Feb 2013

Life Outside the City Limits

Collage of February 2013 Images

The Three Stages of Parturition (Calving)
By Steve Tonn, UNL Extension Educator

Image of new calfMany cow herd owners both big and small will begin to have calves born this month. Before the first heifer or cow begins the calving process this spring, it would be wise to review what takes place in a normal delivery. Understanding "normal" will help us better recognize problems when they occur and therefore provide assistance when necessary.

Stage One
The first stage of parturition is dilation of the cervix. The normal cervix is tightly closed right up until the cervical plug is completely dissolved. In stage One, cervical dilation begins some 4 to 24 hours before the completion of parturition. During this time the "progesterone block" is no longer present and the uterine muscles are becoming more sensitive to all factors that increase the rate and strength of contractions.

At the beginning, contractile forces primarily influence the relaxation of the cervix but uterine muscular activity is still rather quiet. Stage 1 is likely to go completely unnoticed, but there may be some behavioral differences such as isolation or discomfort. At the end of stage one, there may be come behavioral changes such as elevation of the tail, switching of the tail and increased mucous discharge. Before "pulling" a calf in stage 2, it is imperative that stage 1 (cervical dilation) is complete.

Stage Two
The second stage of parturition is defined as the delivery of the newborn. It begins with the entrance of the membranes and fetus into the pelvic canal and ends with the completed birth of the calf. So the second stage is the one in which we really are interested. This is where all the action is.

Clinically, and from a practical aspect, we would define it as the appearance of membranes or water bag at the vulva. The traditional texts, fact sheets, magazines, and other publications that we read state that stage 2 in cattle lasts from 2 to 4 hours. Data from Oklahoma State University and the USDA experiment station at Miles City, Montana, would indicate that stage two is much shorter being approximately 60 minutes for heifers and 30 minutes for cows. In these studies, assistance was given if stage two progressed more than two hours after the appearance of water bag at the vulva. The interesting thing about the data was that heifers calving unassisted did so in an hour after the initiation of stage two and cows did so within 30 minutes of the initiation of stage two. Those that took longer needed assistance.

These and other data would indicate that normal stage two of parturition would be redefined as approximately 60 minutes for heifers and 30 minutes for adult cows. In heifers, not only is the pelvic opening smaller, but also the soft tissue has never been expanded. Older cows have had deliveries before and birth should go quite rapidly unless there is some abnormality such as a very large calf, backwards calf, leg back or twins.

Stage Three
The third stage of parturition is the shedding of the placenta or fetal membranes. In cattle this normally occurs in less than 8-12 hours. The membranes are considered retained if after 12 hours they have not been shed. Years ago it was considered necessary to remove the membranes by manually "unbuttoning" the attachments. Research has shown that manual removal is detrimental to uterine health and future conception rates. Administration of antibiotics usually will guard against infection and the placenta will slough out in 4-7 days. Contact your veterinarian for the proper management of retained placenta.

Source: Dr. Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist
Oklahoma State University Extension Cow Calf Newsletter, January 14, 2013

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Videos

A lot is happening in February! This month, become acquainted with bluebird trails, microbes and food safety, and brooding chicks.

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 Do you want to attract bluebirds to your acreage? Jan Hygnstrom, University of Nebraska Extension, shares ideas and photos from members of Bluebirds across Nebraska about how to encourage these beautiful birds. 

 

 

Sarah Browning, University of Nebraska Extension, shares information for commercial vegetable growers, acquainting them with common human pathogens found in produce. This may help you understand what growers deal with to ensure food safety, and consider your own practices.

 

 

The Chicken Whisperer has information on how to prepare a brooder for spring chicks. Supplemental heat may be necessary. Be very careful when using heat lamps. 

Image for Brooder video

Growing Brambles
By Vaughn Hammond, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

Image of blackberriesRaspberries and blackberries are categorized into a group of plants known as brambles. Brambles are native plants to the Midwest including Nebraska. One of the most coveted secrets for many is that wild patch of black raspberries or blackberries that they harvest each year for jelly.

