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WSU Extension Q&A: Plant bulbs when soil temperature drops below 60 degrees

Anxious to plant your spring bulbs? Wait until the soil temperature drops below 60 degrees.
Anxious to plant your spring bulbs? Wait until the soil temperature drops below 60 degrees. Associated Press

Q. I am anxious to plant tulips and daffodils. I mail-ordered some last week and am wondering if I can plant them when they arrive?

A. Wait to plant your bulbs until the soil temperature drops below 60 degrees. This temperature allows for root growth without stimulating leaf growth. Don’t forget to water after planting and whenever needed during mild fall and winter weather to keep the soil moist. Now is a good time to buy spring flower bulbs for planting. If your bulbs arrive packaged in a plastic or closed paper bag, place them in an open, well-ventilated tray in a cool (50 to 60 degrees) spot.

Q. I have a steam canner. Do I use the same processing times that are used for the boiling water bath canner?

A. At this time, the United States Department of Agriculture is in the process of developing processing instructions for the Atmospheric Steam Canner (ASC). The research for the development of processing instructions was just completed by the University of Wisconsin — Madison. In the next year, expect to see details on how to process high acid foods safely in steam canners. Until then, use the boiling water canner for acidic foods.

Q. Can I effectively feed wheat straw to my beef cows?

A. Yes, but there are some considerations to take into account. Wheat straw is low in protein, high in fiber, has low digestibility and works best when the cows’ nutrient requirements are at their lowest point, such as after traditional weaning of spring calves in the fall. Also, all wheat straw are not equal, and experience has shown that cows like wheat varieties that have a thinner stalk rather than the coarser varieties.

In order to get the cows to achieve adequate intake and digestibility of the wheat straw, protein will have to be supplemented along with the wheat straw. This protein can be from sources available in the Northwest, such as alfalfa hay, canola meal, distiller’s grains, protein lick blocks and liquid supplements. In doing so, the rumen microbial populations will be able to digest more of the wheat straw and maintain adequate intake of this economical feed.

Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.