Agri-Tourism – It’s a Thing
- [Announcer] "Montana Ag Live" is made possible by: the Montana Department of Agriculture, (upbeat music) MSU Extension, the MSU AG Experiment Stations of the College of Agriculture, the Montana Wheat & Barley Committee, Cashman Nursery & Landscaping, the Northern Pulse Growers Association, and the Gallatin Gardeners Club. (upbeat music continues) (upbeat music) - Good evening. You are tuned to "Montana Ag Live", originating again tonight from the studios of KUSM on the very vibrant campus called Montana State University, and coming to you over your Montana public television system. I'm Jack Riesselman, retired professor of plant pathology. Happy to be your host again this evening.
We got a fun show this evening, a topic that we've never covered in the 20 some years we've done this show, so we're gonna look at that tonight. You'll learn more about that here in a few moments. But before we get to that, let me introduce the esteemed panel that we have here this evening.
On my far left, Uta McKelvy is our relatively new plant pathologist, specialize in potatoes, but everything else too, sugar beets. If you have disease questions like that, go ahead and call 'em in tonight. There'll be a phone number on the screen shortly and challenge her with some really tough questions.
I like to do that. - Yeah. Yes, do that. - Our special guest tonight, Shannon Arnold. Shannon is a professor in ag education. She has kind of a special project around the state.
It's called agritourism. And that's a very exciting topic because honestly, people from back East, maybe the South, other areas of the country actually will pay money to vacation on farms and ranches. And we're gonna learn a lot more about that. And I may tell you a little story about that later on in the program.
Tim Seipel, Tim, he's a weed ecologist. So boy, that hurts me to say ecologist because he's really a weed scientist. When I first started in this business, everybody was a weed scientist. Nobody's a weed scientist anymore.
Now they're weed ecologists. So whatever, Tim can- (all laughing) Answer any questions concerning weeds this evening. Phone number is up on the screen. Keep that phone busy tonight because the more questions, the more you'll learn and the more exciting this program will be.
Abi Saeed, Abi is our extension horticulturalist. She knows an awful lot about horticultural plants, so if you have problems with anything in your yard, garden, trees, so forth and so on, feel free to call those questions in and we'll get to 'em as soon as possible. Answering the phones tonight, John Hawley and Beth Shirley. We thank them here. And remotely, Judge Bruce Lobel, he used to be the chief water court judge, will take remote questions. Shannon, tell us about a agritourism.
I'm fascinated by the topic. - Yeah, so a agritourism is growing in the state of Montana and actually across the United States. And essentially what people will say is, "What is ag agritourism?" And essentially it's just farms and ranches opening up their operations as travel destinations for visitors with specifically education or recreational type purposes. And so it's becoming much more popular in Montana, probably in the past 10 to 15 years. There's more people visiting Montana.
COVID has really helped as more tourists are becoming aware of the state and what the state has to offer. And really there's interest in exploring more of those rural areas. So farmers and ranchers are taking this opportunity to not only educate the public about agriculture, but also to help diversify their operations and increase their income on their farms. - Let me ask you a question.
I'm fascinated by this, but say I'm an attorney in Omaha, Nebraska and I want to get an ag experience. How do I go about finding somebody in Montana that I could vacation with and learn a little bit about agriculture? - Yeah, definitely. So there's a lot of different resources that actually have been developed in the past really five to 10 years. There is a Montana, a agritourism website that I worked on a Department of Ag Specialty Crop Block Grant to create a few years ago. So that's a great place to find some resources, but if you really want to find different experiences, you can go to the Department of Commerce website and the Brand MT, they do a lot of marketing for different a agritourism operations. Abundant Montana right now is adding a specific tab on their website that is gonna be focused on a agritourism locations in the state.
They currently already have lots of different tabs to find farmer's markets, U-Picks, local foods, so lots of different opportunities there where you can search a portion of the state and see what opportunities exist in that part of the state. But we're pretty excited that they are now within this summer, they're gonna add a specific tab on their website for a agritourism. - Okay, that sounds fascinating to me. And I'm gonna get back to you in a bit with a couple email questions that came in.
I want some examples of a agritourism as we go forward. But Uta, question for you, this came in via email last week and it's from Fergus County and that's up in the Lewistown area for those who don't know Fergus County. His neighbor says they have wheat streak mosaic virus in their winter wheat, and that's a serious disease I do know. Any suggestions on if they do have it, what they could do about it? - Yeah, so if it is in fact wheat streak mosaic then right now, I would caution him to certainly not to spray the crop. Like that's probably something they're gonna be thinking about.
But right now, if we kill the crop right now, we would kind of cause the in the mites that are transmitting the virus from one plant to another to leave that crop and spread into nearby crops or hosts in general. And so nearby crops that would be really vulnerable right now would be every spring zone small grain and the earlier plant becomes affected, the more severe the impact will be on yield and so we wanna avoid that, be a good neighbor. On the screen right now is a picture of a wheat streak sample that I received last year and I just wanna point out some characteristic symptoms. You can see that on the these, they are yellow, but it's not a consistent or even yellowing, it's kind of in that streaking mosaic-like pattern.
