Hopefully the rains were a blessing in helping the crops where crusting was a concern, adding moisture to the seedbed, and in activating herbicide. This article reaches people throughout the State, so with some experiencing frost potential as I write this, if rhubarb leaves are not damaged too much by frost and the stalks remain firm, it is still safe to eat. If the leaves are severely damaged or the stalks become soft or mushy, do not eat these stalks. Remove and discard them. New stalks can be harvested and eaten. Rhubarb often develops seedheads following cold temperatures, but this also does not affect eating quality of the stalks. Remove rhubarb seedheads and discard.
This week will share on the results we obtained from on-farm research studies where cover crops were interseeded into corn. In 2019, there were two locations in York and Seward counties (interseeded at V5-V6). In 2020, 6 of 11 locations were conducted via on-farm research in York, Seward, Clay, and Hamilton counties (interseeded at V4). Four of the six locations compared an interseeded cover crop to a check treatment of no cover crop. One location compared two corn populations (27,000 vs. 31,000 seeds/ac) to determine corn yield and cover crop biomass impacts. One location compared using only the middle drill unit to interseed the cover crop vs. using all three drill units between the rows to determine any differences in cover crop biomass.
2019 Results: In 2019, the cover crop at the Seward county location emerged and then died, we hypothesize, due to reactivation of Group 27 herbicide. Thus, no biomass samples were taken. At the York county location, cover crop biomass sampled prior to the first hard freeze ranged from 97-220 lbs/ac. It was good to see successful establishment at both locations and that cover crop growth occurred at one of them. In 2019, there were no yield differences between the corn in the check treatments (241 and 258 bu/ac) vs. cover crop interseeded treatments (241 (N mix), 243 (diversity mix), and 256 bu/ac) at the York and Seward locations respectively, which was also encouraging. Net return was less for the interseeded cover crop treatments vs. the check.
2020 Results: In 2020, cover crops emerged at all locations and grew throughout the season. Cover crop biomass varied by location with the most occurring in fields that were damaged by the July 9, 2020 windstorm (the location with the greatest biomass had 45% green snap). Thus, the open canopy resulted in greater weed and cover crop biomass. Biomass samples were collected in late September by taking three 30” X 30” or 36 X 36” squares for each treatment (dependent upon row spacing). The samples were sorted in the field into weeds, interseeded forbs/legumes, and interseeded grasses and placed in separate paper bags. Samples were weighed and dried. We wanted to compare any differences in weed biomass between the check and interseeded treatments, especially since no residual herbicides were used in 2020. There were no differences in weed biomass between the check and interseeded cover crop treatments. Total cover crop biomass accumulated varied by site and ranged from 277 lb/ac to 3818 lb/ac. It should be noted that the cover crops continued to grow after we sampled until the first hard freeze occurred. The cowpeas provided the greatest biomass and grew to the tops of the tassels. They also formed a ‘bridge’ between corn rows where the canopy broke open. Cowpeas, hairy vetch, sweetclover, and forage soybean were all fixing nitrogen during the 2020 growing season. The red clover and hairy vetch that survived the winter were fixing nitrogen in the spring of 2021.
The windstorm greatly impacted yields as well. Across all the sites, corn yield for the check averaged 214 bu/ac while corn yield for the interseeded treatment yielded 209 bu/ac. At four of the six sites, yield was significantly lower where the cover crop was interseeded. At the remaining two sites yield was not different between treatments. Net return for the corn where the cover crop was interseeded was less at five of the six locations. Net return includes the yield and price of the corn crop and cost of cover crop seed and application. Other than the York county location (two years), all the location data is based on one year of research. These studies will continue in the same fields and strips for at least three years, so it will be interesting to watch for any changes in soil biological and physical properties over time as well. Visually, in the field where the center drill unit vs. 3 was used, it appeared that the 1 drill unit had more biomass. Statistically, it ended up the same as the three drill units for total cover crop biomass. At the York location where cover crops were interseeded into two corn populations, there were no yield differences between the corn populations; however, both yielded less than the check treatment. A special thanks to all the growers working with us on these interseeding cover crop studies and to The Nature Conservancy, Upper Big Blue NRD, NRCS, and Kellogg’s for their partnership with Nebraska Extension on this effort. If you’d like more information, I’ve provided tables of data and links to videos we produced at my blog site jenreesources.com.
Cover crop biomass as a result of interseeding using three drill units (left) vs. only the center drill unit (middle). Close up of Penn State Interseeder drill units (right).
