JenREES 9-27-20

Taking out the last soybean on-farm research study on soybean maturities. Love this time of year!

Bean harvest was rolling this week. Hearing non-irrigated beans in the area ranging from 40-60 bu/ac and irrigated beans going 70-90+. Regarding solar radiation and some wondering about smoke impact on drydown, I ran data from 9/1/20 though 9/26/20 for Harvard and York weather stations. Then looked at long term average for this same September time-frame from 1996-2020. Both stations showed slightly higher solar radiation in 2020 compared to the long-term average for September (York: 379 and 372 langleys respectively) (Harvard: 383 and 376 langleys respectively). And, it was higher yet for 2020 when I queried Sept. 10-26 for same time periods. So, unsure solar radiation was the factor impacting drydown for this part of the State?

Small Grains and Weed Control: Been watching weed control particularly in soybean fields. For future columns/winter programs, I’d like to hear from you. What weed control approaches have worked in your soybean and corn fields? I’m curious about all systems and all types of weed control options. Please share at jrees2@unl.edu or give me a call at the Extension Office. Thanks!

In the past, I’ve shared weed control begins at harvest by not combining patches of weeds or endrows full of weeds. I realize that’s difficult to do, and for many fields, we’re past this point. From a system’s perspective, another option to aid weed control is to plant a small grain such as wheat, rye or triticale this fall. We had a whole edition of CropWatch devoted to wheat production here: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2020/september-4-2020. Wheat provides an option for both grazing and grain. Rye provides the best option for earliest green-up/growth in the spring and longest seeding time as it can be seeded into December. Triticale provides the most biomass but produces the latest into late May/early June. All keep the ground covered from light interception penetrating the soil surface which allows weed seeds to germinate. While I’ve observed this in farmers’ fields, there’s also recent research from K-State that supports the impact of a small grain in rotation for weed control.

One study looked at marestail (horseweed) and palmer amaranth control from 2014-2015 in no-till soybeans at six locations in eastern Kansas. They also found the majority of marestail emerged in the fall (research from UNL showed up to 95% does). They compared five cover crop treatments including: no cover; fall-sown winter wheat; spring-sown oat; pea; and mixture of oat and pea. Cover crops were terminated in May with glyphosate and 2,4-D alone or with residual herbicides of flumioxazin + pyroxasulfone (Fierce). Ten weeks post-termination, palmer amaranth biomass was 98% less in winter wheat and 91% less in spring oat compared to no cover crop.

Another study in Manhattan from 2015-2016 compared fall-seeded rye; a residual tank-mix of glyphosate, dicamba, chlorimuron-ethyl, tribenuron-methyl, and AMS; and no fall application. Four spring treatments included no spring application or three herbicide tank mixes: glyphosate, dicamba, and AMS alone or with flumioxazin + pyroxasulfone (Fierce) as early preplant, or as split applied with 2/3 preplant and 1/3 at soybean planting. They found the fall rye completely suppressed marestail while fall herbicide suppressed biomass by 93% and density by 86% compared to no fall application. They also found rye to reduce total weed biomass (including palmer amaranth) by 97% or more across all spring applications. In both studies, soybean yields were best with the combination of cover crop + herbicides or the combination of fall + spring herbicides compared to no cover and no herbicides.

The way I think about this for conventional systems is that the use of a small grain in the system reduces the pressure on the chemicals for having to provide all the control. It also buys some time for chemical control, perhaps even removing one application (based on these studies, small grain delayed at least a month till 50% palmer germination). Economically, while there’s the expense of seeding and purchasing the small grain seed, what are the other economics to consider? What could the small grain provide by reducing an additional chemical application, adding a forage crop after harvest, selling seed (if there’s a market), selling straw (depending on location for moisture savings & ability to get a cover back in for weed control), etc.? Just some considerations this fall looking at weed control by adding a small grain.

JenRees 9-20-20

Soybeans: The past week I was mostly in soybean fields taking harvest notes for on-farm research or helping harvest plots. The non-irrigated yields have been better than anticipated for the beans just dying in fields; I can’t help but wonder what they could’ve been had there been rain in August! As noted last week, there’s a definite difference in varieties as to the number of 4-bean pods. Some varieties are loaded with pods and it’s not hard to find 4 bean pods. Others in our variety studies have a majority of 3 bean pods and it’s rare to see 4 bean ones. It will be interesting to see yields, and may be something to observe in varieties on your farms if you’re curious. Will also take a look at solar radiation data as several commented the smoke seems to be impacting drydown of irrigated soybeans.

Woolly bear caterpillar in soybean field.

