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Cooperative Extension: Agriculture

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Press Herald Interviews Hopkins about Maple Syrup Season

Kathryn Hopkins, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator and professor, spoke with the Portland Press Herald about Maine’s maple syrup season and how the colder weather, mixed with warm spells, has been affecting it. Hopkins said some producers in southern Maine have been able to make syrup during the brief warm temperatures, but a lot of people are still waiting for warmer weather before they begin to tap. She said she’s not worried about the late start, and if the weather warms up in a few weeks, there would still be a six-week season.

Explore Farming with UMaine Extension

University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative (PVAEC) explore what it takes to be a farmer in Maine on Wednesday, March 26, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at UMaine Extension, 165 East Main St., Dover-Foxcroft.

“Is Farming for ME?” will instruct attendees how to assess all assets that can contribute to a successful farm and where they can go for more information on starting a farm business plan. The program is part of the YOU CAN series of workshops developed to teach self-sufficiency skills to Maine families.

Donna Coffin, Extension Educator for Piscataquis and Penobscot counties and statewide resource for the Maine beef and equine industry, will lead the workshop. Cost is $5; pre-registration is required. To register, call 207.564.6525 or visit For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.564.3301 or 800.287.1491 (in Maine).

UMaine Extension offers hayfield, pasture management workshops

University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering free workshops on hayfield and pasture management this spring around the state.

Rick Kersbergen, UMaine Extension educator in Waldo County, will lead the “Got Hayfields?” workshops, which focus on how to best manage hayfields and pastures to produce high-quality feed for livestock. Topics include weed control, managing soil fertility, hay and pasture renovation techniques, grazing management and basics of forage quality.

Workshops are scheduled for the following dates, times and locations:

Pre-registration is requested. To register, or to request a disability accommodation, call 1.800.287.1426, or visit

Image Description: Baling hay

UMaine Extension Offers Tractor and Farm Equipment Safety Class

A University of Maine Cooperative Extension tractor and farm machinery safety course will be held 5-7 p.m. five consecutive Tuesdays beginning Tuesday, April 15, at Ingraham’s Equipment, 3 Knox Ridge South, Knox.
This class is designed for youth ages 14-16 to earn federal certification to operate farm machinery as part of their employment. It is also appropriate for adults who want to learn how to drive tractors and operate implements. Participants will be expected to operate machinery during class. A written and driving exam will be administered at the final session in May; it is required for those wishing to earn federal certification.

A $20 enrollment fee pays for a manual and safety equipment. Pre-registration is requested so course materials may be sent to enrollees prior to the first class. For more information, to register, or to request a disability accommodation, contact UMaine Extension in Waldo County at 1.800.287.1426.

Image Description: Youth on Tractor

UMaine Extension Offers Free Apple Tree Pruning Field Day

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering a free apple tree pruning and grafting field day Saturday, April 19, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Avalon Acres Orchard & Farm, 234 Dexter Road, in Saint Albans.

Avalon Acres owner Mark Sheriff, an alumnus of the UMaine Extension Master Gardener Volunteers program, will host. He’ll present information about general planting and management practices for apple trees then demonstrate pruning and grafting in the orchard. Apple tree growers and people who plan to plant apple trees this spring are invited to attend.

Pre-registration is requested but not required. Attendees should wear footwear appropriate for walking on uneven terrain. Rain date is Saturday, April 26. For more information, to register, or to request a disability accommodation, contact Peter Bastien, 207.474.9622, 800.287.1945 (toll free in Maine).

Image Description: Pruning a fruit tree branch

Registration Underway for UMaine Extension’s Grain Conference

Registration is open for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s annual Maine Grain Conference, which will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at the Spectacular Events Center, 395 Griffin Road, Bangor. The conference is designed for farmers, crop advisers and others involved in the agricultural community.

Featured speakers Klaas Martens and Mary-Howell Martens from Lakeview Organic Farm in Penn Yan, N.Y. will talk about organic grain rotations, production considerations for alternative grains, growing grain for seed and protecting grain quality with proper harvesting, drying, cleaning and storage. The Martens farm 1,400 acres of corn, wheat, barley, oats and legumes. They also operate a feed mill and sell organic feed, crop seed and food-grade grains.

