- [Announcer] Montana AG Live is made possible by the Montana Department of Agriculture, (guitar thrumming) the MSU Extension Service, (guitar thrumming) the MSU AG Experiment Stations of the College of Agriculture, (guitar thrumming) the Montana Wheat & Barley Committee, (guitar thrumming) Cashman Nursery & Landscaping, (guitar thrumming) the Northern Pulse Growers Association, (guitar thrumming) and the Gallatin Gardeners Club.
(guitar thrumming) - Good evening, welcome to another edition of Montana AG Live, originating tonight from the studios of KUSM on the very dynamic campus we call Montana State University, and coming to you over your Montana Public Television system.
I'm Jack Riesselman, I'm retired professor of Plant Pathology.
I will be your host this evening.
We got an interesting program tonight.
We're gonna talk about some of the new industries in the state, some of the industries, AG industries, that have gradually disappeared.
It's a dynamic industry, so we're gonna really take a close look at it, what's working and what's not, what's in the future.
If you have questions concerning the AG industries in the state, we have an expert here tonight to answer those questions.
Before we get to her, I'm gonna introduce the entire panel.
Way on my left is Mary Burrows.
Mary's back again this week.
She had a tough week.
She spent the night on the road because of a delayed plane, got in at seven o'clock in the morning.
I'm glad you're here, Mary.
I'd still be sleeping myself.
(Mary chuckles) (Mac coughs) Our special guest this evening, Christy Clark.
Christy is a director of Montana Department of Agriculture.
We've had Christy here numerous times before.
She's doing a great job for agriculture in the state.
If you have questions about what the Department of Ag does, and what it does for our state, hey, tonight's an excellent opportunity to call in and find out what's going on with the Department of Ag.
(Tim chuckles) Tim has a numerous bunch of different titles, (Tim laughs) but I just prefer to call him weed (indistinct).
So if you have questions about weeds, and if you live in Montana, I guarantee you, you have weeds.
So if you are concerned about those, call that in.
We are having a little trouble with the phones right now, but I hope we get 'em fixed in a bit.
If not, you can email us or Facebook.
So all those ways, you can get your questions in.
And, Mac Burgess.
Mac is a small farms, truck farms, (Mac chuckles) or whatever you wanna call it, agronomist.
And he works a lot with developing small farms, especially crops in the state and, no, it's not Halloween by the looks of it on the front here, but we can grow some really fancy different types of vegetables and we're gonna get into that a little bit tonight.
But before we do all that, our phone answers are Nancy Blake.
She'll be here in the studio.
And remotely, we have Judge Bruce Loble, taking questions remote.
So, Christy, tell us a little bit about the Department of Ag.
- Thank you, and thanks for the opportunity to be here.
I'm always happy to talk about the Department of Agriculture.
So we are one of the smallest agencies in the state, which is kind of ironic, because we have one of the largest footprints in the state.
And we're basically separated into two divisions.
We are the marketing division and we are the regulatory division.
And both of them are equally important as we advance Montana ag products.
Without a strong regulatory environment, you know, we have to register our pesticides, we have to educate and license our applicators, without that being, and also our State Grain Lab doing all of those inspections.
If we didn't have that, we would not have near the success that we do in the international and national markets.
And so, that's basically what we do at the department.
- You know, I've worked with the Department of Ag for, I hate to say how many years.
I'm not going to, because it would date me.
But it's been a great organization to work with for, I won't say half century, but it's getting pretty close to that.
And I do wanna thank them for all the work they do for the state, because Montana agriculture is tops in the nation.
There's no doubt about it.
Some of our crops here are better than any other place in the country.
We're number one in pulse crop production now.
70% of the lentils, correct?
- Yes, 70% of the lentils are grown in Montana.
- So, you look at the state, we are highly productive, but not only highly productive, it's high-quality.
- So, and quality, believe or not, really sells.
And we'll get into trade teams with some of this as we get through the rest of the program.
Before we do that, I've got a couple questions left from last week, but we've all had enough of winter.
(panels laughing) I think.
(chuckles) (panels laughing) We're all waiting for spring.
But this question came in through email to me, and they want to know what crops to plant early, which nothing's gonna get in early.
So, garden crops.
So, is it too late to plant peas?
- No, it's not too late.
(Tim laughs) It's not possible where I am, but... (Mary chuckles) You know, I plant peas on the first of April every chance I get, and then I do it again the second and the third week of April.
I don't think that it really matters much once you, as long as you get 'em in by the end of April.
And I think we've still got a good chance for that.
- Yeah, I think we have plenty of time, but- - But they say as soon as the soil can be worked.
Peas, peas can tolerate cold soils pretty well.
Carrots are another one, too.
- Radishes, spinach.
- Yeah, field crops.
How about spring wheat?
When can you- - Yep, earlier the better.
- Yeah, for barley.
- For disease.
We're avoiding wheat streak mosaic virus.
I mean, you're gonna have to manage the weeds, which we'll see what happens when the snow melts and it flushes.
That's always a- - It is gonna melt.
- A narrow window.
(Mac laughs) And then you're trying to get it out into the field, and that's always tough.
At least, it was tough for me.
Last year, we had the cold spring and the quick turnaround was pretty hard.
- You know, we talked a little bit before the program.
A lot of years, we have barley that's five, six inches high by now.
And the Park City area, the Clark Fork, the Yellowstone, Fromberg, Joliet.
They're still snowing the ground and building shed, and it's past April Fool's Day.
So, we need some warm weather definitely.
Christy, this question came in last week.
I didn't bring it up, because we really didn't have the expertise to address it, but it came from Dillard.
And this person says, they see nonstop trucks of beef passing through Dillon, probably on I-15.
Is Montana beef being mostly exported out of the state and the country outta state and the country?
And is it... Is that why they cannot afford to buy beef?
So that's all your.
