Wednesday, December 29, 2010

All Things End...

...and as they do, hope for 2011 is high. The U.S. economy runs into the new year hopeful after a successful holiday retail season, the crop agriculture sector is sitting on near record profit margins at the moment, and the world is pretty much just happy to see 2010 over with.

Wishing you a calm and comfortable 2011, and don't forget about the Farm Winter Workshop at Gibson Southern High School,, 7:00 P.M. on Jan. 3rd.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Work Productivity

I love working through the holidays. The laidback pace, the chance to get some menial work done such as inbox clutter cleanup done without the guilt of having "more important things to do," and the chance to feel some form of normalcy in between hectic holidays all factor into workplace satisfaction. Except, of course, when I think about how few of my peers are doing the same as I this intraholiday week. In a fit of peerless reflection, I stumble across a news article that ensures my productivity this week is not recklessly low. In fact, unbeknownst to me at the time, I was least productive on the week in which October 26 lay, with October 26 being the least productive work day of the year, on average. The cause is believed to be shorter days in the northern hemisphere producing the onset of depressive thoughts. My personal belief lies more towards the realization that the season of candy onslaught is set to begin, and sugar deprivation has the world slacking off before the receipt of a bountiful harvest on Halloween.

If one thinks about it, Halloween gives way to Thanksgiving to Christmas to Easter within the span of 4-5 months. Sweets are commonplace for even the least confectionary-friendly of us during this time period. After Easter, however, sweets give way to...well, swimming, fireworks, and deep-fried state fair food. Our simple sugar levels slowly drop until Halloween comes along and redeems us of chocolate bars, suckers, and virtually anything bite-sized. Now, all of this is just a theory, but it is a theory during the explanation of which my brain rests long enough to tackle the rest of the work day.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Grateful Heat

Well, even though we are not projected to seeing above-freezing temperatures again today, at least we are staying well away from the record lows for Princeton, both set on the 9th of February, nearly 112 years ago. The high temperature was -5 degrees Fahrenheit, with a low of -20. This is just a good time of year to stay indoors and start paperwork for 2011.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Why airlines and Best Buy have it right...

For queue theory, from our friends over in Champaign-Urbana, click here. It's an interesting discussion on what kind of line moves the quickest over the holiday season, and why exactly the quickest line is never the one you or I are standing in. It all makes so much sense now...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Winter Solstice

A lunar eclipse on the (Northern hemisphere) winter solstice, according to NASA and the US Naval Observatory, has occurred one time since the A.D. calendar began. That year was 1638. On June 25th of that same year, the first lunar eclipse ever to be recorded in the U.S. occurred. Now, they had occurred before, but if European settlers had not written it down, it never really occurred, of course. The next winter solstice lunar eclipse will occur in 2094, well beyond the scope of average life expectancy at this point. However, fun supernatural circumstance (and some statistics) would predict a decent, if small, chance of a baby somewhere in the world being born today, living to the ripe old age of 84, and passing away on the date of the next solstice lunar eclipse. Fun stuff to think about while procrastinating those last-minute holiday gifts.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Indiana Pesticides and Manure

It has been a real whirlwind of activity in the office the past week, with 81 pesticide applicators converging on the Gibson County fairgrounds Friday for a PARP/CCH talk about pesticide technology and record keeping. The elephant in the room, of course, is the new fertilizer certification rule. While the decision whether to need certification is fairly straight-forward for most, there is definitely a good amount of gray area for niche or smaller applicators.

To get any uncertainty erased, call the local extension office or Office of the Indiana State Chemist at 1-765-494-1492. Oooooorrrrr, you could attend the first Farm Winter Workshop at Gibson Southern High School on January 3rd, if you happen to feel like making the drive.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bark Beetles

Garfield passed up a chance for an infamous Monday the 13th strip to talk about bark beetles: One must love native Hoosier Jim Davis's rural roots.

Retail v. Packing v. Agriculture

I HATE partisanship and vested interests. Yes, that is a paradox, or at least self-contradictory. However, there exists no room in the world around us for closed-minded speculation or unvalidated opinion.

