FARMERS AND FOOD GROUPS INNOVATE TO KEEP OPERATIONS VIABLE AS THE CORONAVIRUS SPREADS

FARMERS WHO SELL DIRECTLY TO CUSTOMERS AT FARMERS’ MARKETS AND THROUGH CSAS ARE COMING UP WITH NOVEL SOLUTIONS AT BREAKNECK SPEED TO KEEP THEIR CUSTOMERS FED AND THEIR OPERATIONS VIABLE.

By : Leah Douglas

For Jody Osmund, who runs Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm with his partner, Beth, in Ottawa, Illinois, the shuttering of public spaces to mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus presents a significant challenge. He typically distributes his farm shares at brewery taprooms around the Chicago area, which allows him to share a pint with customers while supporting local businesses. So how should he proceed when many bars and restaurants are closed, and heath guidelines demand that people keep their distance?

Enter the pool noodle.

Osmund used the noodle to mark out a safe distance between him and the members of his community-supported agriculture program at this week’s distribution site. “I’d take their name and get their CSA share. Then [I] would set it down for them and back away before they would pick it up,” he described via email. “It was a little awkward, but the pool noodle was disarming and brought a little levity.”

As the spread of the coronavirus causes many cities to curtail public gatherings, farmers who sell directly to customers at farmers’ markets and through CSAs are coming up with novel solutions at breakneck speed to keep their customers fed and their operations viable.

Some food distribution groups are even rethinking their entire delivery model, trying to ensure that farmers still have a market and customers still have access to fresh food.

Their adaptations include, of course, improving sanitary practices by frequently washing hands and offering sanitizer to customers. Farmers at markets are wearing gloves, handling produce themselves rather than having shoppers select items, and eliminating sampling. Those who distribute CSA shares are pre-bagging and bringing them to customers’ cars or operating in the parking lots of the closed business or churches where they would otherwise distribute.

Some organizations are piloting home delivery for the first time, as many shoppers are self-isolating or quarantined at home. Farm Fresh Rhode Island’s Market Mobile program typically delivers wholesale orders of local produce and other farm goods to restaurants and universities across the state. But this week, the group rolled out a new system that allowed individual households to place orders online and have food dropped off right at their door. Continue reading

D. Wilson’s Daily Weather Update

23 March 2020: It is shaping up to be a rather damp week ahead unfortunately, but with a few breaks here and there. Light rain showers this morning are pushing east, leaving mostly cloudy skies in their wake. Highs today will reach the upper 40s to low 50s. Clouds stick around tonight with lows in the mid 30s. Mostly cloudy tomorrow with showers arriving during the afternoon/evening with highs in the low to mid 50s.

Early showers possible on Wednesday with highs in the mid to upper 50s. Thursday looks to be the best day this week with dry weather and highs in the mid 60s. Friday and Saturday may bring a few rounds of showers and storms with highs in the 60s.

Omitting residual herbicides in soybeans – really – we have to have this argument again?

Source: Dr Mark Loux, OSU Extension

According to our network of sources, the effectiveness of new soybean trait systems has some growers once again thinking about omitting preemergence residual herbicides from their weed management programs.  Some people apparently need to learn the same lessons over and over again.  Having gone through this once in the early 2000’s when Roundup Ready soybeans had taken over and we all sprayed only glyphosate all day every day, we think we’re pretty sure where it leads.  We’re sensitive to concerns about the cost of production, but the cost-benefit analysis for residual herbicides is way in the positive column.  We’re not the ones who ultimately have to convince growers to keep using residual herbicides, and we respect those of you who do have to fight this battle.  Back in the first round of this when we were advocating for use of residuals, while the developers of RR soybeans were undermining us and telling everyone that residuals would reduce yield etc, we used to have people tell us “My agronomist/salesman is recommending that I use residuals, but I think he/she is just trying to get more money out of me”.  Our response at that time of course was “no pretty sure he/she is just trying save your **** and make sure you control your weeds so that your whole farm isn’t one big infestation of glyphosate-resistant marestail.”  And that answer probably works today too – maybe substituting waterhemp for marestail.

We need to state here that a good number of growers kept residual herbicides in their programs through all of this, and we assume they aren’t tempted to omit them now either.  For everyone else – maybe interventions are called for.  Where the recalcitrant person is repeatedly thumped with a stick while being reminded of what happened last time, until they change their minds.

Weed scientist:  so you’re going to use residual herbicides right?