Brambles are perennial, deciduous, woody shrubs that may or may not have thorns. They belong to genus Rubus, in the Rosaceae family, which includes many fruits such as strawberries, apples and pears to name a few. Raspberries and blackberries are not true berries as their name implies. The fruit itself is known as an aggregate fruit rather than a berry. The fruit is made up of several individual fruits known as druplets, each containing a seed. The druplets are arranged on a structure known as a receptacle.

  • When a blackberry is picked the druplets stay attached to the receptacle and the unit as a whole separates from the plant resulting in a firm fruit.
  • In contrast when a raspberry is harvested the druplets as a whole separate from the receptacle resulting in a fruit with a hollow center. This makes the raspberry a much softer, delicate fruit that can lead to a shorter shelf life.

Site Selection and Planting
Planting raspberry or blackberry starts with site selection and preparation. The site should be in full sun and free of any frost pockets. Planting on a slight slope will allow cold air to move out of the planting. You will enjoy the greatest success by starting the site preparation well before your planned planting day; preferably as much as a year in advance.

The first step is to collect a soil sample for testing which will indicate the pH, nutrient and organic matter levels in the soil. Brambles have a specific pH range of 6.0 to 6.5, which is slightly acidic, and are relatively high nutrient consumers that perform best with high levels of organic matter in the soil. Any soil amendment that may be needed as indicated by the soil test should take place prior to planting. If pH modification is warranted the best results are obtained by amending for pH several months prior to planting and then retest before planting to make sure the needed change has taken place. Prepare the soil as if you are getting ready to plant a garden. Add any amendments and till in.

Early soil preparation is especially important if the planting site was in grass. Grubs may be prevalent in this situation and early ground work helps eliminate grubs that would feed on the new, tender roots and hamper the development of the plants.

Image of raspberry flowerBramble Selection
Choosing what to plant requires some research and an evaluation of your time and needs. Both raspberries and blackberries have several options to choose from beyond the choices of variety. Raspberries can be classified according to fruit color and fruiting time. There are red, black, purple and yellow or golden raspberries. The purple raspberry is a cross between the red and black raspberries. Red raspberry varieties tend to ripen first followed by black, purple and lastly yellow. Raspberries can also be categorized as a summer-bearing or ever-bearing type.

Blackberries are categorized as either thorned or thornless and erect or semi-erect. Generally speaking, blackberries are slightly less hardy than raspberries, and thornless blackberries are less hardy than those with thorns. Site selection and mulching can help offset colder temperatures increasing the chances of survival for those less hardy varieties.

Another consideration when making your plant selection is how each type of bramle spreads, which dictates how each plant is treated throughout the season. Red and yellow raspberries and erect blackberries spread by root suckers. This means many new plants each year and your row becomes a solid row or hedge. Black and purple raspberries and semi-erect blackberries seldom sucker and grow from the crown resulting in more individualized plants.

Once you have decided what you are going to plant it is important to purchase healthy, disease free plants from a reputable source. Obtaining plants from a friend or transplanting from an older planting can greatly increase the odds of getting infected plants, and reducing the success of your planting through reduced yields and vigor. Plants come either as dormant stock or living plants. Dormant plants can be planted early in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked. Living plants should be planted after the average last frost date. Immediate watering after planting will settle the soil around the roots. Watering after planting is essential when planting living plants to get them off to a stress free start.

How Brambles Grow, Trellising and Disease Control
There are both similarities and differences as to how these differing types of brambles grow. All brambles consist of perennial crowns and roots as well as canes that live up to two years. The first year canes are known as primocanes-these generally do not produce fruit. Two year old canes are known as floricanes, which produce fruit and then die. Once a floricane produces fruits it is removed to reduce disease incidence and redirect energy to the primocanes, which are next year's fruiting canes.

However, there is an exception to the non-fruiting primocane, and that is in the situation where all the canes of an ever-bearing variety are pruned back to the 3-4 inches each year once the growing season is over. These ever-bearing varieties then produce primocanes that fruit in the fall rather than the more extended period that they normally would.

