Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Small Grains Off to a Start

You know early grazing didn’t work in our favor this year; however, those of you who were lucky enough to get your small grain fields planted before the rain may have a chance to have an excellent beginning and should be able to graze those fields much earlier than usual.  Of course we don’t need it washed out and we need it to stay warn a little while longer.  If these things fall into place early grazed forage should contain 28-32% crude protein. It is important to remember, each ton of forage harvested by livestock will remove 90-100 pounds of nitrogen. Small grain forage that stands a foot tall will easily yield one ton per acre. That means if you only applied 60 to 80 pounds of nitrogen per acre at planting, most if not all of your nitrogen will be harvested with the first grazing.   
I think we can expect to see nitrogen deficiency symptoms before the first of the year. If you are able to graze early and remove the forage before then, nitrogen top dressing in December will surely help produce more winter forage. If you delay that nitrogen application until January or February, expect a forage growth loss.
In many cases, hay quality is below average, so a few pounds of nitrogen may allow your winter forage to economically supplement the hay.
According to Noble Foundation research, limit grazing your small grains may be the best bet to extend that small grains grazing and provide the necessary protein. Grazing steers as little as 15 minutes on small grains equals about 2.5 pounds of 20% breeders cube.  Using forage supplementation in place of feed can save money if managed correctly.  Producers should look at all winter feeding options to determine the cheapest source of protein and energy to sustain suitable body condition scores throughout the winter.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sanitizing Your Kitchen: Easy, Safe and Inexpensive

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are about 76 million cases of foodborne illnesses every year. Severe cases of vomiting, diarrhea, and even death can occur. Certain groups are more at risk for severe illness: the very young, the elderly, pregnant women, and those who have weakened immune systems due to illness.
Many people think that food poisoning stems mainly from restaurants, but experts suggest that at least half occur in the home due to unsafe food practices.  Practicing poor personal hygiene, contaminating ready-to-eat food with raw meat juices, not cooking foods to proper temperatures, and not storing foods properly are all culprits when people get sick from their very own kitchens.         
One critical food safety practice that restaurants adhere to, but we as consumers often neglect, is cleaning AND then sanitizing all food contact surfaces.  Cleaning involves removing dirt from surfaces using soap and water. Sanitizing involves reducing germs to safe levels on a food contact surface by applying chemicals or heat.  If you don’t clean, your sanitizer won’t work well and you’ll still have germs.  If you don’t sanitize, you’ll have a clean surface full of germs.   
 According to an Ohio State University Extension factsheet entitled “Cleaning and Sanitizing in the Kitchen:  Using inexpensive household food-safe products” there are several points to consider when cleaning and sanitizing:
  • Cleaning and Sanitizing should be considered BEFORE and AFTER food preparation on a daily bases if you live with those who are at risk for food borne illness and/or if you have a pet that climbs on counters. 
  • When cleaning with soap and water, make sure to rinse with clean water and air dry or dry with a paper towel.  Soap residue can reduce the effectiveness of a sanitizer.
  • When sanitizing, leave the sanitizer on the surface for the recommended amount of time.  Allow it to air dry or dry with a paper towel.

 Consider using the following inexpensive household products as sanitizers:
·         Diluted Chlorine Bleach (6.1%) Solution – Mix 1 scant teaspoon with 1 quart of room temperature water and apply to food contact surface for 1 minute.  This solution can be kept in a spray bottle for one week.  Chlorine bleach will kill Listeria, E. Coli, and Salmonella.

  • Undiluted Hydrogen Peroxide (3%) – Apply warm (130 degrees) for 1 minute or apply at room temperature for 10 minutes.  The warm method is more effective against Listeria and so should be considered if preparing food for pregnant women.

  • Undiluted White Distilled Vinegar (5%) - Apply warm (130 degrees) for 1 minute or apply at room temperature for 10 minutes.  The warm method is more effective against Listeria and E. Coli, but both methods are effective at preventing Salmonella.

  • Baking Soda has not been proven to be an effective sanitizer. 
For additional information about cleaning and sanitizing, please call the Wise County Extension Office at 940/627-3341.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Horse Theft Not Uncommon in Texas

If you have a horse stolen there are several thing you should know.  First of all, quick action and persistent legwork are crucial to recovering a stolen horse. The action you take the first 24 hours after the horse is stolen can mean the difference between recovery and loss. Long time persistence can also pay off, as horses have been united with their owner years after the theft.
            Begin recovery efforts by reporting the theft to the local law enforcement agency. Be sure to obtain a case number and a copy of the incident report and keep original copies of all police reports. You may have to prove the horse was stolen.
            Important papers need to be gathered to help identify the horse and prove ownership. You may need a bill of sale or canceled check; breed registration papers illustrating brands, marks or scars. Health certificates, coggins test and vet receipts might also come in handy. Have at least four good color photographs of the horse showing the brand and other identifying features and a front and rear view. These should be updated annually.
            To reach as many people as possible, make fliers describing your horse. Use clear color photos without you or family members in the picture. Include a contact name and phone number. To protect your family, do not include your address, unless it is a box number. Talk to law enforcement about correct wording if you plan to offer a reward. Cover a 500-600 mile area. Most thieves think you won’t look past a 2 hour drive. Place fliers at post offices, gas stations, and convenience stores. Always get permission. Also post fliers at livestock auctions, vet clinics, feed stores and any other location horse owners might frequent.
            If you have other horses that are not permanently identified, consider selecting a method of permanent identification.
            If you locate your horse, never trespass. Call the law enforcement agency assigned to your case and let them handle the recovery.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pumpkin Time

