Yard and Garden: Peonies PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 25 August 2011 09:56

The garden peony is a popular, long-lived perennial that provides abundant flowers in spring and attractive foliage throughout the growing season. If given a good site and proper care, an established peony will flower for many years. To have additional questions answered, contact the horticulturists at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 515-294-3108.


When is the best time to transplant peonies?

September is the best time to transplant peonies. Begin by cutting the peony stems near ground level. Then carefully dig around and under each plant. Try to retain as much of the root system as possible.  Promptly replant the peony in a sunny, well-drained site.


What would be a good planting site for peonies?

Peonies perform best in full sun and well-drained soils. When selecting a planting site, choose a location that receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight each day. Avoid shady areas near large trees and shrubs. Poorly drained soils can often be improved by working in large amounts of compost, peat moss or leaf mold.


What is the proper way to divide peonies?

September is the best time to divide peonies. The first step is to cut off the peony stems near ground level. Then carefully dig up the plant. Gently shake the clump to remove loose soil from the root system. Using a sharp knife, divide the clump into sections. Each division should have at least three to five buds (eyes) and a good root system. Smaller divisions will require several years to develop into attractive plants.


When planting a peony, dig a hole large enough to comfortably accommodate its entire root system. Position the peony plant in the hole so the buds are 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface (peonies often fail to bloom satisfactorily if the buds are more than 2 inches deep). Fill the hole with soil, firming the soil around the plant as you backfill. Then water thoroughly. Space peonies 3 to 4 feet apart.


Is it necessary to periodically divide peonies?

Peonies do not need to be divided on a regular basis. Peonies can be left undisturbed in the garden for 50 or more years. However, large, vigorous peonies can be divided if you want additional plants.


When should I cut back the peony foliage?

Peony foliage should not be cut back until it is destroyed by a hard freeze in fall. The foliage manufactures food for the plant. Some of the food is stored in the plant’s root system. The more food the peony plant can store in its roots, the better the flower display next spring. Cut off the peony stems at ground level in late October or November. Remove the peony foliage from the garden and destroy it. The removal and destruction of the peony debris helps to control leaf blotch and other fungal diseases.




CRP Native Grass Field Day Set - September 13 Field Day Will Focus on Establishing Native Grasses PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 25 August 2011 09:54

Many of the bids in the 41st Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) signup included putting native grasses or native pollinator habitat on a portion of the CRP acres. To help landowners learn more about getting good establishment of the native grasses, a field day has been set for Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 6:00 p.m. at the Iowa State University (ISU) Southeast Iowa Research and Demonstration Farm near Crawfordsville.

Native grasses are slower to establish than many of the cool season forages farmers normally use for haying and grazing. The seed is also fluffier and may require some different seeding techniques. With proper planning, seeding, and weed control, excellent stands can be established in the first year.

Field day topics will include species selection, seeding mixes, seeding methods, weed control and maximizing wildlife benefits. Special focus will be on establishing native grasses on existing CRP where presently there is brome grass cover. Participants will also have the chance to compare native grass stands that were done as a dormant seeding in the late fall, an early spring frost seeding, and a late spring seeding.

To get to the SE Iowa Research and Demonstration Farm, go 1¾ miles south of Crawfordsville on Hwy 218, then 2 miles east on G-62, then ¾ mile north on the Louisa – Washington Rd. Watch for signs.

The field day is sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). For more information, call 319-337-2145.


News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Iowa Farm Bureau News   
Friday, 19 August 2011 12:01

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – Aug. 19, 2011 – Media is invited to attend the 2011 Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) Summer Policy Conference Aug. 30-31 at the Farm Bureau office in West Des Moines. The conference kicks off at 10:00 a.m. on Aug. 30.

Voting delegates from each 100 county Farm Bureaus will gather to discuss and debate topics ranging from the Food Security Act of 2012 and flood control to renewable energy and fiscal responsibility for state and federal government.

Leaders of all 100 county Farm Bureaus have gathered the opinions of their members on issues impacting agriculture and rural Iowa over the past several months.  The Summer Policy Conference aggregates those ideas to form statewide policy for the 2012 legislative session.