So if your crop looks anything like that, there's a good chance it's wheat streak mosaic. And other than that, just don't add any additional fertilizer 'cause it'll encourage the mites to grow in population size and also make the plants more susceptible to the virus. So you just kind of wanna... - Hold it. - Hold it. Yes. - Okay. You know, that disease back in the 90s caused tens of millions of dollars worth of damage here in the state and growers have learned how to minimize the problem, but they still run into it here and there.
Tim, question from Bozeman. I like this one. "Have dandelions developed a resistance to herbicides here in the Gallatin Valley? We seem to have more dandelions than any other plant."
- No, dandelions have not developed resistance to herbicides that I know of. And we go through a really formal way of testing that. Dandelions can be really hard to kill with herbicide, especially in the springtime when they're most conspicuous. Usually managing dandelions is done better in the fall, especially in forage crops like alfalfa, things like that. So people spray the Pursuit herbicide in the fall in alfalfa. So in our lawns they're really conspicuous, they're really here now.
Round Up for lawns, those sorts of products. Maybe Abi knows a few more of the products and about how to manage dandelions in our lawn, but as far as we know, we have no resistance. They're just really hard to kill with herbicide. - Yeah, one of the things I would caution about using, you know, glyphosate products in and around dandelions and any kind of herbicides in general, they're starting to show sublethal effects on pollinators that visit. - Mm-hmm. Yep. - So if they've applied that product and a bee comes and feeds on that, that could have negative impact.
So maybe removing those flower heads before you apply the herbicide if you are trying that strategy might be better. - Okay, thank you. Question for Havre. This person is interested, he says in agritourism or they say a agritourism. "Is there an a agritourism association in the state?" - That's a good question.
So currently there is not an established agritourism association in the state. Currently I'm working with a group of faculty here on campus on a Western SARE grant program and we are working to develop a cohort of producers that we are hoping to educate to help lead the development of an agritourism state association. And so currently we just have a Montana Agritourism Steering Committee which consists of lots of different people across the state that work for food and ag development centers, the Department of Ag, the Department of Commerce, producers, different CVBs. And so we meet once a month, second Wednesday at 10:00 AM on a Zoom call. It's open to everybody.
We talk about the issues within agritourism and some of the different challenges and opportunities, but again, this grant program that we're working on right now, one of our outcomes is that we will help to establish an association where somebody can then go and ask that group questions that they might have about agritourism. - [Jack] Okay. Thank you. And I'm gonna get to my question in a moment. - Okay. - But we have one here
from Conrad, Abi, and this is an interesting question. This person has quaking aspens and they're about 20 foot tall. Can they top it and if they do, will it branch out and fill out more? That's a good question. - That is a good question.
When you do top trees, which usually we don't recommend doing in horticultural settings because it can really stress that tree out and it results in kind of a panicky growth and it will kind of have a lot of that bushy growth, which are usually more just vertical branches, which aren't as structurally sound, so they're more prone to breakage. So I wouldn't recommend topping the tree, but you could selectively prune and head certain branches back to their buds to kind of get it in the shape that you wanted to get it to fill out a little bit more. But topping in general is not something that I would recommend. - I agree.
You know, best thing of an aspen is if you just control the weeds around the bottom or mulch 'em, and you lose one, there's always another one coming up and there kind of self-sustaining plants. I love aspen trees. They really do well here. - Yeah. They are. Mm-hmm. Okay, Uta, a question from Manhattan area where we do grow a lot of potatoes, they are curious, they've had scab problems in their garden, so it's not a field, and they've heard that there are varieties that are more tolerant to scab. Do you know what those might be? - I don't know off the top of my head.
I'm still learning varieties, but if you're buying certified potatoes, which I recommend you do even for your garden, I'm sure you can ask the retailer about the traits. - Okay, I do remember that the number one potato growing around the state in a lot of areas is Russet Burbank and that's pretty tolerant of scab. And if I recall, red varieties, Norland, is one that's somewhat tolerant, but other than that, I think get ahold of Uta and she can look up some of the other varieties. - Yes. - And she'll learn which ones are more tolerant. - Mm-hmm.
- Okay. Bigfork, Montana, bush beans and pole beans. Should they be soaked before direct planning? That's an interesting question.
- That is and that's a good question. I can't think of whether or not they should be soaked off the top of my head, but we do have a really nice MontGuide called "Can I grow That Here?", which has a lot of information on vegetables in general, whether they should be direct seeded, planted in transplants, when and the kind of processes. So I'd encourage you to look that up. And we also have a gardening workshop if you're interested in vegetables in general. We have a gardening workshop that's gonna be taking place here in Bozeman and that's gonna be a really nice way, vegetable gardening is one of the topics and we have our veggie gardening expert, Dr. Mac Burgess, coming to teach at that.
