Rawlins County

Month: May 2015

Emily Lambert – Finalist at Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge

Emily Lambert


Emily Lambert, a Rawlins County High School Senior, was among 27 students that competed at the 2nd annual Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge put on by NetWork Kansas that took place in Leoti on May 6. Emily represented Rawlins County, advancing to the finals and finishing in the top 6. She won the Out of the Box Business Award for her business of Timeless Memories, a wedding planning and consultant business. She qualified for the competition at our local-level entrepreneurship fair that was held this past April. The participants competed in a business plan preliminary round, and a trade show and elevator pitch semi-final round. After the semi-final round, the top 6 then faced off in a final presentation. A total of $6,350 in awards was given at the Regional competition to these Northwest Kansas middle school and high school students. Traveling down to Leoti with Emily was Rawlins County High School Business Teacher, Mrs. Wendy Wilson, and K-State Research Extension Agents, JoEllyn Argabright and Emily Green, who were all very proud of Emily and her performance.

This is a wonderful opportunity for the youth of our community and look forward to next year’s local and regional competitions.

Mowing Grass

Q: With the latest rains, my lawn has grown out of control, how do I go about mowing it down to its proper length without hurting my grass?

A: Frequency and length of cut are important to maintaining a healthy lawn.  You should not cut more than one third of the leaf tissue at any one time.  This does several things; it helps the clippings be small enough that they can disperse into the yard and it promotes overall plant health.  During the times that our grass grows taller than we would like (such as when it rains or we go on vacation), you have several options.  First, raise your mower height adjustment to a taller setting and mow as normal.  You can lower the height adjustment and return the next day to achieve a lower cut.  If you are mowing twice, be sure to disperse the clippings evenly into the yard.  You may also consider bagging the clippings and disposing of them elsewhere.  Clippings contain moisture and nutrients that promote healthy lawns and decrease the need to fertilize.

By following the one third rule, you are responding to how fast your grass grows.  As grass grows more rapidly in the spring time, you will have to mow more often.  Similarly, as grass growth slows during the summer you mow less frequently.  Utilizing the one third rule, you should mow frequently enough mowing to stimulate lateral growth.  Lateral growth creates thick, lush lawns with fewer weed problems.

Walk KS 2015

Walk Kansas 2015 has wrapped up across the state!  This team based, eight week healthy lifestyle challenge is sponsored by K-State Research and Extension.  Co-workers, family members, friends and neighbors join together in teams of six who track their minutes of physical activity and food choices during the course of the program.  Each teams identifies a goal, or challenge, it wants to reach.  Three challenges are offered.  Challenge 1 is equal to the distance across the state, equivalent to four hundred and twenty three miles or 6,345 minutes of exercise.  To reach Challenge 2two, the team must go across the state and back, equivalent to eight hundred and forty six miles or 12,690 minutes of exercise.  Challenge 3 takes the team 1200 miles around the perimeter of the state.  Members report their exercise as well as fruit and vegetable consumption to their captain, who submits a team total each week. All team’s progress are recorded weekly on www.walkkansas.org.   Friendly competition can be motivating!

Rawlins County had twenty one participating teams in 2015, with a total of one hundred and twenty six participants.  The total distance walked by all participants was eighteen thousand seven hundred miles during the eight weeks and a total of nineteen thousand nine hundred and thirty two fruits and vegetables were consumed.  Our winning team with the furthest distance was “Walk N’ Roll,” with sixteen hundred and fifty four miles.  Team members include Laury Migchelbrink (Captain), Rhonda Laufer, Patty Horinek, Nancy Fix, Cherie Hayes and Annette Dunker.  The winning team with the most fruits and vegetables consumed was “1, 2, 3 Challenge” with a total consumption of thirteen hundred and seventy four cups of fruits and veggies.  Team members include Diana Tongish (Captain), Janet Stice, Karin Finley, Amber Timm, Tara Hayden and Linda Glad.  Individual winners included Patty Horinek for most mileage, Diana Tongish for most fruits and veggies, Extension’s Choice winner for overall effort went to Effie Fields and Jim and Lyn Reeves are this year’s photo contest winners.  Congratulations on a successful (and fruitful) 2015 Walk Kansas! walk ks (2) Walk ks 2 Walk KS Photo Challenge Haiti 2 walk ks

Starting a Home Garden

Q: I am ready to start my own garden, what and when should I plant?

