[Narrator] Montana Ag Live is made possible by The Montana Department of Agriculture, The MSU Extenstion Service, the MSU Ag Experiment Stations of the College of Agriculture, the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, Cashman Nursery and Landscaping, the Northern Pulse Growers Association, and the Gallatin Gardeners Club.
(upbeat guitar music) - Good evening and welcome to Montana Ag Live, brought to you from the PBS studio here at beautiful Montana State University.
So, we finally have a couple of days of sunshine, so I think you all are like me and are ready to get outside and get to work, not only in our gardens but on our farms.
And occasionally we come across a few pests and we'll be able to talk a little bit about that today of the more animal type of pests.
So I'll take this opportunity to introduce our panel.
I'm very excited.
On the end we have Uta McKelvy, who is our new Extension Specialist for seed potatoes and sugar beets and also some other crops.
But I am very excited to have somebody on board and looking forward to working with Uta.
We have Stephen Vantassel from Montana Department of Agriculture.
He's an invasive pest specialist, so any questions that you might have about any rodents, other animals that are bothering your crops, gardens, he's the person to ask.
Jane Mangold is a range land weed specialist here at MSU and she's got one little show and tell for us today, so we'll look forward to seeing what she's got for us.
David Baumbauer, on my immediate left is the... he's the superintendent of both the hort farm and the Plant Growth Center and a horticulturalist.
So he's really the guy at the university that keeps all of the agronomist, plant pathologists, and everybody going, making sure that everybody can support and do their research.
So, answering the phones tonight, we have Nikki and John Vradenberg.
So, this is a call-in show, so everybody, please come to us with lots of questions.
So Stephen, if you'd like to just take a little bit of time right now and tell us about what you do as your job as a pest specialist.
- Sure, so I help people resolve conflicts with vertebrate animals, that's animals with a spine.
So things like ground squirrels, pocket gophers, voles, prairie dogs, unprotected birds, which would be pigeons, house sparrows, starlings, and I even help with other animals as well.
- So, great, thank you.
Well, we always have a lot of questions and a lot of times we have to say, "we're gonna wait until we've got somebody to answers those questions," so, I'm sure there'll be a lot coming in.
First, David, this is a question from Hamilton and I don't know if this is one that I've ever seen before.
How do you grow watercress in a home garden?
- So watercress is a, not a very common leafy green that's used as, you know, the fresh leaves, but seed packs are available at, if not at your local garden center, you can find them online at some specialty garden seed producers.
And then it takes a lot of light, it takes a lot of moisture, and a kind of moderate fertility.
And so if you have, oh, if you wanna grow it in a container, you could use like a high-peat media or if you're gonna have a garden, maybe you gonna amend it so that you have, you know, a fairly high water holding capacity part of your garden.
So really fast crop, I wanna say three, four weeks, so- - Okay.
- David, is it a cool weather crop?
Like would you wanna start it early in the summer?
- I would think so, yes.
I think once it gets into July it's probably not gonna do all that well, so... - Okay, well, we've certainly got cool, wet weather now, so maybe this is a good year for watercress.
- Could be a watercress year.
(everyone laughs) - Everybody's planting watercress.
- All right, Jane, from Lake County, this person has Western salsify in their alfalfa and grass hay pasture, do you have any recommendations for getting rid of salsify?
- Yeah, actually we did some research on Western salsify.
It's been 10, 12 years ago.
It was a real problem in CRP lands in North Central Montana.
So we did some work.
There had been very little work done on Western salsify prior to that.
And one of the things we learned was that the timing of... Well, we tried mowing and we tried some different herbicide applications.
And that's Hoary alyssum on the screen right now, just FYI.
Western salsify is a yellow flower that gets the big dandelion puff.
- So, there's very little information about it, but we did find that the timing of a herbicide application is very important.
You want to make sure you're treating it when it's still in that rosette stage, which at the rosette stage it kind of looks like a grass.
It's got real thin, linear leaves that look a lot like grass.
However, if you break a leaf, you will see white sap coming out of the leaves.
But anyway, one of the things we learned, in addition to the timing, was that just a 2,4-D and Dicamba combination application at that rosette stage was very effective.
If it had started the flower, we've got virtually no control with the same herbicides.
So timing is really critical.
You know, other parts of the state are probably a little bit ahead of where Bozeman is right now, weather-wise and plant growth-wise.
I think that that year we were doing the research, we were treating it in mid- to late May was a good timing.
- So that's spot treatment, right?
You don't want 2,4-D on your alfalfa.
- You're correct, yeah.
Well, yeah, I guess it depends on that situation.
If it's... how overrun the pasture is with Western salsify.
I have seen Western salsify get very dense, but you're totally right, David.
That treatment, the 2,4-D and Dicamba would also injure alfalfa, so- - But that would be fine for grass hay?
- For grass hay it would be fine, yeah.
- Okay, great.
So Stephen, we're gonna take care of a little bit of business.
I guess a few weeks ago there was a call that came in from north of Columbus and so Jack took this call, but there was nobody on the panel at the time.
They have way too many rattlesnakes on their property.
They'd like to know how they can get rid of them or severely reduce their numbers.
So before you start, evidently Jack did a little homework and there is a business out of Paradise Valley called "Take My Snakes".
So if you're interested in actually working with somebody on that, there is an entity out there that'll work on it.
But could you just comment a little bit on dealing with rattlesnakes?
- Sure, so the one thing you wanna do is always think in terms of habitat.
So anything you can do to make your yard area as clean and green as possible.
