NDSU Extension - Traill County


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Traill County Extension

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 Soil field Day

Attracting Songbirds

It’s cold outside and birds need some food to keep them warm. Now is theCardinal
perfect time to attract them to your home for winter. Bird feeding grows in popularity every year and it is easy to understand why. Songbirds provide us with entertaining sounds, bright flashes of color, and curious movements that are enjoyable to watch.

Select the Best Feeder
A sturdy, comfortable perch is important for many birds. A traditional wooden feeder mounted on a post will work well. If you can only afford one feeder, this is the one to choose. Hanging feeders are preferred by nimble birds, such as chickadees and goldfinches. Some birds prefer to eat insects and meat, rather than seeds. Nylon covered wire cages filled with suet will attract woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees. A combination of all these feeders will give you the most bird feeding activity.

Select a Good Location
Place your feeder where you can comfortably watch the birds. Feeders should be placed fairly close to trees or shrubs. This will provide birds with nesting sites, sanctuary from predators, and protection from winter winds. The feeder should be at least five feet high to discourage cats and squirrels. Place your feeder at least ten feet away from steps, rooftops, or sturdy tree limbs. Cats use these objects as launching pads to get at birds.

Provide Good Food
Sunflower seeds are the favorite food of cardinals and several other popular birds. Sunflower seeds, especially the solid black oil-type, are loaded with calories that keep birds warm over winter. A mixture containing sunflower seeds, white proso millet and cracked corn is a good economic value. Don’t be cheap. Bargain mixes often contain large amounts of wheat, milo, peanut hearts, hulled oats, and rice. Bargain mixes are not attractive to popular birds. They also create a mess around the feeder since birds pick through the seed mix. Rather than buying bargain mixes, save money by purchasing good quality seed in bulk.

Herb GardenGrowing Herbs Indoors

Now is a great time to start growing herbs indoors. You can enjoy fresh herbs in your holiday meals or grow pots of herbs to share as gifts with fellow gardeners. Dig small clumps or take cuttings of rosemary, chives, thyme and sage from your garden. Sow seeds of basil, parsley, dill and cilantro. Use potting soil mix. Small (3–4 inch) pots work well on a windowsill. Larger pots can be used with plant stands. Fertilize monthly. Set near a sunny (south) window with at least 6 hours of sun per day. “Grow light” tubes are another option. Keep them on for at least 12 hours daily and set lights close (6–15 inches) to plants. Room temps will work well. Winter homes are dry. Set pots on a tray filled with gravel and then add water to the tray. A humidifier and misting can help.

Apple Crisp, Applesauce and Apple Pie. Oh My!

It’s apple picking time! That means many goodies in the kitchen are to be made with this plentiful harvest of apples. The sun is shining, the air is crisp and cool, and our apple trees are loaded with fruit. It’s a great time of the year!

Almost all cultivars are ready to be picked now. If you are not sure, an apple is ready for picking when its background skin color turns from green to yellow. The fruit comes off easily when harvested.

Use an upward and twisting motion when harvesting fruit. Do not yank down on branches. This can tear off the knobby, branch spurs, where next year’s fruits will come.

Apples on trees can tolerate temps approaching 26°F before frost damage occurs. If they freeze on the tree, wait for the fruits to thaw before harvesting. Frozen fruits should be used promptly.

Store fruits in a cool (34–40°F), humid (90% RH), dark place. A refrigerator is best, but a root cellar or unheated garage is acceptable.

Colder Weather Moves In – Helpful Tips on Mouse
Keeping the Rodents Out

The house mouse and Norway rat are two of the most destructive pests in the United States. Both rodents can be a problem in the home, but the rat is the more serious problem in warehouses, urban areas and agricultural buildings. They both eat a wide range of foods and do considerable gnawing to wear down their continuously growing incisors. The reproductive potential of a single pair of rats or mice is staggering, thus, you should control an infestation quickly.

To control a rodent infestation, your primary goal is to reduce the population. You can do this by trapping, or through the use of rodenticides (poisons). Trapping with the right size common wooden base snap traps for rats or mice can be very effective, but requires some effort and skill.

Some helpful tips are: (1) use plenty of traps, 1 every 10 feet or so is enough; (2) use bait the rodents are already eating, if at all possible. Otherwise, rolled oats in peanut butter makes good bait; (3) put the baited traps out but do not set them for a few days to let the rodents get used to them; and (4) place the traps near a wall or obstacle with the trigger next to the wall.

Rodenticides fall into two categories, multiple-dose anticoagulants and single-dose poisons. The anticoagulants are much less dangerous to humans and are available in ready-to-use bait formulations. The rodents need to eat them for several days to get a lethal dose. Several new anticoagulants do not require multiple feedings. The single-dose rodenticides are more dangerous and are generally unavailable to the public without training and certification. Any infestation severe enough to justify use of single-dose rodenticide is best handled by a professional pest control operator.