And he'll have a lot of great information on just veggie gardening in general for that workshop. So the signup is open, registration is open and the registration link will be up on the screen. And there's also a phone number that you can call to sign up so definitely if you're interested, please sign up. - Okay. My experience with beans is you don't wanna soak 'em because they terminate too fast and people have a tendency to rush putting beans in the ground, we were talking about earlier and they're more prone to frost damage. So they grow pretty fast just if you direct seed 'em. - I did not soak the beans in water today and that did seed.
Yep, they were dry, but I did water them in because it was hot and it was pretty dry outside. - It is, the top is pretty dry here in the southwest part of the state. - Yeah. - Examples?
I want to know some examples of agritourism because I have friends that I'd love to put into some agritourism type so they could learn something. Tell me some examples that exist here in Montana. - Yeah, so there's a really nice framework out there that's this a agritourism framework, and it divides a agritourism into five different categories. So the first being education. Some examples of education would be classes or farm tours on different farms.
It could be off-farm farm tours as well, or ag fairs. The second being direct sales. So we have some U-Picks, we have some different farm stands on farms, and then we also have some farmer's markets as well. Entertainment would be the third category and that is some corn mazes or hay rides or festivals on the farm, also including maybe weddings or concerts that you might hold on the farm. Outdoor recreation, a big one here in Montana.
Horseback riding, dude ranches. But then there's also hunting, fishing, hiking. A new area of astrotourism. And then hospitality. So these would be your farm-to-table dinners, your farm stays, and any maybe other outfitter services on the farm. So they kind of divide it into these five categories.
And that's a good way to kind of think about different buckets of agritourism. - I have one question here and another one right here. Number one, how do you decide what to charge somebody for agritourism? Is there any set formula? And that's a question that came in from Bigfork. - Yeah, so that's a question right now, as I mentioned, we have a grant, we have 14 different producers that are part of this grant program.
And that was a question we just faced in our seminar last two weeks ago is how do we decide what we charge? And I don't know that there's a set structure for that. So some different ways that you can look at how to charge for these different services are asking some local people, asking some of the producers that are part of this a agritourism program, seeing what your local community might charge for some of the different services that are offered. There is a new tab on Airbnb that is for farms and experiences and so that could be something that you can maybe just look at and see what other people are charging to go and learn how to make bread or whatever that particular experience might be.
But really it's just seeing what the local community offers for some of those experiences and adjusting your prices accordingly. - Okay. Sounds good. Now you have another one here, I'll come back to you in a moment.
But meanwhile, Tim, this person wants to know is there anything new in Russian thistle control and what herbicides are no longer effective on Russian thistle? - Ooh. That's a pretty good question. So Russian thistle is a late season weed. A lot of times what happens is you harvest your winter wheat and all of a sudden you kind of turn around and you look and there's a burst of Russian thistle in your fields afterwards.
There is some Russian thistle, we do manage it in pulse crops. Russian thistle is resistant to some Group 2 herbicides. Those are- - What's Group 2? - [Tim] That's a herbicide.
It's a large, so weed scientists- - Ah. (both laughing) - Weed scientists, we classify herbicides based on how they work, their mode of action and then we call those group numbers. And so Group 2 is one of the modes of action and it stops plants from amino acid synthesis and it's really actually pretty easy for a plant to evolve resistance to Group 2 herbicides. So around the world many plants have revolved resistance.
So Russian thistle has in Montana along with wild oat, some cheatgrass, most of the kochia, and so it makes it a little bit harder to manage Russian thistle in crop in there. So you have to go in, there's a few different products out there. What do we do with herbicides now? We mix them, we make very complex mixes. So you have multiple ingredients and those things will be called things like WideMatch, PerfectMatch, WideARmatch, Kochiavore, different herbicides. The price point goes up when you start mixing all those things together.
So that's the short of managing Russian thistle. You have to be cognizant of Group 2 resistance and then think about what you can do to avoid Group 2 herbicides. - How extensive is Russian thistle? It's pretty everywhere. - Yep. Whole state.
- Yeah, okay. - The whole state. As we saw it the last couple drought years too, it really exploded in a lot of the failed crops, late season things. Russian thistle's incredibly drought resistant. So the last couple years in Montana with drought, we've seen a lot of thistle. - An explosion. - Yeah. - Okay.
From the Missoula area, Shannon, they're concerned about the legal implications for someone offering agritourism. Is there liability involved? And you wanna address that a little bit? - So certainly there is, and I would encourage you that if you're interested in adding agritourism to your farmer ranch to visit with your local insurance agent. It's a process of just talking with your insurance agent to explain what you're doing.
There was a House bill 342 in 2017 that did establish some liability for that participants assume liability for the inherent risks that are on agritourism association, or sorry, a agritourism operations. And there have been some recent bills that have been discussed in the legislature to help advance some of that protection. But right now, probably House bill 342 is the best protection on that, and then visiting with your insurance agent to see if you can have a conversation about what that might look like for your particular operation. - Okay. Thank you. Question from Ravalli County, Uta. This person has an alfalfa field that he figures is about 30% not living or not in very good condition.
