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Week of 1.11.21

Katelyn Landeis, CCA | Agriculture & Natural Resources

Private Pesticide Certification and Recertification, 2021

Corn Herbicide



Week of 01.04.21

Carrie Knutson, M.S. | Horticulture

Dakota Gardener: Winter Houseplant Care



Week of 12.21.20

Laura Knox, M.Ed. | Parent Educator

Giving to and “Doing for” Children: When is it Too Much?

The topic of overindulgence comes up often and in many forms, during the holiday season.  Parents might be concerned about overindulging their children as they make decisions on gift-giving and limit-setting.  Jean Illsley Clark, from the University of Minnesota, has studied the topic of overindulgence related to children, for 25 years.  She has coauthored two books on the topic, entitled How Much is Enough? and How Much is Too Much?

Illsley Clark defines overindulgence as “giving too much of anything to a child, to the point where it interferes with their learning and development.”  She reminds us that overindulgence prevents kids from learning the life lessons and skills they need to thrive as adults.  Through her work, Illsley Clark has identified three common types of overindulgence.

1. Giving too much of anything, including too many toys, devices, clothing, or even activities

2. Over-nurturing - This is when parents do too much for children.  Consistently doing for kids, what they are able to do for themselves, prevents them from becoming competent and confident in everything from self-help skills to social skills.

3. Soft structure - This happens when parents provide too few limits and not enough discipline (teaching).  There might be rules in place, but they aren’t enforced.  This includes not expecting kids to contribute to family life by doing chores or tasks around the house. 

We all want our kids to be productive and well-adjusted as they mature.  Jean Illsley Clark offers tips to help parents recognize their overindulging behavior and suggestions on what to do instead.

  • Use the Test of Four- A “yes” response to any of these four questions might be a sign that overindulgence is occurring.                                                                                                                                                                                                         
    *Does it get in the way of the child learning a developmental task?
    *Does it use a disproportionate amount of family resources (money, time, energy, focus)?  
    *Whose needs does this meet? Is it more for the parent than for the child?
    *Does it deplete or in some way harm others, property, the environment or the community?
  • Distinguish between needs and wants. Focus on giving children everything they need, but not everything they want (even if you can afford it).
  • Seek out child development information.  This can help parents to set appropriate expectations for the ages of their children.
  • Create rules.  Rules provide kids with important structure and a sense of security.
  • Build a united front.  Whenever possible, try to come to an agreement on rules and expectations for children with people who are influencing and/or helping you raise them.

Illsley Clark reassures us that overindulgence often comes out of love for our children and with good intentions.  We want our kids to be happy.  But, when we continually give kids too much or do too much for them, we actually reduce their chances of long-term happiness and fulfillment.

For more information on the topic of overindulgence, the University of Minnesota Extension offers a free course, called Parenting in the Age of Overindulgence, on their website.  The NDSU Extension Parent and Family Resource Center in Grand Forks County, has the books, How Much is Enough? and How Much is Too Much? available for check-out. 


Grand Forks County PFRC | Laura Knox

701-780-8229 or



Week of 12.14.20

Katelyn Landeis, CCA | Agriculture & Natural Resources

DIRT Workshop

The Dakota Innovation, Research, and Technology (DIRT) virtual workshop took place on December 8th and 9th. The workshop was jam packed with farmer panels, researcher panels with conversation a mixed in between. Conferences in a virtual format can be challenging for networking, but the set up and format of DIRT lended to pretty good conversation, with an opportunity to ask questions and connect with other participants.  I’m for sure looking forward to seeing people in person in the future! Here are some of the takeaways from day one of year’s conference:

Day one of the workshop focused on incorporating cover crops for soil health, and strategies or management in reduced tillage systems. This included information on soil biology, water management, dealing with compaction, and hearing on farms tips and ideas.

More and more tillage and cover crop research is being completed each year in hopes of helping farmers find answers to their questions. These trials can help reduce risk and farmer failure when moving into new soil conservation practice by providing some answer as to why some practices work and others don’t. 

But, no matter what your system, if you are incorporating cover crops or reduced tillage, this does not mean reduced management. With all systems, it takes proper management to make it work.  Make small changes over time.  Often, every field gets treated different.

If you are thinking about cover crops and what to plant, the best cover crops mix to use is a cover crop mix that you are comfortable seeding.   Many small grains work well in a mix, and is something that a lot of producers have past experience with.  If you can add another family in to increase diversity and different plant root structures and biology, think about other types of plants you may feel comfortable working with.

Winter cereal rye is a cover crop that is often recommended. Advantages are that it is very hardy and overwinters well.  It’s a small grain, which many are comfortable with. Being a winter annual, it can help with late fall moisture and also early spring moistures as it uses a lot of water to grow, and its one of the first crops to green up in the spring. Cereal rye’s water use can be a disadvantage if you are worried about conserving soil moisture going into spring. You don’t want it to use moisture needed to grow your cash crop.

Cereal rye grows quickly in the spring, and can get away on someone if they are not paying attention to its growth. One of the biggest challenges in the spring to determine termination is timing, and the fact that most producers are busy with other spring work, like getting seed, planting, fertilizing, etc. It can be easy to forget about your growing cover crop, which can be a costly mistake.

When thinking about soil health practices, have a goal in mind and use diversity and time to your advantage.  Keep records of your successes and your failures.  It’s so easy to remember the failures – but write down your successes, so that you can celebrate those, too – and remember how to implement or improve upon them in the future.

Stay curious.  Think about your system, and make adjustments.



Week of 12.07.20

Carrie Knutson, M.S. | Horticulture

Dakota Gardener: Holiday Cacti

Photo of Holiday Cacti with pink blooms




Week of 11.23.20

Linda Kuster | Nutrition Education Assistant


Turkey Talk

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, many of us are planning to cook our traditional turkey dinners. Please keep food safety in mind before preparing turkey and remember to wash hands thoroughly, with soap & hot water for at least 20 seconds, then rinse before beginning with food preparation. Hands should be washed and rinsed again along with all utensils, equipment and countertops that have had contact with raw food (especially raw turkey) before preparing other foods.

Here are two frequently asked questions I get about preparing turkey during the holiday season:

How should I thaw my frozen turkey?

Should you wash your turkey before cooking?

Before we can cook our turkey and side dishes we need to safely thaw our turkey to prevent food borne illness. According to the USDA, the best way to thaw a frozen turkey, like all other foods, is in the refrigerator - never at room temperature. When foods are thawed at room temperature, surface bacteria can multiply to dangerous levels [temperature of 40° F and above].

To thaw, leave the turkey in its original packaging, place in a shallow pan and place in the refrigerator. The USDA recommends allowing 24-hours thaw time in the refrigerator for each 4-5 pounds of meat. For example: if you have a 20-pound turkey, you will need to allow 5-6 days of thaw time.

If refrigerator space is limited or to speed up thawing, turkeys can also be thawed in COLD water. Keep the turkey in its original tightly sealed bag and place it in a large pan or sink, and cover with cold water. Change the water frequently, about every 30 minutes.

Should you wash your turkey before putting it in the oven?

According to the USDA, it is not recommended because washing raw meat or poultry can splash bacteria around the sink, across counter tops and into already prepared foods. Cooking turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees will safely kill any bacteria, making washing an unnecessary step. There is only ONE time you should wash a raw turkey: after you’ve already brined the bird.

Leftovers are my favorite part of Thanksgiving Dinner. There are so many dishes that can be made from leftover turkey.  If you’re unable to use leftovers within 4 days, put it in freezer bags to be used within three months.

Here is a quick and easy recipe you will want to try using your turkey leftovers. It is a favorite in our home. ENJOY!



Article Sources:

1.USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service at www.fsis.usda.gov

2.USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline: 800-535-4555

3.Texas A&M AgriLife Extension at https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu

To learn more about preparing turkey (or chicken) safely from preparing to storing, see “Let’s Talk Turkey” at https://tinyurl.com/NDSUTurkeySafety.



Week of 11.16.20

Laura Knox, M.Ed. | Parent Educator

Advertising and Children: Raising Savvy Consumers  

The holiday season will be soon be upon us Screens of all kinds will be filled with commercials and ads directed at children.  Advertising introduces kids to being consumers at a very young age.  Teaching them how advertising works can help children to become savvy consumers, who are not exploited by the powerful messages they see and hear all around them.     

Because children are so vulnerable to marketing, experts recommend that kids younger than 3 or 4 be kept away from advertising as much as possible.  Watching commercial-free TV or skipping ads in streamed or recorded programming can help to limit exposure to ads.  

As kids get older, the bepiggy bank with coinst way to begin teaching them about advertising is to experience it with them.  When we spend time watching TV, playing with apps or online, or looking at print ads with children, we can talk with them about what they see and hear.  It can be hard for young children to tell the difference between a commercial and a TV program.  Pointing out when commercials begin and end, and talking with kids about the purpose of advertising can be a good start.  

School age kids can usually begin to understand that ads are meant to make people want to buy something.  They are designed to influence the way we think about products or even about ourselves.  Advertisers want us to believe that our lives will be better or happier if we buy their product or service.  Asking questions such as, “What was that commercial selling?” or “How did that commercial make you feel?” can help kids to recognize the goals of advertising.   