Trellising may be required depending on the type of plants. Semi-erect blackberries require trellising. All others could benefit from trellising but it is not required. Trellising in windy environments and for simple containment can help keep more planting more manageable.

Brambles are not disease and insect free so diligence is required in order to identify problems early. Sanitation is key in reducing both disease and insect issues. Most importantly, plant healthy and disease free plants. Remove canes that have produced fruit after harvest. If there are nearby wild brambles, destroy those and keep your planting weed-free.

Image of golden raspberryPruning
Pruning is required in order to keep the plants productive. Summer raspberries are not pruned the first year. The second year, early in the season cut back the floricanes to 4-6 ft. to promote lateral branching and thin to 3-4 canes per square foot. Remove canes once they fruit.

Black and purple raspberries need to have the primocanes tipped back to 24-40 inches while the more vigorous erect blackberries are tipped to 36-60 inches. Again, remove canes once the cane has fruited.

To promote a summer crop of ever-bearing raspberries, thin canes to 3 or 4 canes per foot and remove fruited floricanes and leave the rest once harvest is complete. To promote a large fall crop on ever-bearing plants cut off all canes near the ground being careful not to damage the crown once the plants have gone dormant or very early in the spring prior to growth.

To recap some important production points. Plan ahead and study your plant options. Complete your site preparation preferably the year prior to planting and if that is not an option as far in advance to planting as possible. Purchase disease free plants and plant at the appropriate time. Water in immediately after planting and control the weed, disease and insect pests. Happy harvest!

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February is Prime Time for Landscape Planning
By John Fech, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

Image of landscape bedsEven though the snow may be flying, a mid-winter evaluation of the state of the landscape is a good winter activity. The central points to be considered (or re-considered) are:

  • Narrow strips of turf
  • Slopes
  • Separate turf from ornamentals
  • Zones for turf, zones for veggies, zones for ornamentals


Site Analysis
Set the backdrop by performing a site analysis on the property. There's nothing super special about a site analysis - in fact, you've probably conducted small parts of the process during mowing and other maintenance activities. Essentially, it's an opportunity to help yourself by giving the property a good "look-see". First, trudge through the acreage, making notes about the locations of specific plants and hardscape elements, documenting the condition of the plants in the landscape. Then, go back to each and assign a description. For example, during the first pass through the landscape, simply jot down that the front yard contains a driveway and a light post, as well as a large silver maple, 4 lilacs and a taxus hedge growing amongst the turf. Some of the judgements may have to wait until April, but some may stick out in your memory from last year.

After you've inventoried the locations and conditions of the landscape elements, make marginal notes about your initial diagnosis for the cause of each of these problematic areas. In the front yard situation above, the lilacs and maple create heavy shade, creating an unsuitable growing environment for the turf. The root competition from the trees and shrubs further reduce the vigor of the lawn grasses. Further analysis reveals that some turf areas are infected with powdery mildew, facilitated by the shady conditions. Realize that if the trees and turf were separated, the mildew would be less severe or nonexistent.

Need for Separating Turf and Ornamentals
There are 3 basic points of rationale.

  1. Turf and ornamentals have different growing requirements. Lawns require much more fertilizer and water than flowers, trees, shrubs and groundcovers - generally about twice as much. Ornamental plants require much less mowing than the lawn does (ha ha). Growing them together compromises one set of plants for the other. If you fertilize and water the lawn at an appropriate level of input, the ornamentals growing among the grass plants will receive the same input, leading to their demise.
  2. When turf and ornamentals are separated, a powerful landscape technique is utilized, providing a solid mass of each component. Called mass/void, the flowers, shrubs, groundcovers and trees become the mass, or collective beauty, while the lawn is the void, as it takes on the appearance of a big expanse of green with the same color, texture and growing height. This combination is quite attractive. In most situations, the void serves as visual relief, focusing attention on the ornamentals.
  3. It makes maintenance of each much easier. It's easier to mow the lawn without having to trim around trees and shrubs. It's easier on the trees and shrubs, as the mower tends to run into them less frequently. It's much easier to mulch around shrubs and flowers and to water them with drip irrigation when mass/void is utilized.
     

