Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Top 4 Bugs Invading Your Garden

Cassie Homan, Horticulture Agent

By the end of July our gardens are usually thriving and we are in harvest mode. Our veggies are full grown and putting on delicious fruits for us to enjoy. Unfortunately, we aren’t the only ones that love this season. Insects are out in full force in our gardens and landscape. Here are the top four pests you will likely see in your landscape and how to deal with them.

Squash Bugs
Squash bugs are the grey, shield-shaped bugs that feed mainly on squash and pumpkin plants. If you have ever had these pests in your garden, you know they are almost impossible to control when fully mature. This is because squash bugs have a hard body that an insecticide has difficulty penetrating.

When controlling squash bugs, use a general-use insecticide such as permethrin (Bug-B-Gon Multi-Purpose Garden Dust; Bug-No-More Yard and Garden Insect Spray; Lawn & Garden Insect Killer).

Spider Mites
If you are growing tomato plants in your garden, you will most likely have spider mites. Most spider mites like hot and dry weather and we are seeing populations start to explode. Check your plants for stippling on the upper surface of the leaves as well as some fine webbing on the underside of the leaves

Spider mite control can be challenging. A strong jet of water can be used to remove the mites but may not be as easy as it sounds. A high-pressure directed spray is needed to dislodge the mites. Since spider mites feed on the underside of the leaves, the spray is most effective if it comes from below. Some gardeners use a water wand hooked to a shut-off valve. The water breaker is then replaced by a brass nozzle. Make sure to spray your plants multiple times.

Horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps (Safers, for example) can also be helpful. Spray early in the morning when temperatures are cooler and plants have rehydrated.

Green June Bugs
Green June bugs have been out and about this season. The adults are about an inch in length, and velvety-green, tinged with yellow-brown coloration.

The green June beetle has a one-year life cycle, and overwinters as a grub in grass. Adults emerge in late-June and are active during the day, resting at night on plants or in thatch. The adults sound like a loud bumble bee. Adults will feed on ripening fruits and may occasionally feed on plant leaves. The larvae, grub stage, feed primarily on organic matter including thatch and grass-clippings; preferring soils that are excessively moist. Luckily, these beetles won’t cause much trouble to our garden, but they do make their presence known.

Last but not least is everyone’s favorite garden pest, the grasshopper. Grasshoppers may be one of the most difficult insects to control in our gardens. They are manageable if treated when they are young. Try a chemical such as permethrin, it is a good choice for vegetable crops because it is labeled for a wide variety of vegetables. However, keep in mind that hoppers can re-infest an area relatively quickly. Carbaryl (Sevin) can also be used for grasshopper control, remember you may need to treat more than once.

If you are interested in organic controls, try a product such as Semaspore, NOLO Bait, HopperStopper, and Grasshopper Attack. These products are selective and will affect only grasshoppers. They are most effective against the immature stages rather than adult grasshoppers. Also some grasshopper species are less susceptible than others. They can take 3 to 6 weeks to kill the grasshoppers after ingestion.

Gardening in Kansas will always be a challenge with our spontaneous weather and the amount of insects we have to deal with. Incorporating a few tips and tricks into your garden maintenance will insure a bountiful harvest. If you have any questions, please call your local Extension office.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Kansas Aims to Increase Livestock Disease Traceability

Barrett Simon, Livestock Agent

The phrase “too many chiefs and not enough Indians” is sure to flood us all with memories of different projects, tasks, and events that we have been a part of that probably wasn’t truly effective.  Yet, at the other end of the spectrum, when great leaders come together with a common goal, special things can happen.  I think that is exactly what the stage is set for across our great state as Cattle Trace kicks off, beginning efforts to form a state animal disease traceability program in Kansas. 

Organizations like the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Kansas State University, the Kansas Livestock Association, alongside of Governor Jeff Colyer, have teamed up with local level producers to begin this pilot program, which will hopefully expand to a national level in the future.  Kansas represents every sector of the beef industry and ranks among the nation’s best in terms of total cattle.  With a collections of great minds leading the way, we are set up for a perfect scenario not only to implement an effective traceability program, but also to break the ice for a national biosecurity and protection plan to come to fruition.

