Extension Perspectives Newsletter- February 2024

Mark your calendar!

February 28, 2024
Communicating about Personal Money Value

February 29, 2024
4-H Ocean Xplorers

March 11, 2024
Growing and Marketing Specialty Potato Varieties

March 14, 2024
2024 Maine Dairy Seminar

March 25, 2024
Growing and Marketing Specialty Potato Varieties

April 6, 2024
Learn About Growing Fruit Trees as a Business

In this issue…

To Sign up for the Extension Perspectives Newsletter

The Waldo County Extension Association

Maine Families Home Visiting 

Commercial Agriculture

Growing & Marketing Specialty Potato Varieties

Communicating about Personal Money Values

Farm Sitters

2024 Maine Dairy Seminar

Learn About Growing Fruit Trees as a Business

We’re Hiring 

Welcome to the World of 4-H Animal Science Projects

Creating Pruning Plans for the Plants in Your Garden, Yard or Orchard


Sign up for Extension Perspectives

To Sign up for the Extension Perspectives Newsletter, Click here.

If you have questions for our Extension Team, please give us a call at 207.342.5971 or email us at extension.waldo@maine.edu

Waldo County Extension Association (WCEA)

The WCEA – The Waldo County Extension Association (WCEA) has two key functions:

  • To provide guidance to the Cooperative Extension for developing and implementing educational programs that will benefit our county’s residents, including Rural Living Day
  • To officially direct the Cooperative Extension’s work in Waldo County

We also raise money to support a yearly post-secondary scholarship for students who are pursuing a career in a field that supports the extension’s mission.  

The WCEA is made up of a group of Waldo County residents interested in supporting the mission of the Waldo County Cooperative Extension. We meet monthly from September-May at the extension office at 992 Waterville Road in Waldo. Members serve three-year terms.  

Please consider joining us!  We’re a fun group with a unified mission of supporting local agriculture.  Contact the Extension office at extension.waldo@maine.edu or by phone at 207.342.5971 for more information.   

Maine Families

Maine Families Home Visiting 

Over the next few months our newsletters will highlight Maine Families Home Visiting and supporting families. This month we will focus on building strong and secure attachments through knowledge of parenting and child

Maine Families

development. Knowledge, in this case, is an understanding of a parent’s role in their child’s life and knowing basic information about their child’s health, safety, social and emotional well-being and overall development. Parents who feel confident in this role are better prepared to meet their child’s needs because they have parenting strategies to help them respond to stressors and their child’s behaviors. 

A core belief of Maine Families is that parents are the expert of their children. It’s important to remember that no two parents are the same and that families are different. What may seem unusual for one family may be normal for another. There is no one right way to parent a child and having knowledge can help prepare parents for success. 

What now: Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Take a parenting class or do some research on your own, but be aware of information overload by looking for evidence-based information. Reach out for support

Remember that you are eligible for a parent educator/family visitor through Maine Families if you are pregnant or have an infant under the age of 3 months. Please call or email us at 207.322.2879 or melanie.l.bryan@maine.edu.

Commercial Agriculture

Success in the commercial production of agricultural and other land or sea based products requires a complex set of skills. At the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Waldo County we bring the best science based information from our state’s land grant university and our national Extension network to you through educational program offerings and direct technical assistance. In Waldo County this service occurs through new business consultations, assistance with developing nutrient and/or integrated pest management plans, producer roundtable discussions, assessment of site suitability for land based agricultural production, and presentations and workshops covering topics of interest to Waldo County producers. 

In addition to the aforementioned services, faculty based in Waldo County also contribute to statewide educational offerings open to all Waldo County residents, such as our multi-session business plan development course, Business Planning for Producers. This course provides the necessary tools to evaluate natural resource based businesses by applying key concepts and skills in record keeping, enterprise budgeting, market research, financial planning, and more. Upon successful completion of the course, participants qualify for USDA Farm Service Agency Borrower Training Credit. This course is held during the fall of each year. You can be added to the interest list by filling out the form found here.

Additionally, the Maine New Farmers Project is here to provide education, resources, networking, and professional development opportunities for new and beginning farmers in Waldo County and across Maine. Lastly, UMaine Extension’s Maine Farm News bi-monthly newsletter is a clearing house for events, grants, loans, and other news of importance to Maine producers. You can subscribe by filling out the form found here

These are just a sample of the numerous educational opportunities available through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Our library of publications on the subject of agriculture is also a great place to begin researching best production practices and can be found here. We would like to be a part of your business’s success story! Please contact Brett Johnson at 207.342.5971 or brett.w.johnson@maine.edu with questions or requests.


