Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Home Management is a Family Affair

Nora Rhoades- Family and Youth Development Agent

           Families constantly juggle work, school, activities... the list goes on and on. Staying focused on home management can be challenging when you’re pulled in many directions, yet sustaining some level of organization, structure and routine is an essential part of ensuring satisfaction in all aspects of life. Successful home management takes place when every family member contributes to the overall health, happiness and well-being of the family’s needs. Taking care of your home and family’s needs is a team effort.
            Develop a system to share the responsibilities of home management. It is unfair to expect one person to restore and maintain order. When youth and adults help with housework and other family responsibilities, they learn to carry out tasks, accept responsibility and help others. They develop a sense of “can do”, which builds self-confidence.
Start with a positive attitude. Cleaning is a chore, but taking a positive approach will encourage family members to become involved. Find out what jobs the children and adults think need to be done. Rather than saying “clean bedroom”, describe tasks specifically (“make bed”, “pick up toys”, “put dirty clothes in hamper”, “sort mail”, etc...).
            Decide who will do what. What are each person’s daily and weekly responsibilities? Take into consideration people’s likes and dislikes. Steer away from assigning a task to someone simply because he/she does it better than the others. Remember, practice makes perfect for others.
Teach necessary skills. It is important to help others develop the skills necessary to complete a task. Demonstrate how to do each task, and make sure he/she knows how to operate equipment safely. Work side-by-side, observe and make corrections as necessary. Don’t forget to provide positive encouragement generously!
            Agree on acceptable standards and work quality. Everyone has different ideas about what constitutes a “clean” room and “completed” task. There are often many safe ways to reach the same end goal. Be specific when determining responsibilities so that everyone understands expectations. Allow all children and adults to have input.
Set fair and reasonable deadlines. Deadlines should be age-appropriate and agreed upon by all parties involved. Younger children may not understand a firm deadline such as day and time. It may be helpful to use the “when/then” technique. For example, say, “When the toys are picked up, then you may go outside and play.”
Determine rewards and consequences. Before a problem occurs, discuss and agree upon rewards for a job well done and consequences for not meeting expectations. One objective of involving the whole family in housework is to learn and practice the responsibilities of self- and home care. Remember, the ultimate goal is to work as a team to satisfy your family’s needs, health, happiness and overall well-being.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Leasing Arrangements

   Now that the fall crops are out of the field and in the bin or sold at the elevator, tenants and landlords may be wondering about re-examining their farmland leasing arrangements. Whether your leasing arrangements include cropland, pasture or both, this can be a very challenging component of your farming enterprise. With the downward trend of the commodity markets, this may be the time to re-negotiate the components of your leasing arrangements, whether it be a crop share or a cash rental arrangement.
   It is estimated that approximately 50% of Kansas farmland and pastureland is rented and is a
growing prominence with many producers. Different types of leases have been developed to meet the needs of the modern Kansas farmer and rancher. It is important that both parties, to a farm or ranch lease, understand the details of their lease agreement and the laws that affect their lease. Leases can be written or oral, however, a written lease is strongly encouraged as it will help and make sure the rights of all parties involved are clearly defined and understood.
   Leases can be annual or multi-year with advantages and disadvantages of both. Multi-year leasing arrangements will allow the tenant and landlord to plan accordingly especially with costly machinery investments.
   A very important principle for all leases is good communication between the landowner and the tenant, during the good years and especially during the bad years. By keeping both parties informed of changes in market conditions, production practices, or future plans like selling the land or passing it to heirs, the opportunity for conflict is greatly reduced. Leasing is a business relationship between two parties and if both are satisfied with the outcome of the leasing arrangement, then there is stability.
The Post Rock Extension District is again conducting a leasing arrangements survey in each of our 5 counties including Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne and Smith. We are expecting the compiled data to be completed approximately the middle of January, 2017. If you would like a copy of the compiled results, either stop by, call or email us at any of the Post Rock Extension District Offices.
   K-State Research and Extension has many excellent tools and resources available at the website under the “TOOLS” tab along the top of the page and then scroll down to the bottom to “Land leasing and purchasing” and you will find the KSU-Lease and the KSU-Flexrent spreadsheets FREE to download. The tools can be used to help tenants and landlords determine equitable leasing arrangements.
   For more information on “Farmland Leasing Arrangements”, stop by or call me at any office of the Post Rock Extension District in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Walking Safely After Dark

- Ashley Svaty- Nutrition, Food Safety, and Health Agent

   Daylight savings time usually means coming home at dusk or even dark. Does this mean we should
skip out on our evening walk? No way, the weather has been cooperating so why not take advantage of cool weather before winter hits? Follow these strategies to stay safe while walking after dark.

1. Wear reflective gear. Being seen is important while walking in dim light to ensure safety. Some fitness pants and jackets have reflectors built in but if not, a reflective vest, belt, or straps can do the trick.

2. Light the way. Use a headlamp or flashlight to clearly see your route.

3. Be cautious of traffic. Always walk or run on a sidewalk if possible. If no sidewalk is available, face oncoming traffic so you can see upcoming headlights and move out of the way. Hearing traffic is important so skip the headphones at night.

4. Bring a friend. Not only for company to make the walk more enjoyable but drivers are more likely to see two people rather than if you ventured out alone.

