Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Tag: wheat production

Better Kansas – Jan. 16, 2020

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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

OH, I LOVE THIS! HAVE YOU WONDERED IF THAT BAKING POWDER that’s been hiding behind the salt, molasses and chocolate chips in your kitchen cabinets will still get the job done? This is always a dilemma for me. Did I buy it in 2017? Or maybe 2007?!? 😊 There’s actually a guide to help us determine how long food ingredients keep their oomph! I realize “oomph” is not a scientific term, but you know what I mean. If you baked cookies and they turned out flatter than usual, some ingredient or other didn’t have its oomph. That can be just one of several problems with using old ingredients. One of the tips in Safe Food Storage: The Cupboard is to check dates and use the oldest products first. Hmmm … I guess that means bringing some items to the front of the shelves. I’m printing and posting this list inside my pantry.


A FEW MONTHS AGO, I wrote about choosing an in-home child care provider and linked to a resource focused on that. But a child care center or preschool may make more sense for your family. It’s a good idea to visit more than one and ask plenty of questions. How is discipline handled? Is lunch provided? Is there a specified place for a child’s personal belongings? What plans are in place in case of emergency? Will they put my child out by the curb if I don’t pick him up in time? (Just kidding with that last one …. if you get that impression, better scoot on out of there!) Check out Choosing Child Care for your Children: Child Care Centers and Preschools for a whole lot of things to consider.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

WIND: We’ve got it! COLD WEATHER: We’ve got that, too! I don’t remember weather forecasters mentioning the “Wind Chill” Index when I was growing up. At some point, however, reporting on not only the temperature but also the wind speed (together they determine the wind chill) became part of weather forecasting during the cold winter months. It turns out the wind chill index was first developed in 1945 by Antarctic explorers. The National Weather Service started using the index in the late 1960s in its forecasts. Take a look at this Kansas Mesonet page to check wind chill details across the state.


World Without Wheat is a short, but thought-provoking, educational article by one of our extension agents, about the crop that Kansas is well-known for around the world. It touches on why the number of acres being planted to wheat across the state has been declining, who our customers for Kansas and U.S. wheat are, and who is our wheat-growing competition on the world market. There’s also a section on what farmers might do with the land on which they’ve typically grown wheat. Check out World Without Wheat.


IF YOU’RE A SERIOUS FRUIT GROWER and especially if you grow fruit to sell, take a look at the Midwest Fruit Pest Management Guide 2019-2020. The publication was put together by a team of expert entomologists, horticulturists and plant pathologists who understand Midwest production challenges best because it’s where they live and work. It covers the nitty gritty on pesticide safety and regulations, from apples to grapes to berries and more. It even has a section on vole control. Unfortunately, voles, insects and other pests like fruit as much as we do.


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 – June 20, 2019

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Welcome to Edition 3 of the Better Kansas blog from K-State Research and Extension, written by yours truly, Every week we’re shedding light on a few events, resources and other information designed to make Kansans’ lives, businesses, communities and state better. This is new for us, so be sure to scroll through weeks 1 & 2 also. For many more resources and activities, check with the K-State Research and Extension office in your area.

Better Living, Better Communities

YOU’RE CRUISING DOWN THE MEAT AISLE AT YOUR LOCAL GROCERY STORE, looking for dinner inspiration. We’ve all been there. The label on this package says it’s “Natural/Naturally Raised” and another package says “Raised Without Antibiotics” and yet another says “Grass-Fed.” Really, what does all of this mean?! The Meat Product Labeling and Marketing: What Do All Those Words Really Mean factsheet explains these and a lot more. 

REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE PRESCRIBED THAT STRONG PAIN MEDICATION AFTER SURGERY? Or maybe it was your neighbor managing pain from aching chronic arthritis? Or your niece’s soccer injury? Opioids are a class of drugs that include powerful prescription pain relievers, which can be an important part of medical treatment. They also carry a significant risk, however, for addiction and overdose because of the euphoria they create and a human’s tolerance that occurs after repetitive dosing. Many of us don’t realize we have some of these medications in our own homes. Approximately 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, and many more are at risk. Learn more with the fact sheet The Opioid Crisis: What You Need to Know and video.

WORKING WITH KANSANS ACROSS THE STATE TO IMPROVE MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH is the plan behind a K-State Research and Extension effort called the Culture of Health. The goal, part of a nationwide effort, is for extension to do for mental and physical health what extension has done for agriculture for years. Extension offices across the state have always offered classes and resources aimed at educating the public about ways to live healthier lives. The Culture of Health initiative, however, sharpened the focus and is providing extension agents with more tools to support mental and physical health programs.

The initiative kicked off in 2018 when K-State Research and Extension brought together 250 representatives of health departments, health coalitions and other stakeholders with extension staff in seven locations around Kansas to identify existing resources and challenges. Among the most significant concerns were:

  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • heart disease
  • addictions
  • farm stress
  • suicides
  • access to health care
  • access to healthy foods

Read more about how extension agents and specialists are enhancing resources in Kansas communities.


Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

KANSAS RANKS 10TH IN HOG AND PORK PRODUCTION, AND GROWING THE NEXT GENERATION of producers and other industry professionals is imperative to keep the industry moving forward. Many in that next generation will participate in the 2019 Dr. Bob Hines Kansas Swine Classic June 28-29 at CiCo Park in Manhattan. This is not your run-of-the-mill competition for Kansas youth and their animals. Educational workshops, a photo contest and a skillathon are built into the agenda, along with showmanship and the Prospect Pig and the Barrow and Market Pig shows. And this year a family pork cook-off has been added! Oh, by the way, in 2018 Kansas producers sold 3,505,878 market hogs, feeder pigs and seedstock with a gross market value of more than $471 million.

MANY OF US LOVE THE BELOW-AVERAGE TEMPERATURES; THE WHEAT CROP, NOT SO MUCH. We all need certain conditions to grow and thrive and that’s true for wheat, too. This spring’s below-average temperatures slowed the Kansas wheat crop’s development, which may cut the amount of grain coming out of those fields. And don’t get me started about the rain. Much more detail is included in the June 10 Agronomy eUpdate. What’s at stake? Kansas is typically the No. 1 wheat producing state, in recent years averaging about 328 million bushels from an average 8.5 million acres. Nearly one-fifth of all wheat grown in the United States is grown right here in Kansas. And we help feed the world: About half our wheat is exported to other countries.

SIDEDRESSING, DEADHEADING AND SUCH … FLOWERS, THAT IS: Abundant spring rainfall kept many of us from having to water flowers much early on, but those lovely flowers still need TLC and a drink when they get dry. Modern annual flowers are bred to flower early and over a long period of time. Recent K-State Horticulture Newsletters dig into – pun intended 🙂 – such topics as sidedressing annual flowers and when it’s helpful to remove old, spent flowers, an activity also known as deadheading … and when it’s not. This has me thinking about the other Deadheads, as in fans of the Grateful Dead, but again, I digress! The newsletters contain a trove of information on horticulture topics from how short to mow the grass to pests in vegetables (and how to excuse them from your garden) to tree diseases and way more.