Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Manage cool-season perennial grasses now for a successful grazing season

 

 

By Ryan McGeeney
U of A System Division of Agriculture

 

Fast Facts:

·       Many grasses can be fertilized throughout the spring and summer

·       Some deficiencies may not be apparent to the naked eye

·       Soil testing key to meeting the needs of the pasture

 

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — With spring temperatures on the horizon, many ranchers and pasture managers are looking to their calendar, deciding when to turn cattle out for grazing or planning that first cut of hay. 

 

Dirk Philipp, associate professor of animal science for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said producers should first take look at the condition of their pastures, and make sure they’re setting themselves up for success.

 

“It’s time to give your pastures some love,” Philipp said. 

 

He said the first step for producers to ensure a good grazing season is to walk through their pastures and assess the condition of the forage base, asking a few key questions along the way.

 

“Did the species composition change from the year prior?” Philipp said. “Do you see any kind of novel weed plants you normally don’t see there? Do you still have a 75 percent or greater coverage of your main forage base?”

 

Producers who plan to sell hay such as bermudagrass, and are looking to establish a clean stand of forage, should apply herbicides while both the grass and weeds are still dormant, Philipp said.

 

“Take a soil sample if you forgot to do so last fall,” he said. “This will help in assessing the needs for replacing macro-nutrients besides the nitrogen. Don’t let major nutrient deficiencies crop up over the years — it is very expensive to correct major deficiencies, especially potassium.

 

“Fescue is resilient, and you may not be able to judge deficiencies just from looking at the foliage such as is the case with orchardgrass,” Philipp said. 

 

If growers haven’t already been applying nitrogen fertilizers to cool-season perennial grasses, time is running out on that opportunity, Phillip said. 

 

“Ideally, you would apply 60-70 pounds of nitrogen in early to mid-March,” he said. “Orchardgrass, especially, is very responsive to nitrogen fertilization and will lose vigor rapidly if not fertilized.”

 

Philipp said growers should look for yellowish leaves and weak growth in orchardgrass, which are tell-tale signs that nitrogen is missing. However, hope is not lost if March came and went without fertilization.

 

“You can apply nitrogen fertilizer anytime during spring, but you obviously want to catch the major growth phase between March and early Summer,” he said.  

 

Additionally, some forages require calibrated management to thrive. Forages such as orchardgrass, for example, need to be defoliated to maintain a healthy stand and to avoid a buildup of decayed leaves.

 

Philipp recommended stocking cattle on cool-season perennials when the canopy is about 18–24 inches. 

 

“What’s important is to start grazing in the vegetative phase before plants reach maturity, but remove animals on time to retain enough leaf material for regrowth,” he said. “This means producers should find the ‘sweet spot,’ moving cattle to new paddocks and then removing them before the canopy becomes grazed too short.”

 

To learn more about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu

 

 

About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. 

 

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.  

 

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. 

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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Overcoming obstacles: farm security and legal updates to be provided at 2021 Virtual Summit

 

Register before rates increase April 16!

 

April 6, 2021 – Animal rights activists continue to create obstacles for farms, processing facilities, grocery stores, animal agriculture companies and others involved in the supply chain working to provide consumers with safe, affordable animal protein. Panels at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2021 Virtual Summit will address new activist trends that have emerged and provide best practices to protect farms and facilities. 

The Alliance’s annual Summit brings together thought leaders in the agriculture and food industries to discuss hot-button issues and out-of-the-box ideas to connect everyone along the food chain, engage influencers and protect the future of animal agriculture. The 2021 event, themed “Obstacles to Opportunities,” is scheduled for May 5-6 with preconference webinars planned for the five business days prior, beginning Wednesday, April 28. 

 

“Taking advantage of people when they are most vulnerable is a disgrace, but that’s just what animal rights activists have done during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hannah Thompson-Weeman, Alliance vice president of strategic engagement. “While the rest of the world was focused on mitigating the effects of the global public health crisis, these groups continued to mercilessly push their vegan and anti-animal agriculture agendas. Our security and legal panels will discuss the obstacles created by animal rights groups over the past year and dive into opportunities to safeguard the future of the animal agriculture community.”