Dorn Cox of the four-generation Tuckaway Farm in Lee, N.H. will discuss grain equipment options for all scales of operation. The grain grower will also give an overview of his 250-acre farm, as well as of the Great Bay Grain Cooperative that shares equipment and expertise.

Ellen Mallory, UMaine Extension sustainable agriculture specialist and conference organizer, will update attendees on UMaine grain research results with graduate students Aaron Englander and Erin Roche. An open question-and-discussion session will be held so participants can tap into available expertise.

Participants will receive two pesticide certification credits and six Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) credits.

Pre-registration is required by Thursday, March 13. Cost is $20 if pre-registered by March 10, $30 after. The fee covers lunch and a snack. To pre-register and pay online, visit For more information, to pre-register by phone, or to request a disability accommodation, call Meghan Dill at 207.581.3878.

Image Description: Handful of grain

Farm Scoop – March 2014

Maine Hay Directory & Maine Straw Directory

Do you have enough hay to get through the winter?  Do you have hay for sale?  Use the Maine Hay Directory to locate possible hay sources or post the availability of your hay.

If you need straw or have straw for sale, use the Maine Straw Directory.


York County Farmers Network Upcoming Events

Off-the-Farm YCFN Winter Breakfast

Date: March 4th
Time: 8:00 a.m.
Location: Hen House Cafe, 446 Main Street, Springvale, Maine 04083
Cost: Free to YCFN members, generously sponsored by Farm Credit of Maine

​Thanks to Farm Credit of Maine, this breakfast is free to YCFN members.  A small donation from non-member visitors is requested. The Hen House Cafe in Springvale is a quick hop from the Extension office building, right across the street from the Maine District Courthouse on Main Street (Route 109). Questions, or if you need directions, please contact Frank Wertheim or Becky Gowdy at 207.324.2814. You may call the Extension office before 4:30 p.m. on the day before the breakfast (Monday) to check on possible cancellation due to weather.

YCFN Potluck – Farm Transitions and Succession Planning: What to Do, What Not to Do

Date: March 18th
Time: 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (program starts at 6:30 p.m.)
Location: Nasson Heritage room, Anderson Learning Center, 21 Bradeen Street, Springvale, Maine 04083

Who is going to carry on your work on the family woodlot or family farm when you’re gone? Please come for a potluck dinner and presentation on farms and other real property in transition from the current owners to the next generation or to others, and pointers on how to help it happen smoothly. Rich Merk, President of SWOAM (Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine), will lead a discussion on succession planning; how to plan for the future ownership or control of real property that you have invested in for years or maybe generations. The Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine, Three Rivers Land Trust and the York County Farmers Network jointly present this program.  Questions, or if you need directions, please contact Frank Wertheim or Becky Gowdy at UMaine Extension in York County, 207.324.2814. You may call the Extension office before 4:30 p.m. on the day of the event to check on possible cancellation due to weather.

YCFN Potluck – 100 Unique Maine Farms

Date: March 25th
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (program starts at 6:30 p.m.)
Location: Nasson Heritage room, Anderson Learning Center, 21 Bradeen Street, Springvale, Maine 04083

York County resident Mary Doyle spent two years on the road visiting 100 unique Maine farms and is writing a book on that topic. She has incredible stories and pictures to share. Questions, or if you need directions, please contact Frank Wertheim or Becky Gowdy at UMaine Extension in York County, 207.324.2814. You may call the Extension office before 4:30 p.m. on the day of the event to check on possible cancellation due to weather.

Chelsea (MA) Market YCFN Field Trip

Date: March 27th
Time: 1:00 a.m. – 7:00 a.m.
Location: Wells Transportation Center parking lot

Meet at the Wells Transportation Center/Park at 1:00 a.m. and commute with fellow farmers to a 3:00 a.m. arrival at Chelsea Market outside of Boston. Experience a unique behind the scenes tour of the market. We should be done by 5:00 a.m. and back in Wells by 7:00 a.m. for a day’s work.