Woolly Bear Caterpillars are noticeable in soybean fields as are stink bugs and loopers; however, woolly bears are also on the move from soybean fields to find green plant tissue elsewhere. In past years, it’s not uncommon to find them crossing roads. I had a couple of reports towards the end of last week of them demolishing garden plants and shrubs. They probably don’t need controlled in all cases and not all products are as effective on them. Bifenthrin is labeled to be effective on them and can be used on a variety of plants, so that may be one option if treatment is necessary.

Stalk Nitrate Test: A corn stalk nitrate test can provide an indication if the amount of nitrogen for the corn plants was low, high, or sufficient for that year. This test involves taking an 8” sample of the stalk. It should be taken 6” above the soil line and go to 14” above the soil surface. All leaf sheaths should be removed from the stalk. 15 samples should be collected 1-3 weeks after black layer from a one acre area that represents a larger area (same soil type, etc.). Sample other areas of the field with different soil types or management. Then place stalk samples into a paper bag (don’t use plastic) and ship the samples within one day or refrigerate until shipping. It’s important to take the sample from 6-14” above the soil line because all the research to create the test was done from that area of the stalks. Also note that situations like a good grain fill season, drought, or poor ear development can all impact the test providing lower or higher numbers. This test isn’t to be used to determine nitrogen rates. It just gives a ballpark over time regarding if too much, too little or sufficient nitrogen is available on a consistent basis over years in a field. If the test results over several years are consistently high (greater than 2000 ppm), it would suggest the grower could reduce nitrate rates without impacting yields. If too low, the grower could consider additional nitrogen or adjust nitrogen management within the field. You can read more about this test here: https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/Use-of-the-End-of-Season-Corn-Stalk-Nitrate-Test-in-Iowa-Corn-Production. My colleague, Aaron Nygren, also created a short Twitter video here: https://twitter.com/ColfaxCountyExt/status/1305982739791966208?s=20.

Sensors and ET gages: A quick reminder to remove any sensors for irrigation scheduling and ET gages from your fields before harvest. In the midst of everything else, it can be easy to forget about them!

Fall Lawn Fertilization: Early September is one of the best times to fertilize Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue. There’s still time to apply if it’s not yet been done. One application may be all that’s needed on older lawns (10 to 15 or more years). Use a fertilizer with at least a 50% slow release nitrogen source. Two fertilizer applications are recommended on younger lawns; one in late August/ early September and one about mid-October. Use a slow release nitrogen source on the first application and a fast release nitrogen source on the second one. Avoid fertilization after late October as plant uptake is low. This causes nutrients to leach away during winter or linger in soil until spring leading to early growth. More info: How to Fertilize Turfgrass This Fall.

JenREES 9-13-20

Will miss catching up with people at Husker Harvest Days this week! Virtual field day at: https://www.huskerharvestdays.com/en/home.html.

Grateful for the rain! It provided a break, the end of irrigation, and will help with settling dust and hopefully reducing fire risk. Here’s wishing you a safe harvest as it resumes! May see some soybean shatter. Was hearing reports of soybean moisture ranging from 9-11% over Labor Day weekend on 2.0-2.5 maturity beans. Saw non-irrigated soybean fields in Nuckolls/Webster county area that died with the leaves still attached. The previous week’s heat with the lack of moisture for so long was just too much.

One area on-farm research study is a soybean maturity study. This is the third year for this study and after harvest we’ll have 9 site-years worth of data. The objective is to determine yield and economic impacts from planting 2.0-2.5 maturity beans vs. 3.0-3.5 maturity beans in April to early May. Planting a range of maturity groups can aid in spreading out harvest; we’ve found about 1 day delay for every 0.1 in maturity group. Planting a variety of maturity groups can spread risk regarding timing that heat and moisture (or lack of) are received (especially for non-irrigated beans). There’s also increased interest in earlier maturing varieties for seeding a cover crop for erosion and/or weed control or increased biomass for grazing. Our data thus far has found genetics to be the bigger yield factor as there’s high yielding genetics regardless of 2.0 to 3.5 maturing varieties.

The soybean yield equation is more complicated than determining yield for corn with final yield harder to predict. This is what it looks like followed by an example with numbers that Dr. Jim Specht shared:

[Plants/Acre X Nodes/Plant X Pods/Node X Seeds/Pod] / [Seeds/Pound X Pounds/Bushel] = Bushels/Acre

120,000    x      21    x     2      x     2.4       /     [  2500      X      60   ]    =    81

Plants per acre is often less instrumental for yield as it’s inversely related to total number of seeds per plant (high population=less seeds/plant, low pop=more). We had more soybeans planted early in the area this year than I’ve ever before experienced. Early planting allows for increased nodes per plant. This year many remarked on plants being loaded with flowers; this could be partly due to the abundant sunshine. On average, Dr. Specht assumes 2 pods/node; there’s some nodes loaded with pods this year and we need to watch how they finish filling. A soybean pod contains, on average, 2.4 seeds, primarily because the 1-seed, 2-seed, 3-seed, and 4-seed pods produced by indeterminate soybean plants tend to occur in respective proportions of 10%, 40%, 50%, and ~0.1%. These proportions can vary somewhat among varieties.

