Thank You Hay Day Supporters

It was a rainy evening at the Eastern Agricultural Research Station on Thursday, June 21, but Southeastern Ohio Hay Day 2018 went on without hesitation. Over 100 people from Ohio and Pennsylvania gathered at the farm to see equipment demonstrations and listen to presentations about making high quality hay.

Tractor dealers were present from L & H Tractor Sales of Caldwell, Baker & Sons Equipment of Lewisville, Lashley Tractor Sales of Quaker City, and JD Equipment of Zanesville. Each brought company representatives and demonstrated new equipment to local hay producers. Additional representatives from Anderson, Kubota, Woods, Rhino, and John Deere shared history of their companies, updates on what new investments have been made to provide better equipment for their customers, and insight on future endeavors.

New at this year’s Hay Day was a tradeshow. Noble County Farm Bureau, Brick Insurance Group, and Heritage Country Store spent time with attendees sharing how their goods and services can be helpful for their farms. Farm Credit Mid-America and Washington Electric Cooperative sponsored the refreshments offered during the program.

Extension personnel from Athens, Belmont, Guernsey, Harrison, Jefferson, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, and Washington Counties worked together to coordinate the event. The Eastern Agricultural Research Station staff were wonderful hosts, accommodating all in a welcoming environment.

Special thanks are extended to all who attended Hay Day this year and to our dealers, vendors, and volunteers! We will continue to bring you this program in years to come.

Save the date for the next Southeastern Ohio Hay Day on June 18, 2020.

Banishing Bed Bugs

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This article was originally published in The Journal on December 19, 2016.

Recently I heard through the county grapevine that there have been some local cases of bed bugs (Climex lectularius). I have not identified any infestations myself and I hope that will still be true in 2017. In any case, it is always good to be prepared to address a situation such as this. So, let’s start by debunking a prevalent myth about bed bugs:

“Only dirty people get bed bugs.”- False. This is absolutely false.

The spread of bed bugs is more related to the movement of people than it is to cleanliness. However, it may be more difficult to treat or diagnose a case of bed bugs in cluttered spaces and within displaced groups of people, rather than in a spotless environment. Bed bugs are arachnids that are exclusively mobile by crawling. They are sensitive to light and will hide in dark crevices, such as bed frames, mattress seams, and base boards, which is why people often notice bites before they notice bugs. The most obvious sign of bed bug presence is black speckles of feces on crevice surfaces. Bed bugs often use carpeted areas to approach new hosts and climb into luggage, purses, clothing and more.

After hitching a ride to a new environment, they make a new home in your home. You probably won’t notice the first day, or even the first week. That means that by the time you do notice them, they have multiplied. A female bed bug typically lays about five eggs daily throughout her lifespan, which can range from 6-12 months. Eggs hatch into the first of five nymph stages within 4-12 days. Although bed bugs require a feeding between each nymph stage, they can survive for extended periods of time without a meal.

Biting occurs at night and there is usually no pain to the host during the act of biting. Residual effects of the bite can cause mild to moderate skin irritation for 1-2 weeks. Bed bugs rarely transmit disease.  All in all, they are a severe annoyance that is very challenging to eliminate without professional intervention.

If you suspect that you have bed bugs in your home or business get a positive ID. Sticky traps near hiding areas are effective for collecting specimens. Another method that works well is to use clear tape to capture a specimen and secure it to a white or clear surface. Then examine the specimen to confirm if it is or is not a bed bug. Professionally assisted eradication is the most effective method for ridding your environment of these pests. It is very difficult to get effective control using only cultural methods or only with pesticides. It will require a combination of both and may take multiple attempts. Always check furniture for signs of bed bugs when you spend the night away from home and also check before bringing new furniture into your home.

If you fear that you have encountered bed bugs while traveling, there are steps to take to reduce the risk of spreading them to your home. Upon your return, bag and seal clothing and other belongings before you enter and immediately heat treat whatever you can in the dryer. Proceed to washing items in hot water and drying them again. Exposure to high heat will kill bed bugs. Vacuum any upholstery or carpet that you may have contacted on the way in.

