Agriculture Topics


Keeping busy

Last week I was in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the National Association of County Agricultural Agents annual meeting and professional improvement conference.  This meeting is held each summer at different locations around the country.
During the 30 years I have been an extension agent, I have attended this meeting 18 times – I counted them up, out of curiosity.  I did not attend some years because of family or job commitments.  
Attending this year was not easy, as I finished with the Jamboree on Friday, the Junior Preview Heifer Show on Saturday, and left for Tennessee Sunday morning.
I try to attend this meeting when possible because it is a great opportunity to get program ideas and see what others around the country are doing.  It is also where we recognize colleagues that have done outstanding work over the past year.  
The annual meeting this year was well attended with over 1,400 attending at least a portion of the meeting.  We had 13 agents from West Virginia, along with some spouses and children.
We spend one day of the conference on tours, which is the highlight of the meeting.  I can remember many of the tours I have been on and they are always very interesting.  
My tour this year included a sausage plant that was also doing amazing things with alternative energy, a livestock market, a farm that makes and sells hay (150,000 bales per year), and a former dairy farm that now sells freezer beef, blackberries, and sweet corn.
The other part I always look forward to is the sessions where we learn what other people are working on.  One that I found very interesting this year was a report on research in Utah on controlling Russian Olive.  
I am not very familiar with Russian Olive, but it is closely related to Autumn Olive and is a huge invasive weed problem in parts of the west, like Autumn Olive is here.  I was interested in what they were doing thinking that maybe what they have learned will translate to Autumn Olive.
Like us with Autumn Olive, they have been successful controlling Russian Olive using a cut stem treatment.  That is, cut the plant down and treat the cut stem with chemical.  This treatment keeps the bud on the stem from resprouting so they assumed the roots had been killed also.  Not true.
The roots essentially stayed dormant until there was a disturbance.  Such as using equipment to push brush into a pile or push out stumps.  When those dormant roots were exposed or brought closer to the surface because of soil removal, buds resprouted from those roots.
In cases where the surface was never disturbed, the root buds never developed.  It is still to be determined how long the roots can stay there, waiting for opportunity.  I do not know if Autumn Olive will react the same way.  But I suspected there may be similarities, as I have seen tremendous root sprouts on areas where Autumn Olive has been removed by equipment.  It may be something for further study.

More In Opinion