Advertisers count on the fact that teens are especially vulnerable to messages from social media and society in general Just as we teach them to resist peer pressure, we need to remind teens that advertising is often meant to make them feel as if they need a product or a service in order to be accepted.  Encouraging kids of all ages to focus on accurate product information, rather than the feelings an ad invokes, can teach them to discern the important facts.      

When we give kids opportunities to ask questions and to talk about what they see in the media, we help them to develop important critical thinking skills.  These skills will help them to be better consumers who are less likely to be affected by the negative influences of advertising


Week of 11.09.20

Katelyn Landeis, CCA | Agriculture & Natural Resources

Livestock Forage Testing for Winter Feeding

As cattle get moved closer to home, questions start to come in about feeding different rations of grain or hay. The best way to use your feed resources is to know what quality your feed is whether for backgrounding calves, pregnant cows, heifers, or bulls. Testing can help you ensure protein and energy needs are being met.  Do you know the value of your forages? Sending in a sample is simple, straight-forward and cost effective. The best way to use your feed is to know the quality, then match the feed to the cattle’s production stage.  This can also ensure that you do not run out of quality feed when you need it later in the season for example, during calving. There can be a lot of variation from lot to lot and year to year. Testing now can help you go into winter prepared and organized.

Here’s what you need to know when testing feed:

The first rule to remember in sampling feeds for testing is to take a representative sample. Hay samples should be grouped into lots based on species (alfalfa, grass, etc.), field, harvest date, and should be representative of the entire lot. If you only sample bales from the good side of the field, then you will have an analysis for only good hay. Your results will only be as accurate as the sample that was submitted.

A hay coring probe will provide a more accurate sample that a “hand-grab” sample.  Several probes are available for purchase ranging from $100-$300 dollars. A probe, combined with an 18volt power drill makes a sampling machine that can probe bales quickly and easily.  Many county extension offices also have probes available for check-out by producers. 

Next question is how many core samples do I need to take? The more samples the better. Sampling every bales is best but not practical for most operations. Sampling at least 15-20 bales per lot or 10% of the lot is recommended. Mix all of the cores together in a sampling bucket and send to a lab in a one-quart plastic bag. Send in the sample as soon as possible.

There are multiple labs available to send your samples off to.  I have pre-paid envelopes and sampling bags available in my office for a couple of labs based in Minnesota.  You can find a complete list of certified labs online at www.foragetesting.org.   

Feeds can be tested for many things. The most important tests for ration balancing are dry matter, crude protein, acid detergent fiber (for determining energy content), calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and sulfur. You can choose either NIRS (near-infrared spectrophotometry) or wet chemistry methods. The cost ranges from $12-30 per sample, depending on the tests selected.

Once you have your results back, you can make better decisions on feeding.  If you have any questions on developing a balanced ration, sampling hay, grain or silage, please feel free to contact me by email or phone.

Katelyn Landeis | Agriculture and Natural Resources






Week of 11.3.20

Carrie Knutson, M.S. | Horticulture

Dakota Gardener: Spring Blooms During Winter



Week of 10.26.20

Laura Knox, M.Ed. | Parent Educator

 Raising Good Decision Makers

One of the main goals of parenting is raising children to survive and thrive independently.  This is why we teach kids to use nice manners, tie their shoes, do laundry, and even manage a budget.  Helping kids to learn these skills seems obvious as we imagine them out in the world without us.  Yet, parents can easily overlook teaching one of the most important skills we all need - good decision making.

In his article for Psychology Today, Jim Taylor, Ph.D. (2009) reminds us, “The decisions your children make dictate the path that their lives take”.  Like any skill we teach, learning to make decisions requires guidance, modeling, and a lot of practice.  

Teaching decision making should be an incremental process that takes place over time, as children mature.  This allows kids to practice making simple, low-risk choices when they are very young and to gain confidence in their abilities.  Years of guidance and practice, will help kids to become more equipped to handle the kind of high-stakes choices they face as teenagers and young adults.

 Decision making for toddlers should involve extremely simple choices between no more than two items, which the child can see.  Choices such as a red or blue cup, a dinosaur or teddy bear, are ideal for toddlers who are still developing the language skills needed to communicate their wishes.

Preschoolers may be ready to decide between two choices they cannot see, as long as the choices are familiar (e.g. an apple or a banana, read a book or play with Legos).  Making decisions in busy, unfamiliar surroundings such as restaurants and stores can be difficult for preschoolers who can be easily distracted and overwhelmed.  Speaking in a calm, friendly tone, at the child’s eye level, can help them to feel supported through what might be an extremely important choice to the child.

Many school-age kids are ready to start making decisions with more long-term consequences, such as which backpack to choose, or whether to spend or save their birthday money.  At this age, kids can begin to consider hypothetical situations in decision making.  For example, if they do their homework right after school, they will have time to play outside after dinner.  It is still best to limit decision making to 3-4 choices for young school-age children, increasing both the number of choices and the importance of their decisions as they mature.  Parents can help children learn to make choices by talking to them about the strengths and weaknesses of each.  Making a simple list of pros and cons can help children to remember these factors.

During the adolescent years, choices become more complex and peer pressure is heightened.  Introducing a process of decision-making can help kids to avoid impulsive or risky choices.  Taylor (2009) recommends a process such as this:

  1. Stop and think.
  2. Answer the question, “Why do I want to do this or to have this?”  Understanding your motivation can help you to see which choice is best for you.   
  3. Ask, “What are the consequences of each choice?”  Considering both the short and long-term risks and rewards is an important step toward good decision making.    
  4. Ask, “Is this decision best for me and my interests?”  After considering all of the other factors, this question completes the decision making process by emphasizing your own well-being. 

Additional Tips for Raising Good Decision Makers

  • When giving children limited choices, make sure you can live with and support their decisions.
  • Allow children to make bad decisions when the risks are low (not involving health or safety).
  • Being accountable for bad decisions can help children learn to make good ones.
  • Model decision making by talking through the process aloud.
  • Let your children hear and see you as you consider your choices.
  • Give your children practice with pretend situations by asking questions such as “What would you do if…?” or “If you could choose between ___ and ___ which would you choose and why?”



Week of 10.19.20

Katelyn Landeis, CCA | Agriculture & Natural Resources


Palmer Amaranth Awareness for Livestock Operations

Palmer Amaranth awareness and outreach has been heavily focused on the cropping world but noxious weeds also affect livestock producers, too. I’m sure many ranchers are familiar with controlling perennial weeds in their pastures such as Canada thistle, perennial sow thistle, or an overgrown buck brush patch. We also see weeds sneak up around the yard in Palmer Amaranth growing along the edge of a corn fieldold piles of baled hay, fence lines, manure piles (figure 1), or spread onto fields with the manure application. All producers should stay vigilant about keeping palmer amaranth off their land. Scout weed patches that might look unfamiliar. If you suspect it is palmer amaranth or are unsure, call NDSU Extension and we will help you with and identification and come up with a management strategy. Early response is important in controlling Palmer AmaranContaminated  screenings (0.25lb) was planted. Seeds were tested and confirmed to be palmer amaranthth. Recently identified as one of the latest Palmer Amaranth infestations is contaminated grain screenings purchased for feed. In figure 2, 1/4lb of screenings was planted, and this flat is the result.  Seeds were tested and confirmed to be palmer amaranth.  Sunflower seedlings were thinned out of the flat of allow more growth of weeds.

A recent news release titled, “Keep Palmer Amaranth from Spreading” was published in September that contains valuable information on palmer amaranth in livestock feed. Here are some of the tips/takeaways from NDSU Extension:

  •  Buying cleaned grain can help keep Palmer amaranth off the farm, but purchased feed isn’t routinely tested for weed seeds.
  •   If you are planning to purchase feed/screenings, know their origins. If they are coming from out of state, do some research to find out how common Palmer Amaranth is in that state. Use this information when determining whether or not to purchase specific feeds.
  •   If possible, have screenings tested for the presence of pigweed seeds. If pigweed seeds are cleaned out/separated from the rest of the feed, they can be sent to the National Agricultural Genotyping Center in Fargo for genetic identification. The NAGC can test up to 200 pigweed seed per sample for a fee of $75 per sample.
  • If you have concern of a specific contaminated feed source on your farm, but are feeling unsure as to what you are looking at, contact me, Katelyn, at the Grand Forks County Extension Office, and I can help.
  •   Feeding whole seeds may perpetuate the problem. Some seeds, especially tiny, hard-shelled seeds from Palmer amaranth, can escape digestion by cattle.
  •    Grind the screenings so fine that the seeds are completely destroyed. For a small-seeded plant such as Palmer amaranth, aggressive grain processing is needed, and hammer milling is usually the best. Be aware of how grinding different grains affects digestibility of feeds. Contact me if you’d like to reassess your feed ration.
  • Compost manure to reduce seed viability.
  •     When purchasing cover crop seed use caution when sourcing seed from state’s with Palmer amaranth and be aware of what testing, if any has been conducted on the seed.
  •    If you apply manure or plant seed/crop to fields that you think might be contaminated with Palmer Amaranth, it is crucial to scout early and often for seedlings/weeds.

One mature plant of palmer amaranth can produce hundreds of thousands to a million seeds. The best way to control Palmer amaranth is not having it enter your farm, the specialists say.

