A Calendar for Wyoming Agriculture

Written by Jeremiah Vardiman

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.