The Roundup -

McKenzie County Ag Extension Preps for Busy Spring


March 21, 2018 | View PDF

4-H Archery Practice Session 2 will be held March 22, March 29 and April 5. (Photo from

McKenzie County Ag Extension Agent Morgan Wisness is ready to close out winter and start a busy spring.

First on the agenda is pesticide recertification training for private pesticide applicators. The private pesticide applicator license allows farmers and ranchers to spray restricted-use pesticides, such as Husky Complete and Tordon, on their own land. There are currently 59 license holders in the area who need their certificates renewed, and Wisness is providing several opportunities for recertification in March. Trainings are available on March 15th in Keene, March 21 in Cartwright, and March 22 in Watford City.

An ongoing project that will continue through the spring is 4-H shooting sports. "This is the biggest program that I've been working on," Wisness explained. "They needed an archery match in Western North Dakota, so we volunteered to set it up. After that we decided we better have an archery team!" she said. The program includes an archery team and an air rifle team. "It was so much more successful than we were expecting. We have 37 youths in archery and 16 youths in air rifle. It's been really exciting and the kids have enjoyed it a lot." The teams practice twice a week, and have competed in Bismarck and Watford City, and are heading to compete in Fargo shortly.

Shooting sports continues through April, and then fair prep begins. One unique aspect of the McKenzie County livestock program is the merit contest for steers. In addition to rating showmanship and external features, Wisness enlists the help of Sidney, Montana veterinarian JJ Hovde to use ultrasound to rate the quality of the meat produced by the animal. "Ultimately the goal is to provide a good product on the plate for consumers," Wisness explained. Ultrasounds are sent to the Central Ultrasound Processing (CUP) Lab in Ames, Iowa, to determine the amount of marbling, as well as determination of choice, select or prime quality grades, among other aspects. 4-H participants are awarded points for several factors, including their carcass data, rate of gain, and live placing. Points are added up and prizes are awarded. "It allows the kids to really understand what goes into finishing a steer and methods of marketing and selling. The steer of merit program helps us apply our 4-H values of quality and the care of the animal. Us cow-calf operators often focus on pounds of calf instead of pounds of quality, and this program really ties together cattle production from start to finish," Wisness explained. "If you win steer merit it's about the same as wining grand champion," complete with bragging rights," she added. Given the success of the merit program, Wisness is considering implementing a merit contest for pigs in the future.

For more information about pesticide traiing, shooting sports, or 4-H programs, contact McKenzie County Ag Extension Agent Morgan Wisness at 701-444-3451.


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