Extension Master Gardeners Make a Difference with a Certified Monarch Waystation

In 2017, the Monarch Joint Venture organization reported that the iconic monarch butterfly has steadily declined by approximately 90% over the last 20 years. Warren County Extension Master Gardeners wanted to make a difference so they designed and installed a certified Monarch Waystation to provide habitat and to help increase the population of monarch butterflies.  A monarch waystation is a garden that includes milkweed plants which serve as the host plant for the monarch butterfly and a variety of nectar plants that the adult butterfly can use as a nectar source. This garden was situated on the Warren County Extension Office grounds to serve as an educational demonstration plot  so the general public would be encouraged to plant more native and pollinator friendly plants in their home garden and landscape.

A Monarch Waystation committee was formed to assist with the installation and timeline for the project. Committee      members worked closely with the agent throughout the 2020 – 2021 year to plan the certified Monarch Waystation. The committee secured a $1500.00 grant from the Warren County Soil Conservation District as well as other community donations. Other committee members contributed by checking and securing material costs and marketing for the project.

Extension Master Gardeners Interns from the virtual 2020  Master Gardener class were given the task of submitting      garden proposals for the future design of the Monarch Waystation. Completed proposals were reviewed by the     committee at the end of January 2021 and the final design was selected. The final design consisted of a combination of multiple designs submitted from the Master Gardener Interns with several native plants arranged in seven 4×8 feet raised beds. 

Warren County Extension Master Gardeners and Interns worked diligently together throughout the spring 2021 season to construct the Monarch Waystation gardens. Volunteers worked on different parts of the project to build the raised bed garden frames, add soil media components to the beds, plant hundreds of pollinator friendly plants, install the water feature and small bubblers for water sources, mulch plants, and water throughout the week. Visit the Warren County Extension Office website at www.warrencountyextension.com/monarch-waystation to see the entire process from start to finish. 

To highlight their efforts, Warren County Extension Master Gardeners received recognition through local media outlets. Their story was featured on WBKO-TV Channel 13, Spectrum News, and in the Bowling Green Daily Times newspaper.    Another TV segment appeared on the Extension Farm and Home Show during National Pollinator Week.

Warren County Extension Master Gardeners have also registered and certified their waystation through Monarch Watch which is the non-profit organization that manages the waystation. By registering their waystation, Warren County Extension Master Gardeners are supporting monarch conservation efforts and the preservation of the monarch      butterfly.

Master Gardeners have donated a total of 218 volunteer hours to the certified Monarch Waystation. According to the National Independent Sector, the value of volunteer time for the state of Kentucky is $23.10 per hour for 2020. If you multiply the hours donated by the hourly rate, Warren County Extension Master Gardeners have given a total of $5,035.80 to the Warren County community.  Plans are currently being made to install other features for the Monarch Waystation in the fall 2021 season.

Garden Spiders in Kentucky

If you have walked through the garden lately, you may have noticed several spiders. Now for some people, the thought of a spider makes them want to jump out of their shoes! But interestingly enough, spiders play an important role in a healthy ecosystem and there are benefits to having them in the garden. To help explain more about spiders, I called up Dr. Ric Bessin, University of Kentucky Extension Entomologist to discuss more about the specific types of spiders found in Kentucky. I was amazed to learn about all the different types of spiders and the benefits that they can offer in our environment! So, make sure to stay right here on the Sunshine Gardening Podcast to hear the full interview!  

Introduction

  • Spiders are known as “arachnids,” and they all have 8 legs, 2 body parts (cephalothorax and abdomen), and no antennae.  
  • Arachnids also have fang-like mouthparts called “chelicerae” which insects do not have.  Insects and arachnids both belong to the same Phylum (Arthropoda), but insects are not arachnids, and arachnids are not insects.
  • Spiders can be distinguished from other arachnids in Kentucky by the connection between the abdomen and the cephalothorax.  In spiders, the connection between the cephalothorax and the abdomen is a narrow stalk.  In other Kentucky arachnids, the connection between the two body regions is broad, so that the distinction between the cephalothorax and abdomen is not obvious.

(Newton & Townsend, 2010)

There are many different types of spiders found in Kentucky. Here are a few types mentioned in this podcast episode.

Types of Spiders

Wolf spiders

Size: Wolf spiders range in size from tiny (the size of a pencil eraser) to about the size of a U.S. silver dollar, with legs outstretched 
Color: There are many species of wolf spiders in Kentucky, but most are dark or light brown, usually with contrasting spots or stripes. 
Features: Wolf spiders are fast-moving and they are typically seen running on the ground. They are not web builders. 
Notes: Wolf spiders often wander into homes. Because they are brown in color, wolf spiders are often mistaken for brown recluses. Like most Kentucky spiders, the bites of wolf spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals. Wolf spiders are among the most common kinds of spiders in Kentucky.

