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McCall named queen of shorthorn association
Jessica McCall of Crestwood, whose family hails from Shelby County, was named the 2012-2013 National Lassie Queen during the National Shorthorn Show at the North America International Livestock Exposition in Louisville.
McCall, 21, is the daughter of Cheryl and Michael McCall, a native of Simpsonville. She is attending Murray State University, where she will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in animal science.
She has been active in the cattle industry for the last thirteen years and will be traveling to Scotland in May when she graduates.
McCall began competition with a meet-and-greet with the other candidates and board members from the Lassie Association. She was introduced themselves at the annual National Lassie Meeting and sold 50/50 tickets throughout the stalls, allowing her the opportunity to visit with breeders. As a part of the competition, each candidate also created a scrapbook that was judged and put on display during the weekend to help breeders and exhibitors know each candidate.
She will attend the 2013 National Western Stock Show in Denver, the 2013 National Junior Shorthorn Show in Des Moines, Iowa, and the 2013 NAILE in Louisville to promote the Shorthorn breed and represent the American Shorthorn Association. She also will attend other national events.
Soybean exports flat
According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, U.S. soybean farmers exported more than 1.8 billion bushels of U.S. soy during the 2011-2012 marketing year, compared with approximately 2 billion bushels in 2010-2011. The 2012 export numbers include 1.3 billion bushels of whole soybeans, meal from more than 404 million bushels of soybeans and the oil from 126.5 million bushels of soybeans. U.S. soy exports this year are valued at more than $23 billion.
U.S. farmers harvested 3.05 billion bushels of soybeans last year, so these exports represent about 55 percent of that production. Soy customers in China, the largest importer, bought almost 850 million bushels of whole soybeans, or more than one out of every four rows U.S. farmers grew.
Switch to grain continues to grow
An increasing number of producers in Kentucky are trying grain production for the first time as traditional tobacco farms are becoming more and more expensive to operate.
Grain prices have reached all-time highs over the last year. Corn in particular has seen a sustained increase. The latest price information shows a slight decline off the record $8 per bushel seen last summer, but the price is still in that $7 to $8 ballpark; a place corn growers want to be, Business Lexington reported.
Kentucky has long been known for its tobacco production. It is a tradition for many family farms and was the staple of the agriculture economy for generations. The state still leads the nation in burley production and the industry has stabilized with the demand for quality burley currently on the upswing.
When speaking about total numbers however, corn is the top crop in the state worth more than $700 million annually, more than double that of tobacco. But that’s not an apples-to-apples comparison because corn acres far exceed tobacco acres.
As it becomes increasing difficult to raise a crop of burley, mostly because of a lack of a good labor force, some producers will say it’s plausible to think corn could start to rival tobacco as the crop of choice both from an economic and labor standpoint.
The 2012 corn crop will not be a good gauge in making a case due to the extreme drought experienced across the country but there were pockets of exceptional corn. Mike Spencer, a tobacco producer from Franklin County is one of those who, as he puts it, was really lucky this year.
Christmas tree farms
There are outlets in Kentucky that provide the cut-your-own-Christmas-tree option, including Barker’s Christmas Tree Farm near Lexington, where owner Dale Barker will let customers borrow a small sled or wagon to tow the tree back to your car, as well as a bow saw for cutting.
“The majority of the industry in Kentucky is ‘choose and cut,’” said Barker, president of the Kentucky Christmas Tree Association (KCTA). “It’s an agritourism thing. The kids enjoy going out in the field.”
KCTA’s Web site lists 18 member farms across the state.
“We have people from Owensboro to northern Kentucky that raise trees,” Barker said. “Most people make wreaths and sell tree stands. A few do garland. Some people even get further into agritourism with hayrides.”
Barker said no figures are available on how many Christmas trees Kentucky produces. He sells 500-600 per year, priced from $32 to $100, but 100 of those are Fraser firs he imports annually from North Carolina. “Our general trees, scotch or white pines, are $32 any size,” Barker said.
To find a Kentucky Christmas tree farm near you, visit www.kychristmastreefarms.com.
The Kentucky Ag Report is compiled weekly from news releases distributed by Keeton Communications, the Kentucky Press News Service.