Friday, November 30, 2012

Using and Planting a Living Christmas Tree Adds Appeal to Home Landscape and Memories of the Season

A living Christmas tree is a wonderful way to celebrate the Christmas holiday and then later celebrate the memory of special times spent with family and friends according to Patrick Byers, a horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Planting a live Christmas tree outdoors can offer appeal and added value to the home landscape,” said Byers. “Proper selection and handling will ensure that the tree will make the transition successfully into the outdoors.”

However, before planting a living Christmas tree, some preparations and precautions should be taken to increase chances of tree survival.

“Be sure you have a suitable site for planting the tree. Heavy clay soils are not ideal for planting most evergreen trees because they will not tolerate wet feet,” said Byers.

As a result, some special soil preparation may be needed. The only practical solution is to create a berm or mound of topsoil to assure good drainage.

“It is also important to have enough space for the tree to grow. Pines or spruces should be planted no closer than 25 feet from other trees, unless they are planted in a row as a windbreak,” said Byers.

Full sun will help a good tree shape as it matures. Good air circulation will help reduce the incidence of needle diseases and blights.

The best Christmas tree species for planting that are also available locally are the Norway spruce, white pine, white fir and Black Hills spruce.

Most nurseries will have these either as container grown trees (which are easier to move around) or balled and burlapped trees.

According to Byers, there are also a few special precautions that should be followed to maximize the chances that the living Christmas tree will survive after planting.

Place the tree in an area outside that is shady and protected from extreme cold when it arrives from the nursery.

Bring the tree inside two or three days before Christmas to enjoy but move it back outside within seven days. Make sure to water the tree while it is indoors. Warm, low humidity environment in the house causes excessive moisture loss from the foliage and the soil ball.

“You may want to dig the hole prior to bringing the tree into the house. The hole should be about 2-3 times the diameter of the soil ball, but no deeper,” said Byers.

He also recommends covering the excavated soil with a tarp to keep the soil from being too wet when planting the tree after Christmas.

“After Christmas, plant the tree immediately if the weather permits. If not, be certain to place the tree in an unheated garage and do not allow the tree root ball to dry out,” said Byers. “Once you have it in the ground, protect the root system from frost heaving by mulching the tree with a thick layer of mulch.”

University of Missouri Extension programs focus on the high-priority needs of Missourians. Each county extension center, with oversight by locally elected and appointed citizens, is your local link to practical education on almost anything. Additional information on this topic is available online at or on the national Extension website

Monica Spittler Working to Reach Stone County with Nutrition Education

This profile of a nutrition educator with University of Missouri Extension's Family Nutrition Education Program (FNEP) is part of an on-going series designed to educate the public about the wide range of program expertise that exists through extension in southwest Missouri.

Name: Monica Spittler, nutrition program associate

Contact: At the Stone County University Extension Center in Galena, Mo., at (417) 357-6812 or by e-mail at:

Education: Bachelor’s in liberal studies from San Diego State University (1991), teaching credentials in elementary and English from National University (1993), Masters in leadership and curriculum design, National University (1993) and Masters in English from CSUN (1999).

Relevant past employment: 21 years of teaching at all levels from kindergarten to University level.

Responsibilities: Teaching nutrition information to Stone County residents ranging from pre-kindergarten to senior citizens.

What attracted you to working with MU Extension? “The mission was a fit for me and I’m very passionate about the subject of nutrition,” said Spittler.

What do you hope to accomplish by teaching nutrition education? “Truly, I want to help people change their lives for the better,” said Spittler.

Why do you think it is important to teach nutrition in school? “The younger we can make an impact, the more beneficial we are. It’s paying it forward,” said Spittler.

The Family Nutrition Education Program is an important University of Missouri Extension program that works to bring the latest nutrition information to Missourians. Lessons with hands-on activities are designed for youth and the adults that support them, pregnant teens and immigrant populations. For more information, contact FNEP regional office at (417) 886-2059.

Native Plant Conservationist and Greene County Master Gardener Honored with Grow Native! Ambassador Award

The Grow Native! landscaping program recently announced that Mr. Kay Johnson of Springfield has been selected as its 2012 Grow Native! Ambassador Awardee.

He is also a member of Master Gardeners of Greene County, a horticulture and volunteer program under the direction of University of Missouri Extension.

