Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Tag: Kansas Weather Data Library

Better Kansas – April 30, 2020

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Today in Better Kansas, we explore becoming a volunteer weather reporter, a unique crossword puzzle, an activity to do with children, the fascinating praying mantis (plus Rally Mantis), freeze damage to wheat, and managing backyard chickens. This is a tiny glimpse of what K-State Research and Extension across the state has to offer. Forward to your friends and family, share on social media and subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter

Better Living, Better Communities

ARE YOU FASCINATED BY THE WEATHER? Consider becoming a volunteer weather reporter through CoCoRaHs, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. It’s a non-profit network of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, working together to measure and map precipitation in the form of rain, hail or snow. Volunteers from across the United States and several other countries measure precipitation and input the data on the network’s website. This would be a fantastic family project. The data is used by the National Weather Service, meteorologists, emergency managers and others. Learn about CoCoRaHs through the Weather Data Library based at Kansas State University.


LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO KEEP THE CHILDREN OCCUPIED OR TO WORK ON WITH THEM? Or maybe you just enjoy crossword puzzles. In looking for something else, I happened upon this energy crossword puzzle on the Kansas Energy Program’s webpage that I thought you might like. Also, on the page are energy-related resources for small businesses, teachers, government facilities and programs for wind and solar power. The Kansas Energy Program is a collaboration between K-State, the Kansas Corporation Commission, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.


A FEW WEEKS AGO, I MENTIONED SUDDENLY IN CHARGE, a new place to find a lot of resources available for teens, tweens or anyone taking care of young children. And since I wrote about it last time, numerous new resources have been added including one on  Community Outreach, with suggestions for making May Day baskets or something similar at other times of the year. Consider including a roll of toilet tissue! Sometimes, we need a reminder about the little things that go a long way toward staying connected and showing we care – especially important right now. If you’re reading this after May Day, any day is good for you and the children you’re caring for to show your appreciation for others – what a lesson for those kiddos. The resource is available in English and Spanish.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

BUG SEASON IS BACK! Entomologists would likely say it never left, but we are sure to have more face-to-face activity now that the weather is warming. An interesting one is what the scientists call the praying mantid, known to the rest of us as the praying mantis. Apparently, they’re not very picky about what they eat, which makes them a good companion (but not for other insects) to have in the garden. Check out the praying mantid section of the April 24, 2020 Kansas Insect Newsletter. You can actually buy praying mantis egg cases?!? Anybody remember Rally Mantis, the KC Royals short-lived (literally) mascot? A brief moment of fun in an otherwise disappointing season. I even had a Rally Mantis T-shirt. Who knew I’d ever be writing about this?!


THIS IS THE TIME OF YEAR WHEN BABY CHICKS CAN OFTEN BE FOUND at farm stores and other locations, but recent stories in the New York Times and others indicate that chicks are in greater demand this year than usual. Apparently, we want to buy chicks during stock market downturns and presidential election years… there’s an appeal to gathering our own eggs rather than hope the grocery store has them – not always a sure thing during this pandemic. If you’re among the lucky people who recently bought or are raising a few chickens, Management of the Small Flock of Chickens will come in handy. Also, take a look at the poultry page on K-State’s Department of Animal Sciences and Industry page for information on poultry and what the university does to help producers, from large scale operations to your own backyard flock. I just learned that crooked toes can be caused by a riboflavin deficiency – in chickens, mind you!


PORTIONS OF THE WHEAT STATE (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS KANSAS!) experienced freezing weather in mid-April, which injured some of the crop. The wheat was in different stages of development in various parts of the state, which makes a difference to the freeze’s effect. The variety of wheat planted back in the fall also made a difference, with some varieties that came out of dormancy earlier this spring showing more damage than those that came out later. The April 24, 2020 Agronomy eUpdate gets into the nitty gritty. As of April 26, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service rated Kansas winter wheat as 5% excellent, 35% good, 40% fair, 15% poor and 5% very poor. The Agronomy eUpdate also includes information about soybean planting, including recommendations for planting dates, effect of row spacing on crop yield and more.


