The holiday season is here, and with it comes festive holiday plants. However, these plants may bring along uninvited guests – insects and other pests. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach horticulturists offer tips on dealing with bugs on holiday plants and related issues.

Tom Kaspar will discuss lessons learned from using cover crops to reduce losses of nitrate during the Iowa Learning Farms webinar Wednesday, Dec. 13 at noon. Kaspar is a plant physiologist at the USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will offer "Boots in the Barn," a new program for female beef and dairy producers, in northeast Iowa starting in January. 

2017 has been a challenging year for farmers and 2018 may be similar. Crop profit margins are tight once again, as more farms face cash flow and working capital constraints. But farmers and their families don’t have to deal with the stress by themselves, says Margaret Van Ginkel, coordinator of Iowa Concern, a program from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Randall Cass is the new extension specialist focused on beekeeping and pollinators. His main project will be examining the health of honey bees and native bees in prairies and soybean fields.

As harvest season draws to a close, farmers are starting to look forward to the next planting and growing season. Often times, this means signing new lease agreements or evaluating if an existing agreement is working.

Managing a farm’s cash flow is critical. The ability to generate cash is what allows farmers to pay their bills. Steve Johnson, farm management specialist, has recommendations for farmers trying to maximize their cash flow.

A Powerful Tools for Caregivers Class Leader Training is scheduled for Jan. 24-25, 2018, to equip class leaders to co-lead programs for caregivers of adults with chronic conditions and caregivers of children with special health and behavioral needs, says Malisa Rader, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The cover crop workshop will be held Dec. 13 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. and include Pottawattamie County farmer Russ Brandes, a fourth generation farmer from near Hancock.

Marketing grain by using basis contracts provides more flexibility in how farmers market their grain and profit from their crop.

ISU Extension and Outreach specialists are encouraging Iowa consumers to take the first step and visit Equifax’s website to determine if their information has been exposed.

One way to make the holiday season memorable is with a wreath, and a fresh, homemade wreath can really brighten a gathering. Making a wreath isn't as difficult as you might think.

Iowa Learning Farms, along with Elk Run Watershed and Practical Farmers of Iowa, will host a cover crop workshop on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 12-2 p.m. at the Swan Lake Conservation Education Center near Carroll. The event is free and open to the public and includes a complimentary meal.

Because of the additional risk to the seller, those thinking of using deferred price contracts should carefully evaluate the financial position of firms they are thinking of entering into an agreement with. The type of information sellers should be looking for is highlighted in the publication, “Evaluating a Company’s Financial Position before Selling Grain on Deferred Price Contracts."

The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Master Gardener program hosted two classes on the Iowa State campus in Ames this fall as part of its annual Master Gardener training course.

Iowa State has begun to offer research-based financial education classes to residents of the Meskwaki Nation — a community it's been trying to reach for years — with care and attention given to learning the culture, building relationships and developing trust.

University extension services in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin are teaming together to offer the Driftless Region Beef Conference Jan. 25-26, 2018, at the Grand River Convention Center in Dubuque.

Terry Tuttle has been appointed superintendent of the Iowa State University Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm near Sutherland.

Brian Sampson, a Story County farmer, will discuss his transition to strip-tillage and addition cover crops as well as his experience with the conservation planning process with the NRCS and Iowa Learning Farms. Iowa State specialists are also on the agenda.