Monthly Archives: August 2013

Extent of Storm Damage Visual

This map came from Kansas State University in a newsletter where they were talking about the vegetation differences from the Drought of 2012 to 2013 in Kansas.  A colleague shared this with me pointing out how obvious the storm in Clay County, NE is on this map.  Look above Kansas to the brown area-that’s the LOSS of vegetation we have right now in Clay County which is quite extensive-and neat how it’s captured unexpectedly on this map.
This was a map published by Kansas State University showing vegetation difference from 2012-2013.  Look above to the dark area in Nebraska-Yep-that's Clay County and the loss of vegetation due to August 1, 2013 storm.

Rural Futures Conference

Do you have a passion for building strong and resilient rural communities? Do you think about the future and what is in storeYouth Panel at Rural Futures Conference 2012 for rural people and places? If so, I’d encourage you to plan on November 3-5, 2013 at The Cornhusker, A Marriott Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska for the 2013 Rural Futures Conference and participate in the dialogues around these very issues.

The theme for the 2013 Rural Futures Conference is Beyond Boundaries, which encourages all of us to step beyond our typical boundaries and work together to create positive rural futures. While moving beyond boundaries can be challenging and even ominous, it also provides the unique opportunity to implement a foundation of collaboration that can impact the future of rural people and places. The upcoming conference will celebrate the importance of rural and create energy and enthusiasm for new and innovative ways to address complex opportunities and challenges.  From University faculty, staff and students to community citizens and organizational partners, don’t miss the opportunity to transcend boundaries and collaboratively make a difference.

One of the greatest resources in any organization or community is its people. When we think about rural places, there is no doubt that the people and leadership in rural America is a driving force for progress.  There are several opportunities for you to be involved in and even contribute content to the 2013 Rural Futures Conference. We encourage you to share your knowledge and expertise at the conference to help us explore new ideas, discover synergies, and facilitate partnerships. Please consider being involved in one or more of these opportunities during the conference, and encourage others to become involved as well.

Quick Pitch Spotlight: Conference participants rapid fire their “big idea” for rural people and places.
Community Questions: Communities of place or interest pose questions that stimulate collaboration and potential research opportunities.
Faculty and Partner Poster Session: Participants display current work or research relevant to the rural futures.

Registration opens September 1, and will remain open until the seats are filled. Registration closed early last year because maximum capacity was reached, so register early to ensure your spot.  For more information or to register, visit

For the latest information on the 2103 Rural Futures Conference, follow Rural Futures on Twitter at (hashtag: #RFC2013) or Facebook at

Apps and Mobile Sites for Mobile Devices on the Farm

It didn’t take long for the phrase “there’s an app for that” to be seen and heard regularly in the phone and mobile deviceUNL Extension Educator Gary Zoubek shares app information via his iPad during lunch at the Nebraska Technologies Association Conference world.  Today, there are many apps and mobile websites that can be fantastic tools for producers to use in decision-making.  University of Nebraska Extension has developed several mobile apps to take a look at and be sure to visit our site often to learn of additional new apps.  

In addition to our Extension Apps, Dennis Kahl, UNL Extension Educator, and I have also compiled a list of a few mobile apps that we think could be useful to farmers yet this year as they get closer to harvest, but also for next year to test out and see if they will indeed help them do work quicker and make decisions more accurately.

Today we are going to highlight a few mobile applications and mobile websites that producers may be using now as they make preparations for fall harvest.

