Central Standard
12:05 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

A Depleting Aquifer Disrupts The Future of Farming In Western Kansas

Irrigation in western Kansas is dependent on the Ogallala Aquifer.
Credit Eric Durban / Harvest Public Media

Water levels within the Ogallala Aquifer, a wide source of groundwater in western Kansas, have been declining to dangerously low levels for the past few years. 

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Harvest Public Media
8:00 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Harvest Public Media's Top Agriculture And Food Stories Of 2014

The Jamie L. Whitten Building in Washington, D.C., home to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Even the lunch ladies got political in 2014.

KCUR's Harvest Public Media was created four years ago to report on agriculture and food production in the geographic area where the majority of that takes place – the Midwest.

This year, my third of counting the top ag stories of the year, I find that the issues taking center stage were set not here, but in the politics, policies and processes of Washington D.C., state legislatures or the ballot box.

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Up To Date
2:11 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Planned Use For Drone At University Of Missouri

An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) hovers over a cornfield.

In the Middle East the U.S. military has used drones with great effect.  More properly called UAS or UAV for Unmanned Aerial Systems or Vehicle, their use on American soil for more peaceful purposes have been a source of controversy.

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Central Standard
2:22 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

In The Fall, Kansas Orchard Ships Chestnuts Across America

There are 1,500 chestnut trees in Chestnut Charlie's Orchard in Lawrence, Kan.
Matt Hodapp KCUR

The chestnut harvest in Kansas ends during the first few weeks of October, and every year around that time 40 to 50 workers pick pounds of nuts from 1,500 chestnut trees on an orchard right outside of downtown Lawrence.

Since 1995, Charlie NovoGradac, also known as "Chestnut Charlie," and Deborah Milks have been cultivating, collecting and distributing chestnuts.

When the harvest is over, the orchard is covered in gigantic thorny cockleburs. As they ripen during the season, these prickly husks open and release the chestnuts.

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Central Standard
1:00 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Kansas And Missouri Nuts, From Tree To Plate

Who doesn't love a nut?
Credit Lady Dragonfly CC - >;< / Flickr, Creative Commons

Little-known fact: It's chestnut harvesting season in Kansas. So what's the scene at the local chestnut orchard? And how are chefs using the overall nut bounty in area kitchens?


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Central Standard
11:18 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Missouri Tobacco Farmer On What's Changed (And What Hasn't) In Local Harvest

Tobacco farming was once a mainstay of the Missouri economy and lifestyle. With greater awareness of the health risks of cigarette-smoking and other changes in the tobacco business, the number of tobacco farmers in our region has shrunk. But the methods used to harvest tobacco have remained surprisingly consistent. According to the owner of New Deal Tobacco in Weston, Mo., it takes 250 hours to harvest an acre of tobacco (an acre of corn takes just a few hours to harvest, he says). 


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Harvest Public Media
9:22 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Choices For Students Can Cut School Food Waste

Gloria Restrepo, a teacher’s assistant at Harris Bilingual Elementary School in Fort Collins, Colo., helps students choose their lunch.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Lunch time at Harris Bilingual Elementary School in Fort Collins, Colo., displays all the usual trappings of a public school cafeteria: Star Wars lunch boxes, light up tennis shoes, hard plastic trays and chocolate milk cartons with little cartoon cows. It’s pizza day, the most popular of the week, and kids line up at a salad bar before receiving their slice.

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Central Standard
5:20 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Are You Going To Eat That?

We asked Kansas Citians for their questions about food safety, and we got an earful. A food scientist answers questions about 10-year-old frozen chickens and more.
Credit Wikipedia, Creative Commons

We live in a world where there's something remarkable about a clean plate after a meal. But that's just one small piece of the food waste equation. Visits to farms, a meat processing plant, a compost heap, grocery stores and Kansas Citians' kitchens help us understand why there's so much food nobody's eating. 

For more information about food safety, check out this handy chart from the USDA.

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Central Standard
2:50 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Behind The Sticker Price: Tomatoes

Gerry Newman of Providence Farms shows off his tomatoes at the Overland Park Farmer&apos;s Market.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Fresh tomatoes are a pleasure of summer, but they typically come at a price. Discover what goes into setting that price, whether it's worth it, and what you can do with them when you get home.


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11:10 am
Thu August 14, 2014

MAP: What Tomatoes Cost In Kansas City

How much did your tomato cost? Fill out our form at the end of this story.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

 No matter how you say tomato, we wanted to know how much yours cost.

After our roughly two-week online poll, Kansas Citians have revealed some of the cheapest and most expensive red spheres in the metropolitan area.  

(See an interactive map below with all the juicy details.)

Results came in from across the metro. Among the cheapest tomatoes were heirlooms in Missouri at an Independence farmer’s market, at 73 cents apiece.

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4:03 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Tell KCUR: How Much Does A Tomato Cost In Kansas City?

These are just some of the many, many tomatoes on sale in the Kansas City area this summer. How much did your tomato cost? Fill out the online form below.
Credit Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Summer: it's hot, it's time for a vacation and it's delicious, juicy tomato season.

