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Question of the Week

Answer: The presence of weeds in an established forage crop or pasture is usually a sign of a management problem. Fertility, proper planting procedure, and harvest management are the most effective ways to maintain dense, productive pastures. Ensure…...

Answer: Materials that are used to produce and handle organic crops under the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) must be selected for compliance and used in the context of organic principles for farming and handling practices. For more information,…...

Answer: There are at least two baking soda products that are registered with the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) as "certified organic"?Milstop? and Green Light?. Milstop is aptly named because it is used primarily for mildew control in…...

Answer: The answer to this question depends on whether you are asking about seeds in general or about different seed varieties of the same fruit.Regarding seeds in general, there is much literature about the fact that plants with larger seeds emerge…...

Answer: Grain that has sprouted (if free of mold and other microorganisms) can be fed to cattle with no negative consequence. But in terms of delivering energy and nutrients to livestock, it is generally not advantageous to sprout grains before feeding.…...

Answer: The National Organic Standards Board [NOSB; the advisory board to the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP)] and the NOP two years ago published a document addressing this question. Entitled Production Standards for Terrestrial Plants in…...

Answer: There are two species of chestnut weevil--the 'lesser' and the 'greater,' and though the life cycles are slightly different, the control methods are the same. Only one pesticide (see below) is labeled for treatment of chestnut weevil, so the…...

Answer: First, you'll need to understand the inherent value of your product. What sets you apart from the wholesale buyer the restaurant typically gets its product from? Is your product local, organic, grass-fed or antibiotic-free, or a specialty item?…...

Answer: Developing a new market and/or milk products will take some time and work. You will have to consider what available markets are near you, what prices the market will bear, the potential extra labor for new products, etc. In Kansas, you can…...

Answer: There are many factors that can affect the quality and tenderness of beef. Some of them are caused by production, some by processing, and some by cooking. The list below identifies several resources can help you address these various factors.…...

Answer: There are many agriculture-related funding opportunities, some of which are specifically for beginning farmers. Most funders have specific funding cycles, so it's a good idea to get familiar with various funders and their funding cycle?and with…...

Answer: The following provides a brief overview of composting systems. Keep in mind that if your operation is certified organic, you must meet the requirements for composting set by the USDA National Organic Program so as to not jeopardize your organic…...

Answer: Peach leaf curl, caused by the fungal organism Taphrina deformans, is a common disorder in peach and nectarine orchards, especially during wet springs. Infected leaves become misshapen, deformed, and necrotic, resulting in premature defoliation…...

Answer: Washing biodiesel is easy to do and requires only water and time. Washing removes impurities, including unfiltered particulates, methanol, and glycerin. Unwashed biodiesel will not meet ASTM, formerly known as the American Society of…...

Answer: Organic farming requires any pest-management materials used be in compliance with USDA's National Organic Program regulations and must be used in the context of organic principles for farming and handling practices. The Organic Materials…...

Answer: The establishment of a pecan orchard by planting trees in rows is how most new growers enter the pecan industry. Trees can be purchased with the cultivar already budded to the top, or planted as a seedling and grafted in the field. (To be "true…...

Answer: There are several things to consider in your search for farmland. A thoughtful and thorough search and planning process will increase your odds of finding the right property for your unique goals. Some important questions to ask yourself that…...

Answer: Blossom drop is typically associated with various stresses to the tomato plants. Wide fluctuations in temperatures?extreme highs and lows? are often the culprit. Lack of pollination can be another factor. Growth regulators (such as Bonide…...

Answer: Agritourism combines agricultural sales with on-farm entertainment or activities that involve the customers. These can include hayrides, mazes, pumpkin patches, farm tours, a bed and breakfast, or other endeavors. "Pick-your-own" or "you-pick"…...

Answer: With severe drought an all-too-common occurrence, some farmers turn to irrigation for a solution. Irrigation may not be feasible or even desirable. Fortunately, there are management options that can increase the soil's ability to store water for…...

