Garlic planting time!


Garlic is easy and fun to grow, but you need to remember to plant it from September through November. The roots will develop in the fall and winter, which will support the rapid leaf growth in spring necessary for developing large heads. Plant in a bed with full sun and good soil drainage. Plant cloves root side down, two inches deep and two to four inches apart in rows spaced 10 to 14 inches apart. Space elephant garlic cloves about six inches apart. Garlic can be lightly mulched to improve soil structure and reduce weeds. A single 10-foot row should yield about five pounds of the fragrant bulbs. Here are more tips on growing, harvesting, and storing garlic:

  • Fertilize garlic in the early spring by side dressing or broadcasting with blood meal, pelleted chicken manure or a synthetic source of nitrogen. Just before the bulbs begin to swell in response to lengthening daylight (usually early May), fertilize lightly one more time. Weed garlic well, as it can’t stand much competition. Garlic is rarely damaged by insects. If May and June are very dry, irrigate to a depth of two feet every eight to 10 days. As mid-June approaches, taper off the watering.
  • Remove the floral stems as they emerge in May or early June from hardneck varieties to increase bulb size. Small stems can be eaten like asparagus, but they get more fibrous and less edible as they mature. Don’t wait for the leaves to start dying to check for maturity. Sometimes garlic bulbs will be ready to harvest when the leaves are still green. The best way to know is to pull one up and cut it open crosswise. Start checking for mature cloves about late June. Harvest garlic when the head is divided into plump cloves and the skin covering the outside of the bulbs is thick, dry and papery. If left in the ground too long, the bulbs sometimes split apart. The skin may also split, exposing the cloves and causing them not to store well.
  • Dig, and then dry the mature bulbs in a shady, warm, dry and well-ventilated area for a few days. Then remove the tops and roots. Brush dirt off the bulbs. To braid garlic together, harvest it a bit earlier while leaves are green and supple.
  • Avoid bruising the garlic, as it will not store well. Store bulbs in a dark, dry and well-ventilated place. Protect from high humidity and freezing. Do not store garlic in the refrigerator because cool temperatures combined with moisture stimulate sprouting. Properly stored garlic should last until the next crop is harvested the following summer.



Weed Spraying Advice for Lawns and Pastures

Fall is a great time to spray weeds around your home and in pastures! On September 21, 2016, David Wenk and Brad Bluemer, our Weed Superintendents from Boundary and Bonner counties, discussed strategies for effectively killing weeds, depending on the time of year and types of weeds you have. Here are their presentations:

Weed Control in Lawns, by David Wenk
Weed Control in Fields and Pastures, by Brad Bluemer

Am I Making Any Money With This Crop?


Here is the  lecture on this topic.

Here are some resources for calculating returns for dryland grain production in the Pacific Northwest:

Current Crop Budgets for Dryland Grain Production in the Pacific Northwest

High Rainfall Zone, >18” precipitation per year

Intermediate Rainfall Zone, approx. 15” – 18” precipitation per year:

Low Rainfall Zone, <15” precipitation per year:


Enterprise Budgeting tools: This poster explains how to use the budgets that are listed above.

Interview Forms

These forms (in Excel) help when you are interviewing growers with the purpose of creating an enterprise budget, or if you are trying to track information during the year for developing your own enterprise budget. You will have all the information you need for developing an enterprise budget if you have your completed schedule of operations plus all the data in the machinery complement. The Schedule of Operations is a list of all the operations for growing a particular crop or for a livestock operation for that year or growing season. The Machinery Complement is a list of machinery costs that you will use when you calculate machinery costs using the UI Machinery Cost program or another software. You will need to sum machinery costs over all machinery activies for that enterprise in order to create a line item in the budget for fuel, machinery labor, machinery depreciation, etc.

Schedule of Operations

Machinery Complement


Painter, K. 2011. Costs of Owning and Operating Farm Machinery in the Pacific Northwest: 2011. PNW 346. University of Idaho, 106 pp.

Patterson, P., K. Painter, N. Ruhoff, B. Eborn. 2016. Idaho Crop Input Price Summary for 2015. AEES No. 2016-04, Dept. of Ag. Econ. and Rural Sociology, Univ. of ID.

