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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bringing it to the table A look at life, trends and news on Hoosier farms

A special advertising section by The Star Press and The Palladium-Item


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Merchant Guide 2 | Sam Pierce Chevrolet 3 | Reynold’s Farm Equipment 4 | Sherrif Gosslin Roofing; Agbest Cooperative, Inc. 5 | Farm Credit Services 6 | Golden Rule Store; Ferrell Gas 7 | Minnestrista 8 | Farmland Locker, Inc.; A Rental Service 9 | Bill McCoy Ford Lincoln 10-11 | Wetzel 12 | Smith A1 Lawn and Garden 13 | Gaddis Chrysler Dodge Jeep 14 | Poet Biorefining 15 | Fuqua Motors Chrysler Dodge Jeep 16 | Fincannon Ford 17 | Greens Fork Alignment, Tire & Service; Rogan Equipment, Inc.; Eagle Age Water Works


18 | Heritage Automotive Group • Crop dusters increasing along with grain prices | 5 • Delaware County Farm Festival offers full plate of activities | 6 • Young people aren’t giving up on family farms | 9 • New technology changes the game for farmers | 14

• Local farmers find their niche | 15 • Delaware County gearing up for annual fair | 16 • High prices give grain farmers a boost | 18 • Across the Nation: La. is front line in fight for prickly pear; USDA, others invest $5M to grow broccoli in East | 19

19 | The Boot Box; All Steel Carports 20 | American Chevrelot Cadillac PRODUCED BY


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“Twenty years ago a guy was standing out in the field with a flag getting sprayed. He’s gone now. The planes are equipped with GPS mapping. We get a map packet with a Google overlay and references on trees and houses.We can tell that we’re in the right place and the right field.” — Travis Weston, manager of Dungan Aerial Service in Connersville



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Crop dusters increasing along with grain prices BY PAM THARP



trong corn prices are keeping aerial applicators busy. “Crop dusters,” as they were known in an earlier era, have about all of the work they can do now because farmers are willing to spend money to boost what are already profitable yields. “It’s more important than ever this year, with $7 corn out there,” said Travis Weston, manager of Dungan Aerial Service in Connersville. “Data shows yield increases can average 10 to 18 bushels an acre after spraying fungicide in the summer.” Indiana has 140 to 150 licensed aerial applicators, pilots who apply chemicals to agricultural crops using airplanes, said Dave Scott, pesticide administrator for the Office of the State Chemist. Their numbers have quadrupled since applying corn fungicides became popular and profitable, Scott said. Aerial application is required to fight some crop diseases because they don’t occur until the crop is too big to spray with a conventional sprayer, Scott said. Fungal diseases such as gray leaf spot and northern and southern corn blights can severely impact corn yields, but they don’t develop until corn is ready to tassel. “The timing is such (the application) must be made at tasseling. Because of the height of the corn and the short time period, ground equipment can’t get it done,” Scott said. “Fungicide is a big chunk of the work now in Indiana. Corn prices are good, so it makes economic sense.” In northern Indiana, soybean aphids are another problem farmers often use aerial applicators to control. Dungan Aerial, headquartered at Mettel Airport in Connersville, flies two Air Tractor 802s, each with capacity to carry 800 gallons of product that will treat up to 400 acres. Demand for aerial work caused the company to buy the second plane last year, Weston said. During the busy season, from July 1 to mid-August, the company owned by Fayette County resident Jeff Dungan hires extra pilots and leases planes to help with the work, Weston said. Last summer, eight planes sprayed all over Indiana for Dungan, treating 170,000 acres in a three-week period, he said. “We stay in the state of Indiana. We also run out of Starke County where we own a hanger,” Weston said. “When we spray, we spray daylight to dark. Mornings and late afternoons have better air density. The planes handle better in light, crisp air.” Aerial applicators must have a commercial applicator’s license from the state, Scott said. They take the same core test as ground applicators and then must pass an aerial speciality test, he said.

