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Join the crew of Extension302 as they dive into current topics affecting YOU — the people of Delaware! Brought to you the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, this podcast offers unbiased scientifically-based conversation featuring guest experts! Topics range from agricultural sciences to nutrition, mindfulness, financial literacy and more! 

This program is brought to you by the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, a service of the UD College of Agriculture and Natural Resources—a land-grant institution. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Episodes

2021

Episode 25: Understanding your food (with Dr. Cara L. Cuite)

 

What's in your food? How do you find out? Dr. Cara L. Cuite (Rutgers) joins us to discuss product labeling, bioengineered food and how these impact consumers. 

 

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Video: Understanding your food (with Dr. Cara L. Cuite): youtube.com/watch?v=H9H2drfscbI

Episode 25 Transcript

 

Dan Severson:

Today, our guest is going to be Dr. Cara Cuite. She was on our show a few episodes ago, talking about misinformation. Well, welcome, Dr. Cara.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Thanks. I'm glad to be back.

Dan Severson:

You know when we start with an icebreaker and your first icebreaker was about scrapple. Today, I brought in pork roll for Jake and Blake. I want to hear what they had to say about it.

Blake Moore:

So I will say this, I've eaten pork roll before, and I've always enjoyed it. I think it's great. But scrapple is definitely the better one, by far. Sorry.

Jake Jones:

I'd agree. When you have the option, I like pork roll at night and scrapple in the morning.

Dan Severson:

Dr. Cara, have you tried scrapple yet?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

I'm feeling very left out of this entire conversation because I have not. Since we last spoke, I also have not had pork roll. And I think I had it once, maybe. This is just not my area of expertise, by any stretch. But I am, in honor of the forthcoming Scrapple Festival, I'm going to see if I can get some in New Jersey.

 

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...


Dan Severson:

Since we're talking about food and packaging and stuff, from what I understand, there's new labels for bioengineered food coming out?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

There are new labels coming out. In many cases, they're already out, but the deadline for labeling is January first of next year. Back in 2016, Congress passed the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law. And that basically said that the USDA was going to have rate a standard to determine how and when bioengineered foods have to be labeled. It took quite a few years. In 2018, they released the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, which has a specific guidance of how we're going to implement the law. So, ultimately, the deadline is January 1st, 2022.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Some of my colleagues and I have been really interested in this because we've been studying what the public thinks and knows about genetically engineered or bioengineered foods. I've been doing it since 2003. And my colleague Bill [Holman's 00:02:16] been working on it since the 90s.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

And it's just something that the public really, with some exceptions, I think they're been small groups of people who've been paying a whole lot of attention to this, but by and large, the public has not been paying attention to this issue and isn't really aware of how prevalent genetically-modified or bioengineer foods are in our diets and whether or not they already were labeled.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

So it's really interesting to see is this law going to push this issue to the forefront and make people notice it more? Or, is that the way that we're approaching labeling, going to mean that most people are still going to remain unaware of it? And that's really a question that I'm interested in studying once the law is fully implemented in January.

Dan Severson:

So what does the public think? Or your conclusion was they weren't thinking a whole lot?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah. So we've done surveys over time and we know, for example, in 2013, we asked a series of questions, as far as, are there any foods... And we were calling them genetically modified, not bioengineered. We can talk about that in a second. What the difference is there and why we would call it one over the other. But we said, so as far as you know, are there any foods containing genetically-modified ingredients in supermarkets right now? And over half of the people said they have no idea. They don't know. People just weren't really sure. And then also when we ask, "Well, do you think genetically-modified foods have to be labeled?" People again, they didn't know, or they thought that they did have to be labeled and they didn't, up until this law was passed.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

And what I like to say is that, were people paying a lot of attention? No. Should they be? No. There were no disclosures on packages. It wasn't something that the average person would have any way of knowing, for the most part, prior to this law. There are some to that, but, it makes sense that people wouldn't, generally, be paying attention. It's not something that's easy to tell from food labels. Some of the science is very complex. And I will say, right now, I like to always say this when I'm talking about this topic, I'm a research psychologist. So some of the science behind the technology, that's not what I'm an expert on. I really study how people think about these things. It's a complicated topic. So it makes a lot of sense that the public wouldn't be super engaged in this.

Blake Moore:

Whenever we go shopping in the grocery store and we pick up some food and think about what we're looking at on the label. I've dieted before to try to look at the nutrition information, ingredients, where it's sourced from. What do these labels, that have this new requirement, what does that mean for me and my family? And how should we be looking at this?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Mostly, it means that the food label has changed, but not the food. So we've been eating genetically-modified or bioengineered food since 1994.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

And let me back up for one second to say, so what is a bioengineered or genetically-engineered food? Right? When I speak about this with the public, I mostly just say, "Think back to your early science classes that you took in elementary school, middle school, and you learned about selective breeding and cross breeding, which are techniques that people have been using for millennia. Right? That's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about something very distinct, which is something that happens in a lab. It's not something that happens through nature or could happen through nature. So the technical definition for this new law is that bioengineered food is a food that contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro, RDNA techniques. That is what is considered to be a bioengineer food. So it's not something that can happen in nature, the way that we had used selective breeding or cross reading in the past, it's something specific.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

We've been eating foods that have been created using those techniques since 1994, is when they first started being sold in the US. These foods are very prevalent. When people ask me, "Well, how can I avoid genetically-modified foods?" I say your best bet is to shop around the outside of the supermarket, the fruit and vegetable aisle, the meats, those types of foods are much less likely to be genetically modified. It's really processed foods that we're talking about, that are all more in the center aisles of the grocery store, that are much more likely to contain genetically-modified ingredients. So anything that has soy, canola, corn, those are the kinds of foods, and most processed foods have some of those ingredients in them. So those all have genetically modified.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

So now, and this is where it gets a little technical and a little tricky. They might not be considered bioengineered, but they are what we generally understand to come from genetically-modified crops. Right? Over 90% of the corn, canola, soy, cotton, almost all of that, that we grow in this country are grown as genetically-modified crops. Some of the confusion happens when it goes from its plant form and gets processed and put in as an ingredient. So say, for example, corn, if you take corn that's grown as a genetically-modified crop and you process it, the DNA is no longer present. It's destroyed through the process of processing it and turning it into an oil. For the purposes of the new law, that oil wouldn't be considered a bioengineered food, but it is something that was grown as a genetically-engineered or genetically-modified crop.

Dan Severson:

Who came up with the GMO labeling way back in '94?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Okay. In '94, we had our first GMO food hit the market. And that was the FLAVR SAVR tomato, which is not on the market anymore. But it wasn't labeled as genetically modified. There was no labeling required. Over time, as we saw more and more genetically-modified foods hit the shelves, we also saw the creation of these third-party labels that were labeling the absence of genetically-modified ingredients. Right? There's something called the Non-GMO Project, where a company could pay this third-party labeling company to say, "Okay, they've come out to our fields. They've checked everything that we've done. And they are ensuring that we do not have genetically-modified ingredients." That's what we've seen, but we haven't seen very much positive labeling where people say, "Yes, this does include genetically-modified ingredients or bioengineered ingredients." Right. That really hasn't been there. Right. So, and I'm going to stop. And I almost feel like maybe I should have said earlier on, so the new law-

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

... earlier on. So the new law is called the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law, and they have really specific rules about what's considered bioengineered.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

But since 1994 when the first foods hit the market, the public has been referring to much of this technology as genetic modification and the products as genetically modified foods or genetically modified organisms. The short acronym for genetically modified organisms is what most of us know this as, which is a GMO.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

As far as this new law, there are some differences between what we would consider a GMO and a bioengineered food. But we know that the public thinks about this technology with the terms genetically modified or GMOs. We've done survey research on this even as recently as 2018, as the new standards were being devised and put in place, we did a survey and we asked people, what is the wording that should be on the labels?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Over half said they thought the label should say GMO or genetically modified. Only 12.6 thought that bioengineering was the right wording to use. But the way the law set up were moving forward with bioengineered as the term that we're using both for the label and for what gets counted and not counted. So it correlates, although not 100%, with what the public thinks of as a GMO.

Blake Moore:

Have you guys done any research to determine if either one of those words are viewed in a more negative light?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Many years ago we did some research. We didn't use the word bioengineered, but we used the word agricultural biotechnology. We know that the movement against these foods have gotten attention as the anti-GMO movement. GMO is somewhat associated with the non GMO projects, the anti-GMO food movement.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

I don't know that this is true or not true but it's possible that some of the people creating the law saw that as a term that they wanted to move away from and move toward the more technical term of bioengineered. It's also just more specific, easier to designate which foods should be considered bioengineered for the law. GMO is really a broader, more umbrella term and it is one definitely more used by the public.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Like I said, we did ask the specific to this law back in 2018, when we did a survey what do you think should be on the label, and most people said it should be GMO or genetically modified. Very few people thought that bioengineered food was the right term to have on the label.

Jake Jones:

We've talked about the law a lot. Can you give us a little bit more reasoning as to why the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law was passed?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Part of what was happening is that individual states were trying to figure out how they could label bioengineered, or genetically modified, or another term that's often used is genetically engineered foods, in their states.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

There were two different things that were happening. Some states were having statewide referenda, which just mean that the citizens of those states could vote on whether or not to label genetically engineered, genetically modified, bioengineered foods that happened in four states. We saw them in California, in Washington. Then in 2014, we saw two states have referenda, Oregon and Colorado.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

All four were defeated and really super amazingly close in these elections, with the exception of Colorado where it was defeated pretty soundly. But the other three states, it was really, really close. Lawmakers were watching that, knowing that perhaps we would've ended up with a state that ended up with labeling through a referendum.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

At the same time, other were moving through with legislative action. So it didn't require a vote by the citizens of the state, but the legislative bodies were passing laws to label GMO food. So we saw that in Connecticut, we saw that in Maine.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Connecticut and Maine passed laws. They're both relatively small states. They said, "Well, when enough other states near us pass similar laws, then our law will go into effect." So they were sitting there waiting because it is really hard for the food industry to have a different label that's required in Connecticut that's not required say in New York or Massachusetts. It gets really tricky. So they were saying, "Let's wait until enough states in our general area require this, then our law will go into effect."

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Vermont said, "We're not waiting. We're just doing this. We're putting this law into effect. It's going to happen." That was in the summer of 2016. Basically as soon as that law was going into effect is when we ended up with the national law.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

The national law, part of the rationale that was put forth is because they were saying that the food industry, and the USDA, and all the regulatory bodies would have a really hard time dealing with different labels and different states. We'd end up with a patchwork quilt. So, rather than have that patchwork quilt start popping up around the country, we're going to come in with a national law.

Jake Jones:

I remember Vermont playing the role. I'm glad you explained that.

Dan Severson:

What's actually going to be on these new labels? What's required to be on these labels? How are the companies going to get that done?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

That is a good question. There are four different approaches that a company can take with these labels. I should say that there are some exclusions. Really small companies don't need to do it. There's a threshold in terms of sales and stuff like that.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

But for the foods that have to have a label, there are four options. One is just text on the packaging that says bioengineered. One option is a QR code, those weird square things that you can point your cell phone camera at and it will take you to a webpage.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

I can tell you that people were not super happy with a QR code as the label because that requires an extra step.

Dan Severson:

Yeah. Blake was just saying, the QR code seems like a easy out.

Blake Moore:

Yeah, it's an out because then you're putting the onus, the responsibility, on the consumer. We're all consumers. We know how often we actually do that type of thing when we're in the grocery store shopping.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Right. I was going to say, how often do you whip out your phone and start looking up the different foods that you're buying? So a lot of people were very unhappy with the QR code option because it does put the onus, like you said, on the consumer. Some consumers don't have smartphones or don't know how to work a QR code or whatever. So not only does it put the onus on the consumers, but not all consumers can even do what would be required to find out about the food.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

There's some anti-GMO groups that had some ads that they were doing where they had, "A QR code equals," and then they had that poison sign to say, "If you see a QR code on your food, you should know that probably means that it's got some bioengineered ingredients and you should avoid it," sort of things.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

So maybe as we move forward with this, it's possible that we'll see QR codes being a proxy for bioengineered foods. People might see that as a proxy. But definitely people felt that was not disclosure in the sense that it's actually disclosing meaningful information to the public in a way that they can easily access it. So that was controversial.

Blake Moore:

Yeah, I've actually been to grocery stores where you don't even get service either. Then you can't even look it up anyway. I mean, what, are you going to buy it and then you're going to come back? "I got to return this food because I didn't know at the time, but it's bioengineered."

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

There's a lot of reasons why people are unhappy. But then my question to you is how many people do you think when they get home and get service are going to look it up and return the food?

Blake Moore:

Zero to none.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

What are the things that people use to make decisions about what they're buying? I think what our research has found over the years of repeated surveys is that for some people this is a super important issue and they really and truly are eating in a way that-

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

They really and truly are trying to find food and eat in a way that lets them avoid these types of foods. For other people, it's really more about calories or nutrition. Whatever it is, people are using different decision points and some people aren't using any of those. People are using different types of information and some people are not using any information on the labels, right? There's a lot.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

I was just talking with some students a couple weeks ago about date labeling and how people make decisions around date labeling. How do you make sense of that? What's the difference between best by or use by? There's so much information in any food label that someone might pick up that I think that, for some people, they just don't look at any of it. It's just easier to just say, "Oh, I like this and I'm going to eat it."

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

There are two more ways of disclosure. You can also have a text message disclosure, where you can text a number and they'll tell you information [crosstalk 00:18:59] Again, it's right there with the QR code. Then, the third one is the one that I was super interested in. Again, my colleague Bill Holman and I did some research on this where they have an actual logo that they'll put on food. They have two logos that they came up with.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

In the final version, one says bioengineered and the other one says derived from bioengineering. So, the derived from bioengineering is an optional label and that gets at sort of what I was talking about before, like how corn oil doesn't necessarily have the DNA in it, so it doesn't bioengineer DNA. It doesn't count as a bioengineered food, but it was derived from a bioengineered food, right? That's the difference there.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Bioengineered is a very specific technique where they're actually changing the DNA. We did a study of these symbols and what people thought of them. Originally, the USCA had released three prototype labels or three prototype designs. Some of the designs that they originally had just had BE and didn't have the word bioengineered. People really did not know what those meant.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

If you have a symbol that just says BE, some people were telling us, "Well." We said, "Well, what do you think that means? If you saw this on a food label, what would your best guess be that this means?" A lot of people said they could not guess at all. Then, we heard guesses like, be happy, be hungry. Whatever. They thought it just meant the word be.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Other people said, "Well, maybe it means Britain, England." Or all kinds of crazy guesses. Almost no one guessed bioengineered. So, we were really happy when the final symbols were released and that they all said bioengineered. They're not doing just that acronym anymore, which was a real relief.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

When we had them look at an example in our study, that looks a lot like the final one, it's not exactly the same as the final one, we still found that almost a quarter of respondents did not know. Even when it says bioengineered, they're like, "I have no idea what that means. I can't even make a guess as to what this is telling me about the food."

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Then, almost three quarters said that they thought it meant something about that the food was grown in a lab or not natural. Or something sciencey or lab-based. Although some people were able to guess the food was genetically modified or something, but a lot of them just got a more general sense that it was something to do with labs and science.

Blake Moore:

We saw the disclosure stickers. They looked very nice to me.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

All of the prototypes that they had originally come up with were all very appealing and happy. The colors are nice, it does indicate a field, agriculture, to some extent. They were going for something. I think the fear for a lot of the food companies, was that these labels would be seen as a warning, right?

Blake Moore:

Yeah. [crosstalk 00:22:01] This isn't the skull and cross bones kind of label.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Exactly. So, I think that they really tried very hard to make sure that whatever symbol they put on there is not seen as a warning. It's not the skull and crossbones, it's not saying 'avoid this'. A lot of people said, "Oh, it means it's natural. Oh, it means it was with the sun." Or whatever. Very positive.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

It does definitely give off a very positive vibe, which I think, probably. Again, I was not in the rooms where they were deciding what the label should look like, I don't know this for a fact, but my guess is that they were trying to make the sort of anti-warning label, an appealing label that wouldn't be offputting for anyone.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Some of the disclosures, a lot of people object to, because they think, "Okay, it's not really telling me information. If I don't have a phone, if I don't have access to the internet, if I don't have time to search on the QR code, it's not going to tell me anything." Even for these symbols that have the word on there, a lot of people still don't know what it means, right?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

There's no one way that we're going to fully inform people of exactly what it means. That's why one of the recommendations that we have is that there probably needs to be some education that goes on as well. It's not just sticking these symbols or the QR code or whatever. The text on the package, but that there has to be some education that goes hand-in-hand with that.

Blake Moore:

I think Extension would be a great place for some of that education take place.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

I 100% agree with that. It has to happen across the country, right? This is happening everywhere. Extension is everywhere and I think that that would be absolutely great.

Blake Moore:

Yeah. This is good. I mean, even when the label goes on, the people who are really concerned about that are going to know what it means and they're going to shop accordingly. Whereas most people are not concerned about that. They're going to continue shopping as normal. So, it's one of those things, I guess, where if you want to know, you will.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah. Here's the other piece of it. Well, first of all, people who are already concerned, I did mention Non-GMO Project and how you could buy foods that were labeled as not genetically modified or bioengineered, but also the organic label is a way that people can and shop in a way to ensure that they're not getting any genetically-modified or bioengineered food. Because that is a requirement of getting the organic label.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

But, I would also say that a lot of people don't know that. So, the people who want to know, who are really concerned, that small percentage of the population. Whatever it is, 10% or whatever, they can use the organic label as a workaround to avoid. Or, they had been able to do this up until this new labeling law, they had been able to use the organic also, to avoid the foods.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

But, yeah, I think when you said the first question, "What do people need to know?" I think the first thing is that they need to know that this is the same food that they've been eating all along, it's just the label that's changed, most likely. I mean, some foods will change, but by and large, the label doesn't mean that there have been a change in ingredients or a process used to create the food.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

It's just that it's now being labeled. But then, the question is, "Okay, now that it's labeled, what do people make of that label?" Do the people who weren't paying attention before, A, do they understand it? B, is it meaningful to them in any way that will change their purchasing and consumption habits? That remains to be seen.

Speaker 2:

It's interesting. You bring up the organic label. I came across that in chicken wings. If you go to try to find an organically-labeled chicken wing, you're probably not going to find that. Because the companies know that the people eating wings, they're not buying organic wings. They're not going to pay extra money to have an organic wing, because they don't care.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Will people pay attention? I don't know.

Blake Moore:

Yeah. I mean, I think we all agree that labels are great and disclosures on them are great. We all just look at them and prioritize them differently.

Speaker 3:

So, we've gone over that products derived from bioengineering can be voluntarily labeled. Are there any other exceptions, where bioengineered foods don't have to be labeled?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

We have a threshold, where it's 5%. there are a bunch of technical details of this law. There's a threshold where it's 5%. if it has 5% or more of bioengineered ingredients, that it has to be labeled, but if it has less than that, it does not have to be included. This does not have to be disclosed in restaurants or any other retail settings. That's another exemption.

Speaker 3:

Gross sales?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah, of the company. Bioengineered additives, there's certain additives that are considered incidental, don't have to be labeled. Oh, and here it's. It's bioengineered foods that are sold by small or very small manufacturers, defined as less than 2.5 million in annual sales. That's the exempt. That's the threshold for the sales on the manufacturer side. So, there are a few ways that bioengineered foods could come in unlabeled. The big one that I-

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Bioengineer foods could come in unlabeled. The big one that I think is really interesting, and is controversial for some people, is the whole idea that if the DNA isn't present that then it doesn't count as bioengineered. So it can be a food that was grown 100% as a bioengineered crop, or a genetically modified crop. And if it's processed to the point that the DNA isn't there, it's not considered bioengineered. And I think that for some people that feels like a violation of the spirit of labeling of these foods. That they want to know actually does it come from a plant that was bioengineered? And that is not in this at all. That's just not required to be disclosed.

Dan Severson:

And this is for all food sold in the US? Even if it comes from another country it has to be labeled?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah. Importers have to label too, yep. And then one other thing I guess I would say, that they point out as an exception, and it's interesting because I've had people ask me about this is, well what if an animal was fed bioengineered feed? They got bioengineered corn or soy. Should that be considered bioengineered? And the law is very clear that that does not count at all. It's only animals whose own DNA has been altered. So the only food that's on the market where that's the case is the Aqua Advantage salmon that just recently came to market, where that does have bioengineered DNA present in the salmon itself.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

But I had a woman, when I was talking about this many years ago, talking about how if a chicken is fed GMO corn it should be considered a GMO chicken. And I said, "Well, have you ever eaten processed food?" And she said, "Yes." I said, "Well, you've probably eaten genetically modified food. Does that make you a GMO?" And she said, "Of course not." And I said, "Well, that's really the same logic that you're applying for the chicken." So that's something where I think people can be a little bit confused about, but the law is super clear that the DNA has to be present, and just feeding an animal bioengineered feed does not turn them into GMO or bioengineered organism at all.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

It gets tricky, and I think the conversation that we were just having that people don't look. There's a lot of information that various people think should be on there, but is a general public using and their decision making and ...

Dan Severson:

I'm going to say I don't. I look at the weight and the cost per pound. If I'm going to buy beef or chicken, I'm hoping it's beef and chicken, so I trust that and I look, how much does it cost, how much does it weigh?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Well, that's another thing. Wegmans is the greatest grocery store in the world. I don't know if I'm allowed to say that, but it is. It's my favorite. And they started selling a couple years ago irradiated hamburgers and cheeseburgers, which I was somewhat amazed by because it said very clearly on there, "Irradiated meat." But it was kind of exciting to me because I love rare burgers, but I don't eat them anymore because of food safety issues. So I never actually bought them, and I don't see them anymore so I guess they weren't super popular. But that's another case where the trade off is, "Wait, are you worried about the irradiation or are you worried about microorganisms? And depending on what you're concerned about, you might buy that food. So it's really a lot of trade offs that we're making.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

So it gets to ... We have this very specific definition in this law of bioengineered, and even talking about it with you all today, it's a little bit of a struggle because I so used to, and I know the public's used to saying, genetically modified our GMO. But bioengineered is the very specific word that we're talking about here with this law. A lot of the companies said that they've already started doing these labels, and some of them actually were labeling even before this law was passed. Most of them were using genetically engineered as the wording on their food, like Kelloggs and Campbells, and a couple of big companies saw the writing on the wall and started proactively labeling their foods. But I haven't personally seen these new symbols on any food yet. January one is the deadline. We'll see if all of a sudden we start seeing a lot of these foods popping up.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Where on the label is the disclosure? The law isn't ... They allow it to appear in different spots on the label, so it can be part of the information panel that's next to the name and location of the distributor, which is usually below the nutrition facts panel. And then they also have some rules about if there's not enough space, it can be put somewhere else. Because you can imagine there's some really small foods that are going to struggle to have a lot of information on there. So it depends. There's no one spot that you'll see it on the food.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

I'm really curious, are people going to start paying attention to this, or is it just going to be another piece of that's just on the labels, or if it turns out to be all QR codes, is that even going to have an impact? I don't know if they'll do any release of how many people actually use the QR codes, because that would be something that would be interesting. Some people say they will use them, but people also say that they always look at their food labels, and when you look videos of people shopping in grocery stores, the rates of people looking at the food labels are lower than people will self-report. It'll be really interesting to see once this rolls out officially on January one, if things are any different and if people are any more aware of bioengineered foods and paying any more attention to that as an issue in their decision making.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

The highlight for me right now is that when we provided this information about just the text bioengineered, or these symbols to people in our survey research, a lot of people struggle to understand what it means. So I'm really interested to see once it's out there in the real world. I want to do some more surveys, I want to get back out in the field and ask people, "Have you seen this? Have you seen a QR code? Did you click on it?" To try to really understand how are people interacting with these in the real world, and are they using them, and if not, why not? And then to look at, like we were talking about, doing some of the educational work and trying to help people to understand them and how can we explain them and kind of help bring the public up to speed, for those people who aren't. Because again, there are people who have been paying a lot of attention to this and know about it, but for the majority of people who haven't been, how can we bring them up to speed to let them know what these symbols and these various terms mean? And that's something that I'm excited to do some work on.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

I have a fact sheet that's up on the Rutgers property of extension page that would be great if people wanted to check that out. I'm also going to record a free class on this that will be up on the Rutgers continuing and professional education page, and I will send you that link.

Collapse transcript

Episode 24: Cover Crops (Feat. Jen Nelson)

 

It's fall, y'all! This week Jen Nelson, owner of Resource Smart, LLC in Greenwood, joins us to talk about cover crops, nutrients and conservation districts!

🎙Catch up on the latest episodes (and join our mailing list!) at udel.edu/extension/podcast

 

Resources

  • Mid-Atlantic Crop Management School registration opens Oct 6 — The full program will be offered virtually, with access to programming available to attendees on-demand starting November 15, 2021 through December 10, 2021. The program features speakers from North Carolina State University, Purdue University, University of Arkansas, University of Delaware, University of Maryland, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, University of Wisconsin, USDA-ARS, USDA-NRCS, Virginia Tech, Washington State University, and more...

 

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or simply listen via Youtube, below!

Video: Cover Crops (Feat. Jen Nelson): youtube.com/watch?v=xA56_MZqUkU

Episode 24 Transcript

 

Jake Jones:

Welcome to another episode of Extension302 today. Dan, Blake and I are joined by Jen Nelson. Jen is the executive director of the Delaware Association Of Conservation Districts and the Maryland Association Of Soil Conservation Districts. We are excited to have her join us to cover the topic of cover crops. Dan, do you want to start us off with an icebreaker?

Dan Severson:

I like music. I like cover tunes because I really like the interpretation of that song by another artist. And since we were dealing with cover crops, what's your favorite cover tune?

Jen Nelson:

I've listened to a couple of these and I wondered what kind of question you were going to ask me.

Dan Severson:

Oh really?

Jen Nelson:

Uh-huh (affirmative). All right. So I was just at Lord Huron concert last week and they do a dynamite cover of Neil Young's Harvest Moon. It's really good. I really like it. So there's lots of good covers out there, but I'm going to go with that one because it's fresh in my head from this concert last week.

Dan Severson:

So repeat it again for our listeners.

View full transcript

...

Jen Nelson:

Okay. So it is Lord Huron's Harvest Moon cover of Neil Young's Harvest Moon.

Dan Severson:

There you go.

Blake Moore:

Excellent. And look, I've got to give you...

Jen Nelson:

That was a good question.

Dan Severson:

That's a great answer.

Jen Nelson:

I was expecting to answer like about manure or my favorite vegetable or something, but that's a good one.

Blake Moore:

I still have to give you applause for doing your research on that and being ready for some kind of icebreaker. I love it.

Dan Severson:

Yeah. I think she's the first one that just said, "I'm up on this."

Jen Nelson:

Well, and I mean, I was like, "Gosh, I'm talking about cover crops." So, I wasn't sure what you were going to come up with for that. So I'm glad I had a good answer kind of ready to go.

Dan Severson:

There you go. I like that.

Jake Jones:

What are cover crops?

Jen Nelson:

That's a great place to start, right? So...

Dan Severson:

I'm pretty sure Neil Young does not know.

Jen Nelson:

I'm pretty sure Neil Young does not know. If we are looking or thinking of a crop for harvest, right? We're looking at corn and soybeans around here, vegetables, hay, fruit crops and things like that. So it's something that's planted for harvest for sale. And by contrast, a cover crop is planted for the benefits that it provides to the soil and the environment. So typically it would be planted after harvest time. Around this time of year is when people are getting started with that because it's also harvest time. And they establish this cover crop in the fall, and then it grows through the winter and is terminated in the spring before the farmer plants their next cash crop in the rotation. That's the gist of it. Basically, I think it's called a cover crop because it covers the soil in the time when there's not a growing harvest or cash crop in the field.

Dan Severson:

We're also fighting the benefits of their taking up some of the nutrients. So we don't have runoff or anything like that as well, correct?

Jen Nelson:

Oh yeah. So I think the cover crop program's been established for about 20 years now in Delaware. And so the initial focus was really on erosion and water quality issues. Dan, like you're saying there. So at the end of a growing season, if there's nitrogen leftover in the field after you harvest the crop, that the crop didn't take up for one reason or another, a cover crop is a great way to come in. And as it grows, it takes up nitrogen that's leftover in the soil and holds it in its plant tissues until it's terminated in the spring and released and made available to the next crop. I think in the past few years, we really explored some of the other benefits that cover crops can provide to farmers and fields as well.

Jen Nelson:

Going back even farther than that, before you had, I'd say sort of inorganic fertilizers and farm were relying on manures and things like that. They recognized the value of cover crops to be able to provide nutrients to the following crop because you could use legume cover crops that could fix nitrogen and provide it that way. So they've got kind of a long history, but they've definitely experienced sort of a Renaissance over the past couple years because of all the benefits that they can provide.

Blake Moore:

Yeah, that's a great point. It seems like this is not a new technology, but something that's being used a lot more today in recent years. And maybe part of that's because of the support that is getting fund-wise, but then also for these benefits that we're finding. What are some species that are commonly used around here and do they all provide the same services? And can you give us an example of like a few and what they exactly do?

Jen Nelson:

In our area, going back to that purpose of erosion control and nutrient uptake, small grains like wheat and barley and rye have really been popular for the past couple of decades. And they're still the ones that get planted most often. So, they're pretty readily available as far as seed goes, people know sort of how to manage those. And you can plant them, especially rye, sort of later into the season and it'll still take and get good growth on it before the winter sets in. Looking at some of the other benefits that cover crop crops can provide, those still do have a lot of benefits in terms of weed management and creating carbon or storing carbon in the soil. But farmers are also looking at other cover crop species like legumes, crimson clover or hairy vetch. They're looking at brassicas like radish and some other things, mustards and rapeseed and things like that, that can provide additional benefits.

Jen Nelson:

So some of the things that those additional species can provide include fixing nitrogen for the next crop, like it used to be way back in the day. Radishes are really good at breaking up compaction. We're looking at cover crops to provide weed management services. A really heavy residue can out-compete weeds basically, or kind of lay a mat that weeds have a harder time getting through, and that comes back to some of your small grains. The species that you would select really would match up with the kind of outcomes, the kind of goals that you're trying to get out of that cover crop. I mean, I've mentioned just a handful of really common cover crops, but there's really, I mean, there's probably dozens, if not hundreds of cover crop species that you could potentially use depending on the outcomes that you're looking for.

