Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Remember to have a SAFE wheat harvest!

Sandra Wick, Crop Production Agent
We have been experiencing unusual cool weather for some of the 2017 wheat harvest! But it sounds like warm temperatures will be back soon!

The 2017 wheat harvest has started in some areas of the Post Rock Extension District and others will start soon.

Wheat harvest, 1902, pulled with 33 horses!
WOW……we have definitely come a long way in harvesting methods especially with machinery, but some of the same safety precautions still hold true!

During wheat harvest season, countless hours will be spent in combines, tractors, trucks and other equipment by farmers and workers who will be transporting large equipment on our roads and highways. Some workers may be young, new or inexperienced, so it’s always a good idea to remember safety precautions and reinforce the importance of safety on the farm. Agriculture ranks among the nation’s most hazardous industries. Farmers are at very high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries, and farming is one of the few industries in which family members, who often share the work and live on the premises, are also at risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries.
Harvest season can be a very stressful time for farm families, so it is important to remember these simple guidelines to keep everyone safe.

Make sure that anyone operating the combine and other harvest machinery, has been trained to use it and is aware of potential hazards. Before approaching machinery for maintenance or inspection, make sure it is shut down with the engine off, the key removed, and all moving parts stopped completely. Keep bystanders away from harvesting equipment and never allow extra riders. One seat means one rider. Remember for everyone to share the road! When it is necessary to move heavy, slow-moving equipment on public roads, try to pick a time with light traffic flow to minimize contact with traffic. Make sure all the appropriate safety lights work properly and safety reflectors are visible to other motorists. Always use a Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblem on vehicles that travel less than 25 miles per hour. Be sure and take breaks often to prevent fatigue and stress which can prevent accidents. The temperatures have been extremely high so it is very important to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Remember, it only takes seconds for a farm accident to happen!

We wish you a SAFE and great harvest!

For further information on wheat harvest safety, contact me at any Post Rock Extension District Office in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pedestrian Safety Tips

Ashley Svaty, Nutrition, Food Safety and Health Agent

Walking is a fantastic way to get exercise, it doesn’t require equipment besides a good pair of walking shoes and can be done almost anywhere! Safe Kids Worldwide provides pedestrian safety tips to ensure your family is safe while walking.

Teach Kids How to Walk Safely

  • Teach kids at an early age to look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Then remind them to continue looking while crossing by keeping their heads up and looking around until safely across.
  • It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. 
  • Teach kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street. 
  • Encourage kids to be especially alert for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach kids not to run or dart out in the street or cross between parked cars. 

Take Action Against Distraction
  • Teach kids to put phones, headphones and devices down when crossing the street, especially teenagers. 
  • Put headphones down or turn off the volume before crossing the street. 
  • Be aware of others who may be distracted and speak up when you see someone who is in danger. 

Let Your Actions Speak as Loudly as Your Words
  • Set a good example by putting your phone, headphones and devices down when walking around cars. 
  • When driving, put cell phones and other distractions in the back seat out of sight until your destination. 
  • Give pedestrians the right of way and look both ways when making a turn to spot any bikers, walkers or runners who may not be immediately visible.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Post Rock Extension District Welcomes New Horticulture Agent

Cassie Homan, Horticulture Agent
Hi Post Rock District, my name is Cassie Homan I am your new Horticulture Extension Agent. The Post Rock District serves Mitchell, Lincoln, Smith, Osborne, and Jewell counties. I was born and raised in Winfield, Kansas. I discovered a love for plants and gardening in my mother’s flower shop where I spent most of my free time playing with the flowers. In high school, I joined FFA and found a deeper passion for agriculture and leadership. I eventually became the president of the Winfield chapter, participating in events such as; floriculture, nursery and landscape plant identification, and parliamentary procedure. My love of agriculture made Kansas State University the perfect educational choice.  
During my time at K-State, I was involved as an officer of Horticulture Club. I also served as a Horticulture Ambassador, and a member of the Landscape Contracting Team. I graduated from K-State in May 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture, and a specialization in Greenhouse and Nursery Management. 

After graduation I spent two weeks studying abroad in Italy. I traveled through central and northern Italy, including Rome, Orvieto, Perugia, Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre, and Venice. My favorite part was in Florence visiting the Chanti Region, where so many grapes are grown for wine production. I fell in love with the Boboli Gardens in Florence and would love to implement some of the colorful bulbs I saw into my own landscape.

I am excited to now live in Beloit. In my free time I enjoy wildflower gardening, playing the violin, and spending time with friends and family.  
More information about K-State Research and Extension Post Rock District is available by calling (785) 738 - 3597, or by visiting

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

What had caused the white heads in the wheat?