Nebraska On-Farm Research Virtual Field Day Interseeding Videos:
- Interseeding drills: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/interseeding-cover-crops-steve-melvin-june-12-2020
- Interseeding into Soybean: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/interseeding-cover-crops-soybeans-steve-melvin-june-10-2020
- Interseeding studies: https://youtu.be/gQKAGzkweG4
- Interseeding Mixes: https://youtu.be/b64PCMV1pwc
- Interseeding and Herbicide programs: https://youtu.be/5P8tE3oQ7hA
With the challenge of growing cover crops, particularly after corn harvest, interest in interseeding cover crops into living corn and soybean has increased in recent years. Goals for doing so include using the cover to: grow nitrogen for the crop, remove excess nitrogen (in the case of seed corn), aid in weed and erosion control, increase biodiversity, determine any soil health benefits, and desire for fall biomass for grazing. Some are also concerned about increasing regulation and wanting to figure things out ahead of the curve. Planning is key when it comes to interseeding cover crop into corn or soybean. Planning needs to include the goal of why interseed, the cover crop species interseeded, how the cover will be interseeded, the corn/soybean crop development stage for interseeding, and the herbicide program used.
A few years ago, we wrote an article sharing what was known about interseeding cover crops. The following is information we’ve learned as an interseeding project between The Nature Conservancy, Upper Big Blue NRD, Nebraska Extension, 11 farmers, NRCS, and Kellogg’s.
Timing: In corn, we’d recommend aiming for V4 (four leaf collars). V5-V6 is almost too late in years where canopy closure occurs quickly. The literature says there’s no yield loss after V2. For soybean, aerial interseeding around senescence (leaves turning yellow) is one option. From plots interseeded at V4 in 2020, we felt that was almost too late for aiding establishment. This year we will be trying at planting through V2.
Species: Penn State has a mix that’s considered the interseeding standard; it includes annual ryegrass, red clover, and hairy vetch. From the 12 species mixes we tried, the annual ryegrass, vetch, red clover all survived and were growing this spring. Thus, most likely why it’s considered the standard.
In corn, we’ve tried multispecies mixes because of the growers’ and partners’ goals and testing what came through different herbicide programs. We found the first species to emerge were the buckwheat and cowpeas. The farmers liked the species that provided more of an understory like the annual and Italian ryegrass, collards and other brassicas, and buckwheat. Cowpeas grew up to the corn tassels and provided the greatest biomass. Most of the species went to seed. Cowpeas, forage soybeans, and sweet clover were fixing nitrogen in season.
For diversity, the flax and buckwheat upon flowering drew many beneficial insects to the field. Pests like grasshoppers ate the covers in the interseeded strips and left the corn alone from what I observed.
In soybean, wheat was planted in the soybean management field day trials last year with some success. This year we’re considering wheat + red clover for the fields that will be interseeded from planting through V2.
Herbicide Programs: This is the difficult part. I think ideally (and I’m unsure if this is even realistic yet), a cover between rows aiding in weed control, adding nitrogen, providing fall biomass, and regrowing the following spring to aid in weed control again with only needing to add herbicide in a band, would be pretty cool.
In the wet year of 2019, Callisto-type (Group 27) products did their job and kept re-activating. This led to covers dying in one field. So in 2020, I suggested no residuals in post- apps. The guys went with me on this with most doing a pre- with residual followed by a post- of only glyphosate or Liberty prior to interseeding. The July 9th, 2020 windstorm causing plants to greensnap and/or bend caused problems with the canopy opening up and weed control in addition to biomass growth became a problem in these fields in competing with the corn crop. I was just sick about this and the guys extended much grace to me.
This year, for corn, some guys are sticking with last year’s program because it worked well for them, particularly in no-till with heavy residue. Another thing some may try is to apply a pre- with residual, interseed at V4 and then upon 1-2” growth of the covers, apply Dual II Magnum or Outlook (no grazing restriction with Outlook) to provide residual to aid in weed suppression. One farmer who applied generic Lexar pre-plant in some fields and did split app in others in 2020, still saw cover crop growth and emergence from the split applied. The cover crop growth in the split-applied was just stunted and thin compared to the fields where he applied the full rate pre-. He’s testing herbicide programs this year.