  • UNL CropWater – provides an easy way to estimate soil water status based on Watermark sensors installed at depths of 1, 2, and 3 feet. With these sensor readings, the Crop Water app will estimate the water used as well as what is still available for Nebraska soils.
  • Market Journal –  Television for Ag Business Decisions.  Weekly crop reports, markets, weather and current insect, MJ app from UNL Extension based off Market Journal TV show disease and harvest issues. It was also listed at’s #1 ag app for 2013.
  • RealAgriculture – focuses on the issues that are impacting agriculture.  The site is focused on getting farmers the opinions on issues so that you not only get the news but the insight into what the news means in the production business.
  • DTN/PF – The Progressive Farmer – provides market data, link charts to market data for single, seamless view of how the latest prices correlate with current market trends.
  • Farm Progress – Keep up on local ag news, grain and livestock markets, enhanced weather and blogs as well as Nebraska Farmer magazine.
  • Husker Harvest Days Show – Maximize your time at Husker Harvest Days with this application that includes exhibitor and category lists, show maps and other tools to help you maximize your time at the show.
  • Ag PhD Harvest Loss Calculator – Allows farmers to estimate yield loss before and during harvest by recording the number of individual corn, soybean, wheat, sorghum, barley or oat seeds found on the ground in a square foot.
  • Combine Performance Optimizer by John Deere – Help operators adjust and set the critical settings for next year’s harvest of small and large grain crops to improve machine performance.
  • Calibrate My Sprayer – Aid in the proper calibration of spraying equipment.
  • In addition to the apps listed above, Crop Life featured a story of the Top 13 Mobile Ag Apps for 2013 and has a list of mobile apps.  Take a look at these as well.

With wireless technology available in most areas of the state, we utilize Verizon Wireless with our mobile devices in the field and in our communities to update various social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs.  Mobile access has allowed University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension to provide current information and situations in the field at all times.  We encourage producers to subscribe to various resources including:

Special thanks to Dennis Kahl as a Guest blog contributor to this post!

Soybean Stem Borer

Great information on Soybean Stem Borer from Brandy VanDeWalle’s blog!

Views from VanDeWalle

Several years ago I received a call from a grower who had lots of soybeans that were lodged; it was confirmed their fields had the soybean stem borer, which was one of the first times it was reported in Nebraska in recent years. This year at the Soybean Management Field Day, entomologists reported that it has now moved north of the interstate and into York County as well.MussmanField 003

UNL extension entomologists, Bob Wright and Tom Hunt wrote an article last year on CropWatch providing the following information. This beetle (Dectes texanus texanus) has been moving into Nebraska from north central Kansas over the last decade.

The adult is a gray, elongate beetle about 0.5 inch long with antennae that are longer than the body. Females lay eggs from late June to August on various plants, including cocklebur, giant ragweed, sunflower, and soybean. On soybean, eggs are primarily laid…

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Forage Options After the Storm

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Town Hall Discussion on such short notice last week!  It was cool watchingPanel discussion during storm damage meeting everyone come together to discuss the concerns at hand.  Here’s a recap of some of the discussion regarding forage options.  We also have provided numerous articles this week and will again next week at UNL’s CropWatch website.  I will continue to post more about our local conditions on my blog.

Forage Options

Dr. Bruce Anderson explained that the best potential usage of storm damaged corn that won’t go for grain is to use it for silage.  He stressed that the silage has to be made at the correct moisture and packed well-and that standing corn could be over 80% moisture right now.  He mentioned the easiest and maybe the best way to lower moisture content is to simply wait until some stalks start to turn brown. This will also allow the surviving corn to continue to add tonnage.  If waiting isn’t desirable, reduce moisture by windowing the crop and allow it to wilt one-half to one full day before chopping. You also could mix grain or chopped hay with freshly chopped corn to lower the moisture content. It takes quite a bit of material for mixing though — about 7 bushels of grain or 350 pounds of hay to lower each ton of silage from 80% to 70% moisture.  When making silage, he recommended adding the inoculant during the chopping process to allow for proper fermentation.

He mentioned haying and baling were an option but that he was concerned about the amount of time it would take for the stalks to dry down at the current moisture.  He recommended crimping the stalks if at all possible to help aid in the drying process.  Be sure to test it for nitrates before feeding.

