Q. Do you have good last-minute gift ideas for gardeners?
A. Garden gloves are always a welcome gift. Even gardeners who generally don't like to wear gloves seem to like the lightweight stretch nylon types where the palms and fingers have a latex coating. The Master Gardeners sell some at the extension office, or you can find them at almost any store that sells garden supplies. Hand tools are also a great gift. Consider a pair of garden shears or micro-tip pruning snips.
If your gardener has a lot of tomatoes, roses, raspberries, grapes, vines or other plants to be tied to a trellis, consider buying a "tapener" from a farm store that carries supplies for grape growers. A tapener automatically ties a vine to a trellis with pliable PVC tape. It is a bit pricey at $50, but worth it for that gardener who has everything.
Q. Since the weather is getting so cold, what precautions should I take for my livestock?
A. It is essential that animals housed outdoors have access to natural or man-made windbreaks. In order to keep warm, the nutrient requirements of livestock increase during periods of extremely cold temperatures. Therefore, provide additional feed, and be sure that animals have access to clean water.
Q. What are the national trends in forage production?
A. Prior to 1980, the amount of alfalfa produced in the eastern United States was similar to the western states. Currently, the western states produce twice as much alfalfa as the Eastern U.S. The decline was caused by decreases in the number of acres. On the other hand, hay production other than alfalfa is 10 times greater in the east than in the west, with both trending slowly down in acres.
The eastern United States has not seen a significant increase in corn silage production since the mid-1990s. In contrast, the western states' corn silage production has increased dramatically from 600,000 to almost 1.2 million acres in recent years.
-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.