Weekly News Releases and Columns

May 15, 2002


Re-Scheduled 4-H Council and 4-H Foundation to Meeting

Due to the storms on Thursday, May 12, the Cuming County 4-H Council & Foundation meeting has been rescheudled to Thursday, May 19. The meeting will be held in the Courthouse Meeting Room beginning at 7:00 p.m. Todd Schroeder, President of the Council, will preside at the meeting. Topics of discussion will include: County Fair banners and trophies, silent auction details, summer workshop topics and registration, camp scholarships and general updates.


SOURCE: Melissa Nordboe, Extension Assistant

RELEASE DATE:  May 16, 2022

Extension Board to Meet

The Cuming County Extension Board will meet for their May meeting on Monday, May 23, at 7:00 p.m. in the Cuming County Courthouse Meeting Room. The agenda for the meeting is available for review at Nebraska Extension in Cuming County.

SOURCE: Hannah Guenther, Extension Educator
RELEASE DATE: May 9, 2022

Adventure Day Camp

 4-H Adventure Day Camp will be held on Friday, June 3rd at the Neligh Park in West Point. This is open to youth ages 8-11 years old. Registration is available by clicking here: https://go.unl.edu/q3ri


SOURCE: Melissa Nordboe, Extension Assistant

RELEASE DATE:  April 25, 2022


Clover Kid Camp

 4-H Clover Kid Camp will be held on Thursday, June 9th in the Dinklage Building at the Cuming County Fairgrounds. This camp is open to 4-H youth ages 5-7. Registration link: https://go.unl.edu/gzrq


SOURCE: Melissa Nordboe, Extension Assistant

RELEASE DATE:  April 25, 2022

 Summer Workshop Schedule

 We have some exciting summer opportunities available for youth! Some workshops are open to 4-H members only while others are open to youth not in 4-H. We have a wide variety of options this year including Woodworking, babysitting, baking, leadership, and more!

 We also have two workshops that are coming soon – Let’s Paint (an acrylic painting workshop where you’ll leave with a fair-ready project) and Let’s Fly (a workshop all about drones where youth will learn about flightpaths, safety, using drones in agriculture and youth will get to fly drones).

 See our schedule on our webpage for more details:  https://extension.unl.edu/statewide/cuming/2021%20Summer%20Workshops.pdf 


SOURCE: Melissa Nordboe, Extension Assistant

RELEASE DATE:  April 25, 2022

 YQCA Update 

YQCA has moved! Nebraska 4-H requires all members enrolled in a livestock project to complete annual quality assurance certification through the Youth for the Quality Care of Animals program. The deadline for completion is JUNE 15th. The program has recently moved to a new online system available at YQCAProgram.org. Learn more about YQCA requirements and find help documents at 4h.unl.edu/yqca.

Test out options are available online to youth in the first year of Intermediate (age 12) and Senior (age 15) age levels. There is no test-out option for Juniors. Participants will have only one chance to take the test-out option. Test-out costs are:

• Intermediate: $36 ($12 x 3 years of certification)
• Senior: $48 ($12 x 4 years of certification)

SOURCE: Melissa Nordboe, Extension Assistant
RELEASE DATE: March 28, 2022

4-H Online Enrollment

We are continuing with 4-H Online Enrollment as a requirement. There will be a $5.00 payment fee required for 4-H members which will be collected when enrollment is completed. If you already have a profile in the system, DO NOT create a new one. If you need assistance, please contact the Extension Office.
The direct link to 4-H Enrollment is v2.4honline.com. Please use Google Chrome or Firefox web browsers. 4-H enrollment deadline for county fair participation is JUNE 15th.

SOURCE: Melissa Nordboe, Extension Assistant
RELEASE DATE: March 7, 2022

Food, Nutrition, & Health

Hannah Guenther, Extension Educator
Nebraska Extension Serving Cuming County

May 15, 2022

Helpful Kitchen Tips and Tricks

I have a vivid memory of baking my first cake. I was 11 and I got the recipe out of our most recent Family Fun magazine. The cake was ok, but ever since that recipe I haven't been able to stay out of the kitchen. It's been 20 years of recipes, bakes, flops, and fails! Over the years, I have come across a lengthy list of helpful kitchen tips and tricks that I am going to share with you today.