5. Stay warm. Temperatures can drop quickly once the sun goes down. Remember you can always take off layers and tie a jacket around your waist.

Monday, November 21, 2016


Aliesa Woods, 4-H Youth Development Agent

    4‑H Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs are proven to engage youth in
fun, hands-on activities and get them excited about careers in science. Focus areas for 4‑H science programs include robotics, rocketry, environmental science, agri-science, biotechnology and veterinary science. 4‑H programs engage and excite young people in agricultural science topics such as veterinary science, biotechnology, raising and training animals and forestry. 4‑H programs use hands-on activities in robotics, rocketry, computer science and electrical engineering to teach problem solving, creative and critical thinking, and build excitement for engineering and technology.

Check out the following infographic on the top ways to attract youth to STEM.
Ready to join or just looking to learn more about 4‑H programs in your area visit

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Nora Rhoades - Family and Youth Development Agent

Saving energy and money go hand-in-hand. The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) has identified 12 simple ways consumers can save both. For more energy saving information, visit or

1)        Air Dry – Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.

2)        Turn It Off – Use timers and motion detectors to turn off lights. Unplug TV entertainment systems when travelling (use power strips for easy on/off switching), and don’t leave your computer and monitor on needlessly.

3)        Don’t Get Burned with Hot Water – Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120F. Water heaters are the second highest source of home energy use.

4)        Fill It Up, Please – Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.

5)        Keep ‘Em Clean – Check furnace, heat pump, and AC filters once a month, replace regularly. Dirty filters can increase energy costs and damage equipment.

6)        Get a Check Up – Get your heating system checked once a year. A licensed professional will make sure that your system is operating efficiently and safely.

7)        Stop the Breeze – Caulk and weather-strip around drafty doors and windows.

8)        Get an Audit – Your utility company may offer free energy audits that can identify expensive energy losses in your basement, unfinished rooms, attics and leaky ductwork. Sealing your ducts can give big savings on energy bills.

9)        Take a Walk – Circle your home with an easy-to-use spray foam insulation. Look for openings and gaps around pipes, chimneys, lights, windows, and brick and cement work.

10)     Get with the Program – Install a programmable thermostat which automatically adjusts the temperature during the day or at night, keeping you from forgetting as you dash off to work. This can save you up to $100 a year.

11)     Stay Bright – As “old-school” incandescent light bulbs burn out, replace them with new, light emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) and save about $90 a year in electricity costs. You pay more up-front, but shop around, prices are dropping. They use up to 25% less energy and can last up to twelve times longer.

12)     Be a Star – Look for products and appliances that have earned the ENERGY STAR label. They meet strict new energy efficiency criteria that will reduce your utility bills and help the environment. For example, an ENERGY STAR clothes washer uses about 40% less water and 25% less energy than standard models.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Seeing is Believing with On-Farm Research and Demonstration Test Plots

Sandra Wick - Crop Production Agent 

   K-State’s Research and Extension’s mission is to provide the citizens of Kansas with technical information and education that can enhance the economic viability and quality of life in our communities. One good way to do this is through well-planned and carefully-conducted demonstrations or “on-farm research” that serves as one of the most effective Extension education tools ever developed. Although complete demonstrations require considerable time and effort, the payback comes when producers readily adapt practices they perceive to be appropriate under local conditions. This is known as “seeing is believing.” Clients who observe demonstrations of the latest techniques or practices and then apply them to their own particular situations are our present and future Extension leaders. Demonstrations should illustrate the application of appropriate technology, that is, technology that fits the local set of conditions. When this occurs, the maximum learning will result from the resources invested.

The need for demonstrations was first recognized over a century ago by Seaman A. Knapp, an
Extension pioneer. Knapp’s theory was that farmers would not change their methods as a result of observing farms operated at public expense, but that demonstrations conducted by farmers themselves on their own farms under ordinary farm conditions were the answer. In Knapp’s words, “What a man hears, he may doubt; what he sees, he may also doubt; but what he does, he cannot doubt.” In 1903, Knapp proved his point through now famous demonstrations or on-farm research. The demonstration included a small farm in Texas that planted half in corn and half in cotton. The purpose was to illustrate the effects of using different seed varieties, fertilizers, methods of planting, and cultivation. The farmer made $700 more than might have been expected and the demonstration was a success. Then the opportunity came to use demonstrations on a broad scale in the weevil-infested areas of Texas and two adjoining states. Knapp demonstrated improved cotton growing methods. With a $40,000 budget, he directed more than 20 federal agents who worked with some 7,000 farmers to establish demonstration plots. This marked the beginning of demonstrations in the Cooperative Extension Service.

   Post Rock Extension District is very fortunate to have many producers who are willing to put in the extra time and effort for on-farm research or demonstration test plots. For this fall, we are fortunate to have four wheat demonstration plots across the district. Thanks to Calvin and Josh Bohnert, Marty Fletchall, Theron Haresnape, and Rick Mans as cooperators of the “on-farm wheat research for K-State Research and Extension and for the Post Rock District! Three of the wheat plots (Jewell, Osborne and Smith) include between 25-28 varieties, blends and population studies. The fourth plot (Mitchell) is a KSU replicated plot that is designed and was planted by the KSU NW Extension and Experiment Field staff.

