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January 9, 2004     Cape Gazette
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January 9, 2004

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CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, Jan. 9 - Jan. 15, 2004 - 93 GARDEN & FARM Minner announces guid00.'lines for new crop insurance program Gov. Ruth.Ann Minner has announced that the application period for the new Delaware Crop Insurance Cost Share Pro- gram will begin July 15 and continue through Sept. 15. The purpose of the program, proposed last year by Minner and approved by the Delaware General Assembly, is to help re- imburse Delaware farmers who suffer rev- enue loss from failed crops. "Agriculture is a key part to Delaware's economy," Minner said. "I want to do everything I can to assist our farm- ers to continue to farm and to continue to add $800 million to our economy. The Delaware Crop Insurance Cost Share Program will pro- vide incentives for farm- MINNER er to take advantage of recent improvements in available crop in- surance products." The state Department of Agriculture will administer the program, which will allow Delaware farmers to receive cost share of up to 20 percent of their crop insurance pre- mium, not to exceed $2.00 per acre. Farm- ers often cite cost as one of the barriers keeping them from buying crop insurance. This program will make crop insurance more affordable and make it easier for farmers to attain relevant levels of coverage against crop revenue loss. "Agriculture is more than just the econo- my, it is our heritage and our way of life," Minner said. "Most of our open space, which is so vital to creating and preserving Livable Delaware, is found on Delaware's farms. It enhances all our lives to keep farmers in business." The guidelines from the Agriculture De- partment are as follows: Any person farming acreage in Delaware is eligible for the program. Farm Serial Numbers will be checked in the local USDA Farm Service Agency office to veri- fy that acreage is within Delaware borders. Any crop for which a crop insurance policy is available in Delaware and for which in- surance premium is paid, is eligible for the program. This includes diverse crops that may be covered under an Adjusted Gross Revenue policy. Crops covered with Cata- strophic Coverage are not eligible since no premiums are paid for CAT, only adminis- trative fees. The application period for the Delaware Crop Insurance Cost Share Pro- gram begins in July, corresponding with the final crop acreage reporting date for spring seeded crops, and closes in September. A simple application form listing applicant name, address, phone and fax numbers, e- mail address, and social security/employer identification number will be provided by DDA. Processing of applications can begin after the producer submits the completed application and the f'mal Schedule of Insur- ance/Production Report from his/her crop insurance company. This document is sent to the producer after crop reporting is com- pleted for the covered crop. It includes all insured acreage, by crop, and premiums due. Producers should check their Schedule of Insurance/Production Re- port carefully for accuracy and submit a copy to the DDA to expedite cost share pro- cessing. Insurance premiums for some crops are due on earlier dates than most others. For instance, small grain premiums are due by July 31, while most spring seeded crop in- surance premiums are due Oct. 31. The due date for premiums has no bearing on pro- gram eligibility or cost share payment tim- ing. All 2004 crop insurance cost share as- sistance will be calculated after the close of sign-up. Prior to receiving benefits, producers will be required to submit evidence that all crop insurance premiums have been paid. This is best provided on an updated Sched- ule of Insurance, which indicates premium payments credited. This process will ensure program funds are expended for the intended purpose and eliminate the need for two-party checks to be issued, thereby simplifying the program. Individual benefits will be calculated using the 20 percent/S2 per acre maximum criteria. All individual benefits will be tabu- lated to determine total calculated producer benefits. If this figure exceeds funds pro- vided by the General Assembly, individual benefits will be pro-rated. For this to occur, crop insurance partici- pation or coverage levels would have to in- crease significantly. The need to signifi- cantly pro-rate benefits is not anticipated for the first year. Save seed,,; and reduq,e criminal behavior in your garden It's hard to predict which crimi- nals should be released and which ones should remain behind bars. Oddly, one of the best predictors of who will return to a life