1. Homemade Buttermilk
I make quite a new muffins, cakes, and bakes that call for buttermilk, which I never have. I don't buy it because I just make my own. To make your own buttermilk, simply take 1 cup of milk and add 1 tsp white vinegar OR 1 tsp of lemon juice. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes until it starts to slightly curdle, and you are good to go!

2. Out of Eggs
There is nothing worse than having your butter and sugar creamed and ready to go only to find an empty egg carton. Very rarely do I run out eggs, but it has happened. ½ cup applesauce or a flax egg work great in place of eggs in most baked recipes. To make a flax egg simply take 3 tbsp water + 1 tbsp ground flax seed and let it sit for 2 -3 minutes.

3. Salt and Acid
I heard once that if a recipe is tasting bland, always hit it with salt and acid repeating, as necessary. Acid can come in the form of vinegar, lemon, or lime juice. It truly works ever time. Recently I made a soup, and it was just flat. A sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon, and then one more addition of each and it completely changed the flavor into a delicious meal!

4. Microwave your limes
There is nothing worse than going to squeeze a lime and literally nothing happening. Microwave your lime in 10second increments until slightly warm to make them extra juicy.

5. Rapid Ripen your Avocados
Patience is a virtue...and I do not have it especially when it comes to avocados. Thankfully, there is a little tip to make your avocados ripen faster! Set your avocado next to a banana. Yep, it's that simple. Bananas contain ethylene which makes fruit ripen faster!

6. Whole Grain Flour
One of my favorite healthy tips in the kitchen is to mix my flour. When I go to fill up my flour jar, I do ½ whole wheat flour and 1/2 all-purpose flour. This adds more whole wheat grains to my muffins, pancakes, breads, and cookies with no additional planning or prepping on my end!

7. Defrost Drawer
A life changing tip in my kitchen was the addition of a defrost drawer in my fridge. On Sundays, I usually pull out some frozen protein for the week. The safest way to thaw protein is overnight in the fridge. The addition of a thawing container separates fresh produce from raw protein and keeps any liquid contained!

8. Sticky Ingredients
Ok final tip. I hate when I go to measure out honey, molasses, or anything sticky and honestly there manages to be more in the measuring cup than the bowl! A simple tip is to spray your measuring cup with cooking spray before measuring any sticky ingredient.

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Garden Bits

Kathleen Cue
Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

May 23, 2022

Browning Needles of Juniper and Arborvitae

Many tree owners have been confronted with browning evergreens this spring. Even the tough-as-nails-never-needs-attention junipers are brown, in some cases entire trees. The winter of 2021-2022 showed deepening drought and this dryness, coupled with strong winds, was death to many evergreens, particularly junipers and arborvitaes.

Evergreens are unique for their ability to photosynthesize on days when temperatures are above 45 degrees F. The region saw a lot of days like this with the mild winter. But the process of photosynthesis is hard work, requiring water along the way. When water cannot be replaced because of dry soils, then brown needles are the result.

What can tree owners do? First, trees may not be dead so giving them another week or two before cutting them down will give them time to rally. For those trees that survived but are looking rough, practice good tree care:
In the absence of precipitation, water 1 inch per week. It's best to apply the water all in one application. Be sure to water trees and shrubs in the fall, going in to ground freeze, to help them overwinter.
Refrain from using any lawn weed herbicide containing dicamba as this can spread to trees.
Do not fertilize trees as this deepens tree stress.
Mulch with 2-4 inches of wood chips or shredded bark. Never pile mulch against the trunk and refrain from using landscaping fabric beneath.

Trees that are well watered in the fall and mulched make it through the winter much more successfully than those that are not.

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May 9, 2022

Vegetable Gardens

If only vegetable gardening was the straightforward task of planting seeds and starter plants outdoors without any attention to the annoying details of soil temperature and late frost. This isn't the case, however, and a little planning goes a long way towards success. Certainly, this year's cool start to spring has been a boon for cool season vegetables. Radishes and lettuce are just some of the vegetables requiring cooler soils to grow well.

