Ranchers Leasing Seminar

For those of you interested in agricultural leases – grazing, hunting, and livestock – we are hosting a brief, one hour webinar to answer some of the most common questions we get from landowners and producers related to these leases.  No fee is required; we just request you pre-register if you plan to attend.

We’ll be offering this webinar in a brown bag lunch format (aka bring your own lunch) at the Bosque County Extension Office, located at 104 S Fuller in Meridian, Texas at 12:00 noon on August 2.  Please plan to arrive by 11:45 for the webinar.

If you can’t make it to Meridian, this webinar is available for you to attend by going online on your own.  Visit https://agrilife.org/texasaglaw/2018/07/05/ranchers-leasing-webinar-august-2-2018/ to sign in from your personal computer.  No registration or fees are needed to attend this webinar outside the office.   If you have any questions call Chelsea Dorward 254-435-2331.

Summer Tree Trimming

It’s July, it’s really hot outside, so now is the ideal time to trim those low hanging tree branches.  Yes now, while is it too hot to really be working outside, is the ideal time to do that trimming you’ve been wanting to do since springtime.  According to our local forestry specialist, our winters here are typically not cold enough for winter trimming, and heavy pruning of live tissue just after the spring growth flush should be avoided, especially on weak trees.

Because each cut has the potential to change the growth of the tree, no branch should be removed without a reason.  Specific types of pruning may help maintain a mature tree in a healthy, safe, and attractive condition.  Cleaning is the removal of dead, dying, diseased, weakly attached, and low-vigor branches from the crown of a tree.  Thinning is selective branch removal to improve structure and to increase light penetration and air movement through the crown.  Proper thinning opens the foliage of a tree, reduces weight on heavy limbs, and helps retain the tree’s natural shape.  Raising removes the lower branches from a tree to provide clearance for buildings, vehicles, pedestrians, and vistas. Reduction reduces the size of a tree, often for utility line clearance.  Reducing a tree’s height or spread is best accomplished by pruning back the leaders and branches to secondary branches large enough to assume the terminal roles (at least one-third the diameter of the cut stem).  Reduction helps maintain the form and structural integrity of the tree and is a healthy alternative to topping.

How Much Should Be Pruned?  The amount of live tissue that should be removed depends on the tree’s size, species, and age, as well as the pruning objectives.  Younger trees tolerate the removal of a higher percentage of living tissue better than mature trees do.  Generally, no more than 25% of the crown should be removed at once, and less for mature trees.  Removing even a single, large-diameter limb can result in significant canopy loss and can create a wound that the tree may not be able to close.  Care should be taken to achieve pruning objectives while minimizing live branch loss and wound size.

Research has shown that wound dressings do not reduce decay or speed wound closure, and rarely prevent insect or disease infestations.  Most experts recommend that wound dressings not be used unless you are pruning an oak in an area where oak wilt is present (like Bosque County).

A few tree diseases, such as oak wilt, can be spread when pruning wounds provide access to pathogens. The best time to prune an oak is when a contaminated beetle is least likely to find your tree.  If you trim an oak, IMMEDIATELY seal off the fresh cut with latex paint or wound paint.  This stops the pheromone attraction of the beetles.

If you are concerned with the health of your trees you may call me out for a site visit, the Texas Forestry Service is here to help as well, or you can hire an arborist.  When hiring someone to trim your trees or doing it yourself, please be mindful of proper sanitation of the equipment as to decrease spread of pathogens as well.

For more information contact Chelsea Dorward at chelsea.dorward@ag.tamu.edu or call 254-435-2331

Drought Brings Tough Times

As we put June behind us and face July with the dry conditions brought by drought, we see a lack of grasses, decreased agriculture crop production, and fires.  While it comes with the territory, none of us want to see any of these.  We can all pray and hope for rain, but until it comes we need to know how to get through these conditions.  If you are an agriculturalist with drought related problems, there are a few information websites available I’d like to share with you to assist in answering many relevant questions.

The Agricultural Drought Task Force website http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/ provides a clearinghouse of drought-related information from several state and federal agencies. The ‘Resources on Drought’ section provides static and changing information on drought while the ‘News Updates/Situational Reports’ section features the latest submissions from the site’s participating agencies.

The Texas Department of Agriculture’s Hay Hotline website connects those with hay to sell, or pasture to lease, to those who need it.  Also, the TDA’s ‘Disaster Resource Information Packet’ provides contact information for state, federal and private agricultural disaster assistance programs. Check out www.TexasAgriculture.gov for more information on both resources.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency provides low-interest emergency loans to help eligible producers recover from natural disasters. Interested producers should contact the office that serves the county in which your operation is located for options available in your specific location. Visit https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/farm-loan-programs/index, for more information on U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency loans.