- Well, I sympathize for the price, the retail price of beef.
I still like to see our producers get a good price for calves in the fall.
But the truth is, that we've struggled a little bit with... We're always going to be an export state.
We just overproduced, we just produced way more than we can consume.
But on that, we did invest a large amount of money.
It was the COVID relief money, a large amount of that money that came from the federal government.
It was about $17 million that the Department of Ag put out in grants for meat processing infrastructure.
And that, in a short amount of time, in just two years, that doubled the slaughter numbers in the state of Montana, which I think is pretty significant.
I'm a pretty firm believer that if you want things to change rapidly, put an investment in it.
And so, we were fortunate that the governor gave us some of that COVID relief money and let us do a grant program for meat processing plants.
And I think it has made a difference.
- You know, last week we also had a question, and we kinda... We do a lot of dancing around answers around here once in a while.
(Mac chuckles) But somebody wanted to know why we're not having more Montana lamb?
I mean, I love lamb, but if I buy lamb in this state, unless you buy a complete carcass, it's generally from down under, and not from Montana-grown.
- That's a challenge.
I mean, it is.
I don't think that we have a large population that consumes a lot of lamb.
And so, I think to get that, I mean, part of what drives a market is the consumer.
And there's a shortage of consumer, or a consumer gets comfortable looking for, you know, a foreign source of lamb, then that's what they tend to go towards.
I do know that there are, there is getting to be more and more direct marketing lamb.
And I think is, you know, the silver lining for COVID for me was when, you know, people started to really care about where their food came from, and meat in particular.
It's easy to go to much easier now than it is, than it had been to get consumer direct meat.
And I've seen lamb popping up in that category, and I think you'll see more and more of that.
And we recently visited the Ellis Ranch, and they've transitioned, I mean, an interesting operation, they have transitioned into a fine wool market.
- And they have partnered with Duckworth, to Duckworth, and they put out some of the nicest high-end wool clothing that comes, you know, basically straight outta Montana into those clothes.
And it is... - [Nancy] Thank you for calling.
- Beautiful stuff.
- It is.
We had John on the program a couple years ago, and he brought a nice wardrobe along to show us.
And that was nice, but I still prefer the lamb chops.
(panels laughing) - Okay.
(laughs) - So anyway.
Mary, this person is thinking they would like to grow some peas this year.
They have a source of seed, but they want to know, is it too late to have the seed tested and what do they test it for?
- So they can send a seed sample to the Montana State Seed Laboratory, and the Regional Pulse Crop Diagnostic Laboratory will test it for disease.
So the Seed Lab test it for germination, vigor and a whole bunch of different things, and then we'll test it for disease.
And for P, the primary concern is sscochyta blight.
There are a number of viruses.
So, if they know the origin of the seed, they can ask the grower what they might be concerned about.
But we do recommend ascochyta as kinda the routine thing.
- It's getting a little late, but, you know, if you're not gonna plant for a month, they might be okay.
- I have not been up to Glasgow, but I talked to a gentleman up there probably 10 days ago, and he said they still had knee-deep snow, so.
- Yeah, yeah.
As of, you know, insurance use a seed treatment that's effective against a broad range of pathogens, and you can get your results after you plant.
- Okay, thank you.
Couple questions here.
One from Facebook, and I'll ask that first.
"What is the Department of Ag and MSU doing to promote farm to table producers?"
And number two, this person has heard of a program called, "Eat Montana."
So, who wants to answer or explain what those are?
I can take the local food.
We do a lot to promote local food in Montana.
And what we're seeing is, we do a lot through our grant programs.
We have Growth Through Ag grants that really encourage innovative ag ideas that, that can expand agriculture.
We're seeing a lot of local food hubs pop-up and that's just, you know, that's just an area where people bring their food and people that wanna buy it come and buy it.
There's one in Billings, they're getting to be pretty popular.
We also have the Local Purchase Food Program, and that's a federal grant, where people can apply it to the Department of Agriculture for a grant to purchase local food, and especially get that local food out into areas that we would consider food deserts maybe, or where they don't have as much access to it.
- And so we've done, we've done quite a bit.
I mean, there's always more to do.
We always encourage, you know, like I said, the meat processing, all of that.
We're really seeing the producers that have time and have energy or have a kid at home that, or, you know, a kid that wants to come back home.
That vertical integration is a really good economic opportunity.
- All right.
- I can speak to the MSU side of that.
- All right.
- Of course, we have a big research enterprise here and the squash on the table here are a product of the specialty Crop Block Grant, coming through the Montana Department of Agriculture.
But in my role as a teacher, we also have a lot of impact on students.
So, a recent thing, this spring semester, the students in a class about introduction to sustainable agriculture, have an assignment, where they're to eat Montana foods for two days.
And, you know, we don't get too strict on where their salt comes from.
(panels laughing) They're just gonna write a paper about it, but I wheeled in all a bunch of squash and every student, and the class got a couple of squash of a, you wouldn't see for sale in the grocery store.
And these are Montana-grown and going on six months in storage and still in great shape, eating wise, so.
- You know, my wife has seen enough pumpkin soup when she did a few tours, (Mac laughing) that she probably doesn't appreciate this.
But can you use these for squash soup?
- Oh yeah, yeah.
- Pretty good?
- Yeah, yeah.
- We might have to have a squash cook-off sometime.
- How about a- - And all the variety here.
You know, some of them were better in November than they are now, but pie soup.
- Maybe we could add lamb, a lamb cooker.
- Now we're thinking.
(laughs) - Ooh, yeah.
- There we go.
(Jack laughing) - Maybe with some wontons.
(Mary laughs) - Sounds like a plan to me.
(panels laughs) Here's one that I just, fascinates me, it's from Glasgow.
This person would like to know the best way to get rid of prickly pear cactus, and he would like to know how it's spread.
