Q. Will volunteer potatoes be a problem in the 2017?
A. Volunteer potatoes are essentially a weed in crops and gardens. They sprout from tubers that were left in the field the previous season. They are a problem because they are difficult to control and can serve as a reservoir for potato pests and diseases. In order for tubers to freeze in the winter, the soil temperature at the depth the tuber is buried must reach 28 degrees to kill the tuber. This is why it is important to avoid burying tubers after harvest to limit volunteer potatoes the next season. As of Dec. 27, the temperature at 2 and 8 inches deep has not been cold enough in most areas to freeze potatoes, but the air temperature has been. So potatoes on the surface will not result in volunteer potatoes, but those buried still pose a risk if temperatures do not decrease in the soil.
Q. How do I make sure I’m getting enough calcium and vitamin D in my diet during the winter months?
A. With shorter days, less sun and layering up in the cold, getting enough calcium and vitamin D is a common concern during the winter. Milk and dairy are the main source of vitamin D and calcium in the American diet. You can also look for other foods that are fortified with vitamin D, such as soy milk, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals or fruit juices. Nondairy sources of calcium include canned sardines, soybeans and soy products, collard greens, kale, bok choy, broccoli and beans.
Q. I think I want to do 4-H and enter exhibits into the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo. How do I do that and when should I get involved?
A. Now is the time. 4-H is a year-round youth development program that focuses on building life skills through the use of a project. Those projects are entered at fairs and shows, typically in the summer and early fall. If you live in Benton or Franklin counties, call 509-545-3511 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request information about joining. The deadline for joining a club in order to participate in this year’s fairs and shows is March 1.
Q. Is bull meat good to eat?
A. Actually, it is good. Many older cull bulls find their way into ground beef. During the past four decades, quite a bit of research has been conducted on the acceptability of feeding bulls instead of steers. Interestingly, even though our cattle industry if built around feeding steers, many beef consumers find the meat from young bulls quite acceptable. Young bulls tend to be more muscled and leaner than steers at the same age. Some find the texture a bit coarser, but when a young bull is finished on a grain/forage diet, the meat is very good.
To submit a question, call 509-735-3551.