Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Tag: wheat varieties

Better Kansas – Aug. 6, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we address the hazards of sitting, food waste, empty nesters, lawn irrigation, 2020 wheat variety performance and a sheep and goat survey. This is a small glimpse of what K-State Research and Extension across the state has to offer. Keep the ideas and feedback coming and subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter

Better Living, Better Communities

FOR VARIOUS REASONS, MANY OF US HAVE BEEN SITTING … A LOT! That doesn’t mean we’re lazy. It’s just that a lot of us spend hours every day at a computer. And for those of us still working from home, we’re not even getting into our vehicles to go to and from work or walking into buildings, climbing the stairs at the office or other activity involved in our normal day-to-day lives. In fact, normal is beginning to feel like a distant memory. That’s why the article Are We Sitting Ourselves to Death? really resonated with me. The article references the K-State Research and Extension Walk Kansas program which won’t kick in again until next spring, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get out there and start moving on our own – even if it’s 15 minutes at lunchtime.

IT’S KIND OF SHOCKING, BUT WE WASTE A LOT OF FOOD – to the tune of $1,500 a year for a family of four on average. In total, 133 billion pounds or 30% to 40% of edible food is wasted each year, worth an estimated $161 billion in the United States alone. I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to buying something that sounds good at the time, only to find it hidden behind the milk and orange juice in the fridge, covered with a fine layer of mold. Or remember that can of sweet potatoes you bought in 2012? For a whole lot more on this topic, read Working Together to Reduce Food Waste. It includes suggestions for ways to avoid food waste as well as productive ways you can still use food even if it’s not okay to eat.


EMPTY NEST? When the last of the kiddos flies the coop or is about to, it can trigger a range of emotions for parents, including excitement, relief, anxiety and more. If they’re leaving because they’re off to school … or to a new job (would benefits be too much to ask?), it’s quite a moment. And what will day-to-day life be like without them? An article, What Happens Now? The Children are Gone has been around awhile, but how we feel and react to this part of life hasn’t changed much. This brought back my own flood of memories from when the first of my three went off to college and the reality that the dynamics of our family were changed forever. And wow, when the other two left, the house was SO (too) QUIET!


Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

THOUGH EARLY AUGUST BROUGHT WELCOME RAIN AND A BREAK IN TEMPERATURES for some of us, plenty of counties in western and southeast Kansas are still dry. Wherever we are, irrigating lawns may make sense this summer. But even if you’re watering three times a week, do you know how much moisture your grass is getting? One of the best (and amazingly simple) suggestions I’ve heard is to place empty cans in various places around your yard, so you can measure just how much water gathers in them. That suggestion and a whole lot more information is available on the Turfgrass Irrigating page.


MAKING DECISIONS – ESPECIALLY THOSE WITH BIG FINANCIAL, TIME AND EFFORT IMPLICATIONS, is difficult, but Kansas wheat growers have help as they determine what varieties to plant this fall. The Wheat Variety Disease and Insect Rating 2020 publication shows how different wheat varieties fared around the state in the 2019-20 growing season with regard to disease and insect challenges. The information, used in combination with data available in the K-State Winter Wheat Performance Tests report, offers growers powerful tools to assist in making planting decisions.


NOT LONG AGO I DISCOVERED HOW MUCH I LIKE GOAT CHEESE, so was happy to learn that the sheep and goat industry across Kansas is growing. In 2018, Kansas was home to nearly 74,000 sheep, 43,000 goats raised for meat and 6,000 goats raised for dairy. To help determine the economic impact of that industry, K-State Research and Extension and the Kansas Department of Agriculture are asking producers to take the Sheep and Goat Survey. The results will be used to help guide education, marketing, research and outreach efforts and will shed light on sheep and goat inventories in particular parts of the state.


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 – August 22, 2019

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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. Don’t forget to hit subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter

Better Living, Better Communities

MANY OF US HAVE A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH SUGAR and most of us know the difference between table sugar and powdered sugar, but there’s a lot more to that sweet carbohydrate than some of us knew. And it comes in so many forms! There’s your coarse sugar and your fruit sugar and your brown sugar and your turbinado sugar?! … You get the picture. Get the scoop in Sugar: More Than Just a Sweetener to learn about sugars and sugar substitutes such as aspartame and stevia, plus information on the function of sugar in foods. I never knew that in frozen foods, low temperatures tend to numb the taste buds and sugar acts to enhance flavors. Am I the only person who’s never heard of the Maillard reaction?

I’LL BE THE FIRST TO ADMIT, I NEED AN OCCASIONAL REMINDER to stick to a budget, use credit wisely and to be savvy about saving. For many of us baby boomers, our thoughts have shifted to thinking less about saving for a wedding or making it to the kids’ volleyball tournament and a lot more about planning our next weekend getaway and how to make our money last through a long, healthy 😊 retirement. The article Keys to Embracing Aging: Financial Affairs is full of reminders of things to consider as we age, plus do’s and don’ts we may not think about, especially regarding consumer protection. My own family remembers a relative who was incredibly smart but fell prey to a company that took advantage of him as he grew older. It can happen to anyone.

ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT BEING NEAR A MAJOR UNIVERSITY is easy access to informational sessions presented by an array of experts – and sometimes you don’t even have to be a student. A visual and insightful treat is in store for anyone who attends the Henry C. Gardiner Lecture Series at K-State Oct. 14. That’s when Dennis Dimick, the former executive environmental editor for National Geographic will speak about the challenges of living in the modern human era in his presentation “Living in the Human Age.” The free lecture, in the university’s McCain Auditorium, is open to the public. While at National Geographic, Dimick worked on more than 90 projects that addressed climate change, public lands, freshwater scarcity, coal and natural gas as energy supplies, and the effects on water supply from drought and snowpack loss in the United States. While on campus, he and National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson will speak to students and other campus groups. More information, plus a Q&A is available online. Plus, more information is available about the Henry C. Gardiner Global Foods Systems Lecture Series.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

THEY COME BACK EVERY YEAR TO WOW US WITH THEIR BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS, but even daylilies need a little TLC. This is the time of year to consider dividing daylilies, especially if it’s been a few years (or ever?) since the last time they were divided. Dividing them every 3-4 years helps keep them looking their best and we’ll be the lucky recipients of that for years to come. Check out the Dividing Daylilies section of a recent K-State Horticulture Newsletter and take a look at the video Dividing Daylilies.


YOU MAY KNOW KANSAS AS THE WHEAT STATE but did you know there are many varieties of wheat grown across the state? What grows well in western Kansas does not necessarily grow well on the eastern side of the state because of differences in average precipitation, soil type and other factors. To help farmers determine what varieties grow best and where, which certainly comes in handy when making decisions about seed purchases, K-State’s Agronomy Department and partners have just issued the NEW 2019 Kansas Performance Tests with Winter Wheat Varieties. It’s just a tad important since about one-fifth of all wheat grown in the United States is grown in Kansas.

By the way, university agronomists make public information on other crops too, such as corn, soybeans, canola, sunflower, grain sorghum and others. More on those later.

WHAT DO YOU CALL TWO SPIDERS THAT JUST GOT MARRIED? NEWLY WEBS! I’ve not met an entomologist yet that doesn’t have a sense of humor and that humor surfaces frequently in the Bug Jokes section of the K-State Extension Entomology blog. The scientists get down to serious business, too, as they conduct research and work with Kansans to scout farm fields, identify insects in homes and businesses and share information about how to manage them. By the way, the photo is of a longhorn milkweed beetle.

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 13, 2019 – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

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Welcome to Edition 2 of the Better Kansas blog from K-State Research and Extension, written by yours truly Every week we’re shedding a little light on events, resources and other information designed to make your life, your businesses, your communities and state better.

For many more resources and activities, check with the extension office in your area. Watch for Better Kansas on Thursdays. In the meantime, check  for archived entries. Share it with friends, family and colleagues!

Better Living, Better Communities

CALLING ALL FOODIES (and others who cook either for the love of it or out of necessity :). Check out the latest edition of You Asked It. This month it covers Food Science vs. Food Myths, Ace the (Food) Waste, Pressure Canner Testing, What is the Cloud Point of Cooking Oil,  Mixing Matters and more.

WHERE’D THEY GET THE MONEY FOR THAT? Ever wonder where the money came from for that new set of benches at your neighborhood park or how local firefighters got certain equipment? It’s possible the funding came through a grant. K-State Research and Extension is holding workshops in communities large and small to help Kansans develop their grant writing skills. Nonprofit organizations, church boards and others can learn the ins and outs of writing effective grant proposals. More information is available online or by contacting Nancy Daniels at 785-410-6352 or

SHOP LOCAL, BE SOCIAL: It’s June and activity at farmers markets across the state is buzzing. It’s hard to imagine a better way to find locally-grown foods, meet the farmers who produced them and see your friends and neighbors. Some even have music! What’s not to like? For great tips on shopping at your local market, take a look at Shopping Safely at Farmers Markets. Check out a list of farmers markets and if you’re selling fresh produce or other products, read Food Safety for Kansas Farmers Market Vendors: Regulations and Best Practices cover to cover!

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

COPING IN CHALLENGING TIMES: Though average net farm income rose in Kansas last year, many farmers are experiencing a string of tough financial years, the likes of which haven’t been seen in a long time. And recent flooding and delayed planting only compound the problem. No matter the difficulties, confidential help is available through the Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services and the K-State Research and Extension Farm Analyst program … let me say that againconfidential. The Farm Analyst program offers one-on-one consultations with people trained in business analysis specifically for farmers and ranchers and KAMS  can assist with legal, financial and mediation services. To reach either, call 1-800-321-FARM.

THE RIGHT WHEAT: Combines will soon roll through Kansas harvesting this year’s winter wheat crop. But how do you know which wheat varieties work best in your part of the state? Take a look at the K-State Department of Agronomy 2018 Kansas Wheat Performance Tests.

THIS YEAR’S PRECIPITATION HAS BEEN GOOD FOR A LOT OF PLANTS, INCLUDING WEEDS! All of you corn, soybean, grain sorghum and sunflower growers will want to check out the Weed Management Field Day set for July 2 in Hays. Can’t make it to this one? We know it’s a big state! Check with your local county or district extension office to see if there’s one closer to you and what other resources are available.