Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Cassie Homan, Horticulture Agent

Who doesn’t love stepping outside on a crisp spring morning and seeing the first signs of green life after a long winter. Bulbs are often the first plants to make an appearance in the spring and add a beautiful pop of color to the landscape. Enjoying these spring beauties means a little extra work planting them in the fall, then forgetting about them until spring.

The avid gardener knows that sweater weather means it’s probably time to start cleaning up the garden. It’s also the perfect time to plant spring flowering bulbs. For north central Kansas, late September through early October is an ideal time for our Zone 6, climate hardiness zone. If you want to add a minimal care, showy plant, into your landscape follow these tips for mastering bulbs.

Choosing your bulbs:
In the fall bulbs show up everywhere, they can be found in garden stores, ordered from catalogs, or picked up in local supermarkets. When choosing bulbs, you want to examine each one for quality. It should be firm with a papery covering and free from mold. Look for bulbs that are large, the larger the bulb the bigger and more beautiful the bloom will be. You could choose a diverse number of varieties to bloom throughout the spring and summer or stick to a few fun, colorful, blooms. If deer or wildlife are a problem in your garden, you should choose bulbs such as allium, crocus, iris, and daffodil. Have fun when picking bulbs by choosing new cultivars or even trading with neighbors.

Fall is a great time to plant bulbs because they need to develop their roots and must meet a chilling requirement over the winter in order to bloom in the spring. Pick a site where the bulbs will receive full sun to partial shade. The soil needs to have good aeration and adequate drainage. A sandy loam is preferred but you can always amend your soil type by adding peat moss, compost, or aged bark. The depth of planting varies by the size and variety of bulb. A general rule is 2-3 times deep as the bulb is tall. For example, if you are planting a tulip or hyacinth bulb set them about 6 inches into the soil. Always remember to place the bulb with the point up, so the roots are in the right position. Space the bulbs using the same general measurement. For an attractive design, plant bulbs in clumps or informal masses, rather than singly. When planting it is best to add a fertilizer such as bone meal that is high in phosphorus in the bottom of each planting hole.

Bulbs are relatively low maintenance, you can practically plant them in the fall and forget about them until they pop up in the spring. Check once in a while to make sure the soil is moist but not soggy. Small bulbs will also benefit from adding a layer of mulch to prevent being heaved out of soil by alternate freezing and thawing. In the spring cut off flowers that have faded but don’t cut the leaves until they have turned yellow and withered. This allows more energy to be transferred and stored in the bulb.

Bulbs are fun and easy to work with. They require minimal care once properly planted, they will reward you every spring with a wonderful show of color. For further information on planting bulbs, contact Cassie at any Post Rock Extension District Office in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center, or email choman@ksu.edu

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

How to Support Youth After Traumatic Events

Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent.

Children can face emotional strains after traumatic events, such as accidents, disasters, and witnessing and/or being victims of violence. Understanding how children and youth may react and caring for them in an age appropriate way are critical to their healing and future well-being, but it can be difficult to know what to do. Below are some resources you may find helpful as you support children and youth after traumatic events.
  • Parenting a Child Who Has Experienced Trauma: This factsheet discusses the nature of trauma, especially abuse or neglect, the effects of trauma on children and youth, and ways to help a child who has experienced trauma. Parents or foster parents who do not understand the effects of trauma may misinterpret their child’s behavior, and attempts to address troubling behavior may be ineffective or, in some cases, even harmful. By understanding trauma, parents and foster parents can help support a child’s healing, the parent-child relationship, and their family as a whole. (Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway)
Information for this blog article has been adapted from the National Resource Center for Healthy Marriage and Families, Newsletter, Issue 57, October 2017. The Post Rock District of K-State Research and Extension serves Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Smith Counties. Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent, may be contacted at nrhoades@ksu.edu or by calling the office in Osborne 346-2521, Beloit 738-3597, Lincoln 524-4432, Mankato 378-3174, or Smith Center 282-6823. Stay connected with “Post Rock Extension” on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Our website is www.postrock.ksu.edu.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Creating a Financial Grab-and-Go Kit

Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent

The content in this article was published on 9-18-17 in the K-State Research and Extension Prepare Kansas blog by Family Resource Management Specialist, Elizabeth Kiss.

