Category Archives: K-State Extension

Agriculture Education is in Demand

Carla Nemecek is Southwind District Director and agent.

Submitted by: Carla Nemecek, Southwind Extension District

Can you count the ways Agriculture touches your life?

When you wake up in the morning, you are lying on cotton sheets. You swing your feet onto the floor either made of wood, a rug made of wool or flooring made from linseed or soybean oil. The soap in the shower contains tallow (a by-product of the beef industry) and toothpaste has glycerin in it. The towel you dry off with and the jeans and t-shirt you put on are made from cotton. You have already used dozens of agricultural products, and you haven’t even started eating!

For these everyday reasons and more, agriculture education is too important a topic to be taught only to the small percentage of students considering careers in agriculture and pursuing vocational agricultural studies.

Throughout my Extension career, I have spent time in elementary classrooms teaching about agriculture in a variety of ways. When I ask the students “Does chocolate milk come from a brown cow or a white cow?” the answer is almost always the same – “A brown cow!”

Although this might give most of us a chuckle, the answer really tells us that agriculture education should be a high priority and it should start with our children.

Locally, 4-H and FFA members are educating our youth through various initiatives like Day at the Farm and Earth Day. They cooperate with other organizations such as Farm Bureau, Extension, Conservation District and Wildlife & Parks to demonstrate how agriculture and livestock are important to our everyday lives.

We are all fortunate to live in communities where folks still care about agriculture and a rural lifestyle.

With a growing population and a demand to feed 9 billion by the year 2050, the agriculture industry needs talented, driven and passionate youth willing to make a commitment to agriculture.

Many of these individuals will not have the production background I was privileged to experience while growing up. The next generation will have to gain knowledge and try to understand the depth of the industry through programs in 4-H, FFA and collegiate agriculture courses where hands-on learning is critical to developing the skills necessary to feed the world.

Make no mistake, there is a tremendous opportunity for careers in agriculture, including – banking, energy, food science, education, research and engineering and I hope you will continue to support those organizations who promote and support agricultural endeavors in our communities.

Southwind Extension District is proud to help educate our youth on the values and importance involved in the agriculture lifestyle. Through participation in 4-H activities like livestock judging, learning how to weld, or even how to grow plants in the garden – the youth in Woodson, Allen, Bourbon and Neosho Counties are preparing themselves on how to feed the next generation.

For more information on how you can become involved in the Southwind District, find us on the web at


Carla Nemecek
Southwind Extension District
Director & Agent
1 North Washington, Iola, KS 66749

Seeding Cool-Season Grasses in the Spring is Difficult

Krista Harding
District Extension Agent, Horticulture
Southwind Extension District
111 S. Butler
Erie, KS 66733
Office: 620-244-3826
Cell: 620-496-8786


It makes me happy to say that spring has arrived, on the calendar at least! After a seemingly endless winter, I think everyone is excited to know that spring is near. The frogs have been singing at my house and this is one of my favorite signs of spring! The other, I like to catch a whiff of smoke on the air from the burning that takes place in the spring. I know not everyone is a fan of this, but it is a necessary and useful tool that agricultural producers use.

It won’t be long and the lawn mowers will be pulled out of the garage preparing for the season ahead. As you survey your lawn in the next few weeks, you may be thinking to yourself that it looks a bit ragged. You might even consider buying some seed and throwing it out in the lawn in hopes of thickening it up. Before you do that, I would like to give a little advice….wait!

It is not recommended to seed cool-season grasses such as tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass in the spring. I know this seems strange because it would seem that spring would be the best time for seeding because the entire growing season is available for the grass to grow and establish. But there are a number of reasons why you should wait until fall to seed.

