Horticulture, Uncategorized

Pumpkins

I love this time of year for several reasons. First, it is harvest time; watching the combines in the fields brings back great memories of riding in the combine with my dad as a child. Secondly, I love the changing colors of the trees and a slight chill in the air. Finally, I love pumpkins and going to the pumpkin patch with my girls which is why this week I’m sharing some fun information about pumpkins.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

October is National Pumpkin Month. Pumpkins are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes squash, cantaloupe, cucumbers, watermelon, and gourds. Every part of the pumpkin was used by American Indians. Pumpkins and squashes were baked or roasted whole in a fire, cut up and boiled, added to soups and stews, or made into porridge and pudding.  Strips of pumpkin were dried and woven into mats and the dried outer shells of pumpkins and squashes found new life as water vessels, bowls and storage containers.

Did you know that pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of fiber? Also, a one-ounce portion of hulled pumpkin seeds is considered 20ounce equivalents in the Protein foods group. All parts of the pumpkin are used all over the world as ingredients in dishes – even the pumpkin leaves!  Cooked pumpkin leaves and peeled shoots are a staple in many Asian and African countries and served with rice or porridge. The flavor is said to be a mixture of green beans, asparagus, broccoli, and spinach. Use tender, young pumpkin leaves for best results.  Fresh pumpkins are best if you select small, heavy ones for cooking because they contain more edible flesh. Pumpkins for carving are not so great for cooking, but the edible seeds are great for roasting!  My grandma always made the best pumpkin seeds!

 If you have never made roasted pumpkin seeds, here are some tips from the National Center for Home Food Preservation:

  • Drying seeds and roasting seeds are two different steps:
  • To dry: carefully wash pumpkin seeds to remove the clinging fibrous pumpkin tissue. Pumpkin seeds can be dried in a dehydrator at 115 to 120°F for 1 to 2 hours, or in an oven on warm for 3 to 4 hours. Stir frequently to avoid scorching.
  • To roast: toss dried pumpkin seeds with oil and your favorite seasonings such as salt, pepper, garlic, or cumin. Roast in a preheated oven at 250°F for 10 to 15 minutes. Once cooled, place the roasted pumpkin seeds in a sealed container and store at room temperature.

When selecting pumpkins for carving and fall decoration, choose varieties that suit your style! Traditional carving pumpkins are medium to large- in size, deep orange, and lightly ribbed with a strong handle. For painting, look for a small pumpkin with a strong handle and a smooth surface. Add additional interest to fall décor using miniature pumpkins with unique colors and patterns. Miniature pumpkins are typically less than 2 pounds and can be found in a variety of shapes and colors. Diversity among pumpkin varieties is incredible! With sizes ranging from 4 ounces to over 1,000 pounds, various unique shapes, and brilliant colors like orange, yellow, white, green, blue, gray, pink, and tan, there are endless opportunities to select the perfect pumpkin.

This information was taken from Nebraska Extension’s food.unl.edu website which has more great pumpkin and fall recipes and nutrition information.

Youth

Youth to Celebrate National 4-H Week: October 2-8

Every year, National 4-H Week sees millions of youth, parents, volunteers and alumni come together to celebrate the many positive youth development opportunities offered by 4-H. The theme for the 2022 National 4‑H Week is “Opportunity for All”. National 4-H week runs from October 2-8, 2022.

National 4-H Week

With so many children struggling to reach their full potential, 4-H believes that young people, in partnership with adults, can play a key role in creating a more promising and equitable future for youth, families and communities across the country. In 4-H, we believe every child should have an equal opportunity to succeed. We believe every child should have the skills they need to make a difference in the world. 

Fillmore and Clay County 4-H will observe National 4-H Week this year by highlighting some of the inspirational 4-H youth in our community who are working tirelessly to support each other and their communities. Check out the fun activities being done on the Fillmore County website at fillmore.unl.edu, including a pumpkin decorating contest. Wear a 4-H shirt on Wednesday and post on the Fillmore (https://www.facebook.com/fillmorecounty4h) or Clay County (https://www.facebook.com/UNLClayCounty) FaceBook pages!

In both Clay and Fillmore Counties one out of two, age-eligible 4-H youth from the community are involved in 4‑H. One of the most anticipated events of National 4-H Week every year is the 4-H STEM Challenge, formerly known as National Youth Science Day. Designed by Rutgers University, this year’s 4-H Challenge, “Explorers of the Deep”, focuses on the mysteries and adventures of ocean exploration—with robots! Young people learn how to use science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to explore Earth’s Ocean and how it relates to all life on the planet.

