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.

4-H Youth and the Lucky Clover Golf Tournament

The youth are our future.  Everyone has heard or made that statement before.  Well, now is the time to invest in our future!  The youth of Bosque County 4-H continue moving forward to the next steps in their lives. Those steps may be high school, college, technical school or the work force.  The 4-H continues preparing youth not only to be productive members of society, but confident leaders throughout their lives.  The 4-H is dependent upon YOU to make this possible, through donations, sponsorship and volunteering your time and knowledge.

Here is a great chance to continue, or to begin, making a difference in the lives of the youth in Bosque County.  The Lucky Clover Golf Tournament is Bosque 4-H’s largest fundraiser of the year and supports many different youth development programs and activities including Texas 4-H Congress, County Camp, Leadership Lab, and State and District Competitions and Scholarships.

The 20th Annual Lucky Clover Golf Tournament will be held at Bosque Valley Golf Course on Saturday, May 19th. You can register as an individual and be placed on a team, or submit any or all team members with required information and entry fee.  You can register online at https://bosque.agrilife.org/ , at the Extension office (254) 435-2331, or at Bosque Valley Golf Course.  The cost is $50/person or $200/team which includes green fees, soft drinks, sausage wraps and a steak dinner (golf cart is extra).  The prizes are:   First – $280, Second -$240, Third – $200, plus 3 random $100 payouts.  Awards will follow each flight.

Playing in the tournament is not the only way to contribute.  You can also join many individuals and businesses that see the value in supporting the 4-H youth in Bosque County by sponsoring the tournament with various donations – any contribution is valued.  The 4-H Youth Development Program exists to raise up future leaders, instill character, and teach responsibility to our young.  Come and help make a difference in the youth of Bosque County!  For more information please call the Extension office at 254-435-2331.


Central Texas Small Grain Field Day

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Crop Committees in Bell, Bosque, Coryell, Hamilton, Johnson, Falls, Limestone and McLennan Counties will host the annual Central Texas Small Grain Field Day April 27, 2018 near McGregor.

The program will offer three (3) CEU hours with one (1) Integrated Pest Management, one (1) Drift, and one (1) General category that can be put toward recertification of your TDA pesticide applicators license.

Dr. Clark Neely, Extension Small Grains Specialist will lead a walking tour through the 21 Hard Red Winter Wheat Varieties, a Soft Winter Wheat and 8 Oat Varieties in strip trials. Dr. Neely will provide an update on the current year’s small grain growing conditions and issues affecting small grains state wide. Mark Nemec, local private crop consultant will present an update on what he is seeing on insects from his daily scouting in small grains. Mark Welch, Extension Economist will provide an update on Commodity Markets and factors affecting the current market. Welch will also discuss cotton being included in the next Farm Bill as a commodity crop as seed cotton. Flight instructors from TSTC will present on chemical drift from a pilot’s perspective. John Otwell of RDO Equipment will perform a Drone Demonstration and discuss current regulations and opportunities for using UAV’s.

Registration will begin in the field at 7:30 a.m. and the program will start at 8:00 a.m. There is a $10 registration fee. The result demonstration plot is located right off Hwy 84, 1.2 miles East of McGregor, on the North side of the Highway.

Currently, lunch is being sponsored by Dupont, RDO Equipment, Texas Wheat Producers, and the Extension Crops Committees in Bell, Bosque, Coryell, Falls, Hamilton, Johnson, Limestone, and McLennan County.

Participants Must Pre-Register before April 20, 2018 by calling the Bosque County Extension Office at 254-435-2331 or complete the form below to register:

Water Well Owner Training

A Texas Well Owner Network training has been scheduled for April 24 in Stephenville.

The training, which is free and open to the public, will be from 1-5 p.m. at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 1229 N. US Highway 281.  It is being offered to area private water well owners through collaboration with the Middle Trinity Groundwater Conservation District.

“The Texas Well Owner Network, or TWON, program is for Texas residents who depend on household wells for their water needs, so they can learn more about how to improve and protect their community water resources,” said Dr. Drew Gholson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program specialist and TWON coordinator, College Station. “The program was established to help well owners become familiar with Texas groundwater resources, septic system maintenance, well maintenance and construction, and water quality and treatment.”

He said participants may bring well-water samples to the training for screening. The cost is $10 per sample, due when samples are turned in.

“Water samples will be screened for nitrates, total dissolved solids and bacteria,” Gholson said.

Well owners who would like to have their well water sampled can pick up two sample containers from the AgriLife Extension offices in Erath, Comanche, Bosque or Coryell counties.

Bringing water samples to the training is not required, Gholson said, but those wanting to have water samples analyzed must attend.