 

In the “Overcoming Obstacles: Activist Update & Security Advice” panel, speakers will provide an update on animal rights activists’ efforts to capitalize on the COVID-19 crisis, protests outside of company CEO’s homes, trespasses onto farms and more. But, most importantly they will share how attendees can overcome these obstacles by implementing proactive security and crisis planning measures. The expert panel includes:

 

  • John Sancenito, President, INA, Inc.
  • Jim Naugle, Assistant Sheriff, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office
  • Nancy Daigneault, Principal & Founder, On Point Communications

 

Directly following the security panel, legal updates will be provided as part of the “Navigating the Legal Landscape” session. Animal agriculture is on trial in the court of public opinion as animal rights activists spread misinformation about animal welfare, sustainability and other key issues. However, animal rights activists are also taking their plight to the actual courtroom as they bring coordinated litigation against farms and companies. Attendees will learn about the topics and trends that affect your businesses and organizations, including proactive steps that may be taken to avoid litigation issues and best practices on how to navigate the legal landscape with these groups. Seasoned agriculture law attorneys serving on the panel include:

 

  • Michelle Pardo, Partner, Duane Morris LLP
  • Brianna Schroeder, Partner, Janzen Schroeder Ag Law

 

The full Virtual Summit agenda is available on the Virtual Summit registration website. Sessions will highlight ways to position animal agriculture as a path forward to climate neutrality, how to elevate the voices of farmers in dialogues surrounding food and agriculture, and strategies for virtual stakeholder and influencer engagement.

 

Be sure to check the Virtual Summit website for the most up-to-date information and to register. You can also follow the hashtag #AAA21 for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about the Summit please contact summit@animalagalliance.org or call (703) 562-5160.

 

Get involved:

Show your support for the Alliance’s outreach efforts by becoming an official Summit sponsor today! For 2021 sponsorship opportunities, please visithttps://animalagalliance.org/initiatives/stakeholders-summit/For more information, contact Casey Kinler at ckinler@animalagalliance.org.  

 

Thank you to our 2021 Summit sponsors: Watt Global Media, Farm Journal, Meatingplace, National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Smithfield, National Pork Board, American Feed Industry Association, United Soybean Board, United Egg Producers, Country Folks, Dairy MAX, Farm Credit, National Biodiesel Board, Cobb Vantress, Inc., Protect the Harvest, Progressive Dairy, The National Provisioner, Kemin, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Veal Association, National Chicken Council, Trans Ova Genetics, Vivayic, Mountaire Farms, North Carolina Farm Bureau and Eggland’s Best.

 

The Alliance also thanks the following members for their continued support of Summit and other Alliance programs: U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, Zoetis, Merck Animal Health, C.O.nxt, Diamond V, Genus PLC – PIC/ABS, Aviagen Group, Boehringer Ingelheim, Cargill, Dairy Farmers of America, Hendrix Genetics, Hy-Line North America, LLC, Iowa Soybean Association, Midwest Dairy, National Turkey Federation, Nutrien, Provimi North America, Inc., Seaboard Foods and Tyson Foods Inc.

 

About the Alliance:

The Animal Agriculture Alliance is an industry-united, nonprofit organization that helps bridge the communication gap between farm and fork. We connect key food industry stakeholders to arm them with responses to emerging issues. We engage food chain influencers and promote consumer choice by helping them better understand modern animal agriculture. We protect by exposing those who threaten our nation’s food security with damaging misinformation. 


Find the Alliance on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


Monday, March 29, 2021

Texas lamb and goat markets remain hot




Lambing and kidding season has begun as the market for goat and lamb continues to ride a wave of high prices due to steady demand and limited supplies. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo) 

Texas lamb and goat meat producers continue to command high prices in a niche market driven by high demand and low supplies, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

Reid Redden, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension sheep and goat specialist and interim director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, San Angelo, said the Texas lamb and goat markets have thrived despite COVID-19 and that travel restrictions likely helped spur demand higher.