Best wishes,

Brett Johnson

Sustainable Agriculture & Farm Business Management Educator

Growing & Marketing Specialty Potato Varieties

Recent developments in consumer interest and demand for fresh-market potato varieties with novel size, shape, color, and taste profiles are creating unique market opportunities for specialty crop producers.

How can growers capitalize on this trend and produce these farm products sustainably? Join us for a presentation and roundtable discussion to learn more about the growing and marketing practices utilized in the production of specialty potato varieties in Maine.

UMaine Extension Farm Business Management Educator, Brett Johnson, will deliver a presentation describing best practices in the cultivation of specialty potato varieties. This presentation will be followed by a roundtable discussion where commercial specialty potato producers are encouraged to share about their experiences marketing these products. Information gathered will inform the University of Maine’s ongoing potato variety trialing efforts.

Who should attend: Commercial farmers with an interest in producing specialty potato varieties, commercial farmers currently producing specialty potato varieties, new and beginning farmers exploring market opportunities. The workshop is free, donations are welcome but not required. Light refreshments provided.  

For more information or to register, click here.

Communicating about Personal Money Values

Farmers with at least five years experience are invited to participate in a virtual, two-hour workshop focused on how individual financial values impact business planning from 1-3 p.m. on Feb. 28.  

Titled “Communicating about Personal Money Values,” the workshop will introduce farmers to a variety of finance-related themes. Topics include, personal financial health, financial resources, and how farmers’ personal values affect planning for the future. The workshop is designed to empower farming communities and propel agricultural growth throughout Maine. 

The workshop, led by farm coach and Villageside farmer Polly Shyka, business advisor and farm coach Sylvie Boisvert, and farm coaches Karen Groat and Leslie Forstadt, will also encourage participants to explore personal time management and priorities, hear from other farmers about their financial decision making, discuss individual and business values and provide an opportunity to talk with other participants. An option of further farm coaching and credit counseling for continued support is also available. 

Sponsored by a grant from Northeast Risk Management Education, the workshop is free. Registration is required. For more information and to sign up visit the program’s webpage. To request a reasonable accommodation, contact Leslie Forstadt, leslie.forstadt@maine.edu, 207.581.3487. This workshop series is supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2021‐70027‐34693.

Farm Sitters Course

The purpose of this course is to equip individuals with the tools to serve as effective farm sitters and to understand the general responsibilities of helping an animal-based farm enterprise successfully continue in the absence of the farmer or manager. To learn more, click here.

2024 Maine Dairy Seminar


We are already one month away from the Maine Dairy Seminar!! This year, the Maine Dairy Industry Association (MDIA) and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension bring in John Winchell (Alltech) and John Porter (Farm Planning Services, LLC) to talk to us about forage conservation and on-farm construction.

In addition, the event will feature the MDIA Annual Meeting, awards ceremony, trade show, and buffet lunch.

The event will occur at the Elks Lodge in Waterville on March 14, 2024. To register, click here. You can also check this webpage for more information.

Learn About Growing Fruit Trees as a Business

Saturday, April 6, 2024 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM with a snow date of Saturday, April 13, 2024.

In the classroom behind the barn. Highmoor Farm, UMaine Agricultural Experiment Station, 52 US Route 202, Monmouth, Maine 04259. Highmoor Phone: (207) 933-2100. There is no Registration Fee. Please RSVP by contacting Renae Moran at (207) 713-7083 or rmoran@maine.edu . Renae Moran will be teaching the basics of commercial tree fruit production including spraying, pruning and thinning. Highmoor Farm is located at 52 US Route 202, Monmouth, ME 04259

  • 1:00 pm Crop Protection – Common insect pests and diseases, spray materials*
  • 2:00 pm Break
  • 2:15 pm Crop load management and fruit thinning
  • 2:45 BREAK
  • 3:00 PM Pruning Practices – training systems and pruning techniques
  • 3:30 PM Pruning Demonstration in the Orchard (weather permitting)

* One pesticide applicator credit will be offered for attending this 1-hour portion of the meeting, pending approval. For special requests, please, contact Renae Moran at (207) 933-2100 or email rmoran@maine.edu by March 1, 2023. If requests are received after this date, we may not have sufficient time to make necessary arrangements; however, all requests will be considered.