'Cause snakes are gonna want structure to hide in because they're an ambush predator.
So the next thing you'd want to do is make sure you teach your family not to put their hands and feet in areas where they can't see.
Now that may be easier said than done, but that type of training, just like you teach your children to look both ways before you cross the street, you need to be sort of snake savvy.
And sometimes just wearing jeans, loose fitting jeans can give you an incredible amount of protection from a bite to your leg.
Not perfect protection, but substantive.
And then the next thing would be to look for the hibernaculum and that's where the quote unquote nest is.
And if you can find that and then you would simply, attack the, you know, capture them and kill them.
But you need to be careful.
Most bites occur because people are going after the snake.
In fact, most bites occur when people are going after the snake, rather than staying away from it.
So this is where a little bit of experience and they're faster than people realize.
And I have a publication on it, so definitely download it from Montana Department of Ag website.
It'll give you a lot more detail than what I've just given today.
- [David] How about those of us with bird dogs?
- Yeah, so the issue with bird dogs, and that can be tough.
Typically, you're starting to get into the colder seasons.
So the warmer days is what you'd want to be paying more attention to.
Once you're starting to get down below that 50 degree level, you know, the snakes are not gonna be mobile or they're gonna have to come out during the time with the heat, hottest part of the day.
And so they're gonna be moving toward their hibernaculum, it depends how early or late you are in your hunting season.
But you know, even the research has shown that when dogs get bit, if they are get bit, that many of them just recover even without any antivenom.
Some of the research shows that it didn't seem to matter whether the antivenom was given to 'em or not.
And also, many times a snake bites and it's a dry bite, so you don't always assume if there's a bite that there's automatically venom given.
It's not always the case.
- They have a choice?
- Yeah, they can control that because they're not gonna be able to eat a dog.
So the venom is really for the capture of prey and then secondarily for defense.
So they're not always envenomating when they bite.
So there's a possibility.
Plus the advantage with dogs is when they're injured, they tend to come to their owner, where cats tend to go away and hide by themselves.
And so cats are a little bit tougher.
So, but there's no perfect way to resolve some of that.
Just knowing that you're in, if you're in snake country, just be aware that there could be a bite, but try to go out on a colder day and you're gonna reduce that risk.
- [Host] Okay.
- [David] Excellent, thank you.
- Thank you.
So Uta, this is from Bozeman and I think everybody is seeing the same thing.
Their lawn is finally emerging from beneath the snow, but it looks awful.
(laughter) What can they do to revive it?
- Yeah, that's true, they don't look that pretty, right?
Well, you know, the lawn has been dormant for several months now and so it's gonna take a couple of weeks for it to kind of spring into action, start greening up.
So for now, I think a lot of the grass blades from the previous year are dead, maybe due to snow mold or just due to time.
And so, raking the dead grass material away, maybe some leafs that dropped in the fall as well would be a good start.
That'll probably help the lawn green up.
And then something to think about this time of year would be core aeration using a tool to kind of poke holes in the lawn to help aerate the roots or get air to the roots that will help the lawn grow.
And also if you have a lawn that has a lot of thatch, which is like that thick like biomass accumulating, you know, kind of break that up a little bit and help water get to the roots.
Those would be some steps to take here in the spring.
Do you have anything to add, David?
- No, my yard's terrible because I didn't get all the leaves raked before.
But we've had continuous snow since the third week of October, so yeah.
- Yeah, mine is not a pretty sight either, but the cat loves it.
- I actually was raking around snow piles yesterday just to try to like... (everybody laughs) - Because we wanna do something, right?
- Well, you look at all, I mean, I got...
There's mycelium, 'cause that's what I'm seeing, right?
The white webbing all over the place.
So, it's like, well let's break this up.
- It'll go away naturally over time.
But raking could, you know, speed up the process a little bit, essentially.
- Yes, so do you guys wanna talk a little bit more about snow molds on lawns?
- Basically, unless it's super severe, probably no reason for any type of treatment.
And then, one way to...
Probably in the future, so this fall, do that fall fertilization around Labor Day.
Around one pound of nitrogen per thousand square foot of lawn and then make sure your grass is cut between like two and three inches.
Not too short, not too long.
And then so your grass will be as about as healthy as it can be before it goes in and that will be your best defense against, you know, damaging snow mold.
- [Uta] Yeah, I agree.
- So one thing that I've been finding the last few years, we go into that rule of having the two or three inch lawn, but then when do you quit cutting your lawn?
And then your lawn does end up being a little tall and range-y going in and you get a little bit- - That's what happened to me.
I didn't see it coming and there was way too long of grass blades covered under snow and now looks terrible.
(laughs) - What do you think about fertilizing lawn?
When would be like, when is the best time for a spring treatment?
- Yeah, so I use the Dr. Bob Goff, for those of us that are old timers, and so the holidays and it's Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day.
And for most lawns that one pound of actual nitrogen per thousand square feet's a good kind of starting spot.
You potentially could get it on earlier, but the problem with getting it on earlier, then it rains and then you can't get out and mow it and so then you have a hayfield for a front yard.
So that's why Memorial Day was kind of his choice for that.
So yeah, divide it up, three applications.
I'm not very good about the mid-summer one, 'cause I don't irrigate very much.
And so, if it's already dry and it's like, "well, I'm not gonna put fertilizer on it-" - We usually get one a year, either the Memorial day or the Labor day, so.
(all laugh) - Another thing about the core aeration, if you have a pretty heavy soil, like once you core aerate your lawn, you could like sprinkle a little bit of compost soil to fill up those holes.