“The lamb and goat markets are in another world as it relates to market conditions most Texas ag producers have been dealing with,” he said. “The market for Texas lambs and goats is diverse, resilient and growing. It avoided supply chain bottleneck issues other livestock markets dealt with, and I think the COVID restrictions kept the regular consumers home, which means more family functions to eat lamb and goat meat.”  

Lamb in high demand

Texas producers continue to command top prices as they supply a niche market around the U.S., Redden said.

In January, the base price for 60-pound lightweight slaughter lambs was $3 per pound, up 70 cents per pound from this time last year, he said. Those lambs are selling $1 per pound over the five-year rolling average.

Overall, consumer demand for lamb has expanded in recent years. But Redden said Texas lambs have commanded premium prices through the non-traditional market compared to the traditional market for restaurants or retail sale.

The traditional feeder market, which prefers larger framed, wool-type lambs fed to 140-180 pounds, and mimics the beef industry as far as processing and logistics, is not as common in Texas as it used to be, he said. The vast majority of Texas lambs are smaller-framed hair sheep that typically weigh 40-80 pounds – and go to ethnic consumers.

Prices for Texas lambs are driven primarily by the demand from nontraditional ethnic consumers, who are concentrated in major populations centers around the state and nation, Redden said.

Lambs are shipped live to the markets where they are sold directly to consumers or harvested by ethnic processors and distributed to ethnic grocers and butcher shops. These non-traditional markets demand smaller, leaner lambs and pay a premium for them.

“The market has been strong for some time now, but prices continue to trend upward,” he said. 

Prices reflecting demand

Lamb production is limited in the U.S. because very few regions have climates and production conditions that sheep perform well in compared to other livestock.

Redden said Western parts of Texas are ecologically perfect for sheep. Native plant species include many varieties of browse that sheep find palatable, and the arid conditions make controlling internal parasites easier.

A significant piece of the traditional U.S. lamb market is supplied by imports and they are one-third to half the cost of domestic lamb, but imported lamb do not appear to have as large an effect on the ethnic market supplied by Texas lambs and goats, he said.

Many consumers want lambs at 40-60 pounds, but producers are realizing better margins at 60-80 pounds, Redden said. These market conditions factor into maintaining and inflating strong prices as buyers jockey for specific weight and class lambs.

“It’s a specialty market, and it’s become harder and harder for supplies to meet demand,” he said. “The prices reflect that.”

Goat prices strong, getting stronger

Goat prices continued to experience a price trajectory similar to lamb, Redden said.

“The kid goat market is even brighter than lambs,” he said. “The goat market has been on fire the last several years and getting better and better. Producers don’t understand it, but they’re just riding the wave as far as it will go.”

Unlike Texas’ lamb market, goats have never been part of the traditional meat production apparatus, Reid said. There are no big processing plants or packers, and production feeds non-traditional, primarily ethnic demand.

From January and February, goat prices fluctuated between $3.50-$3.80 per pound compared to a five-year average of $2.50-$2.75 for the same time of season. January-March is typically when prices are the best. Kidding season is just now getting started and most market goats are sold in the summer and fall. 

Goats are lighter, slower-growing animals compared to sheep, Redden said. Market kid goats tend to be lighter than lambs – typically averaging 35-65 pounds – but are achieving comparable prices per head due to higher prices. Some goats have brought over $4 per pound at market.

“There was one down week last year when buyers were worried about the COVID-19 pandemic, but as soon as the orders kept coming in, prices took off and have continued to climb,” Redden said. “There just aren’t enough goats to meet demands.”

Redden said it was noteworthy that even the cull nanny market was very strong, meaning buyers are willing to pay top dollar for less desirable goats. They were selling at $2.20 per pound in February, 85 cents per pound above the five-year February average for 100-pound nanny goats of $1.35 per pound.