When using herbicides for weed control, always be aware of any feed/grazing restrictions if the product will be fed to livestock.

If you are feeling unsure about weed seed or plant you are seeing, just trust your gut, and don’t be afraid to call for a second opinion or help with identification.

Contact:       Katelyn Landeis, Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent

                     701-780-8229 or

More Resources:  




Week of 10.12.20

Carrie Knutson, M.S. | Horticulture

Dakota Gardener: Don't Stop Composting During the Winter


Week of 10.5.20

MaKayla Fleming | 4-H and Youth Development


National 4-H Week October 4-10

Every year, National 4-H Week sees millions of youth, parents, volunteers and alumni come together to celebrate the many positive youth development opportunities offered by 4-H. National 4-H Week began as an outgrowth of World War II. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the National 4-H Camp in Washington, D.C., was postponed and soon after W. H. Palmer, State 4-H Leader in Ohio, announced plans for a State 4-H Mobilization Week for Ohio as a means of focusing the attention of 4-H members on what they might do for national defense. Met with favorable response by State leaders throughout the country, the Federal Extension Service started National 4-H Mobilization Week which was observed annually in 1942, 1943 and 1944. The following year and each year since, it has been observed as National 4-H Week. This year, National 4-H week is October 4-10.

The theme for this year’s National 4-H Week, Opportunity4All, is a campaign that was created by National 4-H Council to rally support for Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program and identify solutions to eliminate the opportunity gap that affects 55 million kids across America.

With so many children struggling to reach their full potential, 4-H believes that young people, in partnership with adults, can play a key role in creating a more promising future for youth, families and communities across the country. In 4-H, we believe every child should have an equal opportunity to succeed. We believe every child should have the skills they need to make a difference in the world.

4-H, the nation’s largest youth development and empowerment organization, cultivates confident kids who tackle the issues that matter most in their communities right now. In the United States, 4-H programs empower six million young people through the 110 land-grant Universities and Cooperative Extension in more than 3,000 local offices serving every county and parish in the country. Outside the United States, independent, country-led 4-H organizations empower one million young people in more than 50 countries.

“4-H provides numerous learning experiences that youth will carry with them for the rest of their lives. They gain life skills through the different projects like baking, sewing, child development and livestock. Grand Forks County 4-H’ers have contributed to their communities through service learning projects and leadership roles,” said MaKayla Fleming, the 4-H Youth Development Agent. "Last year, we held the Second Annual Battle of the Forks 4-H Cook-off at the Town Square Farmers’ Market. The 4-H’ers who participated in the event not only learned about the market itself, but they enlightened market goers about 4-H, cooking, and where food comes from." The most popular project areas in Grand Forks County are Photography and Foods and Nutrition closely followed by Creative Arts and Animals.

In Grand Forks County, more than 170 youth and 20 volunteers from the community are involved in 4-H. Any youth ages 5-18 can join 4-H. There are also many volunteer opportunities for all family members. Contact MaKayla Fleming at 701-780-8229 if you are interested in learning more about Grand Forks County 4-H.

Contact:         MaKayla Fleming, 4-H Youth Development Agent

                        701-780-8229 or



Week of 9.28.20

Katelyn Landeis, CCA | Agriculture & Natural Resources

North Central Region- Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education (NCR-SARE) Grants Available for Farmers and Ranchers  

Program proposals are due on December 3, 2020 at 4pm CST 

With Farmers and Ranchers often looking for innovative ways to streamline business and improve their operations, dollars are available to individuals willing to research and share their successes and challenges with others. The following information comes from the North Central Region-SARE program encouraging Farmers and Ranchers to apply for grant funding: 

NCR-SARE’s Farmer Rancher Grant Program is a competitive grants program for farmers and ranchers who want to explore sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration, and education projects. Proposals should show how farmers and ranchers plan to use their own innovative ideas to explore sustainable agriculture options and how they will share project results. Sustainable agriculture is good for the environment, profitable, and socially responsible. 

There are three types of competitive grants: individual grants ($9,000 maximum), team of two grants for two farmers/ranchers from separate operations who are working together ($18,000 maximum), and group grants for three or more farmers/ranchers from separate operations who are working together ($27,000 maximum). NCR-SARE expects to fund about 50 projects in the twelve-state North Central region with this call. A total of approximately $720,000 is available for this program for 2021. 

Feeling unsure where to start in writing the application? Learn how to submit a proposal for the 2021 NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant Program with Joan Benjamin. A recording of the 2021 NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant writing webinar is available on YouTube. Download the PowerPoint slides from the website. 

Visit https://northcentral.sare.org/Grants/Apply-for-a-Grant/Farmer-Rancher-Grant/ for everything you need to know about NCR-SARE’s Farmer Rancher Grant Program. Search projects and grants that have been funded in previous years. 

Each state in SARE's North Central Region has one or more State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinators who can provide information and assistance to potential grant applicants. Interested applicants can find their State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator online. 

NCR-SARE has a number of competitive grants available. Other programs include Partnership grants, which are cooperative projects between agriculture professionals and small groups of farmers and ranchers. NDSU-Extension has partnered with farmers on some of these grants in the past.  

Youth Educator Grants or Research and Education Grants are also available.  If you’ve got an idea, we’d love to try and help you make it happen. We are always looking for innovate ways to help serve our communities.  

Contact me by email or phone if you’d like to discuss applying for SARE funding in Grand Forks County.

Contact:       Katelyn Landeis, Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent

                     701-780-8229 or


Source of information: https://northcentral.sare.org/grants  


Week of 9.21.20

Laura Knox, M.Ed. | Parent Educator

Bullying is Never Just "Kids Being Kids"

Children’s social skills develop slowly, over a period of many years.  It’s normal for kids to have some conflict with others, while they learn to share power in relationships.  Bullying is not typical conflict between children.  It should never be considered a natural part of childhood.  Bullying can cause seriousemotional damage to everyone involved, including children who are bullied, children who bully others, and children who witness bullying. 

Bullying is intentional, aggressive behavior that physically and/or emotionally harms another person.  It involves an imbalance of physical, social, or emotional power between the child who bullies and the child who is targeted.  The child who bullies uses power to dominate and intimidate another child.  Bullying behavior often happens more than once.  

Physical Bullyinginvolves hurting a person’s body; pretending to harm someone (e.g. causing them to flinch); damaging belongings; and unwanted physical touch or contact.  Verbal Bullying includes teasing, threatening, name-calling, and inappropriate sexual comments.  Social Bullying involves damaging someone’s reputation or their relationships by spreading rumors about them, excluding them, or intentionally embarrassing them in public.  Cyberbullying occurs with technology such as social media, texting, or emailing.  It includes the aspects of both social and verbal bullying.  Cyberbullying can be especially damaging because of the potential for widespread or “viral” communication of information 

One of the common misconceptions about bullying is that children will tell adults when they’re being bullied.  This is not always true.  In fact, many kids don’t tell anyone.  Older children are less likely than younger children, and boys are less likely than girls to tell adults about bullying.  Children may fear retaliation.  They might worry that adults will not take their concerns seriously, or that theyll overreact or behave inappropriately themselves.  

Children who experience bullying are at an increased risk for depression, anxiety, problems with sleep, difficulty adjusting to school, and decreased academic achievement.  Learning some of the signs that a child is being bullied can help parents to identify the problem, and talk to their child about what is happening.  These signs may include:

  • Avoiding school or other social situations
  • Frequent loss or destruction of personal belongings 
  • Unexplained injuries, such as bruising
  • Complaints of headaches or stomachaches 
  • Difficulty sleeping, or nightmares
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem  

Its important for parents to react to bullying in a way that helps the child who is bullied to feel empowered and supported.  This involves listening closely; reassuring the child that the bullying is not their fault; and involving the child in the process of finding a solution that will help him/her to feel safe.  Creating an action plan that reflects your child’s ideas and strengths can help to build resilience and self-confidence.  Involve other adults, such as school staff and people who and spend time with your child.  Keep a record of bullying incidents.  This data is important to have when talking to school staff and even law enforcement, if needed.  Data will also help you to follow-up on the situation, to make sure changes have taken place.    

The behavior of children who bully others is often the result of their own feelings of sadness, anger, fear, or loneliness.  They may be struggling with an unmet need for security or control.  Children who bully others have an increased risk for substance abuse, violence later in life, and academic problems.  It’s important for parents to find out why their child is bullying others.    Knowing the signs that a child might be bullying others can help parents to recognize that their child needs support to change his/her behavior.  These signs include:

  • Showing aggression toward others- frequently getting into physical or verbal fights
  • Having friends who bully others 
  • Blaming other for problems and having difficulty accepting responsibility for their actions
  • Being overly competitive or concerned about popularity with others 
  • Unexplained extra money or belongings
  • Lacking the ability to understand the feelings of others (empathy)


Children who bully others need to be held accountable for their actions, but they especially need opportunities to redirect their behavior in positive ways.  They need support, monitoring, and good role models, as they work to change their behaviors.  Helping a child to make restitution can be a first step toward positive change in behavior.  Parents should involve other adults in an action plan to help their child change bullying behaviors.  School staff can help to monitor a child’s behaviors.  They can also support parents in their efforts to teach empathy and respect for others, and to find positive ways for the child to show leadership.  