For example, if the collar drives a lawnmower over the plant, will it spread it?
- If you drive a lawnmower over the plant, it won't spread it.
There are a number of herbicides out there that you can use to spray on prickly pear.
And a lot of people do that to reduce prickly pear.
Sometimes it's usually a broadleaf herbicide, like a 2,4-D or something like that.
If you mow it, it will stay.
It will probably regrow out of the ground, but it won't establish.
That chunk of plant that you chop off, the lawnmower won't establish.
It won't establish.
- It might give your mower a flat tire though.
- Yeah, maybe.
(panels laughing) Yeah, you might want, yeah, you might wanna have a good flat tire in there.
You know, usually there's some grazing management that goes along when you get a lot of prickly pear or depending on where you are on a slope, how hot or dry it is.
It can make a big difference in how much prickly pear you end up with.
- Okay, thank you.
We had a question come in via email this week that wanted Christy to talk a little bit about the feeding of barley sprouts to cattle.
They saw a picture on one of the local TV stations that showed cattle with Christy and the governor feeding sprouts to cattle, and it's very successful.
So I told Christy about that question, so she brought a picture of it down.
So if we could have that pop-up, and, Christy tell us what they're doing.
- Sure, so the picture is at the McCafferty Ranch outside of Belt.
And the governor and I visited there a couple of weeks ago, and it's a really innovative feeding system that, they call it hydroponics, but it's not quite traditional in the sense that I think of hydroponics.
- [Jack] Okay, we got another picture of.
- [Christy That's not the right one.
(laughs) - Yeah, this is a trade team, but the one with the trays and the cattle.
We'll get it up here in a minute.
- But go ahead, Christy.
- Okay, so, but basically what it is, they're just using barley, maybe a little bit of field peas, and they're sprouting that.
And in a short amount of time, they're just feeding that out of a tub grinder to the cattle.
And the cattle do remarkably well on that.
And they are adding a little bit of roughage to the diet as well.
But they have created an almost a drought proof type of feed for these cattle, and they're finishing cattle on it.
They're called grass-fed, grains sprout-finished cattle.
And that's not the picture either, but.
- That's still the wrong one.
- [Christy] We'll get there.
- [Jack] We'll find it eventually.
But in the picture, you can see the tubs where they're growing the barley and, and it's just, it is particular system is all automated.
And so, the, you know, the cost to get started, you would have to reach out to McCafferty Ranch to talk to them about that.
The cost to get started is like anything where there's equipment involved.
It costs the money, but- - There we go.
(coughs) - But, it is, there it is.
But it's a really effective tool, and you can see the tubs in the picture, and that's where, that's the tubs of sprouted barley.
And they get about to that point and they throw 'em in the tub grinder and they feed 'em to the cattle.
- So I wanna know, I mean, I'm not a sprout salad type guy.
I mean, I like corn on the cob.
I like the basics.
The cattle relish that, do you know?
Compared to feeding them corn?
- We saw them feeding the cattle and they all came up running for it.
And so, it does, they said, you know, additionally, they don't see some of the health issues that they do with some of those real high carbohydrate types of feed.
The cattle have never bloated on this.
They seem to do really, really well, and they have a pretty robust, I would say, market for their meat.
You can go on their website and you can order the steaks, but I believe it's very highly sought after, too.
So they finished well, they taste good, and the cattle seem generally much healthier than they do on some of those...
I know when I was ranching, we had our cattle get into the feed one time and bloated several of them, and it's a horrible thing to see.
But they said they've experimented with this sprouted barley and they haven't experienced those sorts of health issues.
- Okay, sounds great.
I was fascinated, by the way.
- It is fascinating.
- I like new innovations like that.
Now whether it will take off statewide, probably not, but you never know.
- But you know, as we struggle with drought and, you know, loss of pasture, as you know, we get squeezed a little bit in Montana.
We have a lot of people that wanna move here and they wanna live on the land, and they wanna take it out of maybe agricultural production.
I think we're feeling a squeeze and that they are literally growing this in a 40 by 60 building.
You know, we mentioned that, and I looked at your website, and we'll get into this now, because you mentioned people wanna grow their own things own.
When I used to run around the state 20 some years ago, our average farm size in the state was roughly 3,000 acres.
It's dropped down to now around 2,300 acres.
Between Christy, Mac, can you explain why our average farm size has decreased?
- Well, I would say that probably speaks to the diversification of our agricultural landscape.
Our portfolio in agriculture has expanded greatly.
We have cut flower farms now.
We have people growing grapes, and, Mac, you can certainly speak more to those specialty crops than I can.
But I think that's also a good sign the family farm is still alive.
- I'm okay with that, because that means that we're not having, you know, 50,000 acre corporate farms taking over.
We're still very much a family farm, family ranch state.
And just as a marketing technique, that's what appeals so much, especially to some of these foreign buyers that are coming in.
They see us and there's still an essence, I suppose, Ellis and Yellowstone has maybe done a few things to elevate that as well.
(laughs) - But.
(laughs) But, go ahead, Mac.
- Yeah, Jack, I think the, you know, the typical grain farm growing wheat- - Will you still make- - Wheat and barley and peas is still several times that size actually.
And that average is biased by a- - [Tim] And those have probably gotten larger over time.
- I agree.
- When you finish it, there's probably that 10,000, yeah.
- But the proliferation of small farms.
Anybody who can grow $1,500 worth of, any agricultural product can- - Qualify.
- Can qualify a farm.
And there's a lot, like you said, with a huge diversity of different products out there for local economy, for- - Mm-hmm.
- It's been fun to see the change in the state, because historically, we were just basically a wheat and barley and alfalfa and cattle state.
- And we really still are in the big.
- We are, but we're much more diversified than we were 25, 30 years ago.
(Mac coughs) - A viewer from Stevensville via Facebook is interested in the latest in controlling hoary alyssum in the horse pasture.