You know, it's also a way to add some nutrients and you know, kind of help with that dense texture.
- Uta, can you do that too early?
Like if the soil is too moist or is that not an issue?
- Actually the core aeration is recommended when the soil is a little bit more moist than when it's dry.
Yeah, and then, so there are these just like thin spikes, they don't really do a whole lot.
You wanna get the heavy machinery out there that actually pulls out soil cores, yeah.
- Looks like the geese had a convention in your front yard.
(all laugh) - Exactly.
- So, Jane, a question from Harden.
This person says that they know Dyers woad is a state listed noxious weed.
Are there any places that they can collect Dyers woad for textile dye?
- Oh, yeah.
- I've never heard of that.
- Yeah, that's actually one of the reasons Dyer's woad was brought to North America.
It's used at to get an indigo dye out of different parts of the plant.
Yeah, Dyers woad is an interesting species.
It is present in Montana and it has been for 30, 40 years, but it's one of the species where the state has been very aggressive in managing it and actually we're very close to eradicating it.
Like we've gone from thousands of plants being found to just tens of plants being found and it's in various places across the state.
But yeah, I don't think there's enough Dyer's woad present in the state anymore that you could collect it for textile dye.
And actually, given all the work that's gone into trying to control it, we don't want to encourage people to do that because we have had some situations over the years where we found it in yards where people were cultivating it for dye.
So while we have been visiting, the screen has been lighting up with questions for Stephen.
A lot of questions about voles- - [Stephen] Voles?
- Voles from Bozeman, from Anaconda, let's see, Jefferson County.
I mean, a lot of questions coming in about voles.
- And pocket gophers.
And I see you've got some show and tells today.
- Got a few traps.
Okay, so when we're dealing with voles...
So understand there's a publication on voles that I've written, it's available from the Montana Department of Ag website.
So we're gonna start with that, of course.
Now, unfortunately, the time to control voles, you kind of missed it.
That should have been done last fall.
Nevertheless, can you continue to work on voles?
The answer is yes, but you're not gonna get a whole lot of benefit from it, other than maybe the satisfaction of and there is value in that emotional response.
(others laugh) Nevertheless...
So you wanna look at it, you have to ask yourself, do you want to use a toxicant or do you want to use traps?
So if you're using a toxicant, a lot of your baits for mice and rats will have voles on the label.
They're typically restricted to bait stations within a hundred feet of your structure.
Don't put them in your garden, we don't want rodenticides in your garden.
But you can use them to control voles out to a hundred feet from a structure.
And that could be your house, it could be a permanent shed.
Again, a hundred feet, just read the label, read it before you purchase it.
And those are some options.
If you're concerned about secondary poisoning, which you should be, you want to try to use the first generation anticoagulants, and that's Warfarin, Chlorpophacinone, Those have a lower toxicity rate, so they're safer in terms of secondary poisoning issues.
Not safe, safer.
Then, of course, if you want traps, just putting mouse traps like this in the trails, you don't even need bait.
The voles will just simply crawl itself.
The trails coming this way, the vole just walks through, touches it, bang, (trap snaps) and it gets caught.
It's really that simple.
You're like, "Well, won't they be avoided?"
No, they'll just simply climb over each other.
So stack 'em up on the trail, (others laugh) and you'll just catch 'em without any bait whatsoever.
And of course, if you're using a trap like this, this is a rat-sized trap, just use the mouse size.
You want the expanded trigger.
Same thing, you want the trigger in the trail for the vole.
And just stack them up along the trail.
And if you're worried about pets or something, just put a cover over 'em.
Just make sure it's not gonna interfere with the striker bar.
Traps are like money, more is better.
- All right, so yeah, my husband set a pretty extensive trap line last fall and he put a five gallon bucket over the top.
So is that bolt to protect against pets, does it increase the efficacy at all or?
- Actually it would, believe it or not.
So voles need cover 'cause everything wants to eat a vole.
So I typically tell people to use like, a sheet of plywood, prop it up with a stone and then you could put traps underneath it and you can even bait them.
But if you have a trail, there's no need to bait it, just simply place the trap perpendicular so the vole has to cross over the trigger.
But if you have holes, sometimes voles are just creating little then you would want baited traps and you'd want to cover that so you're not catching birds and other non-target animals.
And just put a sheet of plywood over it, put a rock on top, and they would love them, would be very attracted to that.
- Yeah, what I've noticed this year is areas of our lawn where we've never had vole damage... Well, it's not really that big of a damage issue, but I think with the snow cover, we've just got an incredible number of voles- - Yeah, I've even had some in my own yard, but for me it was just a photo opportunity.
So I'm not a big lawn person myself, so...
But nevertheless, the time to control voles is actually in the fall.
So you knock the population down before the winter hits.
And then the winter does more damage to the population, so that by the springtime, you're not getting all those trails underneath.
But can you control now?
Sure if it, you know... - What about strawberry bubble gum as bait?
- Oh gosh.
Yeah, so- - Don't you wish you had a dollar for every time you hear that?
Strawberry bubble gum.
- Here's the thing, I'm always fascinated by these anecdotal stories, bubblegum.
- No, no, no, no, not just bubblegum.
(others laugh) - So the question is, do you chew it first?
Do you need to unwrap it?
- Well, you have to unwrap it.
- You have to unwrap it.
- (indistinct) soften it up.
I just remember the accountant kick back my invoice for 40 packs of strawberry bubble gum.
"What are you doing?!"
