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Cooperative Extension: Agriculture

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Farm Scoop – July 2014

Is Endophyte a Concern for Maine Livestock Producers?

This spring a few beef producers contacted UMaine Extension concerned that Endophyte infected fescue or perennial ryegrass may be adversely affecting their pregnant cattle. In other states Endophyte (fungus) infected pastures can cause abortions and/or poor weight gains in cattle and other livestock that graze these grasses.

Donna Coffin, Extension Educator received funding for a research project to try to assess if our fescue or ryegrass pastures or haylands are infected, how widespread the infected grasses are in Maine and how much of a concern it should be for livestock producers. If you have stands that are predominantly fescue or ryegrass and would like to have them tested for free for endophyte please contact her at 207.564.3301 or by email at Donna Coffin.


USDA Announces Funding Availability for Biomass Material into Energy

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began accepting applications June 16 from energy facilities interested in receiving forest or agricultural residues to generate clean energy. The support comes through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

BCAP provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who establish and maintain new crops of energy biomass, or who harvest and deliver forest or agricultural residues to a qualifying energy facility. Of the total $25 million per year authorized for BCAP, the 2014 Farm Bill provides up to 50 percent ($12.5 million) each year for matching payments for the harvest and transportation of biomass residues. BCAP matching payments will resume this summer, while crop incentives will begin in 2015. Some matching payments will support the removal of dead or diseased trees from National Forests and Bureau of Land Management public lands. This will be turned into renewable energy while reducing the risk of forest fire. Agriculture residues, such as corn cobs and stalks, also may qualify as energy-producing feedstock.

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers BCAP, will begin accepting applications from biomass conversion facilities beginning June 16, 2014, through July 14, 2014. Information on funding availability can be found in the Federal Register notice. For more details on applications and deadlines on BCAP, visit a local FSA county office or go online.


Hay & Straw Directory

June has been a great month for making hay.  If you have excess or are the position to sell hay or straw, consider using the Maine Hay and Straw Directory.  It is free to use.  More information is available online, or call Cooperative Extension 1.800.287.1426.


Preserving the Harvest July Workshops Announced

Ever wonder about preserving your garden produce?  Learn how at a University of Maine Preserving the Harvest class. Visit the UMaine Cooperative Extension Food and Health page for a listing of current workshops.


Maine Home Garden News July Issue Announced

Gardening advice by the month throughout the growing season!  Sign up for gardening information, timely tips and research-based articles written by UMaine Extension staff and Master Gardener Volunteers at Maine Home Garden News.


Have you Considered Agritoursim?

Agritoursim is one way to generate more income from the farm.  But it is not for every farm.  Learn more about the benefits and drawbacks by visiting a web site hosted by Rutgers University. The site was initiated to train agriculture service providers. However, much of the information posted can be used directly by farmers and growers. At the site, you will find short videos, training module, fact sheets and worksheets.


Tractor Safety on Public Roads

Consider a safety check-in and conversation with your family members or employees regarding operating tractors on public roads.  Here are a few links for information you may find useful.  Road Safety for Tractors & Farm Machinery and Operating the Tractor on Public Roads.


Maine Farms: Life and Business in Balance

The Maine Family Farms: Life and Business in Balance  series recognizes that the needs of farmers at each various life stage are unique, as choices about farming practices, child rearing, business growth, and succession planning enter into decision making. This series consists of five fact sheets plus an introductory fact sheet that can purchased/downloaded individually or as a series. Click here to view

Retail price: FREE DOWNLOAD; color printout $3.00 entire series / $0.50 – $0.75 each

Contact person:  Leslie Forstadt and Tori Jackson

Publisher: UMaine Extension

To order: by email or call 207.581.3792 .

To view all the publications:


Backyard Locavore Day

Backyard Locavore Day scheduled for August 9th Rain or Shine. This is a unique one day educational event. Gain knowledge on food preservation and gardening from UMaine Extension’s Master Food Preservers and Master Volunteers.  Learn more at the Backyard Locavore Day page.


NRCS Announces Application Deadline for Conservation Programs

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced the application deadline dates for two of its conservation programs — the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Agricultural Management Assistance Program.  The Fiscal Year 2015 application deadline for both of these programs is August 15, 2014.

Agricultural producers and foresters are encouraged to sign up now for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provides financial and technical assistance to address varying natural resource priorities. The Fiscal Year 2015 funding consideration application deadline for most EQIP fund pool categories will be August 15, 2014.  This does not include the EQIP National Water Quality Initiative and Conservation Innovation Grants.  These deadlines are yet to be determined.

The August 15, 2014 deadline for 2015 funding consideration is for both applications for EQIP local Field Office fund pool categories (such as animal waste, cropland, forestry, seasonal high tunnels, pasture, and wildlife) and the statewide fund pool categories (Beginning Farmer, Socially Disadvantaged, Tribal Projects, Water Conservation/Irrigation, Aquatic Organism Passage Projects, Conservation Activity Plans, On-Farm Energy and Organic).  The August 15, 2014 signup deadline is an extension to the previously posted July 1, 2014 deadline for the EQIP local Field Office fund pool, or “general” categories.

Agricultural producers are also encouraged to sign up now for the Agricultural Management Assistance Program (AMA), which also has a Fiscal Year 2015 funding consideration application deadline of August 15, 2014.  AMA assists agricultural producers to manage risk and voluntarily address issues such as water management, water quality, and erosion control by incorporating conservation practices into their farming operations. For 2015, Maine NRCS will again be offering financial assistance for irrigation systems and  introducing an opportunity for funding deer exclusion fencing for orchards through the AMA program.