Redden said goats, like Texas lambs, are in high demand in major population centers across the state and country. While lambs are more adaptable to other production conditions, western parts of Texas are ideal for goat production due to browse requirements and low internal parasite load.

About 40% of U.S. goat production is located in West Central and West Texas, Redden said. About 30% of goats consumed in the U.S. comes from imports. Australia has been a major player in the import market, but their goats are primarily feral herds, and they aren’t able to increase production to meet the growing demand. As such, imports have very little impact on domestic goat prices.

“You see people with a few hobby goats here and there, but the major producers who are experienced with the infrastructure and know-how to handle a commercial goat herd are generally located in Texas,” he said. “There’s interest in goat production because prices have been so good, but they are a lot of work, and I don’t predict large increases in goat production outside the state.”    

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Healthy Grass Equals Profitable Ranches

 

Family photo on the Blair ranch
The Blair family poses for a family photo on their ranch.
Britton Blair teaches his son Jack how to identify different grass species on their South Dakota ranch.
Britton Blair teaches his son Jack how to identify different grass species on their South Dakota ranch.
Water can make or break a ranch in America’s dry western states. This is especially true for families like the Blairs who graze livestock on rangelands in South Dakota.


“I want to keep all of the rain that falls on this ranch so we can grow as much grass as possible,” said Ed Blair. Now 68, Ed co-manages Blair Brothers Angus Ranch with his brother, son, and nephew.


They run cattle on 40,000 acres of deeded and leased pastures where the Black Hills meet the prairie. Ed’s grandfather and his siblings homesteaded south of Sturgis in 1906, and his father moved to their current “home ranch” in 1954. The family expanded by buy-ing the Two Top Ranch near Belle Fourche in 2014.


This region receives an average of 14 inches of rain per year, although  average” is the key word. “Some years we have to grow grass on four to six inches of rain. It’s not ideal, but I can manage that as long as I’ve got a consistent source of water,” said Ed.


To secure that water, the Blairs started working with the USDA’s Soil Conservation Service (SCS), now the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), in the 1960s. The family has used Farm Bill funding to put conservation practices in place to maximize grass production, including: cross-fencing; livestock watering systems; shelterbelts and fabricated windbreaks; riparian fencing, and multi-species cover crops.


These conservation practices have allowed the Blairs to grow more grass and double their stocking rate in 30 years. Rotating livestock quickly through pastures allows the plants to rest and grow taller. This creates more profitable working lands.


“Ranching is a business as well as a lifestyle,” said Tanse Herrmann, NRCS District Conservationist in Sturgis, who has worked with the Blairs since 2003. “At NRCS, we want to make sure this multi-generational family stays on their land doing what they do best: raising cows and managing natural resources.”


Based on the success on the ranch, Ed’s son, Chad Blair, “hit the ground running with rotational grazing” when he and his wife, Mary, began managing the Two Top Ranch in 2014.


Chad and Mary partnered with the NRCS-led Sage Grouse Initiative to install livestock water tanks, pipelines, and fences through the Environmental Quality Incentives Pro-gram.
“The new water system gives us heavier weaning rates and healthier cattle,” explains Chad. “Plus, it allows us to run cattle here year-round.”


Healthy grasslands also provide valuable ecosystem services for ranchers and rural communities, including wildlife habitat, erosion control, clean water, and healthy soil.
Matt Gottlob, a range and wildlife conservationist with the Sage Grouse Initiative, helped Chad and Mary ensure their fences were wildlife-friendly. Wires are spaced apart or flagged with reflectors so that fences don’t impede migrating deer and pronghorn, or harm upland birds flying low to the ground.


“These ranchlands provide some of the best sage grouse habitat in the state,” said Gottlob.
Two Top is one of five adjoining ranches that have participated in the Sage Grouse Initia-tive. Along with a host of partners including the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Program, Northern Great Plains Joint Venture, South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks, and Pheasants Forever, ranchers here have conserved over 105 square-miles of working grazing lands for wildlife.