“It’s a paper test. We leave the flying to the FAA,” Scott said. “The pilots have to be cleared to do aerial application.” The Environmental Protection Agency decides which products can be applied by plane, Scott said. Some agricultural pesticides, including mosquito control and some right-of-way weed control for power lines in hilly areas are applied by air in the state, he said. Residents sometimes get nervous seeing airplanes spraying in their neighborhoods, so Dungan Aerial notifies area police and sheriff departments, Weston said. It also has done some newspaper stories to help reduce concerns, he said. The company doesn’t spray if win speed is above 10 to 15 miles per hour. “Everybody sees an airplane with stuff coming out and they panic. We spray fungicide,” Weston said. “There’s a lot of products we can put out, but because of exposure and liability we don’t use them. We don’t do any weed killers.” Indiana has no specific rules regarding wind speeds for aerial application, but some product labels may have wind restrictions, Scott said. “We are working with EPA, which does the labeling,

because we want more specific language on drift,” Scott said. “EPA does the risk assessments.” Global positioning technology has made aerial agricultural work much easier, Weston said. “Twenty years ago a guy was standing out in the field with a flag getting sprayed. He’s gone now,” Weston said. “The planes are equipped with GPS mapping. We get a map packet with a Google overlay and references on trees and houses. We can tell that we’re in the right place and the right field.” Dungan Aerial works with local crop consultants and retailers who recommend aerial application and sell the chemicals, Weston said. Costs depend on location and product. A typical charge for the full package, including chemicals, is $25 to $35 an acre, he said. In June, ag planes will gather at the Connersville airport for stream testing to make sure sprayers are operating properly. The company also manages the airport and farms 600 acres in Fayette County, Weston said. “We have both the avaiation and the grower side. We can say we do our own applications,” Weston said. “We fly at 175 mph. We try to be proactive and make sure everything is operating as it should.”



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Delaware County Farm Festival offers

FULL PLATE OF ACTIVITIES Great food is just one of the many attractions



rom the Farm to the Table” is the theme of this year’s Delaware County Farm Festival, which will feature livestock, a trade show, displays of farm implements, hands-on educational programs for children and — of course — plenty of great food. The Farm Festival takes place mainly in the Memorial and Community Buildings at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. Admission is free, and the festival is open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. on each of its two weekdays — April 5-6.

Educational programs

“From 8 in the morning until 2:30 each afternoon, school-aged children attend the festival,” said Daisy Fryman, extension educator in agriculture and natural resources for Purdue Extension of Delaware County. The students each rotate through three educational units on agriculture, nutrition and related topics.” Presenters of these educational programs include Red Gold, Howell Farms, Hoosier Horsepower and the Purdue Extension of Delaware County. Approximately 1,600 children visit the festival each year, where they also have opportunities to watch a baby chick hatch, milk a cow, see a sheep-shearing demonstration and watch the process of wool being made into yarn, Fryman added. A petting zoo, which is always popular with the younger children, will also be offered.

For all ages

Attractions for attendees of all ages this year include the trade show, farm implement displays, a blacksmith’s shop, kettle corn and pork cracklins booths, sheep shearing, a State Police informational booth, pedal pull and cornhole tournaments, and an opportunity to plant a seed with the Delaware County Master Gardeners. Three local radio stations will be broadcasting live from the Farm Festival each day: WMDH (11 a.m. -1 p.m. Tuesday and 3-5 p.m. Wednesday); WLBC (1 p.m. -3 p.m. both days), and WERK (3-5 p.m. Tuesday and 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Wednesday).


TOP: Visitors had an opportunity to pet sheep during the 32nd annual Delaware County Farm Festival in 2010. ABOVE: Ray Herbert, of Muncie, gives a kiss to his horse Mr. T, while hanging out at the Delaware County Farm Festival at the fairgrounds in 2007.

Great food

On Tuesday, a baked steak lunch hosted by the Extension Homemakers will be available from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. in Heartland Hall. In addition, a BBQ chicken dinner prepared by the Gaston Lions Club will be offered in the Community Building from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday’s menu will feature a chicken noodles lunch prepared by the Extension Homemakers from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. in Heartland Hall. Dinner on Wednesday evening will be a pork chop dinner hosted by the Delaware County Pork Producers from 5-7 p.m. in the Community Building. A variety of concessions will also be available.

Sponsoring this year’s Delaware County Farm Festival are Amazing Joe’s Grill, Bobcat of Anderson, Delaware County 4-H, Extension Homemakers, Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, Farmland Custom Butchering, First Merchants Corporation, Gaddis Chrysler Dodge Jeep and Hyundai, Hoosier Horsepower, Howell Farms, Indiana Farm Bureau, the Master Gardener program, Minnetrista, McDonald’s Restaurants of Muncie, Prairie Farms, Red Gold, Reynolds Farm Equipment, Shideler Grain Company, Star Financial, Texas Roadhouse,, Thomas Office Machines, Weaver Popcorn Company and radio stations WERK, WLBC and WMDH.