If you had a few precious minutes to leave your home or office, what would you take?

It’s a good idea to have an updated financial grab-and-go kit.

Why is this important? If you have your most important documents and information at hand in a grab-and-go kit, it can help to get you back on firm financial footing more quickly.

Your kit should be a waterproof, fireproof container that can be taken with you at a moment’s notice. Be sure to keep it in a secure place in your home.

What should you include in your kit? At a minimum you’ll want to have some cash and the financial information and personal identification needed to conduct your day-to-day financial life.

Other information to include in your grab-and-go kit:
  • Personal information such as copies of driver’s licenses, passport, and social security cards and key documents that may be needed to restore your financial records
  • Account information such as financial account numbers; copies of ATM, debit, and credit cards; insurance cards, policies, or other proof of insurance coverage; and contact information for all financial service and insurance providers
  • Household inventory
  • Safe deposit key
  • Information about prescription medication
  • Contact information (phone, email, or web site) for family members, doctors, veterinarians
  • Pocket notebook and pen or pencil
  • Family records, such as birth, marriage, or death certificates may be kept in a safe deposit box. If they are, consider making copies for your grab-and-go box. Other items that may be in safe deposit box include wills, contracts, deeds, stocks, and bond as well as titles to vehicles. Again, if the original is in a safe deposit box, you still may want to make copies for your grab-and-go box.
Want to learn more? Download this fact sheet from the K-State Research and Extension bookstore https://www.bookstore.ksre.k-state.edu/pubs/MF3055.pdf

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Suflower Supreme Heifer Program

Sunflower Supreme Heifer meeting flyer
Barrett Simon, Livestock Agent

This September, Kansas farmers and ranchers have an opportunity to raise a new variety of sunflowers as the Sunflower Supreme Replacement Heifer Program expands into central Kansas. A joint effort between K-State Research and Extension and the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the Sunflower Supreme Replacement Heifer Program provides research-based best management protocols for beef cattle producers seeking to add value to their herds. Not only does the program provide cattlemen and women with important reproduction and health management protocols, it also provides marketing opportunities for heifers enrolled in the program.

The Sunflower Supreme Heifer Program, established in southeast Kansas in 2013, has provided opportunities for herd improvement and value-added marketing. As interest has grown, producers statewide have asked for this practical method of developing and marketing heifers to expand throughout Kansas, and the first region for expansion will be in central Kansas beginning in fall 2017. Producers who enroll heifers this fall will have the option to market heifers that meet specific program guidelines at a special sale to be held in Salina in 2018. As demand grows, additional marketing opportunities will be added.

Just as it takes careful consideration to add sunflowers into a farmer’s crop rotation, beef producers must have a strong understanding of the Sunflower Supreme Program as they evaluate if it is a good fit for their operation. In order to provide opportunity for learning and discussion, we have scheduled an educational, producer focused meeting within the Post Rock District. On October 11th in Downs, K-State Research and Extension specialists will share with producers how they can enhance their operation through participation and inform potential buyers on the value and assurance that comes with the purchase of a Sunflower Supreme heifer. There is no cost to attend, but RSVP’s are appreciated. For more information please see the Sunflower Supreme Heifer meeting flyer.

Post Rock Extension District of K-State Research and Extension serves Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Smith counties. Barrett Simon may be contacted at the Mankato Office, 785-378-3174 or at barrett8@ksu.edu.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

What are the Risks of Planting Wheat Early?

Sandra Wick, Crop Production Agent

Producers are in the field, or soon will be, planting their 2018 wheat crop. It is always interesting to watch when wheat planting begins in north central Kansas. Because of our dry conditions, producers may be a little hesitate to start putting the wheat seed in the ground. Let’s hope that we receive some much needed rain soon!