FMI on all these events visit the York County Farmers Network.


The Andy Valley Successful Farmer Workshop Series –

Rescheduled for March!

Dates: Wednesdays, March 5-26, 2014
5:45 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. 
Location: Androscoggin Valley Soil & Water Conservation District,
254 Goddard Road, Lewiston, Maine 04240

Registration: Full 5-session registration $50/person or $15/individual session

Join with other new and experienced farmers, University of Maine Cooperative Extension educators, and other agricultural professionals to share strategies for successful farming. Topics include crop, nutrient and pest management; irrigation, and transition to organic production. This series includes four evening sessions and one full-day session in May. Full details, including how to register, are available at AVSWCD. Contact Jane Heikkinen, 207.753.9400 x 400, with any questions or to request a disability accommodation.

Sponsored by Androscoggin Valley Soil & Water Conservation District, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services; and University of Maine Cooperative Extension. All sponsors are equal opportunity employers.

FREE Cover Crops Webinars

Dates: Thursdays, March 6-27, 2014, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. (EST)
Registration: FREE to all who wish to participate! Register online for individual webinars or the entire series.

Improving soil health not only cleans up water quality and reduces soil loss but also provides a better environment for cash crops to succeed. Learn about basic soil health principles and how cover crops are key to making those happen on your farm.
This ASA webinar series will focus on cover crops and their implications on soil health, maximizing yields, livestock considerations, and crop management.

March 6 – Cover Crops, Soil Health Principals and Maximizing Yields

March 13 – Combining Livestock, Manure and Cover Crops

March 20 – Cover Crops Seed Selection and Planting

March 27 – Cover Crop Management and Termination


2014 Maine Grain Conference

Saturday, March 15th
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Spectacular Events Center, Bangor
(395 Griffin Road, near the airport)



Get more information, or register online by March 13th for the Maine Grain Conference! Pre-registration is required – $20 before March 10th; $30 afterwards; Includes snack and lunch. Pesticide and CCA credits have been requested. To register by phone and pay by check, call Meghan Dill, 207.581.3878. Other questions, call or email Cooperative Extension Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Ellen Mallory, 207.581.2942.

Maine Grass Farmers Network 10th Annual Grazing Conference

Saturday, March 15th
8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield

The cost is $75 per person, $25 for each additional person from the same farm or household, with discounts for students and MGFN members. This conference is designed for livestock producers who want to learn how to best use pasture and forage crops to feed their livestock profitably.

This year’s conference features Forrest Pritchard, a professional farmer, writer and public speaker. His farm, Smith Meadows, is one of the first “grass finished” farms in the country, and has sold products at farmers markets in Washington, D.C., for 15 years. His book Gaining Ground, A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm was named a Top Read by Publishers Weekly, The Washington Post and NPR’s “The Splendid Table.” Pritchard’s keynote presentation is “The Economics of Grass-Based Livestock.”

Additional presenters will include University of Vermont livestock specialist Joe Emenheiser and Crystal Springs Farm manager Seth Kroek. The conference will also feature the MGFN annual business meeting, a grass-fed beef cook-off and a trade show.

For more information and to register, visit the MGFN website. For any questions or to request a disability accommodation, contact Rick Kersbergen, or 207.342.5971

The MGFN Conference is co-sponsored by University of Maine Cooperative Extension; The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; The Natural Resources Conservation Service; The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; and the Maine Beef Producers Association.


2014 Pesticide Applicator Recertification Training

Presented by UMaine Cooperative Extension & Maine Board of Pesticides Control

For your convenience, recertification meetings have been scheduled at various sites around the state. Each of these sessions is worth 4 recertification credits.

Seating is limited at each location, so be sure to pre-register by returning the Pesticide Registration Form by March 17. Pre-registration is $20. Registration after March 17 is $30.

Locations, Dates and Times:

Presque Isle – March 25 – Presque Isle Inn, 116 Main St., 12:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.

Brewer – March 26 Jeff’s Catering, 15 Littlefield Ave., 8:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Augusta – March 26 Augusta Civic Center, Washington and York Rooms, 76 Community Dr., 12:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.