For soybean, there’s even more risk. For those who wish to plant and interseed at the same time, we’re trying a burndown immediately prior to interseeding (if they hadn’t applied an early pre- already), allowing the cover to get 1-2” tall and then go with a Group 15 chemistry. The other option we’re trying is going with their pre- with residual followed by interseeding at V2 and application of Group 15 herbicide after cover reaches 1-2” of growth. We also have guys who are planting soybean green into rye and will try interseeding after rye termination. We have no idea how all this will work and if others have ideas, please feel free to share! Next week I’ll share the yield and biomass results from the past few years.
The above pics were post-harvest. The covers showed good at that time still but they seemed to disappear pretty fast upon more hard frosts.
The above pictures were taken in March 2021 of spring growth. Annual ryegrass, hairy vetch, red clover, and collards survived the winter. As time went on, one could easily ‘row’ where the covers were interseeded in June 2020. The taproots on the red clover were extra impressive to me! Also, pretty much always saw earthworms when I dug up one of these plants.
Warmer conditions have arrived for planting season this week! Quick reminder to check planting depths across your planter for the different fields as conditions may vary from field to field. Also a reminder to everyone to be extra aware on the roads with farm equipment moving much slower than regular traffic. Here’s wishing you a safe planting season!
Lawn Care: If your lawn is in need of fertilizer, the first round of fertilizer can go on sometime between now and May 10. Many crabgrass preventer products also contain fertilizer, so that can be used as your first application instead. A reminder to read and follow the instructions on the fertilizer package regarding rate, need to water in, and use the settings provided for lawn spreaders. Also be sure to remove granules from sidewalks and driveways as these get moved into stormwater systems and streams if one doesn’t. If you hired a lawn care company, make sure they’re removing granules from sidewalks and driveways as well.
If you have new seedings, weed control products such as crabgrass preventer, can damage new grass seedlings, depending on how much growth is present. If this is your situation, there actually is a product you can use that will prevent crabgrass without damaging your new seedlings. Scott’s Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass contains mesotrione which provides PRE and POST control of weeds without affecting the new bluegrass or fescue seeding. Tenacity is also a product containing mesotrione that works as a POST for emerged crabgrass, foxtail, and for those dealing with nimblewill (best to apply on troublesome grassy weeds up to 1” tall).
Preventing Evergreen Tree Diseases: The wet springs the past several years have led to an increase of needle blights. Spring is the time to be spraying trees with preventive fungicides with timing depending on the disease. None of the options I list are exhaustive and not meant as endorsement. For windbreak situations of cedars and pines, some ag retailers have carried Tenn-Cop 5E or Camelot. Another professional product called 3336-F is labeled for various turf, horticultural, and tree diseases (such as tip blight and dothistroma needle blight of pines). For home-owner use for trees in landscapes, I will share what I’ve seen sold in our local stores. It’s important to read the product label to ensure it’s safe to use on the specific plant/tree you wish to treat as some copper products can harm plants. In Austrian and Ponderosa pines, tip blight (where tips die) and dothistroma needle blight (where needles turn brown and die) can be prevented with fungicide applications. Tip blight is best prevented in late April-early May with active ingredients of Propiconazole (found in Fertiloam liquid systemic fungicide), Copper Salts of Fatty & Rosin Acids (sometimes listed as copper soap such as Bonide liquid copper fungicide and other liquid copper formulations), or Bordeaux mixture. Dothistroma needle blight can be prevented in mid-May and a second application in mid-June with Copper salts of fatty and rosin acids and Bordeaux mixture. In spruces, needle cast can cause the yellow to reddish brown color of needles in the fall that remain that way in the spring. Fungicide should be applied when the new growth is half grown with a second application 3-4 weeks later. If your tree is severely infected, it may take applications like this for 2-3 years in a row. Chlorothalonil (found in Daconil and Fung-onil) is commonly recommended. Fungicides containing azoxystrobin, mancozeb, propiconazole, copper salts of fatty acids, and copper hydroxide are also effective at controlling this disease if the product is labeled for use on spruce. You can learn more about evergreen diseases, how to identify them, and more products for management at: https://go.unl.edu/rbcc.
Prevent Wild/Bur Cucumber in Shelterbelts: The past few years we’ve seen wild and bur cucumber overtaking windbreaks. These are fast growing, warm season annual vines. They die each fall and come back from seed which germinate and begin growth typically in May. Vines can be cut at the base or pulled if there’s only a few of them this spring. Many asked about chemical treatments last year. A pre-emergent control option for large shelterbelts is Simazine (Princep 4L) to kill weed seeds as they germinate. Don’t apply more than 4 qt. Princep 4L per acre (4 lb. a.i./A) per calendar year. Don’t apply more than twice per calendar year.
