Libraries and Museums Offer Gems for Genealogists

With Memorial Day coming up next month and ever warming days, genealogists can now get out for those fun family history research trips.

The Williamson County Historical Society operates a great research library in their Jail Museum at 105 S. Van Buren Street in Marion.

They are open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays, as well as open until 8 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. Tours of the museum are given on Thursdays with the last tour starting at 2 p.m.

In Herrin the expanded city library has developed a great local history room under the guidance of retired high school librarian Linda Banks. The library honored her last Sunday by naming the room the after her.

The Herrin City Library is located at 120 N. 13th St., one block east of Park Avenue which is Route 148.

The Frankfort Area Genealogy Society also operates another major local research library in the old Logan School in Frankfort Heights on the east side of West Frankfort at 2000 E. St. Louis St.

It's open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Although located in Franklin County this museum and library includes a lot of information about Williamson County, particularly the north portion the county. Historically, Williamson County was a part of Franklin from 1818 to 1839.

The genealogical collection of the Genealogy Society of Southern Illinois is available for researchers at the John A. Logan College library in Carterville.

Other good sites for research include the following:
  • Morris Library, SIU-Carbondale
  • Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD), Carbondale
  • Saline County Genealogy Society's Library, Harrisburg City Hall (open weekday mornings)

Bald Knob Cross Meeting Set for Tuesday

A public meeting is set for 7 p.m. tomorrow (April 15) in Alto Pass where an engineer from E.T. Simonds Co. will release a report on the structural integrity of the interior of Bald Knob Cross.

The report will be made during the regular monthly meeting of the Friends of the Cross group.

Last month the Southern Illinoisan quoted the group's president, Bill Vandergraph, passing along the initial reaction of the engineer.
"He says it's considerably worse that what most people say," Vandergraph said, adding that cost estimates and specifics had not yet been given.

The Alto Pass Civic Center is located at 19 Elm Street in Alto Pass.

Bucky Covington Rocks the Pavilion

Rising country music star Bucky Covington proved his idol status last night at his concert in Marion at the Williamson County Pavilion.

Covington performed along with opening act South 70 out of Atlanta.

Tonight Keith Anderson, Chris Young and the Lost Trailers are performing at the Pavilion in their "Raisin' the Bar" tour.

Another night of concerts is scheduled for Friday, April 25, featuring three rising Nashville acts — Smokey Lonesome, Mammoth Jack and Cole Prather.

Tickets can be purchased at Black Diamond Harley-Davidson here in Marion or online using the "Buy Tickets Now" button below.

Public Meeting Set for Rend Lake Issues

Just received this news release this afternoon:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Rend Lake has announced plans to host a public workshop to discuss the changes that will be implemented in the operation of the Corps of Engineers managed areas at Rend Lake during the 2008 recreation season.

The meeting will be held at the Rend Lake Visitor Center on Saturday, April 12, 2008 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. The informational workshop will provide individuals with lake information for the 2008 recreation season and provide the public with the opportunity to ask question of the Corps about area closings and reduced services that will be in effect at Rend Lake.

For more information feel free to contact the Rend Lake Project Office at 618-724-2493.

These meetings are in response to the budget cutbacks and the effects on the upcoming summer recreation season.

Birding Fest Set for Later This Month

The 7th Annual Birding Fest is scheduled later this month on April 25-27, down in the Cache River Basin with guided tours, mini-workshops and a host of other activities throughout the weekend.

A Birding Blitz is scheduled for Friday and programs will take place throughout the weekend at the Cache River Wetlands Center located on Route 37 in southeastern Johnson County.

Activities include guided canoe tours, birding hikes, live bird demonstrations, wildlife photo exhibits and "much more."

For more information check out their website at

The event is sponsored by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Southern Illinois Audubon Society, Friends of the Cache River Watershed, The Nature Conservancy, Shawnee Audubon Society and Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau.

Country Inn & Suites Breaks Ground

Jim Zeller, owner of Zeller Construction and the new Country Inn & Suites coming to Marion this fall broke ground yesterday at the site of the hotel on Halfway Road about halfway between Route 13 and The Hill.

Yours truly was there along with other city officials and members of the Marion Chamber of Commerce.

The heavy rains this spring haven't helped the construction season. Zeller said he's likely to move the opening date until sometime in November for his new three-story 66-room hotel.

The new lodging facility will be located at 1306 N Halfway Rd north of America's Best Inns and south of 17th Street Bar & Grill.

