JenREES 3-18-18

On-Farm Research: It’s been fun discussing on-farm research projects and putting together protocols with growers the past few weeks! Some have asked if there’s already projects for which we need cooperators.  We do have those and we also custom develop protocols depending on the question(s) you wish to look at. For those curious about protocols developed, you can view some at:

One question I’ve received quite a bit the past few years is about establishing cover crops into V5-6 corn. We don’t have on-farm research data yet for this study topic, but perhaps this year a few of you will consider it! The thought is to get the cover established, even though it won’t grow much during growing season, and hopefully provide for faster growth after harvest. I have developed an on-farm research protocol if growers are interested in trying this (it can be found at the same website listed above). In our brainstorming session, growers talked about interseeding via retrofitting equipment to put seed on similar to Y-drops, using a coulter, or seeding during cultivation. There is also a field day on March 21 to discuss what one farmer has tried the past three years regarding different seeding mixes and ways of establishing the cover at V6. If you’re interested in attending, it will be held at 4th Ave and 1/4 mile north on Arthur Road near St. Libory, NE from 1:30-3:30 p.m. The following website has more information regarding this field day: If you’re interested in attending, please RSVP Dean Krull: Please let me know if you’re interested in the V6 cover crop protocol as well! Also just a note, this protocol can also be adapted for any of you looking at applying nutrients during that V5-V6 time-frame. The plot pattern would be the same; the objective and perhaps some of the data collection would change.

Soil Moisture Status in Non-Irrigated Fields: This week I plan to install soil moisture sensors into some non-irrigated fields in the southern area of counties I serve. I’m just curious where we’re truly at for soil moisture deeper in the soil profile knowing Kansas is in drought and moisture this winter has been spotty. I did this in 2013 as well to see where we were at after the drought of 2012; it showed we didn’t have a full soil profile going into the growing season. If you have moisture sensors, you may wish to consider doing this as well for your fields or pastures to know where you’re at. It may influence cropping decisions for 2018. If you connect sensors to dataloggers, you will want to also install a temperature sensor to allow the datalogger to base the moisture readings on the current soil temperature.

Check out this week’s UNL CropWatch at for information on averaged land values dropped by 3% from 2017, negotiating fair leases, assessing alfalfa winterkill, interseeding into thin alfalfa stands, and more.

Innovative Youth Corn Challenge: Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Corn Board are offering the seventh Innovative Youth Corn Challenge contest. This contest, open to 4-H members (age 10 & older as of Jan. 1st) or FFA members (in-school members), guides participants through all aspects of corn production, as well as agricultural careers related to corn production. As a team (2 or more participants), youth will be challenged to implement a production practice different than normal to determine if they increased their yield. Economics and sustainability of the practice will also be considered. Yields, cropping history, and production information will be collected in the Corn Yield Challenge management summary. Cash prizes and plaques are given. First place receives $1,000, second place receives $500, and third place receives $250. Sustainability, crop scouting and “extra mile” awards are also given as cash awards. To participate in 2018, youth must complete and return an entry form by APRIL 1st to the Fillmore County Extension Office in Geneva, NE. Forms can be downloaded at For more information, contact Brandy VanDeWalle at

Horticulture Information from Kelly Feehan, Platte County: “Interested in getting an early start on vegetable gardening? You don’t need a greenhouse; just check out row covers that can be placed over plants to provide some protection from cold temperatures. Row covers are spun-bonded or woven polyester or polypropylene material that can be placed over plants to extend the growing season by retaining heat. Row covers are permeable and allow in light, water and air for plant growth. Depending on the weight of material used, between 2 and 8 degrees of frost protection can be gained, allowing earlier planting in spring or later planting in fall to move the harvest season up by a week or two or extend it a week or two later in the fall. Row covers can be draped over plants and secured with bricks; or they can supported by hoops, in which case they’re called low tunnels. Low tunnels are an easy and good season extender for home gardeners to use.

Rhubarb is a perennial that can live for years; however, plants should be dug and divided every 5 to 10 years. This is best done from late March into early April. Dig rhubarb plants, then use a sharp knife or axe to cut crowns into sections, each containing two pinkish buds. Incorporate organic matter into soil; then replant divisions 2 to 3 feet apart. Plant shallow so buds are only one-half to one inch below soil. Do not harvest newly divided or planted rhubarb the first year to allow plants to establish roots and recover from division or transplanting. During the second season, harvest only a few stalks to allow plants to continue to build up energy reserves. For three year or older plants, the harvest season can last up to 8 weeks. Harvest the largest rhubarb stalks by pulling them slightly to the side so they break away from the plant. Avoid harvesting more than one-third of rhubarb stalks at one time so plants are not weakened.”