But not all tomatoes are created equal. And they're not all the same price, either. 

Tell KCUR: How much did your tomato cost?

On an upcoming segment of our daily talk show, Central Standard, we’re investigating the variation in price and quality of tomatoes you can buy in grocery stores and farmer’s markets.  

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Central Standard
10:13 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Wyandotte County Fair Connects Kids With Agricultural Roots

Allyson Billings relaxes with her pet rabbit.
Christina Lieffring KCUR

People usually associate state and county fairs with Ferris wheels and food on a stick. But in areas that have seen their demographics shift from rural to urban populations, these fairs are now serving a new role of connecting city folk to their country roots.

One way the Wyandotte County Fair, which runs July 22 to 26, does this is through its competitions in arts and crafts, food, agriculture and livestock, run by the local 4-H club.

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Central Standard
1:08 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Without Intervention, Old Barns Stand Defiantly Or Fall Unceremoniously

Kill Creek Farm in DeSoto, Kan. is home to a nostalgia-worthy barn.
Credit Lori Murdock

The barn is an icon of the American work ethic and rural nostalgia. On Wednesday's Central Standard, we explored the trend of rehabbing and restoring old barns that would otherwise fall into irreversible decay.

We also spoke with people throughout the nation and in our own area about the challenges of preserving these structures.

Do old barns -- the red ones with big huge doors -- still matter, even as larger steel structures replace them in function?

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Central Standard
4:56 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

PHOTOS: Barns Of Missouri And Kansas Through Your Lens

Kill Creek Farm in De Soto, Kan.
Lori Murdock

A drive through the Midwest countryside wouldn't be complete without a dozen or so barn sightings. 

As our daily talk show, Central Standard, prepares for its examination of challenges that go into barn restoration, we rounded up a collection of regional barn photos — thanks to you.

We asked our listeners for their best pics of regional barns and they were happy to oblige. Flip through the above slideshow for a sampling of what you sent in. 

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Central Standard
5:08 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Boys Grow Teaches Kids Business Skills Through Farming

Boys Grow kids getting their hands dirty on their farm.
Credit Jamie Burks / The Good Food Blog

At a farm in Kansas City, Kan., a group of young men from are developing their entrepreneurship skills through farming. Boys Grow, a non-profit agency, works with these kids to develop business skills as they sell their agricultural commodities.

On Wednesday's Central Standard, we talked to two of these boys about their experience with Boys Grows and their hopes for the future.


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Harvest Public Media
9:59 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Soybean Acres Up, Corn Down In This Year's Planting

Farmers have planted a record number of acres in soybeans this year, while planting fewer in corn.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Farmers planted a record number of soybean acres this season. But corn is flat in several Midwestern states, while down slightly in others.

Those are some of the takeaways from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s report on planted grain acres for the season, which offers the first glimpse of production for 2014.

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Harvest Public Media
7:42 am
Thu May 22, 2014

Iowa Egg Farm Charged In Salmonella Outbreak

Credit Pietro Izzo / Flickr--CC

The former operators of a large egg farm in Iowa have agreed to plead guilty to federal charges in connection with a major salmonella outbreak in 2010.

Federal officials have charged Austin “Jack” DeCoster, his son Peter and their company, Quality Egg, with allowing the salmonella-contaminated eggs to reach consumers. They’re also charged with mislabeling eggs and attempting to bribe a USDA inspector. More than 500 million eggs were recalled and at least 2,000 people became sick from the outbreak.

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Harvest Public Media
7:40 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Flour Milling Merger Moves Forward

Ardent Mills would control about a third of the American flour milling market.
Credit Wikimedia / CC

Federal regulators Tuesday gave the final go-ahead for two of the country’s largest flour milling companies to merge.

Food giants ConAgra and Cargill said last year they wanted to put their flour mills under one roof in a new company called Ardent Mills. But a chorus of antitrust watchdogs said the deal would further consolidate an already concentrated industry.

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Harvest Public Media
7:52 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Canada Jonesing For A Piece Of American (Hemp) Pie

Canada legalized hemp in 1998 and many companies there are anxiously awaiting cultivation in the U.S. At Centennial Seeds in Colorado, growers have started planting.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

The U.S. market for foods and beauty products that contain hemp is growing, but American manufacturers that use hemp have their hands tied. The crop is still illegal to cultivate, according to federal laws, which means the current American hemp industry, estimated at $500 million per year, runs on foreign hemp.

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4:18 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

National Agricultural Center & Hall Of Fame To Close For Season

The National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame is located in Bonner Springs, Kan.
Credit Wikimedia -- CC

 The National Agricultural Center & Hall of Fame, which is based in Bonner Springs, Kan., will be closing its doors.

The museum blames a tough economic climate for a decrease in donations and corporate support. The Ag Center, as it’s often known, says it plans to close for the rest of 2014 while it seeks more funding and charts a way forward.