Soil temperature charts list three temperatures for most vegetables—the minimum, the optimum, and the maximum. The minimum and maximum temperatures, like the terms imply, are the broadest range at which seeds will germinate and plant roots will grow. Optimum is the ideal temperature at which seeds not only germinate in the highest numbers but fosters robust plant growth. Let's take carrot seeds as an example. The minimum to maximum temperature range is 40° to 90° F, with an optimum temperature for seed germination at 80° F. Seeing how this plays out with different soil temperatures reveals:

• No germination at 32° F.
• 51 days for seedling emergence at 41° F.
• 17 days for seedling emergence at 50° F
• Just 6 days for seedling emergence at 68° to 86° F.

With cool season vegetables, planting seeds and starter plants in soils cooler than optimum won't lead to rotting seeds and plants. Often the seeds will "wait" until conditions are met, and then germination will be initiated. Warm season vegetables are different. Seeds and starter plants set into cooler soils often rot, necessitating the need to buy more seeds and starter plants. The last frost of the season also has a big impact on survivability of warm season vegetables while cool season vegetables weather light frosts with little impact.

These cool season crops can be planted outside before the last frost and when soils are above 45° F:
Asparagus (crowns), beets (seeds), broccoli (plants), cabbage (plants), carrots (seeds), cauliflower (plants), Swiss Chard (seeds or plants), garlic (cloves), leeks (plants), lettuce (seeds), onions (bulbs), parsnips (seeds), peas (seeds), potatoes (divisions), radishes (seeds), spinach (seeds), and turnips (seeds).

These warm season vegetables should be planted outside after danger of frost is past and when soil temperatures are above 60° F:
Beans (seeds), corn (seeds), cucumber (seeds), eggplant (plants), muskmelon/cantaloupe (seeds), peppers (plants), pumpkins (seeds), squash (both summer and winter) (seeds), tomatoes (plants), and watermelons (seeds).

Soil temperature information can be accessed through the UNL CropWatch website: https://go.unl.edu/soiltemperature . Probabilities for the last spring frost date can be found at: https://go.unl.edu/lastfrost .

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May 2, 2022

Planting Garden Vegetables Based on Soil Temperature

 Not only does frost-free weather initiate the planting of warm season vegetables (like tomatoes), but soil temperatures play a strong role when it comes time to planting both cool season and warm season vegetables. Certainly this spring has been challenging for gardeners waiting to get cool season vegetables planted and now with Mother’s Day just around the corner, chances are good that planting warm season vegetables should be delayed as well. Rather than relying solely on the calendar to determine timing—“I always plant after Mother’s Day”—this year is definitely one that requires greater attention to soil temps and frost forecasts. While seeds and plants of cool season vegetables like radishes  and cabbage will survive if planted too soon, warm season vegetables (like beans and peppers) planted too soon will perish when soil temperatures are too cold for them. Check out soil temperatures in your area on this map: https://go.unl.edu/soiltemperature.


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April 25, 2022

April 4, 2022

Managing Crabgrass with Pre-Emergence Herbicides

If crabgrass has been a problem in your lawn, now is the time to be watching soil temperatures. Why is soil temperature important? Because a well-timed application of pre-emergence herbicide limits crabgrass seedlings while ensuring the herbicide works to its longest advantage.
Here's what we know about crabgrass. Seed germinates when soil temperatures reach a consistent 55° F and warmer. Given the right soil temperature and moisture, crabgrass seeds can germinate throughout the growing season. Crabgrass takes advantage of open spaces, so having a dense lawn is your first line of defense against crabgrass taking over a space.

Here's what we know about pre-emergence herbicides. Like its name implies, a pre-emergence product targets seeds as they are germinating, but before they break the soil surface. A few products will also kill seedlings that have already emerged, but not all pre-emergence herbicides have this capability, so reading the product label is important. Also, applications do not extend control through the whole growing season. The efficacy, how long the product application remains effective, varies from one pre-emergence herbicide to another. Look to the label to find how long an application lasts and then mark the calendar so a second application can be made, ensuring a longer period of crabgrass control into the growing season.

Putting down a pre-emergence application too soon, before crabgrass seed germination takes place, means sun, wind, temperature variations, and rainfall begin to degrade the product, cutting down on the length of time the herbicide does its job. Even though lawn care companies start early with their pre-emergence herbicide applications to get all their clients' lawns into the spring schedule, the companies address seedlings they've missed with a post-emergence application. Homeowners, however, can save themselves money and frustration by seeing to it the pre-emergence herbicide applications are timed correctly.