   An additional sensor-based N fertility study (4th year) (Smith County) will be done in the Post Rock District addressing the application rates and dates for the most efficient nutrient uptake. Two
additional research plots have been collaborated with KSU Agronomy including a wheat phosphorus (P) study (Osborne County) along with a study looking at some of the newer urea type products such as ESN polymer coated urea, and NBPT coated urea (Mitchell County) to see if they offer any improvements in safety when placed with the seed. There are three urea sources and four different rates being used in the study.

“Knowledge for Life” continues to be our goal for K-State Research and Extension, so our educational programming provides research-based information from the university to the producers of our district.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Slow Cooking Season

Ashley Goudey - Nutrition, Food Safety and Health Agent

    It’s officially that time of the year, time to dust off the slow cooker to make meal prep a little easier! Everyone loves opening their front door and being welcomed with the aroma of beef stew or chicken noodle soup after a long day! A slow cooker can make life a little more convenient because by planning ahead, you save time later. Slow cookers also use less electricity than an oven, so it’s a win-win. Below are answers to common slow cooker questions. 

Can I put frozen meat into my slow cooker? NO. Always thaw meat or poultry before placing in a slow cooker. Play it safe and thaw your ingredients in the refrigerator.

I placed my meat in the slow cooker and then forgot to turn it on. It was off for 6 hours before I discovered it. Is it still safe? If I cook it, will that destroy any bacteria and make it safe? This meat is not safe, even if you cook it. Perishable food left in the “Danger Zone” (between 40ᵒF-140°F for more than 2 hours needs to be discarded even though if may look and smell good.

How much food can my slow cooker hold? Always consult your owner’s manual for suggested sizes of meat and poultry to cook in your slow cooker.

Is preheating necessary? Preheating the crock before adding ingredients or cooking on the highest setting for the first hour will ensure a rapid heat start and will shorten the time foods are in the temperature danger zone. This is highly recommended when cooking meat or poultry in a slow cooker.

What if the power goes out? You never know what kind of weather we will have in Kansas-and severe weather can lead to power outages. If you are not at home during the entire slow cooking process and the power goes out, throw away the food even if it looks done. If you are at home, finish cooking the ingredients immediately by some other means: on a gas stove, on the outdoor grill or at a house where the power is on. When you are at home, and if the food was completely cooked before the power went out, the food should remain safe up to two hours in the cooker with the power off.

Can I reheat leftovers in my slow cooker? Reheating leftovers in a slow cooker is not recommended. Store leftovers in shallow covered containers and refrigerate within two hours after cooking is finished. Cooked food should be reheated on the stove, in a microwave, or in a conventional oven until it reaches 165 °F.

How much liquid do I add? Water or liquid is necessary to create steam. When cooking meat or poultry, the water or liquid level should cover the ingredients to ensure effective heat transfer throughout the crock. Follow the manufacturer's recipes and directions for best results.

Sources:, USDA, and University of Minnesota Extension

Friday, October 21, 2016

Prepare for Health Insurance Decision-Making

Nora Rhoades- Family and Youth Development Agent

    The fall season is a popular time to make health insurance decisions. Many employers, the Health Insurance Marketplace, and some public programs, such as Medicare, utilize the fall as the one time each year you can change or renew insurance coverage.
    Generally, you can only buy health insurance coverage during annual open enrollment periods. It is difficult to change coverage if you don’t experience a qualifying life event, so it’s best to take advantage of the open enrollment period. If you experience a qualifying life event, such as losing job coverage, getting married, or having a child, you can change your health insurance outside of the open enrollment period in a special enrollment period.
    Delays in enrollment, coverage, and penalties may apply if the consumer doesn’t enroll at the appropriate time. While there are a few exceptions, the Affordable Care Act requires that you are insured for at least nine months out of every year, or you will have to pay a penalty at tax time for being uninsured.
    Medicare open enrollment is October 15, 2016 through December 7. Medicare Open Enrollment is an annual opportunity for individuals with Medicare eligibility to make changes to Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug coverage for the following year. You can get free, un-biased health insurance counseling from a SHICK (Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas) Counselor. To identify a SHICK Counselor in your area, contact the Post Rock Extension District or the Kansas Agency on Aging office in your area.
    Open enrollment through the Kansas Health Insurance Marketplace for 2017 coverage will begin November 1, 2016. December 15 is the last day to enroll or change an insurance plan through the Marketplace for coverage to start January 1, 2017. January 31 is the last day to enroll in or change a 2017 health plan. After this date, you can enroll or change plans only if you qualify for a special enrollment period. Cover Kansas Navigators are trained, un-biased volunteers who can assist you with making decisions in the Marketplace. To identify a Navigator in your area, call the Marketplace at 1-800-318-2596 or contact the Post Rock Extension District.
    Contact your local Post Rock Extension District Office to access resources that can provide non-biased assistance as you work through the health insurance decision-making process.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Nitrates and Prussic Acid

Neil Cates, Livestock Agent

Many of you have already or are preparing to swath or graze your fall forages such as, oats, millets, forage sorghums and sorghum sudan grasses. We have had great moisture to allow these forage crops to thrive. Even with the plentiful moisture, I have still tested several forages that have produced toxic levels of nitrates. Be sure to test your forages before you graze or feed them this fall and into the winter. This is a service offered by the livestock program of the Post Rock Extension District.