Therefore, I have to spread an article I read today with some reluctance. I love the graphs. I love the way most of the facts presented are legitimate. I hate the wordplay: "Examing Walmart's 'Rural Stranglehold.'" Check it out, and pay close attention to the 1990-2009 pie chart of the amount farmer's receive on the dollar for beef and pork. I knew that farmers were not receiving the percentage they once were, but the change over 20 years seems to justify quite a bit of the decline in farmer profitability among the two industries.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Indiana Farmers Grow Communities

Money is up for grabs. To be exact, $2500 is up for grabs to local community organizations. And Gibson County farmers get to decide who it goes to in Gibson County. It's a Monsanto project called America's Farmers Grow Communities, and any Gibson County farmer over 21 that farms at least 250 acres of traditional crops, 40 acres of vegetables, or 10 acres of tomatoes/peppers/cucumbers is eligible to pick their favorite organization. To get more information or to vote, go to, or farmers may call in to 1-877-267-3332 to cast their vote. Voting ends on December 31st, so vote now!

Psst...I hear Gibson County 4-H is a great community organization, just a real stand-up crowd (

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Big Tree Register

The IDNR Division of Forestry keeps track of the largest trees in each species (nominated by local individuals) and publishes their findings once a year. Gibson County has the honor of possessing one of biggest trees in Indiana this year: the largest Overcup Oak. For those unsure what an Overcup Oak is, you were not alone. Here is a link for more information:

At a height of 102', it should not be too difficult to find Betty Smith's tree in Princeton.

For more of the biggest trees in this or other states, check out Indiana Big Tree 2010 here:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Master Gardeners

Well, after finishing up last week discussing the future of the Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow network (CoCoRaHS) in West Lafayette, I start out this week with a media blitz, beginning with the announcement of Master Gardener training classes to begin on January 25, 2011. We'll run every week for 13 weeks on Tuesday evenings, from 6-9 P.M., at the Gibson County Courthouse South Annex. Cost of participation is $125, with $25 refunded upon completion of class time and 35 volunteer hours. Costs cover speakers, handouts, and refreshments.

Call the Gibson County Purdue Extension office or email me at for more information and an application.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Invasive Species Control

When an unknown weed begins to take over your lawn or property, call the county extension office. When an unknown weed begins to take over your community, the Southern Indiana Cooperative Weed Management Area wants to know. Since 2008, this group has focused their efforts on invasive species education and control. Invasive species, such as kudzu, Asian bush honeysuckle, and poison hemlock are defined by a capacity to spread quickly at the expense of the natural vegetation and wildlife around it. If you have driven down a Mississippi or Alabama interstate, you know what an invasive can do to a forest. If you have problems with the spread of bermudagrass in your lawn, you have a good idea of what an invasive can do.

SICWMA is dedicated to the prevention of native habitat loss due to invasive plant species. For more information on the organization, or to see what it can do for you, call your local Cooperative Extension office or click here. Not in southern Indiana? Cooperative Weed Management Areas exist in many locations. Call the extension office for the location of your nearest CWMA.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pepsi Refresh, HSUS, and the Animal Agriculture Alliance

I hope everyone had a great holiday!

The Pepsi Refresh Project is an effort by the cola company to give nonprofit organizations dollars they need to further their cause. Before going any further, I would encourage viewers to check out the project by clicking this link.

Currently in the lead to receive $250,000 this month is the Humane Society of the United States ( For those unaware of the organization, check out their web site. The animal agriculture industry has been aware of this organization for quite some time. To understate, most in the industry are not big fans. The Animal Agriculture Alliance ( is encouraging people to block the HSUS attempt to get this quarter million by voting for a different organization, any other organization, really.

If you have a stake in seeing who this award goes to, head over to and cast your vote. Hurry, though, there are less than two days left to vote from the time of this post.

Pro-HSUS or anti-HSUS, it pays to be informed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Drought to Flood

They released U.S. Drought Monitor updates a day early for the holiday. The map shows Gibson County still in a severe drought condition. And, as of this writing, Gibson County also lies under a National Weather Service declared Flood Warning until rains stop Friday. So it goes.

Final planning is being completed on just a ridiculous amount of programming to start off the year. Stay tuned, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Upcoming Events

Calendar updates for interested parties:

December 17 - last opportunity for PARP in Gibson County...Activities Building on the fairgrounds from 9-11 AM CST.