(Newton & Townsend, 2010)

Funnel web/grass web spiders

Size: About the size of a U.S. quarter, with legs outstretched.
Color: Brown with prominent longitudinal gray or tan stripes. 
Features: Prominent hind spinnerets: these are two, small, finger-like projections on the end of the grass spider’s abdomen (used to spin the web). Many other spiders have spinnerets, but they are very large and distinctive in grass spiders. 
Notes: Grass spiders are very common in Kentucky lawns where they build large, funnel-shaped webs. They also occasionally wander into homes. Because they are brown and of a similar size, grass spiders are often mistaken for brown recluses. Like most Kentucky spiders, though, the bites of grass spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals.

(Newton, Townsend, 2010)

Fishing spiders

Size: A little larger than a U.S. silver dollar, with legs outstretched.
Color: Brown with contrasting, darker brown patterns. 
Features: Very large brown spiders; sometimes seen running on the ground or sitting motionless on tree trunks. 
Notes: Fishing spiders are common near streams and wooded areas in Kentucky, and they sometimes wander into nearby homes. They are among the largest spiders in our state, but they are not considered dangerous. Like most Kentucky spiders, the bites of fishing spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals. They are sometimes mistaken for brown recluse spiders, but adult brown recluses are smaller and lack the fishing spider’s distinct dark brown patterning.

(Newton & Townsend, 2010)

Jumping spiders

Size: Typical jumping spiders are about the size of a U.S. dime, with legs outstretched. 
Color: There are many species of jumping spiders in Kentucky. Many are gray or black, while some are vividly colored. 
Features: Jumping spiders have distinctive, large eyes and a “flat faced” look. They are characterized by quick, herky-jerky motions and they do not build webs. 
Notes: Jumping spiders are common on the outsides of homes and buildings and they often wander into homes. Because some are brown in color, jumping spiders are sometimes mistaken for brown recluses. Like most Kentucky spiders, though, the bites of jumping spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals.

(Newton, Townsend, 2010)

Crab spiders

Size: Typical crab spiders are about the size of a U.S. nickel, with legs outstretched. 
Color: There are many species of crab spiders in Kentucky. Some are brown or tan, but most common species are bright white or vivid “neon” green or yellow. 
Features: Crab spiders are low and flat and their front two pairs of legs are very long. Crab spiders are not web builders. 
Notes: Crab spiders are very common in Kentucky flowers (where they hunt for bees), but they sometimes wander into homes. Because some crab spiders are brown in color, they are occasionally mistaken for brown recluses. Like most Kentucky spiders, the bites of crab spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals.

(Newton & Townsend, 2010)

Orb web spiders

Size: Orb weavers range in size from tiny (the size of a pencil eraser) to a little larger than a U.S. silver dollar, with legs outstretched. 
Color: There are many species of orb-weaver spiders in Kentucky. Some are solid tan or brown, while others are colorful with vivid patterns. 
Features: Orb weavers are distinguished by their webs: no other common Kentucky spiders make organized, circular, grid-like webs. Orb weavers are almost always encountered inside their webs. 
Notes: Orb weavers are commonly found on porches and gardens in Kentucky, especially in late summer. Occasionally, they will wander into a home and build a web in a doorway or windowsill. Some orb weavers are very large, but, like most Kentucky spiders, the bites of orb weavers are harmless except to allergic individuals. The Yellow-and-black Argiope (pictured below, top left), one of the largest spiders in Kentucky, is a type of orb weaver.

(Newton & Townsend, 2010)

Harmful Spiders

There are two Kentucky spiders that can cause harm to humans: the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider. Tan to dark brown, a brown recluse’s abdomen and legs are uniformly colored with no stripes, bands, or mottling. The legs are long and thin and lack conspicuous spines. They have a dark violin-shaped mark on their back, with the neck of the violin pointing toward the rear of the spider. This feature is consistent in adult brown recluses, but is less obvious in younger spiders.

Their bites are serious and require immediate medical attention, but brown recluses are timid and unlikely to bite unless handled. These spiders are common in all areas of Kentucky. They tend to occur in hidden locations indoors and outdoors, such as piles of cardboard or paper, stacks of cut wood and wall-voids of buildings.

Black widow spiders are also common throughout the state. The female black widow is about a half-inch long and is glossy black with a variable number of red markings on the top and/or bottom of her abdomen. Adult males smaller and are similar in color, but with a few added white markings. Juveniles are highly variable. Their bites are very serious and require immediate medical attention, but the spider is timid and unlikely to bite unless handled. They tend to hide out in concealed outdoor locations such as piles of rocks or firewood and dark corners of garages and out-buildings. Females are common; males are very rarely encountered.

