Extension Viewpoints – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Wed, 25 Nov 2020 20:57:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.4 http://www.pagosasun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/cropped-sun-logo-512x512-1-32x32.jpg Extension Viewpoints – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com 32 32 Extension Viewpoints: CSU leads study promoting food security http://www.pagosasun.com/extension-viewpoints-csu-leads-study-promoting-food-security/ Fri, 27 Nov 2020 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=213545 By Robin Young
PREVIEW Columnist

As the spread of coronavirus continues to disrupt the U.S. economy, low-income households face a higher risk of food insecurity. This risk is more pronounced in families with school-age children who rely on food assistance programs, such as school lunch, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women Infant Children (WIC) program.

As part of a $482,642 grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), researchers at Colorado State University (CSU) studied emergency food provisions that serve children and families in five U.S. cities during the pandemic. The grant is an extension of a $1 million FFAR Tipping Points grant to reduce food insecurity. The additional funding allows the grantees to examine the trade-offs associated with policy and programming interventions in response to COVID-19.

The results were published in an Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy article, “Emergency Food Provision for Children and Families during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Examples from Five U.S. Cities.” The journal article shows that the success of emergency local programs depends on cross-sector collaboration among stakeholders, adaptable supply chains and addressing gaps in service to increased risk populations.

Along with CSU, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, the Sustainable Food Center, University at Albany and UTHealth School of Public Health at Austin were involved with study.

“Our five research teams were already involved in mapping and modeling our urban food systems when the pandemic hit,” said CSU Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics Becca Jablonski, the report’s corresponding author. “This previous work, coupled with strong relationships with key food system stakeholders in each of our cities, put us in a position to act quickly to document changes within the emergency food service system due to COVID-19, and to begin to describe the effectiveness of interventions taken to respond to school closures. We hope that this research is useful in considering the trade-offs associated with different types of responses as well and how to better prepare for future crises.”

“No child should go hungry, during a pandemic or otherwise and my heart goes out to families that struggled during the past year who couldn’t access emergency food services,” said FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey. “This research helps ensure that emergency food services effectively serve children and their families throughout this pandemic and in the event of future crises.”

Emergency food
resources 

While the federal government expanded funding for school breakfast and lunch programs and other food assistance programs in the spring of 2020, there was no federal mandate that the programs continue or guidance for carrying them out. Thus, local governments devised their own plans to provide emergency food services to low-income families, to varying degrees of effectiveness.

The researchers evaluated how emergency feeding programs, including SNAP, food banks and schools, distributed food during the pandemic; who used these services; the costs of these services; and the food provided and its dietary quality. The research team conducted interviews and focus groups with emergency food service providers in five cities — Albany, N.Y.; Austin, Texas; Cleveland, Ohio; Denver, Colo., and Flint, Mich. — to understand how decisions by schools, governments and other emergency food service providers impacted access to food.

The researchers discovered that the success of local responses to low-income food insecurity depended on three factors:

• Cross-sector collaboration: Cities with higher cross-sector participation among stakeholders were able to reach more families with nutrition and food needs. In Denver, for example, city and county officials had pre-pandemic working relationships in place with food rescue organizations to support food security efforts. Cities with low collaboration had more difficulties, such as Flint, where distrust in local authorities, a result of the ongoing water crisis, remains high.

• Adaptable supply chains: Cities with adaptable supply chains also had more success at feeding their vulnerable populations. Flint and Cleveland experienced supply chain problems that limited the amount of food available to smaller food banks with less purchasing power. These issues required sourcing food from farther distances. In Denver, many of the smaller food banks closed at the beginning of the pandemic and food banks were able to more efficiently handle the increased demand. Additionally, many feeding programs experienced a drop in volunteers, making it harder to deliver food to those in need. Albany and Cleveland overcame this problem with distribution assistance from the National Guard.

• Addressing gaps in service to increased risk populations: As COVID-19 disproportionately affects communities that are already underserved, it is essential to identify and address gaps in service to increased risk populations. As part of their emergency response plans, Austin and Denver have prioritized services to populations facing food insecurity. In Austin, the Office of Sustainability mapped emergency food resources and distribution sites and is identifying communities where food needs have increased since the start of the pandemic. Denver is developing a food security plan that will be incorporated into a broader socially equitable pandemic recovery plan.

The researchers conclude that while different regional and local approaches to providing food security to low-income families and children is necessary to respond to specific contexts, more robust guidance from the federal government may improve the effectiveness of the responses.

For information, please call the Archuleta CSU Extension Office at 264-5931, visit us on the Web at https://archuleta.extension.colostate.edu/ or Like us on Facebook and get more information https://www.facebook.com/CSUARCHCTY. 