The 2022 Challenge helps young people develop observational and critical thinking skills while exploring the interconnected nature between the ocean and humans, regardless of where they live. They will learn about the incredibly complex relationship between Earth’s oceans and the global climate. According to a recent survey, 84 percent of teens would like to be involved with shaping the future of our environment. Explorers of the Deep can help empower young people to innovate and take action to drive positive change.

To learn more about how you can get involved, visit http://www.4-h.org/.

About 4-H

4‑H is delivered by Cooperative Extension—a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provides experiences where young people learn by doing. For more than 100 years, 4‑H has welcomed young people of all beliefs and backgrounds, giving kids a voice to express who they are and how they make their lives and communities better. Through life-changing 4‑H programs, nearly six million kids and teens have taken on critical societal issues, such as addressing community health inequities, engaging in civil discourse, and advocating for equity and inclusion for all.

In 4‑H programs, kids, and teens complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and civic engagement in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles. Kids experience 4‑H in every county and parish in the country through in-school and after-school programs, school, and community clubs and 4‑H camps.

4‑H’s reach and depth are unmatched, reaching kids in every corner of America – from urban neighborhoods to suburban schoolyards to rural farming communities. Our network of 500,000 volunteers and 3,500 4‑H professionals provide caring and supportive mentoring to all 6 million 4‑H’ers, helping them grow into true leaders today and in life.

Learn more about 4-H at www.4-H.org, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/4-H and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/4H.

Crops

Harvest Safety

It is hard to believe that harvest has started for some. As a reminder that with harvest comes more traffic on county roads and other stresses for farmers. It never fails, that equipment can break, there are delays at the elevator and extra-long hours can all add extra stress to farmers. It is important to carefully slow down and realize the many hazards you are being exposed to during harvest.

An Iowa State Extension publication, Harvest Safety Yields Big Dividends points out that injuries can occur by taking shortcuts to perform routine tasks, not getting enough sleep or regular breaks, or failing to follow safety practices. Some injuries occur when operators are pulled into the intake area of harvesting machines, such as balers, combines, or corn pickers, and many injuries occur from slips or falls around these machines. Exposure to powerful machinery is highest during the harvest season. The equipment must be powerful to effectively handle large amounts of agricultural commodities. When equipment plugs, NEVER try to unplug it with live equipment, instead always disengage power and turn off the engine before trying to manually clear a plugged machine. Regular maintenance of these machines can also make harvest go smoother. Also, lots of accidents happen by the operator slipping and falling off equipment.

In the same publication listed above, there are several tips for reducing fall hazards: 

  • Always keep all platforms free of tools or other objects.
  • Frequently clean the steps and other areas where workers stand to service, mount, and dismount, or operate the machine.
  • Wear well-fitting, comfortable shoes with non-slip soles.
  • Use grab bars when mounting or dismounting machinery.
  • Be sure your position is stable before you work on a machine.
  • Recognize that fatigue, stress, drugs or alcohol, and age may affect stability.

Other helpful tips during harvest are to keep kids away from machinery. Tell them the dangers that can occur and not to play near the equipment, even when it is shut off; you never know when they will be playing in hidden areas of the equipment. Operators should double check where kids are before moving the equipment. Too many accidents can occur when youth are in the path of equipment out of the operator’s view. Operators of all equipment should check in regularly and let someone know where you are. Keep all guards on equipment; it is there for a reason! 

It is also important for the public to understand the increased traffic on public roads and be patient. The greatest threat raised between farm equipment and passenger vehicles is the difference in speed. Farm equipment runs at an average speed of 20 miles per hour while passenger vehicles average 60 miles per hour. If the motor vehicle overtakes a tractor, the impact is comparable to a passenger vehicle hitting a brick wall at 40 miles per hour. If the tractor and a car, mini-van or pickup collides head on, the impact is the same as hitting a brick wall at 60 miles per hour.

Farmers can reduce the chances of an accident by using warning lights, reflectors, and reflective tape on their machinery to keep passenger vehicle operators aware of their presence on roads. Some farmers may choose to install supplemental lights to increase visibility. It also is a good idea for producers to keep off heavily traveled roads as much as possible and avoid moving equipment during the busiest part of the day.

Some farm equipment, such as combines, can take up more than half of the road. Even so, it is up to both drivers to be aware of their own limitations and adjust accordingly. Farmers should not take up more space than is needed, but other drivers should try to provide as much room as possible. It is a good idea for passenger vehicles to turn off onto side or field roads until larger machinery has passed. Whenever possible, farmers should use an escort vehicle such as a pickup to precede or follow large machinery and equipment on public roads. More than one escort may be necessary. Ideally, the escort vehicle would have extra warning lights and a sign indicating oversized or slow equipment ahead or following.