If interested in learning more information about spiders found in Kentucky, check out the Critter files that are posted on the University of Kentucky Extension website. Find the link to these files posted below in the references section. Field guides can also be a useful tool to keep on hand.

I hope that you enjoyed our discussion today with Dr. Ric Bessin on Garden Spiders in Kentucky! A big thank you to Dr. Ric Bessin for being our guest!

Dr. Ric Bessin, University of Kentucky Extension Entomologist

Thanks for listening to the Sunshine Gardening Podcast! As always gardeners, keep digging into gardening and remember to add a little sunshine!

References:

Newton, B. & Townsend, L. (2010, January). Urban spider chart. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/spider-chart#widow.

Bessin, R. & Newton, B. (2016, May 18). Kentucky Critter Files. University of Kentucky Department of Entomology. http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CritterFiles/casefile/casefile.htm.  

Using Wheat for Grazing

Source: Jimmy Henning, Chris Teutsch, Ray Smith, UK Extension Forage Specialists and Tim Phillips, UK Plant Breeding and Genetics

It may surprise you that producers use as much as 25% of Kentucky’s wheat crop for forage or cover crops rather than harvesting it for grain. Wheat is a very attractive option to forage and livestock producers because it is winter hardy, planted later in the fall and adapted to most soils in Kentucky.

Livestock can graze wheat as forage in the fall and spring. The crop performs best as a forage on ground that is limed to a pH of at least 6.4 or higher and fertilized according to soil test recommendations. If you plan to graze the wheat, splitting the nitrogen application between fall and spring will increase total forage production. Make the fall application before seeding and a late winter/early spring application to stimulate early spring growth.

If you plan to harvest wheat for a stored forage such as hay, baleage or silage, soil test each year and fertilize based on test results. Wheat harvest will remove nutrients from the soil.

If you plan to have livestock graze wheat in the fall, plant it in September or as early as your crop rotation and soil moisture allow. Be aware that this early planted wheat is at a greater risk for aphids, which can transmit barley yellow dwarf virus. Since the wheat is grazed by livestock when it is in a vegetative state, it should be protected from Hessian fly damage if only used for grazing.           

Plant wheat used for stored forages after the Hessian fly free date in October. This date varies each year but most often occurs by Oct. 15. Plant wheat two to 2.5 bushels per acre and 1 to 2 inches deep using a no-till drill into crop stubble or by broadcasting seed and lightly discing the ground to get the seeds at the proper soil depth.

Wait to turn livestock into wheat pastures until the plants are well established and at least 6 to 8 inches tall. Monitor fields for wetness and trampling of plants by the livestock. This is especially a concern during spring grazing. Only allow livestock to graze plants to 3 to 4 inches and allow the forage to recover to 6 to 8 inches long before grazing again.  Small grains fit well into rotational grazing systems as they recover and increase production similar to pasture grasses.

If you still want to get a grain crop from the wheat, only allow livestock to graze it lightly in the early spring. Do not graze wheat after plants reach the Feekes 6 growth stage, which is when the first node is visible above the soil surface and at the beginning of stem elongation. Grazing after this stage removes the growing point and prevents the seed heads from developing.  

For the best quality stored forages, harvest the crop at the boot to early head stage. Early cut wheat will ensile easier because it contains higher amounts of fermentable carbohydrates and forms denser bales. Feed early cut wheat to livestock with high nutrient needs like calves or lactating cows.

Nitrate poisoning is very unlikely under normal plant growth and weather conditions. However, periods of cool, cloudy weather, hail damage, frost and drought can cause nitrates to accumulate in wheat. The ensiling process removes about 50% of nitrates and reduces toxicity risk.

More information on using wheat for forage is available in the University of Kentucky publication AGR 263: Growing Wheat for Forage. It is available online at https://bit.ly/3eK5Z9x or by contacting the Warren County office of the UK Cooperative Extension Service.

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

2021 Annual Flower Garden Trial

The Warren County Extension Master Gardeners planted 20 new cultivars of annual flowers in May for the University of Kentucky Flower Trial Program. The University of Kentucky (UK) flower trial is a state-wide cooperative effort with the Master Gardener program to help evaluate performance of new flowering bedding plant cultivars in Kentucky. The main trial garden is located at the UK Arboretum in Lexington which contains 35 bedding plant cultivars.