Getting bed bugs is not the end of the world, but it can be embarrassing and difficult to treat. I hope that you do not encounter bed bugs, but if it happens hopefully you will know what to do after reading this article.bed_bug_lifecycle

Horseflies Are Back

Horseflies are building in population here in Southeast Ohio. There are several species of horse flies in Ohio ranging in size from 3/8″ – 1 1/8″ in length. All are aggressive and vicious biters. Horse flies have specialized vision that allows them to see heat; they literally use thermal imaging to locate their hosts. The flies are also able to track large moving objects, particularly dark colored objects, even while the flies are in fast flight. Taken together, their visual acuity allows them to effectively zero in on large, savory, warm blooded animals like cows, deer, people, and of course, horses. Unfortunately for the flies, their visual perception may also cause them to be fooled. A dark colored moving car or tractor that has been warmed by the summer sun looks to a horse fly like a dark, galloping horse, which is why they sometimes chase me when I am on the tractor!

There are a number of things you can do to keep yourself off the horse fly menu. If possible, avoid horse fly habitat. Their larvae feed on decaying organic matter in moist soil, so horse flies are frequently found in swamps or near streams and ponds. If you can’t avoid their habitat, schedule your activities to avoid the flies. Horse flies are active during the day; they can’t find their hosts at night. So, evening pool parties will be free of horse flies. If you must venture into horse fly habitat during the day, remain alert and take precautions. Most flies are silent flyers while horse flies produce a loud, buzzing sound. When you hear the buzz, locate the fly because horse flies love to land stealthily for a quick bite. However, avoid running; remember that horse flies are attracted to moving objects! Wear light clothing. Finally, while insect repellents may provide some protection, horse flies are very good at finding unprotected skin. Long sleeves, long pants, and neckerchiefs can help to thwart the flies.

July Blooms

It always feels like July 4th is the peak of summer and when those hot summer days seem to kick off.  In fact the longest day of the year is the summer solstice which falls in late June, and the days gradually get shorter from there.  Many long day flowering plants will flower or “bolt” around this time.  One that I saw most recently was lettuce.  Lettuce is a long day plant that when exposed to darkness for periods of eleven hours or less will flower or bolt.  Unfortunately lettuce was never bred for its flower and the bolting causes chemical changes in the plant and it is accompanied by a bitter taste in the leaves.  I know that read kind of funny.  Even though the plant is called a “long day plant” the transition to flowering is dictated by the shortened period of darkness that comes with the longer days.  So that’s how the long day plants work, they need eleven hours of darkness or less.  So when the days become thirteen hours or longer these plants will start flowering due to the shortened dark periods.

Weeds are also tied to the day lengths and temperatures to transition to flower. There is a reason why allergies fall at certain times of the year.  As stated earlier some long day plants are flowering now.  One of these examples is the Giant Ragweed.

 

Giant Ragweed Giant Ragweed is a summer annual that can grow up to seven feet tall or greater.  Giant ragweed is a monoecious plant, much like corn.  Giant Ragweed produces separate male and female flowers on the same plant.  It flowers in racemes that hold a cluster of small flowers.  The male flowers that produce pollen are on top while the female flowers are located at the base of the raceme.  This is a strategy that many monoecious plants take.  Corn tassels are also the male flowers which are located on top to increase the chances of pollination.

 

Common Burdock is another weed that is flowering now. Common Burdock

The Burdock flower looks a lot like the thistle flower but the plant has a very large broad leaves at the base.  The leaves can grow to be almost 2 feet long and can be over a foot wide.  When this flower is fertilized it produces a bur type fruit that will attach to clothes and hair.

Wild carrot is also flowering at this time; this plant is sometimes known as Queen Anne’s lace.

Wild Carrot

The flowers are white and set up as an umbel.  An umbel is a cluster of flowers that have a single attachment point.  It produces a round flat cluster of flowers that are known to attract butterflies.  I have heard it being referred to as a “helicopter pad” for butterflies…

One of the best ways to identify plants is to do it during flowering times. When a plant flowers will give you a lot of information as to its identity, and many plant keys will require the flower to be utilized in its identification.