  • Summer is the hardest time of year for cool-season grasses – not the winter. Summertime is difficult because our cool-season grasses do not have the heat or moisture stress tolerance that our warm-season grasses such as buffalo, zoysia and Bermuda have. Therefore, they tend to become weakened in the summer which makes them more susceptible to disease and other stresses – especially heat. Young, newly planted seedlings struggle even more to survive the summer.
  • Soils are warmer in the fall. Warm soils mean less time required for germination and growth, so the grass becomes established more quickly.
  • In the spring, our major weed problems are annual grasses such as crabgrass. Since spring seeded turf is slow to mature, there are often thin areas that are easily invaded by these grassy weeds. If this happens, weeds are better adapted to our summer conditions than our cool-season grasses and so the weeds take over! Plus, the chemicals that can be used on young turf is limited.
  • Weeds are less of a problem in the fall. The major weed problems in the fall tend to be chickweed, henbit or dandelions. Turf seeded in early September is usually thick enough by the time these weeds germinate that often there is not much weed invasion

Spring seeding of cool-season grasses can be done, but it is more difficult to pull off than fall seeding. So my advice is to just tough it out this spring and summer if your yard is less than desirable. Come late July and August, get a game plan together for fall seeding. If your lawn needs a complete renovation, late summer is the time to do a complete kill-out of grass and work to get a good seed bed prepared.

If you have questions about lawn fertility, weed control or seeding, please don’t hesitate to contact me. A reminder, I am in Fort Scott every Thursday. Feel free to stop by the office and visit.

Krista Harding is a K-State Research and Extension Agricultural agent assigned to Southwind District.  She may be reached at 620-244-3826 or

K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Save Your Tax Refund To Get Ahead

Joy Miller, K-State Research and Extension Southwind  DistrictFamily Consumer Science, 620-223-3720 or

Ever feel like you can’t get ahead?

Saving at tax time may help you get started. Saving throughout the year can be tough. It may feel like every paycheck is spent before you get it. If that’s the case, you’re not alone.

Tax refunds may be the largest check you will receive all year, but used as unplanned bonuses. Refunds are an opportunity to commit saving a portion to improve your financial situation.

Get the Most Value from Your Tax Refund

  • Pay down your debt. Use your refund for some much-needed debt relief. Pay off your credit card balance. If you have an outstanding balance on more than one credit card, try to pay off the smaller, high-interest rate balances first. That will free up more funds to put toward larger balances. You can apply your refund toward other debts, like a car loan or a home equity loan.
  • Save for a rainy day. Why not give yourself an even bigger return on your tax refund by putting the money into a savings account, CD, or retirement fund? Your tax refund will continue to grow if you put it into savings or invest the money. It’s always helpful to have a savings account to draw from when a major car repair bill, medical emergency or other unexpected expense comes along. That way, you don’t have to borrow money and add to your debt-load.
  • Consider your financial goals. Trying to save for a house or car down payment? Hope to contribute to your child’s college tuition? Consider applying your tax refund toward these goals. If you don’t yet have a set of short-term and long-term financial goals, put one together. You’ll be more conscientious about how you spend your refund or any other extra money that comes your way.

Remember, you work hard for your money and you deserve to enjoy a healthy financial lifestyle. Put some thought into how you use your tax refund. Making smart financial decisions is not always easy, but it will definitely benefit you and your family over the long term.

Joy Miller may be reached at or 620-223-3720.

Bermuda Grass can be an alternative pasture grass to fescue

Chris Petty, K-State Livestock Production and Forage Management,

Bermuda Grass, also known as Bermudagrass (one word), a type of pasture grass common in Oklahoma and Arkansas, is becoming popular in in southeast Kansas.

Our climate and rainfall are suitable to some of the hardier varieties.

Additionally, Bermuda grass does not have the endophyte responsible for negative performance in beef cattle that is commonly found in our more widespread fescue varieties.

While this doesn’t make Bermuda grass a cure all pasture grass replacement, it does provide southeast Kansas farmers and ranchers with another option.

If you would like to learn more about the pros and cons of Bermuda grass, you are invited by the K-State Research and Extension – Southwind District to attend an informational program entitled Bermuda Grass Basics, on Tuesday April 2, 2019 beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Galesburg Christion Church.

The church is located at 205 Chestnut St, Galesburg, KS.

A ten dollar fee, payable at the door will cover the cost of meals and materials.

The speakers for this program include Dale Helwig, Cherokee County Extension Director, and Keith Martin, former Wildcat Extension District Agriculture Agent. Both Helwig and Martin are knowledgeable in Bermudagrass production and use.