Angelonia “Aria Purple”

Warren County is a trial site along with other counties including  Barren, Boyle, Breckinridge, Christian, Daviess, Hardin, Hopkins, Marshall, Mason, Mercer, Pulaski, and Washington.

The goal of the trial garden is to provide a fair evaluation of the garden performance for each flowering plant species and cultivar included.  To achieve this goal, it is necessary to use uniform cultural practices across the garden and to minimize environmental effects.

Pentas “Butterfly Red”

Extension Master Gardeners maintain the demonstration plots by watering and weeding the beds each week. Twice each month from mid-May until October, they rank the flowers on a scale of 0 to 5 with “5” being the best and “0” being the poorest.  

Lantana “Havana Sunset”

Here are some of the annual flower varieties that you will find in the 2021 growing season.

Bidens “Bidy Gonzales Top”
Canna “Cannaova Yellow”
Canna “Cannaova Red”
Lantana “Havana Harvest Moon”
Pentas “Butterly Light Lavender”
Catharanthus “Tattoo Papaya”
Catharanthus “Tattoo Cherry”

If interested in  viewing the annual flower garden trials, please feel free to stop by the Warren County Extension Office located at 5162 Russellville Road in Bowling Green, KY.

Buy Kentucky Fresh from Local Farmer’s Markets

Local foods tastes better. Fruits and vegetables grown  locally and sold at the farmer’s market spend more time maturing in the field, and less time on the road. They aren’t picked green and sprayed with hormones to ripen. They are naturally at their peak flavor and nutrition, and ready for your family to enjoy.

Tips for shopping at the farmers’ market

· Mind your budget. Before you go, decide how much you have to spend. Bring along a calculator or paper and pencil to track spending. Don’t buy more that you can store safely and eat or preserve before it spoils.

· Bring the kids and let them help pick out some of the fruits and vegetables. They will learn how to shop wisely and might even get excited about trying new foods.

· Arrive early for best selection. Popular items may sell out fast.

· Shop late for best prices. Some farmers will sell items at a lower price, rather than taking them home. Don’t be afraid to bargain.

· Make a lap around the market before making  purchases.  This will allow you to see which booths have the best quality food for the lowest prices, which vendors accept EBT or nutrition program benefits, or offer promotions such as Double Dollars.

· Keep an open mind. Produce sold at the farmers’ market is usually grown for taste, not appearance. It may look imperfect, but taste great.

· Ask for seconds. Sometimes farmers have good     produce that didn’t look good enough to display. Ask if they have seconds that they will sell at a reduced rate.

· Buy fruits and vegetables in season. That’s when they’re at the height of quality and lowest price. See below for information for when produce is in season.

· Ask questions. Farmers are usually happy to answer questions about their produce, and they often have good cooking and serving suggestions.

· Take notes to help you remember which vendors have good prices on high quality food. Next time you visit the market, refer to your notes.

· Buy now, enjoy later. If possible, buy large amounts of produce in season and freeze, can or dry it for the winter. Contact your county Extension office for   classes in food preservation.

Bowling Green Farmers’ Markets

Summer Produce Items

Other Available Items

Flies and Pink Eye a Problem Again This Summer

By Ric Bessin and Jonathan L. Larson; UK Entomology Extension Specialists

Face flies are annoying pests for cattle that can impact the animal’s welfare by just constantly molesting the eyes of our animals. These flies are looking to feed on tears but will also feed on saliva, blood, and nasal discharges. They do this by using their unique mouthparts, which resemble sponges and help them consume their liquid foods. Recently, county Extension agents informed us that they have received a large influx of questions regarding the connection between these pests and their transmission of pink eye.

Identification & Life cycle

Face flies look very similar to house flies in shape and coloration but are slightly larger than their close relative. They are dark grey with four black stripes that run down their back. As with a lot of flies, the maggots develop in fecal material. Specifically, face fly maggots develop in freshly deposited cattle manure. The maggots will hatch from eggs and then go through four stages of development over 15 to 25 days, depending on the weather. During the summer, face flies are not often found in structures, but the adults do overwinter in barns or attics and will become active again in the spring to start the next generation of flies.

Figure 1: Face flies are in the same genus as house flies and look very similar to that species. They are slightly larger in comparison and are less common in structures in the summer. Adults can be found resting on plants and fences when not on animals. (Photo: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org)

Pink Eye Transmission

High numbers of face flies are associated with higher rates of pink eye issues. The feeding style of the flies causes more avenues of introduction by scratching the eyes, and the flies have been demonstrated to carry the causative agent of pink eye as well. Some estimates put the cost of pink eye in cattle at about $150 million annually.