It is fall and thoughts turn to pumpkins. We usually think of using the pumpkin for pie but there are many other recipes with pumpkin that are great this time of year and also serve as an excellent source of nutrients. The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene that offers protection against heart disease. 
             In order to prepare the pumpkin for use in recipes, first work on a clean surface. Before cutting, wash the outer surface of the pumpkin thoroughly with cool tap water to remove any surface dirt that could be transferred to the inside of the pumpkin during cutting.
Start by removing the stem with a sharp knife.  Next, cut in half.  In any case, remove the stem and scoop out the seeds and scrape away all of the stringy mass. It’s a messy job, but it will pay off. The pumpkin should be cooked in one of three ways, boiled, baked in oven, or microwave.
            With the Boiling/Steaming Method: Cut the pumpkin into rather large chunks. Rinse in cold water. Place pieces in a large pot with about a cup of water. The water does not need to cover the pumpkin pieces. Cover the pot and boil 20 to 30 minutes or until tender, or steam 10 to 12 minutes. Check for doneness by poking with a fork. Drain the cooked pumpkin in a colander.
            With the Oven Method: Cut pumpkin in half, scraping away stringy mass and seeds. Rinse under cold water. Place pumpkin; cut side down on a large cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for one hour or until fork tender.
           If you choose the Microwave Method: Cut pumpkin in half, place cut side down on a microwave safe plate or tray. Microwave on high for 15 minutes, check for doneness. If necessary continue cooking at 1-2 minute intervals until fork tender.

            When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, remove the peel using a small sharp knife and your fingers. Put the peeled pumpkin in a food processor and puree or use a food mill, strainer or potato masher to form a puree. Don't let your cooked pumpkin set at room temperature longer than two hours in the process of making puree.
I encourage you to try the following pumpkin recipe in which the oven method is utilized.

Honey Roasted Pumpkin
In a bowl pour honey and olive oil over the pumpkin chunks. Mix, then add the salt and cinnamon to the pumpkin. Mix and place in a roasting dish, cover with foil, and cook for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove foil and check the pumpkins tenderness. If a fork inserts easily, remove the pumpkin. If not, continue cooking for up to 20 more minutes.

Nutrient Information: Yields 4 servings. Per Serving: Calories- 92; Total Fat: 4g; Saturated Fat-1g; Monounsaturated Fat-3; Sodium-391mg; Potassium-412mg; Total Carbohydrates-16g.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fall Spraying Aids Fruit Trees

            Preparation for next year’s fruit crop can begin this fall by spraying trees for several fruit tree diseases. Bacterial canker, bacterial spot, coryneum blight and leaf curl are diseases that can be slowed by spraying now.

Bacterial canker is the most serious of the targeted diseases. It is a common cause of tree dieback and death. Canker also causes bleeding or gumming along the trunk and branches. In eight out of 10 cases, fruit tree gumming is caused by canker rather than borers, which are often mistakenly blamed for the problem. Canker gumming is especially evident in the fall. It is caused by a systemic bacteria that plugs the tree’s vascular system. The only thing that will help trees seriously infected with canker is good care: adequate water, fertilizer and weed control.

Bacterial spot and coryneum blight commonly damage leaves and sometimes the fruit of stone fruit trees in the spring and summer. Physical signs of these diseases are leaves with small holes; in severe cases, trees are defoliated. Spraying now will not eliminate the disease but will reduce its incidence next spring and summer.

 Another common disease is leaf curl, which causes extremely crinkled leaves in the spring. Leaf curl is caused by a fungus that quits once temperatures begin to get warmer. The disease is worse following a cool, damp March, but spraying now is usually sufficient to prevent it from becoming bad enough to cause heavy defoliation next spring.

Spraying different mixtures of Kocide 101, Kocide 606 and Kocide DF or any multipurpose fungicides containing copper can be used effectively to prevent these diseases.  Kocide 101 is the only formulation available in small enough qualities to be practical for garden use. Kocide does contains copper, which will cause leaf burn on healthy green foliage, so wait until the leaves are beginning to drop and are easily brushed from the tree.  It is best to apply this spray while most of the leaves are still attached, but the spray is worthwhile, even if most of the leaves have already dropped.

Besides spraying, sanitation is important in reducing the carryover of disease to next year’s crop. Mummified and rotting apples, dead wood on the ground or in the tree, plus ragged stubs of broken branches harbor disease spores. These items should be pruned out, gathered and burned or tilled into the soil.

Fall is not a good time to prune fruit trees or other deciduous plants. Pruning stress, especially when coupled with other stresses including drought, poor nutrition and disease, can make the tree more vulnerable to winter injury.

Due to lack of recent rainfall, soil moisture levels across much of Wise County are very low to carry fruit trees and vines as they enter dormancy.  Remember even if we get some rain we are still right in the middle of a record drought.  The roots of deciduous trees, vines and shrubs are active throughout the fall and winter, and the soil should never be allowed to dry.