For more on the plans check out this article from the announcement of the hotel back in February.

Update on New Golf Trail Idea

Representatives from the proposed Abraham Lincoln Golf Trail met with pros from the top courses in Southern Illinois yesterday at Rend Lake. The goal was to brief them about the trail idea as well as to secure their buy-in with the program.

The Southern's Karen Binder has more...
"Northern Illinois goes to Alabama, Florida and South Carolina," Granberg said. "If this works we can expand this to become whatever we want it to become. We want to tie in with wine trail, state lodges, restaurants and everything else. This is about economic development."

...The idea is to make the Web site a virtual office for the trail, allowing golfers to make tee times, lodging reservations, learn about other area attractions, see course layouts, check out golf packages and even eye the weather forecast.

Todd Ely, a Springfield economic development consultant, said targeted marketing and advertising, such as billboards and article placement in golf publications, would drive golf traffic to the site.

From the site, "we want to cross-promote everyone," Ely added.

Check out the entire article on the Southern Illinoisan's website.

Regina-Based Venture Uncaps Gluten-Free "Beer"

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

A Regina-based company owned by over 200 Western Canadian seed growers is providing an alternative alcoholic beverage to people with celiac disease and wheat allergies.

Nubru Gluten Free, developed by FarmPure Beverages, is about to sell out of its first 6,000 cases of product that have been tested in the Manitoba market.

FarmPure uses an innovative, patented process. "We're making a clear, neutral concentrate out of protein sources, such as peas and soybeans," said Chief Operating Officer Carl Flis. "From that concentrate, we can do two things - we can formulate it to taste like any beer in the world, make coolers, wine coolers and fruit coolers; or we can license that technology out to existing breweries." FarmPure Beverages plans to pursue both options.

FarmPure Beverages production innovation will be attractive for other breweries. "By implementing the technology, they can reduce their production costs significantly, because we're reducing the traditional brewing time, which is 21 to 28 days, down to nine to 11 days," Flis said. "An existing brewery can increase the production of their plant without any capital investment."

The first test with FarmPure Beverages' own product line was the Nubru blend, which was a 50/50 blend of FarmPure's product and Fort Garry Lager. The advantages of blending are that it reduces costs and improves the head of the beer.

Since the original Nubru blend, FarmPure Beverages has developed the Nubru Gluten Free beverage, which is currently being distributed in the Manitoba marketplace. Upcoming products include Nubru Red, which is similar to Rickard's Red, and a cider.

The gluten-free market of food and beverage products promises growth. According to Flis, celiac disease is the fastest growing diagnosed disease in North America. An estimated one in 133 has the disease. "We're not there to build breweries around the world. It's a specialty market, and celiac patients and people with wheat allergies are looking for alternatives."

Although the target market for the Nubru line is people with celiac disease and other digestive disorders, the product has broader appeal. In its first round of market testing, Nubru was rated on par or better than traditional light beers. It scored especially well with the young female segment of the market.

FarmPure Beverages has an ambitious plan for the distribution of its products, but first, it will strive for brand recognition. "It's a new technology where the possible products we can generate are endless. At this stage, it's getting the first concepts out there, getting the name known, and then we can start further product development," Flis said.

Next, they plan to expand into Ontario and Quebec, then British Columbia. Europe already has a number of gluten-free products, based on rice and millet, using traditional brewing processes. Breweries there have tried to emulate the traditional European beer tastes.

The Nubru products have a North American taste. The market is attractive to FarmPure Beverages because there are fewer competitors. Flis names a Quebec-based company and Budweiser, with a product called Red Ridge, as the two main rivals.

"If Budweiser is getting into the market, I think we're on the right track," he said.

For more information, contact:
Carl Flis, Chief Operating Officer
FarmPure Foods
Phone: (306) 757-3663, ext. 111

Tricks of the Trade When Marketing Riding Horses

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

As the snow melts off the Prairies, many horse enthusiasts are turning their thoughts to the upcoming riding season. Equine enthusiasts from all disciplines and competitive levels will be marketing their animals to meet the needs of prospective buyers.

Adrienne Hanson, a Livestock Development Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture, says regardless of the training level, breed, discipline or pedigree of the animal, there are a few tips that will make the acquisition process smoother for both buyers and sellers.

"There are many websites and newspapers specializing in marketing horses that can maximize exposure to a specific target audience in an effective manner," Hanson noted.