Another concern this time of year is the risk of prussic acid poisoning. Sorghums, sudan grasses, sorghum-sudan grass crosses, and closely related species are most commonly associated with prussic acid poisoning. Most sorghum and sudan grasses contain a prussic acid precursor (dhurrin) in their epidermal cells. Dhurrin in itself is not toxic, but the plant contains an enzyme that under certain conditions (periods of stress), converts dhurrin to prussic acid. 

Grain sorghum generally has higher concentrations of dhurrin than forage sorghums or sudan grass. Dhurrin concentrations are usually low under normal growing conditions. Problems occur in young plants, new regrowth, and following rapid regrowth after a period of stunted growth, such as rapid growth of drought-stressed plants following a rain, or regrowth following a frost or freeze. These conditions cause concern for high concentrations of dhurrin resulting in livestock poisoning.

So what can be done to prevent prussic acid poisoning?

-Do not graze these prussic acid accumulating places unless they are tested first. 

-If plants have been damaged by herbicides or frost, defer grazing until they either are well recovered from injury or after a killing freeze. After a killing frost, wait at least 7-10 days or until the frozen leaf tissue has completely dried out before grazing to allow the released hydrogen cyanide gas to dissipate.

-Do not graze plants in the sorghum family until they are 2 to 3 feet tall and be cautious of grazing regrowth.

-When turning livestock into new pastures containing prussic acid accumulating plants, don’t turn in on cloudy days, or early in the morning.

-Feed grain or hay before releasing the animals to pasture.

On the bright side, prussic acid dissipates from plants properly cured for hay. However, in hay baled early at high moisture or plants chopped for immediate feeding, the prussic acid may not have had a chance to dissipate. Under these conditions or grazing, the best assurance is to test your feed stuffs for prussic acid.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Club for Kids and the Whole Family

Aliesa Woods - District Extension Director and 4-H Youth Development Agent

   Looking for an activity that involves the whole family? Do you want your children to learn leadership, communication skills, and cooperation? Then 4-H could be for you! 4-H teaches kids from all backgrounds how to become well rounded individuals.
     Enrollment is now open for kids ages 7-18. Clubs are groups of families and volunteers who meet monthly. At meetings, members share their projects, plan community service activities and learn to make decisions.

   4-H is built in a belief in the power of young people, that every child has valuable strengths and real influence to improve the world around them. The organization provides the kinds of experiences to grow into true leaders. 

   In Kansas, more than 86,000 youth participate in the 4-H program through hands-on projects in areas like science, health, agriculture and citizenship. 4-H clubs have evolved to include special interest (SPIN) clubs focusing only on a particular project, in-school enrichment programs and after-school programs.

   There are 16 clubs in the Post Rock District. To find one near you visit

Monday, September 26, 2016

Stepping Stones for Stepfamilies

Nora Rhoades - Family and Youth Development Agent

    The stepfamily is becoming one of the most common family forms in this country. A stepfamily is defined in many ways. One definition is: a family in which one of the adults has a child or children
from a previous relationship. The adults may be married or living together. Families of this type may refer to their family unit as a stepfamily, blended family, remarried, binuclear, combined, or reconstituted.
    Stepparents have a ready-made family from the very beginning. The new family members must learn to live together. The stepchildren and stepparents have to learn to get along. Then there are former partners, grandparents, friends, current and former in-laws, teachers, clergy, and other people who must learn to adjust to the new stepfamily. Usually, these are not easy processes and can take a lot of time.
    Stepping Stones for Stepfamilies is a home study series focused on building strong stepfamily relationships. The home study series by K-State Research and Extension includes lessons on:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Seeding Rates in Wheat

Sandra Wick- Crop Production Agent 

   Producers soon will be planting their 2017 wheat crop. Variety selection is one of the most
challenging decisions that needs to be made, but you also need to remember that the wheat seeding rate is a very important component to establishing your wheat crop. Recommendations in Kansas are often stated in terms of pounds or seeds per acre, and vary according to different precipitation zones. However, seed size can have an impact in the final number of seeds actually planted per acre. A variety with larger kernels or less seeds/lb., when planted according to pounds per acre recommendations, will result in fewer seeds planted per acre and thinner stands than a variety with smaller kernels. So if the weather and fertility during the growing season are not favorable for tiller formation and survival, grain yields may be reduced due to the thinner stand. On the other extreme, a variety with small kernels planted according to pounds per acre recommendations can result in above-optimal stand establishment, increasing competition for available resources such as water and nutrients. 
    So an advantage of planting wheat in terms of seeds per acre rather than pounds per acre is that
seed costs can be reduced for varieties with a small kernel size. Seed size can simply be measured in terms of the number of seeds per pound. The “normal” range is about 14,000-16,000 seeds per pound for most wheat varieties, but it can range from 10,000 seeds per pound to more than 18,000 seeds per pound. Although seed size is specific to each individual wheat variety, it can also vary within a variety depending on the seed lot and the seed cleaning process. K-State Research and Extension studies have shown that wheat variety plays a major role in determining wheat kernel size, as does the quality of seed cleaning. So seed cleaning is very important if you are keeping and planting your own seed. This will ensure the final amount of seeds planted per acre will be close to your original target.
    Certified seed, or seed submitted for germination testing, will provide for you the seeds/pound. The 2017 Wheat book also provides a reference to the seed size tendency of varieties. However, an easy on-farm method to estimate the average seed weight is to collect several representative 100-seed samples and the weight of each of those samples in grams. Then to calculate the seeds/lb., simply divide by a conversion factor and the average weight of the 100-seed samples. There is also a quick reference guide available to help you adjust the planting rate in pounds per acre based on the wheat variety seed size and the targeted number of seeds planted per acre. This is below or available at any of the Post Rock Extension District Offices in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.
    The recommended wheat seeding rate for a dryland wheat producer in Central Kansas is about 750,000 to 900,000 seeds per acre, which calculates to about 50-60 lbs. with a final stand from 600,000 to 720,000 plants per acre. Then you simply use your seed size to increase or decrease the seeding rate along with your cropping system used and your planting date. Contact me if you have further questions on wheat seeding rates at any Post Rock Extension District Office.
Quick reference guide to adjust planting rate in pounds per acre based on the wheat variety seed size and the targeted number of seeds planted per acre.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Knowing Your Numbers: Cholesterol