Blake Moore:

Has there been any work done to put like a monetary value on some of these things so that I guess farmers to implement them, they've got to see that return on investment, right? Not just know that, "Hey we're going to get these benefits." But is there a monetary value with any of that?

Jen Nelson:

I would say there are several groups that are working on quantifying those benefits. It really comes back to management. How well, how kind of tuned you are to managing for the benefits that you're aiming for. If you're participating in a program or something, sort of the very minimal benefits I would say is you wait until you've harvested your corn or soybeans. You establish something well into October, or November. You terminate it kind of as soon as you can in the spring. You're going to get a really minimal benefit there out of the cover crop. But if you are managing, say for some particular benefits, either increased carbon or to produce nitrogen for the next crop or something, if you get something established earlier in the season, if you allow it to grow a little later in the season in the spring, there's trade-offs that go with that. But, the benefits also kind of increase as well.

Jen Nelson:

The people who are looking at the financial, the monetary benefits that you can get from cover crops, whether we're looking at carbon markets, which are really just emerging right now, or just kind of the benefits to the farmer, the ecosystem services kind of benefits in terms of herbicide savings and things like that. A couple of, I guess, case studies that I'm familiar with looking at that include the American Farmland Trust has done some economic case studies with individual farmers that have been successful with cover crops. The Nationalists Association Of Conservation Districts has worked with a few farmers throughout the country to quantify those benefits.

Blake Moore:

Good. And that's kind of what I was getting at because we do a little bit of work in the climate area and having the carbon sequestration and things like that coming with the cover crops. I know it's a big tool right now and it's good to know that not only are they getting those benefits from it. There actually is some benefit to the farmer's bottom line as well for using that.

Jen Nelson:

SARE, the Sustainable Agriculture Research And Education, they put out a bulletin about how you can get the greatest economic benefits for using cover crops. It's got nine tips or strategies or something like that. And then farmers can also do their own partial productivity analysis, kind of doing a side by side or some kind of comparison. That kind of analysis will let you know if a management strategy is successful in providing a benefit to your own bottom line, which is really kind of what everybody's looking at too, you know? So, that ends up being the most important to any individual farmer.

Dan Severson:

We talked about the positives of soil health and the environment with cover crops. What are some of the negatives? What are some cons of cover crops?

Jen Nelson:

I don't know if I would phrase it so much as cons, but with challenges...

Dan Severson:

Challenges.

Jen Nelson:

... there's any, I mean, any agricultural system has kind of challenges and tradeoffs. You're talking about a natural system. And so just like with crops, basically it comes down a lot of times to weather and timing. So if we could just control mother nature, we would have sort of all the issues of the world solved. And that's...

Dan Severson:

Do you know that she's undefeated? She's never been...

Jen Nelson:

She's got a really good record.

Dan Severson:

We're good, but we're not that good.

Jen Nelson:

Exactly. And so the same kind of challenges that come up with cash crops come up with cover crops as well. So those sort of challenges. If you have a something that pushes harvest back later, it makes it hard to get cover crops in, in a timely manner so that you get the greatest benefit. If it rains a whole lot in the spring, it's hard to get into the field and terminate cover crops. And then sometimes you have a bit of a challenge controlling something because they've been able to grow and establish. Those are a fair number of things. And then it's also just kind of balancing the trade-offs that you get using one species with another species and these different management techniques, sort of what's the best way to get there. And so it can be a bit of a challenge to figure out sort of what the best management choices are to come to the outcome that you want to have.

Dan Severson:

What I would like people to understand is when you deal with a cover crop, I want you to treat it as a regular crop.

Jen Nelson:

Right. And that's when you're going to get your greatest benefits is when you're really looking at intentional management with that cover crop. Absolutely.

Jake Jones:

How are these cover crops applied in the fall, when maybe some of these weather patterns aren't cooperating?

Dan Severson:

In termination as well?

Jake Jones:

In termination...

Jen Nelson:

In termination as well. Cover crops can be applied in a number of different ways. They can be established in several different ways. And so you can broadcast something in the field where it's spreading seed and you can drill seed in, and that's kind of beneficial because you get really good seed to soil contact. But sometimes that's also later in the season, because you have to wait for your crop to come off before you can drill the cover crop in. If you're getting later in the season or sometimes earlier in the season too, a lot of cover crops can be flown on with an airplane, which is pretty cool. And that can be done when your cash crop is still in the field. And the nice thing about that, it doesn't provide as good a seed to soil contact. So you have to kind of use a heavier seeding rate when you do that.

Jen Nelson:

But when you harvest your crop, the cover crop that has been able to establish has a little bit of a head start. And so once that crop is off, it's kind of ready to take off and go. And then in Sussex County, they have a similar, they have a piece of machinery called an ear seeder, and it's a high boy, which means that it can go over. It can drive over a standing crop and usually uses the same wheel tracks as some other operation from the season. It drives over a standing crop and seeds cover crop into the canopy and that can go over corn or soybean beans. And so that's a new way that is available to farmers in Sussex County as well.

Dan Severson:

Do we consider that green planting? Green establishment I should say.

Jen Nelson:

I was going to say, planting green. It sounds like that fits in, but that that's a whole other thing. So I've never heard a term for what that is in the fall to seed a cover crop before you take off the cash crop. But we should come up with one.

Jake Jones:

Yeah, I think we need one.

Jen Nelson:

We'll get to work on that. And then you asked about termination in the spring and different ways to do that as well. And so there's a couple of different ways depending on your situation and what you're planning to follow. So a lot of times an herbicide is applied to kill down the cover crop. And that can be done before you plant your cash crop or after. Sometimes people use tillage to kill their cover crop. That's not my favorite method, I'll admit, because it kind of goes against some of the other principles of soil health, but it is an option...

Dan Severson:

It's one of those challenges.

Jen Nelson:

It's one of those challenges and it's an option that's available. And depending on your situation, it may be the right one. And then some farmers are getting into called roller crimping in the past few years. And that's a different piece of equipment that if you go over cover crop at sort of the right growth stage and things like that, it'll bend the cover crop down and crimp the stem so that it terminates as well. So you've got to get the timing right. But in that case, it can also lay that flat mat of vegetation that can act as a deterrent for weeds too. So I think that's why that has a lot of appeal for folks who are willing to try it.

Blake Moore:

Couple of interesting things that you just brought up were the aerial seeding. And it just shows the versatility of the crop dusters, what people call them, and that they're not always just putting herbicide out. They're doing a bunch of different things when they're out there flying over fields and people are just thinking that we're just dumping chemicals all the time and it's not what it is. There's a lot of responsibility that goes in the air. And then also other uses such as this type of seeding that has a lot of benefits. And then also talking about using herbicide to burn down the cover crop to terminate it. I mean, it's kind of like a no-till system anyway. So it's not even like an extra application. You're going to have to burn down if you're doing a no-till field anyway. So it's just kind of like another piece that's normally there. So it doesn't even seem like there's, I mean, you're talking about a few challenges, but these are some things that people may see as challenges. And I see them as just part of the normal operation almost.

Jen Nelson:

I think your point about using herbicides in the no-till system anyway, is a good one. You're saving the tillage pass there. How the herbicide works really does, that's one of those management challenges that we were kind of talking about before. It can be something simple if the cover crop is small. As farmers are kind of working to terminate cover crops later on in the spring and get more benefits out of that additional biomass and all of that stuff. One thing that everybody I think does want to pay attention to, and kind of consult with extension specialists is are those weed management options. So, it's not really a weed at that point, but you kind of have the same mindset for how are you going to control that cover crop so that it doesn't cause you problems going into the spring and interfere with your cash crop.

Jen Nelson:

I think I'll put a plugin for Extension at this point, because you guys have a great team that can advise on that stuff. But it's a question that you'll want to ask as you're getting into it. That gets into another point, I think that I would bring up in farmers who are trying something new, like planting green or letting things grow later or something like that is to start small, right? So don't do something across your entire operation. Start with a smaller piece of acreage so that you're making little mistakes and you can work out and fine-tune that management and make those tweaks before you apply it across the board. You won't drive yourself so crazy with things that you could have learned on the small scale first.

Dan Severson:

And going back to what Jen was saying with SARE, S-A-R-E, Sustainable Agriculture Research, they have farmer grants that are just accepting applications right now. Today is what, September 13th? There's farmer grants out there. There's money available if you want to try to do something like this on a small scale through SARE, and farmer grants that you can apply for. And I think they're up to like $15,000 that you can apply for. There is stuff out there that you can do as a farmer. And there's also partnership grants through SARE. So you could tag up with Jake or Blake and be a farmer and work like that. So there there's money out there if you want to try to do this little step by step. And like Jen was saying with Extension or with Conservation District, you work through this.

Jen Nelson:

I mean, another wonderful thing about SARE and those grants is it'll also provide you a platform to share your results. Once you've kind of completed whatever you're looking at, meeting up with other farmers and other professionals, ag professionals to share the results of that research is key. So not just with those grants, for sure, but in any kind of situation and things that people are trying of the soil health field days and different outreach events and networking events are really great so that people can share information back and forth. Because, that's where kind of a lot of that knowledge comes from. And helping to make decisions that are right for your own farm comes from sharing information with other people.

Dan Severson:

SARE just came out with a new type of grant it's called the Innovation Grant. So if you're doing something that's very innovative, there's money out there for that as well. You can look up Northeast SARE.

Jen Nelson:

Just to finish up on SARE though, I mean just the resources that are available on the website there, between cover crop guides and the outcomes of those grants. I mean, it's just a wealth of information. So if you're looking for where to get a foothold on some of those management options, that's a great place to start. In Delaware, each of the conservation districts has a cover crop program where they will work with farmers who want to plant cover crops in their field to provide a payment that helps to cover the costs of establishing and terminating the cover crops. So, that's been going for about 20 years, kind of aligns with some of the water quality goals that we have here in the state.

Jen Nelson:

The programs are a little different in each county, but a farmer goes in and signs up the acreage that they want to plant. They plant it right about this time of year and report it back to the Conservation Districts. And then in the spring they do this same thing. The districts go out and check the cover crops to make sure that everybody has done what they said they were going to do. And then we go out again in the spring after the farmer's reported that it's been terminated and check it again. And so I don't remember when everybody does their payments, but I think that kind of guidance is available online too. Basically between 40 and $55 an acre, depending on the management and the different planning scenarios is the incentive payment that we make or that the different districts make throughout the state. So it's a really good option for farmers who want to plant cover crops and improve their soil health. That's a really big help to those farmers.

Jen Nelson:

About two years ago, we had a record planting for cover crops, and so it goes up and down. The amount of acreage that we plant in cover crops in Delaware fluctuates based on the funding that's available for the program. And also other conditions like weather and things like that. So two years ago was kind of a perfect storm in a good way, where funding through Delaware's Department Of Agriculture, as well as sort of our usual funding line through DNREC, and it combined with other sources. So we had a good chunk of money available that we didn't usually have. And also the weather conditions were perfect for farmers to plant. And so that year we planted about 110,000 acres in Delaware. Now, that's still...

Dan Severson:

And how many acres in production do we have?

Jen Nelson:

So about 525,000 acres. We're looking at about 20% of the acreage that's planted in cover crops on a really good year. So that leaves a lot of room, a lot of potential for additional acres to be planted. So I think that's something that we're trying to increase with additional funding and additional outreach and education over time too.

Dan Severson:

What exactly are the Conservation Districts and what do they do? Because evidently, you're big time because you're Maryland and Delaware. You're like the boss.

Jen Nelson:

There are a lot of agencies and organizations that have an interest in cover crops. We've talked about the water quality benefits and soil health benefits and things like that. And so some of the funding sources that go to into that. So DNREC has had a conservation crosshair line for a long time to help establish cover crops. The Chesapeake Bay Implementation Grant is another funding source. So there are federal funding sources that go into it. And then a couple years ago, the Delaware Department Of Agriculture also got into the game and secured an additional $2.9 million in funding one year. And it varies a little bit from year to year based on the budget situation, but they see the benefit in that as well. And so there's a lot of partners that are trying to contribute to the overall funding source that the districts have available to make available to farmers for establishing cover crops, which is great.

Jen Nelson:

The Conservation Districts were established after the dust bowl in the 1930s. So across...

Dan Severson:

The dirty thirties.

Jen Nelson:

The dirty thirties. Across the whole country, there's about 3000 Conservation Districts. And in Delaware, there's one in each county. They were established to help farmers with adopting conservation practices in conservation management on their farms. And so from the 1930s for a long, long time, it was focused on soil erosion issues and preventing erosion. And then in the past 20 or 30 years, it's shifted where we're also helping with water quality issues, water quantity issues. Here lately we're looking [crosstalk 00:22:24]...

Dan Severson:

Could it be weather events, some flood issues?

Jen Nelson:

Every now and then. But yeah, we're really expanding sort of the scope of services that we're providing to farmers and other landowners. We work with communities and things like that too. But we're looking at soil and water still for sure, but also air quality issues, human health. We're looking at carbon, which is coming online in a big way and climate change.

Jen Nelson:

And also I would say we kind of work on quality of life issues and profitability. The gist of conservation and the kind of goals that we're working with farmers on have as much to do with those aspects as they do natural resource management. And so the districts provide to technical assistance and guidance and advice on conservation practices and financial assistance from those different financial sources that we talked about before. And I would say that the districts also are great connectors. So they work with a lot of farmers. They also work with Extension. They work with NRCS. They attend lots of trainings. The planners go to the Mid Atlantic Crop Management School and soil health field days. So they have a really good bank of knowledge to advise farmers themselves, but also to connect them with the people, if there's detailed management questions that can help answer those. That's kind of what they do.

Jen Nelson:

One of the things with the districts that is unique is how they focus on locally-led and voluntary conservation. So each district has a board that establishes the programs for each district. And Jake and Dan, you guys sit on the boards. But you sit on the boards to provide that important guidance on those issues. Those decisions that are made at the local level, it's a unique kind of setup compared within the conservation partnership. It's a voluntary position and it's a unique setup. It works to provide programs and things that are tailored to each, to the cooperators, the farmers, the communities in each county.

Dan Severson:

If you know Delaware, you know Newcastle County above the ditch is way different. What they encounter is different than Canton, Sussex.

Jake Jones:

So Jen, thanks for joining us today. Do you have any final thoughts? We usually miss something. So is there anything you want to add before we wrap up?

Jen Nelson:

If I haven't said it before now in this episode, I just want to kind of give a shout out to the strength of the partnership that we have here in Delaware. So Extension, we've got a really good bunch of folks to answer questions. Between the agencies, with NRCS, with the Conservation Districts, there's really a lot of places where people can go to answer questions, and that's important. In this area where we farm half of our state or a third of our state, or somewhere in between farms in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and that's kind of driven a lot of technical assistance and a lot of funding that's been available for a long time. And cover crops and soil health in general, do provide a lot of benefits to that issue specifically. But also as we're looking at climate change issues and things like that, it can be a real key.

Jen Nelson:

We're leaning on cover crops and soil health pretty extensively to meet our water quality goals. And I imagine as we sort of form up our climate change goals, that that'll play a big part as well. And so with that, I will put a plugin for a conference that's coming up in a while, February 7th and 8th, we're going to have the third Delmarva Soil Summit. And that is a great opportunity for farmers and agency professionals to get together. We've got a great lineup that we're putting together for speakers and networking. And so I would keep an eye out for that, because it's one of the few regional conferences that we have in this area to really be able to delve into that for two whole days, which is great. I helped to coordinate that. I'm looking forward to it. But that and the other soil health events are a great opportunity for that. So thank you very much for having me on today.

Blake Moore:

Thank you. This is kind of a good example of some of the things that farmers are doing conservation-wise around here. It's always one of those things where we know the farming community is one of the first ones to start implementing conservation practices when they can, and these types of programs and the districts do a good job. And it's Extension as well. Its providing the technology and the opportunity for them to be able to implement this type of thing. So I appreciate you coming and shining a light on cover crops here in Delaware and how people can get involved.

Jen Nelson:

Thanks Blake. Appreciate it.

Collapse transcript

Episode 23: The good, the bad and the buggy
(featuring Dr. David Owens)


UD Extension's resident Agricultural Entomologist talks about insects, bug jokes and crops in this episode of Extension302!

Resources

Listen now
 

APPLE PODCASTS SPOTIFY AMAZON
Google Podcasts  IHEARTRADIO  FACEBOOK

or simply listen via Youtube, below!

Video: Ep 23: The good, the bad and the buggy (featuring Dr. David Owens): youtube.com/watch?v=mTmj14fzi2k

Episode 23 Transcript

 

Dan Severson:

Today, we're going to talk to Dr. David Owens. Dr. Owens has been on our podcast before when we talked about cicadas.

Dan Severson:

Dr. Owens, you are the entomologist for commercial Ag crops. You're the insect specialist [inaudible 00:00:24] in Georgetown, and at every workshop, I attend and listen to you; you always come up with a bug joke or pun. I just totally enjoy and here in Extension302, we normally start with an ice breaker. But this time, I want you to ask us or give us a joke and see if we can figure it out.

David Owens:

Okay. Well, why was the butterfly not invited to the dance?

Dan Severson:

There you go, guys.

David Owens:

Why was the butterfly not invited to the dance?

Dan Severson:

All you wallflowers out there...

David Owens:

Because it was a mothball.

Dan Severson:

A moth ball! Man, I love it. I love it.

View full transcript

...

Blake Moore:

I was stumped. I was really sitting there thinking hard. I'm like, "I know about butterflies. What could it be?" That's awesome, man.

Dan Severson:

Dr. Owens, what's your deal? Born, raised, your school hobbies, what brought you here? Give us a little bit of history about you.

David Owens:

First, thank you for having me today. So I've always been interested in bugs and it wasn't until I got to college when I was like, "I need a summer job that actually has to do with bugs." And I knew I didn't want to work for the orchid man or Terminex, but I didn't know what else there was-

Dan Severson:

They have great commercials.

David Owens:

They do have great commercials and who is it? Is it Paramount that has the great picture of a cockroach on-

Dan Severson:

Oh, the big cockroach?

David Owens:

Yeah.

Dan Severson:

Yes.

David Owens:

It creeps my wife out every time we go over the Bay Bridge.

Dan Severson:

Okay.

David Owens:

Anyway-

Dan Severson:

[inaudible 00:01:55] another round.

David Owens:

So it turned out Virginia Tech had a research farm less than an hour from where I grew up. So I reached out to the Ag-entomologist there, who was Ames Herbert at the time, who worked with cotton, soybeans and peanuts. He was in the middle of putting together his summer work crew.

Dan Severson:

How old were you?

David Owens:

This was probably 19 or 20. So, that's how I got my start in Ag-entomology and I loved it. I loved the interaction between the research and being outside and the farmers and having field days. It was a very good experience. Very formative experience.

Dan Severson:

So you matriculated as an entomologist. You just didn't know exactly what field you wanted to end up in? Is that kind of what I'm getting?

David Owens:

Right. So once I started working for him, I knew Extension Ag-entomology was where I wanted to stay.

Dan Severson:

Perfect. Awesome.

David Owens:

So after I've graduated from undergrad, master's at Virginia Tech, went to Florida to work on sweet corn and then I bounced around a little bit before coming here, working on avocados, then tomatoes and now I'm here in Delaware working on a little bit of everything.

Dan Severson:

You say tomato; I saw potato.

David Owens:

They harvested some recently.

Dan Severson:

They're harvesting potatoes now. Today. That's why I-

David Owens:

Oh, yeah?

Dan Severson:

Yes.

David Owens:

Always an exciting day when money comes out of the field.

Dan Severson:

There you go. You do extend at its best and you're helping them make that money. The next question we have for you is, what are you seeing out in the fields right now? What are you focused on? What should farmers be focused on to make sure that they get that money out of the ground?

David Owens:

Right now, as I just mentioned, I've got field and vegetable crop responsibilities. So on the vegetable side, we've got a whole different suite of bugs that get into vegetables that don't get into field crops, but there are a few important insects that go after both.

David Owens:

Right now, we're at the beginning of August, when we're recording this and we're getting ready for our big major earworm flight. Corn earworm is probably the most significant field crop and vegetable crop pest late in the season. The second most would probably be stinkbugs and I've had a couple of calls on soybeans from them recently. It's just a matter of any day now when our earworm trap counts will climb through the roof.

David Owens:

So earworms get into soybeans. They get into sorghum. They get into tomatoes.

Dan Severson:

Sweet corn?

David Owens:

They-

Dan Severson:

I love sweet corn.

David Owens:

They eat pests on sweet corn. I've got probably an acre's worth of sweet corn planted at Carvel right now, just waiting for the earworms to come in.

Dan Severson:

Okay.

David Owens:

It'll be silking in about two weeks. So we should hit it pretty spot on and then behind that, I've got another planting planned at ten days later. The month of September, we're going to be up to our eyeballs in wormy corn.

Dan Severson:

You sound excited about that.

David Owens:

I am.

Dan Severson:

Well, good.

David Owens:

I am. Sweet corn is probably the most fun crop to work with. You plant it. You fertilize it and you walk away from it until it's time to spray it. You spray it five times and you're done.

Dan Severson:

Tastes great too. I love it on my plate. So what kind of damage are you seeing from the earworms?

David Owens:

So earworms will chew on all the reproductive structures of plants. So in soybeans, they carve out the pods and tomatoes; they bore right through the fruit. Corn, they typically take out the tips. In hemp, they will destroy the buds. We've got about 20 acres or so of hemp this year and they are the pest of hemp.

Blake Moore:

Really?

David Owens:

Yep. Oh yeah.

Blake Moore:

Just after the buds, not the leaves?

David Owens:

Right. Yep. Then they will make short work of the buds.

Blake Moore:

Even regular cannabis?

David Owens:

Yep. And I've also seen them in cabbage, in my fall cabbage plots and they are disastrous in cabbage. Not too many, but when they do get in, they will take out a whole hat.

Dan Severson:

So, David, you're telling us what we're seeing coming out; what were some of the major insect pests you saw previously this year?

David Owens:

Let's go back to April, May time frame. Probably our two biggest pests that we had were seedcorn maggot. I heard reports of them damaging watermelons and cantaloupes in addition to soybeans and then slugs.

Blake Moore:

I just love the way you guys name insects.

Dan Severson:

It's very creative. Like the corn earworm, does it normally attack the ear of the corn?

David Owens:

That one's also got a couple of other common names. It's called the tomato fruit worm, the soybean pod worm, the sorghum head worm, the cotton bowl worm tomato worm-

Blake Moore:

And we could rename it the cannabis budworm now.

Dan Severson:

Cannabis-

David Owens:

Unfortunately, budworm has already been taken by the tobacco bug.

Blake Moore:

Oh okay. Well, you're on the right track there [crosstalk 00:06:51].

David Owens:

But yes. We tried to stay very, very creative with our common name. So green stinkbugs, you can guess what color they are. Same with brown stinkbugs. The tarnished plant bug just looks-

Dan Severson:

Tarnished?

David Owens:

Yeah.

Blake Moore:

It needs polish.

David Owens:

Brown with a little bit of yellow.

Blake Moore:

Looks like Dan after a rough weekend or something.

Dan Severson:

Yeah.

David Owens:

Yeah. No, the bugs are fun.

Blake Moore:

Yeah.

Dan Severson:

So we have seedcorn maggot was one of them—[crosstalk 00:07:19] and slugs.

David Owens:

And slugs. Yep, yep. And then, yeah, every now and then, aphids show up. Again, it starts depending on the crop. For a couple of crops, they've got specific insects that come in at specific times. Alfalfa gets alfalfa weevil, and then it gets potato leafhopper later into the summer. Tree fruit, right now my peach trees at the house are ripening up and probably three-quarters of those peaches are infested with plum curculio, which came in early and then it had another flush come in the summertime.

Dan Severson:

What?

David Owens:

It's a weevil about-

Dan Severson:

Is it called a pump pomporio?

David Owens:

Plum curculio. It's a small weevil about this big, maybe a quarter-inch, fifth of an inch-

Dan Severson:

Five centimeters? A centimeter?

David Owens:

Third of a centimeter.

Dan Severson:

Oh geez. So we're going to millimeters now.

David Owens:

Half a centimeter. Yeah. Something like that. It's a small insect, but they lay their eggs in the fruit and the worms just turn the fruit into this rotting mass inside. Nasty, nasty critter.

David Owens:

And then for our small fruits, you get your own special pests. Here in Delaware, we have so many diverse types of crops and some of the insects are specialists and some of them are generalists and the specialists can really cause damage in specific times of the year.

David Owens:

Answering the question, what was a problem early? Well, that depends on what crop you're talking about, but I'd say from the grand landscape scale, those two were probably the most problematic early.

Dan Severson:

But it's good that you have these ideas of the dates and times that they show up because then you can start integrated pest management to help reduce the risk of an infection or something like that, correct?

David Owens:

Yes. Some we can predict, others we know about when they will show up and we start scouting fields. So some we can predict to within about a week and others, we can predict to within three weeks-ish based on experience. So we start scouting fields and then we turn around and we put that information into the Friday weekly crop update. So, that gets a lot of feedback from consultants. Gets a lot of feedback from my scouting crew, fields that I've personally visited, fields that extension agents you all have put me on to or said, "Hey, so-and-so had a problem."

Dan Severson:

That's a really good resource to have, the weekly crop update. Any other spots that people can look at to kind of see those timelines of, "Hey, what's coming down the pipeline?"

David Owens:

Yeah. That's our primary one. This year, I've started doing some pest patrol recordings sponsored by Syngenta in which if I see a major pest that's coming through, I'll record a two-minute voicemail message and then that program will text subscribers... And you can subscribe to it for free. It's called pastor patrol.

Dan Severson:

That sounds awesome.

David Owens:

You can select where you're at and what crops you want updates on. So it'll text subscribers to that, and you go to a small link and it'll just play the message.

Dan Severson:

That's awesome.

David Owens:

It's kind of like the hotline that Joanne used to run-

Dan Severson:

Okay.

David Owens:

... back in the day.

Dan Severson:

Got you. So it's like McGruff the crime dog. You should get a mascot.

Blake Moore:

He is the mascot. What are you talking about? This is the legend right here.

Dan Severson:

He is the legend. Okay. Right now, I'm seeing a lot of spotted lanternflies. What other insects do you see coming down the pike? The under season... Like you said...

David Owens:

We're nearing the end of the season, but there's still a few very important late-season pests to keep in mind. So on field crops, I mentioned corn earworm. That's the biggest one. Stinkbugs are going to be moving. They're going to be moving out of some of their Woodland hosts. There'll be concentrating in field crops, late soybeans-

Dan Severson:

Mostly on the edges?

David Owens:

Mostly, but not all-

Dan Severson:

They're going to start migrating into the middle now.

David Owens:

Right. And they will also get into vegetables like tomatoes and snap beans.

Dan Severson:

Grapes?

David Owens:

Grapes get their own little suite of pests. I'm not as familiar with the great pests.

Dan Severson:

No, but I think stinkbugs like grapes.

David Owens:

Stinkbugs will get into grapes and you don't want to crush them when you're making wine.

Dan Severson:

Well, you have to crush them to make wine.

David Owens:

You got to crush the grapes. You don't want to cross the bugs.

Dan Severson:

Right.

Blake Moore:

That would be an interesting taste, probably for that.

Dan Severson:

My kids always say stinkbugs... Cilantro tastes like stinkbugs.

David Owens:

[inaudible 00:12:03].

Dan Severson:

I'm like... Yeah. I'm like, "How do you taste a stinkbug?" How do you know what a stinkbug tastes like? They won't eat cilantro because they think it tastes like a stinkbug.

David Owens:

Yeah. It's funny you say that I've got some Blackberry plants at my house and when I'm picking blackberries, I'll occasionally eat a few. And I can always tell which one had a stinkbug on it because it has a very rancid, floral, semi-sweet, sour-

Dan Severson:

Tastes like crap.

David Owens:

... flavor.

Dan Severson:

So it shouldn't it be called a taste bug instead of a stinkbug?

David Owens:

They've got smelly armpits. We need to send them some deodorant.

Dan Severson:

Well, they have plenty of arms. How many arms do they have?

David Owens:

They've got six arms.

Dan Severson:

Yeah, see.

David Owens:

Yep.

Dan Severson:

That's the problem.

David Owens:

They need lots of deodorant.

Jake Jones:

So you're talking mainly about the brown marmorated stinkbug, right?

David Owens:

So we've got the brown marmorated, which is more concentrated up north, but then we also have some of our native stinkbugs, the greens and the Browns, primarily. A few others, but those are the biggies.

Dan Severson:

And are they... Because I've heard that there's some years that they're really bad and some years that they aren't. Is that something that happens here in Delaware and is there any way that you guys can predict which year is going to be good at which you're going to be bad?

David Owens:

Unfortunately, no. There's no good prediction for that. There's a lot of different factors that control their populations. A lot of beneficial insects that consume the eggs and then weather conditions, especially in the wintertime.

David Owens:

Another pest that we need to watch out for in the fall are aphids. Aphid populations start increasing. Anyone that's growing some late pumpkin's for Halloween, you need to pay attention to Melon aphids and Green peach aphids in there. I've seen them build-up to such glorious numbers that they pee out so much sticky sap from feeding on the plants that it coats the fruit and it'll turn that fruit black. Then no one wants to pick up a black pumpkin.

David Owens:

So even though they're not doing a whole lot against that plant, unless they've got really high populations-

Dan Severson:

That's what they call frass?

David Owens:

It's both... Yes, it's frass but for aphids, we also call it honeydew. Aphids are big filter feeders. They consume sap and they filter all that sap out to get a little bit of protein and they pee the rest of that out.

Dan Severson:

So they get what they want and the rest of their paycheck, they just waste away?

David Owens:

Yep.

Jake Jones:

And the spotted lanternfly does the same and that's-

Dan Severson:

Really?

Jake Jones:

The black you're talking about it as the sooty mold.

David Owens:

Yes.

Dan Severson:

And that's one of those things where it's not a public health concern-

Jake Jones:

Yeah, that's what I was thinking. It's more of a mold. It's just unsightly. It's unmarketable. People want the bright, orange pumpkin for Halloween. They don't want one that's covered in sooty mold and honeydew.

David Owens:

And spotted lanternfly adults are emerging now and they're going to start flying around in mass here pretty soon, laying eggs. Yeah, that's a nasty insect pest. Fortunately, it's in Northern Delaware and it's mostly kind of a homeowner ornamental pests so I don't deal too much with it until it comes down enough to where we've got some of our vineyards.