JenREES 3-11-18

Crop Insurance and Tax Information:  This week’s UNL CropWatch at has several timely articles regarding crop insurance and tax information.  Please be sure to check them out!

Wheat Stem Maggot Webinar:  For those of you with small grain cover crops with plans to plant corn into them, a reminder of the wheat stem maggot webinar we’re having this Wednesday, March 14 from Noon-1 p.m. CST.  The webinar link to join is:  There’s also an article from Dr. Justin McMechan, who will also be presenting the webinar, in this week’s CropWatch regarding reasons to not use an insecticide application during time of termination.  Basically he and Dr. Bob Wright share that in doing so, there’s no guarantee the wheat stem maggot is present and one may just kill off beneficial insects.  Instead, it’s encouraged to scout fields for the wheat stem maggot adults or larvae.  There’s also not good data regarding when the maggots leave the cover crop and move into the wheat; thus, it’s hard to ensure an insecticide will have enough residual for that time period.  Instead, they’re recommending if finding wheat stem maggots via scouting, to terminate the cover crop at least 14 days prior to planting.  If weather or other circumstances don’t allow for that, they’re recommending to apply the insecticide around 11 days after the glyphosate application.  This recommendation has been shown effective for common stalk borer and they’re hoping it may work for wheat stem maggot as well, but it’s not guaranteed.  Justin and Bob will be sampling for the next several weeks and will continue to post updates to the CropWatch website, their Twitter and the CropWatch Twitter accounts.

Economics of Annual Forages Recording is now available for all who’ve been asking!  You can find it at: along with excel spreadsheets and resources mentioned in the webinar.  While this didn’t appear incredibly favorable with the scenarios presented, it’s encouraged to look at the numbers for your own operations.  I still feel this can be economical/comparable when you look at scenarios of a few forage crops/year on a piece of ground and look at ways to spread out the cost of equipment (such as custom farming, etc.).  When I was working on budgets with individual farmers, I didn’t account for fewer acres covered on the equipment dedicated to corn, so that’s where my numbers differed the most in addition to including the value of the cattle.  As individuals, you can be more specific for your operations than they could do in the scenarios that were being generalized for the purposes of the webinar.  I still think this is something for consideration, especially if you have cattle and own ground.  With Nebraska being surrounded by drought in states around us, it may be helpful to have some additional feed grown this year.

Frogeye Leaf Spot Fungicide Resistance in Iowa:  For those of you who’ve attended my pesticide trainings, I spend time on resistance management because it’s so important.  I had mentioned that Cercospora sojina that causes Frogeye leaf spot in soybean was found to be resistant to the strobilurin (quinone outside inhibitor Qol, Group 11) chemistry of fungicides in several Southern U.S. states.  This winter, Iowa State and the University of Kentucky confirmed this resistance in Iowa as well.  You can read the full article here:  This is a difficult situation because the strobilurin chemistry can be found in a number of fungicide products we use in corn, soybean, and wheat and has a high ability for fungal resistance to occur.  Frogeye tends to occur more regularly in eastern Nebraska where there’s higher humidity.

I’ve been watching updates on this situation because Cercospora is the genus to which the fungus Cercospora zeae-maydis causing gray leaf spot in corn also belongs.  We definitely don’t wish to see Cercospora zeae-maydis develop resistance to the strobilurin chemistries!  Thus, besides the reason that Nebraska research doesn’t show an automatic yield response to fungicide application at tassel in corn, it’s also a resistance management strategy to not apply a fungicide unless you need it.  The same goes for soybean and wheat; only use fungicides when we really need them in order to prolong their effectiveness against fungal pathogens.

Worker Protection Standard:  Also in pesticide training we shared updates to the Worker Protection Standard.  This applies to those who hire workers or handlers in your operations (outside of immediate family members) when the Worker Protection Standard is mentioned on pesticide labels (often in the Agricultural Use Requirements section).  The Pesticide Resources Educational Collaborative (PERC) has developed a library of information on their front page to make it easier to train workers/handlers.  You can find these resources at:  There’s also a course by Certified Training Institute (CTI).  You may have received a postcard from them in the mail regarding online private applicator training.  Technically, they are not the only approved online training option for private applicator training in Nebraska as UNL also has an online training option for $60.  But CTI also has an online training option for the Worker Protection Standard and cost varies depending on number of employees; UNL doesn’t have an online option for that.  So you may wish to look them up if you don’t wish to do the training yourself or use the PERC website.