And that weed has become a major problem in this state.
Jane Mangold has a nice extension publication on hoary alyssum if you go to msuextension.org, or to the MSU Extension page, and you can find it there.
I think, in general, there's some herbicides that you can use within a horse pasture.
Maybe, yeah, I would actually call Jane Mangold and ask her exactly how to do it in the horse pasture.
There are some group two sort of ALS herbicides you can use, but might damage your grass and you might be better off using something like aminocyclo, aminopyralid or something like that.
- Now that's toxic to horses.
That's the reason we're concerned about that weed primarily.
- It is.
Yeah, it can be toxic to horses, yep.
In fact, we're having Jane here.
We're not, on next week, on Easter, we're gonna be eating lamb.
I am, anyway.
(Mary laughs) But we're gonna have Jane here in two weeks, and I will ask her to bring in some hoary alyssum, so people actually know what it looks like.
- You know, it may be a little early because there's still snow.
But as soon as the snow goes out, it's a white flower plant, it's pretty easy to identify.
- Mary, this person from Havre still has some snow on the ground.
They are concerned.
First, do you anticipate any winter-kill?
And number two, will the wheat be healthy, emerging so late and breaking dormancy so late?
Any issues there?
- So, I used to talk about winter wheat and as long as the snow was covering it, there shouldn't be a problem.
It went dormant, and we've had a pretty long, I don't anticipate too much winter-kill unless in the spring, we have some germination, then we get a really, really hard frost.
That's happened before, for sure.
For disease-wise, I would say, (tsk-tsks) dwarf bunt is probably of a concern, because that infects.
During those long winters, only winter wheat and then snow mold, of course.
We've got two different kinds of snow mold that will affect the winter wheat and that can certainly cause some winter-kill.
- Is that the same snow mold that we'd see in the turf grass?
- Yeah, very similar.
- One of 'em is, yeah - Yeah.
- But reality, you'll see probably more of it in turf grass than you will.
Although, you know- - I've seen it, though.
- Have you seen a lot wheat?
- Yeah, yeah.
- Is it grow in circles?
- That Conrad area, especially, you'll get a lot and.
- It will recover, though, will it not?
- Unless it dies.
(Mac chuckles) Some guys have interceded some spring weed in it or, you know, called it, but- - Okay.
From Conrad, you just mentioned Conrad.
This person says that the average age of the Montana producer is roughly 58 years.
That's the ag farmer producer.
They wanna know, "Does the Department of Ag doing anything to encourage young producers to get into the agricultural farming industry?"
- Well, I mean, we certainly hope that the kids will wanna come back, right?
Or even that, even if you haven't been a farmer necessarily, that you'll find an opportunity to be one if you want.
And part of that again, is the diversification of our agricultural portfolio and just giving, we do a lot, we do a lot with grants and value-added grants, but it's more than that.
It's more about just telling the story.
The governor and I are out on the road every month doing a major media event, and the intent of those events is really just to be an inspiration to other people and hopefully inspire people to come back.
The governor has made a huge push, a Comeback Montana Plan, come back to your roots, come back home, and has really rolled out the red carpet for anybody that would like to do that.
And so, I'm hoping that, that we'll see more of that.
I know, I mean, my kids are back on our place and agriculture's challenging.
I mean, it's challenging and family dynamics can be challenging.
And so, hopefully, we'll see more and more of these young producers come back.
Diversifying, you know, some of them have started growing hops on five or 10 acres, you know, on part of the operation or, you know, other opportunities to have a little bit more of their own type of operation in the midst of a larger operation to supplement their income so that the place can support more than one family.
I'll put my two cents worth in right now, which I like to do anyway, but.
(Mac chuckles) Agriculturally, right now, we are as healthy in the ag industry as we've been both, the animal side, the production side, commodity side.
Prices have been good, costs are up, there's no doubt about that.
But economically, I think the farm operations in the state are doing quite well right now.
And you see that in the enthusiasm in agriculture right now.
And I like to see that.
- [Nancy] Okay.
- Question from Columbus.
This person sees all these squash on the table.
(Mac chuckles) And they're not a big squash fan, because they can never get them to store well.
And what's the secret to storing squash, carrots, potatoes, things like that?
It's all yours.
- Squash, carrots and potatoes, something else.
(Jack laughs) So these are all harvested here in Bozeman on September 20th, so they're six months and a couple weeks old.
But these have all been stored in an environment at 50 degrees Fahrenheit in about 50% humidity, which is pretty ideal.
And it's not a difficult environment (coughs) to achieve, but it's not, it's something, it's not in the refrigerator, and it's not out on the counter.
If you were to just leave 'em out on your counter in your home, we run our home a little bit on the cool side of normal, they'll last four months easily.
And then the different varieties probably is the biggest thing that some of your more typical winter squash you might see in the store that are great in November, like the delicata or the acorn squash aren't the best keepers.
These ones look okay and they probably would eat okay, but these were better to eat, you know, late fall, early winter.
But if you wanna have a good eating squash into the spring months, some of the kabocha types, the winter sweet.
That's a heirloom there called Lower Salmon River.
I cooked one of those up today.
- That's beautiful.
- And these are bread for storage.
And so, really the secret is finding the genetics that are bred for storage, and a producer that's gonna let 'em get ripe for you.
And that's something that can happen in your local food economy.
You won't see these in the store.
And if you do see squash in the store right now, you know, they're probably spaghetti squash or butternuts that were grown somewhere a thousand miles south of here, and they're not gonna be as good a quality as a kabocha type that's been in storage.
- [Christy] These look so fresh.
(Mac laughs) - You know, we'll go back a little bit.
- And probably before your time too, Christy, but there was once a big push in this state to produce kabocha squash to export to the Japanese market.
And we can put this out as a word of caution.
A couple things happened.
