Office hours are Monday-Friday 10AM-3PM


Check out our latest information and "like" us on Facebook

Now on Twitter! @mu_randolph

Randolph County 4-H/FFA Fair July 15-21, 2018

Farmers seek forage options as drought cuts grass growth  

 Shortage of cattle forage forces some Ozark herd owners to chop trees to feed leaves. That method was used in big droughts of the 1930s and 1950s.

Damage comes from more than an intense drought, said Craig Roberts, University of Missouri forage specialist in a weekly teleconference. Regional extension specialists update state staff on current problems.

Roberts says forage shortages date from dry weather last fall.

Pastures were short then and hay harvest low. When bales ran out, herd owners turned cows into pastures that had not grown many leaves. Winter overgrazing grubbed pastures down, eating tillers for regrowth.

Heat and lack of rain prevent pasture recovery. Many hayfields come up 75 percent below normal, Roberts said. The problems grow.

Grass that grew this spring is long on seed stalks and short on leaves. When baled for hay, that grass can be low-energy fiber, not nutrition. It may also be toxic.

“This is a year for ammoniation,” Roberts said. That requires covering stacks of low-quality hay bales with plastic. Then anhydrous ammonia is leaked into the stack. Over time the gaseous nitrogen normally used for fertilizer breaks down cell-wall fiber. This releases digestible nutrients and lowers toxins in fescue hay.

The gas process used in recent droughts improved cattle feed.

Some farmers asked about cutting small shrubs and baling them for forage. “This definitely needs ammoniation. Also, beware of poisonous plants,” Roberts told listeners.

The night before the teleconference, rains fell across most of the state. But rain was spotty. Some areas received 2 inches. Others got a trace, or less.

Spotty thunderstorms are a result of a high-pressure dome stalled over the state, said Pat Guinan, MU Extension climatologist. Weather disturbances travel along the dome edge, giving more rainfall chances. Inside the dome, isolated high-energy thunderheads drop intense rains.

Long-range forecast calls for the dome to move eastward, Guinan said. That could bring more rains as high pressure moves out.

Last weekend big rains fell over Iowa into Illinois. “Those rains were anticipated to hit more of Missouri,” Guinan said. “They went north.”

Strong storms brought crop-destroying hail to some areas.

Valerie Tate, MU agronomist at Linneus, said a storm in Linn County was about a quarter-mile wide and 5 miles long.

Corn and soybean crops were shattered.

“Even hail-damaged crops are being considered for balage,” Roberts said. “However, those crops should be checked for nitrate content. High nitrates can kill cattle.”

Crop scouts see unusual developments of corn and soybean crops. Some soybean plants, only a few inches tall, carry blooms already.

Bill Wiebold, MU soybean specialist, has seen plants with only three trifoliate leaves in bloom. High heat slows internode growth. The plants won’t grow tall but they can set pods.

Early blooms shut down use of several post-emergence herbicides. Herbicide labels tell stages of growth that stop use. Some growers may not realize soybean fields are blooming.

A common comment among specialists has been, “We’ve never seen anything like this.”

Some corn has shot up nearing reproductive stage in the hot weather. That’s weeks ahead of normal. Other corn and soybean seed planted in dry soil hasn’t germinated or emerged. One specialist reported that crusted soil stopped corn emergence.

Ranges in crop development can be extreme.

More problems may come. “Drought brings grasshoppers,” Roberts said.

Farmers with unusual crop conditions seek help at their local MU Extension center. Specialists might take the questions to the weekly teleconference for help.


Farmers asked to respond to land rent survey   

 Missouri farmers are asked to respond to a land rent survey, says University of Missouri Extension economist Ray Massey. A report compiled from the anonymous survey responses will help landowners and renters make better decisions about lease rates.

The survey is issued only in electronic form this year. It takes about five minutes to complete. Massey says he hopes that the new delivery method will encourage landowners and renters to respond.

The survey covers criteria such as cash rent cost for cropland, pasture land and fee hunting property, as well as location of land, average yield and storage facilities.

MU and partner agencies, including Missouri Farm Bureau, FCS Financial and others, work together to obtain information that helps economists on the local, state and federal level to assess supply and demand for land, as well as production costs and market prices. Survey results also help landowners and renters understand market values in their area.

MU conducts the survey every three years and releases a summary online and at its annual ag lending schools.

Results of the 2015 survey are available at

If you did not receive a survey and would like to participate, go to or contact Massey at or 573-884-7788.


Mizzou announces full-tuition grants for low-income students

MU has announced that full tuition scholarships for low-income, Missouri residence students will be available in the fall of 2018. Please share this information with your youth, parents and anyone who may qualify. To find out more, follow this link:



Popular extension publications


Don't guess — Soil test and save time and money

Beginning January 1, 2018 soil samples costs will rise from $15 to $18 due to the cost the lab charges. Soil testing is the best guide to the efficient use of fertilizer and soil amendments. Whether you grow acres of row crops or have a vegetable garden in the backyard, a soil test will provide you with an analysis of nutrients and a set of recommendations for improvements. Soil testing can be done through the extension office. The cost for a regular test is $18 per sample box. Additional fees are required for additional tests. Each sample box requires 1 cup of dry soil. Results will be mailed to you in about 10 to 14 business days. See additional MU publications for information on soil testing.


Cash renting farm land

The University of Missouri just released the results of their most recent cash rent survey in the 2015 Cash Rental Rates in Missouri (PDF). These rates were compiled using the survey responses of 226 Missourians who are involved with cash renting farm land. Every rental situation is different, so this guide should be used as a reference in addition to considering other factors in your area, including average yield, soil types, the number of acres available for rent in the area and the demand of rental land. The guide includes rates of crop and pasture land by acre, crop land by yield, pasture by stocking rate and rates for farm buildings.

For more information or a copy of these rates, visit your local MU Extension office and ask for MU Extension publication G427, 2015 Cash Rental Rates in Missouri.

Custom rates for farm services in Missouri

The rates reported in this guide are based on a statewide survey conducted by mail in the summer of 2016. Farmers, agribusiness firms, aerial applicators and land improvement contractors responded to questions on the rates they were charging or paying in 2016 for custom services, excluding the cost of materials being applied.

MU Extension publication G302, 2016 Custom Rates for Farm Services

Caring for ash trees

Emeraled ash borer insect resting on a penny to show sizeThe Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was found in St. Charles County in 2014. Due to the potential spread and destruction from this pest, you should take steps to protect ash trees while they are relatively healthy. Once canopy dieback or thinning begins, the tree's vascular system is considerably damaged. Treatment at that point may stop additional damage, but it cannot reverse the existing damage. Resources to learn more about this pest and how to manage it: Insecticide Options for Protecting Ash Trees from Emerald Ash Borer (PDF)Tree pests


Ordering Tree Seedlings in Missouri

What  tree species successfully grow in your area, how many trees can you plant and properly maintain and when do you need to place your seedling order?  These questions and more are answered in MU Extension publication G5006 Right Species, Right Place: Considerations Before You Order Tree Seedlings in Missouri.    If you are interested in ordering tree and small bush seedlings from the Missouri state nursery, the catalog and order from are available at 2017-2018 Seedling Order Form




Canning guides in MU Extension publications