Your local link to MU for ag extension and research information

To send a message to an author, click on the author's name at the end of the article.

Volume 12, Number 10 - October 2006

This Month in Ag Connection

This Month in Ag Connection | Ag Connection - Other Issues Online

Drought Damaged Corn

The dry weather in 2006 has many effects on the grain produced. Most notably is probably yield. With more and more grain being stored on the farm, there are some other factors that warrant consideration.

Low test weight corn can result in storage problems. Initial moisture readings on low test weight corn can be unreliable for several reasons.

Weekly bin checks will help identify problems before they become unmanageable. Sample grain bins from the top and bottom for moisture content and temperature to determine general condition of the grain. Record the results to monitor changes.

Management Strategies:

If other problems arise, move the corn to market as soon as possible. Repeated handling to control hotspots will probably result in further damage to the grain and accelerate deterioration.

Aflatoxin is a term we hear often, especially in years with drought stressed corn. Aflatoxin is a poison to humans and animals and is produced by a mold which grows on corn kernels. This is more prevalent on drought-stressed corn damaged by earworms. Light test weight and damaged kernels also are more susceptible to infection by this organism. Producers that plant Bt varieties may have fewer problems with aflatoxin because these varieties have less damage due to earworms. Because of its toxicity, grain buyers will reject truck loads of corn containing 20 parts per billion of aflatoxin.

According to Allen Wrather, Professor, University of Missouri-Delta Center, to reduce the risk of aflatoxin, producers should dry wet, freshly harvested corn to 15 percent moisture within 24 hours. The mold grows best when 18 percent moisture corn is stored at 86 degrees F. While aflatoxin may be produced by this mold on kernels in the field, major mold growth can occur on wet, warm corn kernels stored on a truck or in a grain tank for several days. Never store wet corn (greater than 15 percent moisture) for more than one day without aeration or drying.

(Author: Wayne Crook, Agronomy Specialist)

This Month in Ag Connection | Ag Connection - OtherIssues Online

BVD Virus in Cattle

Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVD) is known to cause immune suppression, respiratory disease, infertility and fetal infection. The economic losses from infection will vary greatly between herds.

Infection of the fetus during pregnancy can lead to early embryonic death, abortion, birth defects, stunting, or the birth of persistently infected (PI) calves. Persistently infected cattle can result when susceptible pregnant cows are exposed to BVD virus during mid-pregnancy and the virus passes from the dam to the fetus. Many times infected fetuses are aborted, but if a PI fetus survives to term, it will always have a tremendous amount of the virus in its body and cannot mount an immune response to clear the virus. A PI animal will secrete BVD virus throughout its life; in contrast to animals that become infected after birth that secrete the virus (are contagious) for a few days to two weeks.

At least 20 to 50% of PI calves die prior to weaning age, but a few look normal and have normal growth until weaning age or beyond, which is why it is important to test all purchased and raised replacement heifers and bulls. PI calves (suckling animals or replacements) that are alive during the breeding season are the greatest concern to ranchers because they are in contact with the breeding herd during early and mid-gestation.

Calves persistently infected with BVD can be identified by a number of laboratory tests. A relatively new test that is very accurate for any age of animal (even newborns) is performed on a small skin sample taken from the ear with a pair of ear notching pliers. This test differentiates between PI animals and animals that have been exposed to the virus, but have or will generate an immune response.

Vaccination programs can provide fairly good protection against BVD induced disease when the exposure is from non PI animals. Vaccination programs are an important component in BVD control, but will only offer a high level of protection if herd contact with PI animals is eliminated.

Recommended Control Strategies:

For a farm that does not have any evidence of BVD problems - high pregnancy percentage, low calf death loss, etc.

For a farm that has evidence of BVD problems - many open cows, abortions, stillbirths, or high calf death loss, etc.

(Author: Dr. Bob Larson, DVM)

This Month in Ag Connection | Ag Connection - Other Issues Online

Conservation Easement - What and Why

A conservation easement is a legal transfer of right to use all or part of a property for a certain purpose. Since the transfer is of some but not all of the property rights, it is known as a transfer of "limited rights". Conservation easement is really a misnomer. The owner of land subject to a conservation easement is not required to implement conservation measures or institute practices to reduce pollution. Usually the owner gives up the right to develop, improve or modify his or her property and the buildings on it. The owner, however, keeps the right to sell, transfer ownership or give away the property. He or she may continue to live on the property, develop a portion of it excluded from the easement, and keep any subsurface mineral rights.

