Inspire the next generation . . .
Become a 4-H volunteer!cartoon image: volunteers make a world of difference

Volunteers are the heart of 4-H. See how you can impact our youth and make a difference! Check out the 4-H Volunteers page.

 

Test your grain marketing skill without fear of failure! image: Show-Me Market Showdown logo

Market values in farming don’t stay the same for very long.  Farm prices are like Missouri weather.  We don’t have to wait very long for a change.  Marketing commodities ahead of harvest usually takes a lot of concentration and carries some big financial risks, but not this summer!

In July, University of Missouri-Extension will coordinate the “Show-Me Market Showdown.”  This is a free, educational, online grain marketing game for farmers, ag professionals and other interested people.  This game is a simulation that will enable players to enhance their grain marketing knowledge and skills. The Show-Me Market Showdown will run from July 14th to September 19th. 

The game website is linked to real-time market information allowing players to execute virtual market transactions. The website monitors player market positions, executes trades, and summarizes players’ virtual marketing account balances. Although the game is competitive, the main focus of the game is to demonstrate the risks and rewards of alternative marketing strategies and to learn the mechanics of various marketing tools, like futures contracts, options on futures, and forward contracts. 

To this end, the University of Missouri Extension will offer players guidance and marketing instruction through weekly educational e-mails and a game blog. The e-mails and blog will provide a valuable means of discussion among the game coordinators and participants.

In addition to being fun and educational, participation in the Show-Me Market Showdown is extremely flexible and risk-free. Players can access the game whenever they have time and wherever they have access to the Internet. While all trades in the game utilize real market quotes, players have no risk of financial loss by participating in the game. Funding for this project is provided by the North Central Risk Management Education Center and the USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture. As a result, participation in the game is completely free.

Currently the easiest way to register on-line for the Show-Me Market Showdown is to ‘Google’ or search for the words, “Show-Me Market Showdown” in Google or Yahoo search.    Once you get to the Show-Me Market Showdown registration page, just log in.    If you have any difficulty, contact Mark Jenner, University of Missouri, Ag Business Extension Specialist in Bates County, at 660-679-4167, or by email at jennermw@missouri.edu.

You can also register from the Lafayette County Extension Website at this link: http://extension.missouri.edu/lafayette/ShowMeMarketShowdown.aspx

We are excited to offer the farming community a chance to play in our ‘Show-Me Market Showdown!’  I hope to see you in the game!

Insect scouting workshop
July 23

The class "Insect Scouting--The Good and the Bad" will be held July 23 at a field northeast of Butler on the Jim Robinson farm.  The class will start at 9:00 a.m.  To get to the field, go to the Passaic exit (north of Butler) on I-49.  Exit and go four miles east on D highway.  The field is on the north side of the road.  Feel free to bring sample for identifying.  Pat Miller, University of Missouri Extension Agronomy Specialist, will teach the class.  Rain date is July 24.  For more information, call Pat Miller at the Vernon County Extension office at 417-448-2560 

Journal your garden

The most challenging aspect of successful gardening just might be the difficulty recalling what worked and what didn't from year to year.  Many gardeners believe the keys to successful gardening are getting your plans on paper first and keeping records.  MU Extension's new publication, MP928, From Seed to Harvest and Beyond: Garden Journal and Calendar, gives you an easy way to record your garden plans, observations and ideas.

The publication also includes year-round resources to guide gardeners at all experience levels.  Written by MU Extension horticulture specialists who teach Master Gardeners, this publication brings your reliable and relevant information.

