2014 MPCD Mid-Summer News Brief
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Mid-Summer News Brief

Just wanted to pass along some helpful mid-summer conservation tips...

In this issue~
Middle Park Hay Auction, Hay and Soil Sampling, Hay Making Tips
Tree Seedling DealsGrazing Management: All for One or One for All, Weed Wisdom,  Thistles: Good v. Bad, Gardening Tips  

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Middle Park Hay Growers

The Middle Park Stockgrowers Association is hosting a Middle Park Hay Growers Hay Auction on Saturday, September 13th, at the Kremmling Fairgrounds.  A potluck lunch will be served at noon with the auction to follow.  Hamburgers and hotdogs will be provided by Dave Hammer of the Kremmling Mercantile, and we are asking other attendees to bring sides and drinks to complete the meal.   If you would like to bring a dish, please contact Katlin at 970-531-0127.
We are currently seeking interested growers who would like to sell hay in our auction.  
We require sellers bring a minimum of one ton to sell as part of the auction.  
We also require that 10% of all sales be donated back to the Middle Park Stockgrowers Association to benefit the Stockgrowers Scholarship Fund. 
If you would like to take part in our auction, please call Katlin Miller at 970-531-0127.
We also have a limited number of advertising spaces available on our Hay Auction posters for sellers who would like to advertise their hay.  A business-card sized ad is $25.  Please contact Katlin (970-531-0127) no later than August 4th if you want an ad.  That gives me time to get them printed and hung for fair.  

Hay & Soil Sampling

As a friendly reminder, we don’t want you to forget that the Middle Park Conservation District has hay core samplers and soil core samplers available for use. 

Hay and Soil Cores provide invaluable information about your pastures and soil.  The results you’ll get from a simple forage test or soil test will be similar to that of a Nutrition Label on the back of your favorite food.  You will know exactly what you are feeding your livestock, and what, if anything, your animals are missing in their diets.

For example, rumen bugs require a crude protein of at least 7% to stay alive and active.  Does your hay have a crude protein content of 7% or higher?  If not, you may need to feed an additional protein supplement.
Hay and Soil Samples are very easy to take and the cost of testing is also cheap, ranging from $13-31. 

Call our office at 970.724.3456 for more information or to borrow our core samplers.  

Hay Making Due Diligence 

Now that haying season is upon us, some of you may be interested in ways to improve your hay making process and minimize losses.  We hope the following tips will be useful to you. Numbers in parentheses are the sources from which the information was taken.    
--Cut hay earlier in the season to get better hay quality.  Hay quality and quantity are inversely proportional.  In other words, as hay quantity goes up, hay quality goes down.  Immature plants have greater leaf to stem ratios.  Because the leaf is the ‘meat’ of the plant, more leaf equals higher nutrition (higher crude protein and sugar content), higher palatability, and higher digestibility.  (1, 4)
--If putting up a mix of immature and mature or overly mature hay, stack it in separate stacks according to high or low quality.  When it comes time to start feeding, feed the highly nutritious, immature hay to your younger or late gestational and lactating cattle. These cattle have higher nutritional needs and require better feed quality.  Feed the less nutritious, mature hay to your early gestational and dry cows  (4) Table 
below from source #4. 