Pruning Principles

Great information from Elizabeth on pruning tips!

Husker Hort

Pruning yew Pick the right equipment and make proper pruning cuts.

Pruning is a science, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating.  There are some pruning guidelines that act as a starting point that make pruning a bit easier.  Choosing the correct tools for the job will ensure success and a healthy plant.  Lastly, a little knowledge of the plant you are pruning will help in the process and give you wonderful looking plants.

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JenREES 3/4/18

Grateful March is here!  With the warm weather the past few days and geese flying, spring will be here before we know it.

Wheat Stem Maggot Webinar:  With that in mind, several with cover crops have askedIMAG3671 if we have an update on wheat stem maggot and the timing of termination.  If you recall, last year we saw wheat stem maggot move from wheat and rye cover crops into newly emerged corn in some fields where the cover was terminated at or after planting.  We’ve had several farmers in the area who have went to the later termination and it seemed to have worked well prior to last year.  While I wonder if it was more of a fluke due to a warm February in 2017, Dr. Justin McMechan, Extension Crop Protection Specialist, collected maggots from infested fields and reared them to better understand their life cycle.  I asked him to share a webinar on what he’s learned including recommendations and information on insects of cover crops in general.  If you’re interested, please join us Wednesday, March 14th from Noon-1 p.m. at the following weblink:

Dicamba and 2,4-D:  Also received a number of calls last week regarding clarification on training required for dicamba and 2,4-D.  There is no required additional training to apply 2,4-D products or any dicamba products other than the RUP dicamba products XtendiMax, Fexapan, and Engenia.

National Spray Drift Webinar:  Join pesticide spray applicators from across the nation on March 15 for a webinar on “Strategies for Managing Pesticide Spray Drift” being presented by Nebraska Extension Weed Scientist and Application Technology Specialist Greg Kruger. The webinar is tailored to growers, pesticide applicators and other interested stakeholders who use pesticides and pesticide application equipment. It will be held from 10:30 to noon CT on that Thursday.  Pesticide spray drift is the movement of pesticide dust or droplets through the air — at the time of application or soon after — to any site other than the area intended. Spray drift can affect people’s health, damage nearby crops, and pose a risk to non-target organisms.  Kruger manages the Pesticide Application Technology Laboratory at the university’s West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte, where he uses a wind tunnel to test pesticides and spray adjuvants for drift. Kruger has a BS from the Ohio State University, where he studied agribusiness and applied economics, and an MS in plant pathology and a PhD in weed science from Purdue University.  This EPA program is geared toward reducing spray drift from pesticide applications to crops, fruits and vegetables, and aerial applications. It will cover general pesticide applications with a focus on agricultural applications.  The EPA program is free, but participants are asked to register in advance here:

Kiwanis Club of Seward and SCCDP Ag Banquet:  The 50th Annual Kiwanis and SCCDP Agricultural Recognition Banquet will be held Monday, March 19, 2018 at the Seward County Ag Pavilion at the fairgrounds in Seward, NE.  The banquet is held during this time in honor of National Ag Week, March 18-24, 2018.  The event kicks off with a social hour of wine and cheese beginning at 5:30 p.m. followed by a Prime Rib Dinner beginning at 6:30 and Awards Presentation beginning at 7:00.  Mike Meyer, radio announcer, will serve as the evening emcee with Governor Pete Ricketts as the featured speaker.  Cast Family Farms (Roy, Doug, David, Patrick, Nathan, and Dustin) will be honored as the 2018 Seward Kiwanis Outstanding Farm Family of the Year.  Bill White with The Austin Company, will be honored as the Seward County AgriBusiness of the Year.  Tickets cost $25.00 and can be obtained by contacting Shelly Hansen at the Cattle Bank at 402-643-3636.

Farmer Appreciation Open House will be held for the public at the York County USDA Service Center in York March 5-8 from 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.  The Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Upper Big Blue NRD, and Nebraska Extension will have informational booths.  Light refreshments and door prizes will also be available.