The general target date for planting wheat for optimum grain yields in Kansas is within a week of the best pest management planting date, or BPMP (formerly known as the “Hessian fly-free”) date. If grain yields are the primary goal, then waiting until the BPMP date to start planting is the best approach. Our optimum wheat planting dates for north central Kansas range from September 15 to October 20. The BPMP dates for the Post Rock Extension District ranges from September 29 in Jewell and Smith counties to October 4 in Lincoln with Osborne and Mitchell counties in between those dates.

In some years, earlier-planted wheat does best and some years the later-planted wheat does best. For instance, early-planted fields during 2016-17 had a better final stand as compared to later-planted ones in western Kansas, mostly due to lack of moisture for later planted fields. If fields become too wet to plant by mid-October and stay that way through the remainder of the fall, then producers end up planting much later than the optimum planting date, and this is an incentive to start planting earlier than the BPMP or fly-free date if soil conditions are good. Ideally, producers should not start planting much earlier than the BPMP date, which can seem quite late to some especially in south central Kansas. Several problems can arise from planting too early:

Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus
  • Increased risk of wheat streak mosaic and related diseases. In 2017, there was a wide-spread infection of the Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus in wheat across Kansas due to abundance of volunteer wheat. Wheat curl mites survive over the summer on living plant tissue of volunteer wheat and certain other grasses. As soon as those host plants die off, the wheat curl mites leave and start searching for a new source of living plant tissue. Dr. Erick DeWolf, K-State Research and Extension Plant Pathologist, reminds producers, “Wheat that is planted early is likely to become infested, and thus become infected with wheat streak mosaic, high plains virus, or the Triticum mosaic virus.” The wheat curl mites can normally move about a half mile or sometimes up to 2 miles through the air before dying, so if wheat is planted early, make sure all volunteer wheat within at least a half-mile is completely dead at least two weeks before planting.
  • Increased risk of Hessian fly. “Over the summer, Hessian fly pupae live in the old crowns of wheat residue,” according to Dr. Jeff Whitworth, K-State Research and Extension Entomologist. After the first good soaking rain in late summer or early fall, these pupae (or “flaxseed”) will hatch out as adult Hessian flies and start looking for live wheat plants to lay eggs on. They are most likely to find either volunteer wheat or early-planted wheat at that time. After the BPMP date, many of the adult Hessian fly will have laid their eggs, so there is generally less risk of Hessian fly infestation for wheat planted after that date. Hessian fly adult activity has been noted through November or even early December in Kansas.
Barley Yellow Dwarf
  • Increased risk of barley yellow dwarf. The vectors of barley yellow dwarf are greenbugs and bird cherry-oat aphids. These insects are more likely to infest wheat during warm weather early in the fall than during cooler weather. A purplish discoloration of the “tips” can occur. There are 25+ species of aphids capable of vectoring barley yellow dwarf of which bird cherry oat aphids and greenbugs are probably the most common in Kansas.
  • Increased risk of excessive fall growth and excessive fall tillering. Dr. Romulo Lollato, K-State Research and Extension Wheat and Forage specialist, stresses that for optimum grain yields and winter survival, the goal is for wheat plants to head into winter with established crown roots and 3-5 tillers. Wheat that is planted early can grow much more than this, especially if moisture and nitrogen levels are good. If wheat gets too lush in the fall, it can use up too much soil moisture in unproductive vegetative growth and become more susceptible to drought stress in the spring if conditions are dry.
  • Increased risk of take-all, dryland foot rot, and common root rot. Take-all is usually worse on early-planted wheat than on later-planted wheat. So one of the ways to avoid dryland foot rot is to avoid early seeding. Early planting promotes large plants that more often become water stressed in the fall predisposing them to invasion by the fungi. Early planting of wheat also favors common root rot because this gives the root rot fungi more time to invade and colonize root and crown tissue.
  • Grassy weed infestations become more expensive to control. If cheatgrass, downy brome, Japanese brome, or annual rye come up before the wheat is planted, they can be controlled with glyphosate or tillage. If wheat is planted early and these grassy weeds come up after the wheat has emerged, producers will have to use an appropriate grass herbicide to control them.
  • Germination problems due to high soil temperatures. Generally, early planted wheat is drilled in hotter soils, which could be a problem as some varieties won’t germinate when soil temperatures are greater than 85°F. “If planting early, it is important to select varieties that do not have high-temperature germination sensitivity and plant sensitive varieties later in the fall,” according Lollato.
  • Germination problems due to shortened coleoptile length. Hotter soils tend to decrease the coleoptile length of the germinating wheat. Therefore, deeply planted wheat may not have a long-enough coleoptile to break through the soil surface and may result in decreased emergence and poor stand establishment. Because of the shortened coleoptile length, it is preferable to “dust” the wheat in at a shallower depth (3/4 to 1 inch deep) when early planting wheat than trying to reach moisture in deeper layers if soil moisture is absent from the top inch of the soil profile.

