Friday, August 26, 2011
Eagle--On the backroads of Idaho sweet corn is ripe, and on the Combe family farm on Beacon Light Road north of Eagle they’re charging a bit more this year than last.
“Everyone else is charging $4 dollars a dozen, its time we did,” said 17 year old Jordan Combe, who handles marketing for the family operation.
“We’ve been stuck at three dollars a long time, its about time we changed, we were losing money I think. People don’t care, they don’t seem to notice the price change,” said Jordan.
The Combe corn operation is a labor of love that’s spanned 45 years and in the Southwest Idaho produce market, their corn is coveted by fresh food devotees.
“Jordan and I have been doing this since he was five years old,” said father Dean Combe. “He’s 17 right now and I have been doing this for 45 years. I started out with my oldest son and the next and soon we worked all down the line until Jordan, he’s been at it 12 years now.”
Dean and Jordan start planning for the season right after harvest each fall. The father-son team studies all the seed available on the market and can quote market prices going back decades and while price is important taste is their priority.
“We started out with golden jubilee when my older boys were in it, and the last six years, Jordan and I got interested in a seed called ‘incredible’. We looked at the new seed because my nephew told me about it, he said it does well told us it does well in sand, these fields are sandy and it grows good and people really love it because it lives up to its name because it’s incredible,” said Dean.
The 4-acre corn operation will produce 3-thousand dozens, according to Dean. And the corn operation has a unique life of its own. The modest family veggie stand off Highway 16 brings out fanatical foodies that drive from Payette and Boise for the sweet corn, and they’ve done it for decades.
“It works very well, we have more customers now than we have ever had and each year it keeps getting better. If you have tender corn people keep coming back,” added Dean.
Jordan Combe handles the marketing and has free rein to experiment. “We put the corn on Craig’s Llst and we’ve announced it at church, we have signs everywhere on the surrounding roads and most importantly friends tell friends,” said Jordan.
As the 2011 season got underway the decision to raise their prices 50-cents a dozen cast a dark cloud over the operation. With high input costs the Combe’s had to raise prices to operate in the black.
“One customer thought it was too much and he turned around on the first day we raised our price and brought it back, he said he thought it was too much. Jordan gladly gave his money back and he took off after that. It was a bit nerve wracking the first day but its been nothing but positive ever since,” said Dean.
Each year the Combes give back to the community, they supply the corn at the Western Idaho State Fair 4-H appreciation dinner for the exhibitors. They consider it an honor to be asked and their corn is the centerpiece of the annual feast.
“All the kids that participate in 4-H feast on our corn,” said Dean. “They love it and it’s good for them. We’ve been doing this since 2005. The kids are a big part of the fair so this is their celebration and we’re pleased to have our corn singled out for the annual event.”
Jordan Combe will graduate next year with real world marketing experience. He’s run a farm and thriving retail operation, while the Combe family corn is gaining a market niche and is thriving despite higher prices and tough economic climate.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
NRCS AWARDS GRANTS FOR CONSERVATION DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS
Boise, Idaho, August 22, 2011 — Six agricultural projects received funding through the Conservation Innovation Grant program from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The program helps accelerate technology transfer and adoption of promising agricultural methods that address natural resource loss on cropland.
“The Conservation Innovation Grant program is designed to demonstrate new techniques that have potential to solve natural resource problems,” said Jeff Burwell, State Conservationist for Idaho NRCS. “By funding these on-the-ground conservation projects, we hope to find creative solutions to common problems that producers can use.”
Idagold Farms received $29,325 to demonstrate a biofuel production project in southern Idaho. The project will show that oilseed crops can provide both a feed crop and biofuel crop without taking the land out of food production.
Hamanishi Farms received $6,497 for using cover crops in mint to address nutrient needs and weed problems in conventional and organic mint production. The project will determine which annual legumes will suppress weeds enough to eliminate herbicide treatments and evaluate available nitrogen supplied by cover crop types.
Jon Fabricius, Hamanishi farm manager said “the grant process helped me think through the project and map out how to do it, including the project’s benefits. That helped me commit to getting the project done.”