Donate to the Archuleta County 4-H program

The Archuleta County 4-H program boasts a membership of more than 150 members annually. Often, these programs rely on fundraisers to help offset the costs of the program, such as awards, supplies and, most importantly, leadership opportunities. Members can attend various leadership camps and conferences statewide and even nationally. 

To help our program continue to support our members, we appreciate any contribution you make. To pay online, visit https://client.pointandpay.net/web/ArchuletaCo4H/ and select Contributions and Donations. 

Like us on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/ArchuletaCounty4H/.

CPR and first aid
certification

CPR and first aid certification classes are offered monthly by the CSU Extension office generally on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. The cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. Call the Extension office at 246-5931 to register.

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Extension Viewpoints: ‘Murder hornet’ title is all buzz, no sting http://www.pagosasun.com/extension-viewpoints-murder-hornet-title-is-all-buzz-no-sting/ Mon, 23 Nov 2020 12:00:23 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=213195 By Robin Young
SUN Columnist

The Asian giant hornet has earned the nickname “murder hornet,” but entomologists say that name isn’t deserved.

As if there wasn’t enough to worry about with the COVID-19 pandemic, a new twist to 2020 was announced. This time it’s the vespa mandarinia — better known as the Asian giant hornet. The world’s largest hornet, it can reach up to 2 inches long, has a wingspan up to 3 inches wide and a quarter-inch stinger to inject its venom.

News of the insect being recently discovered in North America has spurred startling headlines about the so-called “murder hornets.” The nickname comes due in part to its ability to decimate an entire colony of honeybees by decapitating them.

But Colorado State University entomology professor and extension specialist Whitney Cranshaw said all the buzz is unnecessary. 

Cranshaw, who is also chairman of the Entomological Society of America’s committee on common insect names, recently wrote a response about the media reaction and the colorful name to his listserv PestTalk.

“The name ‘murder wasp’ is just silly and needlessly inflammatory. It is a predator; it eats other insects. Like all mantids, most all lady beetles and lacewings, all spiders … We have three wasp families (sphecidae, crabronidae, pompilidae) that are very well represented in most any yard/garden in the state, which are generally referred to by the far more benign term ‘hunting wasps.’ These insects paralyze their prey, haul the paralyzed insect to some nest, lay an egg on it and have a larval stage that slowly consumes the live — but paralyzed — insect. Should we call these the ‘kidnap and slowly butcher’ wasps?”

In an interview with KUNC, Cranshaw said the post stemmed from frustration over seeing even highly regarded media feeding the “murder hornet” frenzy. 

“I expect something like that from The Enquirer, but not the New York Times,” he said. 

To be an acceptable common name, Cranshaw says it has to be based on some unique features. 

“All hornets murder stuff,” he said. “I mean, what we call a very common insect around here, which is technically a black yellow jacket, the bald-faced hornet — it murders insects all day.” 

While the finding of the insect in a small area of western Washington and British Columbia is news — it’s typically only found in Asia — Cranshaw said the fear that it’s spreading is unnecessary. 

“At this point in time, it’s very premature to think that this is going to be a threat,” he said.

The Asian giant hornet’s method of attack might be part of why people are latching onto this story. After catching its prey, the hornet decapitates it, chewing portions of the thorax into a ball and then flying back to the nest. One hornet can kill approximately 40 bees in an hour. During a “slaughter and occupy” event, a swarm can wipe out an entire bee colony in a matter of hours.

But while the hornet can do great damage to honeybees, Cranshaw said it prefers to go after social bees and wasps. 

“It is far more likely to be an insect that would attack all those little paper wasps that are making those nests on the side of your house or the yellow jackets that are in the ground making a nest there, that then run around on your hamburger and drink Coca Cola out of your can at the end of summer,” he said. “That’s what they’re going to murder more than honeybees.” 

Besides, the honeybee has far bigger things to worry about as far as predators go.

“In terms of a threat to honeybees, I mean, we have way more important things that damage honeybees now that recently came into the country than the Asian giant hornet will ever be,” Cranshaw said. “It’s back of the line after things like varroa destructor mites and nosema ceranae — the disease, and small hive beetles. It goes to the end of the line. It’s another threat, but not a huge one, and it’s not going to be an issue here in Colorado.” 

The Asian giant hornet is found in low-elevation, moist forest areas, Cranshaw said, making Colorado’s high-elevation, dry forests a poor choice and one where it would not thrive if it were to ever get here. And, to get here, it would need some human help. 