Johnson’s passion for native plants and landscapes is evident throughout southwest Missouri, and can be seen in his conservation work at Woods Prairie and Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie, his educational efforts at Hickory Hills School and Holland Elementary School, and his decade-long leadership at South Creek.

The Grow Native! program annually recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of the use and promotion of native plants and native plant landscaping. Recognition in the form of the “Grow Native! Ambassador Award” is presented in conjunction with the Missouri Prairie Foundation, a 46-year-old prairie conservation organization, which officially became the home of the Grow Native! program in 2012.

“Mr. Johnson’s passion and conservation work exemplify the goals of the Grow Native! organization, and his outstanding volunteer efforts benefit his community and the natural environment we all share,” said Grow Native! committee chair Carrie Coyne. “Kay’s decade-long efforts with the City of Springfield’s Department of Public Works to restore the natural systems of the upper reaches of South Creek are inspiring. He is a great example of the difference one person can make to the world in which we live.”

David Burton, county program director for Greene County Extension, says Johnson stands out among the many outstanding volunteers with the Master Gardeners of Greene County.

“He volunteers at the MU Extension and Master Gardener hotline answering questions from members of the public and he is active in the gardens at Nathanael Greene Park,” said Burton. “But the effort he has put in on the Hickory Hills project as a Master Gardener is particularly noteworthy, I think.”

Grow Native! is a native landscaping marketing and education program of the Missouri Prairie Foundation. Grow Native! helps protect and restore biodiversity by increasing conservation awareness of native plants and their effective use in urban, suburban, and rural developed landscapes. Through collaboration with consumers, private industry, non-profit organizations, and government agencies, Grow Native! aims to significantly increase the demand and use of native plants in Missouri, southern Illinois, eastern Kansas, and northern Arkansas.

The Master Gardener Program is a popular and successful statewide volunteer community-service organization administered through University of Missouri Extension. The organization’s goal is to train gardeners who are willing to share their knowledge with others. Master Gardeners become volunteers of University of Missouri Extension and donate hours for community educational projects in horticulture. Volunteer activities include working with non-profit organizations, maintaining community gardens, conducting workshops, participating in a Master Gardener speakers’ bureau and staffing the Master Gardener “Hotline.”

Bartoski to Retire after 28 Years with Cedar County Extension; Reception Planned for Dec. 19 in Stockton

“Mrs. B, I don’t think I like grapes,” said a first grade student when Linda Bartoski presented a taste test to a classroom of students.

The student was very timid about tasting the new food however Linda was able to convince the student to just try the grapes.

“Guess what,” he said, “I like these grapes!” and he finished the entire sample!

Convincing students to try new foods is just one of the many of things Linda Bartoski has taught students in Cedar County classrooms over the past 12 years. Prior to working as a nutrition educator, she worked with the 4-H program in Cedar County for 16 years.

Bartoski started in Cedar County as a 4-H program assistant in March of 1984. She started her position as a nutrition educator in October of 2000.

“Many of the parents of our current 4-Hers remember Linda helping them when they were in 4-H,” said Dona Goede, county program director for Cedar County Extension. “Now she is teaching healthy habits to their kids in their classrooms.”

As an educator with the Family Nutrition Education Programs (FNEP), Bartkoski brought the latest nutrition information to low-income Cedar County residents. This program is an important part of MU Extension.

Bartkoski worked with clients individually, in groups, in schools, at agencies and at one time, even in individual’s homes. As a result of her work, clients gained skills that paved the way for nutritional well-being and health.

A second grade teacher reported that students recently reported on their favorite foods for a math graphing assignment.

"Once they started thinking about the foods, they quickly started discussing what food groups they came from and then what things the foods do to help keep the body healthy. I was very impressed with what they had learned during nutrition class,” wrote the teacher.

A retirement reception will be held for Bartkoski at the Cedar County MU Extension office on December 19 from 1-3 p.m. For more information, contact the Cedar County Extension office at (417) 276-3313.

Two Stone County Farm Families Honored by Extension Council Demonstrate Importance of Agriculture in Region

Agriculture is a $25 million business in Stone County, supported by both large and small farm enterprises and specialized niche agribusinesses.

In an effort to recognize successful farm families in the county, the Stone County Extension Council recently honored two farm families with an evening dinner. The event was sponsored by Stone County Farm Bureau and the Stone County National Bank.