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8 • Sunday, April 3, 2011 • The Star Press & The Palladium-Item

RIGHT: Hannah and Adam Steen pet a 2day-old calf. BELOW: Another newborn calf is already up and running around the farm. BELOW RIGHT: Hannah Steen waits as Adam Steen closes the barn door after feeding the cattle. BOTTOM: The Steen farm. PHOTOS BY KYLE EVENS


Bringing it to the Table

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The Star Press & The Palladium-Item • Sunday, April 3, 2011 • 9

Young people aren’t giving up on family farms Farming is something that gets ‘into your blood’ Adam and Hannah Steen



n 1945, it took 14 hours of labor and 2 acres to produce 100 bushels of corn, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports. Forty years later, these figures had dropped to 3 hours of work and just over an acre. By 2002, the amount of land needed to produce 100 bushels had shrunk to less than an acre. Efficiency, however, has a price: The percentage of Americans living and working on farms has declined with each generation. But, driven by agriculture’s economic promise and the chance to pursue a meaningful, family-centered career that is critical to the future of the planet, an increasing number of young people are choosing to stay on the family farm. Still others are returning to the farm after getting an education and possibly trying a different career.

Adam and Hannah Steen moved to Delaware County this past fall to raise beef cattle on a farm that was started by Adam’s grandfather, Bill Frazier. Adam grew up in the Muncie area, while his wife was raised in the southeast corner of Wisconsin, roughly halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. Both earned degrees in agricultural engineering at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Like her husband, Hannah has a family connection to farming. “My grandfather has a 76-cow dairy herd,” she said. “My dad grew up on that farm, which is about a mile and a half from where I lived as a child.” With their degrees, both Adam and Hannah could get fast-track jobs in big corporations, but they have opted to farm instead. “While I was in school, I worked at an internship for a large agribusiness company,” Adam said. “My bosses there nearly all said if they would have been able to leave the company and farm instead, they would have jumped at the chance. “Farming is a career choice, but it’s also a lifestyle decision,” he added. The realization that owing and operating a farm is an opportunity that’s not open to everyone also factored into the Steens’ decision: High Hannah and Adam Steen land prices and tight credit make it difficult to start a brand-new farm, Adam said, so taking over a farm that’s already in the family is one of the few ways to enter the business. “Recently, in Delaware County, 600 acres sold for $3.5 million,” he noted. “That price, of course, does not include the first piece of equipment — and there would also be a need for additional cash or a line of credit to provide operating capital.” Most banks, he said, would consider it too risky to finance that much debt for someone just starting out in the business. Young people who return to farming can play a vital role in bridging a knowledge gap between the large majority of Americans who do not farm and the few who do, Adam said. “With less than 2 percent of the American population farming for a livCONTINUED ON PAGE 13



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ABOVE: Erik Fisher cleans out the grain bin on the family farm near Granville. Erik was trained as a pilot at Purdue and still works part time for Muncie Aviation, but recently returned to help operate the farm. LEFT: Erik Fisher checks on the progress of loading seed beans in preparation for spring planting. PHOTOS BY KYLE EVENS / FOR THE STAR PRESS

Erik Fisher (right) and his father, Jeff, load seed beans in preparation for planting season.



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“This has always been what I have known. Ever since I was old enough to drive a tractor, I have loved helping out on the farm.” — Erik Fisher


ing, many people just do not understand some of the demands they’re creating for today’s farmers,” he explained. “For example, legislation currently under consideration could all but shut down the beef production system if it were passed.” As well as working on the farm with Adam, Hannah teaches a Precision Farming course at Ivy Tech in Marion. She sees high-tech agriculture as vital to farmers, who will continue to be under pressure to produce abundant, low-cost food for a growing world population. “As we look toward the future, we can be certain there will be more mouths to feed,” she said. “The technology of precision farming will be the way to get yields up and meet this increased demand for food in a safe, environmentally-friendly way.”

Erik Fisher

After completing Purdue University’s pilot-training program, Erik Fisher flew commercially for several years, working for aviation companies in both Michigan and Indiana. While he still loves to fly, his full-time job is now on the ground — at his family’s East Central Indiana farm.

