September 2, 2012

Farm briefs: Sept. 2, 2012


---- — Farmers urged to treat for alfalfa pest

PLATTSBURGH — For farmers who grow alfalfa to feed their dairy cows and other livestock and to sell as a cash crop, now is the time to apply the native nematodes that Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP)-funded research has shown will help control the highly-destructive alfalfa snout beetle (ASB).

Some farmers in the region have followed the inexpensive farmer-friendly nematode-rearing protocol developed by Cornell University entomologist Elson Shields and his Shields lab research team. The treatment employs two types of Northern New York-native nematodes that work in the shallower and deeper soil levels. The step-by-step manual is online at

The Cornell researchers believe that an initial treatment to establish a population of the nematodes should lead to long-term control of ASB. Many growers who are rearing and applying the nematodes are treating multiple and entire fields for widespread response.

The cost of the nematode application per acre is approximately 25 percent of the cost of losing of losing an alfalfa stand to ASB. A new economic study requested by Shields and conducted by agronomist Everett Thomas estimates ASB crop damage can result in the loss of as much as $175 to $230 per acre for the destruction of a second-year stand of the valuable feed and cash crop.

More than 500,000 acres of New York agricultural land is known to be infested with the insect pest that can destroy entire fields in one year. Two decades of research has developed the nematode biocontrol solution and is continuing to advance the breeding of ASB-resistant alfalfa varieties. Donald R. Viands and Julie L. Hanson at Cornell lead the plant breeding research work in cooperation with Shields’ lab personnel.

ASB is known to exist in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties in Northern New York. The New York Farm Viability Institute and Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station have also provided funding in support of development of ASB control. Learn more at

Chicken Harvest Seminars to be offered

JAY — Ward Lumber is hosting three Chicken Harvest Seminars for anyone who is interested in learning to harvest their own chickens.

There are three dates at two locations from which to choose. The first is on Thursday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at John Tuper’s Farm in Bombay. The hosts are Tom and Tammy Tuper. The other two seminars will be held at Ward Lumber in Jay on either Friday or Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon.

This hands-on seminar is for seasoned farmers as well as new or aspiring farmers. The educational event will offer the participant the opportunity to learn and participate in the on-farm harvest of meat chickens. The goal of the seminar is for attendees to add to their skills and/or acquire new skills to harvest their own birds on the farm.

Seminar attendees will learn the proper, up-to-date techniques for processing poultry including how to prepare before harvest day, handling to minimize stress and eliminate bruising and breaking, humane bleeding using cones, scalding using a Featherman thermostatically controlled propane scalder, plucking using a Featherman Pro Plucker, eviscerating using proper techniques, and packaging using shrink bags for a great presentation and to reduce freezer burn. Attendees will be using the poultry-processing equipment available at Ward Lumber.

The presenter will be Jay Ward, who has raised various types of livestock on and off since age 8 and is currently raising chickens (meat and replacement pullets), pigs and alpacas. Ward has trained with skilled poultry slaughterers and many chicken farmers sharing the best practices and techniques for chicken harvesting. He assembled and field tested a suite of portable poultry-processing equipment to enable farmers to more easily harvest their own chicken on their farms.

The cost is $10 per person and advance registration required. The class size is limited to be sure each attendee has ample opportunity to learn and participate. For additional information and to register, visit, email or call Kim Brown at 946-2110, Ext.120.

Beef producers pool calves for marketing

CANTON — Cornell Cooperative Extension and local beef producers are teaming up to pool beef calves for better marketing.

Small beef producers face a challenge when marketing their calves even though they may be good quality. By grouping calves by size and type and requiring certain health-management practices, the group hopes to provide a uniformly managed group of feeder calves, commingled from several producers, in a truck load lot, which can be marketed at optimum value.

The calves will be housed at a farm in Canton where they will be grouped into heifers and steers, different breed types and statures and fed a controlled ration. The group hopes to demonstrate a feeding and management system that will support an average daily gain of 1.5 to 2 lbs. during the 45-day weaning program. Farmers will probably retain ownership of the calves and pay a daily charge for feeding and any vet bills incurred while the calves are there.

At the end of the time, the calves will be marketed through normal channels but in groups with similar animals. If this is successful, it could become a model for weaning and marketing, which can be implemented throughout New York.

For more information, contact Betsy Hodge at 315-379-9192 or