Any idea what might have caused that? - Hm, well, like what it's look like- - It's a three year old stand. - Yeah, so it's establish... Well, what did look like last year? If it was fine last year and now in the spring it's not greening up, there's a chance it might be winterkill and there are kind of two scenarios that could have happened.
Like maybe the plants didn't get hardened in the fall to prepare for winter and then when the temperatures dropped, it killed the crown. Or if there were temperature fluctuations, they might have come out of dormancy in the spring and then were kind of caught off guard when temperatures stopped again. It's unfortunate in that they will probably not recover and so, yep, that's... - You know, the interesting thing last year we had an extended fall. - Yeah. - Essentially statewide.
And when the snow came in early November, it fell on unfrozen ground and a lot of plants really did not go dormant. I actually harvested carrots this following spring that I had missed last fall. They were in perfect condition because the ground never froze. I think that probably would play a role in whether or not alfalfa survived, and excessive moisture in the fall- - Yep. - Also makes a difference. Abi, from Helena, they live in town, they have a large amount of old lilacs and the last two years they haven't been doing that well. They had them pruned.
Now you might wanna say when'd you prune 'em, but it does not seem to have helped. What can they do? - Yeah, so in terms of when to prune lilacs, it's a good idea to prune them after they are done flowering. So right now all the lilacs around Livingston where I live are flowering and it looks and smells beautiful, but wait until after those blooms 'cause you don't want to prune out the bud so you won't have that flowery kind of show. So depending on kind of how old your lilacs are and kind of how close they're spaced, pruning, you can prune them pretty extensively too, and cut them back pretty significantly and they'll fill out a little bit more. But one thing I might recommend is to reach out to your extension agent because there are multiple pruning strategies for lilacs.
You can do a three year rotation pruning or you can do like a pretty heavy pruning in one year. So if you've tried one of those strategies and they didn't work very well, you can try the other strategy. - [Jack] What about fertilizing lilacs? - Yeah, I mean you don't wanna over fertilize, but if the soil nutrients are kind of depleted, that could be why they're not performing very well.
But if you over fertilize, you're not gonna get those blooms. You're gonna get that green growth instead of those flowers. - Okay, thank you. Shannon, a call from Billings.
They would like to know how the Montana Dude Ranch Association ties into agritourism. - It certainly is a category of agritourism, and so dude ranches kind of fit in that outdoor recreation category of agritourism. We have visited with the Montana Dude Ranch Association and have some connections between the Agritourism Association and the Montana dude ranches. But they're certainly a part of agritourism that we wanna develop better relationships with. - Okay. This is interesting.
Now, I'm not sure. For Uta, you and I can talk about this one. This is a Belgrade caller who says while living in California, they used to collect morel mushrooms and rinse them in a bucket of water.
Then they poured the rinse water under apple trees and morel mushrooms would then grow under the apple trees. Is this unusual or would this work in Montana? And I would say it's very unusual. I've never heard of it. (Uta laughing)
- No, me neither. I mean I guess my idea would be that they get the spores, but I've never heard of that. - People have tried for eons to try to culture morels. - Yeah. - And have not been very successful. So I think this might have been accidental.
If this really worked, I think people would know about it. - Oh my gosh. Yeah. - But anyway, interesting call. We do take comments and questions like that. It's kind of fun.
If you do have comments, folks, yeah, we'll air 'em. I mean, we would like to hear from you. - Mm-hmm. - Tim, what's the status, and everybody's worried about Palmer amaranth and this is from Sydney. What's the status of that particular nasty weed right now? - Yeah. So it's an interesting weed. It's one of these weeds that's evolved a ton of resistance to herbicides in the United States.
And Montana's one of the last few states where this plant hasn't established in our cropping systems, in our forage crops and that sort of thing. So we've been keeping really close eye out for it. As we come into this season, we need to think about it. if you have a lot of pigweeds in your field, if you're bringing millet in to the state. In North Dakota, used equipment, millet seed and sunflower screenings have been the biggest vectors into North Dakota.
Recently someone found on a website called iNaturalist, so iNaturalist is a website where you can post photos of your plants to be identified by the public, and they posted a photo of a palmer amaranth plant in Shelby, Montana, and it came from someone's contaminated bird seeded. So bird seed is actually contaminated with a whole lot of weed seeds. So always, you know, you can find some good weeds under your bird feeder. And so this plant came out of bird feed and it was a single lone male plant that grew in Shelby and someone put it on iNaturalist and then someone brought it to our attention. So that is actually the first record of Palmer amaranth in Montana.
We definitely have to keep our eyes out for it. It's resistant to just about every herbicide we can name out there. And so we're really making sure we have early detection and rapid response. But in this case the vector was bird seed, not millet seed, not used equipment out of the Midwest. - But there's probably millet seed in the bird seed. - Yep. - Yeah.
- Yeah, so Tim, do you have any recommendations or advice for kind of preventing or managing those weeds from your bird seed? - Yeah, I think, you know, I was just actually looking at, under our bird feeder at home, I have some volunteer canola that's coming up. We have some other weed seeds. I would just say, you know, keep an eye on that spot. We actually get into the Schutter Diagnostic Lab at MSU quite often, weird giant weeds that grow under people's bird feeders. And so I think just keep an eye on it and if you see weeds you don't necessarily know or knew, call your local county agent and get 'em to help you identify it.