of crime is a maze. Prisoners started with their pencil in the middle of the maze and were told to com- plete the maze without lifting the pencil off the paper. Those who lifted their pencils went on to a much higher return rate to prison than those prisoners who didn't lift their pencils. Farms and gardens have a bit of recidivism, or return to criminal behavior, as it were. Pests that survive pesticides of- ten give birth to more pests that survive pesticides and your fields revert to how they were before you ever applied pesticide. Land that becomes acidic from the ac- cumulation of pine needles may revert to a low pH if you don't constantly spread lime. And some crops just don't seem to do well for you period. However, instead of a relapse as it were into criminal behavior, your own field crops and garden plants often come back stronger than before, that is if you save your own seed. Think about it. Only crops that grew to seed, will provide next year's seeds. Over the years you develop a slightly different sub variety. It doesn't take much to save seed. A single beefsteak tomato has hundreds of seeds and even a grape tomato will give you more seeds than the average small gar- dener can use. A field of wheat GARDEN JOURNAL Paul Barbano that does well for you .will yield ripe wheat for seed directly pro- portional to the number of plants with the most grain. That's the nice thing about genetics; you don't really have to do a thing. Survival of the fittest and all that. For heirloom vegetable and field crops saving seeds not only provides you with a customized ub variety, saving seeds may be saving the variety itself from ex- tinction. Vegetables and fruits that slow- ly evolved over thousands of years' selection by farmers in di- verse ecological niches around the world are being lost forever in the face of more popular hybrids. This isn't just nostalgia. Old varieties or heirlooms are used to breed resistance into mod- em crops. It is this mingling of genetic diversity that protects food production from becoming wiped out by epidemics or infestations. If you don't want to save your own heirloom seed you're in luck. You can simply buy heirloom seeds from catalogs or more and more in local nurseries. Look for familiar non-hybrid or open pollinated seed. Hybrids are often designated by the sym- bol "FI" meaning "first filial" generation. While commercial heirloom seeds won't necessarily be from plants grown under your exact conditions, they will display a wide range of genetic diversity so that some or most will survive with minimum care. Heirlooms are frankly often more forgiving of neglect than modem hybrids. Besides your local nursery or feed store heirloom seeds are available by mail order or on the internet. Stokes Seeds ( or Box- 548, Buffalo NY 14240-9238) lists several heirloom vegetable seeds such as "Brandywine", a tomato that dates back to the 1800s. The Brandywine has globe shaped nearly purple globe shaped fruits that can weigh up to a pound. Heirloom beans such as "Bumblebee" a white bean with a dark spot that is so'mild it's used in salads from Vermont Bean Seed Company (www.vermont- or 334 W. Stroud Street, Randolph WI 53956). Seed Savers Exchange is a non- profit organization dedicated to preserving heirloom varieties. You can order a catalog from them at 3076 North Winn Road, Decorah, IA 52101 or online at Whether you save your own seed or buy them from seed savers, unlike recidivism, you don't relapse, you just get life. Trouble getting melons to ripen? You might try their Cream of Saskatchewan melon. Russian immigrants brought this sweet, white-fleshed melon to Saskatchewan. Lolla Rossa heir- loom lettuce is a frilled light green and magenta lettuce that will re- sprout after the first cutting. This true cut-and-come-again lettuce is ready in just 55 days. What if whether by accident or device you save seeds from hy- brids? Some gardeners have suc- cessfully saved seed from hybrids. Tomatoes especially look pretty much like their parents, but like philandering children of billion- aires, the plants lack hybrid vigor and often lose specific non-visual traits. Saving seed from hybrids is a real genetic crapshoot, so you might not want to depend upon seed of hybrids for your entire crop. By growing out and perhaps saving seed from heirloom veg- etables that have performed well in your own unique microclimate, your crops will improve over the years. So don't lift your pencils off the paper and grow out some heirloom vegetables. Whether you save your own seed or buy then from seed savers, unlike re- cidivism, you don't relapse you just get life. Paul Barbano writes about farming and gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Ad- dress questions or comments to him c/o the Cape Gazette.