ISU Extension offers ProHort Certification Option to Master Gardener Training PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 28 July 2011 12:15

Iowa Master Gardeners (MG) find many ways to volunteer in their communities, from answering horticulture questions that come into county offices to helping manage farmers’ markets and community gardens. Public plantings in many Iowa communities are visual signs of the many volunteer hours Master Gardeners provide.

Master Gardener training has been offered in Iowa by Iowa State University Extension since 1979. Over the years, more than 10,000 Iowans have received instruction on a wide range of horticulture and related topics and in return provided a specified number of hours doing volunteer outreach through ISU Extension.

However, there are Iowans that would like to have the training, without the commitment of providing community service. To better serve this group of people, ISU Extension Scott County is offering the ProHort Certification for the first time this year. The ProHort Certification program will be delivered through the Iowa State University Master Gardener training program this fall in three locations. It is different from the Master Gardener program because it is a fee in-lieu-of volunteer service version of the program.

“ProHort participants will train alongside Iowa Master Gardeners,” said Jennifer Bousselot, Iowa MG coordinator. “However, without the volunteer commitment, participants do not become Iowa Master Gardeners.”

The Iowa Master Gardener (MG) training includes sessions on animal ecology, botany, entomology, fruit culture, herbaceous ornamentals, home landscape design, houseplants, integrated pest management/pesticides, landscape plants, plant pathology, soils, turf grass management, vegetables and weed management.

Upon completion of the program requirements, ProHort participants receive an official ProHort Certificate of training from Iowa State University, which may be displayed in a place of business.

To find out more about the ProHort Certification program being offered in Scott County this fall, contact Duane Gissel, ISU Scott County Extension 563-359-7577.


Weather-related Livestock Losses may Qualify for Indemnity Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Friday, 22 July 2011 22:28

AMES, Iowa -- Producers who have lost livestock from the recent wind storms or heat may be eligible for payment through the Livestock Indemnity Program. Iowa State University (ISU) Extension beef program specialist Denise Schwab said the "Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008" authorized the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) to provide benefits to livestock producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather.

Schwab said producers who think they have losses that might quality should remember that LIP has eligibility requirements and application deadlines.

“To be eligible for LIP, the livestock must be owned by the producer and raised for commercial use as part of a farming operation. Pets or recreational animals do not qualify,” Schwab said. “Contract swine or poultry growers also may qualify for lost livestock if they have a written agreement with the livestock owner setting the specific terms, conditions and obligations of the parties involved.”

Payment for losses is determined by USDA calculations but is approximately 75 percent of the average fair market value of the livestock, or 75 percent of the average income loss sustained by the contract grower with respect to the dead livestock, she said. Producers also are restricted by other USDA payment limitations.

Producers who suffer livestock death losses should submit a notice of loss and an application for payment to the local Farm Service Agency (FSA) service center that maintains the farm records for their business. This application needs to be made within 30 calendar days after the loss of livestock was apparent to the producer.

More information is available on the FSA website in this LIP fact sheet. People also can contact their local FSA office for details and to apply. The LIP sheet can be found at:

For information on heat and heat stress in beef cattle operations, check out this page on the Iowa Beef Center website, or contact your ISU Extension beef program specialist. IBC site can be found at:

IBC was established in 1996 with the goal of supporting the growth and vitality of the state’s beef cattle industry. It comprises faculty and staff from ISU Extension, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine, and works to develop and deliver the latest research-based information regarding the beef cattle industry. For more information about IBC, visit www.iowabeefcenter.


Pasture Walk Focuses on Subdivision PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Friday, 22 July 2011 22:16

Pasture improvement and rotational grazing are key topics for many beef and dairy producers, but one of the big challenges becomes subdivision, fencing, and watering systems over rolling or rough terrain. These topics will be discussed at a pasture walk at the farm of Bret DeLarm on Wednesday, August 3, at 1:00 pm.

DeLarm has subdivided a pasture that was previously in CRP, and installed a pipeline watering system. Dr. Ken Holscher, ISU entomologist, will attend the pasture walk to discuss fly control in cattle operations. NRCS staff will also be on hand to discuss cost share programs to assist in pasture improvement. The DeLarm pasture is located just to the east of their home at 2835 Hwy 64, between Wyoming and Mommouth.

Pasture walks are informal educational programs designed to demonstrate one or two key areas of interest, as well as answer any questions you might have. Each has a slightly different focus and producers are invited to attend any that are of interest to improving their own pasture management.

All producers who are dependent on forage production are invited to attend. If you have questions, or need detailed directions to the farm location, contact Denise Schwab in the Benton County Extension office at 319-472-4739.


Yard and Garden: Tomato Disorders PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Friday, 22 July 2011 22:12

Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable crop in Iowa. Many diseases and disorders can affect tomatoes during the growing season. Iowa State University Extension specialists describe the symptoms and management of common problems. To have additional questions answered, contact the experts at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 515-294-3108.