16th Ag and Livestock Field Day scheduled

   Plans are finalized for the 16th Ag and Livestock Field Day in Morgan County. This year I am pleased to announce that our host farm will be Wiseman Livestock farm, home of Russ, Dee and Austin Wiseman. The field day will be on Monday, August 8, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and our headquarters will be at 2262 Newlon Rd, Malta (from Malta, take SR 37 west 7.2 miles to CR 39, Newlon Rd, and proceed two miles on CR 39 to the location, signs will be posted). We will begin with a tour of hay and crop fields, and discuss new seedings, rotations and fields being put into production. We will then view a silage bagger, a bale slicer round baler with sliced bales to view. We will then have a TMR feed mixer demonstration, and Perry Owen, nutritionist from Hubbard Feeds will provide tips for developing feed rations for our operations. Next, we will tour the feedlot/ background lot where they have up to 800 head of cattle per year. Finally, we will finish up the tour with a demonstration of an in-line bale wrapper.

   After supper, Dr. Lyda Garcia, OSU Meat Science Assistant Professor will provide a program on Quality & Adding Value to Your Cows. She will discuss quality and grading standards, adding value to your cull cows, potential feed alternatives and what does quality mean to you? She will also be very interested in answering your questions. We will also have updates from Morgan Soil and Water Conservation District, Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency. We will finish up with my annual Ag Outlook and the forecast for ag prices for the upcoming year. The program is sponsored by OSU Extension, Morgan SWCD, NRCS, and many other local businesses and organizations. The program is free and open to the public but reservations need to be made to the OSU Extension office at 740-962-4854 by August 5th.

 

Watch Out for Cucumber Beetles

Striped cucumber beetles start flying around even before many of our plants emerge. This means they are often there just as the cucumber, squash, pumpkin and melon seedlings push through the soil, eating off the stems and first leaves to emerge. Later, adults feed on leaves, vines and fruits that survive. Larvae feed on the roots of the plants, weakening them and making them susceptible to other problems.

One problem these beetles cause is a disease called bacterial wilt, a serious disease of many vine crops. The bacteria overwinters in the bodies of hibernating beetles which introduce the bacteria to the plants during feeding. Infected plants quickly wilt, the leaves dry, and the plants eventually die. Cucumber beetles also spread the squash mosaic virus.

Bacterial wilt and mosaic virus must be prevented since they cannot be controlled once the plant is infected.  Inspect plants frequently for the striped cucumber beetle (the adult is about 0.2 in. long, tan in color with three black stripes down the back). Row covers provide some protection, but must be removed during pollination. Some resistant varieties are available, and there are a few products labeled for control of the beetle.  Always read and follow pesticide label directions when used.

Snakes in the garden

It is not uncommon this time of year to encounter a slithery visitor in gardens, landscapes, and backyards. There are several species of snakes happy to live their lives in backyards, but one of the most common is the garter snake. Named for the 3 light stripes that run along the length of its black, brown, gray, or olive body, the garter snake is sometimes nicknamed the ‘garden’ snake because that is where unsuspecting gardeners often encounter them. While it can be startling to encounter a snake while weeding or planting, if their presence can be tolerated, garter snakes are doing the constant gardener a favor. They feed on worms, slugs, insects, and small mammals that may otherwise be feasting on garden plants and flowers.

Garter snakes are most active during the day and on sunny summer days are often found basking on rocks, sidewalks, decks, or patios. On hot days and when sleeping, they retreat to sheltered areas such as under foundations, rocks, logs, stumps, or porches. There are no repellents that effectively work to keep snakes away. The best approach, aside from sharing the garden with them, is to eliminate denning and sleeping sites (rock or log piles) and shoo them away from basking areas. They are rarely aggressive and habituate to humans easily. Some gardeners find relief using glue traps to capture and remove snakes from around the home.

The common watersnake, on the other hand, is not a snake that should be picked up without the expectation of a strong bite. The coloration of this snake, which prefers streams, creeks, and other bodies of water, can sometimes cause it to be mistaken for a northern copperhead, one of Ohio’s 3 venomous snakes (the other 2 are the timber rattlesnake and eastern massasauga rattlesnake rattlesnake).  The northern copperhead has a distinct triangular head that the watersnake lacks, and is not common among well-settled areas.  Because of the common watersnake’s preference for water, it is also often mistaken for a water moccasin, a venomous snake that does not occur in Ohio.

While it would be rare to encounter a venomous snake while gardening, never disturb or handle a snake without first determining the species and if it is venomous.  Other snakes found around the home are the midland and northern brown snake, eastern milksnake, and black rat snake (source, Marne Tichenell, OSU Extension Wildlife specialist).