Alternative Plants for Under Trees
Once you begin to realize the need to renovate for separation, consider 3 choices:

  1. Keep the trees and install adapted plants under their canopy, or
  2. Keep the lawn and remove the trees, or
  3. Both; retain masses of turf next to groupings of ornamental plants.

If the preferred choice is "keep the trees", or "both", draw up a sketch to incorporate some alternative plants which are adapted to the level of shade and root competition that the woody plants create in the landscape.

Image of perennial bedConvert Irrigation System - Create Zones of Plants with Like Water Needs
As you develop the renovation plan, make provision for the water needs of the turf as well as various ornamental plants. The best way to accomplish this is to create "zones" of areas with like water needs. These can usually be related to the maintenance and sunlight demands of the ornamentals. Typical high maintenance plant areas are rose beds and espalier displays. Low maintenance zones may include such items as ornamental grasses, hosta and daylily.

Each zone should be designed to be watered and fertilized differently from each other. Shady ground covers and drought tolerant perennial/ wildflower beds have unique requirements for healthy growth that should be considered. Just as the separation of turf and ornamentals is wise, so is the further separation of various ornamentals. A landscape space that contained Rudbeckia and coreopsis interspersed with water/bog type plants could be problematic as well.

Once the zones are in place, choose the best irrigation equipment for each. Utilizing turf irrigation heads for rose beds or wildflower areas can lead to failure of the installation. In general, drip systems work well for shrubs and medium and tall perennials, while fixed spray heads tend to work best for short perennials and groundcovers. After the landscape has been installed, run the system several times to observe its performance. Make adjustments as necessary.

All in all, separating turf and ornamentals is a concept that will make a big improvement in the health and vigor of your acreage. Your back will thank you for not forcing it to do the limbo every time you mow the lawn.

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Select Water Conserving Plants
By Kelly Feehan, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

Image of low-water use plantsIt is time to leaf through garden and landscape catalogs to prepare for spring planting. Keep water conservation in mind when planning and selecting plants. Not only because we are in the midst of exceptional drought, but because the importance of conserving water will continue to be an environmental focus.

As population and demand for water grows, and drought cycles continue, the use of drinking water for landscape irrigation will become less available. It is important to plan and manage gardens and landscapes to be water efficient.

Soil & Mulch
One key to water conserving landscapes is managing the soil to have high organic matter and preventing soil compaction. This will increase the amount of precipitation and irrigation water that soaks into the soil and reduce the amount that runs off of the site.

Another key is using mulch around plants. A lot of water is lost from soils through evaporation. Covering bare soil with a two to four inch layer of mulch will reduce the amount of water lost which leads to less frequent irrigation. It also reduces weeds which compete for soil water.

Low Water-Use Plants
A third key is selecting low water use plants and planting them in the right locations; then watering them correctly to promote a deep, well established root system. Now is the time to select these types of plants and locate a source to buy them for planting in spring.

When thinking water conserving gardens and landscape, one might envision a desert-like landscape. This this is not the case. There are many water efficient plants that are just as ornamental as some of the water hogs grown.

A water conserving plant is one that, once established, requires infrequent watering (usually less than two times per month) while still remaining aesthetic. There are a number of native and adapted plants that can survive on average rainfall; requiring irrigation only during periods of below average rainfall.

A characteristic of many water conserving plants is a deep root system. Not all plants have deep roots. And plants that naturally have deeper roots may only develop these roots if watered correctly. Shallow, infrequent irrigation encourages shallow roots that need to be irrigated more often.

Water-wise plants are becoming more popular and being labeled as such at garden centers and nurseries. The best water conserving plants are usually native or adapted to the area where they will be planted.

Keep in mind if a plant is considered water-wise in the northeastern United States, this does not mean it will be the same in Nebraska. Plants need to be planted in locations that provide the growing conditions the plant is adapted to.

Select plants that are not only native or adapted, have deep roots, and are known to be low water users, but which are also appropriate for our cold hardiness zone of 4 or 5, adapted to the soil type of the site they will be grown in, and prefer the amount of sun or shade they will receive.

