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 (www.humanesociety.org). 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 (www.animalagalliance.org) 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 www.refresheverything.com 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 (http://cocorahs.org) 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.