Portland – March 27 – Keeley’s Banquet Center, 178 Warren Ave., 8:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.


Credits are given for one session only.  Questions about your recertification credits? Call the Board of Pesticides Control 207.287.2731.


Maine Farms for the Future Clinics

GET YOURSELF READY NOW!  In March and April, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, will offer three free clinics to help interested and farmers confirm their eligibility and “practice” applying for the Maine Farms for the Future Business Planning Grant in mid-September.

The clinics will be held on the following dates, in Room 319 of the Deering Building which is located at 90 Blossom Lane in Augusta.

Space is limited to 15 participants per clinic. Please call Kimbalie Lawrence at 207.287.3491 to reserve your place at the table and get a jump on your application.

Transferring the Farm

A Workshop to Help Farm Families Minimize Farm Business Succession Risk by addressing estate planning, business structures, and developing plans to move your farm to the next generation.

Two dates/locations from which to choose:

April 1, 2014
Cooperative Extension Office
307 Maine Ave.
Bangor, ME

April 2, 2014
Androscoggin-Sagadahoc Extension Office
24 Main Street
Lisbon Falls, ME

Additional information and registration available here, 2014 Transferring the Farm brochure Bangor and Lisbon Falls. Registration deadline is March 28.


The Maine Migrant Health Program

Do you need affordable health insurance? Free, in-person help is available! The Maine Migrant Health Program is a non-profit organization with over 20 years of experience providing healthcare to Maine’s migrant and seasonal farmworkers. If you own your own farm, need coverage for you and your family, are an employee who is looking for coverage, or a member of the general public, we are here to help members of Maine’s agricultural community get enrolled in a health insurance plan.

We have Certified Application Counselors across the state that are available to:

Our services are free and available to the general public. Don’t delay!  The deadline to enroll is March 31, 2014.  Please call Liz Charles at 207.441.1633 or Eduardo Cortes at 207.485.5553 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

UMaine Cooperative Extension offers
2014 Master Food Preserver Program

Master Food Preserver (MFP) volunteers serve to extend Extension’s educational programs in food preservation to adults and youth. The MFP Program includes 10 three-hour kitchen lab sessions in the Gorham Middle School, Family and Consumer Science Room, and the UMaine Cooperative Extension Cumberland County office in Falmouth.

Sessions will take place throughout the growing season from June – September, focusing on food preservation techniques including: canning, drying, freezing, fermenting and winter storage techniques.

Once MFPs have successfully completed the Program, they serve as a volunteer and resource in the community to provide the public with research-based information from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and USDA.

Details and application packets are available online at the Food Preservation – Master Food Preserver Program page.

School for Poultry Producers Focuses on Best Practices,
Bird Health

UMaine Extension and Maine Poultry Growers Association (MPGA) will offer a daylong school for poultry producers on Saturday, April 5th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield.

Topics will include best management practices, bird health and disease prevention for egg layers and meat birds. Additional topics include poultry nutrition, poultry product quality and organic practices.

The school is designed for farmers with a poultry enterprise and is appropriate for backyard keepers, bird fanciers and 4-H teens. The $25 fee ($10 for MPGA members) includes a reference notebook, a poultry break-even calculator and refreshments. Participants should bring their lunch.

The Maine Farm Bureau and Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association are co-sponsors. For more information and to register visit the UMaine Extension Maine Poultry School page, or call UMaine Extension, 207.781.6099. To request a disability accommodation, call 207.781.6099 or 1.800.287.1471 (in Maine only).

Presentation on Conservation of our Native Bees

Alison C. Dibble, Ph.D., conservation biologist and pollination ecologist from the University of Maine, Orono, will speak on April 7 at 7:00 p.m. (weather date April 14) at the Standish Town Hall. Her talk will feature a summary of what we know of the 270 species of native bees in Maine, their importance as pollinators, and recognition of their potential role in crop pollination given the decline of the introduced honey bee due to Colony Collapse Disorder.

She will offer practical tips on how to enhance bee habitats in the home garden and around the farm, and where to look for more resources. She will emphasize bumblebees, which are easy to recognize and are starting to fly in early April.