Erik’s parents, Jeff and Peggy Fisher, work with him on the large farming operation, which includes land in Blackford, Delaware and Jay counties. While Erik’s wife, Adrienne, works off the farm as a nurse, she shares his interest in agriculture, having grown up in a Shelby County, Ind., farm family. Farming is something that gets into a person’s blood, Erik believes. “This has always been what I have known,” he explained. “Ever since I was old enough to drive a tractor, I have loved helping out on the farm.” Even while working in Michigan as a pilot, Erik remained interested in agriculture and continued to help out on the farm whenever he visited home. After his aviation career brought him back to East Central Indiana, his involvement in the farm increased — to the point that he eventually decided it was time to change his focus. Now he flies part time and devotes his full-time attention to the farm. “Like the passion of flying, farming is something I enjoy — it’s not just a job,” Erik said. There are some technological parallels between farming and flying, as well. “The same GPS (global positioning system) technology we use in airplanes is used in agriculture to map our fields

and control our equipment,” he said. “You can wrap up a lot of money in this type of equipment very quickly, but it pays for itself by allowing you to work far more efficiently and use less material.” When planting, fertilizing or harvesting, GPS-controlled equipment can reduce overlap, working only the ground that has not already been covered, he explained, which cuts costs and minimizes environmental impact. The advantages of GPS control are greatest for irregularly-shaped parcels of land, he added, where it is the most difficult to control equipment visually. While he has years of experience with the “hands-on” aspects of farming, Erik considers it a priority to become more involved in the business side of agriculture. “I know how to do the work, but I’m learning very quickly that there is so much more to it than that,” he said. “As people drive down the road and see one farm after another, they often do not think about the fact that every one of them is a business that has to be skillfully managed.” Some of the biggest financial challenges facing farmers include the need to control input costs, minimize overhead and remain successful despite fluctuations in market prices, Erik said. “It’s a balancing act,” he said.



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New technology changes the game for farmers Ivy Tech offers latest curriculum BY KEN WICKLIFFE FOR THE STAR PRESS


overing diverse topics such as robotics, ultrasound for cows and the use of global positioning systems on tractors and other implements, the curriculum of the Precision Farming class taught by Hannah Steen at Ivy Tech’s Marion campus explains the range of technologies impacting today’s farmer. Steen has developed material for the course both through formal education and hands-on experience. Along with a degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Wisconsin, she has spent time on farms in Wisconsin and, during an internship in college, on a dairy farm in France. Hannah and her husband, Adam, recently moved to Delaware County to begin

working with Adam’s grandfather to operate a beef cattle farm. As part of the growing agriculture program offered at several Ivy Tech locations, including Muncie, Precision Farming encourages farmers to evaluate what they do, Steen says, sticking with what works, but also being open to the use of more efficient techniques and procedures when the new ways offer tangible benefits. “For example, during harvesting there might be 10 inches of overlap on each pass,” she said. “If, through the use of GPS-controlled equipment, we can eliminate that overlap, the field will be harvested in less time at lower cost, and with less compaction of the soil.” Similarly, GPS and other controls can improve the efficiency of variable-rate spreaders that apply fertilizer and other chemicals to the soil by providing precisely the amount of product needed in each place, reducing supply costs and environmental impact.

GPS technology available to farmers is in some cases even more accurate than that used in automobile navigation systems, Steen noted. “With a Real-Time Kinematic system, distances can be computed and measured to an accuracy of less than an inch,” she said. “Most systems used by consumers are accurate to within about 10 feet.” Technology can also help farmers assess their level of productivity, facilitating better yield monitoring through the use of equipment that can do such things as measure the quantity of grain going through a combine. Other topics addressed in Precision Farming include taking good soil samples, assessing soil structure and health, robotic milkers and feed pushers, and the practice of intensive grazing, More information on Ivy Tech’s agriculture programs is available online at or by calling the Muncie campus at 289-2291.

Mapping makes big difference for one area farm Mike Behrendt of Howell Farms makes extensive use of computer-assisted mapping for planting, harvesting and fertilizing. To prepare for planting, he said, soil analysis results and other data are fed into a computer program that helps farmers develop a “prescription” in the form of a map. This map, in turn, can control an automated corn planter that continuously adjusts the number of seeds planted per acre to account for differing soil conditions and other factors. “This not only helps us become more economical by eliminating input waste, but also helps increase yields by treating each different soil type in a way that maximizes its yield potential,” Behrendt said. Similarly, a computer-controlled fertilizer spreader at Howell Farms reduces costs and helps reduce environmental impact. “This type of precision treatment with fertilizer helps ensure we are only putting fertilizer where it is needed and in the amounts it is needed,” he explained. Like the planting map, the fertilizer map is color coded. “The red areas of the field require no additional fertilizer; the green areas of the field require the most additional fertilizer,” Behrendt said. “This technology is really helping us become even better environmental stewards than we already are.” Finally, at the end of the growing season, technology allows for careful analysis of yields so that further improvements can be made the next year. “This shows us everything from how many bushels per acre to the moisture of the crop that we are harvesting,” he said. “We also use these maps to help determine where additional drainage IMAGE COURTESY OF MIKE BEHRENDT AND HOWELL FARMS and fertility work is needed. It’s basically the ultimate judge of our entire production system.” A corn-planting prescription map created on a computer at Howell Farms in Delaware County shows the number of seeds to be

planted per acre on a portion of the field.