“There are geographic barriers that this thing would have to pass between western Washington and eastern Colorado that I can not see this passing on his own,” he said. “Somebody would have to carry it and that’s a very dicey kind of thing to do.”

The potential threat to humans has also made the hornet an intriguing story, with reports that, in Japan, approximately 50 people died from Asian giant hornet stings last year. But according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 62 people die from wasp, hornet and bee stings in the U.S. each year. In Colorado, about 95 percent of all stings are from the western yellow jacket, Cranshaw said. 

“The Asian giant hornet’s sting is not particularly toxic,” he said. “It just has a big stinger.” 

And as far as overall size goes, Colorado insects hold their own, Cranshaw said. The cicada killer wasp, native to parts of Colorado, is in the same weight class as the Asian giant hornet. 

“If you go down to southeast Colorado, check out the blooming flowers at the end of August and early September, and you’ll see these huge, blue-black-orange wing tarantula hawks. And then if you’re in an area where the cicada killers occur … I mean they look like a giant, mutant yellow jacket from hell.”

But the catchy headlines and the fact that people are looking for anything not COVID-19 related to read about right now makes the Asian giant hornet far more interesting, Cranshaw said. 

“Well, there are aspects about this insect that certainly make it a good story,” he said. “It’s a big wasp and it’s got a big stinger and sometimes it will attack honeybee hives … and it can do damage to that hive. So those kinds of aspects of it certainly make it an interesting insect.”

For information, please call the Archuleta County CSU Extension office at 264-5931. 

Visit us on the Web at https://archuleta.extension.colostate.edu/ or like us on Facebook and get more information: https://www.facebook.com/CSUARCHCTY.

Donate to the Archuleta County 4-H program

The Archuleta County 4-H program boasts a membership of more than 150 members annually. Often, these programs rely on fundraisers to help offset the costs of the program, such awards, supplies and, most importantly, leadership opportunities. Members can attend various leadership camps and conferences statewide and even nationally. 

To help our program continue to support our members, we appreciate any contribution you make. To pay online, visit https://client.pointandpay.net/web/ArchuletaCo4H/ and select Contributions and Donations. 

Like us on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/ArchuletaCounty4H/.

CPR and first aid
certification

CPR and first aid certification classes are offered monthly by the CSU Extension office generally on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. The cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. Call the Extension office at 246-5931 to register.

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Extension Viewpoints: Beginning farmers and ranchers invited to take online course http://www.pagosasun.com/extension-viewpoints-beginning-farmers-and-ranchers-invited-to-take-online-course/ Sun, 15 Nov 2020 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=212805 By Robin Young
PREVIEW Columnist

The Colorado Building Farmers program (CBF) presents the Principles of Business Planning and Management short course though Colorado State University (CSU) Extension. 

CBF builds farm community and business development skills through classroom and experiential learning for new and beginning farmers and livestock producers (zero to 10 years of experience). Over eight weeks, Principles participants explore how to build a farm business, plan for new markets, improve their record keeping and financial analysis skills, and manage risks in crop and livestock enterprises.

Since 2007, over 300 producers have completed the program, almost 200 developed business plans and 23 subsequently worked under the guidance of an experienced producer-mentor to implement their plans and advance their business goals. Visit this page to learn more information about courses to make your business grow.

Join us in 2020 as the Principles course goes virtual. CBF is integrating all the familiar face to face learning, farmers teaching farmers, small group discussions, core curriculum and business plan presentations into an online format. To further increase your business network, we are recruiting input and resource providers to join us as virtual exhibitors. 

The course is Thursday nights Dec. 3-Feb. 4 (no classes Dec. 24 or 31). The cost is $200 per person. Last day to register is Nov. 24 — please register soon. 

Learn more and register at: https://foodsystems.colostate.edu/buildingfarmers/.

For information, please call the Archuleta County CSU Extension office at 264-5931. 

Visit us on the Web at https://archuleta.extension.colostate.edu/ or like us on Facebook and get more information: https://www.facebook.com/CSUARCHCTY.

Donate to the Archuleta County 4-H program

The Archuleta County 4-H program boasts a membership of more than 150 members annually. Often, these programs rely on fundraisers to help offset the costs of the program, such as awards, supplies and, most importantly, leadership opportunities. Members can attend various leadership camps and conferences statewide and even nationally. 

To help our program continue to support our members, we appreciate any contribution you make. To pay online, visit https://client.pointandpay.net/web/ArchuletaCo4H/ and select Contributions and Donations. 

Like us on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/ArchuletaCounty4H/.

CPR and first aid
certification

CPR and first aid certification classes are offered monthly by the CSU Extension office, generally on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. The cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. Call the Extension office at 246-5931 to register.

