Friday, May 27, 2016

Take Care of Your Mental Health

Nora Rhoades- Family and Youth Development Agent

  Some people believe only individuals diagnosed with a mental illness need to pay attention to their mental health. In reality, all people need to pay attention to their mental health. Mental health is a valuable part of a person’s wellness throughout every stage of life, from early childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
  “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being,” describes the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, “It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.”

Build strategies into your daily routines and rituals that promote positive mental health.
  • Connect with others. Developing and maintaining connections with others provides assistance when you need an extra hand. Connections also provide emotional support, perspective, advice, and validation when you need to process an experience or develop a plan-of-action.
  • Stay positive. Everyone experiences stressors throughout day-to-day adventures. Approaching life in an optimistic fashion doesn’t mean you ignore danger signs and run from problems. Choosing to have a positive outlook helps you focus on finding solutions rather than dwelling on the issue. It also increases gratefulness and promotes recognizing strengths as tools to achieve goals.
  • Create joy and satisfaction. Identify a special interest that makes you happy. Maybe it is spending time with family at the supper table, playing a sport, or reading a good book. Maintaining positive mental health is achieved when you take time to have a little fun, laugh, relax, and put creativity to work. Activities that incorporate joy and satisfaction into your daily routines encourage flexibility, offer a break from life’s stressors, and boost confidence.
  • Take care of your spirit. The spiritual dimension of mental health provides a connection to whatever helps a person recognize their meaning and purpose. Many people choose to care for their spirit through a religion, interaction with nature, volunteer service, or by practicing meditation and art. Whatever you focus on, spirituality can improve your mood, help set and accomplish goals, and provide a sense of belongingness.   
  If your emotions, behaviors or overall health is preventing you from functioning well or feeling good, professional help can make a big difference.  If you or someone you know is feeling especially bad or suicidal, get help right away. You can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center or dial 911 for immediate assistance.
        It is not necessary to wait until you are in a crisis to reach out for help. Many people discover great benefits from seeking professional help and utilizing community services on a regular basis.
        To learn more strategies that can improve and maintain positive mental health visit Mental Health America at
        You can also contact your local Post Rock District Office,

Thursday, May 26, 2016

It’s Barefoot Season… Beware of Stickers!

Jenae Ryan- Horticulture Agent

Warmer weather is finally starting to show up between bouts of rain. I’ve seen lots of shorts and flip-flops making their summer debut now that school is out. While many of us enjoying walking barefoot through the lush grass, it can be a prickly situation if you have a problem with “stickers.”

It is important to know that there are different kinds of plants that produce stickers, and require different types of herbicide for their control. The best weed control is a good, thick lawn, but in some cases, herbicides are required.

Puncturevine (a.k.a. goatheads)

Puncturevine, Tribulus terrestris, is a broadleaf summer annual with a prostrate growth habit. This is the plant most commonly identified as “stickers.” The seeds are contained in the spiny seedpods that poke our bare feet and get stuck on our shoelaces. The plant has a deep taproot that can help it survive very dry and harsh conditions.

There are a few different herbicides recommended for controlling puncturevine. If the area is bare or in a location where the surrounding vegetation is not important, glyphosate (Roundup) can be used. It is a non-selective herbicide, so don’t let it contact plants you want to keep healthy. Other herbicides include: oryzalin (Surflan, Weed Impede), pendimethalin (Pre M, Scotts Halts), or trifluralin (Treflan). 2,4 D, MCPA, or Dicamba can be used, but only when the plants are young. They are less effective on mature plants.

Grassy Sandbur
Grassy sandbur (Cenchras spp.) are another summer annual weed that produce spiny seedpods. As the name implies, it is a grass instead of a broadleaf weed. Glyphosate is also recommended for control, but remember it is non-selective.
A good nutrient fertility program and proper mowing can help keep grassy sandbur in check. If the lawn is still thin next spring, use a pre-emergence herbicide before the sandbur comes up. However, not all pre-emergence herbicides are effective. The three products that can help minimize grassy sandbur are oryzalin, pendimethalin and prodiamine. Quinclorac (Drive) can provide some postemergence control especially if the sandbur is in the seedling stage. Quinclorac is also found in a number of combination products that control both broadleaf weeds and crabgrass.

For more information on lawn weeds, check out the publication “Weed Control in Home Lawns” from K-State Research and Extension:

Friday, May 20, 2016

Building Vibrant Communities with a Positive Future!

Nora Rhoades- Family and Youth Development Agent

The Kansas PRIDE Program is a partnership of K-State Research and Extension, the Kansas Department of Commerce, and Kansas PRIDE, Inc. 

Kansas PRIDE is dedicated to serving communities across the state to encourage and assist local government and volunteers in making their community a better place to live and work. 

Through the Kansas PRIDE program, local communities identify what they would like to preserve, create, or improve for their future. Then, working with the resources of K-State Research & Extension and the Kansas Department of Commerce, community volunteers pull together to create their ideal community future.

Make a Positive First Impression

Do you ever wonder what a visitor thinks about your community? Does it appear attractive and
inviting? Will they want to come back and spend more time?

First Impressions is a program that can help answer these questions. With First Impressions, communities of similar size and characteristics are matched together. Exchange visits are made to each community. Through an outsider’s view, you may discover strengths taken for granted or characteristics local citizens have become complacent about.

