Musings from the Platte 5/12

Monday morning musing from the shores of the Platte river.

Winds, wet and town sirens blowing for the past few days signal the return in dynamic form of moisture to the region of Kansas, Nebraska and iowa. Reports show that every one got rain, up to 4 inches, usually in small showers that went into the dry soil.  Some washing in rolling hills just planted with corn that had not emerged as of my road trip Mother's Day of over 400 miles in central and eastern Nebraska delivering seed corn.  We saw a few places where we could row corn but 90 is below the soil ,with a few days till visible rows typically. We have seen many moths in the evening drives , these are all none of the dreaded black cutworms momma, an assortment of others lesser damaging types. Coupled with the later and cooler than normal planting and emergence we project a low early cutworm activity in regional fields.
All the plumb thickets that survived the dry fall, winter months are in bloom in eastern Nebraska. Plumb thickets are sporting the tent  caterpillar nesting webs of early development near and far. They eat every leaf, no fruit develops and plants usually re leaf later. The stress of drought on the plumbs suggest no re leafing and a loss of farm field edge habitats for many positive birds and insects that address crop pest by Gobbling them up later as the season progresses. What a loss of natural habits of good insects and birds.  Those ego driven producers who eliminated miles of tree wind breaks deserve what they will get of pests in their crops.
See the attached pictures.

 What are you seeing in your fields that has caught your eye?  These question about what is happening are a learning time.  Take a picture, send it over to the office and let's see what is happening in your area. I will be glad to post and attempt to answer your "what is this or that " around our farm home. 
This next few weeks we should begin to see stalk borers in edges of fields .  Typically we see a few rows chewed but not worth any application of material. 
As we get a bit of warmth, crops will emerge rapidly now.  An important action of checking the populations and reviewing that status slope by slope is what we do as agronomists. Replanting based of facts is then calculated. A seed salesman will always replant it seems.  How many plants per foot, gaps and wash out all go into any replant decision. 
 Corn flee beetles are here in some spots. They will chew the first few emerged leaves, just a few are not worth the effort to be concerned . Just ugly lower leaves and the corn grows on to normal yields. 
Water will make weeds be active where they had been waiting in the dry and cold soil this spring of 2014 . Be ready to address that issue as dry returns to your fields . 
Mike Williams OPINS co- op agronomist 

Sent from my iPad

Christmas wish list

Bare, not one gift from Corporate America again.

 I was just like the grand kids this year, I wanted it all.  Yes I was a greedy little kid in my wish list 1) Labels that show GMO food content in all foods.. 2) Organic prices fair to producers every year. 3) Good science that shows that GMO fed animals are not doing well. 4) a USDA that works for producers and not corporate AG America interests. 5) Removal of corn sugars from use in foods. 6) An EPA that is allowed to do it’s work 7)  Big Ag realizing that big is not better , just cheap unhealthy foods.
Simple wishes to make all healthy and fairly wealthy.
I got scrogged again from Big AG and the Corporation of America.

fda posting

New Rules Threaten Farmers, Don’t Make Food Safer
The Food and Drug Administration is poised to make some of the most sweeping changes to food safety regulations since 1938. The final comment deadline has been extended to this Friday, November 22. If you are a farmer or food producer we urge you to comment. If you are a consumer, these rules could impact your ability to get fresh, organic local produce.

What’s wrong with the proposed rules:

1. They force small farms – which should be exempt from the regulations – to comply with extensive, burdensome regulations without improving food safety.

2. They’re too expensive. They could put small organic farmers out of business by cutting into small profits.

3. Compost would become a dirty word. The rules propose a 9-month waiting period before farmers can apply manure and other soil-building materials.

4. Small on-farm producers of products like pickles, jams, and sauerkraut could be put out of business.


Submit your comment in TWO places – to the Produce Rule ( and to the Preventive Controls Rule ( ). This is important because these issues affect both rules.


Maureen Wilmot
Executive Director, OFRF


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From Pesticides to probiotics .some interesting readings

Here are some of the latest issues The Organic Center has covered: ''

Pesticide Exposure Contributes To Food Allergies

A study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology has found a link
between pesticide exposure and food allergies. Food allergies are on the rise
and currently affect one in 13 children in the U.S.  To examine potential
causes of this phenomenon researchers at Montefiore Medical Center looked at
whether contact with pesticides [...]