Dan Severson:

Right.

David Owens:

Then I'll pay much more attention to it. But until then, I keep up with the news and some of the research that's going on with it, but I don't work with it yet.

Dan Severson:

It's definitely on its way. I've heard DDA has found populations a little farther south than they'd like to. So it's going to be a matter of time before it's down here, but they're doing a good job of slowing it down. That's all we can really...

Blake Moore:

You touched on something I wanted to get a little bit more into was beneficial insects. You mentioned that. So you're talking about the dates and you know these guys are coming. What is the best way to use beneficial insects? Is it better for a high tunnel or can we use it out in a big field?

Dan Severson:

How do you promote the existence of those beneficial insects around the field?

Blake Moore:

And how do we keep them?

David Owens:

So those are all great questions and they basically get to the heart of integrated pest management. Integrated pest management is a mindset to use multiple controlled tactics to prevent a pest outbreak. And then once you do have that outbreak, selecting a management tactic, that is as least disruptive as possible, and still give you a good bang for the buck.

David Owens:

Sometimes that does involve pesticides and there are some pests for which they are so damaging that you have to rely on an insecticide, but then for others, we can incorporate beneficially. So aphids... Aphids are not... Unless they're carrying viruses, they're not terribly damaging by themselves. So for some systems, we have a good idea of how many beneficials we have to see or how many aphids or even thrips before we need to be concerned about it.

David Owens:

So a great example of that is wheat. Two years ago, we had a big aphid outbreak in wheat and some fields, we were not finding natural enemies and those aphid populations-

Dan Severson:

So when you're scouting, you're also looking for beneficial insects as well?

David Owens:

Yes.

Dan Severson:

Not just-

David Owens:

But there are other fields, we'd see three, 400 aphids in a row foot, which is just a phenomenally high population, but we'd also see 15, 20 ladybugs and parasitic wasps. So we knew that we didn't have to do anything to that. That aphid population was going to crash.

David Owens:

Keeping in mind, some of the beneficials and the ratios between beneficials and pests, in some systems worked out pretty well. In other systems there where it doesn't, we try to use the most selective insecticides and recommend the most selective insecticides to preserve those beneficials. for a lot of systems, we don't have that relationship of... You've got one of these so you can have five of those worked out. In those cases, we try to use the least disruptive materials that we can so we keep some of the good guys around.

David Owens:

Then there's also secondary pests that will flare up if we use a disruptive insecticide targeting a different pest.

Dan Severson:

Because you're disrupting the whole ecosystem.

David Owens:

You're disrupting the entire ecosystem and there's a lot of things that can become a problem if we remove natural enemies.

Dan Severson:

Because everything goes out. Check... There's no checks and balances anymore.

David Owens:

Right. And spider mites and aphids are classic secondary pests outbreak events that we sometimes create a problem.

David Owens:

You mentioned high tunnels. High tunnels can give us a little bit of both. We can use beneficial insects in high tunnels, depending on the pest, much more easily than in an outdoor setting, but then high tunnels also kind of breed their own problems. Spider mites are much more problematic in high tunnels.

David Owens:

At the same time, it's easier to use a beneficial natural enemy in a high tunnel to target spider mites than it is in an outdoor setting. All of the systems have their pros and cons, their trades and balances. It's a very dynamic... Agriculture is a very dynamic system.

Dan Severson:

I'm glad you brought up integrated pest management because I think that helps with this common misconception that farmers just want to spray, spray, spray. It just goes to show that there's a lot of work being done so that you don't have to just do that. We can promote the beneficial insects. You can do cultural things while you're preparing your crops or harvesting them or what you're doing in the years before in order to make sure they're not as big problems.

Dan Severson:

And you guys are obviously a big part of that. Doing the experiments and passing that down to the farmers and letting them know what they could do. So we appreciate that and we wanted to know if you had any shout out to anybody that you're working with or working for that you'd like to just thank or just talk about the working relationship with them.

David Owens:

Well, you mentioned earlier, I am stationed in Georgetown and in Georgetown, we've got a lot of our Ag-extension specialists. So we've got our plant pathologist positioned there, our weed scientists, our agronomists, our vegetable specialists, and it's a fantastic crew—great people to work with. Down there, at that facility, our extension agents, you all, Corey in Sussex, tremendously helpful and great people to work with. I consider myself blessed to work with such a good team.

Dan Severson:

How much are people paying you to say that?

David Owens:

Well, somebody said something about ice cream later.

Dan Severson:

Who is paying you?

David Owens:

And I also rely very heavily on crop consultants. I would name a few, but then I'd run into the risk of leaving someone out. But crop consultants are eyes and ears on thousands of acres that I can't touch, just from a time and physical constraint standpoint.

David Owens:

Then finally, a lot of my work is heavily reliant on people that work for me during the summer. I've got a great crew this summer. We have four summer technicians. I've got two people full-time and one graduate student working for me in watermelons and it's a lot of work and they all pull it together. We were harvesting watermelons today. It's 94 degrees down there. It's a great crew. Always need more people though. So if you guys know that anyone next year looking for a summer job, free produce, great suntanning, you'll get plenty of exercise, but we also... All of our work, I'd like to think, helps make a difference.

Dan Severson:

Oh, I definitely think what you all do makes a difference.

Jake Jones:

For sure.

Blake Moore:

Absolutely. So what time of year should people be looking out to apply to help you out during the summer?

David Owens:

So I try to get my-

Dan Severson:

Because you're getting paid cash too, besides all the fringe benefits of watermelon and produce and stuff like that.

David Owens:

That's right. We do try to pay our folks a very good salary for the amount of work that we give them. I try to build my crew by the end of March, early April in part, because we have a somewhat long paperwork process before they... From the time they say yes to the time they actually start, can be pretty lengthy. So I'd say I'd like to get my crew inked in by the middle of April at the latest.

Dan Severson:

Yeah. Because you're already plotting and scheming of where you're putting traps and what you need to scout in January, February, right?

David Owens:

Our field season kicks off right around the middle of March and it doesn't let up until the very end of September, maybe early October.

Jake Jones:

David, what is your favorite research project you're working on right now?

David Owens:

My favorite research project... Got a couple. Early in the season, we do a lot of slug work and some of that's been really fun. This year, we're starting a new project looking at cover crops and slugs. We're harvesting a watermelon spider mite trial right now and that's going to be a mainstay of the program.

David Owens:

There's really not much information out there on how spider mites impact watermelon on yield.

Dan Severson:

That was my question. What's the whole deal with that? What's the tie-in?

David Owens:

We know that they do impact the vine health and it's pretty obvious, but we don't know how they actually impact the weight and the fruit quality.

Dan Severson:

Average daily gain or... Well, I guess vegetables, don't do that but for animals.

David Owens:

Exactly. Those are two kinds of in the early and mid-season. Later in the season, end of August, early September, we do a ton of sweet corn bright trials.

David Owens:

Sweet corn is, like I said earlier, one of my favorite crops to work with and corn earworm is the pest of sweet corn. Sweet corn is one of the only crops where insects drive the spray program because we have to keep earworms out. There's not a whole lot about the reasons you need to spray sweet corn, except for corn earworm.

Dan Severson:

[crosstalk 00:24:32].

David Owens:

Then in the wintertime... You have to spray those though with a different type of product, a very high kinetic energy Agilent chasing a metallic object. Fortunately, we don't deal with raccoons at Carvel. We do deal with deer and last year they tore up some sweet corn, which is kind of sad.

David Owens:

Then in the wintertime, I've been dabbling with poultry pests. Here in Delaware, we-

Dan Severson:

How do you mean by poultry pests?

David Owens:

Our chicken industry is probably the biggest reason why we have so much agriculture here on the Eastern shore, at least in field crops. In each of those chicken houses, there are certain insects that farmers spray for between flocks, try to manage them, and they can very quickly get out of hand on that one.

Blake Moore:

On the birds?

David Owens:

On the birds.

Dan Severson:

Okay. Yeah.

David Owens:

One of those is called the darkling beetle. It's a-

Dan Severson:

Dark wing?

David Owens:

Darkling.

Dan Severson:

Dark... [crosstalk 00:25:37]. So you guys are naming things again. So let me guess it turns their wings dark.

David Owens:

It's a black beetle and it's small, but that's a big pest in poultry. Yeah. Try to keep busy all year long.

Jake Jones:

You don't have to give it to us. I think we all know David's a busy man. So we're happy to have him here with us today. Do you guys-

Blake Moore:

Yeah, I have one more question because I know you pull up the little wooly bugger things and depending on their stripes are how bad our winter's going to be. So here's one. How about a wasp's nest? I've heard the higher it is in the tree or whatever, the worst the winter's going to be because they want to keep away from the snow.

David Owens:

Oh, interesting. I have not heard that one.

Blake Moore:

Oh no?

David Owens:

No.

Blake Moore:

Because... Okay. Because I was going to ask you. I found one at 14 foot so can you tell me how much snow we're going to get this year?

David Owens:

Well, I'd be happy for a couple of inches.

Jake Jones:

Yeah. We need some kind of cold because you were talking about winter conditions and affecting pest populates.

David Owens:

Yes.

Jake Jones:

We need cold winters to help alleviate some of that issue.

David Owens:

We do and we just have not had of last two years.

Dan Severson:

Break that cycle so then you're...

Blake Moore:

I was going to say, can remember growing up and getting quite a bit of snow and just not seeing it the last couple of years. It's very apparent that things are changing

Dan Severson:

For sure.

David Owens:

Yeah.

Jake Jones:

These times they are changing.

Dan Severson:

Cold winters are our friends.

Jake Jones:

And this comes from a guy that did sweet corn in Florida.

David Owens:

And they don't have cold winter.

Dan Severson:

Yeah, I know that. That's what I'm saying. That's why it's your friend. Well cool. Anybody else have any more questions?

Jake Jones:

No. Good to go.

Dan Severson:

Dr. Owens, do you have to take home message you'd like to send with us and put out there in the universe? Because I know in the Zoom you were sitting in your spaceship.

David Owens:

Well, so... yeah, I guess the take-home message would be that not every insect pest is something that you need to control, but if you're worried about it, reach out to Extension and we'll give you some guidance and insight on whether or not it is a pest and if it is what to do about it, either this year or next.

Dan Severson:

So thank you.

Jake Jones:

Thanks.

Blake Moore:

Appreciate it.

David Owens:

Thank you.

Dan Severson:

I like it.

Blake Moore:

No, that's good-

Collapse transcript

Episode 22: Facing fake news

Only 26 percent of Americans are confident they can recognize fake news. Are you one of them? The crew sits down with Dr. Cara L. Cuite (Rutgers) to discuss the rise of misinformation and how it might be affecting you.
 

Resources

  • Snopes — Dr. Cara’s fact-checker of choice! Great for debunking viral social media claims.
  • SciCheck — A subsidiary of FactCheck.org that focuses exclusively on false and misleading scientific claims that are made by partisans to influence public policy.
  • FactCheck — A nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.
  • Ask Extension — Have questions about a complicated topic and want to chat with an expert? We’re here for you!

Listen now
 

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or simply listen via Youtube, below!

Video: Facing Fake News: youtube.com/watch?v=atdazNiNCNE

Episode 22 Transcript

 

Blake Moore:

Thank you for joining us for another episode of Extension 302. In this episode, we have brought in an expert guest to talk to us about the topic of misinformation. Misinformation is not a new concept, and it's one that has impacts throughout human history. Probably never more so than in 2021. With the advent of social media, misinformation now has a chance to reach many more people in the blink of an eye. We have all seen this with the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic. And the many unknowns surrounding the virus, and our global response to it.

Working with the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, Dan, Jake and I, along with our colleagues, take great responsibility when bringing unbiased, scientific-based information to our clientele. This is why we were inspired to bring you this episode after a professional development session with our expert guest.

Our guest today is Dr. Cara Cuite. She is an assistant extension specialist in the department of human ecology at Rutgers university. Dr. Cuite is a health psychologist, who studies community food security, risk communication, and public perceptions of food-related issues. Including food safety, and genetically engineered foods. More recent projects have focused on communicating about weather-related emergencies, as well as interventions to reduce household food, energy and water use

...

View full transcript

 

Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, United States Department of Agriculture, the National Center for Food Protection and Defense, New Jersey Sea Grant, and Johnson and Johnson. She received her Ph.D. in psychology from Rutgers University, and a Bachelor of Science in psychology in modern languages from Union College.

 

So, Dan and Jake, please help me in welcoming Dr. Cara Cuite.

Dan Severson:

Welcome, Dr. Cuite.[crosstalk 00:01:39]

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Hi, I'm glad (laughs) I'm glad to be here.

Dan Severson:

Dr. Cara, we work in the great state of Delaware. We're known throughout the world of having the best, best, breakfast side dish you could ever have. Which is scrapple.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

All right.

Dan Severson:

You're in New Jersey. You're known for pork rolls. For your-[crosstalk 00:01:59]

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Taylor ham. Taylor ham, you mean?

Dan Severson:

Uh, yeah. What's, what's a pork roll? What's a ham? W-w-what are you doing here? Yeah, explain that.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

So, I'm actually not the best person to explain that, because I don't really eat it, but part of the state calls it Taylor ham, and part of the state calls it pork roll, and I don't know if it's the North or the South; which goes which. But I can tell you, I'm in central New Jersey, which is almost as controversial as what you call that stuff, because people say central Jersey doesn't exist. So, I think maybe I don't have an opinion? Because I live in a part of the state that technically doesn't exist. So, I, I don't know. But it's... it's some, you know, processed meat, which is what scrapple sounds like? To me too?

Dan Severson:

Uh, you've never had scrapple?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

No.

Dan Severson:

Oh my gosh.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

What is it? Is it-?

Dan Severson:

Blake. I'm gonna turn this- cause see, I was... Blake, scrapple runs deep in Blake's family, so I'm gonna turn it over to Blake for that one.

Blake Moore:

(laughs) yeah, yeah. So, I actually lived across the street growing up from a scrapple processing plant. Uh, of which my, my late mother was actually the plant manager there for a while.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Oh wow.

Blake Moore:

So, each one of us kids spent a little bit of time working in there. Let's just say it's all the... most of the leftover stuff, from, from a pig, uh, ends up in there, but it's perfectly spiced. Everything is good, and it's just a beautiful, beautiful breakfast side to have. Especially if you throw it in the deep fryer.

Jake Jones:

Yeah. It's, it's, it's a processed pork product, kind of like a Taylor ham, or pork roll; it's just different. Texture different cuts. Uh, cause your, your Taylor roll, pork roll, is gonna look more like a baloney. This is gonna look more like a cut loaf of a, uh, darker meat.

Blake Moore:

Yeah, and each, each company that makes it is just a little bit different, and they take pride in that. So it's, as you're talking about the, the, the ownership of the name of the Taylor ham, or pork roll, it's kinda like the same way, with how the scrapple is processed here in Delaware.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

All right. So you all have your preferred brand of it?

Blake Moore:

Yep. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

All right.

Blake Moore:

Yes, we do.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

All right.[crosstalk 00:03:58]

Blake Moore:

And, and it's territorial. That's how bad it is.

Dan Severson:

Yeah. A-and if you're on Facebook and stuff, look up there, there's a scrapple trail. And you can follow the scrapple trail up and down like the Eastern shore and everything.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

So, my next family vacation we should come down to Delaware and go on the scrapple trail, and...

Blake Moore:

Absolutely.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Form our own opinions?

Dan Severson:

In the morning, do scrapple. Afternoon, do ice cream.

Blake Moore:

There you go.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Okay. All right, maybe we'll have some pork roll and Taylor ham on the way.

Jake Jones:

There you go.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

On the drive down.

Jake Jones:

All right, so-

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

It will be the processed pork trip.

Jake Jones:

There you go. So, we probably just spewed out a whole lot of misinformation about scrapple and pork roll here, so whatever we just said, don't believe it. Um...

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

I... Blake sounds like a trusted source. I'm, I'm buying it.

Jake Jones:

Oh, no. I'll buy it from Blake. Whatever I said, just discount whatever I said. (laughs)

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

(laughs) okay.

Jake Jones:

So, Dr. Cara, what would be considered misinformation? I mean, is there a difference between misinformation and disinformation?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Sure. Misinformation is sort of just the c- the name that most people use. Righteous, you know, fake news. Misinformation... it's just kind of thrown out there. But it is, there are technically different kinds of misinformation. Bad information. False information that, that's floating out there. So, misinformation, technically, is information that's inaccurate by accident, right? So, it's usually, there's no bad intent, it's just something that's initially presented as true, and we later find out that it's false.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

A good example of that happens... has happened many times with various food recalls. And food-borne illness outbreaks, right? Sometimes we think it's one food; we find out later it's something else. And we had that back in 2009 in a big way with salmonella St. Paul, where they thought it was tomatoes, and then it turned out to be peppers. And we saw that with some international food recalls, where they thought it was cucumbers; it turned out to be fenugreek. It's just, it-it happens, right? So misinformation can happen. It doesn't necessarily have to be intended to mislead.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Disinformation, on the other hand, is intended to mislead, right? It's deliberately meant to mislead. And an example of that is something that was in the news quite a bit with misinformation about KFC, formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken. And there was a coordinated effort to, to say that KFC was selling genetically modified chickens that had been modified so that they eight legs and six wings, and there were images of, of these genetically modified chickens all over the internet. And KFC actually won a lawsuit against these three companies in China that were spreading that misinformation, right? There's intent to mislead, and in the case of the KFC chickens they were actually able to prove that and get damages from the people who were, who were spreading that disinformation.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

And then, there are other kinds of, from the broad category of misinformation, you know, there's mal-information, which is information that might be accurate, but is not really helpful. It can be used to spread harm, but, it's done on purpose. Something that I think of as an example of that, is a lot of information on food labels. Where it's not necessarily to spread harm, but it's to make a product look more appealing, even though the information's not helpful. If you see salt that says, "GMO free," and they've gone through-

Jake Jones:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

You know, third-party labeling to have it say, "GMO free," there, there is no such thing as GMO salt, right? So, is that helpful information? No. Probably not. Cause there is no such thing, right? Couldn't be any other way. So that's another kind, that, you know, that sometimes companies might use, or... it's just not helpful.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

and then there are other kinds of things that can... rumors, hoaxes... so a hoax is something that's designed to trick people into believing something as true. So, a few years ago, there were a number of hoaxes about romaine lettuce recalls up in Canada, with, like, full-on websites. But it wasn't targeting... I-I mean, I guess it was targeting the romaine industry, but, it was just spread pretty widely. You know, those are just some of the categories. But misinformation is kind of the word that's known, that people use for the whole category of false information that spreads.

Blake Moore:

And so, what are some of the dangers that come along with the spread of misinformation? You know, we, obviously, we see it happen all the time. And what are some of the things that, that happen because of this?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

You know, people act based on what they hear. We know, a-and, uh, you know, this is, this is an area that's being studied a lot, I do not work in this area, around misinformation, but with COVID, people have been studying and there are clear links between how much misinformation, or false information people believe, and their behavior. So people who believe this false information are more likely, actually, are less likely to wear a mask, less likely to social distance, less likely to get vaccinated, right? If there's a clear link between this information and how people behaves. It matters.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

There's just no, there's not other way to say it. It matters. People act... t- the information that they're getting, that they believe to be true. So, as it spreads, as people believe it, we'll see behaviors that might not be great behaviors if they're based on false information. Or helpful, or healthy behaviors if they're based on false information.

Blake Moore:

Yeah, that's a great point. We actually, you know, here in Extension we're giving out recommendations for folks managing, you know, either their landscapes or some of their agricultural crops, and obviously this is huge. So, if we are giving them the wrong information, it could have major impacts on their bottom line, and, or just how the appearance of their landscape is, and things like that. So that's a, that's a really good point.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah, and I would say even if you all are giving them correct information, right? If there's information in other places on social media in their, in their personal networks that's competing with the information that you're giving them, that's, you know, you're giving them true information and they're also getting false information... that's a problem, right? Cause they're, they're having to balance it, and they might not remember which information came from you, versus came from a friend, came from a colleague, and not, you know, not be able to distinguish. So, yeah. It's the whole; it's the whole environment. So you all at Cooperation Extension I'm sure, are doing a great job. But, you know, you're just one piece to the puzzle of how people make decisions about, about their landscape and their work.

Blake Moore:

Yeah, it's, that's another great point. And that kind of leads me into the, the next part of this question about social media and the technology age. That's one of the ways that exacerbates the problem. What are some of the other ways that it's made worse by the advent of social media?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

One of the things that's, that's really important when considering social media is that we tend to believe things that are shared by people that we trust, right? So, for the most part, we follow friends and family, or companies that we like on social media. And we tend to trust them. So if someone that-

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:11:04]

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

... and we tend to trust them, so if someone that you trust that you like that's in your social network shares something, you're more likely to believe it than if it was a stranger or, you know, or someone that you didn't trust. It's those social networks that make social media so engaging that also can lead to problems because of those personal connections that we have. Another issue with social media, and, and I think that this can vary a lot, depending on the various platforms and why people use platform, the different platforms that are out there, but, you know, it, it's in an information environment, people are competing for attention. So, people pay attention to things that give them sort of a little jolt, you know, a little, oh, I didn't know that, huh, that's interesting, or, or something that makes them mad.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

I can't believe that company did that or, you know, so- anything that gets their attention. So, I think that a lot of times, misinformation can get peoples' attention and, you know, that's true, very much, in the, the political realm where people tend to have networks that are similar, you know, with people they're, they're, they're in networks with people who have similar view points as them. That can really exacerbate the problem, or people or just paying attention to things that are a little bit more exciting, or get a, you know, give them, give them some adrenaline. So, those more, stories that, you know, that may not be true that may go against what is sort of conventional belief, might get peoples' attention a little bit more.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

And also, you know, we know, so PU did a study last year and they found that 23% of Americans report having shared fake news on social media. 14% said that they knew that it was made up when they were sharing it, right. So, people, people who are sharing information sometimes knowingly sharing misinformation that is not true. We often remember what we hear, but we don't always remember who we heard it from or what the context is. So, even if someone shares something and says, can you believe this fake news or can you believe this ridiculous story, people might not remember that caption, they might just remember the story or the fake news, right. That might be what drew their eye or what sticks with them in the memory. So, that's another reason that it can be a problem.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

So, even, if people are sharing stuff just to say, this is fake or don't believe it, or whatever, it can, it can sometimes backfire and, and people don't remember that disclaimer and just remember what they're seeing that's false information. So, it has definitely exacerbated the problem.

Blake Moore:

Yeah. It's, it's a, you know, those are some, some good points and it, it always, every time I, I hear you talk about this, it kind of opens my mind to some of my own experiences where it's like, you know, even if you click on, like, say somebody shares something that I know, it's like my extincts are saying, that's false. It's not right.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Blake Moore:

But, like, I wanna look at it a little bit deeper so I can do some research and, and kind of find out where it's wrong and things like that. But I feel like if you click on it, that's, that helps it spread farther because it's, like, one of those things where those platforms are like, all right, there's another click so it's gonna be shared a little bit more, or something like that, you know. You're-

Dan Severson:

Well-

Blake Moore:

... talking about attention, you know, we are the product-

Dan Severson:

... or they start getting-

Blake Moore:

... on social media.

Dan Severson:

... demographics on you or whatever, your-

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah.

Dan Severson:

... clicks, and they say, oh, you liked this article so you're gonna start pushing more articles like that to your-

Blake Moore:

Right.

Dan Severson:

... your s- your feed.

Blake Moore:

Yeah. So, there's, like, a-

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

That's true.

Blake Moore:

... a fine line there.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

So, I mean, so I agree with Dan, that it's, you know, part of that has to do with the algorithm, 'cause that's gonna change what you see moving forward. But also, Blake, I would say, that's great that you're doing that, but I think that might be, you know, then that's one of things that I would recommend, is if you see something and you think, that doesn't look right, let me investigate more. But a lot of people, you know, when we're on social media, that's not where our brain is, you know.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

That's, we're d- we're not there with our critical thinking caps on, saying, oh, I'm going to read stories that my friends and family have posted, and then, you know, do deep research to find out if they're true or false, 'cause, you know, a lot of times when I'm reading social media, it's, it's when I'm relaxing. I'm not sitting at my desk, like, in my, kind of, professional capacity. It's more just scrolling through. And so, the problem is, a lot of people might even think, oh, yeah, I'm gonna, I'm gonna do a deep dive on that, I wanna find out for myself if it's true. But taking that next step is often, just hard, you know.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

There's so much information out there and it's easier to just keep scrolling to kind of absorb it uncritically and keep scrolling as opposed to really going and looking for the, for more information.

Blake Moore:

Yeah. Definitely guilty of that, too.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

All right, good, it's not just me. Yeah. (Laughs)

Jake Jones:

It sounds like this misinformation is often organized as, like, clickbait. And there's obvious times when you can tell it's misinformation, but what are some keys to identifying when maybe it's not so obvious?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Right. So, right. So, if you are willing to do that deep dive, right, how, how do we do that? Like, how, what do you do? One of the key things that you can do is just try to determine, is it coming from a reputable source? Is it a government agency, which you can usually tell by the, you know, dot-GOV at the end. Is it a reputable news source? Those are, like, kind of a good first cut, you know. Or, is it some, some news source that you've never heard of, which might not actually be a new source, but it might just be a website that looks like a news source, and there are a lot of those out there.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

So, there are some guides out there for, you know, how to spot fake news and one of them that I like is from the International Federation of Libraries, it says, "Consider the, consider the source," excuse me, which is what I said, you know. That's really, that's really, I think, what most people do as the first cut is just, like, okay, is this a new source that I know and trust? And I think given, sort of, the news media and the political landscape, what sour- the, in the U.S. right now, you know, what sources people trust can vary dramatically, right. So, that's not always a fool-proof approach to take because we don't all trust or use the same news sources. Going be- reading beyond just that original source, like Blake was suggesting, that is a great way, you know. Try to validate it somewhere else.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Going to a fact-check, that's sort of my go-to. If I'm really, if I see something, even if it is in a source that I trust, but I'm not exactly sure or I just, you know, see it, sometimes I'll go to something like Snopes, right. Most people know Snopes, Snopes is amazing. Really, they, I, I wanna look up how many people they have working there because I am always amazed by how many varied stories that they have fact-checked on their website. It's really an amazing resource. And, and it's, and it's just so broad. So, so I would say, I would say Snopes. But there is also, you know, if you're in the realm more of science misinformation, there's something called SciCheck.org.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Um, there's something called Based on Science, from the National Academies of Science, which are, which is also another really great, a little bit more in-depth, kind of, more scientific-based fact-checking. There's FactCheck.org. So, there are a lot of them out there, but, really, for me personally, Snopes is my go-to, 'cause I don't even have to think about the content area, right. It might be something related to work, it might be something political, it might be something, just completely unrelated to anything that I know anything about, and I can go to Snopes and, and be pretty confident that they're going to have... if it's widespread enough, they're going to have a fact-check on it. So, that's something else that you could do. So, this is going back to this library thing, they suggest also checking the author. Look the person up.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Are they, you know, are they employed by credible sources? Another thing that's important, and this adds to it with misinformation where there's that unintentional misinformation that we, you know, in the technical definition of the term, so if you... sometimes, things change, right. Stories change. Food, the food recalls is the one example that I always go back to because I did, uh, uh, work around these, these food recalls that sort of evolved over time. So, depending on the date of the story, it could've been completely, what we know could be completely different, right. So, you wanna make sure that you're, you know, that you have the most up-to-date information and you're not looking at an old story. And I see that on social media. Have you guys ever seen that on social media, where someone's like, this is from five years ago, you know?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

That, I see that a lot.

Blake Moore:

Definitely, yeah.

Jake Jones:

Yeah.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah. And then, another thing, when this is kinda hard, but it says, is it a joke? Some people can't really tell, but that's a good question to ask-

Blake Moore:

Yeah.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

... yourself.

Dan Severson:

Yeah.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Like-

Dan Severson:

Are they just playing with me?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Right, right. Right. So, try to, you know, consider that it might be a joke, or it might be satire, it might be the onion, right, or, or a spinoff of the onion that, that looks like a newspaper, but it's just a satirical website. Considering those things, and then also, checking your own biases. There might be a company that you absolutely hate, and I'm, and I, this is not true for me, but, you know, Subway has been in the news lately with this, with this fake tuna story that the New York Times did an investigation, some other, I can't remember if it was AP, or someone. Some other news organization, you know. They were going and getting DNA tests for Subway tuna because there was a lawsuit saying that tuna isn't really tuna, and whatever.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

So, if you're someone who hates Subway and you start seeing this, well, you're probably gonna believe it 'cause you hate them and you think, you know, they're a terrible company. So, your own bias could impact your belief in the story. If you don't really have an opinion on way or the other about Subway, you're probably less likely to believe it and more likely to, to, to look at the story with a critical eye, right. So, that's another thing. And then, finally, they say, ask the experts, which is, you know, a really great role for cooperative extensions around the country to be those experts that people can come to with any questions that they might have.

Jake Jones:

That's a really good point, that checking your bias one is probably the hardest one, I would think. And, but I, I really appreciated all that, uh, advice there 'cause it sounds like there's multiple ways you can check. But here's where it gets hard, how do you stop the spread? Because you've already said repeating it can actually help it spread further because people don't always listen to the caption, or that you're saying it's fake. So, what can we do, or what can listeners do to stop the spread of misinformation?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Okay. So, there's someone named George Lakoff, who coined the term truth sandwich, right. So, and I love that and I love it as an image. Repetition is so important in spreading this false information that you don't want to replace, to, to repeat it, you wanna replace it. If you do a truth sandwich, where you say the truth, and then you kind of elude to that misinformation, right, you, you wave your hand-

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:22:04]

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

... allude to that misinformation, right? You, you wave your hands at it so people know what you're talking about but don't actually repeat it. And then, again, repeat the truth, right? So you've got truth, alluding to that false information, and more truth. That has been shown to be helpful in helping to, to kind of correct or, you know, get, get the truth out there and let people know that there is misinformation out there without necessarily further spreading it.

Jake Jones:

Okay. Well that's a neat way of doing that. I never even thought of that. But I guess I've always heard that repetition is important.

Jake Jones:

And then finally here, what are some techniques ... I'm a pretty non-confrontational person. But we do get some, you know, emotionally driven people. How do you respectfully engage with someone who has shared misinformation and honestly believes it? How would you-

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah.

Jake Jones:

... engage with someone like that?