Stop and think about your current landscape or garden. Are there plants that seem to require frequent irrigation or might be referred to as water hogs? If so, consider replacing these plants with native or adapted plants known to be low water users.
For information on water-wise plants for Nebraska, we have a Perennials in Water-Wise Landscapes NebGuide, along with other great publications, available from UNL Extension at ianrpubs.unl.edu. The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum also has a listing of native woody plants and native herbaceous perennials.

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Trees & Shrubs for Nebraska Landscapes
By Nicole Stoner, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

Image of white pineThis time of the year can cause a little bit of cabin fever. I always tend to get ready for spring at this time of the year, especially when my seed catalogs start coming in the mail. If you need a large quantity of trees from your Natural Resources District office they have to be ordered by March 1st. So now's a good time to be thinking about plants for our landscapes.

Here is a brief summary of ten trees and shrubs that are well-adapted to Nebraska's climate. These are some that are underutilized for our landscapes, so it will add diversity to your yard or landscape.

Ten Trees

  • Kentucky Coffee Tree - A native tree well adapted to our climate and nice winter form. Female trees have pods to clean up, but if you like to watch wildlife, squirrels love them.
     
  • American Elm - American Elms are the original state tree and are still around, but die from Dutch elm disease after a few years. Two types resistant to Dutch elm disease in the trade are 'Pioneer' and 'Accolade'. We have two 'Pioneer' Elms in the horse arena area of the fairgrounds. 'Pioneer' Elm is a cross between some European types and is doing quite well here. 'Accolade' looks like American elm, without the disease problems.
     
  • Bur Oak - A very tough native, but you need to start small, as larger trees (over 6 feet) do not move well. This tree has a very broad spread. A very large one at the southwest corner of the Chautauqua Park Tabernacle will show you what they can become.
     
  • Sugar Maple - A nice, fast growing tree with chalky, white bark. This maple has beautiful orange leaves in the fall for added interest.
     
  • Black Maple - A native tree, similar to a sugar maple. It is more tolerant of heat and dry conditions common in Nebraska. The large droopy leaves and orange fall color are an added attraction.
     
  • American Linden - A native tree with very fragrant flowers in the spring. This tree is drought tolerant for Nebraska conditions and it makes a wonderful shade tree.
     
  • Shagbark Hickory - An underutilized, amazing tree. This tree has very interesting bark that tends to hang off of the tree with age. The leaves turn a wonderful shade of yellow in the fall.
     
  • Sweetgum - This is a very interesting, underutilized tree for southeast Nebraska. It has star shaped leaves, and the seed is a very interesting spikey ball that can be messy in your yard.
     
  • Black Hills Spruce - It is a bit slower growing than the blue spruce, but well adapted to our climate and a quality alternative.
     
  • White Pine - A very hardy pine, not shown to be bothered by pine wilt disease like the European pines (Scotch and Austrian). White Pine has very soft needles that are an added appeal to the large, beautiful tree.

Ten Shrubs

  • Koreanspice Viburnum - There are many different viburnums to choose from and any of them would be a great choice for Nebraska. I am a fan of Koreanspice Viburnum because it blooms small pinkish-white flowers in the spring that smell wonderful. It is slow growing, but it has a great rounded form.
     
  • Lilac - Lilac is a classic shrub to use in landscapes, and a staple for spring blooming shrubs. This shrub, like Koreanspice Viburnum, has a wonderful fragrance with its show of purple flower blooms in the early spring. There are many different varieties of lilac to use including some that are much smaller than the common lilacs which grow up to 8 feet tall. Choose one that fits the size and color combination for your landscape.
     
  • Privet - This is a classic hedge-type plant. These grow almost anywhere and require minimal care. This shrub has small, glossy-green leaves.
     
  • Cornelian-cherry Dogwood - This is a great shrub to use as an indicator for spring. This is one of the first plants to flower with small yellow flowers all over the plant. There are many other dogwoods that are great for our environment, including red-twig dogwood which has red colored stems throughout the year.
     
