starvation”; Regarding increasing wealth “the future 9 billion people will consume the equivalent of what 12 billion people eat today”; “Success or failure of science as a whole depends on success or failure of agriculture”; and “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”.  I would recommend checking out the video archive at:  http://heuermannlectures.unl.edu/oct-11#tab1

Stephen has also provided a key role in helping our soldiers serving on agribusiness development teams to Afghanistan.  He along with a team of over 25 UNL Extension faculty are helping our soldiers answer questions about growing sustainable wheat to feed Afghan families in addition to numerous other questions.  This effort is one of the most exciting and rewarding projects I have the privilege of working with in Extension!  The current ADT2 team has planted wheat demonstration plots, vineyards, educated about poultry and bee keeping and is working with the Universities and high schools on agricultural programs.  It’s been fascinating to hear about their experiences.  The people live in mud huts but have cell phones.  There’s no mail system or roads, so trying to teach programs or help the Extension faculty there conduct programs is challenging.  One Afghan Extension educator took a taxi cab to a rural village and walked from village to village for two weeks in order to solve an agricultural problem.  The challenges are great, but our soldiers are making a huge impact on improving the lives of the Afghan people by teaching them how to better feed themselves and their families.  

Veteran’s Day

This week marked 5 months down of deployment for Nebraska Agribusiness Development Team2 (ADT2) to Afghanistan.   With today being Veteran’s Day, I’m thankful for the brave men and women who have served and currently are serving our Country! All have sacrificed and some gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we may enjoy the many freedoms the U.S.A. has to offer.  So often these freedoms are taken for granted; I know I take so many things for granted.  We have the opportunity to worship as we choose and the freedom to write or say what we want.  Because of our brave men and women fighting overseas, we don’t have to worry about war-torn towns and cities and destruction here at home.  We have so many simple pleasures of life here-so much we take for granted! When talking to this team, they mentioned the people live in mud huts but are overall happy with what they have in life in spite of living in a war zone.  How many of us would be happy in those circumstances?  

I’ve seen something going around on Facebook called “Thirty Days of Thanks”.  It says, “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?”  That’s a sobering thought and a good reminder of how often I should count my blessings and be thankful!  I hadn’t started the 30 Days of Thanks but will start today.  Day 1:  Thank you to all of our soldiers serving our country!  I especially thank my husband and all the ADT2 soldiers, my father-in-law, brother-in-law, grandpa, uncle, cousins, and many friends who have and are currently serving our country!  Thank you for your sacrifices that I might live in a free country-still the greatest country in the world!  God bless all of our soldiers and their families and God bless the U.S.A.! 

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