Soybean grower:  no

Thump

WS:  remember what happened last time – lambsquarters became a problem when every residual herbicide would have controlled it.  Change your mind yet?

SB:  no

Thump

WS:  remember when the weather didn’t cooperate and you ended up spraying 2 foot tall weeds because of no initial control?  Do you want this again?

SG:  no

WS:  so you’re going to use residuals?

SG:  not sure

Thump

WS:  and you expect your local dealer to clean up whatever mess occurs when you don’t use residuals?

SG: yes

Thump

WS:  remember when you burnt out the FirstRate on marestail and then the glyphosate wouldn’t work?  Do you want this to happen with dicamba, 2,4-D and glufosinate?”

SG:  no

WS:  well then

SG:  maybe

Gentler persuasive tap

WS:  You know how bad a weed waterhemp is right?

SG:  yes

WS:  what if residuals will help prevent waterhemp infestations

SG:  Ok then – yes

WS:  ok then

Note:  we considered a number of sound effects here – thump, zap, whack…. Thump won out for no particular reason.  We could not decide whether getting hit by a stick was more or less acceptable than getting shocked in this context.

The bottom line is that residual herbicides provide both short- and long-term risk management in weed management for a relatively low cost.  A non-inclusive list of these:

– reduces weed populations overall and slows weed growth, resulting in more flexibility in the POST application window.

– Reduced risk of yield loss if weather interferes with timely POST application.  In the absence of residual herbicides, soybean yield loss can occur when weeds reach a height of 6 inches.

– increases the number of different sites of action used within a season, slowing the rate of resistance development

– reduces the number of weeds that are treated by POST herbicides, which also slows the rate of herbicide resistance development

– residuals control lambsquarters which is not well-controlled by POST herbicides

– the most significant weed problems in Ohio soybean production – waterhemp, giant ragweed, and marestail – cannot be consistently controlled with POST herbicides alone.  They require a comprehensive herbicide program that includes residual and POST herbicides.  It may be possible to make a total POST system work some years or for a while, but in the end this approach will result in problems with control and speed up the development of resistance.

This whole subject of omitting residual herbicides makes us cranky because we don’t have to guess what will happen.  We’ve made our best case here.  It’s up to you of course, but we suggest that we not have to come back and have this discussion again.  Because next time we’re bringing a few friends, a bigger stick, and a gorilla.

Disclaimer:  Parts of this article are meant in pure jest.  We would certainly never advocate in earnest the use of physical harm or other methods of persuasion to change the behavior of herbicide users.  This goes against everything that the discipline of weed science stands for, and also OSU.  Plus – we don’t even know where to rent a gorilla.

 

Dr. Wilson’s Weather Update

20 March 2020: Currently, we are out ahead of an approaching cold front that will bring one last brief heavy downpour this afternoon as it moves through. Temperatures in the mid to upper 60s now will fall into the 50s and 40s later this afternoon with windy conditions persisting through the evening. Tonight, temperatures will fall into the mid to upper 20s under mostly cloudy skies. Partly to mostly sunny tomorrow and Sunday. Highs tomorrow will be in the low 40s, with mid to upper 40s expected on Sunday.

Questions Regarding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Farms with Employees

Gustavo M. Schuenemann, DVM, MS, PhD, Professor & Extension Veterinarian Jeffrey D. Workman, PhD, Extension Program Coordinator

Corona Virus In Red Background – Microbiology And Virology Concept – 3d Rendering

What is COVID-19 coronavirus?
COVID-19 is an infection caused by a novel (or new) strain of coronavirus. This strain is new; thus, people around the world do not yet have any immunity to the virus. Group immunity means a high enough proportion of individuals in a population are immune; thus, the majority will protect the few susceptible individuals because the pathogen is less likely to find a susceptible individual. This virus strain is very contagious before any signs or symptoms of sickness appear. It spreads very easily from person to person and has become a worldwide pandemic. In addition, this strain of virus can cause serious disease and death in elderly people and those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. Anyone who has a suppressed immune system (immunocompromised) is also considered high risk.
CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Are the risks and concerns regarding COVID-19 coronavirus different on a farm?
The difference between a farm and some other workplaces is that most work cannot be performed remotely. People must be physically present to feed, milk, and care for animals or crops. While automation may reduce the number of people necessary on some farms (e.g., robotic milkers, automatic feed pushers, automatic calf feeders, etc.), people are still needed onsite to operate and manage the automated systems as well as to provide care that cannot be automated.

