The Official Newspaper for Foster County

Articles written by Jeff Gale


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  • Field and Garden: April's rain brings out earthworms

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|May 13, 2024

    A series of weather systems brought precipitation to Foster County at the end of April, boosting our monthly total to well above normal. Farmers had a small window of time to plant small grains before the rain started on April 26. Over the next four days many parts of the county received 1.2 to 1.3 inches of precipitation. The rain put a halt to all fieldwork. Total rainfall amounts in April were 2.6 inches at the Carrington REC, making it the eighth wettest April on record since 1967. Temperatu...

  • Field and Garden: Wrapping up winter, looking to spring

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Apr 29, 2024

    A weather system late last October blanketed Foster County with 11 inches of snow. After experiencing record breaking snowfall in 2022 – 2023, most of us were probably thinking, “Oh no! Here we go again.” But the weather event on October 26 and 27, turned out to be the heaviest snowfall we would see all winter. The Carrington REC received just 27 additional inches in the months that followed, bringing the total snowfall to 38 inches for the winter of 2023 – 2024. Our annual average is 41 inch...

  • Field and Garden: Garden plots, large vegetables, fertilizers

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Apr 15, 2024

    Are you interested in gardening, but don’t have a suitable site? Do you already have a garden but need additional space for corn, squash, melons or some other crop? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then perhaps you should consider reserving a spot in the Carrington Community Garden, located just east of the parking lot at Bethel Chapel. The 10 feet by 20 feet plots will be tilled and ready to plant as soon as conditions allow. A water line at the site makes it possible to k...

  • Ag census provides snapshot of county

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Apr 1, 2024

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture conducts the Census of Agriculture every five years. The results of the most recent census were released recently. Here is an assortment of findings contained in the report: Foster County had 235 farms in 2022. A farm is defined as any place that produces and sells more than one thousand dollars of agricultural products annually. One hundred farms were larger than one thousand acres. The average farm size was 1,540 acres. Nearly two-thirds of Foster County...

  • Field and Garden: Be cautious when amending your garden

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster Co.|Mar 18, 2024

    When I was growing up, it was my job each spring to mulch our rhubarb and asparagus with a thick layer of straw and composted manure. The mulch suppressed weeds and supplied nutrients to the perennial garden plants. Both crops thrived in this system. The rhubarb stalks and asparagus spears were big and thick, always tender and never stringy. Last spring I started a new asparagus bed in our yard in Carrington. The plants grew well, and I’m optimistic that the asparagus made it through winter in g...

  • Field and Garden: Opportunities exist in organic agriculture

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster Co.|Mar 4, 2024

    The Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society (NPSAS) works directly with farmers to encourage better care of the land by increasing perennial crops, reducing chemical use and developing environmentally beneficial livestock systems. The organization places heavy emphasis on organic farming practices. Organic farmers do not use synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or genetically modified organisms. Instead, they strive to work together with nature to reach their production goals. Soil...

  • Field and Garden: Cold weather, blowing soil, upcoming meetings

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster Co.|Feb 19, 2024

    An arctic blast brought brutally cold and windy conditions to Foster County during the second week of January. Temperatures remained below zero for five consecutive days, with a low of minus 23 degrees on January 14. Winds gusted at speeds up to 42 miles per hour, and wind chills fell to minus 53 degrees. Temperatures climbed slowly back to normal by January 20 and then kept climbing. Forecasters predicted temperatures near 40 degrees by the end of January compared with a normal high of 20...

  • Field and Garden: Cold weather, blowing soil, upcoming meetings

    Jeff Gale|Feb 5, 2024

    An arctic blast brought brutally cold and windy conditions to Foster County during the second week of January. Temperatures remained below zero for five consecutive days, with a low of minus 23 degrees on January 14. Winds gusted at speeds up to 42 miles per hour, and wind chills fell to minus 53 degrees. Temperatures climbed slowly back to normal by January 20 and then kept climbing. Forecasters predicted temperatures near 40 degrees by the end of January compared with a normal high of 20...

