Q. I've heard that home-canned pickled asparagus can cause botulism poisoning. Is there a safe way to can it at home?
A. Any home-canned pickled vegetable is risky for botulism poisoning if not done properly. To be safe, the brine for pickled asparagus must have at least as much vinegar as water. So, if the recipe calls for 2 quarts of water, there must be 2 quarts of vinegar. The vinegar must also be at least 5 percent acidity. Once pickled, the asparagus or other vegetable must have a processing step in a boiling water canner. Call the Benton County Extension office at 735-3551 for a recipe.
Q. Some of the catalogs that sell fruit trees suggest that different fruit tree varieties need a pollinizer. What is a pollinizer?
A. Some plants recognize their own pollen and reject it from fertilizing the flower. A good pollinizer is one that has different yet compatible pollen and flowers at similar times. Usually catalogs suggest a pollinizer or say "self-fertile," which means no additional pollinizer is needed.
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Q. I've heard that beef calves can be weaned from their mothers early. Why would that be advantageous?
A. Yes, beef calves can be weaned early. Typically beef calves are weaned at around 7 months of age. In early weaning programs, beef calves can be weaned at 90 to 110 days of age. In our research investigating early weaning, we compared spring-born calves weaned at around 7 months with calves weaned at around 100 days of age. We found that those cows with calves weaned early had significantly more body condition (fat) going into the next winter. That is important because the cows can use those greater energy reserves (body fat) when feed is limited or of low-quality in the winter.
Another scenario, when early weaning might be applicable is during drought when it might be advantageous to extend the grazing season for the cows by having the calves removed from the pastures. If weaning early, producers will have to make certain they have the feed resources available for the calves (either pasture or harvested forages). Producers will need to weigh the economics of their weaning system to make an informed decision.
-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.