Figure 2: Face flies feed on tears they induce from the eyes of cattle. The feeding style of the flies leads to irritation and can open the eyes up to infection by pathogens, in particular pink eye. (Photo: Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, Bugwood.org)

Management Must Be Multifaceted

Fly control is essential, but can be difficult as face flies are only on the animal for a small percentage of the time. Therefore, addressing the egg and larval stages of the fly, as well as the adults, is most effective. A moderate to heavy fly infestation is when there are 10 to 20 flies per animal during the middle of the day. A single fly-control program will not work on every farm, so it often takes multiple tactics of control to achieve good results.

Fly tags (mid- to late May, through mid-September-October)(one ear tag or session or two sessions; be sure to use the number of tags required by the manufacturer), insecticide pour-ons, back rubbers (no 2 diesel), dust bags and knock-down sprays (Bachpack or ATV) are helpful in reducing the number of adult face flies on your animals. Fly traps in barns can also be helpful in reducing the number of flies. Feed additives with insect growth regulators are available that target the maggots that are laid in the manure. Encouraging dung beetles, which break down the manure pat, will also decrease egg survival.

Face flies can develop resistance to pesticides over time, so switching the drug mode of action of pesticides used every year is important. For example, if pyrethrins are used one year, then organophosphates should be used the following year. Waiting until the start of fly season to apply fly tags and removing the old fly tags in the fall also decreases the development of resistance. It is also extremely important to follow the safety precautions recommended by the manufacturer, as these insecticides can be toxic to people if handled improperly.

Appropriate grazing, along with clipping pastures will prevent seed-head development, reducing the irritation to the eyes of cattle, as well as reducing the resting areas for the flies. Clipping pastures to a low stubble height in May just after the seed heads emerge and again in mid-summer when weeds appear is recommended. Shaded areas need to be available to decrease the ultraviolet (UV) exposure and, in Herefords, breeding for pigmented eyelids has been successful, as this is a heritable trait. A good management program, including an appropriate vaccination program [especially infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) and bovine viral diarrhea (BVD)] and having good quality nutrition and minerals available at all times, will improve the overall condition of the cattle and decrease the incidence of this disease. Overhead hay feeders should be lowered and round bales should be rolled out. Ensuring adequate bunk space will decrease direct contact between the animals. Animals that develop pinkeye should be isolated if possible.

Late summer is the best time to establish cool-season forages

Source: Jimmy Henning, Extension Forage Specialist

The period from late summer into early fall is the best time to establish common cool-season grasses such as orchardgrass, tall fescue, timothy and bluegrass for pasture or hay in Kentucky. These four grasses make up 95 percent of our pasture acreage.

Many years of research have shown this period provides the best chance for successful establishment. Mother Nature has a hand in this because seed produced in late spring remains dormant until late summer, and early fall rainfall provides the moisture necessary for the seed to germinate. To increase your success rate, remember these four points:

First, address soil fertility needs by applying lime and fertilizer based on a current soil test. Inadequate levels of phosphorous, potassium or limestone will limit the success of late-summer seedings. For pure grass stands, apply nitrogen at the rate of 40 to 60 pounds per acre.

Second, control competition. Late-summer seedings most often fail from competition and lack of water. When you control existing vegetation with herbicides or tillage, the emerging seedlings will have access to whatever water and nutrients are present without having to compete with weeds.

To maximize the success of seedings, use a burn-down herbicide ahead of planting to kill annual weeds. Translocated herbicides can be used where labeled to kill or suppress perennials such as johnsongrass.

Remember to wait two to three weeks after spraying translocated herbicides before you plant in no-till situations. This will allow time for killed weeds to dry out and for residual effects of the herbicide to decay.

Third, select high quality seed of an adapted variety. Planting high quality seed is an essential step toward establishment and longevity of a pasture. These seeds have high percentages of germination, low percentages of weed seed and freedom from noxious weed seed.

Use varieties that have a proven track record of performance in Kentucky. The University of Kentucky conducts extensive research on varietal performance, which can be found on the UK Forages website, https://forages.ca.uky.edu/variety_trials. Here you will find all of the current results for the major forage crops in Kentucky, including cool-season grasses.

Look for varieties that have performed well across several test years and locations. These varieties will have improved yield, quality, persistence, disease resistance or other positive traits.

If you’re uncertain about a variety’s adaptation and performance, you can obtain information on the leading performers in the UK forage variety tests by contacting me at the Warren County Cooperative Extension Service.

Fourth, seed at the proper time and depth. Seed legumes and grasses before mid-September. Grasses are less sensitive to later seeding than legumes. The major cool-season grasses will not do well if you simply broadcast them onto existing overgrazed or mowed pastures. Forages should be seeded no deeper than one-fourth to one-half inch.