I'm like, "Really, it's a legit thing."
- So no, it's just there...
The idea was it's supposed to bind them up inside and prevent them from digesting it or something, yeah, no.
Here's the thing, if it seems too weird, it's not gonna work.
If it's too easy, it's not gonna work.
If you don't want to do it, it'll likely work, because I find that usually when I give advice, people don't want to do it.
And it's sort of like losing weight, right?
We all want the pill.
I want the pill, I want the pill to work.
I know it's not gonna work, but I want it to work 'cause I know I don't want to do what I'm supposed to do to lose weight, right?
It's the same way with wildlife.
There's no magic here, folks.
There's just things that work and don't work.
- (laughs) Okay, thank you.
And I hope you covered about 10 questions that we had that came in - I hope so, yeah.
- on voles.
because it is a hot topic at this time of year always and I think especially this year.
So Uta, a question that came in from Gilford.
This grower has a spring wheat crop.
Two years ago it looked great until harvest, then it started falling over right before harvest.
It wasn't wheat stem sawfly, the plants didn't have a deep root system.
Would a seed treatment help with this type of a problem?
- Yeah, that's a good question.
And it depends, you know, doing a diagnosis from the distance and then also, you know, two years after the fact is kind of tricky.
So there's several reasons what could have happened to that wheat that could have caused it to lodge.
It could have been root rot, it could have been something else, I don't know.
If it were root rot, then seed treatments certainly could help.
I mean, generally, I would always say seed treatments are a good idea to apply to your crops.
They typically help with the crop establishment.
So things that can attack your seedlings at an early stage.
They don't provide season long protection.
But a well established crop is also going to be more resilient against other things that attack it throughout the season.
Typically, we recommend using a fungicide treatment that has broad-spectrum activity.
So it targets all sorts of different types of pathogens that can come and try and nibble on your seedlings.
But what exactly was the cause in that person's situation?
I would encourage them, I mean, hopefully it doesn't happen again, but if they see similar issues or have concerns this year around, maybe send a sample to the Schutter Diagnostic Lab and we can have a look of what might be going on and then talk about some more specific targeted management recommendations.
- Okay, great.
So a question came in for Bozeman about potatoes and this is actually a really interesting question.
Will all the snow we got this year affect seed potatoes?
And that's actually a really good, thoughtful question because a really deep snow cover can result in a situation where you get volunteer potatoes.
So potatoes that weren't harvested from the last... or that remained in the field from the last year's harvest.
If you have a real deep snow cover and the ground doesn't freeze, then you can get volunteers and those volunteers can potentially harbor diseases that could affect a neighboring seed potato crop.
So, hopefully we did get enough frost in the ground that there won't be a lot of volunteers, but it is more of a possibility when you have a very high snow cover year.
So- - Nina, have you planted your potatoes yet?
(laughs) - Okay.
- I literally have this much snow on my garden.
I probably have almost two feet left, so... - David, have you?
You're you're here in town, which is probably a little less snow than- - The hort farm, I had to go out and check on my bees on Monday, I had to put snowshoes on 'cause I went out the day before and I postholed up to my knees.
(others laugh) It's better now, but I was out yesterday and there was still a foot of snow.
- Yep, we still have a lot of snow.
- And it's not drifts.
- And honestly you should not really, in most places in Montana, the middle of May is a great time to plant your potatoes.
Like the 1st of May maybe, but middle of May is really potato planting time for your home garden.
So I think we need to jump over to Stephen 'cause a really timely question has come in.
And this is from Hot Springs and they would like to know the latest about the wild hog invasion from Canada.
- Oh, okay.
So feral hogs, we do have feral hogs north of the border in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
So they've been getting monitored to see if they're gonna cross the border.
There have been some reports that there have been some sign of some of them crossing the border, but it looks like there's no permanent population yet.
We do not want feral hogs in Montana, they are gonna be devastating to our environment.
So if you happen to notice any sign of feral hogs, usually they'll root up the soil like it's been rototilled, or you see one, make sure you notify Fish, wildlife, and Parks or the Montana Department of Ag, or your extension agent.
We want to know where that's been located.
If your trail camera picks something up, we want to get that information.
We need to eradicate this species before it becomes established because of the disease and the environmental impacts of this particular pest.
I know a lot of people love hunting them, but unfortunately, and I would love to be able to trap one and do some work with them, but nevertheless we do not want them in Montana.
They'd be devastating for our agriculture and economy.
- Yeah and one thing that I read that I thought was a little surprising just a little while ago, it said that like initially, the first ones that come in, not to shoot them because then- - They'll disperse.
- They'll disperse.
- Yeah, so it's also illegal to shoot them.
So that's part- We don't want that hunting culture to come in.
So Montana followed the best practices of like, other states and Nebraska, where they banned it before it became established.
Unfortunately, some people like to drive them into states because of the hunting culture 'cause I guess they're quite popular to be hunted.
But again, I just wanna reiterate, the diseases they would have for livestock, the damage they would do to our native species because they eat everything and they will go... Then of course, whatever diseases would So they would be devastating for both our natural resources and then our agricultural resources.
And so if you see one, say... See something, say something.
We definitely want you to let us know if there's, if you find them in Montana.
- Could I add just a little bit to that?
There is a campaign in the State, "Squeal on Pigs".
And I'm guessing if you Google "Squeal On Pigs" Montana, - "Squeal on Pigs", yep.
- you will find lots of information about feral pigs including the phone number to call if you see damage that you think is associated with feral pigs or you think you see a feral pig.