As we think about the soybean yield equation, seed size (seed mass) is the component most impacted by lack of August rain or ending soybean irrigation too soon. This ranges from small (3750) to large (2250) seed/pound with most varieties today averaging about 2500 seed/pound. Last week’s rains will most likely help group three soybeans with seed size and reducing additional seed abortion.

Soybean Quality Study: The Nebraska Soybean Board and some researchers from UNL are asking farmers to help with a soybean quality study. I have sample jars in my office and all that’s required from you is to take 3 samples from a non-irrigated field and 3 samples from an irrigated field (not field corners). They will share results with the growers who participate. Please contact me at jrees2@unl.edu or 402-440-4739 if you’re interested in participating!

Overseeding Lawns can still occur as late-August through mid-September is the best time to seed bluegrass and fescue. Fescue really shouldn’t be seeded any later than this but bluegrass can be into later September if needed. It’s really important to get good seed to soil contact by preparing the seedbed. The following publications from Nebraska Extension provide step-by-step instructions: Improving Turf in Fall and Establishing Lawns from Seed. Buy blue tag certified seed from a reputable dealer.

Explore Beekeeping free webinar will be held on September 24th from 6-8 PM. The speaker will address how she uses bees on her family farms in conjunction with pollinator cover crops and fruit trees. This program will be offered in English and Spanish. Participants can register online at https://go.unl.edu/beekeeping.

Emerald Ash Borer Found in Seward County

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) confirmed Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was found in a trap at the Blue Valley Campground in Seward, NE in early August 2020. This article will share information from Elizabeth Killinger, Extension Horticulture Educator, about what this means for your ash trees and what you should be doing now.

“Finding borer holes in ash trees doesn’t necessarily mean you have EAB. There are several different types of borers that attack ash trees, so correct identification is key. There are several different native borers that are normally found on ash trees. The ash/lilac borer, banded ash clearwing and carpenter worm can attack healthy ash trees. The redheaded ash borer, banded ash borer, flatheaded apple tree borer and eastern ash bark beetle attack stressed or dying ash trees. Knowing exactly which insect is in your tree will let you know if you should start looking for a replacement or if you need to treat.

EAB is an invasive beetle that attacks and kills all species of ash. It is a small, metallic-green beetle that is about 1/2 inch long. The larvae of this wood-boring insect tunnel under the bark of ash trees, disrupting the flow of water and nutrients, ultimately causing the tree to die. EAB infested ash trees will exhibit thinning or dying branches in the top of the tree, S-shaped larval galleries under bark, D-shaped exit holes and suckers or advantageous growth along the trunk and main branches.

Proper tree identification is key to knowing if you should be concerned about EAB or not. The bark of ash trees have diamond shapes or capital “A’s”. Ash trees have an opposite leaf pattern, or the buds are across from one another on the stem. They also have leaves of 5 to 7 leaflets. If you are lucky enough to get the seeded variety, the seeds look like paddle-shaped helicopters and are held in clusters on the tree. Ash trees, those in the Fraxinus genus, can include the green, white, Patmore, Marshall’s Seedless, and Autumn Purple Ash. Mountain Ash is not affected because it isn’t a true ash.

If your tree has EAB-like symptoms, like canopy thinning, branch dieback, sprouting growth from the base of the tree, or D-shaped exit holes, it should be examined by a professional. Leave your ash trees in as long as they are healthy, in good condition, and in a good location. If your tree is dying or diseased, it may be best to hire a certified arborist to look at your trees and determine the cause of the decline.

Because of the cost, treatments are only recommended for high value and/or already healthy trees. Once EAB has been confirmed within the 15 mile radius of your location, then you can begin the proper treatment applications on healthy trees. Depending on the size of the tree, a soil drench is one option for homeowners. The drench can be applied to trees with under a 20” diameter trunk yearly throughout the lifespan of that tree. Tree care professionals are able to use additional products like trunk injections on larger trees. Contact a certified arborist for these treatments. Some products are best applied in the spring, while others can be done throughout the summer. We don’t recommend treatments this fall.

Ash has been a popular landscape and conservation tree for a long time due to its fast growing nature and overall appearance. Diversity in the landscape is important to the overall health of the community forest. Aim to have diversity and try not to have any one species make up more than 10% of the landscape. A diverse landscape isn’t as affected by single outbreak. Now is an excellent time to start thinking about replacement trees for ash. For a list of replacement trees visit The Nebraska Forest Service list of replacement trees or Trees for Western Nebraska (PDF). More information about the emerald ash borer, finding an arborist, and recommendations can be found at https://nfs.unl.edu/nebraska-eab.”

