The Somerset Newsflash, May 2024

Important Dates


The News

Somerset County Extension Office Temporarily CLOSED

Our office will be TEMPORARILY CLOSED while we work on some building maintenance issues.

Our staff will continue working remotely and will be regularly checking messages. To get in touch with us, please email us at or call 207-474-9622 and someone will get back to you within 1-2 business days.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience!

UMaine Disease Diagnostic Lab Fee Update

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab identifies diseases on plant samples submitted to the lab. It provides a management plan in the form of a diagnostic report to gardeners, farmers, the lawn care industry, and nurseries. The lab’s mission is to enhance the success of Maine agricultural industries and gardeners by reducing losses to plant diseases and minimizing disease management costs by providing early and accurate disease identification.

In 2023, the lab received over 800 physical samples from nine different states. In addition, the lab developed a digital submission where clients could upload images for a plant disease diagnosis, resulting in 400 digital submissions. This past year also resulted in more first detections of diseases in the state than any other year, which included a new fungal disease on tomatoes and fir trees. The lab also provided confirmation testing for Beech leaf disease for the Maine Forest Department which was previously being sent out of state for testing. The lab confirmed Beech leaf disease in five counties in 2023. The lab also added three new molecular tests for improved virus and nematology detection.

As diagnostics evolves, so too does the cost of carrying those tests. Starting May 1, 2024, the Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab will start charging $18 for general in-state samples, and general out-of-state sample fees will be increased to $38. Garlic seed testing fees will increase to $38 for in-state samples and $68 for out-of-state samples. The lab is also implementing a fee of $8 for all digital submissions. The lab also offers various additional specialized tests. These tests and their associated fees can be found on the webpage. We are proud to have been the only lab in New England to be able to waive general in-state samples as long as we have. Still, due to rising lab costs, we need to implement a partial cost recovery to ensure the lab continues to support Maine agriculture and gardeners.

ATV Safety Programming Available

ATVs and UTVs are often Important tools on farms to make work easier. They also are a fun way to enjoy the outdoors. At the same time, they can be dangerous to operate and proper training and safety equipment should be in place before using.

In Maine, youth ages 10 to under 16, must successfully complete an approved ATV Safety Certification course to legally operate on land other than their own. Anyone 16 years of age or older is encouraged to take the course to be educated and prepared for safe riding.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife offers an on-line ATV training and a directory of several in-person training opportunities happening across the state.

Stay safe out there!

Master Gardener Plant Sale

June 1, Falmouth

Save the date for the annual Master Gardener Plant Sale, June 1st from 9am-1pm! This  event will feature gardening demonstrations as well as a broad selection of organic vegetable seedlings, herb and annual seedlings, and native and pollinator plants! More information coming soon.

Join Us in the Exhibition Hall at the Common Ground Country Fair

Start thinking of your entries now!

All farmers and gardeners, new or experienced, young or old, commercial or backyard, are invited to bring the bounty and beauty of their crops and preserved foods to display at the Common Ground Exhibition Hall. Art, photos and crafts are also welcome.

Full article and and Exhibition Hall Guidelines here.

The News in Agriculture

Spring Webinar Series: Managing Farm Risk

Risk Risk Risk…strategies on how to think ahead on your farm! In this spring webinar series, we will talk about Land Transitioning, Land Access Planning, Risk Mitigation, and Climate Resilience. We will hear from farmers, UMaine Extension, UNH Extension, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and more. This webinar series is sponsored by the Maine Farmers Resource Network. Free for all! Registration is required.

(On Zoom from 10 am – 11 am each day)

Farmers: Sign Up to Offer Maine Senior FarmShare

The Maine Senior FarmShare Program (MSFP) is seeking additional farm businesses statewide to join our roster of 2024 authorized farms. We would also like to hear from you if you are interested in participating in the program starting in 2025 and beyond.

MSFP is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and provides income-eligible older adults the opportunity to receive a share (worth $50) of local produce at no cost from Maine farmers.

Those eligible for shares are:

  • Low-income older adults aged 60 or older
  • Low-income older Native Americans aged 55 or older
  • Low-income disabled adults aged 18 or older who live in senior housing with a cafeteria

Eligible foods available to purchase with program funds are fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey.

For more information and to fill out an application, visit the Senior FarmShare webpage.

2024 Maine Hay Contest

Are you producing the best hay in Maine?

Maine has more than 200 hay producers, in which the state’s livestock, horse, and dairy industries highly depend. All producers strive year after year to produce excellent quality hay, and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension firmly believes these efforts should be rewarded and recognized.

Therefore, the first Maine Hay Contest will be hosted in 2024, where you can submit your best quality hay produced in the year. First place will receive $500, second place $250, and third place $100. You also will receive a commemorative plaque that will be presented along with the prizes at the Maine Forage Conference, to be held in Waterville, ME, in November 2024.