- Okay, thank you. I am concerned about Palmer Amaranth. - Yeah. - And I hate to admit it,
but eventually it's gonna get here. - Yep. - And it is a tough one to control. - Mm-hmm. - Interesting comment from a person in Glendive. They say that they've had the same couple from Boston come out for one week a year to help on their farm and they enjoy it every year and these people hate to charge 'em for coming. So that's what agritourism can do for you.
- I think that's one of the challenges is a lot of farmers and ranchers aren't used to charging for these types of services, but there is an audience out there that's willing to pay for it. So just kind of changing that mindset of yes, people are willing to pay to participate in some of these different activities that they offer on the farm that are just part of their daily life. - I had a friend from Cranbury, New Jersey that visited me when I was doing my doctorate program at Nebraska. And we had an associated friend that lived in Cumberland, Iowa who was a typical Iowa farmer, hogs, corn, soybeans.
And because of this hobby association, Jerry from New Jersey drove over to see him and it's about a two hour drive to Cumberland, Iowa. He was gonna stay for one day. He got so involved with the operations of that farm, he spent almost a week there. And to this day, 50 years later, he says that that's one of the most inspiring things that he ever did.
So it is a good business to be in. From Big Timber. "Abi, what is the best mulch for garden paths over landscape cloth?" They would really like your personal recommendation.
- Okay, so for garden paths I would say as long as you don't have any established plantings within those, I don't recommend landscape cloth within any established plantings, but if you don't have any established planting, you can have a few kind of considerations in terms of weather, wind is an issue. So where I live, wind is a big issue. So I'll probably use some gravel or rock as a mulch in between plantings, like on pathways and stuff.
But if that wasn't an issue, I also, aesthetically like wood chips, I think they look nice, but if you have a really windy area, you're gonna blow those wood chips all around the neighborhood. - And Livingston is a bit breezy. - It's pretty breezy. (chuckling) - You can put the wood chips down in Livingston and they'll land in Big Timber.
(all laughing) - Yeah. - That's about right. But it's a beautiful city. I will say that. While we're on the mulch things, from Bozeman, "Can you use grass clippings raked up from vole damage as mulch for small evergreens?" They must have had or herd of voles if they have grass clippings. - Yeah.
Yeah, you can use grass clippings as mulch, but again they're nice to kind of add nutrients and stuff. They won't stick around, they're gonna decompose pretty quickly. But yeah, you can if you want to as long as just make sure that if you are thinking about using grass clippings after you treat with herbicide, wait until a few mowings before you do that.
- Okay. Shannon, from Missoula, they're curious from what part of the country do most ag tourism participants come from? Is there any data on that? - There was a recent national study that was done, but I'm not sure that there's data specifically about where they're coming from. I think more of the data was focused on more urban audiences visiting rural areas. And so it also differs between the parts of the United States and who's going to those different areas.
But there is a resource on the Montana Agritourism website where you can look up that particular study that might have more specific statistics and data that they can look at. - Okay, thank you. - Mm-hmm. - Abi, a question from Bozeman here. They have tiny little flying bugs whenever they water their houseplants. What are they and how do you get rid of 'em? - Yeah, I get this question a lot and you know, for houseplants in general, this is a pretty common issue because we tend to love our houseplants to death.
And so a lot of times those little flying insects when you water are fungus gnats and they're feeding on just the fungus that grows within the soil and usually as a result of over watering. And so you just scale back the watering, let the soil dry out a little bit and that should resolve the issue pretty easily. But yeah, we do tend to love our houseplants to death. (Tim chuckling) - And that's why most people don't do very well with them.
And on that note, here's a great little book, "How Not to Kill Your Houseplant", and I'm not promoting anybody's writing or so forth and so on, but this has got a lot of good information in it. You can probably get it on Amazon, you can probably get it here at one of your local nurseries or wherever you purchase your books. It is really good and if you're into houseplants, and I know Tim is, but he's not very good at it. They die pretty rapidly.
If you ignore 'em, a lot of times they'll do better than if you take really good care of 'em. So you might consider that book. Tim, I'm picking on you. From Forsyth, the caller has bur buttercup weeds.
Do you know what they are? - Mm-hmm. - How does the caller get rid of these weeds without killing or harming the yard and surrounding areas? - Whew. That's a tough question. So bur buttercup, if you go out and look, it's usually one of the very first things that will flower in the state. It's a really small little buttercup and it'll get about this tall and you'll see it in disturbed areas, around sort of wellheads, edges of driveways, things like that.
I'm not sure that there's anything you can do to manage it really. You could probably put a herbicide early on it in the spring, maybe before other things were dormant. I think digging it out or scraping it out with a hoe, that would be pretty tough work. It is a very early plant. It will be gone in two or three weeks and you won't see it till next spring again and it'll be the first thing that grows. That's the easiest way to get rid of it.