The specific topics of discussion will include Bermuda Grass establishment, fertility, and haying

. For more information or to register to attend this meeting, please call the Southwind Extension District –Fort Scott office at 620-223-3720 or e-mail District Extension agent for Livestock Production and Forage Management Christopher Petty, M.S. at

Bermuda Grass Basics

K-State Research and Extension Southwind District presents:
Bermuda Grass Basics
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Southwind Extension District is presenting “Bermuda Grass Basics”
covering topics on
Establishment, Fertility and Haying
Tuesday, April 2nd at 6:00pm
Please RSVP to Southwind Extension District Fort Scott Office: 620-223-3720
$10 registration includes dinner

Walk Kansas 2019

Join Walk Kansas 2019
An 8-Week Healthy Lifestyle Challenge
Gather your team of six people
by March 15!!
Walk Kansas 2019 is an 8-week healthy lifestyle challenge program, brought to you by K-State Research and Extension.
K-State encourages you to start your journey toward a healthier life by gathering your team of six people
by March 15th and participating
in this challenge from
March 17th through May 11th!
Earn 4 Health Quest credits towards State of Kansas health insurance for participating in the program!
Register online at:
or by contacting Joy Miller:
620-223-3720 /

Farm Finances 101 March 21

Southwind Extension District
is hosting:
“Farm Finances 101”
presented by
Ethan Holly, Ag Lender
at Landmark Bank
Thursday, March 21st at 6:30pm
Southwind Extension District is hosting:
“Farm Finances 101”,
presented by Ethan Holly,
Ag Lender at Landmark Bank.
Come learn about financial topics such as:
Cash Flow Statements
Balance Sheets
Business Analysis Pages
and more!
Dinner is included. Please RSVP to: Southwind Extension District
Fort Scott Office: 620-223-3720

Fruit Trees Should Be Pruned Now


Krista Harding
District Extension Agent, Horticulture
Southwind Extension District
111 S. Butler
Erie, KS 66733
Office: 620-244-3826
Cell: 620-496-8786

Are you itching to get out of the house and do something productive in the landscape? If you have fruit trees, then now is the time to prune! A little planning ahead with fruit trees can mean big rewards later in the growing season.

Are you like many who are “afraid” to prune? Don’t be. When done correctly, pruning is an essential component of growing a healthy, productive fruit tree. Fruit trees should be pruned every year and for several reasons. The first is the development of a strong tree structure. Pruning should begin when the tree is planted and continued each year thereafter. Another reason to prune is the increased penetration of sunlight for the development of fruit buds and for the fruit to mature properly.

Trees can be pruned this early (winter) because they are dormant. This can be done in January, February and even early March. Pruning when trees are dormant makes it easier to see undesirable branches because leaves aren’t present. It is important to do any pruning before dormant sprays are applied, to avoid spraying some of the wood that will later be removed. Total spray coverage of limbs, branches and shoots will be increased after pruning. Do not prune if temperatures are below 20°F because this can cause tissue damage.

Have your fruit trees been neglected for quite some time? If so, pruning can seem like an overwhelming task; where to start, how much wood to remove, etc. But a neglected tree can be revitalized.

The first step in revitalizing a neglected tree is to prune wood around the trunk area and near the ground. Remove all sucker growth around the trunk by cutting as close as possible to the point of origin. Next, remove all branches that hang below a 4-foot level. Prune them off at the supporting limb. Stand back and study the tree and decide the next cut to make. Retain scaffolds that are growing away from the tree center at wide angles with the trunk. Scaffolds are one of the main branches making the basic framework of a tree. They should be positioned on different sides of the tree for good distribution of the fruit crop.

The right tools are needed for proper pruning. Tools always need to be sharp so clean cuts can be made. Cuts that result in bark tears, stubs, or jagged surfaces are slow to heal and may even not completely heal. A scissor type of hand shear is used to prune small size wood, usually ¼ inch in diameter. Long handled loppers should be used to cut ¼ to ½ inch wood. These will need to be used generally by the third year of tree growth. For branches larger than ½ inch, use a fine-toothed pruning saw.

The Extension office has a publication titled, “Pruning Fruit Trees,” that explains in more detail how to prune depending on the age of the tree. It also has a section devoted to pruning different types of fruit trees. The publication has diagrams that demonstrate how and where pruning cuts should be made. As with most Extension services, this publication is free of charge.