--Only bale hay with a moisture content of 20% or less for small bales and 18% or less for large bales.  If baled at moisture content of 20% or more, hay may start to caramelize and mold.  Heat will be produced and may cause spontaneous combustion to occur and a fire to start.  On the other hand, hay with less than 12% moisture is too dry and will likely shatter during tedding, raking, or baling.  In that case, you will just be baling stems.  If you have not already invested in a good hay moisture tester, it is a must-have for all hay producers.  (1, 3)
--Cut hay later in the day to maximize sugar content.  Plants photosynthesize during the day to produce sugars and oxygen.  At night, they respire and use some of those sugars produced during the day to grow and set seed.  Thus, plants are at their lowest energy level early in the morning.  The only catch to this tip is that hay cut later in the day will not dry much on the initial cutting day; check the weather forecast and be sure there is no threat of rain showers overnight or in the near future. (1, 2, 3)
--Decrease your drying time by setting your mower width to the widest possible setting.  Grass sits on top of the stub better and more evenly allowing for more air to flow through and around the grass.  Mowers with conditioners will also improve your drying time because they crack the stems to release trapped moisture. (1,2,3)
--Every haying process causes dry matter and leaf loss, minimize this loss by working your hay as little as possible.  If you must ted your hay, do so the morning after mowing and once the dew is off but while the hay is still tough.  Also rake the hay when it is slightly tough.  This will minimize leaf loss from both tedding and raking.  This is a balancing act because even if your grass is tough when you put it in a row, remember to check the final moisture content before baling it to make sure it is below 18-20%. (1, 2, 3) Tabl
e below from source #3. 

1.  Bummer, J., M. Volt, and A. W. Cooley. Chapter 9: Irrigated Hay Production. Intermountain Grass & Legume Forage Production Manual. <>
2.  Proper Handling & Curing of Hay <>
3.  High Quality Hay Management <>
4. Harvest and Storage Management Affect Hay Quality <

Hot Deals on Trees from CSFS Nursery

The Colorado State Forest Service Nursery has just announced some great deals on tree seedlings for fall planting.  

In addition to their normal stock, the CSFS Nursery is offering the following trees at discounts of 20-30%.  
Contact Katlin at 970.724.3456 if you wish to order any trees (whether the discounted ones below or their normal stock).

***Note: Taxes, Shipping, and $6 Admin Fee not included in the prices shown below.   

Small Tubes
$45* per lot of 30 trees
-Douglas Fir
-Engelmann Spruce
-Lodgepole Pine
-Piñon Pine
Trays of 50
$50* per lot of 50 trees
- Bristlecone Pine
-Eastern Red Cedar
Large Tubes
$60* per lot of 30 trees
- Aspen
All for One or One for All?
Grazing Management Considerations


When it comes to grazing management, some producers have an age old dilemma of “All for One or One for All”?  Is it better to graze 25 animals on one acre of land for one day or 1 animal on one acre for 25 days?  Most people initially go for the second option because it just sounds better.  But… actually, the proper answer may very well be first option: 25 animals on one acre for one day.  The reason for this is that you will have better utilization with option number one.  The animals will be forced to eat all plants and not just the favorable ones.  Furthermore, they will not have the chance to come back and regraze tasty plants over and over again. 
Most producers have heard of the term “overgrazing” and know that overgrazing is a bad thing.  However, you may not know that overgrazing typically only happens when plants are grazed repeatedly without being given a chance to recover.  This happens when you have a small number of animals in a large area where they can pick and choose which plants to eat.  They will eat all the ice cream first and then come back to lick the bowl.  If there are a lot of animals in a small area for a short period of time, they are forced to eat their meat and vegetables too and don’t have time to lick the ice cream bowl before they’re kicked out. 
Additionally, by rotationally grazing your stock and forcing them to eat all species, you will keep a better balance of desirable and less desirable species throughout the pasture.  If animals were allowed to only selectively graze the tasty plants, it is likely the less tasty plants may eventually take over and dominate the pasture.  This is because they never get knocked down and have to recover.  Meanwhile, the tasty plants all around them are struggling all season long because they keep getting hit over and over and over. 
Obviously, this theory of intense grazing for short periods of time only works if you have the ability to actually move your stock around.  Permanent fencing is not always available or cheap to put in.  However, you may consider putting up electric fence or moving your water and mineral sources around to encourage utilization of different areas.  By keeping your water and mineral sources in different areas of the pasture, cattle will be forced to travel between them every day and not just stay in one spot.  This will help reduce overgrazing in specific areas of the pasture.  Ideally, a rotational grazing system would have 5-8 separate paddocks that could be used on rotation throughout the season.  This would give adequate time (a minimum of a week to 10 days) for recovery in each paddock before it is regrazed. 
If you are considering changing your grazing regime, it is advised that you consult Mark Volt (NRCS, 970.724.3456) or another professional to make sure you are considering all variables and have an adequate monitoring and adaptive management plan in place. 