Dan Severson:

I'll be happy to talk to them for you, Jake. (laughter)

Jake Jones:

I know. That's- you gotta have friends like Dan. (laughs)

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah. First of all, don't, don't send them to Dan. Second of all (laughter), um, yeah. (laughs) Only kidding. Only kidding. So it's really hard, right? That's so hard. Especially if it's something that, you know, people- something that people feel passionately about. And a lot of people-

Jake Jones:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

... feel really passionately about things that don't- that are not fact-based. I would say, in a lot of ways, it's an art more than a science. Right? If you have a personal relationship or if you're speaking with someone one on one, a lot of that's gonna come down to having, you know, being seen as someone who's trusted. And I- you know, that confrontational approach almost never is going to change someone's mind, right? So I, I don't think that that's a great way to move forward.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

So one of the things I would say is to think about why they believe this. Or if it's on social media, why are they sharing this, right? Like what is their motivation? And some of those people are just trying to be helpful, right? Sometimes it's just because they, they just genuinely think it's true and they think it's important for other people to know. You know, they, they think that whatever, you know, I mean I- my mind keeps going back to sort of COVID vaccine because that's something that, that's in the news so much. You know, if someone really believes that COVID vaccine- that COVID vaccine is harmful, well they think it's their role in society or that they're actually helping others to let them know that there's some harm in the COVID vaccine, even though there's no evidence of that and the science does not support that, right?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

So try to understand where they're coming from. And if you can, start from a place of shared values, right? So if they're- if you think they're talking about something 'cause they think it's harmful, let's say, to children, you can say something like, "I understand where you're coming from. I'm also very concerned with the health of our children, right?" Or if they're talking about their own children and you're a parent, "I'm also a parent who's looking out for my children as best I can just like you are." Right? You know, whatever that common place is, where you can kind of tone down the confrontation-

Jake Jones:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

... and find that- those common shared values I think is going to get you to a better place than any kind of you're wrong or, or even worse, like, are you an idiot? How can you believe that? Like that's just not- that's not going to change any minds or win anyone over to your point of view.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

So, and, and I think that's really true even on social media with people you don't know. You still wanna- want to, to start from a place of shared values whenever possible, right? It's just a way to, to, to tone down the rhetoric, to get a connection so that you can actually have a conversation as opposed to a yelling match. In some cases, you know, depending on who you are, if you're- if you have some kind of formal role or could be viewed as having expertise in an area, sometimes it can be really helpful to use that. Not always. Not if you're trying to highlight some kind of power differential or something. Then it's not going to be helpful. But if you can use it in a way that gives you some authority that can help you to explain what you see as, you know, science-based evidence, whatever, whatever it is that you're trying to, to get to, you can use that expertise.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

And then also, one of the things is, again, this may be less so when it's an interpersonal interaction, but if you're on social media, you might not chan- and someone's posted something that you know is false and you wanna call that out, you might never change the poster's mind, right? That person who's out there, whether intentionally or unintentionally sharing false information, you might not- you might not get to them. But there might be a couple hundred people or, depending on the platform, a couple thousand people, who are reading that who you might be able to get to, right?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

I do think it's important to consider that we're probably not ever going to get to everyone. But you can use those moments, that opportunity where someone posts something that is definitely wrong and you have the ability to correct it, to get out a wider- to correct it for more than just that person. Ma- and maybe that person will come along with you. Maybe that original poster won't. But you're still getting it out there.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

And I think one of the things that's been shown to be effective is if there's false information, the best thing, on social media, the best thing is if like Twitter or Facebook puts an official warning that this post has been shown to have false information. All right? That's sort of the ideal thing to get people to recognize that it's false information. But the next best thing is if people use credible sources in response. So you can link to a national level newspaper or, you know, a website or something that would be trusted and link right under that and say, "This is false and here's- here's my source." And then if someone else ... You know, getting ... Using that repetition to our- to the advantage of the truth, where a lot of people can repeat and, you know, put posts, reputable sources, that can really help to lessen the impact of that original false information that's up there.

Jake Jones:

I mean, that's- it's a big responsibility, I think, to try and combat misinformation. And you have to take it seriously. And I don't know, Blake, if you wanna jump in?

Blake Moore:

Yeah. I was gonna say that there's two, there's two things I really took from that. And on- and, you know, the one is that personal trust in between people. I've had, you know, conversations where I definitely didn't agree with the other person. They didn't agree with me. But we had a constructive conversation because we knew each other. And, you know, maybe they wouldn't be able to have that same conversation with somebody they didn't know, but because they did just me-

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Blake Moore:

... then it was a better conversation. And then the other part was that if you just go into a conversation and start a yelling match, I feel like that hardens the lines.

Jake Jones:

Yeah (laughing).

Blake Moore:

You know what I mean? [crosstalk 00:28:48] Instead of trying to, to have a-

Jake Jones:

It's in the sand. Drawn.

Blake Moore:

Yeah. Exactly. You know, you could just go right in and just harden the lines right there. So yeah, you're, you're already behind the eight ball on that.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah. And I mean, I think, I don't think I'm out of line to say it's generally good advice not to have fights. You know, misinformation, whatever. You know, it- just for- it's always better if you can avoid that to, to not sort of harden people into their, their original positions. And it's good for us to be open-minded about things too. Right? You know, someone might be wrong about one thing but they might be right about other things. And we can learn from each other. And so it's, it's important to, in all things, to try to not take that hard-line position.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

And there was one other thing that Jake just said that I wanted to go back to, which is that it's a big responsibility to combat misinformation. I agree. And I think one of the other things that I kinda wanted to say is it's not always our job, right? You can't be there doing it all of the time. Unless it's your job to, you know, unless misinformation combater, you know, is your job title or something, we don't have all have time to do it, you know-

Jake Jones:

(laughing) Superhero combatter!

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah, I don't know. Whatever, whatever that job title might be. I don't know. But we don't all have time to do it all the time. And it is too much to take on our shoulders. So one of the things to think about is, you know, am I the person to do this? Like if it's a one on one conversation, I think there's no one else to do it. But if you are online, you know, on social media, like, is this something that I- that I know about or is this someone that I'm particularly close to or have a good relationship with that I can do this in an effective way, right?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

But y- we can't be out there combating misinformation on all fronts, all the times. I do think that it's important to do it strategically and to do it when you think you can make a difference.

Dan Severson:

Yeah. I think what, what I'm getting from all this is, like, you- you're not gonna change opinions on people on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Or meat's in the middle. We're gonna do our target audience and concentrate where our best time and return on investment. We're, we're gonna pick the people- the people in the middle or more option to go left or right. It's the people that are on the extreme ends. They're- the- you're not gonna change their mind.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah. Or it's gonna be a lot hard to but-

Dan Severson:

Correct. Yeah.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

... yeah. I- yeah. And I think that's true in so many- in so many different areas. You know, I do work on hurricane communications and coastal storm communications and how to get people to evacuate. And when we talk with emergency managers, they just say, "There's some people that you're ne- they're never going to evacuate." And those aren't the people that they're targeting.

Jake Jones:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

You just have to accept that. And go for the people where, where there's, you know, the meat is in the middle, as Dan just said. You know, where there's- where there's room, uh, the scrapple is in the middle, I guess. I (laughter)- Wherever, wherever there's room, that's, that's who, who you wanna target, for sure. 'Cause it's just- some people are just very set and just not open to revising their own beliefs.

Jake Jones:

I'm going back to this Kentucky Fried Chicken, eight legged chicken.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Mm. Yeah.

Dan Severson:

I'm reposting that because, dude, I love chicken legs. I love thighs. I go 'head, I see this, I repost it, okay? Some people, like you said, might think it's a joke. And then I'm, I'm starting to feel bad because it is m- I'm spreading misinformation. So I shouldn't be doing that. How can I retract that? Or how can I correct this?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah. I guess I would say that self correction is really the same as correcting other people. Link to a- an authoritative source and say, you know ... Uh, and, and even with the share- you know, going back to the shared values. I was just trying to be helpful but it turns out I had some bad info. Sorry. Here is the correct information. And then link to a good source. If it's on social media, you can delete the original one. And this is where it gets to that sort of hand waving that has to happen. So you can say, "I posted some false information earlier and I have since deleted it, right?" Don't repeat it. Just, you can just say, "I made a mistake. Here's correct information." And sometimes you can just wipe it out, right? And make that correction without repeating it necessarily. And to say, "Here is good information."

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [00:33:04]

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

That correction without repeating it necessarily and to say here is good information. Other times if it's on so, if it's somewhere that you, for whatever reason aren't able to kind of erase it or delete it, you know, just still, just correct yourself and you can say again, I was, I thought it was correct. I was trying to be helpful. I thought it was important but I was wrong and here is the correct thing but if you can delete it, you know, because we don't want to repeat that's going to be better.

Dan Severson:

Yeah and I think with me, er, I- I'm gonna just say I'm a little bit older than most people we do the podcast with. The etiquette on social media and texting as far as... if I'm joking or not. Jake I don't know if I gave you disinformation or misinformation the other day, so yeah I mean it kinda plays cause I- you don't get that vibe of, you know, if its social media of how people are really feeling, you know, that groove, that body vibe. You know what I'm saying?

Blake Moore:

Yeah and I would put that in emails too where-

Dan Severson:

Yes!

Blake Moore:

You know, I- I- tend to if it's going to be something that could be possibly-

Dan Severson:

Misinterpreted.

Blake Moore:

Misinterpreted or something that can be a little on edge. I tend to like to call people first.

Dan Severson:

Yeah.

Blake Moore:

I'm like listen this is what I mean and I'm gonna put it in writing for you because you can't tell what my tone is.

Dan Severson:

Yes.

Blake Moore:

You know, and its just really hard to do that on social media too, even- even if like you said like Dan had, er, Jake coming onto a meeting (laugh) on his vacation because of a joke (laugh) and if he had simply put an LOL after his, er, statement maybe- maybe Jake wouldn't have jumped at it.

Jake Jones:

But but I'm not upset about it but like Doctor Cuite said, it's er, you have to ask yourself is it a joke. And since it came from Dan, I should've known it was a joke.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah.

Dan Severson:

(laughing)

Jake Jones:

It really is my fault.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

The take-away from today's podcast, don't believe Dan (laughs). No, no no. No, that er, you know, I that is tough and it's hard to know and that's why Andy Borowitz, who is a humor writer for the New Yorker, had to start putting under his posts, not the news, satire from Andy Borowitz, erm because- cause you don't always know.

Blake Moore:

Really?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

It's hard. It's hard to know. You don't know if it's- if people are kidding or not. Yeah you could ask yourself that but you can't- it's sort of like checking your biases. I think those are both super hard-

Blake Moore:

Yes.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

To do. You know, so- so that's why it's good to ask it but you might wanna if you- if you decide it's not a joke you still might wanna.. or- or it's not your bias isn't playing a role, you still might wanna do all those other things like look for additional information.

Blake Moore:

And so you covered this a little bit, er, earlier but, you know, how can listeners ensure that they're receiving information from a reliable source? You know, there's some tips and techniques like you were talking about the websites ending- ending in .gov or, you know, for us, for me, .eu is a lot of times what I look for as well.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah. Yeah

Blake Moore:

But what are some of the tech- techniques that they can make sure they're getting information from a reliable source?

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Well, I- I mean the news sources are important, again, it gets tricky because we don't all use the same news sources but those are usually pretty reliable. And I just go back to those, you know, to Snopes or, you know, if there's something really controversial that I would say- I would say Snopes, Sidecheck, Factcheck. Whatever it is, is going to be your best bet. So like if all of those things have- is it a joke? Check your biases. I mean the... my go to is to just quickly look it up on one of those sites. It's just- it's really the quickest way.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

You can also think about your relationship with the person and consider you know what is the- what is that person's motivation for sharing. I mean I think we all intuitively do this if, you know, someone works for a company and we know that and they post some information about how this company is the great, you know, has the greatest product in the world or whatever we might get a little bit skeptical because we know that they've got a vested interest in it right? It gets at that same thing of what is the person who's doing the sharing of this false information? What is- what is their goal and if it,you know, if you can kinda consider that also if you know... I mean on social media like you were saying on email or social media, it can be hard to interpret that. But if you do know or if you can figure out you know where- where are they coming from? I think that can be, you know, a helpful thing to consider also.

Jake Jones:

This was a great interview. I know I learned a lot of what I should be doing and shouldn't be doing and I think we're gonna have you back hopefully in the future but we wanna know now if you have any closing thoughts for listeners.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Well, first of all I'm just very very happy to be here talking with you all and my closing thoughts are really, I guess that- that we all can play a role, right? You don't have to be an expert if you can get to an expert source. You may not work in an area but you may be able to find reliable information on some topic that you can- you can share to correct some misinformation or get false information that someone else has, er, somewhere. Having said that, you know, we are awash in false information in environment that we're in right now especially in online environment.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

And so it can be exhausting and so you- you have to a little bit pick and choose and, you know, try to combat it wh- when you can but I think that really the first step is to think about your own information diet and, sort of, are you recognizing what's true and what's not based on what you're seeing and then sometimes when you can when, you have the time, correcting others in a respectful way. In a way that isn't going to be off-putting or just make people harden their positions. So that's I think... I don't know if those were great closing thoughts or not but those were- those were what came to me so...

Blake Moore:

I think that was perfect and it's just- it, you know, it's just really being vigilant as you're taking in information and it's coming back out from you, just making sure that you're- you're, you know, checking your sources and checking where it's coming from and being respectful and that- and that we're all- I think that's kinda... That's- that's what I was hoping to come out of this episode is that people have those tips and techniques to- to recognize and- and know that, you know, even if it's a joke or you're trying- you're not meaning to do something it could be potentially dangerous.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yep, absolutely.

Dan Severson:

Yeah cause you know I- I lost a lot of trust in you when you were having that scrap a lot. I don't know if I believe you now.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

(laughs) It's true.

Dan Severson:

(laughs)

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

And the fact that I don't have a position on erm -

Dan Severson:

Pork roll.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Taylor Ham or pork roll. I might not even be from New Jersey with that admission, you know, I don't know that-

Dan Severson:

Yeah, they're- they're- they're pulling your card on that.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

(laughs)

Dan Severson:

However, when you ask somebody where, you know, we're from Jersey, they never give you a county. They say north, south, or, you know. They never say what county. Yeah I don't know, Jersey's a weird state.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

We have a lot of counties. You g- you have four right? How many-

Blake Moore:

Three.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Counties are there in Delaware?

Dan Severson:

Three.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Three, okay, I don't even- I, we have- how many do we- we have 20 something? I don't know.

Blake Moore:

There's counties in- there's counties in this country bigger than our state.

Dan Severson:

(laughing)

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah. Yeah no, well we do- we do exits off the Garden State Parkway, that's one way we describe and- and yeah I say central jersey but apparently there's controversy about that. I don't know I- I'm from I'm from Brooklyn originally so-

Blake Moore:

Ooh.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Where I live is very-

Blake Moore:

Little shout-out from Brooklyn.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Yeah, and its very close to, sort of, Staten Island and the Outerbridge and getting into New York City so I really-

Blake Moore:

Ooh outer bridge.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

It's taken me a long time to get to know my- my New Jersey geography.

Blake Moore:

That's the only state you gotta pay to get out of no matter where you gotta- you gotta pay to get out of that state. (laughing)

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

(laughing) Oh that is a good point. That is true.

Blake Moore:

Well look, thank you.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

Not a good reflection.

Blake Moore:

(laughs)

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

All right. (laughs)

Dan Severson:

Thank you so much we really appreciate it.

Dr. Cara L. Cuite:

All right, take care of yourselves.

Collapse transcript

Episode 21: The State Fair Returns!

(feat. Doug Crouse of Delaware 4-H / UD Extension and the Delaware State Fair!)

The 2021 State Fair is your passport to summer fun! Get the inside scoop with a very special guest: Doug Crouse (Delaware State Fair Executive Board Member / Treasurer and our very own Delaware 4-H State Program Leader! The Delaware State FAir will be held July 22 to 31.


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Video: The State Fair Returns!: youtube.com/watch?v=p_hwPG42aFg

Episode 21 transcript


Jake Jones:

Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of Extension302. Today we are going to be covering the upcoming Delaware State Fair. The 102nd Delaware State Fair is from Thursday, July 22nd to Saturday, July 31st, 2021. This year's theme is Your Passport to Summer Fun. I'm looking forward to hearing more about it, and a large part of the Fair, 4-H projects.

Jake Jones:

Joining Dan the Dairy Man...

Dan Severson:

Moo.

Jake Jones:

And Blake the Yeti...

Blake Moore:

He is I, and I am him.

Jake Jones:

Is Doug Crouse, the program leader for 4-H and youth development at the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. Welcome back to the podcast, Doug.

Dan Severson:

Hey, Mr. Crouse. Well, I grew up here in Delaware, and the Fair was always the highlight of the year. It was our vacation, our summer. It was our year, our life. I showed dairy... So, that was my 4-H project, and that project goes year round. Participating in the Fair allowed me to network and make connections. Those connections led me to work with people that I idolized, and it definitely steered my career path. What or who had a big influence in your career path?

...

Continue reading transcript >

Doug Crouse:

Well, I have a longstanding history with the Fair too, both as a young person and now as an adult, having served on the Fair board now for 32 years, and as corporate treasurer, too. So I have a real love in my heart for the Fair, and I have a lot of the same sentiments that you have. Always liked going to the Fair. My parents were active in the Moose Lodge, and I spent many days and nights working in that Moose Stand, serving drinks and food to people.

Doug Crouse:

Through my 4-H participation, we were always at the Fair exhibiting our project work, and then competing in the various competitions that were there. We always went to the Fair 4-H building every day, to see our ribbons, to see other people's ribbons, to do a demonstration contest, to do a judging contest. We were always at the Fair doing something for 4-H. That has just transcended me into more involvement in the Fair from the Fair board aspect too. So now that I'm on the Fair board and oversee 4-H, my love for life, love for the Fair.

Dan Severson:

Yeah, once it gets into your blood, it's one of those things. You just see all the positives and you just want to spread that around.

Doug Crouse:

Sure do.

Dan Severson:

What do you anticipate the Fair looking like this year?

Doug Crouse:

The Fair board had to really make different plans last year because of the COVID situation, and we put on the best Fair we could based on the current situation, but we had some Fair versus no Fair. This year, the Fair board was again planning for the COVID Fair, because everything hadn't opened up yet, things hadn't really gotten to a level where you couldn't just do the normal Fair. But things have changed. In the last several months, things have changed again, and there are anticipation of future changes, even a big announcement coming out from the governor's office around the second week of July.

Doug Crouse:

So I'm basically going to say to you, as far as I'm concerned and based on what I'm hearing, what I'm understanding, what I'm sensing, is the Delaware State Fair is going to be the normal Delaware State Fair this year. The Fair that we remember back from 2019. Not going to see face masks unless people are not vaccinated. They will be used to using the honor system at this point in time. Those vaccinated don't have to wear them, vaccinated are very strongly encouraged to wear them. I'm not going to see the social distancing elements that we saw before. The concessionaires are going to be able to operate their stands as they normally do. Again, things are going to be back to normal, and we're just going to have a great Fair and put COVID behind us, hopefully, is my feeling.

Blake Moore:

Early on, when we first started Extension302, we talked to you as the program leader for 4-H about exactly what 4-H is and what the participants get out of it. Can you just refresh our memories about what 4-H is and who is involved?

Doug Crouse:

Sure. I usually tell a lot of people it's a lot more than cows and cooking and living on a farm. That stereotype is out there, but a lot of people have gained a sense of knowledge of 4-H and what it is. 4-H is everything you want it to be. That and more. It's the largest youth development organization in the world, reaching over six million youth, with a goal of reaching over 10 million youth by 2027. We have a mission where we put young people in a partnership with caring adults to learn and to gain and to just develop as young people into the productive roles as adults. We follow a learn by doing model, and using the experiential learning model of the do, reflect, apply gives them a sense of gaining knowledge and developing important life skills that they can use in their future lives.

Doug Crouse:

4-H has essential elements that I've always resonated with. It's mastery, learning how to do things and doing them well. Belonging to the group, always feeling welcomed in the group. Independence, being able to do things on your own or to develop that person where you can do them on your own. Of course, generosity. 4-H kids, 4-H youth do a lot of community service, a lot of volunteer work. So there's four very important essential elements.

Doug Crouse:

In our program, we have three national mandates: science and technology, healthy living, and the third one being civic engagements, and I add leadership there too. So we based all of our program around those three topic areas, and do it through a variety of delivery modes. How we reach our youth through community clubs, through afterschool programs, camps, military programs, special interest programs, school enrichment programs, animal science programs. We have a lot of different ways to take our program and reach our youth through those delivery modes. In a typical year, Delaware 4-H reaches about 30,000 youth annually.

Blake Moore:

It seems like a great program. When I was growing up, I would hear about 4-H, but I never participated actively, but ever since I've become a member of cooperative extension, and working with some of the participants of 4-H and people who went through it as kids who are now my colleagues, it's very easy to tell what kind of impact 4-H has on people for their entire lives.

Doug Crouse:

Definitely true. I was very involved as a youth in school. It was various clubs and community clubs, but I always came back to 4-H, always came back to 4-H, and I give that credit to the leader that I had. Great experience that I had in 4-H.

Dan Severson:

On the cow side of this, with the cows and cooking, are they going to rotate animals in and out this year like they did last year? Is that going to stay?

Doug Crouse:

They had to make that decision back in early March because there's a lot of logistics to any Fair. Just doesn't happen the month before the Fair, it's a whole year planning, really. Not knowing what they knew now, had they knew what they knew now they could have done things definitely, but back in the beginning of March, what we knew was that we're going to be planning for a similar COVID-type Fair like we did last year. Because of that, they are going to still be following their livestock schedule that they implemented last year, where different species will come on different days and showcase and then leave the Fair. I look forward to next year, where we're back to normal, because I like to see all the animals at the Fair at the same time. You have to make those decisions, you have to get the judges lined up, you have to get the judges to commit to be there to judge the animals, and all that takes time and scheduling and everything. So, yes, we're following the same schedule last year, but with hopeful anticipation of going back to the normal schedule in 2022.

Jake Jones:

Animals are my favorite part of the Fair. Can you tell us about the animals that the 4-Hers raise, and the livestock auction? Because I've always heard a lot about the livestock auction. I know that does a lot for the 4-Hers.

Doug Crouse:

It does. Our animal shows, our livestock shows at the Fair are not 4-H or FFA run. They're open shows. Some fairs you can go and you'll see 4-H shows over here and you'll see open shows over here. But the Delaware State Fair is an open show, and it always has been. But the participants in those shows, the kids showing those animals, they're either 4-H, they're FFA kids, or they're joint memberships, which you can certainly be in our state. So we do work with our kids through the 4-H program, and FFA works for their kids as well, and that's the kids that are in the ring.

Doug Crouse:

So, you have several species out there, the swine, that goats, the sheep, the beef. You have horses, the rabbits, the poultry. All kinds of animals across the fairgrounds. Again, many of them, the majority of them being shown by 4-H and FFA youth. Livestock sale, it comes back to the market animals for the goats, the beef, the swine, and the sheep. Those kids have purchased those animals, they're raising them to go to market, to feed and be part of the food cycle. There's costs involved in raising those animals. There's costs involved in just purchasing the animals.

Doug Crouse:

So the livestock option is a way for people in the community and businesses to come together and purchase those animals that the kids are selling. Through those funds, those youth are able to get back some of those costs, and sometimes even make a profit, which that profit then goes to purchasing the next animal, or many kids that I know have put those monies away to store for the special expenses and or college expenses and have really done well.

Doug Crouse:

We have a strong community here in Delaware, and they always come out for this livestock sale, even last year, and even this year, because the sale last year and this year will be virtual again. But they still come out, they buy those animals, they take great care of our youth. They raise over $160,000 in just about three or four hours in one evening to support our youth throughout the state. Great auction, great community that we have to support our youth, and it just helps them so much for their animal projects.

Dan Severson:

They're doing the virtual auction. Is it because of the rotating of the animals in and out? Is that the major cause of that for this year?

Doug Crouse:

Well, again, it was one of those decisions that had to be made a little earlier on. You have to get that process in place. Not that they couldn't change at this late date, but they were starting to advertise it.

Dan Severson:

Right.

Doug Crouse:

Again, it's just that in between squeezed out year, you had to make decisions a little earlier on. So they're going with the virtual auction, and then we'll see next year, maybe there's success in the virtual auction. But we learned that even through extension, that some things we did virtually make sense to continue to do that way.

Dan Severson:

Right.

Doug Crouse:

But the livestock sale, I like to see it in person. I like to see that child in the ring with their animal, looking up at the audience that are bidding on it. I like that concept. But as long as we're supporting youth, I'll support it either way, that's for sure.

Dan Severson:

Yeah. It's a good energy to feel when you're there in person, for sure.

Doug Crouse:

Sure is.

Blake Moore:

With the virtual auction, did it go well last year? I mean, did you see any fall off in fundraising, or was it successful?

Doug Crouse:

It went very well last year, because a lot of people could have sat out and not participated, but that's not what they did. For some buyers, they would tell you it might've been easier for them because they didn't have to be right at the fairgrounds, or they could put their bids in and let them sit there and resonate. But again, it was very successful, and it's always been successful in person, so we're very fortunate there.

Doug Crouse:

There's also some different features added to it last year, where there's some people that try to buy animals that just aren't the successful bidders in the end, but yet they still have money in their hand and they really want to support the kids. There was a way to take that money last year and this year and in future years, too. Divide that $100 up against 20 different kids and give them each $5, or divide it up in two kids and give them each $50. So there was a way to take that initial money that's not spent on an animal and still support those kids by adding it to their account. There was something positive that did come out of a virtual auction that will continue in the future, and again, still allow people to support that aren't successful bidders.

Dan Severson:

Where can people go to sign up and get a bid number? Because I know some of the organizations I work with, we picked kids from Newcastle County and took our money and split up between all those instead of selecting one. So where can people go and register online to get a bid number?

Doug Crouse:

The Delaware State Fair has an excellent website, and they keep updating it and making it better. So if you just Google Delaware State Fair or delawarestatefair.com, it'll take you right to the website. Look for the Delaware State Fair, and then you'll have a category for the livestock auction. All the instructions are out there, helps guide any bidder to register as a bidder or to make these additional donations or answers any questions that you have about the auction, as well as exhibits, as well as the entertainment. All that information is out on that website. It's a very well done website.

Blake Moore:

Are there any other competitions that 4-H and FFA enter outside of the livestock competition?

Doug Crouse:

I always look the Fair as the cumulation of the 4-H year, and that's where all of the state competitions are conducted. We'll have demonstration contests out there for 4-H on four different days. Kids that are competing in different categories. First day is general, second day is plant and sciences, third day is family consumer sciences, and the last day is animal science. Depending on what type of demonstration they do, there's a specific day of the week that they actually come to the Fair and compete.

Doug Crouse:

The way this works is we have three counties, and each county has county competitions, and each of those kids that win in their division come to the State Fair. So then they get to compete against the county winner from the other two counties. It's friendly competition, because all those kids that get up on the stage and do demonstrations, I have a lot of respect for them. They're gaining important life skills and public presentation skills.

Doug Crouse:

We also have judging contests, 10 different judging contests that kids again are doing at the county level. County winners come to the Fair and compete against the other counties. Categories like photography and woodworking and wildlife and foods, horticulture, and clothing, and then we have the livestock and the horse and the dairy and the poultry. So again, 10 different judging contests.

Doug Crouse:

We have a talent show on the first night. We have two bowls, as I call them. Avian Bowl about poultry, and Consumer Bowl, more about financial and business aspects. So we have teams that come on and just like the academic challenges, college academic challenges, they come in and compete against each other. Double elimination.

Doug Crouse:

Public speaking is another event. We have tractor driving, and then we have even the lawn tractor driving for the kids that don't like those big tractors. Large state archery contest that brings about 100 youth competing there. Clothing showcase, those young people that are actually constructing garments through their sewing and clothing workshops will be modeling and competing in that way.

Doug Crouse:

Then we have the state 4-H horse show. That is the last animal program that is 4-H related that is held on the fairgrounds and has been close to 55 years. Again, all those competitions will be taking place sometime during the week. So the 4-H staff, they're very busy. Starting Thursday and we work right through Saturday, and that's after spending a week getting that building set up with a lot of exhibits.

Blake Moore:

Are there deadlines coming up to register or enter these events?

Doug Crouse:

Well, the deadlines have passed us. It's always June 1st. That's the deadline to submit all your entries online with the Fair, and then to sign up for any of these competitions. Just spent the last week looking at all of our competition listing and pulling those together and sending them off to my staff so we can get information out to the kids, and that all is happening as we speak. We'll be ready to go on the first day of the Fair.

Doug Crouse:

Then talk about the building, and I know you've asked me before about the building, and we have a lot of exhibits that come into the 4-H building. Typically, in a good normal year, we get almost 20,000 online submissions. Of course the kids have great intentions, but they're not always able to get everything completed that they were planning to. But we still, normally, in a normal year bring almost 10,000 entries just into the 4-H section for that building. We have more exhibits in that building than they do in the rest of the fairgrounds. So we're very proud of that, and if you ever come and see it, it's a great showcase of the 4-H project work that they've done.

Doug Crouse:

This year, because of the online submissions, we're already anticipating our entries being down I would say almost by 50%. We went through many months last year of no programming at all. Our club leaders couldn't be working with the youth. We were able to start some programming in late 2020. We definitely anticipate the decrease, and then again, we'll look forward to the next year, getting back to normal levels. Come to the 4-H building, see all those exhibits, see what the kids have done, what they've learned, what they're able to showcase project work there in the building.

Doug Crouse:

I don't want to leave FFA out there, either, because we share our building with FFA. So they too on their end have their FFA exhibits, various categories that they have. FFA is well known for small and large displays that the school kids work together as teams. I just marvel at the displays that those groups put together. They design them, they lay them out, and then they combinate and spend several days putting some of those big displays together. So it's really a showcase of that type of work too that they'll come down and see. FFA kids members are definitely on the fairgrounds for their CDE, career development events. Several of those are done in conjunction with 4-H, but then they have some others that they do just on their own. So, FFA members are definitely competing all week long, just like the 4-H members are.

Dan Severson:

Do they still have fun and games on the last day of the Fair?