Earnie and Martha Bohner of Lampe were this year’s State Fair Farm Family representing Stone County. Annually, the fair recognizes farm families from each county based on recommendations from the local extension councils. The council selected the Bohners this year since they have been successful in agriculture and agribusiness since 1982 on their farm: Persimmon Hill Blueberry Farm.

Persimmon Hill Farm is a value-added small farm operation that specializes in raising blueberries, blackberries and shitake mushrooms. They have provided a u-pick experience on the farm for customers and offer products for sale on-line and on the farm such as gourmet jams and barbeque sauces, syrups, mushroom products and their well-known “Thunder Muffins”. This year they opened a restaurant on the farm that features some of their farm-raised products in a “farm-to-table” concept.

The Bohners have two children, Savannah and Reid, and one granddaughter, Lizzie. Savannah works part-time on the farm and Reid serves in the Army and is currently at Ft. Drum in New York. Martha is employed at Silver Dollar City.


The second family was Gary and Shirley Jones of rural Billings. The Jones farm is the most recent one in Stone County to be recognized as a Missouri Century Farm. Part of the farm that the Jones live on today has been in their family since 1891. The farm was first owned by Gary’s grandparents, Timolean Price and Mary Elizabeth Torbett.

Today the farm is rented out to raise beef cattle. At one time they set up a milk parlor and milked Holsteins. Gary and Shirley have owned the farm since 1963 and continue to live in a house that Gary’s grandfather built in 1908.

Gary and Shirley have two sons, Randy and Gary Monty, and one daughter, Angela.

A certificate and a Century Farm sign was presented at the dinner for the family to proudly display on the farm.

“The Bohners and Jones are congratulated for a job well done and the extension council wishes them success in their future endeavors,” said Tim Schnakenberg, the county program director for MU Extension in Stone County.

Show-Me-Select Heifers Average $1,974, set record at 27th sale in Southwest Missouri

In the first fall sale, 181 Show-Me-Select (SMS) bred heifers sold for an average $1,974 at Joplin Regional Stockyards. That was a record high, topping the average of $1,433 last fall.

In spite of dry weather in the growing season and short hay supplies in southwestern Missouri, bidding stayed vigorous for top lots.

The top lot of the evening averaged $2,550 for two Angus crossbred heifers. The buyer was Nolan Koehn, Versailles. The consignor, J.W. Henson, Conway, Mo., also received top average of $2,321 on 20 head of Angus and Angus-cross heifers. He was a first-time participant in the popular heifer development program.

John Wheeler, Marionville, Mo., a long-time consignor, sold 42 head for $2,182 average for second-highest average. They were Angus-Hereford crossbred heifers. His top lot went for $2,400 average on nine head of AI-bred heifers. The heifers were claimed by Felix Wright, Carthage.

The volume buyer was Brett Harkrader, Appleton City who took home 28 heifers for an average price of $1943. This was the sixth straight sale in which he’s bought SMS heifers. Sixty percent of the buyers had made purchases previously at the southwest Missouri sale.

Over time, bidders have paid a $100 premium for heifers bred by artificial insemination (AI) over heifers bred natural-service. In the Joplin sale, AI-bred heifers averaged a premium of $164 per head for an average of $2,079, topping $1,915 for bull-bred heifers.

“The AI sires carry more highly proven genetics,” said Dave Patterson, University of Missouri Extension beef reproduction specialist. “In addition, heifers bred with fixed-time AI, when all are bred on the same day, offer a shorter calving season next spring. In their evaluations, buyers consistently rate the short calving season high.”

Last fall, bidding at Joplin was slow because of drought. The top lot in that sale averaged $1,850, said Judy Burton, executive secretary of the statewide Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifers, Inc. The group is a nonprofit corporation with board members from sale consignors.

The program started as an MU Extension pilot project, with the first sale at Joplin in 1997. This was the 27th sale, said Eldon Cole, a regional livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension in Mount Vernon, Mo.

The fall sale offers heifers bred to calve next spring. The spring sale sells fall-calving heifers.

Consignors of replacement heifers are enrolled in a year-round educational program led by MU Extension regional livestock specialists. Veterinarians examine the heifers before breeding season. They check for pregnancy 90 days after breeding and again within 30 days of the sale.

Consignors guarantee SMS heifers to be bred and to remain so for 30 days past the sale.

On arrival at the sale barn, heifers are checked by USDA and Missouri Department of Agriculture graders. Those not meeting standards are sent home. More heifers than usual were sent home because of low body-condition scores. With poorer pastures and less feed, some did not maintain body weight.