The most important way for parents to act as role models is to take an honest look at their own behavior.  Do they treat others with respect?  Do they gossip or spread rumors Do they handle conflict with aggression and intimidation, or with patience and understanding?  Children are always watching and learning from the actions of the adults in their lives.

Children who witness bullying are often called “bystanders”.  They might be friends or peers of the child who was targeted, or even the child who is doing the bullying.  In the case of cyberbullying, a bystander can be a stranger.  Witnessing bullying has a negative effect on kids.  It places them at greater risk for depression, anxiety, use of alcohol and other drugs, and increased school absences.  

As many as 60% of bullying situations end when a bystander steps in.  Even though bystanders play such a powerful role in bullying situations, some kids do not feel safe intervening.  They may fear retaliation from the child who is bullying or they may be unsure about how to help.  Some bystanders even choose to join in or to encourage the bullying.   

Parents can help their kids to find safe and effective ways to become “upstanders” who show support for kids who are being bullied.  When children have the chance to talk through bullying situations with parents and other adults, they can feel more confident in their ability to stop these situations.  Encouraging children to find others to join them in challenging bullying behavior can inspire the “strength in numbers” concept.  This is a powerful way to both discourage the child who is bullying, and to show support for the child who is being targeted.  Reaching out with support for kids who have been bullied, goes a long way to ease the distress they experience.    

Parents can help all children by supporting the many policies and programs schools use to address and prevent bullying.  Establishing environments with clear, consistent expectations about treating others with respect, and where empathy is modeled and encouraged, allows kids to find and maintain positive and valuable relationships.       



Week of 9.14.20

Linda Kuster | Nutrition Education Assistant

School Garden Produce is Nutritious and Delicious

Students from Lake Agassiz and Century Elementary Schools were able to enjoy produce from their school gardens. Carrie Knutson, Cindy Filler (Master Gardener) and I worked with Emily Karel (Child Nutrition Director) with the help of Lake Agassiz and Century cook managers to add produce to their a la carte lunch line. Peppers, green beans, cherry tomatoes, spinach, summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower and cucumbers were a nice addition to their salads!

It’s that time of year when fresh produce is ready for harvest. The bold colors of autumn are a good reminder to fill our plates with a variety of colorful fruits & vegetables. Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits provide health benefits that are likely to reduce the risk of some chronic diseases.

Do you find it hard to get your kids to eat vegetables? If so, you are not alone. It is common for young children to dislike or refuse some vegetables. Offer a variety of colorful vegetables. Then let your child decide how much to eat.

Here are some tips from Cami Wells, Extension Educator from the University of Nebraska on how to make vegetables more appealing for your children:

  • Be a good role model. If you want your children to eat vegetables, make sure you are eating them as well.
  • Let your kids be "produce pickers." Let them pick out the vegetables at the store or farmers market.
  • Try different forms - vegetables may be fresh, frozen, canned, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed. Offering your children bright colored and interesting textured vegetables adds more nutrients and fiber to their diets.
  • Offer choices. Rather than ask, "Do you want broccoli for dinner?" ask "Which would you like for dinner, broccoli or cauliflower?"
  • Involve children in the preparation. Children are more likely to try a food they have helped prepare. Depending on their age, children can help clean, peel, or cut up vegetables.
  • Children often prefer foods served separately. So, rather than mixed vegetables try serving two vegetables separately.

One last FUN idea: here is a recipe for “Green Monster Smoothies” which you will want to make with your children or grandkids. Using leafy greens like spinach, kale, or swiss chard adds lots of color and phytonutrients to your smoothie. I have made this recipe with my grandchildren and they love it. It is nutritious and delicious!

                                                               Green Monster Smoothie Recipe:


Week of 9.7.20

Carrie Knutson, M.S. | Horticulture

Dakota Gardener: Earthworms and Gardens


Week of 8.31.20

Katelyn Landeis, CCA | Agriculture & Natural Resources

Keep Safety in Mind During Fall Harvest

As we begin harvesting, now is a good time to keep general farm safety in mind, according to Katelyn Landeis, North Dakota State University Extension’s agriculture and natural resources agent in Grand Forks County.

Here are some tips:

  • Wear ear protection. For example, grain augers, grain vacs, grain dryers and tractors with no cab are rated at about 82 to 100 decibels. Being exposed to 100 decibels for just 15 minutes can cause damage to hearing. Eight hours at 85 decibels also can damage hearing. Check out a brochure (https://tinyurl.com/ProtectingYourEars) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for more information on protecting your ears. Be even more careful to protect the ears of children. Hearing damage is irreversible.
  • Shut off equipment when needing to do maintenance. Leaving equipment running is not worth risking your life or a limb. Read a producer testimonial on the North Dakota State University Extension Farm Safety website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/extension/farmsafety.
  • Chances are, you are sharing the road with individuals who are not familiar with driving farm equipment or semitrucks. Be mindful of their safety and your own as you travel on public roads. Rick Schmidt, an NDSU Extension agent in Oliver County, has created a series of short videos addressing road safety. They are available on the NDSU Extension Farm Safety website.
  • Always be equipped with proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Wear the right mask for the right task.
  • If you have youth working on your farm, make sure they are doing age-appropriate tasks. Keep youth away from chemicals/pesticides and out of grain bins with grain.
  • Learn the same language. To enhance communication and promote farm safety, the American Society of Agriculture and Biological Engineers developed 11 universal hand signals. NDSU Extension has released a poster and window cling to help you learn those signals.
  • Always make sure workers are trained before they hop onto equipment they haven’t run before and take time to become familiar with equipment you have not operated for a while.
  • Talk about safety with your family and others with whom you work. Make sure everyone knows safety is a priority. Have a safety plan in place in case an accident occurs. Marshfield Clinic has an interactive mapping program (https://www.marshfieldresearch.org/nfmc/farm-mapper) to help farm operators identify where hazards are on their operation. Identifying where the hazards are on your farm allows emergency responders to prepare for the scene and know their surroundings.
  • Practice good hygiene and physical distancing, and encourage everyone to wear face masks when appropriate because we still are in the midst of a pandemic.

Check out the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (http://umash.umn.edu/about-the-center) and NDSU Extension Farm Safety web pages for more resources.



Katelyn Hain, CCA | Agriculture & Natural Resources

Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN): Take the test, to beat the pest

Help protect your dry beans and soybean crop by sampling for Soybean Cyst Nematode or SCN.  Soybean Cyst Nematode is the single biggest disease threat to soybeans in the United States, and it is spreading quickly in North Dakota.  If growers find it early, it can be managed with resistance and rotation, but left unmanaged and it may rob yield for years. While there are resistance traits available for soybean, dry beans are a different story.   

Now is a good time to sample for SCN.                

The North Dakota Soybean Council working in conjunction with NDSU Extension, is supporting the Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) sampling program again in 2020. The program began in 2013, and was designed to help growers determine if they had SCN.   

This program works, because the ND Soybean Council has agreed to sponsor laboratory costs for a limited number of SCN-only soil samples.  Soil bags with pre-paid labels attached are available through the Grand Forks County Extension Office, along with instructions on taking a good, representative sample. Growers MUST fill out the Yellow Label on the bag, and submit a completed form with the bag.  The form allows Agvise (the lab we partnered with) to mail the results directly to the grower.  Also on the form is a spot for sample location. We ask the growers to provide the location of the sample.  This data will be used to create a map, similar to the one on the instructions with the sample bag. Names and data points are separated so the Grower’s names are not attached to these points when the data is compiled to protect privacy.   

If you don’t know if you have Soybean Cyst Nematode in your fields, the first step is to submit a sample so you can proceed with proper management.  Extension Plant Pathologist, Sam Markell explains that SCN can reproduce quickly when Environments are favorable, and his key message:  If you have SCN at any level, it is very important to manage it.  

Because our main office is still closed to the public, I will be dropping off sample bags at a number of elevators in Grand Forks County for producers to grab.  Be on the lookout of them over the next few weeks, or, you can give us a call (701-780-8229) or email me at Katelyn.hain@ndsu.edu and we will send you bag(s). If you have any questions about taking a sample or would like assistance, I’m happy to help, just let me know. 


Week of 8.24.20

Carrie Knutson, M.S. | Horticulture

Fall Lawn Care

Days are getting shorter, harvest has started and schools are starting back up. Even the air has a different feel. Fall is here. There are many things we can do in the fall to prepare for spring. One of those items is caring for your lawn. 

Fertilizing lawns is one lawn care task that is poplar in the fall. Our lawn grasses are cool season grasses. They grow best during the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. After the hot and dry weather of summer, the grass plants are working on storing nutrients in their roots for growth next spring. So fertilize mid-September through mid –October to give your lawn a good start next spring. 

Detaching lawns is common task in the spring. However, now through mid-September is actually the best time to dethatch lawns. Removing thatch now reduces the chance of grass plant injury.

Thatch is a layer of living and dead tissue that is between the grass leaves and the soil surface. It is primarily made of up of plant materials that are slow to breakdown- the crowns, roots and leaf sheaths of the grass plant. Leaf clippings from mowing usually don’t contribute to thatch buildup. A ½ inch layer of thatch helps protect the lawn. If the layer gets too thick it can be a haven for disease and insect pests and make the lawn more vulnerable to drought. 