Doug Crouse:

They do. FFA has their games, but then on a different day... That's on Thursday, I think it's on Friday, or Saturday, I should know this, there are the Fair games, and that's any youth on the grounds, 4-H, FFA, or even if they're not a member. They come in and they just play games and they have a great time. A lot of social interaction there. That's the one thing about the Fair. Those kids are there, they're working hard, they're showcasing their work, they're showcasing their animals. But they're also developing strong friendships, and they enjoy the social aspect of the Fair and develop a lot of lifelong friendships for sure.

Dan Severson:

Yeah, you may forget where you placed in that class, but you'll never forget the friends you make during Fair week.

Doug Crouse:

That's exactly right. That is exactly right.

Doug Crouse:

I want to share a great point I think about 4-H and FFA too. We have all our vegetable entries that come in every year, and we used to sit and watch them in the baskets, and every day you'd have to pull out one that's getting a little rotten and you just can't keep it. By the end of the week, you're almost down to nothing. We made a decision several years ago and made a contact with the food bank. We bring those vegetables in just like we always have. We judge them on that first day, both of our departments. We leave one vegetable in each basket to display with the ribbon, and all that excess vegetables are boxed up. The very next morning, they're picked up and taken to the food bank and distributed out to our community.

Doug Crouse:

So talk about evolving two good purposes, youth being able to showcase what they did, then taking that and not wasting it and sharing it with the community. We've done that for several years. I always look forward to that Friday morning when food bank pulls up and the 4-H and FFA kids are loading those excess vegetables on that truck so they can be used by people in our community.

Dan Severson:

Do you do that with the baked goods as well?

Doug Crouse:

We used to. Then for health reasons, we decided that maybe that wasn't the best thing to do. But again, I hated to see the waste.

Dan Severson:

Yeah.

Doug Crouse:

But we did try that, and then we, again, in looking at that a little bit more closely, we decided that maybe wasn't the best option for us to do.

Jake Jones:

That is a great idea though, about the vegetables, donating them though.

Doug Crouse:

Yes, yes.

Jake Jones:

Doug, thank you very much. I think we did a good job hearing about what actually these kids that I see running around the Fair dragging their cows and goats around are doing. I'm excited to understand it more, and I really appreciate it.

Doug Crouse:

I hope to see everyone out to the State Fair, and again, always a pleasure to talk to you guys and help promote the Fair and our youth.

Dan Severson:

Yes sir, thank you.

Blake Moore:

Thank you.

Jake Jones:

Thanks.

Doug Crouse:

Thank you.

Blake Moore:

So it's another great Extension302 podcast with Doug, and letting us know how the Delaware State Fair is going to be this year. It's pretty good that we're going to be able to get back to normal, I suppose, to normal as we can get with the State Fair and us be back in person.

Blake Moore:

So I heard that that Dan and Jake here have been hard at work on the University of Delaware Cooperative Extensions booth in the Department of Agriculture. So, why don't you guys tell us a little bit about that?

Dan Severson:

I guess I represent Newcastle County Extension, and Jake represents King County Extension, and the University of Delaware and Del State or Delaware Extension has a booth there in the DDA building.

Jake Jones:

Yeah, a partnership type booth where we're both going have different staff manning it throughout the Fair. We're going to have a few giveaways, I think a gift basket raffle, so y'all should stop by for that.

Dan Severson:

Yep. QR code you should be able to snap in and take it to a thing to fill out for a gift basket. What was the saying? Passport for Summer Fun?

Jake Jones:

Your Passport for Summer Fun, yep.

Dan Severson:

It's also a good opportunity to come and talk to some of the agents and folks working in the industry, so maybe you don't know exactly who is the area of expertise that you need, and maybe you can find that out by talking to some of us there. I know I have two shifts. You guys are going to do some shifts too. I might be able to put a face with a name. Be good idea.

Jake Jones:

Yeah, I'm going to sign up for one. I need to get on it.

Blake Moore:

Yeah. So we'll be there in person this year manning the booth, and so we encourage you to stop by and check us out. I think I will be there on Tuesday the 26th.

Dan Severson:

Is that Yeti Day?

Blake Moore:

Hold on. It is Yeti Day. It is Yeti Day. Let's get it right. I'm going to double check real quick.

Blake Moore:

Yeah, so you can stop by and see me at the Delaware State Fair on Friday, the 23rd from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Then I'll be back there again on Tuesday, the 27th from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

Dan Severson:

Will you be signing autographs at that time?

Blake Moore:

I can if you want to. I heard that they're worth actually negative. So you would have to actually buy the autograph, and it's not priceless.

Dan Severson:

Dogecoin.

Blake Moore:

There you go. There you go.

Jake Jones:

We're going back to the Fair. I don't know if you guys went. I went last year and it was a little hot wearing my mask around. But what are some of your work appropriate memories?

Dan Severson:

Work appropriate memories, did you say?

Jake Jones:

What happened, Dan?

Dan Severson:

I will man the booth. That's my work appropriate. I grew up at the Fair. I evolved at the Fair. I became me at the Fair. I mean, it's Delaware. That's what you did. That's where, like I said, I met my idols. I work with people who went into the cow industry. The Fair was my life for the longest time. Now with work, it still kind of is. So I have fond, fond, great memories of Fair.

Blake Moore:

Yeah, it's amazing. So my experience, especially not growing up in agriculture, I grew up in the town of Bridgeville. Small town, so I was friends with some farmer's kids, and we drive by farms all the time, maybe stop in, but just didn't really have the understanding that I did until I went to the Fair. That's one of the things we used to love to do is go around and see all the livestock and just see what's going on in Delaware. It's pretty cool stuff. Then also as a kid, you want to ride rides. Every time that we go to the Fair, we know where the Himalaya is.

Dan Severson:

The Himalaya.

Blake Moore:

The Himalaya has been there since I can remember, and it's something I still want to ride as a big, gigantic human being that I am now. Hopefully they don't have a weight limit so I can still get on it.

Dan Severson:

Dude, I remember I used to love rides until one day I watched them one night actually take the rides down. There's one cotter pin and one bolt, and somebody like me putting it together and taking it down? Yeah, I'm skipping the rides, dude.

Blake Moore:

That's part of the intrigue, though.

Dan Severson:

I bet it is. I bet it is. Jake, you got to have something.

Jake Jones:

Yeah, I was always jealous of the kids with their cows over there.

Dan Severson:

Cow jealousy.

Jake Jones:

Cow jealousy, yeah. Because I had cows at home, but I never competed at the Fair. It's still fun to go and watch. I usually try and watch a show or two while I'm there.

Dan Severson:

Were your cows jealous that they didn't get to go?

Jake Jones:

No, I don't think my cows cared, but...

Blake Moore:

For sure. Now it's a great place to grow up as a kid to stop in there and see what Delaware has to offer, especially around agriculture. But then as Doug talked about is making those connections. You go there and meet your friends and walk around for the day. It's funny, I walk around now and you see the teenagers and the young kids who are walking around there and they're having the time of their lives. So it's nostalgic in a way, where we can look back and see how much fun we had.

Dan Severson:

Yeah. I mean, I still hang out with people that I met at the Fair. I mean, I'm still good friends with them. Talk to them pretty much every day. Like I said, it's not the ribbon, it's the people.

Blake Moore:

That's for sure. It's good that 2021 we're going to get closer to normal. We'll be able to be out there and seeing everybody. I'm really looking forward to it, for sure.

Dan Severson:

So trim up, get that hair cut.

Blake Moore:

I'm not getting my hair cut.

Jake Jones:

I'm probably not either.

Dan Severson:

What?

Blake Moore:

No, my beard is grown out. It looks full and fresh, and I'm going to let that keep on going.

Dan Severson:

There you go.

Blake Moore:

Because I got told it looked pretty last night, so I'm going with it.

Dan Severson:

Hey, pretty is a good word.

Dan Severson:

Pretty is a good word.

Blake Moore:

My wife says I have to keep it too.

Dan Severson:

There you go.

Blake Moore:

She carries a little bit of weight.

Dan Severson:

Yeah.

Jake Jones:

Well, look for us at the Delaware State Fair. We'll look forward to seeing you guys there.

Dan Severson:

Yes.

 

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Episode 20: Got Dairy?

(feat. Charmayne Busker of Jenamy Farms)

Milk, cheese, butter...ice cream! What's not to love about local dairy? The Extension302 team sits down with Charmayne Busker and our own Dan Severson to explore their favorite topic.
 

Resources

  • Dairy research at UD - Research focusing on the general areas of dairy nutrition - with an emphasis on forage and silage production and rumen fermentation - and dairy cow health.
  • UDairy Creamery - Educating students by producing and selling premium ice cream made from the milk off the farm of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Delaware.
     

Listen now
 

APPLE PODCASTS SPOTIFY AMAZON
Google Podcasts  IHEARTRADIO  FACEBOOK

or simply listen via Youtube, below!

Video: Got Dairy podcast audio.: youtube.com/watch?v=tYnV4tmPG7k

Episode 20 transcript


Dan Severson:

Welcome to Extension302, where we are dropping knowledge, keeping Extension real, reliable, and relevant. I am Dan Severson along with Dr. Jake Jones and Mr. Blake Moore. Hey guys, this is the first episode that we're all on the same link together. I don't know about you guys, but man, I'm digging this vibe.

Jake Jones:

It's weird, but I'm happy to be here.

Dan Severson:

All right.

Blake Moore:

It's been a long time coming, but here we go, starting getting back towards normal.

Dan Severson:

Yeah. Who would have thought that we'd be so excited to be doing this in June of 2021? You guys?

Blake Moore:

It's just hard to believe that it's been over a year since we've had this to do the podcast, actually sitting in our own homes, in our own rooms, and now we get to do it together. This is awesome.

Jake Jones:

I forgot how to talk to people. It's good practice.

Dan Severson:

Well, so it's June and June is dairy month. Since it is dairy month, we thought, why not talk to a dairy farmer? I could not think of anybody better than our guest today, but Ms. Charmayne Busker of Jenamy Farms in Harrington, Delaware. Ms. Charmayne is involved in the family dairy there. She's Secretary of the Delaware Holstein Association, and anything else related to dairy industry in the State of Delaware, it's all about Ms. Charmayne. Charmayne is like Madonna or Prince or Cher. It's just one name.

Continue reading transcript >

Dan Severson:

If anyone says you need to talk to Charmayne, you just know, right? I've known Ms. Charmayne and her family since I started showing cows. Back in the early eighties, I guess it's when I first met you guys. And the folder that's on my computer for all the Holstein dairy stuff is actually named Charmayne. So, when I need to go to my computer and look for dairy stuff, I like Charmayne. She's a big supporter of our Extension program. And Ms. Charmayne, welcome to Extension302.

Charmayne Busker:

Well, thank you, Danny. It's nice to be with you guys. It makes me feel old when I've watched you all grow up, but we won't go there.

Dan Severson:

Well, you're only like 32.

Charmayne Busker:

That's right. That's absolutely right. Yep. And you guys are still 13, so it's okay.

Dan Severson:

That's right. Since you're known by one name, most music and entertainers, like Madonna and those are known by one name, who's your favorite music artist.

Charmayne Busker:

Oh, that's pretty funny. No. See, I'm too old for that. Well, the cows used to listen to country music.

Dan Severson:

So we'll just say you're a country music fan.

Jake Jones:

Ms. Charmayne, can you give us the current state of the dairy industry? And that's both the positive and negative aspects of it.

Charmayne Busker:

Most farmers are pretty good at talking about doom and gloom. It's certainly been a very challenging last 18 months for us. Just like it's been for every aspect of agriculture in any other business. The challenges with the dairy business don't really change. The biggest challenge right now, for us and probably for any other business, is labor. I think that's what drives an awful lot of the folks that have left the business, it's because labor is a very tough thing to deal with. We continue to deal with really slim margins and then the volatility of prices. We've been through a real tough time with restaurants and schools closing, and a big change the marketing of all kinds of dairy products. And that's been reflected in our prices.

Charmayne Busker:

But you can't stay a dairy farmer unless you are enthused by the opportunity to continue to change things, to be better, to make the margins a little wider. And not a dairy farmer out there that doesn't enjoy working with good cows. And there's a lot of pride in that. And you have to love the business to be in it. That's why some of us are still in it, fewer and fewer all the time, certainly not just in Delaware, but everywhere. But the folks that are still here are doing it because of it's a part of agriculture that they certainly enjoy dealing with.

Dan Severson:

The state of the industry, I guess in Delaware, is we're looking at about 18 dairy farms in the state, 3,800 cows in lactation. We have four creameries, we got Woodside, we have the university, we have [inaudible 00:04:23] and we have Hopkins down there. What kind of breeds of cattle are out there?

Charmayne Busker:

There's a little bit of everything, but predominantly Holsteins in Delaware. The Jerseys compete equally well with Holsteins because they're higher components and solids. And that's one of the reasons in the very beginning that Woodside was so successful because that Jersey milk makes really good ice cream. There are very few of the Swiss or Guernseys. There are a few milking Shorthorns kind of mixed in here. And there're predominantly Holsteins. And then a few Jerseys.

Blake Moore:

It sounds like since the Holsteins are the major breed here in Delaware, it seems like Delaware Holstein Association is there to help dairy farmers in Delaware. Can you explain what the Delaware Holstein Association is, and what people can expect from it?

Charmayne Busker:

Well, Holstein Association is sort of a misnomer these days because we're very inclusive. That was the corporate name way back, and we've certainly just maintained that. But our membership supports whatever dairy folks are out there. I went back and checked because I knew we had just celebrated our hundredth anniversary in 2018. So that Association has been around a hundred years, probably more focused in the beginning with helping folks with supporting registered cattle, registered Holstein cattle. There was a lot of emphasis in the seventies and eighties on marketing. The National Association had a really active marketing association and helping people with buying and selling cattle.

Charmayne Busker:

Our membership right now is probably down to less than 50. The dues are minimal. It gets you a subscription to a quarterly Southeastern area Holstein magazine and a bunch of emails from Charmayne throughout the year about activities. Typically there's an annual Holstein meeting that includes a farm tour. We sponsor a spring dairy show for 4H and FFA, which was postponed last year. Middletown FFA kind of put that together this year on the Cook Farm. That's a primary activity. And then we support the cow camp program that 4H handles and then a bunch of the dairy activities at the fair. It's more a fellowship of dairy farmers that get together to do different things through the year, more so than a marketing organization that helps with registrations or anything like that. Those kinds of things are still sort of handled at the national level. But it's more a commodity organization for the dairy folks.

Blake Moore:

Well, it sounds like you guys do quite a bit of good work for dairy farmers in Delaware. What type of relationship do you have here with Dan, the dairy man, here at Extension? You guys worked together with him quite a bit? And what types of things you guys do?

Charmayne Busker:

Well, I send him all our emails, so he gets all that [inaudible 00:07:36]. And then Danny is a wonderful resource when you need something materials for a cow camp program at the fair, you send them to [inaudible 00:07:48]. Danny is a wonderful resource for us to have.

Blake Moore:

I'm glad to hear that because now we have that on record that Dan does good work.

Dan Severson:

Yeah. I'm not going [inaudible 00:07:56], that utter was ridiculous. And ask Susan, because I think we buried it in her garden afterwards. Speaking of that, you touched on some of the advantages, the fair, do some county shows down there, some 4H shows, fundraising, but one of the big things you guys do is your cow camp. Can you just give us a little bit more things you do there for cow camp and how that all came about?

Charmayne Busker:

Well, that started back in the dark ages before you guys were probably even born. for a couple of years, we had an event here on the farm where kids came and we had a bunch of heifers that were broken to lead and they had the day to get those ready to show. And then we had a little show at night. We did that here for a few years. We did it at the university. I think we were at mom and dad's one year. And then for awhile, that didn't happen. And then back in 2000 or somewhere around in there, we went to the fair with it and turned it into an overnight camp where kids bring in the animal. And we work with them throughout the weekend, with different fitting and showmanship activities.

Charmayne Busker:

But then an awful lot of other educational activities about the dairy industry, whether it's careers or how we develop feeding, we've done a farm finance or monopoly kind of game, just trying to expand it so it includes not just a set of clippers and a wash bucket and a showholder, but it shows kids a lot of other aspects of the dairy industry over that weekend.

Charmayne Busker:

So we've done that for quite a while. Of course, last year we were [COVID'ed 00:09:38] out. And it sounds like this year on just Saturday, July 3rd, we're looking at the possibility of putting together just a single day workshop where we'd have... Kids wouldn't bring their calves, but we would have a few animals here and work through some different educational workshops through the day. So that's still kind of up in the air, like so many things that we're working through this year. But hopefully that'll be back again next year. We've had as many as 65 kids there for that, which is too many, but a group of 30 or 40 makes for a really great weekend and learning experience for the kids. And we certainly enjoy supporting that.

Dan Severson:

I remember cow camp, Ms. Charmayne, because I remember going to your place. It was the first time I've ever... I think my dad took me out your place. That was the first cow camp I ever went to. I don't remember how old I was, but it had to be '83. It was a great-

Charmayne Busker:

Right. Yeah. Could have been.

Dan Severson:

[crosstalk 00:10:49] in my career path, I guess.

Charmayne Busker:

And then we had to come back as a judge. So see what happens, right?

Dan Severson:

Yeah. It's in your blood, you get hooked. They won't let you go.

Jake Jones:

Ms. Charmayne, can you tell us about the Delaware Dairy Princess, exactly what that is and who's eligible and the whole process, I guess? I've seen it in the paper once in a while, but I'd like you to walk us through it, if you would.

Charmayne Busker:

Actually set it up just as another marketing avenue for the dairy industry to support. Each year, they select a young lady that's willing to spend some time promoting the dairy industry to groups that don't often see that connection. Typically they spend a lot of time doing day camps. They go into some schools, whatever opportunities they have to have an audience that they can speak to and talk about the benefits of dairy products in everybody's diet and also to provide some learning experiences for folks about the dairy business. That one goes back to 19... over 50 years ago. [Anne Sheetz 00:12:03] was the first dairy princess in 1969.

Charmayne Busker:

The current princess is [Bethany Knutson 00:12:11], and Bethany is doing something interesting this summer. Half a dozen, I think, dates they've set up where they're going to have an on-farm camp that she's hosting and have kids come to the Knutson's farm and spend a day on the farm milking cows and doing all different kinds of things. But certainly that's something that she's doing as as an outreach to explain to other people that don't spend time on farms, kind of what it's like day to day. So that's kind of a neat program that she started.

Charmayne Busker:

They're also available as speakers or presenters, if folks have a need for something like that. And then she'll certainly be very visible at the fair presenting awards and doing some other promotion activities at the fair. But it's just a very traditional program that's been in place for a long time that lets young ladies promote the dairy industry. Eligibility is anybody 16 and up. And I don't think there are... You don't have to grow up on a farm, you don't have to live on a farm. You just have to be willing to understand the material and be willing to promote the dairy industry. [Laura Emerson Greer 00:13:38] is the coordinator of all that. So if there are some folks that are interested in learning more about it, the contest is typically in the spring. For the last few years, it's been in conjunction with the Holstein annual meeting. So it would be something in the spring of '22, but Laura would be the contact for that.

Jake Jones:

Well, that sounds like an important program for the industry and for those young people who are getting practice as becoming advocates for agriculture. So I think it's a pretty good program and hopefully people will look into that and get up with [Laura Emerson Greer 00:14:17] if they need more information. So I did have another question. What kind of fundraising do you do at the state fair?

Charmayne Busker:

It's all about tradition, right? We have had a calf raffle program. I don't know how long ago that went into place. But anyway, fun thing at the state fair, we have a fairly young calf, a couple months old maybe, and it's right there for folks to walk by. And then they have the opportunity to buy a raffle ticket. At the end of the week on Saturday night, we'll draw the winner of the raffle ticket. And then those folks would have the opportunity to take the calf if they want, or there's also a cash option. It's just a wonderful fundraising opportunity for the Holstein Association because the tickets are a dollar and tugging on mom or dad, please, please, please buy a ticket. I want to take that calf home. The reality of it is that an awful lot of the time, the winner of the calf is someone that has a place to put it. And then when that doesn't happen and then people selected the calf, we've had ways to work that out or find somebody to buy it or whatever. But typically we can... we certainly didn't do it last year. Not sure how it's going to be handled this year, but it's been an ongoing source of income for the association for a very long time.

Jake Jones:

That's neat. I remember seeing that calf at the fair.

Charmayne Busker:

Danny Severson has never won that calf. I don't know if he's not bought enough tickets or what-

Dan Severson:

Because it's a Holstein. I don't want a Holstein. Put a Jersey out there.

Charmayne Busker:

Branch out there, a little bit, Mr. Severson.

Dan Severson:

You all Holstein breeders need to branch out a little bit.

Blake Moore:

I'm sure we could do a whole episode just on the back and forth between that. So it sounds like you've been involved your entire life in the dairy industry here in Delaware, and you're a great ally to the industry. We really appreciate you joining us today. And I don't have a ton of experience around agriculture throughout my life, but I can tell you, I've had plenty of experience with dairy. It's in my daily life, whether it's at breakfast, whether it's dessert, it's just all around us. And we want to make sure that we help raise up the industry here. What is the take home message for either the dairy industry in Delaware and for the general public in Delaware that you would like to give?

Charmayne Busker:

Well, I certainly appreciate your perspective on that, that there's always milk at the table when you sit down and that's what we need for our part of agriculture, just like any other, to survive. It's now a supply and demand issue. And for us to be profitable, there needs to be a demand for our product. So dairy farmers have been very successful in learning how to be excellent producers of the product [inaudible 00:17:27] that we can ramp up production. And we've been able to be very successful at producing an abundance of the product. We need to be more successful at creating demand on the consumer side for that product. And that's a challenge that we face every day.

Blake Moore:

Ms. Charmayne, we really appreciate it. Well, I hope you all enjoyed listening to Charmayne talk about the dairy industry here in Delaware. And then we still have Dan the dairy man here with us on Extension302. So Dan, just tell us a little bit more about Dairy Month and how it came to be and why it's so important.

Dan Severson:

Dairy farmers, they get their milk check, but out of every a hundred weight of milk, they get a checkoff dollars are pulled out. So they take some of this checkoff dollars and it's used to help promote the dairy industry, dairy products and combat the imitation almond milk and soy milk. But getting back to your point of the question is, Dairy Month was originally established it as a grocery milk promotion in 1937, as National Milk Month. And it was like I said, to promote dairy when production was at surplus, because you're thinking of May, June what's happened? You got green up. Green up equals forage for these cows, which equals abundance of milk, which milk of plenty. So you got schools out, you got all this milk, they were just finding a way to get rid of surplus milk, and plus it's very nutritious for us. So 1939, they established it as National Dairy Month. I know, it's a little bit of useless knowledge, but it's kind of useful for today.

Blake Moore:

I think it's great knowledge. And I also liken it to things like, I mean, I can think of some of the things back in the day that got me drinking more milk. It was the milk mustache or, "Milk, it does a body good", those types of things.

Dan Severson:

Got milk, so simple.

Blake Moore:

Yeah, exactly.

Dan Severson:

Now, it's Fuel Up 60 or something like that. Yeah, yeah.

Blake Moore:

So it seems like a lot goes into promoting the dairy industry and it's kind of strange that it's struggling right now. And is that kind of the imitation milk is... Do you think that's one of the main reasons why we're dealing with that right now?

Dan Severson:

Imitation milk or non dairy products are always going to have a part on the shelf. They're always going to have a percentage of the sales visit. Is that the problem with the dairy industry? In my honest opinion, no. I think if the USDA would follow up with their definition of what milk is and follow the law of the definition, then it can't be soy milk, it can't be almond milk because milk comes from a lactational animal, a mammal.

Dan Severson:

So it all depends on that, but I think the biggest issue we're dealing with is, it's hard work. People don't want to do it. Labor's an issue. Regulations are an issue. The pricing system we have, as far as farmers are getting paid for milk, needs to be reevaluated. There's tons of issues. And I'm pretty sure I can spend a whole podcast on my opinions, but I don't have any skin in the game. That's up for the dairy farmers to decide.I'm just there to help them when I can, man.

Blake Moore:

It seems like you're doing a pretty good job. You got the respect of the industry here in Delaware so far. Everybody knows Danny.

Dan Severson:

If you do call me Danny, that means you have known me a long time.

Jake Jones:

Well, the labor issues aren't just in dairy. So maybe that's a topic we should cover in another episode. Labor issues in agriculture.

Dan Severson:

I think you nailed it there, Jake. Vegetables, crops, chicken. Yeah. Every industry is hurting for labor. Period. During what we're going through. There's plenty of jobs out there, just can't fill them.

Blake Moore:

Well, I know this, I know that the dairy industry to be successful because I got to have my ice cream and I have to have my milk in my cereal because I'm not going to be like the movie Friday and put some water on that stuff.

Dan Severson:

Yeah, though, you don't want to be like Craig [inaudible 00:21:16] Friday. No, but I'll tell you what Delaware in the dairy industry, we're losing cows, we're losing farms. But I'll tell you what, we've got some of the best ice cream, we've got one of the best ice cream trails you can think of.

Blake Moore:

I was going to say, how impactful has that been, having creameries reason and having that agritourism? Has that kind of help keep the dairy industry alive?

Dan Severson:

I will let the farmers that have their creameries speak for that, but the testament to them, if it didn't work, we wouldn't have four of them.

Blake Moore:

Got that right.

Dan Severson:

So somebody is doing something right.

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Episode 19: All about that Pasture

(feat. Dr. Amanda Grev, UMD Extension Specialist, Forages and Pasture Management)

Find out what plants you should use, how to identify and manage a healthy pasture, and learn the industry jargon you need to know!

 

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Video: All about that Pasture podcast episode: youtube.com/watch?v=_uQzDYdDOqw

Episode 19 transcript
 

Blake Moore:

Hello, my name is Blake Moore, Natural Resource's Extension agent.

Dan Severson:

Hey, I'm Dan Severson, AG agent.

Jake Jones:

Hi, I'm Jake Jones, Kent county AG agent for the University of Delaware cooperative Extension. Welcome to Extension 302.

Dan Severson:

Welcome to Extension 302, we are dropping knowledge, keeping Extension real reliable and relevant. I'm Dan Severson and with me today is snakes.

Why does it have to be snakes, Dr. Jake Jones? I thought I saw him once, but it turned out to be a Yeti. Mr. Blake Moore, our special guest is winner. You call this a winner, Dr. Amanda Grev, and we're going to talk about why the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Hello and welcome.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Thank you for the welcome and thank you for having me today.

Dr. Grev joined the University of Maryland in 2019 and is the pasture management specialist at the University of Maryland, Western Maryland research and education center. Originally from Minnesota, she completed her undergraduate degree at North Dakota State University with a double major in equine and animal science. The Bisons have a real good football team, and they just got knocked out of playoffs by Sam Houston state. And you know, who is the coach at Sam Houston, state Casey Keeler, and Keeler used to be the football coach here at UD. Let's get back to Amanda. She also has a master's and a PhD in animal science from the University of Minnesota, where her research focused on the interaction between animal nutrition, forages, and pasture management. She's currently sitting on the board of directors for the Maryland-Delaware forage council. Dr. Crab, you went from being a bison to a golden gopher, and now a Terrapinn. Out of those mascots, who would win in a foot race and please explain your answer?

Dr. Amanda Grev:

That's a great question. I think I would have to say the bison because I'm pretty sure they're going to be a lot faster than the gopher, the Terrapins, and also have to say they're a little bit more intimidating when it comes to mascots for sports and stuff.

...

Continue reading transcript >

Dan Severson:

Okay. I was going with the turtle, the Tortoise and the Hare.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

True. I guess it depends what kind of race you have. Is this a sprint or is it a long distance marathon?

Jake Jones:

So Dr. Grev, can you tell us what the ideal pasture would look like to you?

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Yeah, so that's a great question and a really good place to start. I think that the ideal pasture of course, will depend a little bit on your individual situation. You know, what kind of livestock you have, your location, your soil type and things like that.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

As a whole, or in general, an ideal pasture is going to be one that is growing well and producing good yields of high quality forage because that's the point of having a pasture, right? We want good forage for our livestock or animals to eat. So, the ideal pasture besides being, good yielding and high in quality, we're also going to look for things like good ground cover. So, little to no overgrazing or minimal bare spots throughout the field. A good or ideal pasture will be relatively weed free. So, no toxic weeds or plants present that might cause problems for the livestock. Then, we also have to think about what's going on below ground or below the surface of the soil. So, we want to see good growth below ground, good root growth that can get those plans through drought or other hard times and good healthy soils with good soil bacteria present. So we want kind of that whole picture of a healthy pasture.

When you have a healthy pasture here in Delaware and Maryland, what are some of the species of grasses and maybe some legumes that will make up a healthy pasture?

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Yeah, so it kind of gets overwhelming I think for a lot of people because there are really a lot of different species when it comes to grasses and legumes and even expanding into other things like brassica or forbes. When it comes down to it, there are a handful of ones that are more common, that we see in this kind of Mid-Atlantic region. We have a lot of cool season forages here so those are forges that grow better in the cooler wetter weather. They have a lot of growth in the spring and in the fall of the year and some of the common ones that we see, in this region are things like orchard grass, tall fescue, timothy, kentucky bluegrass, maybe some brome grass in there. Those are a lot of the common cool season grasses. From a legume standpoint, some of our most common cool season legumes would be things like alfalfa, red clover, white clover, maybe some birds foot tree foil.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Those are kind of the predominant perennial species that we see. Then you also might see as you're driving around, or as you're thinking about forages for your pasture, you might see some annual forges or hear about people planting annual forages for pasture. This is becoming more of a common thing to do, having a certain area of your pasture that you plan to annual forges. It could be summer annual forages like a sudan grass or a millet. There are also winter annuals that people use for grazing things like triticale or crimson clover. So really there's a lot of opportunity in a lot of different species to choose from. So, it really depends a lot on your conditions and your soil type and what's going to work best for your operation.

Jake Jones:

So how many months out of the year do you expect most pastures to be able to accommodate livestock?

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Yeah, so that is kind of a loaded question because it's going to be really weather dependent. In order to have a really productive pasture, one of the things that we also need to rely on is mother nature. We need rain to make those forages grow, but I would say in this region, usually at least for our perennial species and we can expect to start grazing sometime around like March or April timeframe and we'll get a lot of growth in that spring season.