January/February Monday Nights - Winter Workshops - Schedule to be released in the next few days.

January 28 - Area Corn and Soybean Day at the Activities Building on the Gibson County fairgrounds.

February-April - Master Gardener Training

February 23 - Estate and Business Planning workshop, location TBA.

The Purdue Management Academy and Annie's Project are also coming to Vanderburgh County in Jan./Feb. Contact the Purdue Extension office at 812-385-3491 for more information on any of these events.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Drought No More?

Not much rain reported on Saturday in Gibson County, although conditions were dreary all day. The highest of the two CoCoRaHS ( reports available at this time was 0.16 inch. Today should have brought quite a bit more precipitation into the area, with Mt. Carmel reporting 0.21 inch so far this evening. Will precipitation totals of less than 0.5 inch break the dry cycle?

Of course, the likely answer is that it just all depends. Surface moisture available to increase humidity and cloud cover may help for a short time, but cooler temperatures mean less of a chance for heavy rainfall. In the short term, thank heavens for something. In the long run, it may have been too little, too late.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Orville Redenbacher

I heard a few rumors today involving the famous popcorn king and his connection with Gibson County. To confirm/dispel the rumors, I turned to a web site from his home county, biographing Mr. Redenbacher as they celebrate his legacy yearly via a popcorn festival.

Redenbacher, a Purdue graduate, did operate the 12,000 acre "Princeton Farms" owned by Tony Hulman, Jr. of Indy 500 fame. That is the end of his major ties to the county, however. His time with Purdue Extension and high school education was served in Vigo County (Terre Haute), and most of his major business dealings were based out of Valparaiso, IN.

Check out the link above for more information on the legendary man.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Drought conditions

The U.S. Drought Monitor updates every week with Tuesday conditions being released on Thursday morning. This week, as of November 2, practically all of Southern Indiana has entered the severe drought category, with Ohio River basin areas in SE Indiana and as far north as Jackson County entering the exceptional drought category. The calculations used to define severe or exceptional drought are somewhat complicated, as they must take into effect precipitation, groundwater and streamflows, and soil moisture. Very generally, though, it can be said that a severe drought exists when the amount of available moisture is 6-10% of normal. An extreme drought can be said to exist when the moisture is 3-5% percent of normal.

On average, then, Southern Indiana should only experience these conditions once every 10-20 years. However, 2007 had similar conditions in Southern Indiana, although earlier in the year. With the rather wet 2008 and 2009 seasons, perhaps there is some validity to the extreme weather severity and frequency prediction from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?

To access the U.S. drought monitor, please visit the site, hosted by the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Post-election daze

Property tax caps will be added to the constitution via passage of a referendum in yesterday's elections. The caps will be 1% for residential, 2% for business/agricultural, and 3% for equipment. What does this mean to the agricultural community?

Hypothetical situation for a Gibson County farmer:
Homestead: 1 acre homestead valued at $150,000 = Max. tax of $1,500
Land: 400 acre crop farm, average land value of $4,000/acre = Max. tax of $32,000
Buildings: 1 equipment pole barn, 1 shop, 1 small office, valued at $250,000 = Max. tax of $5,000
Equipment: Consider most fully depreciated, other than a few key items (one tractor, combine w/ new heads, say), valued at $500,000 = Max. tax of $15,000
Total Maximum Property Tax Levied: $53,500

Note that this would cover the basic necessities of work for a farmer, and 400 acres probably would not bring enough income for a farmer to avoid taking off-farm work to supplement income.

The anticipated local revenue loss in certain areas should spur an increase in local taxes to bring households and businesses closer to the capped levels. Lake and St. Joseph county governments are to be the hardest hit, with high value homes receiving substantial rebates from implementation of the caps.

For more information on this topic, please click here or here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cold One Coming On

The National Weather Service has a low of 33 degrees tonight (10/28) in Gibson County, as the winds from the north push temperatures down to near freezing for the first time this fall. As such, any plants that require warm temperatures need to be protected, either by moving them indoors or covering them to prevent frost damage, among other options.

For more information on frost protection of plants... this link for general information and methods: this link for fruit crops: