Wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends! We have much for which to be thankful!
Last week we held a farm transition meeting in York. I was thinking back to a family gathering we had shortly after one of my dad’s farm accidents. We were grateful he was going to be ok. In talking about what needed to be done on the farm, I asked something like, “Does anyone here know what your wishes or plan is for the farm if this had been more serious?” It wasn’t the best time and I didn’t do this correctly. It did allow for discussion as we never talked about what would happen to the farm before that. I’m grateful my parents responded over time asking each of us kids our intentions/values regarding the farm. They then put their estate plan together and at Christmas one year, went through everything with everyone including any spouses that were present. What I appreciate the most is that they were intentional and there is no secret.
The fact that estate plans can be secret was a common frustration among attendees at the workshop…and as I talk with various farmers. Dave Goeller, emeritus Farm Transition Specialist, shared a sad story about a man in his late 60’s whose 90+ year old dad still hadn’t transitioned management of the ranch to him. When he asked his dad about the opportunity to manage the ranch in the future, the dad didn’t wish to talk and said not to worry. I won’t go into the details but when the parents passed away, the ranch was sold. What’s sad is that, most likely, the outcome is not what the parents intended, and certainly not what the son hoped. We need to get away from estate plans being a secret.
Consider these questions:
- Have you been able to talk to your parents about what is happening with their estate plans? If not, why?
- What is your biggest concern/anxiety/fear(s)? What are you afraid you might find out?
- What is the biggest obstacle in your family dynamics?
- What do you love about your family business?
- What is the worst situation you can think of which might happen in the future?
- What could you learn that can help you?
- What is your mission statement for your farm/ranch? What is your vision for the farm/ranch?
- What are your goals for your farm/ranch? What will you do to make your vision happen?
Dave shared that while a person may feel like a ‘vulture’ when asking about the estate plan (as asking can come across as greed), it can really be a question over shared values. As I think about my immediate family, our shared values are faith, family, hard work, sacrifice, maintaining our family farm. I should’ve broached the subject using shared values instead:
“Dad, I’m so grateful God protected you and you’re going to be ok! You and mom have worked so hard and sacrificed so much for us kids and for this farm. We as your children wish to see your legacy live on in keeping the farm in our family. May we please discuss what your and mom’s goals and dreams are for the farm in the future?”
For those who have asked me how to have this conversation, perhaps some of these questions found in the Workbook at http://go.unl.edu/FarmRanchTransition may help? I also have copies of this workbook in the Extension Office. The questions cover a range of topics from understanding common values, asking if there are written documents, what is long term health care plan to protect the farm/ranch, contribution of all heirs, etc. Please also consider the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 800-464-0258 as a valuable and free resource for you! This hotline is a confidential resource for talking about stress, anxiety, financial concerns, and also for scheduling a time to meet with Dave Goeller and Joe Hawbaker (Attorney) for free to discuss estate plans and farm transitions. All you need to do is call 800-464-0258. For those interested in meeting regarding estate plans/farm transition, Dave and Joe have promised to come back to York to meet individually with families once they receive at least 5 calls. So, if this is of interest to you, please mention this when you call the hotline.
Final thought, this past year in particular, several farmers have shared with me their children would like to see them retire. I sense a variety of feelings about that from them as I listened. I also asked several questions including, “What does retirement look like to them? What does it look like to you?” Perhaps those and other questions could be asked in an honest conversation together?
Much of our identity, right or wrong, is found in what we do for a living. After all, we tend to ask this question when we meet new people. Through life’s circumstances, I’ve had to learn to seek my identity in who I am. Dave mentioned to think of retirement not as no longer working on the farm or being an important player, but retiring the management to the next generation. So, perhaps work out a transition plan that fits your situation where the first perhaps 3-10 years, the older generation is the primary manager in a mentor role explaining why he/she made the decisions a certain way to the next generation. The next 3-10 years, decision making is shared between the older and next generation. After that, decision making is transitioned to the next generation. And, during this entire process, the older generation needs to consider what he/she will be “retiring to”…what purpose or meaning can be found to occupy the time that was once spent in managing the farm?
Ultimately, estate planning and farm transition…relationships…are too important to not talk about these topics. Let’s no longer keep them a big secret!
Through the years I’ve been blessed to meet many individuals including farmers/ag industry professionals who served (or continue to serve) our Country in the military. I’ve observed how service has influenced perspective on life’s difficulties for many individuals. And, I’ve observed how impacts of service have resulted in additional difficulties in life after service for some. There shouldn’t be shame regarding the struggle or in seeking help. While it can be scary, healing can come in the midst of honesty and vulnerability. Tonight I watched a special TV interview with four highly decorated individuals of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars-a couple of whom I’ve read their books. It was interesting hearing their perspectives on combat then coming home, on being in the military and then getting out, and much more. They ultimately shared how difficult it is after war and after service to step into civilian life and how important their military connections were in keeping them going. They also shared how important it was to find a sense of purpose in serving others and living life well in honor of those with whom they served who never made it home. Most likely all of us can think of a family member or friend who has served. Those individuals may have stories and/or wounds without words. Let’s be sure to show our gratitude to them for our freedom in America. Thank you to all our Veterans and all those in our Armed Forces for your service! Thank you also to their families!
Fall Applied Anhydrous Ammonia: When I began my Extension career, it was a different perspective for me to experience fall applications of nitrogen. My perspective from our farm was in-season nitrogen applications. Since then, there’s been several research based studies regarding the benefits of in-season nitrogen application. I appreciate there’s different reasons for the ways farmers approach the decisions within your farming operation. I’ve also observed more farmers of various operation sizes moving to more in-season applications. The reasons they’ve shared with me include: wanting to be more efficient with nitrogen application when the plant needs it, worried about any loss in off-season and wanting better water quality for kids/grandkids, research shows hybrids need nitrogen later in season, wanting to find a way to make it work before any potential regulation, and wondering if they can get by with less nitrogen with better timing in season. We also know today’s farmers in general have become increasingly efficient in both nitrogen and water use. There’s an interesting article in this week’s UNL CropWatch (http://cropwatch.unl.edu) where a multi-disciplinary team of authors share on nitrogen application in the fall having enhanced risk due to potential loss. This is due to data on the increase in extreme precipitation events over time that can lead to increased nitrogen loss through leaching and/or denitrification. We also know that there are years, like last winter, where areas I served didn’t even receive 2” of precip from fall through early May. So every year is different. Because we can’t predict the weather, the authors suggest, “Consider a more robust and less risky N management method that includes: applying a small percentage of N near planting time; follow with sidedress N applied as late as is possible given your equipment capabilities or several fertigation applications that are timed with crop uptake needs; and ensure the final application of N is done before the R3 growth stage.” They also suggest the following if you plan to apply N in the fall, “Avoid fall N application for soils of hydrologic Group A (sand, loamy sand, sandy loam) and Group B (loam, silt loam, silt); Avoid fall application of fertilizers containing urea or nitrate; Apply only when soil temperature is consistently below 50°F to slow nitrification (Last week temperatures fluctuated above and below 50°F at the 4-inch depth.); Use an inhibitor with known efficacy when applying N; and Hope for dry cold weather!”. The following is a really good resource if you’re interested in different University studies regarding various nitrogen inhibitors: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/crops/nitrogen-extenders-and-additives-for-field-crops. It’s too long to share here. A general summary of studies involving the inhibitor N-Serve used with anhydrous ammonia applications shows that it consistently resulted in increased ammonium nitrate the following spring (thus it worked well as a nitrification inhibitor). Yield increases were inconsistent throughout studies and years due to precipitation differences amongst the years. That resource also discusses research regarding other nitrification inhibitors in addition to urease inhibitors and slow-release N products, so it may be a helpful resource. We’ve also had farmers conduct on-farm research studies in the past looking at the application of inhibitors in anhydrous vs. none. They also haven’t consistently shown a yield increase (and we failed to always take soil samples to document any differences in ammonium nitrate the following spring). But if you’re interested in trying a study this coming year looking at nitrogen timing or use of inhibitor, please contact me or your local Extension Educator and we’d be happy to work with you!
Last week I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the Weed Science School. It was an interesting day of learning, discussion, even reflection. Dr. Amit Jhala, Weed Science Specialist, did a really nice job of organizing the day and creating opportunities to hear from University, Industry, and Nebraska Dept. of Ag (NDA) speakers in addition to providing hands-on activities. While dicamba was a topic that was discussed, we didn’t hear about EPA’s ruling till the following day that the RUP products for soybean will be re-registered. Tim Creger with NDA shared that 6 other dicamba products, most with pre-mixes, will be registered this year. He also shared there are 40 ag labeled dicamba products that are not restricted use pesticides, and as long as they aren’t registered for soybean use, he doesn’t anticipate they will become restricted use pesticides. Comparing NDA claims from 2017 to 2018, they received 95 claims (24 investigated due to lack of resources) in 2017 compared to 106 (50 investigated but only 31 resulted in full investigations due to desire of the person filing the complaint) in 2018. Of the 106 claims in 2018, 17 were non-ag related.
In last week’s column, in sharing about fall burndown apps, I had mentioned that 60% ofmarestail (horseweed) in Nebraska germinated in the fall. An updated number of 90-95% fall germination for Eastern Nebraska was shared. This once again emphasizes the importance of considering fall apps for fields with marestail pressure.
Dr. Kevin Bradley from University of Missouri shared on 7 points he’s learned from 15 years of researching waterhemp. They included: Never underestimate waterhemp (I’d say the same for palmer); Era of simple, convenient, quick control is over; Use full herbicide rates and pre-emergence herbicides with residual; Overlap pre + post applications (which we also see with palmer-put that post on a week earlier than you think you need it); Glufosinate, dicamba, and 2,4-D may work now but they’re tools being abused; New traits won’t solve the problem; and Get rid of herbicide-centric way of thinking-we need an integrated approach. He thought he was sharing something shocking in that last statement, but I’d say several of us seek an integrated system’s approach to what we do, including weed management. So ultimately, herbicides aren’t the answer for weed control and we need to be thinking about management from a system’s perspective including crop rotation, use of cover crops, residue management, seed destruction, etc. Especially as from the industry perspective presented, it takes an average of 12 years and average investment of $250 million for a new chemistry to be developed. They are seeking chemistries now that work on specific sites of action (how targets within plant) within the mode of action (specific group or chemistry number).
On November 14th, we’re hosting a Farm/Ranch Transition workshop at the 4-H building in York. This is the closest location for our area. The workshop will focus on the needs of the “sandwich generation” between parents who still own land and children who might want to join the operation, on whom farm/ranch transition and transfer often falls. The Gen2, or Sandwich Generation, will learn how to communicate with family to understand the transition and practice asking difficult questions. Legal topics will include elements of a good business entity, levels of layers for on-farm heirs control and access, and turning agreements into effective written leases. Joe Hawbaker, estate planning attorney, and Allan Vyhnalek, Nebraska Extension transition specialist, will share stories and experiences to successfully plan on the legal side. Dave Goeller, financial and transition specialist, will cover financial considerations, retirement, and compensation versus contribution. Cost is $20 per person. If more than two people are attending per operation, the cost is $15/person. Pre-register at (402) 362-5508 or email@example.com for meal count. Funding for this project was provided by the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Award Number 2015-49200-24226.
November 15th is the York County Corn Grower Banquet at Chances ‘R in York. Social time begins at 6:30 p.m. with a wonderful meal at 7:00 p.m. We will hear from Nate Blum, LEAD 36, on his international trip. We will also hear from local and state directors. Tickets are only $10 and can be obtained from any of the local Corn Grower directors or from the Extension Office at (402) 362-5508. The winner of the Yeti cooler from guessing plot yields will be announced, and those who guessed need to be present in order to have a chance to win. Plot results can be obtained from the Extension Office. Hope to see you there for a nice evening with a wonderful meal to hopefully celebrate the end of harvest season!
Dates are something I tend to remember. This past week I was reflecting on a year ago: fire dangers with three wind events including the Thursday event that was the final straw, a beautiful Wednesday for getting plots out, and then Friday seeing the massive change in yields due to dropped ears. To me, many challenges began with last year’s harvest, and many may wish to forget last year. But reflecting also allows us to learn and count our blessings. Grateful for all the harvest that occurred the past couple of weeks with beautiful weather!…especially since things looked pretty bleak with all the rain and the snow event! Grateful for good yields overall and that we’re not dealing with widespread dropped corn ears at this time!