Again, because we have a lot of those cool season forages here. So we'll probably have more growth than we can even use in that spring season. Those forages will probably go through just a little bit of a summer slump in the summer as things heat up. They kind of go through a little bit of a summer dormancy. We'll see a little bit less growth during those hot summer months, and then we'll see more growth happening in the fall when things cool off again and we usually have a little bit more rain. Depending on your management and if you use any other strategies like stockpiling, which I think we're going to talk about a little bit later, you can extend that grazing season easily into the fall or late fall months, sometimes even into the winter, if you're incorporating different forges and doing a good job with your stockpiling.

 Jake Jones:

So Dr. Grev, you mentioned weeds. Weeds are there too. They're part of the population in the pasture. What are some of the common problem weeds we have and how can we manage these weeds in our pasture setting?

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Yeah, so we get a lot of questions on different weeds that people are seeing in their pastures and really this fluctuates depending on the time of year. So just like our forges have different periods where they grow better or when they're dormant. Different weeds have different growth schedules as well. So this time of year when we're kind of in the spring to starting to get into the early summer, what we're seeing out there is a lot of our winter annual weeds. So things like, our common chickweed purple dead nettle, the purple weed that you see out in those fields as you're driving around. We've been seeing a lot of penny crests or you might see some of the mustard species, those kind of tall growing ones with the yellow flowers. Then as we kind of reached the end of the life cycle for those winter annual weeds, we'll probably start seeing some more of the summer annuals popping up.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

So, we have a few of the kind of summer annual grasses, like crab grass or fox tail that might be coming up. Some of our other summer weeds that we may start seeing a little bit more are things like lambsquarter or pigweed showing up as the weather starts to heat up a little bit. Then of course, we also have weeds that have kind of more of a perennial life cycle. So these are more of a year round presence and we have common ones that you'll see everywhere, like a Dandelion or Canada Thistle. Buttercup is a really common question and a lot of people notice those pretty yellow flowers out in their field. Things like that are kind of more of the perennial species that we commonly see in this area.

Jake Jones:

What about toxic plants? Are there some toxic plants out there we should be aware of, especially dealing with livestock?

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Yeah, so there are a few toxic plants that we should kind of be on the lookout for. It depends a little bit on the plant and also on the management system that you have set up. So for example, Buttercup is a really common weed, like we just said, and it does have some toxic properties, but for the most part, our animals will avoid it as long as they have other forages available and really this kind of holds true for a lot of our more toxic weeds. So, some of the more common kind of toxic weeds are things like Jimsonweed, Milkweed, Nightshade, maybe Poison Hemlock. But again, a lot of times if we have other forages available to those animals, they'll tend to avoid it most of the time, but not always.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

So I think I kind of skipped over actually management and when it comes to management, of course there are a lot of different ways to control weeds, both for the toxic ones and the non toxic other weeds. The real thing to remember is that these weeds are all very opportunistic, right? So they'll see a hole in that pasture, they'll see an opportunity and they'll go for it. People like to say that mother nature doesn't like any bare earth showing, right?

Dr. Amanda Grev:

So really when it comes down to it, kind of the best method for weed control is going to be out competing those weeds with a really healthy, dense stand of desirable forages. So, if you're having a lot of weed issues and you're seeing a lot of these weeds popping up into your field, yes, you should and can look into control options, but also think about the reason behind those issues. So, is your field a little bit overgrazed? Is it in need of fertilizer or other renovations? Really, these issues are going to be needing to be corrected in order for you to fully kind of eliminate those weed problems.

Jake Jones:

Dr. Grev, can you give some indicators or signs of a good pasture versus a bad pasture?

Dr. Amanda Grev:

When we think about a good pasture, I kind of alluded to this a little bit at the beginning, but a good pasture is going to be one that has good vegetative cover. So we have a thick, dense stand and not a lot of thin areas or bare spots. A good pasture is going to be one that has a high percentage of desirable forages. So, things that we want to see in our pasture, like some of those cool season grasses and legumes, we talked about a little bit earlier. A good pasture is going to have good vigor and good regrowth following a grazing bout, after those animals have maybe moved on to a different area. We get good regrowth from the area where they just grazed and we're going to have good forage diversity. So, we're going to have a mixture of species present some different grasses and different legumes, and that will help keep that pasture healthy and strong.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

On the flip side of that, bad pasture is going to be one that is more short, maybe overgrazed, the stand is going to be thinner, patchier. We'll probably see some bare spots. We might see some signs of soil erosion present in different areas and a bad pasture is also going to have a much higher percentage of undesirable species or weeds. So some of those weeds that we just listed or other undesirable species, a higher percentage of that is indicative of a pasture that's a little bit worse for the ware.

Jake Jones:

Why is it important that we keep our pastures healthy? Can you give us some information as to why we need to look for our good, keep our pastures in good shape?

Dr. Amanda Grev:

A healthy pasture is important really because it comes down to providing good quality forage for our livestock. You know, again, that's really the point of why we have pasture, right, is to be a good feed source for our livestock. So, we want a lot of good quality forage for our livestock to consume and this will help limit the need for feeding of hay or other supplemental feeds that we might need to add. If we can provide a lot of that nutrition from the pasture itself, we won't have to purchase other feed sources for those livestock. The other thing for a healthy pasture, is that a good, healthy pasture will also have more longterm and better integrity in the longterm. So, the lifespan of that pasture will be longer. It will be productive for a longer term and it will really build up kind of the soil and limit things like erosion or nutrient losses that we're trying to avoid.

Jake Jones:

Whenever we're speaking about pastures and anything to deal with agriculture, there's always a lot of professional jargon that we use and buzzwords that some of the listeners who aren't heavily in the agricultural sector may not know. So, what are some of the jargon that you use in reference to pasture such as animal units, rotational grazing, stock density, stockpiling, things like that.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Yeah, so we do have a lot of terms that can get kind of confusing for people especially if you're just getting started. So, we'll go through kind of a couple of the main ones. So, if we start with animal units, basically the point behind this is there are different sized animals. As we know, for example, an 800 pound cow is going to be consuming a different amount of forage than a 1200 pound animal. So, in order to standardize this, we use something called animal units. So, one animal unit is basically the equivalent of a mature animal that's around 1000 pounds. So, if we have one mature 1000 pound cow, that gives us one animal unit. If we have a smaller animal, maybe a yearling heifer, that's 500 pounds, we'll have 0.5 animal units.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

It's just a way to kind of standardize based on different sizes, different weights so we can kind of equivalate those animals and their intake a little bit better. I think the next one that you said was rotational grazing. So, rotational grazing is basically the practice of subdividing one larger field or larger pasture into smaller areas and rotating our livestock or our grazing animals through each of those smaller areas. From paddock to paddock or from area to area and keep them out of the other areas so that those other areas have a chance to rest. So it kind of, as the name applies, rotating our animals through that area. Docking density is kind of to relate the number of animals that we have to amount of acreage or the amount of area that we have.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

There's really kind of two different terms that are tied into kind of stocking density. One is stocking rate, which is easy to confuse with stocking density, but basically stocking rate is our entire number of animals on the entire area for the entire season. So, if we have a 100 acre farm and we have 80 cows on there, we have 80 animals per 100 acres. That's our total stocking rate. The stocking density is to kind of look a little bit more specifically at a time point within that entire season, instead of the number of animals on the area across the whole season, It's the number of animals on a specific area for a specific period of time. So, this is where this is kind of more tied with that rotational grazing, as you're rotating, you may have those 80 cows on just a portion of your entire acreage. So the stocking density number will usually be a little bit higher because you're looking at just that specific moment in time compared to kind of the entire grazing season as a whole.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Then finally, the other one that you had mentioned was stockpiling, and basically stockpiling is kind of allowing our forage to accumulate in order to graze it at a later period or later on. So, a lot of times as we kind of mentioned earlier, this is done in the fall, so we can stockpile forges in the fall. We can set certain pastures aside and not graze them and allow that for it to accumulate and then graze it at a later time point. So, maybe later in that fall or in the wintertime, after those forges have gone dormant, we'll have standing forage in that field for those livestock to graze, even though the grasses aren't actively growing anymore.

 Dan Severson:

It's springtime and grass here is growing like crazy. Can you discuss some of the best management practices for our pastures? I mean, such as mowing, baling, fertilizing, clipping, dragging. It's go time right now.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

There's a lot to be done when it comes to pasture management, but I think what I'll do is kind of break it down into a few of the key kind of best management practices. So, we're going to start off kind of below the soil surface. So, one of the first things we want to do is look at the soil fertility. So, if you're not sure of the fertility status of your soil, taking a soil test is always the best place to start there. We know that soil fertility plays a role in a whole bunch of different factors. You know, the root growth of our forage, the nutrient uptake, how much yield we're going to get, how long that stand is going to last, all of these things can have an impact or can be impacted by our soil fertility. So a couple of things to look at when it comes to soil fertility are the soil pH.

We know that the soil pH is going to affect the availability of the other minerals. So, we want to kind of keep that pH in an optimum range, which for most of our kind of cool season is somewhere between the 6-7 pH range. Then we're going to take a look at that soil test that we've done, and we're going to see what of the other nutrients are limiting or low in supply and we're going to supply those nutrients as needed. You know, some of the common nutrients are things like phosphorus, potassium, but it's really important to see the status of our soil. So we know whether or not we need to apply those nutrients.

Then for pasture in particular and for grazing, one of the advantages is we know that a lot of our soil nutrients are recycled through those animals.So those animals are consuming nutrients as they consume that forage and they're recycling that back out in their manure and their urine. Another question is how uniformly are they distributing those nutrients across the field? You know, they've done studies that have looked at the distribution of manure across a field and in a continuous grazing system, it can take 20 plus years for, to get a manure pile or a redistribution of manure across every square yard in that field. This can be decreased substantially if we're using some of those good practices like rotational grazing, we can get that down to only a year or two to get one manure pile per square yard.

So that's really, the second kind of key thing is using something like rotational grazing. We're, we already kind of defined rotational grazing, but we're controlling the amount of time that the animals spend in that one given area. So that in the rest of the areas, the forages, the water, the soil can all have time to recover, regrow, rejuvenate and this also gives us that advantage of having a little bit more, even grazing. A little bit more even manure distribution.

The third kind of key is allowing for adequate rest, which goes kind of hand in hand with rotational grazing. In a continuous system, so where the animals have access to the entire field, for that entire time or entire season, those animals are going to kind of go back and repeatedly graze a lot of the plants every three to seven days. This is really detrimental for the health of that plant. So, what we really need to do is allow those plants time to rest by using rotational grazing. This gives them the time that they need to kind of regenerate their carbohydrate reserves, allow the roots to regenerate and redevelop so those plants can remain strong and continue growing throughout the season.

You mentioned things like mowing or clipping. So, one of the other kind of keys, especially this time of year, is to try and keep our pastures in more of a vegetative state. So less mature, more leafy. Those forges are going to be higher in quality if they are kept kind of more in that vegetative or actively growing state. And we know that animal preferences vary and this often results in different variations throughout the field. So, you can use things like mowing or clipping to help keep your pastures in that vegetative state and help keep them kind of actively growing.

If you have more forage you can handle, especially, again, this time of year when things are growing really rapidly, some people like to set aside a pasture or a field or two and actually make one cutting of hay off of that field. So, fill that forage up and save it for later use to kind of help them stay on top of the rapidly growing forages.

Then the final thing that I'd like everyone to kind of keep in mind is making sure that we're keeping some green greenleaf material there in the field. You know, really when it's time for regrowth, plants get their energy for regrowth from kind of one of two main areas. So, we have the amount of leaf area remaining on that plant that can continue to photosynthesize and produce energy for that plant and we have stored carbohydrates in that plant. So, if we're grazing our forages really low, or we're cutting our forages really low with a mower, there's not only, less leaf material remaining in that field for photosynthesis, but there's also less stored carbohydrates remaining. A lot of those cool season forages store, much of their carbohydrates in the lower 3-4 inches of the stem. So, if we're eating that forage down to the dirt, we're really depleting that plant of its energy source.

So, if we use a little bit higher grazing height, we leave a little bit more in the field. There's going to be a little bit more leaf area remaining for photosynthesis. There's going to be a little bit more stored carbohydrates remaining and those plants are going to really bounce back faster and be healthier and more productive kind of in the longterm. So, that's where you hear that kind of rule of thumb when it comes to grazing, take half leave half or, takes grass to grow grass. Those kinds of sayings are ways to remind people that we really don't want to be overgrazing or grazing our fields too short.

 Dan Severson:

That's a good reason to know what you actually have in your pasture, as far as your species, because growing points are different between species, legumes and grasses. Correct?

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Exactly. Yep. So, legumes like alfalfa tend to store kind of more of their energy down in the roots. So, if you have an all alfalfa hay field, you can cut that field a little bit lower compared to something like a cool season grass like orchard grass, which really relies on the base of that stem as the storage point for that plant. So, it's important to know, like Dan said, what species we have and how we need to manage those species appropriately. So they will succeed.

Jake Jones:

We know how an agricultural important that is. How often do you recommend pasture management to do the soil test? And if they do it every several years, what are some, are there some visual signs that your pH is off since so important?

Dr. Amanda Grev:

The answer will vary a little bit on kind of if you're just getting going in the management process and kind of working towards building things up, or if you really have an established routine and a rhythm down. So soil testing, you can do often as you'd like. Most people do somewhere between every year to every three years. So, if you have like I said, an established field and it's been productive, it's doing pretty well and you only want a soil test, every couple of years to kind of check on things, that is perfectly acceptable.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

If you have a field that you're trying to renovate, you're trying to increase the production of that field, you might want to keep a little bit closer, eye on it and do it maybe every year, just for a little while or at least to start with. Then, for other things that you can kind of keep an eye on in between, like I said, that there are different, visual cues that we can look at in a pasture, how well that pasture is producing is a good indicator. If we have areas of the field that are turning really yellow, that can be an indicator of a lack of nitrogen supply to those forges. There are signs that we can look for, for specific deficiencies, if we're worried about a given thing.

Jake Jones:

Is there any particular plants that show up if like the pH is low, if you have an acidic soil?

Katie Young:

Yeah. So, that's another thing where, we talked about weed management and weed control. A lot of our weeds are kind of more undesirable forges that thrive, or do better at a lower soil pH or a lower soil fertility. So where something desirable like orchard grass might not be able to thrive, some of those weeds can do well at a low pH.For example, we mentioned buttercup earlier, buttercup is a forage that, or a weed that tends to do well on more of a poor fertility soil or an overgrazed soil. So, that can be an indicator.

Katie Young:

Another common one that we may see is something like broomsedge. Broomsedge does well also on a lower pH soil or a more poor fertility soil. So, if you're seeing a lot of those kind of weeds or weedy grasses showing up, that can be a clue that you need to be doing some checking on your soil fertility.

Jake Jones:

Now I'm sure listeners are thinking about their own pastures and deciding whether or not they're falling in a healthy or unhealthy type of category. So, can you give, can you give us an idea of how to know if your pasture needs renovation and then describe the process of renovating your pasture?

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Kind of to start off really, there are a few really common causes for low productivity. One, is a lack of adequate fertility, which we kind of just talked about. Another is poor grazing management, which we've also kind of talked about a little bit. The third is kind of unproductive species. So you don't have kind of the right species to thrive in your environment or your soil type, but referring back to kind of what we said earlier, when it comes to renovation, this can mean reseeding or kind of redoing a pasture, but it can also mean just making improvements in our management. So, if our pasture is not doing well because we're using poor grazing management, changing that alone can really help renovate that field and get it back to kind of a more productive state.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

So again, keep in mind some of the reasons behind why you may be thinking your pressure needs some renovation and what may be causing that. When it comes to deciding if it's time to renovate or not, there are some methods that we can use to kind of assess the condition of our fields. I highly suggest using something that's more quantifiable or measurable where you can assign a number or a score to that field. That allows you to do that assessment on several different fields and maybe compare them against each other to See which one is the worst and etc.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

So, a couple of the options for different methods that we can look at are something called the step point method, which you may have heard of before. If you haven't, basically this involves walking through each pasture in kind of a random zigzag pattern and noting what species is growing or if there's a bare spot that there's bare dirt at different locations throughout the pasture. So, for example, you zigzag your way across the field and say every 20 steps you stop and look down at the toe of your shoe and make a note of what exact forage species is growing there. Is it a white clover plant, is it an orchard grass, is it a weed, is it a bare spot? You do this for say 100 different places throughout the field and you can actually calculate the percentage then of desirable forage species, the percentage of weed spots, the percentage of bare dirt and get an idea of kind of the cover throughout that field.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Another common guide or measure for assessment that a lot of people like to look at is the NRCS has something called "the Guide to Pasture Condition Scoring." This includes something similar to the step point method where it looks at the plant cover and the percent of desirable forges in that field. But, it also includes things like plant diversity, the vigor of that field, the percentage of legumes or different forges, signs for erosion. There's kind of 10 different indicators and there's scoring on there so you can score each of your fields for each of those 10 different indicators and come up with a final score and kind of make that decision if that field is going to need some renovation or not.

Jake Jones:

I like that way of thinking, if you change your practices, it can be considered a renovation. Because when I, when I was asking the question, I was thinking of like a dramatic receding and everything, but I like that if you just change some of your management practices, it can actually benefit the pasture pretty easily.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Yeah. Yeah. A little bit of good management can really go a long way. Of course, there are times when we do need that full kind of receding or that kind of big renovation process to happen. Periodically, You know, this is a thing to do. So, when it does come time to do that actual renovation process, there're several steps that you kind of want to go through and check off your list as you're going through the renovation process.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

First and foremost would be to check the soil fertility. Again, that's kind of a big underlying cause for a lot of things. So, if it is off, we want to correct that before we're planting our new pasture or new seeding into that because that's going to affect how those seedlings are going to grow. So that's always the first thing to check.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

The second thing is to look at weeds. If we need to control some weeds or do some weed control measures before we get to the seeding stage, that's important because again, we don't want those weeds to out-compete those new seedlings. We want to give those seedlings the best opportunity that we can for them to grow and thrive in that field. Selecting well adapted species is important. So, when it comes time to renovation and you're looking at options for things to plant and we really want to kind of match the forges and their different growth types to our soil and our site characteristics. It can be a little bit overwhelming to try to do, but its important things to really consider as we're choosing a forage species for our different pastures or different fields.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

When it comes time to the actual seeding to happen, one of the things that's really important, especially if you're using a no-till seeding or using a no-till drill, is to graze or clip that field really closely or really tightly to kind of suppress that existing vegetation. So this is, I always kind of chuckle a little bit when I say that, because this is really the only time you'll ever hear, a forage specialist or a pasture person say to overgraze or clip something close, but the point of that is to kind of suppress what's there so we can again offer opportunity for those new seedlings to grow and to thrive in that field.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Now, if you're using a tillage or more of a conventionally prepared seed bed, then of course you want to be sure to prepare the proper seed bed. You know, we want that soil to be firm, not overworked, not too many clods, but not too soft, kind of find that nice, like happy, happy medium balance for that.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

And then for seeding, they always say things like seed at the proper time, seed at the proper rates, seed at the proper depth. So, it's really important that we're looking at the timing for our Mid-Atlantic region. When we're looking at cool season forages, at least, usually the best time to seed is sometime in that mid August to mid September timeframe, maybe a little bit earlier if you're more Southern Maryland, on the shore, or over that way. A little bit on the later side if you're more towards the Western side of the region. Then, for the proper rate and the proper depth that all comes down to drill calibration. So, choose the proper rate depending on what you're going to plant and make sure you're calibrating that drill. Don't just go by the chart that says a recommendation because there is so much variability in seeds, seed size, seed weight, seed coatings. So really, it's important to check the drill and make sure that we're calibrating that for both seeding rate and seeding depth.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Then the final step, is to manage it once we've established it. So if you seed a new field and four weeks later, you see some growth out there and you decide to turn your livestock out on that field to graze, those seedlings aren't going to do very well and they're not going to last very long because they haven't had time to really establish and set down good roots. So, we really need to manage carefully that new seeding and that established seeding and let those forages grow and really get some good roots established well in advance of letting animals graze that field.

Jake Jones:

Pastures are, are a living resource. And it seems like throughout this podcast, we've mentioned that with proper management, with the proper timing on management, there's a certain resiliency there that helps pastures last longer than they might If the timing's off. We've also talked about how mother nature has a lot to do with it. So, each year is going to be different whether it's precipitation, whether it's temperature. All of those different types of things. So where is it that pasture managers can go to find out up to date information on when they should be doing what?

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Yeah, so when it comes to kind of timely resources, that's where you can start to look to your local Extension office. It's going to kind of rely on your Extension agents as a resource. If you're looking for kind of more printed things, I know both the University of Maryland Extension and the University of Delaware Extension submits or puts out several newsletters that have kind of timely articles depending on the month or the week or the time of year. I also manage a Facebook page that's called Maryland Forges and I try to post timely tips on the Facebook page. So things you should be doing kind of at different times of the year, considerations and other suggestions, or helpful information on there. So, there's a lot of different resources that you can look to in Extension and in other, in other ways.

 Dan Severson:

Dr. Grev, if you're not a very good pasture manager, I know the Maryland Delaware Forge Council has a hay directory that you can go to, to possibly purchase or maybe if you become a member you can list take, is that correct? And can you give us any take home messages to wrap this up?

Dr. Amanda Grev:

The Maryland Delaware Forage Council is another great resource. They have a website online where they post newsletter articles and also, other timely information. We did just start a hay directory on the website. So we will have, hay listings, hay that's available for sale posted on there and if you're a member of the council, you are able to list your hay or post your hay as an option for selling it, for looking for customers. So that's a really great resource and then again, of course your local Extension office, the University of Maryland actually just redid their entire Extension website and we now have a forage Extension page that myself and several others are managing. So, it's brand new. There is some content on there, but we will be adding a lot more in the upcoming months. So, check that out as a resource.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

I mentioned the Maryland Forages page on Facebook. There's also a YouTube channel that's associated with that where we have videos from past webinars, forage conferences, different things as a source for kind of helpful information and a resource for you to use as you would like.

Dr. Amanda Grev:

Then when it comes to a summary or a take home message, I guess I would say that good pasture management really does require good management. You can't just leave it and expect it to grow and continue to do well on its own. If you could kind of wrap everything that we said up into three kind of main keys or three takeaways, I would say, ensure that you have good soil fertility and that you're supplying those nutrients that are needed to those plants. Use some sort of rotational grazing that allows those pastures to rest and helps in multiple other ways. Then finally, make sure that you're not overgrazing or grazing those forages too short, but that you're leaving enough residual matter for those forges to be able to continue to photosynthesize and regrow quickly. So that's kind of the summary. You know, if you, if you could put pasture management in a nutshell, that's what I would say.

 Dan Severson:

Well, thank you. It seems like an awful lot goes into growing grass. There's definitely not a lack of information out there for everybody that wants to learn how to do it and do it properly from what you've listed. So I appreciate it. Thank you, Blake, Jake, anything to add?

  Blake Moore:

Thank you for joining us. This was excellent. I have always learned something new. Every time we do a podcast and I'm hoping our listeners do the same.

Katie Young:

We hope you've enjoyed today's episode and will join us next time. In the meantime, visit us online at udl.edu/Extension. Join our mailing list and join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube at UD Extension.

Katie Young:

This program is brought to you by the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, a service at the UD college of Agriculture and Natural Resources, a land grant institution. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

 

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Episode 18: Cicada mania!

(feat. Brian Kunkel and Dr. David Owens)

You've heard rumors about the impending Brood X emergence...but what is Brood X, and what does that mean for us here in Delaware?

 

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Episode 18 transcript

INTRO (00:00)

Blake Moore (00:22):

Thank you for taking in another episode of extension302. I am Blake and with me as always are Dan Severson and Jake Jones, everyone. Today, we're going to talk about a topic that you may have been seeing in the news lately. The impending periodical Cicada, emergence brood X, or brood 10, whichever tickles your fancy. And we will get to the bottom of when to expect them and what to expect from them. So helping us bring science to you today is Dr. Brian Kunkel. He is the integrated pest management specialist for the university of Delaware cooperative extension horticulture team.

David Owens (00:57):

What up

Dan Severson (01:00):

Ag scene counterpart Dr. David Owens. So, and then without further ado, here is Dan. Hey guys, I'm pretty sure neither one of you guys are native Delawareans, but now you do a lot of work for most of your work is in Delaware. So when you first got here, moved here, what is one of the things that you thought was very odd? And when you got here now just seems kind of normal.

...

Expand


David Owens (01:21):

Well, I'd have to say scrapple.....Blake has some deep Scrapple roots going on there, I sure do. My family is worked at the scrapple plant in Bridgeville. Um, my mom actually worked there and so did my sister as well. And so we sampled plenty of Scrabble. I love it. And thank you so much for bringing it up.

Dan Severson (01:38):

Dr. Kunkle?

David Owens (01:39):

Pumpkin Chunkin. I had no idea what the hell that was.

Dan Severson (01:44):

Yeah, that is, that is a typical, yes, that's a good one.

David Owens (01:47):

Yes. I think you guys nailed Delmarva. Pumpkin chunking scrapple there you go. Yeah.

New Speaker (01:53):

Catapulting pumpkin's across the field...

Dan Severson (01:58):

What is the difference between dog day cicadas that we typically see every summer and the periodical Cicada, which is brew X or brood 10

Brian Kunkle (02:07):

Dog days cicada or annual Cicada green or a black-ish green and white on the belly of it is kind of light in coloration. That's one thing that'll help you tell the difference from the periodicals periodical Cicada is a reddish orange and black, and typically a little bit smaller. I don't know if David, do you wanna throw anything else in there in terms of maybe when they come out?

New Speaker (02:37):

Sure. So the, the annual Cicada or the dog day cicadas, they, they typically start making their appearance towards the end of June and they emerge all summer long through the end of September, beginning to end of September, depending on where you are in the state. Whereas the periodical Cicada, what makes them really special is that they're the species that make up the periodical Cicada group or bird 10 in our area. They're all synchronized when they emerge. They're all going to emerge in a very short period of time here at the, probably early to middle of may. And by the end of June, they will be going completely.

Blake Moore (03:20):

Do they make the same sounds? Would you expect to hear like, it just kind of confusion of like, I'm used to hearing that sound in the, in August, but now I'm hearing it this year in, in May and June, do they make the same sound or is there going to be a difference there?

Brian Kunkle (03:34):

As far as I'm aware is going to be similar. It's just go. ing to be more intense because there's going to be so many periodical cicadas for us up North. And those that are in sussex county and probably part of Kent County, you're probably going to need to take a trip up.

New Speaker (03:56):

The dog desiccated tends to make a more constant whining, buzzing noise. Some of the periodical cicadas, they will make a noise. That's more like a —WHOOOWO WHOOWHO — so it tends to be a little bit different, but it's to what Brian said, it's going to be loud. It is that they're mating. Cool. Absolutely. They have one purpose in life when they emerge out of the soil and live for three weeks. And that is to find a mate and lay eggs.

Blake Moore (04:27):

Thank you guys, David, I'm glad you got to do an impression because I was going to ask you if you wanted to. Brian, do you want to compete with David's impression or do you want to move on to the next question?

David Owens (04:37):

I don't have the vocal range to be able to compete with that. So I'm going to have to say no.

Blake Moore (04:43):

Okay. Where in Delaware would you expect to see populations of the periodical Cicada?

Brian Kunkle (04:50):

Okay. Allude to, I think, I think it's mainly going to be North of dover. I wasn't here. I'm from Kentucky. And last time there were any broods/cicadas active I was in Georgia. And so I kind of missed them, especially for here. I totally was. I didn't get here until a couple of years after they emerged, but the impression I had and talking to people that are from here is that they are farther North than Dover. And you may have seen one South, but not in the numbers. And like, you don't have that egg laying and damage the potential damage to trees and like around campus. Um, for whatever reason, like if I'm not mistaken that has something to do with soil types or soil types plays a role. I was talking to someone in Maryland at the university there, and they were saying that they thought it was similar on the eastern shore of Maryland. That the further South you got on the Eastern shore, there were little to no periodical cicadas, whereas with the annual dog days cicadas you'll have them throughout.

Blake Moore (06:14):

Okay. So about the Northern half of Delaware, then what are the, are there any expected, like high concentration pockets or is it just going to be a lot of cicadas in the whole region, like you said, and then fizzle out the further South you go?

Brian Kunkle (06:29):

Uh, Dave, do you know much about their population distributions? Like do they, are they more random? Uh, as far as I know, it's just going to be Northern part now....do you know any more about that?

New Speaker (06:48):

Unfortunately, I was not here for the previous brood emergence, but what I can say is, you know, they, they spend their lives for 17 years underground feeding on deciduous tree roots. So if you've got an, a large area of fairly undisturbed woods, you've got a lot more potential for them then, and areas that have been cleared or areas that have since grown up in those 17 years, they, they don't feed on pine trees. And we've got a lot of pine trees down here in Sussex County. You will be looking for are large areas that have a lot of hardwood trees. And I've been that way since 2000 then.

Jake Jones (07:35):

Well, thank you guys. And, and 2038, we'll have this conversation again about what, where they're going to be. And hopefully they're still in the same areas.

David Owens (07:45):

We do have another brood, a much smaller bird that could be in parts of Northern Delaware that could emerge as early as I think, 2031. But bird 10 is the, is by far, in a way, the largest, both in terms of population size and geographical distribution.

Brian Kunkle (08:05):

So we had actually a couple periodicals emerge couple of years ago with, within a brood you would have some that emerged early comparing to the mass emergence that you get. And you often may have some that will emerge a little bit later. So there outliers, I would say it was 2019, 2018, 2019. We were seeing some of these already starting to come out. Hit and miss. Got a couple of them on the campus. So I'm imagine we're going to have a fair number of them this year. There's other rooms in our area that occasionally, may be seen. They're by far the largest and all encompassing of the County.

Dan Severson (08:54):

Alright guys,. So I do remember 2004 when the cicadas emerged. Cause I was actually, I was at Fair Hill races and we were making, um, Cicada shooters with jello. So I do remember, but can we talk about what is the lifecycle of these periodical cicadas and then go a little bit more in depth than the life cycle brood X there's 17 years underground, or can we go through that life cycle for me please?

Brian Kunkle (09:18):

I think it's relatively simple and you can jump in here wherever you want. David, as he had mentioned, uh, they come out and have a three week long party in which they, uh, drink plant fluids, mate and lay eggs. The females, when they lay their eggs, they, uh, use their ovipositor, which is kind of like a, it has some serration. So it'll cut into thin branches, lay the eggs. Constantly when the eggs hatch then drop to the ground, burries in on roots and does that 17 years. And then they send out a text and see if everybody's ready to get her 17 years later. Anoth4er email. Uh, can you stack some, wasn't a big thing 17 years ago I guess so probably email. Not really.