The advertisement should be concise and accurate, outlining the horse's skills, ability, temperament, achievements and pedigree. "Potential purchasers will appreciate an honest and accurate assessment of the animal," she said.

Sellers will need to determine their asking price and tell buyers up front if they are willing to negotiate. Sellers should ensure they list a telephone number or Internet address at which they are readily accessible, and be available for questions or to co-ordinate viewing appointments.

Hanson says it is important that the buyers determine what they want and need in the horse. Assess the animal through e-mail and phone calls to define what is required in terms of purpose, breed, pedigree, training, temperament and price, prior to travelling for viewing and negotiations. The prospective purchaser should inspect the horse carefully and, in some circumstances, may want to arrange a pre-sale veterinary inspection for a full inventory of the horse's physical condition.

If the animal is not appropriate for the buyer's purposes at first glance, or if the mount appears ill or unsafe, the prospective purchaser should politely thank the seller and depart. "In most cases, the seller will respect your consideration in saving their time," Hanson said.

"The bottom line when buying or selling a horse is that honesty and openness is important, as in any arrangement where an item or service is being purchased," Hanson said. "The sellers maintain their professional reputation by properly presenting an animal for sale, and the purchasers obtain an optimal product to use and enjoy."

For more information, contact:
Adrienne Hanson, Livestock Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
Phone: (306) 848-2380

Barrel Racing and Pole Bending Clinic to Cultivate Skills

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

With rodeo season fast approaching, young barrel racers and pole benders will have an opportunity to fine-tune their preparations by participating in a clinic to be held in Fort Qu'Appelle on March 22 and 23.

The clinic, hosted by Clearview Stables, will be led by Kelley Byrne, a professional rider, with the assistance of Gloria Kadlec, who serves on the boards of the Saskatchewan Barrel Racing Association and the Saskatchewan High School Rodeo Association.

Although barrel racing is an event familiar to rodeo patrons, pole bending is restricted to high school and collegiate rodeos. The course setup has six poles spaced 21 feet apart. Like barrel racing, it is a timed event that begins with a sprint to the end, then a turnaround to weave through the poles, turn 180 degrees, another weaving sequence, ending with a final sprint to the timer line. Time penalties are applied for knocking over a pole.

Good horsemanship is the foundation of both barrel racing and pole bending. The clinic will develop the participants' horsemanship skills to facilitate agile movements. "The next level is to make a proper turn to come in and out of a barrel. The same goes for the poles, to get the horse to move off their legs without having a whole lot of face contact," Kadlec said.

Training and skill development are beneficial to a rider's success, but so are the unique characteristics of the horse. Speed and the ability to make a quick turn on its haunches are important. "You also want a horse that's going to listen and not fight with you," Kadlec noted, adding that the most successful barrel racing horses are level-headed.

The participants in the clinic are most likely to be teenagers. Racers typically start out during their teen years, although the activity certainly appeals to all ages. According to Kadlec, adults also attend clinics, but they are more likely to seek training in basic horsemanship clinics before progressing to a racing clinic. "You have to have horsemanship to be able to compete at that faster level," she stated.

Barrel racing also accommodates horses of varying age. Four and five year-old horses compete in futurity events, while top competitive horses range in age from 10 to 15 years.

Those who attend the Fort Qu'Appelle clinic will really benefit from the wisdom of an experienced professional like Kelley Byrne, Kadlec says. Byrne rides with the Canadian Professional Rodeo

Association and the Canadian Cowboys' Association circuit. She is also involved with the

Saskatchewan Barrel Racing Association, hosting and attending many jackpots around the province.

Anyone interested in participating in the two-day event should contact Gloria Kadlec or Kevin Smith at Clearview Stables. Stalls are available to board the horses overnight, and lunch will be provided. The cost to attend will be $150 to $200, depending on the level of participation.

For more information, contact:
Gloria Kadlec, Assistant Clinician
Phone: (306) 567-4295

Kevin Smith, Barn Manager
Clearview Stables
Phone: (306) 332-1332

Cow Horseman Impresses Across The Continent

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Cow horseman competitions are growing in popularity, largely because crowds are fascinated by watching a horse and rider work a cow in patterns and maneuvers.

Saskatchewan has one of the best in the business in Dale Clearwater of Hanley. At a competition in Stephenville, Texas this February, Clearwater earned top honours and over $17,000 for his efforts.

