University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners offer a free service answering garden questions at their Horticulture Help Desk. The Help Desk is open 1:00-4:00pm, Monday thru Friday throughout the growing season (April – Sept.)
Master Gardeners research topics about insects, trees, shrubs, plants, vegetables, fruits, gardens, lawns, and more. They provide research-based answers to questions, and take time to find the information you need for your specific circumstance.
The Master Gardeners can be reached by calling 815-544-3710 (Boone) and 815-986-4357 (Winnebago), emailing in your question to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or by stopping at the office located at 205 Cadillac Court, Suite 3 in Belvidere or 1040 North Second Street in Rockford, IL. Master Gardener volunteers will ask you diagnostic questions to understand your horticulture situation, then they will call you back after they have done their research. They do not make house calls.
Clients are encouraged to email or bring in photos or drop off samples of their troubled plants, trees, or shrubs. Call for tips on how to collect samples.
Due to the extreme wet weather conditions experienced this growing season, the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) has introduced a targeted cover crop initiative program. The Prevented Planting Cover Crop (PPCC) incentive program is one of two cover crop programs being administered by IDOA this year. To qualify for the PPCC program producers had to have chosen the Prevented Planting option in their USDA RMA crop insurance program for 2019 and use cover crops on their prevented planting acres for weed control.
“Due to a high number of farmers taking Prevented Planting, we felt a cover crop initiative would benefit farmers and the soil—a win/win for both.,” said John Sullivan, Director, IDOA. “Cover crops help to control weeds on the Prevented Planting acres, conserve and prevent erosion of the soil and reduce nutrient runoff while the land lays fallow for the next growing season.”
IDOA has identified $400,000 to be used for the incentive program which is designed to help ease some of the pressure farmers face during this challenging weather season. To take advantage of this program producers will need to complete three required forms and documents which are available at their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) or FSA office:
• FY20 Prevented Planting / Cover Crop Incentive Application and payment form (PP/CC1)
• Agreement and Terms Contract (PP/CC-1A)
• Copies of USDA-Farm Service Agency form 578
Once these forms and documents have been completed, applicants need to contact their local SWCD office to schedule an appointment to review and finalize the application process.
Feel free to contact your local county SWCD office or the IDOA’s Bureau of Land and Water Resources at (217) 782-6297, for additional information.
“Considerations for First Time Cover Crop Adopters” Guidebook is a new resource for Illinois farmers that introduce the most recent research and information on the best management practices for effectively incorporating a cover crop ahead of soybeans. The Guide outlines comprehensive tactics for cover crop use as part of a nutrient management strategy. Research results from planting to termination of cover crops are included.
With funding from the Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council (NREC), researchers from the University of Illinois, Illinois State University and Purdue University have been studying the various variables involved in a successful cover crop program. Research efforts are supported by Dan Schaefer with Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) through a grant from NREC. This research has been performed at an on-farm, field-scale level and has shown – over multiple years – that a cereal rye cover crop ahead of soybeans has no detrimental impact on the soybean crop, and that the cover crop successfully scavenges nitrogen -- lowering the levels of N in field tiles.
As defined in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, Illinois has a target of reducing nitrogen (N) losses by 410 million pounds and P losses by 38 million pounds by 2025. Cover crops are identified as an important tool in meeting that target. NREC’s investment in this research helps to support the collaboration across the agricultural industry, environmental groups, and engaged stakeholders.
The guide is available for download from the Illinois NREC website at www.illinoisnrec.org . Printed copies can be requested by filling out the contact form on the website or emailing Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Throughout the area, farmers and crafters have been preparing their produce, homemade goodies, and handmade crafts. May marks the opening of farmers markets all across the Northern Illinois region. We are fortunate to have a market here in Boone County. Belvidere Farmers Market & Crafts opened on Saturday, May 18. It is held in the parking lot of Dodge Lanes on State Street and runs from 9:00a.m. to 1:30p.m. They have a variety of vendors who have fresh produce, baked goods, and crafts. Farm Market WIC coupons are accepted with some vendors. The market will be held Saturdays starting May 18 and running through October 19. To add to the mix of vendors, University of Illinois Extension Boone County Master Gardeners will be there on the first and third Saturdays of each month. They will be there to help answer any questions that you may have with gardening at their remote help desk.