Kansas is fortunate to have received state and federal funding to begin this project.  From producers and sale barns all the way through the feedyards and packers, operators will have the chance to take part.  As opposed to rules and regulations being handed down from Washington, this is our opportunity to implement animal disease traceability (ADT) in a producer driven manner.  The hope is to begin by tagging 55,000 head in the remainder of 2018.  Producers will receive tags at a reduced rate for participating in the pilot program.

Neil Bouray of Mankato Livestock and Sylvan Sales shared several reasons why it was imperative that this be a program which is ultimately run by the producers. “For the cow/calf man that hasn’t participated, officials may show up and tell you to gather the cows for testing that very day; it doesn’t matter that they were AI’ed and turned out a week ago.  Originally the program was designed to have sale barns tag every head that comes through the ring.  By the time these markets invest twice the man power and three times as many hours (for no additional profit), many markets would be out of business in no time. It’s a great opportunity for feed yard managers to place readers at the load out, working facility, really wherever it is handiest to them.  At the end of the day, these modifications make it way easier not only for the producers to participate, but for ADT to become a reality” says Bouray.

This program really picked up steam after a December 2017 vote by KLA members to
amend a policy supporting mandatory cattle disease traceability across all ages of cattle.  Kansas Livestock Association’s CEO, Matt Teagarden was quoted in the Stock Exchange reiterating the excitement among KLA staff and members to implement a program that is sure to provide long term protection of our livelihoods.  This is an opportunity to provide security on an issue which has been a recognized concern for some time, according to Teagarden.

We are all aware of the importance of consumers to our industry.  While being proactive and building a sustainable model for protection, it is the hope that this effort will also instill further trust in these consumers that our industry is continuing to take steps toward creating a safe and wholesome food source.

For more information about the Cattle Trace project, go to or contact the program coordinator, Cassie Kniebel, at or 785-564-7446.

Post Rock Extension District of K-State Research and Extension serves Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Smith counties. Barrett 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” along with our blog site at Follow us on Twitter @KSRE_PostRock. Also remember our website is

Monday, July 16, 2018

The 5 R’s of Family Change: Transitioning between together and apart

Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent

Many people believe staying connected is essential for family togetherness. One major obstacle to maintaining connection can be distance. Families can be separated for any number of reasons, sometimes related to jobs, the result of family circumstance or due to military careers. Long-distance relationships can occur over a few days, months or even years. For some, distance can become part of one’s family structure, and for others it is a new experience.

Work on maintaining relationship satisfaction. While distance can be a challenge, each person can feel nurtured and satisfied during times of separation. Strong relationships are built on trust and security. Maintaining open communication about the five R’s of family change can help ease the transition between ‘together’ and ‘apart’. Listen and pay attention to what each family member is saying.

Roles refer to household and family responsibilities. How do jobs and responsibilities change when one person is away? What roles will be easiest to adapt to and what roles will be more challenging? What roles will not be filled until the family member returns? How do roles change when the distant person returns?

Rules are defined by what is expected of each family member, including responsibilities and boundaries. Some family rules are detailed and clearly stated. Other rules are implied and part of family norms. Do rules stay the same during times of separation? Will the family add new rules or dismiss rules during time apart? Do family rules become more lenient or stricter?

Relationships refer to the bonds, connections and responsibilities within a family. During geographical separation, the bonds may be defined differently than during times of togetherness. How will relationships with relatives, friends or family change? What are the expectations of each family member? Who is responsible for keeping connections strong during times of long-distance?

Routines include daily activities that keep the family functioning. With a family member miles away, certain aspects of family routines will need to change. What daily routines will be most affected by the distance? What daily routines will be least affected? Will there be any adjustments or new routines to complement or replace routines during family togetherness?

Recreation, special events and celebrations will also be affected when family members are separated by physical distance. Mapping out a plan for these special family events is important to keep connected with those who are apart. Does the family continue to celebrate events during separation? How will the distant family member be included? Are special events postponed until the family is reunited?

For more information about this topic, contact Nora Rhoades, Post Rock District Family and Youth Development Agent, at or 785-346-2521. Stay connected with “Post Rock Extension” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Our website is

Sources: Loving Long-Distance: Families Separated by Distance by K-State Research and Extension; Parenting Alone Together...How Does Our Family Change? by Mary Dooley Burns;  Making the Connection: Building Long-Distance Relationships by North Dakota Extension Services

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Chinch bugs attacking corn and sorghum stands!