Late-summer alfalfa seedings are susceptible to sclerotinia stem and crown rot. If sclerotinia has been active in your area or farm, strongly consider waiting until next spring to seed.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

Estate Transfer under the Proposed American Families Plan

Author: Jerry Pierce

On May 28th the Biden Administration released a general explanation of its proposed tax changes. This includes an explanation of proposed changes in the American Families Plan that would tax transfers of appreciated property by gift or upon death, tax capital income for high-income earners at ordinary rates, increase the top marginal income tax rate, and apply the 3.8-percent Medicare tax to all trade or business income of high-income taxpayers, including transfer of assets.

Transfers of appreciated property by gift or at death will be treated as “realization events” which require recognition of gain. That is, the transfer will be taxed like a sale. The gain is taxable to the one making the gift or to the estate of the one who dies (decedent). The proposal would apply to gifts and deaths beginning in 2022.

There would be no adjustment or step-up in basis to fair market value at death when calculating the transfer tax. The purpose is to tax the appreciation or gain in value of assets that have not been taxed before. Gain is calculated by subtracting the adjusted basis from fair market value at the time of gift or death as if the property were sold. Adjusted basis is the original cost plus improvements minus depreciation. See the article Proposed Gift and Estate Tax Changes by Laura Powers in last month’s Economic and Policy Update.

The transfer tax is not an estate tax, but a new tax on the unrealized gain at the time of death or gifting. Both transfer tax and estate/gift tax will apply to property passed by death or gifting.

Current state and Federal estate taxes continue to apply and would not be changed by the proposal. Basis in assets would continue to be automatically adjusted or “stepped-up” to fair market value at death before estate taxes are calculated. The transfer tax would be deductible on the decedent’s estate tax return.

Exclusions Under the Proposal

Property transferred by a decedent to a U.S. spouse or to charity would not be subject to the transfer tax, but it would not receive step-up in basis. The basis of the decedent would be gifted or “carried over” to the one receiving the property. Charitable deductions would not be valued at fair market value but at the decedent’s basis in the property.

There is a $1 million per person exclusion from recognition of gains on property transferred by gift or held at death. The exclusion is portable to a surviving spouse. Any portion not used by one spouse can be used by the surviving spouse, making the exclusion effectively up to $2 million per married couple.

The current $250,000 per person exclusion for gain on a principal residence still applies to all residences. The exclusion remains portable to the decedent’s surviving spouse, effectively making it $500,000 per couple.

Gains on tangible personal property such as household furnishings and personal effects (excluding collectibles) are exempt.

Example 1

Farmer and spouse die in 2022. Fair market value of the estate is determined to be $5 million. Basis in assets totals $2 million. Gain is $3 million. Gain on the residence is under $500,000. After subtracting the couple’s $2 million personal exclusion the amount subject to transfer tax is $1 million.

Example 2

Same circumstances except that the farmer and spouse gift the property in 2022. The amount subject to transfer tax is the same: $1 million.

Basis for the Person Receiving the Property

The recipient receives a step-up to fair market basis in property received by inheritance. In Example 1 the recipient basis in the property is $5 million.

The total basis of property acquired by gift would have two components. The recipient would receive the donor’s basis for the property covered by the $1 million per person exclusion. The amount of property not covered by the personal exclusion would receive a step-up to fair market basis. In other words, the amount of the gift that is taxable to the donor gets the stepped-up in basis for the recipient. The recipient basis in property gifted in Example 2 would be $3 million: fair market value in the amount taxed ($1 million) plus mom and dad’s original basis in the amount not covered by their personal exclusion ($2 million).

Payment of the Tax

The proposal does not provide instructions for tax calculations, but it does give some clues. The following example, based on the examples above, provides a rough estimate of the tax due on the transfer tax based on the information given in the proposal. In both examples above, the taxpayers are assumed to file as married filing jointly because 1) both spouses in Example 1 died in the same year or 2) spouses were assumed to be living at the time of the gift in Example 2. No other income is included in the calculations.

Example 3

The first $1 million of the gift would be taxed at capital gains rates, resulting in about $163,170 in Federal tax, plus $38,000 in additional Medicare tax. The remaining $2 million would be subject to ordinary tax rates with the changes in top rate and bracket and the additional Medicare tax. The total tax due on the $3 million would be about $840,595.

Payment of the tax for certain family-owned and operated farms and businesses would not be due until the business is sold or ceases to be family-owned and operated. No definition of family has been given. The authors’ original definition of family is those related by lineal descent: from grandparent to parent to children.

The proposal provides for a 15-year fixed-rate payment plan for the tax on appreciated assets transferred at death, other than liquid assets. Family-owned and operated farms and businesses electing to defer payment do not qualify.