If you’re interested in monitoring the current conditions, The U.S. Drought Monitor South, http://droughtmonitordev.unl.edu/CurrentMap.aspx stays current on drought conditions. The Texas Forestry Service also has a public viewer for current fires in Texas located at http://public.TFSWildfires.com.

For more information, please contact Chelsea Dorward at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Bosque County Office at 254-435-2331

Beef Cattle Short Course

Beef market, weather outlook to be featured at Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course


The outlook for consumer beef demand as well as price forecasts for the cattle market will be featured during the general session of the 64th Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course Aug. 6-8 at Texas A&M University in College Station.

The general session, set for Aug. 6, will feature Randy Blach, CEO of CattleFax, who will give a beef cattle market outlook.

“Everyone is wanting to know the trends and how this will affect marketing cattle for the remainder of the year,” said Dr. Jason Cleere, short course coordinator and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist, College Station. “Attendees will have the opportunity to hear a comprehensive overview of price trends and outlook so they can plan accordingly with their operations.”

Dr. Ron Gill, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist, College Station, will discuss hot issues in the cattle industry, including animal diseases traceability, clean meat and exports.

Dr. Jason Cleere, conference coordinator and AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist, College Station, and Kelley Sullivan, co-owner of Santa Rosa Ranch near Houston, will provide a look at the China beef market — present and future.

Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, AgriLife Extension law specialist, Amarillo, will discuss landowner issues affecting ranchers, and Brian Bledsoe, Southern Livestock Standard weatherman, Pueblo, Colorado, will provide an extended weather outlook.

The short course is the largest beef cattle educational event in the country and attracts more than 1,800 beef cattle producers from Texas and abroad, according to organizers. The short course is hosted by AgriLife Extension and the department of animal science at Texas A&M.

The short course also features 22 sessions covering basic practices, new technologies and other important industry topics. These sessions provide participants an opportunity to choose workshops based on their level of production experience and the needs of their ranch.

“Concurrent workshops will feature information on forage and beef cattle management, health, nutrition and reproduction, record-keeping, genetics, purebred cattle and much more,” Cleere said. In addition to classroom instruction, participants can attend one of the program’s demonstrations on the morning of Aug. 8, he said.

“There will be demonstrations on live cattle handling, chute-side calf working, brush management, fence building, tractor safety and beef carcass value determination,” Cleere said.

The goal of the short course each year is to provide the most cutting-edge information needed by beef cattle producers. We have information everyone can take home and apply to their operations.

Participants can earn at least nine Texas Department of Agriculture pesticide continuing education units if they are already licensed, Cleere added.

An industry trade show, featuring more than 130 agricultural businesses and service exhibits, will also be held during the event.

“And the famous Texas Aggie Prime Rib Dinner is always a highlight of the short course,” Cleere said.

Registration is $210 and covers all meals, including the prime rib dinner, breaks and printed materials. To register, go to https://beefcattleshortcourse.com/.

Stocker Cattle Program

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Offices of McLennan, Limestone, Bell, Bosque, Hill and Coryell Counties will be hosting a Stocker Cattle Program on Wednesday, June 27th at the West Auction Barn in West, Texas.  This year’s program’s topics include Cattle Nutrition and Health, Beef Council Update, Economics of Stocker Cattle Production, Cattle Markets, and Trich update.

Registration is $10 and will open at 7:30 am with program beginning at 8 am. Please RSVP by June 22 by calling the Bosque County Extension Office at 254-435-2331. One General re-certification credit will be offered for those with a pesticide applicator’s license.

Stiles Farm Field Day

THRALL – Feral hog trapping, soybean performance in the Blacklands, pecan tree management and the latest farm bill information will all be discussed at the Stiles Farm Field Day scheduled June 19 in Thrall.

The field day is hosted by the Stiles Farm Foundation and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. There is no registration fee courtesy of the Williamson County Farm Bureau. Lunch and door prizes will be provided to field day participants courtesy of local agribusiness sponsors.

The Stiles Farm Field Day is set for June 19 at the Stiles Farm in Thrall. The program features a number of cropping updates affecting Blacklands producers. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)

Two continuing education units will be given for Texas Department of Agriculture pesticide applicator license holders: one general and one integrated pest management.

“This year’s field day will feature topics of interest to a variety of producers and landowners in the Blacklands,” said Ryan Collett, farm manager and AgriLife Extension specialist. “The program is geared towards helping Blackland producers stay current with new technology and learn more about operating efficiencies during times of low commodity prices.

