Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Wise County 4-H’ers Shine in Consumer Decision Making Project

Eleven 4-H’ers represented Wise County very well during the recent District 3 4-H Consumer Decision Making competition held last month in Vernon. Over 100 youth from across the 23 counties of the Rolling Plains District 3 participated in this contest to apply knowledge and skills gained in the Consumer Education Project and to compare personal decisions with the decisions of a panel of judges who are knowledgeable about today’s marketplace and its various goods and services.
Results follow:
Junior Division Team:  2nd Place team:  Creed Vineyard, Hallie Washburn, and Kaitlyn Karrer. Hallie Washburn – 3rd Place High Point Individual; Kaitlyn Karrer - 5th Place High Point Individual and Creed Vineyard - 5th Place High Individual in Oral Reasons.
Intermediate Division Team:  1st Place team:  Easton Vanover, Luke Tribe, Slayton Pruett, and Aaron Chancellor.  Easton Vanover – 1st Place High Point Individual and 1st Place High Individual in Oral Reasons, and Luke Tribe - 5th Place High Point Individual.
Senior Division Team:  1st Place team: Lyndi Luttrull, Brady Vanover, Lauryn Luttrull, and Shelby Vanover.  Lyndi Luttrull - 1st Place High Point Individual and 1st Place High Individual in Oral Reasons, Brady Vanover - 3rd Place High Point Individual and 5th Place High Individual in Oral Reasons, and Lauryn Luttrull - 5th Place High Individual in Oral Reasons.  Placing first as a team earns the senior division team the right to represent Wise County and District 3 at the State contest during Texas 4-H Roundup next week in College Station.
These 4-H’ers have been busy studying various topics such as active wear, computers, outdoor camping equipment, nutritious snacks, fast food meals, and digital cameras. This prepares them to assume the role of the consumer in a situation and then decide which choice is best based on the situation. Four items are ranked in order, according to how well they meet the needs of the consumer.
The Texas 4-H and Youth Development education program, a component of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, a part of the Texas A&M System, creates supportive environments for culturally diverse youth and adults to reach their fullest potential.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Summer Canning Safety

If your summer includes plans to can your home grown vegetables, I hope you also find time to test your pressure canner dial gauge. 

The pressure canner is used to process foods under pressure at temperatures higher than boiling. A pressure canner is the only safe method for processing low acid foods such as vegetables, meat, poultry and fish. The pressure canner can supply enough heat to destroy spores of bacteria that causes botulism as well as other types of spoilage. 

To have your pressure canner tested, bring the canner lid to the Extension office located at 206 S. State Street in Decatur.  The canner tester can test most (but not all) brands.  Presto Canners are the most compatible. The test will help you determine the accuracy of your pressure canner and therefore be confident in your ability to properly can food.  

Pressure canners with a dial gauge, should be checked once a year before the canning season. Also, check it during the season if you use the canner frequently. If you do not have an instruction book for your canner, write for one.

The weighted pressure control on canners does not need to be checked. Keep it clean and rust free.  In most canners there is a gasket. These gaskets are made of rubber or rubber-like compounds to keep steam from leaking out around the cover. You can remove and replace most gaskets as needed. Some only need to be turned to ensure a tight seal. Replace a worn, stretched or hardened gasket with a new one. Refer to the canner instructions for directions.
For more information on testing your pressure canner or for tips on canning your summer produce, call the Extension office at 940/627-3341.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Annual Teacher Workshop

Make sure to take advantage of our Early Bird Special. To register contact our office at 940-627-3341 or email cmkarrer@ag.tamu.edu

Thursday, May 19, 2016


With Graduation, Father’s Day, and many other summer activities approaching many of you are sure to fire up the outdoor grill to help with food preparation for the celebrations.
            Outdoor grilling is a popular way to prepare food during warmer weather while enjoying the company of family and friends.  However, grilling does “open the door” to food borne illness if proper cleanliness and preparation measures are not followed. 
            To make your cookout a fond memory rather than a regretful experience, follow these simple steps:

Food Preparation:
           Select fresh meat, poultry, or seafood that is high quality for best cooking results.
           Keep these perishable products at 40° F or colder, until immediately before grilling.
           Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator and discard leftover marinade.
           Wash your hands before and after working with raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
           Wash your work surfaces and cutting boards with hot, soapy water before and after preparing food.  To sanitize, use 1 tsp. bleach per quart of warm water.  If possible, use a separate cutting board for fresh produce and raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
           When away from home, keep your meat and poultry away from other food in a separate cooler with ice.  This prevents cross contamination.
           After placing raw meat on the grill, wash utensils and platters with hot, soapy water before using them to serve cooked food.
           Cook foods to an internal temperature that destroys harmful bacteria.  Check the temperature by placing a thermometer in the center-most part of the meat, not touching the bone.

