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.

Cheyenne conference helps gardeners grow

Garden flowers play a critical role in supplying nectar for pollinators. This hummingbird moth visits a tall garden phlox in June.                        UW Photo: Chavawn Kelley

The Gardening for Success conference, Saturday and Sunday April 14-15 at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne is for beginners, backyard gardeners, 4-H youth and leaders, master gardeners, community gardeners and farmer’s market gardeners.

“Topics will challenge, inspire, motivate and take you to the next level of gardening success, whatever your gardening experience,” says UW Extension educator Catherine Wissner.

The $125 conference fee covers lunches, a dinner and breaks. Go to bit.ly/GardenSuccess to register and learn more. On-site registration begins at 7 a.m. at the LCCC Pathfinder Building, 1400 E. College Drive.

Topics include edible landscapes, conifers and perennials for the Rocky Mountain Region, growing lavender, iris, and roses, native bee habitat, soil basics, seed saving, medicinal herbs and teas, growing in high tunnels or hoop houses, food processing, food safety and more.

Keynote speakers are Scott Skogerboe from Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery and David Salman, chief horticulturist for High Country Gardens.

Master Gardeners can take qualifying classes to earn an Advanced Master Gardener certificate. Participants in hands-on workshops can take home what they make.

Sponsors are Laramie County Master Gardeners and the University of Wyoming, Laramie County Extension office, the State Master Gardener Association, and the Wyoming Farmers Market Association.

For more information, contact Wissner at 307-633-4480 or at cwissner@uwyo.edu.


New publication invites you to explore the plant life of Thunder Basin

A profusion of bright pink flowers growing in a short tuft in gra
Tufted milkvetch, a native perennial of the Fabaceae family, scientific name: Astragalus spatulatus

A new checklist of Thunder Basin plant life is for anyone who wants to learn more about the wide-open landscapes where the Great Plains meet the sagebrush steppe.

Free from University of Wyoming Extension, Common Herbaceous Plants of the Thunder Basin Grasslands is available at bit.ly/UWEpubs.

The comprehensive plant list classifies plants according to forbs (flowering plants), shrubs, sub-shrubs, grasses and grass-likes (sedges and rushes). Listed for each is whether it is native or exotic, perennial (long-lived), biennial (two years) or annual, plus its family and scientific name.

For example, soapweed yucca is a native perennial of the Agavaceae family, whose scientific name is Yucca glauca. Woolypod milkvetch is another native perennial, this of the Fabaceae family, scientific name: Astragalus purshii.

Squirrelgrass, sleepygrass, winterfat, pricklypear and fuzzytongue penstemon are among the 195 species included.

According to the authors, the Thunder Basin grasslands in northeastern Wyoming are an ecotone where northern mixed grass prairie, short grass prairie and the sagebrush steppe come together. Ranging in elevation from 3,600 to 5,200 feet, the area is home to a rich array of plants and animals.

The new fact sheet provides a starting point for becoming familiar with the plants of the region’s uplands.

Common Herbaceous Plants of the Thunder Basin Grasslands is the third in a series from University of Wyoming Extension in partnership with the Thunder Basin Research Initiative, area ranchers and energy companies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service and the Thunder Basin Grasslands Prairie Ecosystem Association.

It is one of more than 600 how-to guides from UW Extension (see bit.ly/UWEpubs) that help extend skills in gardening, grazing, pruning, canning, cropping, habitat restoration and more. YouTube video series from UW Extension include From the Ground Up, Barnyards and Backyards and Exploring the Nature of Wyoming.

For more information on this publication, contact University of Wyoming Extension range specialist Derek Scasta at 307-766-2337 or jscasta@uwyo.edu.