Extension Notes – Church, Hart

Range, pastures improved tremendously due to rain; alfalfa harvest in mid-month

The recent rains have been extremely helpful to fall- and spring-seeded cereal and canola crops. In addition, the moisture has really helped the hay crops, both alfalfa and grass hay fields. Range and pastures have improved tremendously due to the rain.

The alfalfa fields look great right now and depending on the weather and elevation, producers will be cutting the crop sometime in mid-June.

We will be harvesting the two alfalfa variety plots sometime in mid to late June as well.

There has been an increase in the number of farmers and the acreage planted of cover crops especially in the Nezperce area. These cover crop fields will be grazed by cattle and the residue will be left to break down in the field to improve the soil nutrient levels. U of I Extension will be hosting a cover crop tour again in late June or early July. Lewis County Extension agent Ken Hart will have the exact date.

Jim Church, University of Idaho Extension Agent, Idaho County; jchurch@uidaho.edu

Weather great for crops, pests

The month came in with a bang on June 1 with widespread thunderstorms. In some areas these storms were particularly fierce resulting in down trees, damaging hail, soil erosion and flooding. On the plus side, we received one inch of precipitation, measured here at the Lewis County Extension Office in Nezperce. Storms like this are a very real reminder that farmers and ranchers face weather risks and a variety of other risks that make agricultural enterprises unique.

While all businesses face some risk, farm businesses face a wide array of risks including production, financial, marketing, human and legal risks. Farmers face these risks from a number of factors beyond weather, such as weed, disease and insect pests, market price changes, illness or injury, stress, regulatory problems, liability exposure and more. It is not a business for the faint of heart.

Farmers use tools to manage risk. Crop insurance, hail insurance, variety selection and crop protection help lessen production risks, for example. Farmers make decisions to obtain a level of return on their labor and investment, with an acceptable level of risk. Farmers use education and professional assistance to improve their risk and business management skills. While risk cannot be eliminated from agriculture, assessment of and planning for the wide range of risk can help farmers achieve their goals in spite of the risky environment they work in.

Upcoming weather looks to be clear and warm, providing a great growing environment for crops and crop pests as well. Farmers will keep an eye on the sky and another on the future, evaluating new risks that might emerge to threaten their businesses. University of Idaho Extension provides education programs to help farmers improve their risk management skills. These usually take place in the off-season as farmers have their hands full dealing mostly with production and marketing risks during the growing season.

So when you see farmers at work, remember they are working to improve the odds for success in agriculture, strengthening the food and fiber system in agriculture that we all depend on.

Ken Hart, University of Idaho Extension Agent, Lewis County; khart@uidaho.edu

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