When and How to Harvest a Pumpkin

Harvesting PumpkinsThis time of the year, (September to October) pumpkins are the crop that people begin to look at and purchase.

In addition pumpkin patches are opening up this week, (example: Vala’s Pumpkin – Gretna, NE and will continue to be open till the end of October. Is it too early to harvest a pumpkin? What should you look for when you select any pumpkin for purchase.

Check out this video made by the “Wisconsin Vegetable Grower” and learn what to look for with respect to knowing when the pumpkin is ready for harvest. Second, listen for the tips in properly harvesting the pumpkin to insure it stays fresh for weeks.

What other steps would you add with respect to harvesting pumpkins?

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Getting answers to laboratory testing questions

lab testingI decided to write about this issue because some people were telling me that they were finding it hard to find a particular laboratory to work with. It was taking a long time to answer analysis questions, setup an account and get proper directions for sending a sample.

When businesses or companies are looking for a laboratory for a specific test, typically they go online and perform a search. If I was put in the same position, I would probably do the same thing. Some items to consider when looking for a laboratory. Make sure you are getting up-to-date answers to your questions. The information you receive should be current, September 2014 information.

In addition, you should look at the laboratory website and make sure you can easily find a person’s name, contact information and a company address. All of this information will save you time and a lot of frustration.

Finally, I would call the laboratory. You should be able to reach someone right away during normal business hours. This shows that the company cares about servicing the needs of clients right away.

At Midwest Laboratories, client service is at the forefront of service. To serve you better, a staff of associates is in place to help answer your questions. These people are categorized based on the people they serve so they have a strong knowledge of the industries that they serve.

Agriculture – Stacie, Lyndsay, Steffanie, Ashley, John M
Environmental – Heather, Rob, John M
Feed/ Pet Foods – Sue Ann
Foods – Sue Ann, Erin
Fuels – Heather
IT/Website- Aaron

These people serve as the front-line for client support. When you call the 402-334–7770, you can be sure that your call will go to one of these people and will be answered right away.

Your time is limited and we want to be able to maximize that time and give you the information you need in an efficient, timely manner.

Do you have the Midwest Labs App?

Midwest Labs Mobile AppEarlier this year we announced the roll-out of the Midwest Laboratories App for

Android Phones and Tablets and Apple iPhone/iPad devices respectively.

Last week, Apple made their big announcement about a new iPhone Version and iWatch. Android continued to promote its reliable technology. This week, I want to bring attention to the VALUE that the Midwest Labs App can bring you.

The Midwest Labs App uses a clients’ current account number and password and allows the user to see the following information:

Follow your samples – (Received / Expected Completion) 

Pull up samples from the past 30 days. 

See  report number with .pdf report information

Questions – Call or email directly from app

….All of these actions can now be done while you are on the go

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Could Ethanol Plants be Expanding?

Ethanol Production 2014The ethanol industry has been able to weather the recession and show that ethanol can be a profitable business.  The issue at hand is how does this industry keep up the momentum. One way, is looking for investors for future expansion projects.  Check out the article Banking on Biofuels in Ethanol Producer, August 18, 2014 for more information on this topic.

Many ethanol plants are growing through acquisition. This is one strategy, but is it sustainable. How can Ethanol Producers get more of their product in other parts of the country. How can they improve the current distribution of ethanol. I do believe these topics will be addressed in the next couple of years as ethanol production  will continue to remain at the same level for the foreseeable future.

In order for the ethanol industry to grow, it needs a bigger share of the market. This is the topic that is hopefully being looked at and addressed. In addition, it needs to take advanage of the co-products in the areas of DDGs and oils to continue to create a diversified market.

Midwest Laboratories continues to work with ethanol plants with respect to standardized testing of ethanol and coproducts: corn oil and ddgs.

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How to Preserve Fruits and Vegetables

Preserving Fruits and VegetablesYou have to check out these preservation tips.

You will not believe how simple they are.

I am also guessing you have never seen some of these tips before. Here is a preview of some of the tips.

Bananas – Wrap stems in plastic, seal with rubber band.

Lettuce- Spinach and Kale – Put it in a ziploc bag with a damp paper towel

Avocado – Keep the pit in the avocado, add some onions and put it in a rubbermaid container.

Now, check out the video!

Now, time to try some of these examples.

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No-Till and Tillage Soil Profiles

No-Till ExplainedOne of the best no-till comparison videos I have ever seen.

Great pictures and explanation of the soil and root process.

Spend a few minutes and see the difference for yourself.

In addition, you will be able to see where the soil tillage line goes down to and the effect it has on the soil.

Right now the buzz word is soil health. Don’t forget the concept of no-till when it comes to soil health. The evidence is right there in that upper layer of soil nutrients. Make sure no-till is a part of your soil health initiative.

