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Question of the Week

J.L. LouisianaAnswer: Thank you for requesting information from ATTRA on starting a farm school. Below are several farm educational resources. Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Curriculum Making the Farm Connection:…...

L.M. IndianaAnswer: The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has contracted with GDS Associates to create about 13 energy self-assessment tools for farms. They can be found at http://144.92.31.19/.These calculators are still undergoing…...

T.M. VermontAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information on rooftop gardening.Rooftop gardens are a unique way to use unused and sterile spaces for food production. There are many different types of rooftop garden systems that can include…...

L.R. ColoradoAnswer: Historically, research in absinth wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) control has predominantly been oriented toward chemical control. However, using an integrated, non-chemical approach including mechanical and biological controls…...

K.K. WisconsinAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information regarding small fruit production. Gooseberry and Currants: Gooseberry and currants are closely related (both are Ribes spp. ) and have relatively the same management requirements.…...

L.P. OregonAnswer:I am pleased to provide you with information regarding Huckleberry cultivation.Huckleberries have a 15 year maturity cycle and will typically begin producing fruit after the 5th year of growth. You can use that as an estimate of…...

D.S.Answer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA for information about control of wireworms. Life Cycle and Biology Wireworms are the larvae of click beetles. There are many species of wireworms found in agricultural fields, such as Agriotes spp, and…...

C.W. ArkansasAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information regarding heirloom watermelon varieties. I have listed below a few of the many, many varieties of heirloom varieties of watermelon. Seed Saver's Exchange sells seed for heirloom…...

D.N. PennsylvaniaAnswer: Thank you for requesting information from ATTRA on tools for evaluating possible rural enterprises for your farm?to find what will be profitable. The PRIMER for Selecting New Enterprises for Your Farm, published on-line by…...

K.B. MontanaAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information on common farm equipment (including tillage tools).Farm EquipmentFirst I will summarize equipment options for three scales of production: Human-Powered /Intensive Scale, Walking…...

G.S. ArkansasAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information on research on worming cows with garlic and DE.According to Ann Wells, DVM, herbs such as garlic work not by killing the worms, but by making the intestinal tract healthier. Since…...

C.C. MississippiAnswer: Here is some information on making and storing loose hay.Principles of hay managementCut hay while the grass is vegetative for highest quality. Allow the hay to field dry in windrows, and turn the windrows with a rake if…...

G.B. PennsylvaniaAnswer: There are two basic spring types. A hillside spring is a spring that emerges from the ground on a slope, and water flows by gravity downhill. These springs are developed by digging into the hillside to expose the spring,…...

H.G. PennsylvaniaAnswer: Thank you for requesting from ATTRA current information on kenaf production and marketing. This letter updates the information found on our Web site in the 2003 publication Kenaf Production. Kenaf Although USDA-funded…...

C.K. KentuckyAnswer: One of the first places I would begin to look for information on certifications and marketing strategies is the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center run by Iowa State University. I use this site a lot for information on…...

J.N. TennesseeAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information on crop oilseed yields. I have also included some information and resources on using peanut oil for biodiesel production. Below is a table taken from the ATTRA publication,…...

B.C. North Carolina Answer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA for information on conservation tillage and no-till gardening.Organic mulches ? for example straw, hay, and leaves ? have a long history of use in vegetable production. A common method…...

P.P. WisconsinAnswer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA for information on the difference between business accounting and accounting for agricultural operations. There is a set of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) which determines how…...

A.S. PennsylvaniaAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information regarding organic melon/ cantaloupe production.In general, melons prefer an average soil pH. of 6.0 to 7.0. It is critical that the ground be warm enough for the seeds to…...

S.M. MissouriAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information on organic parasite control in cattle.FliesFlies of concern may include members of the family Muscidae that includes house flies, stable flies, horn flies and face flies. Although…...

B.S. Virgin IslandsAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information on flame weeding.Flame weeding is a non-chemical weed control technique common among organic farmers. Flame weeding, also called flame cultivation, is dependent on propane gas…...

K.M. MinnesotaAnswer: Thank you for requesting information from ATTRA on food banks around the U.S. that contract with farmers to grow fresh produce. You mentioned a multi-county food bank in your area that you would like to contract with.It would…...

N.P. OklahomaAnswer: Thank you for requesting information from ATTRA on seed exchange groups and organizations. There are several long-established national groups that publish materials and facilitate trades among member seed savers. Seed Savers…...

L.H. MichiganAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information on controlling thistles.Most thistles are biennial and/or perennial forbs with very persistent root systems. Any control system must necessarily be targeted at depleting the root…...

B.S. KentuckyAnswer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA for information about sustainable turkey production.Listed below are articles and publications that discuss production, slaughtering, and marketing strategies for small scale turkey producers. I…...

J.M. North CarolinaAnswer: Thank you for requesting information on raising hogs on pasture.Listed below are various articles discussing options for raising hogs on pasture and alternative marketing. Also refer to the ATTRA publications on…...