Gholson said space is limited, so attendees are requested to register at http://twon.tamu.edu/training or by calling 979-845-1461 as soon as possible.

The training is one of several being conducted statewide through the Texas Well Owner Network project.

“The core content of this program is the same as other trainings, but the information is tailored to local water quality issues and aquifers,” Gholson said.

More than a million private water wells in Texas provide water to citizens in rural areas and increasingly to those living on small acreages at the growing rural-urban interface. Private well owners are independently responsible for monitoring the quality of their wells.

“They are responsible for all aspects of ensuring their drinking water system is safe – testing, inspecting, maintaining it. This training will help private well owners to understand and care for their wells,” Gholson said.

Funding for the Texas Well Owner Network is through a Clean Water Act nonpoint source grant provided by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The project is managed by the Texas Water Resources Institute, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, the AgriLife Extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University.

Central Texas Beef Cattle Meeting

Somervell, Bosque, Hood and Johnson County A&M AgriLife extension offices are partnering to hold the 19th annual Central Texas Beef Cattle meeting.  This is the program that was cancelled in January due to weather conditions. The new date for this event is Tuesday, April 24, 2018 with registration starting at 5:30pm at the Johnson County Livestock Exchange, located at 3119 North Main Street in Cleburne, Texas.

The event is open to anybody who would like to attend.  It will provide a basic education in agriculture, specifically cow-calf operations.  Attendees with a pesticides applicator license can receive 1 continuing education hour for attending the event.  Topics at this event will include a Live Cattle Demonstration conducted by George Davis, Owner/Operator of the Johnson County Livestock Exchange; Cattle Production Management Practices, by Dr. Jason Cleere, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist; Wildlife & Cattle Management Working Together, by Kevin Derzapf, Rangeland Management Specialist for NRCS.

A steak dinner will be provided onsite starting at 6:00pm with the program to follow at 6:30pm.  Registration cost for the program is $10 payable at the door.  Please RSVP by April 17, 2018 if you plan to attend. To register for the program or for questions please contact Chelsea Dorward at the Bosque County Extension Office at 254-435-2331.

Healthy Eating for an Active Life

It’s spring time!  The days are getting longer and we are starting to see beautiful, sunny days.  It’s a great time of year to get outside and get moving with activities you enjoy, especially with your family!

For youth and adults participating in physical activity like hiking, swimming, or various sports, healthy eating is essential for optimizing performance.  Combining good nutrition and physical activity can lead to a healthier lifestyle.   Use these tips from the United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate website (www.choosemyplyate.gov) to combine good nutrition and physical activity to make the most of your summer!

First, maximize with nutrient-packed foods.  Give your body the nutrients it needs by eating a variety of nutrient-packed food, including whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat or fat-free dairy.  Eat fewer foods high in solid fats, added sugars, and sodium (salt).

Next, energize with grains!  Your body’s quickest energy source comes from grain foods such as bread, pasta, oatmeal, cereals, and tortillas.  Be sure to make at least half of your grain food choices whole-grain foods like whole-wheat bread, tortillas, pasta and brown rice.

Power up with protein.  Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle.  Choose lean or low-fat cuts of beef and pork, and skinless chicken or turkey.  Choose seafood protein sources twice a week.

Quality protein choices come from plant-based foods, too!  Choose beans and peas (kidney, pinto, black or white, beans, chickpeas, hummus), soy products (tofu, veggie burgers, tempeh), and unsalted nuts and seeds.

Don’t forget the fruits and vegetables!  Get the nutrients your body needs by eating a variety of colors.  Try blue, red, or black berries; red, green, or yellow peppers; and dark greens like spinach and kale.  Choose fresh, frozen, low-sodium canned, dried, and 100% juice options.

Be sure to also include dairy foods such as fat-free and low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, and fortified soy beverages (soymilk) to build and maintain strong bones needed for everyday activities.

Hydration is critical in the warm summer months!  Stay hydrated by drinking water instead of sugary drinks.  Keep a filled reusable water bottle with you to always have water on hand.

Want to learn more?  For personalized nutrition information based on your age, gender, height, weight, and current physical activity level visit www.SuperTracker.usda.gov

Remember, physical activity is essential for good health.  Aim for at least 2 ½ hours of physical activity each week that requires moderate effort.  A few examples include brisk walking, biking, swimming, and skating.  Spread activities over the week but do that at least 10 minutes at a time.

For information about nutrition education program in your local area, contact Kate Whitney at the Bosque County Extension Office at 254-435-233.

Making Fruits and Vegetables the Easy Choice!