  • Butterfly Bush - If you like butterflies, you will love butterfly bush because the butterflies love the nectar on the flowers of this shrub. This shrub can be planted in an area of part shade but needs to be planted in a dry location. This is a shrub should be cut back to the ground early in the spring before growth begins for the year.
     
  • Spiraea - Spiraea is a great shrub to use in hot, dry locations such as along the south or west side of a building. There are many different varieties that have different bloom times, sizes, and color combinations. Any would be a great shrub to use where not much else will grow.
     
  • Ninebark - This is a great shrub that is underutilized in Nebraska. 'Monlo' is a beautiful selection because it has dark maroon leaves with white-pinkish flowers.
     
  • Burning Bush - This is a wonderful shrub for fall color, it turns a brilliant red. There is a variety, 'Compacta' that is smaller, but still gets 8-10 feet tall. This shrub does have a problem with scale.
     
  • Harry Lauders Walkingstick - This shrub is just, plain fun. It is a relative of the hazelnut and filbert. It is a different shrub that should be used more because it is very interesting. This shrub grows up to 8 feet tall and has curled and twisted stems. It should be planted in part shade but it takes our heat and wind in Nebraska.

Consider overhead and underground utilities, future construction sites, and the mature size of the plant. The mature size of a plant must be considered when selecting planting locations. Large trees should be planted a minimum of 15 to 20 feet away from buildings and a minimum of 20 to 25 feet from overhead power lines. Three to six foot trees usually save money, start faster and will outgrow more expensive alternatives.

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Hidden Sources of Water in the Home
By Sharon Skipton, UNL Extension Water Educator

Image of hot water tankIf your drinking water supply is interrupted, perhaps due to power failure, and you do not have an emergency stored water supply, you might turn to a number of water sources in your home.

In most situations, water from these sources should be treated by methods described later in this article. However, if only a short time has passed, water from the hot water tank or household pipes could be used without treatment.

Water Drained From Hot Water Tank
Some emergency water can be obtained from a hot water heater. To obtain water from the hot water tank, follow these instructions:

  • Turn off the gas or electric supply to the tank.
  • Close the water intake valve into the tank by closing the shut-off valve at the top of the tank. This helps preserve the quality of the water in the tank. Open a hot water faucet in the building to allow air into the tank, which will allow water to drain.
  • Open the water heater drain faucet briefly to rinse the interior surfaces and then catch water in a container. Never turn the gas or electricity back on until the water supply is restored and the tank is full of water.
  • Use caution when draining water from the hot water heater tank. If the water heater was working prior to the disruption, the water typically will be 120°-140°F.
     

Water Remaining in Pipes
You can drain the existing water in the pipes by gravity flow. Follow these instructions:

  • Locate and open the faucet with the highest elevation in your house. This allows air into the plumbing. Drain water out of a lower faucet. Note: To obtain water from both the cold and hot water pipes, turn on both taps or select the warm water mix on a single-lever faucet.

Water Dipped from the Flush Tank

  • Dip water out of the toilet flush tank (not toilet bowl) with a ladle, cup, or pan, being careful to use a clean dipper.
  • Follow the instructions given later in this publication for disinfection.
  • Do not use flush tank water that has been treated with drop-in tablets or other chemicals.
     

Ice Makers or Other Appliances
Appliances such as ice makers in refrigerators may be another source of emergency drinking water. The ice can be melted for an acceptable source of drinking water.

 

Emergency Treatment Principles and Processes

For emergency situations, water can be treated using heat or chlorine. Each method has certain advantages and disadvantages that must be considered.

Heat Treatment
Adequate heat treatment will kill virtually any disease-causing organism, including bacteria, cysts such as giardia and cryptosporidium, and viruses.

Heat the water to a vigorous boil for one minute, which includes an adequate safety factor. Any longer could concentrate other chemical contaminants, such as nitrate, that may be present. Since water boils at a lower temperature as elevation increases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends boiling for three minutes at altitudes above 6,562 feet (2,000 meters).