Monitor the thatch layer yearly. To determine how much thatch your lawn has, remove a 2 inch deep wedge from the lawn and measure the amount of thatch between the green lawn and soil surface. If you have more than a ½ inch layer of thatch, work on removing some of it. Depending on your grass type and maintenance schedule, you might not have to remove thatch every year. 

Seeding lawns or thin areas is also poplar a poplar lawn care task in the spring. Yet, now through the middle of September is a great time to seed. Generally temperatures are cooler, there is more moisture and reduced weed competition. Keep in mind that the new grass plants will need time to establish before winter sets in. 

Fall is also the time to spray for perennial broadleaf weeds, like dandelion. The weeds are storing nutrients for next year. Herbicides will be transported along with the nutrients to the roots, resulting in better control. Spray for broadleaf weeds September through October.

Remember these dates are just guidelines. Watch the weather, Mother Nature has been known to bring snow storms early!

Additional Resources:


Week of 8.17.20

Laura Knox, M.Ed. | Parent Educator

The 2020-21 School Year: A Powerful Opportunity for Learning

Parents and educators are working to make careful preparations for the upcoming school year.  Responding to the Coronavirus pandemic will require adults and children to adjust to whatever changes become necessary, as decisions are made in the best interest of school communities.  Considering the fact that learning life skills is a valuable element of any educational experience, the 2020-21 school year has the potential to be a phenomenal year!  

Challenges naturally bring opportunity for people to learn and grow.  Children don’t learn to feel confident and secure because we or they never face problems.  These feelings develop with the knowledge that problems can be addressed and solved.  The examples we provide and the confidence we show in our kids, set the stage for learning to take place.   

When parents and teachers take the time to encourage and celebrate children’s expressions of patience, adaptability, persistence, and cooperation, it can have a powerful effect on their development of these skills.  Children will learn to feel confident in their ability to handle adversity in their lives.    

It is important to have honest discussions with children about safety protocols and changes that might happen in school schedules.  Adults should use these conversations to ask children about questions they have or fears they may be experiencing.  Reassure them that parents and teachers are making the best decisions possible to keep everyone healthy.  Help children to focus on what they are looking forward to this year.  Notice when kids are able to show patience, adaptability, and cooperation and comment positively on the value of their actions.    

 Children of all ages take cues from the adults in their lives. Staying calm and present as we respond to them, shows kids that we can support them as they learn to regulate their own feelings and responses. 

 When parents project positive attitudes about working as team with school staff and staying flexible about changes, it relieves kids of the stress they may feel from negativity and uncertainty.  It will help them to stay positive; to handle challenges with confidence; and feel free to enjoy their school experience.  

On behalf of NDSU Extension Grand Forks County, I’d like to wish you and your children a happy, healthy, positive school experience this year. 

Week of 8.10.20

Carrie Knutson, M.S. | Horticulture

Dakota Gardener: The Right Plant




Nessa Halvorson | Office Administrator

So Many Seeds, So Little Yard

I started as the Office Administrator for the Grand Forks County Extension Office last fall. I am so excited to be a part of a workplace that does so much good for the community.   Planting a garden has always been a passion of mine each summer.  This year COVID made that passion grow in yet another area. After hearing of the increased food shortage and the Hunger Free Garden Project Extension offers, I knew I had to help.

Seeds were mailed to me by Carrie Knutson, Grand Forks Extension Horticulture Agent to start my pantry garden. Those seeds are now full-blown plants streaming out of the raised garden beds and they are producing! Despite our tiny backyard, I have seen plenty of produce grow on the vines. So far, I have donated over ten pounds green beans, nearly two pounds lettuce, ten and a half pounds tomatoes, two ounces jalapenos, five ounces banana peppers and one pound cucumbers to the local food pantries. There’s something about picking vegetables fresh from the vine that puts a smile on my face. That smile tends to be even bigger when I know it’s going to someone in need. I’m so very grateful to be a part of the good during these trying times. 


Week of 8.3.20

Katelyn Hain | Agriculture & Natural Resources

The Plants that Got Away- How Invasive Pests Begin Their Journey in the United States

You’ve probably seen the recent headlines “Residents should report unsolicited seeds coming from China.  Maybe you know someone who has received a mysterious seed package or been part of conversations surrounding this situation. Perhaps you’ve seen silly online memes referencing the talking blood-thirsty plants in the 1986 film, Little Shop of Horrors.  Hopefully this situation isn’t near as dramatic as the film but should be taken seriously.  While USDA/APHIS put out a statement believing seeds to be no more than a “brushing scam” where online retailers send products to consumers and leave fake reviews online, many of our most noxious plants/pests were historically introduced by accident and sometimes is difficult to track down exact origins of pests. This article could be pages long, so below is a history (and a little bit of folklore) around three different pests introduced to the United States that continue causing trouble today

  1. Leafy Spurge  Folklore says leafy spurge was introduced as an ornamental plant around gravesites. It was planted because it would come back and flower every year.  However, USDA cites there were likely many introductions of leafy spurge into North America, most noting seed contamination in perennial grass plantings, and cereals (wheat, spelt).2 Leafy Spurge was first reported in North Dakota in 1909 growing along a street in Fargo. In the 80’s it covered over 1.8million acres (roughly an area the size of Grand Forks and Nelson Counties combined) across the state before a coordinated effort led to a slight decline in the 90’s. Leafy Spurge remains a troublesome weed today, earning it’s spot on the State Noxious Weed List.  Patches spread 1 to 3 feet per year underground and roots will grow 15 feet or more in depth. The root contains a large nutrient reserve which sustains the plant for several years and numerous buds which allow the plant to spread as cut pieces in gravel and on tillage equipment. More information on control of leafy spurge can be found in NDSU publication W1411, Identification and Control of Invasive and Troublesome Weeds in North Dakota. 
  1. Yellow Toadflax or “Butter N Eggs”  Admittedly, this is one I have a personal vendetta against as I continue to fight it from spreading around my own lawn and garden. Yellow Toadflax was introduced to New England in the late 1600’s as an ornamental and medicinal plant and continues to be sold in nurseries and seed catalogs today.3 Yellow Toadflax is in the ‘Snapdragon family, and there are similar plants sold that are not considered invasive. What I believe to be the case at my own home, the origins of an infested area are often traced back to an escape from an ornamental planting. Yellow Toadflax is aggressive and contains an extensive rhizomatous root system that spreads like leafy spurge. There are few herbicides that control the species and applications are needed at high rates and often. Prevention is the best method of control. More information on Yellow Toadflax, as well as Dalmation Toadflax can be found in NDSU publication W1411, Identification and Control of Invasive and Troublesome Weeds in North Dakota.

  2. Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), an invasive fruit fly has changed the way fruit growers across the U.S. manage their fruit harvests. Homeowners and large-scale production growers alike have had to adjust.  What makes this drosophila species different from the rest, is its fondness of undamaged, ripening fruit whereas other drosophila species only attack decaying or rotten fruits. The evolutionary difference lies in the SWD’s sharp ovipositor it lays its eggs with. It can pierce the tight, hard skin of fresh fruits, laying eggs, causing early spoilage or an unwelcome sight for the consumer! SWD only started to invade the United States in 2008, with suspected arrival in the form of eggs or larvae in fruit sea-traded from Asia. It has reached nearly all corners of our country in a very short time.4   Management of SWD can be found in NDSU publication, E1715 Integrated Pest Management of Spotted Wing Drosophila in North Dakota.

The list of invasive species goes on and on, for both North Dakota and the United States. To find an inclusive list of invasive species both aquatic and terrestrial in the United States, visit the USDA National Invasive Species Information Center. While humor and jokes can help make light of a serious situation, especially in a year like 2020 with all we are facing in the world, make sure to reach out to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture should you find a mysterious bag of seeds at your doorstep. They will correctly dispose of the seed for you, so it doesn’t end up blooming in a landfill, or elsewhere. You will have done a great service to agriculture, natural land areas, and homeowners alike. If you have other questions please feel free to contact me, at katelyn.hain@ndsu.edu or 701-780-8229.


  1. APHIS. July 30th, 2020. USDA Investigates Packages of Unsolicited Seeds from China https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/newsroom/stakeholder-info/sa_by_date/sa-2020/sa-07/seeds-china

  2. Gucker, C.L. 2010. Euphorbia esula. In: Fire Effects Information System. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/forb/eupesu/all.html 

  3. Zouhar, K. 2003. Linaria spp(link is external). In: Fire Effects Information System. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. 

  4. Rota-Stabelli,O., M. Blaxter, and G. Anfora. 2013. Drosophila suzukii(link is external). Current Biology 23(1):R8-R9


Week of 7.27.20

Laura Knox, M.Ed. | Parent Educator

Parent- Child Power Struggles Over Food

Picky eating behavior is common in children between 2 and 5 years of age.  As young children learn to manage input from their senses, they may prefer only certain types of food or they may reject foods based on their color or texture.    Very often, kids simply do not feel hungry when parents want them to eat.  Parents might spend a lot of time and effort trying to convince young children to eat.  The power struggles that result can lead to frustration for parents and negative effects on children.  

