Now that wheat has headed, producers need to be thinking about getting their bins ready for wheat harvest.

Whether storing seed wheat or the entire wheat crop, storage areas need to be cleaned thoroughly and sprayed with an insecticide prior to filling with this year's harvest.

This needs to be done several days prior to harvest so that the insecticide has time to work before new grain is put into the bin.

Also, make sure that any other grain stored on the farm is free from infestation prior to harvest to reduce the chance of insects from moving from one bin to another. Any infested grain should be sold, disposed of or fumigated. Even small quantities of old grain can serve as the source of insects to infest this year's grain.

If the grain will be stored on the farm for more than a few weeks, producers will probably want to consider using a grain protectant to treat the grain as the bins are being filled.

To help make decisions on the type of insecticides to use to treat bins or grain going into long-term storage refer to our Web page at http://www.entomology.ksu.edu/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=628 or the publication Stored Grain Insects, Part III: Structural sprays, pest strips, protectants and surface sprays on the Web at http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/library/entml2/MF917.PDF.

Skunk problem management

Despite nature's checks and balances, skunk populations sometimes rise. Mass skunk control is difficult in an urban environments and at rural farm sites. Because poisoning may kill pets and wildlife, there are no poison baits registered for skunk control in Kansas. Homeowners must take preventive measures to keep skunks from becoming abundant in your own areas.

Clean up and destroy dens and remove food sources by taking away exposed pet food, putting strewn garbage in sealed containers, and carrying off wood piles harboring mice and rats.

My experience here in Finney County has shown pet food to be the leading cause of neighborhood skunk invasions. Block den openings in foundations and under steps using concrete with sheet metal or wire netting bent outward 12 inches at the bottom in an "L" shape. This prevents skunks from burrowing. Destroy other den sites such as rock piles, junk piles, old cars and open buried culverts or pipes. The lawn should be cared for properly to control grubs that attract skunks. This is the second leading attractive food source in our area.

Although skunks tend to be more abundant in urban areas where they find more food and denning sites, skunks also may take up residence in well-kept neighborhoods.

Skunks migrate from outside the area where food supplies have decreased following ditches, creeks, rivers and drainage lines. Where skunks are a problem, there are several possible solutions.

Erect a two-inch mesh wire fence, three feet high and extending one foot below the ground with one foot bent outward at a 90-degree angle. Striped skunks normally do not climb. They are slow-moving animals that prefer to walk following fences and building walls.

Skunk odor control

Skunk odor is difficult to neutralize and persists for a long time. Household products that help remove skunk odor include ammonia, bleach, vinegar, washing soda, laundry soaps, smoke from a citronella candle and canned tomatoes or tomato juice.

WARNING: Do not mix ammonia and chlorine bleach. This combination may form a gas (chloramine) that is toxic if inhaled, even in small amounts.

Some old-time remedies include burying fouled garments in the soil for a few days and then letting them air out; subjecting clothing to smoke from burning leaves, especially cedar or juniper foliage; and exposing clothing to car exhaust. But remember, it is dangerous to run a car in a closed garage.

Another deodorizing solution that was developed by chemists can be mixed from readily available ingredients commonly found in your home as follows: 1 quart 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 teaspoon liquid soap. Mix ingredients well and thoroughly saturate the areas the skunk has sprayed. Use immediately and do not store the mixture or keep it in a glass container. It expands and will break sealed containers.

Be aware these solutions may cause color changes in certain materials. I've recommended this mixture for years and have never had a negative feedback from anyone, only positive. It's also recommended by our Kansas State Extension wildlife specialist. In treating pets, keep solutions away from their eyes.

Commercial deodorants such as Neutroleum Alpha are masking agents that are effective for reducing skunk odors. Neutroleum Alpha is available from the local Extension office at our cost, from some pest-control operators or may be obtained by writing the manufacturer and requesting a list of local sources. When using chemicals, always read and follow label instructions.