Gage County Extension

January 2023

Happy January!

Happy New Year! We are so excited to see what 2023 has to bring for Gage County! Be sure to keep updated by checking our Facebook page, as there are some exciting opportunities coming up. We hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Gage County Extension Staff

In this issue:


Office closed January 2nd & 16th

Upcoming Events:

Farm and Ranch Lease Considerations for 2023 Workshop

Horticulture-Nicole Stoner

New Year New Plants

Winter Plant Protection

Water & Integrated Cropping Systems-Nathan Mueller

Farm & Ranch Lease Considerations for 2023 Workshop

UNL Pesticide Safety Education Program

Food, Nutrition & Health-Tara Dunker

Pears, a juicy fruit with a rich history

Food trends expected in 2023

4-H & Youth Development- Jacie Milius

4-H Enrollment

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New Year New Plants By Nicole Stoner

Happy New Year! Now that we are moving into 2023, we can start looking at our gardens and what needs to be added or changed. I know, it is still winter and will be for a few more months, but we can start planning our gardens now for the spring.

Seed Catalogs

When planning your new garden, you can get some great ideas on what to plant from all those fun seed catalogs. I have already started receiving catalogs at my house. If you don’t get any seed catalogs, you can go online to any seed company and request a free catalog. These seed catalogs have many of our tried and true favorites as well as a lot of good choices for new varieties in fun colors, shapes, and sizes to fit your garden.

Perennial Plant of the Year

If you are looking for a great selection, the Perennial Plant Association has named Rudbeckia ‘American Gold Rush’ as the perennial plant of the year for 2023. This is a variety of black-eyed Susan that has a long season of bloom, silvery colored leaves due to the hairs on the leaf and stem surfaces, and is resistant to Septoria leaf spot which is common on the straight species of black-eyed Susan. It grows 22-27 inches tall and 40 inches wide and is low-maintenance and very heat and drought resistant.

Plants to Try

Other good choices include Heuchera ‘Wildberry’ one of the deep purple colored coral bells. It is the Proven Winners National Perennial of the Year for 2023. This is a good choice for either full sun or shady gardens. It would add a pop of purple color to a shade garden in the summer. It has a low, mounding form that grows up to 10-14 inches tall and 16-20 inches wide.

There are also some great choices from the All American Selection Winners. One of their selections for the 2023 AAS Ornamental Seeds is the Snapdragon DoubleShot Orange Bicolor. Which is a beautiful, double flowering snapdragon that is found in shades of orange and orange-red. It is an intermediate height snapdragon growing to 18-20 inches tall.

The All American Selections have also chosen Leucanthemum ‘Carpet Angel’ as a Perennial plant winner. It is described as “the first-ever groundcover Shasta Daisy”. Salvia ‘Blue by You’ is another Perennial plant winner as a blue-colored salvia plant that may add to your garden. They have also chosen Coleus ‘Premium Sun Coral Candy’ as an Ornamental Seed winner for 2023. This coleus is described to “hold its color well, even when grown in full sun”.

New Garden Space

You may be looking at new plants for a new garden space. If you are thinking about plants for a new landscape bed, you need to first determine the sunlight and moisture levels in the area then look at plants that will grow in those growing conditions. You also should consider the amount of management for the plants you desire. Some plants take a lot more care, with cleanup and deadheading, while others don’t take as much. Once you figure that out, look at the colors and flower types you prefer and plant those. Keep in mind full size of the plant when planning how many of each plant to purchase, don’t overcrowd the plants.

Winter Plant Protection

As I wander through my landscape this time of year, it is easy to notice problems. One thing I realized, is that I forgot to put on winter protection from the wildlife to a newly planted tree sapling. I now realize that the tree, that was nipped off by a rabbit or squirrel, will likely not return, which is very disappointing. So, if you haven’t put the winter protection out for your plants yet, do so soon to stop damage before it starts.