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Extension Viewpoints: Bark beetle outbreaks benefit wild bee populations http://www.pagosasun.com/extension-viewpoints-bark-beetle-outbreaks-benefit-wild-bee-populations/ Tue, 03 Nov 2020 12:00:49 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=212376 By Robin Young
PREVIEW Columnist

When southern Rocky Mountain forests are viewed from a distance these days, it may not look like much is left. Large swaths of dead, standing Engelmann spruce trees tell the tale of a severe regional spruce beetle epidemic in its waning stages. But among those dead trees, researchers have found good news. Zoom in to the ground cover of these forests and there is life, even more abundant because of this disturbance.

New research led by Colorado State University (CSU) and published online in Scientific Reports suggests that spruce beetle outbreaks may help create habitat for pollinator communities in wilderness settings. The research team found significant increases in floral abundance and wild bee diversity in outbreak-affected forests, compared to similar, undisturbed forest. 

Lead author Seth Davis said it may seem counterintuitive that landscape-level damage by one type of insect could still benefit another.

“Disturbances from bark beetles are typically regarded as undesirable for ecosystem function and human use,” said Davis, an assistant professor in the Forest and Rangeland Stewardship department. “But there is conservation value in post-outbreak forests; they appear to be the areas supporting more robust bee populations.”

This is good news for wild bee communities, which have been declining in recent years. The different bee species identified in this high-elevation study are made for harsh, cold environments. The fact that a natural disturbance can boost their presence is a boon to these rare, endemic creatures not found in warmer habitats. It’s also a benefit for these forests, because wild bees perform essential pollination services in ecosystems with very short growing seasons.

A serendipitous
observation 

Davis regularly works in high-elevation forests. A few years ago, during another research project with department colleagues, he noticed a correlation between the number and diversity of bees observed and the structure of the forest. He has since opened up this new thread of bee diversity research by combining it with his training in bark beetles.

“Disturbance studies on bees have primarily focused on fire,” said Davis. “There hasn’t been a lot of research looking at bee responses to beetle outbreaks.”

For this new study, his team developed a natural experiment, collecting parallel data in 28 beetle-affected and undisturbed alpine sites in north-central Colorado. They collected bees for two years at three different times across each growing season, and also recorded standard tree measurements and understory, or ground cover, plant data at the collection sites.

The team found that average floral abundance in spruce beetle-affected stands was 67 percent higher than in non-affected stands. The average number of bee species was also 37 percent greater in beetle-affected stands, with more species present in June than later in the growing season. 

Davis said the relationship between these insects and their surrounding vegetation may be more complex.

“It appears there are different controls over bee abundance and diversity,” Davis said. “Bee abundance was correlated to the floral species, while the diversity is more related to the forest structure, both of which are affected by bark beetles.”

In other words, bark beetles directly changed the forest structure, which indirectly improved wild bee populations by providing a more robust food source for the buzzing insects on the ground.

Spruce beetle-affected forests offer a few advantages for understory plants and wild bees. Tree mortality typically opens up the forest canopy, allowing more light to reach plants and flowers on the forest floor. Dead trees also remain standing for up to 25 years after this disturbance. This offers more cavities for wild bees that nest in trees and dead wood.

Davis said he is interested in exploring this topic further to better understand these relationships over a longer time period and at a larger scale. As forests recover from outbreaks, he would like to see how long this benefit lasts. There is also the size disparity between small bee populations in one locale and the regional magnitude of these disturbances. It will be important to understand how well one small spot predicts these results at the landscape level.

For information, please call the Archuleta CSU Extension office at 264-5931. 

Visit us on the Web at https://archuleta.extension.colostate.edu/ or “like” us on Facebook and get more information: https://www.facebook.com/CSUARCHCTY.

Donate to the Archuleta County 4-H Program 

The Archuleta County 4-H program boasts a membership of more than 150 members annually. Often, these programs rely on fundraisers to help offset the costs of the program, such awards, supplies and, most importantly, leadership opportunities. Members can attend various leadership camps and conferences statewide and even nationally. 

To help our program continue to support our members, we appreciate any contribution you make. To pay online, visit https://client.pointandpay.net/web/ArchuletaCo4H/ and select Contributions and Donations. 

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Extension Viewpoints: Home canning can be challenging for first-time produce preservers http://www.pagosasun.com/extension-viewpoints-home-canning-can-be-challenging-for-first-time-produce-preservers/ Mon, 05 Oct 2020 11:00:28 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=211064 By Robin Young
PREVIEW Columnist

The COVID-19 pandemic produced an unexpected by-product in the summer of 2020. With many people spending more time at home and less time in the grocery store, home gardens became tremendously popular. And when the newly harvested food began to accumulate, many people turned to home food preservation for the first time.

