Extension Information


27 4-H Green Team Meeting, 5:30 p.m., Extension Office, Elkader

27 4-H County Council Meeting, 7:30 p.m., Extension Office, Elkader

29 4-H & FFA Food Quality Assurance Training, 7:00 p.m., Extension Office, Elkader

Grants Available for Area Church Bible Schools

The Clayton County Dairy Promotion Committee will again help provide dairy products for Vacation Bible Schools in Clayton County. Area churches may apply for a $25 grant to help with the cost of dairy products such as milk, butter, cheese, yogurt and ice cream. To apply for the grant please send the following information to Tammy Muller, Treasurer, P.O. Box 62, Monona, Iowa 52159: Name of church, address, number of students, dates of VBS, a receipt for the dairy products purchased and to whom the bill is to be paid.



Clayton County dairy producers with cows producing in their lifetime in excess of 200,000 pounds of milk and/or, 7,000 pounds of butterfat are encouraged to nominate their cows for the 200,000/7,000 Lifetime Production Club. Special recognition will be given to these producers at the Clayton County Dairy Festival Banquet set for June 6, 2014.

The award was initiated in 1986 by the Clayton County Dairy Promotion Committee.

To be eligible for the 2014 award, the cows must have exceeded either the 200,000 or the 7,000 pound level by December 31, 2013. To verify the cow’s production, the producer should send a copy of the most recent Pedigree and Performance Evaluation form (Midstates DRPC Form DHIA-203 or DRMS Form DHI-103) along with the nomination form to the Clayton County Extension Office in Elkader. Nominations are due immediately.



The Clayton County Distinguished Dairy Producer Award, Outstanding Young Dairy Producer Award, and the Senior Dairy Producer Award will be presented at the county’s dairy festival banquet set for June 6, 2014. The awards are designed to honor dairy families and individuals who have achieved excellence in managing their dairy enterprise; have contributed leadership to the dairy industry; and are involved in volunteer roles with their community.

Anyone may nominate producers for these awards. The nomination forms are available at the County Extension Office, 120 South Main Street, Elkader, Iowa 52043 (phone 563-245-1451). The committee involved with the festival awards needs to have the nomination forms completed and returned immediately.

The young producer award is for a person 40 years of age or younger. The distinguished producer award is for a person over 40 years of age. The senior award is designed for those over 65 years of age.


Clayton County Seeks Candidates for Dairy Princess, Little Miss Squirt and Junior Dairyman


     The Clayton County Dairy Promotion Committee is seeking candidates for Clayton County Dairy Princess, Little Miss Squirt and Junior Dairyman. Winners will be crowned at the annual banquet on Friday, June 6 at Johnson's reception Hall in Elkader.


     Princess candidates must be unmarried, and between the ages of 16 and 22 by June 1, 2014. Her parents must be actively involved in dairy; an exception is made if she or her parents or guardian are directly employed by a dairy farmer.


     Little Miss Squirt and Junior Dairyman contestants must be between the ages of 8 and 10 by June 1, 2014. Their parent/guardian must be actively engaged in dairy; an exception will be made if their parents/guardians are directly employed on a dairy farm. Their duties will be to assist the Princess in county promotions.


     Any prior contestants, who meet age requirements, and did not win last year are welcome to run again. Alternates may also compete again.


     If you are interested in being a candidate, please contact the Extension Office in Elkader for a complete list of rules and an application form. The application deadline is May 15th.



Pressure Canner Gauge Testing

Pressure canner dial gauges need to be tested for accuracy at least once a year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Iowa State University/Clayton County recommends that if a gauge is off by more than one pound, it should be replaced because you can't adjust the pressure and be sure that the temperature inside the canner is accurate. If your gauge is off, it could result in under-processed canned products.

The Clayton County Extension is testing gauges throughout the summer at the County office at 120 S Main Street, Elkader. This service is free, just bring in the lid/guage.


Yard and Garden: Planting Rhubarb

Rhubarb, classed as a vegetable, is used as a fruit because its high acidity gives it a tart flavor. Iowa State University horticulturists make rhubarb planting recommendations for gardeners planting their first rhubarb patch and those maintaining an established planting. Gardeners with additional questions should contact Hortline at 515-294-3108 or hortline@iastate.edu

What would be a good planting site for rhubarb?