- Okay. - It'll be out of sight, out of mind in a week or two. I think early, very early in the spring. It's kind of like bulbsa bluegrass, that and bulbsa bluegrass are the first two weeds we manage every year and probably glyphosate over the top I guess would be the easiest solution.
Be hard maybe not to damage some of your grass if it had broke dormancy. - Okay. Back to the bluegrass, bulbsa bluegrass. I am aware that I have a fair amount in the pasture around my house.
What's the odds of that moving into a relatively well maintained bluegrass lawn or... - Yeah, that's pretty small. I think if you have a good stand of perennial rhizomatous grass in there, by that I mean, you know, might be a mix of perennial rye, might be a mix of Kentucky bluegrass, might have some other things, in general that bulbous bluegrass won't move in. I think it's usually grows in dry spots where you have little vegetation cover, and it's the first thing that grows in the spring.
It's just now starting to shoot up and go to head around the valley. And if you keep it mowed down, it's also one that'll disappear and turn brown actually pretty quick. It's a really early season grass. - Okay, thank you. Uta, from Blaine County, they planted some certified spring wheat in late April.
It's up and growing nicely, but he notices that there are gaps in the stand. Any idea what might be going on? - Phew. There could be all sorts of reasons. I guess one question would be is does it seem like a regular pattern that like follows the rows or kind of associates with other features of the field or is it maybe more random, you know, that could kind of tell us is this maybe something that's related to a disease or maybe it has more of a environmental cause? Maybe it's varying seeding depth, like if they dug in and looked for what the seed looks like in the ground, is it germinating, it just has broken through the soil surface yet, or is the seed not germinating at all? That could tell us if it's maybe a seedling rot or maybe just variation in planting depth.
Could be all sorts of factors. I think I need to know a little bit more about it. - Yeah, I mean, you can definitely dig a few of the plants and see, but cutworms or wireworms could also be involved with that if it's in a roll effect.
Probably cutworms more than anything else. - One question would be did they use a seed treatment? - True. - If they didn't, then there is a chance that all sorts of things got after the seed. It's hard to tell. Yep. - All right. - Get a hold of Uta. - Maybe bring a sample to the extension office and have them have a look at it and if they don't know, they're of course welcome to reach out or send a sample to the Schutter lab.
- Okay, thank you. We got a question about harvesting, and this comes from Conrad, and this is interesting. This person would love to join in agritourism. He'd actually pay for people to come out from the cities and drive trucks during the harvest. (Tim laughing) Now we have a labor shortage in agriculture. Can any of that be partially alleviated with a agritourism at peak periods of times? - I think absolutely.
Again, I think it goes back to we are accustomed, those that are farming and ranching, we're accustomed to some of these different things that we do on a daily basis that people will pay for so that they can have that experience, whether it's driving a grain truck or you know, experiencing something with your animals. And so I think that's certainly an experience that they could promote and offer as a agritourism type of experience, especially if you can even, you know, offer some lodging for them, some different- - Meals. - Different types of meals, different experiences.
So again, I would say having them talk with their insurance agent and find out what that might look like for their operation. - You know, I'm talking about feeding 'em and so forth I neglected to say that I accused Jerry, the guy who went to Cumberland, Iowa to do that, I accused him of only staying there because of the gooseberry custard pie that this person's wife made and it was absolutely delicious. He denied that of course. This is probably not really for this panel, but I'll throw it out there.
Any knowledge about flathead borer beetle causing the woodpeckers to feed? The larvae is killing the trees. You know, you want to jump on that a little bit? - Yeah, I mean, and it depends on kind of what they're asking about that. There are a lot of flathead borer larvae that affect a lot of our different landscape trees and usually woodpecker damage is indicative of having a borer inside the wood there. So in terms of kind of treatment, it would depend on the type of tree that you have. So I would reach out to your local extension agent, but certain insecticides that are systemic insecticides, like soil drenches, those work pretty well to kill those insects, again, depending on what it is. So reach out to your local extension office and see if you can get an ID on that insect and that should help get to the bottom of how you can manage those.
- Okay. So finally we're gonna get to this and we talked about it ahead of time. And the question came in from Gallatin Gateway, and they say we are inundated by dandelions in our three acre lawn. What do you do? It's not only them, this Gallatin County has more dandelions per square meter other that Canada thistle, it is probably the most prevalent weed around.
Do you need to control it? How do you control it? Is it good for anything? Is it bad for anything? Talk about the dandelions we have. - Dandelions. You can eat some. Marilice, if you're at home watching me on TV, we had some in our salad for dinner the other day. So, you know, I think the view of dandelions of whether it's good or bad depends on who's looking at it. In a forage view, you know, it's probably not a bad forage if you're grazing it there.
Where it becomes problematic in alfalfa and a lot of our things is it's a very damp plant that holds a lot of water. You press it in a bale, it makes a lot of moldy alfalfa, a lot of moldy bales, then you may lose protein when you'd rather have alfalfa or other forage in there too. In your lawn, I think it's in a matter of opinion whether we want to get rid of it or not, and we could debate that a lot. You can use a number of different herbicides that are sold at the hardware store that have herbicides that will affect dandelions. Will they kill dandelions? Dandelions are hard to kill.
