COL Weevil, leafhopper infestations reported

Scattered infestations of alfalfa weevils and potato leafhoppers have been reported in Minnesota and Wisconsin, says Lee Milligan, Extension educator in St. Croix County, Wis.

Infestations are on a field-by-field case. Hot, dry conditions may lead to an explosion of numbers.

Producers are encouraged to monitor alfalfa fields, including new seedlings. New seedings are often overlooked and suffer the most loss or the stand is lost.

Leafhoppers reduce yield and quality via stunting of plants and loss of plant vigor, which plays a big role in the overwintering of alfalfa, Milligan said.

Leafhoppers are difficult to detect without the use of a sweep net. They are lime-green, wedge-shaped, and about one-16th to one-8th inch in size. Detection and treatment needs to occur before "hopper burn'' symptoms appear.


Beneficial interest rules apply to all

Producers who intend to obtain crop loans or LDPs must maintain title, control and risk of loss in the commodity.

Beneficial interest rules apply to all commodities, including honey, wool and other crops that were added to the list of eligible loan commodities by the 2002 farm bill.

Sales contracts, including options to purchase, priced later and delivery contracts can impact beneficial interest. Once beneficial interest is lost, the commodity remains ineligible for loan or LDP, even if the producer regains control, risk or title at a later date.

Producers who have questions about beneficial interest provisions should contact their local Farm Service Agency office.

Tall fescue can lead to problems

Widely used for forage, turf, road ditches and conservation acres, tall fescue is a cool-season grass.

Some producers purposely choose tall fescue for pastures while others unknowingly plant the grass as a component in pre-packaged pasture mixes or while seeding Conservation Reserve Program acres.


Tall fescue has many traits that producers want in a pasture grass, says Steve Barnhart, Iowa State University Extension forage specialist.

"However, a fungus associated with much of Iowa's tall fescue can be a problem in livestock production programs,'' Barnhart said.

The fescue plants with the endophyte fungus contain chemical constituents called alkaloids that can lead to problems for animals that eat them.

Symptoms include rough hair coats, limited mid-day grazing and frequent standing in streams or ponds. In cold weather, poor circulation can cause lameness, lost ear tips, tails and in extreme situations, hooves.

Grain marketing plan vitally important

It is important to have a grain marketing plan, says Craig Haugaard, Minnesota Extension educator in ag business management and marketing.

Research shows that about two-thirds of the grain in any given year is sold in the bottom one-third of the market. That means for all the hard work producers do in planting and harvesting, an average marketing job will mean they sell two-thirds of their production in the bottom one-third of the market.

In a year when corn and soybean markets are narrowly traded, he said, we still witness a price swing of 50 cents for corn and $1 for soybeans.

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