Finney County Extension agents

It is well known that, during the holidays, we always prepare more food than usual. Therefore, we always have more leftovers in the refrigerator. Many consumers make their dollar go further by preparing more meals at home and saving leftovers, but it is essential to follow safe food handling practices. This includes discarding refrigerated leftover food within three to four days.

When heating and storing leftovers:

* Always wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.

* Temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees allow bacteria to grow rapidly. Refrigerate cooked leftovers promptly — within 2 hours; 1 hour when the temperatures are over 90 degrees. Use an appliance thermometer to ensure that your refrigerator is at 40 degrees or below.

* Divide leftovers into smaller portions and store in shallow containers in the refrigerator. Hot food can be placed directly in the refrigerator.

* Leftovers should be reheated to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature. Sauces, soups and gravies should be reheated by bringing them to a boil.

* When microwaving leftovers, make sure there are no cold spots in food (where bacteria can survive). Cover food, stir and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking.

Enjoy your holidays, eat healthy and avoid food poisoning by keeping your food properly safe.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Any questions or concerns, contact LĂ©hisa de Fornoza, Finney County Extension agent, Family and Consumer Sciences agent, (620) 272-3670, or

Striving for something better

"To Make The Best Better" — how do these words fit into the plan for our current lives? We are well into a new school year, a new 4-H year, a new season, a new decade, and we strive in 4-H to always make this year better.

4-H youth commit themselves to set goals for their 4-H year. What new and different thing can I learn this year? How can I improve in my projects? How can I expand my learning experiences? These are questions that 4-H youth ask as they begin a new 4-H year that begins Oct. 1 each year. In 4-H, we strive to expand and do better in our projects.

You ask, what is 4-H? 4-H is a volunteer-led, educational program that supplements the teaching of home, church and school. 4-H is an informal education program for all boys and girls ages 7 to 19, whether they live in town, the country or on a farm. 4-H is open to all youth regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.

4-H is kids having fun and learning with their friends. 4-H is a universal, primary prevention youth development program.

What is the primary objective of 4-H? The basic philosophy in 4-H is to strengthen the mental, physical, moral and social development of boys and girls, therefore helping develop citizens and leaders. The main objective is the development of boys and girls through participation in projects, events and various activities.

Why do youngsters enjoy 4-H? While all youth are different, they are also alike in many ways. Five inner desires are shared by all youth: They want to belong; they want to achieve; they want to become independent; and they want affection.

The wide variety of "learn by doing" projects, activities and events that make up the 4-H program contribute to meeting these needs. Decision-making, individual responsibility, achievement and recognition further help to make 4-H satisfying.

Cooking up a storm

In the Foods and Nutrition 4-H project, youth will have fun learning how to cook the basics and then advance to gourmet and international meals; learn about the heritage of many foods, as well as consumer buying skills to get the most of their money. Hands-on learning can be fun science activities for decision making, food safety, microwave magic and much more. In addition, youth will learn how to make healthy snacks and modify recipes to fit a healthy life style.

Join 4-H and soar into the foods and nutrition project. Learn the basic of measuring and how to make a healthy snack.

For 4-H inquiries and questions, contact Barbara Addison, 4-H Youth Development agent, at (620) 272-3670 or

Wheat growth and development

Wheat fields across Finney County look much better this year compared to the last three to four years. Most fields show good stands of wheat growth and development. Dryland wheat fields still have very low subsoil moisture, so wheat producers will continue to have concerns with extended drought.

Finney County seems to be the dividing line for Kansas in regards to wheat conditions, according to Steve Watson in the November "The Wheat Farmer/Row Crop Farmer."

"In southwest Kansas ... dryland wheat stands are mostly below average due to dry topsoil conditions. These areas have had some blowing issues this fall, not only because of below average wheat stands but because residue levels from failed crops the last three years are extremely low. North and east of Garden City, wheat stands are generally adequate to good," Watson said.

All plants share a trait, when checking for how well they are performing. We can see the above ground plant parts, but if we could look under the soil at the roots, then we would have a more accurate assessment of how plants are really performing.

Jim Shroyer, K-State crop production specialist, offers the following advice about wheat root systems:

This month would be a good time to take a close look at your wheat and see how well it has developed so far. You will want to look at not just the top growth, but at the root systems. Plants may look like they are growing well, but not have enough of a well-developed root system and may be susceptible to nutrient deficiencies or desiccation damage over the winter if crown roots do not get developed.

The first roots that develop on wheat are called seminal roots. These roots can be seen as a small tangle or roots coming from the seed. These roots take up water and nutrients throughout the whole growing season, but there are not very many of these roots, so they cannot do all the work.

Wheat has another type of root system called the crown roots. About an inch above the seed, small intrusions coming out of the white area are the beginning of crown roots. These roots take up most of the water and nutrients the plant will need, and they are very important for the plant to survive the winter. They are also vital to hold the plant in the soil.

The amount of top growth on wheat doesn't necessarily correspond to the amount of root growth. As wheat heads into winter, hopefully, crown roots are fully developed and able to provide water and nutrients to the plant along with a firm anchor.

If you have any questions about wheat or any other concerns, contact David Coltrain, Finney County Extension agent, at 272-3670, or email