JenREES 9-6-20

Harvest: Harvest has begun for some with soybeans, seed corn, and silage. For all of us as we’re on the roads, please be alert and slow down. It’s also important to talk about safety with teens who drive. With it being so dry, gravel roads are extra dusty, reducing visibility. It can be helpful to turn on headlights and be sure to slow down at intersections. On highways, slow down when coming upon slow-moving equipment. And, be aware of equipment turning. Here’s wishing everyone a safe harvest!

Nebraska Public Power District, Rural Radio, Center for Ag Safety and Health, and Nebraska Extension are teaming up to share on harvest safety with the Harvest Safety Tour. Power line, ATV, and grain bin safety demos will be on display and a free lunch will be served September 9th from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the big parking lot at the York County Fairgrounds. For more information call 877-ASK-NPPD.

Early and mid-group two soybeans rapidly turned last week and may be drier than one realizes in spite of having green stems. Every year it’s a challenge to harvest close to 13% moisture. There’s a dock for delivering wet beans. While not a dock, delivering soybeans below 13% moisture reduces profits because there’s fewer bushels to sell (load weight divided by 60 lbs/bu assuming 13% moisture). Selling soybeans at 8% moisture, you’re losing about 5.43% yield; at 9% moisture, it’s 4.4%; at 10% moisture, 3.3%; at 11% moisture, 2.25%; and at 12% moisture, it’s 1.14% yield loss. That doesn’t take into account additional risk for shatter losses during harvest. The following are two profit examples:

Example 1: Based on the elevator dockage numbers obtained, if the grower was to sell beans at 13.8% moisture, he/she would be docked 3% of the selling price of $8.75/bu, reducing the actual price to $8.49 per bushel. Total income per acre would be: 75 bu/ac yield x $8.49/bu = $636.75 per acre gross

Example 2. If the soybeans were harvested at 9% moisture, there would be 3.3 fewer bushels per acre to sell (4.4% of 75 bu/ac yield due to water loss): 75 bu/ac – 3.3 bu/ac =71.7 bu/ac yield x $8.75 = $627.38 per acre gross

In this example it’s better to take a dockage for selling beans at 13.8% moisture than sell them at 9%. The difference is a positive gain of $9.37 per acre or almost $1265 on a 135 acre field.

Harvesting at 13% moisture is perhaps a combination of art and luck depending on environmental conditions. Some tips to achieve this can include begin harvesting at 14% moisture, making combine adjustments and operating at slower speeds (consider these equipment adjustment tips for your combine), plan variety selection to spread out maturity and harvest (we’re finding around 1 day delay for every 0.1 difference in maturity group), and avoid harvest losses from shatter as only 4-5 beans on the ground can add up to a bushel per acre loss.

Pasture & Forage Minute: With Dr. Bruce Anderson’s retirement (former Extension Forage Specialist), a team of Extension specialists and educators are sharing pasture and forage minutes. These quick updates are also shared via email. If you’re interested in receiving them, you can sign up for the email list by going to this site: https://listserv.unl.edu/signup-anon , enter PASTURE-AND-FORAGE under ‘list name’, and your email. 

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was found in Seward in a trap at the Blue Valley Campground in early August. We don’t recommend treatments right now in the fall. Because of the cost, treatments are only recommended for high value and/or already healthy trees. Once EAB has been confirmed within the 15 mile radius of your location, then you can begin the proper treatment applications on healthy trees. A yearly soil drench application is one option for homeowners for trees under a 20” trunk diameter. Tree care professionals are able to use additional products like trunk injections on larger trees. Contact a certified arborist for these treatments. Some products are best applied in the spring, while others can be done throughout the summer. Treatment zone considerations can be found here: https://nfs.unl.edu/documents/EABmap_2020-08-03.png. Please don’t move firewood to help prevent the spread!

JenREES 8-30-20

Grateful Nebraska held our State Fair this year! Seeing the youth competing, showcasing 4-H projects, and the excitement, smiles, and friends reconnecting from across the State this past weekend was heartwarming!

Received many calls about end of season irrigation this past week. Would encourage our farmers to finish the season well! You’ve been through much in another trying year and the past few weeks have been extra hard keeping up with irrigation, cleaning out bins, and getting combines ready in the heat. It can be tempting to just stop but would encourage you not to quit irrigating too soon, particularly on soybeans. Soybean maturity (R7) is defined when 50% (or all) of the field plants possess one mature pod (when the interior white membrane no longer clings to the seed). In most years, most leaves and pods will have changed color (from green to yellow-green or yellow) by this plant-based R7 date.