 Have a safe harvest!

Crops, Livestock

Breaking Down Anxiety: Tools to Help You Live a Less Anxious Life

This week, I’ve decided to share with you a two-part workshop on helping live a less anxious life which is provided by Nebraska Extension’s Women in Agriculture program. This two-part virtual workshop September will focus on managing and working through anxiety. “Breaking Down Anxiety: Tools to Help You Live a Less Anxious Life,” will hold its first session from 1 to 3 p.m. Central time on September 8. The second session is scheduled for 1 to 2 p.m. Central time on September 29.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

It will be facilitated by Ashley Machado, a mental health consultant who works primarily with agricultural professionals and their families. “Sometimes anxiety can feel all-consuming, like you’re on a train you don’t want to be on and you don’t know how to get off. Other times it can feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but you keep getting stuck on a hamster wheel,” Machado said.

The workshop will discuss how anxiety shows up, why it can be a reaction to uncertainty, and offer advice for developing skills to manage anxiety and its effects. Machado is an advocate of rethinking the ways that we support mental health in the agriculture industry and specializes in breaking down big ideas and deep feelings into simple, actionable strategies. She applies 15 years of experience to helping individuals and organizations in agriculture to develop the tools they need to maintain good mental health and operate and live fully.

Machado holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and a Master’s in Social Work with an emphasis in clinical mental health. She grew up in the dairy industry and now lives in California with her husband, a rancher and almond farmer.

The workshop will be held via Zoom and participants should plan on attending both sessions. Registration is $20 per person and can be completed here: https://cvent.me/DWlYaO.

 This material is based upon work supported by USDA-NIFA under Award Number 2020-70028-32728.

Crops, Youth

Youth Crop Scouting Competition Results

Nebraska Extension strives to recruit the next generation of agronomy professionals by annually conducting the Nebraska Youth Crop Scouting Competition. On August 3, 2022, held at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center, teams were able to talk with Extension staff and scout actual plots at the Research Center. This competition is a great experience for those wanting to work in many different fields of agriculture. This competition provides a fun competitive environment where teams can receive hands on learning about all aspects of crop scouting.

Receiving first place and a cash prize of $500 was Kornhusker Kids team coached by Chris Schiller. Team members were James Rolf, Logan Consbruck, Isaac Wooldrik, Levi Schiller and Ian Schiller. Second place went to Colfax Co. 4-H Team #1 coached by Steve Nelson. Team members were Josh Eisennman, Mic Sayers, Rylan Nelson, & Hayden Bailey and they received $250. Third place with a $100 cash award was Colfax County 4-H #2 team also coached by Steve Nelson. Team members were Callen Jedlicka, Cody Jedlicka, Daphne Jedlicka and Justin Eisennman.

Also participating were two teams from Johnson County 4-H coached by Jon Schmid. Team members from Johnson County #1 included Wesley Schmid, Sophia Schmid, Bo McCoy and Elliot Werner. Johnson Co. #2 team consisted of Levi Othmer and Cameron Werner. Arlington FFA also competed with Kali Agler as the coach and Aaron Fuchs, Braden Monke and Ethan Hilgenkamp competing.

An in-person regional competition will be held among Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Missouri teams at the Beck Agricultural Center near West Lafayette Indiana on September 15th hosted by Purdue Extension. Participants from Kornhusker Kids 4-H and Colfax County #1 can compete representing the state of Nebraska.

For more information on the Youth Crop Scouting Competition, contact Brandy VanDeWalle at brandy.vandewalle@unl.edu or go to https://cropwatch.unl.edu/youth

Youth

Youth Crop Scouting Competition – Connecting Youth with Crops

Looking for a fun club project? Want to unite your club members? Running out of ideas for club meetings?  If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions, help is on the way!  Nebraska Extension is pleased to present the 9th annual Crop Scouting Competition for Nebraska youth. Youth interested in crops can learn about crop growth & development and basic crop scouting principles. 

Don’t know a lot about crops?  Ask a local agronomist to assist by providing a short lesson on crop production. You can have the agronomist meet with youth a little during each meeting or outside of the meeting. This is one way to engage those youth interested in crops. 

This contest will be held at the Eastern Nebraska Research & Extension Center near Mead, Nebraska on August 3, 2022. The event will include both indoor and outdoor events. Teams of junior high and high school students (those completing 5-12th grades) from across Nebraska are invited to participate. This event is limited to the first ten teams who sign-up! 

