top of page

March Newsletter

Tree of the Month

Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)

This showy ornamental of south-eastern origin is host to large bright flowers, dangling seed pods, and giant heart shaped leaves that easily catch the eye of passer-byers. Growing to heights of 40-60 feet it is adaptable to a variety of soils and a wide range of moisture conditions, including some flooding and extremely hot, dry conditions. Flowers can be expected to grow approximately 7 years after planting, and they are a trumpet-shaped white showy and fragrant flower that blooms in May and June which are frequented by hummingbirds and bees. First cultivated in 1754, the wood was used for fence posts and railroad ties because of its resistance to rot and the tree’s fast growth rate. Common names for this tree are many and colorful—including cigar tree, Indian bean tree, Catawba, caterpillar tree, hardy catalpa and western catalpa. However beautiful, there are no know uses for the bean pods, nor do they have any known nutritional value as livestock forage, but they are a delightful addition to any landscape and a great addition for pollinators.

We will be featuring a handful of these ornamental trees in our annual tree sale but if you would like to place an order do not hesitate to call us at the office!

Get to know our Tree of the Month, the Northern Catalpa, a bit more with this great video!


Flora Facts

Common hops (Humulus Lupulus) grow as a vine in low lying wooded areas blooming from June through September. Native Americans and settlers steeped the fruit to make a liquid that was ingested to treat fevers and intestinal pain, as well as making bread rise and used the plant in the brewing of beer. There are only 4 different varieties with all but one, the European variety, being native to North America.

Curious to know more about Wild Hops? Check out this video showcasing some of the medicinal purposes of this plant and how to use them!


Need an idea for those last-minute guests? This North Dakota favorite from the NDSU Windbreak Cookbook is bound to be a hit at the coffee table!


½ c. warm water (100-110 F)

1 pkg. dry yeast

½ c. lukewarm milk

1/3 c. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/3 c. shortening

1 egg, beaten

3 to 3½ c. sifted flour

2 to 3 c. peeled and pitted plums, depending on personal preference

4 Tbsp. butter or margarine

2 greased round pie plates


2 eggs, beaten

2/3 c. heavy cream

¼ c. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

In mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk and 2 cups flour to make a very soft dough. Beat with spoon until smooth. Set aside to rise until frothy, approximately 30 minutes. Cream shortening and sugar, add beaten egg and salt; add to yeast mixture and add the remaining flour. Batter should not be too stiff. Pat dough into pie plates about ½ inch deep and up sides. Let rise about one hour. When ready, place peeled, pitted plums cut into halves in overlapping circles on dough. Melt butter or margarine and drizzle over plums. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. While this is baking, in a bowl, combine heavy cream, sugar, egg and vanilla, using a whisk to beat together well. Pour custard over plums and bake 10 minutes more until custard is set.

Makes 16 servings. Each serving has 220 calories, 12 g fat, 4 g protein, 25 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber and 170 mg sodium.


This months School feature is all about Bees!

Our feature book Bee is from the Garden Minibeasts series.

When you are in your garden, there are minibeasts all around you. But do you notice them? Explore their hidden world in the Garden Minibeasts Up Close set. In Bee, you will find some amazing facts, such as:

  • What a queen bee does

  • How bees make honey

  • How bees communicate with each other


It's been a busy month at the district! We're looking to hire seasonal help and have several educational funding opportunities available!!