“The sale average would have been much higher if all heifers had been in higher body condition,” Patterson said. “The heifers in this sale definitely showed the effects of the dry weather and limited feed supply. As a result, the body condition scores were roughly one score lower than in past sales.”

The one score translates into 70 or 80 pounds lighter sale weight than heifers from the same herds in previous sales. Cole said buyers must feed their heifers and watch them closely this winter so they do not lose more weight.

For more information on this program, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102, Andy McCorkill in Dallas County at (417) 345-7551 or Dona Goede in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Area Cattlemen Recognized by Beef Cattle Improvement Association

The Southwest Missouri Beef Cattle Improvement Association honored Ted Koontz of Sparta and Gerald Eggerman of South Greenfield with “Producer of the Year” recognition during the association’s annual meeting in Springfield on Nov. 14.

Koontz operates TEKO Angus Farm and received the “Seedstock Producer of the Year” plaque. His herd size is small, but has shown improvement since his first bull sale consignment in the October 2006 sale. Since that humble beginning, artificial insemination and improved development practices have helped his yearling weight and EPD numbers improve markedly.

“His growth EPDs have gone from the bottom 25 percentile ranking in the Angus breed to the top 25 percentile level on his last four bulls consigned to the sale,” said Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Eggerman runs a cow herd in Dade County and received the “Commercial Producer” award for progress in beef cattle improvement. Eggerman’s mixed-breed herd has excelled in performance at the Missouri Steer Feedout. He has participated in that program since 2005. Eggerman has entered 60 head of steers and each group’s daily gain has always been average or above. Sixty-nine percent of the steers have graded Choice with 57 percent being 1 and 2 yield grades.

“His overall profitability per head has been above the average of the feedout steers except one year when he had a steer die during the feedout,” said Cole. “Gerald is also a buyer of bulls at the SW MO BCIA sales having bought 7 head, mostly Angus over the years.”

The association has given this recognition to seedstock and commercial cattle producers for 37 years. The recipient list is a who’s who of performance-minded operators in the southwest corner of Missouri. The geographical boundary for the association goes from Nevada to Lebanon and south to Arkansas.

Persons wanting more information on the association and their bull sales may visit the group website at or contact a University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist. MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102, Andy McCorkill in Dallas County at (417) 345-7551 or Dona Goede in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313.

PHOTO AVAILABLE: A photo of the award winners can be downloaded from the southwest Missouri Extension photo library for use in a publication.

Missouri 4-H Dairy Judging Team First in Placings at North American

Missouri 4-H was the high team in placings at the 2012 North American International Livestock Exposition Youth Dairy Judging Contest held Nov. 4 in Louisville, Kentucky, according to Karla Deaver, 4-H youth development specialist.

The team finished fifth overall in the 22 team field. The team of Steven Nelson, Tucker Peterson and Bailee Whitehead averaged 47.4 out of 50 possible points over 10 classes.

“The team was very consistent both in their placings and with each other,” said Deaver. “Only 4 points separated the three in placings. The lowest score any team member had on a class was 42 points. When oral reasons were added to their scores, only 14 points separated them. Our focus will now be on adding some polish to oral reasons the next 10 months in preparation for the National 4-H Contest next October.”

Nelson, son of Mike Nelson of Grovespring, was 8th high individual overall in the contest. He was 9th in Holsteins, 19th in Ayrshires, 20th in Brown Swiss, 16th in Jerseys and 18th in Oral Reasons. Peterson, son of Janet Peterson of Mountain Grove, finished 17th overall and was 9th in Ayrshires and 20th in Guernseys. Whitehead, daugther of Tony and Nikki Whitehead of Conway, was 7th in Brown Swiss and 21st in Guernseys, finishing 24th overall.

The team was 3rd in Ayrshires, 6th in Brown Swiss and Holsteins, 8th in Guernseys and Jerseys, and 10th in Oral Reasons.

Contestants placed ten classes and gave three sets of reasons. The team is coached by Ted Probert, University of Missouri dairy specialist, and Karla Deaver, University of Missouri Extension 4-H youth development specialist headquartered in Wright and Lawrence counties respectively.

The team is supported by Monsanto Company, FCS Financial, the Missouri Holstein Association and the Missouri Dairy Association in partnership with the Missouri 4-H Foundation. For more information about the Missouri 4-H dairy judging team, contact Ted Probert at (417) 741-6134 or Karla Deaver at (417) 466-3102.