The University of Maine is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.

4-H Happenings

We’re Hiring! 

The 4-H Youth Development Professional with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will provide educational leadership for 4-H Youth Development in Waldo County and collaborate with the leadership staff at the UMaine 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Tanglewood. 4-H is a non-formal, experiential education program for youth, and adults working with those youth, to develop life skills necessary to be self-directing, productive and contributing members of society. Volunteer management will be a priority for this position, working with 4-H volunteers and the 4-H Leaders Association to foster an open, educational environment to promote the learning and growth of 4-H youth. In partnership with other Extension staff in the region, this position will develop and provide educational programs and resources that address the needs of youth in Waldo County, supporting a multidisciplinary approach to youth development. A priority will be to strengthen the 4-H programs in Waldo County through school and community engagement, and to provide integrated programming for Waldo County youth through partnerships with 4-H staff at Tanglewood 4-H Camp and Learning Center. To learn more about this or to apply, click here

Welcome to the World of 4-H Animal Science Projects!

Have you ever strolled through the barns at your local agricultural fair and noticed the cute cows, perfectly groomed sheep, and perhaps a 4-H clover or two. You may have seen a young child on the halter of an animal and thought “how do I get my kids involved in something like this?”. Welcome to the world of 4-H animal science. Every year thousands of kids worldwide participate in 4-H animal science projects. From market animal auctions to pocket pets, there is something for everyone. 

4-H animal projects are a positive and rewarding experience for Maine youth. They teach responsibility and financial management skills, connect youth to peers and mentors with similar interests, and expose them to career opportunities in agriculture. Youth who participate in 4-H animal projects are also eligible to participate in 4-H trips and other 4-H events such as public speaking contests, exhibition halls, and more. 

Most youth are good candidates for a 4-H animal project, but there are a number of factors to consider before taking the leap. If you have questions about what 4-H project would be a good fit for your family after reading the considerations below, please do not hesitate to contact the Waldo County Cooperative Extension office for more information. 

Space: How much space do you have? Consider both indoor and outdoor space depending on where the animal will be living. Space requirements for common livestock species can be found in UMaine Cooperative Extension Bulletin #1021, Space Planning for Small, Multipurpose Livestock Barns

Time: How much time do you have? Depending on the demands of the species, 4-H animal projects can take as little as a few minutes all the way up to multiple hours per day. For some projects, the time required for your project will also vary greatly by season. For example, market lambs are acquired in the spring and take a significant amount of time each day until they are sold in the fall, but unless you are breeding your own lambs, the only investment of time in the winter is for planning.  

Finances: How much a financial investment are you willing to make? The amount of money a 4-H animal project will cost you is largely dependent on your goals for the project and the species of animal. Before committing to any 4-H animal project, families should complete a cost analysis form. Feed is generally the largest expense for animal projects, but other considerations include housing, bedding, supplies, travel, and veterinary expenses. 

Goals: What are your goals for the project? Are you looking to raise the animal for food products, sell the animal for a profit, produce fiber, use the animal as brood stock, or just have a pet. The goals of your project will influence the financial investment required. Someone who wants to be competitive at shows will likely need to spend more on higher quality animals and account for travel to and from shows. Someone raising animals for a hobby may not need to pay extra for animals with certain genetics. 

Resources: What resources do you have available to you? Do you have a family member or friend that would be willing to teach you about animals? If you do not have space for an animal of your own, do you know someone that would be willing to lease an animal to you or let you visit their farm? If you are looking for resources on 4-H projects, a great place to start is your local Cooperative Extension office. Your local extension office can provide you with 4-H project books, help you select the 4-H animal project that is the best fit for you, and connect you with statewide Extension specialists and University of Maine faculty. 

For more information on how to get involved in a 4-H animal science project please contact your local UMaine Cooperative Extension office or visit extension.umaine.edu/4h/youth/animal-science.

Home Horticulture

Creating Pruning Plans for the Plants in Your Garden, Yard or Orchard

The days are getting longer and many of us are looking forward to spending more time outdoors. This is a great time to think about creating pruning plans for the plants in your garden, yard or orchard.  

Pruning is an essential management practice for perennial plants that involves selectively removing parts of a plant to enhance its structure, health, and productivity. In Maine, where the climate can be diverse and challenging, proper pruning techniques play a crucial role in maintaining the vitality of various plant species.  Pruning can also be used to shape plants for aesthetic purposes or in the case of fruit trees and bushes, to maximize productivity.