There is a continuous, year-round sign-up for these two programs, but applications submitted by August 15, 2014 will be considered for funding in Fiscal Year 2015.  Proposals submitted after that date will be held for Fiscal Year 2016 funding consideration.

Interested landowners should visit their local NRCS office located at the USDA Service Center to determine eligibility.   USDA Service Centers are listed online, or in the telephone book under United States Government, Agriculture Department. For more information on EQIP and AMA, please visit the NRCS website.


New USDA Website for Beginning Farmers

New Farm Bill measures and other policy changes to improve the financial security of new and beginning farmers and ranchers. Harden also unveiled, a new website that will provide a centralized, one-stop resource where beginning farmers and ranchers can explore the variety of USDA initiatives designed to help them succeed.

“New and beginning farmers are the future of American agriculture,” Said Deputy Secretary Harden. “The average age of an American farmer is 58 and rising, so we must help new farmers get started if America is going to continue feeding the world and maintain a strong agriculture economy. The new policies announced today will help give beginning farmers the financial security they need to succeed. Our new online tool will provide one-stop shopping for beginning farmers to learn more about accessing USDA services that can help their operations thrive.”

USDA’s new farmer website has in depth information for new farmers and ranchers, including: how to increase access to land and capital; build new market opportunities; participate in conservation opportunities; select and use the right risk management tools; and access USDA education, and technical support programs. These issues have been identified as top priorities by new farmers. The website will also feature instructive case studies about beginning farmers who have successfully utilized USDA resources to start or expand their business operations.

Today’s policy announcements in support of beginning farmers and ranchers include:

In the near future, USDA will also announce additional crop insurance program changes for beginning farmers and ranchers – including discounted premiums, waiver of administrative fees, and other benefits. These policy announcements are made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit

The Deputy Secretary made these announcements at the inaugural meeting of the reconvened Beginning Farmer and Rancher Advisory Committee held at the University of California Davis, California. This Advisory Committee, composed of 20 members, including Extension agents, lenders, farmers, ranchers and academics will meet through 2015 to learn, discuss, and formulate recommendations to USDA on how to support new and beginning farmers.

Additional information about USDA actions in support of beginning farmers and ranchers is available online.

Image Description: Baling hay

Image Description: Vegetables for food preservation

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Image Description: USDA 2014 Farm Bill logo

Progressive Dairyman Publishes Cyr, Johnson Article on Harvesting Forage Safely

Canada-based Progressive Dairyman published an article on harvesting forage safely by University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Steven Johnson, crops specialist, and Dawna Cyr, farm safety project assistant. The article originally appeared in Progressive Forage Grower magazine.

Haymaking Weather Woes Continue…

By Rick Kersbergen, Extension Educator, University of Maine, 

This summer has been a major challenge for hay producers in the Northeast. Trying to cobble together 3 or 4 days of dry weather has been nearly impossible! With some farms still doing first cut and others doing second, here are some tips.

What can you do to try and get your hay in the barn with these weather patterns?

  1. Mow at a higher height. While you will leave some feed in the field, the stubble you leave behind will improve air movement to dry your hay and keep it off the wet ground we seem to have everywhere! If you are worried about the loss of yield from doing this, be reminded that most of what you leave will be of little nutritional value to your animals as most of it will be highly lignified stalk material.
  2. Make sure you lay your hay out as wide as possible when you mow. Open the shields on the back of your mower or remove them completely so the hay is spread out as wide as possible. The number one factor in drying hay is exposure to sunlight. The more the grasses and legumes are exposed to sun, the quicker they will dry. More rapid drying also helps to preserve quality!
  3. Ted your hay soon after the initial drying of the surface of the hay you have mowed. Tedding helps to expose more of your crop to the sunlight as well as get your hay spread out even farther.
  4. If you are unsure about the dryness of your hay and weather forecasts don’t look good and you decide to bale, make sure you use a preservative on your hay. The most effective preservatives for dry hay are based on propionic acid. Look for preservatives that have the highest concentration of propionic acid and apply it at the correct concentration. Inoculants are best used for silage, not for dry hay. Hay should be 20% moisture or less. Baling at higher moisture contents, even with a preservative, can cause heating and molds in your hay.

Keep a watchful eye on you hay bales after baling. If heating starts to occur, be prepared to take action, especially if the hay is stored in a barn. Use a compost thermometer as a monitoring tool, as it allows you to get to the inside of the bale to take a temperature reading. Bale temperatures should stay as close to ambient temperature as possible, and not exceed 125 degrees F.

If temperatures start to exceed 125 degrees F and climb to nearly 150 degrees F, be prepared to take action. Examine and check the bales twice daily, and consider moving the bales out of the barn or stack to allow more air flow around heated bales. Once the temperatures reach 160 degrees F or higher, spontaneous combustion is possible and the hay bales should be moved and opened up to allow for cooling. If temperatures reach 175 to 190 degrees F you have reached a critical temperature where moving bales and exposing them to fresh air could cause the bales to combust. If your bales reach this temperature, you should call the fire department before you begin to move bales out of the barn as they may combust on exposure to fresh air.

(Temperature recommendations taken from PA Field Crop News, 7/30/13, M. Hall)

Image Description: hay bales in field

Kersbergen Talks to Kennebec Journal about Hay Harvest

Rick Kersbergen, University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator of sustainable dairy and forage systems, spoke with the Kennebec Journal about the low quality of this year’s hay harvest due to a rainy June. Kersbergen spoke about the loss of nutrients while farmers wait for the hay to dry. He said once the hay crop quality drops, the only remedy is a second crop of good quality hay.


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