With the challenges on the soybean side, there’s two
articles in this week’s CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu that may be of interest. One is about feeding soybeans to cattle. With reports of elevators rejecting soybean loads to the east of our area, we received questions if they could be fed. The Cercospora fungus causing purple seed stain and the Phomopsis fungus causing seed decay do not produce mycotoxins. We’re not aware of any soybean mycotoxins. We also don’t know how these fungi affect soybean seed quality regarding the feed value. So, we recommend testing for that if you’re interested in doing this.
Another article is by Cory Walters, UNL Ag Economist talking about crop insurance help with various dockage that one may have received. This fall’s weather could trigger indemnity payments due to low quality. This is just a short excerpt of his article. He writes, “The following discussion describes how crop insurance adjusts soybean yield due to quality for a particular county. While I have not found any differences in discount factors among counties, it is possible. The final outcome depends upon what the county actuarial documents stipulate. Discount rules contain quite a few if/then statements, so final outcomes will depend upon the particular production characteristics.
…Final yield is determined by multiplying the harvest yield by one minus the sum of all discount factors. Factors for each discount type are summarized as follows:
- A sample grade outcome results in a 3% discount factor so no discount factors for any other grade.
- For test weight, discount factors start at 48 to 48.99 lb with a discount factor of 0.7% that increases to a 1.5% discount factor with a 44 to 44.99 test weight. Test weights lower than 44 are settled through the other category.
- Damage discounts start at 8.01% with a 4.4% discount factor that increase to a 25.2% discount factor with a 34.01% to 35% damage. Just like with test weight, damage over 35% are settled through the other category. Damage includes everything except heat.
- Odor sample grade discounts are 2% for musty odor, 2% for sour odor, and 4% for commercially objectionable foreign odor (COFO).
For example, suppose your harvest soybean sample comes back as grade 4 with a 48.5 lb test weight and 9.4% damage. The field yielded 50 bu/ac. Yield would be reduced by 5.9% from the summation of 0.7% (test weight discount) + 5.2% (damage discount). Final yield would equal 47.05 bu/ac (50 x (1-.007-.052)). An indemnity will be paid if harvest revenue is less than guaranteed, which will vary among producers with different insurance products, coverage levels, and APHs.
Producers with multiple insurable units, likely coming from optional or basic units, should contact their insurance agent to determine the process for keeping samples of each unit. This is very important when soybeans are going to the bin. Quality discounts found here will likely not cover the entire price deduction found at the elevator. While this is unfortunate, some coverage is better than none. It is possible to get discount factors updated and/or modified for upcoming insurance contracts.” For questions and comments please contact Cory Walters at firstname.lastname@example.org and view the entire article in this week’s CropWatch.
Fall Burndown Apps is something we recommend, particularly if you have a problem with marestail or winter annuals like henbit in your fields. Nebraska data has shown over 60% of marestail germinates in the fall. Amit Jhala, Extension Weed Scientist shared an article in this week’s CropWatch. The following is a small excerpt, “Preliminary data for eastern Nebraska suggests that a fall burndown applied with a residual herbicide may eliminate the need for an early spring burndown for marestail control; however, this would not replace an at-planting residual application for management of additional troublesome weed species such as waterhemp and Palmer amaranth. For successful marestail management in the fall, apply herbicides following harvest while weather conditions remain favorable (air temperature above 50°F).
- Glyphosate-resistant marestail is widespread across eastern Nebraska, thus 1 lb a.e. 2,4-D per acre is recommended as the base treatment for marestail burndown.
- Glyphosate or other products such as Sharpen® or Gramoxone® may be tank-mixed with 2,4-D to provide broader spectrum control of winter annuals and certain perennial weeds.
- We generally do not recommend including residual herbicides in fall applications since they provide little benefit in managing weeds that emerge the following spring; however, if infestation of marestail is high in the field and the field has a history of marestail seedbank, it would be advantageous to add a residual herbicide such as Authority® or Valor® or Autumn™ Super, or other metribuzin products.
- Refer to the most recent Guide for Weed, Disease, and Insect Management in Nebraska for more herbicide options.
