Wednesday, January 28, 2015

DNR postpones AIS training and trailer decal program

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will postpone the new aquatic invasive species training and trailer decal program that was due to launch at the end of the month while legislators consider changes to the program.

Under a law passed by the state Legislature in 2012, anyone trailering a boat or water-related equipment such as docks and lifts in Minnesota is required to take aquatic invasive species training and display a decal on their trailer. The effective date is July 1, 2015.

“With the legislative interest in this educational program and ongoing discussions about possible changes, we are postponing the launch until we see if the Legislature acts this session to modify the program,” said Bob Meier, DNR assistant commissioner.

The DNR supports the education that would be provided under this law, but recognizes there are some concerns with the way the law is currently written. For example, people transporting boats on trailers through Minnesota to another destination are required to take the course and display a decal even if they don’t put their boat in Minnesota waters.

Since the training and decal are currently not required until July 1, the DNR wants to remind people that there will be time to see what happens legislatively and still take the course and receive decals. The agency will post any updates on trailers at and alert the media if there are any program changes.

Monday, January 26, 2015

MDA Accepting 2015 Value Added Grant Applications

 ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has another round of funding available for projects to help farmers, producers and processors add value to their operations. A total of $1 million in funding has been made available through the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation Program (AGRI), established by the legislature to advance Minnesota’s agricultural and renewable energy industries.

The MDA will distribute the funds through its AGRI Value Added Grant Program which aims to increase sales of Minnesota agricultural products by diversifying markets and by increasing market access and food safety. Specifically, these grants are intended to:
·     start, expand or update livestock product processing businesses;
·     purchase equipment to start, upgrade, or modernize value added businesses;
·     increase on-farm food safety, such as implementation of a food safety plan
·     increase farmers’ processing and aggregating capacity to sell to schools, hospitals or others
Applications with a meat processing, farm-to-school (or other institution) component, or are addressing Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) or similar type of food safety plan will receive priority, but all value added proposals are encouraged to apply.
Equipment purchases or physical improvements are eligible for 25 percent of the total project cost up to a maximum grant award of $150,000. There is a minimum grant of $1,000. Equipment purchases and facility improvements must accomplish the goals of the grant and address improved efficiency, expansion, modernization, or profitability.
This round of applications must be received no later than 4:00 p.m. on March 6, 2015. Grant applications are submitted through our online system. The application is accessed through a link on the MDA Value Added website: If you cannot apply using this process, you may submit an application by e-mail, mail, or by dropping it off at the MDA. An application must be received by MDA staff by the deadline to be included in this round of applications.

DNR announces new special angling regulations

Angling regulations will change on nearly three dozen waters this year, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Among the changes: Anglers will see more restrictive walleye regulations in and around Saganaga Lake in Cook County. Lake Winnibigoshish will have a relaxed, or narrower, protected slot limit for walleye. And northern pike special regulations will be removed on Big Birch Lake in Todd County.

Changed and new special and experimental regulations will be posted at public accesses on affected lakes and become effective March 1, except for those involving Sand Lake in Itasca County and connected waters, which will be effective in 2016.

New regulations
Saganaga, Sea Gull, and Gull lakes (Cook County) and connected waters – Walleye will have a 17-inch minimum length restriction and a bag limit of three established to protect small walleye to make the most of limited production of those fish from natural reproduction or stocking. Fish managers have been concerned for several years about low numbers of young walleye seen in these lakes, and the possibility that without some protection, those low numbers would result in even lower numbers of adult fish, with further reductions in spawning success. Effects of this regulation will be studied for the next 10 years, and will be reviewed with the public in 2024.
Sauk River chain of lakes (Stearns County) – Anglers will have an expanded opportunity to harvest channel catfish, which became established in the late 1970s and since have become very abundant. A bag limit of 10, but with only one of the 10 longer than 24 inches, is to provide the opportunity for more harvest yet still provide a healthy population of catfish.
Lake George (Hubbard County) – Bass will have a protected slot limit of 14-to 20-inches, with one longer than 20 inches allowed in a possession limit of six. The lake has a healthy population of bass shorter than 15 inches but fewer larger bass compared to other nearby lakes and the regulation is designed to boost numbers of larger bass.
Sand Lake (Itasca County) and connected waters (Birdseye, Portage and Little Sand lakes) –Starting in May of 2016, walleye will have a 17- to 26-inch protected slot limit with one fish longer than 26 inches allowed in a possession limit of six. This experimental regulation is intended to increase abundance of spawning-age walleye, stabilize reproduction, and end boom-and-bust cycles of fishing success for walleye. The regulation will be monitored for 10 years and its effect on walleye and fishing will be reviewed with the public in 2025.
Modified regulations
Lake Winnibigoshish – Walleye will have an 18- to 23-inch protected slot, with only one longer than 23 inches, relaxed from the previous 17- to 26-inch protected slot. This is to allow for more harvest opportunities while still maintaining protection to spawning-age fish. In recent years the slot limit on Winnibigoshish has consistently met objectives established for the regulation.
Clitherall and Sewell lakes (Otter Tail County) – On Clitherall Lake, smallmouth bass will have 14- to 20-inch protected slot limit with one longer than 20 inches allowed in a possession of six. This regulation replaces the catch and release regulation that has been in place for the last 10 years. The regulation for largemouth and smallmouth bass on Sewell Lake has also been changed to a 14- to 20-inch protected slot limit.  This replaces the 12- to 20-inch protected slot limit. Both lakes have quality populations of bass but managers believe these lakes can sustain quality fish while allowing additional harvest for bass shorter than 14 inches.
Big Mantrap (Hubbard County) – Black crappie will no longer have a 10-inch minimum length restriction but will continue to have a restricted bag limit of five. The minimum length limit was determined to be ineffective at increasing the size of crappie in Big Mantrap Lake.
Dropped regulations
Special or experimental regulations will be dropped on four waters and return to statewide or border waters regulations.

