Monthly Archives: April 2018

Beginning Soil Moisture 4-26-18

Some rains helped with the top foot profile at some of these locations last week. One thing to keep in mind when viewing these graphs is we don’t always know what’s going on below the soil surface. One farmer had a good point regarding my “blips in the graphs” in my last blog post. I mentioned they could be due to a soil crack along the PVC pipe-which we do see occur and can be true. However, he also had a good point that it could be a worm hole, root channel, etc. that water may have followed for a brief time period, which could also be true, especially in these long-term no-till fields. As you look at the charts this week, it’s important to keep in mind that soil water also moves via gravity (termed ‘gravitational water’). Thus, sometimes why we can see changes in soil moisture in the successive drier layer with small amounts of precipitation.

Drought Monitor 4-26-18

Nebraska Drought Monitor as of 4/26/18 showing increasing ‘abnormally dry’ areas of the State.  The ‘moderate drought’ area has expanded further into Webster and Thayer counties.  Stars show locations where I’m taking pre-plant soil moisture status.

Bladen 4-26-18W

Beginning soil moisture at Bladen remained relatively unchanged last week.  The top foot went back to around field capacity with some rain events.  Total soil moisture depletion is above 50% at this site as are all soil layers from 2′-4′).

Byron 4-26-18

Moisture last week did appear to re-wet the top 2 feet.  I even probed the soil in the same area to ensure there was truly moisture in the second foot, which there was.  Yet as you can see from the graph, the second foot was starting to climb when I took these readings. My guess is without additional precip, the second foot will be above field capacity again next week.

Clay Center 4-26-18

Because the top two feet were already around field capacity, gravitational water along with moisture received last week may have created the dip in the third foot readings seen over a few days.  It was rising back up to above 50% completion on 4/26.  The sensors were removed on 4/26 as the field was planted to soybean that day.

Lawrence 4-26-18 Corn

This location received 0.20″ of rain last week with essentially no change in soil moisture status from the previous week.  Total soil moisture (1-4′) is steady around 35% depletion.

Lawrence 4-26-18 Soy

This location also received around 0.20″ of rain last week.  Something happened to create a short in the top foot sensor, thus, the lack of data for 1′ and total (1-3′) after 4/22.  It was fixed on 4/26.

Superior 4-26-18

This location received around 0.60″ of rain last week.  The top foot remained steady and there was a gradual decrease followed by increase in soil moisture in the second foot.  This would make sense from the combination of gravitational water and the precipitation moving through the first foot into the second, but the moisture wasn’t enough to maintain the second foot at a wetter moisture level.

JenREES 4-29-18

Crop Update:  It’s nice to see some signs of spring with planters going this 2018 Corn Grower Plot Plantingweek/weekend, crabapples and flowering pear trees in bloom, and tulips budded!  The York County Corn Grower plot got planted on Saturday and grateful for Ron and Brad Makovicka’s efforts with that and for all our participating companies!

Rain did help the top foot of sensors in some locations I’ve been monitoring for pre-plant soil moisture.  The graphs will be up at http://jenreesources.com by noon on Monday.  The cooperators have all been interested in continuing to monitor moisture in these fields post-planting, so will plan to do that and add a York and Seward location too.  I’m noticing in York as lawns are greening up, that portions are looking gray-green in color where trees are located in them.

As of April 26th, I hadn’t found any wheat jointing yet.  The growing point was just approaching ground level in several fields I checked.  We also need to keep an eye out for stripe rust as incidence is increasing in Kansas fields.  There’s articles focusing on winter wheat in this week’s UNL CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu including nitrogen management and Nebraska wheat progress.

Wheat Stem Maggots (WSM) in Rye/Wheat Cover Crops:  I meant to provide an update in last week’s column.  Dr. Justin McMechan has been scouting wheat and rye cover crop fields for wheat stem maggots.  So far, he captured one adult wheat stem maggot on April 16 in 100 sweeps from a wheat cover crop planted in late September at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Ithaca. He shared that “adults have been consistently collected at this location since first emergence with one to two found per 100 sweeps. This first occurrence of adults matches closely with data collected in 1933 by Merle Allen from Kansas State University. Our latitude north of Kansas and cold spring suggests this emergence might be earlier than Allen’s data. On April 23 two adults were collected at Clay Center and a single adult was collected near Marquette. Cover crops in these fields were less than 6 inches in height, with the field near Marquette grazed to approximately 3 inches in height. Sweeping these fields is challenging due to the height of the vegetation so adult captures are not likely to represent true numbers in the field. If you are skilled with a sweep net, we encourage you to sweep your wheat, rye, or triticale cover crops for wheat stem maggot adults.”  At this point we’re not recommending any insecticide treatments.  An interesting observation that a couple of Clay and Adams county farmers mentioned to me last year was they noticed the presence of a lot of flies as they planted corn into green rye and terminated at or after planting corn.  The adult WSM is a small fly and you can see photos in Justin’s report in this week’s UNL CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu.