Dietz, Harland.  1988.  Grass: The Stockman’s crop.  How to harvest more of it. 
McKinney, E. 1997. It May Be Utilization, But is it Management? Rangelands 19(3). 
LeValley, RB.  Chapter 8: Animal Grazing Management. Intermountain Grass & Legume Forage Production Manual. <>

Brummer, J. Principles of Grazing Management and Grazing Systems for Irrigated Pastures. PowerPoint Presentation.

Weed Wisdom

The Middle Park Conservation District, Summit County Weed Department, CSU Extension, and Friends of the Lower Blue River recently held a weed workshop at the Slate Creek Community Center off Hwy 9 near Ute Pass Road.  We had 47 attendees and learned some great stuff about weeds and calibrating weed sprayers.

 The links below will provide you with valuable information regarding weeds and weed control.  Please feel free to contact the following individuals with any questions.

Lisa Taylor (Summit County Weed Supervisor): 970.668.4218
Mark Volt (NRCS): 970.724.3456
Rick Roehm (Helena Chemical): 720.374.1994 
Katlin Miller (MPCD): 970.724.3456
Travis Hoesli (CSU Extension): 970.724.3436
Steve Elzinga (USFS): 970-328-5896
Summit County Noxious Weed List/Descriptions:
Summit County Weed Plan:

Calibrate My Sprayer App:  If you have a fancy smart phone, you may be interested in downloading the Calibrate My Sprayer App.  It will make calibrating a piece of cake and it's FREE.  
Herbicide Give-away Programs
Summit County:  Backpack Loaner Program for small infestations. Call Ben Pleimann at 970.688.4252.  Cost-share program for large infestations.  Call Lisa Taylor at 970.668.4218.  Click this link for Cost-share application.  
Grand County: Small Landowner Herbicide Giveaway Program.  Fridays during the summer from 9-noon in Granby at County Shop.  Must have your own backpack sprayer.  Call Jennifer Scott at 970.887.0745.
Ag Producers in Both Grand and Summit Counties:  Middle Park Habitat Partnership Program gives up to $500 worth of herbicide to production agriculture folk.  Contact Jennifer Scott at 970.887.0745.  Program is limited and starts around April 15th of every year.  

The Good

Article written by Lisa Taylor, Summit County Weed Manager
While many people consider any thistle to be a weed, the truth is that native thistles are anything but a weed.  Their sweet nectar serves as essential food for insects, bees and butterflies. 

Native thistles are used for medicinal purposes and most are edible.  In fact, Native Americans routinely roasted the roots of thistles to supplement their diets.  During the 1870 exploration of Yellowstone, a member of the expedition, Truman Everts, became separated from his group and lost his horse and all his belongings, except for a small knife and a pair of opera glasses.  Due to the lack of means to secure food, Everts survived almost entirely on Elk Thistle roots for over a month until he was rescued (near death at about 50 pounds) by a member of his expedition. 
In Middle Park. we are blessed with many native thistles.
The Elk Thistle is a plant that is easily found in meadows.  It grows close to the ground and produces a multitude of yellow flowers.  Since it stays so low to the ground it can be easily overlooked.  You can find this plant throughout the high country. 
You will find the Mountain Thistle at the higher elevations and above timberline.  As you can see from the picture it seems almost alien.  The flowers are large yellowish or slightly pink in color often “nodding” because of its large size and weight.  This is a very beautiful plant.
Like the Elk Thistle, the Eaton’s Thistle can be found throughout the high country.  The plant has clusters of flowers that grow up the stem.  It is sometimes referred to as Frosty Balls. 
Lastly, the Fringed Thistle.  This is my favorite!  The white flower reminds me of dog whiskers.  The Fringed Thistle can be found along roadsides and in drier areas. 
Typically the native thistles will be more “hairy” with light pink or white colored flowers.  The stems will often be a reddish color, especially at the base and in the lower stems.  Unlike the noxious thistles which have bright showy flowers, the natives are more muted in color, seeming to blend into the natural environment.