Some tips on the safe use of rodenticides include keeping them away from children and pets, keeping the bait fresh, and using covered or protected bait stations in places rodents frequent. After you reduce the population, clean up and sanitize the infested area. Remove all potential food. As a last step, rodent-proof the home or building by sealing all access points such as cracks, utility openings or broken windows. Clean up and rodent-proofing are done last to avoid disturbing the rodent's environment, which can make them very wary and more difficult to remove.

Fall Harvest FAQs

PumpkinA change is in the air! Cool mornings have now become our norm. Below are a couple common questions I receive in the office this time of year:

When to Harvest Pumpkins?
Harvest before a killing frost (28°F). Leave a few inches of stem attached. Do not bruise. Cure in a warm (80°F) spot for 10 days for long-term storage.

When to Harvest Squash?
Harvest before a killing frost (28°F). Leave at least one inch of stem. Wipe but don’t wash fruit. Except for acorns, cure in a warm (80°F) spot for 10 days to toughen skin for long-term storage.

When to Harvest Apples? The background color (seen at the top and side of fruit) begins to turn from green to yellow. Fruits come off easily when harvested. Use an upward, twisting motion when harvesting.

Soybean Cyst Nematode Sampling Program

The NDSU Extension Service and the North Dakota Soybean Council are working together again to coordinate a SCN soil testing program. A limited number of SCN soil test bags in Traill County will be available on a first come first serve basis.

As in the past, pre-labeled SCN soil test bags have been sent to the Traill County Extension office. The bags (and instruction sheets) have arrived to the Extension office. Growers can pick up to three SCN soil test bags each. Each bag is pre-marked with billing information that will be covered by the North Dakota Soybean Council. To submit a sample, fill the bag with soil, provide site information and send the bag to the partner lab (Agvise). Results will be mailed directly to the growers and the laboratory fees are covered by checkoff dollars to the North Dakota Soybean Council.

Scout for Palmer Amaranth Now

Palmer amaranthPalmer amaranth, the No. 1 weed problem in the U.S., hasn’t been spotted in North Dakota yet, and the state’s agricultural producers would like to keep it out.

It has been identified in two neighboring states, Minnesota and South Dakota, as well as in Iowa. Palmer amaranth is a type of pigweed that has devastated crops in the South and Midwest, according to North Dakota State University Extension sugar beet agronomist Tom Peters. For example, it has reduced yield up to 91 percent in corn and 79 percent in soybeans.

Peters says this aggressive, competitive weed would pose a major threat to North Dakota crops because it can grow 2 to 3 inches per day in optimum conditions. The plants can grow to be 6 to 8 feet tall, and a single plant can produce up to 1 million seeds. Palmer amaranth also is hard to control because it is very prone to being resistant to herbicides.

Unlike other summer annual weeds that need to be controlled only through early summer, Palmer amaranth emerges throughout the growing season, notes Brian Jenks, weed scientist at NDSU’s North Central Research Extension Center near Minot.

The first step in managing Palmer amaranth is to look for it and identify it.

“Scout areas for plants that don’t look right,” Peters advises.

Now is a good time to scout because Palmer amaranth is developing its distinctive long, snaky seed heads, he says. The seed heads can grow up to 2 feet long. Identifying Palmer amaranth can be difficult because it resembles redroot pigweed, smooth pigweed and waterhemp. Here are some ways to distinguish Palmer amaranth from similar-looking weeds:

  •  Seedlings have egg-shaped leaves and may have a hairlike protrusion on the leaf tip.
  •  The leaves and stem have few or no hairs.

  •  The petiole (leaf stem) will be as long as or longer than the leaf blade.

Visit NDSU Extension’s Palmer amaranth website at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/palmeramaranth to learn more about the weed and how to identify it.

Palmer amaranth seeds can spread in a number of ways, including farm equipment, wildlife, wind and water. Seeds also have been found in native seed mixes used for pollinator or wildlife habitats and in hay. Peters noted that a lot of donated hay came into North Dakota in 2017 because of the severe drought the state was experiencing, so producers need to be on the lookout for Palmer amaranth and other weeds.

People who see a plant they suspect is Palmer amaranth should contact the Traill County Extension office at (701)636-5665 or email alyssa.scheve@ndsu.edu.

Traill County Courthouse


NDSU Extension/Traill County
114 Caledonia Ave. W.
Box 730 (mailing address)
Hillsboro, ND 58045
Phone:  701-636-5665   
Fax: 701-636-5666

Office Hours:
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday
Summer Office Hours:
(Memorial Day - Labor Day)
7 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.,  Monday-Thursday
8 a.m. - Noon, Friday

Related Links:
NDSU Extension
North Dakota Department of Agriculture

Traill County
City of Hillsboro
Cities of Mayville-Portland
City of Hatton

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