Pollinator Garden Webinar Series will be held May 4, 11 and 18th from 6:30-7:30 p.m. If interested, you can learn more and register here: https://go.unl.edu/bmnw.
Evergreen Problems Webinar will be on April 22 from 7-8:30 p.m. Please call Platte County Extension at 402-563-4901 to RSVP. They will send you the Zoom link and password. There is no fee.
Considering Carbon: opportunities and challenges webinar will be held April 21 at 11 a.m. CST. Info & registration here: https://nationalaglawcenter.org/webinars/climate21/. There is no fee.
Reminder: Household Hazardous Waste Collection April 24th for Seward (8 a.m.-Noon) and Butler (1:30-4:30 p.m.) counties.
Soybean germination and planting: When I first began Extension, research on early soybean planting was just beginning. At the time, I hadn’t thought about planting soybean at the same time as corn, or even before corn. Soybean genetics and seed treatment improvements have allowed for this. Our recommendation for increased yield is to aim for planting the last few weeks of April if conditions are right, use a seed treatment, and plant 1.75-2″ deep. It seems like each year during planting season, we experience 1) soil temps in the mid-40’s with solid soil conditions and on a warming trend and 2) the potential for cold snaps with cold rains/snow after planting. What should one do and what’s the time-frame for risk of chilling injury?
For soybean, and corn for that matter, I’m not as concerned about #1 if the soil is fit and proper seeding depth (2”) is maintained. For #2, if the soil conditions are right and there’s at least 24 hours before a cold snap, consider planting beans instead of corn. That’s because soybean imbibes (takes up) water more quickly than corn. Once that imbibitional period is completed, the risk of chilling injury also ends. The seed can then remain (in osmotic phase) at cooler soil temperatures for a period of time in a sort of ‘dormant state’, until warmer temperatures return for continued seedling development.
In March 2021, Dr. Jim Specht and I began indoor and outdoor demonstrations. To be clear, we’re not recommending planting soybean in March in Nebraska. And, the point of these studies wasn’t to encourage increasing risk of pushing planting prior to cold snaps. I’m grateful for conditions like this year that make the decision to not plant easy when we know it’s staying cold with precipitation in the forecast. Our demonstrations just provided time looking at windows of 40-50F soil temps and increasing/decreasing trends. Soybeans are just beginning emergence from the March 10 planting in York. Soil temps in soybean and corn residue and living rye cover crop have been monitored since then and can be seen in an article at cropwatch.unl.edu. The soil under rye cover was 1-5 degrees cooler than under corn residue which was 1-2 degrees cooler than under soy residue.
We used coolers at 60F and 36F at the York Co. Fairgrounds to conduct an indoor experiment, explained in more detail at cropwatch.unl.edu. Enough trays were planted with soybean and corn seed so they could be switched between the coolers every 2 and then 12 hours for a total of two days. We didn’t have space for replications. All trays were removed to my house after 72 hours. They were kept at 50F for 9 days (which in many cases, early planted soybean do set in the soil for a period of time before emergence). Then they were kept at 60F soil temp with emergence counted each day until termination April 8. In the soybean, similar percent emergence was found in the 60F control; and where soybeans were at 60F for 8, 10, 12 and 48 hours before switching to 36F. This showed that we no longer saw reduced emergence upon 8 hours prior to a cold snap (in this non-replicated experiment). This potential 8 hour critical period has been within the time-frame of published research studies and non-published field observations.
The 36F to 60F switch showed that a warming trend in the first 2-6 hours led to greater emergence. We don’t recommend planting into soils at 36F, but it served as a nice low extreme. We would anticipate the emergence would improve if the soil temp was 40F or mid-40’s with a warming trend.
What does this mean? If soil conditions are right for planting and seed is planted around 2” deep with a seed treatment, I’m not as concerned about planting soybean or corn at 45F soil into a warming trend. For planting prior to cold snaps, if one chooses to do this, we say aim for at least 24 hours for soybeans and 48 hours for corn. We know not every soybean field is completely planted at 24 hours prior to a cold snap, so to me, this gives some insight why we’ve seen fields, including two on-farm research ones in Seward county last year, still have 86% emergence prior to snow falling eight hours later. Also key is when the beans will emerge compared to frost potential. If the beans are in the ground or have cotyledons exposed, we haven’t observed a need to replant due to frost damage thus far. It’s when the hypocotyl hook is at the soil line that can result in replant potential. Thanks to York Co. Ag Society for use of their coolers, Jerry Stahr for use of his field, Jed Erickson for providing the corn and soybean seed, and Dr. Jim Specht for his help in spite of being retired!