Fall herbicide application is unlikely to eliminate the need for burndown application at planting. Weeds adapted to cool temperatures, such as marestail, are likely to emerge prior to planting, making it necessary to control them.” He also shows photos in this Week’s CropWatch article of fall tillage or use of rye cover crop as additional options for reducing/suppressing marestail and other winter annual weeds.
Thank you to Ron and Brad Makovicka for hosting the York County Corn Grower Plot again and for all your efforts with it! Thank you also to all the seed companies who participated!
June 30th wind event affected the tester in the stage of development it was in with greensnap-primarily above or at the ear node. Small ears developed and were included in harvest stand counts.
Rankings were based on adjusted yields (based on a formula for nearest testers) and two decimal places were used to break the tie.
Grateful for beautiful weather and harvest progressing again! We got the York County Corn Grower Plot out on Friday and special thank you to Ron and Brad Makovicka for their work and dedication to that effort! I will share the official plot results next week. The York County Corn Grower Banquet will be held on Thursday, November 15 at Chances ‘R in York with social time at 6:30 p.m. and meal at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are only $10 per person for a wonderful meal! Tickets can be obtained from any of the local directors or from the York County Extension Office at (402) 362-5508.Nate Blum from Nebraska LEAD Class 36 will give a presentation on his international tour and there will also be updates from Local, State, and National Corn Directors. For those who estimated yields during the plot tour, you need to be present in order to win the Yeti cooler.
Corn Yields: There’s an interesting article in this week’s CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu regarding final yield forecasts. Interesting to me are the box plots showing the range of ’30 year average’ vegetative and reproductive stages vs. 2018. The high heat in June shortened the vegetative time-frame. However, the silking through grain fill period was relatively typical for most locations and the long grain fill period with lower temperatures allowed for the better yields we’re experiencing (where drought and late-season hail wasn’t a factor).
Soybean Harvest Losses: Four soybeans in one square foot equals 1 bu/ac harvest loss. Various publications show how to determine harvest losses in areas of 10 to 25 sq. feet. For those with the SoyCorn Pocket Field Guide, page 78 shows estimating loss based on combine header width: http://nebraskasoybeans.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/SoyCorn-Field-Guide.pdf.
Evergreen Trees: Some evergreen needles are also changing color right now. It is good to look at your trees to determine the cause of the needle color changes. Evergreen trees actually go through a natural needle drop process with some years resulting in more thinning than others. I think this year may be one of those years as stress events can make needle drop heavier. Needle drop appears as needles turning yellow and falling from the tree. Pine trees may keep their needles for 2-3 or more years while spruce keep theirs for 5-7 years before needle drop occurs. Natural needle drop tends to appear along the main trunk and inside needles of the tree.
I also check for the presence of fungal disease. If the pine tree needles have dark spots/bands on them, it may be a fungal disease like dothistroma needle blight (on Ponderosa and Austrian pines) or brown spot (on scotch pines). The fungi actually kill the needles both directions from the location of the infection. With our heavy rains and high periods of humidity, I’m seeing increased fungal disease in evergreen trees this year. Fungicides applied in mid-May and again in mid to late June can help prevent this.
Pine wilt disease occurs in Scotch and Austrian pines. It’s caused by a bark beetle that has nematodes in its gut. The nematodes are native to Nebraska but Scotch and Austrian pines are not. Ponderosa pines aren’t affected because they’re native to Nebraska. The beetle ‘vomits’ the nematodes into the xylem (water-carrying vessels of the tree). The tree senses the presence of the nematodes and shuts down water to various branches as a way to prevent the nematodes from attacking. Thus why one sees a major branch then side of a tree turning gray-green then yellow-brown. Unfortunately, the entire tree will die typically within 3-9 months. Some farmers have tried trunk injections and drenches around their trees in hopes of saving them, to no avail.
On spruce trees, I’m seeing yellow/purple/browning of needles. This often is due to a fungal disease called rhizosphaera needle cast. One way to determine if this is the culprit is to look for tiny black dots on the gray twigs next to affected needles. The black dots are actually fungal structures that allow for infection to occur. Fungicide applied in May and after heavy rains can help. I always intend to spray my spruce tree each May but have failed to get it done the past several years. With recent rains, I’m trying it this fall to see if it can help; will let you know!