Internal temperature for thorough cooking to prevent food borne illness are:
           Whole poultry - 165° F
           Poultry breasts - 165° F
           Ground beef patties - 160° F
           Ground poultry - 165° F
           Beef, veal, lamb steaks, roasts, or chops - 145° F (yields medium rare doneness)
           All cuts of pork - 160° F (yields medium doneness)

Safe handling of cooked food:
           Serve food immediately after grilling, or keep at 135° F or above until served.
           Place on a clean platter.
           Refrigerate on a clean platter.
           Refrigerate all leftovers immediately at 40° F or below.

Discard any food left out longer than 2 hours, or 1 hour if temperature is above 90° F.  Note: These temperatures are recommended for consumer cooking. They are not intended for processing, institutional, or food service preparation. Food Service Workers should consult their state or local food code, or health department.
And finally, if you are looking for a recipe to make your own rub to use on meats throughout this grilling season, you might want to try the following courtesy of the Texas Beef Council.

Ranch Rub

2 teaspoons sweet paprika, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper. Combine all ingredients. Store in airtight container. Shake before using.

             For more information about safe outdoor grilling or food safety call Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Wise County office at 940.627.3341.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Food Handler’s Course

Foodborne illnesses can be prevented by following simple food safety practices. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension - Wise County provides a Food Protection Management Training Program that seeks to reduce the risk of food borne illness. 
The “Texas Food Establishment Rules (TFER)” was revised and updated and became effective October 11, 2015.  A major change in the revision now requires all food employees to complete an accredited food handlers training program within 60 days of employment.  The Texas Cottage Food Law also requires that anyone who operates a cottage food business have a food handler card. 
Food service employees and those who operate a cottage food business can attend a two hour Food Handler’s Class, accredited by the Texas Department of State Health Services, on Wednesday, May 25 from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension - Wise County office located at 206 S. State Street in Decatur.  
This 2 hour course will now be required for all food service employees to help promote the service of safe food.  The certificate is good for 2 years and is valid anywhere in the State of Texas. Participants will learn about good personal hygiene, cross contamination and time and temperature abuse.
Contact the Extension office at 940/627-3341 to sign up.  The registration fee is $20.00 and covers course materials and an official food handler card.  Registration deadline for the Food Handler certification course is Monday, May 23.  Space is limited. 

Individuals with disabilities who require auxiliary aide service or accommodation in order to participate in the event are encouraged to contact our office within 5 working days prior to the program.  Educational programs of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, national origin or genetic information or veteran status.
The class is taught in English, but Spanish handouts are available if requested in advance.
The Food Protection Management (FPM) Training Program is brought to you by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in cooperation with the Texas Department of State Health Services, and the County Commissioners Court Cooperating.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


It is that time of year that I encounter a number of individuals who either call or come to the office who have questions regarding their lawn.  One of those questions has to do with timing of fertilizer application. The rule of thumb that seems to work is that when you have mowed 2-3 times it is time to fertilize.  Due to a cooler or milder spring and irregular weather we experienced in March/April the growth of most of our turf grasses has been slowed considerably.  Understand, that I mean turf grasses not the winter ryegrass and rescue grass we see growing like wild.  Unfortunately, we can’t do anything for those now; but, the good news is when the heat does get here they will soon go away. If you are having to mow, that indicates the turf is actively growing and is therefore ready for that first application, preferably I would encourage you to take a soil sample to see exactly what your lawn needs, if not, products with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio would most likely to a good job.  Apply at a rate of 1 pound per 1000 square feet of turf.  The weed and feed products that are so popular are not a good idea since your weed control should have been applied weeks ago.  If you are having major weed problems give me a call or bring in a sample and we’ll come up with a plan for your yard. 

            Another question that comes up regularly is concerning dead areas in the turf.  There can be many causes of dead spots.  One question you need to answer is, can these dead spots be lifted by hand and or rolled up like carpet.  If so, your lawn may have been damaged by white grubs.  White grubs are simply the larval stage of the May or June beetle.  Hundreds of them are emerging in my neighborhood everyday.  These root-feeding grubs are creamy-white and c-shaped with three pairs of legs, and their damage normally occurs during the summer and early fall.  They feed on grass roots and the damaged areas begin to show up as weakened or dying grass in irregular shapes.  Eventually, if the population and damage is severe, these areas will die.  To locate grubs, dig with a spade or shovel to a depth of at least 4 inches.  Finding 3-5 grubs per square spot suggests an insecticide treatment is needed.  Apply control in June or July and use a product that contains imidacloprid, halofenozide, trichlorfon or carbaryl.  Be sure to read and follow label directions.  For those interested in non-chemical control, beneficial nematodes can be purchased in garden centers or through garden supply catalogs.  Research shows that under good conditions, commercially-available nematodes can reduce white grub populations by up to 50 per cent.  There are several good products available locally.  If you would like a list of grub control products call or come by the Extension office or visit the Aggie-Turf website at http://aggie-turf.tamu.edu.