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col Evaluate the risk of winter alfalfa injury

Decisions involving alfalfa care and harvest in the fall involves considering the risk potential for winter injury and the need for additional forages, says Dan Martens, Benton County Extension technical advisor.

Winter injury risk depends on some factors that can't be controlled, such as snow cover, temperature and soil moisture.

Winter injury is also impacted by some factors where choices can be made, such as variety, soil fertility, seasonal cutting strategy, age of stand and cutting height.

If weather and field conditions have prevented an annual fertilizer application, top-dressing with part of the annual fertilizer need in early September can increase winter hardiness by helping to build root reserves, Martens said.

Comments sought on CRP until Dec. 8

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The Federal Register is now open for public comments on the Conservation Reserve Program and will be until Dec. 8.

Among other things, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking comment on how to manage the large acreage set to expire from CRP; how to manage future CRP sign-ups and acreage; how to evaluate the program's environmental effectiveness; how to better use information technology to evaluate enrollment; and how to improve CRP.

Comments can be sent to http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crpcomments. Comments can also be submitted in writing to Director, Conservation and Environmental Programs Division, Farm Service Agency, Room 4714-S, Stop 0513, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC 20250-0513.

Soybean aphid levels lowest since 2000

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture's plant survey finds soybean aphids is at the lowest levels since 2000 though the number of the pests have increased in recent weeks.

Last year's severe aphid infestation forced soybean growers to spend an estimated $30 million fighting the pests.

The lower infestation level should help farmers save both time and money.

Minnesota is divided into seven reporting districts with about 7,000 fields surveyed in 75 counties.

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Southeastern Minnesota appears to have the greatest concentration of plants infested, with 25 percent to 50 percent of plants showing signs of soybean aphids.

Be alert for signs of anhydrous thefts

Don't leave anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks sitting around in fields or on your farmstead to prevent illegal drug manufacturers from stealing it, says John Shutske, University of Minnesota farm safety specialist.

Meth lab operators need very little ammonia to make the drug. Ammonia is often transferred from a nurse tank into a portable LP gas container such as those used for gas grills.

Be alert for signs of tampering. Important indicators include strange footprints or partially opened tank valves, Shutske said.

Landowners also might find items left behind after the theft such as buckets, coolers, duct tape, hoses clamps and bicycle inner tubes.

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