Monday, April 16, 2018

Post Rock District Community Leaders Engage in Critical Community Health Conversations

Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent

In a move to create a more prominent “culture of health” in Kansas, community leaders representing Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne and Smith Counties participated in a series of meetings Kansas State University organized across Kansas in late March. They had one goal in mind: to make Kansans healthier.

K-State Research and Extension recently brought family and consumer science extension agents and specialists together with community partners including health departments, nonprofit organizations and other agencies to discuss health-related needs in communities, resources available and how they can work together to boost Kansans’ health.

The meetings in Colby, Garden City, Girard, Manhattan, Olathe, Salina and Wichita connected more than 250 participants via video-conferencing technology over the two-day period.

“We are living in a time when we can no longer expect our children to live longer than their parents,” said Paula Peters, assistant director of family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension.

Speaking from Manhattan to all participants, Paula Peters, cited some of the health challenges in Kansas which demonstrates the need for increased emphasis on health initiatives.

  • 25 percent of health is related to genes and health behaviors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while 75 percent is related to other factors such as poverty, access to health care, education plus other social and environmental factors.
  • In 2013-2015, opioid addiction increased by 28 percent and heroin deaths by 71 percent. Rates of both are trending higher, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
  • 31 percent of all Kansans older than age 10 are obese.
  • Farmers in some states have suicide rates higher than the rates of military veterans.
  •  Nearly 20 percent of Kansas children do not have enough food to eat (food insecure).
  •  More than 12 percent of Kansans live in poverty.

Fifteen percent of adults in Kansas reported being in fair or poor health, just under the national average of 16 percent, according to a report, “2018 County Health Rankings for Kansas: Measures and National/State Results” by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin. Seventeen percent of adults in Kansas were smokers, the same as the national average, and 32 percent of adults in Kansas were obese, above the national average of 28 percent.

Peters said the word “health” brings to mind physical health, but it’s really much broader than that.

The Robert Wood Johnson report showed the average number of mentally unhealthy days in Kansas at 3.3, compared with 3.8 days nationally in the 30 days prior to the study. The ratio of population to mental health providers was 560-to-1 in Kansas compared with the national average of 470-to-1.

“More and more we’re learning that it’s not just about public health professionals coming up with solutions to public health problems,” said Daniel Craig, tobacco cessation program coordinator with the Central Kansas Foundation. He attended the meeting in Salina. “It’s really about engaging the entire community, both in identifying what the needs are, as well as identifying the solutions to those problems.

“Everyone wants a community where it’s easy to make healthy choices, so if you’re engaged in that process, as Kansans grow up, the healthy choice is going to be the easy choice,” he said, adding that the use of technology used at the meetings was beneficial in bringing people together from across the state.

To be able to come together, hear different perspectives from other communities and pool time and resources is more effective in reaching common goals than different programs or individuals can accomplish alone, he said.

With its existing programs and with an office in each of Kansas’ 105 counties, K-State Research and Extension is well positioned to lead this effort to facilitate coordination and cooperation among many organizations that are all seeking to bolster the health of the people of Kansas, Peters explained. She shared areas where K-State is already working, including nutrition and physical-activity education, safe and adequate water and food, social and emotional development in relationships, personal financial education, community emergency preparation, health insurance education and others.

The Post Rock Extension District is committed to improving the health and wellness in Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne and Smith County communities. To get involved or to learn more information about why sustaining a strong “culture of health” is important where you live, work, and play, please contact your local Post Rock District Office.

Blog story adapted from the K-State Research and Extension news release posted online at

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

How has the cold temperatures affected the wheat?

Sandra L. Wick, Crop Production Agent

Well, here we go again with Mother Nature not cooperating with us! Several areas of the state, including northcentral Kansas, experienced some rather cold temperatures! So you might be wondering if that may have affected the wheat.

Minimum air temperatures across Kansas reached very low levels during April 3-4, 2018 and then again this past weekend, April 7, 2018. The minimum temperature observed (April 3-4) across the state was 11 degrees F. reported at the K-State Mesonet station in Scandia along with another station in southern Kansas. The Post Rock District weather stations ranged from 13-14 degrees F. For the April 7 temperatures, the minimum observed was 5 degrees F. reported in Hill City while our Post Rock District weather stations indicated 8-9 degrees F. at each of the three in Jewell, Mitchell and Osborne counties. Different stages of wheat development vary in their sensitivity to cold temperatures and this year, wheat development is quite delayed relative to the past two years in Kansas. So the delayed wheat development is good in regard to potential damage to the wheat here in north central Kansas from the cold temperatures.

While it is late in the year for these observed temperatures, most of the wheat that I have examined, in our Post Rock District, the wheat growing point is below the ground, so is more protected than wheat that would be more advanced in the development. However, since the wheat has been greening up, you may have noticed that some of your fields may have experienced some winter-kill or winter damage especially with the significantly dry conditions. According to the most current Kansas Drought Monitor map, parts of northcentral Kansas, including our Post Rock Extension District, are in the moderate to severe drought.

