February 13, 2016

Highway Patrol urges safe travels as Memorial Day weekend kicks off summer (AUDIO)

It’s the first holiday weekend to kick off summer, and the Highway Patrol is urging motorists to travel safely and be aware of crowded roads.

Captain Tim Hull with the Missouri Highway Patrol reminds motorists to stay safe during their travels this weekend by being aware of an increase in traffic, particularly in recreational areas and vacation spots such as Lake of the Ozarks, Branson, and amusement parks in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas.

However, he says drivers should expect less traffic around schools.

He recommends folks also check their cars before traveling, since they can overheat and possibly break down. Hull says the Patrol often assists travelers who are stranded on the side of the road because of broken belts or hoses. “Hoses that have broken, or belts that have been broken; all those are good things to check before you take off on your trip,” Hull said.

Hull also says it’s a good idea to check the weather before making any travel plans and to keep in mind that road construction also increases during this time of year.

He recommends checking a construction map to save travel time. “At least realize that you’re going to have some wait time in some of those areas, so always check that and see what kind of wait time there is if there possibly could be,” Hull said. And if any alcohol is included in the weekend getaway plans, always have a designated driver available.

The Department of Transportation’s traveler information map is available online at www.MoDot.org.




AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports (1:00)



Fruit growers battle to protect plants from pests, diseases during planting season (AUDIO)

Growing fruit is a labor of love that can be a constant battle against bacterial diseases, fungi, and insects during the Spring planting season.

Horticulture specialist Michele Warmund with the University of Missouri Extension suggests that folks plant disease resistant fruit plants to prevent pests and a common bacteria known as fire blight, which occurs early in the Spring planting season.

Warmund says weather can be a factor in how susceptible plants can become to fire blight. “Cool, wet weather; just as we’ve been having this Spring,” she said.

She says when there is moisture in the air from heavy rainfall or heavy dew for an extended period of time, an infection period soon follows. She says this season has been particularly damp. “Whenever you have wet foliage and that’s why it’s hard to grow fruit trees in Missouri,” she said. “It’s because we have high humidity, heavy dew, and a lot of Spring rain-and even rain into June.”

Warmund says fire blight is also known to kill blossoms, fruiting spurs, and in severe cases, entire braches and fruit trees; but some fruit plants are resistant to disases such as fire blight, powdery milldew, cedar apple rust and apple scab.

An anti-biotic spray is the only thing that can be used, though the fire blight can be difficult to control for some fruit growers. Listen to Warmund describe the fire blight bacteria in fruit plants, here. (0:35)


AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (1:02)

Delay in corn planting season could cause decline in corn yields (AUDIO)

Rainfall and cold temperatures have caused delay in the corn planting season and a worry for corn producers looking to plant their crops.

University of Missouri Extension corn specialist Brent Myers says the optimal planting window for corn producers in Missouri is about a month long and ranges from the second week of April to the end of the first week in May; but due to excessive rainfall and cold temperatures, it’s pushed the corn planting season back further than producers would like.

Myers says that the late start of the corn planting season has caused a large majority of corn to be planted beyond the optimal yield window. He suggests that corn growers stick to planting hybrid corn maturities rather than switching to planting earlier season corn maturities through the end of the month.

“It declines very slowly at first after the first week of May, but then it declines more rapidly at the end of May and especially into June,” Myers said. “So the optimal planting window ended after the first week of May.” He says the later a corn crop is planted, the corn’s yield potential begins to decline.

Myers says after the end of May, corn yields begin to drop by 20 percent, and then by 40 percent by mid-June. “The optimal planting date has passed and we’re hoping to get crops in the field as soon as possible,” he said.

However, Myers says opportunity remains for a good growing season.


AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (1:00)

Memorial Day weekend kicks off summer travel season (AUDIO)

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, the summer traveling season is just around the corner.

Division of Tourism Director Katie Steele Danner says traveler sentiment and planning family vacations are up this year.

Danner recommends that folks take advantage of Missouri’s waterways this season by planning a float trip on one of the state’s many streams or a boating venture on some of Missouri’s lakes. “All indications are that it’s going to be a great summer travel season in Missouri,” she said.

Danner says a few other vacation hot spots this year Missourians and visitors can go to visit are St. Louis, Kansas City, and Branson; which provide amusement and water parks for families to enjoy.

“They can also participate in some activities that are happening at Six Flags, at the downtown area in St. Louis and at the ballpark,” Danner said.

For more information on summer travel hot spots throughout Missouri, visit www.visitMO.com


AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (0:58)



Highway Patrol urges drivers to be aware of traffic pattern changes during summer travel season (AUDIO)

Schools are beginning to let out for summer vacation and the Highway Patrol says that means drivers should notice a change in traffic patterns they should be aware of.

Highway Patrol Spokesman Tim Hull says drivers should be aware of a decrease in school bus traffic in local areas and an increase in bicycle and pedestrian traffic, especially in areas where outdoor summer activities are prominent.

Hull says motorists should still watch out for students  in school areas though, because of summer school classes. “Whether it be going to the swimming pool or any other summer activity, or even kids driving to summer jobs,” he said. “But you won’t see the amount of traffic that we’ve seen over the last few months with school buses and the parents around the schools.”

Hull says as local traffic become lighter, highway traffic will get heavier. “The local weekenders that make regular weekend trips to the Lake of the Ozarks, Branson, and other vacation areas,” he said.

Hull says highway construction also increases during the summer, so he suggests drivers plan their trips accordingly and plan on taking detours.

He also reminds motorists to keep safety in mind and watch weather reports before hitting the road.

“Usually, a lot of people in the state will travel somewhere else and people from elsewhere will travel to Missouri,” he said. “We’ve got places in Kansas City and St. Louis, water parks and amusement parks that we all see visitors going to.”



AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (0:58)