Winter Care of Trees

We need to protect our trees from damage that can occur over the winter. Tree trunks of young, thin-barked trees can be damaged from sunscald in the winter. Sunscald happens on warm days when the cells of the bark warm up and then freeze rapidly at night. Once the damage has occurred there is no cure for it, but you can use a tree wrap through the winter months to prevent the damage. Be sure to only leave tree wraps on for the winter months and only for the first few years of growth.

As for wildlife, exclusion with a fence is best. The fence needs to be at least 8 feet tall for deer damage and 2 feet tall for rabbits. It should be made from 1-inch by 1-inch mesh wire, or chicken wire, to prevent young rabbits and voles from getting through.

Farm & Ranch Lease Considerations for 2023 Workshop By Nathan Mueller

Extension ag land management, leasing workshop scheduled in Beatrice

Nebraska Extension will host a workshop covering agricultural land management and leasing considerations for 2023 in Beatrice from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 9 at the office of Nebraska Extension in Gage County, 1115 W. Scott St.

It will offer updated leasing information relevant to landlords and tenants, including tips for communication and negotiating. It will address topics like equitable rental rates, managing and adjusting farmland leases, landlord-tenant issues, pasture leasing, crop share leasing and other management considerations.

The presentation will be led by Allan Vyhnalek, an extension educator specializing in farm and ranch transition and succession, and Jim Jansen, an extension agricultural economist. Both are with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Agricultural Profitability.

The meeting is free to attend, but registration is required with Nebraska Extension in Gage County at 402-223-1384 Lunch will be included.

Follow link to register online....

UNL Pesticide Safety Education Program

The second program is our regional 2023 Crop Production Clinic organized by the UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, UNL Pesticide Safety Education Program, and local Nebraska Extension Water & Cropping System Educators. The clinic will be held from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm on Thursday, Jan. 12 in Beatrice at the Holiday Inn Express, 4005 N 6th St. The crop production clinic offers practical, profitable, environmentally sound, high impact training for agricultural professionals and farmers. Commercial pesticide and private pesticide applicators can attend Room 1 to get their 3-year required training. In Room 2, certified crop advisers can obtain continuing education units and farmers in the Turkey Creek National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) Watershed can learn more about how they can continue to improve surface and groundwater quality. A map of the watershed, cost-share opportunities, and more is located online at Farmers located in the Turkey Creek NWQI Watershed can call the Lower Big Blue NRD at 402-228-3402 to obtain a registration code that will allow them to register online for free (not allowed to use if renewing private pesticide license, education only). The cost of the crop production clinic for other attendees will be $95 (includes lunch and handouts). To learn more and to register for the Crop Production Clinic, visit

For inquiries about other agronomic resources and programs from Nebraska Extension, contact me at, 402-821-1722, or visit my website. Know your crop, know your tech, know your bottom line at

Pears, a juicy fruit with a rich history By Tara Dunker

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming…and a partridge in a pear tree.

Every time I research one of these “fun facts” columns, I come away thinking: Tara, you really are clueless, aren’t you. I set out to write an article about pears for National Pear Month but ended up learning to spell twelfth (what a funny word), the origins of the Twelve Days of Christmas (very interesting), and the significance of a partridge hanging out in a pear tree.

I guess a partridge is a ground-dwelling bird that runs fast but doesn’t fly much, so finding it in a tree would be weird. It will also fake injury to draw predators toward itself and away from its nest to protect its young. For these reasons, early Roman Catholics used “partridge in a pear tree” imagery to remind children of Jesus’ sacrifice when they were forbidden from practicing their religion publicly in England.

Food trends expected in 2023

I’m no trend-setter, but I can navigate a search engine with the efficiency of a true 80s baby.

Using this not-so-unique skill set, I’ve compiled a list of 2023 food trends I find especially interesting and relevant to my southeast Nebraska readers. Enjoy.