According to Mary Knapp, K-State Research and Extension, State Climatologist, “It is important to consider that air temperatures reported by our meteorological monitoring stations are often measured 5 feet aboveground, and may not fully reflect the microclimate to which the wheat canopy is actually exposed.” For example, a lush wheat canopy will tend to reduce the extent of freeze damage as the warmth of the soil will radiate up into the canopy. In addition, moist soil buffers temperature changes better than dry soils and therefore less freeze injury may occur at a given temperature when soils are wet. Unfortunately, we really don’t have either of these two conditions for our wheat crop.

A dry soil will cool down faster than a moist soil, thus increasing the chances of low temperatures at the crown level. The circumstances for concern with the crop’s ability to make it through these recent cold days include:

• Extremely dry soils with poor root development
• Late-sown crops with delayed development (less than 4-5 leaves and 1-2 tillers)
• Shallowly-sown fields where the crown is closer to the soil surface
• Heavy-residue situations which may have precluded good seed soil contact

So let’s take a look at the reported soil temperatures during this time. As a result of so many interacting variables, evaluating solely air temperatures may not completely reflect the conditions experienced by the wheat crop. Soil temperatures can help determine the extent of cold stress at the crown and lower canopy levels. According to the Kansas Mesonet Library (, 2-inch soil temperature depths at the Jewell, Mitchell and Osborne County weather stations dipped down to 34-38 degrees F. with the 4-inch soil temperature depths at 38-41 degrees F. for both weather events. As you can see in the chart below, wheat in the tillering stage (Feekes 3, 4 or early 5) can sustain 12 degrees F. (air temperatures for at least 2 hours) with minimal potential damage. But, as mentioned earlier, the three weather stations in our Post Rock Extension District recorded air temperatures of 8-9 degrees F. So a “wait and see” game on the potential damage that the wheat may have experienced!

Where most of the wheat in the northcentral part of Kansas still has the developing head (growing point) below ground and insulated from cold air temperatures (Feekes 3, 4, or early 5), there is a low risk of potential damage that may be expected from the cold temperatures from the first part of April at this time. But with the temperatures expected to warm up for the next few days, wait a few days and the wheat may start to show symptoms if damage has occurred. It would be a good idea to actually go out in the field and dig up some plants and split the wheat stems to find the growing point (developing head) and see the condition. A healthy growing point will be whitish, greenish and firm while a damaged growing point will be yellowish, brownish and somewhat mushy.

Other than the above circumstances, most of the damage at this stage (Tillering – Feekes 3, 4 or early 5) should occur to leaf tissue, which might give the crop a rough look for a few weeks. The chart provides you with the symptoms and the yield effect on the wheat at certain temperatures and at specific growth stages. The first apparent sign of freeze injury will be leaf dieback and senescence (death) which should occur regardless of damage to the actual growing point. This will occur more quickly if temperatures warm up after low temperatures. Existing leaves will almost always turn bluish-black after a hard freeze, and give off a silage odor. Those leaves are burned back and dead, but is not a problem as long as newly emerging leaves are green. Provided that the growing point is not damaged, the wheat will recover from this damage in the spring with possibly little yield loss.

K-State Research and Extension has an excellent publication, “Spring Freeze Injury to Kansas Wheat” that is available either online or at one of our Post Rock Extension District Offices in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center. The publication, at NO COST, is an excellent resource that explains the potential injury to wheat at different growth stages and at different temperatures along with color pictures.

If you have more questions on wheat freeze, give me a call at any of our Post Rock Extension District Offices in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.

Post Rock Extension District of K-State Research and Extension serves Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Smith counties. Sandra may be contacted at or by calling Smith Center, 282-6823, Beloit 738-3597, Lincoln 524-4432, Mankato 378-3174, or Osborne 346-2521. Join us on Facebook at “Post Rock Extension”. Also remember our website is and my twitter account is @PRDcrops.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Walk Kansas Poker Walks

Ashley Svaty, Nutrition, Food Safety and Health Agent

Walk for health, fun, and prizes! Post Rock District is hosting 5 area poker walks to celebrate Walk Kansas. Bring a friend, have fun, and walk as much as you would like. The walkers with the best and worst poker hand at each event will win a prize. There will also be a special prize for 2018 Walk Kansas participants. For more information about these poker walks, please contact Ashley Svaty, Walk Kansas participants be sure to wear your Walk Kansas t-shirts!  We hope to see you there!

Poker Walk Locations:

Lincoln Courthouse
April 20th, 11:30-1pm

Emerson Lake in Jewell
(1 block West on Pearl Street off Hwy 14)
April 23rd, 4:30-6pm

Osborne Track
April 25th, 11:30-1pm

Smith Center Track
April 25th, 6:30-8pm

Mitchell County Courthouse
April 27th, 11:30-1pm