Western Kansas

By Richard C. Snell.

Barton County Extension Agriculture Agent.

Do you want to stay in the farming business?

Don't miss the opportunity to improve your farm income by attending one of the many fall field days around the state. You will benefit more by taking a day off from field work.

The 2001 K-State Agronomy Field Day, in Manhattan, will be held Thursday, Sept. 6. This year's theme is "Doing the Right Things--New Opportunities." There will be at least 20 stops, demonstrations and talks to choose from. The stops and seminars will focus on new technology and management strategies.

The field stops will focus on four major areas: Alternative crops, cropping systems and soil management, environmental issues and other subjects. Food grade sorghum, cotton, sunflowers and canola will be some of the alternative crops featured.

Carbon sequestration, no-till fertility, no-till crop rotations and integrated ag management systems will be covered. Other stops will be on-farm composting, nutrient management, livestock waste application and run-off and weather stations.

There will be a browsing area, where you can "ask the experts." Research and Extension specialists, from several departments, will answer individual questions or look at plant samples.

You won't want to miss the nearly 50 weeds and more than 90 grasses, corns, sorghums, legumes and others. Also, there will be booths from various producer and trade associations and commercial exhibitors. Posters that show current university research will be on display for viewing, at lunch time. Best of all, lunch will be available on the grounds.

All of this action will take place at the K-State Agronomy Farm, across the road, north of the football stadium, in Manhattan. You can come as early as 8:30 a.m. to participate in the tours.

Please give me a call, at (620) 793-1910, if you would like to catch a ride with me.

With the hot, dry weather, we are seeing some fairly large grasshopper numbers. They tend to harbor in the grassy, weedy areas and in undisturbed ditches. You can do quite a bit of good to eliminate them by just doing a good job of mowing and cleaning up with a weed whip.

In terms of insecticide sprays, grasshoppers are fairly easy to kill when there are small (under one inch long). Diazinon, Sevin or Malathion can be used. As they get larger, you have to move to a little heavier artillery. Dursban and Orthene are products readily available to homeowners. These are systemics and can not be used on the garden or fruit trees. They are for ornamentals only (shade trees, windbreak trees, flowers, shrubs and the lawn), but can't be used on food crops.

Some insects, such as robber flies and flesh flies, are highly effective grasshopper predators, if you happen to have large numbers of them around. A slower, but effective predator is the blister beetle. Similarly, a large red mite attacks grasshoppers. Certain nematodes also work on grasshoppers. You see everything has a purpose.

The grasshopper fungus disease is a much more effective natural control, especially when it occurs early in the season and shuts off the egg production of the two late-hatching species of grasshoppers. Of course, man can't manipulate the occurrence of this fungus, since it is dependent on the weather. But in the future, who knows?

It has been a hot dry summer. Some people have pulled cattle off native pasture to give the grass a break or just because there is nothing left to eat.

In addition to that, it has been another typically active summer on the farm, where the farmer's attention is divided by all sorts of pressing matters. So, there is a tendency to let that beef cattle herd take care of itself out on the pastureland. However, the wise producer will divert more time to managing that herd now.

Included in the August management agenda are such details as establishing fly control methods, deciding whether to creep feed weaning calves and employing a pre-weaning conditioning program. Also, I would like to remind herd operators, if they haven't removed their breeding bulls from the herd, it is best to do so within the next few days.

What difference does it make if the bulls stay on pasture with the cow herd a bit longer? Well, the average producer has around 60 days to carry out the summer breeding program.

Data from K-State research indicates that late calving cows are not profitable, so the operator might as well give thought to pulling the bulls now. That, of course, depends on the breeding season a herd manager is employing. If a five-month program is in tact, the manager should closely consider how many of those cows have had the opportunity to breed.

If you leave the bull in, you will end up calving up into the busy time of wheat harvest and grain sorghum planting. Plus, hot weather sets in and it is harder on the cows. Also, you end up selling calves on a down market time and feeding cows more volume of expensive hay and for longer.

I would especially emphasize pulling young bulls at this time. Yearling bulls, for instance, probably have lost a lot of weight over the summer, and would benefit by being removed from the pasture.

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