Get to know your local farmers by attending the farmers market and support the local farm to table movement.
As you may or may not know, the monarch butterfly is in decline and they need milkweeds and other nectar sources to be planted across the landscape to support their fantastic tri-national migration. One of the key frustrations many gardeners, conservationists, and land managers face in their conservation efforts is the inability to find locally appropriate milkweed plants to provide this much-needed habitat.
In response, Monarch Watch has created the Milkweed Market to assist those who are looking for regionally appropriate milkweeds to incorporate into their garden, restoration, landscaping, or to sell in their garden center. The Milkweed Market provides the opportunity to get low cost or free (for non-profits and schools) milkweed seedlings for your projects. You simply need to order ahead of time, to make sure they can meet the upcoming year's demand.
As part of a North American Pollinator Protection Campaign effort, members of the Monarch Task Force are working to spread the word about this great resource and let you know that the time to order is now. Please see the below message from Monarch Watch to find out more, and share this with your network as you see fit!
Monarch Watch is excited to report that with our partner nurseries in Kansas, Oklahoma, California, and Florida, we distributed over 147,000 milkweed seedlings in 2018. Planning for Spring 2019 begins now. Preorders and early applications are necessary to help us determine how many plants we need to grow.
Please help get the word out about these three ways to get milkweed plants, and put your order in now!
1. Milkweeds are available for purchase by the flat through our Milkweed Market. Preorder for Spring 2019 here: https://monarchwatch.org/milkweed/market/
2. We have funding in place to distribute 100,000 FREE milkweeds for restoration projects. We are currently accepting applications for Spring 2019. The link to the free milkweed information page and application is provided below. This grant provides free milkweeds for large-scale (2+ acres) habitat restorations on both private and public lands. http://monarchwatch.org/bring-back-the-monarchs/milkweed/free-milkweeds-for-restoration-projects/
3. Through a separate grant, schools and educational non-profit organizations can apply for one free flat of milkweed for Spring 2019 at this link: https://biosurvey.ku.edu/application-free-milkweed-nonprofits-and-schools
Thank you for your help in spreading the word and planting more milkweed for monarchs. If you do not see milkweed available for you now, re-visit the Milkweed Market later to see if we have added products based on new seed acquisitions.
Please contact Dena Podrebarac at Monarch Watch with any questions at email@example.com.
Prairie Bounty of Illinois, a directory of direct-from-the-farm sellers, farmers’ markets and agritourism businesses, is available online at www.specialtygrowers.org/prairie-bounty.html
Provided by the Illinois Farm Bureau® and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association, the directory contains contact information and locations for more than 900 individual growers of fruits, vegetables and herbs throughout Illinois. The directory also provides consumers with farms’ contact information, products available, method of sale, and a complete list of all community farmers markets and agritourism businesses in Illinois, searchable by city, county, or zip code.
“Consumers are demanding more of the food they purchase. They want to make that connection with the farmer and know who grew the food on their table,” said Jim Fraley, Manager of the Illinois Specialty Growers Association.
This directory helps consumers do just that — support local farmers and buy farm-fresh produce and products at farms and farmers markets across the state. Prairie Bounty has become a great source for retailers as well looking to find growers to provide product for restaurants, grocery stores, and schools, among others.
The directory is regularly updated as growers add their names and markets to the system. Growers interested in adding their names and businesses to Prairie Bounty of Illinois may contact Jim Fraley at 309-557-3109 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or may visit the Illinois Specialty Growers website at www.specialtygrowers.org for additional instructions on how to register.
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