Clearwater was raised on a farm near Nipawin. At the age of 16, he began a career riding in pastures for eight years. Because pasture work is seasonal, during the winter he went to Alberta to work for horse trainers. In 2002, he spent a year working with a cow horse trainer before returning to Saskatchewan in 2004 to venture out on his own.

Clearwater has traveled North America with cow horse competitions. He entered his first show in 2001. Since then, he has earned approximately $100,000 from both cow horse and cutting competitions.

Critical to the success of cow horse showmen is a solid understanding of animals. Clearwater gained much of his knowledge from working in pastures. "I think being a good showman involves being able to do the cowboying end of things and working with animals all day," he said. "It makes you a better showman, because you understand how the cattle and horses think."

Saskatchewan riders will soon have an opportunity to learn from Clearwater's expertise. The Sandhills Stable near Saskatoon is hosting a Working Cow Clinic on March 29 and 30, with a repeat clinic on April 26 and 27.

These workshops will help participants prepare for cow horse shows and competitions. Rein work components include lead changes, stops and turnarounds. In addition, attendees will practice working cows down the fence and circling.

Bonnie DeWitt of Sandhills Stable expects participants to represent a mix of people, with some simply wanting an introduction to the sport, while more experienced competitors will be looking for tips and skill development.

Demand for cow horse training is increasing. The clinics Clearwater has held over the past two years have all sold out. While the March offering is already full, DeWitt says there are still a few spots open at the April workshop if prospective participants hurry.

Upon starting a clinic, it takes Clearwater very little time to earn the respect of any doubters, given the amazing ease with which he is able to move cattle.

"When you put a good run together, nothing feels as good as that," Clearwater said. At the competition in Texas, everything went perfectly for him, "but it can go the other way, too. You're humbled and you go home and work harder," he noted.

For now, Clearwater will enjoy his success, and enjoy teaching his skills to others interested in the practice.

For more information, contact:
Dale Clearwater, Clinician
Phone: (306) 544-2421

Bonnie DeWitt, Operator
Sandhills Stable
Phone: (306) 477-3508

Ukrainian Ag Entrepreneurs Seek Solutions In Saskatchewan

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

With the world's population on the rise, countries that export agricultural goods will become essential to meeting the increasing global demand for food. That reality applies to Canada, and it also applies to another country with which Canada has many connections: Ukraine.

"Ukraine is one of a few places on earth where real potential for significant increase of agricultural output exists," said Paul Ivanicky, a Ukrainian entrepreneur visiting the province. "There is almost everything to achieve it - wonderful soils, well-trained specialists, a large labour force and growing world demand for food."

Ivanicky and his counterpart Maxim Zakharov represent Kiev Atlantic Ukraine, a joint stock company with foreign investments. The pair recently came to Saskatchewan hoping to create long-term business contacts to expand their farming operation and agribusiness located just outside the Ukrainian capital.

Their efforts have taken them to universities, livestock operations, slaughter plants and abattoirs. So far, they have been overwhelmed by the positive results of their outreach to develop partnerships with industry and adopt Western agricultural production practices, innovations and technology.

"We cannot believe the hospitality of the people here and the willingness of others to help us," Zakharov said. "We have had countless offers from organizations and professionals to come over and assist us with our livestock operation, as well as our newest venture into the beef slaughter and processing sector. It's unbelievable!"

Part of the warm reception the entrepreneurs have enjoyed may be attributable to the strong ties that exist between Saskatchewan and their home country. Many of the province's citizens have some Ukrainian ancestry in their backgrounds.

However, according to Wendell Ebbert, a Livestock Development Specialist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, when it comes to agriculture, Ukraine is also a nation with considerable opportunity and positive potential.

"With over 42 million hectares of arable land, a European-type climate with 24 inches of annual rainfall, and 180 frost-free growing days, Ukraine will be a major land of agricultural opportunity," Ebbert said. "Twenty-five per cent of the world's richest black soil and 27 per cent of Europe's tilled soil are found in Ukraine."

The agricultural sector represents about 10 per cent of the country's gross domestic product, and is viewed by many as one of the brightest prospects for Western trade and investment.

In addition, the country is situated within 2,000 miles of a billion people, three-quarters of whom do not produce sufficient food to feed themselves.

"The world will look to Ukraine to solve a variety of its feed, food and fuel problems, and agricultural production will play a monumental role," Ebbert said.

Livestock inventories in the country have increased on a small scale since 1991 on a few private farms, although a rapid recovery in beef production as a whole remains uncertain. The Ukrainian cattle herd is comprised mainly of dairy breeds, with a small share of dual-purpose animals and meat breeds.

