Team looks to root weeds out of organic ag

ORONO, Maine (AP) — Scientists from universities in Maine and Michigan are getting a boost from the federal government in researching weed management on organic farms.

Organic farms use a more limited scope of weed management tools than conventional farms, and the weeds are a threat to crops and profitability. The USDA is providing more than $1.9 million for the scientists to research weed controls on organic vegetable operations.

University of Maine weed ecology and management professor Eric Gallandt and Michigan State University sustainable vegetable production professor Dan Brainard are leading the work.

Gallandt is proposing a "cultural weed management" method that focuses on depleting the reserve of weed seeds in soil and using cultivation tools that reduce the weed populations over time.

Winter wheat planting wraps up in Dakotas

(AP) — Winter wheat planting is wrapping up in the Dakotas, as are the sugar beet and potato harvests.

The USDA 96 percent of the winter wheat crop was seeded and 86 percent was emerged, both near average in North Dakota. In South Dakota, 95 percent of the crop was seeded and 80 percent was emerged, also near average. The crop is rated mostly in fair to good condition in both states.

Late-season harvest progress reports for North Dakota include 36 percent for corn, 49 percent for sunflowers, 78 percent for soybeans, 93 percent for sugar beets and 96 percent for potatoes. South Dakota harvest progress reports include 16 percent for sunflowers, 33 percent for sorghum, 41 percent for corn and 77 percent for soybeans.

Subsoil and topsoil moisture supplies in both states are down slightly.

Neb. can get help planting cover crops

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Farmers in southwest Nebraska are eligible to get financial help to plant cover crops.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says farmers in Frontier, Furnas, Harlan, Hayes, Hitchcock and Red Willow counties can receive $61.20 per acre to help.

Eric Zach with the commission said planting cover crops can help suppress weeds and improve soil health.

Farmers interested in the program must apply by Nov. 16. More information is available at Natural Resources Conservation Service offices and online at .

Lanternfly prompts worries for Maryland crops

BALTIMORE (AP) — Concerns are rising that a crop-destroying invasive insect could soon establish itself in Maryland.

The Baltimore Sun reported Oct. 25 that a spotted lanternfly has been found in a trap in Cecil County. The insects can destroy and damage crops.

Maryland's Department of Agriculture said it hopes to prevent the insect from gaining a foothold in the state. It will conduct surveys throughout the fall and into the winter in search of any lanternfly eggs.

Maryland has been on the lookout for lanternflies since they were first spotted in Pennsylvania four years ago near the Delaware border.

The insects feed on more than 70 types of plants and crops. Those include anything from apples to oak trees.

The speckled, four-winged insect is native to China, Vietnam and parts of India.

Alaska's pot industry still growing

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska's marijuana industry is continuing to grow, according to the latest tax figures from the Alaska Department of Revenue.

Some 119 taxpayers paid $1.5 million to the state in September, the department said in its monthly update.

The state's first sales of recreational marijuana to the general public were on Oct. 29, 2016, in Valdez. (A Fairbanks store had a soft opening the night before.)

Each month since October 2016, the state has reported more taxpayers than the month before, even if tax collections rise and fall, the Juneau Empire reported .

September collections were down about $60,000 from August, the state reported, but continue an upward trend. January was the first month to report more than $1 million in taxes remitted to the state; every month since March has been above $1 million.

October collections, when finalized at the start of December, could reach a record $1.8 million, said Kelly Mazzei, the state's excise tax director.

Marijuana growers to date have paid $17.2 million in taxes, the state report said.

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