Website resources:

Crop Budgets and Input Price Summaries by Year:

Machinery Cost Calculators:

University of Idaho Crop Machinery Cost Calculator – current version 1.40 (EXE file) and other tools can be found at

Kansas State Machinery Cost Resources: Machinery cost calculators and many more decision making tools.

Iowa State Machinery Cost Resources: Crop decisions and machinery information and companion tools.

Alberta Machinery Cost Calculator: This tool allows you to calculate ownership and operating costs of common farm equipment. Use the drop-down list to choose the power unit or self-propelled machinery that will be used. When doing calculations for implements, select both a power unit and the implements that will be used.

Bruce Anderson’s Forage Advice: Damage from Disc Mowers and Fall Control of Winter Annual Bromes


I like mixing alfalfa with grasses like orchardgrass, fescue, and festulolium.  Disc mowers are complicating my plans, however.

Disc mowers are fantastic machines.  Compared to sickle bar mowers, they cut faster, have less maintenance and repairs, and rarely plug.  They can cut the crop shorter and keep going even if they occasionally scalp the surface.  And that’s the problem!

With alfalfa, regrowth comes from crown buds using nutrients stored underground in the taproot.  It doesn’t matter if you leave a 1-inch or a 4-inch stubble, alfalfa regrowth rate will be the same.

Grasses are different.  Grasses depend on nutrients stored in the lower stem for early regrowth.  And some grasses, like orchardgrass, fescue, and festulolium that have very low basal leaves, they also use energy produced by photosynthesis in those basal leaves for regrowth energy.  So, cutting these grasses short results in much slower regrowth and a weakening of the plant because the source of energy to support regrowth has been removed.

In a grass-alfalfa mixture, the short stubble left by a disc mower delays and slows the regrowth of the grass while the alfalfa recovers at its usual rate. Pretty soon alfalfa gets several inches taller than the grass, forms a tight canopy, and shades out the grass growing underneath.  Before long the grass dies out and disappears.

Clearly, the solution is to raise the cutting height to around 3 to 4 inches like happens naturally with a sickle bar.  This is easier said than done, however.  First, you need to remember to leave a taller stubble.  And if working with a custom operator, it probably will require reminding that person of your stubble height demands.

Keeping grass in alfalfa when cutting with a disc mower is challenging, but it can be done.


Did you have downy brome, cheatgrass, or wild oats in your pasture this spring?  Although difficult, they can be controlled and your pasture revitalized.

Winter annual bromes often invade thin or overgrazed pastures in fall and early spring.  Livestock dislike grazing them, so over time they can take over and make large patches of pasture nearly worthless.

By far the most effective control method is to spray six to eight ounces per acre of an imazapic herbicide like Plateau as soon as possible this month.  This pre-emerge treatment will prevent most annual bromes from developing.

As we move into October, however, it is likely that some, or maybe a lot of these grass seedlings will have already emerged.  When this situation exists, add an adjuvant like a non-ionic surfactant or methylated seed oil to the spray mix for better control of emerged seedlings.

In warm-season grass pastures and rangeland, there is another option.  You can use glyphosate herbicides after top growth of these grasses has died due to a hard freeze or two.  This can kill emerged annual brome seedlings without harming the desirable grasses.  However, do not use glyphosate in cool-season pastures because it will injure or kill the pasture grasses as well.

These treatments may need to be repeated for a couple years to prevent reoccurrence of these weedy grasses.  But with proper grazing management and other practices, your pastures can develop thicker stands of the more desirable grasses.

It takes a long, dedicated process to recover pastures overtaken by winter annual bromes.  There are no shortcuts!


