Q. All the pears in the store are too firm. How can I ripen them?
A. Placing pears in a paper bag will help them ripen faster. The best way to check for ripeness is to check the neck. Gently press near the stem with your thumb, and when it gives to gentle pressure, it is ripe.
Q. What is the best way to check the temperature in my refrigerator and freezer?
A. The refrigerator should register at 40 degrees or below. The freezer should register at 0 degrees .
To measure the temperature in the refrigerator, put the thermometer in the middle and wait 5 to 8 hours. If the temperature is greater than 38 to 40 degrees, adjust the temperature control to a lower setting and check again after 5 to 8 hours. To measure the temperature in the freezer, place the thermometer between frozen food packages and wait 5 to 8 hours. If the temperature is greater than 0 to 2 degrees, adjust the control to a lower temperature setting and check again after 5 to 8 hours.
Keeping a thermometer in a refrigerator and freezer can give an early warning if the appliance is not working properly. By monitoring the temperature regularly, you will notice any changes, which can be an indication of a failing appliance.
Q. How can I improve my alfalfa variety selection?
A. Check out the Washington State Hay Growers Association/Washington State University Extension Alfalfa Variety Report. It has the results of head to head competition of private seed company varieties and trials grown from August 2010 to August 2014.
Each year, three trials are planted, two near Pasco and another near Othello. This report includes entries from all the major alfalfa seed companies, which includes 17 brands. Since 2010, 44 unique entrees have been submitted to the Pasco conventionally sprayed test and 21 Roundup ReadyTM varieties sprayed with RoundupTM herbicide trial plus 48 entrees to the conventionally sprayed Othello location.
Using the top three varieties typically increases alfalfa hay production by 0.6 tons/acre per year compared with the average variety entered into test. The question is, would you rather believe a company salesman or Washington State University results, the choice is yours.
The 2015 report can be found at http://bit.ly/1PfRzXV or at Washington Hay Growers at www.wa-hay.org.