From Across the Field: 3-18-2020

Editor’s Note: I am posting this week’s column as it contains important information regarding our office in response to COVID-19.

Staying Flexible

The past several weeks has presented us with the real and difficult challenges related to the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19). The Ohio State University has been proactively implementing protocols to ensure the safety and health of our students and clientele; that is our number one priority. After consultation with the college and university leadership, OSU Extension is cancelling, or going virtual with our educational events and meetings through at least April 20 and possibly beyond. Furthermore, our office at the direction of OSU Extension administration will be closed beginning 3-19-2020, until further notice. We understand this may cause an inconvenience to many, but please know that health of individuals and the health of our community at-large is our highest priority. We will share updates as more information becomes available.  Thanks for your patience as we learn more about how this virus is affecting Ohioans.

That said, the following programs have been cancelled: Beef Cattle Feeding Series scheduled for March 19 and April 2, Current Issues Series scheduled for April 6, and the Youth Swine School scheduled for March 24 is currently postponed. Also all ODA trainings and testing in the surrounding area are postponed until farther notice.

The silver lining here is that we are flexible, not only as an Extension service but and a country. Experts, people a whole lot smarter than me are working to best manage this situation and while it is going to be in for some challenging times, we will come through this stronger than ever. As of today, weather permitting I am hopeful for a safe and successful planting season. We continue to make plans for on-farm research and remain connected to clientele and colleagues via technology. For additional agriculture related content and programming updates visit

I think we are in a safer place with the way we are spaced out compared to big cities I have been in where there are people everywhere and as far as you can see, and you are in constant contact with them. In addition to isolation, disinfectants are an effective tool to avoid and minimize exposure to the COVID-19 virus. On Monday, the EPA released an updated list of 275 EPA-registered disinfectant products. They can be found at: . For most of us, we are in uncharted territory but using common sense and thinking about others, issues will be minimized.

Finally, on a non-viral note, this is a great time when you are outdoors to check your trees and shrubs for girdling roots before the grass starts to grow or the mulch is applied. So what is a girding root? They are roots that cross over the flare at the base of a tree or shrub. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are small and some are big and numerous. However, all can do harm to the tree. The remedy is to find them when they are small and cut or saw them away from the trunk of the tree. What can cause girdling roots? Sometimes, in the course of nursery production, growers will miss removing the girdling root. A healthy tree should have a good basal flare without any crossing roots. Sometimes girdling roots can be caused when trees are over mulched or “volcano” mulched, so try to avoid over mulching. I’ll end this week with a thought from Orison Swett Marden: “A will finds a way.” Have a great week and stay healthy out there.

Garth Ruff,

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator

OSU Henry County Extension

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