These tips are from  Bruce Anderson, Extension Forage Specialist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Phone 402-472-6237

New On-Line Resource Guide to Local Farms & Small Businesses in Boundary County

online local food guide

Are you a small farmer, hobbyist, or business owner in BOUNDARY COUNTY? Would you like to be listed in a resource guide featuring our local suppliers? As part of our upcoming celebration of local foods (see below), I will be producing an online guide to Boundary County farms and businesses! It will be similar to this one in Pennsylvania. If you would like to be included, please complete this form and return it to me at

FTT logo

Our Farm to Table celebration will take place at 6pm on Saturday, October 15, at the Boundary County Fairgrounds. The 5-course dinner features organic food from the GROW Community Garden as well as local beef, blueberries, peaches, and more, from small farms in Boundary County. This will also be a fundraiser for GROW, or Gardeners for Regional Organic Wellbeing, a nonprofit organization that provides organic garden plots at a reduced cost to community members, including a new selection of 30” high raised beds that make gardening more accessible to those with mobility issues. These garden plots are completely prepared for you, with fall applications of manure or a green manure, then tillage in the spring. In addition, if you rent a plot you have access to garden tools and expertise from the local Master Gardeners who maintain an herb garden there. If you would like to donate local produce or items for the raffle or silent auction, you will be listed in the dinner program. Also, volunteer help is welcome for the event!


GROW partners with University of Idaho Extension to provide gardening and pruning classes at its community garden location behind Trinity Lutheran Church on Buchanan Street. GROW also donates a significant amount of fresh organic produce to the food bank and senior center and occasionally operates a farmer’s market booth. Money raised for GROW helps pay for a part-time garden manager as well as utilities, garden tools, and the water system.

2016 Economics and Market Outlook for Northern Idaho Grain and Brassica Crops

The outlook for wheat prices is not good for U.S. producers this fall, with a forecast of record high production and the largest ending stocks in 29 years. Our strong dollar, made even stronger with the current turmoil in Europe, makes our products more expensive for foreign customers. Excellent forecast wheat production for Spain, France and Russia provides cheaper sources for our international buyers. Thus, local wheat prices are currently predicted to be around $4 per bu for soft white wheat and $5 per bu for Dark Northern Spring. Hard red winter wheat is currently selling for about the same price as soft white wheat.

With the current forecast for extremely low prices, non-wheat crops including Austrian winter peas (AWP), garbanzos (G), and oats (O) are among the few crops predicted to be profitable this fall. In 2015, winter wheat was the predominant crop in Boundary County in 2015, grown on 24% of the cropland. Alfalfa was the next most common crop, with 23% of cropland acreage, followed by canola on 10%, spring wheat on 7%, peas on 4%, barley on 3%, and garbanzo beans and oats on 1% each. However, wheat and dry peas are predicted to be quite unprofitable and, to a lesser degree, spring canola and spring barley (Fig. 1). Price and yield assumptions for the net returns calculations in Fig. 1 are listed in Table 1. A detailed spreadsheet with cost and returns for each crop is available here. The complete document is available here.

Net returns over total costs for winter wheat (WW) are predicted to be -$55 per acre, assuming a yield of 85 bu per acre and a price of $4 per bu. In order to cover all costs of production, the breakeven price at 85 bu per acre would be $4.65 per bu. Returns for soft white spring wheat (SWSW) are predicted to be -$75 per acre, with a price assumption of $4 per bu and a yield assumption of 55 bu per acre. At 55 bu per acre, the break-even price per bu would be $5.37. On the other hand, net returns for some less commonly produced crops for this region are quite profitable, with the highest net returns forecast for Austrian winter peas, at $99 per acre, assuming a 2000 lb yield and a price of $0.25 per lb. Garbanzos are also forecast to be profitable, returning $55 per acre with a yield of 1200 lb per acre and a price of $0.32 per lb. The only other crop predicted to be profitable this fall is oats, with a net return of $32 per acre, assuming a yield of 1.5 tons per acre and a price of $195 per ton.



Table 1. 2016 crop yield and price estimates for northern Idaho

2015 drought is responsible for current bark beetle issues


University of Idaho Extension, Idaho Department of Lands, and U.S. Forest Service offices in our region are currently getting inundated by calls about dead and dying conifers. Most of these trees are being killed by bark beetles, but the real culprit is stress from last summer’s drought and overstocking. If dry conditions continue this summer and fall, the number of trees killed by bark beetles could increase.

Bark beetles are a natural part of Idaho forests, and we have many bark beetle species. A University of Idaho publication titled “Field Guide to the Bark Beetles of Idaho and Adjacent Regions” catalogs over 100 species in Idaho. Different bark beetles attack different species and even different parts of conifers. For example, many of the browning Douglas-fir this year were attacked by beetles that specialize in small Douglas fir and Douglas fir tops. These are different species from the Douglas-fir beetle, which normally kills larger trees, as it did after the 1996 ice storms.