And you can also find that information on the Montana Invasive Species Council website as well.
- That's correct, right.
- So yeah, - Good additions.
- Hopefully five years from now, we're not talking about how we control the feral pigs that are already here.
- Oh, yeah.
I think it's gonna be a long-standing problem for us because the situation in Canada is really a mess.
We're gonna constantly see pressure.
I don't think that's gonna go away for probably decades.
Okay, question for David and this is from Bozeman, sweet pea capital of Montana.
(all laugh) So what are the secrets to growing great sweet peas?
- Well, I know there's always this rush to get them in the ground really, really early and just like with potatoes, that doesn't need to happen.
They can have a hard seed coat, so sometimes it's beneficial to soak 'em overnight.
And oftentimes, you'll see recommendations about some additional phosphorus 'cause that builds good blooms.
And so, an easy way to do that is like bone meal, it's a really slowly soluble form of phosphorus.
And so you could put a little bit of that, mix it up in the bottom of the planting hole and there you go.
And then, a adequate trellis, so they have, they can put their energy into leaves and flowers and not so much on having to climb things.
So yeah, give 'em a good trellis.
- Do they like a lot of light?
- So I've been trying to grow sweet peas in my little garden beds for years now and as soon as they come up, something comes and munches them.
(all laugh) - [David] Oh, you got the look.
- I would think I'm a big fan of fences, so build them out.
I would think that probably rabbits would love your... How high are the damage are you seeing?
All the way up or just at the lower end?
- I mean, they just chop the seedling and that's the end of that.
- Okay, well and then that would be, probably it could be rabbits or deer and fencing would take care of both.
I would go to half inch mesh and build it out so that they can't approach.
That way you're not using a pesticide or repellent or anything like that.
It'll be ugly looking to be sure, but you'll have plants.
- It could be your trellis though, you could make a cylinder and plant your peas on the inside and then they'll climb up.
- That'll give me something to do until I can actually plant them.
- That's right.
Exactly, you can build fence.
- I'll do my best to make them look pretty, Stephen.
- Oh, there you go.
I just, some people, that's a big problem.
They have problems with rabbits and I'll tell 'em to build a fence and you can see they're crestfallen and they don't wanna look at the fence.
I'm like, "Well, it's one of the few things that really work well."
But again, if it works, we don't wanna do it, so.
- Stephen, I, not with sweet peas, but I've had just like green peas in my garden before and I think the house sparrows were eating them off.
- Were you having- - Have you ever seen that?
- I have not, so...
But yeah, fencing would still be another indicator of preventing that as well.
- Yeah, I actually put some screen over the top just 'til they got a little bit bigger.
- Yeah, so if they're house sparrows, you can have nest box traps to help reduce that population.
So house sparrows are not protected, so we can give a permanent solution to that.
(Jane laughs) - So, great.
We've got a phone number up on the screen right now.
So if you have any information about feral pigs, please call that 888 number that you can see on the television right now.
- Squeal on the pigs.
- "Squeal on Pigs".
All right, so Jane, a question came in from Big Fork.
Last fall, they have applied Rejuvra and Plateau herbicides.
When should they see results and what should he look for so he knows if these treatments have worked?
- Yeah, so those two herbicides are used on annual grasses, probably cheatgrass, in this case.
And they work below the soil surface, so they're a pre-emergent herbicide.
Well, the Rejuvra is a pre-emergent herbicide.
So what he should look for is...
He'll probably gonna have bare ground where his cheatgrass was in previous years.
So, because that's working below the surface of the soil on seeds that are germinating, you never see any emergence of the seedlings.
So it's a little different herbicide than what we're used to using in like range and pasture where we spray green tissue and then we see that injury.
In this case, if it's worked correctly, he won't see any seedlings of cheatgrass this spring.
- So then, how soon can I plant something else?
- (laughs) Yeah, so Rejuvra, specifically, it's...
The plateau is a little different story, but I think probably, the results with the Rejuvra is what you're going to notice.
It persists in the soil for two or three years and that's great for providing long-term control of cheatgrass and in fact you might even be able to wear out the seed bank, 'cause the seeds don't live that long.
But it does mean that you can't plant anything in those areas because that herbicide is non-selective.
It acts on seeds and it doesn't really care what species of seeds that it comes in contact with.
So it's not a herbicide you would want to use in a situation where you need to go in and seed something else after you control the weeds.
- But you could plant trees or shrubs, if you were... - As long as the roots are going down below the top inch of the soil- - [David] Because that's (indistinct)- - You can actually spray it around trees, established trees and shrubs, and even perennial plants that have a root system that's, you know, down that far in the soil versus just that top inch or so, where the seed germination is happening.
- Jane, could you comment on how the environment affects how long that herbicide persists in the soil if we're looking at two really wet and cold years?
- Is that gonna accelerate that or delay that?
- You know, that's...
I'm not aware of the information on Rejuvra, the active ingredient is indaziflam.
You know, it's typically used on rangeland and semi-arid environments like Montana, Wyoming, Idaho.
So... Yeah, that's a good question, I'm not sure.
I mean typically, more moisture and, you know, might increase microbial activity to break But I don't know, that's a good question, Uta.
Stephen, a question came in from Billings and they've got pigeons invading their patio.
(laughs) - Pigeons, okay.
- And yeah, what's a... is there a non-lethal way to get rid of 'em?
I know they're also problems for livestock producers too.
- Yeah, so exclusion of course, build them out with netting or spikes or electric shock track is definitely the way, so what the question is, are you looking to keep them out of an area or are they on specific ledges?
