Agriculture Archives for 2017-04

Still Too Wet and Cold For Planting Of Crops By Area Farmers

By Paul Schmitt

With still a couple days left in the month, April will go down as one of the wetter ones for area farmers in recent years.  According to, Door and Kewaunee Counties have already received nearly four inches of rainfall this month.  Jim Wautier, owner of Church Site Farms In Brussels and a member of the Ag Advisory Board says the fields remain too wet and cool to start planting corn and soybeans.



Wautier says normally the last week of April is when area farmers start planting corn while early May is the target for soybeans.  According to, Door County averages 2.8 inches of rain for the month of April.


Farmers Saving Landfills Through Agricultural Plastic Recycling Program

By Tim Kowols

Kewaunee County farmers are part of the 1.5 million pounds of agricultural plastic being saved from landfills after a recycling program began in the area last fall. The free program allows farmers to place their agricultural and silage plastic into an on-site container before being picked up by Revolution Plastics.  Kewaunee County UW-Extension Agriculture Educator Aerica Bjurstrom says the program has had a huge impact locally.


After more containers were made available to farmers in Tisch Mills earlier this month, approximately 100 bins have been distributed since last October.


Kinnard Farms Performs Experiment To Check Soil Health Ahead Of Planting

By Tim Kowols

Farmer Lee Kinnard has found several cotton diapers in his fields this week, but it is all part of an experiment he and his outdoor and agronomy teams took part in over the winter. The crew planted 10 cotton diapers in the fields of Kinnard Farms last November in areas with varying degrees of manure application, cover crop usage, and other soil conservation techniques. Kinnard has seen the "disappearing diaper experiment" done at other farms and says the soil that was healthiest did the best job with the decomposition because of its microbial life.



Final results will be determined by drying and weighing what is left of the diapers, which Kinnard says was between 30 to nearly 100 percent decomposed depending on the test field.  Test results will be released at a later date. You can learn more about the Kinnard Farms' experiment online with this story.

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Old Meets New At Farm Technology Days

By Tim Kowols

While much of the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days will focus on the future of farming, Kewaunee County's Heritage Committee will take a deeper look into its past. Run by non-profit group Agricultural Heritage and Resources, Inc., over 200 tractors and other antique implements will be on display for attendees to look at over the course of the three-day event. Heritage Committee member Sue Sevcik says many of the pieces on display will have Kewaunee County agricultural or manufactured roots.


Sevcik says written or oral histories may be available at each display so attendees can learn more about the equipment. Wisconsin Farm Technology Days will take place July 11-13 at Ebert Enterprises in Algoma.


Field Demonstrations Ready To Show Off New Implements At Farm Technology Days

By Tim Kowols

Ebert Enterprises in Algoma will not just be the host operation of this year's Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, but also a testing ground for up and coming pieces of equipment. The field demonstrations committee will show off how new technology can do everything from harvesting fields more efficiently to picking up pesky stones. Field demonstration committee liaison Dave LaCrosse says while the final lineup of what will be featured will not be finalized until closer to the event, there will still be plenty to see.



Field demonstrations will occur multiple times each day during the three-day event from July 11-13.


European Chafer Beetles Causing Harm To Door County Lawns

By Tim Kowols

Homeowners with dead spots and torn up lawns are being asked to wait it out until the treatment for suspected European chafer beetle infestations is more effective. The invasive species has been stateside since the 1940s but was only first found last in Door County last year. The European chafer beetle, currently in its immature or grub stage, feed on grass roots while animals like birds and skunks dig at the dead areas trying to get a meal. Annie Deutsch from the Door County UW-Extension office says the bulk of the damage is already done.


Deutsch says good lawn care during the late spring and early summer months should be able to help your lawn recover. We have more information on the European chafer beetle and the most effective treatment options for the infestation posted online with this story.


Release and Pictures By Annie Deutsch, Door County UW-Extension Agriculture Agent


If you've driven anywhere around Sturgeon Bay the last couple weeks, you might have noticed significant damage to grassy areas. The grass may be completely torn up, have areas with some digging, or have large bare patches. Perhaps this describes your yard.


What is it and why have I never seen this before?


The damage is due to grubs (the immature stage) of the European chafer beetle. This is a new problem and it began last year. European chafer is an invasive species first found in the US in 1940, but the first time it was found in Wisconsin was last summer in Door County. According to UW Entomology Specialists, we still have the only report of it in the state.


European chafer grubs feed on grass roots which results in dead patches of grass. The areas that are torn up are due to birds, skunks, or other animals searching for and feeding on the grubs. And just because your yard may be torn up and your neighbor's yard looks fine, does not necessarily mean that they aren't there. This insect could be present in varying numbers in grass all throughout Sturgeon Bay and the surrounding regions.


Keep in mind that other things can damage grass, including salt from the winter, waterlogging, areas with too much shade, nutrient deficiency, disease etc. Before moving forward with any type of treatment, check to make sure it is grub damage: pull back the grass at the edge of a dead or dug-out patch in about a 1 foot square. Shake the clump of grass to free any grub that may be feeding in the root zone. Dig about two inches down into the soil and look for grubs there as well. Repeat this process about 5 times in other areas in the lawn. At this time of year, the grubs are mostly white, C-shaped, and about the size of a dime. Five to ten grubs in a one square foot area is enough to cause noticeable damage.