Conservation Corner

Submitted by Andy Wertz, NRCS District Conservationist ​ Grazing Management Strategies ​ Has the thought of developing a grazing management plan ever come to mind? If you’re concerned about plant health and forage production for your livestock, then developing a grazing plan is a step in the right direction. Applying grazing management strategies will help improve the overall grassland health and ensure the long-term function of your grazing lands. When implementing a grazing management system, there are four key elements for designing a system: stocking rate, livestock rotation, utilization rate, and plant rest and recovery. ​ Stocking Rate: Stocking rate is defined as the number of animals on a given area of land over a certain period of time. Balancing stocking rate with forage availability is critical and failure to properly stock an operation can lead to over and/or under grazing, neither of which provides favorable outcomes. Overgrazing can lead to significant long-term degradation and an overall reduction in pasture condition and forage production. Determining a proper stocking rate is critical to sustain the long-term viability of your grazing operation. This is a matter of collecting information on overall pasture production and balancing the animal numbers with available forage. Since this is specific to your grazing land, you can request assistance from your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office to help determine stocking rate. ​ Livestock Rotation: Rotation includes managing when you graze, how long you graze, and how long you allow the area that is grazed to rest and recover before the area is grazed again. Livestock tend to graze selectively, choosing their favorite species first and grazing them more frequently while avoiding less desired species. This selective grazing becomes worse when livestock have access to larger areas and are not rotated frequently enough. During the growing season, when a plant is grazed it can begin actively growing again almost immediately. As plants begin to regrow, they place a significant amount of their energy into leaf growth, which can slow down or even halt root growth if too much leaf area is removed. During the time when plants are just starting to regrow, livestock will often heavily target the plants due to their fresh, succulent growth. Grazing this fresh regrowth is extremely detrimental to plants and can cause roots to shrink and can eventually lead to plant death. During new growth, plant leaves can grow enough to be a fresh bite in three days. Grazing plants without providing opportunity for recovery is, by definition, overgrazing and is the primary reason that pasture conditions deteriorate. Animals will overgraze preferred plants repeatedly, while ignoring less desirable plant species. Over time, less favorable plant species, such as less productive grasses and weedy species, can out-compete favored species for water and nutrients. This can cause changes in species composition and a reduction in the long-term productivity and palatability of the pasture. Many livestock operations improve their forage productivity by simply rotating their livestock more frequently and providing previously grazed pastures or paddocks longer rest and recovery periods. Applying this grazing management strategy will help improve pasture condition and productivity and lead to long-term financial gains. ​ Utilization Rate: Utilization rate is a term often used to describe how heavily an area is grazed. Most grazing experts tend to recommend the old standby of “take half, leave half,” meaning when animals are allowed to graze, they should only be allowed to utilize half of the total plant biomass in a pasture. Ideally, every plant would be grazed to reduce its total volume by no more than 50 percent. Grazing more than 50 percent (generally leaving plants shorter than 4 inches) puts a stop to above and below ground plant growth for a period. Plant recovery and overall production is greatly reduced through excessive grazing. If plants are grazed 50 percent or less, root growth is largely unaffected and plant regrowth begins at a rapid pace. Grazing plants short to extract the most amount of forage possible may seem like the right thing to do, but this type of management ultimately reduces the total amount of forage produced on the pasture and can kill preferred forage species and increase the undesirable plants. Lighter levels of use allow livestock to receive a diet balanced for protein and energy that is essential for livestock finishing on pasture. Removing the most possible forage out of each grazing event can be very detrimental. Instead, manage your pastures so that they produce the most possible forage over the course of the growing season. It will put you that much farther ahead in the long run. Keep in mind that utilization rates should vary based upon time of year, type of pasture, forage availability, and overall management goals and expertise. ​ Plant Rest and Recovery Time: After grazing, pastures should rest for at least 30 days during the summer growing season. Warm season grass pastures will require longer rest periods. The length of rest depends on many factors (season, weather, plant species, utilization rate, stocking rate, livestock class), so it will be up to the livestock manager to learn to recognize when plants have fully recovered and can be successfully grazed a second time. NRCS can help you consider your options and provide some helpful advice as you plan your rotations. Longer rest periods of 30+ days allow palatable, tall-statured grasses and legumes the opportunity to recover and increase in abundance. These plants increase in density because their root systems are able to access water and nutrients deeper in the soil profile and out-compete lower producing plants. Pastures improve over time as taller statured forage species increase in abundance while short growing plants and undesirable weeds decrease. ​ The four grazing management strategies are vital components to the long-term productivity and health of your grazing lands. Manage your grazing lands with soil health in mind and allow the soil to function as a dynamic living ecosystem to sustain plant and animal productivity. A well-designed grazing system will provide the proper nutrition for grazing animals, so they have high reproductive performance at the lowest cost. Pasture and soil health, and the land manager’s bottom line are interdependent. ​ Dates to Remember: March 3 – EQIP CIC Application Deadline March 7-9 – SCD Annual Meeting, Bismarck March 13 – EQIP Migratory Bird Resurgence Initiative application deadline March 15 – SCD Board Meeting, 8am, Ellendale March 17 – Application deadline for EQIP and WRE programs with Inflation Reduction Act funds ​ For more information contact the James River Soil Conservation District and Ellendale NRCS office at 349-3653, ext. 3. Our field office is in Ellendale at 51 N. 1st Street. Also, remember to visit the James River Soil Conservation District Facebook page and our websites for more information – and The NRCS is an equal opportunity employer, provider and lender.

bottom of page