Radio Script 7-23-19

Good morning. This is Bob Bragg. Welcome to the July 23rd edition of Farm News and Views.

The increasing level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is often blamed for a changing climate around the globe. Many scientists believe that combustion of fossil fuels and the decline of forests are factors in the increase of CO2 levels by 100 parts per million since 1950. But farming practices that have resulted in depleted organic material in crop fields are also sited as a factor for this spike in CO2. Soil scientists have recorded from a 20 to 50% reduction of carbon in soils that have been tilled for decades versus soils that have been undisturbed. Additional carbon is lost when wind and water erosion carry soils particles off of fields. So soil scientists have concluded that carbon sequestration in farm fields and grazing lands can reduce and even reverse the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Recently, several companies are ramping up to encourage farmers and ranchers to participate in practices that will result in increasing soil organic matter in their fields, using a marketplace developed around CO2 mitigation that enables CO2-emitting industries to purchase carbon credits from businesses engaged in offsetting activities. For example, Boston-based Indigo Agriculture recently unveiled its latest project, the  Terraton Initiative, which intends to sequester 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by providing momentary incentives to farmers and ranchers who adopt regenerative agriculture practices. The company contends that if farmers increase the level of carbon in their soils by an average of 0.5% globally, it could reverse the 1-trillion-ton increase in atmospheric carbon since the Industrial Revolution. Some of the practices that Indigo encourages farmers to adopt include no-till crop production, crop rotation, reducing reliance on chemical and synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and incorporating livestock. The Western Sustainability Exchange is another organization that’s attempting to enroll Montana ranchers in a program that will pay them to use a carefully managed, rotational grazing program that will qualify for the carbon credit market. Rotational grazing calls for moving livestock based on utilization of forage over a short period of time by intensive grazing, then moving the herd to a new section of range or pasture that has not been grazed until it has full recovered from previous grazing passes. read more

Radio Script 7-16-19

Good morning. This is Bob Bragg with the July 16th edition of Farm News & Views.

Farmers in the mid section of our country continue to be affected by too much water this growing season. Although soils have started to dry out in some fields in the Corn Belt they may soon be getting a lot wetter, since Tropical Depression Barry is following the Mississippi River Valley northward, dropping precipitation on fields that have received way too much rain already. Before it dies out, it’s likely to have affected 12 states, dumping from one to more than three inches of rainfall over the next couple of days according to the National Weather Service. But then, as the storms passes, the areas in Barry’s wake are expected to suffer from a “widespread” heat wave starting later this week. read more

Radio Script 7-9-19

Good morning. Welcome to the July 9th edition of Farm News and Views.

You may have noticed bees being…Well, busy as bees this spring and early summer tending to flowers in gardens, on fruit trees and even on weeds. Bees help to pollinate a third of the crops we eat, including almonds, apples, avocados and grapes, but bee populations have steadily declined since 2006. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) won’t collect quarterly data this July for the annual Honey Bee Colonies report, citing budget constraints. This report has allowed the USDA, beekeepers, and other interested parties to compare quarterly losses, additions, and movements and to analyze the data on a state-by-state basis. read more

Radio Script 7-2-19

Field work in a central Illinois corn field.

Good morning. This is Bob Bragg. Welcome to the July 2nd edition of Farm News & Views.

Over the past three months, I’ve talked about problems that farmers in the Midwest have had this spring getting their crops planted. On some farms, growers reported that they were two months late getting corn and soybean seeds into the ground. I was able to see he good the bad and the ugly of crop progress last week, during a road trip making roughly a 400 mile circle around central Illinois and Indiana. Farmers used to say that if the corn was knee high by the fourth of July, they could expect a good crop. Although with modern hybrid corn varieties, corn plants are usually four or five feet tall by this time of the growing season. B observed that in many fields, corn was four to eight inches tall, and soybeans plants had just emerged from the soil. Farmers and farm managers I talked with told me that wet soil this year is only part of the problem with crops being so far behind in growth. Cool temperatures and cloudy days thus far have put a damper on plant growth even for fields that were planted early. Corn plants in many fields are pale yellow, rather than dark green, indicating that wet soils are inhibiting the uptake of nitrogen. Farmers hope that they’ll get plenty of sunshine and warm days to speed up plant growth for the rest of the summer, and hope that frost comes late this fall. While Midwest farmers have faced unprecedented challenges this year, farmers I talked to are still positive about their chances for a good year. read more

Radio Script 6-24-19

Good morning! This is Bob Bragg. Welcome to the June 25th edition of Farm News and Views.

