Welcome to Better Kansas. Every week we shed light on events, resources and other information designed to make your life, your businesses, your communities and state better. For more resources and activities, check with the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. Watch for Better Kansas on Thursdays. In the meantime, check http://blogs.k-state.edu/ksrenews/ to sign up for a weekly email and for archived entries. – Mary Lou Peter firstname.lastname@example.org
Better Living, Better Communities
SOME HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS offer health savings accounts, but what are they? How do they work? Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs, are accounts that you can set up to put money aside to pay for future health-care expenses if you’re enrolled in a high-deductible health plan. Advantages are that the money deposited is not taxable at the time of deposit and may roll over from one year to the next. That makes them different than Flexible Savings Accounts or FSAs where the money must be spent in the same year. Money withdrawn from an HSA account must be spent on qualifying or approved health care expenses, such as medical and dental expenses, eye exams, hearing aids, laboratory fees and more. Learn more with Health Insurance Smarts: Health Savings Accounts.
** A couple of important points: an individual cannot be enrolled in Medicare and contribute to an HSA, and an individual cannot be claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return.
WE ALL KNOW WE SHOULD EAT FOODS that are nutritious and good for us while maintaining a healthy weight. Gotta love those vitamins and calcium. For some of us (like me) we occasionally need gentle or not-so-gentle reminders about how and why. Check out tips and resources here. Also, your local K-State Research and Extension office has programs and resources that are available in every county in Kansas – all 105 of them.
WHAT ORGANIZATION IS ACTIVE in communities large and small, urban and rural and teaches young Kansans leadership, citizenship, communication and a myriad of other skills? That would be Kansas 4-H, with more than 74,000 youth participating in programs, projects and activities across the state. Think 4-H only has projects for rural kids? Think again! 4-H has those and more. Take a look at the 30 projects that teach everything from how small engines work to how and why water is so important to basic (and advanced if you want) cooking skills. One of my favorite college classes was in geology … wish I’d known I could have learned about it much earlier in life through 4-H. If your interest doesn’t line up with one of the 30 outlined projects, there’s even a “self-determined” project where you can choose what you want to study. More information is available by contacting any local K-State Research and Extension office.
Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening
CONTROL VOLUNTEER WHEAT to keep yield-robbing wheat streak mosaic at bay. Growers’ severe problems with wheat streak mosaic in years past can often be traced to a lack of control of volunteer wheat. Wheat production problems the previous year can leave large amounts of seed on the soil surface. As the seed germinates, it creates a “green bridge” which allows wheat streak mosaic and wheat curl mites, which are vectors of the disease, to survive locally. The disease can cut yield by more than 80 percent when susceptible cultivars are infected as seedlings, making it one of the most economically devastating wheat diseases in Kansas and the Great Plains. Learn more in the July 3, 2019 Agronomy eUpdate and in the Wheat Streak Mosaic fact sheet.
KANSAS FARMLAND VALUES HAVE CHANGED RAPIDLY in recent years but there is little publicly available information for people to know what farm property in the next county is worth or, for that matter, what Grandma’s farm halfway across the state is worth. To help bridge that gap, the Kansas Property Valuation Department provides K-State with data on agricultural land sales, which economists analyze. Irrigated and non-irrigated cropland and pasture is included. Take a look at the 2018 Kansas County-Level Land Values for Cropland and Pasture report.
YOU PLANTED, YOU WEEDED, YOU WATERED and watched those veggie plants bloom, but wait, they’re not setting fruit? It happens! If it’s tomatoes, it could be Mother Nature wreaking havoc with daytime or nighttime temperatures. Overfertilization can also be the culprit. And if you’re growing squash, cucumbers, watermelon or muskmelon, you may need those ever-important pollinators, aka bees! Check out the July 9, 2019 Horticulture Newsletter for more on this and other gardening issues. Previous editions filled with other horticulture topics are also available online or check with your local extension office.