MSU Extension Office- Flathead County is proud to provide a variety of resources and programs to valley residents. Below is a highlight of several of the programs that are currently taking place.
Flathead County Hay Producers Ranked Number One!
The Montana Department of Agriculture Noxious Weed Seed Free Forage Program continues to be important to Flathead County hay producers. Flathead County is rated number one in weed free forage production in Montana. The Flathead County agriculture agent inspects over 1,500 acres as a service to 22 producers of weed free hay and straw. This hay is needed by horse owners packing into the back country, riding at horse shows or rodeos and traveling out of state. This program is a preventative measure to reduce the introduction of regional "designated" noxious weeds onto private, county, state and federal lands.
For more information, please feel free to contact Patricia McGlynn, Flathead County AG Agent.
Please feel free to download this informative letter regarding this years Weed Seed Free Program for Flathead County: Weed Seed Free Forage Letter
Sweet Cherry Research Trials 2011-2013
The cherry growers are enthusiastically watching for the results of this research. Funding was obtained for this project from the Montana Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture.
To assist Montana cherry growers identify new varieties to meet market demands for later cherries and larger fruit, MSU Agriculture Extension Agent Pat McGlynn, established a sweet cherry variety research trial. Seven replicated trials around Flathead Lake were established in 2010 in grower’s orchards– one organic and six conventional. Data has been collected on vigor, winter hardiness, bloom and harvest dates, size and flavor. All six test varieties came through with flying colors. Three including Attika, Pine Dale Ruby and Glory appear to be standouts. Full production is expected in 2014 for the first time. Evaluations will be made at that time. Funding was obtained for this project from the Montana Department of Agriculture through the Growth Through Agriculture and the Specialty Crop Block Grant programs.
For more information please see our annual report and grower comments.
Flathead Cherry Research Trial Annual Report
Cold Hardy Grape Research
Cold hardy hybrid wine grapes were planted in 2011 at four locations across western Montana. This three year research project is testing 12 varieties of the newly developed crosses between European vinifera and the native North American grape. Site location has proved to be the most important consideration when establishing a successful vineyard. Grapes prefer a south to southwest slope, well-drained soil, out of the wind and adequate water.
This research grant is in its third year. We have found that grape vines need a weed and grass free area of about 3 feet around the plant the first three years of growth and are very susceptible to herbicide damage. Plants grow best on a south facing slope that is not in a frost pocket. Because of our short growing season, grape clusters should be trimmed to around 12 per plant which allows maximum growth directed to the fruit.
Grape Variety List
The hops trial, located south of Whitefish, is in its fourth year. The project has recently been awarded a second Growth Through Agriculture grant to obtain processing equipment. Hops grow well in the Flathead Valley. The research is being conducted to identify which varieties will best meet the needs of Montana brewers.
Hops Variety List 2013 Hope for Hops Article
2014 Hops in the Flathead Business Journal 2015 Glaceir Hops Ranch Article
Wolfe Harvester Wolfe Harvester in Action
Fruit Tree Research
The Columbia Falls Wildcat Peace Garden located at Columbia Falls Junior High School is hosting a research trial of apple, pear, and plum trees. The three-year study is being conducted to determine the feasibility of a commercial fruit industry and establish production guidelines. Varieties are being monitored for winter hardiness, rate of growth, fruit size, pest problems and production rates.
Fruit Tree Variety List
Small Dark Fruit Research
Small Fruit Variety List 2014 Dark Fruits Article in FBJ
2015 Dark Fruit Trial at FVCC Article 2015 Dark Fruits Spotlight in Flathead Beacon
Flathead Master Gardener Classes
The MSU Master Gardener Course is taught by local Extension Agent, Patricia McGlynn in conjunction with plant professionals, volunteers and MSU Adobe Connect programming. Courses take place annually. Students meet for 16 hours, typically in Janaury. Those who participate receive the Montana Master Gardener Handbook and a binder filled with informative handouts. In level one you will learn about soils and fertility, plant growth and development, growing food from your yard and garden, flowers, trees, shrubs, vines, lawns, composting and much much more. To be certified as a Montana Master Gardener, students are required to pass a final exam and commit to 20 hours of volunteer community service. The 2016 class cost, time and location will be determined this fall. We are currently taking contact information for those who may be interested in taking part in this informative class.
Please take a moment to fill out the form below and return it to our office by mail, fax or email and we'll gladly add you to our contact list. Information and forms are also available under the downloads and links pages of our website.
Master Gardener Registration Form
Master Gardener Level Descriptions
The History of the Master Gardener Program
Private Pesticide Applicator Training and Licensing
Flathead County Extension Office provides training and testing for those consumers who wish to purchase and use restricted chemicals. Private applicators must be licensed prior to purchasing restricted chemicals that would be used on private lands, either owned, rented or leased. Training includes all facets of chemical application including chemical safety, handling, equipment usage, chemical storage, and proper record keeping requirements.
To prepare for the exam required, customers are encouraged to purchase study materials which are available in the Extension Office for $15. Please be sure to contact the Extension Office to make an appointment to take the exam. The exam fee is $50, made payable to the Montana Department of Agriculture, and the license is valid for five years. Licenses can be maintained by obtaining recertification credits at trainings provided by both the Flathead County Extension Office and several of our community partners. For more information or to make an appointment, please contact Patricia McGlynn directly at 758-5554.
Commercial Applicator exam and licensing information can be obtained by contacting Kima Traynham, Montana Department of AG, at 257-9015.
Plant and Insect Identification
Montana State University Schutter Diagnostic Lab works in conjunction with local Extension Offices to provide identification of plants, plant diseases and insect identification. If you have a diseased plant, harmful insect or weed that you need assistance in identifying please contact us. We have several pamphlets on area insects in our downloads file and MSU has numerous free, printable publications at their MSU Publication Store as well for homeowner reference.
If you would like to bring in a sample for us to process please printout and fill in one of the following forms if at all possible.
Plant ID Form Plant Disease Form
Insect ID Form Turf Disease Form