Ag Briefs: Plymouth duo among Agriscience Fair finalists

Wisconsin State Farmer
National briefs


Plymouth duo among Agriscience Fair finalists

Dallas Kreisa and Anna Seifert of the Plymouth FFA are among the top three finalists in the nation for the plant science division in the 2020 National FFA Agriscience Fair.

The students will learn if they are the national winners during the 2020 National FFA Convention which will be held virtually from Oct. 27-29.

Students use scientific principles and emerging technologies to solve complex problems related to agriculture, food and natural resources. The agriscience fair is for middle and high school students that compete in one of six divisions.

According to the Plymouth FFA website, their experiment was titled “The Effects of Adding Hydrogen Peroxide to a Water Culture Hydroponic System to Grow Lettuce”


IL man grows state's largest pumpkin at 1,673 lbs.

An Illinois man has grown the state's largest pumpkin and has brought it to display at pumpkin patches across the state's central area. The pumpkin is officially this year's largest, weighing at 1,673 pounds, according to The Pantagraph.

Henry Bartimus of DeWitt was established as the new Illinois State Giant Pumpkin Grand Champion for the pumpkin that took 105 days to grow.

It is fifth-largest pumpkin ever to be grown in Illinois. It sits on a trailer, but a forklift and a specially created crane are needed for transport.

The Illinois record for the largest pumpkin is currently 2,145 pounds. The world record is 2,624 pounds grown from a seed from Illinois. 


DNR on track to fill Great Lakes fish stocking quotas

The Wisconsin DNR continues to help boost fish populations through stocking and is fulfilling all remaining 2020 stocking quotas for Lake Michigan.

Coho salmon, brook and brown trout and steelhead will be stocked in later weeks, successfully filling all Great Lakes stocking quotas.

The DNR is also on track to collect eggs this fall to continue to meet stocking goals for Lake Michigan and Lake Superior 2020-2022 stocking quotas, which includes the annual stocking of approximately:

Lake Michigan—50,000 brook trout; 450,000 brown trout; 2 million chinook salmon; 500,000 coho salmon and 460,000 steelhead.

 Lake Superior—175,000 brown trout; 80,000 lake trout; and 60,000 splake.

Earlier this spring, the DNR made a variety of short-term management decisions to protect the health and safety of the public and DNR staff. This included altering certain initiatives in the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior stocking plans such as temporarily discontinuing net pens, DNR/angler ride-along projects and conducting fewer surveys.

Despite these temporary alterations, fisheries staff were able to successfully meet the 2020 stocking goals and continue enhancing our partnerships with stakeholders to maintain the high-quality Great Lakes fisheries.


CentralStar donates $335K thru COVID-19 relief program

Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan dairy and beef producers recently received $335,251 through the CentralStar COVID-19 semen rebate relief program.

The program was launched earlier this year to help ease the financial challenges customers and member-owners were experiencing due to disruptions the pandemic created with supply chain and consumer demands.

CentralStar’s COVID-19 semen rebate relief program was introduced in June and culminated August 31, 2020 with 4,183 dairy and beef producers receiving benefits.


Judge to decide on slaughter speeds

A federal judge in Minnesota is set to decide on whether to throw out a USDA rule that sped up swine slaughter lines for some companies, or send it back to the agency for revision.

U.S. District Judge Joan N. Ericksen in Minneapolis heard summary judgment and remand arguments in a lawsuit brought by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union challenging the USDA’s move to increase line speeds at pork slaughterhouses, according to Bloomberg.

The UFCW and a group of UFCW locals sued the agriculture department in October 2019 soon after the agency’s Food Safety Inspection Service finalized the Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule, revoking maximum slaughter line speeds for some companies.

The government has said that faster line speeds could increase line production by 12.5%, and that its related plans for flexible oversight would lead to better control of pathogens and safer conditions for workers.

The unions want the rule set aside, arguing the increase will create additional safety concerns in an already-hazardous industry where workers suffer injuries and illness more than twice as often as workers in all other private industries, according to documents filed in the case.


WCO accepting nominations for Crew of the Year

Wisconsin Custom Operators, Inc. (WCO) will honor an entire crew from a custom farming operation who demonstrate excellence in the areas of safety, efficiency, customer service, environmental stewardship, profitability and community engagement.

The crew – made up of both full-time and part-time employees – of a WCO member – are eligible to participate in the annual award selection process. The winning crew will receive $1,000 divided evenly among all members, as well as other prizes and apparel.

Applications for the WCO Crew of the Year Award will be accepted through Dec. 1. An entire crew, from a WCO member-business, will be honored. The person making the nomination does not have to be a member of WCO. That means that farmers, clients of operators and fellow operators can all make nominations.

Visit for more information.


WTO: EU can put tariffs on $4B of US goods

International arbitrators said that the European Union can impose tariffs and other penalties on up to $4 billion worth of U.S. goods and services over illegal American support for plane maker Boeing.

The move further sours transatlantic ties at a time when the coronavirus has doused trade and savaged economies, according to the AP report.

The ruling by the World Trade Organization arbitrators amounts to one of the largest penalties handed down by the agency.

It comes a year after another ruling authorized the United States to slap penalties on EU goods worth up to $7.5 billion - including Gouda cheese, single-malt whiskey and French wine - over the bloc's support for Boeing rival Airbus.

Now the EU can have its own turn at trade punishment, and has already been considering which American products it could target. A preliminary list that the bloc has released suggests it could go after a wide range of products including frozen fish and shellfish, dried fruit, tobacco, rum and vodka, handbags, motorcycle parts and tractors.


ARS introduces three new blackberries

The best of eastern and western blackberry genetics have been melded to create Eclipse, Galaxy and Twilight, three new blackberry varieties released by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

According to a news release, ARS' Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon, working in cooperation with the Oregon State University Agricultural Experiment Station, has blended the desirable traits of eastern erect-cane blackberries and western trailing blackberries into new varieties with thornless semi-erect canes to fill new niches in the fresh berry market.

Eclipse was the first of the three varieties from these crosses to move from the test fields to final selection but ripens earlier in the season.

The second blackberry release, Galaxy produces a few days earlier than Eclipse. Galaxy's berries are slightly larger than those of Eclipse with dark-colored fruit and hints of blueberry, mint and grape in its flavor palette.

The third release Twilight was selected because it ripens last of the three varieties, 4-5 days after Eclipse. Twilight is higher yielding than Eclipse and tasters have remarked on its complex, deep blackberry jam flavor, with floral and honey notes.


Drought in western U.S. is biggest in years

The largest and most intense drought in years is engulfing the West and threatens to grow larger and more severe in the coming months.

According to the Washington Post, the drought has already been a major contributor to record wildfire activity in California and Colorado. Its continuation could also deplete rivers, stifle crops and eventually drain water supplies in some Western states.

Nationwide, drought has expanded to its greatest areal coverage since 2013; 72.5 million people are in areas affected by drought. More than one-third of the West is in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, the two most severe categories, according to the federal government’s U.S. Drought Monitor.

In its winter outlook issued last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) cautioned drought conditions are expected to persist or worsen over large parts of the West during the December through February period, and expand farther east into the central United States.