The poultry sector of the livestock industry is the most likely to grow first - since it offers producers the quickest return on their investment - followed by hogs, and then cattle.

In order for the company to achieve its full potential, Kiev Atlantic Ukraine will need to improve the consistency and quality of the beef it produces. They are investigating the possible use of the antibiotics and growth hormones common in American and Canadian beef production but which are not generally accepted in Europe. The company is also considering castrating bull calves - another North American practice that is uncommon in Europe - to reduce animal handling stress and eliminate dark cutters in the carcass.

The Ukrainian agricultural community is researching alternative methods to increase productivity, efficiency and overall quality of the country's beef. Given the province's existing connection with Ukraine, this may present some real opportunities for Saskatchewan agricultural entrepreneurs.

For more information, contact:
Wendell Ebbert, Livestock Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
Phone: (306) 878-8847

Grazing Mentors Are In Demand

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Producers interested in improving their grazing management are urged to sign up for this year's "Grazing Mentorship Program." The program is operated by the Saskatchewan Forage Council with funding from the Canadian Cattlemen's Association and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

"The program is designed to hook grazing mentors up with individuals who are looking to take their grazing management to the next level, or even just the first level," said provincial co-ordinator Ross MacDonald. "It's a means of co-ordinating peer-to-peer grazing information and mentorship."

The idea is to allow individual producers to work one-on-one with experienced grazing managers in order to learn how to improve their profits, efficiency, forage productivity, and use of water and land resources.

"We have a number of grazing mentors across the province, so there's likely a mentor nearby," MacDonald said. "The majority of our mentors are quite experienced. A lot of them have dealt with intensive grazing, grazing large numbers of animals, grazing late into the winter season with both stockpiled forages and bale grazing, as well as alternative supply methods."

The program is partially subsidized, so producers pay only a fraction of the actual cost. Producers are asked to pay a $100 application fee, and the program kicks in an additional $600 to pay the mentor for his or her time.

"It is equivalent to about 16 hours, or two days, of mentoring. Depending on the individual's needs, those 16 hours can be split up however the two participants feel will work best," MacDonald said.

"Usually there is an initial visit, some discussion about where each is at, some things to think about, some correspondence in between, and possibly another meeting in the field season."

The discussion can range right across the grazing management spectrum, including fencing, watering systems, plant growth, forage species selection, dormant season grazing - just about anything a producer might have questions about. There is no limitation on the size of operation that can become involved.

"We've had a range of mentorships, from individuals who are just getting started with small numbers and smaller land bases, to those who are going from a small operation to a larger operation," MacDonald said. "Mentors say they sometimes learn as much as they teach when dealing with more experienced operators."

There are currently 12 mentors available in the province, with space for approximately 55 producers to receive their assistance, so it is advisable to sign up as soon as possible. Interested producers should contact the Saskatchewan Forage Council by visiting their website at, or by calling MacDonald directly at (306) 447-4600.

MacDonald is an animal and range agrologist who is also an active rancher, running a herd of some 400 custom-grazed yearlings and a small cow-calf herd. He says the mentorship program is just a case of well-organized networking with peers.

"The intent is not necessarily to prescribe any sort of management, but to provide a producer sounding-board for ideas or innovations, and hopefully to save people some mistakes and some time," he said.

"If nothing else, it's a great opportunity to get some outside ideas or just confirmation that you're on the right track."

For more information, contact:
Ross MacDonald, Co-ordinator
Grazing Mentorship Program
Phone: (306) 447-4600

Value Chain Development Brings Western Provinces Together

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Efforts to develop agri-food value chains are growing from a single province base to be delivered right across western Canada, with a new agreement between provinces.

"The Saskatchewan Agri-Food Value Chain Initiative was developed approximately seven years ago, originally funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada," says Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan (ACS) Value Chain Specialist Bryan Kosteroski. "Three years ago, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture and ACS developed the second phase of the program, which was co-funded by both levels of government."

The program delivered an educational awareness program built around learning modules on subjects such as value chain development, marketing strategies, marketing intelligence, and category management. According to Kosteroski, the program has been well received here.

"Those workshops were very well attended, with over 400 people participating over a period of about 16 months," he says. "We have 14 value chain projects either in the process of development or completed in Saskatchewan. Alberta also has a value chain program, and Manitoba just started one last December."

The new Western Canadian Value Chain Initiative arose out of discussions between representatives of the four western provinces and the federal government.