Therein lies the potential problem. Colorado State University (CSU) Extension specialists in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and agents throughout Colorado have been fielding dozens of calls weekly from first-time canners. And concerns are growing that a lack of proper equipment, a shortage of canning supplies and insufficient knowledge of the preservation process could lead to problems.

“Extension offices across the U.S. are the go-to resources for home canning questions, so we have a unique perspective this year to be receiving many questions about supplies, equipment and canning procedures,” said Marisa Bunning, a professor of food science and human nutrition and extension food safety specialist. “Unfortunately, a high number of questions come in after the food has already been canned and involve issues that could mean the food is not safe. With so many people trying their hand at canning for the first time in 2020, we want to make sure people understand the importance of following correct steps for our unique elevation situation in Colorado.”

Several factors have combined to complicate the 2020 canning season:

• Lack of supplies. With so many people home canning for the first time, supplies — canning lids, primarily — are in short supply. The flat, round lids, which create the seal on the canning jar, are critical in the process. Canners unable to find new lids may try to reuse old lids, even though those lids are no longer capable of properly sealing the jar. A good rule of thumb is don’t use lids after one year of purchase.

• Lack of vinegar. In some areas, vinegar has been difficult to find. Vinegar, essential in canning several foods, such as pickles and salsa, should be at least 5 percent acetic acid.

• Equipment shortage. Pressure canners, which are a necessity for canning certain types of foods, are difficult to find locally, especially in some smaller communities. Foods that are low in acid, like beans or carrots, must be heated in a pressure canner to achieve a temperature of 240 degrees, which deactivates clostridium botulinum spores, preventing the formation of the botulism toxin. Home-canned vegetables are the most common cause of botulism outbreaks in the U.S. Only tested recipes should be used and home food preservers need to use pressure canners, not pressure cookers. Good resources of recipes can be found from Land Grant Universities and the Ball Canning Company.

• Lack of experience. Colorado’s elevation presents a significant challenge even for people who may be familiar with canning. Boiling water canning requires time adjustments at higher elevation because water boils at temperatures lower than the standard 212 degrees at sea level. Here in Pagosa Springs, we vary from about 6,500 feet to 8,000 feet. For these altitudes, add 15 minutes to your processing time. 

CSU has been the international leader in high-altitude cooking for decades, so any questions should be directed to an Extension agent or the Extension website prior to beginning the process. Locally, Terry Schaaf is our master food safety advisory. You can contact her in our local Extension office. 

“In most years, we field questions primarily from experienced food preservers,” said Elisa Shackelton, an extension specialist in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. “But this year, lots of people who have never had gardens are looking for ways to preserve their home-grown food, and they may not be aware of safe practices. It’s important to realize that food preservation is a science and you have to do things correctly. There really is a serious hazard that can accompany home food preservation, and we want people to be safe while enjoying canning their own food.”

Bunning said following a trusted process is the key to successful canning.

“Most cooks tend to be creative — they aren’t afraid to try new things and that’s part of the fun,” she said. “But home food preservation, especially canning, requires following specific procedures. A certain mindset is needed to make sure every step is followed precisely. In that way, canning is more similar to commercial food production than home cooking.”

Shackelton added that freezing and drying foods are a great alternative to home canning with added benefits of better texture and less time.

For information refer to the CSU Extension website or use the new app, Preserve Smart, for iPhone and Android phones. Or call the Archuleta CSU Extension Office at 264-5931. Visit us on the Web at https://archuleta.extension.colostate.edu/ or like us on Facebook and get more information, https://www.facebook.com/CSUARCHCTY

Donate to the Archuleta County 4-H Program 

The Archuleta County 4-H program boasts a membership of more than 150 members annually. Often, these programs rely on fundraisers to help offset the costs of the program, such awards, supplies and, most importantly, leadership opportunities. Members can attend various Leadership camps and conferences statewide and even nationally. To help our program continue to support our members, we appreciate any contribution you make. To pay online, visit https://client.pointandpay.net/web/ArchuletaCo4H/ and select Contributions and Donations.

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Extension Viewpoints: Noxious Weed of the Month: musk thistle http://www.pagosasun.com/extension-viewpoints-noxious-weed-of-the-month-musk-thistle/ Tue, 22 Sep 2020 11:00:15 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=210362

Photo courtesy Jamie Jones
Musk thistle goes by many names and is one of the most prevalent invaders in Archuleta County.

