Monday, July 16, 2018

The 5 R’s of Family Change: Transitioning between together and apart

Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent

Many people believe staying connected is essential for family togetherness. One major obstacle to maintaining connection can be distance. Families can be separated for any number of reasons, sometimes related to jobs, the result of family circumstance or due to military careers. Long-distance relationships can occur over a few days, months or even years. For some, distance can become part of one’s family structure, and for others it is a new experience.

Work on maintaining relationship satisfaction. While distance can be a challenge, each person can feel nurtured and satisfied during times of separation. Strong relationships are built on trust and security. Maintaining open communication about the five R’s of family change can help ease the transition between ‘together’ and ‘apart’. Listen and pay attention to what each family member is saying.

Roles refer to household and family responsibilities. How do jobs and responsibilities change when one person is away? What roles will be easiest to adapt to and what roles will be more challenging? What roles will not be filled until the family member returns? How do roles change when the distant person returns?

Rules are defined by what is expected of each family member, including responsibilities and boundaries. Some family rules are detailed and clearly stated. Other rules are implied and part of family norms. Do rules stay the same during times of separation? Will the family add new rules or dismiss rules during time apart? Do family rules become more lenient or stricter?

Relationships refer to the bonds, connections and responsibilities within a family. During geographical separation, the bonds may be defined differently than during times of togetherness. How will relationships with relatives, friends or family change? What are the expectations of each family member? Who is responsible for keeping connections strong during times of long-distance?

Routines include daily activities that keep the family functioning. With a family member miles away, certain aspects of family routines will need to change. What daily routines will be most affected by the distance? What daily routines will be least affected? Will there be any adjustments or new routines to complement or replace routines during family togetherness?

Recreation, special events and celebrations will also be affected when family members are separated by physical distance. Mapping out a plan for these special family events is important to keep connected with those who are apart. Does the family continue to celebrate events during separation? How will the distant family member be included? Are special events postponed until the family is reunited?

For more information about this topic, contact Nora Rhoades, Post Rock District Family and Youth Development Agent, at or 785-346-2521. Stay connected with “Post Rock Extension” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Our website is

Sources: Loving Long-Distance: Families Separated by Distance by K-State Research and Extension; Parenting Alone Together...How Does Our Family Change? by Mary Dooley Burns;  Making the Connection: Building Long-Distance Relationships by North Dakota Extension Services

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Chinch bugs attacking corn and sorghum stands!

Sandra Wick, Crop Production Specialist

Wheat harvest around the district is progressing with some producers done!  The rains have really helped the continued development of the corn and sorghum which is significant for combating against insect infestations.

All life stages of chinch bugs seem to be extremely active at the present time in both corn and grain sorghum.  Nymphs and adults started migrating out of wheat fields at least two weeks ago, moving into any adjacent corn or grain sorghum fields.  Those smaller-reddish nymphs have grown considerably since then, and are now either late instar nymphs or adults.

Many of these recently matured adults are now mating and have even started egg deposition. These eggs are, and will continue to be, hatching which means more bugs and thus more feeding on these plants. Fortunately, most corn is large enough to withstand considerable feeding by chinch bugs, but the milo may have some concerns as it is smaller. Recent rains have certainly helped greatly enhance the growing conditions, which increases the plant’s tolerance for chinch bug feeding.

Eggs may be laid anytime from the end of April to early October, although in each generation the majority are laid over a two to three week period. Each female lays up to several hundred eggs. Female reproductive potential varies greatly from year to year and may be affected by the host plant quality during development. The time required for egg hatch ranges from one to two weeks and depends on temperature and location. Eggs in warm locations with good solar exposure hatch first.

Chinch bugs puncture vascular tissues to extract plant juices and secrete digestive enzymes that cause the break-down of surrounding plant tissues. Feeding punctures also can allow pathogens to enter the plant. Consequently, damaged plants present a variety of symptoms including stunting, yellowing, wilting, and necrotic lesions.

Older nymphs are larger and cause more damage than younger ones. The effect of nymphal feeding depends to a large degree on the health and nutritional status of the plants. Growth stage and water balance are critical because small or drought-stressed plants have less ability to tolerate or recover from chinch bug feeding damage. The chinch bug feeds on a wide variety of grasses, including many cereal and forage crops. 

The risk of first generation damage is greater where sorghum is planted next to thin stands of wheat. Seedling sorghum is most vulnerable, and seven to 10 bugs per plant will cause stunting, poor root development and stand reduction. Larger plants can tolerate more bugs, but severe infestations can cause stunting, lodging, and yield loss. 

Timely applications of foliar insecticides can be used to rescue corn or sorghum fields invaded by migrating chinch bugs on the edge of the fields to help prevent movement into the field.   Most currently approved materials have good efficacy against chinch bugs, if three factors are considered. First, it is important to use the full recommended rate of the selected insecticide, preferably delivered in 20 to 40 gallons of water per acre. High gallonage ensures good plant coverage and enhances the movement of material into protected plant parts such as leaf sheaths, which increases the probability of contact with bugs. Second, the material should be delivered with properly adjusted and calibrated equipment. Fortunately, insecticides targeting the sugarcane aphid will likely provide some control of late ­season chinch bugs as well.

Third, the timing of the insecticide application is critical. Early morning applications are preferred because winds tend to be calmer (reducing drift), temperatures are cool (reducing volatilization of chemicals), and a large proportion of the chinch bug population will be on the plants and exposed to the application. Treat promptly as migrations begin and before significant numbers of bugs enter the field.

Most grain sorghum is much less developed than corn and won’t be able to tolerate as many chinch bugs as the larger corn plants.  Treating plants much after the V6/V7 (corn 6 and 7 leaves) growth stages is not as effective as treating smaller plants.  Like corn, good growing conditions significantly help sorghum plants withstand chinch bug feeding.  So we are fortunate that we have received moisture to help the growth of milo fields.  However, if dry conditions return, chinch bug feeding can significantly weaken stalks and cause lodging later in the season. 