Clubs or other organizations may enter a team composed of three to five participants. An adult team leader must accompany each team of students. Team leaders could be FFA advisors, crop consultants, extension staff, coop employees, etc. 

Top-scoring teams win prizes: $500 for first, $250 for second, $100 for third place. Top two teams will be eligible for regional competition held virtually this year.

Teams will be expected to know the basics of scouting corn and soybean fields. This includes crop staging; looking for patterns of crop injury; disease, insect and weed seedling identification; etc. Other topics many include but are not limited to, pesticide safety, nutrient disorders, and herbicide injury. 

More information about the crop scouting competition and instructions on how to register a team are available online at cropwatch.unl.edu/youth. Register at: https://go.unl.edu/cropscoutingreg

Teams must be registered by July 15. This program is sponsored by Nebraska Independent Crop Consultant Association, Ward Laboratories and Nebraska Extension.

Crops, Youth

Tractor Safety Training

Federal law prohibits children under 16 years of age from using certain equipment on a farm unless their parents or legal guardians own the farm. However, certification received through our course grants an exemption to the law allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to drive a tractor and to do field work with certain mechanized equipment. Teens 14 or 15 years of age who work on farms or others who are interested in learning about safe farming practices are encouraged to register for the course.

Photo by Nicolas Veithen on Pexels.com

Students will:

  • Register for their driving exam date (Tractor and Equipment Safety Course for Young and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers), which costs $25, and
  • Register to complete the Hands-On Safety Day (or opt to complete the Online Module) prior to completing the driving exam. Individuals can opt to attend just the Hands-On Safety Day but will not receive certification.

Once a student is registered, they will be sent the course materials and online module link (if applicable). The $25 fee for the driving exam will be collected on site the day of the exam. The onsite driving training and exam will include a driving test and equipment operation and ATV safety lessons. Students must demonstrate competence in hitching and unhitching equipment and driving a tractor and trailer through a standardized course.

Instructors will also offer education about safe behaviors and laws for ATVs, utility-task vehicles (UTVs), and other off-road vehicles (ORVs). These trainings are sponsored by University of Nebraska—Lincoln Extension and Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health.

Schedule:

Hands-On Safety Days

  • May 24 – Lincoln County Extension Office, 348 West State Farm Rd, North Platte
  • May 26 – Raising Nebraska, 501 East Fonner Park Rd, Grand Island

Tractor Certification Driving Days

  • May 25 – Lincoln County Extension Office, 348 West State Farm Rd, North Platte
  • June 6 – AKRS Equipment, 49110 US Hwy 20 in O’Neill
  • June 7 – Legacy of the Plains Museum, 2930 Old Oregon Trail #8500 in Gering
  • June 8 – AKRS Equipment, 44098 Hwy 2, Broken Bow
  • June 9 – Adams County Extension, 2975 South Baltimore Ave, Hastings
  • June 10 – Cass County Fairgrounds, 8400 144th St, Weeping Water

For more information and to register, visit go.unl.edu/tractorsafety or contact Ellen Duysen at ellen.duysen@unmc.edu

Uncategorized

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)

HPAI is a highly contagious virus that spreads easily among birds through nasal and eye secretions, as well as manure. The virus can be spread in various ways from flock to flock, including by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, by equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers. Wild birds can carry the virus without becoming sick, while domesticated birds can become very sick.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Symptoms of HPAI in poultry include: a decrease in water consumption; lack of energy and appetite; decreased egg production or soft-shelled, misshapen eggs; nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing; incoordination; and diarrhea. HPAI can also cause sudden death in birds even if they aren’t showing any other symptoms. HPAI can survive for weeks in contaminated environments.

  • Poultry owners should report unusual poultry bird deaths or sick birds to NDA at 402-471-2351, or through USDA at 866-536-7593.
  • Enhanced biosecurity helps prevent the introduction and spread of viruses and diseases including HPAI. NDA and USDA have resources available to help poultry owners step up their biosecurity efforts.
  • Know the warning signs of infectious bird diseases like HPAI. Be on the lookout for unusual signs of behavior, severe illness and/or sudden deaths.
  • Restrict access to your property and poultry.
  • Keep it clean. Wear clean clothes, scrub boots/shoes with disinfectant and wash hands thoroughly before and after contact with your flock.

If you, your employees, or family have been on other farms, or other places where there is livestock and/or poultry, clean and disinfect your vehicle tires and equipment before returning home.

Don’t share equipment, tools, or other supplies with other livestock or poultry owners.