Chad and Mary have three young children who help out on the ranch and enjoy seeing wildlife near their home. “Our kids are learning the value of not overusing the grass and making it sustainable for the future, just like I learned from my dad and uncle,” said Chad.


The family’s focus on sustaining natural resources earned the Blair Brothers Angus Ranch the South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award and the Public Land Council’s Sagebrush Steppe Stewardship Award. The Blairs were also listed on the 2020 BEEF Top 100 Seedstock list.
“You can help the environment and yourself by doing these programs,” said Chad.


Or as his father, Ed, likes to say: “We take care of the grass, and it takes care of us.”
 
Brianna Randall is a freelance writer based in Missoula, Montana. 
 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Feral hog eradication assistance available to Buffalo River Watershed landowners in Arkansas

 

By Ryan McGeeney

U of A System Division of Agriculture 

 

Fast Facts: 

  • $2 million in assistance grants to be awarded over the next 5 years 
  • Current application window open until March 26 
  • Additional information on feral hog eradication available through Cooperative Extension Service 

 

LITTLE ROCK — Landowners in the Buffalo River Watershed are eligible to receive assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture aimed at eradicating feral hog populations in the area. 

Additionally, as part of the Buffalo River Watershed Enhancement Project, funding for conservation assistance is also currently available to landowners as well as agricultural producers in the watershed who are interested in implementing conservation practices to help maintain and improve water quality.    

 

The sign-up period for conservation practices ends March 26, 2021. Interested landowners should check in with their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service field office to apply. 

 

John Pennington, extension water quality educator for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said there will be multiple sign-up opportunities for this special assistance over the next five years with up to $400,000 additional conservation funding available for qualifying landowners annually. 

 

The importance is that not only can these forms of conservation assistance help protect water quality in the watershed, but they can also improve farm profitability and habitat for native wildlife,” Pennington said. “Also of importance, this opportunity does not come around every day, or even very often.” 

 

The Cooperative Extensions Service, part of the Division of Agriculture, is helping to provide site visits, outreach and information within the project area, as well as providing feral hog control informational resources. 

 

While the funding is potentially available throughout the Buffalo River Watershed, priority areas are Calf Creek, Bear Creek, Lower Big Creek, Tomahawk Creek and Brush Creek sub-watersheds in portions of Baxter, Marion, Pope, Searcy, Stone and Van Buren counties. 

 

The funded conservation practices are intended to increase farm efficiency and reduce nutrients, sediment, and bacteria from moving off the landscape and into tributaries, and align with the recommendations from the Buffalo River Watershed Management Plan. Some examples of supported conservation practices include brush management, prescribed burning and pasture fencing. 

 

Feral hog eradication
To receive assistance with feral hog eradication, landowners should call the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Arkansas Wildlife Services at (501) 835-2318. Wildlife Service technicians use state-of-the-art technology, including remotely triggered enclosure gates, to trap and remove feral hogs from residents’ property.  

 

Other agencies and organizations on the Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force are available to help. Residents who prefer to learn how to trap hogs themselves using new technologies, and are willing to host a field demonstration, or would like to pick up an Arkansas Feral Hog Handbook, contact your local county extension office (Uaex.uada.edu). 

 

Other steps to help in the eradication of feral hogs and improvement of water quality are to report sightings and kills of feral hogs using the Feral Hog Reporting Survey 123 app from the Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force, available at  https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture-services/feral-hog/. Learn more about methods for effective control at https://www.uaex.uada.edu/environment-nature/wildlife/feral-hogs.aspx.  

 

To learn more about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu 

 

 

About the Division of Agriculture 

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.  

  

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.   

 

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.  

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Deep freeze may deep six part of fire ant population; flies likely unaffected

 

By Mary Hightower, U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast facts:

  • Loftin: Imported fire ants, of tropical origin, may see population shrink temporarily
  • Thrash: Redbanded, southern green stinkbugs likely affected by cold

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A week of record-low temperatures may leave its mark on Arkansas’ fire ant populations, but don’t look for the cold to have reduced fly or tick numbers, Kelly Loftin, extension entomologist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said Friday.