Sandra Wick, Crop Production Agent

Well, they say wheat has “nine lives”, it seems like it has used up all of them, but it still seems to be hanging on! I have looked at several fields in north central Kansas and the Post Rock Extension District. For the most part, the northern part of the district has seemed to escape the extensive damage from the freezing temperatures the end of April. However, the southern part of our Post Rock Extension District, in Lincoln, Mitchell, and southern Osborne, are not so lucky. At our recent Post Rock Extension District Wheat Plot Tour, there was more freeze injury found in the southern counties mentioned above. White heads in wheat is an indication of several different things and have started to show up more around north central Kansas. Sometimes the white heads are just single tillers scattered throughout part or all of a field, and sometimes they occur in small to large patches. Heads might be completely white starting from the stem, or may just have a few florets showing the discoloration. 

There are many causes of white heads. Here are some of the most common causes and their diagnosis. 
  • Freeze injury to stem, crown or head. Depending on the stage of growth at the time of a late spring freeze, parts or all of the heads may die and turn white. In years when the freeze occurs about the boot stage or a little earlier, there can be injury to the lower stem, which then cuts off water and nutrients to the developing head. In years when the wheat is in the early heading stage at the time of the freeze, the freeze can damage the heads directly. Often, wheat on north-facing slopes, on ridge tops, or in low-lying areas will be most affected by freeze injury. But freeze injury can also be so severe that it occurs throughout the fields, in no particular pattern. 
    Hail Damaged Wheat
    I have also seen in some fields that the head still appears to be a green color (lighter colored) but has no developing grain. Crown rot is another potential problem that can be traced back to freeze injury. When the crown is damaged by cold temperatures or a freeze, part or all of the tillers can die. If the tiller from a damaged crown forms a head, this head will almost always be white. The crown will have internal browning, and stands will usually be thinner than normal.
  • Hail. Hail can occasionally damage just a portion of a head, and cause that damaged portion to turn white. The hail impact to the heads may also remove spikelets and expose the rachis.   
    Head Scab
  • Head scab. When there are periods of rainy weather while the wheat is flowering, as seen across most of Kansas this growing season, some heads may become infected with Fusarium head blight (Head Scab) and turns white. The heads of some red-chaffed varieties turn a darker red when infected with scab, but the heads of most varieties turn white. Symptoms can be restricted to one or few spikelets in the head, but often times the upper half or the entire head might be affected. Head scab is most common where wheat is grown after corn, or after a wheat crop that had head scab the previous year. Head scab can be identified by looking for pink spores of the Fusarium fungi, as well as by a darker discoloration to the rachis of the wheat head. During the current growing season, head scab has being observed in south-central and southeast Kansas, but it is probably still early to see symptoms in central and north-central Kansas as it takes approximately three weeks from flowering for the first symptoms to appear.
  • Take-all. This disease often causes patches of white heads scattered throughout the field. It occurs most frequently in continuous wheat, and where there is a moderate to high level of surface residue. Take-all is also favored by high pH soils, so a recently limed field might also show symptoms. To diagnose take-all, pull up a plant and scrape back the leaf sheaths at the base of a tiller. If the base of the tiller is shiny and either black or dark brown, it is take-all. All tillers on a plant infected with take-all will have white heads. Plants will pull up easily. 
    Wheat Stem Maggot
  • Sharp eyespot. This disease is common in Kansas, but rarely causes significant yield loss. Sharp eyespot causes lesions with light tan centers and dark brown margins on the lower stems. The ends of the lesions are typically pointed. If the stems are girdled by the fungus, the tiller may be stunted with a white head. Each tiller on a plant may be affected differently. 
  • Wheat stem maggot. Wheat stem maggot damage is common every year in Kansas, but rarely results in significant yield loss. It usually causes a single white head on a tiller, scattered more or less randomly through part or all of a field. One typical symptom of white heads caused by wheat stem maggot is that the flag leaf and lower stem are often green, and only the last internode (peduncle) and head are white. If you can grab the head, the stem pulls up easily just above the uppermost node, the tiller has probably been infested with wheat stem maggot. There will be chewing at the end of the stem that was pulled out.
For further information on disease management in your wheat or with wheat productions, contact me at any Post Rock Extension District Office in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Developmental Milestones - A Guide for Parents

Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent

How do you know if your child's development is on the right track? Your child is going through many physical and mental changes. Although no two children grow at the same rate, experts agree there are “typical” signs of development.

The K-State Research and Extension Developmental Milestones fact sheets provide a checklist of important milestones in your child’s development during the first five years of life. They are a simple tool you can use to become aware of and appreciate the dramatic changes that are occurring in your child.