Household Hazardous Waste Clean-Up will be held at four times and locations for residents of Polk, York, Butler, and Seward counties. These clean-ups are funded by Environmental Trust grants with Four Corners Health Dept. and various sponsoring organizations overseeing the collection at the locations.
The collections will occur:
- Polk Co.: Saturday, April 17 from 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., Polk County Fairgrounds, Osceola
- York Co.: Saturday, April 17 from 1:00pm – 4:00pm at the York Landfill, 1214 Road 15
- Seward Co.: Saturday, April 24 from 8:00am – 12:00 p.m. at City of Seward Wastewater Plant Parking Lot – 1040 S Columbia
- Butler Co.: Saturday, April 24 from 1:30pm – 4:30pm at Butler County Fairgrounds, 62 L Street, David City – North Entrance
On the specific date and time, residents of that county are welcome to bring their residential household hazardous waste in boxes. Paint in one box and other materials in a separate box. If you are not sure what something is, keep it away from other materials.
Acceptable Materials (quantities of more than 5 gallons cannot be accepted): Acids, Antifreeze, Banned Materials (chlordane, DDT, etc), Cyanide, Fertilizers (yard chemicals), Flammables, Gasoline and Oil (in small quantities), Lead Acid Batteries, Mercury and Mercury-Related Materials, All Paint and Paint-Related Materials (stains, varnish, etc), Poisons, Pesticides, Florescent Bulbs (please do not tape together)
Non-Acceptable Materials: Empty/Dried Out Paint Cans (these can go directly into your regular trash), Tires, Farm Chemicals, Electronics, Medical Sharps, Recyclables.
IN SEWARD COUNTY ONLY: They’re also additional collections at the same date/time: Scrap Metal & Appliances $5 per appliance or load of metal. Electronics Recycling: $10 – all LCD monitors; $20 – CRT (glass tube) monitors or tv’s up to 25″; $30 – TV’s 27″ and up; $40 – Large wooden projection TV’s.
Soil Temperature information for planting and applying pre-emergence herbicides can be found at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/soiltemperature.
Crabgrass Preventer timing: Crabgrass germinates when soil temperatures are maintained at 55F for 5-7 consecutive days. We’re getting closer to this. You can watch the CropWatch soil temperature maps at the link listed above. You can also use a meat thermometer (that you dedicate to only taking soil temperature!) for your own lawn situation at a 2-4” depth. Typically, towards the end of April/beginning of May is a good time for the first application, but it will vary by year. When they’re applied too early, they can move out of the zone where the crabgrass seed is germinating. Would also recommend that you consider splitting your crabgrass herbicide application. Apply half of the highest labeled rate when soil temps warm and the other half 6-8 weeks later. Often there’s a flush of crabgrass later in the season and splitting the application can help with that. It’s helpful for the products to be watered in within 24 hours for best results.
Pastures and annual grass control: Have looked at several smaller pastures (often grazed by horses & hayed) that have issues with foxtail. Foxtail tends to emerge when soil temps are sustained around 60F, so using a pre-emergent herbicide such as Prowl H20® can help in addition to grazing management. There’s a good article in this week’s CropWatch regarding annual grass weed control for alfalfa and pastures at: https://go.unl.edu/nzmy.
Planting Considerations: In an article last year at this link https://jenreesources.com/2020/04/12/jenrees-4-12-20/, I shared about planting considerations. I don’t have anything new to add to this, so you can check that out if you’re interested. Next week will share results of a soybean and corn germination/emergence experiment I’ve been working on since Mar. 10.
Purple flowering henbit is blooming right now. Spring has officially sprung. The crabapples and flowering pears are nearing full bloom. Tulips and daffodils are starting their flower show. Henbit and dandelions are looking gorgeous. Are the last two not quite the kinds of spring flowers you want in your landscape? If so, there are some […]Henbit, Crabgrass, & Ground Ivy… Oh My! — Husker Hort
Hope you had a blessed Easter! For me, it was an extra blessing to worship in person and be with family this year! This week sharing on a variety of questions I’ve received.
Private Pesticide Certification/Recertification: for those still needing pesticide certification:
- Easiest option: attend a Zoom training being held this week on April 9th at 9:00 a.m. You can register at the following site: https://go.unl.edu/patapril9. You will receive a zoom link to attend that training. The materials and payment will occur at the local county Extension office of your choice. Cost is $50.