Results from the visits are shared during a town hall type meeting. Photos are used to reinforce comments made by the visiting team. Following the meeting, communities identify or prioritize opportunities and select work projects.

16 communities in NW Kansas have participated in First Impressions. Eight more are in the process of forming teams and preparing to conduct exchange visits. In the Post Rock District, Downs, Smith Center, Lincoln, Natoma, and Lebanon are benefiting from engagement in the program.

The immediate impacts of First Impressions are the call to action and engagement of community volunteers, the development of improved communication between residents and community organizations, and the increased awareness of the community’s attributes. As communities implement projects, impacts will become more significant when citizen engagement is increased, communities become more inviting, and youth are involved in the development and implementation of projects.

For more information or to participate please contact K-State Research and Extension. The Northwest Kansas contact is Nadine Sigle, NW KS K-State Research and Extension Community Vitality - (785-346-6256).

The Kansas PRIDE Community Toolkit

The Kansas PRIDE Community Toolkit is for Kansas PRIDE Communities at all levels, whether your group is new, reorganizing, restructuring, or getting back into gear. The toolkit can be offered as a regional workshop update, or it can be broken down into modules for short presentations at local meetings. The toolkit modules include:
  • Money Matters – fundraising myths, approaches to fundraising, fundraising in a recession, developing a plan, tracking your dollars, 501 c 3 or community foundation approach, grant proposal tips
  • Staying on Target – vision and mission of your organization, communicating your objectives, strategies, creating an action plan and elevator speech
  • Achieving Success through Volunteers – motivations behind volunteering, recruitment, and reviewing the ISOTURE model
  • Benchmarking Your Success – promotion of your work, celebrating your success! 
To  learn more about Kansas PRIDE and the Community Toolkit visit or email

Monday, May 16, 2016

Head scab may be a problem in your wheat.

-Sandra Wick, Crop Production Agent

Well, we have certainly been experiencing some crazy weather around the area.  From thunderstorms, tornadoes and high winds to hail and torrential rains, the wheat has really had some strikes against it. Although, the rains have been a welcome site, with that has brought on stripe rust with many fields having a fungicide applied.   Now there could be potential for fusarium head blight or more commonly known as head scab that might develop.

Scab is usually first detected soon after flowering and infected heads turn white, while the leaves and stems may remain green. Sometimes, the portion of the stem directly below the head can turn a chocolate brown color. Often, only part of the head is attacked, giving heads a white and green appearance.   The outer covering for the wheat kernel or the glume can be salmon-pink color and the scabby wheat kernels are shrunken and chalky or pink in color as well.

The scab fungus infects not only wheat, but also corn, oats, barley, and sorghum along with various
other grasses. On sorghum, it causes stalk rot while on corn, the disease is called ear rot and it infects through the silks. Corn appears to be the major source of the overwintering infection which can start the epidemic in the spring. If conditions are dry during flowering, infection generally will not occur. Although the fungus can be carried in the seed, it appears that crop residue is the major source of the infection. 

So the recent rains along with forecasted high relative humidity are the two most important ingredients that may initiate head scab development. 

Specific fungicides can suppress the head scab infection from 35 to 50%, depending on the active ingredient in the fungicide.  The key word here is “suppress”, which means reduces not eliminates or controls.  There are very few wheat varieties that have resistance to head scab.  However, crop rotations that avoid planting wheat into corn stubble may be helpful in some years when favorable conditions are present.  Seed treatments are just not effective in preventing head blight, but they may prevent seedling blight if scabby wheat must be used as seed. Several commercial treatments may somewhat increase the germination of scabby seed. The scabby seed should be cleaned very thoroughly and germination should be tested prior to use. At harvest, the percentage of scabby kernels can be reduced by setting the combine fans higher during harvest. This will help blow the light, scabby seeds out the back of the combine.  Yield loss is related to the percent of heads which are infected and the severity of the infection.  Scab often causes reduction in test weight and are counted as "damaged" in the grading process.

For further information on disease management in your wheat, contact any Post Rock Extension District Office in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Are You Preserving it Safe?

Ashley Goudey- Nutrition, Food Safety and Health Agent

Do you preserve food or would you like to can using the pressure canning method?  Before you preserve your produce and meat, it is extremely important to make sure that you are using tested recipes and that your equipment is tested.  If food is not preserved safely, this can cause deadly bacteria to grow in your food.  We are a reliable and trusted source for canning information and canning recipes.  If you have any questions about food preservation, please contact any Post Rock
Extension Office.

             It is recommended that your pressure gauge is tested every year.  Now is the time to bring your gauges into our offices to be checked to ensure you are safely preserving your food.  You can bring your dial gauge at any time but we have scheduled special days that we will be testing.

To ensure that your dial is tested on the day provided below, please have the dial in the office before this day and it will be ready to pick up the day after with recommendations.  We also have many preservation resources available for your canning needs!

Mankato office: May 10th and July 6th
Lincoln office: anytime
Beloit office: May 26th and July 8th
Osborne office: May 12th and July 6th
Smith Center office: June 9th and July 8th

          You are encouraged to contact your local extension office with any questions about food preservation.  You can also email Ashley at  Watch for a second round of dial gauge checks coming this fall!