So if they're on ledges, you could use spike products or electric products.
You can say, "well, I'm not an electrician," you don't need to be, there's solar panels, some of them you just plug in.
Bird lands on it, they get shocked, they leave the area.
There are also products that are like Avitrol, but that's a restricted-use product.
It's a frightening device, so they would basically eat some of it, one of them goes into a distress call, it frightens the flock away.
But I think for most homeowners, you want to just simply screen them out, net them out, and there's a variety of products out there.
You could go to various websites, you know birdbarrier.com would be one, there's a whole host of things.
Bird-X would be another, Bird B Gone would be another.
And these are suppliers that provide all sorts of products in... You'll see the variety and basically, you say which one fits your situation, and they will have technical people there that'll help you navigate that or call me and we can chat about it on the phone.
- Okay, great.
So, Uta, I saw in my email stream earlier this week that an ag alert came out on anthracnose of lentil.
Can you talk a little bit about that disease on lentils?
- Yeah, sure.
I'm also glad to hear you subscribe to the Ag Alert.
(laughs) Appreciate that.
Yeah, so we send out an ag alert.
The context is that the Regional Pulse Crop Diagnostic Lab is testing seed lots of pulse crops.
So that's question a service available to pulse growers in the region.
And so, what they found is that, over the years, the incidence, which means how many seed lots have anthracnos, in lentil, specifically, has been increasing.
And so, while the infestation in the seed lots themselves is not very high, it just means that this pathogen that causes this disease is in the seed.
And so, we encourage growers to be vigilant, scouting their fields this year for early symptoms of anthracnos, which are usually thin lesions with a dark margin and they start at the lower part of the plant and then kind of move up.
And so, this is one of those fungal diseases that is favored by a lot of rain, high moisture, especially around blooming and pot development.
And so, that's also a time where it gets really tricky to control that disease.
That's why scouting, early detection is really important.
So we can apply fungicides, if necessary, before the canopy closes.
And so it's just, you know, an alert to have your eyes out for this disease.
If conditions are favorable, we could be looking at a, you know, a yield-limiting disease problem.
And then also if you're interested in subscribing to the ag alerts, you can find that at montana.edu/extension/ipm/alerts and we'll talk about other things then and anthracnos too.
So whatever is important and relevant for people in the state to know is what we're communicating about.
- Okay, thank you, Uta.
So we need to go back to Stephen 'cause there are so many questions that have come in, some really great ones.
A caller from North Flathead wants to know if pocket gophers and Columbia ground squirrels are the same animals.
And they have so many Columbia ground squirrels, they can't get rid of them.
They've tried Juicy Fruit gum and it didn't work.
(all laugh) - (indistinct) strawberries.
- Well, it's not strawberry.
- [David] Gotta be strawberry!
- Gotta be strawberry.
(laughs) Okay, well, no they're not the same species.
So pocket gophers and ground squirrels are two different species.
You can have them in the same field.
So pocket gophers are subterranean primarily, they're what we call fossorial, they live most of their life below ground, create these large, kidney-shaped mounds.
And of course the Columbian ground squirrels, they live below ground as well, but they also come out, you'll see them in their alert posture and you'll see them running around soon.
So, you didn't say how many acres you're dealing with.
And so, you basically have various options.
Number one, you want to control ground squirrels early before they have the birth pulse.
So the birth pulse is gonna occur probably mid-May, late May is when they're gonna start coming out maybe for some of your higher elevations, you might see it a little bit later.
But so you want to control them now.
And so you have various options depending on your landscape.
We do have rodenticides that are available.
Rozol is usually one of them, it's a chlorophacinone-based product.
You will need to have a license to use that because it's restricted use.
Of course, we also have traps.
And so, this is my favorite trap here, this is called the GT 2006 from Canada.
It's a guillotine trap.
- Oh boy.
(trap clattering) - So basically, you put it into the hole and... (trap snaps) it chokes them out.
So this is the trap modified, so that you can see it from a distance.
(trap snaps) And that way you can tell whether the trap's fired or not.
Again, these are about $24, $25.
You also have this particular trap, this is called an around body grip trap, two and a half inch.
Again, these are traps without bait, you simply place them over the opening, animal walks through, and then that's it.
You want to check your traps at least before nightfall.
Otherwise, the coyotes and the foxes will take your trap away, 'cause of the free meal that you've given them.
So, make sure they're staked well and you check them regularly.
I recommend people checking twice a day and then just march your way through the field.
Otherwise, use rodenticides if you have the right acreage.
There are no rodenticides permitted on residential lawns for ground squirrels.
There's a lot of confusion out there.
People are using stuff.
There's nothing, everything that's for ground squirrels is restricted use for non-residential lawns.
What's a residential lawn?
The part of your property that you mow regularly is residential lawn.
The part that you don't, like for those of you that have 20 acres or so, the part that you don't do regularly is non-residential lawn.
So make sure you read the label and if you have questions, definitely reach out out to me.
And there is a publication that I have on Richardson ground squirrel and Columbian ground squirrel that'll tell you more than you want to know.
- Great and what is that other device on the front?
- Oh, the Goodnature.
Yes, so this is for rats and mice.
This is a repeating rodent trap that uses a gas-powered plunger that the animal sticks its head up inside and then this plunger comes across, hits 'em in the head, and then it drops them out.
So if you have rats or mice, you can definitely use this trap.
It's not cheap, about $200, but you don't have to keep checking a trap and it'll work for you.