What can I do about it right now?


Unfortunately there isn't much to do about it right now; but things should start to look better in the next couple months. Immature insects go through different growth stages, and right now the European chafer grubs are fully mature: they are the largest that they will get, they are eating the most, and they are the least susceptible to insecticides. Additionally, the mature grubs spend the winter deeper in the soil and as temperatures warm, they move back up into the root zone of the grass and begin to feed. That means right now the grubs are at varying levels throughout the soil, so an insecticide application is not recommended because it will likely miss many of them and have inconsistent results.


Because the grubs are fully mature, they are going to feed until around May, descend into the soil to pupate (transform), and then emerge as adult beetles. From the time they pupate, are adults, and the next generation are eggs, they don't feed so the grass can begin to recover.


Right now, the best thing to do is to press down any patches of grass that have been dug out and wait. Once temperatures are warmer in the next couple weeks, you can spread grass seed to start to fill in bare patches.


What can I do in the long run?


While there isn't much to do about European chafer right now, insecticides are the main way to deal with the grubs. These products should be applied to the grass mid-summer. Not all insecticides will work, and even effective insecticides will not work well when used at the wrong time. A list of the most effective products are available in a publication posted on our website,, or we have copies available at the UW-Extension office. Alternative-type products including nematodes have not been shown to be reliable. Also, milky spore only attacks Japanese beetle grubs, so it will not work against European chafer.  Over applying insecticides or using home-made concoctions may have detrimental effects to the grass or other organisms in/around your yard, so be careful and make sure to follow all label instructions whenever using any insecticide or related product.


Throughout the summer, good lawn care can help the grass grow well and tolerate more damage. Watering the grass, applying fertilizer, and cutting it at a longer height can all help. Beware that too much fertilizer may cause the grass to grow more leaves but less roots, meaning that grub feeding will kill the grass more quickly. Therefore, make sure to follow all label recommendations for fertilizer use and remember that more is not necessarily better.


Even with the correct insecticide and excellent lawn care, the European chafer is very hard to control. Since this is only the second year that European chafer has been present in Wisconsin, we have yet to see what are the long-term effects of this insect in our area.


If you would like more information, visit our website or call the UW-Extension office at 920-746-2260.


Photo #1: European chafer grubs dug up April 6, 2017, from a yard near Sturgeon Bay (photo: A Deutsch)


Photo #2: lawn damage due to European chafer grub feeding and animals digging for the grubs (photo credit: A Deutsch)



State Asks Researchers To Find More Uses For Milk

By Tim Kowols

State legislators have asked researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to find more ways to use milk. Prices took a hit last week after Grassland Dairy terminated the contract of 75 of its producers due to a trade dispute with Canada, according to the Wisconsin State Farmer.  Legislators hope new ways of using milk can help drive prices up. Luxemburg farmer Dave Jauquet says expanding the usage of milk could be good for everyone, even those outside of the walls of a dairy farm.



According to Hoard's Dairyman, March Class III milk, often used for cheese, was down $1.07 per hundred weight over the previous month. That, however, is up over two dollars from a year ago.


Kewaunee County Cow Shows Moves On Madison Red Carpet

By Tim Kowols

Adorned with a top hat, one of the biggest reactions from a movie premiere in Madison over the weekend was triggered by an appearance by the film's bovine lead from Kewaunee County. Reaction, one of Ebert Enterprises' Holstein cows, walked the red carpet at Madison's Barrymore Theatre ahead of the world premiere of the movie "The Sixty Yard Line." It has been a year since Reaction filmed his thirty seconds of fame inside a house in the shadow of Lambeau Field, but Jordan Ebert says it was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to promote agriculture and the dairy industry.


The film will hit the festival circuit later this year in hopes of being picked up by a distributor before the football season. You will be able to visit Reaction's home this summer when Ebert Enterprises hosts Farm Technology Days in July.

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Door County Resident Hopes To Go From Cheesemonger To Cheesemaker

By Tim Kowols

A Fish Creek resident is following her passion for cheese to the next level. After earning her culinary arts degree in Madison, Natalee Ihde followed her passion to Door County, where she became a professional cheesemonger, a technical term for someone who specializes in cheese tastings and pairings. After taking short courses in cheesemaking while working at a Sister Bay goat farm, Ihde is excited to begin the next phase of her career: acquiring her cheesemaker's license.



Wisconsin is one of the few states that require a cheesemaking license, making individuals take more coursework, participate in 240 hours of apprenticeship under a licensed cheesemaker, and passing a written exam. Ihde hopes to start her own goat farm one day where she could start a farmstead creamery.


Farm Technology Days Reaching Out To Kids From Less Rural Backgrounds For Annual Event

By Tim Kowols

The Youth Committee of Wisconsin Farm Technology Days hosted by Kewaunee County this summer wants to make sure all kids, regardless of agriculture background, participate in the three-day event. The committee has reached out to invite youth from day cares, YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs in area counties, especially those living in more urban areas. Jill Jorgensen from the Farm Technology Days Youth Committee says it is a great way for youth from rural and urban backgrounds to learn how agriculture plays a role in their lives.



Children 12 and under are free during the event, which takes place July 11 to 13 at Ebert Enterprises in Algoma.


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