Harvey County

Tomatoes and Their Cracking

Each year I receive 10 varieties of tomatoes from Kansas State University that our master gardener volunteers grow and keep data.  Through this research many characteristics are learned about varieties and potential issues they may have.  One of these issues is cracking.

Tomatoes often have problems with cracking caused by pressure inside the fruit that is more than the skin can handle. Cracks are usually on the upper part of the fruit and can be concentric (in concentric circles around the stem) or radial (radiating from the stem). We don’t know everything about cracking but here is what we do know.

Tomatoes have a root system that is very dense and fibrous and is quite efficient in picking up water. Unfortunately, the root system can become unbalanced with the top of the plant. Early in the season it may be small in relation to the top growth resulting in blossom-end rot during hot dry weather. Later it may be so efficient that it provides too much water when we get rain or irrigate heavily after a dry spell. This quick influx of water can cause the tomato fruit to crack. Therefore, even, consistent watering can help with cracking. Mulching will also help because it moderates moisture levels in the soil. However, you can do everything right and still have problems with cracking in some years.

We have evaluated varieties for cracking during our tomato trials at K-State. It takes several years’ worth of data to get a good feel for crack-resistant varieties but we have found some real differences. Some varieties crack under about any condition and others are much more resistant. The difference seems to be pliability of skin rather than thickness — the more pliable the skin the more resistance to cracking.

The old variety Jet Star has been the most crack resistant of any we have tested including the newer types. Unfortunately, Jet Star is an indeterminate variety that puts out rampant growth. Newer varieties with more controlled growth are often more attractive to gardeners. Mountain Spring, Mountain Pride, Mountain Fresh, Floralina and Sun Leaper are smaller-vined types that have shown good resistance to cracking.

Night Time Temperatures Affect Corn Yields

High nighttime temperatures during the reproductive growth (at or after flowering) can reduce kernel number, and if later in the season, kernel weight. This effect can be explained as an increase in the rate of respiration, increasing the demand for sugar for energy and diminishing its availability for supplying the growing kernels.

In addition, as experienced in many parts of our state, high night temperatures tend to accelerate plant phenology, running more quickly but with overall lower plant efficiency in using available resources. This situation has been documented in many parts of the state as an earlier-than-usual (close to 2 weeks) flowering time. For example, a corn planted during the first week of May was flowering around the first or second week of July in 2017 (depending on the maturity) and a similar corn hybrid this year was reaching the same stage around the last week of June.

The effect of high night temperatures will be exacerbated as corn is entering into the most critical growth period (a few days before flowering to grain filling). The consequence of high night temperatures will be reflected in reductions in kernel number (if timing of the stress was around flowering) and/or kernel weight (if timing of stress was coincided with the grain filling period). In summary, high night temperatures will be impacting corn yields, but the final yield reduction is yet to be determined, clearly depending on the timing of the stress (duration) and the area of the state affected.

Open Class FairEntry Help

We have exciting news about our fair this year! First off our schedule has changed. We have moved up our dates by one day, making all building exhibits judged on Friday August 3rd.

Check in times will be:
Thursday August 2nd from 7-9 pm and Friday August 3rd from 8 -10 am.
Judging will take place on Friday August 3rd starting at 11 am.

You can find the full schedule on our website www.harvey.ksu.edu.

Other changes will be the way we take entries. We will be using the FairEntry system to manage our entries this year. Included is helpful tips and a step by step guide on how to enter in the FairEntry system. This means that you will enter all of your exhibits through this system. To do that, you will go to http://harveycountyfair.fairentry.com, make an account and add your entries. You can start doing that on July 9th. Continue reading “Open Class FairEntry Help”

Stresses on Horticulture

So, in the past 9 months we’ve had a late hard freeze, little rainfall, and before this was the driest six month winter period since 1936?  That is a lot of stress on plants!

This stress can take its toll.  Environmental stressors such as drought, heat and cold are cumulative. In other words, trees can gradually weaken under continued stresses such as drought until they reach a point where significant damage or even death can occur quickly. Damage that occurred earlier may not appear until summer weather arrives. Plants may wither seemingly overnight.  These trees probably died earlier but had enough food reserves to put out leaves and even to grow for a period of time.

When the food reserves became depleted, the plants died suddenly.  Be careful not to confuse this with feeding damage from May beetles or other insects.

May beetles will strip a tree of leaves rather than leave them wilted and dead on the plant. Healthy trees will easily recover from May beetle damage by throwing out a new set of leaves. Before any tree is cut down, check the twigs. Dead trees will have brittle, dry stems that snap. Live stems may break, but they won’t be dry. If the tree is still alive, give it time to put out a new set of leaves.

Recommendations: Trees that lose individual branches should have those branches cut out. Trees that are slow to leaf out need to be given extra care so that further stress is avoided.

If you suspect you have plants under stress, try to water them every few weeks if there is no rainfall. Trees should be watered to a depth of 12 to 18 inches if possible. Water from the trunk out to the edge of the branches. Though this will not reach all the roots of a tree, it will reach the majority of them. Trees normally have at least 80 percent of their roots in the top foot of soil. Use a dowel or metal rod to check the depth of water. The rod will penetrate moist soil easily but will stop when dry earth is reached.

Shrubs should be watered to a depth of 8 to 12 inches. Check the depth of watering by pushing a wooden dowel or metal rod into the soil. It will stop when it hits dry soil.

Corn Leaf Diseases

While scouting your corn fields after these rains are sure to be on the lookout for leaf diseases. If you don’t catch the diseases in time in can hurt your yields dramatically. These are some of the common corn leaf diseases to be watching for.

Common rust

It is typically less serious in Kansas than the other leaf diseases. Symptoms are small, round to elongated pustules that start out golden brown then turn darker later in the season. Common rust pustules commonly form on both sides of the leaf and are sparser than those of southern rust. This disease can occur wherever corn is grown. Infection is favored by moderate temperatures (60 to 77 degrees) and high relative humidity (greater than 95 percent for at least six hours).

Common rust is easily controlled by using resistant hybrids. Fungicides are not recommended for this disease alone since common rust causes only minimal yield loss. Continue reading “Corn Leaf Diseases”

Brain Health

The brain allows you to interact with the world, understand and respond to carious surroundings. It is important to have a healthy brain to survive, grow and have everyday successes. How do you stay mentally fit? I have a few tips on how to keep your brain fit!

Socializing will help you critically think, be creative, and express your emotions in a healthy way. To do this, keep in touch with friends, get involved at church, by volunteering, or joining a group that meeting weekly/daily. Other ways is to get to know your neighbors and utilize the internet!

Doing mental stimulation is just as important as going to the gym! Play games or puzzles like Sudoku; read or write in a journal, stay a lifelong learner, pick up your favorite hobby again, or try new exciting things. Try to keep your brain stimulated by making it think critically about what you are doing.

Physical activity is not just great for your body, but for your brain as well! Basically by getting your heart rate up, you help circulate blood and oxygen to your brain releasing endorphins and making you happy.

Nutrition always goes with physical activity, so by eating foods high in antioxidants it will help your brain naturally repair itself. Eating right in general will help your brain tremendously with everyday functions.

Lastly catch your ZZZZZ’s. Sleep helps you with a ton of things because it gives your body a resting period where it can repair and rest. To get better sleep, exercise, eat a well-balanced diet, have a schedule and keep technology out of the bedroom.

Maintaining a healthy brain and establishing other healthy lifestyle behaviors throughout your life will influence optimal aging.