New extension bulletin describes best methods for forage kochia establishment

Picture of forage kochia
Forage kochia

Forage kochia should be planted in early spring for the highest densities, according to research by the University of Wyoming Extension.

“Forage Kochia Establishment: Effects of Planting Time and Grass Mixtures,” B-1318, describes results from field studies in 2014-2015 by extension forage specialist Anowar Islam and graduate student Parmeshwor Aryal.

Forage kochia is a highly nutritious semi-shrub that can be used for forage or reclaiming degraded areas. Their tests at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center near Lingle included seeding with six perennial cool-season grass species.

Establishment was highly dependent upon spring moisture. They found overall density was higher in April regardless of monoculture planting or with grass mixtures.

The bulletin is available for free download by going to www.uwyo.edu/uwe and clicking on Find a Publication. Enter the title or bulletin number in the search field. The bulletin is available in pdf, HTML and ePub formats.

For more information, contact Islam at 307-766-4151 or at mislam@uwyo.edu.

UW team that revolutionized grasshopper control is recognized

A man holds big grasshopper, nother takes phone picture, third looks on.
Alexandre Latchininsky (center) and Scott Schell (right) have taught an entomology short course at the University of Wyoming for 13 years. Ken Black (left), an airman at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, is one of hundreds of professionals who have completed the 3-day course. The Eastern lubber grasshopper Schell holds is not native to Western rangelands.

A University of Wyoming Extension team that changed how grasshopper outbreaks are treated in North America and beyond has received the 2018 Western Extension Directors Association Award of Excellence for its efforts.

Prior to 2010, large-scale applications of broad-spectrum pesticide neurotoxins were common. The University of Wyoming Grasshopper Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Team of entomologists developed an approach in which lower-risk insect growth regulators are applied to rangeland in alternating swaths. This method affects only immature insects (pest grasshopper nymphs) and is benign to honey bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Since the late 1990s, the UW team has introduced the program in 10 states and 11 countries through demonstrations, hands-on train-the-trainer workshops, and UW Extension and academic publications. Now it is the preferred option for grasshopper management in the West.

In 2010, a major grasshopper outbreak was averted in Wyoming when the reduced agent and area treatments (RAATs) were applied to 6 million acres. The cost was $1.25 per acre and resulted in $14 million savings for the state’s agriculturists.

The extension award recognizes Grasshopper IPM Team leader Alexandre Latchininsky, professor and UW Extension entomologist; and members Scott Schell, assistant extension entomologist; John Connett, IPM specialist; Cindy Legg, Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) database manager; Douglas Smith, Wyoming CAPS coordinator; Lee Noel, former graduate student; and team founder Jeffrey Lockwood, now professor of natural sciences and humanities in the University of Wyoming Department of Philosophy.

The Western Extension Directors Association Awards of Excellence recognize outstanding extension education that addresses contemporary issues in one or more of the 13 Western states and Pacific Island U.S. Territories.

The 2018 award will be presented at the Western Region Joint Summer Meeting in Tamuning, Guam, July 9-12, 2018.

For more information, contact Latchininsky at 307-766-2298 or latchini@uwyo.edu.

Wheat calculator gives bottom-line insight

Harvested wheat field with Devils Tower in background
Harvested wheat field near Devils Tower, Wyoming.

For wheat producers, knowing what price to expect at the mill can be challenging, say University of Wyoming’s Brian Lee and Bridger Feuz. Their UW Extension publication, “Wheat Calculator Gives Bottom-line Insight” (see bit.ly/UWEpubs) introduces a new interactive wheat price calculator available free at bit.ly/WYRanchtools.

The Wyoming Master Stockman Wheat Price Calculator helps producers make marketing decisions based on product characteristics and the premiums and discounts applied by grain cooperatives. The tool can also be used to help decide when to market grain or whether changing practices to improve quality is worth the effort, they say.

Lee is the sustainable agriculture specialist and Feuz the livestock marketing specialist for UW Extension.

The online wheat price calculator allows producers to estimate the cash value of their crop by entering data from test samples. Calculations are based on standard characteristics, such as moisture and protein content and presence of foreign material, live bugs and stones. It calculates price premiums (additions) and discounts (subtractions) based on the quality of the grain. The tool also calculates Wyoming or Nebraska grain taxes.

“The time and effort it takes for essential farm and ranch tasks means things like marketing, economic analysis, and risk management get put on the back burner,” says Feuz. “This is not a reflection of the importance or value producers place on these activities. Producers consistently rate marketing and economic topics as important,” he says.

