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Cooperative Extension: Agriculture

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WVII Covers Art in the Garden at Rogers Farm

WVII (Channel 7) reported on the Art in the Garden event held at Rogers Farm in Old Town, which is part of the University of Maine’s J.F. Witter Teaching and Research Center. The demonstration garden at the farm is maintained by Master Gardener volunteers. The event featured live music, food, demonstrations on pressing flowers, children’s activities and poems read in the garden. Kate Garland, a horticulturist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, said she’s always happy to see new faces at the farm and hopes it attracts as many people as it can. “We want to showcase the wonderful work the Master Gardeners have been doing all season long and welcome a broad range of people into the garden,” Garland said.


Jemison Talks Fall, Cover Crops on WVII ‘Backyard Gardener’ Series

John Jemison, a soil and water quality specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, was featured in the latest installment of the “Backyard Gardener” series on WVII (Channel 7). Jemison spoke about planting fall crops such as spinach and arugula as summer gardening wanes and space becomes available in the garden. He also suggested gardeners plant cover crops such as a mixture of peas and oats to amend the soil before putting the garden to bed for the winter

Maine AgrAbility Featured in WABI Report

WABI (Channel 5) reported on Maine AgrAbility, a USDA grant-funded state program that helps farmers with chronic health conditions and disabilities gain more control of their lives, continue to farm successfully and live independently. The program is a nonprofit collaboration of University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England and Alpha One. The report focused on a farmer in Winterport who was helped by the program. Richard Brzozowski, project director of Maine AgrAbility and a small ruminant and poultry specialist with UMaine Extension, told WABI “You don’t look at the disability part. You think of what they can do; the ability part.”

UMaine Extension Mentioned in Press Herald Article on Organic Hops

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension was mentioned in a Portland Press Herald article about changes in U.S. Department of Agriculture standards that require organic beer to be brewed with organic hops and how those changes are inspiring more Maine brewers to grow hops. According to the article, UMaine Extension is testing several organic hop varieties to see which thrive and can make tasty brews in Maine.

Maine Grain and Oilseed Newsletter August 2014 Issue Available

Dear Grower,

The August 2014 issue of the Maine Grain and Oilseed Newsletter contains articles on seed bed preparation, tillage radish cover crops, and a reprint of last year’s article on harvest efficiency and combine adjustment.

Andrew Plant, Extension Agriculture Educator

57 Houlton Road, Presque Isle, ME 04769
207.764.3361 or 1.800.287.1462

Image Description: field of ripe grain

Spotted Wing Drosophila Update: 8/15/2014

Although spotted wing drosophila captures remain relatively low through most of the state, we are finding the flies in more locations this week.

Please visit the Highmoor Farm website for the August 15, 2014 Spotted Wing Drosophila Update, where you can subscribe to blog updates.

Image Description: Male Spotted Wing Drosophila

Sweet Corn IPM Newsletter No. 8 – August 15, 2014

Please visit the Highmoor Farm website for the University of Maine Sweet Corn Integrated Pest Management Newsletter No. 8, August 15, 2014, “Pest Numbers Increase in Most Fields.”

Image Description: Sweet Corn

Made in Maine: Thoughts on Food, Animals, and Agriculture

Only YOU Can Prevent …

By Donald E. Hoenig, VMD

On one of my recent flights out of Portland, it was a clear, cloudless morning and the plane flew right over the eastern end of Long Island, New York. As I admired the scene out the window at 33,000 feet, I noticed that I had an amazing view of Plum Island, which lies just off the north fork of Long Island. Plum Island is the site of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s high containment animal health laboratory. It also houses the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research lab. The island is owned entirely by the U.S. government and is the only place in the country where certain highly contagious livestock and poultry pathogens, such as foot and mouth disease virus (FMD), are kept. Special clearance is required to visit Plum Island and security is obviously very tight. Access to the island for workers and visitors is by a short ferry ride. The last time I visited in 2008, the DHS security detail was armed with automatic weapons and didn’t smile too much. Guarding foot and mouth disease virus is serious business.

In March 2001, I was part of the first contingent of ten U.S. veterinarians who travelled to the United Kingdom to assist the British government in battling an outbreak of FMD. (Eventually, over 400 U.S veterinarians would assist in the outbreak response.) The disease had not been present in that country since the late 1960s and agricultural officials were doing everything in their power to contain and eradicate the disease from the British livestock population. The disease was eradicated by October, but at great cost — at least six million animals killed at a cost of $7-10 billion.

FMD is present throughout much of Asia and Africa, but it is rarely seen in Europe and has not been present in the U.S. since 1929. The disease affects all cloven-hooved (two hooves) animals including cattle, sheep, goats, swine, llamas, alpacas, and many wild species, including deer, moose, and elk. It is considered to be the most highly contagious livestock disease and can be spread in many ways — by infected animals who are shedding the virus, by animal-to-animal contact, through the air on dust particles, by manure-contaminated equipment, or by people who may not have cleaned their clothing or boots properly.