Forcing children to eat or offering rewards for eating, can interfere with their natural ability to regulate hunger and fullness.  This can lead to unhealthy eating habits.  It has also been shown to reduce kids’ acceptance of new foods, or to increase picky eating.  If children have plenty of energy and are growing, they are most likely eating enough to be healthy.  If you have concerns about your child’s growth or nutrition, it is best to consult your child’s doctor.   

In order avoid getting into emotional power struggles with children, over food, it is helpful for parents follow a division of responsibility for eating.  With this strategy, parents are responsible for what is presented to eat, and when, where, and how long food is served.  Children are responsible for how much and whether or not they eat.  When adults are in control over food choices and children are in control over eating, the battle lines are removed.  

This is not to suggest that children will always be happy with the food choices offered.  But, the control over eating remains where it belongs, with the child.  Children who do not eat during one meal or snack, may be hungry when the next meal or snack time arrives.  Most parents find it helpful to serve at least one food their child will eat, with each meal.     

Parents who follow the division of responsibility strategy should resist the temptation to serve unhealthy foods, or to serve meals and snacks on demand, just to get kids to eat.  It is important to establish routines of serving regular, healthy meals and snacks with only water in-between and setting a reasonable time limit on meals Because young children need frequent opportunities to nourish their bodies, they should be offered three meals and two snacks each day.    

It is best to introduce new foods one at a time, along with other familiar foods.  Children may need to be introduced to a new food 15 times before they are willing to eat it.  They may want to smell, touch, or even lick a new food before taking a bite.    

Tips for encouraging children’s interest in food and/or mealtimes include:

  • Involve kids in shopping and meal preparation.
  • Eat with your children.  Family meals provide an opportunity to connect with children, and to make meaningful family memories.   
  • Keep mealtime conversation pleasant.  Avoid talking about what or how much kids are eating.
  • Avoid labeling your child “a picky eater” or using phrases such as “he won’t eat that” or “she won’t even try it”.
  • Serve small portions Large amounts of food can be overwhelming for kids.
  • Set good examples with your own food choices.
  • Set expectations for good manners. For example “no thank you” is allowed, “yuck” is not allowed.
  • Encourage physical activity throughout the day, to increase children’s hunger.

For more information about positive approaches to picky eating, please contact NDSU Extension Grand Forks County at 701-780-8229 or email .


Week of 7.20.20

Carrie Knutson, M.S. | Horticulture

Dakota Gardener: Water the Roots



Week of 7.13.20

Katelyn Hain | Agriculture & Natural Resources

Managing Prevented Plant with Cover Crops 

Heavy rains, and moisture have continued to cause issues for Grand Forks County producers. Wet fields this spring prevented a lot of low ground/field edges from being planted; many of these areas are enrolled in prevented plant (PP). With recent rain events, many low areas were underwater again, or fully saturated as culverts and drainage ditches struggled to keep up. Fields/pieces enrolled in PP, do not have to take a crop loss on this (again) flooded ground. Unfortunately, many are experiencing damage to their crop, where excess water ran off and pooled. Consider on your own fields: In years when it is dry in the spring, are there areas that get planted only to suffer losses mid-way through the season, with inputs running (literally) down the drain? Are there ways to re-think how we manage low ground, especially along field edges? This will vary from field to field and how often one gets a respectable crop on low areas. But we know there are years when nutrient load and soil erosion are high, costing producer’s valuable resources and money. A planted, flooded crop has even higher cost, and can also lower RMA average yields. A cost analysis of these low areas can help lead future management decisions.  

On acres enrolled in Prevented Plant this year, getting a cover crop on these acres is becoming more and more important to help take up excess moisture and reduce weed pressure next year. Not planting a cover crop will increase the chances of these fields/areas staying in Prevented Plant again next year. Many Prevented Plant fields might still be too saturated to get into with recent rain events, but there is still time to get a cover crop planted.  As we get later into the summer, consider switching up the mix to include more cool-season crops that will grow longer into the fall, using moisture longer Consider a winter annual such as winter rye, especially in low areas that stay wet longer. Rye will grow later into the fall, and begin growing again early in the spring. It’s always good to have a termination plan in place should be short moisture next spring (even how crazy that may sound right now!) There is still plenty of time to plant rye, and other cool season crops and still get a significant amount of growth to use up excess moisture. 

Here are a few other tips to consider: 

  • 2lbs Sorghum-Sudangrass or Sudangrass. Sudangrass tends to be a little shorter than sorghum-sudangrass. High water use. This is a warm season crop, so growth will be limited as we get further into the season, and there is minimal to no frost tolerance.  
  • 1-2lbs Sunflower, or another deep-rooted crop to help with subsoil moisture
  • 20-45lbs small grain, depending on the mix. High water users, and tend to be cheaper. Even just a mix of small grains can give you good growth with different cereals growing better in different areas of the field. 
  • Throw a legume in to help with residue if biomass is a concern. This can balance the C:N ratio to have faster residual breakdown. 
  • If using a brassica such as radish or turnip, do not exceed 2lbs brassicas total in the mix.  
  • If you are concerned about hilltops drying out, focus on splitting the field at planting, and plant moisture loving plants inthe lower areas, and plants that use less water on the high-ground. Or, lessen the seeding rate on high ground.   
  •  Keep it simple.  Use what you may have on hand, keep the mix simple, but try to plant at least two or three different crops together. This will allow different plants to grow where they grow best. For example, saline tolerant crops will excel in saline areas, and other crop excelling where they favor the soil conditions. 
  •  Consider your crop rotation and any diseases that may be a concern. If you have issues with SCN, be wary of host species, like forage and field pea, vetches, lupine. Turnips may also be a host. If you plant canola, be wary of clubroot hosts, such as turnip, radish and other brassicas crops.   Planting corn next year? Try to add cereals and legumes with broadleaf species for mycorrhizal engagement as brassicas such as turnip and radish do not form a relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. Planting corn after a brassicas only cover crop has caused Phosphorus tie-up issues 
  • If planning to graze in the fall, use a variety of cereals, brassicas and cool season crop to keep growth well into the fall. Sub-zero kale is very cold tolerant, but the growing season is fairly short. Paja turnips have a lot of leafy-ness and are also frost tolerant. Cool season cereals will grow well. Throwing a pound or two of sunflowers in (depending on when you plant) adds a little treat for cattle. The heads are often enjoyed and sought out. Depending on when you get the crop in, Sorghums can add more bio-mass, but will not be tolerant to frost and not as nutritious later in the season. Also be wary of Prussic Acid should you graze after a first frost.

Questions? Call or Email me, or visit the Prevented Plant Website on Grand Forks County Extension Website. 

Along with what is listed on website, here are a few resources you may find helpful:  

Considerations for CC choices on PP(Crop and Pest report, June 2020) 

Producer’s Options for Prevent Plant Acres (Crop and Pest report, July 2020) 

Week of 7.6.20

Carrie Knutson, M.S. | Horticulture

Iron Chlorosis in Trees

We are very fortunate to have productive soils, for the most part, in North Dakota. That is unless you are growing trees that are susceptible to iron chlorosis.

Iron chlorosis is a tree problem I see frequently in the county. It is a tree issue that is the result of the tree being unable to take up enough iron from the soil to meet the tree’s needs. Our soils usually have enough iron, although the iron may be in a form that is unavailable to plants. The issue is more common in soils with a pH of 7.5 or higher, or where the soil is compacted and has poor drainage.

According to the NDSU Extension publication "Iron Chlorosis in Trees” F1868,some of the more sensitive tree species include silver maple, Freeman (hybrid) maples, Amur maple, river birch, swamp white oak and eastern white pine. Ornamental shrubs and fruits may also be susceptible.

The first symptoms of iron chlorosis is yellowing of the leaves while the veins stay green. Iron is an essential component of chlorophyll. So,no iron in the leaves means no green leaves. Affected leaves can be scattered throughout the tree or whole branches can be affected. If iron chlorosis is left untreated the leaves can turn white and turn brown or black around the edges, giving the leaves a scorched appearance. Eventually, the entire tree can be killed.

The first step to treat a tree is to test the soil in the area to determine the range of the problem. The NDSU Soil Testing lab offers soil testing for homeowners. For $19.50 plus postage, the lab will test the amount of N, P, K, pH, soluble salts and organic matter and provide customized recommendations for your site. The test is well worth the cost,especially if you are trying to save a tree.

Second, you can do an at home test for lime in the soil. If lime is not an issue, there are many different treatment options. Treatments have varying results,and each has its positives and negatives. Soil amendments, foliar treatments and stem treatments are options. Refer to the NDSU Extension publication Iron Chlorosis in Trees” F1868, for more information on treatment options.

When planting a new tree, remember to plant the proper tree for the location and conditions. Selecting a tree that is not as sensitive to iron chlorosis will save you future headaches especially if you already have trees with the issue.


Week of 6.29.20

Laura Knox, M.Ed. | Parent Educator

Talking to Children about Race

It is natural for parents to wonder how, when, or maybe if they should talk to their children about race.  Parents may believe, the best way to raise children who will not judge or discriminate based on skin color, is to encourage children to ignore or to “not see” differences in skin color.  Well-intentioned parents may even discourage children’s questions about physical characteristics.  Discussions about race can be sensitive and even difficult, but they are essential to helping children understand that, the topic of race is important.  Talking about race is not a choice for families, whose children learn about it by experiencing racism in their own lives or by witnessing racism directed at others.   