PHOTO AVAILABLE: A photo of the team members can be downloaded from the southwest Missouri Extension photo library for use in a publication.

“Red Book” for Cattlemen Available for Purchase from Extension

Beef cattle producers may now purchase the popular pocket-sized herd record book from University of Missouri Extension livestock specialists.

The book is used throughout the United States following its origin in Idaho in 1985. Originally the “Red Book” was used as the primary record keeping tool for the Integrated Resource Management Program. Missouri adopted the book in 1987 as a tool for progressive cattlemen to use for gathering data on their herds and pastures.

In Missouri several different groups distribute the Redbooks besides Extension. Co-sponsors with MU Extension include the Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer program and the new Quality Beef by the numbers program.

Similar books are also distributed by veterinarians, feed companies and pharmaceutical firms with their name and logos on them.

The “Red Book” provides space for a variety of entries such as breeding dates, calf birth data, cattle weights, pasture rotation schedule, vaccination dates and types. It’s up to each user’s imagination as to how they use the data.

Some like to put rainfall amounts, dates and places along with temperatures in the regular calendar section.

Ideally the “Red Book” is not the only records kept. The book is best used for field data gathering and it is transferred to a permanent system such as a computer program.

The cost for the book from southwest Missouri Extension specialists is $5. Check with your nearest extension center if you’d like one for yourself or as a gift.

“Eat Well, Be Well with Diabetes” Series in Springfield First Part of 2013

“Eat Well, Be Well with Diabetes” is a four-class series designed for adults with Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. The series will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Thursdays, Jan. 24, Jan. 31, Feb. 7, Feb. 14 at Greene County Extension Center inside the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center, 2400 S. Scenic Ave., Springfield, Mo.

The program will be facilitated by Christeena Haynes and Dr. Pam Duitsman, both nutrition and health education specialists with University of Missouri Extension.

The cost of the program is $30 and requires pre-registration before Jan. 18, 2013. Contact the Greene County Extension by calling (417) 881-8909 for more information and to pre-register. The number of participants is limited to 15.

“Spouses and other family members of those with diabetes will also benefit from the classes,” said Haynes.

“Eat Well, Be Well with Diabetes” provides participants with practical information and skills needed to self-manage diabetes and promote optimal health. The series teaches the many aspects of diabetes self-care with a strong focus on nutrition.

The program includes demonstration and tasting of easy recipes as well as hands-on activities to encourage discussion and sharing among all participants. Participants will also receive copies of all recipes used in class plus many more for home use.

MU Extension Offering Savings and Investment Seminars Dec. 10 in Stockton and Hermitage and Dec. 11 Marshfield

If you've been thinking about investing your money, but are not sure where to start or are afraid of making a mistake, then sign up for one of the three free “Safeguard Your Savings” workshops being held in southwest Missouri on Dec. 10 and Dec. 11.

HERMITAGE: “Safeguard Your Savings” will be presented from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., on Monday, Dec. 10 at the Hickory County University of Missouri Extension Center, 203 Cedar Street, Hermitage. Individuals can register for this free seminar by calling the Hickory County University of Missouri Extension center at 417-745-6767, or e-mail

STOCKTON: “Safeguard Your Savings” will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 10 at the Cedar County Health Complex, 807 Owen Mill Road, Stockton. To register for the free seminar in Stockton, call the Cedar County University of Missouri Extension office at 417-276-3313, or e-mail

MARSHFIELD: “Safeguard Your Savings” will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at the Webster County University of Missouri Extension Center, 800 S. Marshall Street, Marshfield. Register for this free class by calling the Webster County University of Missouri Extension office at 417-859-2044, or e-mail

During the two-hour seminar, participants will learn the basic principles of saving and investing, setting financial goals and developing plans, the types of financial markets and how they work, selecting a financial professional, as well as avoiding investment scams.

Sponsored by the Missouri Secretary of State and University of Missouri Extension, this workshop was created and funded by the Investor Protection Trust, a nonprofit organization that provides objective information to help consumers make informed investment decisions.

“Safeguard Your Savings” is being provided across Missouri. The programs in southwest Missouri will be presented by Janet LaFon and Nellie Lamers, University of Missouri Extension family financial education specialists.