A: So much goes into planning a home garden it is difficult to know where to start. Space available and individual preferences play an important part in deciding what to grow. Beans, beets, summer squash, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, radishes, and turnips are well adapted for growth when space is limited. Sweet corn, vine squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and melons require more space for growth and should be considered only if adequate space is available. Don’t be afraid to experiment with unfamiliar vegetables, but plan to be able to use most of the vegetables you produce. Most home gardeners have too much to produce maturing at the same time. This is desirable if you plan to can or freeze the vegetables. For table use, it is better to stagger the plantings. Plant a few radishes every 4-5 days instead of all at once. This will provide a steady supply of radishes of ideal maturity over a long period of time. Also stagger plantings of lettuce, beans, sweet corn, and peas. Mid May is an appropriate time to start planting your snap or lima beans, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, squash, tomatoes and okra. Be sure to monitor night temperatures and cover everything up if there is any danger of a frost. According to the Kansas Garden Guide, published by K-State Research and Extension, Rawlins County experiences roughly 160 frost free days per year. Our last spring frost is typically between April 29th and May 1st, while the average first fall frost is October 5-9. Check out qqq.krse.edu/bookstore/pubs/s51.pdf for more information. You may also refer to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map, which determines which plants are mostly likely to thrive at a location based on the average annual minimum winter temperature. Rawlins County is in the USDA zone 5.


This article is by Jeanne Falk Jones:

Q: We have been getting lots of questions on wheat in the last couple weeks. They generally center on stripe rust and wheat streak mosaic. These are two different diseases- stripe rust is a fungal disease, while wheat streak is a virus.

A: Stripe rust is a fungus that blows up on the wind currents from Texas. We are currently finding stripe rust in the wheat fields throughout the area. It is being found on one to three leaves below the flag leaf, but not the flag leaf. About a week ago, stripe rust pustules were more difficult to find, but are now being found relatively easy. The stripe rust pustules are raised, orange colored, blister-like lesions on the leaf surface. If you run your thumb over the leaf surface, many times you can feel the pustules and your thumb will be orange from the rust spores. Many times the stripe rust will occur in a longitudinal ‘striped’ appearance following the veins on the leaf. As I am writing this article on Tuesday afternoon, it is cool and foggy with mist/rain. These are the conditions that stripe rust loves. It really likes cool temperatures- with overnight lows from 40 to 60 degrees- and it takes moisture for rust spore to infect the leaf. The forecast is for these types of conditions to be around for the rest of the week. How do you make a decision on treating with a fungicide? This is really a tough question with the wide variety of potential wheat fields across the area. Research done at K-State suggests that the yield response for stripe rust can be more than 20% when conditions favor disease development on susceptible varieties. Fungicides applications are most likely to result in a 10% yield response greater if the stripe rust or other disease are established on the upper leaves prior to flowering. If the disease is only present in the low to mid-canopy at these growth stages, a fungicide application will only result in the desired yield response about 50-60% of the time. This is very dependent on the weather forecast for the next 10-14 days. Additional information is available on stripe rust in a couple K-State publications -Evaluating the Need for Foliar Fungicides and Foliar Fungicide Efficiency Ratings For Wheat Disease Management. For wheat streak mosaic, it is showing up in fields this spring, especially after we caught some rain. The wheat curl mite is a microscopic insect that moves the wheat stroke mosaic virus from the summer host into the newly emerged wheat crop. We seem to be seeing more of it than normal spring. That is likely due to the long, warm, fall like we had. It allowed the curl mites to be active for longer than normal and infect more plants with the wheat streak mosaic virus. In addition, as the wheat hit its growth spurt this spring after the rain, the virus replicated quite quickly in the plant and the symptoms showed up quickly and fairly severe. For wheat streak mosaic, there are really no good control measures after the symptoms are showing up in your wheat. This is a virus, not a fungus, so a fungicide will not help. The best control measure is really prevention- and that included controlling volunteer wheat prior to drilling. The wheat streak mosaic virus shows up as mottled (intermixed green and yellow) patches on the leaf and can have a streaked appearance. This virus is like the flu for us. There really isn’t anything that can be done to stop the virus, but minimizing stress (drought, nutrients) on the plant can help the plant fight back. The only difference is that we can fight off the flu, whereas wheat cannot fight off the mosaic streak. In addition, most of the commonly planted varieties of wheat are susceptible to this disease. If you  have additional questions, please contact JoEllyn Aragbright at the Rawlins County Extension Office or Jeanne Falk Jones, K-State agronomist at the K-State Experiment Station in Colby.