Ashley Goudey- Nutrition, Food Safety and Health Agent

    High cholesterol affects more than 65 million Americans and is a serious health condition that increases the risk for heart disease-the number one killer of Americans. The greater your blood cholesterol levels, the greater your risk. Do you know your cholesterol numbers? If not, there’s no better time than now to get them checked. Many people are living with high cholesterol levels and are at an increased risk of heart disease without realizing it.
    Cholesterol is a waxy lipid (fat) found in all body cells. Our body uses cholesterol to make hormones, bile acids, vitamin D, and other substances. There are two forms of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL)-also known as the “bad” Cholesterol-and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) –the “good” cholesterol. Too much LDL cholesterol creates a plaque that can accumulate and clog the arteries, causing heart disease and stroke. HDL is known as the “good guy” because it helps clean the artery walls and carry away the excess bad cholesterol.
    The recommended target cholesterol for men and women is less than 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood. Cholesterol can be checked through simple blood tests. The American Heart Association recommends a “fasting lipoprotein profile” every five years starting at age 20. This fasting test helps accurately measure the total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in your blood. Additional screenings are recommended for men age 45 and older and women age 50 and older. Additional screenings are also recommended if total cholesterol is 200mg/dl or higher, HDL cholesterol levels are lower than 40 mg/dl, or other risk factors for heart disease and stroke are present.

Lifestyle changes to improve cholesterol:

· Talk to a medical provider for personalized treatment options.

· Exercise most days of the week. With your doctor's OK, work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.

· Maintain a healthy weight.

· Add soluble fiber to your diet (oats, fruits, vegetables, and legumes).

· Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke.

· Eat foods high in good, unsaturated fats, including omega-3 fatty acids (sesame, flax, pumpkin seeds, avocado, olive oil, peanut butter, and fish).

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Insects in Crops

Sandra Wick - Crop Production Agent

 My, this has certainly been an interesting year for insects in crops around North Central Kansas! It started with the Sugarcane Aphid in the grain sorghum. Aphids in the grain sorghum have been around for years, but you really haven’t had to worry about them much except for the last couple of years when a new aphid started showing up especially in southern KS. However, this year, they progressed in northern KS and have been detected as far north as Mitchell and southern Osborne counties. This aphid can spread rapidly across a very wide geographic range and reproduce even more rapidly than greenbugs. There is also a yellow sugarcane aphid that has been found in KS for several years, but it hasn’t really caused much of a problem. The distinguishing feature of white sugarcane aphids is their short, dark, paired, tailpipe-like structures, called cornicles, on their tail-end. The green bug aphid can look very similar to the sugarcane aphid, but it has a distinctive darker green stripe down the back and the sugarcane aphids do NOT.
  So the White sugarcane aphid feeds all the way up to grain fill, of sorghum plants, and can interfere with harvest as their sticky honeydew that is produced can literally gum up your combine. One good thing is that it WILL NOT overwinter in KS.
  Sugarcane aphids tend to colonize the lower surfaces of the lower leaves first and then move to the upper leaves. The most damage occurs when the aphids attack the grain sorghum head causing reductions in not only grain weight, but harvesting problems due to the heavy amount of honeydew. Cooler weather, below 60 degrees F. tends to slow them down. 
  However the good news is……Some of the beneficial insects or the natural enemies of sugarcane aphids including the lady beetles and some parasitic wasps have been active and have helped control some of the aphids.
  The economic threshold of the sugarcane aphid is if your field would have approximately 30% infestation with active feeding aphids which might warrant spraying.
  Another very active insect of sorghum this year is the headworms or also known as the corn earworm and the soybean podworm, which feed directly on the grain in the head from the blooming to the soft dough stage. So the best way to scout for these worms, is to simply shake the heads into a white bucket from several parts of the field to see if anything is found. The economic threshold for the headworm, is figured slightly different as it is approximately 5%/worm/head potential loss. Mature size is approximately 1 ½ inches.
Now let’s move to soybeans. The green cloverworm has been very active for last couple of weeks and has done extensive foliar feeding on the top 1/3 of the canopy with some feeding moving down the plant. Green cloverworm larvae are light green with three pairs of stripes running the length of the body with three pairs of ‘true’ legs behind the head separated by three legless segments. Producers have been scouting with several spraying for the cloverworm. Generally the feeding from the cloverworm is limited to the foliage, but can feed on the pod. The mature cloverworm will reach about 1 to 1 ¼ inches. A fungal disease is really attacking the cloverworms at this time and cutting the populations.
  Another insect on the soybeans is the soybean podworm, also known as the corn earworm and the sorghum headworm. The podworm damage to soybeans occurs from August through September. Significant damage may occur when large larvae feed on pods consuming the developing seeds. Producers have also been scouting for the podworm. Control measures should be implemented when an average of one small worm per foot of row is detected.