"When they hear the word 'risk,' the average person thinks it's a negative term," said Rob Weagley, chair of the University of Missouri Department of Personal Financial Planning. "In the financial world, risk allows you to get returns."

The fear factor, he said, prevents many people, especially those in the low to middle incomes ranges, from investing in financial markets and building wealth.

Weagley said his research found that the greatest demand for investor education is among 44- to 55-year-olds, who are planning for retirement; however, the seminars can benefit any age group.

"It's never too late for people to get involved and to find out if they need to make financial changes," Weagley said. "Ninety percent of us think we could do it better if we knew more."

Friday, November 02, 2012

Greene County Extension Council Adopts Business Plan and Launches “Friends of Greene County Extension”

Elected members of the Greene County Extension Council met on Monday, Oct. 29 and voted unanimously to approve the first business plan written for a county extension council in Missouri.

A committee of Greene County residents worked for several months on the business plan and looked at the long range needs of University of Missouri Extension in Greene County.

“This business plan is in addition to our existing bylaws and policies and looks at a business direction for the council that goes beyond the stream of revenue received from the county commission,” said Carl Allison, chair of the Greene County Extension Council.

The business plan can be found online at The document outlines the present role of MU Extension in Greene County and steps council members have agreed to take in order to strengthen MU Extension locally.

An important part of the business plan is a fundraising effort known as “Friends of Greene County Extension.” Council members and county residents at the council meeting Oct. 29 donated $4,155 to kick-start the campaign.

A giving form that can be used by individuals wanting to support extension by becoming a “Friend of Greene County Extension” can be found on the Greene County Extension website at

George Deatz, a community volunteer and past president of Friends of the Garden, served on the Greene County Extension business plan committee. He says the importance of direction provided by the plan cannot be overstated.

“Greene County Extension is an important Park Partner and has a huge impact on the Springfield Botanical Gardens,” said Deatz. “Helping keep Greene County Extension as a strong partner is very important long term to residents of Greene County and the Botanical Center and gardens.”

The Greene County Extension Council is an elected governing body established in Missouri state law as a function of county government.

Extension is an Essential Part of County Government

University of Missouri Extension is governed at the local level by county extension councils. These local governing bodies are established in Missouri state law as a function of county government. (Revised Statutes of Missouri Sections 262:550 to 262:620: County Extension Programs)

“The law is clear,” said Tony DeLong, extension county council coordinator for University of Missouri Extension. “Extension is not a civic organization. Extension is a core function of county government.”

County Extension Councils are political subdivisions like school boards and fire districts. However, extension councils depend on revenue from the County Commission as required by state law since extension councils are designed to provide a core function for the county.

County Extension councils were established in 1961 to fulfill the local educational needs through research-based programming. Extension councils were to be funded in a partnership (federal, state, county) with funding that supported programs based on the needs of county residents.

Federal and state laws for Extension date back to 1862 when the Morrill Act was passed.

According to DeLong, Missouri law says the three roles of the county commission are to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens.

Health education goes beyond public health. It includes nutrition, reduction in obesity, parenting skills, and an array of approaches to improving the mental and physical health of society – all areas that extension focuses on.

Safety (education, support and prevention) goes beyond law enforcement. It is programming that prepares us for a natural disaster, services that help us recover quickly, reduction of injury and food safety. A big part of extension’s work focuses on developing a safe, abundant, low-cost food supply in this county—both on the farm and in the garden.

Welfare is at the heart of extension programs that focus on the economic and well-being of society. Examples of these extension programs include business development programs, a youth development program known as 4-H, and community development programs that empower citizens to take the challenges of today and lead.

“A county receives about a seven dollar return on every dollar invested in support of the local county extension is at the minimum, residents are getting a bargain and the commission is underserving the county citizens,” said DeLong. “If the dollars for local support are not there the programs of public value are not able to make the difference.”

Most County Commissions in the state have worked as partners with the local extension council to provide resources that make programs possible locally. This partnership is essential.

“Over 1.2 Missourians received programming from MU Extension last year and most of that would not have been possible without this county and council partnership,” said DeLong. “I certainly say ‘thanks’ to those Commissions that have been supportive of the mission.

For more information about county extension councils in Missouri go online to

Tested Bulls at 80th Sale Average $3,079

Thirty-four yearling performance–evaluated bulls averaged $3,079 at the Southwest Missouri Beef Cattle Improvement Association’s sale on Oct. 29 held at the Springfield Livestock Marketing Center.