Is there anyone available to communicate remotely with my employees at the farm?
Yes, we are available to assist farmers remotely via conference call (e.g., Zoom, WhatsApp). Please contact Dr. Jeff Workman at workman.45@osu.edu or Dr. Gustavo M. Schuenemann at schuenemann.5@osu.edu (Ph: 614-625-0680).

Can livestock or other animals be infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus?
The Center for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) has reported that while this virus seems to have emerged in China from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person. There is no reason to believe that any animals including livestock or pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus.
There are bovine coronavirus infections that are caused by different strains of coronavirus such as: calf diarrhea, winter dysentery in cows, and bovine respiratory disease complex (shipping fever).
It is illegal and dangerous to use any vaccines or drugs labeled for cattle for human use. No current products will help prevent or cure COVID-19.
Merck Veterinary Manual:
https://www.merckvetmanual.com/digestive-system/intestinal-diseases-in-ruminants/intestinal-diseases-in-cattle

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#animals

Do farm workers develop a better immune systems?
Your immune system helps your body fight an infection from microorganisms. Microorganisms include bacteria, viruses, fungi (yeasts & molds), protozoa, and algae. The microorganisms that infect and cause disease are called pathogens. Being exposed to various pathogens commonly found on a farm can help your body develop some immunity. However, this novel strain of coronavirus is new and different from other strains of coronavirus in which you may have been previously exposed. COVID-19 appears to spread very easily between people because it is able to spread without people knowing they are infected and there is no immunity to the virus in the population.

How is this coronavirus different from the common cold or flu?
Many different respiratory viruses can cause the common cold, but rhinoviruses are the most common. Other virus such as coronaviruses, parainfluenza, and adenoviruses may also cause the common cold. Flu is caused by the influenza virus. Flu is considered to be a more serious and dangerous infection than the common cold. The COVID-19 coronavirus has many of the same signs and symptoms as the common cold and flu. It would be closest related to those coronavirus strains that do occasionally cause a common cold. However COVID-19 is different because it is novel meaning our bodies do not yet have any immunity, and it can cause serious disease and death in certain groups of people similar to an influenza virus.
CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/index.html
CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm

How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19?

1) Social distancing: This helps to prevent spread of virus from person to person. Social distancing includes avoiding large groups of people and the closing of certain public businesses and events. Groups of people who are only in contact with those within their house or farm and are not in contact with other people are less likely to experience community spread. Avoid hand shaking when greeting someone and maintain 6 feet of distance from other people.
2) Proper hand washing and sanitation: It is extremely important you wash your hands frequently and after touching a high contact surface. The virus may live on surfaces for 2-3 days. If you touch a surface such as a doorknob or counter that has virus on it, and then you lick your fingers or touch your mouth, nose, eyes, or face, you could become infected. By washing your hands frequently and wearing disposable gloves, you decrease the risk of becoming infected or potentially spreading a virus to others. Most people still need to go to public places on occasion such as the grocery store and gas station. It is important to maintain 6 feet of distance from other people and wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds, or if a sink and soap aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol). Keep the bathrooms and break/kitchen area in your workplace and at home clean and disinfected.
3) Avoid any direct contact with individuals feeling sick or experiencing the symptoms/clinical signs of common cold or flu. With the exception of those responsible for providing care for sick individuals.
CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Should I report to work?
The short answer is “YES”, unless you are sick or experiencing the symptoms/signs: fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath.
CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html

What if I start to feel sick or are getting symptoms/signs?
Symptoms/signs are similar to the cold or flu: fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Emergency signs are difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face. Emergency signs require that you immediate call your health care provider for help. Do not go in-person as you might spread to others. By calling ahead, health care professionals can give you instructions and prepare for your arrival. You may also contact your manager or supervisor to help you contact the doctor’s office if you are experiencing these symptoms/signs.
CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html

How long will this concern about COVID-19 last?
All of the current changes are intended to reduce the spread. Eventually, a vaccine or treatment may be developed and manufactured that will allow protection of individuals and the population such as with the seasonal flu vaccine. No one knows for certain how long it will take for life to return to normal, but a few weeks or months of collective efforts will certainly make a huge difference within our community.
All farms should immediately implement
stricter biosecurity protocols for all outside
personnel and visitors.