In Texas, three out of four deaths are attributed to a chronic disease.  However, studies show an intake of at least two and half cups of vegetables and fruits per day as part of a healthy eating pattern can reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases.  March is National Nutrition Month, and an opportunity to discuss the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.  We know a healthy eating pattern including fruits and vegetables can help to lower risks of developing chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

Lifestyles are hectic; however, increasing fruit and vegetables can be easy.  Here are a few tips for making fruits and vegetables the easy choice!

Choose to make half your plate fruits and vegetables. The rest of your plate should be one-quarter grains and one-quarter protein foods with low-fat dairy on the side.  MyPlate is a guide to making a healthy meal yet not every meal will look like MyPlate.  For example a sandwich may not fit in each portion of the plate; however, making a sandwich with whole grain bread, lean protein, a slice of low-fat cheese, and adding lots of vegetables with a side of fruit make a healthy plate.

Choose a variety of colors.  The colors in fruit and vegetables are not just to make them look pretty.  Fruit and vegetable colors are complex and those colors pack a healthy punch in reducing the risk of developing various chronic diseases.   Be sure to vary the colors on your plate.

Choose whole fruits and vegetables over juice. Children and adults eat most of their fruits and vegetables in the form of fruit juice, which can contain added sugars and make it higher in calories.  Choosing whole fruits and vegetables provides fiber, less added sugar, vitamins, and minerals.  Eating patterns high in these nutrients have shown to reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.

Choose to prep your snacks ahead of time.  Busy schedules can sometimes mean reaching for unhealthy snacks.  During the weekend, package small snack bags of bell peppers, carrots, strawberries, or your favorite fruit or vegetable for the week.  Place them in a spot you can see in the refrigerator.  This may help to limit choosing less healthful and tempting snacks!

Choose to make fruits and vegetables exciting.  Create a fruit and veggie contest.  Making fruits and vegetables part of a child’s healthy eating pattern establishes positive behaviors early.  Children learn from watching you.   Try having a fruit and veggie contest once a week.  It can be a simple game of name five blue fruits!  The prize could be choosing the fruit for dessert tonight.

Choose to flavor your water.  Flavored drinks are in every grocery store.   However, they can be full of added calories.  You can make your own flavored water by freezing diced fruits or vegetables and adding them to your water.   When you finish your water have the fruit or vegetable as a snack! It can be as easy as freezing slices of cucumber or whole raspberries and adding them to your water!

Choose fruit and vegetables to start the day.  Fruits can be an easy choice at breakfast food.  However, mix in some vegetables too.   Try adding spinach to your eggs, avocado to your toast, or tomatoes to a breakfast sandwich.

Choosing fruits and vegetables can be an easy task, if you plan and prepare healthy options in advance. Making small creative changes can benefit your overall health.  Overtime choosing more fruits and vegetables can help prevent chronic disease.

For more tips on improving your fruit and vegetable consumption, contact Kate Whitney at the Bosque County Extension Office at 254-435-2331.

Texas Department of State Health Services.  Texas Chronic Disease Burden Report, 2010. 
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: The Role of Nutrition in Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention, 2013.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Total Diet Approach to Healthy Eating, 2012.
MyPlate, http://www.choosemyplate.gov

Pre-emergent Weed Control

With all the recent rains and soon to be warmer weather, the smell or springtime is upon us! With this comes those pesky lawn weeds we all love to hate unless you are a toddler who like those purple henbit flowers!

Pre-emergent herbicides control weeds by forming a barrier that prevents the seed from germinating.

Now is the time to get pre-emergent herbicides out for those problematic warm-season weeds.  Maintaining a healthy lawn by proper fertilizing, watering and mowing is your first line of defense in controlling weeds. However, if your lawn is like mine and because of neglect or weather-related reasons, you might need another level of weed control.

Identify the type of weed you need to control.  Crabgrass, goosegrass and sandbur are annuals that emerge from seeds during the spring. These grassy weeds can be controlled with pre-emergent herbicides applied in late winter.

Dallisgrass is another weed that causes problems in lawns during the summer; it’s a perennial that recovers from rhizomes in the spring, but also produces seeds that spread throughout the lawn. Dallisgrass can be controlled by spot-treating the plants with a contact herbicide.

Those weeds you already see popping up – dandelion, chickweed, henbit, clover, dock and mustard can be controlled with selective post-emergent herbicides applied in the spring. These weeds can also be controlled by applying a pre-emergent herbicide in the early fall (September). Remember weed control is not a one-time process repeat applications may be necessary with both pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides. Always read and follow the label recommendations, as the label is the law.

For more information contact Chelsea Dorward at the Bosque County Extension Office at www.bosque.agrilife.org or 254-435-2331.