Answer: Cover crops could be considered the backbone of any annual cropping system that seeks to be sustainable. There are several ways to use cover crops, each delivering specific benefits for your crops or soil.A cover crop is any crop grown to…...

Answer: The soil, the environment, and farm condition benefit when the soil's natural productivity is managed in a sustainable way. Reliance on purchased inputs declines year by year, while land value and income potential increase. Some of the things we…...

Answer: Apples, Malus sp., are among the most difficult crops to grow organically. They are prone to attack by more pests than perhaps any other crop. Without effective management, the worst of these pests can be devastating?to the fruit, to the…...

Answer: There are several ways to save energy on your farm depending on what type of infrastructure and operation you have. The first step to reducing farm energy costs is determining where you use energy in your operation. One way to gauge energy use…...

Answer: The term plasticulture refers to the practice of using plastic materials in agricultural applications, most often as a plastic plant or soil covering. Organic and conventional growers in California and Florida, where most of the nation's…...

Answer: Working with bees requires a gentle touch and calm disposition. It also requires a basic understanding of the honey bees' behavior during the various seasons and during handling and moving. It is usually wise to start small, learn efficient…...

Answer: There are a tremendous number of resources to help beginning farmers and ranchers with planning, securing land, and making a success of their operations. As the premier source of sustainable agriculture information, ATTRA offers important…...

Answer: You have spent months working in the fields, and you now have a bountiful harvest of beautiful fruits and vegetables. You want to ensure that your customers will also enjoy this healthy harvest. How can you best maintain the quality and safety…...

The USDA defines Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) as a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing…...

Answer: Hoop houses generally have no heating or cooling systems other than natural solar heating and natural ventilation. As a result, hoop houses provide less control of environmental conditions than full greenhouses. However, there are design…...

Answer: The ATTRA website offers several databases, including a directory of organic seed suppliers.This database identifies organic seed sources for both agronomic and horticultural crops. Some national, mail-order suppliers of untreated seed are…...

Answer: Living fences are fences made of live trees and shrubs. Their installation and use is common in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and Australia. While historically used in the United States as livestock fencing, living hedges are…...

The nutritional concern for ruminants centers around energy (i.e., carbohydrates), protein, minerals, vitamins, and water. Energy (carbohydrates) is responsible for maintenance and growth functions of the animal, and for the generation of heat. Protein…...

Answer: Adding compost?nature's own fertilizer?is one of the best ways to make the soil in your garden richer and more productive. And you can easily make it yourself, while cutting back on yard and kitchen waste. Compost is simply a product of…...

Answer: Poultry manure is considered one of the richest animal manures and contains high levels of the macronutrients N-P-K. Fowls do not excrete excrete urine separately; therefore, the droppings need to be composted before use or they will burn the…...

Answer: Spider mites on tomatoes can be either web-spinning spider mites, which can be seen with the naked eye, or tomato russet mites, which are invisible to the naked eye but leave plants with a "bronzed" appearance. It would be best to confirm the…...

Answer: Fiddleneck (Amsinckia spp.) is a native annual herb in the borage family. Fiddleneck is known to be toxic to horses both in its fresh form as well as in hay (Weed Board, 2010), and this toxicity is likely caused by alkaloids in the plant…...

Answer: Gooseberry and currants are closely related (both are Ribes spp. ) and have relatively the same management requirements. Currants have three different distinct varieties--black, red, and white. Gooseberry varieties range from greenish-white to…...

Answer: A great resource for organic treatments of common health problems of poultry flocks is Karma Glos's Remedies for Health Problems of the Organic Laying Flock, available at http://www.kingbirdfarm.com/Layerhealthcompendium.pdf. This compendium…...

Answer: Copper fungicides can be highly effective against disease and can extend the growing period, especially if applied before plants are infected with pathogen spores. However, copper fungicides can accumulate in the soil and cause health-related…...