Understanding the Basics:
Before we dive into the specifics of pruning, it’s crucial to grasp the fundamentals. The University of Maine Extension provides a comprehensive guide on growing fruit trees in Maine, as well as an excellent bulletin on pruning woody ornamentals which emphasize the importance of understanding the tree’s growth habits and the role of pruning in shaping and maintaining them.

The fruit tree guide discusses different pruning techniques, including thinning cuts, heading cuts, and rejuvenation pruning. It also stresses the significance of timing, with late winter being an ideal period for most fruit trees in Maine.  

One key aspect highlighted in the pruning guide is the technique of thinning cuts. Thinning involves selective removal of branches to allow sunlight penetration and air circulation, promoting optimal fruit development. Proper spacing between branches is crucial to prevent overcrowding and disease.

The University of Maine Extension advises fruit tree enthusiasts to identify and remove weak, dead, or diseased branches during the dormant season. This not only ensures the health of the tree but also enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of the orchard.

For more specific guidance on pruning different types of fruit trees, the Extension provides an in-depth publication on pruning apples and pears. This resource offers detailed instructions on training young trees, rejuvenating older ones, and managing common issues such as water sprouts and suckers.

The publication also introduces the concept of rejuvenation pruning, a technique particularly relevant for older, neglected fruit trees. By strategically removing old, unproductive wood, growers can stimulate new growth and revitalize the tree’s productivity. This method is especially useful for apple and pear trees, ensuring they remain fruitful for years to come.

When it comes to pruning ornamental trees there is a fair amount of overlap with fruit trees with some key differences. Our woody ornamental bulletin emphasizes the importance of understanding the natural growth habits of woody ornamentals. Recognizing how these plants grow informs our pruning strategy, promoting healthy development and enhancing their aesthetic appeal.

Timing plays a crucial role in successful pruning. The guide recommends performing major pruning during late winter or early spring, while the plants are dormant. This allows for optimal healing and minimizes stress on the ornamentals. Minor pruning, such as removing dead or damaged branches, can be done throughout the year.

Whether you have flowering shrubs, evergreens, or deciduous trees, there are specific techniques to ensure optimal health and beauty. Detailed instructions on rejuvenation pruning and managing potential issues, such as crossing branches and water sprouts, can be found in our pruning woody ornamentals bulletin.

While you are out in your garden or yard and thinking about pruning, don’t forget to scout for Browntail Moth winter webs.  The Maine Department of Conservation and Forestry has declared February Browntail Moth Awareness Month for a good reason.  Between now and March is the optimal time to remove Browntail Moth webs before the young caterpillars emerge in early April.

In the ongoing battle against the Browntail moth, winter web removal emerges as a key strategy in safeguarding Maine’s landscapes. Drawing insights from the Maine Department of Agriculture’s Browntail Moth FAQ, we find that tackling these webs during the winter months is a critical step in curbing the population of this troublesome insect.

Browntail moth caterpillars, notorious for their irritating hairs, construct protective webs in the fall.  These webs serve as overwintering shelters, harboring caterpillars as they await the arrival of spring. If left unchecked, these caterpillars can emerge in large numbers, posing a threat to both human health and the vitality of our trees and shrubs.

The FAQ emphasizes the importance of initiating web removal during the winter when caterpillars are still in their overwintering state. This timing disrupts their life cycle, preventing a surge in population during the subsequent season. Early intervention, ideally in late fall to early spring, is crucial to maximize the effectiveness of the removal efforts.

The Maine Department of Agriculture recommends physically removing the webs and disposing of them carefully either in a sealed trash bag or by soaking them in soapy water. It’s essential to exercise caution and use protective gear when handling these webs, given the potential health risks associated with Browntail moth hairs.  If you find that you have Browntail moth winter webs in trees that aren’t reachable you may want to consider hiring a landscape company to remove them. Licensed pesticide applicators may be able to use pesticides on trees with browntail during early spring to reduce browntail populations.

As we approach the season for pruning, let’s arm ourselves with knowledge from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. By understanding the natural growth patterns of our plants, mastering essential pruning techniques, and adhering to proper timing, we can cultivate gardens bursting with vibrant, healthy plants. Happy pruning!

For more in-depth insights, don’t forget to check out the complete guide at University of Maine Cooperative Extension – Woody Ornamentals Pruning Guide.