Organic grape juice has higher antioxidant effects

In a recent study looking at the antioxidant effects of grape juice on oxidative
stress in the brain, researchers from several universities in Brazil examined
the antioxidant effect differences of organic versus conventional grape juice on
rats consuming a high-fat diet. Researchers used three groups of rats for their
study:  a control group fed water, [...]

Probiotics prevent diarrhea associated with Clostridium difficile

A new study published in The Cochrane Collaboration shows that probiotic use,
such as the consumption of yogurt, can decrease the risk of diarrhea from
Clostridium difficile bacteria after antibiotic ingestion. The study was led by
Joshua Goldenberg, from Bastyr University, who found that taking probiotics
reduced the chance of having some of the effects [...]

Organic carrots have similar yields, and potential for higher nutrients

A study by Dr. Bender and Dr. Ingver at the Jõgeva Plant Breeding Institute
looked at how agricultural management affects yield and nutrient content of
carrots. They compared marketable yield, vitamin C content, and total sugar
content of organic and conventional carrots over three growing seasons in
Estonia. Findings showed there were no significant differences [...]

CSA vegetables marketing local and fresh Webinar

Crop Planning Webinar

November 7, 2013
9:30-11:00 a.m. PST

Back by popular demand!

Get a head start on planning for next season with our upcoming Crop Planning webinar.

Already thinking about what you’ll sow next season? Did you miss the Crop Planning webinar last year? Back by popular demand, we will have a new and improved Crop Planning webinar November 7, 9:30-11:00 a.m. Presenters Doug O’Brien and Ned Conwell will walk through the basics of how to develop a crop plan, setting you up for a successful season of growing and meeting market demand.

Doug O’Brien owns and operates Doug O’Brien Agricultural Consulting, which provides onsite technical advice, field monitoring, and research for clients involved in fresh produce growing, harvesting, cooling, and marketing. Doug previously owned an organic produce brokerage company and was a crop production manager and assistant farm advisor. Doug has a Ph.D. in plant pathology from UC Davis and a M.S. in plant pathology from UC Berkeley. He currently works as an adjunct professor at Cabrillo College where he teaches Organic Food Production 1 & 2.

Ned Conwell has been farming mixed vegetables and flowers for ten years. From 2005 through 2010, Ned co-owned and operated Blue House Farm, a successful mid-sized organic CSA farm in Pescadero, California. He now co-operates Open Field Farm in Sonoma.

Register now! Webinar is limited to 100 and costs $15 for CCOF members and $20 for non-members

Cover crops in Western Neb meeting and training day

Here is a great way to save soil from blowing and enhance the fertility profile


Using Cover Crops in Western Nebraska
When: December 7th beginning at 8:30am.
Where: Ogallala Extended Campus Mid-Plains Community College
Plan to join us for the annual Western Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Conference.  This year it will be held at the Ogallala Extended Campus Community College.
The Western Conference will feature several dynamic sessions and talks geared around sustainable and organic agriculture. 
Our keynote this year is Dale Strickler who works for Star Seed out of Kansas.  Strickler, an agronomist, will share his 25 years of experience working with farmers and ranchers in the Great Plains from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border on forage systems and cover cropping. Dale started cover cropping on rented ground in 1988. He bought his first farm in 2000 and converted it from a furrow irrigated corn farm to a subsurface drip irrigated, management intensive grazing opera-tion. Cover cropping has become an integral part of his operation, and that of many of the farmers he works with. Dale often hears farmers say their biggest cover crop regret is that they did not start sooner! He will discuss how integrating cover crops into a cropping system can improve soil health and decrease input costs. Looking to the short grass prairie for inspiration, Dale says “We can design agriculture systems that improve upon our current farming practices”
Other sessions will include; “The Nuts & Bolts of Using Cover Crops,”Growing Vegetables Through Profit for a CSA,”Impact of Bees and the Environment,” and more! Complete details and descriptions on the sessions can be found in the attached brochure.
We’ll also have a tradeshow featuring businesses and organizations across Greater Nebraska! We still have a few booths open if you are interested please find information about the booths in the attachment.
Foods!  Our conference this year will feature some awesome locally grown in Ogallala foods!  Open Range out of Ogallala will be doing the catering. Be sure to check them out before you come to the conference!
Young & Beginning Farmer Scholarships are available! Please contact me at if interested.
Thank you and we look forward to seeing you in Ogallala!

Update GMO on Monsanto fight over GMO labels in Washington State


Quietly into the Night? Not Monsanto.

The average American eats more than 150 pounds of genetically engineered food every year. This despite the fact that scientists – the independent ones – agree that GE foods are ruining our health and our environment.