Answer: Controlling poison ivy is a difficult task, and it may take a long period of time to get a handle on it. Here are a few options for controlling poison ivy without the use of chemical herbicides.1. Control poison ivy by constantly mowing or…...

J.S. New YorkAnswer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA for information on sources for business plans for greenhouse production. Here is a list of resources on planning a greenhouse business, including links to sample business plans.Greenhouse business…...

C.O. MaineAnswer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA for information about starting a fiber business.Like you, I am very interested in natural fibers. I am glad there are businesses (and I see that Maine has several) who process and sell yarn and…...

C.D. PennsylvaniaAnswer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. I am pleased to provide you with information on spading machines.The Spading Machine is a tillage tool…...

B.C. MinnesotaAnswer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. I am pleased to provide you with information about cutworm and organic/ biorational control methods.…...

D.S. North CarolinaAnswer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. I am pleased to provide you with information on movable high tunnels.A moveable high tunnel offers…...

T.C. TennesseeAnswer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. I am pleased to provide you with information on controlling thorny locust.Brush Control Practices…...

R.B. MinnesotaAnswer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA for information about achieving recognition of your fertilizer products as allowed for use in organic production. I state it that way, because input materials are not actually "certified", but…...

A.S. MississippiAnswer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service regarding energy self-audits for your farm.Understanding the energy required and consumed by your farm is…...

G.F. WisconsinAnswer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. I am pleased to provide you with information on design plans for hoop houses. Below is a brief…...

C.Z. VirginiaAnswer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. I am pleased to provide you with information on flame weeding.Flame weeding is a non-chemical weed control…...

S.H. MarylandAnswer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. I am pleased to provide you with information on permanent raised bed systems.Permanent raised bed systems…...

R.D. New YorkAnswer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. I am pleased to provide you with information regarding evaluating an enterprise for your prospective farm…...

G.C. WashingtonAnswer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. I am pleased to provide you with technical information resources on aquaculture methodologies and system…...

R.G. Florida Answer: Thank you for requesting information from ATTRA on field production of rosemary in Florida?as raw material for your nutraceutical extraction facility and for sales to the herbal and spices industry. Referenced below are some…...

B.S. New YorkAnswer: Thank you for your question on snail and slug management. This letter provides information about control options for both snails and slugs. Snails and slugs are one of the more common and serious pests in the vegetable…...

J.B. MontanaAnswer: These are some of our favorite resources on the subject of vegetation management with goats. Two chapters from the Targeted Grazing Manual (available on-line and by ordering from the American Sheep Industry) regarding…...

V.C. OhioAnswer: A quick search on the Cornell Ornithology website revealed that black-oil sunflower seeds are most preferred by birds. While you can also include the larger, striped sunflower varieties, the smaller, oilseed varieties are enjoyed by…...

D.S. West VirginiaAnswer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service regarding blossom end rot in your tomatoes.Blossom end rot is a physiological disorder of tomatoes and…...

B.J. CaliforniaAnswer: Thank you for requesting information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, regarding organic poultry production. Regarding the source of organic poultry, the national organic standards are as…...

F.W. KentuckyAnswer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. I am pleased to provide you with information on the application of compost.There are several different…...

F.E. New MexicoAnswer: Thank you for your question about rearing ladybugs. I have pasted an excerpt from the book, BENEFICIAL INSECTS - HOW TO MASS-REAR FOR A PROFIT because is addresses your question rather well. As this excerpt notes, most…...

K.A. New JerseyAnswer: Thank you for your request to ATTRA regarding fresh vs. frozen poultry.The advantage of fresh over frozen poultry to the consumer is that of convenience since there is no need for the product to be thawed before cooking. It…...

B.C. MinnesotaAnswer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. I am pleased to provide you with information about cutworm and organic/ biorational control methods.…...

K.K. WisconsinAnswer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA for information about commercial sprouts production. Please read the on-line sprouts publication available on the ATTRA website.Here is the link:…...