  • Field and Garden: Choices abound for farmers and gardeners

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Jan 22, 2024

    “Variety selection is without a doubt the most important decision I make annually on my farm,” said a producer at a meeting early this winter. Many farmers will agree with the man’s comment. Some of them might add that because there are so many choices, variety selection is also one of their most difficult decisions. Each variety has specific strengths and weaknesses that make it more- or less-suited to a given field environment. Differences in variety performance can have huge effects on a pro...

  • Field and Garden: Drinking water - bottled or tap?

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Jan 8, 2024

    Some readers may know that my wife and I lived in China for 18 years before moving to North Dakota. I was telling a group of men about our experience during breakfast several weeks ago, when the topic of water came up. “The tap water in China is untreated and not safe to drink,” I said. “Those who can afford it typically have purified water in five-gallon bottles delivered to their homes. The alternative is to fill a kettle and boil the water before drinking it.” The men seemed surpris...

  • Field and Garden: Energy grants available to farmers, ranchers

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Dec 25, 2023

    Earlier this month, I heard a Carrington resident tell his friends that he was enjoying the perfect life. “I went golfing and ice fishing both in the same day,” he explained. Warm days and cold nights in early December were favorable for all kinds of outdoor activities. The NDAWN station at Carrington reported record highs of 56 degrees on Dec. 6 and 55 degrees on Dec. 7. A weather system passed through on Dec. 8, leaving behind five inches of snow. However, temperatures quickly rebounded and...

  • Field and Garden: Gift ideas for gardeners and others, too

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Dec 11, 2023

    “Where do you think he’s going?” I asked my wife. We were watching as a squirrel climbed a spruce tree outside our kitchen window and cautiously made his way toward the end of a branch. The creature’s gaze was fixed on the bright red bird feeder hanging on a shepherd’s hook about eight feet from the tree. “I think he’s going to jump for it,” I said. But the thin branch bowed under the squirrel’s weight, and he seemed to have second thoughts. We could almost see the frustration on the squirrel’s...

  • Field and Garden: Local foods provide opportunities

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Nov 27, 2023

    My wife and I bought a pig two weeks ago. Actually, we bought half a pig. Our niece’s children are enrolled in the 4-H swine project. The brother and sister duo own several sows, and they’ve developed a good business of direct marketing meat from the animals they raise. We get a call each fall saying that the pigs are ready and asking if we want to buy one. The enterprising 4-H’ers tell us, “Happy pigs taste good!” The USDA reports that farmers and ranchers sell more than nine billion dollars of...

  • Field and Garden: October snow slows county corn harvest

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Nov 13, 2023

    What a change of weather Foster County experienced from the beginning to the end of October. We started the month with a near record high of 89 degrees on Oct. 1, and temperatures remained warmer than normal for most of the next three weeks. Everything changed when a weather system arrived on Oct. 24, bringing snow and cold to our area. The Carrington REC received 11 inches of snow, and the mercury plummeted to a near record low of three degrees on Oct. 31. Most soybeans had been harvested by...

  • Field and Garden: Will El Niño bring a mild winter?

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster Co.|Oct 30, 2023

    It’s likely you’ve heard news reports saying that El Niño conditions have developed for the first time in three years. El Niño typically causes our winters in North Dakota to be warmer and drier than normal. That’s welcome news to many people who still remember last year’s record-breaking snowfall. But forecasters urge caution about building too high of expectations for a “mild” winter in 2023-24. They remind us that in a typical El Niño winter, temperatures are just two degrees warmer than no...

  • Field and Garden: Crop harvest underway as gardens end for season

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Oct 16, 2023

    f you think we’ve had a lot of foggy weather this fall, then you’d be right. By my count, the National Weather Service in Bismarck issued seven dense fog advisories in September and two more in early October. The damp, foggy weather and several rain events slowed progress during the first weeks of soybean harvest. Fortunately, the long-term forecast indicates we can expect warmer and drier than normal weather during the second half of this month. That is welcome news to farmers who are und...

  • It's National 4-H Week: 'I love 4-H'

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Oct 2, 2023

    In 1915, Marius Malmgren’s corn crop yielded 209 bushels per acre, more than four times the national average of 45 bushels per acre. Malmgren was just 14 years old at the time. He was a member of a “corn club,” a local organization of boys who each grew corn on one acre of land under the supervision of an adult club leader. Corn club members were required to do all the work on their plots including plowing the land. They also kept detailed records of all expenditures, labor and income. At the en...