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Susan and Ron Orebaugh (right) operate Grand Grilling to Go, a family business, with the help of their son, Roc (left), and Katie Clock. KYLE EVENS / FOR THE STAR PRESS

Local farmers find their niche: Grand Grilling to Go products are ‘home-grown’ ucts directly to the public through five farmer’s markets — Yorktown, Minnetrista, and three in Indianapolis. And, its “nearly world famous” pulled pork barbecue Some farmers have found that getting bigger is the is offered in several additional area stores and resrecipe for success, but Ron and Susan Orebaugh have taurants, including Goth’s Mount Pleasant Grocery been able to stay on their small Delaware County farm and Deli, Incredible Yogurt, Dairy Dream of Albany, by being creative and developing recipes of a different the Minnetrista Orchard Shop and Swissland Cheese kind: In addition to raising between 40 and 100 hogs, Company in Berne, Ind. they deliver ready-to-eat pork and other breakfast, Customers can also view products and place orders lunch and dinner items directly to customers. by phone or on the company’s website, grandgrilling. Through the company they founded — Grand com. Grilling to Go — Ron, Susan and their son, Rok, cater For any pork product he sells through either the family get-togethers, company picnics, class reunions catering service or the farmer’s markets and restaurants, and similar events, with the ability to serve groups from Ron can tell his customers the pedigree of the hog, its 10 to 400 people. birth date, and other information they’d never be able to “We bring the meal to your site so you can actually find out about mass-produced food items. enjoy your own event,” Ron said. “For most meat that consumers buy, all they may To complete its menu, Grand Grilling to Go suppleknow is that it was produced in the United States ments its own pork products with other locally- and — and nothing else,” he explained. “We’re also able to regionally-produced items, such as 20 varieties of provide a much fresher product than consumers get cheese that come from a milk producer in Northern from buying off the shelf: If our hogs are harvested on Indiana. Tuesday, the products are often available to our customGrand Grilling also sells a wide range of pork proders on Friday.” BY KEN WICKLIFFE FOR THE STAR PRESS

While the United States agriculture system has been extremely successful in providing consumers with a safe and low-cost food supply, people are becoming more interested in knowing where their food comes from and how it is produced, Ron explained. “Farmer’s markets and agri-tourism are hot trends, and we were lucky and blessed to find this at the time we did,” he said. “Customers like the knowledge that our animals are raised locally and treated humanely, and that we exercise quality control over the entire process, from farrow to finish.” From an economic perspective, when a farmer controls a larger portion of the food production process, more money stays in the local area and a smaller farming operation stands a better chance of surviving. “Right now, input costs in agriculture are so high that many farmers need to come up with ways to keep a bigger piece of the pie if they want to stay in business,” Ron said. “But for us, the biggest advantage of operating this way is that we have the fun of actually knowing our customers and hearing them tell us that they enjoy our products.”




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Delaware County gearing up for annual fair Fair board used off season to update grounds. BY KEN WICKLIFFE FOR THE STAR PRESS


he Delaware County Fair’s famous midway and grandstand will be in full swing from July 18-23 this summer, but the 4-H events held before and during that time, starting July 11, also promise to be educational, entertaining and informative, according to Jane Richard, 4-H educator and county extension director of Purdue Extension — Delaware County. “The county fair is an opportunity for our 4-H members to display the skills they have learned over the preceding months,” she said. “We offer over 50 4-H projects in Delaware County, including aerospace, photography, sewing, cake decorating, gardening, and – of course – livestock. “By participating in 4-H projects and activities, members explore potential careers,” Richard added. “They learn life skills such as responsibility, time management and leadership.” In 2010, there were 669 members enrolled in Delaware County 4-H, she noted, and there were also more than 100 volunteers who had 4-H meetings, prepared project workshops and helped in many other capacities. Jim Glore, a member of the Delaware County Fair Board, said the 4-H events are a tradition for many families in the area. “Generation after generation have taken part in these events, making them in many ways like a family reunion,” he said. “I’ve been involved with the fair for 35 years, and my wife and I both love it. “The fact that 4-H offers so much for so many is really a significant benefit for the young people in our community,” Glore added. People attending fair events this year will notice several updates to the fairgrounds, including new restrooms and bleachers, as well as freshly-painted buildings, he said. Heartland Hall, one of the newest buildings on the fairgrounds, replaces two older structures no longer standing — one that was dismantled and another destroyed by fire.