This was the 80th all-breed sale and eclipsed the previous high average of $2,948 set at the March 2012 sale according to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

There were 29 Angus bulls sold and this group had and the highest average at $3,131. They had a co-high with each bull bringing bids of $4,800. Blue Mound Angus, Halfway sold a son of Syd Gen CC & 7 to Rick Persinger, Cedarcreek a frequent buyer at the sales.

Clearwater Farm, Justin Mauss, Bois D’Arc consigned the other high-dollar bull bought by Brent Seiner, Bolivar. The sire was Clearwater Onward 1579. Five Angus bulls topped the $4,000 mark.

The two Charolais bulls entered by J & L Charolais Farm, Preston averaged $3000. The high-selling bull brought $3400. The successful bidder was Jim Bishop, Lebanon.

The top price in the Polled Hereford division was $2800 bid by Ronald DeLong, Marionville on a bull form Bonebrake Farms, Springfield. The two Polled Herefords averaged $2700.

The lone Simmental came from Breezin B Simmentals, Greg and Sandy Bailey, Mt. Vernon. He was claimed on a $2500 bid from Doug Carter, Diamond.

The SW MO BCIA sale is held in conjunction with University of Missouri Extension and the various breed associations that process and provide the performance data including the expected progeny differences (EPD).

Seedstock producers wanting to participate in the program and sale may contact sale manager, Pam Naylor, Buffalo (417) 345-8330. The next sale will be in Springfield on March 31, 2013.

For more information, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102, Andy McCorkill in Dallas County at (417) 345-7551 or Dona Goede in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313.

What Route will Your Turkey Take to the Table?

Thought there was only one way to cook a turkey?

The oven is often needed for side dishes. That means the big bird may have to take an alternate route to the table according to Dr. Pam Duitsman, nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“No matter what route you chose, always ensure whole turkeys reach 165 degrees as measured in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast,” said Duitsman.

Here are some things to keep in mind with various turkey cooking methods.

Electric Roaster Oven: This appliance can be used on the countertop as an “extra oven” for a whole turkey. The cooking time and oven temperature should be identical to a conventional oven. Preheat to at least 325 degrees, and place the turkey on a meat rack. Keep the lid on throughout cooking. Cooking bags may be used, as long as the bag does not touch the oven surface on any side.

Grilling: This popular method allows a completely thawed bird to cook over indirect heat in an outdoor gas or charcoal grill. Keep the grill covered, and place a pan of water beneath the grilling surface to catch drippings. Do not stuff the turkey – it can be unsafe because the indirect heat may not allow the stuffing to get hot enough to kill bacteria.

Smoking: Smokers vary widely, and use either electricity, gas, or charcoal for heat. Ensure the smoker reaches an internal temperature of 225 to 300 degrees before introducing the completely thawed, unstuffed turkey. If using water-soaked wood, do not use softwood like pine, fir, cedar or spruce. These woods will give the food a turpentine flavor and coat the meat with black pitch.

Deep Fat Frying: A whole unstuffed turkey of 12 pounds or less can be successfully cooked in a short amount of time. Follow manufacturer directions, and ensure the oil covers the turkey by 1 to 2 inches. Select a safe location for your fryer, and heat oil to 350 degrees. Slowly and carefully lower the turkey in the hot oil. Monitor the temperature, and never leave unattended.

Pressure Cooker: Use turkey parts such as breasts, legs, and thighs for this device. Follow the manufacturer instructions for a quick-cooking (about 1/3 or less of conventional time) product.

Slow-Cooker: Use cut-up parts of the turkey like legs, thighs, breasts, wings, or quarters. Begin heating on “High” for an hour or more before turning to “low” (or, just continue cooking on “high”). A minimum heating temperature between 170 and 200 degrees should be maintained. Do not remove the cover while cooking.

Microwaving: This can work successfully with either a whole unstuffed turkey, or using parts of the turkey in a covered dish. Limit the size of your bird to around 12 - 14 pounds, ensuring that you allow 3 inches oven clearance on top and 2 to 3 inches of space around the bird. Because microwaves can heat unevenly, a cooking bag will aid heat distribution.

Conventional oven: If you decide to go with your regular conventional oven, set your oven temperature no lower than 325 degrees. Place your turkey on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. For food safety, it’s best to cook stuffing outside of the cavity – in a casserole dish. Cook the turkey immediately and use a food thermometer to check the center of the stuffing and the internal meat have both reached 165 degrees.