Which labels are most important?

Q: I am overwhelmed when shopping for meat, I don’t know which labels are important and which should I ignore? Help.

A: Consumers often are overwhelmed and confused by the number of choices offered in today’s meat case. In addition to choosing from different cuts, packaging types, weights, prices, consumers are faced with numerous marketing claims. All of these claims are designed to give the consumer more information about the product so they can make the purchasing decision that best suits their needs. Claims can typically be broken down into two categories; animal production and product claims. We will try to cover the first section this week and product claims next week. Animal production claims provide information about how the animal produced the product was raised. Some of these terms might include “Natural,” meaning the product must be minimally processed, cannot contain any artificial ingredients and cannot contain preservatives. The label must also include a statement clarifying the intended meaning such as “minimally processed.” Almost all fresh meat sold meets the requirements for the “natural” claim, including meats that have not been sliced, ground, frozen or cooked. The term “Naturally Raised” refers to how the animal was produced. Products labeled as “Naturally Raised” are required to be from animals raised entirely without growth promoting products, antibiotics, and never fed animal or fish by-products. However, animals are allowed to be vaccinated and given products to control parasites. Meat products labeled “certified organic” or “USDA organic” must be certified to have met all of the following requirements; been raised under organic management techniques from the last third of gestation (for poultry, since the second day of life); been fed 100% USDA organic grain or forage; never received growth promotants/implants/parasiticides/antibiotics; been given access to the outdoors for all livestock and access to pasture for cattle. Additionally, organic meat must be processed in a facility certified to process organic products and must be kept separate from non-organic meats. The USDA requires beef labeled as “Grass-Fed” to be from cattle whose diet, post weaning, was comprised entirely of forage from a pasture or harvested forage and that animals were given continuous access to pasture during the growing season. Almost all cattle are grass-fed for a majority of their lives. Following weaning, many cattle will remain on pasture consuming grass or other forages for an additional amount of time in order to increase weight prior to placement in a feedlot. In the U.S., the majority of cattle are placed in a feedlot and fed a balanced, high energy diet for the final 4-6 months of their lives. This diet often includes corn, soybeans, forage, and is fortified with vitamins and minerals required by the animals for proper health. The label claim “Free-range” or “Free-roaming” indicates the animal had access to an outdoor area during production. For poultry, these claims are regulated by the USDA and require the animals to have a daily access to an outdoor area. The outdoor area may be fenced and/or covered with a netting material for protection. The term is not regulated by the USDA for beef, pork, and lamb production. If the term is used, however, it must be limited to animals that were never confined to a feedlot. Products labeled “Cage-free” indicate that the animals were able to freely move around a large building, enclosure, or pasture without restriction and with access to food and fresh water throughout their production cycle. Almost all poultry, cattle and pigs used for meat production in the U.S. are raised “Cage-free.”

Wheat Winterkill

Q: Can you talk a little bit about wheat winter injury?

A: The following is from Jeane Falk-Jones area agronomist and co-leader of the Rawlins County Wheat Plot Discussion this past Monday:

There has been a great deal of discussion on the condition of wheat fields throughout NW KS. We have fields ranging form looking pretty rough to looking pretty good! Much of the injury is relating back to the cold weather on November 10-11. It isn’t really so much about the cold snap, as it is about the temperatures leading up to the cold temperatures. Much of October and November had quite warm temperatures and nighttime shows just barely dropping below freezing. At around 40 degrees, the plant starts preparing for winter. The wheat plant begins slowing plant processes and moving sugars around in the plant. This helps the what plant harden off and induce winter hardiness. The catch is that the wheat didn’t have much of a chance to prepare for the cold temperatures. This has caused damage to the crowns of the plant. In some cases, the main stem is damaged and in other cases, there is no damage to tillers of the plant. It is very important to split the plants and look at the crown area to assess the damage. Healthy crowns look crisp and whitish-green. Damaged crowns are yellowish to brown colored with a mushy appearance. It is also important to  look at both the main stem and the tillers of the plant. The big question is about the plants that look damaged- not completely healthy and not dead. Those plants, in many cases, are a majority of the field. These plants are the ones that can still go either way. On those plants, look for new tillers and new root growth to see if the plant is promoting new growth. New tiller and root growth is an encouraging sign., It is important to get the new tillers well established as early in the spring as possible. It is also important to remember the last tiller to be put on is the first tiller to be aborted in tough growing conditions. In addition, the damaged plants are more susceptible to other stresses- such as drought, diseases and insects. For diseases, the biggest threat is crown rot. When I visited with Erik DeWolf, the wheat pathologist at K-State, he said crown rot is a big threat to the yields of the winter damaged wheat. There is not a great deal of difference between varieties and crown rot is generally an effect of crown damage and dry growing conditions. It is generally recommended to go ahead and top-dress the wheat and apply herbicides. Applying fertilizer to minimize the contact with top growth(like with steamer bars) may be advised to help minimize stress from the nitrogen burn. For herbicides, it is good to give the wheat coming out of dormancy a chance to have a bit of growth (a couple days of good growing conditions) before applying the herbicides. In addition, weed control as going to be necessary because of thinner wheat strands. This will help minimize weed competition and aid at harvest. Be advised though that applying a herbicide now may greatly reduce the options of re-cropping with a summer crop, in the event of a total loss on the wheat. Finally, the wheat conditions are changing daily. As green-up continues, winter injury is becoming more apparent. I know it is difficult, but patience is helpful on determining a plan with the wheat. And as always, a good rain would be quite a blessing.

Crabgrass Preventers

Q: I am looking to apply crabgrass preventer on my lawn, when is the best time to do that?

A: Crabgrass preventers are another name for pre-emergence herbicides that prevent crabgrass seeds from developing into mature plants. They do not keep the seed from germinating, but kill the young germinating plant. Crabgrass preventers are just that- preventers. With few exceptions they have no effect on existing crabgrass plants, so they must be applied before germination. Additionally, preventers do not last forever once applied to the soil. Microorganisms and natural processes break them down soon after they are applied. If some products are applied too early, they may have lost much of their strength by the time they are needed. Most crabgrass preventers are fairly effective after about sixty days, but there is considerable variation among products. For most of Kansas, crabgrass typically begins to germinate a little later than May 1 (the northwest tends to bloom later than most of the rest of the state). May 1 is a good target date for applying preventer because it gives active ingredients time to evenly disperse in the soil before crabgrass germination starts. It is often better to base timing on the bloom of ornamental plants, especially during a spring with non-typical weather, such as this year. The Eastern Redbuds planted in the town of Atwood is a good choice for this purpose. You can find Eastern Redbuds planted in the town of Atwood on the corner of 7th and Pearl St. When the Eastern Redbud is approaching full bloom, it is appropriate to apply crabgrass preventer. A follow application will be needed about 8 weeks later unless you are using Dimension or Barricade. These two products give season long control. They can be applied much earlier than May 1 and will have sufficient residual strength. Barricade can even be applied in the fall for crabgrass control the next season. Dimension can be applied as early as March 1. Though Dimension cannot be applied as early as Barricade, it is a herbicide of choice if it must be applied later than recommended. It is the exception to the rule that pre-emergent herbicides do not kill existing weeds. Dimension can kill crabgrass as long as it is young. (2-3 leaf stage) Products that require a follow-up application include pendimethalin (Scott Halts) and Team (Hi Yield Crabgrass control). Pendimethalin has better activity on broad leaves than any other crabgrass preventers. Normally a pre-emergence herbicide is not recommended unless the lawn has been mowed two-four times. Dimension can be applied to lawns established the previous fall, and is kind young tall fescue, perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass. Keep in mind that crabgrass preventers may be listed under their common name instead of the trade name. The common chemical name for Dimension is dithiopyr and for Barricade is Prodiamine. When using any pesticide When using any pesticide read the label and follow instructions carefully. Crabgrass preventers should be applied before fertilizer so that the grass isn’t encouraged to put on too much growth too early. However, it may be difficult to find products that contain pre-emergent with fertilizer. Those that don’t contain fertilizer are Pendimethalin (Scott Halts) Team (Benefin+Trifluralin) and Dimension products including Hi Yield Turf and Ornamental Weed and Grass Stopper, Bonide Crabgrass and Wood Preventer and Green Light Crabgrass Preventer. Brand names mention in this article are for informationa; purposes only, no endorsement is intended.