The heat has pushed crops along, but we’ve also had a great deal of humidity. Corn is moving the starch line slower in irrigated fields. That’s a good thing for fill and a harder thing regarding labor, time, and money. A lot of corn in this area is 1/3 milk and I just saw a few fields at ½ milk over the weekend. 

  • Corn at ¼ milk needs 3.75” (approximately 19 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ½ milk needs 2.25” (approximately 13 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ¾ milk needs 1” (approximately 7 days to maturity)
  • Soybean at full seed (R6) needs 3.5” (approx. 18 days to maturity)
  • Soybean with leaves beginning to yellow and pod membrane still attached to seeds (R6.5) needs 1.9” (approx. 10 days to maturity)

So, we’re potentially looking at one to two more irrigations yet for some of this corn and soybeans depending on the current status of your soil moisture profile, development of the crops in your particular fields, and any rain. It is recommended to allow that soil moisture profile to dry out to 50-60% depletion towards the end of the season to capture moisture in the off-season. So one way to consider this is a step-wise approach. If you typically irrigate at 35% soil moisture depletion and have around 2” left, the next week you could wait till a trigger of 40% depletion with the following week’s trigger around 50%. Again, this depends on your individual field’s soil moisture status and crop development after a taxing August.

Upon physiological maturity, corn ears begin drooping down. However throughout the area, corn ears are doing this that aren’t at ½ starch yet. These ears will black layer prematurely at the cost of yield. Dr. Bob Nielsen from Purdue shares that yield penalty can be as much as 40% at denting when there’s essentially no milk line visible and around 12% at half milk. So what causes this? The ear shank can collapse when there’s a lack of turgor pressure due to stress from the inability to keep up with crop water demand. August has been abnormally dry with warmer than average temperatures the past few weeks. Sometimes the ear shank also cannibalizes itself, similar to what can happen in stalks. Perhaps part of this can be from poor root development or lack of root development into deeper layers? In areas that have received less rain, perhaps deeper soil layers are drier in spite of having moisture in the top soil layer from irrigation? For those with conventional hybrids, European corn borer tunneling can also cause this type of collapse. There’s also some hybrids that I notice this happening more than others; perhaps genetics also plays a roll? That shank is the source for feeding the ear, so when it collapses, it weakens it. Keep an eye on ears in these fields as we approach harvest and consider getting at them sooner if possible.

Drooping corn ears in this irrigated field with green plant tissue above ears. This corn was getting close to 1/2 milk.
Photo by Dr. Jim Specht showing end of season soybean development stages. Notice the white membrane still attached to the seed in R6 stage and how it disconnects at R7 (maturity). Not all pods on the plant may be at R7 at the same time. R7 for all the plants in the field is considered when 50% (or all) of the field plants possess one mature pod (when the interior white membrane no longer clings to the seed). In most years, most leaves and pods will have changed color (from green to yellow-green or yellow) by this plant-based R7 date.
Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) has been observed for the past several weeks in fields. Thankfully it’s been minor this year compared to last year. It’s wise to take a soil sample for soybean cyst nematode (SCN) in these areas of the field to determine if you also have a nematode problem. The combination of the diseases has a synergistic impact on yield.

Considerations for Leasing Land for Solar Development

Leasing land for solar development is a topic landowners in the McCool Junction and Lushton area are facing. This is a guest column by my colleague John Hay, Nebraska Extension Energy Educator.

Renewable energy has increased significantly in recent years and the number of wind farms and size of wind turbines are a visual reminder of renewable development.  Due to higher development cost, solar electric systems, also called solar photovoltaic (PV), have lagged in commercial electric development. In recent years, the dramatic price decline of solar PV has led to greater interest in utility scale solar development.  For instance, consider a 5-Megawatt system similar to the one constructed West of Lincoln North of I-80. Based on solar cost benchmarks published by the National Renewable Energy Lab, a 5-Megawatt system constructed in 2010 would have cost $27.6 million dollars, compared to $5.65 million dollars to construct the same size project in 2018.  Combine this with the 26% federal tax credit and the economics of utility scale solar are sufficient for major development interest across the nation. The federal tax credit is currently 26% and set to decline to 22% in 2021, then 10% for future years.

Utility scale solar farms are constructed on open ground generally near access to the electric transmission grid.  Other considerations for siting solar farms may be the solar resource, proximity to electricity demand, other local incentives, and regional value of electricity. Access to land is an early step in utility scale solar development.  Farmers and landowners in Nebraska are being approached to lease land for solar development and these landowners are facing important long-term decisions about the future of their land.  When considering a solar leasing contract many factors should be considered.  According to the Farmland Owner’s Guide to Solar Leasing published by the National Agricultural Law Center these considers are: Length of the commitment, Who has legal interests in the land?, Impacts on the farm and land, Family matters, Property taxes, Government programs, Liability and insurance, and Neighbor and community relations. 