We already talked about that. You know, if you dig 'em up, you see how they have these huge roots on 'em that go very deep and they have a big root crown. You know that herbicide doesn't always kill that big root crown on there. So that's the one thing you have to think about. Fall is the better time to spray your dandelions and your lawn.
I realize now they're most conspicuous, but fall's the better time to manage them. I don't know. Abi, what do you think about for pollinators and different things like that? - Yeah, so for pollinators, what kind of research has shown is that dandelions aren't the best source of nectar and pollen. It's not a very nutritious nectar and pollen for bees and so they aren't the best source of food, better sources of food or other early season flowering plants so planting those, but pollinators will use dandelions if there's nothing else available. That's why you'll see in areas where you don't have many other flowering plants, you'll see bees and other pollinators on your dandelions.
But one of the things that comes to mind in dandelions and lawns is a lot of times dandelions are growing in areas where your turf isn't competing with them very well. So making sure that your turf is healthy, aerating your, you know, turf and over overseeing with the desired turf grass species is a good way to kind of fill in those gaps. Seeing if you have compacted soils and make sure that you're taking care of the grass, you can increase the mowing height of the grass a little bit and that encourages that root system to go a little bit deeper, which means your turf will be more resilient to kind of incoming weeds. So kind of a multi-pronged approach where you're taking good care of your turf so it can kind of compete with these other weeds. - So I'm gonna throw in a little bit here and pick on Don Mathre who sits in this chair quite a few years, and Don has stopped using herbicides and started to dig his dandelions. And I actually drove by his yard yesterday, and to be honest, he's not been very successful at digging the dandelions. - It is tough.
Harry Miller also likes to talk about how he goes home sometimes and he does dandelion yoga bending over repeatedly with the hori hori knife digging out the dandelions. But it is, you won't win that. Well, you won't win, but you might get more flexible.
- Okay, I'm just joking about that, Don. Anyway. Shannon, from Custer, how would you advertise agritourism opportunities? - I think if if your operation wanted to advertise agritourism, then I would say to reach out to the Abundant Montana folks, and again, they have an entire list of farms and local types of operations where you can advertise the different activities that you can offer on your farm. I would also say to reach out to your local extension agent, reach out to your local food and ag development center representative so they can also help. You can also visit with the Department of Commerce and again, the Brand MT program has local and regional representatives that can help you through some of that advertising and marketing of your operation as well. - Okay, thank you.
From Gallatin County, this person would like to know why the winter was so hard on pine trees. UTa, you can jump on that or... - Well, I think the winter was hard on a lot of trees.
With pine trees, I mean, are we talking about a forest setting or are we talking about- - Pine tree probably. - Yeah, well, I guess same as with like backyard trees, like it was a dry year once again, so the plants were not, you know, very well equipped to prepare for the winter. And so like we have in our garden settings, winterkill, when the plants are not watered properly, It's probably a similar issue I would suspect with the pine trees and forests just like of water and a really long winter.
- You know, on that note somewhere here we have a question from east of Brady, Montana, and they say they've been in an extended drought for three plus years, they're finally getting some rain, which is good news. A friend near the Marias River says it's still very dry. Are we still actually in a drought in the Golden Triangle? And my answer would probably be yes. Tim?
- Yeah, it's like D1, D2 drought status. If you go to the Climate Prediction Center, there's a drought monitor that you can see the map. I think it is like D1, D2 status, so better than it was last year, but we're not out of the woods.
And you know, it's gotten really hot really fast this year and dry so you know, a former colleague in the department would talk about flash droughts and how they tend to develop and things like that. So it's not just, you know, these longer term droughts we think about. Sometimes they develop really quickly too. - Yeah, and boy, you noticed it here. It's 80 degrees and the lawns are showing stress already. - Yeah, my peas were stressed today looking at them.
Yeah. - Yeah. This is a good question for Abi. Is it better to do broccoli transplant or direct seed them? - Yeah, that is a good question. So I've found that my broccoli does better from direct seeding. I feel like it produces even quicker than if you're putting in transplants.
So I've had a lot of success with just direct seeding being even better than transplanting broccoli. But again, these kinds of veggie questions that gardening workshop that we have, these kinds of topics will be covered in that workshop and so if you are interested in broccoli and any other kind of our plants that we grow in Montana. - I think Perry Miller would disagree with you. - You'd think transplants, he would say? - Well Perry tried for three years to direct seed and he lives out here in the Gallatin Valley and he gave up and I said, "You're doing it wrong, try transplants." And now he- - And now he has success. - He has more broccoli than he knows what to do with.
- Okay, well yeah, I guess it depends on, yeah, what you're doing. - The other issue with dry seeding, you have flea beetle damage. - That's true if for your younger seedlings they can kind of take them out so you'd need to protect them better.
I'd use a row cover or something like that when you're seeding your broccoli so that you're protecting them from those pests. - Okay. Shannon, from Norris, first call we've had from Norris in quite some time.