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Harvest Public Media
3:25 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Study: Cellulosic Ethanol Production May Harm Climate

Biofuels made in the Midwest from corn stover, the leftovers of harvested corn plants, may be worse for global warming than gasoline in the short term, according to a recent study. It’s casting doubt on the greenhouse benefits of cellulosic ethanol.

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Harvest Public Media
8:32 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Corn Farmers Fight Rootworm Resistance

New research confirms what many Midwest farmers have already suspected: The corn rootworm can develop resistance to varieties genetically modified to thwart the pest. Here, rootworm damage in an Iowa field ruined a corn crop.
Credit Courtesy / Aaron Gassmann

After a long battle with corn rootworm, Midwest farmers thought they’d found relief in genetically modified seeds engineered to produce toxins deadly to the pest. But recent research confirms what farmers have been noticing for several years: the western corn rootworm has been evolving to outwit the technology.

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Harvest Public Media
7:49 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Hog Farmers Differ On Packer-Owned Pigs

A proposal in the Nebraska Legislature would allow meatpacking companies operating in the state to own hogs from birth to slaughter, a change that some say would take market share from farmers.
Credit Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

  Nebraska hog farmers aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on a proposal that would allow meatpacking companies more control over the state’s hog industry. And farmers all over the country are watching.

Currently, a 1998 state law bans meatpacking companies from owning and raising the hogs the process. But lawmakers have proposed an end to the ban, which would allow for more vertical integration of the hog industry.

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Up to Date
11:59 am
Thu March 27, 2014

The Weekend To-Do List, March 28-30, 2014

'Run or Dye' is a version of the popular 'Color Run.'
Credit Neeroc1 / Flickr-CC

Ready to confront the weird weather with a bit of fun? Brian McTavish's Weekend To-Do List for March 28-30, 2014 has you covered.

Keiko Matsui (New age music), 8 p.m. Friday at the Jazz Museum's Gem Theater, 1615 E. 18th, Kansas City, Mo. Tickets: $47 

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Harvest Public Media
8:06 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Food Hubs Could Provide Crucial Link For Amish Farmers

Mervin Graber of checks on his small herd of grass-fed cows in his pasture near Sullivan, Ill.
Credit Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media

Lacking the infrastructure of traditional suppliers, many local farms that want to connect to restaurants, schools and other big buyers are using the Internet to reach customers.

Groups of farms are banding together to form regional food hubs, leveraging online ordering, tracking and marketing tools to cut down on costs and to try to keep local food systems viable for growers and affordable for consumers.

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Harvest Public Media
7:58 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Drones: Coming Soon To A Farm Near You?

A remote-controlled quadcopter hovers over a Bloomington, Ill., parking lot, where Colby offered test flights of new unmanned vehicle models.
Credit Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media

Unmanned aerial vehicles aren’t just for spies or for the battlefield. Farmers all over the country think drones can give them a leg up, too.

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Harvest Public Media
7:57 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Bring Home The Bacon: Virus Cutting Pork Supplies

A sow weans her healthy piglets on Borgic’s farm. He says he has managed to rid his farm of PED, but must remain vigilant.
Credit Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media

Bacon-loving shoppers prepare yourselves: A virus that has devastated piglets for nearly a year is causing lower pork supplies and higher prices.

Farmer Phil Borgic of Nokomis, Ill., knows firsthand what happens when porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus infects a hog barn. He walked through one in late January, pointing out the differences among litters.

“This is a PED litter. See how dirty they are?” he said, pointing to a sow whose little piglets had dirty hooves.

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Harvest Public Media
7:45 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Padlock The Milk! FDA’s Push To Safeguard The Food Supply

Milk that Central Dairy delivers is kept behind doors secured with three-inch long padlocks.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Many of the food terrorism scenarios outlined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration involve liquid.

And there’s good reason for that.

Liquids like orange juice and milk go through many processing steps -- farm, bottling plant, delivery – before reaching the consumers who drink them. And these liquids are moved, manufactured and stored in huge batches that get distributed and consumed quickly. Should a toxin be injected somewhere along the supply chain, experts believe it could have devastating human health and economic consequences.

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Harvest Public Media
8:27 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Could Our Food Supply Be A Target For Terrorists?

A bioterror attack that introduced a virus like foot-and-mouth disease could devastate the U.S. livestock industry. Regulators are proposing new rules meant to protect the food system from terror attack.
Credit Jeremy Bernfeld / Harvest Public Media

  It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster. Villains in trench coats scheme ways to cause the most destruction and chaos. They settle on a food company, an easy target, and plan to lace the products with a chemical or pathogen. The hero finds out the plan with enough time to save the day.

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Harvest Public Media
8:18 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Hog Virus Causing Spike In Price Of Bacon

Hog producer Phil Borgic of Nokomis, Ill., lost one full month of piglets to the PED virus.
Credit Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media

Shoppers are already paying more for pork and bacon than they did last year and many economists expect those prices to continue climbing for the next few months.

Chris Hurt, an agricultural economist at Purdue University, watches the market for lean hog futures– the anticipated price of hogs heading to market soon. The futures price hit record-highs in early March, Hurt said, which will translate to expensive and bacon in the supermarket in the coming months.

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