In response, Feuz, Lee and other UW specialists developed the general budgeting tools, livestock tools and other calculators available at the Wyoming Ranch Tools website. (See bit.ly/WYRanchtools) The purpose is simple, they say: to help producers answer the question, “Will I be better off or worse off if I make a change to my operation?”

For more information, contact Lee at 307-837-2000 or blee@uwyo.edu. Contact Feuz at 307-783-0570 or bmfeuz@uwyo.edu.

“Wheat Calculator Gives Bottom-line Insight” and Wyoming Ranch Tools are among the many how-to guides and tools from UW Extension that help extend skills in cropping, forage, pruning, canning, habitat restoration and more. See bit.ly/UWEpubs.

YouTube video series from UW Extension include Barnyards and Backyards, From the Ground Up and Exploring the Nature of Wyoming.

For ranchers: financial statements, ratios explained

 

Red angus calf stands in front of black angus mom.
Financial measurements can help guide ranch management decisions. UW Photo: Chavawn Kelley

While most ranchers state that profit is not their only motive for ranching, a ranch that is profitable is more likely to be sustainable over time, write John Ritten and Bridger Feuz in “Understanding Ranch Financials,” a new publication from UW Extension.

“Understanding Financial Statements” and “Calculating and Interpreting Financial Ratios to Gauge Ranch Business Health and Guide Management Decisions” offer a practical approach to the bigger financial picture. Both are free at bit.ly/UWEpubs.

Ritten is an extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, and Feuz is the UW Extension livestock marketing specialist.

“Understanding Financial Statements” describes how to use the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flows. Ritten and Feuz recommend examining these essential statements at least once a year, as each gives insight into different aspects of the financial health of the operation. An accountant or financial professional already employed by the ranch should be able to prepare them.

“Calculating and Interpreting Financial Ratios to Gauge Ranch Business Health and Guide Management Decisions” describes key indicators of liquidity, solvency, and income that can be calculated from standard financial statements.

While the authors say ratio analysis can provide a powerful approach to business management, they also offer these caveats:

  • Remember, no single ratio provides all the information needed to make good decisions.
  • Whether a ratio falls where you want it or not, don’t stop watching it.
  • Ratios are information only. YOU decide what action to take in response.

“The success of your ranch can be measured many ways, but the longevity of your enterprise is most likely to be determined by its financial success,” say Ritten and Feuz. “Knowing how to measure financial success can help guide management decisions you are contemplating.”

For more information, contact Ritten at 307-766-3373 or john.ritten@uwyo.edu.

These how-to guides are among many from UW Extension that help extend skills in grazing, cropping, pruning, canning, habitat restoration and more. See bit.ly/UWEpubs. Find a comprehensive set of practical tools for Wyoming ranchers at bit.ly/WYRanchtools. YouTube video series from UW Extension include Barnyards and Backyards, From the Ground Up and Exploring the Nature of Wyoming.

Applications open for annual Wyoming-Nebraska ranch management practicum

            Applications are being accepted for a ranch management school that filled to maximum last year and has had hundreds of cattle producers attend.

The eight-day, multi-season High Plains Ranch Practicum is June 13-14, Aug. 23-24, Sept. 26-27 and Nov. 1-2, said Blake Hauptman, University of Wyoming Extension educator.

Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne is this year’s host site. The practicum is supported and developed by the University of Wyoming Extension and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The practicum is the longest-running ranch management school in the region, Hauptman said, with ranchers attending last year from Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Specific topics are: unit cost of production; grazing and forages; economic analysis tools; personnel management and family working relationships; and nutrition, reproduction and body condition scoring.

The school is hands-on and focused on generating discussions and not lectures, said Hauptman.

“There are opportunities to visit ranches and hear from engaging guest speakers who share the tools and principles they’ve used to make their ranch businesses more profitable while improving their land, lifestyles and relationships,” he said.

Course fee is $600 for individuals and $900 for two from the same ranch and covers materials, instructor costs and meals. More about the practicum is at http://hpranchpracticum.com.

For more information or an application, contact Aaron Berger with UN-L at 308-235-3122 or aberger2@unl.edu; UW Extension educator Dallas Mount at 307-322-3667 or dmount@uwyo.edu; or Hauptman at 307-283-1192 or bhauptma@uwyo.edu.