Order today at http://extension.missouri.edu/mp928

Tips for hiring tree care professionals

Over the last few weeks we have had tree care “professionals” going door-to-door offering to spray or prune a tree they say is going to die otherwise.  I use quotes around the word professionals because these people are, in fact, not professionals.  Real professional tree care services do not go door-to-door looking for business.  Would you hire a doctor or dentist that knocked on your door and offered to treat you for an ailment you didn’t know you had?  Most legitimate companies have all the work they can handle without resorting to solicitation.  However, our trees do need professional care from time to time.  Here are some tips for hiring a qualified company or individual:

  1. Get Informed – Before hiring a company, always get a name, address, telephone number, and references.  Call the telephone number to make sure that it is truly a working number.  Tree service individuals carry varying types of certification.  If they are offering services within the city limits, they have to have a city business license.  At a minimum, an individual should have a commercial pesticide applicators license or a pesticide technician’s license but just because they have these documents does not necessarily mean they have the experience or training necessary to properly care for trees.  Additionally, legitimate companies are bonded and should be willing to show you current certificates of liability and workers compensation.  Just because a company has a nicely painted truck with a legitimate-sounding name does not mean it’s a legitimate company.
  2. Estimates – Always get a written estimate prior to agreeing to terms.  An estimate should be very specific as to the species of tree, location of the tree on the property, and every detail of what the company is going to do to the tree.  An estimate that simply says “Prune Front Oak” does not contain enough detail.  Do not immediately hire the first company that gives you an estimate.  Always take the time to get additional estimates from at least two other companies.  Any legitimate company will be willing to provide a free estimate.
  3. Do Your Homework – It is advisable, but not always necessary, that a signed contract states that work is to be done according to ANSI standards.  The ANSI standards define techniques for pruning, fertilization, safety, and other categories of tree care.  At the very minimum the homeowner should make themselves aware of the ANSI standards to determine whether the company’s methods are consistent with recommended practices.  These standards can be found online at: http://tcia.org/business/ansi-a300-standards.
  4. No Topping – It is well known that topping damages trees.  If a company advises topping and is willing to do that to your tree, take it as a warning not to hire them.
  5. No Spikes – A professional would not use spurs or spikes to climb trees.  Spikes wound the tree and often carry diseases from trees previously taken down.
  6. Price – Quality tree care is not cheap.  If an estimate seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

Unfortunately, many unsuspecting owners have been recently taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals.  These individuals give hard-working, legitimate tree care companies a bad name.  Do your homework.  Don’t get in too much of a hurry to get your tree sprayed, it’s not going to die tomorrow if you don’t spray it today.  And, as always, you can call your county extension office for more information or assistance. 

Trees add value to your landscape

Trees can provide your home with shade, wind protection and visual appeal. They can reduce energy costs, provide recreation for children and habitat for wildlife.

Newly planted trees need special attention, and not all trees are suitable for all conditions. MU Extension’s horticulture experts have developed a series of publications to help you choose the right tree and get it established:

MU Extension publication G6800, Selecting Landscape Plants: Shade Trees
MU Extension publication G6805, Selecting Landscape Plants: Flowering Trees
MU Extension publication G6810, Selecting Landscape Plants: Uncommon Trees for Specimen Plantings
MU Extension publication G6815, Selecting Landscape Plants: Needled Evergreens
MU Extension publication G6820, Selecting Landscape Plants: Broad-leaved Evergreens
MU Extension publication G6850, How to Plant a Tree

Don’t guess — soil tests save time and money

Soil testing is the best guide to the wise and efficient use of fertilizer and soil amendments, said Manjula Nathan, director of the University of Missouri Extension Soil Testing and Plant Diagnostic Services.

Whether you grow acres of row crops or have a vegetable patch in the backyard, a soil test will provide you with an analysis of nutrients and a set of recommendations for any improvements.

“We frequently get questions from customers like, ‘I apply fertilizer every year. How come my plants are not doing well?’” Nathan said.

“Most of the time the problem is they never have done a soil test, but have been guessing on fertilizer requirements,” she said. “They do not realize that by guessing they are wasting money by over- or underapplication, and the excess fertilizer can end up in streams, ponds and underground water, polluting the environment.”

Soil testing can be done through the extension office. The cost is $15 per sample. Soil testing publications

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