By Ethan Proud
PREVIEW Columnist

Musk thistle goes by many names, some too colorful to mention in this article, but the most common is “that purple, prickly plant.” It is one of the most prevalent invaders in Archuleta County and can be spotted in every microclimate from Arboles to Chromo, even up to the high country. 

Musk thistle can be found at elevations reaching from 8,000 to 9,000 feet. If you hike much higher than that, you will be rewarded with some of our native thistles that serve as a reminder that not all prickly plants are your enemy. Archuleta County is home to native thistles at every elevation, but it is only in pristine alpine communities that native thistles can be appreciated without needing to identify invaders that occur alongside them.

Being a biennial, musk thistle is not a difficult plant to control. In its first year, it grows as a rosette and doesn’t produce a flower; this is the prime stage to treat it —whether it is with chemicals or a trowel. In its second year, it produces a bloom and dies back. Any plants that have already gone to seed do not need to be sprayed with herbicide or dug up; just remove the seed head and bag or burn it. Musk thistle, however, is opportunistic and can alter its life cycle to be either winter annual, germinating in the fall and overwintering before blooming the next spring, or a true annual, meaning that it completes its life cycle in a single year. It can germinate throughout the season so it requires diligence to prevent it from establishing a foothold. 

While it may not be difficult to control, it is difficult to eradicate if it has been neglected for several growing seasons. Each plant can produce up to 150,000 seeds, which can remain dormant in the soil for decades. Persistence and early detection is the key to control this species. Mechanical, chemical and biological control are recommended. Musk thistle is a fan favorite of pollinators, so be sure to replant native pollinators after controlling thistle to prevent displacing beneficial birds and insects. 

Archuleta County Weed and Pest is your local resource for managing noxious weed populations and controlling other pests.

Upcoming event

Shred It Day: Sept. 23, 4 to 6 p.m. at the downtown TBK Bank parking lot. Suggested donations are $5 per box. 

Donate to the Archuleta County 4-H program

The Archuleta County 4-H program boasts a membership of more than 150 members annually. Often, these programs rely on fundraisers to help offset the costs of the program, such awards, supplies and, most importantly, leadership opportunities. Members can attend various leadership camps and conferences statewide and even nationally. 

To help our program continue to support our members, we appreciate any contribution you make. To pay online, visit https://client.pointandpay.net/web/ArchuletaCo4H/ and select Contributions and Donations.

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Extension Viewpoints: Bringing herbs indoors for the winter http://www.pagosasun.com/extension-viewpoints-bringing-herbs-indoors-for-the-winter/ Fri, 04 Sep 2020 11:00:53 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=209735 By Kathy Kunemund
PREVIEW Columnist

As summer begins to wind down, it is the perfect time to start thinking about bringing your herb plants in doors. Prepare to bring them in by early to mid-September or as nighttime temperatures reach 45-50 degrees. You will need to plan well in advance of a frost or freeze. This will allow time for the plants to adjust and actively grow throughout the winter.

Just like hardening off plants from a nursery to the outdoors, you should follow a plan to bring them back indoors. For the same reasons, sudden changes can result in poor growth and even death of a plant. When integrating them back indoors, set them in a spot with indirect light. After a week or two, move the pots to areas that meet their light requirements. It is normal for herbs to drop some leaves as they become acclimated. To slowly introduce your plants to indoor surroundings, you must assess their needs for light, water, humidity and fertilizer. 

First, select which herbs you want to move indoors. Herbs that grow well indoors include chives, parsley, rosemary, oregano and sweet basil. Next, select a location in your home that can provide adequate natural light for your specific herbs. They will need approximately six hours of direct sunlight. A west or south facing window should provide adequate light. Plants contain hormones that direct growth of stems toward sunlight, so your pots will need to be rotated frequently. This will ensure uniform growth of the plant. Herbs do well in containers on countertops, shelves, plant stands and tabletops. Avoid placing plants directly on radiators and on in-floor heating systems. Also do not place them near heating vents or baseboard heating. Excessive heat may cause soil to dry out too quickly. 

If your herbs were planted directly in the ground, they will need to be repotted for indoors. If they are already in containers, repot if larger containers are needed for growth. In either case, inspect plants for insects or disease and treat as needed. A simple soap and water solution can be applied to leaves to wash away insects. Herbs thrive in soil that drains well. Remember to use pots that have drainage holes. Insert a few pebbles at the bottom of the pot to provide adequate drainage before adding soil. Herbs do not tolerate overwatering. Let the surface of the soil dry out before introducing more water. Overwatering can cause root rot and encourage pests.