"It was decided that there should be a consistent message across western Canada," Kosteroski says. "We are interested in creating awareness of the program itself, and the various strategies being employed by the agri-food industry. Many of the concepts are about working together in areas like talking to retail buyers, developing category plans, and communicating throughout the sector to make sure producers know what's going on."

The information developed on value chains will now have consistent content and the same look across the west, with the joint effort resulting in new material being made available in Saskatchewan.

"We have just launched an Internet marketing program," says Kosteroski. "Our companies have to take a look at website development, what suits their products, and the customers they are trying to attract. We just completed some organic livestock and vegetable workshops. It gives them more awareness of what potential markets may exist for them both domestically and for export."

The new co-operation between the provinces and federal government is a sign of the growing importance of this sector.

"You have small, medium, and large companies that are becoming players in the agri-food industry in Canada, and it's not an easy game," says Kosteroski. "It takes time to get into the retail markets, up to 16 months to get a product listed and on the shelf. Producers and companies have to be prepared to work through the process, to tweak their ideas to accommodate the needs of the retailer."

Among the new workshops to be offered in the next year, there will be an emphasis on marketing education, which is seen as a knowledge gap for emerging agri-food companies.

Anyone interested in what the Western Canadian Value Chain Initiative has to offer can get that information from the Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan on their website at

For more information, contact:
Bryan Kosteroski, Value Chain Specialist
Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan
Phone: (306)975-6851

2008 Grasshopper Forecast Shows Few Pockets of Concern

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

It appears that most of Saskatchewan should be relatively safe from major grasshopper infestations for 2008, although there are some pockets of concern around the province.

That's the prognosis contained in the "2008 Grasshopper Forecast" compiled by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture in conjunction with Saskatchewan Crop Insurance.

The forecast, along with a corresponding colour-coded map showing the projected infestation risk across the province, has now been posted on the ministry's website at

"Overall, it looks like the majority of the province falls into the ‘none to very light' category, where the grasshopper population should not be a problem," said Dale Risula, the Integrated Crop Management Systems Specialist with the Agriculture Knowledge Centre in Moose Jaw.

"There are a few isolated regions that have the potential for large populations of grasshoppers in 2008, but those are very small, particular areas," he added. "It appears that there may be three or four specific zones that could encounter some difficulties."

The forecast is based on the adult grasshopper counts observed during August and early September 2007 by Saskatchewan Crop Insurance field staff. The survey includes more than 1,100 sites throughout the province. The forecast is based on adult grasshoppers capable of reproduction. This provides an estimate of the number of eggs that may hatch the following spring and present a risk to crops in 2008.

"The forecast is not an absolute certainty," Risula noted. "It is just to say what the probability or the foundation is for grasshopper numbers in the upcoming growing season."

The primary factor determining actual grasshopper numbers will be the weather next spring.

"The hatch in the springtime is going to depend on growing degree days, which is a measure of accumulated heat units. If it's a dry, warm spring and the soil heats up fairly significantly, you could see an increase in the hatch numbers that take place. If it's a cold, wet spring, you will probably see populations kept at bay."

Populations can be affected by several other factors, including the presence of predatory insects, as well as the incidence of disease.

According to Risula, just about every crop grown in Saskatchewan is at some degree of risk from grasshopper damage. With cereals, grasshoppers generally consume the leaf material, which reduces the photosynthetic ability of the plant. With crops like lentil or flax, they usually attack the pods or bolls, which directly impacts yield.

In other crops such as canola, mustard or pea, grasshoppers may present an additional problem. "If they are present when the crop is being combined, their body parts can get picked up in the harvest and contaminate the sample, lowering the seed quality and requiring further processing," Risula said.

"Even in those areas where projections are low, producers would be well-served keeping a close eye on the situation, since infestations can vary widely on a field-by-field basis."

More information and advice on grasshopper projections and control methods can be found on the Saskatchewan Agriculture website or by calling the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.

For more information, contact:
Dale Risula, Integrated Cropping Management Systems Specialist
Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
Phone: (306) 694-3714

Forage Selection Made Easy With New CD

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The Saskatchewan Forage Council (SFC) has developed a new forage management tool that is available free of charge to producers, agrologists, conservationists and any other interested parties.

The "Dryland Forage Species Adaptation" CD provides valuable technical information to assist in planning the use of forages.