David Owens (10:14):

Instant messenger.

Brian Kunkle (10:14):

Yeah. There you go. Made sure that everybody that's on the right page come out and they did. And so this time when they laid 20, 38. Hard to tell them, you know, how they're going to be getting the message to eveybody. And I think the whole feeding underground, they kind of get on. Soil temperatures were pretty consistent with feeding on probably relatively consistent nutrition. I don't know what sort of cues they may use to synchronize their emergence. I think it may just be hard to take that long to get in. David May have some more insight to that.

New Speaker (11:02):

Well, so the emergence and how they synchronize themselves, that is still an area of active research. You know, we, we don't fully understand how they do that. Once the soil temperatures get nice and warm and they're going to do that pretty quickly here in, as we move into mid and late spring, once the soil temperatures get above 60, 64 degrees, that's, that's when they are ready to go. And so they're, they're starting to work their way up to the surface now.

Dan Severson (11:33):

All right. So they're just basically going to party like it's 1999 Or 2004. Yeah.

Blake Moore (11:41):

And so what a, what type of damage do they cause? And let's start with, with you Brian.

Brian Kunkle (11:46):

So on mature trees, you'll occasionally have some of the thinner branches or smaller diameter, uh, branches like twins and whatnot. They may break off or snap and hang down, not completely off of the plant. Um, and he makes these, some of the trees, foliage wilt from where the branches snap that's where, where the female has cut into the twigs with her ovipositor to attach ...hat's her eggs. Um, and we call her flagging on the church. Trees. It's rarely an issue trees that have been recently planted usually a year or two on ones that have most of their branches are kind of, thin. You can have a fair bit of flagging on those and it may impact the appearance of those plants in a negative way. For fruit trees I'm sure that you have thin branches there that are damaged and begin to flag. It may impact the health of the plant and potentially production. I'm not a hundred percent sure on the, those in him. They're like the Apple trees and the cherry trees on whatever peach in their backyard garden, trying to grow a little bit of fruit from the trees that they've been planted within the past year or two. You may want to consider letting some of your trees during that timeframe to limit access, the female's access to the branches that try to reduce flagging that you seeing. I'm not aware of any serious mortality impacts. It's more disfiguring in the tree and definitely stress the tree. You're losing portions of branches on the smaller trees that are trying to establish, make it a little more difficult, but the flagging is the big thing we had the damage. And again, it's more of an issue for a younger or more recently installed plant.

Blake Moore (13:58):

The homeowners don't necessarily need to do a whole lot to protect their trees, unless like you said, you've just recently planted them. Um, and I guess if you have a small amount of trees and you can net them, uh, that's something you might want to do. But other than that, it just sounds like that it's just going to be a little bit of aesthetic damage and that's about it.

Brian Kunkle (14:15):

Yeah. That's general brush impression that I have. So I'm seen a couple of brood emergences now, not the brood x couple of times, but two other broods. And I've never really seen lots of damage. Apparently here in New castle last time it was a common report where people would send samples into the diagnostic one with twigs or branches and breakage, and it was due to sort of Cicada damange. But in terms of overall impact on the top of your clients, it's mature. It's not that big, it's younger than you might consider.

Dan Severson (15:04):

How about in the ag sector there, David, I'm not hearing a whole lot going on there. Is there anything that anybody needs to worry about on that regard?

David Owens (15:11):

Well, you know, that's, that's interesting and Brian actually covered it quite well from the homeowner's standpoint, from a more production ag standpoint, they are a potential concern for recently planted orchards, but that's it in some parts of the country where there's a greater concentration of tree fruit and a greater overlap with brood 10, the recommendation is to not plant a new orchard within two years of the brood emergence. And that's because when they are ovipositing positing and damaging the, the outer small diameter twigs, it can mess up the trees, architecture from what is desirable on an orchard level standpoint. That's the primary concern. The trees themselves will be fine and they do not go after any sort of field or vegetable crop.

Jake Jones (16:10):

So, David, I think you covered this before, but how long will they be around? It might feel like a long time for people when they're screaming in their backyards, but can you go over that one more time for us

New Speaker (16:20):

When they start emerging, they're all going to be synchronized in the area and, and their life cycle as adults only lasts for about four weeks. Uh, it's fairly short, especially when you consider how long they've been underground waiting for, or their time to shine. So to speak

Dan Severson (16:39):

Around this part of the country for the last appearance of the, the cicadas brood X or whatever we want to call them. So what are you most excited to see or witness this time?

Brian Kunkle (16:51):

The noise. Yeah. I mean, cause it's going to be impressive much. Like you hear it, you hear the annual cicadass. With the dog day cicadas, you hear one or you hear some here. It's not that big a deal. It's not... it's almost like background and, uh, nostalgic family times growing up as a kid and you heard the insects and whatnot and no big deal. These: you won't be able to avoid hearing them.

Dan Severson (17:23):

And David, what do they sound like, David?

New Speaker (17:28):

WHOOO-OO!

Dan Severson (17:28):

What are you most looking forward or excited to see?

David Owens (17:30):

Well, you know, I'm, I'm really looking forward to just seeing their numbers. You know, this is something that I've been looking forward to for a very, very long time. And I lived for time in North Carolina, but when I moved to North Carolina, I moved just a couple of weeks after they had a brood emergence. And so I missed it entirely and that was kind of a bummer. So I'm just, I'm really looking forward to seeing it and hearing their numbers. They've got, it's essentially like an entire summer's worth of dog days cicadas compressed into a couple of weeks. It's going to be impressive. And the other thing too, with the cicadas is it is a massive food source for all sorts of animals or they, they come out in such massive numbers that it does not matter how many of them get eaten by birds or raccoons. Raccoons can grow very fat in a couple of weeks eating cicadas. And there's just so many. It does not matter.

Brian Kunkle (18:29):

The other thing is in the evenings when they start coming out and emerging, the sides of buildings, sheds, homes, whatever, if they were around in 2004 and or this spring, they're going to just be coated with exoskeletons and the insects come crawling up out of the ground in mass...and start clinging to the sides of buildings, fences, whatever, and popping out the back of the nymphal skin tobecome an adult. And then they sit there change in the middle of the night. It's, it's pretty cool to see that massive number of skins everywhere. Just really impressive to see. The first time I saw it was in the eighties and I was very much into fishing and using them for finishing bait, I would go nightcrawler and get my own worms from stores. The first time I saw a big, massive group of insects crawling up the trunk of the, it was just, it was incredible.

Dan Severson (19:36):

You guys have any other closing thoughts you'd like to add?

Brian Kunkle (19:39):

In my past, in different areas where I've had, broods pop up, various entrepreneurial groups, will offer them as food — like for people. Uh, it's a protein source. It's just a little crunchy. You only try it once every 17 years depends on how much of a party you're into. I guess

Blake Moore (20:03):

I think the question is, have you tried them?

Brian Kunkle (20:06):

I have not because I have not had the opportunity to most of the time when I have been in one area it's been in transit much. Like I was just too late. I'd rather have been there too towards the end or in the beginning and then moved away. So I haven't had much of an opportunity to actually try and do something this time.

Dan Severson (20:30):

Gotcha. So we're going to go, we're all going to go to Dan's house and we're going to have a, what else? Shooters Dan. I am there, I'm waiting on my invitation.

David Owens (20:40):

They probably do a fairly decent deep fraud,

Brian Kunkle (20:44):

I would imagine.

Blake Moore (20:45):

And do you have any other additional are David,

David Owens (20:49):

But you know, these, these, the kids, they, they really are a special treasure on really on the, on the entire planet. This is the only spot where we have cicadas on a 17 year cycle. They all come at the same time. And so, you know, when we are looking and just marveling at the sheer numbers and quantity of these cicadas, we also, you know, let's take the time to think about how that landscape will look 17 years from now. If we take a section of woods or natural area out and put a strip mall on top of it, you know, we are impacting that population for hundreds of years later, they, you know, they're, they're in the ground for 17 years. They don't have the ability to move or replenish their numbers in that period of time. So all of the landscape changes that occur between now and 2038 will impact 2030 eights population, especially here on, on Delmarva. I've think about how much has changed in the landscape in the last 17 years.

Blake Moore (22:02):

Yeah. I'm glad you brought that up because conservation and preservation of our natural lands, this is just another reason, uh, that we need to keep on working on that. So I really appreciate you bringing that up. And, you know, I really hope this episode is also going to show, show folks the, uh, the passion of entomologists here in Delaware. Um, you know, to have both of you guys on, on staff and, and serve and Delaware is pretty awesome. And it's been fun so far. I appreciate it.

Dan Severson (22:28):

Thank you guys.

David Owens (22:29):

I really appreciate the time that you've let us, uh, spend together today discussing these cicadas there. They're pretty awesome. And I'm very much looking forward to seeing them here in a couple of,

Katie Young (22:43):

We hope you've enjoyed today's episode and will join us next time. In the meantime, visit us online at udel.edu/extension. Join our mailing list and join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube at UD extension. This program is brought to you by the university of Delaware cooperative extension service at the UD college of agriculture and natural resources, a land grant institution. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

 

 

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Episode 17: What is a Master Gardener?


The Master Gardener concept originated in Washington State in 1972 as a strategy for handling an overload of home gardening questions and Delaware launched its own program in 1986. Today, our state has nearly 300 Master Gardener Volunteer Educators who volunteer more than 20,000 hours each!

Find out how you can become a Delaware Master Gardener with this information-packed episode featuring Carrie Murphy (UD Extension Agent) and Megan Pleasanton (Delaware State University Extension Educator)!
 

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Episode 16: Ag Day 2021: One World, One Health
Feat. Lillie Binder (Ag Council President) and Christy Mannering (CANR Digital Communications Specialist)

For many decades thousands of people headed to the University of Delaware's south campus on the last day of April to celebrate Ag Day. This year's theme is "One World, One Health" and will highlight college-wide research on this concept. Find out how you can enjoy the many speakers, tours and activities virtually from Monday, April 19 - Saturday, April 24!

 

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Episode 16 transcript

 

Jake Jones:

Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of extension three Oh two. Today we are covering ag day at the University of Delaware's college of agriculture and natural resources, annual community event. Ag Day first occurred in the spring of 1975 under the guidance of the ag college council and their advisors, Dr. David Fry and the late Dr. Paul Sammelwitz. Their motivation was to introduce other students and the community to the college of ag and their activities at South campus. Originally, it was held on the green, but later moved to the Townsend hall parking lot. Where now is an annually held as a full-blown festival with hay rides, exhibits, speakers, food, and of course ice cream today. Dan Blake and I are joined by Lillie Binder, the current ag council, president, and senior pre vet student and Christie Mannering digital communication specialist with the college of ag. Welcome everyone. Thanks Jake. Welcome. Hi.

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Lillie Binder:

Hi. The first Ag Day was in 1975. So we're introducing the college up campus, kids to animals on the farm. You guys, Lillie and Christie. What farm animal are you scared of and why? Probably the beef cattle, because they don't like being socialized with people that much. So we were taught from square one, animal science, 101 to keep our distance and let them have their space less scared, more respectful of their boundaries. Respect is a good word. Yes.

Christy Mannering:

I'm going to branch off of Lillie's respect because my mom grew up with all kinds of animals and she told me a story about chickens that has terrified me further life and how you do not go interrupt chickens when they're with their babies and try to play with their babies because they will fly up and down you pecking. And so I am not going to get anywhere near chickens or their talents or their beak any time soon. I'm sure you're not alone.

Jake Jones:

There's a lot of people out there that have phobia of the chickens. Yeah, that's interesting. So as a kid, my mom told me a story. I don't remember this because I was too young, but I guess I was messing around near a pony and, you know, think of a pony would be that dangerous, but apparently she saved me from barely getting my face bit by one of these, these ponies that didn't like me and his space. So you gotta, you gotta respect those up. There's farming animals for sure. The last in-person ag day that we had was 2019. And I was there for that, had a really, really good time. And it's something that I look forward to every year. Can you tell us about the traditional ag day?

Lillie Binder:

So in a traditional year, we get to kind of bring together the best of what the college of agriculture has to offer and showcase a lot of what the community has to offer. We get a chance to bring in a lot of alumni who have their own businesses and have their own organizations that they get to highlight on ag day. For example, we usually get a free flying bird demonstration from Fung Lu, which is a really big draw for the community kids, especially because it's a really great way to kind of get acquainted with interacting with animals in like we were just talking about a very respectful way and kind of helping people understand, you know, helping people get better acquainted with animals and everything that the college of ag has to offer

Christy Mannering:

The traditional idea. Well, I have been fortunate to be part of 14 ag days and they have all been amazing. I think what I love most is that the students each year have such pride in showing off what they do and what their student organizations and programs are doing. And seeing them being able to show the community like, look, we're not just about cows and plows. We do all of this other research and we are passionate about it. And I agriculture science means something to the environment and there's a lot of people working on it. I, so I think the biggest part for me as an employee who's involved is to see the students really come up to bat and make it such an amazing event.

Lillie Binder:

Right? And I think one of the best parts is watching the students build off the faculty, the faculty, both off the community and the community kind of feeding off of that energy and everybody coming together to have a great ag day.

Jake Jones:

That was exactly how I remember it. And I love the usage of the word energy there because that's kind of what I remember feeling, you know, getting up there. I had to wake up at about five in the morning to get up there the last time, but it was just that energy that wakes you up. And no you're going to have a good day this year. And last year, both, we haven't been able to hold an in-person ag days. What does ag day gonna look like in 2021?

Christy Mannering:

Well, I am disappointed that we will not be in person again for the second year. So last year with the pandemic, we weren't unable to have ag day, even though we had planned it for months and months and months and trying to throw together something digital just wasn't going to happen. There were too many things up in the air. So this year I'm super excited that working with the students, we're able to bring everything online. My vision and Lillie can correct me if this isn't her vision is to just imagine that you're stepping on campus or walking towards Townsend hall. You see all the cars, you hear all the festivity, and you're going to be seeing the gardens. You can enter from all different areas. And you're going to be amazed at all of the tents and tables. And so we are going to be building a virtual environment that will have our so-called tents, each one labeled with research or extension or student organizations.

Christy Mannering:

And then inside those tents will be videos, which I'm my analogy is that those are the tables. So you would walk into a tent, you would walk up to a table and you would get your elevator pitch from whoever's at the table of, this is what we do here. This is what we're doing in the community. This is what our students are studying, or this is the research that's helping people in Sussex County or whatever it might be. And so the videos will be up to five minutes and they're going to be in a grid format. And underneath the videos, you'll see links to resources. So on a typical ag day, we would have 80 to 90 vendors. There are hopefully going to be maybe not 80 videos, but quite a bit of videos. I'm some that have been prerecorded by our videographer staff. Who's been amazing. So we'll have information about one health. We'll have information about what ag day is from our interim Dean, but really ag day is an opportunity to showcase what CANR means to the community. So hearing from the students directly hearing from researchers in their labs and hearing from people who work on the farm is going to be really important. And I think the virtual tents and, and video tables is going to be a great opportunity to learn and then repurpose that content leader. And I'm really excited to be able to watch it.

Jake Jones:

I think that's great that after having to take a year off, you guys came up with this great idea of how to keep that kind of tent and table view.

Lillie Binder:

I mean, I totally agree with everything Christy said, and I just really think this week, this year, well, it's a unique challenge in that everybody's getting very fatigued with all of the virtual things that we've had to get acquainted to in the past year. I think it's a good opportunity to kind of get everybody out of their shell and to get everybody excited about community event in whatever capacity we can get it done.

Dan Severson:

Virtual tent and table set up just sounds like an awful lot of work, but for the record, I'm going to tell you that the best ag day and the best ag president was back in 1994. So you guys got to top that one, your theme for this year is one world one health. Can you explain the idea that?

Christy Mannering:

Health is a triad concept? It's, it's going to show about the health of people, animals, plants, and how all of them are connected in a shared environment. And the students chose one world, one health as the theme, because it seems timely a timely way to highlight one of the college's unique strengths and it connects all of the departments of the college of agriculture and it connects the programs in cooperative extension. And if you think about it, agriculture is really the heart of one health. I mean, it truly represents an intersection of human health, environmental health, animal health, and as one of the unique strengths for the college we have such comprehensive research and so much outreach expertise through extension to develop a better understanding of this in Delaware, but really regionally and nationally and across the world. And so I think if you think about the COVID pandemic and think about one health under that lens, it's helping people to prepare should anything like this happening again. And then also making people think critically about how to respond. So one world, one health, it's the people, it includes policy and collaboration from agriculture sciences, and really to all sciences beyond that.

Lillie Binder:

I mean, I think one of the great things about incorporating one health is that while it's an integrated approach, it also kind of helps to show how there are ways to relate to it in any field you're in. And also like Christy said, it's, it's one of the main focuses of the college of ag. So I thought it was a great year to highlight it, especially because like she said, the themes involved with one health are incredibly poignant now. And I felt like it was one of the best ways to address the elephant in the room in a more proactive and less daunting way.

Jake Jones:

So it sounds like you guys have put a lot of effort and thought into providing those virtual tents and tables. And so who were some of the speakers and student organizations that are going to be Manning these tables and tents that ag day, this year, Lillie?

Lillie Binder:

Our keynote speaker is the 2021 Worrilow award winner, Sue Barton. And she'll be giving a talk called gardens are good for you. I think. And I thought that incorporating somebody who with expertise in kind of a site, an area of science that not a lot of people would probably think relates to one health is probably the best way to show how important it is and how it does touch every aspect, how it does touch so many different subjects and some of the, so some of the aspects of ag day that we'll be able to keep as similar to a normal year as possible are a lot of our demonstrations, like Christy said our videographer stuff has been going around and filming a lot of demonstrations that normally we would have been able to have in person, like for example, one of our entomology professors, Dr. Delaney, is going to be able to have a demonstration that she would normally give on ag day. We'll be having a milking demonstration from the animal science club and a sheep shearing demonstration from Larry Armstrong who works on web farm. In some ways it will be as close to a regular ag day as we could possibly get it. And in other ways, we'll have really new and exciting opportunities to get to know other aspects of the farm that would kind of be shut down for an ag.

Jake Jones:

College of agriculture and natural resources includes the students. Of course, the faculty and staff, and then there's cooperative extension kind of thrown in that umbrella too. Can you discuss how they all come together and can benefit the community in Delaware? And I know that's what ag week or ag day is kind of all about, but

Christy Mannering:

We are going to be working with the city of Newark. They're interested in putting together a video with resources from the city about different parks and environments in the city and green spaces. We're also going to be using coloring book pages from the Brandywine Conservancy and museum of art. They've allowed us to be able to link to different coloring pages they have about native plants, which really coincides with Dr. Barton, Sue Barton's talk about gardens are good for you and valuing a sense of place which is Thursday, April 22nd, by the way, at 6:00 PM. And I think that the environmental health safety group across the university will also be tuning in and providing us with the video. So there's the central UD components there and Newark as a city wanting to be involved. And then we have cooperative extension, which I really feel is like an umbrella unit.

Christy Mannering:

It is the college, every department that is in the college of agriculture is also part of cooperative extension. And the research that our faculty do sometimes doesn't make sense. I mean, to me, I'm a digital person, so I'm putting that research online, but I feel like I learned through us Moses when I'm listening to extension agents, because they take that research and they put it out into the community. They are the outreach into the community. So we have that component. And then we have the departments, entomology and wildlife ecology applied economics and statistics, plant soil, sciences, animal, and food sciences, all of those tie into one health really well. And all of them also have student organizations and clubs that are super passionate about the topics that they learn about. And we also have the UDBG Botanic garden that is right on campus, which people are normally able to walk through. But instead we'll have pictures. We have their virtual catalog for the plant sale that they usually have in person. And then of course we have the students, which the students are the CANR community. I mean, they are the future of agriculture science. They're the future of Delaware. So they're leading the way

Jake Jones:

Is this ag day and how can our listeners join this virtual table?

Lillie Binder:

Virtual ag day will, the website will be active from for the week of leading up to April 22nd, which is when Sue Barton's talk will be taking place in six to 7:00 PM. Every single day of that week, we'll be highlighting a different part of the website or a different demonstration or video that we think is particularly representative of the college of agriculture, natural resources.

Christy Mannering:

Just reiterate what Lillie said. It begins Monday, April 19th, and it will run through that week leading up to Saturday, April 24th, which is when Ag Day, would have been in person we're celebrating extra special with the live talk with Dr. Sue Barton on earth day, April 22nd. So each day, Monday through Saturday, we'll be highlighting different things. So we're very excited to launch the virtual tents, the video tables, and have everyone come in. So to speak to the browser window, pull up a seat, take a listen, and hopefully grab some really fun activities about bats and native plants for the kids and celebrate the whole week. So you have a webpage. I'm happy to tell you the address. It's

Jake Jones:

Very easy. Go right ahead.

Christy Mannering:

It's www.udel.edu/agday

Jake Jones:

Awesome. Well, we appreciate you guys joining us today. Lots of great information. And you know, like I said, in the face of adversity with the pandemic still going on and having to go virtual guys seem to have done

Christy Mannering:

A great job in getting this together. And what are some final thoughts you wanted to send to the listeners to make sure that they don't miss out on this year's ag day. I would like listeners to know that they can follow you the cooperative extension on social media and @UDCANR on social media and sign up for our newsletters through the website. Make sure you get those emails, make sure you're checking in on Twitter. You're checking in on Instagram and Facebook because that's where we'll be pushing out the material. And most importantly to say, thank you to Lillie and the students on the committee, because you know, some of them are seniors. This is their last year. Their last hurrah would have been really great to have them in person. And they're still putting in a lot of work and effort, and I'm really grateful to have them on the team.

Christy Mannering:

I would just say, I hope that people enjoy everything that we've been trying to put together. And, and that people feel as though this is as close to a regular ag days we could get for this year. And I hope that people do enjoy everything that we've put together. Absolutely. I have no doubt that it will be a great time. And then, you know, we also still have in the future, there will be ag day every year going forward. So don't miss it this year and then come back when we start having an it person again. It's well, yes, it's always the last Saturday of April. Mark it on your calendar and advance. Absolutely. So Dan and Jake, do you have any last things to add? No, Dan. Thank you!

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Episode 14: High Tunnels with Dr. Rose Ogutu (DSU)

We're kicking off the 2021 podcast year with special guest Dr. Rose Ogutu, Horticulture Specialist with Delaware State University! In this episode, the team explores the uses, benefits and challenges of using High Tunnels.

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Read Episode 14 transcript

 

Blake Moore:

Hello, my name is Blake Moore, Natural Resources Extension Agent.

Dan Severson:

Hey, I'm Dan Severson, Ag Agent.

Jake Jones:

Hi, I'm Jake Jones, Kent County Ag Agent for the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. Welcome to Extension302.

Dan Severson:

Welcome to Extension302. It may be cold outside right now. However, we have some farmers are already putting seeds out. I'm Dan Severson, along with Blake, the Yeti Moore and Jake, the snake Jones. We're going to investigate high tunnels. Our special guest today is Dr. Rose Ogutu, who is the horticultural specialist at Del State University. So Dr. Rose, before we get started, we want to ask you a personal question. What was your least favorite vegetable as a child?

...

CONTINUE READING

Dan Severson:

It's unheated, it's still kind of same material, metal, tubing, plastic. What's the cost on those high tunnels? Is there cost shares available out there for people that were interested in high tunnels?

Dr. Rose Ogutu:

Yes there are cost shares available. Actually, if you visit your local NRCS offices, they are able to give you a whole lot about what there are. So the financial assistance is actually by, I mean, through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, and it's still active even now. So anybody who is a farmer who would like to have a high tunnel on the ground can go to the NRCS offices, they can check whether they're eligible and they help cover part of the cost of the high tunnel.

Blake Moore:

What are some of the challenges and the advantages and disadvantages of growing in a high tunnel? Can you explain those?

Dr. Rose Ogutu:

Now, some of the advantages of growing in a high tunnel, remember I said that it's a covered structure. I would say that it develops [inaudible 00:03:55] season in that because it keeps heat inside. When the cold temperatures hit the ground, the high tunnels are still rather warm. So then, you know what? It extends the growing season. So you can have your crops growing longer than normal in the high tunnel. Now the high tunnel also can be used as a protector because it protects the crops, gives them shade, protects them from heat and sunscald. So some of the fruits that you really need them to look nice and not sunscalded, can be protected by the high tunnels. And that's why sometimes we get very good quality of tomatoes, for example, from high tunnels. Now, high tunnels can also, they support other materials like row covers, materials that can be used to protect crops from pests.

Like it's easier to use lures or traps in high tunnels. They lend themselves very well to some of the biological controls of the use of beneficial insects because there are enclosures. So, we would say that they are IPM friendly. You can easily practice IPM in the high tunnels. You can also have insects cream that can be integrated to exclude some of the insects, for example, the cucumber beetles. And that would also help you curb bacterial wilt. That means that high tunnels have the advantage of helping curb some of those diseases and pests. They're very versatile and you can grow anything in the high tunnel. Remember I told you that you can even have trees. There's a grower down Sussex County who grows cherry trees in high tunnels. So you can have small fruits growing in there, flowers, all kinds of vegetables. So another advantage of the high tunnels is that you can easily move them, especially, if consider crop rotation. If you have a moveable high tunnel in place, you can easily move it from ground to ground.

Although this also normally forms a disadvantage, especially if you can't move it from a location to the other. Because that means you have to keep using the same spot to grow crops over time. I would say high tunnels are great. People thought that they are a magic, you can perform some magic just using the high tunnel. Although over time you realize that they have certain problems too, but they are great. Most of these advantages outweigh the disadvantages. So growers really, really love the high tunnels. Because one of the things is that the small growers who actually grow their crops for sale can extend their season and they can have a quick return on their crops, especially if they use the right high tunnel. And then they grow the right crops and use the right principles. So, they can reap back their money really in good time because they always hit the market when people need the crops most.

Blake Moore:

It sounded like a lot of positives, very few negatives there. So thank you.

Jake Jones:

You mentioned the variety of crops that are grown in high tunnels. What's the most successful crops that you see growing in high tunnels here in Delaware?

Dr. Rose Ogutu:

Well, in Delaware, the number one crop and just like most of the neighboring state is tomatoes. Tomatoes are really a good high tunnel crop. Others are cucumber, lettuce and some pepper crops. And of course in the winter we have the carrots, the lettuce, and raspberries and blackberries are also picking up. So to answer your question, actually, tomatoes are the number one crop. Very popular.

Jake Jones:

And I know you mentioned that part of that is because of sun scarring and things like that, is moisture a factor in that as well? I know I have a problem growing tomatoes in my backyard because I get too much moisture on them. So does that help growing them in a high tunnel as well?

Dr. Rose Ogutu:

Yes. Moisture is a factor in... Remember that the high tunnels have coverings on them so, it doesn't rain in the high tunnel. So, you don't get that water coming directly in contact with the fruits. And then at the same time, tomatoes are also very sensitive when it comes to the amount of water that goes in the roots. In the high tunnel, you fertigate. So you can easily measure the amount of water that you release to the roots of the plant. So you don't get a lot of flooding unnecessarily. You can actually regulate the amount of water that the plants get.

Dan Severson:

Ain't that real good too. You were talking about high tunnels and how they extend the season. We're in February and it's cold. High tunnels can be used to start the season early. You were talking about tomatoes and stuff like that. What are some of the farmers doing right now? What are some of the planting dates or like rotations they could be doing to cover some of the disadvantages you were talking about as far as like you're planting the same ground over and over again, if you can't move your tunnel.

Dr. Rose Ogutu:

So right now I would say that growers who are using their high tunnels actually have some of the winter crops in there. Some of the crops that withstand the cold, like kohlrabi, I just visited a grower who had kohlrabi in his high tunnel. Crops like lettuces, crops like carrots. Carrots that are grown in the winter, they're really sweet. I don't know, they accumulate a lot of sugars, I guess, because of the long period of growth. So remember that around this time too, we have very limited life. So, growth of the crops is probably very slow even in the high tunnels, but for growers who really want to extend the season, they have the cool crops in the high tunnels. Now talking about the earliest time that you can start your crop through the high tunnels, that means that you're looking into the summer to start early.

For example, people who want to hit the market with the earliest tomatoes for summer, before the summer period, they have to start early. But at the same time, you remember that the temperatures are very altered. Some of the crops that we need to be early, like the tomatoes, actually cannot stand temperatures higher than, I mean, below 55°F when you're starting them. So, that means that you have to make sure that the soil temperatures are warm enough for you to start the early summer. So right now I would say farmers are mainly monitoring the ground temperatures. If they have plant directly, they're monitoring the ground temperatures and if the ground temperatures are higher than 65°F, then we know they can comfortably start planting.

And for tomatoes, I would say adequately 65°F. And that's why people, some of in the Sussex County even start earlier, their soils are sandy and they don't cool out as much. They heat up faster. So they can even start earlier. Talking about the rotations, the principles of rotation are just the same as any other vegetable production. Because you don't want to plant the same plant all through the season. So right now, probably some of the growers are having their high tunnels, lying fallow, or they have some cover crop in it awaiting for the major crop to come in, in the summer.

Jake Jones:

Dr. Ogutu, what is the best way to weed in a high tunnel? And I can ask you all of them at once, but basically what are the best production practices in a high tunnel? So weed, water fertilizing.

Dr. Rose Ogutu:

So weeding in a high tunnel... High tunnels normally they're enclosures and they're kind of are smaller in acreages compared to the field. You would say, well, it's just easy you go into a high tunnel and pull weeds, but at the same time you want to intensively use the space. So what happens in the high tunnel is mostly people use plastic covers. They made plastic and that helps to curb the weed especially around the plant. And then they also use a lot of mulches in the high tunnel. Now, the problem with some of the straw mulches is that they keep a lot of insects, right? And I've had that problem with the high tunnel so, that's why sometimes in the winter like this, you would like to just leave the... Open up the high tunnel so that you get the place as cold as possible to get rid of some of the pests. Or weeding, I would say that not too many people use herbicides in the high tunnels.

