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Extension office plans to share plant knowledge

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@chronicle-tribune.com

Huntington Purdue Extension is organizing classes to help local farmers grow their way to a profitable season.

The intermittent rain is producing mixed results throughout the county, according to Ed Farris, agricultural and natural resources educator for the local Purdue Extension office. With a minimal transition between winter weather and summer temperatures, farmers rushed to plant in early May, according to Farris.

The weather in Huntington County in the month since most planting took place has been feast or famine.

“Some farmers are getting inches of sudden heavy rain, while other spots of the county have been dry,” he said.

Farris said many farmers are alternating raising corn and soybeans due to the nitrogen the soybean roots leave in the soil, which produces a larger corn yield. Indiana farmers planted a record breaking 6.1 million acres of soybeans in May, according to Indiana Farm Bureau.

Upcoming classes and events by the Purdue Extension office are designed to help farmers, gardeners, and interested agriculturalists increase yields and teach sustainable growth.

On Thursday, a Master Gardener Public Forum will be held at 7 p.m. at th 4-H Fairgrounds. Taught by Laura Whiteleater, the free course will look at plants used for their medicinal values and how to raise herbs.

Whiteleather, former interpretive naturalist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, refers to herself as the “granny doctor” when teaching the herbal medicine course.

Another class put on by Purdue Extension will focus on seed treatment and offer credits toward a Category 4 seed treatment license. At the Northeast Purdue Agricultural Center in Columbia City, the workshop will provide information regarding seed labeling, mixing incompatibilities, sustainability, seedling diseases and honeybee biology. The class is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19. Class registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. at $75 a person.

“We want to do what we can to educate the community, whether they’re farmers or trying to manage pest control in their yard,” Farris said. “We make ourselves available to answer all kinds of questions. That’s what we’re here for.”

Although he said farming hasn’t been very profitable for a number of years, Farris expects Huntington farmers to harvest a decent yield this year if the rain pattern straightens out.