Pruning Trees:  Kelly Feehan, Extension Educator in Platte County shares, “With shade tree pruning commonly started in March, there is a general rule for when to start pruning young trees.  After planting a tree, avoid pruning for a few years; especially avoid removing the lowest limbs. Leave lower limbs until they are about one inch in diameter.  It is fine to remove double leaders and dead or damaged branches at planting, but otherwise avoid pruning newly planted trees for about three years. From four to ten years after planting is the most important time for pruning young trees to develop a strong branching structure and to remove branches when small. Ideally, prune branches before they reach two to four inches in diameter. Smaller wounds seal and callus over quicker than large wounds and more efficiently produce chemical walls that prevent the spread of decay within a tree. It is important to avoid pruning too much at any one time so remove a few branches each year.”

JenREES 2-25-18

On-Farm Research: Last week a team of us did a series of meetings throughout the State regarding on-farm research updates. It’s always great to have the farmers presenting their research and adding in additional details that we didn’t have when the results booklet was published! Two more meetings continue in western Nebraska this week.

Perhaps my biggest reason for strongly promoting on-farm research is because there often is no better way to obtain answers to some of the questions you all have. These types of studies are often difficult to obtain funding (or can take months to obtain funding, resulting in a lost window of opportunity) and by conducting this research on your farms, we obtain the answers for your specific situations. Sometimes challenges such as storm damage also become opportunities to answer a question via on-farm research. Growers tend to appreciate research conducted on other growers’ farms when we share this research at various meetings, field days, and in articles. A variety of topics are researched every year including nutrient management, various products, row spacing, and new technologies including multi-hybrid planters, use of drone sensors, etc.

In this week’s UNL CropWatch at, three on-farm research cooperators are featured. One of these is Ken Herz along with sons Zach and Aaron in the Lawrence, NE area as first-time cooperators. Ken approached me with several questions the winter of 2015. As growers with a non-irrigated, no-till wheat/corn/soybean rotation and a cattle operation, his family was curious about the impacts of grazing cover crops for cattle gains and improving soil organic matter. They were also curious about the trade-offs of the cover crop vs. any soil moisture loss or impact on the successive corn yield. They also wanted this study to be something that would be applicable to what farmers in this area did and something they could all learn from together. Thus, it was decided to not plant cover crops into the corn or soybean residue as that isn’t common and this would need to be a long-term study. Dr. Mary Drewnoski and I met with the Herz family to develop a plan for this study. Also thankful for Dr. Suat Irmak for his help in providing additional soil moisture equipment and advice I needed, to the Little Blue NRD in partnering with reduced cost of soil moisture equipment and also for the partnership of Green Cover Seed.

In 2016-2017, this study evaluated four treatments on the effects of successive corn yield: 1-ungrazed wheat stubble 2-grazed wheat stubble 3-ungrazed cover crop 4-grazed cover crop. Wheat was harvested July of 2016 and a five-species cover crop mix of spring triticale, winter peas, oats, collards, and purple top turnips was planted August 14, 2016 (they wanted a mix that would winter-kill). The cover crop received moisture within a week of planting that allowed for germination. Some additional fall moisture allowed for good growth and cover crop biomass was measured (3401 lb/ac) prior to grazing 28 (1100 lb) first-calf heifers for 22 days resulting in the cover crop carrying 2.4 animal unit months (AUM)/ac. The goal was not to graze too heavy to allow for ground cover and any long-term soil improvements, thus 2177 lb/ac of biomass was present post-grazing. Soil moisture was monitored from after cover crop planting through corn harvest. The soil was so dry after wheat harvest prior to planting the cover crop that it took using a drill to install the second and third foot moisture sensors. Beginning soil health parameters were also taken to be compared long-term in this study.

Corn was planted May 15, 2017. Prior to planting the corn, the soil moisture where the grazed and ungrazed cover crop plots were located were at 35% depletion (top three feet) compared to at field capacity (full soil moisture profile) in the grazed and ungrazed wheat stubble plots. Eight inches of rain in May evened out the soil profile allowing all plots to be at a full profile (top four feet) at the beginning of the corn growing season. As the season progressed, the grazing treatments started separating out from the ungrazed treatments from July through end of the season. I don’t know how to explain that yet.