The University of Idaho received grants for projects that will develop best management practices as well as demonstrate new conservation technologies.
The University was awarded $21,934 for an on-farm composting trial of grape prunings and manures to enhance soil and reduce waste. Mike Medes, owner of Rocky Fence Vineyard, offered his vineyard as a test location. “There will be three sites to show three different ways of composting the prunings,” Medes said. “I’m looking forward to using the compost. Burning is an easy way to dispose of the prunings but grinding and composting the material will enrich the soil. If the soil is improved the quality of my grapes improves.”
The University also received $74,705 to develop best management practices for insecticide application on dry bulb onions. The integrated pest management practices will improve insecticide effectiveness and reduce pesticide impacts in targeted watersheds.
Another grant of $66,202 will help generate best management practices for dairy operations using zeolite to retain nitrogen in manure while reducing odors, ammonia and air emissions.
A project to demonstrate the use of subsurface drip irrigation as a reasonable alternative to surface or sprinkler systems for corn, alfalfa or grain crops received $10,137.
Additionally, the University of Idaho received national NRCS grant awards for two projects that address air quality issues on confined animal feeding operations.
For the application process, applicants must describe what makes their project innovative; grantees also have to provide matching funds.
For more information on the projects, visit the NRCS web site at www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cig/projects_fy11.html
Monday, August 22, 2011
Hay Prices Still Strong
Boise--Hay supplies in the Pacific Northwest are tight. The 2011 season began with low hay inventories, and the cool, wet spring significantly delayed the first cutting. Although the region is now moving toward the third cutting, hay yields and quality have been impacted by adverse weather. Strong demand for new crop hay is driving prices toward levels not seen since 2008
“We came into a tight hay market in the first place," said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley. "We sold almost all of our hay last year so we came into the first crop hay with no carry- over from last year.We had a very late spring and it delayed us two or three weeks and to top it off it off it got rained on, so the quality of the hay was not there and numbers were down. There wasn’t much quality hay out there, then you have the drought in Texas and across the south, that’s a shortage that has to be made up so there’s a shortage and prices are high,” said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Written by Bill Loftus
Conference Will Help Improve Northwest Beef Herds’ Reproduction, Genetics
BOISE, Idaho – Beef producers will learn how to increase the quality and efficiency of their herds through use of modern breeding technologies to improve genetics at a conference in Boise Sept. 30-Oct. 1.
University of Idaho animal scientist John B. Hall said the conference, “Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle – Northwest,” will draw together top beef experts from across the nation and is one of two planned nationwide this year.
The conference will focus on the technology of artificial insemination and the genetic and economic benefits for beef operations that adopt the practice, Hall said.
“The group that ramrods this is the beef reproduction task force, a consortium of land grant universities that work on beef cattle reproduction,” Hall said.
Hall is superintendent of the Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center operated by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences near Salmon and focused on beef cattle research. The ranch maintains a herd of nearly 400 cows on more than 1,000 acres at Carmen along the Salmon River.
“The primary focus of this group is to increase reproductive efficiency in beef cattle but also to promote and increase the use of artificial insemination in beef cattle,” Hall said.
About three-quarters of the conference is geared to beef operations that use artificial insemination or natural service in their breeding programs. “A lot of what we talk about is the basic reproductive biology of cattle as well as those factors such as nutrition, handling, diseases and genetics that influence reproductive efficiency in cattle,” Hall said.
The group promotes artificial insemination as an asset because it provides access to proven sires that have thousands of calves that can be assessed for their genetic merits, Hall said.
“So through artificial insemination we capture superior genetics that we couldn’t afford to if we had to buy the animal itself,” Hall said. Another advantage, and its most popular aspect among cattle producers, is that it allows producers to breed heifers with bulls that produce smaller calves, easing the stress of first-time births.
Another technology, estrus synchronization, increases the reproductive efficiency of the herd, Hall said. “We end up getting cows that may not be cycling to cycle and shift them to the front end of the calving season so that calves are older and weigh more at weaning time, and therefore are of greater value,” Hall said.