Number one, a lot of people saw dollar signs, so they grew four or five acres.
- And no contract.
(Mac chuckles) Nobody to pick 'em, and cattle will eat 'em.
And that's what happened to 'em.
So, if you're growing some of these specialty crops, make sure you have a market, and I can't stress that enough.
We've gone through fava beans here.
A lot of other different crops.
Jerusalem artichoke was a big one in the 80s, it didn't fly.
So be a little bit cautious there.
But if there's a market, hey, the diversification is great.
No doubt about that.
Okay, we talked about grapes earlier.
Here we go, are you ready?
(Mac chuckles) This is from Frenchtown, "The collar has a raised bed garden in the middle of several Oregon grape bushes.
The roots of the surrounding Oregon grape bushes keep growing up in the collars raised garden, and decimating it."
How does she get rid of those aggressive roots without hurting the Oregon grapes?
No, she wants to get rid of the Oregon grapes.
- No, she does not.
- She wants to keep the Oregon grapes.
- Grapes, but she wants the roots to stay out of her garden.
- I would just move the garden somewhere else.
(panels laughing) - Yeah.
(panels laughing) - [Christy] Plant more grapes.
(laughs) - That's probably the simplest way to do that.
(Mac chuckles) From Havre.
This person saw the Ag Pulse show a couple weeks ago.
And with all the new products, is there a venue, where retailers can view these products through the state?
They really thought the Atlanta beer was unique.
So, do we... You know, if we're producing somebody's new products, how do we introduce 'em into the market?
- Well, I mean, there's several different ways.
The Department of Agriculture does, we do Trade Show Assistance.
So, if people want to attend trade shows, they can certainly do that.
We do a Montana Food and Beverage Show, where we showcase all of the Montana foods and beverages that are produced here.
And we cater that to restaurants and the parks, and mostly wholesale.
It's not really open to the public, but that's an opportunity for those wholesalers to come and see what's new, what Montana's has innovated.
I mean, that's where we showcase things like the Lentil Crunchers.
There's a new company, 41 Grains outta circle that is milling their own chickpea flour and making it into some really delicious brownie mixes and cookie mixes.
And so, we do that through the marketing, but then also, Department of Commerce, that's not us, but Department of Commerce also operates a Grown in Montana website, and a Made in Montana website.
And you should be able to find all those products on there.
But then people need to register to be a part of that as well.
- It's free, but if the people that are making the products don't register, then it's, people aren't gonna know how to find them.
- Yeah, I saw a couple years ago.
Isn't there a show someplace every year where they put out all these products?
- Yeah, the Made in Montana show is in Helena.
- Usually in February.
- And can anybody go to that?
- Yes, it has a wholesale day on Friday, and then the public day is on Saturday.
- Okay, thank you.
That answers that question.
We've had two or three questions over the last couple weeks.
I'm gonna throw a curve at Tim here.
What's the best way to get rid of sagebrush?
- Well, sagebrush control, you know, we've, people have put a lot of herbicide, broadleaf herbicide on it.
There's a number of products that are out there, Grazon, what I think works.
These 2,4-D products we've, - [Nancy] Okay.
- We've used a lot of 'em in the state.
I think if you ask your ag retailer, they would, they would tell you, they would've a good herbicide for you.
People have used other methods in the past, burning, chaining, railing.
There's been a lot of things, tools that people have implemented.
The problem with putting mechanical disturbance in a sagebrush area is, you're gonna have cheatgrass as soon as you put that mechanical disturbance in there.
And so, I would say avoid the mechanical disturbance if you can.
And really, don't disturb that soil, that soil, if you can.
I would say talk to your ag retailer about a herbicide that might, could be used for sagebrush control.
- Okay, thanks, Tim.
This is an interesting question.
This person would like to know how Montana introduces other countries to Montana products.
And I think, we'll get into trade teams there because I know the Wheat and Barley Committee hosts trade teams, the ag, the animal science group.
Tell us a little bit about how that happens and a little bit about trade teams, and I know we got a photo or two of that.
- Yeah, so, I mean, if anybody is interested in participating in a trade team, reach out to the Department of Agriculture.
I think we're gonna post our website up there, and just talk to our marketing team.
We're always looking for people that are willing to host a trade team when we bring them here.
And we are pretty, we're very specific about what the trade teams do.
They're here either for wheat, barley, pulse crops or livestock genetics.
We do a lot with all of those.
And so, Wheat and Barley handles their own trade teams and you'd have to reach out to the Wheat and Barley Committee specifically for them.
And then the pulse crops, that's the Department of Agriculture.
Reach out to us.
There is a U.S. Dry Pea and Lentil, that's a more of a national organization that does a lot of the marketing for the pulse crops.
And then, livestock genetics, again, reach out to the department.
We, how we choose countries is really not up to us as much.
It's more up to the national organizations.
Those trade teams are funded somewhat, like the livestock genetics in particular are funded by the federal government.
And so, it's called USLGE, U.S. Livestock Genetics Export.
And so, it's a membership organization that the Department of Agriculture belongs to.
But it gets a lot of federal funding.
And so, yeah, there's part of our, there's some of our trade team footage.
And so, we've really put a lot of emphasis on the South American, Latin American markets.
They seem to be really hungry for our products.
Pulses, in particular, have been very popular there.
But, you know, barley tends to be still extraordinarily strong in Mexico.
We have two large barley, two large beer brewers, both of them in Mexico.
And the last statistic that I heard was 70% of Mexico's beer is using Montana-sourced barley.
- [Jack] That's pretty high.
- It's pretty high.
So you can drink a Corona with a free conscience.
- You know what, I like Corona, too.
(Christy laughing) And Pacific, though.
(Jack laughs) - Well, it's probably Montana barley.
That's why it's so good.
- It is pretty good, especially good if you're down on a Mexican beach staying warm this winter.