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Why does Midwest Laboratories post its analysis fees online?

Midwest Laboratories | Omaha, NE

Midwest Laboratories | Omaha, NE

Many people have asked this question over the years. If you look at our competition, most laboratories do not post price information and want to make sure clients call in and talk to someone. Midwest Laboratories, (MWL) wants to be as transparent as it can with respect to its clients and providing specific analysis information is one of the first steps in this process.

MWL has been on the internet since the mid 1990’s and has always had a mindset that it is better to give people more information rather than less. Before the internet, the analysis fees were printed, published and distributed to clients. It has been a tradition that the company continues to value and deliver.

We know there are laboratories with higher prices and others with lower prices. At MWL, it is more about the wide array of analysis provided in one central campus location. As you look at the online analysis, you will see the analysis is divided into five categories

Agriculture

Environmental

Feed/Pet Food

Food

Fuels

Understanding the capabilities of a laboratory is critical for insuring that particular analysis can be performed by a laboratory. By providing analysis in these different areas, MWL is able to meet the needs of its clients.

Analysis packages are available that include individual tests, put together to give the client a variety of analysis information at a discounted rate.

In addition, individual analysis information is also included for clients and businesses that are making decisions based on a few analysis parameters.

Everyday, calls and inquires are received regarding analysis that may/may not be listed in the fee schedule. There may be a particular method that a client is looking for with respect to analysis. At MWL we would invite you to submit these type of questions and know that we will tell you if we can/cannot perform the analysis you are looking for. Check out our online fee schedule and if you would like a hard copy, call and ask for MWL Fee Schedule to be sent to your location.

Low or Reduced Sodium – Confusing Food Label Information

Food Label ConfusionWhat do you think when you see the words low, reduced, light and no sugar added on the packages of food items?

Check out this Consumer Reports News Story and learn more about what these words really mean and how misleading they can be when it comes to trying to understand food labels.

Food Label Confusion  (Summary from the News Story) 

The difference between low and reduced. (There is a big difference)

Low - Low Sodium means a food product cannot have more than 140 mg per serving

ReducedReduced sodium means it has less sodium than its regular product

The difference between light and low.

Light - Light Fat only means less than the original

Low - Low Fat Must have less than 3 grams per serving

The difference between multi-grain and whole-grain

Multi-Grain – Aren’t bad, but could be processed

Whole-Grain – Better, because no processing is involved.

Here are some other confusing statements

No sugar added - Means sugar wasn’t added during processing. It does not mean that sugar is not in the product. (Very misleading)

Hydrogenated versus partially hyrdrogenated – Stay away from both and look for olive and canola oils.

Summary

I found this news story very informative. It really clarifies a lot of these terms that I frequently see in the supermarket. Hopefully, a better system will be here sooner that will actually give people the facts on what we are consuming versus the current tag phrases which really leave the interpretation up to the consumer.

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September Lawn Tip

September Lawn TipsAnyone else mowing their lawn at least a couple of times each week in September?

I believe the weather has a lot to do with this. In this part of the country, (Omaha, Nebraska) the temperatures have been relatively mild, highs in the upper 70’s to low 80’s Fahrenheit. In addition there has been 2 -3 inches of rain this month.  The future forecast is for cooler temperatures and more rain.

It is for this reason that I am doing the following things.

  • Adding a shot of fertilizer – When temperatures are cool it is always a good time to apply more fertilizer to boost nitrogen. It’s been 8 weeks since my last application.
  • Mowing the grass shorter - The lower temperatures are also lowering the soil temperatures to a 50-60 degree level. This is the ideal level for grass to grow. For this reason, the grass is growing faster.
  • Add some seed to your yard – I applied some seed a few weeks ago and have seen some really dry, dead areas come back this fall.
  • Continue to water the lawn, (especially, if its been 6 days since the last rain fall) . It’s a great time to establish proper root growth going into the winter months.

September is a great time to try some new lawn tactics before it gets too cool. Developing a strong thick lawn happens now if the work is put into place.

Looking Back at Biodiesel Testing

Biodiesel Testing AnalysisThe biodiesel market is holding steady. In 2014, it appears the main issue is holding costs down. In order to hold costs down, a quality product must be able to be produced on a regular basis.

Over the past 7 years it has been really interesting to follow this industry and see how producers get their product to market. The technology and processes continue to be refined and made more efficient.

Through these past 7 years, Midwest Laboratories has tried to work with companies to assist them with providing rush analysis to help companies address production issues and get their product to market in a timely manner.

It appears a number of smaller biodiesel ventures are starting to get their processed up and running. Hopefully, this trend will continue and this industry will come back stronger than ever.

If you have questions about biodiesel analysis, check out our available biodiesel analysis packages and individual tests.  For further assistance contact Heather or Brent at 402-334-7770.

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