More Questions? If you have more questions about cooking a turkey call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central Time on Thanksgiving Day.

Informational chart: A chart showing alternate methods for cooking a turkey and the time needed to cook it safely can be found in the nutrition section of the Greene County Extension website at

Variety of Factors May Cause Stocker Steer Gains to Decline According to Extension Livestock Specialist

Some Ozarks cattle producers raising stocker steers are reporting smaller than average gains this year despite not making any drastic operational changes.

According to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension, there is many factors that could be at work to reduce stocker steer gains.

“The most obvious would be the weather. Hot weather the last two years likely has resulted in lower animal performance. The hot dry summers probably reduced the percentage legume in the pastures, thus lowering gains,” said Cole.

Straight fescue pasture with endophyte problems, no doubt is the forage that has survived the stressful weather. The “hot” fescue can reduce gains by 0.5 pound per day or more, compared to novel endophyte fescue, a fescue-legume mix or a warm season grass.

Cole says shade can also be a factor in animal performance. Research at the University’s Southwest Center showed an improvement in daily gain of 0.2 pound for shade versus no shade on “hot” fescue pasture for stocker steers.

“The genetic background of stocker cattle plays a big role in coping with heat stress and the ability to make gains. For example, cattle that fail to shed their winter coats early will be at a disadvantage in performance,” said Cole.

It also appears that stocker operators are concentrating more on black cattle now when they make purchases than in past years.

“It’s possible their choices at buying time may contribute to some difference in rate of gain,” said Cole.

In addition to genetic differences, age and condition of stockers could be a consideration. With the shortage of cattle, the stocker folks may be buying younger cattle, perhaps with more flesh, and that reduces their compensatory gain benefit.

“As management intensive grazing is adopted gain per head or per day may also drop slightly. Gain per unit of land could actually increase as stocking numbers increase, but individual performance could decline,” said Cole.

Pasture fertility should be considered as a factor impacting gains also. Liming is a vital part of pasture performance, especially since it can enhance legume establishment and growth.

“A complete soil testing program could uncover fertility needs that might impact animal gains,” said Cole.

Management practices that may have been altered should be reviewed by the owner. Cole says records definitely are required to thoroughly analyze the following practices; implant product and protocol; external and internal parasite control; disease problems; castration timing, method and numbers; supplement use; weighing conditions, beginning and end.

“The bottom line is, only a close review of management practices with written, documented records can help a producer determine if there really is a substantial effect on animal performance that they can change. Unfortunately, there are many variables that may affect gains and pinpointing one or two specific items will be difficult,” said Cole.

For more information, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102, Andy McCorkill in Dallas County at (417) 345-7551 or Dona Goede in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313.

Late Fall Weed Control: It’s Not Too Late to Reduce the Thistle Population

Mild weather followed by a frost has landowners wondering if weeds like thistles, poison hemlock and plantain can still be controlled this time of year.

“Thinner grass stands coming out of a major drought along with adequate moisture this fall has created an ideal environment for weeds to develop that will impact our pastures and hayfields for many years if they are left unchecked,” said Tim Schnakenberg, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Until the area gets consistent cold weather in the low twenties or lower with visible cold effects on the plants, Schnakenberg recommends continuing to spray these weeds.

“Many of these biennial and perennial weeds that are still healthy are tolerant of cooler temperatures and will respond to chemical application on mild fall days. A demonstration we did on a farm in northeast Stone County several years ago in November using the product Milestone on thistles showed excellent results,” said Schnakenberg.

Many of the herbicides registered for these problem weeds will work as long as we have had consistent high temperatures in the fifties or higher and sunshine for several days in a row.

Schnakenberg recommended herbicides for thistles include: 2,4-D, picloram and 2,4-D products (eg. Grazon), Cimarron, Tordon and GrazonNext.

Products for poison hemlock include picloram and 2,4-D products and Tordon.

Buckhorn plantain can be more challenging and requires higher rates of 2,4-D, GrazonNext and the picloram and 2,4-D–type products.

“If you don’t deal with them now or early next spring, these problems will only get worse and reduce the available grass for grazing or hay on fields,” said Schnakenberg.

For more information, contact either of these MU Extension agronomy specialists in southwest Missouri: Tim Schnakenberg in Stone County, (417) 357-6812 or Brie Menjoulet in Hickory County, (417) 745-6767.