(Christy laughing) - It's not that good when it's cold and snowy and both.
(panels laughing) - Okay.
We have a caller, I'm not sure we can handle this one tonight.
(coughs) But I'll throw it out there.
He wants to know the best plants to grow in their garden and yard to have pollinators thrive.
Tim, you got any thoughts on that?
- I think lots of blooming.
Think of the early season plants that you might have in your garden.
And then I think, think of the late season plants that you might have in your garden.
And I guess for me, I think of having, you know, it's early, but I think I'm having some of those late season aster species that might be around like a goldenrod, liatris, the dotted gayfeather might be, is another good one you can find at some of your local horticultural shops.
I think those would, those would be a couple of them.
I think you want 'em to be nice and showy.
And I always look for a little bit more green once we get to August and they'll still be blooming.
- My cilantro is always, like, a high.
- Oh man, yeah, cilantro and dill, and they're so easy.
- Is annuals.
- One of my favorite annual flowers for that kind of thing is Phacelia.
It starts with a PH, Phacelia.
It's an annual.
You can direct seed in the garden and bees go crazy for that.
- And then the sunflowers.
The bees love 'em and the birds love.
- Yep, sunflowers.
- What about dandelions in the spring?
Some entomologists have said to me that dandelions, too many dandelions is a little bit like the high fructose corn syrup for our world.
(panels laughing) So, there's a trade off.
(panels laughing) It's good, it's nutrition, but it may not be the best nutrition.
- But they do promote the "No Mow May," which for us is probably "No Mow June."
(Mary laughs) (Mac laughs) - Echinacea is a fun, you know, it's a perennial.
- You can start from cedar and buy it at a garden center.
(coughs) - All right.
- They do well here.
- Enough of the pollinators.
(panels laughing) - We could go on and on.
(panels laughing) - That's true.
A person from Helena, your background, wants to know, or, "Is the Department of Ag doing anything to encourage more organic small farms in the state?"
- Well, we are also, I believe number one in organic production still in the state.
We have a very robust organic program, and yes, we interact with them.
We attend board meetings and we have an organic, two organic specialists in the Department of Agriculture.
So, if people are interested in that, they need to reach out to Georgana Webster.
She is the know-all of everything organic and she's a certified inspector.
Organic is actually set by USDA, but we do operate it within the state, and a lot of states don't do that.
- But we continue to do that, because we just think that that's such an important part of Montana's agricultural economy, that we wanna make sure that those people get good customer service, and that if they have issues or if they wanna start, that they'll have a good resource that's local.
They don't have to go to the federal government.
- You know, we operate an a certified organic farm at MSU for these squash and other things.
And our certifying agency is Montana Department of Agriculture.
And I would say that compared to other places where I've done that.
Having that local voice, you know, a lot of the details of organic inspection are at the discretion of the inspector to a certain extent so that you can adapt to unique locations and we are one, and I really do appreciate having local folks come out to do the inspections.
- That's how- - Our motto is, educate before you regulate.
(panels laughing) - Good point.
Okay, I have a question back to this squash.
Before we get there, this is the one time, every spring we answer this question.
(Mary chuckles) From Bozeman.
Mary, (Mac chuckles) fire blight.
- Prevention control.
- Well, if you, to prevent, grow a resistant variety.
- A lot of, there are some antibiotic sprays you can spray when they're blooming, but unless you're in an orchard situation, the timing is so fine.
I wouldn't recommend it for a homeowner.
(paper rustling) Pruning now when the trees are dormant and prune the symptoms of fire blight, and then beyond that to where the wood isn't brown anymore.
And then clean your pruners, so you don't spread it around, and then talk to your neighbors, 'cause, you know, that's where it's coming from.
- And avoid overhead irrigation.
- Yeah, that's a good one, too.
- Yeah, I've lost enough trees because my neighbor's sprinkler system.
- Sprays them.
- And don't over fertilize trees.
My argument there is you don't fertilize trees.
- Especially in Montana, because you want 'em to grow at a slow rate of growth, because you can get winter injury if you push them to that.
- Yeah, but if you do some good variety selection with some resistance, you give it away- - Practically all the apple trees that you're gonna find for sale in a reputable nursery around here are gonna be or- - Yeah.
And there are other hosts of the disease, of course, but apples are usually the primary concern.
- Is there an apple industry in the state?
- Yeah, there is, yeah, on the west side.
And then there's that Heritage program, the Heritage Orchard.
- [Jack] Heritage Orchard?
- I think, the commercial apples are mostly in the Bitterroot Valley and there are a couple you pick type places here in the- - Yeah, there's some Butler's cidermakers around.
- But, there's lots of people with home apple trees all over the place.
- Well, I understand that.
But, you know, I'm talking like the old Peter Fay, Rocky Creek farms, an apple cider production.
- They still have a press.
- It's still there.
(laughs) - Okay.
(Christy laughs) Sounds sounds like a plan.
- But I see Montana McIntosh apples for sale in the store.
- Yep, yep.
- The (indistinct) - And that's a great apple, by the way.
- That's a good apple.
- It is.
- Yeah, very good.
Well, I have guys for you Mac.
Helena quickly wants to know is, "Helena a zone three or a zone four?"
- I couldn't tell you.
(laughs) (panels laughing) - Depends on where you are in Helena, so.
- We'll find out.
(laughs) - Depends on the year and how cold the frost is.
- What difference does it make, right?
- It's like Bozeman, that probably a zone two.
- I don't know, seriously.
So that's the minimum temperature that occurs during the winter and there's not that many crops that really matters for the zone three, zone four line, especially if it's buried in snow, right?
- Well, I think, Bozeman is zone four, right?
I think, so, Helena is probably- - Well, this year, we were in zone two and a half, weren't we?
(laughs) - Okay.
(Mac laughs) - Question for Christy.
They've heard about Value-Added Grants.