In a conservation easement, the limited rights are transferred from a private landowner to a nonprofit conservation organization or government agency. The organization or agency is given the right to enforce the easement. The public receives no right to enter the property.

Many conservation organizations and local governments are interested in conservation easements as a way to acquire "green space" in an area that is being developed quickly or which has special values to preserve. Landowners may have several reasons to favor a conservation easement. They may wish to ensure that property is left in an undeveloped state even after their death. Landowners also use qualified conservation easements for financial and estate planning purposes. The easements allow landowners to reduce fair market value of their property which can impact income, gift, estate, and property taxes.


(Author: Parman Green, Agricultural Business Management Specialist)

This Month in Ag Connection | Ag Connection - Other Issues Online

Taxation Tidbits: New Rules Affecting Charitable Donations

Our income tax code got a few new wrinkles on August 17th with the signing into law the "Pension Protection Act of 2006". This Act, in addition to pension tax law changes, contains some new provisions that will have ramifications for charitable donations.

First, the Act eliminates a tax deduction for used clothing and household items donated to charities - unless the items are in "good" condition. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the Act fails to define what is to be considered good condition. This change is effective for donations after August 17.

The Act is more definitive regarding the substantiation of cash contributions. Effective after August 17th cash donations of any amount must be substantiated by a cancelled check, bank record or written documentation from the charity verifying the amount and date of the contribution.

On a more positive note, the Act allows taxpayers to make tax-free distributions from their IRAs for charitable purposes. This provision is available through 2007 and has a $100,000 maximum annual limit.

Finally, another provision included in the Act which will be of interest to some landowners is the increase in annual charitable deduction limits for qualified conservation easements. For years 2006 and 2007 the deduction as a percentage of adjusted gross income is increased from 30 percent to 50 percent. For qualified farmers and ranchers the deduction is increased to 100 percent of adjusted gross income provided the property remains available for agricultural production.

(Author: Parman Green, Agricultural Business Management Specialist)

This Month in Ag Connection | Ag Connection - Other Issues Online

EDEN-Not the Garden

We would expect that this time of year the tornado season would be over. However recently we had significant tornado damage in Missouri. This is a reminder that we could have stormy weather any time of the year. University of Missouri Extension has information on how to cope with many types of emergencies. Hopefully we are moving away from tornado season, but we can now move into winter weather problems including snow and ice. Now is a good time to prepare yourself, your home and your car for this season. Missouri resources can be obtained at your local University of Missouri Extension Center or accessed at the following web site:

We would especially encourage you to read resources on preparing for a disaster, preparing your vehicle for winter driving and safety after ice storms. We all need to prepare ourselves and our families for the situations we will encounter before they happen.

In addition to having many resources in our local extension offices on emergency preparedness and coping with emergencies, we have a national web site called EDEN (Extension Disaster Education Network). Their web site is: This is a good place to look for information on disasters of many kinds as well as biosecurity issues.

Biosecurity is something new to us in agriculture.The EDEN site has many suggestions. A sampling follows:

Farm Security

Agrosecurity is an ongoing process and is implemented through a set of actions and technologies designed to protect livestock, crops, facilities, data, and other assets. The physical security of the premises is the first step toward ensuring the safety of our food supply. This includes fences, locks, electronic surveillance systems, alarms, and other hardware and software devices.

Anhydrous Ammonia and Farm Security:

In addition to protecting our food supply, sound agrosecurity procedures are necessary to prevent the theft of chemicals, such as anhydrous ammonia used to produce meth (methamphetamine). These thefts continue to be a concern in rural areas. In order to ensure that anhydrous ammonia or other chemicals are not stolen, please follow these simple security practices.

Agrosecurity Plan

Every farm and agricultural operation should have an agrosecurity plan which should include the following:

Personnel Concerns (Some Examples):

(Author: Don Day, Natural Resource Engineer)

This Month in Ag Connection | Ag Connection - Other Issues Online

Product Yield from Meat Animals

Click here to view table with data.

This Month in Ag Connection | Ag Connection - Other Issues Online

Publishing Information

Ag Connection is published monthly for Central Missouri Region producers and is supported by University of Missouri Extension, the Commercial Agriculture program, the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Managing Editor: Kent Shannon.