Why are my tomatoes cracking?
Fruit cracking is a common problem on tomatoes. Cracks usually appear at the top or stem end of the fruit. Cracks radiate out from the stem (radial cracks) or circle the fruit in concentric rings (concentric cracks). Fruit cracking is associated with wide fluctuations in soil moisture levels. A heavy rain or deep watering after a long, dry period results in rapid water uptake by the plant. The sudden uptake of water results in cracking of ripening fruit. Generally, fruit cracking is most common on the large, beefsteak-type tomatoes.

Fruit cracking can be prevented by supplying the tomato plants with a consistent supply of moisture during the summer months. During dry periods, a thorough soaking once every seven days should be adequate for most tomato plants. Conserve soil moisture by mulching the area around tomato plants with dried grass clippings, straw, shredded leaves or other materials. Also, plant tomato varieties that possess good crack resistance. Tomato varieties that possess good to excellent crack resistance include Jetstar, Mountain Spring and Mountain Fresh.

Several of my tomatoes are misshapen. Why?
Misshapen (catfaced) fruit may be due to cool weather during fruit set. Exposure to 2,4-D or similar broadleaf herbicides is another possibility. Catfacing is most common on large-fruited tomato varieties. Affected fruit show leathery scars, bulges, or holes at the blossom end of the fruit. The incidence of catfacing is typically highest on the early maturing fruit and declines during the remainder of the growing season.

A blackish spot develops on the bottom of my tomato fruit. What is the problem and how can it be prevented?
Blossom end rot is probably responsible for the blackish spots on the tomato fruit. Blossom end rot is a common problem on tomatoes. It appears as a brownish black spot on the blossom end (bottom) of the fruit. Secondary organisms invade the brownish black spot and cause the fruit to rot. Blossom end rot is most common on the earliest maturing fruit that ripen in July and early August.

Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency in the developing fruit. Wide fluctuations in soil moisture levels impair calcium uptake by the root system of the tomato plant. Excessive nitrogen fertilization may also contribute to blossom end rot.

To reduce blossom end rot, water tomato plants on a weekly basis during dry weather to provide a consistent supply of moisture to the plants (tomato plants require about 1 to 1½ inches of water per week during the growing season). Mulch the area around the tomato plants to conserve soil moisture. Avoid over-fertilization. There is no need to apply calcium to the soil as most Iowa soils contain more than adequate levels of calcium.

Pick and discard fruit affected with blossom end rot. The removal of the affected fruit will allow the tomato plant to channel all of its resources into the growth and development of the remaining fruit.

Blossom end rot can also occur on pepper, eggplant, summer squash and watermelon.

My tomatoes are developing white or yellow areas on the sides of the fruit exposed to the sun. Why?The white or yellow areas on your tomatoes are due to sunscald. Sunscald occurs on fruit exposed to the sun during periods of extreme heat. Initial symptoms of sunscald are the development of shiny white or yellow areas on the fruit. Later, the affected tissue dries out and collapses, forming slightly sunken, wrinkled areas. Secondary organisms invade the affected areas causing the fruit to rot.

Losses due to sunscald can be reduced by growing tomatoes in wire cages. Cage-grown tomato plants provide good foliage protection for the fruit. Also, control Septoria leaf spot and other foliar diseases which defoliate the plants and expose the fruit to direct sunlight.


Updated Soybean Aphid Field Guide Available PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Friday, 22 July 2011 22:09

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) have released a collaborative second edition of the Soybean Aphid Field Guide.

The guide’s authors are Erin Hodgson, ISU Extension entomologist, and Matt O’Neal, ISU research entomologist.

“Every year we learn more about the biology of soybean aphids and new ways to prevent this pest from causing yield loss,” O’Neal said. “These insights have been made possible through funding from the soybean checkoff program. We have incorporated these discoveries and tools into the revised edition of the guide in an effort to return this checkoff-funded research back to soybean farmers.”

The second edition of the Soybean Aphid Field Guide is expanded in every section. “We incorporated research from around the region and developed a more comprehensive management program,” Hodgson said. “We encourage growers to use multiple tools to protect soybean yield against the soybean aphid.”

One of the biggest additions to the toolbox of aphid management strategies is aphid-resistant soybeans. The guide includes a review of the research that led to aphid resistance becoming a common component of soybean genetics for many current and future commercial soybean varieties. “This resource is a must-have for all Iowa soybean producers. It is the most comprehensive reference guide available for sustainable management of Iowa’s most serious soybean insect pest,” said David Wright, ISA director of contract research.

Funding for printing and distribution of the guide was provided by the Iowa soybean checkoff and ISU Extension. Printed copies of the Soybean Aphid Field Guide can be ordered from the ISU Extension Online Store at or by calling 515-294-5247; or obtained by contacting the Iowa Soybean Association at 800-383-1423. The guide can also be viewed online at

To learn more about ISA, visit its website at


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