You are the most important observer of your child’s development. As you utilize the fact sheets, it is recommended to watch for the listed signs over a one-month period. Remember, each child is different and may learn and grow at a different rate. If you have a concern about your child’s development, you should consult your pediatrician.

The Developmental Milestones fact sheets can be accessed at the links below. You can also contact your local Post Rock District Office to access these resources and more!

* Developmental Milestones: The First Year -

* Developmental Milestones: The Second Year -

* Developmental Milestones: The Third Year -

 * Developmental Milestones: The Fourth Year -

* Developmental Milestones: The Fifth Year -

Monday, May 8, 2017

10 Tips for Safe Home-Canned Food

Ashley Svaty, Food Safety and Health Agent

Home-canned foods are a year-round treat. But if those foods are not canned safely, foodborne illness can turn a treat into tragedy. Use current canning methods and follow these tips to can foods safely.

1. Adjust for Altitude- Kansas altitudes can range from below 1,000 feet to just over 4,000 feet. Failure to adjust for altitude will lead to under processed food, which could cause foodborne illness.

Use the publication found here to make altitude adjustments

2. Headspace- Proper headspace helps ensure a good vacuum seal on jars. Too little headspace can compromise the seal. Food and liquid expands during processing and may seep underneath the sealing compound.

3. Processing Equipment-Processing methods that are recommended for home canning are water bath canners for high-acid foods and pressure canners for low-acid foods. The following old methods are not recommended and may cause spoiled food and foodborne illness:  

  • Open Kettle Canning- In this method, hot food is poured into jars and the lid and ring are applied with no further heat processing. This allows bacteria, yeast, and mold to grow and spoil food. Examples include inverting hot jars and sun canning. 
  • Oven- Oven temperatures vary with the accuracy of oven regulators and air movement. Dry heat moves slowly through jars, allowing bacteria to grow. Jars may crack due to temperature shock. 
  • Dishwasher- Use the dishwasher to wash empty jars and keep them hot, do not use it for processing filled jars. The water temperature is not high enough to kill bacteria.

4. Untested or Homemade Recipes- Canning your favorite recipe is risky, and may cause spoilage and make you sick. It is difficult to determine the safety of a homemade recipe without having detailed knowledge of the recipe, preparation procedures, total acid content, and consistency of the final product. Use tested recipes from trusted resources such as USDA, K-State Research and Extension publications, or home preserving equipment and ingredient manufacturers. Commercially canned foods are rigorously tested for safety. It is dangerous to recreate them at home.

5. Acidifying Tomatoes- Tomatoes are on the borderline between a low-acid and high-acid food. Tomato processing recommendations include both boiling water and pressure canning. Pressure processing instructions are equivalent in heat treatment to water bath processing. Both methods require acidification. There are no recommendations to process tomatoes without acidification.

6. Improper Processing Time- Use trusted resources for safe processing instructions. Guessing can lead to under processing and foodborne illness or to over processing and poor quality food.

7. Lids and Jars- Recipes specify what size of jar to use. If a recipe lists pints only, do not use a larger jar. Regular and wide-mouth Mason-type, threaded, home-canning jars with self-sealing lids are the best choice. Half-gallon jars are only used for canning high acid juices. With careful use and handling, Mason jars may be reused many times. The common self-sealing lid consists of a flat metal lid and a metal screw band. These lids are used one-time only. Reusing metal lids can lead to seal failure and spoilage. Lids manufactured since 2014 do not require heat treatment before use. All lids, however, can be heated gently in hot simmering water. Do not boil lids as excessive heat softens the gasket compound too much. Metal screw bands can be reused.

8. Modifying Tested Recipes- Adding thickeners, pasta, rice, or any other ingredient to tested recipes can result in spoilage and foodborne illness. These changes alter the acidity and consistency, which slows heat penetration. Instead, make the recipe as stated, then add extra ingredients before serving.

9. Fancy Pack- Fancy packs are not practical and produce potentially unsafe products. Processing times depend on specific preparation procedures. For example, preparation instructions specify cutting carrot pieces, instead of packing them whole. Fancy packs can slow heat penetration through the jar of dense food. The slow process of fancy packing hot food will cool the food too much, resulting in under processing.

10. New Appliances- Food preservation manufacturers are selling new appliances to help consumer preserve food without a lot of expertise or in smaller batches. These appliances must be used according to their instructions and recipes. Use of recipes not developed for these appliances can lead to seal failure, food spoilage, and other potential health risks.

Content for this article is from K-State Research and Extension’s publication “10 Tips for Safe Home-Canned Food”. For access to this publication and other food preservation resources, contact a Post Rock District Office or email Ashley at