This comes from Choto, kinda your old stomping grounds.
- Where I'm from.
- Yeah, "What does the department doing to encourage Value-Added Grants in the state?"
- Well, we've put a tremendous emphasis on Value-Added Grants, and we still operate our Growth Through ag program.
And that's primarily focused at Value-Added Grants.
It's up to $50,000, or a hundred thousand dollar loan that are, they were zero to low, very low interest.
I don't know with it, you know, change in interest rates if that's gonna, that'll probably vary a little bit.
But we've also, we've taken that grant program, and instead of just saying, you know, up to $50,000, we've broken it up into some smaller pieces.
And we've really started to do more of a business incubation model, where we have some smaller models, you know, some smaller grants, a $5,000 grant or a $10,000 grant.
If people need, you know, just smaller steps, smaller bites of the apple, I think we found that sometimes going from zero to 50 was a little bit overwhelming.
- And it was a challenge for those producers.
They need to grow with their own pace.
And so, now we have more of an business incubation, Trade Show Assistance.
You know, if they have a product that's going really well and they've got a good local market, you know, maybe it's time that we help them get to some bigger markets, some, you know, maybe a national food show or something like that.
So we've tried to do a lot, and then there's always, you know, just a good old GTA grant for, you know, infrastructure building for great innovative value added ideas.
- And a lot of these have started, you know, Ellis started with a GTA grant.
- Sounds great.
Phone number's up.
They can get ahold of you and find out, can't they?
- They certainly can.
And my email's there, yes.
- I appreciate it.
Mac, they like to squash.
(panels laughing) But they have a little bit of a problem storing them, and they want to know how they should bring them in before long-term storage.
Is there a trick that you do before you store them?
- You know, in an ideal world, they would sit out in a warmer and sunnier temperature to kinda cure, to harden off the rinds.
And oftentimes, we're not able to do that in our climate here.
It's a, you know, the eve of the first hard frost, they will take a little bit of a frost in the field.
In fact, I like to let that happen to kill the vines before harvesting.
But, you know, and then in ideal world, they would sit in a sunny field for 10 days or two weeks or so, and barring that.
We'll put 'em on a trailer at a smaller scale.
We put 'em on a trailer and bring 'em indoors through a frost and then put 'em out in the sun again.
- But yeah, they wanna be warm for the first couple of weeks, just to kinda start drying down a little bit, and then to that 50 degrees Fahrenheit if you can.
But really, you know, at 70, they're gonna keep for many months.
- Outta lighter in the light.
- I don't know that it matters.
- Yeah, dark.
I wouldn't go outta your way to put light on them.
- You direct seed into the bed or do you plant?
- We transplant all of ours.
We put 'em on plastic mulch to grow 'em.
You can direct seed 'em.
Some years it seems like they keep, they catch up, but other years, that transplant is worthwhile.
You know, they don't take transplanting particularly well.
So you, it's a two and a half, three-week-old plant when you transplant with one true leaf.
And any bigger than that, I don't know that it's worthwhile.
- Yeah, they just stall out.
- Yeah, that's what I've found.
I've actually become a fan of the, I've just easier to direct seed than it is to deal with the transplants is what I've changed my- - Yeah, that often is the case.
(chuckles) - Yep.
(Mac coughs) - All right, well, you have that problem solved, correct?
(panels laughing) - A comment, I have to read this one.
It's from a Billings call and a long retired extension agent says, "Montana has two types of sagebrush."
I did not know this.
"One is called big sagebrush and the other is silver sagebrush.
Each requires a different control solution.
So, first step is to identify that plant."
And thank you, John Rainey in Billings.
(panels laughing) I bet it is.
- [Tim] We actually have nine species of sagebrush.
(panels laughing) We won't go too far into it, but he is right.
And the difference is, big sagebrush has one single stalk, and if you kill that stalk, then the whole plant will die.
The stem of the tree, basically.
But silver sagebrush, it regerminates from below.
It's actually rhizomanous one.
So, if you kill the top of it, it'll still regrow out of the sides, or still regrow from shoots.
And that's why we need two different- - So, can you mow it?
- You can certainly mow silver sage, but it won't kill it.
It'll come back and back and back and it'll stay in there.
You know, it won't be as robust, but it will still be there.
So, we learned something tonight.
- We did.
- And thanks, John.
From Hamilton, Christy.
This person says, "In addition to the problem of drought that cattle producers face, and they do, and we've had three years.
Please speak about the additional cost of fuel and chemicals that affect cattle production."
So, you wanna jump on that a little bit?
- Well, I think we're seeing that across the board, input prices are just astronomical.
And, you know, I applaud that the market prices may be up, but my concern is that we are going to get a lot of those soaked up with an increase in input costs.
I don't know how you get around, you know, high fuel, high fertilizer.
I don't know how you get around any of those prices.
And, I mean, I wish that there were a silver bullet or a magic wand for that.
But it's just the reality, I think, of the economy that we live in right now.
- I agree, and boy, some of the chemicals like, one is commonly used in the state and large number is glyphosate.
And the price of glyphosate, Tim, has doubled or tripled, yeah?
- It did, but now it's come back down a little bit.
They've caught up on production.
Things are a little bit better and the price come down a little.
- And you can at least get it.
- Yeah, you can get it, and, yep.
- Fertilizer costs coming down at all?
- I have not paid that much attention with fertilizer.
- I think they're down.
- The last time I looked they were, yeah, kind of like, more towards normal for sure.
- And fuel prices are down a little.
- But, yeah.
It all helps.
- It all helps.
I mean, and then, I mean, the, you know, taxes.
I'll just talk a little bit of government because that's my job, but, you know, we are in a surplus in the state of Montana in tax wise.
And so, I mean, we have, the legislature has passed the governor's tax bills and I do think that that is gonna trickle down, I mean, at least some business equipment tax relief.