Producers will find that one of the greatest values of attending the conference, Hall said, is the opportunity to spend time individually with top experts before or after their presentations.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Eagle--Sweet corn is finally on across the state. This ear is the "incredible" variety grown on the Combe corn farm on Beacon Light Road in Ada county. Farmer Dean Combe reports sweet corn was late in 2011 which has been the standard with all crops this year. --Steve Ritter
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Simpson Takes Lead on Dairy Reform
Simpson works with Rep. Peterson on reform proposals
WASHINGTON – U.S. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., today announced that Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, has joined efforts to reform dairy programs. Simpson is the lead Republican proponent of discussion draft legislation released by Peterson earlier this month. The draft language is based on reform proposals put forward by the dairy industry.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
AFBF Pleased by DOT Guidance on Ag Transportation
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 10, 2011 – The American Farm Bureau Federation is pleased the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration listened to farmer and rancher concerns regarding changes to agricultural transportation regulations and commercial drivers license provisions.
As a result of comments received from AFBF and others, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today that the FMCSA has no intention to propose new regulations governing the transport of agricultural products, and that the agency has released guidance to states so they clearly understand common-sense exemptions “to allow farmers, their employees, and their families to accomplish their day-to-day work and transport their products to market.”
“This public announcement and the guidance sent to states today by the FMCSA is great news for America’s farm and ranch families,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “The key word is common-sense, and it was refreshing to see that our federal authorities heard the concerns we expressed. It lifts a big cloud of uncertainty in farm country and the action is greatly appreciated.”
Stallman said he was pleased by Secretary LaHood’s clarity in stating the department “had no intention of instituting onerous regulations on the hardworking farmers who feed our country and fuel our economy.”
“Operating and moving the machinery necessary to tend and harvest crops and care for livestock is a vital part of farming and ranching,” Stallman said. “Long established protocols are in place at the state and local levels to ensure that safety is paramount, and that farmers are able to do their jobs and transport their goods to market.”
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
RMA Announces Expanded Availability of Forage (Alfalfa) Seed Pilot
SPOKANE, WASHINGTON, August 1, 2011 ---- USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) announces expanded coverage availability for the Forage (Alfalfa) Seed Pilot Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) program to all counties in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
In previous years, the pilot program only allowed for coverage availability in: Idaho: Canyon and Owyhee counties; Oregon: Malheur County and Washington: Grant and Walla Walla counties. Since the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board has approved expansion and conversion of the pilot to a permanent regulatory program, coverage is now available through the written agreement process.
Until the pilot program is made permanent through the Federal rule-making process, RMA has modified the Forage (Alfalfa) Seed pilot program for the 2012 crop year to allow written agreements for producers outside the pilot area.
Producers are encouraged to visit with their crop insurance agent by the September 30 sales closing date to learn if they would be eligible for coverage under a written agreement for the 2012 crop year. Federal crop insurance program policies are sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance companies and agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers throughout the United States or on the RMA Web site at http://www3.rma.usda.gov/tools/agents.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
The proposal is suppose to regulate ammonium nitrate, which is commonly used as a fertilizer, but it's also an ingredient for terrorist bombs.
The Department of Homeland Security is proposing a new rule to further restrict the sale of ammonium nitrate. "Ammonium nitrate is one of the more commonly used fertilizers that we use here in Idaho. It’s very common on the farm," said Jake Putnam, Idaho Farm Bureau Spokesman.
Anyone who buys 25 pounds or more of ammonium nitrate will have to register in advance and go through a terror threat screening. Local farmers say there are regulations already in place. "The new regulation being proposed is more retail level," said Local Farmer Sid Freeman.
In other words, there will be more paper work to go through for fertilizer dealers, farmers or anyone trying to purchase a small bag of the substance. "If you've got John or Jane Doe with the big yards and gardens, purchasing ammonium nitrate, a 50 pound bag, maybe that needs to be monitored as well,” said Freeman.
Many co-ops in our area do not sell ammonium nitrate anymore, because of some regulations that are already in place. Now the public will have 120 days to comment on the new proposed rules.