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Laramie – After 17 years serving as dean of the University of Wyoming (UW) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dean Frank Galey retired, effective June 30, and started a position as Provost at Utah State University. 

“I started officially as dean of the college on Sept. 1, 2017,” Galey says, noting before that, he served as department head for the Veterinary Sciences Department. “Things have changed quite a lot since I’ve been here.”

He adds, “We’ve got great people at the college, and that’s what makes so many positive things happen.” 

Over time

When Galey arrived as dean of the college, he had several primary visions to build and grow the college. 

“One of my big visions for the college has always been that Wyoming, as a state, is our classroom and our laboratory,” Galey explains. “My goal has been to better connect our faculty and our students with the rest of the state, and we’ve done that with varying degrees of success.” 

Focusing on important areas related to ag, he notes the college has added inter-disciplinary programs to address state needs and worked to keep programs relevant to production.

“We looked hard at several studies to make sure our programs are connecting with where jobs are going – both regionally and national,” Galey comments. 

Growth

As a result of the focus on students, Galey says, “We’ve enjoyed 16 years of steady enrollment growth, especially at the undergraduate level.”

Today, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has well over 1,000 students, seeing steady growth of four to five percent each year. 

“Certainly this year, with increased marketing, we experienced an almost nine percent jump in our freshman class, and we continue to grow across the board in most of our programs,” he says. 

While enrollment and programs have both grown, Galey is quick to recognize the faculty and staff in the college have both been integral in its success. 

“No one can change a college by themselves. We need faculty, associates, department heads, students and staff to improve,” he comments. “If we’ve accomplished anything, we’ve hired a great bunch of folks across the board.” 

Faculty numbers have remained relatively steady, until recently, when a state budget downturn decreased the number of faculty members. The number of Extension personnel has also remained relatively constant. 

“Overall, we’re below where we were in 2014,” Galey says, “but we’ve got great people. Our faculty and staff are excellent.”

Galey notes he has consistently worked to make sure faculty members are aware they are appreciated.

“It’s been a privilege and challenges to lead this bunch of faculty,” he continues. “So many of the successes that the College of Ag has seen really belong to the faculty.” 

Challenges and wins

While he has enjoyed his time at UW, Galey recognizes it has not been without challenges. 

“I want to make sure we’re connected to the state, and that can be a challenge,” he says. “The biggest challenge I have is making sure people know they are appreciated and making sure we’re responsible to the state’s needs.”

Galey continues, “Every day, as dean, I wake up and think about how we can better connect to our state.”

Additionally, Galey says challenge and opportunity both arose from the energy boom across Wyoming in the early 2000s.

“In the early 2000s, we formed an interdisciplinary program in restoration ecology that feeds perfectly into our range, water and oil programs,” he says. “This program has benefitted the ranching community, and hopefully we did some good for the energy industry, as well. We’ve certainly worked well within the state, which has led to our success.”

Good years

Since he joined UW, Galey says he has enjoyed his time in Laramie.

“I’m a land-grant person. At first, I asked myself why a veterinarian would want to be dean, but I applied and accepted the position because I grew up in the ranching community in Big Horn, and I feel a connection to the agriculture community,” Galey comments.

He continues, “It’s been a tremendous opportunity to get to know folks across the state, visit their ranches and see so many neat places. I’m going to miss the people – both in the college and the state – the most, though.” 

The future

As he looks forward to the future, Galey also sees opportunity at Utah State University. 

“The overall commitment of Utah State University (USU) to foster the land-grant mission is the most exciting aspect of moving to Logan,” he says. “USU is another land-grant university with tremendous people.” 

Galey also says he’s looking forward to learning more about the geography and people in Utah and working with the administration. 

“While I’m going to live in Logan, I’ll be back to Wyoming often,” Galey says. “I hope the people of Wyoming stay in touch.” 

Praise

Close colleagues from the college praise Galey for his commitment and ability to transform the college, including his influence and leadership that helped to form several influential programs in the college. 

UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Interim Dean Bret Hess has served under Galey for the majority of his time at UW. 

Hess emphasizes Galey’s role in supporting the work of the college’s various departments, citing modernization and expansion of Research and Extension (R&E) Centers across the state.

“We were fortunate to have the opportunity, under Dean Galey’s leadership, to build the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Lingle,” he says, adding both Powell and Sheridan’s R&E centers have been expanded during Galey’s tenure. “These activities have helped to expand research opportunities throughout the state.” 

“Related to the expansion of research capabilities, we’ve seen steady increase in the amount of extra-mural funds the college has attracted during this time,” Hess continues. “This comes from not only the facilities, but the personnel who have been hired over the 17 years of Galey’s leadership.” 

Anne Leonard, UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources director of college relations, says, “Working with Frank, I have learned a lot. The difference between him and many previous deans was he was deeply committed to working closely with producers.”

Leonard notes Galey was widely and easily available, attending meetings of producers around the state throughout the year. 

“He truly appreciated the intersection between research and what we do at the college and where it hits the ground,” she adds. “He is a native Wyomingite, from Big Horn, and he was raised on a ranch. His background in agriculture and his previous work reinforced what the land-grant university mission is, and he didn’t just take it to heart, he lived it.” 