Photo from Google Images (Mountain Thistle)

The Bad

Article written by Lisa Taylor, Summit County Weed Manager
Middle Park has five thistles that are considered noxious weeds; they are Bull, Musk, Plumeless, Scotch and Canada thistle.   All of these thistles, with the exception of Canada thistle, are biennials, meaning that they complete their entire life cycle in two growing seasons.

The first year these plants are in a “rosette” stage, at which time all of the plants energy is put into growing a tap root and large leaves that stay low to the ground. It is during this time that the plant is easiest to control. Simply pop the rosette out of the ground with a shovel and you are done.  

In the second season the plant will shoot up, sometimes to 10 feet tall and several feet in circumference, and will produce flowers that are either pink or magenta in color.  At this stage of the game there is still time to control the plant before it goes to seed.  Again a shovel should be used to dig the plant up, but be sure to wear long sleeves and leather gloves to avoid getting scratched by the thorns.  Chop the plant up and put it in a trash bag, then send to the landfill.  If you just leave it on the ground, the plant will still go to seed and you will have wasted your time. 
Canada thistle on the other hand is a deep rooted creeping perennial. 
Unlike the biennial thistles, this plant does not complete its life cycle after two growing seasons, but continues to grow year after year.   The majority of the plant is underground in its root system, which can grow 18 feet horizontally in one growing season.  Most patches however grow 3-6 feet per year and can easily crowd out desirable species.  Controlling Canada thistle is much more difficult then controlling biennial thistles.  Although digging or pulling the plant might seem like the thing to do, DON’T!  Disturbing the roots only encourages more growth, and that is the last thing you want.   In mid July, when the plant is flowering, it can be mowed, grazed, cut or treated with an herbicide.  This will kill the top of the plant only, and a followed up treatment with an herbicide is needed in late fall to address the root system.  Because Canada thistle is a tough plant to kill, it can take years of management to finally  be rid of it, but don’t be discouraged, if you are persistent and consistent, success can be had.   

Photo from Google Images (Musk Thistle)
Click Here ~ Thistles of Colorado Identification Guide
Funny Story...
    I just wanted to include a funny story about thistle.  My mom and I visited Peru, Ecuador, and the Galapagos last fall.  While in Peru, we did a city tour of Cuzco.  At one point on the tour, we ventured onto a rooftop terrace to view the city below.  Right along the rooftop were these thistle that had obviously been planted there on purpose.  Not wanting to sound like a know-it-all, I politely asked our guide what kind of plants they were.  He responded with "They are cactuses.  We have many types of cactus here and we plant them as protection against enemies and evil spirits."  I just smiled and said "OK thanks."

FYI....thistle are NOT cacti.   

Gardening into the Fall

As many of the ranchers in Middle Park prepare to harvest their hay for the year, it got me thinking about what kinds of vegetables people could plant now for a fall harvest. 

Travis Hoesli from the Grand County Extension Office, said that you can still plant any of your spinach and lettuce varieties now for a fall harvest.  Radishes and kohlrabi may also be suitable for fall picking if planted now.  

Travis also said that you can extend your growing season for spinach and lettuce by planting it in late fall (end of September to middle of October) after we get some hard freezes and the soil it staying consistently cool.  The seeds will stay dormant through the winter and get an early start in the spring.  
The content of this newsletter is for Educational Purposes ONLY.  We have attempted to site opinions, beliefs and viewpoints from various sources and professionals.  These opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Middle Park Conservation District or its Board of Supervisors/Employees.  It is always recommended that you seek independent advice before implementing new management practices.
Copyright © 2014 Middle Park Conservation District, All rights reserved.

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