For more resources and activities, contact the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. Check out our other blogs and subscribe to our weekly emails here:

Better Kansas – Dec. 5, 2019

Welcome to Better Kansas, where every Thursday we shed light on events, resources and other information designed to make your life, businesses, communities and state better. This is a small glimpse of what K-State Research and Extension across the state has to offer. Share on social media and subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter

Better Living, Better Communities

FORECASTERS ARE EXPECTING EQUAL CHANCES OF ABOVE OR BELOW NORMAL PRECIPITATION AND TEMPERATURES for much of Kansas this winter, which I would call normal 😊. But of course, normal for us could be considered pretty whacky by people who don’t live here. It makes us hardy, right? Even if we escape brutal conditions (wishful thinking for sure), wetter-than-normal conditions expected in the northern Plains could mean flooding for some of us once again, especially in the northeast part of the state. Take a look at the latest winter weather outlook via the Kansas Weather Data Library for more detailed information.


I’M ALWAYS INTERESTED TO LEARN WHY SOME RURAL COMMUNITIES THRIVE while others struggle, so I found this radio/print series on KCUR/National Public Radio about rural communities particularly interesting. They touch on population retention, the meat packing industry and other commercial enterprises, tourism, the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA, program and more. Some segments provide a K-State rural sociologist’s perspective. Separately, I was at a meeting recently where this very subject came up, but in a different context, about rural communities and the differences in them. At that meeting, a participant who’s had a long career in banking said in every case he’d seen, the difference is leadership. In more successful communities, he said, one person or a group of people proactively stepped up to lead community or regional initiatives. We’ll have more on this topic in upcoming posts.


HAVE YOU CONSIDERED SELLING AT FARMERS’ MARKETS OR MAYBE ALREADY DO? Dates are set for the 2020 Regional Farmers’ Market Workshops in Iola, Wichita, Olathe, Hiawatha, Beloit and Leoti. The workshops, a collaborative effort of K-State Research and Extension and the Kansas Department of Agriculture, will cover selling at farmers’ markets, sales tax, food safety and more. The growing (and selling) season will be here before we know it.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

NOTHING SIGNALS THE WINTER HOLIDAYS LIKE A PERFECT POINSETTIA! These beautiful members of the Euphorbiaceae or Spurge family are known by scientists as Euphorbia pulcherrima. OK, enough with the science, but if you want to keep your poinsettia looking good through the holidays and beyond, know that they can be a bit finicky. They like a sunny place in the room but don’t want to touch the cold window. They don’t like “wet feet” so don’t overwater. Sounds like some people I know! Check out a video on choosing the best poinsettia and more tips on caring for these lovelies in a recent horticulture newsletter and scroll to Poinsettia Care. Plus, you’ll find information on winterizing strawberry plants, ashes in the garden and other topics.


IF YOU USE PROPANE TO HEAT YOUR HOME OR DRY DOWN YOUR GRAIN, you may have noticed that in some areas it’s less available, and the price may be up from last summer. This year’s unusually wet weather resulted in a corn crop that was slow to develop and mature. Propane is used by many farmers as a primary source of fuel to dry their wet grain in order to keep it from spoiling. The shortages and price hikes in some areas are partly a result of that spike in demand. Take a look at the Nov. 22 article Propane Market Update and Prospects for more information or listen to an Agriculture Today radio interview with one of the authors.


IN CASE YOU MISSED THE RECENT 2019 KSU SWINE DAY or want to review what you heard and saw, videos and slideshow presentations from the day have been posted online. They include K-State’s nationally known swine nutrition team plus keynote speaker, Dr. Josh Flohr of Seaboard Foods addressing “Decision Processes and Implementing a Nutritional Program in an Integrated System.” For more detailed information on the university’s latest swine research, check out individual research articles. Or, listen in to a radio interview with Egan Brockhoff with Prairie Swine Health Services about efforts to keep African swine fever out of Canada.  It’s almost like being there. Well, almost.

For more resources and activities, contact the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. Check out our other blogs and subscribe to our weekly emails here:

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