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Wishes for the new year

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Here are some things I would like to see and will be working to encourage this New Year.
For homeowners and renters who have space, I would like to see more home gardening. Nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables and the exercise while working in the garden will provide numerous health benefits to Marion County residents who are able to plant a garden. We have a great deal of information on gardening at the extension office and I encourage anyone to call or come into the office for help planning, soil testing and solving problems encountered with their gardens. Our Food and Consumer Science Agent, Lizzie Spalding is also available to help gardeners with preserving their produce via canning, drying and freezing.
For consumers, whether they have a garden or not, I would like to see more purchases of locally grown produce, particularly from our local farmers market. This locally grown produce is the freshest and most nutritious available and a much greater portion of the money spent buying from our local producers stays in and improves our local economy.
For cattle producers I would like to encourage several things. First is renovation of pastures and hay fields late this winter and early spring. I have said this so many times that farmers are probably tired of hearing it, but I really think we will have a weed problem this year. Getting on the problem early will help a lot.
I would also like to see cutting of hay at an earlier stage of growth, particularly the first cutting in the spring. A lot of the hay samples we had this year were not as good as they could have been. Some of this is due to the drought and the loss of clover in the hay, but the early hay prior to when the rain quit is also not as good as it could be. I know cutting early sacrifices quantity of hay compared to later cutting, and weather can impact cutting schedules, but the quality of early stage hay is so much better than late cut hay. Most of the later cut hay needs to be supplemented with grain or by-product concentrates to meet the nutritional needs of the cattle. Earlier cut hay can often be fed by itself making it more cost effective.
This leads to the next item which is sampling and analysis of hay. I would guess that less than five percent of our hay production is sampled and analyzed. With grain and concentrate prices as high as they are, it doesn’t make sense to feed them without knowing if they are part of a balanced ration. Feeding supplements when they are not needed, or feeding more than necessary is expensive, but so is feeding low quality hay without supplementing. If we have nutritionally challenged cows this spring it will lead to more calf health problems and challenges getting the cows re-bred. Proper nutrition at the least cost starts with knowing the quality of the hay.
For livestock and grain producers I would like to see more soil sampling. Our soil samples processed in the office were down significantly last year. With the cost of fertilizers being so high it isn’t profitable to over-fertilize, but with the value of the crops and forage grown also being high, it doesn’t make sense to under-fertilize either. Sampling and analyzing the soil is the only way to balance the soil nutrients with the plant needs to optimize production and profitability.
For grain producers I would like to see early attention to weed problems. Many herbicide resistant weeds are coming into our fields and the best way to handle them is early treatment so that if weeds are resistant to a particular herbicide they can be re-sprayed with something that works. Once they mature they are harder to control and then when they go to seed the quantity of resistant seed in the soil multiplies exponentially.
Of course what I would most like to see is sufficient rain, but we can’t do anything but pray for that. If we take care of what we can control we can maximize the bounty we are provided when it does rain.
Letters have been sent out to those who said they are interested in taking the Master Cattleman Course. The class schedule is included in the letter. The first class will be January 22, 2013 at the Nelson County Extension Office in Bardstown. All wanting to participate must let us know by this Friday, January 11, 2013 so we can make arrangements for books, etc. If you do not call by then to confirm your desire to participate you will not be included in the class! Please make sure to call and confirm. The phone number at the Extension office is 692-2421.
Educational programs of Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.