The easiest way to time pre-emergence herbicide applications for crabgrass control is to check the soil temperature at the IANR CropWatch webpage at Soil Temperature Update | CropWatch (unl.edu) . Once a consistent soil temperature (3-5 days running) of 45-50° F has been reached, it's time to do the pre-emergence herbicide application. Soil temperature can also be monitored by inserting a thermometer into the soil, an automotive or cooking thermometer will do, to a depth of 4 inches.

A well-timed application of a pre-emergence herbicide limits crabgrass seedlings while ensuring the herbicide works to its longest advantage, saving time, money, and frustration.

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Trees: Mulching and Pruning


As a final step in the planting process, newly-planted trees benefit from mulch. Not limited to new trees, even well-established trees benefit from cooler soils that promote root growth and nutrient and water uptake. With the task of mulching comes added attention to the amount of mulch used. "Mulch volcanos" are the tongue-in-cheek adage used to describe the cones of mulch piled high around trunks. Not only do these foster homes for voles, who love to eat the tender water-conducting tissues beneath bark, but mulch volcanos promote decay by rotting the base of trees. The practice has become epidemic with this "more is better" approach, fostering a new industry of arborists and landscape managers who specialize in removing mulch volcanos and properly installing mulch rings that are better suited to tree health and are characterized as "mulch donuts". This approach provides 2-4 inches of mulch spread over the root zone, leaving the center 3-4 inches free of mulch to allow air circulation around trunks. At a minimum, especially for new trees, the mulch ring should extend three feet out from trunks, with beds expanded as trees grow.

Forgo the placement of landscaping fabric or plastic beneath mulch. These materials interfere with the exchange of gases at the root zone and make soils slimy. Rock of any sort should be bypassed too, but for different reasons than landscaping fabric. Rock mulches increase soil temperature on hot summer days, which in turn interferes with tree root uptake of water and nutrients. Instead, use wood chips or shredded wood for mulch. Check the mulched areas each spring and add more mulch as the old decomposes, maintaining the 2-4-inch depth.


Knowing when and how to prune trees is important to tree health. Research by Dujesiefken, et al, indicate the months of April, May, and June are ideal for pruning, promoting timely wound closure. Initially, pruning of newly-planted trees should be kept to a minimum, except for removing broken, dead, and rubbing branches. Even if branches are low on the trunk, but otherwise healthy, they should be left in place to promote trunk taper. In the study of tree biomechanics, trunk taper is the gradual widening of the base of the tree trunk, which contributes to stability under wind and snow loads. Trees that are planted too deep and those that are limbed up too soon will not develop a strong taper.

Forget about thinning as a pruning practice to lessen wind loads. A study by Quine and Gardiner (2007) found that densely-crowned trees survive severe winds better than those thinned trees that are deemed "wind sales". This is, in a large part, due to the ability of leaves, twigs, and branches to dampen the force of wind. Crown thinning negatively impacts a tree's ability to withstand wind loads, leading to limb and tree failure, which in turn can cause harm to people and structures.

When pruning tree branches, be sure to make cuts just outside the branch collar, the swollen area at the base of branches. The collar is made up of branch AND collar cells for timely wound closure. For removing larger branches, a 3-part cut ensures branches don't rip downward into the branch collar during removal. More information about pruning may be found on the Nebraska Forest Service website: https://nfs.unl.edu/publications/pruning-trees .

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Trees: Planting and Watering

Now that Spring has sprung and you've made your choice of what tree to plant, be sure to put as much thought and sweat equity into making sure your new tree is planted correctly. First, locate the tree's root flare, the natural widening found where the tree trunk meets the roots. It may be necessary to remove excess soil at the top of the rootball to locate the flare. Then measure the distance from the flare to the bottom of the rootball. Dig the planting hole to this depth, opting to make the hole wider than deep. This allows the rootball to set firmly on un-loosened soil making it less likely to sink over time, while the hole's width allows soil to be broken up as it is backfilled. Keep your foot out of the planting hole, firming the soil instead by watering to eliminate air pockets. When finished, the tree's flare should be visible at or slightly above the soil line.