You'll probably find the little space, with plastic laid on the ground and then maybe mulches in between the plastic. So, that's normally the very common procedure when it comes to weeding. Now, when it comes to fertilizing, fertigation, the drip tape, they use the drip tape to irrigate the crop under the black plastic or whatever plastic they're using. So then that length the plants, it becomes easier for them to fertigate, to passing the fertilizer through the drip fly. But then, there is caution to that. Before you lay the plastic, you should probably amend your soil. You should amend your soil with adequate manure or whatever fertilizer that you want to put in before you lay, you put in the drip tape. Now this is because not all fertilizers can be put in through the drip tape.

So that's normally a challenge in the high tunnels, especially for people who live in places where the water is very alkaline. When the water is too alkaline, normally it blocks the emitters on the drip tape. That's one of the caveats that the high tunnel producers have to deal with. So for fertigation too, they use mostly the water soluble fertilizers, pass them through the drip line and one of the things to make sure that you don't do is to use maybe the fertilizers with salt, with high salt in because it doesn't rain in the high tunnel, you have salt accumulation in the soil, in the high tunnels. And this pretty much shows very fast in your crops, three or four years down the line, you see a lot of problems with saltation of the soil. And then a lot of burning across, I mean, on the edges of the leaves of plants. So that's also a challenge, but mostly fertigation, that is using the water soluble fertilizers and the drip line. And that helps a lot in the high tunnel.

Dan Severson:

So Jake, I thought one time we went down around Smyrna and we were looking at some strawberry plants in a high tunnel and come back and we thought it was a salt toxicity that was going through the strawberry plants because of like Rose was just saying, there's no rain to dissipate it.

Jake Jones:

Yeah. And it was, just like she described, it was like his fourth year with the cover on. So he hadn't had any rainfall and you could see the salt accumulation right on the edge of the leaves. I think that was like an easy diagnosis for us. And apparently it's common in the high tunnel. So, thank you Rose for pointing that out.

Blake Moore:

And what do you do to mitigate the salinity buildup there? Or to amend the soil to make sure that it doesn't affect the next crop?

Dr. Rose Ogutu:

Say mostly, kind of some rotation helps. For example, you would have to plant a crop that can use up that salt or the recommended practice is to remove the cover of the high tunnel and let it rain in it, or just to flood it with water. There's a way in which you flood the soil with water to kind of try and wash the salts into deeper layers in the ground. I would say that to mitigate the high salts, you probably need to change or rotate your crop so that you're not using the same fertilizer or the crop that you're using next is going to use up the, I mean, it's salt tolerant. And sometimes people even plant grafted crops, for example, a tomato farmer who doesn't have any other grounds to rotate plants, they would probably now still plant tomatoes, but use a rootstock that is more salt tolerant. Something that some growers elsewhere are already practicing.

Dan Severson:

And can you highlight some high tunnel projects that you're working on either at Delaware State University or regionally or maybe in partnership with the University of Delaware?

Dr. Rose Ogutu:

Currently we are working on IPM or Integrated Pest Management in high tunnels. And we are looking into how we can use beneficial insects or some biologicals to kind of help us with the aphids, the whiteflies, spider mites that are a very big problem in the high tunnels. Now remembering the high tunnels because of the heat and the high humidity, some of these pests are really explosive. You can have them overwhelm you within a short time. So, we were trying to do that and trying to also include trap cropping together in the mix. Now for the trap cropping, we're trying to let the pests get onto a plant that is not economically important but it's kind of loved by the pest. So the pest can... It attracts the past better than the economical plant that you're growing.

For example, if you were growing cucumbers, for example. And then you had a problem with cucumber beetles, there are certain trap crops that are really, for example, Amaranthus. The cucumber beetle love Amaranthus. So they'd rather go and eat your Amaranthus than get onto the cucumber. So we are trying to incorporate trap crops inside the high tunnels so that we are able to kind of mitigate some of the pest problems. We're also trying to use some netting to exclude certain pests, but that depends on the size of the pest and we are doing that, making sure that we are not adding onto the ventilation problems of the high tunnel because it can really be humid in the high tunnel. We want to keep the ventilation going too.

Now, some of the projects that we had earlier on was strawberry production in the high tunnel, is still going on and we still have it some data going and we realized that for a strawberry grower to even be successful in growing in a high tunnel, you probably have to have all those varieties going, the late varieties, the early varieties so that you have as much production within the year, as much as possible. We've also done tomato production, which was our first project. And it's one that we've gotten into trellising the tomatoes, getting to demonstrate to the farmers the best way of trellising tomatoes, and even getting to show the growers the best varieties that grow in the high tunnels. Right now, the BHN series are very good for the high tunnels because they don't grow as tall. You can manage them pretty well in the high tunnel. Other projects were, like for the small-scale growers who were asking whether they could start some of the planting material in high tunnels, like Dan asked before, right now it's the winter and so what are the growers doing?

So sometimes you might want to start some of your plants in the high tunnel. For example, a potato grower, you might want to start some potato slips in the high tunnel, they will grow well and then by the time the late spring comes up, you have like vines to actually plant in the field. So instead of buying a whole lot of potatoes, potato vines to plant in the field, by the time the fields are ready, you can have your slips scattered in the high tunnel. And that was a really very successful project. So we continue having programs in our projects in our high tunnels. And it depends on some of the queries that the growers have.

Now, most of the growers who started their high tunnels about 10 years ago when we had our high tunnels erected at Smyrna Outreach Center now want to stop growing on the ground and maybe start growing on containers or even just put out some heat in the high tunnels. They want to move higher than from where they were, because when they got the high tunnels, they probably had NRCS fund them. And one of the requirements is that you only have to grow in the ground. So now we have our growers, they've already finished or they're already through with the three year requirement by the NRCS. They want to start looking into container production in the high tunnels and so forth. So we kind of growing with the growers, getting to where they want to be by asking us questions. And then we try to kind of carry out those projects in our high tunnels and have workshops around them and have them come over to see what's going on.

Ask about what we're doing with, yeah like UD. Yeah. I visited UD sometime back and I was really... They were taking care of the weeds in the high tunnels using solarization as a process. And that was really neat, instead of using herbicides or anything, if you're not planting anything in your high tunnel, and you want to get rid of the weeds, you probably solarize it. And that is just taking some polythene transparent polyethylene and then covering the high tunnel ground with it, and it helps really kill some of the soil fungi and bacteria as much as get rid of the weeds.

Blake Moore:

A lot of great work going on there. So we really appreciate that. And thank you for joining us talking about all this great work that you guys are working on.

Dan Severson:

Hey Dr. Ogutu, my grandma, she always had a garden and we always planted eggplants and it was like a bunker plant. That's where we always found the insects first. So we knew that we had issues. So it's funny my Nana knew that stuff way back when-

Dr. Rose Ogutu:

Yeah. It's interesting that some of these things that we are touting, they're practices that they've been there for some time. It's only that we are now trying to just have them in the mainstream and recommend them to growers. But yeah, growers who've grown over time, they actually have the principles of growing at their fingertips.

Dan Severson:

A great presentation. Do you have any final words or thoughts or take home messages? And if you're willing to give out your contact information, if people want to reach out to you and get more information on high tunnels and how you can help them.

Dr. Rose Ogutu:

Yeah well, my closing remarks, I would like to say that we at Delaware State University and Cooperative Extension at large, always work with growers to take care of their needs. And we also try to learn from them in a lot of ways. And for me working at Del State High Tunnels has been one of the major farming, I would say something that keeps me going. I've really liked working with high tunnels, and I really want to appreciate some of the high tunnel growers who've been very, very open into letting me use their high tunnel, letting me release biologicals in their high tunnels. And anytime that I want to take any temperature data, they help me, I mean, they allow me to put my HOBOs in there to track the temperatures and then I can go in anytime and download the data, that has been really helpful.

So I would say that high tunnels, as much as they are becoming popular, we've had a lot of other problems with them too. Some of the challenges, remember I talked about salt build up and then another thing is the structure itself. If you don't use the right strength of metal, have the right depths and have the structure really rooted and then have the sites that you have the high tunnel on, if the site is not right, I'm telling you, it will always be very devastating because most likely the winds are going to come and really tear up that plastic or rip the plastic or even bend the structure and so forth. We've had site problems going and I think that is one of the discouragements that has been there for the growers.

However, for a grower, a high tunnel grower to be successful in the first case, they really have to pinpoint a site that is very, I wouldn't say secluded, but a site that the wind is not going to rip out your high tunnel. The drainage is fine, you're growing very versatile by taking care of the soil quality because the soil drains well. So, and then of course when you were sourcing your high tunnel, you have to know where to do that. And the type of high tunnel you want to build and especially with respect to the type of crops you want to grow. It's very, very important because once you have all those things mailed down, then growing in the high tunnels is always a pleasure, it's always a pleasure and it's very rewarding. Okay. Now, for sources of... So, where would a grower or anybody get some information on high tunnels. So Cooperative Extension in various places have got very, very good projects going on with high tunnels.

One of the things that I encourage growers to do is to join some of the list CFAPs Of high tunnel growers. Now there's a list CFAP right from Kansas State and it contains a whole lot of farmers. In fact, almost all over the USA. And they're always talking about their experiences with high tunnels. And sometimes they ask questions and they have experts there asking them their questions. So if you join that list CFAP if you're a grower who really wants to know or learn from the fellow growers and join that list CFAP. We also have other universities that have been championing some research on high tunnels, Penn State, for example. I've had a lot of Penn State people come and talk in our workshop. So they have wonderful, wonderful projects on high tunnels. Otherwise, you can visit our website at Delaware State University, and that's desu.edu, the Cooperative Extension, and you'll be able to also get some of the stuff that we do here at DSU.

Dan Severson:

Blake, Jake, anything else you have to add?

Blake Moore:

Yes. Thank you very much. It seems like there's a lot of great information out there when I was doing research on this podcast. And it looks like you're connected to almost all of it. So I appreciate your work and effort in this and hope to learn more from you in the future.

Jake Jones:

Yeah. I just want to say thank you too, and I know how important high tunnels can be for beginning farmers and opportunities there, NRCS to help people get their businesses going. So I hope people learned a lot from this podcast. So thank you Dr. Ogutu.

Dan Severson:

Yes. Thank you Dr. Ogutu. And without our producers, we wouldn't be there to support them because we wouldn't have anybody to support. So thank you for our producers as well. Thank you. We'll call that a wrap.

Dr. Rose Ogutu:

Thank you so much.

Katie Young:

We hope you've enjoyed today's episode and will join us next time. In the meantime, visit us online at udel.edu/extension. Join our mailing list and join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube at UD Extension. This program is brought to you by the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, a service at the UD College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, a land grant institution. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

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Episode 15: Camping out with 4-H! (with Kaitlin Klair and Jenny Trunfio)

4-H summer camps are an incredible opportunity for Delaware's youth to have fun, explore various interests and grow into the leaders of tomorrow! Listen to learn all about Delaware 4-H's annual camp opportunities.

Learn more:

  • About Delaware 4-H — 4-H is the place where learning is fun, whether it takes place in your school, at camp, in your community or at the University of Delaware. There are plenty of exciting adventures that you can have in your community, state, country and all over the world.
  • Join Delaware 4-H on Facebook, Twitter (@Delaware4H) and Instagram (@Delaware4H)

 

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Episode Transcript



Dan Severson:

Welcome to extension 302. Today, me, Blake, and Jake are going camping. Joining us today is Kaitlin Klair and Jen Trunfio are both working in 4-H in the Newcastle County office. But first a little ice breaker for you guys. I've been working with Kaitlin for a few years and the holiday season she comes around and gives me a little Christmas treat of home baked goods and jellies and jams. Very, very, very delicious. And I know my family recipes are very cherished. You guys, what's your favorite or most cherished family recipe that you have in your recipe box?

View full transcript

Jenny Trunfio:

So I will say sour cream coffee cake. It is baked in a bread pan. It's the cake that all of my brothers, I have three older brothers, all of my brothers request for their birthday cake.

Kaitlin Klair:

I would say I probably have two. So we do homemade applesauce every year.

Dan Severson:

I love it.

Kaitlin Klair:

I grew up doing that with my grandmother and my aunt and my mom and I, my sister still carry that out every year. And then my second would have to be Great Grandmother's molasses cookies. They are really good. We don't make them as often as we should, but they are just one of those things where you just have to get the lard out and it's just like old home cooking food.

Dan Severson:

Yes.

Blake Moore:

So you're going to make some for us so we can sample it and then we can give you a review on the podcast the next time we do it. Is that kind of what's happening here?

Kaitlin Klair:

I can't, I have applesauce. I can give you applesauce. The molasses cookies, I will have to whip those up for you.

Blake Moore:

I don't know about you, Dan, but my mouth is watering right now. So yeah.

Dan Severson:

Yeah, the applesauce is to die for. I got some for Christmas. I think we met in the parking lot and I don't even think, one jar didn't even make it home.

Dan Severson:

Okay, we're here to talk about camping. And we had Doug Kraus on here talking about 4-H a while back, but give us a little recap about 4-H before we get into the 4-H camp.

Kaitlin Klair:

4-H is open to youth, boys and girls, anywhere between the ages of five and 19 years old. They take a project or multiple projects where they focus in anything from computer science, cooking, sewing, livestock projects, robotics, gardening. We have a wide variety of different projects.

Kaitlin Klair:

They can be active on a club level, a county level, a state level, and a national level. We give them options to go to national summits throughout the state. They go to National Congress where they get to meet different kids across the country, have those leadership interactions, and build the public speaking skills that they need, that they will take on into the workforce. Jenny, do you have anything to add?

Jenny Trunfio:

We also provide opportunities within the county to visit other states. We do an interstate exchange where our 4-H teams have the opportunity to visit another state for a week. They stay with 4-H'ers in another state, get to learn about 4-H there and about the state. And then the following year, those 4-H'ers stay with our 4-H'ers here in our state. So that's another opportunity for our older 4-H'ers.

Jake Jones:

Now that we know a little bit about 4-H can you guys explain the upcoming 4-H camps in Delaware?

Jenny Trunfio:

So we have multiple opportunities for youth to participate in 4-H camp. We have day camps and we have an overnight camp opportunity as well. I will talk about day camps a little bit, and then Kaitlin can talk about state camp.

Jenny Trunfio:

So our day camps are usually run a week long. We provide opportunities. First of all, our day camps are run by our 4-H teens. They are our counselors. They go through counselor training. So in New Castle County we have the Camp Counselor Club. It's called C3 for short. They start meeting in January and meet every month. And then they have a weekend, typically a weekend activity, in May where they get together and learn additional things. So during this camp counselor training, they are learning how to interact with youth, some behavior management styles and skills, and they also plan the day camp lessons and activities.

Jenny Trunfio:

So day camp itself runs a week long. During day camp we provide two or three classes each day, and usually the campers are in the same class every day. So they're developing additional skills over a longer period of time.

Jenny Trunfio:

We also then have programs where outside, whether they're people in other agricultural fields come in or health and nutrition areas, they'll come in and give presentations to our campers. And then we usually take a field trip, visit the pool, go swimming, have fun. All of our campers are put into people groups where they develop relationships with their people group leaders and each other. And the end of the week culminates with a council circle campfire. You know, it's during the day, so you have to use your imagination where they present songs, and skits, and yells, and work together to put on a show for their parents to see everything that they've learned for the week.

Kaitlin Klair:

So we also do a C.I.T. program, it's called Counselors In Training. So they come for a week and they learn a lot about leadership skills, how to plan a class, how to build those skills to teach in front of other kids, to build a lesson plan, the basic behavior management skills. So we work with them on that and how to react and not to react to different things. Which is a good learning skill that they can take on for when they go to college, workforce, all of those types of things.

Kaitlin Klair:

And then on the state level, we have two different state overnight camps. We have one that's called Environmental Camp. It is a three-day camp. It's short, it is for kids ages eight to 12 years old. It's a taste of going away from home. It's that age where kids are like, "Oh, I want to have sleepovers", but at the same time, they're not fully committed. They can get to try the sleepover away from mom and dad or meet new kids. It's environmental based, hence environmental camp. So we have people come from the DENIN school on UD campus, they're grad students, they come down and teach all of the classes. So they learn about water quality, different types of soils, all of those type of environmental science things.

Kaitlin Klair:

And then we also have a week long, it's called State 4-H Camp or Delaware 4-H State Camp. And that is held at camp Barnes every year. Last year was the first year we were virtual due to COVID and campers between the ages of 10 and 19 can come. And then we have a group of counselors. It's typically about a hundred campers to 15 to 20 counselors. And they stay in a cabin for a week long. We use eight to 10 cabins, two counselors in every cabin. They have a neutral bath house. They do classes throughout the day, have meals together, have rec time where they can play volleyball, go to the pool, go kayaking. And then every evening we have a counsel circle where they go down to the council circle and they sing songs and do skits. And it's a fun week long camp. A lot of kids look forward to that every year and it is a once in a lifetime experience for sure. And as Doug Crouse would say, "Once you drink the Kool-Aid you're addicted".

Jake Jones:

Well, thank you. I think Blake, Dan, and I are a little jealous that we're too old to attend these camps, but it sounds like very busy weeks, and you guys have a lot of moving parts.

Dan Severson:

Yeah, I'm going to echo what Jake said, and I was going to ask you guys, if you have any plans in the future of making state camp for 39 year olds. Just checking on that and see if that's in your wheelhouse somewhere. But yes. [crosstalk 00:08:01] Hey, I'd be all for it. I'd be your first...

Kaitlin Klair:

We have a lot of people interested. I can only imagine.

Jake Jones:

I imagine myself.

Blake Moore:

So this definitely sounds like a really impactful program for youth, and like you said, once in a lifetime, life changing experiences. So it's awesome that you guys are able to do that. So can you explain when is 4-H camp, typically during a normal year without COVID restrictions? When can people expect to hear about camps and when to sign up and then what are you planning for this coming year?

Kaitlin Klair:

For our statewide overnight camps, they are typically in June. For this year, the first week of camp is June 14th through the 19th, and the second week is June 21st through the 26th. Our environmental camp is usually the weekend before our first week of camp. So this year it will be June 11th through the 13th. It's a Friday, Saturday, Sunday type of event. Registration in a non-COVID year typically opens to 4-H members first as of March 1st, and then after March 15th, then we open it up to others outside of 4-H. It does fill up quickly, so anymore it typically doesn't get open to people who are non 4-H'ers, but environmental camp is one that non 4-H'ers can apply to as soon as it opens on March 1st. And then Jenny, if you want to talk about day camps.

Jenny Trunfio:

So in New Castle County, our day camp will be June 21st through the 25th. And then we have an animal science day camp, which is August 2nd through the 6th. Kent County, their day camp is July 5th through the 9th. And Sussex County has two different camps. Their first one is June 28th through July 2nd, and that is called an experience extension camp. And then they have one August 9th through the 13th. And for day camp, at least in New Castle County, we hope to open registration April 1st. However, due to the current health restrictions, we are in a holding pattern right now. Once we get permission to do in-person programming and have a better idea of where we are, we will advertise on our county webpage, on the extension calendar, once that opens.

Jake Jones:

Kaitlin, is this kind of the same way that state camp is right now?

Kaitlin Klair:

Yeah, so environmental and state are both... We're planning to open registration April 1st. And I think we're going to open registration regardless if we do have approval or not. And then we do have a letter out to all of the 4-H families across the state saying that we are pending in-person camp, if it gets approved by the University.

Dan Severson:

So guys with all this, changing health restrictions, where can people go to sign up for 4-H camp and find updated information as far as you know, in person virtual and changing dates and events? Where can they go to sign up and get more information on that?

Jenny Trunfio:

So our website is udel.edu/4-h. And that is the state website. From there, you can go to your county webpage. So there's Kent County, New Castle County, Sussex County. Once you click on that, there are tabs for camps and all of our updated information will be there. Once we open registration, the registration will be on the county page as well as on the University of Delaware events calendar.

Dan Severson:

Then the state page, the state 4-H page.

Jenny Trunfio:

Yes.

Kaitlin Klair:

Yes, and we'll also have it in all of our news blogs, our newsletters, you can find those located through the county for each page.

Dan Severson:

Yeah, and I imagine you guys would do a social media blast as well to get the word out.

Kaitlin Klair:

We will.

Dan Severson:

You guys cover all bases, I know that.

Jake Jones:

You've covered this a little bit, but can you walk us through again who can attend 4-H Camp, because from what I'm hearing, it's just about everyone.

Dan Severson:

Except for Blake.

Jake Jones:

Except for the three of us.

Kaitlin Klair:

So for environmental camp, you can attend if you're between the ages of eight and 12. For state camp, it's between the ages of 10 and 19. You can be a counselor if you're over the age of 19 or graduated high school, then you can be a counselor up until you're 23 years old. And then for day camp, we have three different types of day camps. Our Cloverbud day camp is for kids between the ages of five and seven. Our traditional day camp is between the ages of eight and 12. And then our C.I.T. day camp is between the ages of 13 to 15.

Jenny Trunfio:

I was going to say, and our older 4-H'ers are 13 year olds and up and have the opportunity to become counselors at our day camps. So you can be any 4-H'er, and even a little bit older than 4-H'ers, can be involved in our camps.

Blake Moore:

Also you covered this a little bit as well, and I know state camp is hosted at Camp Barnes, but where are some other locations that some of the day camps and environmental camps are run?

Jenny Trunfio:

I can say in the past, the New Castle County day camp has been held at Townsend Hall on campus. We may be looking for a new location for that. So if anyone has any thoughts on that, they can reach out to me. Kent County day camp is held at the Harrington Moose Lodge in Harrington, Delaware. The Sussex County camp, I believe the extension camp was held at the office.

Kaitlin Klair:

Yes. So the extension County camp is held at the office and then their traditional, just 4-H camp, is held at a church in Georgetown. I can't remember the exact name of the church, but it is in downtown Georgetown. And then for state camp and environmental camp this year, and in the few past years, they have both been held by Camp Barnes, and we have a great partnership with them where we are able to use their facilities for the first three weeks of the summer, two and a half weeks of the summer. So they let us use the facilities and we have a great relationship with them and we would not be able to hold camp there if we did not.

Jake Jones:

So the Sussex County office is the Carvel Research and Education Center? Is that what you're talking about?

Kaitlin Klair:

Yes.

Dan Severson:

All right. Blake, Jake, anything else or Kaitlin, Jen, any take home messages?

Kaitlin Klair:

If you're interested in joining 4-H or signing up for any of our camps, please visit our website. Like Jenny said, it's www.udel.edu/4-h. And we will be happy to set you up with a camp or a club or any questions you might have.

Dan Severson:

Yeah. Check it out early and often, as you know, we're in these changing health restrictions, so things can change fast.

Blake Moore:

I do have question and this for both Kaitlin and Jenny. Jenny, I know you said you attended 4-H camp in Pennsylvania, but still we'd like to hear an impactful experience you had as a camper when you were attending 4-H camp.

Kaitlin Klair:

My experience in 4-H and through camp actually led me to my job where I am today. It's where I got my passion for 4-H and the changes I saw my extension agent made through attending camp, and she used to be in charge of camp. And so the things that she did and the impact she had on my life and other people's life really encouraged me to become a 4-H agent, and that has been my goal since high school. So I'm really happy to be able to hopefully give that back to kids the same way that it was given to me when I was younger.

Dan Severson:

That's very nice and touching because I think 4-H people are a very special type of people.

Kaitlin Klair:

We're unique. We're very passionate about what we like.

Jenny Trunfio:

I grew up in 4-H in Pennsylvania. So my mother was an organizational leader and I have three older brothers and they were in 4-H. So when I started 4-H there were no such things as Cloverbuds, but my youngest brother is four years older than I am. So when he was in 4-H at eight years old, and I was four, I was going to 4-H meetings.

Jenny Trunfio:

So I learned everything from... I did show beef cattle when I was very young. So I learned everything from how to clip my Beef Shorthorn. His name was Silver. How to clip him, to prepare, to show, to how to plant my garden, to learn how to sew, and at camp, I would say my most impactful experiences at camp, were once I was able to become a counselor. At my camp was a little bit different. Our counselors were our teens. So kind of like our day camps, we were teen counselors.

Jenny Trunfio:

My most impactful experiences at camp were meeting those younger 4-H'ers, getting them to feel comfortable in their camp environment, those young eight year olds who were away from home for the first time, helping them to assimilate to the routines and learning how to do things and getting them involved in all of the activities. I would say that those were my most impactful experiences with 4-H camp.

Blake Moore:

That's awesome. And I really feel like you guys keep mentioning the experience about getting away from home and spending time away from home. My first time considerably away from home was basic training. And let me tell you, I would have liked to have a little bit of experience other than that, to lead up to that. Because it was a little bit of a process getting used to that type of thing. So it's great that you guys are able to provide that experience.

Dan Severson:

Thank you for your support, sir.

Jake Jones:

I want to say thank you to Jenny and Kaitlin. I think you guys are doing very important work, especially with COVID and the remote, how hard it is to maintain relationships for these kids. But I did want to ask, can someone explain what the four H's are in 4-H for me?

Kaitlin Klair:

Yes. So 4-H stands for head, heart, hands, and health. And so we try to encompass all four of those into everything we do.

Jenny Trunfio:

So it's head for clearer thinking, heart for greater loyalty, hands to larger service and health to better living. So those are the important parts of 4-H.

Dan Severson:

For my... [Crosstalk 00:18:06].

Kaitlin Klair:

My community.

Jenny Trunfio:

My community, my country, and my world.

 

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2020

Episode 13: 2020 Year in Review

The tables are turned and our hosts are placed in the hot seat to recap and review topics, trivia and Extension memories from one of the wildest years we can remember. Travel back with us through the creation of this podcast, revisit some of our earliest episodes and find out about what's to come in 2021!

Learn more:

  • Commodity Challenge "Fantasy Grain Marketing" — Commodity Challenge is a grain trading game that features real-time cash, futures and options quotes for corn, soybeans and wheat. (Want to be part of a Delaware Commodity Challenge team? Send an email to Jake Jones at jgjones@udel.edu
  • Nutrient Management information — The University of Delaware Nutrient Management Program offers certification and continuing education programs in accordance with the 1999 Delaware Nutrient Management Act.
  • Delaware Agriculture Week is now Delaware Agriculture month! We will offer the same sessions, expertise and credits you rely on, now online in a virtual format. Virtual sessions begin Jan. 11, 2021! This event is brought to you by University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, Delaware State University Cooperative Extension and the Delaware Department of Agriculture. 

 

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or read the episode transcript below!

Episode 12: Quick Guide: Avoid foodborne illness this holiday season

Each year, an estimated 48 million Americans become ill (and 3,000 die) as a result of eating food contaminated by harmful microbes. You might think you know how to avoid foodborne illness, but chances are, you're routinely committing one — or a few — dangerous food prep or serving mistakes. (We just learned we are!)

In this episode, the crew sits down with Extension Agent and FCS Program Leader Kathleen Splane to review important food safety tips to keep your family safe and healthy this holiday season. 

Learn more:

 

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Episode 11: Managing Nutrients / Improving Water Quality

The proper handling of nutrients is an essential step to improving Delaware's water quality while maintaining profitability for producers. The Extension302 crew sat down with UD Extension's Nutrient Management team to learn more. 

(Recorded via Zoom to maintain required COVID distancing.)

—Learn more: www.udel.edu/007831

—Register for Crop School 2020: https://sites.udel.edu/agronomy/cropschool/

 

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Episode 10: Five grain marketing mistakes to AVOID!

To kick off the harvest season, the crew explores the "Five Common Mistakes in Grain Marketing" with Ed Usset, Grain Marketing Economist for the Center for Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota.

(Recorded via Zoom to maintain required COVID distancing.)

Learn more about Ed Usset, his publications and the Commodity Challenge >

 

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Episode 9: Optimize your health during quarantine!

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive insect introduced to Pennsylvania in 2014 and now found in New Castle County, Delaware. As this insect makes its way further south into our state, they feed on a variety of host plants, posing a threat to our commercial crop industry. To learn more, the Extension302 crew virtually "sat down" with our resident Ornamentals Integrated Pest Management Brian Kunkel and DDA CAPS Coordinator, Stephen Hauss.

 

Additional information

 

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Episode 8: Optimize your health during quarantine!

Have you stopped working out and eating well during quarantine? UD Family and Consumer Science Extension Agents, Gina Crist and Diane Oliver, share their tips and tricks to maintaining your health when your usual routine is disrupted.

 

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Episode 7: Delmarvalous poultry

The crew interview UD Extension poultry agent, Georgie Cartanza, about the poultry industry on Delmarva, pollinator buffers, and the impact of the recent pandemic.

 

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Episode 6: A fair to remember (Your guide to the 2020 Delaware State Fair)


The 2020 State Fair begins this Thursday, July 23rd, and we have the latest inside information for you! Today’s special guest, Doug Crouse, is not only UD Extension’s State Program Leader for 4-H, but also an executive board member and the treasurer of the Delaware State Fair.

What changes will you see at the state fair this year and how has the pandemic affected 4-H, FFA and other participants? Listen to find out!

 

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Episode 5: What's the deal with Dicamba?

A federal court has recently withdrawn the conditional usage regulations for the common herbicide Dicamba. Why did this happen and what does this mean for Delaware's farmers?

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Episode 4: CFAP: What you need to know!

Have questions about the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program? So did we—that's why we interviewed Robin Talley, District Director with Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Delaware. Listen in to find out what CFAP is, what it covers and how to apply. 

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Episode 3: Scams in the time of COVID

Have scams become a bigger issue during the pandemic? How can consumers identify a scam online? This episode features special guest Delaware's Auditor of Accounts, Kathleen K. McGuiness.

 

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Episode 2: The Label is the Law

Find out how the PPE shortage is affecting farmers in Delaware and how it might be addressed. This episode features special guest Kerry H. Richards, Ph.D., Coordinator with the University of Delaware's Pesticide Safety Education Program. 

 

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Episode 1: Coronavirus

Special extended episode / early release

What is coronavirus, where did it come from and how is it affecting Delaware's agriculture and food industy? The Extension302 crew takes a look a COVID-19 with special guests Dr. Calvin Keeler (Professor of Molecular Virology at the University of Delaware), Dr. Gordon Johnson (UD Extension Fruit and Vegetable Specialist) and Secretary Michael Scuse (Secretary of Agriculture, Delaware Department of Agriculture).

 

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Introduction: So...what is Extension, anyway?

What is Cooperative Extension?

What does it do?

Why should I care?

If you've ever wondered what goes on at your local extension office, you've come to the right place! We'll answer all these questions and explore the history of the service with special guest, Director of UD Cooperative Extension, Dr. Michelle Rodgers. We'll also have a quick chat with four current staff members, representing Extension's four focus areas.

 

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