If you would like me to evaluate your trees, give me a call and a home visit can be scheduled. Also, I would like to remind you of my office schedule. Monday and Friday – Erie; Tuesday – Iola; Thursday – Fort Scott; Wednesday morning – Yates Center and Wednesday afternoon – Chanute. New this year, I will be partnering with the Chanute Recreation Commission to have an office space to better serve the residents of Chanute.

Krista Harding is a K-State Research and Extension Agricultural agent assigned to Southwind District.  She may be reached at 620-244-3826 or

K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Late winter livestock feeding

Christopher Petty, M.S. Extension Agent Livestock Production and Forage Management, K-State Research and Extension Southwind Extension District, 210 S. National Fort Scott, KS 66701 (620) 223-3720 Work (620)224-6031 Cell

During late winter, many cow herds begin the calving season. This is also the time that our feed resources may begin to become limited. Additionally, in southeast Kansas, we get the occasional severe winter storm. As our farmers and ranchers know, this winter has been particularly cold, muddy and icy. Do we really know if our hay and other feeds can accurately meet the nutritional needs of our cattle?

The best way to be sure that your hay and other feeds are adequate is to send a sample to a lab for testing. Your local extension office is a great place to go for help in this process. Your Southwind Extension District Offices can loan you a hay probe for use in testing hay bales. We can also help with sending samples to the lab and with explaining the lab results, once returned to you.

Just before a winter storm approaches and throughout severe weather, cattle should have the opportunity to eat your better quality feeds. This increase in nutrition will help them persist until the weather improves. After the bad weather passes, you can return to feeding your regular feeds. Testing is the best way to know which feeds are of higher quality.

Additionally, better quality feeds can be used for heifers. Generally speaking, young growing heifers need a higher plain of nutrition for growth and development. Older dry or open cows can be fed your average quality feeds.

For more information call me, Christopher Petty, at 620-223-3720, that’s 620-223-3720


Carla Nemecek Southwind Extension District Director & Agent 620-365-2242 1 North Washington, Iola, KS 66749

Ask yourself, “What do I think about leadership and myself as a leader?” Each one of us has a wide range of skills, interests and abilities that we use in our daily lives – at home with our family – on the job – and in our communities.  As Extension continues to focus on youth and adult leadership, I hope to motivate you to release the leader within and get yourself up and moving to contribute as a leader to your school, church, community or even among your friends.

As you consider your leadership philosophy and style, ask yourself what can I contribute to my organizations and community – either on or off the job? Understanding and supporting the motivation of the individual group member is vital. Your own enthusiasm and commitment are also crucial to success.  As someone who attends a great deal of meetings each month, I see a wide range of leadership and experience in serving on local boards. In my observations, the best leaders are not always the most outspoken or aggressive, but often the “thinkers” at the back of the room who wait until the perfect moment to speak their opinions. That is not to say those that speak up are wrong in their ideas, just that we should all be aware of possible leaders at our activities – and not determine leadership by where a person sits in the room.

Citizen leaders are people in the community who are concerned about the quality of life in their community. They assume responsibility for the public good and see a need to act together for the common good of the community. Citizen leaders take ownership of the problems and opportunities that exist in the community and hold themselves accountable for seeing that action is taken. In other words, they don’t want “experts” or politicians to solve the problems for them.

Citizen leaders work with others in the community to identify opportunities or problems. They help others articulate a common purpose and set goals and objectives. They also assume that there are differences in the way people regard the opportunity or problem – such as different values of the people, different experiences, and different viewpoints. Citizen leaders help people connect their differences to the common purpose that brought them together. In other words, the citizen leader helps people see how their differences can be used to solve problems rather than be a point of conflict. In the Southwind District, these citizen leaders are often the most exciting group for us to work with. With a shared passion for the betterment of Allen, Neosho, Bourbon and Woodson Counties, with resources from Kansas State University, the possibilities are truly endless.

When you are thinking about moving into a leadership position, or a more active role as a group member, think about these questions:

  • What skills do I have to offer?
  • What would I like to learn more about?
  • What is it that I don’t like to do?
  • What do I want to do, but am hesitant about?

As I observe our rural communities in the Southwind District, I can’t help but see the many opportunities that exist for your leadership. Think about what motivates you, get excited about that motivation and consider the opportunity to step up and serve as a local leader in your own community.  I would be interested in your thoughts on leadership, so please email me at if you are motivated to consider leadership as an activity and not just a position.