The Garden City Telegram

Risk of mite outbreak high in region; new publications


Finney County Extension agent

The brown wheat mite is a common pest of dryland wheat in western Kansas that can be a problem as far east as Highway 77 in dry years. The dark brown body is rounded or slightly oval, with the first pair of forelegs notably longer than the others.

Affected plants have finely mottled leaves that appear yellowed or bronzed at a distance, but lack the webbing produced by the Banks grass mite. Activity is highest in late fall and early spring, with populations usually peaking around mid-April. Eggs are laid in the soil and those produced in winter are brick red and lack the waxy coating of summer eggs.

Outbreak potential is high because all adults are female, and each can produce 70 to 90 winter eggs in a three-week period. Later in the spring, females begin laying small, white, over summering eggs at the base of infested plants. These eggs do not hatch until fall. Damaging populations are usually limited to continuous wheat fields or those where volunteer wheat was present during the previous spring.

Brown wheat mites feed during the day and spend the night in the soil. They are usually most visible on foliage during the early afternoon on warm days, but populations can be difficult to assess as mites quickly drop off plants. The economic threshold is not well defined, but is estimated to be at least several hundred mites per foot of row in early spring. Concern is greater if plants are stressed or poorly tillered. This is a dry-weather pest, and treatment response often depends on subsequent rainfall to assist plant recovery. Treatments applied after populations begin natural decline in April are of no value.

For more information on Brown Wheat Mite management insecticide options, refer to the 2013 Wheat Insect Management publication available at the Finney County Extension Office, 501 S. Ninth St.

New publications

Kansas State Research & Extension has several new publications, as follows:

2013 Chemical Weed Control Handbook (for field crops, pastures, rangeland and non-cropland); Wheat Insect Management 2013; Soybean Insect Management 2013; Sorghum Insect Management 2013; Sunflower Insect Management 2013; Corn Insect Management 2013; Cotton Insect Management 2013; Kansas Garden Guide.

Is a banana a fruit or a herb?

Both. A banana (the yellow thing you peel and eat) is undoubtedly a fruit (containing the seeds of the plant: see "Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?"), though since commercially-grown banana plants are sterile, the seeds are reduced to little specks.

The banana plant is called a "banana tree" in popular use, but it's technically regarded as a herbaceous plant (or "herb"), not a tree, because the stem does not contain true woody tissue.

Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

The confusion about "fruit" and "vegetable" arises because of the differences in usage between scientists and cooks. Scientifically speaking, a tomato is definitely a fruit. True fruits are developed from the ovary in the base of the flower, and contain the seeds of the plant (though cultivated forms may be seedless). Blueberries, raspberries and oranges are true fruits, and so are many kinds of nuts. Some plants have a soft part which supports the seeds and is also called a "fruit," though it is not developed from the ovary. The strawberry is an example.

As far as cooking is concerned, some things which are strictly fruits, such as tomatoes or bean pods, may be called "vegetables" because they are used in savory rather than sweet cooking. The term "vegetable" is more generally used for other edible parts of plants, such as cabbage leaves, celery stalks and potato tubers, which are not strictly the fruit of the plant from which they come. Occasionally the term "fruit" may be used to refer to a part of a plant which is not a fruit, but which is used in sweet cooking: rhubarb, for example.

Spring chicks

How many youngsters go to local farm stores and beg their parents to buy a baby chick? Baby chicks and other live poultry can be cute, but they can also carry germs that can make you seriously sick. Last year alone, eight multi-state outbreaks caused nearly 500 people to get sick from touching or handling these birds, more than 90 people went to the hospital and there were four deaths.

It's important to know that live poultry can look healthy but still carry germs, such as salmonella, which can spread to people. These germs can mean more than just feeling bad — they can mean missed days at work, having to go to the doctor or hospital, or even worse. It's also important to know that there are things you can do to protect yourself and your family.

What can I do to not get sick? These steps will help protect yourself and others from getting sick:

* Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise hand washing for children.

* Clean any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside the house, such as cages or feed or water containers.

* Never bring live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or in areas where food or drink is prepared, served or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.

Who is especially at risk for getting sick from salmonella? Children, older adults and those with weakened immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. Children can be exposed to germs by holding, cuddling or kissing the birds and by touching things where the bird lives, such as cages or feed and water bowls. Young children are especially at risk because their immune systems are still developing and because they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths.

(Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Finney County Pig Sale

The 36th Annual Finney County Pig Sale will be Saturday at the Finney County Fairgrounds.

All animals will be in place for viewing at 10 a.m. and the sale will begin at noon in the Livestock Pavilion on the Finney County Fairgrounds. The local producers will once again consign excellent young animals. This will be a great opportunity for youth (4-H and FFA) to purchase some outstanding quality animals for this year's livestock shows.