In addition to fundraising efforts, Galey was responsible for leading the development of the Wildlife-Livestock Disease Research Center, Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center, addition of Bio-Safety Level III lab at the Wyoming State Vet Lab, a revitalized soil lab and more. He has also taken a leadership role throughout the state, including by chairing the state’s Brucellosis Coordination Team since its formation.

“Students were really important to Dean Galey, too,” Leonard says, noting that Galey was responsible for pushing international education and internship opportunities. “All of these programs really strengthened not only Wyoming’s but America’s agriculture industry.”

Well wishes for Dean Galey can be sent to University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3354, Laramie, WY 82071.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The start of the new year has marked the initiation of a new pilot project with the University of Wyoming, titled Wyoming Ag Calendar (WyAC). The purpose of this pilot project is to develop a communication tool that visually represents the field management and decision making process of crop producers in Wyoming.

Once the WyAC is developed, it will be utilized to serve as a reference guide in assisting scientists, professionals and non-agricultural entities, such as the Plains Regional Climate Hub, and other entities in communicating information to agricultural producers at the most critical time to benefit their management decisions.

Agriculture calendars are not a new idea. Other states, such as Kentucky, have developed calendars for crop and livestock producers to assist in prioritizing work and provide a schedule of timely activities, such as field activities and suggested equipment maintenance timing.

These calendars, specifically the dates that directly relate to crop production, have been taken from years of research that have proven to provide maximum yield for a specific crop. The equipment maintenance includes recommendations to prevent the necessity for rush-ordered parts or time crunches during major events.

However, the WyAC project is different than these types of calendars. The information to create this calendar will be gathered directly from producers and be representative of an area not a specific operation. Of course, this type of calendar could be created from literature and the best scientific knowledge of that crop. However, this approach may not be 100 percent accurate to what producers actually implement in the fields.

For that reason, this project wants to capture the information directly from the source. This calendar will capture information such as field activities, management decisions for those field activities, what information is lacking to assist producers with management decisions and timing recommendations.

Currently, the project is creating a calendar for dry bean production in the northern Big Horn Basin. The northern Big Horn Basin has been defined as the Greybull River north to the Montana Border and within the two mountain ranges – Big Horn Mountains and Absaroka Mountains. This area was identified because of the amount of dry beans grown in the area with similar crop management.

This study is only looking at conventional dry bean production, which does not include minimum till or no-till practices. After the completion of a dry bean calendar for the northern Big Horn Basin with this pilot project, the team hopes to expand their efforts into comparing the calendar to other areas within the state, comparing this calendar to no-till practices of dry beans and developing similar calendars for other crops like sugarbeets, barley and hay.

As the knowledge of agricultural practices continue to dwindle in the general public, educational tools such as the WyAC will be necessary to educate those individuals that may directly or indirectly serve the agriculture audience.

For further information or interest in developing a calendar for a specific crop in Wyoming, please contact Windy Kelly with the University of Wyoming at 307-367-4380.

Wyoming’s agriculture community has a new weed pressure to be concerned about. Palmer amaranth, which is perhaps the most aggressive pigweed species, has been found growing in Goshen County.

Weed pressure can and does have significant impacts to agriculture crop yields. As an example, weed pressure alone can cause up to 40 percent yield loss in corn crops when weeds are not managed.  There are certain situations when crop failure occurs because weeds get out of control. 

Palmer amaranth has gained a lot of attention in the agriculture industry because of the difficulty to manage this weed, especially in vegetable and row crops. Several attributes make this weed difficult to control, such as fast growth, continual emergence and herbicide resistance. Palmer amaranth is native to the southwest United States, an area where plants need to be water efficient to survive. Along with water efficiency, palmer amaranth has dioecious reproduction, meaning the plants are either male or female.  The combination of these two features allow it to adapt and spread quickly. This plant exhibits very aggressive growth in the Midwest where it can be more than six feet tall – as tall as or taller than corn – and cause yield losses up to 91 percent in corn. 

Palmer amaranth is also very challenging to control because of its continual emergence during the growing season. This summer, the annual plant was documented emerging from May until the middle of September. Once crops have emerged and are growing, control options are limited or not available, depending on crop and type of weed, because of injury to the crop itself. This pigweed specie also germinates faster than other pigweed species and favors shallow emergence depths found in no-till and reduced tillage systems.

To make palmer amaranth even more difficult to control, this dioecious plant has adapted a resistance to single modes of action in herbicides and, in some cases, to multiple modes of action. The modes of action that palmer amaranth can be resistant to are ALS inhibitors, triazines, HPPD inhibitors, dinitroanalines, PPO inhibitors, and ESPS inhibitors or glyphosate herbicides. Reduced tillage and no-till systems, along with other agriculture systems that rely mainly on post-emergence herbicides have limited affect against this already-resistant specie. 

The best control for this weed is be identifying it before establishment and infestation levels are achieved.