In addition to practicing good biosecurity, all bird owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, making sure wild birds cannot access domestic poultry’s feed and water sources.

Report sick birds immediately to: NDA at 402-471-2351; the USDA at 866-536-7593; or your veterinarian. Early detection is important to prevent the spread of disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk to people getting HPAI infections from birds is low. No human cases of avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States.

All poultry entering Nebraska must be accompanied by a VS form 9-3 or Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI, or health certificate). If you are considering moving an animal into Nebraska from an affected state, please call 402-471-2351 to learn more. Nebraska poultry owners wanting to ship poultry out of state should consult the state veterinarians of the destination states for import requirements.

For more information about avian influenza, visit NDA’s website at https://nda.nebraska.gov/animal/avian/index.html or the USDA’s website https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/. Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov.

Uncategorized

Progressive Agriculture Safety Day

Statistics from those impacted by a farm-related injury or death are sobering. Many know someone who was impacted by a farm accident that in many cases could have been prevented. Therefore, I feel so passionately about conducting the Annual Progressive Safety Day each year. The Progressive Agriculture Foundation provides safety and health information to rural communities that need it, which is why I’ve teamed up with them. The mission of Progressive Agriculture Days is simple – to provide education, training, and resources to make farm and ranch life safer and healthier for children and their communities. The vision is that “no child become ill, injured or die from farm, ranch and rural activities.”

During the program’s first year, a total of 2,800 participants and volunteers were reached throughout the South and Midwest and now the program impacts close to 110,000 annually. To date, the program has impacted more than 1.6 million children and adults. The Progressive Agriculture Foundation is in its 28th year of programming in the United States and 21st year in Canada.

Locally, since I have been involved with a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day in Geneva, we have grown from approximately 60 participants to 140 youth from surrounding counties. This half-day event involves many volunteers and local sponsors to make the program what it is today. Every year, business staff or volunteers help teach the hands-on activities. In addition, area FFA chapters assist in delivery of sessions and guiding youth participants to each session.

Current 1st through 6th graders are invited to attend Progressive Agriculture Safety Day on Thursday, May 26, 2022 at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva, NE.  Youth will participate in a variety of events designed to help them be aware of safety in potentially hazardous situations in and around rural and agricultural settings, including electricity, disability awareness, water safety, fire safety, tractor safety, etc.  NE Extension hosts this event in Fillmore County, along with Shickley, Fillmore Central, Exeter-Milligan-Friend FFA chapters, 4-H, W.I.F.E. and Fillmore County Emergency Management. Early registration forms and $5 are due April 29th; forms can be downloaded at fillmore.unl.edu. After April 29th, registration is $10/youth. For more info or to register, call 402-759-3712 or email brandy.vandewalle@unl.edu.

Crops, Uncategorized

Private Pesticide Training Offered by Zoom for 2022

If you haven’t completed your private pesticide safety training yet, there is a zoom option approaching. Nebraska Extension will be offering five private pesticide applicator trainings via Zoom in March and April. Each one will have a different agricultural area of focus, including alfalfa, corn, soybean, pasture, and wheat. Several different steps must be met to attend these trainings.

Preregistration will be required. Registration can be completed at the following links:

Several things to know about include:

  • Training materials will need to be picked up at a county extension office PRIOR to training.
  • Nebraska Department of Agriculture paper will need to be filled out and submitted when picking up training materials. The training fee of $50 will need to be paid when picking up training materials.
  • Attend and participate in the training session where you have registered.
  • A photo ID must be presented during the training session.
  • A working web camera must be on for the duration of the training.
  • No certification will be initiated unless all seven requirements are completed. Individuals are encouraged to contact their local extension office first to see if training materials are available.

Each training will offer individuals the opportunity to pick one of the special topics. Those offered are:

  • March 28: Alfalfa: Cut, Bale, Scout Alfalfa Diseases
  • March 28: Corn: Tar Spot, Corn Rootworm Management, Herbicide Selection with Cover Crop Seeding
  • March 29: Soybean: Frogeye Leaf Spot and White Mold, Soybean Gall Midge, Dectes Stem Borer
  • March 30: Pasture:Thistle ID and Management, Calibration of Small Sprayers, Tree Encroachment
  • March 30: Wheat, Stripe and Leaf Rust, Herbicide Selection for Eastern Nebraska

For questions regarding the trainings, contact Jennifer Weisbrod, Nebraska Extension Pesticide Safety Education program coordinator, 402-472-1632 or jweisbrod2@unl.edu.

 

(Source: UNL CropWatch)