Though boiling effectively disinfects water for drinking, it does not provide a residual (or long-term) disinfection; therefore, care must be taken not to recontaminate the water.

Boiled water may taste flat. You can improve the taste by pouring it back and forth between two clean containers to reoxygenate it or by adding a pinch of salt to each quart after it has cooled.

Chlorine is the most commonly used chemical for emergency disinfection of water. Bacteria are very sensitive to chlorine. Viruses, cryptosporidium, and giardia require very high dosages of chlorine or longer contact times than described here. Heat treatment is recommended if these pathogens are suspected in the water.

The killing effectiveness of the chemical depends on the concentration of the chemical in the water, the amount of time the available chemical is in contact with the water prior to use (contact time), the water temperature, and the characteristics of the water supply. If the water temperature is less than 41°F (or 5°C), it should be allowed to warm prior to disinfection or the chemical dose should be doubled.

Regular household chlorine bleach that contains 4-6 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient can be used for disinfection. Bleaches with labels such as "Fresh Wildflowers," "Rain Clean," "Advantage," or labeled as scented may contain fragrances, soaps, surfactants, or other additives and should be avoided for drinking water disinfection.

For clear water, add six drops per gallon with a medicine dropper. For cloudy water, strain water through a clean cloth, layers of paper towels, or a coffee filter prior to treatment and add a larger disinfectant dose of 16 drops per gallon. Stir the water and let it stand covered for 30 minutes. For adequate disinfection, the water should have a slight chlorine odor to it after the 30-minute waiting period. If this odor is not present after 30 minutes, repeat the dose and let it stand covered for another 15 minutes. If the bleach odor is not present, the bleach may have lost its effectiveness due to age or exposure to light or heat.

If the chlorine taste is too strong in the treated water, taste can be improved by pouring the water from one clean container to another several times.

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Pantry Pests
By Nicole Stoner, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

Despite winter's cold, there may still be some insect problems you may have to deal with, such as pantry pests or fabric pests.

Pantry Pests
These insect pests that get into our pantry foods. There are many different insects that can get into our pantry items, including flour beetles, dermestid beetles, Indian meal moths, grain beetles, and others. These pests do not cause humans any harm, other than the gross factor and stress from having them in our foods. Pantry pests typically feed on things like pasta, flour, rice, cereal, and other grains in our pantries. They can chew their way into plastic, zip-top bags and boxes. You need to be sure that your foods are stored in a glass or hard plastic container with a tight seal on the lid, or store products in the freezer if you have room.

If you do get pantry pests into your home, it does not mean you are a messy person, anyone can get them. Often, they are brought home in your groceries from the store. You can freeze the product to kill the pests or just discard any product they get into. You may also want to clean your cabinets well, making sure there are no crumbs on the shelves that these pests may also enjoy. Never use pesticides in your kitchen around food products. There is no need for use of pesticides with pantry pests because if you remove their food, or put it in a sealed container, they will die.

Fabric Pests
Fabric pests are another problem that we may also see in the winter. You may have already noticed damage from fabric pests, if you pulled out a sweater from your closet to wear earlier this winter and found holes in it. The culprit is probably one of two types of insects, carpet beetles or clothes moths. According to Barb Ogg, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County, these insects are able to digest animal hair, which is used in wool clothes. Carpet beetles can also be found feeding on silk, pet hair and feathers. Carpet beetles are a type of dermestid, which can also be found in your pantry. Clothes moths are not common in Nebraska, but can be imported in wools from other parts of the world.

If you find fabric pests in your home, there are a few methods you can use to reduce the population and keep it from happening again next year. You can vacuum your carpet to remove the insects and the hair and other fibers on the floor, launder or dry clean clothing, use pheromone traps, or use moth balls. To keep these pests from coming back next year, you should store your clothing in tightly sealed containers when they are out of season or store furs and woolen fabrics in cold storage if necessary. Cold storage may be available at a dry cleaner. Of course, to reduce any insect from moving into your home you should be sure to seal up all cracks and crevices into your home.

For more information, and images of pantry and fabric pests, take a look at these publications.

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