Rhubarb performs best in well-drained, fertile soils that are high in organic matter. Work the soil deeply (12 to 15 inches) and add liberal amounts of organic matter, such as compost or barnyard manure, before planting.

Rhubarb also requires full sun. The planting site should receive at least six hours of direct sun each day. Avoid shady sites near trees and shrubs.

When is the best time to plant rhubarb?

Spring is the best time to plant rhubarb in Iowa. Plants can be purchased at garden centers or from mail-order catalogs. Digging and dividing large existing plants is another source of plants. 

Plants growing in pots should be planted at the same depth as they are currently growing in their pots. Bare-root plants should be planted with the buds 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface. 

Dig and divide large plants in early spring before growth starts and as soon as the soil can be worked easily. Dig deeply around the rhubarb clump and lift the entire plant out of the ground. Divide the clump into sections by cutting down through the crown between the buds. Each division should contain at least two or three buds and a large portion of the root system. Replant the divisions as soon as possible.

Rhubarb plants should be spaced 3 feet apart.

What are the best rhubarb varieties for home gardens?

The cultivars ‘Canada Red,’ ‘Crimson Red,’ ‘MacDonald,’ and ‘Valentine’ have attractive red stalks and are good choices for Iowa gardens. ‘Victoria’ is a reliable, green-stalked cultivar.

When can I start harvesting newly planted rhubarb?

After planting rhubarb, it’s best to wait two years (growing seasons) before harvesting any stalks.  The two year establishment period allows the plants to become strong and productive. 

Rhubarb can be harvested over a four-week period in the third year. In the fourth and succeeding years, stalks can be harvested for 8 to 10 weeks. 


Yard and Garden: Spring Care of Strawberry Plants

Strawberries are hardy, easy to grow and produce a good crop with moderate effort, making them well suited to home gardens. Early spring is the best time to plant strawberries in Iowa, but don’t rush to remove mulch. Gardeners with additional questions can contact the horticulturists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach at hortline@iastate.edu or 515-294-3108.

When should I remove the mulch on my strawberry bed?

To reduce the chances of crop damage from a late frost or freeze, leave the mulch on as long as possible. Removing the mulch in late March may encourage the plants to bloom before the danger of frost is past. Temperatures of 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower may severely damage or destroy open flowers. Since the first flowers produce the largest berries, a late spring frost or freeze can drastically reduce yields.

To determine when to remove the mulch, periodically examine the strawberry plants in spring. Remove the mulch from the strawberry planting when approximately 25 percent of the plants are producing new growth. New growth will be white or yellow in color. (If possible, the winter mulch on strawberries should remain until mid-April in central Iowa.) When removing the mulch, rake the material to the aisles between rows.  If there is a threat of a frost or freeze later in spring during bloom, lightly rake the mulch over the strawberry plants.

Should I fertilize my strawberries in spring?

Established plantings of June-bearing strawberries should not be fertilized in spring. Spring fertilization stimulates foliar growth, produces softer berries and increases disease problems. Lush, vegetative growth may make picking difficult. Also, soft berries are more likely to be attacked by fruit rots. As a result, a spring fertilizer application may reduce fruit yield. 

Fertilizer should be applied to June-bearing strawberries during the renovation process immediately after the last harvest of the season. Apply approximately 5 pounds of 10-10-10 or a similar analysis fertilizer per 100 feet of row. 

Everbearing and day-neutral strawberries can be fertilized in early spring and again in early August. Apply 5 pounds of 10-10-10 or a similar analysis fertilizer per 100 feet of row.

When is the best time to plant strawberries?

Early spring (April) is the best time to plant strawberries in Iowa. Apply and incorporate the recommended type and amount of fertilizer (based on soil test results) into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil prior to planting. If the fertility level of the soil is unknown, apply and incorporate 1 pound of 10-10-10 or a similar analysis fertilizer per 100 square feet. 

Remove the strawberry plants from storage when ready to plant. Trim off the older leaves, place the roots in water for an hour, then plant immediately. Set each plant in the ground so the crown of the plant is even with the soil surface. 

Immediately after planting, water the strawberry plants and apply a starter fertilizer solution to aid establishment. Use a water soluble fertilizer following label directions or dissolve 2 or 3 tablespoons of a complete garden fertilizer, such as 5-10-5 or 10-10-10, in one gallon of water.