FMD has what is referred to as a high morbidity (many animals in the herd get sick, up to 90-95%), but a low mortality (few animals die of the disease). The virus causes vesicles or blisters in the mouth, on the lips, on the teats of the udder, and on the sensitive, growing tissue of the hooves. These blisters quickly rupture causing ulcerations in the affected areas and pain. Affected animals don’t want to walk around and eating becomes very painful. Pregnant animals may abort. Over a period of weeks and months, affected animals can recover, but in the meantime they can spread the disease to other animals in the herd and are a threat to other herds in the region. In the case of dairy cows, milk production goes to zero. Beef cattle and swine lose weight due to decreased appetite. The disease has a devastating impact on the farm’s productivity and income. For these reasons, many countries practice a “stamping out” approach if FMD is discovered. That’s the approach that was taken in the UK in 2001.

What I saw and did in England during the month I spent there had a profound and lasting impact on my life and career. I participated in the destruction of hundreds of healthy sheep and cattle that were not infected but were exposed by proximity to infected herds and deemed to be a threat. I came back depressed and saddened by all the destruction I had witnessed and by the disruption to farmers’ lives and livelihoods. I met farmers who hadn’t left their farm for weeks during the crisis. I sat at farmers’ tables as they cried when I told them their animals would be destroyed. But I also came back energized and determined that we could and should do better for our animals and our farmers. I realized that, while we thought we were prepared for FMD in the U.S., we really weren’t.

In the past 13 years, I’ve been involved in national and regional efforts to enhance and improve our preparedness and response to FMD. Our response plans have been dramatically upgraded. State, federal, and industry stakeholders have held countless meetings and training sessions and conducted numerous tabletop and on-farm, functional exercises to test our plan. A major development in our response planning is the acknowledgement that, if an outbreak becomes widespread, a large-scale FMD vaccination strategy will need to be implemented. Unfortunately, preemptive vaccination is not feasible or practical since there are seven serotypes of FMD virus and over 65 subtypes. Predicting which of these viruses might come to the U.S. is impossible.

Efforts to keep FMD out of the country have also been improved at airports and border crossings through the use enhanced screening techniques and additions to the Beagle brigade, but there are things that individuals can do to keep FMD out of our country. If you travel abroad, please follow U.S. Customs’ rules and don’t bring back agricultural products or food from foreign countries, no matter how tempting. If you’re a livestock farmer and your animals are sick with puzzling signs such as blisters or ulcers, please immediately notify your veterinarian. To paraphrase Smoky the Bear, only YOU can help prevent FMD.

Dr. Hoenig retired as the Maine State Veterinarian in 2012 and, after completing a year-long Congressional Fellowship in Sen. Susan Collins’ office in Washington DC last year, in January 2014 he started working as a part-time Extension Veterinarian for University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Dr. Hoenig invites you to submit questions and comments to Answers to selected questions will appear in future blog posts.

Image Description: US Customs Form

Mainers Urged to Sign Up for Free Disposal of Banned, Unusable Pesticides

AUGUSTA—This October, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) will team up with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to help Mainers dispose of banned or unusable pesticides.

This free disposal program is open to homeowners, family-owned farms and greenhouses. Collection will occur at sites located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Augusta and Portland. To qualify, people must register by September 26, 2014.

Governor Paul R. LePage is urging Mainers to take advantage of this opportunity to protect the environment and save money through this once a year collection event that highlights cooperation between government agencies. “This is an opportunity for Mainers to dispose of unusable pesticides properly and at no expense,” said Governor LePage. “By consolidating collections into four central locations and using in-house resources and expertise, we can reduce disposal costs to about $2 per pound. That’s a great value for Maine taxpayers.”

It’s not unusual for homes and farms to have unintentional hazardous waste—banned pesticides or pesticides that have become caked, frozen, or otherwise rendered unusable—sitting around in basements, garages, or barns. These chemicals can be difficult and expensive to dispose of; DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed the importance of proper disposal of banned or unwanted pesticides.

“It’s important for the protection of public, wildlife, and environmental health that these products are dealt with properly and not thrown in the trash or down the drain, where they can contaminate land and water resources, including drinking water,” said Commissioner Whitcomb. “People holding these chemicals should contact the BPC as soon as possible to register for the October collection.”

“Providing an easy and no cost solution for Mainers to properly dispose of pesticides is a win for the environment and public health,” said Maine DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho. “The collection events cover the State and are held in Presque Isle, Bangor, Augusta and Portland providing accessible methods of collection and future disposal.”

The collected chemicals go to out-of-state disposal facilities licensed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency where they are incinerated or reprocessed.

Registration by September 26, 2014, is mandatory—drop-ins are not permitted. To register, get details, and learn important information about the temporary storage and transportation of obsolete pesticides, go to the BPC Web site at, or call 207-287-2731.

The Maine Obsolete Pesticides Collection Program, jointly sponsored by the BPC and DEP, and paid for entirely through pesticide product registration fees, has kept more than 90 tons of pesticides out of the waste stream since its start in 1982.

Local Bread Wheat Project Cited in Press Herald Report

A Portland Press Herald article about Maine bakeries using more local grains mentioned the Northern New England Local Bread Wheat Project, a USDA-funded collaboration of researchers, farmers, millers and bakers in Vermont and Maine that aims to help farmers increase organic bread wheat production and quality. For the past four years, Alison Pray, co-owner of the Standard Baking Co. in Portland, has been working with the Northern New England Local Bread Wheat Project at the University of Maine and the Northern Grain Growers Association. The groups occasionally send her new heritage wheat varieties to bake with so she can evaluate their properties and flavor, according to the article.


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