Joni James

Hot weather, as many producers know, can cause several problems for livestock. 

Hot weather, as many producers know, can cause several problems for livestock.  Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are present in many Kansas waters.  Under certain conditions, harmful algal blooms (also called HABs) can produce toxins that pose a health risk to people and animals.  It favors warm, stagnant water, especially if it’s nutrient-laden, so ponds that collect runoff from farm fields are at higher risk.
Blue-green algae looks like a pale greenish oil scum on the top of the water, except around the edges where it’s more a cobalt blue color.  Because of the recent hot, dry conditions, producers should check their ponds frequently to see if they see the scum developing.  Algae blooms can happen with just a couple of days.
Management options for producers who suspect a blue-green algae problem include:
• Do not wade, swim in or drink from these water sources.
• Provide alternate drinking sources for livestock.
• Fence cattle away from affected ponds.
• If you have to use ponds as a water source, fence cattle away from downwind areas where accumulation of the bacteria is likely to occur.
• Test pond scum to see if blue-green algae are present.  The Kansas Vet Diagnostic Lab and other area labs can test water samples for producers who suspect a problem.
More information about blue-green algae is available at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment website at
Wheat variety disease and Insect Ratings for 2012
The annual update of K-State’s Wheat Variety Disease and Insect Rating publication was released last week.  This year’s update focused on verifying and updating the ratings for stripe rust and barley yellow dwarf, which were serious problems in Kansas again this year.  The publication has undergone some important revisions in the last few years and now includes a table that can help farmers quickly evaluate the overall disease package of a variety.  The newest version of the table ranks the most commonly grown varieties as above average, average, or below average, with respect to their reaction to the most frequent and important disease problems in eastern, central and western regions of the state.
The publication can be accessed on line at or picked up at the Extension Office.

Joni James is a Kansas State Research and Extension Agent for Harvey County. Agriculture is her specialty.