Monday, July 27, 2015

Which wheat variety do I pick?

Sandra L. Wick, Crop Production Agent

Many producers are evaluating the performance of their current wheat varieties and considering new varieties they should plant here in a couple of months.   Clearly, the yield potential of a wheat variety is a top priority, but resistance to diseases and insect pests is also an important factor to consider when selecting a wheat variety.  The Wheat Variety Disease and Insect Ratings publication from K-State Research and Extension can help growers identify the best varieties for their farms. The publication also provides helpful summaries to help producers better understand the historical risk of diseases in their area and quickly identify the varieties with the best overall disease resistance.
Copies of the 2015 KSU Wheat Variety Disease and Insect Ratings, can be found on-line or at any of the Post Rock Extension District Offices.
The Post Rock Extension District had 5 wheat demonstration test plots in the area and the yield reports are posted on our district website at or are available at any of the Post Rock Extension Offices in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.  Be sure to also look at the K-State Research and Extension experiment sites across Kansas with Belleville and Hays being the closest to our area.  One of the plots in our district was a replicated plot associated with the Belleville site that will be included in the KSU Wheat performance booklet.
The use of wheat variety blends is also a big question of producers.   Blends can offer producers some yield stability in most cases. While any one variety may do much better or worse than other varieties in the same vicinity, having a blend of two or three varieties can usually even out those ups and downs. Using blends also reduces the chances of having a landlord upset because the variety planted yielded considerably less than other fields in the area. 
There are just a few guidelines to remember.  Use varieties with different disease resistance.  Although the cost effectiveness of fungicides now may reduce the importance of this factor, there is still value to having at least one natural source of resistance to diseases.  Use varieties with slightly different maturities. If producers can spread out the maturity a bit, there is a better chance that at least one of the varieties can benefit from a given weather pattern.  And lastly, don’t be afraid to try the new varieties in a blend.
Contact me (any Post Rock Extension District Office or if you have further questions on wheat variety selection or other questions in your fields.  Join us on Facebook at “Post Rock Extension” along our website is and my twitter account is @PRDcrops.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

“Blue-Ribbon Produce – How to Select Produce and Flowers for the Fair”

Jenae Ryan, Horticulture Agent

With county fair season in full swing, many folks are headed out to their gardens and flower beds to select the best specimens to exhibit at the fair. Not sure how to decide which flower or which potatoes to bring to town? Here are some hints for selecting produce and flowers to exhibit at a county fair:

1.      Read your fair book! It will have guidelines and rules for how many specimens you need for each class and other requirements for the contest.
2.      Think about what you look for when you buy produce at the store. Fruits and veggies that are at the peak ripeness are preferred! If you are picking them a day or two before the fair, select produce that is slightly under-ripe so it will be ready when you arrive at the fair.
3.      Flowers should be at peak bloom as well.
a.       Round flowers, such as roses, zinnias, daisies, marigolds, etc., should be picked the flower is fully developed and the outer petals should be folded out (but not wilting). If the outer petals are droopy or wilting, the flower is overmature.
b.      Spike flowers, such as gladiolus and snapdragon, should be cut when the florets on the bottom half of the stalk are open and fresh.
4.      Produce and flowers should be free from blemishes. Avoid specimens that have insect damage, mechanical injury, weather damage, or other blemishes that could reduce eye appeal.
5.      Be sure to pick produce that are the same size and shape. For example, if you need 10 green beans per exhibit, they should all be the same length, width, color, and shape. Sometimes you will have to look through several plants to find enough specimens that match each other.
6.      Produce and flowers should be clean when displayed. Gently wipe off any dirt or other debris before placing on the display plate. If you are bringing flowers in your own vase, be sure that the container has been washed out and free from fingerprints and smudges.

Hopefully you have fun spending the time in your garden choosing your specimens to exhibit and your hard work is paid off with a blue ribbon! If not, take a look at the winning exhibits and learn from them. Take notes on what you can look for in next year’s crop. The county fair should be a fun, educational experience, even if it is a contest! J

For more information on choosing flowers for display, check out publication 4H-826 “Preparing Cut Flowers for Exhibit”:

For more information on choosing fruits and vegetables, see the handout C-405 “Exhibiting Fruits and Vegetables”:

Both of these publications are available to pick up at your local Post Rock Extension District Office!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Fitting Physical Activity into Busy Schedules