B.C. ArizonaAnswer: Thank you for requesting information from ATTRA on persimmon production in Iowa. Please refer to ATTRA's Persimmon Production publication. There are two types of persimmon in the U.S.?the native Diospyros virginiana (common…...

T.M. South DakotaAnswer: This oilseed brassica, cultivated in Eurasia since the Bronze Age, was widely grown right up to the end of WW II, when it was superseded by the introduction of oilseed rape (Canola is the low-erucic-acid type) at a time when…...

J.D. CaliforniaAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information regarding organic cherry production.Please refer to the ATTRA publication "Organic Tree Fruit Production." This publication provides a good introduction to the principles of…...

K.K. KansasAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information on using composted zoo manure for gardening.Based on current compost research, most studies show that applying composted manures from zoos is safe to use in gardens. Many zoos…...

J.C. WashingtonAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information on sampling and testing of agricultural soils for nutrient content.Farmers test their soils based on their management practices and objectives. Some farmers who grow commodity…...

D.C. MissouriAnswer: Thank you for requesting information on gamebird production and marketing, especially pheasants and quail.I suggest you contact your District office of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks or call the…...

T.D. TennesseeAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information regarding bramble production in Tennessee.Please refer to the ATTRA publication titled "Organic Culture of Bramble Fruits." This publication covers marketing, economic and…...

A.M. PennsylvaniaAnswer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA for information about sprouting grains for livestock feeds.It is not considered to be cost effective to sprout grains for livestock feed. Generally, in livestock feeding, the nutritional…...

J.M. WisconsinAnswer: Thank you for requesting information from ATTRA on getting an internship started on your farm.The following 17-page document may be helpful. Keep in mind that it deals specifically with the state of New York's labor…...

G.S. VirginiaAnswer: Markets for mushrooms vary widely depending on the type of mushroom. The familiar white or brown "button" type of mushroom (Agaricus) makes up the majority of the market, both fresh and processed. Supply, flat for many…...

E.O. ArkansasAnswer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA for information on plants that are toxic to goats. Listed below are several articles that discuss plants that are toxic to livestock and specifically goats. It is quite interesting that goats seem…...

H.G. PennsylvaniaAnswer: Thank you for requesting information on using weeder geese.Listed below are materials that provide information on using weeder geese. They may be out of date, however the concepts are still appropriate. In order to make…...

S.L. New YorkAnswer: Thank you for your question about managing white grubs. Please see ATTRA's Sustainable Turf Care publication. This publication has information about managing white grubs on pages 18 and 33. I would also recommend that you…...

D.H. KansasAnswer: Brush control can be done in a variety of ways without using chemicals that are prohibited for use under USDA's organic standards. You will need to weigh the information below with your own experience to date with the…...

D.S. Illinois Answer:For rat control, the first task is to identify the species of rat, which will provide clues about where it lives, its habits, and its management. One rat pest is the Norway rat, which is generally a burrowing animal adapted…...

C.G. WAAnswer:I am pleased to provide you with information on forage varieties and dryland pasture management. Dryland pastures can be very productive, but require good management to remain productive. Forage variety selection, planting…...

W.A. GAAnswer:Composting has numerous advantages for waste materials. Compost contains nutrients that are readily available to plants and yet held against loss through leaching or volatilization. Compost added to soils has also been shown to…...

C.P. VAAnswer:My first suggestion to you would be to contact the Virginia Farmers Direct Marketing Association. They have a lot of specific information to your state and may be able to play an advisory role for you. Their contact information is…...

D.B. TexasAnswer:See the ATTRA publication Tree Fruits: Organic Production Overview. While you did not mention organic production, this publication addresses economic considerations for new orchard establishment applicable to all types of fruit…...

C.W. Florida Answer If you decide to set up a bottling facility you will need to work closely with your state dairy inspector. You can contact your state department of agriculture to locate the office that handles dairy inspections. Working closely…...

S.M. ColoradoAnswer: A couple of articles and a publication listed below deal with using amaranth as emergency forage for livestock. These resources note that high nitrate levels might be a concern.Resources: Anon. 2006. Current research…...

F.C. AlabamaAnswer: Any type of chick can be pastured or have outdoor access after brooding when it has grown feathers. A 2007 list of hatcheries that provide both chicks for meat production and for egg production, as well as duo-purpose breeds, is…...

B.C. ArizonaAnswer: The Turkish filbert tree (Corylus colurna), of Persian origin, was imported into the northwestern United States, where it is well-adapted. That area has become the center of commercial hazelnut production in this country. There…...

D.R. WisconsinAnswer: The northern fowl mite (Ornithonyssus sylviarum) and the chicken or roost mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) are the two main mites of concern affecting poultry in the U.S. Northern fowl mites spend their entire life cycle on the birds…...

C.M North CarolinaAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information on silage supplementation for pasture-based beef operations.Types of silage Type Crude Protein Fiber Energy Grass and small grain silage High…...

A.P. IowaAnswer: Medicinal herbs—especially native species—have been extensively investigated over the past 25 years as possible alternative crops for small farmers. Summaries of research are included in our publication Herb Production…...