Utility solar farmland leases are long term contracts and need to be reviewed by a qualified attorney.  In Nebraska these leases can be as many as 40 years and longer if extended. For many landowners this long-term contract may extend into the next generation and should be discussed with family.  Landowners at times feel pressure to sign contracts and this can be stressful. Take the time to review and negotiate these contracts and always know that saying “no” is an option. 

Solar leases can be attractive to landowners as they can offer long term income and profitability on the leased land.  A study in Michigan of landowners with wind farm leases showed farmers with leases invested more in their farms than farmers without leases. This suggest the lease income may influence farm stability and longevity.  Solar farms like wind farms add to county tax income. These developments are exempt from property tax and instead have a nameplate capacity tax paid each year in place of the property tax. 

Utility scale solar farms are unlike wind farms in some ways.  For example, wind turbines may take only 1-2 acres out of production per turbine because farmers can farm around the base of the turbine and turbine access road.  In comparison, a 1,000 acre solar farm will take all 1,000 acres out of production.  Solar farms are low to the ground and have less impact on the skyline. Generally solar farms will be fenced with vegetation growing amongst the solar panels.  Vegetation could be perennial pollinators, grass, or weeds. Common management is periodic mowing to ensure plants do not disrupt solar operation and production. 

Landowners approached about solar leases should seek advice from an attorney and take time to thoroughly consider the contract and its implications to their farmland.  Review of the Farmland Owner’s Guide to Solar Leasing published by the National Agricultural Law Center will help frame the issues and considerations for solar leases. This can be found at: https://farmoffice.osu.edu/sites/aglaw/files/site-library/Farmland_Owner’s_Guide_to_Solar_Leasing.pdf. For additional questions about solar leasing, please see https://cropwatch.unl.edu/bioenergy/utility-scale-solar, or contact John Hay, Extension Educator at 402-472-0408 or jhay2@unl.edu.

JenREES 8-16-20

Crop Updates: For the past week, crops used around 0.22” per day in the York area, around 0.20” as one goes east towards Ithaca and closer to 0.25” per day going south towards Harvard and Guide Rock (based on High Plains Regional Climate Center data posted on CropWatch).

As we think about water use the finish the year, the following come from the NebGuide Predicting the Last Irrigation of the Season found at: https://go.unl.edu/k74n:

  • Corn at Beginning Dent needs 5” of water (approximately 24 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ¼ milk needs 3.75” (approximately 19 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ½ milk (Full Dent) needs 2.25” (approximately 13 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ¾ milk needs 1” (approximately 7 days to maturity)
  • Soybean at beginning seed (R5) needs around 6.5” (approx. 29 days to maturity)
  • Soybean at full seed (R6) needs 3.5” (approx. 18 days to maturity)
  • Soybean with leaves beginning to yellow (R6.5) needs 1.9” (approx. 10 days to maturity)

Spent a lot of time last week looking at ear development in fields, particularly those impacted by the July 8th windstorm. Also appreciated a long conversation with John Mick with Pioneer on what he was seeing. For the most part, I’m seeing a lot of ‘normal’ ears that vary in the amount of tip back from lack of pollination and/or kernel abortion. Less commonly seen are ears with 3/4 husks. On plants that were pinched, continue to see messed up secondary and/or tertiary ears after the loss of the primary ear. On plants that bent and righted themselves, seeing a variety of things. Some are more ‘normal’ while other ears are much smaller that either didn’t pollinate well and/or had kernel abortion.

Last month, had mentioned a curious thing regarding how many hybrids are putting on multiple ears on the same ear shank, on the primary ear node. It’s far more than I’ve ever seen before. In sharing some observations with Dr.’s Tom Hoegemeyer and Bob Nielsen, they share it’s most likely a genetic X environmental response under excellent growing conditions or some other phenomena. As I continued to see these ears in fields and husk them back, for the most part, they don’t appear to be detrimental to the main ear, which is good. So it’s more of a curiosity than anything.

Many of us probably don’t examine ear shanks much in comparison to the ears. However, when one does look at ear shanks, one will observe they are similar to the corn stalks in that there are nodes and internodes. Each node also produces a leaf (in this case a husk leaf) instead of a collared leaf such as what happens on the main stalk. And each node (on stalk and on ear shank) has an axillary meristem which allows for ear development. Normally, there must be genetic or hormonal suppression so that only one main ear is formed on a shank at a stalk node. It’s not uncommon for us to observe an ear on different nodes of the stalk (ex. Nodes 12 and 13). What is more uncommon is to observe multiple ears on different nodes of the same ear shank, such as what is being observed this year.

