Monday, September 24, 2018

Seeding rates are important when drilling wheat!

Sandra Wick, Crop Production Agent

Producers are or soon will be planting their 2019 wheat crop, so stay tuned for some guidelines to remember when drilling your wheat. Variety selection is one of the most challenging decisions that needs to be made, but you need to remember that the wheat seeding rate is also 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 also 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, therefore 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. 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 your 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 2019 Wheat Varieties book for KS and the Great Plains also provides a reference to the seed size tendency of specific 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 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.

Lastly, with the recent warmer air temperatures, soil temperatures are also high. According to our KSU Mesonet, Weather Data Library, at our 3 weather stations in our PR district including JW, OB and MC counties, the avg. 2 and 4” soil depth temperatures over the past 7 days has averaged 76 degrees. Producers need to check the coleoptile length of wheat varieties which can affect your planting depth. Categories range from short to long so the planting depth should be adjusted accordingly as higher soil temperatures tend to shorten the coleoptile length so planting too deep can affect the germination of your seed. Call or stop by the Extension Office for a copy of the different coleoptile lengths of each of the wheat varieties. Contact me if you have further questions on wheat seeding rates at any 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.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Fall Prevention Awareness Day

Ashley Svaty,  Nutrition, Food Safety and Health Agent 

One of the most important reasons that falls among older adults are so dangerous is the high risk of serious injury. The National Council on Aging has declared the first day of fall, Sept. 22 “Falls Prevention Awareness Day,” which aims to raise awareness about how to avoid these injuries.  A lot of those injuries can occur to the brain, so we have a high incidence level of traumatic brain injury,” said Erin Yelland, adult development and aging specialist for K-State Research and Extension. “Also, a large proportion of older adults who fall experience injuries to their bones - hip fractures, wrist fractures, fractures to elbows and knees.”
Yelland said injuries from falls could take months and sometimes years to get over, especially if those injuries require surgery, often followed by physical therapy and rehabilitation. Research has shown that a majority of the people who fall have a continued fear of falling.
Below are the 4 main items to consider to reduce falls:
Identify vision problems.
Seniors should visit their eye doctor at least once a year to make sure prescriptions are up to date, and to monitor for eye diseases or other problems.  If your glasses are not the correct prescription, your vision is going to be off which can lead to falls.
Make your home safer.
Installing devices in the home, such as grab bars, is a great safety precaution to prevent falls. These could be installed anywhere—along the walls of hallways, in the bathroom or next to the bed.

When older adults start to lose their balance and grow wary of falling, they tend to lean toward the wall and walk along the wall. If you’re in that stage, or you know someone who is, recommend that they install grab bars. So if they would fall, they could try their best to grab onto that bar and pull themselves back up to get to a telephone or to safety. The bars can also be a source of stability. For more home modification tips visit:
Assess your medications.
As people age, their doctors could place them on multiple medications. Seniors should visit their doctor and pharmacist to discuss their medicines and side effects.

If a side effect is dizziness or disorientation, perhaps there’s a different drug you can take that has the same benefits but has less side effects. Also, just being aware of what medicines you’re on and the side effects can prevent a lot of issues, including fall prevention, as older adults age.

Exercise to improve your strength, balance and mobility.
Exercise is a huge component of fall prevention, inactivity leads to weakness and an increased risk of falling. Through exercise that improves strength, balance and flexibility, we can increase the likelihood that our bodies are physically able to withstand a fall, help us recover from a fall, and more importantly, prevent falling. Also, with exercise often comes confidence and less fear of falling. Post Rock District offers Stay Strong, Stay Healthy strength training sessions in Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Smith Counties. Contact Ashley at with questions about this program.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Fall is the Perfect Time to Plant a Tree

Cassie Homan, Horticulture Agent

Trees offer shade and beauty in our landscapes as well as reducing utility costs and providing food sources and habitat for wildlife, and the fall season is an excellent time to plant trees. In the spring, soils are cold and may be so wet that there isn’t enough oxygen for adequate root growth. Fall soils are warm and moist which encourages growth. When planted in fall, the tree becomes established well before a spring planted tree and is able to withstand summer stresses. The best time to plant trees in the fall is early September to late October. This is early enough that roots can become established before the ground freezes. However, not all trees produce significant root growth during the fall and are better planted in spring. Trees that grow better when planted in the spring include birch, redbud, magnolia, tulip poplar, willow oak, black oak, willows, and dogwood.

There are many trees that are adaptable to North Central Kansas. If you are looking for a small tree around 15 to 20 feet we recommend Amur or Tatarian Maple, these trees exhibit beautiful fall color. If you want something a little larger look at European Hornbeam or Golden Raintree, these trees can grow to a height of 40 feet tall. They can handle the drought conditions of Kansas well. If you need a large shade tree, try a Japanese Pagoda, American, or Littleleaf Linden. At maturity they are 50 to 60 feet tall and survive in a wide soil pH range.

Fall-planted trees require some special care. Remember, that roots are actively growing even though the top is dormant. Make sure the soil stays moist but not soggy. This may require watering not only in the fall but also during the winter months if we experience warm spells that dry the soil. Here are some simple steps to planting a tree;
  • Select the right tree for the site. To avoid serious problems, choose trees that are adapted to your location. It is important to plant a diverse range of trees. Planting a variety of trees in any particular area will make a big difference if one species is especially vulnerable to a pest or disease, as is currently the case with ash trees in Kansas and other states. Also consider whether the tree produces nuisance fruit or if there are disease-resistant varieties available. You may want to take a soil test to determine the pH of your site.
  • Dig a proper hole. Make the hole deep enough so that the root flare is slightly above or even with the ground. The width of the planting hole is very important. It should be three times the width of the root ball.
  • Backfill the hole with the same soil that was removed. Amendments such as peat moss likely do more harm than good. Make sure the soil that goes back is loosened - no clods or clumps. Add water as you fill to ensure good root to soil contact. There is no need to fertilize at planting.
  • Don't cut back the branches of a tree after planting except those that are rubbing or damaged. The leaf buds release a hormone that encourages root growth. If the tree is cut back, the reduced number of leaf buds results in less hormone released and therefore fewer roots being formed.
  • Mulch around the tree, leaving an inch free around the base of the trunk. A moist environment around the trunk encourages harmful insects and disease. Mulch should be 2 to 4 inches deep and cover an area two the three times the diameter of the root ball. Mulching reduces competition from other plants, conserves moisture and keeps soil temperature closer to what the plants' roots prefer. Watering practices will differ based on soil type. In general, a good soaking every 7 to 12 days is sufficient.
Following these steps will ensure your new tree is off to a good start. Remember that a little extra work now will encourage a strong healthy tree for years to come.

If you would like more details about planting trees in your landscape contact Cassie Homan, Post Rock District Horticulture Agent, at (785)738-3597 or by email at