Fortunately, after 20 years of fighting for labels on foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), we’ve reached a turning point. We, as consumers and farmers, are demanding a say in what we eat and what we plant.

In an interview with, OCA’s Ronnie Cummins explains why we must marshal every last resource to win the GMO labeling battle in Washington State on Nov. 5. And once we win, how we’ll have to continue the fight against Monsanto. With every ballot we cast. With every food purchase we make.

Because Monsanto will not go quietly into the night. At least not yet.

Watch the video



Big Rules Spell Bad News for Small Farms

Love your local farms, farmers markets, and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture)? They could be in trouble thanks to heavy-handed new rules proposed under the Food Safety & Modernization Act (FSMA).

Unless the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) agrees to some key changes in the FSMA, your local farmer could be forced to shell out up to $20,000 for a fancy “Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Control plan.” For a farmer on a small budget, all that extra cost and paperwork means raising prices. Higher prices could force even the most loyal consumer to reluctantly settle for inferior, industrial food, trucked in from out-of-state corporations.

And that could force your farmer out of business. While perpetuating the chemical-intensive, environmentally unfriendly corporate agribusiness model.

Under the guise of “food safety,” the FSMA would create new barriers for small and mid-scale farmers and processors who have for years been working to create local markets – restaurants, co-ops, groceries, schools – for their locally grown produce.

Who wins? The big guys, as usual. Who loses? Consumers. Farmers. Local markets. And Mother Earth.

TAKE ACTION BY NOVEMBER 15: Tell the FDA: The FSMA puts small and mid-scale farmers and processors at a competitive disadvantage against corporate farmers and producers who can more easily absorb costs, fees and fines. Please revise the FSMA to level the playing field for small growers



Too Close to Call?

With less than two weeks to go, Monsanto and Big Food are eating away at our lead in Washington State. We’re still ahead, but make no mistake. The opposition’s $17.1 million worth of misleading TV and radio ads, mailers and flyers, is hurting us.

The single most important thing we can all do right now is get on the phone. Call voters in Washington State. Urge them to get out and vote YES on I-522. And remind them that any company willing to spend $17.1 million to keep a simple label off of its products has something to hide. And that something can’t be good.

The editorial boards of two major newspapers in Washington State – the Seattle Times and the Olympian – have come out against I-522, thanks to the powerful lobbying efforts of Monsanto and Big Food.

These next two weeks are critical. Please volunteer an hour of your time to call voters. The campaign will tell you how to do it. It’s easy. And it won’t cost you anything but a little time.

Volunteer to make phone calls to Washington voters

Share this video

Share this statement

Donate to the OCF or the OCA to support GMO labeling in Washington and other states.



Outed! Big Food Spends Big Money to Keep You in the Dark

Big surprise. Big Food was hiding its big donations to the NO on I-522 campaign by funneling them through the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).

We knew it was true. Now we know who they are. The companies who make billions of dollars by selling you their products. But who don’t want you to know what they’re putting in those products.

Why were they so desperate to hide their donations that they were willing to break the law? Because you, consumers, boycotted them, and their natural and organic brands, after they publicly donated more than $26 million to defeat GMO labeling in California last year.

We’ll be updating our boycott list soon, based on this new list of donors. In the meantime…

  • Kudos to Ben & Jerry’s, who kept its parent company, Unilever, from donating to the NO on I-522 campaign. For this, and for making a huge in-kind contribution to the YES on I-522 campaign, we’ll take Ben & Jerry’s off the new boycott list, when we make it official.
  • Shame on Seth Goldman, CEO of Honest Tea, for telling the media that Honest Tea’s parent company, Coca-Cola, wasn’t “directly lobbying” to defeat I-522. As it turns out, Coke was the third highest food company donor, spending more than $1 million to kill I-522. If you haven’t already, please tell Mr. Goldman what you think.
  • Welcome! To two new organic and natural brands, who will be added to our new boycott list. Sweet Leaf Teas, an organic brand, and Gerber organic baby foods are both owned by international food conglomerate, Nestlé, which donated $1.1 million to the NO on I-522 campaign. Why not get a jump on the boycott by posting on their Facebook pages today? Sweet Leaf Tea and Gerber organic.

And, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the top food donor to the NO on I-522 campaign. PepsiCo plunked down a cool $1.6 million in Washington State. Please let the folks at Pepsi’s subsidiary, Naked Juice, know how you feel about that.

Learn more

Food companies that donated to NO on I-522