Last Friday, we celebrated the summer solstice, then, some of us in southwest Colorado had to cover our garden plants to protect them from frost Saturday night into Sunday morning. The National Weather Service recorded temperature near to or below freezing in the Montezuma Valley during the early morning hours on Sunday. Higher elevations escaped with temperatures in the mid 30’s to low 40’s, and there are no reports of crops fields being harmed by the low temps.. read more

Radio Script 6-18-19

Good morning! This is Bob Bragg. Welcome to the June 18th edition of Farm News and Views.

For the past several weeks I’ve reported about problems that farmers are having planting crops in the Midwest, but weather has also been affecting farmers in Colorado. Last week, in the San Luis Valley, hail caused light damage to barley fields, Fall potato emergence is still behind the average, and some freeze damage was noted in alfalfa fields due to below freezing overnight temperatures . Although hay harvest is going well in southwest Colorado, it’s progressing slowly in much of the rest of the state due to persistent rain showers. A downside to the good soil moisture this spring is that growing conditions are ideal for weeds. Reports are coming in about robust stands of invasive cheat grass, also known as downy brome grass, that are causing concerns about fire danger later in the summer when this highly flammable plant dries out. read more

Radio Script 6-11-19

Good morning! This is Bob Bragg. Welcome to the June 11th Edition of Farm News and Views.

Delphinium species plants have showy purple flowers and are often planted in flower gardens, but this common wild flower, known as Larkspur is deadly if it’s consumed in quantity by cattle and sheep. According to the Gallop Independent Newspaper, ranchers in northwestern New Mexico, near Shiprock, suspect that Larkspur is responsible for the death of a dozen or more cattle. The plant is growing in abundance on grazing lands in the area because of the unusually wet weather this spring. Larkspur is often a problem for livestock producers who move sheep and cattle to mountain ranges during late June. If cool temperatures at higher elevations favor Larkspur growth over grass and other range plants, livestock may graze larkspur that is flowering or developing seed pods, which is Larkspur’s most poisonous stage. read more

Radio Script 6-4-19

Flooded fields still plaguing U. S. farmers

Good morning! This is Bob Bragg with the June 4th edition of Farm News and Views.

I hate to sound like the proverbial broken record, but the top ag news today…You guessed it weather and trade or maybe trade and weather.

Soggy fields are still keeping many farmers out to their fields in the Midwest, but weather forecasts are calling for rains to let up later this week in the Corn Belt. The U.S. corn planting in 2019, is the slowest pace in USDA records dating back to 1980. As of May 26, only 58% of the country’s estimated 92.8 million corn acres have been planted. The five-year average for this time off year is 90%. Soybean planting is only at 29% complete on 84.6 million acres allocated to this crop, with he five-year average for late May of 66% planted. read more

Radio Script 5-28-19

Cloudy weather has plagued farmers this year in the Midwest and beyond.

Good morning. This is Bob Bragg. Welcome to the May 28th edition of Farm News and Views.

Weather in much of the Corn Belt and beyond, is top of the news this morning. Farmers from Michigan to Ohio and west into Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska are reporting that their fields are to wet to plant, and rain continues to fall. Rivers in Illinois and Iowa are flooding adjacent farm land, and the Mississippi Levee Board is reporting that more than a half million acres of land in the Mississippi Delta has been covered by backwater floods. Flooding is also occurring along the Missouri river and its tributaries. Many farmers are predicting that much of the flooded land in the Midwest won’t be farmed this year. read more

Radio Script 5-21-19

Osmia Ribifloris, A wild bee related to the Blue Orchard Bee USDA ARS Photo by Jack Dykinga

Good morning. This is Bob Bragg. Welcome to the May 21st edition of Farm News and Views.

Did you celebrate World Bee Day yesterday? I did, and I read some interesting statistics about bees that I’ll share. World wide there are over 20,000 species of bees, including about 4,000 species of Native bees in North America that are found where ever flowers bloom. Bees are estimated to pollinate 170,000 species of plants worldwide, so the common expression “busy as a bee” isn’t just a misnomer. It was once believed that honey bees didn’t exist in North America before Europeans brought them to Virginia in 1622. But a 2009 discovery of a 14 million year old fossil of an extinct honey bee in west-central Nevada proved that honey bees had lived in North America in the distant past. In the west, according to records, the first honey bees arrived in Utah about 1850, and came to Colorado in 1863. Although honey bee Queens often live for three or four years, worker bees live for a few weeks in the summer, and a few months while in the hive during winter. One worker bee will produce about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey during its lifetime in the summer. read more