Corn was harvested the Thursday of the major wind event with a calibrated grain wagon. Yields were not statistically different and were 218 bu/ac, 211 bu/ac, and 213 bu/ac for the ungrazed wheat stubble, grazed cover crop, and ungrazed cover crop respectively. The grazed wheat stubble treatment yielded 212 bu/ac but only had two reps at the end of the growing season so was not included in the statistical analysis. Economically, grazing the cover crop was as competitive as the ungrazed wheat stubble treatment when it came to ensuing corn yields and the spring rains made all the difference in beginning soil moisture. Because of the crop rotation, there wasn’t an opportunity to add a cover crop in this field Fall 2017. The Herz’ feel they lost an opportunity as environmental conditions vary so much every year, and this year, cover crops didn’t have as much growth in area fields. Thus, they’ve chosen to dedicate three fields to this study topic in the future, allowing for one of the fields each year to have wheat/cover crop/grazing to account for environmental variation. Continuing this for the next 5-7 years will better answer their questions while benefiting all of us with what is learned. Perhaps other growers are interested in some variation of this study for your farms?

Most studies are not this in depth and this is just one example of how growers are answering questions they have for themselves via on-farm research. It can take extra time at planting, harvest or other times of the season depending on the study. I believe most growers I’ve worked with would say the effort has been worth it to scientifically answer their questions for themselves. Truly am grateful for all of you I’ve had the opportunity to work with via on-farm research! So, if you’re thinking about a question you’d like to answer on your farm this year, consider reaching out to me or your local Extension educator and we’d be happy to talk with you now about how to set up your study. It is important to talk this through, especially if this is your first time conducting research. If you’d like to learn more about on-farm research, view some protocols, or view results from previous studies, please check out our website at

Bake and Take Month: March is Bake & Take month, a time when wheat organizations encourage others to bake a wheat good and share it with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and shut-ins. In honor of the month, the Nebraska Wheat Board (NWB) is again sponsoring recipe cards and stickers for any 4-H groups or other organizations that wish to participate. This year’s recipes are mini dessert tacos and crockpot cherry chocolate lava cake. Those interested in participating or who have questions can contact the NWB office at (402) 471-2358 or There is no cost for the supplies, and no limit on the number that can be requested. Those wishing to preview the recipes before requesting materials can find them listed at starting March 1.

York County Fair Volunteers: Gary Zoubek asked me to mention he’s looking for a few volunteers that could help with 4-H and Open Class primarily on entry and judging day in Ag Hall on July 31 and August 1st. If you’re interested, please contact Gary at 402-326-8185 or email

Herz 6-20 color-jr drawing

This study was conducted on a 40 acre field. Plot sizes are the same other than the grazed wheat stubble area which will not be included in the future. Aerial imagery was also taken throughout the growing season. The corn received hail damage on June 12, 2016 but recovered well.

soil probe drill pic

Herz field Sept. 21-2016

Photo taken Sept. 21, 2016


Photo showing corner of 4 plots after grazing. Cattle were hard on my dataloggers but I had chosen to not fence them off as I wanted the true grazing data! Grazed treatments in background and ungrazed in forefront (cover crop left side and wheat stubble right). The cattle didn’t really graze the wheat stubble-tended to lay there as it wasn’t bumpy like cover crop area. Ultimately this led to bare soil in this area and we will not have this treatment in future years.


Observation showing importance of bare soil on Palmer germination: the grazed wheat stubble treatment turned to bare soil from where the cattle lay (not intended and something we learned). Could tell the treatment difference to the line even at harvest. June 8th: few Palmer plants in ungrazed wheat stubble (forefront) compared to in bare soil area (foreground). June 15 (3 days after June 12 hail storm): still only a few Palmer plants in ungrazed wheat stubble but it exploded in the bare soil area. These observations show what research has also shown regarding importance of light on Palmer germination and bare soil. There was minimal Palmer in the grazed cover crop area and was comparable to the ungrazed wheat stubble and cover crop areas.  The Palmer put on 2 leaves from June 12-June 15. The corn barely grew in the whorl in that same time-frame. Corn dicamba product did a great job in killing the Palmer after allowing the corn plants to recover a few days & this situation was common throughout the area in 2017.

March-May pre-plant moisture Herz

Always learning with on-farm research! I didn’t ask how corn fertilizer occurred so we had to remove sensors and re-install upon spring anhydrous application. Beginning soil moisture data shown here is from anhydrous app to day before planting. Cover crop treatments were at or close to 35% depletion (where we would typically trigger irrigation for silt-loam soils). Wheat stubble treatments had full soil moisture profile this entire time period.

June-July soil moisture-Herz

Late April and May rain events (8″ of moisture in May) allowed for a full soil profile at corn planting for all treatments with separation of treatments not occurring till mid-July.

Herz 2017 rainfall

2017 vs. 10 year average rainfall for this area of the State-blessed with rainfall in 2017.

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