For a PDF print out please click here- COVID-19_Handout_ENGLISH     COVID-19 Handout_SPANISH

Dr. Wilson’s Daily Weather Update

19 March 2020: A damp and foggy start this morning after yesterday’s storm brought anywhere from 0.5″ (S. Darke) to 1.7″ (E. Clinton). Cloudy skies and increasing winds expected today with rain showers returning this afternoon. Some of the rain this afternoon and overnight could be heavy. As such, the NWS has issued a Flash Flood Watch for Butler, Warren, and Clinton Counties and points south and west until tomorrow morning. The Storm Prediction Center also anticipates a slight chance of severe weather tonight as well. Highs today will reach the mid to upper 60s.

Windy tonight with showers and storms. Overnight lows only drop back to around 60. Breezy with morning showers likely tomorrow with highs in the mid to upper 60s. Temperatures will fall during the afternoon. Windy and chilly tomorrow night with lows near 30. Dry and cool this weekend with highs in the 40s.

Office Closure

As of Tuesday, March 17 at 5 p.m., our office is CLOSED until further notice. While our office is closed, our staff will continue to work diligently to serve Knox County.

Staff members can be reached at 740-397-0401 or by their email (listed below)

4-H Questions

Andrea Rees-  rees.139@osu.edu

Jana Mussard- mussard.4@osu.edu

Agriculture Questions

 John Barker-  barker.41@osu.edu

Sabrina Schirtzinger- schirtzinger.55@osu.edu

General Office

Sarah Chain – chain.10@osu.edu

Miranda McElroy- mcelroy.193@osu.edu

Snap-Ed

Tanner Cooper-Risser – cooper-riser.1@osu.edu

Coronavirus

Source: Knox County Health Department

What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
COVID-19, or coronavirus disease 2019, is an upper respiratory tract disease caused by one of the seven coronaviruses known to infect humans. It was first identified in humans in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019. The virus that causes COVID-19 is called SARS-CoV-2.

Who is at risk?
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers risk to the general public in most communities to be low. People who recently traveled to China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, or Italy, and people who care for patients with COVID-19 are at higher risk. As of March 16, 2020, there are 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Ohio. No confirmed cases in Knox County.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms, which generally appear two to 14 days after exposure, include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Most people who become sick do not require hospitalization, but older adults, people with chronic health conditions, and people with compromised immune systems are more likely to require more advanced care.

How does it spread?
Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. The virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 is spreading from person-to-person and someone who is actively sick with the disease can spread the illness to others. That is why CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.

How can I prevent it?

Currently, there are no vaccines available to prevent COVID-19 infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) recommends typical infectious disease precautions, just as those used to prevent cold or flu:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • Cover coughs/sneezes with your arm or a tissue.
  • Avoid exposure to others who are sick.
  • Stay home you are ill (except to visit a health care professional) and avoid close contact with others.
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.

Also, clean high-touch areas – counters, tables, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, nightstands – every day using household cleaning spray or wipes according to label directions.

Where is it spreading?
While the COVID-19 outbreak began in China, it is now spreading worldwide, threatening to cause a pandemic. Sustained, ongoing person-to-person spread in the community is occurring in some international locations. In the U.S., several instances of infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 have occurred in people with no travel history and no known source of exposure in several states. This has raised the level of concern about the immediate threat of COVID-19 for certain communities.

Should I wear a face mask?
The use of face masks by people who are not sick is not recommended to protect against respiratory diseases. Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent spread of the disease and by healthcare workers and others taking care of someone in a close setting.

Where have there been confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Unites States and globally?
For an updated list of countries reporting confirmed COVID-19 cases, please visit the CDC website here.

Will warm weather stop the outbreak of COVID-19?
It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months, but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months. At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer.

How is COVID-19 treated?
There are no medications specifically approved for COVID-19. Most people with mild coronavirus illnesses will recover on their own and may not require hospitalization. However, some people develop pneumonia and require increased medical care or hospitalization.

Weekly Weather Update

 

Many of you heard Dr. Wilson speak last week at the Central Ohio Agronomy School.  Aaron provides weekly weather updates from his Facebook page.  Here is this week’s information.

16 March 2020: Cloudy skies will rule today with a scattered showers possible later this afternoon and highs in the upper 40s to low 50s. Early showers possible tonight with lows in the upper 30s to low 40s.  Mostly cloudy to overcast conditions tomorrow with highs in the low 50s.

Cloudy and warmer on Wednesday with showers possible arriving by afternoon. Highs will be in the upper 50s to low 60s. Showers and storms are possible Thursday and Friday. There could be locally heavy rain as well. It will be mild, with highs flirting with 70. The weekend looks drier but much cooler with highs back in the 40s.