- Online pesticide training: This is self-paced with quizzes. You can register and pay online here: https://web.cvent.com/event/4efa4d41-c770-4a78-99d7-4c4ea75d45ae/summary. Cost is $50. If you have bad bandwidth or have difficulty with computers, please call your local Extension educator.
2021 Nebraska farm real estate survey can be found here: https://go.unl.edu/9exp.
Emerald Ash Borer Map: We don’t recommend treatment for ash trees until your tree is within a 15 mile radius of where emerald ash borer has been confirmed. Right now, most of Seward county is in the treatment zone but York county is not. We also only recommend considering treating high value trees that don’t have obvious health issues. You can view a map of the suggested treatment areas at: https://nfs.unl.edu/documents/EAB/EABmap1-22-21.png. More information can be found at: https://nfs.unl.edu/eab-faq.
Small Grains and Jointing: The jointing stage of wheat, rye, and triticale is when the growing point comes above ground. This is a critical stage when taking these crops for grain, as growth regulator herbicides, particularly dicamba, can cause injury to the stem base (causing wheat to grow prostrate) and heads of the plants (emerge deformed) if they’re applied. The best way to check for jointing is to pull up a plant by the roots, slit open the main (thickest) stem from the base up, and see if you can see the developing head or not. I was seeing jointing occurring in earliest planted rye in York Co. last Thursday. 2,4-D and MCPA are labeled from full tillering till prior to boot stage but I’ve still seen 2,4-D at jointing to cause wheat to grow prostrate at times. K-State shares in spite of this, they don’t typically see yield loss in these situations when 2,4-D was applied.
Cover crop termination: University of Missouri recently released results of a multi-state study funded by the United Soybean Board looking at herbicide options for cover crop termination. Control of cereal rye and wheat used for cover crops was best with glyphosate alone or in combination with 2,4-D, dicamba, Sharpen, or Select. For legume cover crops, glyphosate, gramoxone, and liberty were all similarly effective, particularly in combination with 2,4-D, dicamba, or Sharpen. Brassica species weren’t reviewed in this study, but there are ratings available in the front section of the 2021 weed guide which show highest control ratings with glyphosate + 2,4-D or dicamba. The full study results can be found here: https://ipm.missouri.edu/IPCM/2020/3/coverCropTermination-KB/.
Seed corn maggots: Something on my mind is the potential for seed corn maggot pressure this year. They tend to be a problem when fields recently had manure applied or have green plant material, like cover crops, that have been incorporated into the soil within two weeks of planting the cash crop. But we’ve also seen them when the covers or manure haven’t been incorporated. The past few years we’ve seen increased seed corn maggot damage to soybeans, particularly when planted into a field that had a brassica cover crop such as turnips, radishes, and forage collards. I’ve rarely seen damage warrant replanting soybean. There’s no rescue treatments. Insecticidal seed treatments often provide protection and in-furrow insecticides can provide additional preventive protection for fields with a history of seed corn maggot damage. Extension entomologists also recommend to avoid planting during peak fly emergence which occurs when 354, 1080, and 1800 GDD have accumulated since Jan. 1 (using a base temp of 39F for the calculation), but this may not always be feasible.
Cover crop termination tradeoffs: The spring rains and warmer soil temperatures are allowing rye and wheat cover and grain crops to really take off. Each year I receive questions on termination timing of these cereal covers. This question occurs as farmers consider the cost of the cover crop, their goals, and gaining more biomass growth for their investment. I agree that information being shared is confusing. One source says to terminate the cover crop pre-plant while another says to plant green into the cover. What’s the ‘right’ answer? I don’t know that there is one. That’s because farmers’ goals and level of risk vary. I am a fan of ‘planting green’ because of farmers’ and my observations; however, it doesn’t fit all situations. In general, there are less risks to planting green with soybean than corn. This column will share tradeoffs to help you better assess for your operation and risk level.
A rye cover crop can impact corn and soybean in several ways, for example by tying up N, by reducing soil moisture prior to planting, by increasing insect pressure, by reducing weed pressure, by reducing soil erosion, and by allelopathy. We often hear about terminating a rye cover crop 14 days prior to planting corn to reduce potential for allelopathy. Studies investigating whether rye cover crops impact corn germination have mostly been done in laboratory settings with mixed results. It is hard to say whether allelopathic effects contribute to slower growth and reduced germination that can sometimes be observed in corn in the field.