Humidity and temperature are other important factors to consider. If humidity levels are low during winter months in your home, try misting the leaves periodically. Another option is to tilt the pots over the sink and gently rinse the foliage under the faucet. Either of these methods will keep the leaves clean and keep pests at bay. Herbs also need adequate air circulation. When grouping plants together, make sure there is room between them that facilitates air movement. The optimal growing temperatures indoors should be between 60 and 70 degrees. 

Lastly, herbs should be fertilized every two weeks with a low-dose, water-soluble fertilizer. Always follow the manufacturers’ directions for application. Overfertilizing can adversely affect the aroma and taste of herbs. 

Trim plants often to prevent them from becoming leggy. If allowed to do so, the flavor of the herbs can be diminished. When harvesting your herbs for cooking or drying, take cuttings a few inches from the base of the stem. This will encourage the plant to produce new growth and remain compact. If herbs are allowed to flower, the flavor of the herb can be compromised.

Following all of these steps will ensure that the plants you have identified are safely inside before the first frost and your herbs will be healthy and productive throughout the winter months. Bringing your herbs indoors will give you a fresh supply for cooking all winter long. 

Information for this article was taken from “Growing Herbs Indoors” by Kathleen M. Kelley and Elsa S. Sanchez, Department of Horticulture, Penn State College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension, 323 Agricultural Administration Building University Park, PA 16802.

Donate to the Archuleta County 4-H Program

 The Archuleta County 4-H program boasts a membership of more than 150 members annually. Often, these programs rely on fundraisers to help offset the costs of the program, such awards, supplies and most importantly, Leadership opportunities. Members can attend various leadership camps and conferences statewide and even nationally. To help our program continue to support our members, we appreciate any contribution you make. To pay online, visit https://client.pointandpay.net/web/ArchuletaCo4H/ and select Contributions and Donations.

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CSUARCHCTY/. 

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Extension Viewpoints: Noxious weed of the month: perennial pepperweed http://www.pagosasun.com/extension-viewpoints-noxious-weed-of-the-month-perennial-pepperweed/ Wed, 26 Aug 2020 11:00:27 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=209006 By Ethan Proud
PREVIEW Columnist

Perennial pepperweed is also known as tall or giant whitetop, and if you read the article on whitetop, you know what to expect. The inflorescences or flowers look much the same, though perennial pepperweed is much taller, growing from 3 to 6 feet tall and has spoon-shaped leaves. 

It is in the mustard family (brassicacea) and can be identified by scent similar to broccoli if the leaves are crushed. Like whitetop, this plant may be toxic and grazing is not a recommended control.

It spreads both by seeds and rhizomes and, as such, digging the plant will result in many more shoots emerging from the infestation. While pepperweed plants can produce thousands of seeds, their main mode or reproduction is through a creeping root system. The roots of this plant can be found deeper than 2 feet in the soil. Root fragments as small as half an inch can resprout a new plant. 

Seeds produced by perennial pepperweed are often not viable, though laboratory tests indicate that seeds may remain dormant for up to two years before germinating. Perennial pepperweed is a versatile plant that can thrive in riparian areas as well as extremely dry soils and can be found along Mill Creek and in Arboles. Treatment with selective herbicides is recommended and prolonged spring flooding can kill new growth. 

Archuleta County Weed and Pest is your local resource for managing noxious weed populations and controlling other pests.

Donate to the Archuleta County 4-H program 

The Archuleta County 4-H program boasts a membership of more than 150 members annually. Often, these programs rely on fundraisers to help offset the costs of the program, such as awards, supplies and, most importantly, leadership opportunities. Members can attend various leadership camps and conferences statewide and even nationally. 

To help our program continue to support our members, we appreciate any contribution you make. To pay online, visit https://client.pointandpay.net/web/ArchuletaCo4H/ and select Contributions and Donations.

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Extension Viewpoints: Poisonous plants and grazing livestock http://www.pagosasun.com/extension-viewpoints-poisonous-plants-and-grazing-livestock/ Wed, 05 Aug 2020 11:00:41 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=207894 By Ethan Proud
PREVIEW Columnist 

Having given presentations on poisonous plants three times, it seemed only appropriate to write an article, as well. Many livestock producers and owners understand that, for the most part, their animals understand what to eat and what to steer clear of. Which begs the question, why do animals die every year from plant poisoning?

Events such as fall and spring storms may cover desirable forage and leave toxic plants more readily accessible, such as ponderosa needles. Other plants’ toxicity decreases and palatability increases, leaving a window in which most poisonings occur. 