  • Field and Garden: Is your lawn ready for winter?

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Sep 25, 2023

    The days are getting shorter, and temperatures are dropping. It’s time to get lawn and garden chores wrapped up for the year. The good news is that raking leaves can be crossed off your “to do” list. New research is showing that if we use a mulching lawnmower, there will be no adverse effects from mowing up to six inches of leaves into the lawn. It may take several passes with the mower to have the proper effect. There shouldn’t be a mat of leaves laying on top of the grass during winter....

  • Field and Garden: Warm weather aids corn and soybean drydown

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Sep 18, 2023

    A storm system passed through Foster County late on Sept. 4, bringing 0.5 to 1.7 inches of rain to the area. Rainfall amounts were greatest in the northeast part of the county where rain was especially needed. The NDAWN station near McHenry received just 22 percent of normal rainfall in July and August. The rain on Sept. 4 was a big help; however, the northeast portion of Foster County is still classified as an area of moderate drought by the U.S. Drought Monitor. +++ The row crops have matured...

  • Field and Garden: The great pumpkin weigh-off and questions

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Sep 11, 2023

    Please bring your pumpkins, whether large or small, to the city park on Tuesday, Sept. 19, the final Carrington Market in 2023. I’ll be there with a scale to see who grew the largest pumpkin in Foster County. Judges will also select the best traditional pumpkin and the most unusual pumpkin. The contest is open to everyone. There will be youth and adult divisions. If you have questions about the contest, please contact me in the Extension office (652-2581, [email protected]). +++ As t...

  • Field and Garden: Moisture conditions vary as crop matures

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Sep 4, 2023

    “Have you found aphids in your soybean fields?” I asked the farmer. “I haven’t looked,” was the reply. “But if there were any, last night’s rain would have washed them off.” I was surprised by the farmer’s response. We’d only gotten about a third of an inch in Carrington the previous evening. I didn’t expect that amount of rain to have much effect on soybean aphids. I asked the farmer, “How much rain did you get?” “Two inches,” was his reply. When a storm system passes through, I typically c...

  • Field and Garden: Community garden update, and questions

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Aug 28, 2023

    Thirteen gardeners planted 24 plots in Carrington’s community garden this year. It’s been fun watching the gardeners experiment with new crops and new techniques. One technique that really worked well was the use of clear plastic to mulch melon plants. The plastic warmed the soil and increased melon growth in early summer. My experiment using the Florida weave to tie up tomatoes was less successful. I’ll be looking for a different method next year. There are some nice pumpkins in the commu...

  • Field and Garden: 4-H camp offers fun, educational activities

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Aug 14, 2023

    “Ready, set, go!” said the small, red-haired girl as she tightened her grip on the foot-long four-by-four, holding it tightly against the shop floor. Her blonde-haired counterpart had already placed the tip of her drill bit where an “X” was marked on the board’s surface. At the word “go,” she squeezed the trigger, and the drill spun into action. I watched as the girls repeated the process several more times. They were constructing a “bee hotel” – a place where solitary bees such as mason bees,...

  • Field and Garden: Corn, soybeans and pastures all need rain

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Aug 7, 2023

    Great potential. That’s what many Foster County farmers are seeing as they look across their fields. Corn and soybeans grew rapidly this summer due to warmer-than-normal weather in June. One producer told me that the corn in mid-July was the best he has ever seen. The question is, will tremendous early growth translate into high yields? By the third week of July, most corn was silking. The soybeans were flowering and setting pods. Both crops were using about a third of an inch of water per day....

  • Field and Garden: Blossom end rot, white grubs and cucumber beetles

    Jeff Gale, NDSU Extension Agent, Foster County|Jul 31, 2023

    There’s a 50/50 chance that we still have 60 frost-free days ahead of us. That’s enough time to plant and harvest some garden crops. Plants grow more slowly as the days grow shorter and the nights become cooler. But any vegetable that can reach maturity within 45 days of planting is likely to succeed. Lettuce, spinach, radish and turnip are good crops in fall gardens. The back of the seed packet has information about the time it takes for a variety to reach maturity. Here are some questions tha...

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