Lunch will be provided for attending media both days.  Please RSVP to Laurie Johns (515-225-5414) for lunch by Aug. 24.


New Publication Helps Farmers Save Energy in the Shop PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 18 August 2011 11:52

AMES, Iowa – Constructing or upgrading a farm shop requires decisions about insulation and heating systems. A new publication from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach addresses energy efficiency for shop heating.

“Conserve Heat Energy in the Farm Shop” (PM 2089P) is available to download from the Extension Online Store,

“Seasonal and day-to-day use of the farm shop determines much of your energy consumption, but design features such as insulation and supplementary heating can be selected to conserve energy,” said Greg Brenneman, ISU Extension agricultural engineer.

This publication explains recommended R-Values for shop insulation, as well as the placement of foundation insulation, windows and overhead doors when constructing a shop facility. It also addresses some of the features of different shop heating systems, including forced-air, infrared and in-floor heating.

For more tips on energy efficiency around the farmstead, visit or follow @ISU_Farm_Energy on Twitter.

The Farm Energy publications are part of a series of farm energy conservation and efficiency educational materials being developed through the ISU Farm Energy Initiative. The purpose is to increase farmers’ awareness of opportunities for improving efficient use of farm energy. The initiative also will help farmers and utility providers to explore opportunities to reduce farm energy demand and to improve overall profitability in a rapidly changing energy environment.


Yard and Garden: Late Summer and Early Fall Plantings PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 18 August 2011 11:49

Creating a beautiful, functioning landscape depends on putting the right plant in the right place at the right time. Iowa State University Extension horticulturists describe the correct plants and care to give late summer and early fall plantings. 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.

Is fall a good time to plant trees?

Late summer and fall is an excellent time to plant balled and burlapped and container-grown trees and shrubs. Evergreens should be planted by early October in Iowa. Evergreens retain their foliage (needles) through winter. Evegreens need adequate time to get established at their new site before the onset of winter to prevent desiccation injury. Deciduous trees and shrubs drop their leaves in fall and go dormant. Deciduous trees and shrubs can be planted up to mid- to late November.

Late summer and fall planted trees and shrubs should be watered on a regular basis during the remainder of the year. Periodically check the moisture status of the plant’s root-ball. Water newly planted trees and shrubs when their root-balls begin to dry out. Continue watering until the ground freezes in winter.

When is the best time to sow grass seed?

Late summer (mid-August to mid-September) is the best time to seed new lawns and overseed existing lawns. Late summer planting has several advantages over spring seeding. The seeds of cool-season grasses germinate quickly in the warm soil of late summer. The warm days and cool nights of early fall promote rapid turfgrass growth. The growing grass also has less competition from weeds as few weed seeds germinate in the fall.

After seeding, keep the upper 1 inch of soil moist with frequent, light applications of water. Most turfgrasses should germinate in two to three weeks if the seedbed is kept uniformly moist. Gradually reduce the frequency of watering, but water more deeply, when the turfgrass reaches a height of 1 to 2 inches. Mow the grass when it reaches the height of 3 to 3 ½ inches.

Can perennials be planted in fall?

Late summer and early fall is an excellent time to plant many perennials. It also is a good time to move or divide perennials, such as peony, daylily, garden phlox and oriental poppy. Perennials planted in late summer or early fall should be mulched with 4 to 6 inches of straw, pine needles or other materials in late fall. Mulching helps prevent repeated freezing and thawing of the soil that can heave plants out of the ground. Plants heaved out of the soil may be severely damaged or destroyed due to the drying of the exposed plant crowns and roots.

Is fall a good time to plant chrysanthemums?

Unfortunately, fall planted garden mums usually don’t survive the winter even when given winter protection. Flowering mums purchased in late summer or early fall should be regarded as temporary additions to the landscape. Spring is the best time to plant mums in Iowa. Spring planted mums have the entire growing season to get established and usually survive the winter much better than those planted in fall.

When is the best time to plant peonies?

Peonies are available as potted and bare root plants. Potted peonies are often available at garden centers and can be planted anytime during the growing season. Bare root peonies are best planted in late summer/early fall (September in Iowa). When planting bare root peonies, position the “eyes” (buds) 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface.


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