  So, the bottom line is…… Scouting is the best way to detect any insect infestations in your field.
  Contact me if you have further questions on insect management or would like any insect identified in your fields at any Post Rock Extension District office in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Youth Enrichment Program

 Aliesa Woods - District Extension Director, and 4-H Youth Development Agent

The Post Rock Extension District Youth Enrichment program provides local educators with the opportunity to bring K-State Research and Extension into the classroom. These programs will
provide hands on learning for local youth and are designed to enhance your child’s knowledge and personal growth. The programs cover a variety of topic areas including livestock, money management, horticulture, food and nutrition, agronomy and healthy relationships. These classes will be scheduled on a first come, first serve basis.

You can find the brochure with a list of program descriptions and contact information at:

Monday, August 22, 2016

Prepare Kansas: Keep Food Safe during a Disaster

Nora Rhoades- Family and Youth Development Agent

Facebook will play a key role in Prepare Kansas 2016, K-State Research and Extension’s effort to prepare Kansans for emergencies.

Ice storms, tornadoes, and flooding, oh my! Kansas has them all and more. Do you really know how long food will stay safe in the refrigerator if your power is out? Or what foods and supplies you should have on hand in case of emergencies?

Starting September 1, Prepare Kansas 2016 will provide tips on keeping food safe in emergency situations. This year’s program will be conducted through the K-State Research and Extension Facebook page. No registration is required, so Kansans and anyone interested in planning ahead for emergencies can follow on Facebook at any time during September, pick up handy information and interact with K-State extension specialists and agents. 

Throughout 2015, a total of 126 tornadoes alone occurred across the state, which made it the fourth highest year for tornadoes since 1950, according to the Kansas Department of Emergency Management.

“Kansas has its share of disasters, whether it’s a homeowner’s basement flooding or a fire affecting a whole block in a community. We’re committed to working with people across the state to help them be prepared for anything that comes their way,” said Kansas State University associate professor Elizabeth Kiss. “We can’t always keep disasters from happening, but we know that being as prepared as possible, whether it’s making an emergency kit or having copies of your financial and personal information in a separate, safe place, aids in the recovery from disasters.”

K-State Research and Extension has a Prepare Kansas blog, which provides tips and resources on a range of emergency preparedness topics, including this September’s focus on food safety.

“It is very important to keep food safety in mind before, during and after emergencies such as power outages and floods, to help to reduce the likelihood of people getting sick from eating contaminated food. That would make a challenging situation even worse,” said Londa Nwadike, consumer food safety specialist with K-State Research and Extension. “Some of the food safety practices that are important in emergency situations are good practices to help prevent people from getting sick at any time.” 

More information on Prepare Kansas will be available in September at and any time at

For a local connection to emergency preparedness and food safety resources contact a Post Rock District Family and Consumer Science Agent. The Post Rock District of K-State Research and Extension serves Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Smith Counties. Contact information for the District includes: Osborne 346-2521, Beloit 738-3597, Lincoln 524-4432, Mankato 378-3174, and Smith Center 282-6823. Like “Post Rock Extension” on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Our website is

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Remember to control your VOLUNTEER wheat!