Jim Glore, a member of the Delaware County Fair Board, says fair-goers will notice many updates at the fairgrounds this year.

“Heartland Hall is a 60-foot-by-200-foot building that’s conducive to all kinds of events and meetings,” said Larry Clendenin, another member of the fair board. “It has a kitchen, restrooms, a general meeting room and three large halls that are rented for many types of events, such as wedding receptions and craft shows.” Another newer facility on the fairgrounds, an arena and judges‘ building, was contributed by the Delaware County 4-H Horse and Pony Club, he added. Held since 1852, the Delaware County Fair has been on its current site since 1881, Clendenin said. The Lion’s Club took charge of the grounds in 1961, and the county commissioners assumed control of the fairgrounds in 2001.

2011 4-H Fair Highlights Some highlights of the 4-H events scheduled for this year’s fair, from a schedule published by Purdue Extension-Delaware County: Monday, July 11 • 4-H Tractor Operator’s Contest (9 a.m.) Wednesday, July 13 • 4-H/Adult Public Fashion Revue, Heartland Hall (7 p.m.) Friday, July 15 • 4-H Dairy Show, Show Arena (11 a.m.) • 4-H Horse and Pony Contesting, Horse and Pony Arena (4 p.m.) Saturday, July 16 • 4-H Horse and Pony Pleasure Show, 4-H Horse and Pony Arena (9 a.m.) • 4-H Rabbit Show, Show Arena (9 a.m.) • 4-H Dairy Goat Show - 4-H Boer Goat Show - 4-H Pygmy Goat Show, Show Arena (3 p.m.) • View 4-H exhibits, Memorial Building (1-9 p.m.) Sunday, July 17 • View 4-H exhibits, Memorial Building (1-5 p.m.) • 10-Year Awards (before beef show) • 4-H Beef Show, Show Arena (1:30 p.m.)

• 4-H Sheep Show, Show Arena (5 p.m.) Monday, July 18 • 4-H Swine Show, Show Arena (9 a.m.) • View 4-H exhibits, Memorial Building (1-9 p.m.) Tuesday, July 19 • 4-H Poultry Show, Poultry Barn (9 a.m.) • View 4-H exhibits, Memorial Building (1-9 p.m.) • 4-H Supreme Showmanship, Show Arena (7 p.m.) Wednesday, July 20 • View 4-H exhibits, Memorial Building (1-9 p.m.) • 55th Annual 4-H Animal Auction, Show Arena (2 p.m.) Thursday, July 21 • Cat Show, Memorial Building (11 a.m.) Saturday, July 23 • 4-H Dog Obedience Show, Memorial Building (10 a.m.)

“The fact that 4-H offers so much for so many is really a significant benefit for the young people in our community.” — Jim Glore



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4-H at the Delaware County Fair

TOP LEFT: Poultry judge Larry Paxson feels a duck while judging it at the Delaware County Fair in 2010. FAR LEFT: Julie Larson of Carmel hugs her calf, Razz, as she walks him outside at the Delaware County Fair in 2007. ABOVE: Eric Bousman hangs out with his milking shorthorn dairy cows in 2006. LEFT: A pig walks through the gates after an auction at the Delaware County Fair in 2009. STAR PRESS FILE PHOTOS