There have been several calls about arborvitae rapidly turning brown and I’m seeing evidence of heavy spidermite pressure at one time. Spruce spidermites affect spruce, juniper, arborvitae, etc. The rains and snow washed them off, which is one way to manage them. Evidence can be stippling (tiny yellow-green dots on needles) and also using a magnifying glass, one may see some webbing on undersides of needles. One can also just bang the needles on a white piece of paper to see if any mites are still active. Mites are most active in the cooler times of the season…so August through October in this case. Great resources for additional information include: Diseases of Evergreen Trees and Insect Pests of Evergreen Trees which can be obtained here: https://nfs.unl.edu/publications.
Great info and thoughts from Elizabeth on the reasons why evergreens aren’t always staying green in the fall.
This post shares observations of what I’ve been seeing in fields pre-harvest and during harvest during this 2018 growing season. Some of these problems stemmed from hail/wind damage and others insect damage. This is a longer post with the desire to have many resources available to you in one place. Hopefully this will be helpful for diagnosing concerns as harvest continues.
(Photos above) Hail-damaged soybeans pre-harvest. The plants in this field weren’t pummeled into the ground, but from the road it was deceiving as to what the soybeans were actually like on these plants. The two smaller photos are all the soybeans found on 2 adjacent plants from the top soybean photo pre-harvest. There were a lot of aborted pods on stems and moldy beans in general. For those who combined hail damaged beans in the area, farmers shared they had everything from ‘lima’ beans to shriveled, moldy beans as you can see in these pics, which is also what we were anticipating may be found.
Cladosporium ear and kernel rot seen on kernels already affected by Fusarium, particularly in hail damaged fields. This is a lesser ear rot fungi and doesn’t produce a mycotoxin but can create increased damage to kernels. Was recommending taking grain damaged to this extent directly to the elevator.
Photos above shared by a Clay County farmer who observed kernel germination and Fusarium growth (mostly due to western bean cutworm damage) upon harvesting his field. Hormonal balance within the kernels shifts towards harvest. At full maturity, very little abscisic acid (ABA) is left in the kernel (in both corn and soybeans) which allows them to germinate in correct conditions after harvest. These conditions include moisture and temperatures above 50ºF. Presence of fungi such as Fusarium and Gibberella also increases gibberellins in the kernels allowing for kernel germination with presence of moisture as we’re seeing this harvest. Increasing air flow during harvest will hopefully blow most of these damaged kernels out the back of the combine.
- Corn Ear Rots, Storage Molds, Mycotoxins, and Animal Health, ISU, 1997. (Nice comprehensive resource available in PDF download via web search)
- UNL Corn Disease Profile III: Ear Rots
There’s over 25 species of fungi that can produce ear molds with the majority of them ceasing growth at 15% moisture within the kernel. Thus, we recommend drying grain to 15% moisture as quickly as possible to cease additional fungal growth within the grain bin. The table below shares the days required to dry corn to 15% moisture with 1.0 cfm/bu and various temperature and humidity conditions.
- Management of in-bin natural air grain drying systems to minimize energy cost
- Grain storage management to reduce mold and mycotoxins (ppt presentation)
- UNL CropWatch Grain Storage Resources
- Managing large grain bins for potential mycotoxin contamination
In 2018, we’re primarily seeing Fusarium and Gibberella species which have the potential to produce mycotoxins. Thus, the information below is directed at those fungal species and mycotoxin levels that can be associated with them. Again, the presence of fungi does not automatically mean a mycotoxin is present.
- Grain storage management to reduce mold and mycotoxins (ppt presentation)
- UNL CropWatch Grain Storage Resources
- Managing large grain bins for potential mycotoxin contamination
- Understanding Fungal Toxins UNL
- Sampling and Analyzing Feed for Toxins UNL
- Use of Feed Contaminated with Fungal Toxins UNL
- Feeding Storm Damaged Corn: A few thoughts from a Veterinarian
Also, there’s a new app called “Mycotoxins” and it’s another resource with ear rot pictures and mycotoxin information put out by several Universities produced for both Apple and Android devices.