Opportunities for education this winter

Hello, Tribune Chronicle readers. From “brr” to “ahh” – what a wacky weather pattern we have had in January thus far. We have had it all, from subzero to spring-like temperatures all in the matter of just a few days. It looks like it may be a long rollercoaster ride of weather this winter!

But to brighten your day, we have some great programs planned for our agricultural producers this winter. Today, I would like to share information on our Northeast Ohio Agronomy School and report we are still taking applications for our Master Gardener training program.

OSU Extension in Ashtabula County is pleased to be offering the Northeast Ohio Agronomy School on Feb. 10 at the Williamsfield Community Center in Williamsfield. This year’s workshop will focus on helping you become a more profitable corn producer. With profit margins decreasing, it will be vital for crop producers to get the biggest bang from the dollars they invest in land rental, seed and fertilizer, technology, chemicals, and crop protection.

During the workshop, Dr. Pierce Paul, OSU Extension field crop pathologist, will help producers identify the major corn diseases and which fungicides provide the best defense for your crop. Dr. Peter Thomison, OSU Extension corn specialist, will share how the appearance of corn ears can tell us a lot about a corn plant’s development during the growing season. He will teach how corn ears respond to nutrient deficiencies, drought, temperature extremes, insects and diseases and how producers can optimize crop performance.

Dr. Andy Michel, OSU Extension field crop entomologist, will share how to identify key insects and how to determine what insect traits are needed in corn hybrids given current pest levels. Jenifer Pemberton, grain merchandising manager for Deerfield Farms Service, Inc. will also be on hand to provide an overview on the current market situation for corn and soybeans. And finally, Nathan Paskey, district manager of the Ashtabula County Soil and Water Conservation District, will share an update on Senate Bill 150 and the potential changes to fertilizer regulations for Ohio Farmers.

As always, a hearty farmer lunch prepared by Lahti Catering means attendees will not go away hungry. The lunch is being sponsored by W.I. Miller & Sons of Farmdale. Registrants will receive OSU Extension’s Abnormal Corn Ear poster and Iowa State’s Corn Growth and Development & Corn Disease publications. Preregistration is required by Feb. 3. Make checks payable to OSU Extension, Ashtabula County and mail to 39 Wall St., Jefferson, 44047. Call 440-576-9008 with questions or visit go.osu.edu/ne-events.

We have extended the application period for our 2014 Master Gardener training program. So, if you have a strong interest in gardening and enjoy helping others, you are invited. To become an OSU Extension Master Garden volunteer, you must attend 10 training sessions held from February to May.

Course topics include history of OSU Extension, plant physiology, soils, composting, fertilizers, herbs, houseplants, plant propagation, plant pathology, fruits, landscape maintenance, and making effective presentations.

The dates for this year’s training program are: Feb. 26; March 12, 19, 26; April 9, 16, 23, 30; and May 7, 14. at the Trumbull County Ag Center in Cortland.

Upon the completion of the training program, each volunteer is asked volunteer 50 hours of horticultural service to the community through Extension educational programming. Such service could include teaching youth and adults about gardening, planting and maintaining Extension demonstration gardens, answering gardening questions from the public, judging flower and vegetable projects at local fairs, and assisting community garden participants.

Enrollment in the class is limited and all applications are due by Jan. 27.

Marrison is associate professor and extension educator, agriculture and natural resources, Ohio State University Extension. He can be reached at 440-576-9008 or marrison.2@ osu.edu.