Agribusiness
Yard and Garden: Onions and Garlic PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 11 August 2011 23:41

Harvesting vegetables at the right stage of maturity results in high quality, nutritious products. If properly harvested and stored, onions and garlic will keep most of their original flavor and food value for months. Iowa State University Extension specialists describe the correct harvesting and storage for these two vegetables. 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.

When should you harvest onions?
Onions should be harvested when most of the tops have fallen over and begun to dry. Carefully pull or dig the bulbs with the tops attached.

What is the proper way to store onions?
After harvesting the onions, dry or cure the onions in a warm, dry, well-ventilated location, such as a shed or garage. Spread out the onions in a single layer on a clean, dry surface. Cure the onions for two to three weeks until the onion tops and necks are thoroughly dry and the outer bulb scales begin to rustle. After the onions are properly cured, cut off the tops about 1 inch above the bulbs. As the onions are topped, discard any that show signs of decay. Use the thick-necked bulbs as soon as possible as they don’t store well. An alternate preparation method is to leave the onion tops untrimmed and braid the dry foliage together.

Place the cured onions in a mesh bag, old nylon stocking, wire basket or crate. It’s important that the storage container allow air to circulate through the onions. Store the onions in a cool, moderately dry location. Storage temperatures should be 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The relative humidity should be 65 to 70 percent. Possible storage locations include a basement, cellar or garage. Hang the braided onions from a rafter or ceiling. If storing the onions in an unheated garage, move the onions to an alternate storage site before temperatures drop below 32 F.

What is the storage life of onions?
The storage life of onions is determined by the variety and storage conditions. When properly stored, good keepers, such as ‘Copra’ and ‘Stuttgarter,’ can be successfully stored for several months. Poor keepers, such as ‘Walla Walla’ and ‘Sweet Spanish,’ can only be stored for a few weeks. If the storage temperatures are too warm, the onions may sprout. Rotting may be a problem in damp locations. Inspect the stored onions on a regular basis in fall and winter. Discard any that are starting to rot.

When should you harvest garlic?
Harvest garlic when the foliage begins to dry. In Iowa, garlic is usually harvested in August or September. Carefully dig the bulbs with a garden fork or shovel.

How do you store garlic?
After harvesting the garlic, dry the garlic in a warm, dry, well-ventilated location. Place the garlic on an elevated wire screen or slotted tray to promote drying. When the tops have dried, cut off the dry foliage 1 inch above the bulbs. Also, trim off the roots and brush off any loose soil. Place the bulbs in a mesh bag or open crate and store in a cool (32 F to 40 F), dry (65 to 70 percent relative humidity) area. Garlic can be stored for three to six months if properly dried and stored. An alternate way to store garlic is to braid the foliage together immediately after harvest, dry and then hang the braided garlic in a cool, dry location.

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Iowa State Fair Animal Learning Center to Awe Ag Audiences PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by readMedia   
Thursday, 28 July 2011 12:37

DES MOINES, IA (07/28/2011)(readMedia)-- Celebrating five years at the Iowa State Fair, the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center continues to educate and delight Fairgoers of all ages. "Nothing Compares" to this hub of agricultural activity that will feature young farm animals and fresh educational programming August 11-21.

The state-of-the-art agricultural education exhibit features live births of various species including cattle, swine, goats and sheep, allowing young and old alike to learn about the animal birthing process. Fairgoers can also catch a glimpse of hatching chicks, ducks, ostriches and turkeys.

Animal lovers won't want to miss kid-friendly educational presentations on various agricultural topics, including honey bees, farm animal safety, llamas and making butter. Other favorites include such contests as Milk Chug-A-Lug, Egg Dance, and Minute to Win It – Farm Edition.

Also taking the stage, the Thank a Farmer Magic Show will enchant kids of all ages. This magical extravaganza educates kids about agriculture through storytelling, juggling and music. Shows are daily at 10 a.m., noon, 2 & 4 p.m.

Fairgoers can learn about life on the farm by checking out The Way We Live Award display and award ceremonies. The award honors six Iowa farm families for their love of the land and the product they produce.

Visit iowastatefair.org for a complete schedule of events at the Animal Learning Center.

"Nothing Compares" to the 2011 Iowa State Fair, celebrating 100 years of the Butter Cow August 11-21. For more information, call 800/545-FAIR or visitiowastatefair.org.

 
Hay Storage Cost Analyzer Available PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 28 July 2011 12:25

AMES, Iowa -- Hay is the third most valuable crop produced in Iowa, yet some producers lose as much as a fourth of their crop from improperly storing it. Iowa State University (ISU) Extension economist William Edwards said a new decision aid for comparing the costs of different hay storage options is now available on ISU Extension’s Ag Decision Maker (ADM) website.

“This free electronic spreadsheet can compare up to eight alternatives at a time,” Edwards said. “The standard for comparison is storing bales on bare ground with no cover. This is the least cost method, but also results in the most storage loss. Other methods include outdoor uncovered storage on gravel or pallets, outdoor covered storage, storage under a roof, and storage in a new or existing building.”

Several types of cost are considered in the analysis, he said. Initial investments in storage structure, tarps, gravel and pallets are amortized over their individual expected lives. Annual costs such as repairs, insurance and property taxes are part of the spreadsheet, as are estimated labor costs for storing and feeding the hay. And, the estimated value of spoilage losses under each system is considered.

“Users will need to enter the expected volume of hay to be produced or that’s needed, current hay prices and the size of bales they use,” Edwards said. “For each method, a total annual cost is calculated, which includes spoilage losses and the tons of hay available to feed or sell.”

The Excel®-based spreadsheet “Hay Storage Cost Comparison" is available for viewing and download on the ADM website at www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/crops/xls/a1-15haystoragecost.xls.