According to SFC Executive Director Janice Bruynooghe, the CD was developed to assist users in selecting the forage species best suited to their land. "It's an interactive tool that enables them to access comprehensive data on different forage species in order to choose the best one for their particular needs."

Information on 45 forage species, both tame and native, legume and grass, has been compiled in the CD. Photos and a detailed description of each species are provided, including yields, recommended stocking rates and other management information.

The data is organized to allow producers to input specific factors related to the type of soil in which the forage will be seeded and the purpose for which it is intended. This may include soil zone, soil texture, soil pH, salinity, moisture conditions, desired use, expected timing of use, stand longevity and many other variables.

"They can basically enter their criteria, and this tool will sort through the huge database of information that's built in on the back-end and identify the species that would best suit their specific conditions," Bruynooghe said.

The tool can also be used in reverse. Users looking for information on any particular forage species can simply click on its name, and the CD will display all the details, including an overview of nutritional feed quality, if available.

According to Bruynooghe, among the most useful features incorporated in the CD are seeding rate and cost calculators for producers. Users are able to select specific forage species or mixtures and input information such as germination or purity percentages. A program then automatically calculates the number of pounds per acre they would need to seed in order to produce an optimal stand. When costs are subsequently entered, the tool will also calculate the cost-per-acre of seeding a specific mixture.

"It's a common question that producers often have. Working through those calculations [on paper] is a bit cumbersome at times, and this is just a really slick, quick way to go in and determine seeding rates and cost-per-acre," Bruynooghe said.

"Everything comes down to economics, and a key to this information is that it can help producers through that decision-making process on the financial side."

Above all, Bruynooghe says the greatest advantage offered by the CD is convenience. "Much of this information is currently available, but it is very scattered. Producers often have to talk to extension agrologists or cross-reference many fact sheets to get what they need," she stated.

"What this tool provides is a nice, neat compilation of information. It's very user-friendly and easy to navigate."

Funding to undertake the project was provided by the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Greencover Canada Program. Project partners include AAFC, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation.

Anyone interested in obtaining a free copy of the "Dryland Forage Species Adaptation" CD can contact the SFC by phone at (306) 966-2148 or by e-mail at The material is also available on the SFC website at in both high-speed and dial-up versions.

For more information, contact:
Janice Bruynooghe, Executive Director
Saskatchewan Forage Council
Phone : (306) 966-2148
E-mail :

Agri-Tourism Answers Demand for Real-Life Experiences

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

A group of farm buildings and a herd of cattle may look pretty ordinary to Saskatchewan residents, but they could be a tourist gold mine, according to Claude-Jean Harel.

Harel should know. He's the owner of Great Excursions of Regina, and a specialist in agri-tourism development.

"The time has never been better to look at agri-tourism opportunities," Harel said. "People are realizing the value of locally grown products. Behind every product there is a story, and authenticity is key."

Harel has been in the industry since 1998, beginning his company by showcasing Saskatchewan destinations and since expanding to offer experiences right across Canada.

"Our offerings in Saskatchewan are centred around authentic activities, like stays on guest ranches where people raise livestock and are willing to share that experience with guests from other parts of the world," he stated. "Our clients are usually people who are well-traveled, who have been to other parts of the world, and who want to find out about the grasslands environment and what comes with that. We are using an agricultural resource like ranching to stage value-added experiences and create new products for these producers."

It's not just recreational tourists who are interested in agriculture-based experiences. There is also a corporate market.

"We can use these experiences as team-building activities," Harel said. "There are opportunities for enterprises to take their staff outside their comfort zones and discover new relationships that they can work with."

Great Excursions and its partners in Saskatchewan have created tourism programs for guests from as far away as South Korea, which sent a group of 4-H students to the Beaver Creek Ranch near Lumsden.

"They needed some help to create a program for them that involved not only staying at the ranch, but doing the other activities available here, like visiting a Hutterite colony or taking in the RCMP-themed attractions in Regina," Harel said.

Great Excursions has also hosted visitors from the U.S., Scotland, Belgium, France and England, and are getting increasingly more interest from Asia.

Harel has translated his passion for the agri-tourism industry into a second career as a facilitator of workshops on agri-tourism development. He will soon be visiting Nebraska, at the invitation of the governor of that state, to participate in a rural tourism conference.

"It's a way to preserve dedicated lands for agriculture," Harel stated. "We try to work with them to develop and market tourism products that make it more attractive for producers to stay engaged in agriculture."

Harel recommends that any producer considering entry into the tourism market start with local or regional tourism associations.