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High prices give grain farmers a boost “We could see corn-corn-soybeans, with more corn following corn,” Alexander said. “We may also see more double-cropping in southern Indiana, he year 2011 could be the best ever to be a farmer — unless you’re a live- with farmers harvesting wheat and planting soybeans on the same acres.” Harvest Land Co-op grain buyer Ron Smith of Richmond said a huge crop stock producer. will be needed to meet all the obligations, but he doubts many Indiana farmers High grain prices in early March have dampened some in recent will abandon corn-soybean rotations. weeks, but a restless world and unpredictable weather events could “We’ve learned in the eastern cornbelt that farmers don’t do a lot of switchreverse the price decline quickly, agricultural experts say. ing. The corn/bean ratio is not likely to change,” Smith said. Grain markets “If you’re growing corn, soybeans, wheat or cotton, this could be a very bounced around last month, and farmers should be watching more than the good year for you,” said Corinne Alexander, Purdue University agricultural Board of Trade when making marketing decisions, he said. economist. “If you’re a livestock producer who needs to buy grain, it may not “(Farmers) have to pay attention to the kooks in control and watch the supbe so good.” The 2010 crop was a short crop, which has drawn down worldwide supplies ply and demand,” Smith said. “If Congress takes away the ethanol subsidy, the blenders’ credit, things could change drastically in the grain market.” of grain at a time of record usage, Alexander said. The USDA has projected Farmers also may buy more expensive seed this year because it delivers bigending stocks of corn at 675 million bushels, which is only 18 days’ worth of ger yields, Alexander said. She wouldn’t rule out the possibility that more land supply, she said. could come into production this year. Many farmers are investing in drainage “On Sept. 1, 2011, USDA is projecting there will be only 18 days of corn left in the world. Our corn crop won’t be ready by Sept. 1. Corn is the tightest of all tile to enhance the productivity of marginal land, Alexander said. Some land may be withdrawn from the federal Conservation Reserve the commodities,” Alexander said. Program (CRP) this year and go back into production, Alexander said. The Cash corn, the price for delivery now, fell from nearly $7 a bushel in early CRP program pays farmers to idle environmentally fragile land for a period of March to $6.25 by mid-month. Cash beans also dropped from $13.25 in early several years. Land that’s released this spring could be planted this year and March to $12.50 by mid-March. Fall future prices have fallen, in part due to market jitters caused by fears over oil supplies from Libya and the Japanese tsunami. re-enrolled by the October deadline, she said. “Prices at these levels may bring acres out of the CRP. We may also see Floods in Australia, drought in Russia and a questionable winter wheat crop farmers decide to rip out single-crop wheat this spring and replace it with in China caused concern for the world’s food supplies and pushed world food prices to the highest levels since the United Nations started measuring them in corn, especially if the wheat doesn’t look that good,” Alexander said. Indiana plants about 400,000 acres of wheat compared to 5.7 million acres 1990. In addition to those issues, one-third of the U.S. corn crop is now going of corn, Alexander said. to ethanol production, not food. Even though fertilizer, seed and crop insurance will be more expensive, The grain market’s high prices are telling farmers to plant more corn and farmers are optimistic for 2011, Smith said. soybeans, advisers say. Alexander believes some farmers may change their “Guys can make decent margins this year. Farmers are bullish about the corn-soybean rotation this year. Many farmers plant corn in a field one year future,” Smith said. “They’re always in a better mood when they’re making and soybeans the next year, a rotation that helps reduce insect and disease money.” problems for both crops. BY PAM THARP | FOR THE PALLADIUM-ITEM




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La. is front line in fight for prickly pear The Associated Press

CACTUS CANAL, La. — Federal agricultural workers carrying blow torches moved slowly down the bank of an old oil canal, burning every prickly pear cactus they came across in hope of killing off a cactus-eating pest that’s been on a tear across the Gulf Coast and is moving West. Cactoblastis cactorum, a tan-colored moth from Argentina, has been moving steadily across the Gulf Coast for the past decade. The moth lays its eggs in prickly pear cacti, which its larvae then infest. They’ll eat through the pads of the fruit-bearing plant worth hundreds of millions of dollars because of its use in Mexican cooking. Cactus Canal now marks the western boundary of the moth’s new habitat, and federal workers hope to stop it before it gets to Texas and the population explodes with an abundant food supply. “This is our line in the sand, so to speak,” says Joe Bravata, an invasive species specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS. The cactus burning on the remote canal dug more than a half century ago by oilmen in the farflung Louisiana marsh has support from the U.S. and Mexico. Both countries are contributing about $500,000 a year to kill the moths and save the prickly pear. The cactus is so important in Mexico, it’s on the middle of the national flag under the eagle. Known as nopales, prickly pear is farmed on about 205,000 acres in Mexico with a harvest worth about $160 million. California’s harvest, the biggest in the U.S., is worth $24 million a year. The cactus also has ecological significance. Quails and snakes find cover in prickly pear, as do fungi, reptiles and birds that eat the plant. A good portion of a white-tail deer’s diet depends on the cactus, and coyotes and foxes, in bad times, will eat it too. The moth is seen as a major threat. It arrived at the tip of Florida in the 1980s from the Caribbean and traveled up to the Florida Panhandle and across Alabama and Mississippi. In 2009, it was spotted in Louisiana. “If nothing’s done, we don’t think it will take long for it to get to Texas and then into Mexico,” said Rebeca Gutierrez, the cactus moth program manager with Senasica, a pest-control agency that’s part of the Mexican government. ”This pest has shown that it is spreading really fast.” There’s concern the moth could wreak havoc on Mexico’s prickly pear farms and wild plant populations. The country has launched a public education campaign, with flyers and highway billboards warning about the danger. To stop the spread, the USDA has been running crews and scientists out to patches of infested marsh in Louisiana for about a year to scorch prickly pear down to the roots. There aren’t a lot of the cacti in