Renovating Lawns: If your lawn is in need of repair, now through mid-September is a great time-perhaps the best time-to do so! This resource, Improving Turf in the Fall at https://go.unl.edu/rz9z is a great one to walk you through renovation depending on your situation. Some lawns can be easily improved by adding fertilizer this fall and/or overseeding. Some may need total renovation, which starts with a glyphosate (Roundup application) followed by waiting at least a week to then prepare the soil for planting.


Multiple ears on the same ear shank (with husk tissue on left and husked on right). Doesn’t appear to be impacting main ear in most fields I’ve seen these in. And, this is occurring on primary ear nodes and within fields (not just in endrows or in lower population areas).

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Pretty impressive brace root development on leeward side of plants that tried righting themselves.

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Ears from the plants with the brace roots from above photo. These are pretty decent with some tip back, but otherwise more ‘normal’. Other plants like this have ears that have poor kernel set.

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Seeing some ears with 3/4 husk.

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Bent plant that tried righting itself with a ‘zippered’ appearance to ear and poor pollination in addition to kernel abortion.

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Plant with loss of the primary ear showing multiple ears on the secondary and tertiary ear nodes.

JenREES 8-9-20

Fair: As fairs wrapped up in the area, in my opinion, it was a great way to cap off the summer for the youth. So much has been taken away from them and I really appreciate Ag Societies working hard with Extension staff to give the youth an opportunity to showcase their projects! There were several moments throughout fair where I thought “this is why we do this”…to watch youth and adults so excited to see the ribbons on projects, watching siblings and club members supporting each other, families helping other families, and friends catching up. Fair did look different this year. But it forced us to think about things differently with the blessing of some changes may be kept as a result! Thank you to all the Ag Society, 4-H Council members, Extension staff, newspaper staff, and volunteers who gave youth and adults alike the opportunity to showcase projects and safely gather at fairs! Thank you also to health departments for advising on directed health measures and providing PPE and nurses who helped with screenings!

Crop Updates: I didn’t get into the field much this past week but the primary questions I received were regarding tip back on corn, spidermites flaring, and if it was too late to spray fungicides in corn. The answer to the latter is no. If southern rust is showing up pretty good low-mid canopy of your field, it’s something to consider to help with stalk strength as that’s my concern. I’m hearing of some guys having to apply a second round of fungicide due to rust. Hard for me to see guys spending the money to do that thus prefer avoiding automatic tassel applications. While I’m not aware of research to prove it, I think coverage is another issue. Consider asking the aerial applicator to use 3 gallons/acre to increase coverage. I hear some are refusing to do more than 2 gallons/acre and I think that’s part of the problem. Some farmers are also chemigating fungicide and insecticide through the pivot in hopes of improving coverage.

Typically we’d say southern rust occurs on the top side of leaves unless severe, whereas common rust typically occurs on both sides of leaves. On leaves that were flipped over from the wind, I’m seeing southern rust spores (confirmed via microscope) on the undersides of leaves that are now technically facing upward, but not on the ‘normal’ top side of leaf (an interesting observation that a crop consultant asked me about and then I also saw this week to confirm it truly was southern).

Spidermites continue to flare 7-10 days later because most of the products used don’t kill eggs. Sometimes second applications are needed. Insecticides with activity against eggs and immature stages (not adults) include Zeal, Oberon, and Onager whereas the pyrethroid (Bifenthrin products like Brigade in corn and soybeans) and organophosphate products (like Lorsban used in soybean) can help with adults but not eggs. Product has to come in contact with the mites. Thus at least 3 gallons/acre are recommended with aerial applications. Entomologists share aerial applications early in the morning or late in the evening can be more effective to avoid hot rising air away from plants (be careful of inversions). With twospotted spider mite, perhaps all that can be accomplished is to slow the rate of population increase.

Tip back on corn occurs most often from some sort of stress. For this year having good pollination weather, some are surprised regarding how much tip back we’re seeing. It’s important to count kernels long as there may be more kernels than one realizes in spite of tip back occurring. You can tell approximate timing of stress events by the appearance of the kernels. If kernel formation isn’t evident, the stress occurred before or during pollination. If kernels are very small or appeared to have died, the stress was after pollination as the kernels were filling. Water stress is a major stress outside of temperature as to kernels not pollinating and/or aborting. Each ovule (and later, each kernel), competes for water and nutrients. Water and nutrients are necessary for pollen tube formation down silks to fertilize ovules. Water and nutrients are necessary to fill individual kernels with the tips being sacrificed for filling kernels at the base of the ear first.