Closeup of fire ants on sidewalk
FIRE ANTS — The extreme cold of the winter of 2021 may make a dent in fire ant populations in Arkansas. File photo taken January 2014 in Pulaski County. (U of A System Division of Agriculture photo by Mary Hightower)

In general, Loftin said that “insects that are endemic to our region have evolved various mechanisms to survive cold winters.” However, invasives that originate from warmer climates don’t have those means for survival.

Fire ants and freezing weather 

“Imported fire ants are a good example of an exotic species that can be adversely impacted by extreme cold temperatures,” he said. “This pest ant has expanded its range about as far north as it can under normal winter conditions. And north Arkansas is the northern limit of its range.

“Although imported fire ants are native to South America, they survive most Arkansas winters,” Loftin said. “However sustained cold can cause a temporary population reduction.”

He said that a decade ago, when parts of the state sustained seven days below freezing,  “Arkansas’ fire ant population experienced a 70 percent reduction in the number of fire ant colonies.” he said.

But you can’t keep fire ants down for long.

“About 1.5 years later, fire ants returned to the prior population level,” he said. “Fire ant colonies associated with sidewalks, parking lots, foundations, and other areas tend to survive simply because these structures serve as heat sumps thus preventing colonies from freezing.”

Ticks 

Ticks are pretty good at finding protected places to ride out the freezing weather.

“Species such as the American dog tick and lone star tick survive the winter by seeking shelter as adults and nymphs in the leaf litter,” Loftin said. “Other species such as the winter tick are attached to a warm host during the cold winter.”

“If you look at the geographical range of the American dog tick, black-legged tick and winter tick, all three survive up to the Canadian border and beyond,” he said. “Even the lone star tick survives up to the Great Lakes region.”

Loftin said temperatures will influence when ticks become active.

“For example, if we have a warm spring, we will see active ticks in March or April,” he said. “And during warm spells during winter months you may see an occasional active lone star or American dog tick in January or February. Likewise if temperature remain cold in the spring, ticks will not become active as early.”

Flies

Don’t count on a week of freezing temperatures to knock out flies.

“The house fly range is worldwide including the Arctic, so obviously we wouldn’t expect to see much winter mortality,” Lofton said, adding that “our most important livestock flies have different mechanisms to survive cold winters.

House flies and horn flies of cattle survive cold temperatures as larva or pupae under manure piles and other protected breeding material.

The face fly a pest with a different overwintering strategy as a hibernating adult. Introduced from Europe into Nova Scotia, Canada, about 1950, face flies hibernate in church steeples, attics, barns and other protected areas.

“I routinely see hibernating face flies on warm days in manmade structures,” Loftin said. “Many times they are numerous enough to become household pests.”

Row crop pests

The effects of the deep freeze are uncertain, said Ben Thrash, extension entomologist for the Division of Agriculture.

“We can safely say the redbanded stink bugs and southern green stink bugs will be knocked back for the next several years,” he said. “I think many our native species will be relatively unaffected.”

However, the cold’s effects on insects that migrate to Arkansas isn’t known yet.

“Insects like corn earworm and fall armyworms do overwinter here Arkansas, the cold should have killed them here, but many of our most damaging corn earworm populations migrate from places like the lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas and south Louisiana,” Thrash said. “I’d bet we will still see these insects, but they may just be delayed in getting here.”

“I would like to put some data together sometime to see if there are any trends I can pick out with weather and certain species,” he said. “Other things like how wet our spring is can also have major effects on our insect populations by promoting weed growth.”

Thrash recalled something former Arkansas soybean breeder Chuck Caviness said when asked to predict a field’s soybean field. Caviness declared “Only fools and newcomers try to predict soybean yield, and I’m neither.”

Thrash said, “I’m beginning to feel the same way about predicting insect numbers.”

To learn about extension and research programs in Arkansas, visit https://uada.edu/

Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk, @uaex_edu or @ArkAgResearch.