While the potential effects of allelopathy are worth noting, there’s challenges with terminating rye prior to corn planting. Killing the rye at least 14 days before planting may not allow for much rye growth or results in delayed planting, either way reducing the potential benefits from cover cropping. Weather conditions have not always been conducive for effective cereal rye termination. Farmers have shared the difficulty of planting through the partially decomposed ‘mushy’ cover crop. Farmers also noticed corn planted into these conditions often came up slow and had a yellow, sickly look to it for a time. Farmers that switched to planting green, say it was easier to plant compared with planting into the decomposing-dying cover. They noted the corn also tended to look less yellow or sickly. Two farmers in 2020 also shared the green standing rye held the previous residue in place and their corn emergence was more even in those fields.
Risks to planting green: In spite of these observations, planting green is not for everyone and one needs to assess the risk of doing so. Cover crops use moisture and can dry out the seed bed. Some farmers in non-irrigated situations have planted corn/soybeans into dry seedbeds when planting green and hoped for rains. Last year, some farmers had to run pivots to get moisture into the seedbed. Thus, there’s greater risk for farmers with non-irrigated land and those in water allocation situations. Another risk is the potential for increased insects. In 2017, wheat stem maggot was observed. I think one needs to have insects in the back of one’s mind when planting green. Research from Penn State and Wisconsin showed no yield difference when soybean was planted green vs. planted into pre-plant terminated rye or triticale. Research from Penn State showed yield loss 50% of the time when corn was planted green vs. into pre-plant terminated rye or triticale. A 2020 survey of Nebraska and Wisconsin farmers who planted green showed 42% (77 respondents) saw no yield increase and 42% saw a 1-5 bu/ac increase in soybean yields. 59% (83 respondents) saw no yield reduction by planting corn green. Our 2021 survey can be found here: https://ssp.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3XeaLgSdlxnXo1M.
Considerations for Planting Green: To minimize these risks consider the following. Apply nitrogen as a starter with corn when planting green; we think nitrogen tie-up is perhaps a bigger issue than any potential allelopathy. Wait for the corn or soybean seed to germinate before terminating the cover crop. If irrigation is available, have the irrigation system ready to go prior to planting in the event you need to add some moisture into a dry seedbed. Upon planting the field, observe if any adult wheat stem maggot flies are present. If they are, consider adding a cheap insecticide in with the herbicide during termination. For those who wanted the greatest amount of biomass for weed control in soybean, termination of rye occurred closer to heading. For those who plan to roller-crimp rye for weed control, termination occurs at boot stage to heading. When terminating a rye cover crop, if the cover is 12” or more and you’re planning on a residual herbicide, consider waiting on the residual as a second pass after the rye starts dying. I realize no one wants an additional pass or expense. Observation and now research shows that less residual gets down to the soil when cover crops are at least 12” tall. How long one waits for the second pass for rye to start dying will depend on the environmental conditions each year.
With the way things are growing this year, it may be wise to have a Plan A and Plan B in mind if you plan on planting green but the cover crop is getting taller than you are comfortable with, especially for corn. For example, Plan A for a non-irrigated situation may be that you’re planning on planting green unless the cover is X inches tall by a certain date (ex. April 10-15) upon which you will choose to terminate pre-plant instead (Plan B). I realize none of this is easy. Feel free to call if you’d prefer to talk through it for your specific situation.
Happy Spring! And, happy Ag Week! This past week, I thought a lot about the past few years. March 15, 2019 was the flood and blizzard that caused damage and loss in many portions of the State. It would’ve been similar in 2021, but thankfully the soil wasn’t frozen and there wasn’t the ice on the rivers. Grateful 2021 was different! And, March 17, 2020 (or in that time-frame for many) was the beginning of changes due to COVID with many experiencing loss of some type this past year.
We all experience anniversaries of difficult events in our lives due to the brokenness in this world. Brandy VanDeWalle shared information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) regarding some tips to help.
- Be aware that special days may be difficult. It’s common for some stress and other emotional reactions to happen around the anniversary of an event. Simply recognizing that your feelings are normal will help. Dealing with some of your losses and the new realities you’re facing after a disaster can be challenging.
- Be gentle with yourself. Show yourself the same kindness and patience you’d give to others during this time. Allow yourself to feel angry or sad and recognize that these emotions are natural.
- Participate in activities that you enjoy. This may be different depending on the individual. Some people like to reflect in solitude while others may prefer spending time with family and friends for support. Some of these activities may include singing, prayer, meditation, attending a spiritual service, going to the movies, or just getting together with loved ones to share a meal.