The Internal Revenue Service is authorized to require security when reasonable. That is, the IRS may take out a lien on the property to secure the tax-deferred or the 15-year tax payment.

Other Provisions that may Affect Estate Transfer

The top marginal individual ordinary income tax rate increases from 37 to 39.6 percent.

The income threshold for reaching the top income tax bracket is lowered. For example, the top bracket for married filing jointly would drop from the current $628,300 to $509,300. For those filing as single, the top bracket falls from $523,600 to $452,700.

Long-term capital gains and qualified dividends of taxpayers with adjusted gross income of more than $1 million would be taxed at ordinary income tax rates for the amount that exceeds $1 million. Current capital gains rates range from zero to 20 percent. This would include the tax on transfer of assets by death or gift. Effective April 28, 2021.

Apply the additional 3.8 percent Medicare tax to all trade or business income of high-income taxpayers with adjusted gross income of $400,000 or more, including transfer of assets.

Repeal the deferral of gain from like-kind exchanges (Section 1031) for amounts exceeding $500,000. Applies to exchanges completed in tax years beginning after December 31, 2021.

Effects on Kentucky Farms

Farm data from farms participating in the Kentucky Farm Business Management program were examined to identify balance sheets with basis in assets, especially basis in land. A total of 320 farms in the program were identified. Of those, 160 (50%) appear to have a taxable amount after the exclusion. That is, subtracting adjusted basis from fair market value listed on the balance sheet resulted in a gain greater than the $1 million personal exclusion for the owner or the $2 million exclusion for the owner and spouse. Fair market value averaged $8.4 million. The taxable amount ranged from $14,000 to nearly $28 million. The average amount subject to the transfer tax was about $3.08 million.

These are commercial-sized, family-operated Kentucky crop and livestock farms. The average farm operates 2,044 acres. The farmer owns 418 acres (20 percent) and rents the other 1,626. The average Schedule F Income reported was $65,514.

The typical Kentucky family farm uses a large portion of rented farmland. The average KFBM farm owns 27% of the land used for production and rents the other 73%. The transfer tax will apply to individual landlords as well. The family farming operation will be adversely affected if it is unable to retain use of this rented land because the transfer tax prompts its sale. 

Some landlords are family members that are no longer actively involved in the farm. Depending on how broadly family-owned and family-operated are defined the family farm exclusion may not apply to these landowners at their deaths.

There are other specific provisions in the American Families Plan that will impact gift and estate transfers and will change or limit the way estate planning may be carried out. For more information see:

General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2022 Revenue Proposals

“Green Book” Details President’s Tax Reform Proposals by Kristine A. Tidgren

Tips for sharing the road with farm equipment!

Wheat harvest and soybean planting is in full swing!  So if you travel roadways in an agricultural area, please be mindful that farmers often need to move equipment from one field to another, but sometimes those transitions require maneuvering large machinery down or across public roads. With more than 78,000 miles of public roads and 77,000 farms found in the Commonwealth, the opportunity for on-the-road encounters with farm equipment is quite realistic for many drivers.

It is completely legal for farm machinery to drive on Kentucky roadways, but when these slow-moving farm vehicles enter areas normally traversed by fast-moving cars and trucks, accidents sometimes occur. A vehicle traveling at highway speeds can cover hundreds of yards in just a matter of seconds and, especially at this time of year, unexpectedly come bumper-to-bumper with a large piece of farm equipment moving down the road at a much slower pace.

Every year there are farm vehicle collisions and The state police labeled the majority of those accidents the result of “inattention” – further proof that increased caution during harvest/planting season is needed to prevent tragedy.

In an effort to help drivers avoid accidents with slow-moving farm equipment this spring, Kentucky Farm Bureau offers the following suggestions for both motorists and farmers. While each roadway encounter is unique, a general sense of awareness and caution goes a long way in keeping everyone safe and preventing tragedy.

Tips for motorists:

  • Slow down and pay attention to the road. Radios, cell phones and even passengers can lead to distracted drivers and slower reaction times. Focus on the traffic in front of the vehicle and stay within the posted speed limits, especially when traveling through areas where agriculture is prominent.
  • Don’t assume the farmer knows you are there. While most farmers check frequently for vehicles approaching from behind them, their focus must remain on the road ahead. Drive far enough behind farm equipment to ensure farmers can see the vehicle in their mirrors. Also remember that farm machinery is very loud and may prevent the operator from hearing another vehicle’s approach.
  • Keep your distance when following farm equipment. The triangular slow-moving vehicle emblem displayed on the back of farm equipment signifies that the machinery will not be traveling at high speeds and maneuverability is limited. Stay back and don’t tailgate. Slow-Moving Vehicle (SMV) signs are orange or red triangular signs that are placed on the back of equipment. This is your warning to slow down. Did you know it takes just five seconds for a car traveling 55 miles per hour to close a distance the size of a football field on a tractor or combine? Stay back and stay alert!