One key method to identifying palmer amaranth from other pigweeds is that the petiole or leaf stalk is longer than the leaf blade. The other pigweed species have longer leaves than the petiole.

If palmer amaranth infestations are identified, hand pulling of small populations is an option. For large infestations levels, an integrated management plan is the best option for control and decreasing populations. This can be accomplished by cultivating crops with optimal plant spacing and canopy development to enhance crop competition, combine soil applied and post-emergence herbicides and incorporate cultivation practices after post-emergence herbicides to eliminate surviving plants and reduce the risk of herbicide resistance.

The control and spread of palmer amaranth is not just the agriculture industry’s problem, but it is everyone’s responsibility.  Palmer amaranth’s seed is a small inconspicuous seed that is easily spread in manure, equipment, contaminated feed and seed mixes.  Manure is one of the primary pathways for spread of this weed into new areas because the seed can pass undamaged through the guts of an animal, especially cattle.  The small seed is potentially difficult to remove from other seeds and can easily contaminate feed sources. 

In addition to feed sources, palmer amaranth can contaminate seed mixes used for restoration projects, cover crops or wildflower mixes.  Palmer amaranth infestations have spread extensively in Midwest states, due to contaminated seed mixes for reclamation seedings. This same issue is happening in small-seeded cover crop and wildflower mixes, which could be a potential source to spreading this weed into the state of Wyoming.

So, for 2018, be on the lookout for palmer amaranth plants within your cultivated lands, gardens and disturbed soil sites. If suspected populations are found, notify your local weed and pest office, then terminate the plants prior to seed set.  Only through everyone’s diligence can we keep this weed from spreading further into Wyoming.

For more information, contact Jeremiah Vardiman at 307-754-8836.

Over the last several years, I have traveled around Wyoming and many other western states conducting workshops on economic ranch tools for producers.  Often during those workshops, ranchers will tell me rules of thumb that they use to make decisions. 

I started collecting those rules of thumb and writing them down.  I also went out to the Ranch Talk Forum on ranchers.net and solicited rules of thumb from producers all over the U.S. and Canada.  I received some good rules, some fun rules and some not-so-good rules.

I decided to utilize some of the tools on the Wyoming Ranch Tools website, uwyoextension.org/ranchtools, to analyze some of the rules of thumb a little more closely. 

We will look at two rules in this article associated with cow value and pasture value.

First, I would like to start out with a little perspective. 

One of the Rules of Thumb I received was the following – “Take care of the land, and it will take care of you, meaning always do what is best for the land, and cash flow will be there. But, if you put cash flow ahead of the land, you will likely go broke and end up teaching at some university.” 

Since I do, in fact, work for University of Wyoming Extension, I guess I fall under this category. So, you can take my advice with a grain of salt.

Now, let’s look at a more serious rule. 

A common rule that I have heard over the years from producers is, “Multiply the price of a steer calf times two, and that is the price you can afford to pay for a cow.”

This rule may be okay in the case of an average year, but it would certainly over-value cows during market high years and under-value cows during market low years. 

If we look at 2014 and 2016, we can see this.  In 2014, two 550-pound steer calves were worth $3,245.  In 2016, two 550-pound steer calves were worth $1,815.   A better approach to this rule might be to take the five-year average steer calf and multiply by two.

However, this still ignores a key factor in how much an individual can afford to pay for a cow. That key factor is the annual cost to run a cow on a ranch for a year.  Annual cow costs can vary greatly from ranch to ranch.

The top table on the right shows the value of a cow if the producer’s annual cow cost is $500.  If that cow were to raise five calves under constant market prices she would be valued at $2,367.  However, if the annual cow costs of a ranch were $750, that same cow would only be valued at $1,285. 

As you can see, cow costs can make a huge difference.

On the lighter side, I received the following rule of thumb about boys, and some say it also applies to dogs.  “A boy is a boy; two boys are half a boy; three boys are no boys at all.”

Now let’s get back to a serious rule of thumb. A theory I heard just lately is, “Five months’ worth of rented summer pasture should cost a third of what a steer calf is worth at weaning time. If the calf is worth $900, a third of that would be $300, so $300 divided by five months would be $60 per month.” 

Certainly, one of the most common questions I get asked is “What is the going rate for a pasture lease?”

The animal unit month (AUM) value calculator on the Wyoming Ranch Tools website can help answer this question and examine the rule of thumb. 

In this example, we look at putting pairs on pasture for five months. The user enters in the calf in weight and current market price of the calf. The calculator calculates the out price based on a $0.09 per hundredweight price slide. Based on these numbers, the lease value would be between $177.91 and $269.57, depending on the quality of pasture and the amount of care provided. 

Oftentimes, rules of thumb were developed by a ranch and made sense for that ranch at the time. They do not always transfer to other ranches and do not always stand the test of time. Oftentimes, too many variables change over time that can be dangerous to ignore when following rules of thumb. The calculators on the website are designed to help producers analyze these rules as well as other potential changes on a ranch. 

If you have a rule you would like to share, please e-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Finally, I would like to share my favorite rule so far – “Sign the backs of checks not the fronts.”