- Talk about your losses if you need to. If you want to talk about your losses since the disaster, you can. If you want to talk about the future, you can do that, too. Be sure to share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust. That can be a friend or family member or a health care professional.
- Draw on your faith/spirituality. For many, faith and other spiritual beliefs are a source of strength and comfort every day, and most especially during difficult times. Reach out to your faith adviser, spiritual community, or anyone that you feel comfortable talking with about your beliefs to support and console you.
- Accept kindness and help from others. Support from family and friends is essential to healing. It’s often difficult for people to accept help because they don’t want to be a burden to others, or don’t want to appear weak. Allow the people in your life to show their care and concern.
- Help others. For some people, volunteering is a healthy way to heal and they get a great deal of satisfaction from helping others. Some activities can be as simple as donating food, clothing, and other items.
Ultimately know you are never alone and there is always hope and help! There are a number of additional resources available at: https://ruralwellness.unl.edu/.
Vegetable Planting Guide: Thanks to Gary Zoubek for updating the vegetable planting guide! It can be found at: https://go.unl.edu/d7qk.
March is a month where I spend some time planning on-farm research and other experiments. One topic that surfaced during our on-farm research meetings in February was potentially testing the fungicide product Xyway™. This product is unique in that it is applied in furrow and can be applied with starter fertilizer at planting. It moves systemically in the plant through the water carrying vessels (xylem). For growers who are near towns or locations where aerial applications are restricted, a product like this is intriguing and could have a unique fit.
There’s limited university research with the product, but the findings have been intriguing thus far. The LFR® and 3D versions (in furrow at planting) were tested in Kentucky compared to untreated check and foliar fungicide products (Lucento® and Headline AMP®) applied at R1 in corn. In 2019, Xyway™ LFR® and sometimes the 3D version also showed the same efficacy for northern corn leaf blight (NCLB) and even gray leaf spot (GLS) compared to products applied at R1. All the products had less disease severity compared to the untreated check. Xyway™ did not reduce southern rust disease severity. In 2020, low disease pressure in general was observed in the Kentucky locations. The Xyway™ still provided the same disease reduction to GLS as foliar products applied at R1, which were all significantly less than the check.
In 2020, Dr. Tamra Jackson-Ziems also had a study at UNL South Central Ag Lab near Clay Center. The study compared different application timings (at planting, R1 and R3) of different products compared to an untreated check. Xyway™ LFR® was applied with starter at 15.2 oz/ac at planting. This was compared to Xyway™ at planting + 5 oz/ac Lucento® applied at R1. A number of foliar fungicide products were applied at R1 and R3. The Xyway™ LFR® applied at planting showed no disease difference compared to the untreated check for southern rust. All the other products and timings reduced the amount of southern rust compared to the untreated check. Traditionally, we’ve seen fungicides provide improved standability. In 2020, there were no differences in lodging for any of the products or timings compared to the untreated check. Regarding yield, the Xyway™ LFR® at planting yielded better than the check, whereas there was no yield difference with the Xyway™ + Lucento® at R1. Looking at the data, there were no yield differences between applying foliar fungicide at R1 vs. R3 for any of the products except Miravis® Neo. And, sometimes a product didn’t show a difference between other products or even the untreated check. I show a picture of the data on my website jenreesources.com. With last year being a heavy southern rust year, being able to wait till R3 to apply a fungicide provided some additional time for the residual to work when southern really came on. I know some had to apply a second fungicide application when they automatically applied at R1; that’s just tough from an economic and resistance management perspective.
Because I’ve got nearly a handful of growers interested in testing Xyway™, I put together protocols at jenreesources.com if you’d also like to check them out. If you’re interested in testing any study via on-farm research, please contact me or your local Extension educator.
Solar Energy Webinars: These webinars are free and for anyone who is interested in solar. What is the payback for Solar PV systems? A common question with not such as easy answer. Farmers and businesses are receiving marketing materials to invest in solar, yet the economic feasibility of solar is not always clear. This webinar series will cover how solar electric systems work, how to determine the value of energy and how the complexity of subsidies and policy make general statements about feasibility more complex. This workshop will cover these issues in detail and provide participants with the information they need to speak confidently with farmers about solar electric systems. All webinars are held from 9:00-10:30 a.m. on March 30, Apr. 1, Apr. 6, Apr. 8. Registration at: https://unl.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEod-qhrz0sHdYkpW9nRnfdsv0wlk78bW99. Those with specific questions can reach out to John Hay, Nebraska Extension Educator at 402-472-0408 or email@example.com.