The idea that children must be explicitly taught racial biases, in order to develop them, is a common belief.  Research contradicts this belief.  At only 6 months old, babies can categorize people by race and gender.  By age two, children begin to associate meaning with differences in physical characteristics.  While their busy minds are learning to categorize objects in their world, they are also learning to categorize people and to attach meaning to these categories, based on what they hear and see, as well as on what they do not hear or see.    

Children are experts in learning from non-verbal messages such as facial expressions, body language, and depictions of people in books and media.  So, children are learning about race, whether adults are talking to them about it or not.  When we do not talk about race, children can come to a lot of inaccurate and even harmful conclusions

It is important for parents to understand how biases are formed.  When we realize that everybody has biases, we can work to examine our own and we can become intentional about the messages we send to our children.  When we use factual information and make conversations about race a natural part of our interactions with children, they learn to trust that we are there to support them as they learn about the world through their own experiences and through the experiences of others.  As always, children need guidance, in the form of the positive examples we provide them.  

For more information about talking to children about race, including suggestions based on age, please contact NDSU Extension Grand Forks County at 701-780-8229 or email . 


Week of 6.22.20

Carrie Knutson, M.S. | Horticulture

Dakota Gardener: Pruning Tomatoes




Week of 6.15.20

Katelyn Hain | Agriculture & Natural Resources


As introduced last month, Grand Forks County and Renville County are sponsoring a series of “Soil Resource Management School” workshops that will be held periodically over the next few months. These workshops are designed to help producers by giving them tools to utilize and better understand the soils that affect their cropping systems. 

This month we will be addressing soil fertility concerns. The virtual workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, June 30th at 8:00 a.m. via ZOOM.  Many of you are already aware of this interactive video option from the school children utilizing this program, it is quite easy to access through any Wi-Fi. If you have any questions on implementing Zoom, please contact the Grand Forks County Extension office directly at 701-780-8229 Dr. Chris Augustin, Soil Science PhD will present a “Crop Nutrient Deficiency Demonstration”.  He will address the signs and symptoms of nutrient deficiencies in various crops– with potted examples of wheat, corn, sunflower, and canola on hand to visually see what some of these symptoms will look like.

We would also invite you to bring in any type of cropping questions that you may have to the zoom that we can address, these may be soil related, or non-soil related questions. If you have video capabilities, we can look at your sample that you have on hand, otherwise I would encourage you to take pictures and send them to me in advance of the Zoom call.   

For meeting arrangements, we are requiring that you pre-register.  You can pre-register any time prior to the meeting at https://tinyurl.com/FertFieldDay. CCA credits will be available.   Future meetings may include topics such as phone apps, fertilizer determinations, fertilizer economics, soil salinity/sodicity, drones usage for creating soil maps, soil pit, soil alphabet, texturing, hydric soils, NRCS soil health test, soil testing, cover crops, soil erosion/rainfall demo, and plot data.  

This program is a joint effort and sponsored by NDSU Extension, Grand Forks County, Renville County and the Dickinson Research Extension Center Everyone is invited to attend, but please pre-register.  For any accommodations that need to be made, please contact the Grand Forks County Extension Office by June 22nd, 2020 at 701-780-8229. 


Week of 6.8.20

Molly J. Soeby, MPA | Family & Community Wellness

Pandemic Graduation

Life rarely turns out as planned. In 2002, eight-month old Leecia Flaten sat on her grandmother’s lap in the Alerus Center and watched her 17 and 18 year old parents graduate from High School. Last week her parents, grandparents, and friends watched her walk onto a stage and receive her diploma from gowned and masked school officials. “We are the Champions” blared in the background, her honors sashes blowing in the wind and her incredible smile, hard to see through the family’s tears of joy and pride, were captured on camera.

Although we all wish success for our graduates, what I wish most for them is happiness. Research has discovered simple things within reach of us all that have been proven to increase our happiness. Being grateful is one. Start a gratitude journal by writing down three things each day that you are grateful for. See how your life changes in a month. Can’t think of anything to write? Did you eat today? Did you sleep in a bed last night? Do you have one good friend? Not everyone can say yes to those.

Another way to increase happiness is to spend money on experiences rather than things. A road trip to a national park, an overnight camping experience, a family get together, a trip to the zoo. Planning the experience, living the experience, sharing it and remembering it can bring us happiness for decades.

Savoring life’s moments can bring happiness. A beautiful sunset, a smile, a warm house, a campfire, making snow angels, plowing a field, working on a car in the summer, a great piece of chocolate… all of these can be savored by really living in the moment.

I am grateful to be Leecia’s grandmother. I am looking forward to experiencing the air hugs, smiles and waves at the pandemic graduation celebration in University Park to honor Leecia tomorrow. I am savoring all the moments in these crazy, fearful times. I am also grateful life rarely turns out as planned.


Week of 6.1.20

Carrie Knutson, M.S. | Horticulture

Dutch Elm Disease

Elm trees are not as visible in the landscape as they once were and old elms in the landscape are few and far between. Dutch elm disease (DED) is the main reason. DED is a common disease that can infect all North American species of elm. According to the publication Dutch Elm Disease in North Dakota: A New Look” (PP1635), the disease is caused by two closely related species of fungi which are transmitted by bark beetles and through root grafts. The disease has been spreading across North American since the 1920’s and reached eastern North Dakota by 1973.  

Symptoms of DED can vary, but usually infected trees will exhibit wilting, curling and yellowing of branches in the upper crown. Large trees might survive for a couple of years or last for several years depending on how fast the disease progresses.  

There are fungicides that can be injected into the tree to help prevent the fungus from infecting healthy elms. They are more beneficial if the tree is healthy to start with and must be injected by a trained professional.  

Community wide sanitation can be an effective way of slowing the spread of the disease. Bark beetles will still live and breed in dead and dying elms. Infected trees need to removed and burned, buried, chipped or debarked to reduce the chance of infecting new elms.  

Since the spread of DED there has been a lot of work spent identifying and testing possible resistant cultivars. No elm is fully immune to the disease, but there are differing levels of resistance. The NDSU Extension publication “Elms for North Dakota” (F1893) lists cultivars of elm and provides planting recommendations for cold hardiness and DED resistance. 

American elm cultivars Prairie Expedition® ‘Lewis and Clark’, ‘Princeton’ and ‘Valley Forge’; hybrid elms Accolade ‘Morton’, ‘Cathedral’ and Commendation ‘Morton Stalwart’; and Japanese elms ‘Discovery’, ‘Freedom’ and Northern Empress® ‘Burgundy Glow’ are fully hardy and DED resistant. 

Elms are fast growers and will need regular pruning the first several years to ensure proper branch structure. Happy planting!


Week of 5.25.20

Carrie Knutson, M.S. | Horticulture

Apple Blossoms

One of my favorite smells is apple blossom, not the fragrance found in soaps or lotions, the real deal right from the tree. A few years ago my parents bought me two apple trees for my yard, you are never too old to get gifts from your parents and for a gardener it was a perfect gift.

Each spring, I patiently wait for the delicate white blossoms with light pink centers to surprise me. This year the wait is even more suspenseful with the recent cold temperatures as the buds were just starting to emerge. 

I am not the only one who enjoys apple blossoms. Apple blossoms are a source of early pollen and nectar for pollinators. In turn, pollinators make sure that apple trees produce seed for the next generation of trees and fruit for us to eat. 

There are many details in the plant pollination process, but for our discussion on apple trees, let’s focus on self and cross pollination. Self-pollination as the name implies, can happen within the same flower or between two separate flowers on the same plant. Cross pollination requires pollen from separate flowers on two different plants of the same species. Tomatoes are self-pollinated, whereas apples flowers need pollen from a different apple tree cultivar to produce fruit. 

For example, don’t plant two Honeycrisp apple trees in your yard and expect a crop, unless there are different apple cultivars (or a crabapple) within 100 feet or so. You also want to make sure that the two varieties of apple have bloom times that are similar

When planting an apple tree, there are many cultivars of apples to choose from. Cultivars vary in color, texture, culinary use and storage life. Most importantly, cultivars differ in their hardiness zone. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Plant Hardiness Zone Map tells consumers how well a plant will survive our winters. Generally our area is a zone 3. If you have a protected area or want to try your luck, a zone 4 plant would be an option. 

Apple trees need full sun to produce a good crop and should not be planted in low spots or where the soil is poor. Space apple trees by using the tree’s mature height as a guide. Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball. The tree should not be planted deeper than its current soil level. The root collar or where the roots flare out from the tree should be just at the soil surface or slightly higher.  

Don’t miss out on your chance to enjoy the authentic apple blossom fragrance. Plant apple trees this year to help feed pollinators and yourself for many years to come. For more information on apples refer to NDSU Extension’s publication “From Orchard to Table: Apples!


Week of 5.18.20

Katelyn Hain | Agriculture & Natural Resources

Respirators –Which Mask for Which Task?

Respirators and other face masks have been in high demand this year, due to COVID-19. Respirators are used often in Agriculture and depending on the task, a specific mask is generally required.  To know which mask to use, it’s important to understand what types of masks available, and what letters and numbers on masks are mean.  Pesticide/chemical labels will always specify which mask is needed for the job and should be referred to. 