Zika Virus in Ohio

A topic that I have been getting questions on and is a currently making headlines globally is about the Zika virus.  I will attempt to provide as much information as possible as it relates to Zika virus here in Ohio.

Here is a map of the United States with laboratory-confirmed  Zika virus infections. (Data as of May 4th, 2016, Source – CDC)

zika-by-state-report-05-04-2016

Ohio as of 5/4/16 has 12 confirmed cases of Zika virus, none of which was contracted locally, all of which were contracted via travel.

Currently, per the CDC, Zika virus disease and Zika virus congenital infection are nationally notifiable conditions.

The Ohio State University experts have done a great job of keeping us Educators in the loop and pertinent on the progress of this disease.

Volume 20, Issue 2 of PEP-Talk:

Zika Virus Special issue.

This issue of PEP-talk summarizes information about the potential Zika virus threat to Ohioans that was presented at an April 26, 2016 conference sponsored by the Ohio Department of Health.  Credit to the authors:

Mary Ann Rose, Program Director;  Chrissy Kaminski, Program Coordinator;  Adam Ziadeh, Program Assistant; Chad Kramer, Program Assistant
SUMMARY:

 The Disease and Current Status in Ohio

 
The disease is primarily spread through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The illness is mild in most people, lasting for several days to a week with most common symptoms including one or more of these: fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. As many as 80% of those infected do not realize they have the disease. However, if infected during pregnancy, the disease may cause microcephaly, a very serious birth defect, and more rarely, severe effects may occur in adults. Currently there is no treatment or vaccine for the virus. As of April 26, 2016 there were no local mosquito-transmitted cases of Zika in the continental U.S., but there had been approximately 380 travel-related cases, with 12 of those cases in Ohio. In addition to mosquito transmission, the virus can be transmitted by men to sexual partners, and by blood transfusion.
Full Printable PDF of research findings———>The Disease and Current Status in Ohio – ZIKA
Knowledge of the disease, mosquito types, and transmission are important.  Keep up on your repellants and make smart choices.  Contact me if you have any more questions about this disease.

Buttercup in Bloom

There is a plant out there in the Ranunculaceae family known as buttercup.  Buttercup can come in many forms whether it is an annual, biennial, or even perennial it can be a major detriment to livestock in pasture fields.  I was in a May stroll a few days ago when I noticed a bright yellow flower with 2-3 lobed leaflets with deep clefts.

Buttercup 3buttercup 2

I did what any good Ag Educator would do and snagged up a good sample (roots, leaves and flowers) to key out on my front porch. On a side note, the best time to key a plant is when it is in bloom so that blooming time is available to you.

I identified it as Ranunculus caricetorum also known as the marsh buttercup.  This plant does well in low woods, swamps, marshes, and poorly drained areas like around water springs.  Buttercup is a toxic plant in pastured areas if animals ingest it fresh.

Buttercup grows aggressively in patches and has a corm base. Corms are essentially compressed bulb like bases that store a lot of food reserves and thus make this plant hard to get rid of through mowing alone.  I will say that mowing and preventing the plant from going to seed will help keep it from spreading however.

Buttercup 4

The toxin that this plant produces is called protoanemonin. This toxin is oil based and found in the fresh plant stem, it causes irritation and blistering of the skin, lining of the mouth and digestive tract.  Fortunately, if buttercup is baled and dried in hay the toxin becomes inert and will not irritate the livestock.  To livestock, the plant is bitter and animals will avoid eating it.  If the plant overtakes a field however it can become a problem if livestock do not have anything else to eat, especially during the summer months of slow forage growth.

Buttercup is sensitive to most broadleaf selective herbicides used in pastures such as 2,4-D and dicamba products. It also grows in clusters so spot-treatments are a good way to get it under control.

Wait to control pond algae

Over the past couple weeks, there have been several calls on how to control pond algae. Some have put in White Amur fish which help control vegetation, but these fish do not like to eat algae. Another option is to aerate the pond which may reduce algae and some will even rake the stuff out. A very common option is to use copper based products such as copper sulfate.  When used at the appropriate rate, it is a very safe product. However, now is the time fish are spawning and the fish eggs are very sensitive to copper and applying copper sulfate now will kill the fish eggs. If you wait until June, the spawning season should be over, and applying copper based products at recommended rates will not hurt the young fish.