Grazing might be the easiest way to use damaged corn, and this is a good way to extend your grazing season. You might even plant some corn grain or sorghum-sudangrass or oats and turnips between rows to grow more forage for grazing if you can wait until late fall before grazing. Be sure to introduce livestock slowly to this new forage by feeding them before turning them in to reduce the chances of digestive problems.  Also, strip graze the field to reduce trampling losses and get more grazing.

Shredding was mentioned as an option in some fields.  Dr. Bob Klein observed two years ago in the wind storm out in western Nebraska that shredding of plant material led to piles after wind drifted loose material in the field.  That made for a difficult planting situation the following year.  Making earlage was also mentioned as an option.

Additional Resources:

Planting Cover Crops into Storm-Damaged Fields

A common question lately has been “I’m considering planting cover crops into areas of corn and soybean fields with hail damage.  What are my next steps?”

First, it’s important to consult your crop insurance provider to determine if you can do anything before the adjuster examines the field.

Hail damaged cornIn some areas hail stripped corn and soybean plants to the ground, leaving just stems standing. Cover crops offer an opportunity to rescue nitrogen already in the field to achieve other goals.

Next, look at your cover crop options, based on potential herbicide carryover from the previous crop and what your end goal is for the cover crop.

Herbicide Carryover

Herbicide carryover from the corn or soybean crop also can be a concern. Check out the herbicide carryover replant options in UNL Extension’s Guide for Weed Management with Insecticide and Fungicide Information on pages 160-171.

To determine if herbicide carryover is a concern for your fields, first check the herbicide label(s) for potential problems. If a rotation (waiting) interval is a concern, contact the chemical manufacturer and explain your conditions. Although the label is the law, companies have conducted extensive research on their products. Sometimes, they can give you a percentage survival chance for planting a crop within a cropping interval. Producers will assume the risk if the germination of the next crop is severely affected, but it may be worth a small calculated risk to potentially get a cover crop established.

Home germination tests also can be conducted. (Planting delays with cover crops, though, may be a concern). Simply take soil samples from the hailed fields and place into containers such as plastic cups with holes in the bottom. Plant about 20 seeds per cup of whichever cover crops you are interested in and wait 7-14 days to determine percent germination. If you don’t have seed, check a cover crop seed supplier to request some free seeds for testing.

Select Seed to Match Your Need

Know what your goal is for the cover crop in order to determine what to plant. Do you want to capture the nitrogen already in these fields? Both legume and non-legume cover crops can capture soil profile nitrogen in their plant tissues for release in subsequent seasons. Late summer or early fall seeded cover crops favor the brassicas (turnips; oilseed radishes including Tillage Radishes®; and canola) for nitrogen trapping for the next crop. Oats make a good complement to seed with the brassicas, since the oats provide quick, weed-suppressing biomass while taking up excess soil nutrients. These plants can survive a light frost and keep on growing.

If reducing compaction is your concern, turnips may help with surface compaction while radishes provide a longer taproot to work through deeper compaction.

If forage is needed for haying or grazing, good choices would be winter annual grasses such as cold-tolerant “winter” oats, cereal rye, winter triticale, and winter wheat. Winter legumes such as yellow sweetclover and winterpeas also may be included in a mix with winter triticale to increase protein content; however, these legumes will need to be planted before early September to provide grazing benefits.

Corn and soybean fields also can be used for forage instead of grain. Silage is probably the best option when the moisture drops to 60%. Currently, the immature hailed corn fields are still about 80% moisture, so producers will either have to wait for the crop to dry or mix dry forages such as straw with the wetter silage in the right proportion. Conversely, if the plants get too dry, it will be hard to pack the silage. To check the moisture, harvest several stalks and chop into smaller pieces with a corn knife, and then test for moisture content. Usually, the feeding value of immature, hailed silage is similar to prairie hay based on nutrient content.

Grazing the hailed fields is another option. However, acidosis may be a concern if cows graze primarily on the immature ears. Cows should be fed some grain for a few days prior to turn out on the hailed fields to help their rumens adjust to a higher carbohydrate diet.