Atmosphere-supplying respirators and APRs 

There are two main types of respirators that work in different ways. The first: Atmosphere-supplying respirators, which supply clean breathable air from a safe source. A common example is a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).  The second type, which are more commonly used on the farm and will be the focus of this article, are air purifying respirators (APRs). APRs remove contaminants from the surrounding air through purifying elements called particulate filters and chemical cartridges/canisters.  

Respirator Elements: Filters and Cartridges/Canisters 

Elements that remove particulates such as dusts, aerosols or sprays are called filters.  To remove vapors or gases from the air, your respirator must contain either chemical cartridges or canisters elements. It’s important to remember that cartridge and canisters do not remove particulates from the air and filters do not remove vapors or gases from the air! You must have the correct specific elements on your mask for the task you are performing. 

N95 Masks and Other Common Disposable Masks  

APRs that contain a cartridge will either be a half mask or full-face mask. Two-strap APRS that just cover the mouth and nose (such as an N95 mask) generally contain only filters and are considered ‘disposable’ because none of the parts are replaceable. These masks are NIOSH rated for three levels of oil degradation resistance (N, R, and P) and three levels of filter efficiency (95,99, 100). N-series filters are not oil-resistant. R-series filters are oil-resistant up to eight hours. P-series filters are oil-proof. Adding an adjuvant to a tank mix when using pesticides may require using an R or P series mask, as many adjuvants contain oil or act like an oil. Oils may degrade the filter efficiency of N masks and fail to provide any protection.  95 means a filter can remove at least 95% of airborne particles. 99 means the filter removes at least 99% of airborne particles. 100 means the filter removes at least 99.97% (essentially 100%) of airborne particles.

Fit Test 

In order for a respirator to properly protect an individual, it needs to fit properly.  Nothing must interfere with the seal between the surface of the mask and your face including beards and stubble. It’s good practice to have a medical evaluation to make sure wearing a respirator does not endanger your health. Not all face masks will fit everyone correctly; trying out a few different brands or types can help ensure individuals find a mask that works for them.   


Always consult the pesticide, chemical or other label to ensure you are using the correct face mask for the task at hand. For more information on respirators, visit the NDSU Farm Safety Page at www.ag.ndsu.edu/farmsafety 


Week of 5.11.20

Katelyn Hain | Agriculture & Natural Resources

Weekly Crop and Pest Reports published by NDSU Extension

As we move into the growing season, North Dakota citizens have an opportunity to receive agronomy, weather, horticulture, and forestrupdates right to their email inbox by subscribing to weekly Crop and Pest Reports (CPR).  This document contains around 20 pages of articles compiled by NDSU Extension Specialists. It is released every Thursday through the months of May-September. Articles are based on research conducted across the state, nation, and world and is tailored to seasonal topics in North DakotaThere are many ways to connect with the weekly Crop and Pest Report. You can view current and archived Crop and Pest Reports on their website, at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/cpr/ or visit the Facebook page @ndsuextcpr.  Subscribe to the Crop and Pest report on the website to receive weekly pdf’s via your e-mail.  Sign up for local NDSU Extension Agriculture updates by emailing Katelyn at Katelyn.hain@ndsu.edu



Week of 5.4.20

Carrie Knutson, M.S. | Horticulture

Canker Worms

The days are slowing starting to warm up. Hopefully most of you were able to see the 70-degree mark last week. It’s exciting to see the plant life turn green and the trees start to leaf out. Insects think it is great too!

Last spring, I received quite a few phone calls concerning cankerworms. Cankerworms are small caterpillars that feed on tree leaves and buds in the spring. They move in a lopping inch-worm like manner and can cause severe defoliation of trees. They are the same worms that will drop from the tree on silk threads when the tree is disturbed. In my experience, just walking by a tree or mowing the lawn will be enough for cankerworms to drop on you!

The first sign of feeding are tiny holes that give the leaf a shot hole appearance between the leaf veins. Eventually cankerworms consume all the leaf tissue leaving the main leaf veins. Well established mature trees can handle a year or two of defoliation. Years of defoliation can be hard on trees, especially young trees. Repeated years of defoliation will lead to branch loss and cause trees to be more susceptible to other stresses like drought, diseases and other insects. 

There are chemicals available for control, although they are best applied when the caterpillars are young, about ½ inch long. According to Joe Zeleznik, NDSU Extension Forester, "Cankerworms are best controlled between about 148 and 280 growing degree days, using a base temperature of 50 F. This means that we can use the mathematical model that has already been developed for corn growing degree days.”

According to information from the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN), in the northeast we have about 60-70 growing degree days as of April 1 we will have a few days, depending on temperatures, before we reach the threshold. However, other areas of North Dakota are approaching 130 growing degree days or more. To learn more about corn growing degree days visit the NDAWN website at https://ndawn.ndsu.nodak.edu/corn-growing-degree-days.html

Janet Knodel, North Dakota State University Extension entomologist, recommends applying Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (trade names DiPel, Javelin, Lepinox) when caterpillars are less than 1/2 inch long, or about 10 days after egg hatch, for optimal control of cankerworms. She also says,

"These bacterial insecticides are very effective against caterpillars and safer for beneficial insects, wildlife and us.” For more information NDSU Extension has a great publication Cankerworms in North Dakota”.



Week of 4.29.20

Carrie Knutson, M.S. | Horticulture


Dakota Gardener: Garden Soil Preparation




Week of 4.20.20

Carrie Knutson, M.S. | Horticulture


The snow is finally melting, but many of us are discovering what the snow was hiding. The wet fall and long winter have caused in snow mold growth in lawns. My backyard is no different. Because of the wet fall,I was unable to get one last mowing in and my lawn is very scary looking right now.
NDSU Extension has a great publication,Home Lawn Problems and Solutions for North Dakota which discusses snow mold in depth. I am going to highlight a few important points to help you prevent snow mold in your lawn next year.
Snow mold is a common cold-weather disease that can affect all cool-season turfgrass in North Dakota. It typically attacks turfgrass leaves but can kill the crown, the growing point that produces leaves, during a severe outbreak. There are two types of snow mold, grey and pink. They are different in how they affect turf and their color,as you might have guessed.
Gray snow mold develops during winter under snow cover at temperatures just above freezing, usually requiring 30-plus days for development. After the snow melts from an infected area, light tan patches anywhere from 2 inches to 2 feet or more are present in the lawn. The disease cannot advance once snow cover recedes. The patches often are covered by a white, cottony growth called mycelium. The fungus survives warm weather as resting structures called sclerotia, which are black or reddish-brown structures visible to the naked eye. They may resemble black pepper sprinkled over leaves and ground litter or they may grow as large as a pin head either on or embedded in the grass leaves.
Pink snow mold develops under snow cover at temperatures ranging from 30 to 60 F. Unlike gray snow mold, the disease can continue to grow after snowmelt when conditions remain cool and wet. The fungi also produce tan patches ranging from 3 inches to 2 feet in diameter. The mycelium produces a pink cast in the infected areas during wet conditions. Another difference between pink and gray snow mold is that pink snow mold does not produce black sclerotia in the infected areas
.In most situations, snow mold will just kill the leaves, so don’t lose hope for your lawn yet.Gently rake-up the dead vegetation andnew growth should emerge from the crown. If the crown has died, you will need to reseed in those areas. Start by removingthe dead vegetation and lightly disturb the soil with a heavy rake. Then spread grass seed and rake the seed into the soil. This fall make sureto keep mowing as long as the grass is growing. Tall grass will mat under snow which creates conditions for snow mold to develop. A preventative fungicide treatment applied right before permanent snow cover occurs usually is very effective in preventing snow mold infections. For more information visit: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/lawns-gardens-trees/home-lawn-problems-and-solutions-for-north-dakota/h1553.pdf.

Week of 4.6.20

Katelyn Hain | Agriculture & Natural Resources

NDSU to Conduct Dry Bean Webinar April 15

 Farmers and crop advisers will have an opportunity to receive dry bean production and market updates during a Getting-it-Right webinar that North Dakota State University Extension is conducting Wednesday, April 15, from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

"This webinar will provide concise presentations to reach dry bean producers and managers with research-based production recommendations for 2020," says Ryan Buetow, Extension cropping systems specialist based at NDSU's Dickinson Research Extension Center.

The subjects that will be covered and the NDSU Extension crop specialists presenting them are:

* Market types and variety review, and plant growth stages -Hans Kandel, Extension agronomist

* Recommendations for selected plant establishment factors -Greg Endres, Extension cropping systems specialist.

* Soil considerations and plant nutrition -Dave Franzen, Extension soil science specialist

* Disease management -Sam Markell, Extension plant pathologist

* Weed management -Joe Ikley, Extension weed specialist

* Market update -Frayne Olson, Extension crops economist

For more information or to join the webinar, visit https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/CarringtonREC. Go to the "Events" section in the left-hand menu.The webinars will be recorded. Speakers can be contacted later to answer questions that result from the webinar. Certified crop adviser continuing education credits will be available.NDSU Agriculture Communication

-April 7, 2020:Source: Greg Endres, 701-652-2951, u:Editor: Ellen Crawford, 701-231-5391,



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