Sampling, shipping, and analysis costs will be covered by UMaine Cooperative Extension for the first 15 registrants, so, what are you waiting for?

For more information and registration, click here.

Save the Date – Maine Pasture Walks Series

When & Where:

Tuesday, July 9, 2024. 11:00 AM. Kennebec County.

Tuesday, July 23, 2024. 11:00 AM. Franklin County.

Tuesday, August 13, 2024. 11:00 AM. Cumberland County.

TBD. Knox county.

Cost: Free

Dr. Jaime Garzon, University of Maine Cooperative Extension forage specialist, will lead five pasture walks in five counties in Maine. Come to meet and learn about the production system and forage management of dairy producers, identify forage species in the field, learn about climate-smart practices, regenerative grazing, and more. Be prepared to share your experiences and questions, and be open to hearing from others.

Resources and Issues Ordered on Cattle and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

Important News for Dairy Farmers, Cattle Haulers, Veterinarians, and Others Involved the movement of Dairy Cattle

  • All lactating dairy cattle moving across state lines must receive a negative test for Influenza A unless cows are being moved direct to slaughter. For more on testing requirements.
  • Lactating dairy cattle moving interstate direct to slaughter are not required to have a premovement test but must move on a certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) or the Owner Hauler Statement (OSS) (PDF) or the cull cow worksheet (Excel) for use. Most states will accept the OSS or worksheet; however, producers/haulers/veterinarians and others should check with the State of Destination for nuances (e.g., Pennsylvania, a waybill will be sufficient as long as the animals go directly to a licensed meat establishment, Oklahoma requires a CVI and will not allow for the alternative documents).
  • Cows moving direct to slaughter on a CVI or other approved documentation must have RFID tags or other acceptable forms of official ID.

Find more resources on this topic from the Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry.

The News in 4-H

Maine 4-H Days is Happening in 2024!4H Clover

Where: Windsor Fairgrounds, Windsor, Maine
When: Friday evening, July 19 – Saturday, July 20. Animal Science tracks are being scheduled
from Friday, July 19 – Sunday, July 21.

Registration now open! Register online by June 15. Open to families who are interested in 4-H but not enrolled yet as well! We can’t wait to see you there!

Summer Learning Series Virtual Programming

Registration begins on June 3. Open to non-4-H youth as well as enrolled members. There are some excellent offerings this year! Learn more on the Summer Learning webpage.

Summer Camp Scholarships Available for Bryant Pond and Greenland Point

Scholarships are available to assist families in joining us on an unforgettable journey at 4-H Camp this summer, where bonds are forged, adventures abound, and memories are made.

Unlock Your Opportunity: Limited Scholarships Available!

  • First time camper scholarships
  • Conservation Education scholarships sponsored through the Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for select programs
  • Community scholarships by region
  • 4-H Shooting Sports scholarships
  • Teen Multi week programs (full scholarships for those who qualify)

Spaces are limited. Register today to secure your spot!

For more information, visit the Bryant Pond or Greenland Point websites.

Do you know someone interested in becoming a 4-H Volunteer? Tell them about Start Your 4-H Journey!

University of Maine Cooperative Extension will offer a two-part online informational session for adults interested in becoming Maine 4-H volunteers on May 22 & 29 from 6 – 7 p.m. “Start Your 4-H Volunteer Journey” will provide participants with information about the UMaine Extension 4-H youth development program through four short e-Learning modules. Attendees will also participate in an experimental learning activity, learn about the key aspects of positive youth development, and be introduced to ages and stages of youth. The two one-hour virtual sessions will wrap up with an outline of next steps and an introduction to a county staff contact to help with the application process if desired.

Registration is required. The sessions are free. To register, visit our website.

For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact Jennifer Lobley,, 207.255.3345.

For more 4-H news, check out 4-H Happenings, our monthly 4-H newsletter for Somerset County.

The News in Homemakers

Homemaker LogoExtension Homemakers is a volunteer group that develops leadership skills, supports community causes, and promotes UMaine Extension’s educational programs in nine Maine counties. These organized programs are part of the statewide network of Extension Homemakers.

Local group members meet throughout the year to participate in educational programs and identify community projects, such as providing assistance to local food pantries, nursing homes, or veterans groups, or funding educational scholarships or youth camp programs.

Volunteer in Somerset County!

Would you or someone you know like to become more engaged in volunteerism throughout Somerset County? Consider joining Homemakers! The Somerset County Extension Homemakers are always welcoming new members. Please visit the Maine Extension Homemakers website for general information about the program or reach out to the Somerset County Extension Homemakers President, Rita Fortin with any questions or to express interest. Rita can be reached at 207.453.2945 or at You may also contact the Maine Extension Homemakers Coordinator, Lisa Fishman at 800.287.1421 or at