Haying and earlage also may be options, but forage curing is difficult with the cooler days, especially if ears don’t dry well on damaged stalks. Bruce Anderson, UNL Forage specialist, says that it takes 10-14 days longer to dry the damaged corn stalks after crimping than drying cane hay. So, the risk for mold potential on the forage is higher than moving the forage into silage.

Thanks to Todd Whitney, UNL Extension Educator, for his contributions to this article!

Also check out:

Storm Damage Discussion


Town Hall Discussion

Storm Damage Update #1-Soybeans

It’s been five days and soybean fields that were the greatest affected by the storm are now near-brown.  Planting some typeHail damaged soybeans turning brown.  Dr. Jim Specht examining field and taking pictures. of cover crop in these fields can allow for grazing opportunities as well as reduced soil erosion as there are many months before planting season next year. I’ll talk more about cover crop research in another post.

For fields that still have some leaves and some green to them, there are several criteria to look at when assessing hail damage to soybeans.  These include determining plant stand, percent leaf defoliation, percent nodes cut off or broken over, and amount of stem damage.  Determining percent leaf defoliation and subsequent yield reduction based on growth stage in indeterminate soybeans can be seen in the chart below.  Most of our soybeans were between R4-R5 which is a critical time for yield loss in soybean.  The remaining charts can be found here.

% Leaf Defoliation
Growth Stage 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
% Yield Reduction
V2        0        0        0        1        2
V6        0        0        1        3        5
R1 – R2        0        5        7     12     23
R3        3        6     11     18     33
R4        5        9     16     30     56
R5        7     13     23     43     75
R6     16     11     18     31     53
R7        1        2        4        6        8

Dr. Jim Specht, UNL Soybean Physiologist, shared some recent research data that may be of interest.  He said R5 is Upper nodes broken off soybean plants.  Few pods and leaves remain after hail and wind damage.also critical in that stem node number accrual (including new petioles with leaves and nodes on branches) ceases at R5.  This occurs because the developing “sink” of newly developing seeds in the pods is a significant draw on the plant’s photosynthate.  This draw is so powerful that very little other vegetative activity dependent on photosynthate is permitted.

With our current situation, Jim wasn’t sure if because of hailed off pods and seeds, if that “sink” to source signal would cease to exist resulting in new petioles and leaves.  He didn’t think this would occur for two reasons:

1) Indeterminate main stem apices are not responsive to photoperiod induction, and might re-initiate new nodes, but since most of the indeterminate apical stem tips were  hailed off in many fields, that possibility is unlikely.More severe hail damage

2) During stage V0 to V1, all original lateral meristems in nodes 0 on up to about stem node 6 were cell clusters committed to vegetative phase development such as branches.  Photoperiod induction, which occurs as soon as soybean plants of the maturity groups grown in NE attain the V0-V1 period, transduces in all other single-cell meristems in the lateral apices to become flowers (not branches).  Thus the reason why we typically see the first soybean flower on about the 6th node or so.  No more branches will form at higher main stem nodes the rest of this season under this scenario.

Soybean lateral apices will continue to be programmed to become flowers, because the days are short at all times during theDefoliation and broken off nodes on soybeans season from planting to maturity, for soybean varieties adapted to and sold in NE.  Research has shown it takes about 28 to 32 days after the transduction of a lateral apical single cell (to transduce it into a floral pathway) before the flower tracing to that single cell appears.  Any flowers appearing soon after the hailstorm would have had to have been cell clusters in transit before the hailstorm date (from a zero-day single cell transduction to a 28-32-day later observable flower).  Thus, truly “new” flowers emanating from single-cell apical transduction to a floral state the day of the hailstorm would be appearing at the end of August or beg of September, and would not have sufficient time to become pods (with seeds) before the usual date of a fall frost.