If you have further questions on wheat production, contact me at any Post Rock Extension District Office in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.

Post Rock Extension District of K-State Research and Extension serves Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Smith counties. Sandra may be contacted at swick@ksu.edu 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” along with our blog site at postrockextension.blogspot.com. Also remember our website is www.postrock.ksu.edu and my twitter account is @PRDcrops.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Tips for Creating a Household Inventory

Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent

We’ve had drought, wildfires, a spring blizzard, flooding, tornadoes, hazardous wind, and extreme heat advisories in Kansas this year and it is only September. Disasters do not plan ahead, but that doesn’t mean you can’t.

Being prepared for the disasters that may affect your home, business and community is important. Taking inventory of what you have and recording it is a good place to start. After all, you do not know where to get back to if you don’t know where you started, right?

In the middle of a crisis when there’s so much on your mind, it’s hard to remember every detail. An accurate inventory is a necessity, whether you’re a homeowner, business manager, or a renter. Emergencies and disasters may result in insurance claims. Your insurance company will likely require a listing of items lost or destroyed in order to document the claim. A household inventory is an itemized list of the contents of your home, including basement, attic, and garage.

While it is true there is an initial investment of time and effort in preparing the inventory from scratch, once completed it will be useful into the future with regular updating. Elizabeth Kiss, K-State Research and Extension Family Resource Management Specialist, provides the following tips to help you prepare and update your inventory.

  • Household inventories can take many forms. Use the format that best suits your needs. Don’t get hung up on being perfect, if you are starting from scratch focus on the big ticket and hard to replace items.
  • When describing furnishings and equipment, be as specific and accurate as possible. Include the original cost, date purchased, any alternations or repairs done on the item, and corresponding cost.
  • Photograph or videotape every wall in each room of your home and storage areas. Include open closets, cabinets, cupboards, and drawers. Take close-ups of unique or expensive items to document their condition, and strive to date photographs. When videotaping, verbally describe the contents as you move around the room.
  • Remember to include personal items stored away from home such as in a vehicle. If you have sheds or storage areas on your property or if you rent a storage unit somewhere else, be sure to include a list of the contents of those. You will also want to consider if any valuables are stored where you work, worship, or even in a school locker.
  • Save copies in more than one format and in more than one place. Keep a working document (paper or electronic) of your inventory on site plus store copies in a few places away from the insured dwelling, such as in a safety deposit box, with a trusted person, on a flash drive, or on a virtual storage cloud.
  • Add newly acquired items to your inventory and include a new photo or video. Update the inventory when items are discarded. Set aside a little time each year to make these updates. One idea is make it an annual habit to participate in Prepare Kansas each September.

What is Prepare Kansas?

Prepare Kansas is a free online challenge for all Kansans and others available through the K-State Research and Extension Facebook Page. Prepare Kansas runs through September to coincide with National Preparedness Month, coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Prepare Kansas shares information, links and resources, which can make recovery smoother and faster. Participants are encouraged to engage in challenges throughout the month, providing accountability as you personally take steps to prepare for potential disasters. Contact your local Post Rock District Office if you need assistance accessing resources or to learn more about #PrepareKansas.