Mismanagement of pastures and overgrazing can also lead to an infestation of toxic weeds such as Russian knapweed. Animals know not to eat that plant, but when faced with starvation, they will select anything green to eat. Plant poisoning can occur throughout the year and even during the winter. Certain plants like houndstongue are unpalatable while green, but become more appealing when dried and retain their poisonous characteristics. For this reason, it is extremely important to know where your hay is coming from — if you can buy weed-free forage, it will have a higher quality than noncertified hay.

Some of the most poisonous plants in our area include: larkspur, hemlock, death camas, milkweeds, houndstongue and Russian knapweed. The last two species are ‘noxious,” which should not be confused with “toxic.” The term noxious denotes that the species is non-native and either have no benefits or their negative properties outweigh the good. Not all poisonous plants need to be treated with chemicals — and the ones that do should be done so with care. 

Some herbicides cause plants to accumulate sugars, making them more palatable and can lead to poisoning. By grazing carefully, livestock producers can limit the exposure of their animals to poisonous plants by moving them to new pastures when they are likely to consume toxic plants. In the case of larkspur, the toxicity diminishes (but does not entirely go away) by the seed pod stage, which is typically midsummer. By keeping cattle out of areas with larkspur until midsummer, poisoning can be avoided.

Every year, plant poisoning causes a loss of $340 million annually. This cost in incurred by death of livestock, veterinarian costs, loss of pasture, additional feed and care, and treatment of poisonous plants.

Archuleta County Weed and Pest is your local resource for managing noxious weed populations and controlling other pests.

Archuleta County Fair

Archuleta County Fair will host the 4-H livestock shows and general projects only this year and limit participation to 4-H youth and their immediate families. There is no public admittance. The Livestock Auction will be virtual. 

Please go to https://www.archuletacountyfair.com/ to learn how you can stream the shows and participate in the virtual auction.

Donate to the Archuleta County 4-H program

The Archuleta County 4-H program boasts a membership of more than 150 members annually. Often, these programs rely on fundraisers to help offset the costs of the program, such awards, supplies and, most importantly, leadership opportunities. Members can attend various leadership camps and conferences statewide and even nationally. 

To help our program continue to support our members, we appreciate any contribution you make. To pay online, visit https://client.pointandpay.net/web/ArchuletaCo4H/ and select Contributions and Donations.

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Extension Viewpoints: Goat grazing for weed suppression demonstration planned http://www.pagosasun.com/extension-viewpoints-goat-grazing-for-weed-suppression-demonstration-planned/ Fri, 24 Jul 2020 11:00:06 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=207813 By Pratyoosh Kashyap
SUN Columnist

The unwanted plants that grow on land, be it pastures, farmland, rangeland or roadsides, reduce the overall productivity of land by competing with the desired vegetation for light, water and nutrients. Such weed growth and unwanted trees and shrubs on land interfere with crop and livestock production and can also prevent desired vegetative growth. 

Naturally, we all become stakeholders in one way or another in identifying and managing the commonly found noxious weeds in the region. Managing these invasive and unwanted plants will contribute directly toward improving grazing conditions, crop productivity and restoring desired vegetative cover, thereby reducing soil erosion, improving water quality, reducing the risk of wildfires and helping to restore local wildlife habitat.

The most common and widely used method of dealing with such invasive plants has been the use of herbicides and pesticides at various stages of the plant to restrict their growth and spread. But this could potentially have undesirable environmental effects. Mechanical devices and methods are also often considered an option, but may not be viable for most land spaces requiring weed management.

Biological control methods for the same is a relatively uncommon alternative to weed management. It could work as the sole method or be carried out in a complementary manner with the above-mentioned methods. Having goats on such lands to simply eat weeds is one such method. Goats are browsers and not grazers and will eat weeds which other livestock would not and clear shrubs where they need to be removed to restore desired plants. Goats require a variety in their diet and are inquisitive animals when it comes to eating. Along with a lot of other available plants, they would also willingly eat away weeds in the plot of land they are kept in to clear.

The goats will eat commonly found noxious weeds like the Canada thistle, musk thistle, oxeye daisy, yellow toadflax, kochia and leafy spurge. As the group of goats browse around the land, they pull down flower heads, eat the leaves off the weed plant and damage as well as eat some of the stem. This eventually weakens the plant and its root system, thus preventing it from spreading and growing as fiercely in the following season. Following up on this effort the following year with further grazing and possibly accompanied with strategic spraying, these invasive plants can be controlled to a large extent.

A team at Archuleta County Extension has been working on assessing this very process of weed management with the help of goats. They will be setting up a demonstration at the Natural Resources Conservation Service office, 505A County Road 600 (Piedra Road), on July 24 (Friday) and 25 (Saturday) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to talk to the community about this method and the progress on the ongoing project. Drop by to talk weeds while watching goats devour some weeds.

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