Overall, Jim says at soybean stage (R5), it is hard for a soybean plant to recover from a hailstorm, and what recovery is possible is going to have to hurry given the approach of fall.  Special thanks to Dr. Jim Specht for his insights into this post!

Reflections: After the Storm

It’s been an interesting few weeks.  Last week I was continuing to receive calls about considerations for drought damaged corn.  Then southern rust arrived in the area earlier last week.  Followed by the tremendous August 1 storm that affected so much of our County.


is how I’ve felt these past few days-and I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you whose crops were affected!  It’s just aSunset sickening feeling walking into field after field and driving around the County seeing the storm damage every day.  I’m so sorry for those of you who have lost your crops!  As I look at the crops, though, I’m a little puzzled at the way things are laying, the twisted plants….things aren’t all adding up for “straight-line winds”.

In spite of how difficult things look right now, I can’t help but wonder if we were spared from something much greater?

The follow passage in the Bible has been my go-to during times of drought and difficult times in farming.  I was going to share this in a drought post…but I feel it still applies with as many partial and total crop losses we’ve experienced in the area.

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! Habukkuk 3:17-18

In the midst of trying to provide advice, it’s nice to know that God has everything already figured out and that He’s always in control.  Even in the midst of this, He is always good!

Storm Damaged Crops

The rain was welcome on Thursday but the wind and hail damage that came were devastating to a good portion of theSeverely damaged corn County.  I’m so sorry to all of you affected….for some of you, this is two years in a row of severely hail damaged or totaled out crops.  We are thankful the damage wasn’t worse.  You can see more pictures here.

So the big question is what do you do now?  Ultimately, each field will need to be assessed on a case by case basis.  The following are our NebGuides for hail damage to corn and soybeans.  For the most part we were in brown-silk to blister for corn and late pod-beginning seed in soybean (R4-R5).  The concerns I have right now are stalk quality, disease, grain filling, and the amount of diseased grain we may have due to mushy areas on hail-damaged cobs right now.   Several years ago, we watched how severely hail-damaged corn a little later in the season turned brown and died.  We also know that southernCorn ears damaged by hail that are turning mushy. rust is in the area and while much of the leaf tissue in the County is damaged, it is still in the County in other fields and south of us.  The Puccinia polysora fungus that causes southern rust, when severe enough, will infect and cause pustules on the stalks.  With the wounding and low leaf area for photosynthesis, stalk strength is a concern and fungicides may be a consideration depending on potential yield loss-again need to assess on a field by field basis.

I talked with a number of people on Friday regarding thoughts on silage, green chop, haying/baling, planting cover crops, etc.  Dr. Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist, said the most common salvage operation for corn damaged by hail, wind, drought, or other calamities is to chop it for silage.  Don’t be in a hurry, though.  Standing corn currently could be over 80 percent moisture.  The easiest way, and maybe the best way, to lower moisture content is simply wait until some stalks start to turn brown.  Waiting also allows surviving corn to continue to add tonnage.

But in some of our damaged fields, I don’t think we can wait to make silage.  Bruce also shared you can reduce moisture by windowing the crop and allow it to wilt one-half to one full day before chopping.  You also could mix grain or chopped hay to freshly chopped corn to lower the moisture content.  It takes quite a bit of material for mixing though – about 7 bushels of grain or 350 pounds of hay to lower each ton of silage down to 70 percent moisture from an original 80 percent moisture.  That’s 7 bushels grain or 350 pounds of hay for each ton of silage.

Or, you can allow that windrowed corn to dry completely and bale it as hay.  Be sure to test it for nitrates before feeding.   Grazing might be the easiest way to use damaged corn, and this is a good way to extend your grazing season.  You might even plant some corn grain or sorghum-sudangrass or oats and turnips between rows to grow more forage for grazing if you can wait until late fall before grazing.  Be sure to introduce livestock slowly to this new forage by feeding them before turning in to reduce the chances of digestive problems.  Also, strip graze the field to reduce trampling losses and get more grazing from the corn.

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