CARES Act Tax Planning for Farmers: The CARES Act included the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), which many farmers utilized. However, several other provisions didn’t get as much attention. For tax planning this fall, check out this helpful info. from Tina Barrett: https://go.unl.edu/re6e.


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True topside of leaf that was flipped over with windstorm to be on underside. Can see indentations of lesions but not pustules.

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True bottomside of leaf that after being flipped over with windstorm was showing as the top side. Notice the pustules on this side of the leaf.

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Under the microscope, the spores were truly southern rust (oval-shaped). Common rust pustules are circular in shape.

JenREES 8-2-20

York and Seward County Fairs: Here’s wishing the best to all the youth competing in the York and Seward County Fairs this week!

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One group of youth competing at the York Co. 4-H Trap Shooting competition today.

Crop Update: It’s unfortunately not hard to find southern rust in fields anymore as I’m finding it in every field I walk into. Incidence is mostly confined to lower canopies with the highest I’ve seen so far on the ear leaf. What’s concerning to me is the amount of rust I’m seeing (ear leaf and below) in canopies of fields that have already been sprayed. Some fields sprayed in mid-July will be out of residual soon, which is also concerning to me. Physoderma brown spot, which moves with water and isn’t a significant pest, can be confused with southern rust. While it can look bad, a major difference with Physoderma is that there’s no raised pustules (bumps) on the leaves. I haven’t seen gray leaf spot at ear leaves or above yet. I’ve added pictures of what I’m seeing on my blog at jenreesources.com. There’s been some questions about ‘late season’ Nitrogen applications. I’ve had to ask how late is ‘late season’; brown silk has always been the latest I recommended. Most University research considered ‘late season’ as by tassel time. I haven’t found any University research that has said applications should be made later than brown silk or would be beneficial past this time.

In soybeans, there’s a disease called Phyllostichta leaf spot that I had never before seen.

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Phyllostichta leaf spot. Photo courtesy John Mick, Pioneer.

It’s one caused by a fungus that begins often as brown lesions on leaf margins and can move between leaf veins. In learning more about it, it can be residue born or seed transmitted. It doesn’t sound like anything to be too concerned about, just something different that’s been seen in some fields this year.

Painted lady butterflies are the orange and brown butterflies that are flying now that are often confused for monarchs. A painted lady female can lay up to 500 pale green eggs on plants individually instead of in egg masses. The larvae (called thistle caterpillars) hatch in around a week and can feed from 2-6 weeks depending on weather conditions. They feed on around 100 different host species including thistles, soybeans, asters, zinnias, etc. These butterflies are often used in schools to teach students about complete metamorphosis using the life cycle of a butterfly.

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Painted lady butterfly (underside) on soybean leaf.

Soybean Defoliators: In addition to thistle caterpillars, other defoliators including various worms, grasshoppers, Japanese beetles are also present. Thresholds for damage for all soybean defoliators is 20% defoliation of plants during the reproductive stages. If you’re unsure what 20% defoliation in soybean looks like, check out the graphic in CropWatch at: https://go.unl.edu/7qjg. It’s actually a good graphic to keep on one’s phone as it’s very easy to over-estimate 20% defoliation.

Unsolicited Seeds from China: I haven’t heard of anyone in this area officially receiving a packet yet. USDA is aware that people across the country have received suspicious, unsolicited packages of seed that appear to be coming from China. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, other federal agencies, and State departments of agriculture to investigate the situation. Anyone in Nebraska who receives an unsolicited package of seeds should immediately contact Julie C. Van Meter at 402-471-6847) or Shayne Galford at 402-434-2346. Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your State department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins. At this time, there’s no evidence indicating this is something other than a “brushing scam” where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales.

Squash Vine Borers tend to be a problem at some point every year. If you’re seeing zuchinni, squash, or pumpkin plants looking wilted and suddenly dying, check the stems at the base of the plant. If you see insect frass (like sawdust), squash vine borers are most likely the culprit. You can remove the plants and discard if you’re done with them. Otherwise, you can also slit the stems and kill the larvae. Then cover the stem base with soil to encourage new root growth. There’s only one generation a year and it’s too late to apply insecticides (should be applied to plant base beginning in late June-mid-July). Some master gardeners also say wrapping the base of stems with aluminum foil discourages moths from laying eggs.


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Southern rust: Small, orange to tan clustered pustules primarily on the upper sides of leaves.

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Physoderma brown spot: the tiny clustered tan spots (below mid-rib) and purple blotches on mid-rib that also occur around leaf axils and on outer stalk tissue. Upper left-hand corner of this picture is bacterial leaf streak.

Physoderma brown spot on outer stalk tissue. It looks bad but not penetrating beyond the outer stalk tissue.

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