Bringing it to the Table

The Star Press & The Palladium-Item • Sunday, April 3, 2011 • 19

USDA, others invest $5M to grow broccoli in East BY STEVE SZKOTAK THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

RICHMOND, Va. — A cool microclimate in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains has allowed farmer James Light to grow broccoli in quantity enough to supply a small chain of supermarkets. Along most of the East Coast, however, the broccoli piled up in produce crispers has traveled thousands of miles from the West Coast in refrigerated trucks, typically at a cost of $6,000 a tractor load. A team of researchers and agricultural agents hopes to take a bite out of the West Coast’s $1 billion broccoli monopoly with new strains of the vegetable designed to withstand the East Coast’s heat and humidity. They’ve received a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and $1.7 million in matching private contributions to create a broccoli corridor running from northern Florida to Maine. Their work has been driven by the rising cost of fuel to ship crates of broccoli from California fields to East Coast grocery coolers, the “eat local” movement and concerns about creating a sustainable, diversified food network. U.S. consumption of broccoli has nearly doubled in the past 25 years, with Americans now eating 8.5 pounds annually of the vegetable celebrated for its high levels of vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. Nearly all of that comes from California, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “And they do an excellent job,” said Thomas Bjorkman, one of the lead researchers and associate professor of horticulture at Cornell University. “But with the demand for locally grown and rising transportation costs, that really creates an opportunity for Eastern production.” East Coast proponents aim to capture a $100 million share of the broccoli market in five to 10 years. “We’re not attempting to put California out of business. We just want a piece of the action,” said J. Powell Smith, a South Carolina extension agent who is lining up growers in his state. South Carolina farmers currently devote about 1,000 acres to broccoli. But Smith said it won’t be easy to compete with established, proven growers in California, as well as Arizona. “In order to do so, we want to produce a product that is equal in quality if not superior,” he said. Broccoli suffers under constant hot temperatures and humidity common to the Southeast, developing “cateye” — a polka-dot pattern of discolored buds. Stores reject batches of broccoli that aren’t properly shaped or a deeply colored green, and they want a reliable supply system. “If you cannot deliver year-round, you’re going to be a bit player,” Bjorkman said. “It’s really going to take improved varieties to stretch the season.”

The West Coast dominates because it has the cooler nighttime temperatures and climates broccoli needs and vast areas of farmland to keep the vegetable growing all year. “A long stretch of California, from the north-central valley to the desert has been able to produce broccoli year-round by shifting production north and south,” said Mark H. Farnham, a broccoli breeder in South Carolina. “We believe it can be done up and down the East Coast.” Miguel Gomez, an assistant professor of applied economics and management at Cornell University, has been helping put together an East Coast network of farmers and retailers. Along with saving money, Gomez said creating second major production center for broccoli provides a hedge against threats such as drought, disease and bioterrorism. “When you look at a food system that depends on a single area, that is extremely risky,” he said. “It’s good to diversify.” It also saves money. Shipping 10 tons of broccoli from Salinas, Calif., for instance, runs about $6,000 and adds 20 cents to 25 cents per pound to the vegetable’s cost, Bjorkman said. The Western Growers Association, which represents growers in California and Arizona, declined an Associated Press request to comment on the East Coast initiative. While researchers expect the East Coast network to include areas where broccoli is already grown on a small scale, they also hope to grow new varieties in places broccoli hasn’t been planted before. They’ve been recruiting farmers to test the new varieties at the same time they’re trying to convince current growers to increase their acres and developing regional distribution hubs. They’re working with farmers like Light and retailers like Kevin Semones, manager of the Southwest Virginia Farmers Market in Hillsville, where Light sells his vegetables. Light, whose family has farmed in the Blue Ridge Mountains for generations, devotes about half of his 100 acres of vegetables to broccoli in an area where its cousin, cabbage, was once king. When summer temperatures may reach triple digits in Richmond, it is 30 degrees cooler in the mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway where his fields are located. Light said it makes sense to devote more acres to a crop that now travels thousands of miles to reach dinner tables. “It will be a week fresher when it goes into stores,” he said. Semones said he’s added more cooling equipment to store locally grown broccoli as acreage increases. “Most people tell me it’s sweeter and crisper,” he said of Virginia-grown broccoli. “It has to be fresher.”



20 • Sunday, April 3, 2011 • The Star Press & The Palladium-Item

Bringing it to the Table Spring 2011  
Bringing it to the Table Spring 2011  

A look at farming in Indiana