Other bark beetles are also on the upswing. Lodgepole pine and ponderosa pine are being attacked by pine engraver beetles (commonly referred to as by their genus name, “Ips”). We are also seeing an uptick in grand fir attacks by fir engraver beetles (“Scolytus”).

Why are they so active now?

All of these bark beetles are native insects which continually reside in Idaho forests. The primary reason they are more active now is the drought we had last summer. Drought stressed trees are more vulnerable to attack by bark beetles. The moisture stress trees experience as a result of drought is compounded when trees are overstocked (too many stems per acre) – the case in many Idaho forests.

To learn more about bark beetles and other forest insect and disease issues, consider attending the annual Idaho Panhandle Forest Insect and Disease Field Day, to be held in Bonners Ferry on Friday, July 15.  The program meets at 8:00 a.m. at the Boundary County Fairgrounds and will end by 5:00 p.m. Those wishing to participate should pre-register at the University of Idaho Extension Office in Boundary County by Friday, July 8. A $15.00 registration fee covers resource materials and refreshments. For registration questions, contact the University of Idaho Extension Office in Boundary County at (208) -267-3235. Registration forms can also be downloaded at The program is co-sponsored by University of Idaho Extension and the Idaho Department of Lands. Continuing education credits are available for pesticide recertification (6), Idaho Master Forest Stewards (7), Idaho Pro-Logger (7), and the Society of American Foresters (2).

What to do about it

Many of the trees dying now were attacked by bark beetles last year, but it typically takes several months after an attack for trees’ crowns to turn red. Generally, if you see brown trees in the summer, the bark beetles that caused that damage have already left that tree – cutting them will not affect bark beetle issues. Dead trees can be a safety hazard, so remove them from areas where that is a concern. Otherwise, standing dead trees (called snags) create habitat for a wide variety of birds, small mammals, and other wildlife species.

The exception would be Douglas-fir stems 12” or larger, or recently fallen Douglas-fir 8” or larger, which can harbor Douglas-fir beetles for up to a year after being killed. These trees should be removed from the site or debarked to prevent additional broods of beetles from attacking standing green Douglas-fir.

Prevention is the key

Insecticides or other direct controls are rarely used to manage bark beetles. The primary strategy with most forest insect and disease issues is to manage forests so they are naturally resilient to insects and diseases. Our soils are still relatively dry from last year’s drought. If we do not get additional rain this summer, current beetle populations could grow larger. It is almost never practical to irrigate forests. The main strategy in managing bark beetles is to reduce the number of trees competing for the same amount of moisture by thinning. Thinning can also be used to favor the most drought tolerant species for the site (usually pines and larch), which further aids forest resilience. For sapling trees, that means creating at least 12-15 foot spacing between tree stems (6 feet initially for lodgepole pine to avoid making them too bushy). For larger trees, spacing should be increased proportionally, up to 40 feet for trees with trunks 24 inches in diameter.

To avoid creating habitat for pine engraver beetles (the most common bark beetle to cause problems from downed green trees), avoid thinning lodgepole and ponderosa pines from November thru June, or remove, burn, or debark stemwood larger than 3” in diameter. For more information on treating slash from thinning while minimizing bark beetle risks, see “Managing Organic Debris for Forest Health” (PNW 609, available at ).

Bark beetles and other forest insects are a natural part of Idaho forests. The key to keeping them from killing more trees than you want them to is managing for the best species for the site, and keeping stand density low enough to avoid moisture stress on the trees.