But, with pecan management, fence building and feral hog trapping presentations, we think there is something of interest for everyone.”

Morning session topics and AgriLife Extension speakers include:

–    Tips For Success with Feral Hog Trapping, Dr. John Tomecek, wildlife specialist, San Angelo.

–    Innovations in Cotton, Dr. Gaylon Morgan, state cotton specialist, College Station.

–    Cotton Pest Management Update, Dr. David Kerns, statewide integrated pest management coordinator, College Station.

–    Can Soybeans Work in the Blacklands?, Dr. Ronnie Schnell, cropping system specialist, College Station.

–    Cotton Fertility and Cover Crop Management, Dr. Jake Mower, soil specialist, College Station.

–    Row Crop Weed Identification and Management, Dr. Scott Nolte, state weed specialist, College Station.

Afternoon sessions will include:

–    Farm Bill Update at KC Hall, Dr. Joe Outlaw, AgriLife Extension economist, College Station.

–    Pecan Production in the Blacklands, Dr. Monte Nesbitt, horticultural specialist, College Station.

–    Stay Tuff Fence Building Demonstration.

The noon meal and program will feature the presentation of the Agriculturalist of the Year and Stiles Farm Foundation scholarships.

The Stiles Farm Foundation was established by the Stiles family at Thrall in Williamson County. According to the foundation, J.V. and H.A. Stiles wanted to commemorate their father, James E. Stiles, and the land he worked. They also wanted to help neighboring farmers and others throughout the Central Texas Blacklands region learn new farming practices.

In 1961, the Stiles Farm Foundation was established and became part of the Texas A&M University System. The farm is used by AgriLife Extension and Texas A&M AgriLife Research, which conduct field experiments and use the facility as a teaching platform.

Bosque County Hay Show and Scholarships

The first Bosque County Hay Show was held in Clifton in 1979 and was sponsored by the Bosque County Hay Show Committee, Bosque Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Texas Agriculture Extension Service, Bosque County. This year the event is tentatively planned for Monday, October 15th, at the pavilion at Bosque Bottoms (to be confirmed).

The purpose of the hay show has been to provide producers information as to the quality of the hay they are producing. By knowing the quality, producers know if their hay has adequate protein or if they need additional supplements to meet the requirements of their livestock.

The hay from this show is auctioned and proceeds are used to offset expenses in addition to providing scholarships for FFA and 4-H high school seniors in Bosque County. A total of 330 scholarships in the amount of $202,700 have been provided to high school seniors in Bosque County. In 2018, seventeen $750 scholarships were awarded.

This year’s recipients include from Cranfills Gap FFA: Sabrina Wright, the Wade Lee Memorial Scholarship; Monica Biera, the J. B. Wood Memorial Hay Show Scholarship; Joshua Wilhelm, a Bosque County Hay Show Scholarship.  From Iredell FFA: Ally Johnson, the Kenneth Shrank Memorial Hay Show Scholarship; Garett Fletcher, the John D. & Murlene Smith Memorial Hay Show Scholarship; Savanna Potter, Kyra Coffell, Alex Argott and Micah Wellborn a Bosque County Hay Show Scholarship.  From Bosque County 4-H:  Ryann Fischer, the Sandra S. Shrank Memorial Hay Show Scholarship; Rylie Fischer, the Jon F. Henderson Memorial Hay Show Scholarship; Baliee Barrett, the Marc Johnson Memorial Hay Show Scholarship; Emmaline Guillory, the C. Pernell and Rosalie Aars Memorial Hay Show Scholarship; Emily Murphy, a Bosque County Hay Show Scholarship.  From Clifton FFA: Lauren Prescher, the Homer and Vera Erickson Memorial Hay Show Scholarship. From Walnut Springs FFA:  Matthew Martin, the Carroll M. Olson Memorial Hay Show Scholarship.  From Meridian FFA, Darci Gann, a Bosque County Hay Show Scholarship.

Hay Baling with Moisture

It’s springtime in Central Texas and while you might still be trying to cut and/or bale those first hay cuttings of the year, you should consider the moisture content.  The moisture content during baling and storage can considerably effect to the nutritive value of the hay.  Hay baled with high moisture content levels can have negative impacts such as hay spoilage, barn fires, and decreased nutrition.

A natural event, commonly referred to as “heating,” occurs when growing forages are cut and continue to give off heat due to respiration.  Plant and mold respiration generates lots of heat; providing proper growing conditions for bacteria.  If wet hay is baled while it is too wet, microbe populations will flourish and intensify the heating process.  This results in hay that is lower in nutritive value and dry matter availability.