Regulation objectives for improving northern pike in Big Birch Lake in Todd County; walleye and sunfish in Cottonwood Lake in Grant County; and sunfish in Mississippi River navigation pools 5, 5a, and 8 on Minnesota-Wisconsin border waters were not achieved, so special or experimental restrictions will be lifted. 

For similar reasons, on Jewett and Pickerel lakes in Otter Tail County, bass regulations will return to statewide limits.
Regulations turning permanent
Three lakes that have had experimental or temporary emergency regulations will become permanent special regulations. Reduced bag limits of five sunfish on Pimushe Lake in Beltrami County and 10 sunfish on Star Lake in Otter Tail County were shown to have effectively maintained quality populations of sunfish. 

The temporary catch-and-release regulation for a genetically unique population of lake trout in Mukooda Lake in St. Louis County was made a special regulation to conserve these fish for further study. On nearby Little Trout Lake, which also has a unique genetic population, there will be a new catch-and-release regulation for lake trout. Both lakes are accessible in Voyageurs National Park and anglers may travel through these lakes with lake trout legally harvested on other waters.

In most years, the DNR reviews the effectiveness of some existing regulations and also considers proposals for new regulations. After evaluating information collected from lake and angler surveys, the department takes public input before making decisions based on management goals. For more information, see

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2015 Minnesota Statewide High Tunnel Conference in Baxter, MN

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. (1/15/2015)—University of Minnesota Extension is leading a 2015 Minnesota Statewide High Tunnel Conference, to be held Tuesday and Wednesday, February 17 and 18, at The Arrowwood Lodge At Brainerd Lakes, Baxter, MN. High tunnels (HT), also called hoop houses, are temporary structures that extend the growing season.

A Beginning High Tunnel Grower Workshop with a “Basics of High Tunnel Production” session will be held the morning of the first day, Tuesday, February 17, from 8:00 a.m. to noon for beginning growers and those needing a review. The main conference will begin at 12:45 p.m. on Tuesday and run through Wednesday afternoon, February 18.

Keynote speaker for this year’s conference is Steve Bogash, Penn State Extension Educator. Steve will present four different topics:
  • Advances in HT Tomato Production: Techniques, Varieties, Nutrition, and Pest Management
  • Mechanization of Ventilation in HT
  • Advances in HT Bell Pepper Production
  • Advances in HT Cucumber Production: Techniques, Varieties, Nutrition, and Pest Management.
In addition to the keynote topics, main conference topics include:
  • Understanding Spider Mites and Other HT Insects
  • Fruit Production in HT
  • Oxygen Drip Tape Injection Research
  • Understanding Your HT Irrigation Water: Putting It Into Your Total Plan
  • Do Colored Ground Plastics Make a Difference in HT Production?
  • Effective Pest Scouting and Control Methods, and HT Sprayer Technology
  • Current University of Minnesota Research with HT Tomato, Pepper, Eggplant Diseases
  • Understanding HT Ventilation in Detail
  • Current University of Minnesota Research with Winter Production in HT
  • Cover Crops in HT

A new feature this year will be irrigation water testing. Participating growers are encouraged to bring a sample of their irrigation water with them to the conference for free analysis. Water samples (one cup per well; one cup per container) can be placed in a clean self-sealing bag or clean container with lid. One self-sealing bag inside of another works well. Bring samples to day one of the conference.

For more information or to request a brochure and registration form contact Sue Schuler at the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Office, Grand Rapids, MN at 218-327-5958 (ext. 3001) or; or visit the High Tunnel website at

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Extension, FSA add extra 2014 Farm Bill crops education seminars

ST. PAUL, Minn.  (Jan. 14, 2015)—Due to high demand, University of Minnesota Extension and the Farm Service Agency will offer seven educational seminars to help crops producers choose options necessitated by the 2014 Farm Bill programs.

In addition, online instruction is available to guide both crops producers and landowners through decision-making required by the new farm bill. Visit for videos and printable materials.     

Registration is not required. Newly added programs, and phone contacts for more information, are:

·         9:30 a.m. to noon, Jan. 27, Freeport Community Center, 307 Seventh St. SE, Freeport,  (320) 836-2526
·         9:30 a.m. to noon, Jan. 28, Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall, 1501 State St., Marshall, (507) 537-7110
·         9:30 a.m. to noon, Feb. 3, Courtyard Marriott, 901 Raintree Road, Mankato, (507) 388-1234
·         9:30 a.m. to noon, Feb. 4, Rochester International Event Center, 7333 Airport View Dr. SW, Rochester, (507) 529-0033
·         9:30 a.m. to noon, Feb. 4, Bede Ballroom (second floor, Sargeant Student Center), University of Minnesota Crookston, (218) 281-6510
·         9:30 a.m. to noon, Feb. 5, Bigwood Event Center, Fergus Falls, (218) 739-2211
·         1 to 3:30 p.m., Feb. 5, University of Minnesota Continuing Education and Conference Center, 1890 Buford Ave., St. Paul, (612) 624-3275

Crop producers have until March 31, 2015 to make decisions required by the farm bill, including the choice among three new risk management programs. They will be locked into a decision that lasts five years. Landowners have until Feb. 27, to complete the base reallocation and yield updates.

The farm bill repeals several previous programs, including direct payments for most crops. It covers the following crops grown in Minnesota: corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, canola, sunflowers, oats, sorghum, lentils, dry peas, garbanzo beans and flax.

The farm bill designates the extension arm of land-grant universities nationwide as the education provider for producers. To learn more, visit Extension’s 2014 Farm Bill page at