What’s New in Michigan Organic Ag?
March 18 – April 8

Events on Crop Production and Marketing

1.	Select Michigan Program Seeks Vendors for Summer Farmers' Markets

2.	Direct Marketing through Farm Stands and Farmers Markets

Organic Crop Production Information

3.	Flaming as a Method of Weed Control in Organic Farming Systems

4.	Expert Advises Planting Corn on Uncommitted Acres

5.	Soggy-Soil Equipment Strategies

6.	Insects to Watch in 2008 - Part I - Winter Cutworm 

Agriculture Policy and Government Updates

Job and Internship Opportunities
8.	The FARM Institute is Now Hiring a Production Garden Manager 
9.	Michigan Land Use Institute Hiring for Entrepreneurial Agriculture Program, Northern MI.

1.	Direct Marketing through Farm Stands and Farmers Markets

•	Learn ins and outs of direct marketing opportunities in Michigan including understanding your customers, creating attractive product displays, using signs to increase profits, and much more!

o	April 5, 2008 – 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Southern Michigan 
o	April 14, 2008 – 7 to 4 p.m. in the Detroit Area
o	April 16, 2008 - 7 to 4 p.m. in the Flint Area

•	Visit the MIFFS website at 

•	For more information to register, please contact the MIFFS office at (517) 432-0712 or [log in to unmask]

2.	Select Michigan Program Seeks Vendors for Summer Farmers' Markets
The Select Michigan Program is seeking farmers and specialty food producers interested in selling their Michigan products at special farmers' markets in Lansing and Detroit this summer. The farmers' markets, sponsored by the Michigan Department of Agriculture's Select Michigan Program and the Michigan Food & Farming Systems (MIFFS), with funding from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, and additional support from the Michigan Farmers Market Association and the Food Bank Council of Michigan, will help promote the benefits of buying locally and make a personal connection between farmers and consumers. 
Dates and locations of this year's markets are: 
•	Thursday, July 24, 2008, "Buy Fresh, Buy Local - Select Michigan" Farmers' Market, State Capitol lawn, Lansing, MI
•	Friday, August 22, 2008, "Select Michigan Marketplace", Henry Ford Hospital, Grand Blvd Campus, Detroit
•	Thursday, September 18, 2008, "Select Michigan Day" Farmers' Market, State Capitol lawn, Lansing, MI. 
Vendor spaces are free, but limited, and first priority will be given to companies featuring and selling products made from Michigan specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and nursery crops (including floriculture). If you are interested in participating at any of the farmers' markets, please contact Jeanne Lipe, Marketing Specialist, Michigan Department of Agriculture, at 517-373-9790 or [log in to unmask]
3.	Flaming as a Method of Weed Control in Organic Farming Systems

MSU Bulletin E-3038 January 2008
Using fire to control weeds in organic farming systems shows promise for reducing weed populations without herbicides. A carefully directed flame fueled by natural gas or liquid propane (LP) increases the temperature within the weed, causing cells to rupture and effectively killing weeds while doing little damage to the crop.  Flaming disrupts weed growth through heat, so it is important to lame when the plants are dry and wind speed and direction are favorable. Both moisture and wind can lower the heat from the flame, reducing the effectiveness of the flaming.
*To continue reading more of this article, please visit: 

4.	Expert Advises Planting Corn on Uncommitted Acres
The market incentives all winter have been telling farmers to plant more soybeans, but we have seen a reversal in the new crop futures, says Chris Hurt, a Purdue University Extension agricultural economist. 

"The March 31 Prospective Plantings report is going to suggest that producers are going to plant less corn and in fact that may be bullish to corn," says Hurt. "During the last three weeks, market prices for corn have actually increased the incentive to raise corn as soybean prices dropped more sharply." 

Hurt predicts the report will be bullish on corn with surprisingly low acres and in response expects to see a rally. "On the other hand, we will see so many acres in soybeans that it is probably bearish to bean prices, which will provide additional incentives to get more acres of corn in the ground," says Hurt. "I think Indiana producers will look for a few additional fields where corn can be planted rather than soybeans.

"The markets and the financial incentives provided by the grain prices, as well as the costs are very dynamic," he adds. "Producers have some tough decisions to make this year, but they need to take a step back and make the best decisions they can." 

Hurt recommends producers go a little bit heavier to corn than they were thinking through the winter. 

To continue reading this article about what crops to plant on any uncommitted acres in 2008, visit:
Source: Purdue University Extension

5.	Soggy-Soil Equipment Strategies
When soils are wet, donning the right mental attitude can help to beat the elements, says Mark Hanna, Iowa State University Extension agricultural engineer. Due to a cold, wet start to spring, farmers should keep in mind that 2008 will likely be an imperfect planting season that will require good mental preparation, he says. Those who try to operate in soils that are too wet will risk compaction, smearing, clods, uneven emergence and lower yields. 

"This year, you’ll probably want to limit the amount of spring tillage that you do, particularly if soils are wet and bordering on plastic," says Hanna. "If you take up a handful of soil and squeeze it and the soil doesn’t spring back, but stays in a ball like silly putty, then the soil is plastic and too wet for field work." 

Plastic soils don’t till well, nor do silly-putty soils make good seedbeds. However, as the window begins to close on the planting season and soil conditions remain challenging, farmers will have to decide whether the risk of lower yields from late planting outweigh the risks from operating equipment in less-than-ideal soil conditions. 

"Controlled traffic is a distinct advantage to farmers in a spring like this one," says Hanna. "It may be too late for this year, but as you update your machinery in future years, try to make updates with controlled traffic and precision farming in mind." 

If soils remain too wet for field operations, however, farmers should use the time to review owner’s manuals, particularly for the planter, to see what adjustments might need to be made for different soil conditions, he advises. "For example, if soils are on the wet side, then you’ll need to go easier on the down pressure of the closing wheels behind the seed opener, or you could just put them in the float position," says Hanna. "Switching from rubber-coated, aluminum closing wheels to spade, spike or finger wheels might be another consideration to avoid over compaction from wet soil conditions." 

Farmers should also go easy on the down pressure springs or the pneumatic system that transfers weight to the row units if soils are wet. "The two depth-gauging wheels need to be in firm contact with the soil, but don’t overdo it and risk compaction," he says. "You only need a little bit of pressure to maintain contact with wet soil." 

Another way to avoid compaction is to ensure your tractor tires are inflated at the correct pressure for the axle load they are carrying, says Hanna. However, fine tuning the planter is an often-neglected task that can be essential to prevent compaction in the seed zone and uneven emergence problems, which tend to decrease yields during a wet spring, he emphasizes. 

"In wet soils, it won’t be business as usual," says Hanna. "Any time soil conditions change, you’ll need to make adjustments to your planter. So, make sure to get off the tractor and check the settings, especially in the first field that you enter, but also as you move from one field to another." 

For more tips on planter settings for corn visit:
For more information on topics related to corn planting in Iowa, visit:
By John Pocock

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