Sandra Wick - Crop Production Agent

    Producers are gearing up to plant their 2017 wheat crop around north central Kansas! Producers really don’t like the mention of volunteer wheat, but you can always count on it rearing its ugly head. Volunteer wheat is a fact of life in wheat production and no combine is perfect, so there is usually plenty of grain left on the ground in the field to produce volunteer.
Volunteer wheat can serve as a host for insects such as the wheat curl mite, Hessian fly, greenbug and the bird cherry-oat aphid along with diseases such as wheat streak mosaic and barley yellow dwarf. Wheat Streak mosaic, spread by the insect…the wheat curl mite, is the most important threat from volunteer wheat.
    The wheat can be infected with the wheat streak virus in the fall or in the spring with fall infection most impacting the yield. Adult and immature wheat curl mites are tiny, white, cigar-shaped organisms with four legs near the head. They are nearly invisible to the naked eye and fit between the veins of the wheat leaves. Eggs are placed in rows along leaf veins. The mites reproduce most rapidly at 75° to 85°F. Reproduction stops at temperatures near freezing, but the mites can survive for several months at near freezing temperatures and for several days at 0°F. Under good conditions, a generation can be completed in 10 days. Most mites are found on the terminal leaves and move to each new leaf as it emerges. Heavy mite populations can cause the leaf margins to roll or curl inward, hence the name. As the wheat plant dries down, the wheat curl mites congregate on the flag leaves and even the glumes of the head where they are picked up by wind currents and carried to their over-summering grass hosts including volunteer wheat, corn and a few other grasses. As summer hosts start to dry down the reverse process occurs and mites are carried by winds to newly emerged winter wheat. The most severe wheat streak mosaic is found where volunteer wheat provides a "green bridge" through the summer between successive wheat crops. Hail during the heading period can also lead to high over-summering populations by knocking heads containing wheat curl mites to the ground and starting early volunteer. This early volunteer can then be immediately infested with wheat curl mites. Look for yellow streaking or mosaic patterns on young leaves. Infected plants are stunted and tiller poorly and tillers may sometimes be prostrate on the ground.
    On average, Kansas producers lose 10 million bushels per year to this disease. Control of volunteer wheat is the best defense against the wheat streak mosaic virus.
    If the volunteer is still alive, or worse yet, dying when new wheat is emerging, pests and diseases will likely move from the volunteer wheat directly into the new wheat. Some worst cases of wheat streak mosaic, in past years, were in fields where volunteer was sprayed soon after the wheat crop was planted. As the volunteer slowly died from the herbicide the wheat curl mites moved into the emerging wheat and spread the wheat streak virus to the plants.
    Volunteer wheat can be destroyed by either conventional tillage or by use of chemicals or a combination of both. Destruction of volunteer wheat at least 2 weeks prior to planting winter wheat in the fall is the most effective management practice for controlling the wheat curl mite and the disease that it vectors. Avoiding early planting can also reduce wheat curl mite numbers and the length of time that they have to transmit the wheat streak virus. Varietal selection can also be an important way to reduce the impact of wheat streak. Producers in areas where wheat streak is common should avoid varieties that are highly susceptible to the wheat streak mosaic virus. To date, control of wheat curl mites with foliar miticides has not been shown to be an effective practice. Since the mite is carried by the wind from plant to plant and from field to field, the control of ALL volunteer is essential. The mite can be carried for several miles so the cost of NOT controlling volunteer may hurt you and also your neighbor.
    If you are noticing volunteer wheat close to where you will be planting winter wheat you may want to select a variety that has some resistance to wheat streak mosaic or plant later as indicated by your fly free date which ranges from September 29 in Jewell and Smith Counties to October 4 in Lincoln with Osborne and Mitchell counties in between those dates. Very few of our common wheat varieties have any resistance to wheat streak mosaic, but a few varieties have some resistance including KSU 1863, Oakley CL, SY Wolf, and T-158.
  A couple of excellent publications are available for producers through K-State Research and Extension including the 2016 Wheat Variety Disease and Insect Ratings along with the 2016 Chemical Weed Control for Field Crops, Pastures, Rangeland and Non-cropland. The Disease ratings publication provides evaluation of each of the wheat varieties for disease and insect resistance while the chemical publication outlines weed control chemicals for each of the major crops in Kansas. Remember volunteer wheat is the source of severe problems and may actually cost much more if NOT controlled. Stop by or call any office of the Post Rock Extension District for the publications I mentioned, or additional information on controlling volunteer wheat.
    The Post Rock Extension District will be hosting 2 Pre-Plant wheat meetings on Wednesday, August 24 in Osborne at the United Christian Church starting at 9:30 a.m. until NOON and in Mankato at the Community Center starting at 3:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. Both meetings will include the same information just at different locations and times. Meals will also be served at both locations with local sponsors. RSVP is requested by Friday, August 19. A minimum of 10 registered producers at each location is needed to hold the meetings. For more details, visit our Post Rock Extension District Website or contact any Post Rock Extension District office in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Cooking with Kids

Ashley Goudey - Nutrition, Food Safety, and Health Agent

Include your child or grandchild while preparing food to make it more enjoyable! You will not only prepare a meal together but your child will learn to become independent and develop positive self-esteem. When children help make food they are less likely to reject it and more willing to try food they have never tried before. Keep in mind that children develop at different rates and that all children are different. The main point of cooking with children is to have an enjoyable time together. Remember to have fun, expect a few spills, and to be patient with your child while letting them help out with the following tasks.

Assist children with handwashing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before handling food.

2 Years:

· Rinse fresh produce
· Throw away trash
· Turn pages of a cookbook
· Wipe table tops
· Put bread in toaster

3 Years:

All that a 2 year-old can do, plus:
· Add ingredients
· Talk about cooking
· Name and count ingredients
· Help assemble a pizza
· Pour liquids
· Pour cereal
· Spread soft spreads

4 Years:

All that a 3 year-old can do, plus:
· Crack an egg
· Set the table
· Help measure dry ingredients
· Peel oranges
· Mash bananas

5 Years:

All that a 4 year-old can do, plus:
· Measure liquids
· Use an egg beater
· Cut soft fruits with a dull knife
· Unload dishwasher

For fun recipes to try with your children visit:

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Blue-Green Algae in Ponds

-Neil Cates, Livestock Agent

When it comes to ponds in our pastures, we often think about quantity.  Will I have enough water to get my cows through the grazing season?  What we often over-look is the quality of that pond water.  Blue-green algae is something you should have on your radar.  Typically, we start seeing blue-green algae blooms during the latter part of summer, but our early hot weather has created perfect conditions for the algae.