How important is it to plant a tree at the correct depth? In a study by Quine and Gardiner (2005) of the Forestry Commission Research Agency, one of the biggest contributions to tree failure under wind loads occurs at the time of planting, when trees are planted too deep. These trees develop inadequate roots, resulting in "socketing", where the rootball rotates, allowing young trees to blow over, or trunk windsnap occurs where too-deep planting promotes decay and weakens trunks at the base. Given the amount of wind throughout the Midwest, a mindset of tree safety and longevity should be a priority at planting time. Provide support to trees over 5 feet tall with fabric ties secured to stakes the first year, then remove the materials to prevent girdling.

Watering newly-planted trees is a must for establishment success. Most in-ground irrigation systems do a poor job of watering trees, creating saturated soil in the top 3 inches or so while leaving lower roots dry. When watering, for every inch of caliper, the tree takes a corresponding year to establish. Thus, a tree that is planted at a 2-inch caliper requires two years to establish, a 3-inch tree takes 3 years, and so on. Keep this in mind because, the larger the tree, the more years will be devoted to watering until it is established:

Appropriate Doses of Water; 1-2 gallons per caliper inch; Never apply water if soil is saturated or frozen.

Size of Nursery Stock

Watering for Tree Vigor

Watering for Tree Survival

Less than 2-inch caliper

Daily: First two weeks

Every other Day: For 2 months

Weekly: Until established

Twice weekly for 2-3 months

2-4-inch caliper

Daily: First month

Every other day: For 3 months

Weekly: Until established

Twice weekly for 3-4 months

Greater than 4-inch caliper

Daily: First 6 weeks

Every other day: For 5 months

Weekly: Until established

Twice weekly for 4-5 months

                                                                                                                               Gillman & Sadowski, 2007

Index under: Trees, Tree Watering, Tree Planting

Tree Diversity

With Earth Day and Arbor Day coming up next month, it is a good time to talk about trees, aptly called "the lungs of the earth" for the carbon dioxide they take in and oxygen they exhale, but also for the air pollutants they mitigate. As people plan to add trees to their landscape this year, there are some important steps to ensure successful establishment and that trees planted now survive. It is estimated it takes one to two decades before costs associated with planting new trees is recouped in savings from the benefits of shade, windbreaks, and rainwater mitigation. This is a compelling reason to make sure trees have every chance to grow and survive. Too often, attempts to push tree growth results in dead trees. Some short-sighted attempts are planting large trees, fertilizing them, adding mulch volcanos, and watering too much.

What are the best management practices when it comes to planning for a new tree? Let the site be the first consideration as the presence of power lines, paved surfaces, property lines, slopes, and the size of the space dictate what tree to plant. At a minimum, trees should be planted 3-4 feet away from a paved surface to prevent expanding roots from buckling the pavement. Consideration must be given to the foundations of homes, outbuildings, and other structures to make sure roots don't cause damage and branches do not scrape siding. When determining the distance to plant from foundations, a simple rule of thumb is to divide a tree's full-grown canopy by two, and then add 2-3 feet. Make sure trees are planted well away from utilities as sudden changes to root zones, like trenching, cause tree decline.

Tree selection plays a huge role in tree diversity. Communities and regions with a wide range of trees have greater resiliency to insect pest infestations, plant pathogens, and weather changes. Worldwide, the most common trees of a region comprise 24% of a tree population. John Ball of South Dakota State University advises following a 5-20-30 rule for tree diversity—no more than 5% of an urban forest is made up of just one species; no more than 20% belong to the same genus; and no more than 30% belong to the same plant family. Planting too many trees of the same species/genus/plant family can be likened to the adage about placing all of your eggs in a single basket—too many of the same trees dominating a space increases the likelihood that an emerging problem will destroy them, leaving towns, villages, and neighborhoods lacking tree cover.

Considering the investment of time that goes in to growing a tree, it makes sense to do your homework when choosing a tree to plant. Just because one tree dominates the inventory of local garden centers doesn't mean it is the one to plant in your yard. Check what trees are planted in your neighborhood—and then plant something else. An excellent list of trees for Eastern Nebraska can be found on the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum website: https://go.unl.edu/zvrf .

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Bi-Weekly Column:
  • Helpful Kitchen Tips & Tricks