Extension Information


18 2014 Farm Bill PLC & ARC Decisions, 6:00 p.m., Johnson’s Reception Hall, Elkader

23 4-H Citizenship Meeting, 5:00 p.m., Extension Office, Elkader


3 Pest Control CIC, 9:00 a.m., Extension Office, Elkader

Pest Control Operators Course Offered December 3, 2014

Clayton County will host a Pest Control Operators Continuing Instructional Course (CIC) for commercial pesticide applicators Wednesday, December 3, 2014. The program will be shown at locations across Iowa through the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Pest Management and the Environment (PME) program.

The local site for the December.3 CIC is the Clayton County Extension & Outreach Office in Elkader. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. followed by sessions from 9 to 11:30 a.m. The registration fee is $60 on or before November 26 and $70 thereafter. To register or to obtain additional information about the CIC, contact Rita Severson at the ISU Extension and Outreach office in Clayton County by phoning 563-245-1451.

The 2014 course will provide continuing instructional credit for commercial pesticide applicators certified in categories 7A, 7B, 8, and 10. The course will cover topics such as effects of pesticides on groundwater and other non-target sites; effective bed bug and termite treatments, new and efficient cockroach and rodent control, and pesticide application techniques that limit human exposure

Additional information and registration forms for this and other courses offered through the PME Program can be accessed at


Help Farmers Cope with Stress

Farm life with its country setting often is idealized, but as the complications and pace of agriculture have increased, so have the physical and mental demands on farmers. Safety and stress during harvest season cannot be ignored, says Margaret Van Ginkel, an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach human sciences program specialist and Iowa Concern Hotline coordinator.

Farmers deal with everyday tasks of money management, decision-making and equipment maintenance,” Van Ginkel said. “Worry over large debt loads, government regulations, pest outbreaks, animal disease, negative publicity, rapid change within the industry and lack of control over the weather add stress and safety risks.”

Van Ginkel noted that farmers work long hours in isolation near their home environment, leaving them no place to escape the stressors, which makes it easy to see why farming ranks as one of the most stressful occupations in the United States.

The physical and mental stress of farming can take a toll on a person’s health,” Van Ginkel said. “Ignoring those signs of stress can lead to fatigue and depression, increasing the risk for accidental injuries, poor decision-making, physical illness and more.”

The long days and late nights of harvest can lead farmers to push their limits to get crops out of fields, but research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that breaks can help increase concentration and alertness while reducing the risk for farm accidents.

Get out of the tractor, get out of the combine,” said Van Ginkel. “Take fifteen minutes to eat a sandwich on the tailgate of the pickup with your family. It will recharge your energy and help you think clearly again.”

Van Ginkel says there are physical signs of stress to look for in yourself or a co-worker. She references the Ag Decision Maker publication Managing Farm Business and Family Stress when she points out physical signs of stress include an increase in headaches, lingering fatigue, disrupted sleep patterns and more frequent illness; emotional signs include frequent anger and irritability.

Recognize signs of stress

Although adults involved in the agriculture industry may not come out and verbally share they are under financial or emotional stress, there are signs they may be in need of help, Van Ginkel said. These signs can be observed by friends, neighbors, veterinarians, physicians, clergy, teachers and other community members.

Suzanne Pish, a social-emotional health extension educator with Michigan State University Extension, encourages those living in rural communities to look for the following signs of chronic, prolonged stress in farm families:

  • Change in routines. The farmer or family no longer participates in activities they once enjoyed such as church, 4-H or visiting at the local diner.

  • Care of livestock declines. Animals might show signs of neglect or abuse.

  • Increase in illness. Stress puts people at higher risk for upper respiratory illnesses (colds, flu) or other chronic conditions (aches, pains, persistent cough).

  • Increase in farm accidents. Fatigue and the inability to concentrate can lead to greater risk of accidents.

  • Decline in farmstead appearance. The farm family no longer may take pride in the way farm buildings and grounds appear, or no longer have time to do the maintenance work.

  • Children show signs of stress. Children from families under stress may act out, show a decline in academic performance or be increasingly absent from school. They also may show signs of physical abuse or neglect.

Many farmers who are used to working things out for themselves might be resistant to sharing their problems with others. Although asking for help might go against the nature of a strong, self-reliant farmer, obtaining support for stress-related problems usually provides the most effective and durable solutions,” Van Ginkel said. “It’s important to encourage and refer individuals and families under farm-related stress to needed resources.”

Call the Iowa Concern Hotline

Iowans can call the ISU Extension and Outreach Iowa Concern Hotline, 800-447-1985, for help and referrals for dealing with stress. The Iowa Concern website at www.extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern/ has a live chat feature as an additional way to talk with stress counselors. Agencies and professionals serving individuals and families can contact local ISU Extension and Outreach offices about Iowa Concern hotline number business cards available for distribution.


Yard and Garden: Protecting Trees and Shrubs Against Rabbits in Winter

Trees and shrubs are not as active in winter, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored through the cold season. Winter brings food scarcity, which makes the home landscape a target for rabbits. Rabbits can severely damage trees and shrubs unless homeowners are proactive, which makes protecting them before winter arrives a major priority. Horticulturists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach tell how to protect trees and shrubs against rabbits this winter. To have additional questions answered, contact the ISU Hortline at 515-294-3108 or hortline@iastate.edu.

How do I prevent rabbit damage to trees and shrubs in winter? 

The most effective way to prevent rabbit damage to trees and shrubs in the home landscape is to place chicken wire fencing or hardware cloth around vulnerable plants. To adequately protect plants, the fencing material needs to be high enough that rabbits won’t be able to climb or reach over the fence after a heavy snow. In most cases, a fence that stands 24 to 36 inches tall should be sufficient. To prevent rabbits from crawling underneath the fencing, bury the bottom two to three inches below the ground or pin the fencing to the soil with U-shaped anchor pins. Small trees can also be protected by placing white spiral tree guards around their trunks. After a heavy snow, check protected plants to make sure rabbits aren’t able to reach or climb over the fencing or tree guards.  If necessary, remove some of the snow to keep rabbits from reaching the trees or shrubs.

Damage may also be reduced by removing brush, junk piles and other places where rabbits live and hide. Trapping and repellents are other management options.

Which plants are most likely to be damaged by browsing rabbits in winter?

Trees and shrubs that are often damaged by rabbits in winter include crabapple, apple, pear, redbud, honey locust, serviceberry, burning bush or winged euonymus, flowering quince, barberry, roses and raspberries. Small evergreens (especially pines) are also vulnerable. However, nearly all small trees and shrubs are susceptible to damage when food sources are scarce and rabbit populations are high.

Can anything be done to save trees and shrubs damaged by rabbits over winter?

Prevention is the key to safeguarding the health of trees and shrubs in the landscape. Little can be done once the damage has occurred.  

Deciduous trees that have been girdled (the bark has been removed completely around the trunk) have essentially been destroyed. Wrapping the trunk or applying pruning paint to the damaged area will not save the tree. Most affected trees will sucker from the base. However, most fruit and ornamental trees are propagated by grafting. Suckers which originate from the rootstock will not produce a desirable tree. Trees that have been girdled should be removed and replaced with additional trees.  

Many deciduous shrubs have the ability to produce new shoots or suckers at their base. Because of this ability, many severely damaged deciduous shrubs will likely recover in a few years. Girdled stems should be cut off just below the feeding injury.