By Chris Schnepf
UI Extension Forestry Educator

Guidelines for alfalfa pest control

alfalfa weevildamage_0

How do you determine if it is economical to spray for alfalfa pests? Use of the proper chemical for the pest in question, at the appropriate time, is critical to pest control. You may want to simply cut your hay early and then monitor closely for pests, rather than treat the stand with an insecticide then have to wait for the required interval before you can harvest. This article by Glenn Shewmaker, Extension Forage Specialist at the University of Idaho, outlines 7 points to consider in alfalfa pest control. His points include the following:

1. If you can see insect damage from your pickup, you are at least two weeks late in scouting for problems.
2. If you start spraying early in the season, you will probably need to continue throughout the season because you likely have taken out many of the beneficial insects that help reduce population surges of damaging insects.
3. Insect damage on alfalfa seedlings can reduce the stand for its life, so pay close attention to new stands.
4. It is usually best to cut hay early then monitor for resurgence of insect pests than to treat with an insecticide and wait for the preharvest interval.
5. An IPM strategy will optimize economic returns in alfalfa.
6. The more you use a specific insecticide, the less effective it may become because these applications can select for insects with resistant qualities to those insecticides.
7. Check extension information sources. Just because a crop adviser wants you to spray, it doesn’t mean it is economical. For example, there is no evidence that pesticide application for western flower thrips is warranted, despite the leaf distortion they cause.

Alfalfa weevil may be the first insect pest to appear in early spring. A common recommendation is to cut or spray when 40 percent of terminal buds show chewing damage.

Most thresholds are established based on sweep net data, so invest in one just as you would a soil probe for soil sampling. The standard sweep net is 15 inches in diameter with a 26-inch handle. The net should be swung in a 180-degree arc, such that the net rim strikes the top 6 inches of alfalfa growth. Sweep right to left, take a step and take a second sweep from left to right. Repeat until the desired number of sweeps is taken for the pest management guide you are using. After the last sweep, quickly pull up the net to force the insects into the bottom of the net bag and grasp the net bag about half way up. Slowly invert the bag to count insects. Some slow-moving insects, such as caterpillar larvae, can be emptied into a white bucket to be counted. Large numbers of active insects may require chilling the entire net bag to count highly active insects.

It is important that the proper chemical is used to target the proper insect and stage of development, and that the pesticide is registered for that use in your area. Pesticide registrations change frequently, so you must follow the label and beware of “internet solutions.” Most state extension services have web resources with reliable information. Industry representatives and websites are also excellent resources of information. Beware of “spray and pray” salesmen who think there is a silver bullet for every problem.

We must be good stewards of the technology for pest management, or it will become rapidly ineffective or illegal to use. Think of the long-term effect of applying pesticides. The most practical and economic strategy may be to cut early and monitor closely after harvest.



Do you have codling moths in your apple trees?

This is the time of year to check your home orchard for codling moths. I hung a couple of codling moth traps at eye level in two different areas with apple trees. You can buy these simple cardboard traps with moth attractant at any gardening supply store for about $5 each. Since the traps were full of moths within a few days, I know I need to spray my trees. For more information, check out…/…/apple-codling-moth

Forestland Grazing


Cattle and trees can thrive together when managed properly. In this workshop held in Bonners Ferry on April 9, University of Idaho Extension Forester Chris Schnepf presents an introduction to silvopastoral systems as well as an advanced class on managing trees in silvopastoral systems. Jim Church, a UI Extension Educator specializing in livestock production, discusses grazing management on forestland pastures. Gail Silkwood, UI Extension Educator in Benewah County, discusses forage management in forest environments. Kate Painter, UI Extension Educator in Boundary County, presents tool for examining the economics of forestland grazing. All presentations are available in pdf format below.

An Introduction to Silvopastoral Systems and Managing Trees in Silvopastoral Systems
by Chris Schnepf, UI Area Extension Educator, Forestry

Forestland Grazing
by Jim Church, UI Extension Educator, Livestock

Forestland Grazing: Forage Management
by Gail Silkwood, UI Extension Educator, Benewah Co.

Economics of Forestland Grazing
by Kate Painter, UI Extension Educator, Boundary Co.

Additional Resources:

Silvopasture: An Agroforestry Practice
by Sam D. Angima, Oregon State University, Oct. 2009

Forest Grazing: Managing Your Land for Trees, Forage, and Livestock
by Olivia Salmon, Chad Reid, and Darren McAvoy, Utah State University

Agroforestry Notes: Forest Grazing, Silvopasture, and Turning Livestock into the Woods
by Sid Brantly, Ecological Sciences Division, USDA-NRCS, August 2014