And I think I still have gas in it, so we'll see if it works.
(plastic bottle crinkling) Nope, I'm out of gas.
But the plunger will come across this way, animal gets hit in the head, then it drops out through gravity, and then it resets.
So these things cost probably about $10 a piece.
And it's a great little trap.
And the a reason why it's A24 is you can get 24 strikes outta one cartridge.
- Do you mount that on a stake or something?
- Yeah, so this has a part here.
This part comes off and you screw it in and then place it up against a tree or on a ground.
So if you're doing mice, you need to have it three quarters of an inch off the ground, and so you need to make sure you cut a hole so this will set into the ground.
If you're dealing with rats, it's just gonna be a fist high off the ground.
The rat sticks its head up inside, bang, and that's the end of that.
- Can you use that in a house?
Just make sure you keep your kids away from it because, fingers will be broken.
(others laugh) - So then you have a bunch of unconscious mice and rats laying around?
- Oh no, no, they're not unconscious.
(others laugh) Well, they're unconscious and then they die.
And so... (others laugh) Actually, it passes New Zealand humane laws for how quickly the animal goes unconscious and dies.
So, it's an impressive little trap.
There's also what's called the A18 and that's for squirrels and larger animals as well.
So these are all built out in New Zealand.
New Zealand has a huge problem with invasive species and they're trying to do things in a non-toxic way.
That's the big desire.
So if you don't want toxicants, this is one device that can be on that route for you.
So you don't have to keep checking a trap and emptying it because this will do the job.
These are primarily for outdoors 'cause then a scavenger can remove the carcass, but you can use them indoors as well.
- [David] So is that a CO2 cartridge that you have?
- That's correct.
- [David] You steal that from your kid's BB gun?
- It won't fit, this is a special size.
- He's tried.
- Of course.
- So it has to be a special size in order for it to fit.
So, it won't work with your BB gun cartridge.
So, it's a specialized sized cartridge for that.
- You know, I'm starting to think you can literally kill two rodents with one stone.
You set up your traps, you check them regularly, you get your steps and you even lose weight.
- Oh, absolutely.
(all laugh) Absolutely, but this would actually reduce your need to check it because it even has a counter and then you can go out.
So they use these out in, you know, in New Zealand to control various invasives, like rats and weasels.
And so, this way they don't have to go out and check it regularly.
And so it'll last six months.
These traps will last I'm told up to 10 years.
- [Jane] Wow.
- So they're pretty...
I'm very impressed.
- Where can you buy them?
- Just go to Goodnature or automatictrap.com.
Automatictrap.com, where you can purchase them.
I think they'll even have 'em on Amazon and some other locations as well.
Or just look up "Goodnature" and you'll find some places where you can buy it or contact me and I'll tell you.
- Oh my.
- And it won't damage the fur.
You can still skin 'em out.
- Skin 'em out, yeah.
(others laugh) Not much of a market for mouse and rat fur.
- It would take a lot of them to make something.
So David, a question for Corvallis, they would like to know the best time of year to prune a maple tree.
- Ah, so this is a good time of year to prune trees before the sap flows.
There's an old horticultural saying that the best time to prune is when the knife is sharp.
But this is actually a really good time 'cause the trees are still dormant, they're just waking up.
Sometimes pruning can encourage breaking of dormancy, so that's why you usually don't want to do it in January or December.
But, so yeah... - [Nina] Great.
- Apple trees, maples, now's a good time.
- And then always the reminder to make sure you clean your tools.
- Sanitize between cuts - Yes, so you don't spread any diseases.
- Thank you.
So there's a question about potatoes from Hamilton.
They bought potatoes at the grocery store that have black spots on the inside and outside.
He's wondering if he puts the peels in his compost, will it cause disease in their garden?
That's actually, that's a great question.
And what I'll say, in general, with anything that you compost, if you're going through a sufficient composting process where you have enough mass where you actually get heating in your compost pile, it should kill any pathogens.
David, I know you can comment.
You need to get up to what?
- 140 degrees, but you want the whole pile and it's harder to do than it seems.
- It's harder to do, yeah.
But you can buy thermometers.
But if you keep your- - If you're in active composting and you're turning it, you're keeping the moisture up, and you're, you know, you're paying attention to nitrogen and carbon sources, you can get it hot enough to kill weed seeds and any pathogens in there.
- Right, yeah.
- And I rarely do.
(others laugh) - You have to work pretty hard.
Just like you have to work pretty hard to take care of rodents.
- You get your upper body work in to go through the steps, all the turning.
But there are, out there, there are compost, you know, small-scale composters that are easier to turn.
But it seems that one of the challenges, at least in a cold climate is, you need about a cubic yard of material to generate enough, you know, have enough biomass to generate the heat.
You know, and so when I see these little composters, it's like, "geez," I just don't know that it's actually gonna have enough- - [Stephen] That's microbially generated heat?
- [Stephen] Okay.
- Yeah, and you know, what we've always done in the past, we had horses, we don't have any more.
But you know, adding manure to the compost pile, adding a nitrogen source, you can actually add nitrogen fertilizer to your pile.
You know, fresh grass clippings, things like- - [David] Great stuff.
- That really, really get it cooking definitely help a lot, so.
So Jane, I see you've got a show and tell there that we haven't had a chance to get to.
- Yeah, yeah.
So, I tried to find something green growing in Bozeman and this was the green thing I found.
This is bulbous bluegrass, Poa bulbosa, and we often get questions on the show about bulbous bluegrass.
It's in these little clumps, these circular clumps.