No natural enemies of chinch bugs can reliably reduce or control large populations when conditions are favorable for their development. Predation by quail and other birds can be conspicuous, but likely has little effect on bug population growth.

For more information on chinch bugs, management decisions, and insecticide recommendations, K-State Research and Extension has an excellent publication: “Chinch Bugs” that is available ONLINE at or at any of our Post Rock Extension District Offices at Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.

If you have more questions on insect management in your crops, give me a call at any of our Post Rock Extension District Offices.

Post Rock Extension District of K-State Research and Extension serves Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Smith counties. Sandra may be contacted at or by calling Smith Center, 282-6823, Beloit 738-3597, Lincoln 524-4432, Mankato 378-3174, or Osborne 346-2521.  Join us on Facebook at “Post Rock Extension”.  Also remember our website is and my twitter account is @PRDcrops.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Protect Yourself from UV Exposure

Ashley Svaty, Nutrition, Food Safety and Health Agent

Summer has officially arrived, and as always it’s hot and sunny! Spending time outdoors at the lake or pool are usually on the top of everyone’s summer fun list, but before you venture out in the sun follow these safety tips to reduce you and your loved one’s risks for harmful UV exposure.

Cover up: When you are out in the sun, wear clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect as much skin as possible. Protect your eyes with sunglasses that block at least 99% of UV light. 

Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher: Reapply at least every 2 hours, as well as after swimming or sweating.

Seek shade: Limit your direct exposure to the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest.

Lather up 30 minutes before outdoor activities: Apply 1 ounce (about the size of a golf ball) of sunscreen to all exposed areas.

Check the sunscreen’s expiration date: Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than three years, but its shelf life is shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures. (CDC)

Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps: Both can cause serious long-term skin damage and contribute to skin cancer.

Remember to protect yourself on overcast days: Up to 80 percent of the sun's UV radiation can penetrate clouds and harm your skin. (

Cover easily missed areas: This includes the back of ears and neck, and the tops of feet and hands with sunblock.

Avoid sunburn: It may seem like a temporary irritation, but sunburns cause long-lasting damage
to the skin.

For more information about sun safety please visit

Monday, June 18, 2018

Post Rock District 4-H Members Invite YOU To The Fair!

Aliesa Woods, 4-H Youth Development Agent

4-H members begin their project work in October and it often culminates with them sharing their results of the learning process by exhibiting at the County Fair. The County Fairs in the Post Rock District will be held on the following dates:

  • Jewell County Fair      July 15-18

  • Smith County Fair       July 19-23

  • Lincoln County Fair    July 25-28

  • Mitchell County Fair   July 25-28

  • Osborne County Fair   July 25-30

The fairs accept both 4-H and Open Class entries in many categories. You can check out many of the fair books online at I encourage you to get out and support your local 4-H members at the Fair and even enter a few of your own items!

At the fair you will see 4-H uses the Danish ribbon system in which members are awarded a purple, blue, red or white ribbon. See below for what each color of ribbon means.

Looking to learn more about 4 H programs in your area visit

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Is Little Barley taking over your lawn?

Cassie Homan, Horticulture Agent

Close up of Little Barley seed heads
Growing a green lawn in Kansas is no easy task, and this time of year it can feel impossible to keep up with the weeds. Little barley is a common Kansas weed that can take over your turf and eventually turns brown leaving unsightly patches. It is a winter annual weed that comes up in September or October in our part of the state and spends the winter as a small plant. It thrives in the cooler spring temperatures, forms seed heads and dies out usually by July. Another common weed foxtail, is often mistaken with little barley. This is because the two weeds have similar seed heads (see pictures 2 and 3). However, foxtails are a summer annual that do well in hot weather. Also, foxtail will not produce seedheads until mid- to late-summer.

Little Barley un-mowed with long seed heads

Unfortunately, now is not the ideal time to control little barley. It is best controlled in the fall, around August. If you have a multitude of little barley weeds in your lawn, make sure to mark your calendar for fall so you don’t forget to spray for them for control, next season. If you are wanting to kill little barley weeds right now, use a non-selective herbicide that kills everything such as glyphosate (Roundup), just beware that this will damage your turf, and desirable plants. The best control for little barley, and any weed, is a thick lawn that is mowed high enough that sunlight does not hit the soil. Little barley seed will not germinate in such conditions. Overseeding now can thicken up a tall fescue lawn and prevent a little barley infestation. However, if you do not plan to overseed, preemergence herbicides can be used to provide at least partial control of this weed.

Foxtail weed commonly mistaken with Little Barley.
Little Barley that has been mowed & is reaching full maturity
The only preemergence herbicide that is labeled specifically for little barley is Surflan. It is also sold under the name of Weed Impede by Monterey Lawn and Garden. Surflan can only be used on warm-season grasses (bermudagrass, buffalograss, zoysiagrass) and tall fescue grown in warm-season areas such as Kansas. However, Dimension (dithiopyr), is labeled for barley (Herodium spp.) which would include little barley and therefore can be used to keep this weed under control. Because little barley is a winter annual, apply the preemergence herbicide in August and water in to activate. If overseeding, do not apply any preemergence herbicide as it will interfere with the germination of tall fescue.

The good news about little barley is that it starts dying down in late June and is dead by early July. That is why treatment in May or June is really a waste of time. Remember the best control is to have a thick, lush lawn and if necessary apply a preemergence herbicide in the fall for a more beautiful lawn!

If you would like more details about controlling weeds in your lawn contact Cassie Homan, Post Rock District Horticulture Agent, at (785)738-3597 or by email at