Blue-green algae can be toxic to animals and people.  Kansas State Universities Veterinary Diagnostic Lab has already confirmed two cases and another suspected case of cattle deaths related to the algae this summer.  The name blue-green algae is misleading because it is basically a bacteria (cyanobacteria).  Health problems can arise when animals come into contact with the various toxins produced by the cyanobacteria.  The most prominent problem involves a toxin, which affects the gastrointestinal tract and liver.  When animals are exposed to this toxin, they may experience vomiting or diarrhea.  If the exposure is severe, it can be lethal and cause liver failure.  Muscle trimmers and open mouth breathing are other clinical signs.  

Dogs are more commonly affected by the algae because of their behaviors around water.  If you suspect your dog has been in waters containing a blue-green algae bloom, you will want to bathe them immediately.  Be sure to protect yourself during this process and wear protective gloves.  If your dog begins exhibiting clinical signs, see your veterinarian immediately.

 Problems with blue-green algae occur only under specific environmental conditions.  Hot, dry, calm days stimulate reproduction of the organism, and under normal conditions, the algae are homogenously suspended in the water.  When large numbers of algae start to die, gas is produced inside the cells, and the colonies tend to float to the pond surface.

After this, even a gentle wind will concentrate the organisms downwind to form a scum on or just below the pond surface.  Rain or any disturbance of the water tends to break up the scum and make poisoning less likely.  Living blue-green algae start out as green in color and turn blue after the algae die and dry on the surface or shoreline.  Blue-green algae are not the type that grows in mats of plant material along shorelines.  When picked up, it will disperse in the water and does not hang together in a stringy mass.  The algae bloom almost has the appearance of green paint spread across the surface.
There are a couple of tests that you can perform on your own.  Those being the “jar and stick tests”.  They are relatively simple to conduct and are free of charge.  For information on how to conduct these tests, contact your local extension office, for an instructional handout or to speak with myself.  These tests will not tell you what kind of bloom it is or if toxins are present, but serves as an indicator to whether blue-green algae are present and if precautions should be taken.  Samples can also be submitted through our office to the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab for a more accurate determination.  There are specific collection instructions for all tests, so be sure to contact us prior to coming to the office to submit your sample.

Once a blue-green algae bloom is suspected, it is best to fence off the concentrated areas of the pond or the whole pond if the bloom is wide-spread.  There are proactive and reactive measures that can be taken to prevent and control blue-green algae.  However, some of the control options may create alternative problems.  For more information on blue-green algae please call myself, Neil Cates at 785-738-3597.  I would be happy to assist you in testing or to discuss the proactive and reactive measures available.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Advance Health Care Directives Important to All Adults

Nora Rhoades - Family and Youth Development Agent

As a cognitively healthy adult, you have the right to be informed about the state of your health and make your own decisions about medical treatment. But, what happens if you become unable to voice your own decisions?

If a person becomes incapacitated, either temporarily or permanently, advance health care planning comes into play. Forming advance health care directives while being cognitively healthy allows a person to voice his or her wishes regarding future health care, in the event that person eventually becomes unable to do so.

Many people start the planning process as older adults, but this is something any person over the age of 18 should consider. At any point in life, tragedies – a car accident, farming accident or sudden serious disease – can happen.

The most common advance directives include a durable power of attorney for health care, living will and a do not resuscitate directive. A booklet with a copy of the Kansas statute forms for these directives, in addition to other important health care information, is available from K-State Research and Extension. You can access the “Advance Health Care Planning in Kansas” booklet at or by visiting any Post Rock District Extension Office.

Updating and Storing Documentation
People should review their advance health care directives documentation at least once a year to make sure it still aligns with their wishes. Also review the documents any time after a major life event, such as a marriage, divorce or separation.

To revoke the documentation, simply destroy it and complete new state statute forms. Keep note on who has copies of the forms, so that those copies are destroyed and replaced with new copies.

Make sure the durable power of attorney for health care, close family and friends, the local hospital and a primary care physician have copies of the forms. Consider keeping a copy in the glove box of the car, on the refrigerator, or somewhere open and accessible at home. Don’t just keep it in a safety deposit box at your bank because if something were to happen to you, there are few people, if anyone, who have access to that box and can get the documents for you.

The booklet available through K-State Research and Extension has a wallet card for people to carry that allows them to list places where their advance health care documentation is stored.

It’s important to note that copies are valid. So even if you keep an original in a safety deposit box, for example, if your son is your agent and he comes with a copy, that will be honored.

People should also know that each state has its own statute forms, and it is not guaranteed another state will accept the Kansas forms. If you move to or spend a large amount of time in another state, fill out forms in that state as well. This will help ensure your wishes will be honored no matter what state you’re in.

Again, a booklet with a copy of the Kansas statute forms for advance health care directives, in addition to other important health care information, is available from K-State Research and Extension. You can access the “Advance Health Care Planning in Kansas” booklet at or by visiting any Post Rock District Extension Office.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Remember to follow safety precautions during wheat harvest!

Sandra Wick - Crop Production Agent 

It is always an exciting time of the year for the wheat harvest to arrive in Kansas! The beautiful wheat fields take on a special meaning in the “wheat” state! Yields and test weights are coming in great this year and I have heard that some producers are experiencing the best yields they have seen in many years!

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.

· Keep hydrated and be sure 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!