Where I found this, it was the only thing green.
And if you peel this clump apart, you'll notice that the roots of bulbous bluegrass have little bulbels at the base, kind of look like a little onion.
And that's where the name comes from, Bulbous Bluegrass.
So I just brought this to point out, it's greening up.
It's in disturbed areas.
If you do wanna treat it with a herbicide, we don't have a lot of options for dealing with this plant other than herbicides.
But you could treat this with glyphosate right now in settings where it's the only green thing.
And you could treat it with like six ounces per acre of a glyphosate product and now would be the time to do that.
- Great, thank you.
- I guess I'm wondering what...
Since it's green, what is the problem for someone's yard?
Is it just because it's different grass than what they should have?
- Well, it's not so much a problem in yards, but it is becoming more and more of a problem in range and pasture.
- Oh, okay.
- It's often starts on the edges of a pasture, where maybe the vegetation's not quite as competitive.
But then it starts moving in.
It's not palatable, it doesn't...
This is about all the foliage you get from this plant and then it eventually like flower, but it doesn't provide much forage value for wildlife or livestock.
So in the yard, not so much of a problem, and you could water it and fertilize it out with other competitive vegetation.
- [Stephen] Oh, okay.
- So Stephen, a caller from Florence is asking about magpies.
- [Stephen] Oh, yeah.
- They've destroyed a couple of nests, but they keep coming back.
They're curious if there's anything that can be done to keep them away.
- Yeah, the challenge with magpies is you're dealing with a protected bird.
So it's protected federally, so you have to resist the desire to shoot it.
So, that would be a violation of federal law, which gets... the feds really get wired up about that sort of thing, so you want avoid that.
Yeah, and that would be something, so certainly removing an old nest, although I haven't seen them reoccupy older nests, so I'd be interested in that 'cause I certainly see the remnants of old nests around, but I haven't seen them reoccupied.
Almost seems like they rebuild.
You could always net a tree, you could haze the bird.
Again, that requires a lot of time.
I wish I had an easy answer for you on magpies and unfortunately I do not.
But hazing could certainly be...
So if you start to see them building a nest, hazing could be things like spraying water at them in a way that's not gonna injure the bird.
You can't injure the bird, but you can certainly scare it if you have pyrotechnics, that can do it.
Your neighbors might not be happy with you with pyrotechnics and if you're in urban areas, make sure you contact the police before you begin firing these off.
That could be an issue.
They might think there's a war going on.
And then last, so you might wanna think about some sort of flashing devices like a strobe, but otherwise there's nothing that's gonna be very easy on that.
And then, of course, if a tree is a problem, you know, removal of the tree, opening up the canopy may be also helpful as well, up to a third of the branches.
But nothing's... You can get a depredation permit if it's a real problem, but that costs you a hundred dollars just to apply and there's no guarantee they'll give it to you.
- Okay, well, we've got a lot more questions for you, so I think we're gonna just let you bring us on home.
- [Stephen] Okay.
- So a caller from Helena would like to know if harvesting wild huckleberries results in more human to bear conflict.
- Oh, that's something I don't know, but certainly if you're around food with bears, that would, there's always gonna be that risk.
So bears are, of course, they're a game species in Montana, so that's in than my wheelhouse than the animals that are unprotected like But certainly if you're around food and bears are out, there's gonna be a problem there.
So you need to make sure you're watching, keep your bear spray with you, and make sure you're with someone that you can run faster than.
(others laugh) One more from Manhattan.
How can they keep raccoons out of their sweet corn?
- Yes, so there would be... You have a couple of things to do there.
Electric fencing would probably be the best method.
So you'd want to have, I don't know what the height is for that, so in terms of electric fencing, I think it's four inches off the ground and then I think 12 inches off the ground.
If that's not a possibility, then you're really looking at trapping the population down before that corn gets really sweet.
And so, raccoons are not protected.
There's a variety of traps that are available for that.
Cage traps, of course.
Now here's the thing, once you catch 'em, you're not gonna dump 'em somewhere else, right?
So it's gonna be kind of a one way trip, if you get what I'm saying.
And not one way trip to dump 'em, they're gonna not come back.
So you need to make sure you have a.... to be able to deal with them in a responsible way.
And then always remember if you're using cage traps, are you gonna be prepared to catch a skunk?
A lot of people think that, you know, they're always like the social contract has somehow been broken because the skunk got into your trap.
Skunk is gonna walk into your trap, so you need to make sure you're prepared to handle a skunk.
So you always wanna make sure you cover your cage trap 50% with a cloth, and that way at least you have a blind spot to come to.
You're always wearing gloves when you're handling your cage trap, so that way you can release the skunk, if necessary.
And then with your cages, we also have other traps we call encapsulated foot traps.
And those are more species specific.
It requires the raccoon to stick their foot into it and then they get caught that way.
It's not a foothold.
So, and then we have information on that as well.
You can also call us.
- So, so many questions for Stephen Vantassel from the Montana Department of Agriculture.
So, thank you so much for joining us today.
Thank you, panel.
Great questions today.
Please join us next week for Today's Cattle Operations with Darrin Boss who serves as the department head for MSU Research Center.
- For more information and resources, visit montanapbs.org/aglive.
(joyful guitar music) - [Narrator] Montana Ag Live is made possible by, the Montana Department of Agriculture, the MSU Extension Service, the MSU Ag Experiment Stations of the College of Agriculture, the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, Cashman Nursery and Landscaping, the Northern Pulse Growers Association, and the Gallatin Gardener's Club.