Ashley Goudey, Nutrition, Food Safety & Health Agent        

I bet you have heard a time or two that physical activity is very important for your health.  But do you know how much exercise is needed to reduce your risk for chronic diseases such as Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, and Stroke?  According to the United States Department of Agriculture, adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a week or at least one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week.  Children aged 6-17 should be active at least 60 minutes a day. Moderate activities include: Hiking, dancing, golfing, walking, gardening, stretching, and light bicycling.  Vigorous activities include: running/jogging, brisk walking, swimming, aerobics, heavy yard work, and basketball.  When you take time to get active, your body will thank you in many ways on top of reducing your risk of chronic disease.  Physical activity is linked to better sleep, positive personal feelings, weight loss or weight maintenance, and even reduced daily pain.  I hope you are all motivated to get active so let’s talk about how to fit this into a busy schedule!
Lack of time has been one of the main excuses we use to not exercise, this just means we have to sneak in fitness!  One trick to reaching the recommended physical activity is to get active for short periods at a time.  Activities such as walking, stretching, push-ups/sit ups can be split up throughout your day into 5 minute increments.  For busy workers, walk 5-10 minutes before and after work, 10 minutes during lunch and 5 minutes during breaks.  Before you know it, you walked 30 minutes-or more and didn’t have to pencil anything in! While at work, try standing instead of sitting at your desk all day.  Stand up to try 10 air squats or lunges a few times a day; stretch your arms, legs, back, and neck. Instead of sending an email to a coworker, walk to their desk and deliver the message personally.  Put reminders on your email or phone calendars to get up and move, sometimes we forget how long we’ve been sitting and need a break to get the blood flowing again!
After a long day at work, instead of instantly plopping down on the couch, make it a priority to get active first.  If we get in the habit of sitting down right when we get home, our motivation to get up and get moving again goes out the window. After work, I tell myself that I will go home and walk or clean the house (who knew housekeeping was physical activity!) for a set time before I can start making the evening meal.  I love to cook so this is a great motivator for me, if you love to sit down and watch your favorite tv show at 6pm, make that show a treat you can enjoy after you get active doing something that interests you.  I cannot say this enough but working out is much easier when you are doing something you enjoy!  There are even ways to squeeze in physical activity while you watch your favorite tv show.  Walking on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike, stretching, or lifting free weights are all options that you can do while still enjoying your show.  It is recommended to limit your screen time to less than 2 hours a day.
Walking around the neighborhood is a simple and fun way to get your moderate exercise- and having a walking partner is even better!  You get exercise and bonding time all wrapped into one activity.  You can schedule walks with your family, which also helps keep each other accountable.  Another tip to get the family involved is to play a sport that you all enjoy. Set one day a week that works for everyone to get active together, a family that is active together is healthy together!  If your children are on sports teams, use their practices as a time for you to get active.  Get a couple parents to join as you walk around the field to watch them instead of sitting down on the bleachers. 

All of the little steps that you take towards being active during the day add up for your health and are much better choices than staying sedentary.  Overall, have fun and enjoy yourself while becoming more active!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Come and join us at the 2015 K-State Beef Conference in Salina

Monday, July 6, 2015

County Fair Involves Good Times and Judging

Aliesa Woods, District Extension Agent

It’s that time of year to get involved in your local County Fair. A countless number of volunteers have worked many hours in preparation of the event, and whether it be the food, games, rides, animals or entertainment, they hope there will be something at the fair for everyone to enjoy.

The local fairs in the Post Rock District will be held on the following dates:

Jewell County Fair in Mankato July 12-15

Smith County Fair in Smith Center July 16-20

Lincoln County Fair in Sylvan Grove July 22-25

Osborne County Fair in Osborne July 23-27

Mitchell County Fair in Beloit August 6-9

While your County Fair may be a few weeks away now is the time to put it on your calendar and plan to attend and make something to exhibit.

The fair is also an important event for our 4-H youth who have worked for months on their projects. The evaluation or judging of the 4-H exhibits is a positive and exciting part of the total 4-H experience. Exhibits are places in four ribbon groups: purple, blue, red or white. Have you ever wondered what the different ribbon colors mean?

Purple: Outstanding on all standards

Blue: Exceeds the minimum standards; may have minor flaws where improvements can be made

Red: Meets all minimum standards; may be visible signs of needed improvements

White: Fails to meet the minimum standard

I encourage you to get out and support the local 4-H youth in your community and get involved in the County Fair! Go check out their exhibits and see what color of ribbon they earned.