From Across the Field: 4-9-2020

Marching On

With some fairly nice weather over the past week or so, farm operations have begun to ramp up. Field operations included topdressing of wheat and small grains with nitrogen, weed control, and tillage. Looking ahead at the weather, the next few days look to be a bit cool and damp. In driving around yesterday, there were planters hooked up and at the ready. Hopefully they will be able to be put to use in a timelier manner than in 2019.

With the weather being the greatest unknown variable during this time growers may be faced with tough decisions again this growing season. As summarized in this week’s C.O.R.N. newsletter we encourage farmers to list the field work tasks that you need to do this spring when the weather and soils are fit, then prioritize them. Think through the tough choices you might have to make between competing activities. Think through contingency plans if each specific activity cannot be completed in a timely manner, or if it can’t get done at all this spring because of wet weather.

While I haven’t been to the store lately, I am still hearing that toilet paper and paper products are still in high demand. My co-worker Dave Marrison from Coshocton County had a great article on a potential old school alternative, common mullein or Verbascum Thapsus. You may see it along some ditches which are green, soft-looking plants. Dave’s wife, Emily, was quick to respond that locals refer to the plant as Cowboy Toilet Paper. Then the light bulb went off with them—could this be Mother Nature’s answer to our COVID-19 toilet paper shortage?

Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper, you may have heard it referred to as Quaker’s rouge, candle wick, flannel leaf, velvet dock, big taper, bunny’s ear, miner’s candle, or poor man’s blanket.  These names commonly reflect some characteristic the plant exhibits, such as the flower stalk or leaf texture. If you read survival guides, this plant is mentioned as an emergency roadside toilet paper due to the large, fuzzy leaf of this botanical wonder. One word of caution however, the fuzzy leaf may cause some skin irritation when used as toilet paper.

Don’t forget to tune into our OSU Extension AgMadness webinars, where tackle everything from farm transition to cover crops. We also have the Farm Office Online, where our Ag Manager team is answering all and any farm management related questions.

COVID-19 has had an impact on all our lives. With our food system experiencing drastic disruptions, agriculture has felt the effects. Packing plants have shut down, grain prices have dropped, and dairy producers have been asked to dump milk. Next time that you have to make a trip to the grocery, I encourage everyone to consider where food comes from and the people involved in getting it to the retail space. I’ll end this week with a thought from Dwight Eisenhower: “We are going to have peace even if we have to fight for it.” 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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