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First Lady receives 2017 Christmas tree from Wisconsin farm

The first touch of Christmas arrived at the White House this week in the form of a beautiful 19-foot Balsam fir. The tree was delivered to the home of the First Family via horse-drawn wagon. This very special Christmas tree will be on display in the Blue Room and is presented by Jim and Diane Chapman and their son David of Silent Night Evergreens in Endeavor, Wisconsin.

The tree was presented to First Lady Melania Trump by the Chapmans, Grand Champion winners of the 2017 National Christmas Tree Contest, sponsored by the National Christmas Tree Association. The NCTA has presented the Official White House Christmas Tree since 1966. The Grand Champion grower wins the privilege of presenting a tree to the White House.

The Chapman’s are in familiar territory, having been named Grand Champion of the National Christmas Tree Contest on two previous occasions in 1998 and 2003.

“I grew up on a Christmas Tree farm, and my parents also won the honor of putting a tree in the White House,” commented Diane Chapman. “I think that my parents would be very proud that we have also won.”

The spectacular Balsam fir was hand selected by Timothy Harleth, White House Chief Usher, assisted by White House Superintendent of Grounds Dale Haney. This is Harleth’s first Blue Room tree selection, made on a trip to Wisconsin on earlier this fall.

“I am always amazed by the number of people who tell me that they are very proud that the White House Christmas tree is coming from our small town,” added David Chapman.

“The Chapman family exemplifies the commitment of Christmas tree growers across the country,” said Tom Dull, President of the National Christmas Tree Association. “We are proud to grow a product that provides cherished memories for families and is often the centerpiece of the Christmas celebration.”

2017 will mark the 52nd year a member from the National Christmas Tree Association has presented the White House with a Christmas tree.

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Tennessee cops look to identify tractor thief caught on camera

The Tipton County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee is seeking information on the identity of a tractor thief who got away with nearly $300,000 in farming equipment.

On October 26, a John Deere 8320R tractor, valued at $250,000, and Woods 14’ Rotary Mower, valued at $12,000, was stolen from the 7600 block of Austin Peay Highway in Shelby County, Tennessee. The tractor and mower were located on October 29 on Hwy. 51 in Tipton County by using the tracking/monitoring system installed by John Deere in each tractor.

Once the tracking log was researched it was noticed that after being taken, the tractor made a stop at Fastimes Community Market #1 located at Highway 14 and Atoka-Idaville Road.

Courtesy of Sheriff J.T. ‘Pancho’ Chumley

Video footage was obtained from Fastimes #1 and Paradise Grill on Hwy. 51, where a manager said the suspect came into the store and used the ATM machine. The Sheriff is asking the community to take a look at the individual in the photos to see if anyone can assist in identification.

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NFU: Farmers only make 11 cents per $1 on Thanksgiving feast

Farmers and ranchers take home just 11.4 cents from every dollar that consumers spend on their Thanksgiving dinner meals, according to the annual Thanksgiving edition of the National Farmers Union (NFU) Farmer’s Share publication. The popular Thanksgiving Farmer’s Share compares the retail food price of traditional holiday dinner items to the amount the farmer receives for each item they grow or raise.

“This holiday season, it’s important for us to take time to recognize and thank the family farmers and ranchers who provide our Thanksgiving meals,” said Rob Larew, NFU’s Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Communications. “If you don’t live on a farm or work in agriculture, you probably don’t realize the tremendous difference between the price you pay for food at the grocery store and the prices farmers end up receiving for these products. While consumer holiday food costs have declined recently, incomes for American farm and ranch families have dropped precipitously. We’re in the midst of the worst farm economic downturn in 30-40 years, and we’re hopeful these numbers can help illustrate that fact to the general public.”

On average, farmers receive 17.4 cents of every food dollar consumers spend, while more than 80 percent of food costs cover marketing, processing, wholesaling, distribution, and retailing. For the 15 items NFU tracks for the Thanksgiving version, farmers received just 11.4 cents of the retail food dollar.

Turkey growers, who raise the staple Thanksgiving dish, receive just 5 cents per pound retailing at $1.69. Wheat farmers averaged a meager 6 cents on 12 dinner rolls that retail for $3.49. And dairy producers received only $1.47 from a $4.49 gallon of fat free milk.

Thanksgiving presents an opportunity to raise awareness about food production, including misconceptions about food costs, Larew explained. “Farmers and ranchers play the most valuable role in actually producing the food that is served at holiday dinners, yet they make just pennies on the dollar for their products.”

The Farmers’ Share is based on calculations derived from the monthly Agriculture Prices report produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compared to price points of common grocery food items at Safeway supermarket. The figure farmer’s share of retail turkey sales is reported by the Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias, as national data on farm prices for turkey does not reflect the amount turkey growers receive.

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New temperature inversion tool helps assess dicamba drift risk

Kansas State University has a new tool to help farmers assess when temperature inversions occur in their region — information that can be very useful in assessing the risk for dicamba drift.

The EPA listed temperature inversion as a factor that contributes to the unintentional spread of dicamba into areas that weren’t targeted.

Temperature inversion is a weather phenomenon in which the air at the earth’s surface is cooler than the air above it – a situation different than the norm, said Christopher “Chip” Redmond, manager of Kansas Mesonet. During times of temperature inversion, which usually happen at night or on cloudy days, the risk that dicamba can drift onto nearby fields and damage other crops is heightened.

The new information is available on the Kansas Mesonet website. Kansas Mesonet is a network of 58 weather stations situated around the state, which measure such weather parameters as temperature, wind speed, precipitation and humidity. The data is recorded at the Kansas Weather Data Library, based at K-State.

“That (temperature inversion) typically develops due to the lack of soil radiation. As soon as you lose that sunshine in the afternoon or if it gets cloudy, the surface starts to cool off,” Redmond said.

In response to the dicamba problem, Redmond and K-State agronomy professors Dallas Peterson and Curtis Thompson developed the tool which Redmond said should be used to determine trends in particular areas rather than as a decision-making tool regarding exactly when or when not to spray.

“Unfortunately, many folks aren’t that familiar with temperature inversions and intuitively think that when the wind dies down in the evening or early morning, that is the best time to spray,” Redmond said. “However, if they spray during a temperature inversion, there actually may be much greater risk of off-target herbicide injury than when there is a 3 to 10 mile-per-hour wind blowing away from the direction of susceptible crops and species. It’s (inversion data) not something to look at and say ‘there’s an inversion in place so I shouldn’t spray right now or that there’s not an inversion in place so I can spray.”

Courtesy of K-State

The weather stations measure the temperature at 6 feet and 30 feet from the ground, which helps develop a vertical view of the lower atmosphere, where these surface inversions occur. The Mesonet aims to also develop a climatology of frequency, depth, occurrence, and what kind of weather scenarios come together to develop inversions.

“What we’re finding is that temperature inversions often develop one to two hours before sunset. They are often strongest just after sunset, persisting throughout the night varying in strength. Typically, surface inversions disperse an hour or two after sunrise, when the sun begins to warm the surface,” Redmond added.

He encourages producers to start monitoring inversions in their area to obtain a feel for dominant wind directions under inversions. If the air were completely still, there wouldn’t be a problem, but winds average 2 to 4 miles per hour in an inversion – those winds can transport the herbicide spray molecules a fairly long distance.

“This tool can help with determining dominant wind flows in your area under an inversion, which may provide some indication where drifting could occur,” Redmond said.

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