1. Nostalgic Food. Nostalgia is nothing new in the world of trends, and it’s different for everyone. While my sister recently felt a pang of sentimentality when McDonald’s brought back their Halloween Happy Meal Buckets, some readers of this column may be more interested to know Baked Alaska is set for a sweet comeback in 2023. Of course, any flavors that remind a person of childhood bring with them the biggest waves of nostalgia. According to the Food Network, the most recent Sweets & Snacks Expo displayed s’mores-flavored foods and drinks galore.

2. Tinned Fish. Before researching this column, I had never heard canned food referred to as “tinned” instead, but I kind of like it. Due, at least in part, to political upheaval and environmental concerns surrounding the lobster and fishing industries in New England, tinned fish is having a moment. So, if you’ve always enjoyed a good salmon patty or sardines on crackers, then congratulations—you’re trendy. If, however, you’ve never explored tinned fish beyond tuna, now is the time.

3. Dates. The phrase “everything old is new again” comes to mind as I make this list. Dates are believed to be the earliest cultivated fruit and have even shown up in the fossil record—doesn’t get much older than that. In their dried form, dates have been a favorite food in many parts of the world for longer than most of us can imagine. Social media, however, has lifted this ancient fruit up as both a tasty treat (think chocolate-covered dates recipes) and an alternative sweetener or sauce in its syrup form.

4. Swicy Food. You read that right—swicy. It’s a combination of sweet and spicy flavors, and it’s turning up everywhere, from restaurant menus featuring curry dishes with a sweet heat to bottles of hot honey on grocery store shelves. This is a trend that’s been growing for some time, so you may already be on that bandwagon. If not, snag some hot honey to glaze those chicken thighs next time you go shopping.

5. Just-Add-Water Food. Versions of this have existed since the microwave reinvented convenience cooking in kitchens around the world (think instant ramen), but the food industry is leaning into this option to cut back on their water use during production, decrease shipping weights and volumes, and increase shelf life. One unique example of this is Kelogg’s new Just-Add-Water Instabowl—a variety of cold cereal options in single-serve packages along with powdered milk. What do you need to do before eating it? Add water and stir.

6. Mushrooms. Thanks to their meaty texture and savory flavor, these polarizing fungi are experiencing an uptick in popularity. Love them or hate them, you can expect to see a lot more mushrooms in 2023. While the White Buttons seen in U.S. grocery stores may come to mind first, other varieties like Oyster and Maitake (this one looks like a brain) are being incorporated into restaurant dishes, like Chicken Fried Mushrooms. I love mushrooms, so I’ll go ahead and say “yum” here.

7. Mocktails. Going dry, or “damp” (meaning drinking less alcohol, but not abstaining), will extend beyond January for many. And thanks to trend prediction outlets, bars and restaurants will be ready. You’ll see lots of menu offerings for non-alcoholic drinks that still offer a depth of flavor and ingredients. According to Food Business News, the beer-based micheladas will be accompanied by “michelaguas” on many restaurant menus. These non-alcoholic alternatives will be made with agua fresca (a mixture of fruit, water, lime juice, and sweetener), instead of beer. And, of course, there are a handful of celebrities coming out with their own sparkling mocktail lines for retail. Cheers!

If you have any further questions, please contact Tara Dunker at 402-223-1384,, or visit the Gage County Extension website at

4-H Enrollment Now OPEN

Enrollment is open for the 2022-2023 Gage County 4-H year. The enrollment website is All 4-H youth (ages 8-18), Clover Kids (ages 5-7), and leaders/volunteers are required to enroll online every year. Enrollment deadline is June 15. We encourage all members to enroll using a computer and not your mobile device. Call or email Jacie or Sarah at 402-223-1384 with any enrollment questions.

Please make sure to include or update your child's t-shirt size! This is the sizing guide we use to order the Exmark t-shirts for county fair! It is not a required field so can often be missed.

Updated help guides can be found on our website.

Enrollment fee is $12 for each 4-H youth to be paid online or in the office. There is no fee for Clover Kids or adults. We will not be accepting enrollments until we have received payment.

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