"The first step is to carry out an inventory of the resources that you have, to understand what kinds of knowledge and skills you have, as well as your physical facilities. The next step is identifying potential partners, such as your local tourism organization and other partners that may be willing to work with you," he stated.

"When they market an event, they want to know what other products they can bundle together to create packages that will allow visitors to benefit from the richness of the experiences we can offer in Saskatchewan."

Many farmers and ranchers may not realize that what they do to produce food and make value-added products is of great interest to others who do not share this province's heritage. According to Harel, our secret ingredient is ourselves. "Being who you say you are and trying to develop something that's unique to you is the formula," he said.

Harel welcomes new entrants to the agri-tourism sector. "Come to Tourism Saskatchewan events and meetings. Get engaged and become active stakeholders in the industry, and together we will make Saskatchewan shine on the world tourism scene."

For more information, contact:
Claude-Jean Harel, President
The Great Excursions Company
Phone: (306) 569-1571

Update on Rend Lake Water Levels

The latest from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineeers:
As of 1:00 p.m., Friday, April 4, the current pool elevation at Rend Lake is 411.72 feet NGVD. The lake is expected to crest on Saturday at a level slightly lower than 412.0 feet ngvd.

The Rend Lake dam received approximately 1.49 inches of rain last night which did not substantially raise the level of the lake. All Corps of Engineers campgrounds remain open, however the Honker Point access road has been closed due to high water. Campsites are available in the Shady Rest and Lakeview camping loops within the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park. The Rend Lake Resort remains open with accommodations available in the resort, conference center and motel.

Although rainfall totals in the area fell short of predicted amounts, motorists are reminded to use caution when driving in low-lying areas which are still prone to flooding. Rural roadways may have been damaged during the recent heavy rains and may be hazardous to vehicle traffic.

For more information on lake levels go to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rend Lake Web site at or call the Rend Lake Project Office at 618-724-2493.

Gem & Mineral Show This Weekend

The Southern Illinois Earth Science Club will hold its free gem and mineral show this weekend from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday here in the Williamson County Pavilion.

Vendors will be showing off include exhibits of minerals, fossils, Indian artifacts, gemstones, jewelry and lapidary work.

The Ben E. Clement Museum from our sister city of Marion, Kentucky, will feature minerals from their world-class collection and the Illinois State Geologic Survey will also have maps and guides for sale.

There will be working demonstrations of lapidary skills, arrowhead making, rock painting and related crafts.

A silent auction will also be held, along with numerous chances to win door prizes.

DuQuoin State Fair Goes With Jungle Theme

The Southern Illinoisan is reporting this afternoon that the theme for this year's DuQuoin State Fair will be "It's a Jungle in Here".
The fair will feature a free jungle theme park north of the two permanent homes in the fairgrounds. The theme park will host three structured shows on each day of the fair. Tigers, cougars, monkeys and various types of snakes will also be available for viewing.

The fair will run from Aug. 22 through Sept. 1.

Presidential Golf Trail About to Debut?

We know Bill Clinton likes to golf. Forty years earlier it was Dwight Eisenhower's game that made the news, but I admit I really hadn't thought about the combination of Abraham Lincoln and golf before yesterday when a reporter called me about it.

Turns out this was a case where the reporter knew more than I did. Apparently state Rep. Kurt Granberg, D-Centralia, has this idea of a seven-course Abraham Lincoln Golf Trail to be modeled and advertised much like the Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama, which is to golf trails like the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail is to wine trails.

Tessa Culli wrote about it last month in the Mount Vernon Register-News and I missed it.
MT. VERNON — A proposed Southern Illinois golf trail which includes the Rend Lake Golf Course is just the beginning of a bigger plan, according to state Rep. Kurt Granberg.

“It’s hard to market just one course,” Granberg said. “If you want to attract a lot of people, start in the Metro East area, go downstate, hit lodges where you can utilize state lodges and parks. The golf trail is part of a large economic development blueprint for the region. The golf trail is just one part.”

Besides Rend Lake the article notes he is also including Kokopelli Golf Club here in Marion and Stone Creek Golf Club in Makanda definitely in the plan and "would like to add the Gambit Golf Club in Vienna.

In addition to the local golf clubs there are two to four more in the MetroEast and along the I-64 corridor.

There's a meeting next week where Granberg is expected to unveil more details to the golf courses.

What's not known at this time is how this will impact the Southern Illinois Golf Trail.
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