With Dr. Frank Drummond and others at the University of Maine, Dr. Dibble researches use of native bees as pollinators of the wild blueberry crop in a 5-year USDA-funded project on pollination security in four crops of the northeast (includes also apple, cranberry, squashes). She also prepares pollinator habitat enhancement plans for farmers around the state.

The talk is hosted by the Wildridge Garden Club and is free and open to the public.

Blade Shearing School with Kevin Ford

April 11-12, 2014
Time: 9:00 a.m.

Fee: $110 per student. Limit of ten participants. Includes shearing manual, morning refreshments and lunch each day.
Location: At the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester, Maine.

Spectators are welcome.

Intermediate Level Sheep Shearing School with Gwen Hinman

April 13th, 2014
Time: 9:00 a.m.

Fee: $85 per student. Limit of six participants. Includes shearing manual, morning refreshments and lunch.
Location: Washington, Maine

Beginner Level Sheep Shearing School

April 26th, 2014
Time: 9:00 a.m.

Fee: $40 per student. Limit of ten participants. Includes shearing manual, morning refreshments and lunch.
Location: Wolfe Neck Farm, Freeport, ME

Spectators are welcome. Information and registration are available online.

Proposed Changes to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS)

EPA has issued proposed changes to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) to increase protections from pesticide exposure for the nation’s two million agricultural workers and their families.  The best source of information is on the EPA website. EPA is seeking your input by the date specified in the Federal Register notice, which will publish within 10 days, identified by docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0184-0002.


EPA is proposing revisions to the Worker Protection Standard through a Federal Register Notice.  These revisions will protect more than two million farm workers from pesticide exposure.

Key Proposed Challenges:

Wishing for Spring? 

Read the latest articles on gardening in the Maine Home Garden News. Sign up online to receive monthly issues throughout the growing season at:

Image Description: round bales of hay piled in a field; photo by Edwin Remsberg

Image Description: Farmer and duck with ducklings

Image Description: wheat field

Image Description: Maine Migrant Health Program

Image Description: Vegetables for food preservation

Image Description: Maine Poultry Growers Association

Image Description: A queen bee with some of her attending workers.

Image Description: sheep shearing

BDN Advances Cooperative Extension Blueberry Growers Meetings

Spring meetings and training offered by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension were mentioned in the Bangor Daily News article “Maine wild blueberry industry may benefit from farm bill pilot program.” Blueberry growers will gather in March, 2014 for meetings planned by the UMaine Cooperative Extension in Waldoboro, Ellsworth and Machias. The meetings will include briefings on pollination, weeds, fertilizers, regulations, diseases and pests. The article also stated the Cooperative Extension and Maine Board of Pesticides Control will conduct training in Machias to prepare growers for the private pesticide applicator core exam and the blueberry commodity exam. Both exams will be administered after the training sessions.

UMaine Study on Best Plants to Attract Bees Focus of Press Herald Column

A study being conducted by University of Maine researchers to determine what flowers are most attractive to bees was the topic of the latest column in the Portland Press Herald’s Maine Gardener series. UMaine professors Alison Dibble, Lois Berg Stack and Frank Drummond are conducting the study at gardens in Old Town, Jonesboro and Blue Hill with the help of graduate student Eric Venturini. Honeybees have become scarcer and more expensive to bring in from out of state, which makes wild and native bees more important to commercial growers and home gardeners, according to the article.

Tree Fruit Preseason Meeting – March 5, 2014

Tree Fruit Preseason Meeting

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
USM Lewiston-Auburn College, Room 170
51 Westminster Street, Lewiston, Maine 04240
Registration fee:  $20 per person, or $25 per person on the day of the meeting.

This meeting will provide pest and horticultural management updates for commercial, hobbyist, large and small-scale orchardists. The agenda and registration information are posted on UMaine Cooperative Extension’s Tree Fruit website.

Image Description: apples


University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Contact Information

Cooperative Extension: Agriculture
5741 Libby Hall
Orono, Maine 04469-5741
Phone: 207.581.3188, 800.287.0274 (in Maine) or 800.287.8957 (TDD)E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System