K-State Research and Extension News
July 16, 2009
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Fridge Needs TLC – Save Energy, Keep Food Safe

Renewed Interest in Conventional Soybeans Prompts New Trials at K-State

Trees Need to Drink Slowly, Deeply

Animal Scientist Encourages Producers to Consider Upcoming Feed Needs Now

Fridge Needs TLC – Save Energy, Keep Food Safe

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Leftovers can lose their appeal in a day or two. That’s when they should be discarded, not eaten, a Kansas State University Research and Extension food scientist said.

“The same is true for other outdated foods and condiments,” said Blakeslee, K-State’s Rapid Response Center coordinator, whose job is to answer food and food safety questions. “I suggest checking the contents of a refrigerator and throwing away any foods that show signs of deteriorating before you go grocery shopping each week.”

She also recommends cleaning the appliance thoroughly once a month.

As a general rule, propping open the door, removing the contents, and wiping down the interior with a solution of warm water and baking soda can help to reduce odors from troublesome foods, Blakeslee said.

Checking the appliance’s manual for specific cleaning instructions – e.g., vacuuming the coils or wiping down the seal on the door to remove crumbs, dust and spills -- is also a good idea, she said.

If a seal shows signs of wear such as a break or crack, it should be replaced. And if a refrigerator is 10 or more years old, replacing it with a newer, energy-saving model is worth considering, said Blakeslee, who advises buyers to check the government’s Energy Star Web site (www.energystar.gov) for shopping tips.

One tip is that a top-mounted freezer will typically use 10 to 25 percent less energy than a side-by-side or bottom-mount model.

More information about food, food safety and storage is available at county and district Extension offices and on the Web at www.ksre.ksu.edu/foodsafety and www.rrc.ksu.edu.



Renewed Interest in Conventional Soybeans Prompts New Trials at K-State

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Responding to an upswing in producer interest in conventional (non-Roundup Ready) soybean varieties, Kansas State University Research and Extension has established trials in three locations around the state.

“Despite the renewed interest, there aren’t many conventional soybean varieties on the market now,” said Bill Schapaugh, soybean breeder with K-State Research and Extension. “There also is very little information on how the yield potential of the current conventional varieties compares to that of Roundup Ready varieties at similar maturity.”

As a result, K-State has established trials at its research fields near Scandia, Ottawa and Parsons as part of this year’s K-State Soybean Performance Test for conventional varieties. Thirteen varieties are entered at both the Scandia and Parsons locations, and 18 at Ottawa.

Each location has either two or three Roundup Ready varieties entered for yield comparison purposes, Schapaugh said. Each also has a combination of public and private conventional varieties.

Weed control will be a combination of conventional pre-emergence and post-emergence herbicide applications.


Trees Need to Drink Slowly, Deeply

MANHATTAN, Kan. – About the best way to pamper High Plains-stressed trees is to ensure they get enough water whenever Mother Nature shifts the weather toward the dry side. Doing so, however, can be a deeper, wider job than many tree owners suspect.

Water is the single most limiting/essential resource for tree survival and growth, said Ward Upham, horticulturist with Kansas State University Research and Extension.

Typically, at least 80 percent of trees’ water-absorbing roots are located in the top foot of the surrounding soil, he said. At the same time, a mature tree’s total zone of foot-deep roots can extend out twice as far as its branch spread – i.e., double the distance of the area shaded at noon by the tree’s canopy of leaves.

When drought conditions reach root zones, they can severely affect young and old trees alike, he added. They can lead to tree decline, pest problems and irreversible damage, as well as to slower rates of diameter and height growth.

“Trees’ root depth is why you’re not getting the job done if you just moisten the top 2 to 3 inches of soil. Yes, surface soil does dry out first and relatively fast, and that can affect trees’ shallow roots,” Upham said. “Until the deeper roots dry out 8 to 16 inches down, however, they’ll typically get trees through droughty periods.”

The secret to keeping those lower roots going is to irrigate deeply, when necessary, at a slow enough pace that the soil can absorb all of the water, without any runoff.

“You’ll have several good alternatives during trees’ first three years in your yard, when your job is to keep the roots and root ball moist, but not wet,” he said. “Retail stores and various Internet sites now offer water bags and water rings, just for that purpose. You also can use a sprinkler on a low-volume setting, a soaker hose, or a regular hose with the water kept to a trickle.”

Experienced gardeners often use a long screwdriver or piece of rebar to judge how far down in the soil irrigation water has reached, Upham added When gardeners push either tool into the ground, it will move easily through moist soil and abruptly stop when it reaches dry dirt.



Animal Scientist Encourages Producers to Consider Upcoming Feed Needs Now
Web Site Can Help Livestock Producers Monitor By-Product Feed Prices


MANHATTAN, Kan. – Summertime activities keep livestock producers more than busy, but it might be worthwhile for a producer to think about feed needs for the upcoming winter, a Kansas State University animal scientist said.

Historically, winter protein needs could be purchased more economically during the off season, said Sandy Johnson, K-State Research and Extension livestock specialist in northwest Kansas.

“With all the focus on the ethanol industry, we might forget all the other by-products that are available,” she said. “A good way to follow some of these prices is to visit a University of Missouri Web site that is updated weekly at http://agebb.missouri.edu/dairy/byprod/bplist.asp.”

The site includes company names and contact information, the type of feed each one has available, and current prices.

K-State’s Johnson cautioned that producers should factor in storage, storage losses, transportation costs and feeding costs into their purchase decisions. Still, advance planning may help control feed costs.


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Elaine Edwards
K-State Research & Extension News

Contributing writers: Mary Lou Peter, Nancy Peterson and Kathleen Ward