P.M. ArizonaAnswer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA, I am pleased to provide you with information on systems for dryland gardening. This case letter will address information and resources for dryland gardening.Your experience with the three…...

T.H. KansasAnswer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA for information on pricing cuts of beef. The following resources will allow you to determine yield and price for retail beef cuts.University of Vermont Meat Yield Calculation Spreadsheet You…...

W.S. North CarolinaAnswer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. I am pleased to provide you with information on water buffalo.The water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis)…...

T.G. WisconsinAnswer: Thank you for calling ATTRA to request information about elderberry production. Elderberry, Sambucas Canadensis, is a native plant throughout much of the U.S. The fruit and flowers are edible, and are traditionally used…...

Thank you for contacting ATTRA for information on crop rotation. The following resources should be helpful to you. First of all, here is a good website from UW Extension on rotations prior to 1940 (pre-herbicide era). The article contrasts the…...

E.H. Wyoming Answer: I am pleased to provide you with information on constructing a Walipini-style greenhouse. The Walipini is an underground or pit greenhouse that utilizes nature's resources to provide a warm, stable, well-lit environment for…...

W.K. Oklahoma Answer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA with your request for information on composting poultry litter. I understand you are interested in composting existing poultry litter in empty broiler houses. I've compiled some information on…...

M.M. South CarolinaAnswer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA with your request for information on the production of French guinea fowl.Please refer to Raising Guinea Fowl (PDF/1MB), a publication by the USDA. The publication dates back to 1976 when…...

Answer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service regarding growing hot peppers for market.Before growing hot peppers for market, I recommend evaluating your clientele to see…...

N.K. IndianaAnswer: Thank you for requesting information from ATTRA on growing saffron.In my saffron file, I have notes on a follow-up report by phone from a Texas farmer who, in the mid 1990s, had been very excited about growing saffron. He had…...

A.K. New YorkAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information regarding greenhouse production, budgeting, and marketing.In general, in is important to consider growing higher value products in greenhouses to offset the labor and cost of setting…...

E.B. WisconsionAnswer: I am pleased to provide you information on tomato diseases; in particular, late blight and blossom end rot. Late blight is caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans. A fact sheet from Ohio State University is referenced…...

P.C. MichiganAnswer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA with your request for information on the addition of ducks into a rotational grazing system. Ducks can be raised in similar production systems as chickens, and be included in a rotational…...

D.M. FloridaAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information on grass-fed beef certifications. There are a few opportunities nation-wide to certify beef operations to a standard and obtain a label for grass-fed and other management practices.…...

J.N. WashingtonAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information on wheel line irrigation operation and maintenance.You may be interested in requesting a copy of The NCAT Guide to Efficient Irrigation, which is a 158-page take-to-the-field…...

B.S. CaliforniaAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information on gopher control.An important first step in any pest management strategy is to understand the life cycle, burrowing and tunneling habits, and damage patterns of the rodents that…...

G.H. Idaho Answer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service regarding weed management in your newly planted asparagus.As you are finding out weed management is critical…...

H.J. HawaiiAnswer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service regarding organically approved management alternatives for "pickleworm." Pickleworm is a tropical insect and…...

D.G. MarylandAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information and ideas for pricing meat goats for on-farm selling.Although online information is scarce on the going rate for on-farm direct-marketing of slaughter-ready goats, there are good…...

D.W. OregonAnswer: Thank you for your recent request for information on organic alfalfa rotations.Rotations(1) The Noble Foundation in Oklahoma does research and education on forages and livestock management, and makes the following…...

D.G. OhioAnswer: Thank you for requesting from ATTRA a list of all available varieties of lavender. Please see our publication Lavender Production and Marketing. Refer to The Big Book of Herbs, by Arthur O. Tucker (Delaware State University) and…...

T.P. New JerseyAnswer: Thank you for requesting information from ATTRA on what qualifications you must meet as a farm intern mentor. You also ask about any state or federal programs and other aspects of having interns work on your farm. Your state…...