J.F. CaliforniaAnswer: Finding Guernsey and Jersey stock that has not been "bred up" is somewhat difficult. These two breeds are considered major dairy breeds and have been in commercial dairy production for quite a long time in the U.S. Therefore,…...

M.M. MarylandAnswer: Because snails are serious agricultural pests in regions warm enough for them to overwinter, some states regulate the culture or production of certain snail species. Therefore, the first thing to do is to consult with your state…...

R.B. TexasAnswer: Here are several resources that discuss feeding sheep and goats. These articles talk about basic feeding requirements, forages, and supplementation (including the value of cotton seed meal as a feed). One thing you should do is have…...

C.S. PennsylvaniaAnswer: Several articles discuss the various options for fencing for sheep and goats. A few of these articles discuss the costs of the various types of fencing. In addition there is a book, Fences for Pasture & Garden, that you…...

K.D. FloridaAnswer: In general, it is best not to use raw manure on leafy green vegetables that will be harvested 60 days or less prior to application. The National Organic Standards requires a 120 day window for application of raw manure to harvest…...

S.F. PennsylvaniaAnswer: Plastic mulch is used in vegetable production for a number of reasons, including soil warming, reduced evaporation, increased yield and earliness, reduced nutrient leaching, and improved nutrient uptake. Of course, there are…...

J.Z. KansasAnswer: The demand for organic dairy products is growing, opening up opportunities for dairy producers all over the country. Organic dairying is more common on the west coast, upper mid-west, and northeastern parts of the U.S.; however it…...

B.L. TexasAnswer: Heat stress in poultry can be very serious, with layers being particularly susceptible. Birds will reduce their feed intake a great deal, since most of the energy in their feed is converted to body heat and reducing intake helps…...

C.S. OklahomaAnswer: Cattle are selective grazers. If given a choice they will only eat the highest quality, most palatable plants in the pasture. In order to ensure that plant biodiversity and high nutritional status is maintained in the pasture…...

D.E. IllinoisAnswer: The Resource list below contains several publications and articles discussing various hay preservation methods. The only preservatives that might be approved as organic are acetic acid (vinegar) or bacterial inoculants. Several…...

J.H. MichiganAnswer: Here is some information about cutworm and organic/ biorational control methods. Cutworms wreak havoc during seedling and transplant establishment. Problem areas are usually found near field borders and in weedier areas.…...

R.T. CaliforniaAnswer: The new ATTRA publication Cole Crops and Other Brassicas: Organic Production contains a section on Organic Integrated Pest Management that may be helpful to you, since it addresses aphids. Here are some additional…...

N.D. GeorgiaAnswer: Slugs are one of the more common and serious pests in the vegetable garden. These soft-bodied insects are mollusks and feed on decaying plant debris and on a number of vegetable, flower, fruit and herb species. Although slugs have…...

T.S. NevadaAnswer: There are different forms of Fusarium disease in tomatoes: Fusarium wilt and Fusarium crown and root rot. Fusarium wilt, caused by the fungus F. oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici (FOL), produces less extensive discoloration in the…...

M.S. TexasAnswer: Controlling bahiagrass in any scenario is extremely difficult. Bahiagrass reproduces by rhizomes (primarily) and seeds, is very tolerant of grazing, and tolerates droughty conditions. It isn't very cold tolerant, which makes it an…...

A.O. OhioAnswer: Black oil or other sunflowers should be avoided above 10% of the diet for younger and developing poultry, due to the high levels of fiber. Even for adult poultry the fiber levels may be excessive. However, sunflower seeds are used…...

D.R. WisconsinAnswer: Here is some information on nitrates, water, and vegetable crop quality.Nitrogen BasicsNitrogen takes many forms as it works its way through the natural nitrogen cycle. Atmospheric nitrogen is very abundant, and is…...

C.R. SaskatchewanAnswer: Intensive cropping systems, rotations, and crop diversification including intercropping have been shown to be successful in some areas of the Northern Plains. Intensive cropping utilizes soil water more efficiently than…...

J.M. CaliforniaAnswer: Transitioning from conventional to organic production brings about many challenges. Organic health care is a hurdle that forces many producers to learn to adapt. Organic Valley cooperative provides its member producers with a…...

N.R. FloridaAnswer: Historically, the horticultural literature and government production bulletins on watercress were geared to field production in flooded beds. However, hydroponic production—indoors or outdoors—has emerged as a modern…...

A.S. WisconsinAnswer: In summary, there are two materials that are allowed for rodent control in organic production. However, there are many acceptable methods of control. I have tried to answer your question by commenting on a few key sections of…...

T.R. NebraskaAnswer: The National Organic Program Regulations state that organic producers must manage manure in a manner that does not contribute to the contamination of crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients, heavy metals, or pathogenic organisms…...

S.C. Puerto RicoAnswer: Here is some basic information on okra (Abelmoschus esculentus).Okra is perfectly suited to a long, hot growing season and has few pests or diseases. When pods are kept harvested, the plant just grows taller and keeps…...