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.org or check out the IBC blog at http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/iowabeef/.

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Timely and Careful Stockpiling of Fescue Pasture Is Vital for Winter Use PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 28 July 2011 12:24

CHARITON, Iowa – Beef producers who attended a recent series of pasture management meetings in southern Iowa learned of the importance of timely and careful stockpiling of fescue pastures. Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach and Iowa Beef Center (IBC) sponsored the meetings that focused on fescue management and featured ISU Extension beef program specialist Joe Sellers and Craig Roberts of the University of Missouri.

“Producers planning to stockpile fescue pastures for late fall and winter grazing should think about reducing alkaloid levels in the fescue with good management practices,” Sellers said. “Most tall fescue stands have an endophyte that produces alkaloids that can hurt cattle performance.”

Sellers said producers often think of higher body temperatures, less grass consumption, more time in shade and ponds, and symptoms like loss of tail switches and lameness as negative effects of fescue, but there can be more to that story. While these are a concern, the biggest effects from fescue are reduced gains, lowered milk production and poor rebreeding rates in cattle.

Roberts said the problem has a high price tag.

“It’s estimated that fescue toxicosis costs the Missouri beef industry over $160 million per year,” Roberts said. “Similar problems exist in Iowa, but there are several proven management steps that can reduce the problem regardless of the location.”

Practices that help cattle perform better on fescue have to do with managing the levels of alkaloid consumed by cattle. These practices include reducing spring nitrogen fertilization rates, providing more diverse stands with legumes and other grasses, rotating cattle to non-fescue based summer pastures, haying or clipping fescue during the late spring and early summer to reduce stems and seed heads, and supplementing feeds like soybean or corn co-products, Roberts said. More information is available in this presentation by Roberts.

Using several of these steps can alleviate the effects of fescue, but there is no “silver bullet” that will eliminate the problem. Studies looking at other methods like mineral additives and de-worming have found mixed results.

This past winter, several producers had more intense cases of fescue foot and other fescue related problems than during previous years. In part this was due to longer than recommended rest periods, followed by grazing during very cold weather, Sellers said.

“Many years of research in Iowa and Missouri on stockpiling resulted in recommending stockpiling periods of 70 to 100 days. Much longer rest periods will increase plant volume, but also will reduce forage quality and increase the alkaloid levels in the grass,” he said. “If pastures are rested longer than 100 days, producers must be careful when those plots are grazed, graze mature bred cows in mid-pregnancy and dilute the fescue with other feeds. Late summer applications of moderate nitrogen rates can result in more grass growth and extended winter grazing, with less impact on alkaloids.”

For more information on stockpiled grazing and managing fescue, contact Sellers by phone at 641-203-1270 or by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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.org.

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Yard and Garden: Lawn, Annual and Garden Care in Hot Weather PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 28 July 2011 12:22

Iowa State University Extension specialists offer tips for taking care of your lawn, annuals and garden in hot weather. 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 it necessary to water an established lawn during hot, dry weather?

Gardeners have two basic options when confronted with hot, dry weather. One option is to do nothing and allow the grass to go dormant. The alternative is to water the turfgrass during dry weather to maintain a green, actively growing lawn.

Cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, can survive long periods of dry weather. In dry weather, the shoots of the turfgrass plants stop growing and the plants go dormant. Dormancy is a natural survival mechanism for turfgrass. While the leaves have turned brown and died, the turfgrass roots and crowns remain alive. Generally, Kentucky bluegrass can remain dormant for four to six weeks without suffering significant damage.

Cool-season grasses are at risk of dying if dormant for more than six weeks. To ensure survival of dormant grass, it’s best to water lawns that have been dormant for six weeks. Apply 1 to 1 ½ inches of water in a single application. Water again seven days later. The grass should begin to green up after the second application.

When is the best time to water a lawn?

Early morning (5 to 9 a.m.) is the best time to water a lawn. A morning application allows the water to soak deeply into the soil with little water lost to evaporation. When watering is completed, the turfgrass foliage dries quickly. Watering at mid-day is less efficient because of rapid evaporation; in addition, strong winds may cause uneven water distribution. Strong, mid-day winds also may carry water onto driveways, sidewalks or streets, wasting considerable amounts of water. Watering lawns in late afternoon or evening may increase disease problems.

How frequently should I water my lawn? How much water should be applied per week?

Most cool-season lawns in Iowa require approximately 1 to 1 ½ inches of water per week. When watering the lawn, apply this amount in a single application or possibly two applications three or four days apart. Avoid frequent, light applications of water, which promote shallow rooting and lush growth. Lush, shallow-rooted turfgrass is less drought tolerant. It also is more susceptible to pest problems. To determine the amount of water applied by a sprinkler, place two or three rain gauges within the spray pattern.

How frequently should I water annuals in containers?

The frequency of watering may vary considerably from container to container. Watering frequency depends on the size and type of container, composition of the potting mix, plant species and weather conditions. Some plants, such as impatiens, like an evenly moist soil. Others, such as vinca, possess good drought tolerance.

Annuals growing in containers should be checked daily (especially in summer) to determine whether they need to be watered. A few plants, such as New Guinea impatiens and fuchsia, should be checked twice a day (morning and late afternoon or evening), as they dry out quickly on hot, windy days.

When watering annuals in containers, continue to apply water until water begins to flow out the drainage holes in the bottom of the container.

How often should I water my garden?

A deep watering once a week is usually adequate for fruit, vegetable and flower gardens. When watering the garden, water slowly and deeply. Moisten the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. Most annuals, perennials, vegetables and small fruits perform best when they receive 1 to 1 ½ inches of water per week (either from rain or irrigation).

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