They would like to know, are ranchers more successful in attracting agritourists than quote, traditional farming operations? Tough question. - Yeah. I think it all depends on the type of agritourism experience that you can offer. Again, we talked about a lot of different types of experiences, so really just thinking about what does that farmer ranch currently have as far as infrastructure, resources that they could maybe utilize to attract visitors. And sometimes it might just be that visitors might just want to camp on the land, or maybe they want to, you know, go out into the land and look at the stars.
So thinking about what are the different types of agritourism that you could potentially offer on your land based on what you currently have. There's lots of different opportunities out there, I think to think about what are your current assets and what can they provide for that tourist. - Okay, sounds good. Thank you. From Helena, a caller brought from wildflower seed that was packaged in Wisconsin, and that's always dangerous to do that.
I'll make that little comment. And there is white cockle showing up. How should it be controlled and is it present in other areas of Montana? - I think I know what they mean by white cockle. It's this yeah, silene. - Bladder? Yeah.
- Yeah, it big head on it. Yeah, no, I think we have to be really careful with wildflower mixes and maybe advocate, add a little bit to that. It may say wildflower mix, it doesn't mean it's native to Montana, doesn't mean it'll grow well, could definitely contain weeds in it. How to manage the white cockle? Maybe if you want to save all the other flowers that are in there, then I would go in and selectively dig it out.
I have a, I call it a hori hori knife. It's a stainless steel Japanese, it's a knife about this long and it cuts perfectly and I just selectively pop things out. That's what I'd do in a garden bed, I think.
- Yeah, and in terms of, yeah, you nailed it with the wildflower seeds. I would say if you are interested in getting wildflower seed mixes to reach out to kind of local suppliers and local nurseries that have regionally hardy varieties and know exactly what is in that mix so you're not introducing any weeds or even invasive or noxious weeds. - Okay, thank you. Uta, from Kalispell, they have carrots, some of which in pastures have turned kind of red and the tops get kind of wild growth on it.
Any idea what that might be? - [Uta] Carrots in pastures, wild carrots? - Carrots in a garden. Yeah. - No, I don't know. (chuckles) - I think that might be aster yellows, which is a leafhopper transmitted.
- Right, Yes. - But I'm not sure. A sample of it- - It might kind of early this time of year. - Well, this is in pastures that's happened. - Oh, I see. Okay. - So they're a little bit curious. From Missoula, and this is an interesting comment.
They wanted to pass along the name of a product for controlling dandelions. It's called Iron-X from Gardens Alive. He said it would be cost-prohibitive for a field, but has iron and dandelions are sensitive to iron and doesn't kill other broadleaf.
I've not heard of it and I- - Yeah, in Bozeman there's a number of horticultural lawn care people that provide that as a service. I have never evaluated it in a trial. - [Abi] Yeah.
- Okay. Abi, asparagus, how long can they cut it? - In terms of like length or until when? - Well, no. I think they say how long after it germinates, how many cuttings can you get off of it, sorry? - Yeah, usually I would say depending on, you know, how established your planting is. I usually get three to four cuttings of mine, but I would keep an eye on it and make sure you don't overdo it. What do you usually get? - I usually try to limit it to about four weeks cutting. - Yeah. Yeah. - And if they're real spindly,
I let 'em go. - Exactly. You don't cut if they're spin- - But if good thick ones, I think in established beds you can go four, maybe even five weeks. - Yeah, exactly. But if it's not a four or five year old bed, you probably don't. - Yeah. - Want to be cutting that much. Tim, from Townsend, best wild oat herbicide to be using right now? They have a significant problem with wild oats. - Depend on what crop it is maybe, and it depends on how resistant that wild oat is.
There's some wild oat in the state that's really resistant. Around Townsend, I don't know much about herbicide resistant wild oats. If you're talking in spring wheat, probably Axial XL is the go-to these days. It's a Group 1 grassy herbicide.
In pulse crops, you can use many of the grassy herbicides, Clethodim, Axial, those sorts of things like that. In wheat, you could also try using things like Everest or Express herbicides in spring wheat barley. There's less options. But if I didn't cover their crop, tell 'em to call me on Monday morning and we can go over it.
- Yep. Everest still work pretty good? - Yeah. Yep. In the Modak it does work on wild oat fairly well. Yep. - Okay. We're down on time. One quick question for Abi.
The yellow leaves on the lower parts of tomatoes. Anything to worry about right now? - No, it's a nutrient deficiency. They wanna be in the ground as soon as you can. Check your forecast and put those in the ground and bury them deep for your tomatoes. - And I'm planting mine this week. - Perfect. - I'm taking a gamble.
I usually wait another month, but nope, they're going in. Thank the panel tonight. Uta, Shannon, thank you for coming in. Interesting.
Tim, Abi, thank you again. We'll be back, not next week, next week we're taking a week off. It's Memorial Day weekend. Hopefully, it normally snows that weekend, maybe not this year. Two weeks we have Hayes Goosey on forages. We'll see you then. Stay well, goodnight.
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