It's gonna hit that, you know, 5,000 farms and ranches probably will be in that middle category, where they will be taken off the tax roles for their equipment.
Maybe some of those things will ease that burden a little bit.
We had a tax commissioner on, I don't know, several years ago, and I was shocked to find out that each chicken you produce in this state has a tax on it.
Each cow has a tax, each pig has a tax.
I'm not sure about horses, but I assume so.
I was fascinated by that.
Is that still in place?
- Well, I think what they're talking about is the, it's through the Department of Livestock, and it is the assessment fee.
Well, not really an assessment fee.
It's the livestock fee, and that does go to operate the Department of Livestock.
And so, that's the funding source for them.
- All right, now I know.
- All right, from Helen, our caller says, they saw you on a PBS show called Pacemakers.
- TasteMAKERS, yeah, it's a great show.
That was so fun.
- It said good job.
And so, what is it?
(Mac laughing) - Oh, TasteMAKERS, you should check it out.
It's a nationwide PBS show, and they feature local regional producers all across the country of various kinds of food.
And we were on there with Patrick Burr, Roots Kitchen and Cannery, and they featured the relationship between the university student farm and this, you know, small pickle and jam shop here in Bozeman who ships things nationwide.
And he says every time that episode airs nationally, they get orders for, you know, a dozen jars of jam to Atlanta, Georgia.
- Wow, that's cool.
- Wherever it shows in that nationwide, they get a big rush of order.
So they make pickled beets and dilly beans and a bunch of specialty, like a plum jam and... - Okay.
- All from things grown in here.
- Not that I don't like food, which is pretty obvious.
(laughs) (panels laughing) But I have to look at that and see that.
- [Mac] So, yeah.
From Helena, the collar has pear and apple trees.
If you have pear trees in Helena, you're doing quite good.
One of the two trees had fire blight, which has been cut out.
Caller wants to spray a copper fungicide.
Should you spray all the trees or just the affected trees?
And what is the best time to put it on?
And I'm not sure copper will help that much.
- Fire blight is a bacteria.
- It is.
- Yeah, it has been, copper has issues.
- It said copper has been used traditionally.
- It's not, yeah.
- It doesn't work.
- It's not very effective.
- And I don't think he used streptomycin anymore.
- Probably not.
So, pruning and manage.
- I did have a friend working on a phage that would go after the bacteria, but they're having trouble formulating it.
So, it was UV resistant enough to get into the tree.
So, I haven't seen it marketed anywhere.
Yeah, we got have several other questions, try to get to 'em here in a hurry before the time's run out.
This person from Lake County has way too much grass in his alfalfa.
Can he get rid of it or should he start over?
- Way too much grass in your alfalfa?
Well, if you wanna get rid of the grass, you can use a grassy herbicide that will kill all of the grass, but it may leave you with a big open stand that you'll have to put some alfalfa back into it.
- I wonder if that might point to a phosphorus or potassium.
- Yeah, it could be be.
- Fertility situation.
- Depends on how the stand is, too.
- Yeah, yeah, and, yeah, it can depend on a lot of things with how many plants are still alive there.
- If you have a lot of dandelions, then it is time to start over.
Yeah, and that's what happens.
- But, if you gotta take it out of alfalfa for a couple years.
- Yep, and then I would go to, like, one of the hay barleys, the winter wheat, forage wheat, something like that for a couple years.
Moore Coller runs a fertilizer pen and the fertilizer cost is down $200 a ton from last fall.
- Good to know, thank you.
- Yeah, thank you for the comment.
And we accept comments all the time.
Not the nasty ones, we get a few of those.
But if they're half reasonable, we'll take them.
Is there still a Groundwater Protection Program run by the Department of Ag?
- This comes from Fairfield.
- Yes, it is.
And we still monitor wells twice a year.
And we've actually expanded that to a couple other locations.
What are they searching for, do you know by any chance?
Is it nitrates or?
- It is, they're, yeah, I mean, they're looking for fertilizer residue.
- Okay, probably nitrates something.
From Helena, huh.
This, I need to find out.
What is a teasel plant?
- Oh, a teasel plant.
This right here is the teasel.
You know, I was up in Polson this week and I went through the Ninepipe's area, and I've stopped and I was, didn't have to stand in the snow, so I was excited.
So, teasel is a plant.
It's a weed in Montana.
It's actually a biennial species.
It will really grow around riparian areas, wet hay pastures, things like that.
The first year, it's, you'll see just the roset on the ground.
The second year, it'll grow up beyond it.
It's historic use was the teasel.
The head of it was actually used to carve wool, and was introduced into the United States in the 18th century.
And so, it became a weed in a lot of places where we have had some livestock or wetter areas.
So, to manage it really, you can do a number of things to manage it.
You can mow it when it bolts if you want to, it'll kinda knock it down, but, and there's a number of broadleaf herbicides, 2,4-D gets it fairly well, too.
I think it might been listed in a few counties as an noxious weed.
- It looks kinda noxious to me.
(Mary chuckles) - Yeah, it's a tough one.
It forms, it doesn't spread large distances very fast, but it forms very dense stands, especially around ephemeral ponds.
We've had a ton of calls, both, all three weeks that we've been live this fall about voles, skunks, moles.
Steve Vantassel will be on in a couple weeks, week after Easter.
He's with Depart of Ag also.
And this guy knows more about controlling these critters than anybody else.
We're getting right down to the wire.
I'm gonna ask you a quick question.
Raspberry grass control.
- Raspberry grass control, grassy herbicides.
You can use, you group one, post, select, things like that.
- Fluff it in.
- With that, folks, especially I wanna thank Christy tonight.
Christy came down from Helena.
She's done a great job with the Department of Ag.
We've had a lot of fun with the Department of Ag.
We'll be back in two weeks with Steve Vantassel.
Thank you for watching.
Have a good week.
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