Sandra Wick, Crop Production Specialist

Wheat harvest around the district is progressing with some producers done!  The rains have really helped the continued development of the corn and sorghum which is significant for combating against insect infestations.

All life stages of chinch bugs seem to be extremely active at the present time in both corn and grain sorghum.  Nymphs and adults started migrating out of wheat fields at least two weeks ago, moving into any adjacent corn or grain sorghum fields.  Those smaller-reddish nymphs have grown considerably since then, and are now either late instar nymphs or adults.

Many of these recently matured adults are now mating and have even started egg deposition. These eggs are, and will continue to be, hatching which means more bugs and thus more feeding on these plants. Fortunately, most corn is large enough to withstand considerable feeding by chinch bugs, but the milo may have some concerns as it is smaller. Recent rains have certainly helped greatly enhance the growing conditions, which increases the plant’s tolerance for chinch bug feeding.

Eggs may be laid anytime from the end of April to early October, although in each generation the majority are laid over a two to three week period. Each female lays up to several hundred eggs. Female reproductive potential varies greatly from year to year and may be affected by the host plant quality during development. The time required for egg hatch ranges from one to two weeks and depends on temperature and location. Eggs in warm locations with good solar exposure hatch first.

Chinch bugs puncture vascular tissues to extract plant juices and secrete digestive enzymes that cause the break-down of surrounding plant tissues. Feeding punctures also can allow pathogens to enter the plant. Consequently, damaged plants present a variety of symptoms including stunting, yellowing, wilting, and necrotic lesions.

Older nymphs are larger and cause more damage than younger ones. The effect of nymphal feeding depends to a large degree on the health and nutritional status of the plants. Growth stage and water balance are critical because small or drought-stressed plants have less ability to tolerate or recover from chinch bug feeding damage. The chinch bug feeds on a wide variety of grasses, including many cereal and forage crops. 

The risk of first generation damage is greater where sorghum is planted next to thin stands of wheat. Seedling sorghum is most vulnerable, and seven to 10 bugs per plant will cause stunting, poor root development and stand reduction. Larger plants can tolerate more bugs, but severe infestations can cause stunting, lodging, and yield loss. 

Timely applications of foliar insecticides can be used to rescue corn or sorghum fields invaded by migrating chinch bugs on the edge of the fields to help prevent movement into the field.   Most currently approved materials have good efficacy against chinch bugs, if three factors are considered. First, it is important to use the full recommended rate of the selected insecticide, preferably delivered in 20 to 40 gallons of water per acre. High gallonage ensures good plant coverage and enhances the movement of material into protected plant parts such as leaf sheaths, which increases the probability of contact with bugs. Second, the material should be delivered with properly adjusted and calibrated equipment. Fortunately, insecticides targeting the sugarcane aphid will likely provide some control of late ­season chinch bugs as well.

Third, the timing of the insecticide application is critical. Early morning applications are preferred because winds tend to be calmer (reducing drift), temperatures are cool (reducing volatilization of chemicals), and a large proportion of the chinch bug population will be on the plants and exposed to the application. Treat promptly as migrations begin and before significant numbers of bugs enter the field.

Most grain sorghum is much less developed than corn and won’t be able to tolerate as many chinch bugs as the larger corn plants.  Treating plants much after the V6/V7 (corn 6 and 7 leaves) growth stages is not as effective as treating smaller plants.  Like corn, good growing conditions significantly help sorghum plants withstand chinch bug feeding.  So we are fortunate that we have received moisture to help the growth of milo fields.  However, if dry conditions return, chinch bug feeding can significantly weaken stalks and cause lodging later in the season. 

No natural enemies of chinch bugs can reliably reduce or control large populations when conditions are favorable for their development. Predation by quail and other birds can be conspicuous, but likely has little effect on bug population growth.

For more information on chinch bugs, management decisions, and insecticide recommendations, K-State Research and Extension has an excellent publication: “Chinch Bugs” that is available ONLINE at or at any of our Post Rock Extension District Offices at Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.

If you have more questions on insect management in your crops, give me a call at any of our Post Rock Extension District Offices.

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.