Allowing cut hay to dry (or cure) will slow down the respiration process.  Respiration slows down as moisture content decreases but will not completely stop until plant moisture reaches 20 percent or less.  Moisture levels above 20 percent allow the respiration process to continue and mold to develop, which then produces heat.

If the internal temperature of a bale of hay exceeds 130 degrees F, a chemical reaction occurs within the bales that release flammable gases that can ignite.  So when harvesting, the most effective way to reduce the potential of spontaneous combustion in hay bales is to make sure the cut has dried sufficiently prior to baling.  Consider the weather conditions because this greatly influences the rate at which hay dries.  Cut hay that has been rained on or is slightly wet should be mechanically teddered, or fluffed, to speed up the drying process.

Moisture levels for safe storage vary with the size and density of the bale and the type of hay. Hay in small square bales should be baled between 15 and 22 percent moisture to minimize leaf shattering, molding and heating.  Larger round bales or the large square bales are larger in size and weight.  So obviously these will retain core moisture, thus internal heat longer than the small square bales. These larger bales should not be baled with a moisture content level in excess of 18 percent.  If you are deciding to bale your large bales while the moisture content is in excess of 22 percent, you should not stack the bales for at least 30 days and consider this when feeding.

Large bales stored outside will suffer variable losses, depending upon the moisture of the hay at baling, the extent of exposure to precipitation, soil drainage characteristics where the bales are stored, the amount of space between the bales and the type of hay.  Properly-baled hay should be stored in well-drained areas, with a minimum of three feet between bale rows, away from trees or shade, and all facing the same direction as prevailing winds (ends facing north and south).   Check newly stacked hay for possible heating, especially for hay that has been rained on. It is not unusual for hay to heat to 100 degrees F within the first couple of weeks after it is baled.

For more information, please contact Chelsea Dorward at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Bosque County Office at 254-435-2331

Spring Forage and Hair Sheep Program

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – McLennan County will host the Spring Forage and Hair Sheep Program on May 11th at Hungate Farm located at 653 County Road 105, Marlin TX.

The program will offer two (2) CEU hours with one (1) Integrated Pest Management and one (1) General category that can be put toward recertification of your TDA pesticide applicators license.

Bobby and Kayce Hungate of Hungate Farm will host this year’s Spring Forage & Hair Sheep Program. Dr. Reid Redden, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Sheep and Goat Specialist will introduce you to Hair Sheep, as well as discuss Nutrition, Parasite Management, Predator Control and Prevention. Dr. Vanessa Corriher-Olson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Forage Specialist will present information on Managing Improved Bermudagrass Pastures for Hay Production as well as discuss Best Practices in Cutting Hay. Jake Mower, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Soils specialist will demonstrate a deep soil core sampler and cover the Importance of a Soils Test. Denise Winters, Synagro will partner with Dr. Shane McLellan, McLennan County Extension Agent on the BioSolid Result Demonstration. Colt Sharpton will be on the agenda to cook Hair Sheep Steaks and discuss Marketing Opportunities provided with hair sheep.

Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. and the program will start at 8:00 a.m. There will be a $10 registration fee. From Hwy 6, drive South East on FM 1860 for 6.2 miles, turn right on to CR 108 or Blue Buff Rd and drive 4.3 miles, turn right onto CR 105 and drive 1.5 miles, the entrance will be on the right.

Lunch currently will be sponsored by Hungate Farm and the McLennan County Beef and Forage Committee.
Participants should pre-register by May 1st by calling the McLennan County Extension Office at (254)757-5180.

Central Texas Conservation Partnership Landowner Workshop

This year’s Central Texas Conservation Partnership Landowner Workshop will be held on Friday, May 4, 2018 at the Meridian Civic Center located at 309 W River Street in Meridian, Texas. The program will start at 8:30 at the Meridian Civic Center and conclude at 3:00pm in the field just outside of Meridian.

This year’s program will cover:

  • State & Federal Program Availability
  • Plan My Land Operation
  • Wildlife Habitat Management & Tax Appraisals
  • Range Management
  • On the Farm – Now What?
  • Fire-adapted Landscaping

The Central Texas Conservation Partnership is a collaborative effort of several public and private natural resource organizations. Our goal is to provide a centralized, accessible resource for important information and guidelines for effectively conserving the property you already have or enhancing your property to meet your goals.

Please RSVP to this event by April 28th by calling Renee Burks at 254-386-3361 or Chelsea Dorward at 254-435-2331. Admission is $25 and includes a steak lunch. Three CEUs will be offered for those participants who hold a pesticide applicator’s license.