If farm equipment pulls to the right side of the road, it does not necessarily mean it is making room for other vehicles to pass. It is also possible that the farmer is slowing down and drifting right to gain extra room for a wide left turn.

  • Use extreme caution when passing. If you cannot clearly see what lies ahead of both your vehicle and the equipment you intend to get ahead of, do not pass. Never pass farm equipment when approaching a hill or curve, and do not attempt to pass when within 100 yards of an intersection, bridge, railroad crossing or tunnel.
  • Exhibit patience and slow down as soon as you spot a piece of farm equipment. Those tractors don’t want to be on the road any more than you want them to be.  You are not the only one eager to get the farm equipment off the road and out of the way. Farmers must move their machinery carefully along roadways and have lower maximum speeds by which they can travel. When traveling behind these slow-moving vehicles, patiently wait for the operator to find an appropriate time to let you pass. Don’t assume this can be done at any time. The farmer must survey the shoulder of the road for an area that is not soft, wet or steep and can support the weight of the equipment without causing it to tip.

Tips for farmers:

  • Make sure the slow-moving vehicle sign is visible. This emblem is used to alert others of the equipment’s speed and maneuverability capabilities, but doesn’t help if it is not visible. Mount it as high and as far left as possible. Keep the sign clean and replace it if it is no longer reflective.
  • Never post a slow-moving vehicle sign on a mailbox or fence post. Misuse of the slow-moving vehicle emblem can confuse motorists and eventually dull their sensitivity to the need to slow down when seeing one on machinery traveling down the road. Slow-moving vehicle signs should only be posted on appropriate equipment.
  • Keep flashing lights on. Use flashing lights on equipment to draw attention to your slow speed.
  • Stay to the right. Keep farm equipment as far to the right edge of the road as safely possible, but stay on the road. Driving with equipment half on and half off the road might encourage a motorist to attempt passing before it is safe.
  • Make intentions to turn obvious. Collisions between farm equipment and other vehicles on the road commonly occur when a slow-moving vehicle is attempting to turn. Use turn signals or the appropriate hand signal to indicate turns. If the operator is using flashing lights, switch those off when approaching a turn so that the trailing vehicles know more clearly where the equipment is headed.
  • Avoid encouraging a motorist to pass. While it might seem courteous to wave someone ahead of a slow-moving piece of equipment, the driver of the trailing vehicle must ultimately determine when he or she can safely pass.
  • When it is safe, pull over to allow traffic to pass. The bulky frames and slow speeds of farm equipment often causes backups in traffic. As shoulder conditions allow, find a place to safely pull over and allow trailing vehicles to pass.

Working together and remembering these safety tips will help everyone get home safely!

Upcoming Educational Opportunities for Beekeepers

Source: Phil Craft, Kentucky State Beekeepers Association

Bees are an important part of agriculture, because they provide the pollination required to produce many crops. Beekeeping not only helps ensure that your crops get pollinated, but it can be a very rewarding experience, not to mention producing some very tasty honey. The Kentucky State Beekeepers Association has many upcoming educational programs to help you learn more about beekeeping and improve the health of your hives.

With funding from Kentucky State University, Phil Craft is offering an online series called Intermediate Beekeeping. Craft is a retired Kentucky state apiarist and former beekeeping specialist for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

This series is designed to help beekeepers better manage their honeybee colonies. The program consists of eight live virtual classes and a Q&A session. Sessions occur on various Tuesday nights throughout 2021 at 7 p.m. ET.

Upcoming sessions include:

June 1: Controlling varroa

June 22: Mid-summer hive management, honey dearth issues, robbing precautions, waxing moths and varroa summer treatment

July 6: Removing honey from the hive, processing the honey and selling it in Kentucky

July 27: Developing and following a varroa management plan

Aug. 24: Fall hive management, helping your bees prepare for winter

Sept. 21: Other IPM techniques to control varroa mites

Oct. 12: Phil Craft and other guest panelists TBA

To participate in the series, you must be a member of the Kentucky State Beekeepers Association. The cost to join is $15 per year, and you do not have to reside in Kentucky to be a member of the organization.

More information about these educational programs of the Kentucky State Beekeepers Association is available online at https://bit.ly/2QoJ4qE. More information on ways bees can improve your agricultural operation is available at the Warren County Office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.