Which dicamba product before Xtend soybean:  This has been a fairly common question this spring which Dr. Amit Jhala addressed in this week’s UNL CropWatch.  I’ve also provided his answer here.  “I recently received several phone calls from growers with questions on terminating broadleaf cover crop species and broadleaf weeds using dicamba products. They were particularly interested in whether dicamba products such as Banvel, Clarity, DiFlexx, etc. can be applied to terminate broadleaf cover crop species such as hairy vetch, field peas, or mixtures and broadleaf weeds such as henbit, field pennycress, or marestail immediately before planting Xtend soybean. The answer for the dicamba-based herbicides listed above is NO. Their labels have soybean planting intervals of 14 to 60 days, depending on the product and its use rates.

For example, for Clarity to be applied at 16.0 fl oz/acre, there would be a 28-day soybean planting interval after an inch of rain. If Clarity were to be applied at 8.0 fl oz/acre, the soybean planting interval would be 14 days after an inch of rain. The Clarity label also specifies: “Do NOT make Clarity burndown applications to soybeans in geographic areas with average annual rainfall less than 25 inches.”

If DiFlexx is applied burndown at 24 fl oz/acre or less, the planting interval for soybean is 60 days.  This longer planting interval must be applied because Xtend soybean is not listed on Banvel, Clarity, DiFlexx, or other dicamba products.

Dicamba-resistant soybean, also known as Xtend soybean, became available commercially for the 2017 growing season. Three dicamba products (FeXapan, Engenia, XtendiMax) are labeled to be applied pre-plant, pre-emergence, or post-emergence (up to R1 soybean growth stage) for broadleaf weed control in Xtend soybean. You can use FeXapan, Engenia, or XtendiMax as per label requirements in burndown application and plant Xtend soybean without a planting interval.

If you apply 2,4-D prior to planting soybean, be sure to adhere to the planting interval specified on the label. Several 2,4-D products have different planting intervals for soybean, ranging from 7 to 30 days depending on product and application rate. (See this Crop Watch article.)”

JenREES 4-22-18

Planting Considerations:  This email newsletter reaches a wide area of the State, so soil temps vary quite a bit and some of you may be in better planting conditions than others.  We still recommend planting into soil temps as close to 50°F as possible, check weather conditions for next 48 hours to hopefully maintain temps 50°F or higher, and avoid saturated soil conditions.  If planting a few degrees less than 50°F, make sure to check with seed dealers on more cold-tolerant seed.  This is most likely common sense, but I still feel worth mentioning.  Everything we do at planting sets the stage for the rest of the year.  We’re blessed to have equipment that can allow for many acres to be planted in a short amount of time.  And…we also have the ability to mess up a lot of acres in a short amount of time.

Planting depth is also key.  Aim to get corn and soybean in the ground 1.5-2” deep.  This is critical for correct root establishment in corn to avoid rootless corn syndrome.  Rootless corn syndrome is when the nodal (crown) roots don’t get well established and successive brace roots can’t establish either.  This allows the seedling to whip around in the wind, potentially being dislodged, become weak or die.  With center-fill planters, when adjusting down-pressure on the go, sometimes the planter ends may not always be seeding as deep as the center.  Too often I’ve seen that resulting in seed 1” or less and the field pattern can be observed the entire growing season with potential yield impacts.  So don’t just rely on the monitor.  Take the time to dig up seed behind the planter and at spots along the whole planter length to ensure the proper seeding depth.  And do this with every field, particularly with different tillage/residue situations.  I realize this takes time, but you’ll be glad you did to catch any issues before too many acres are planted incorrectly.

With cold temps or higher soil moisture conditions, it’s still important to get that seed at least 1.5-2” in the ground. Planting 1.5-2” deep helps both corn and soybean to have that seed in even soil temperature and moisture conditions.  You may be surprised on that recommendation for soybean, but I think it’s even more critical with planting early.  In fact, UNL research near Mead compared planting depths of 1.0, 1.25, 1.5, 1.75, 2.0, 2.25, and 2.5 inches in 2011 and an additional planting depth of 2.75 inches was added in 2012 and 2013.  The study found lowest yields when soybean was planted 1.25” or less or 2.25” or greater with the highest yield at 1.75” deep.  One of that study’s hypotheses was that planting deeper would buffer soil temperature and moisture and protect newly emerged seedlings from frost and freeze damage, particularly when planting early in the season.

Hopefully planting soybean early is still something you’re considering for this year!  We wrote a CropWatch article this week at http://cropwatch.unl.edu to provide some updated research on amplifying the effects of planting early.  There’s so much research regarding how early soybean planting increases yield that we wanted to share new research regarding maturity groups, etc. Essentially, what it appears from the research thus far, is that it’s more important to choose a consistent, high-yielding soybean for your area, regardless of specific maturity group.  We’d like to get more specific data and have on-farm research protocols available to compare MG2.4-2.5 vs. MG3.0-3.5 and Dr. Jim Specht would also like to collaborate with us on documenting various factors.  Please let me know if you’re interested in this!  There’s also a protocol for comparing early vs. late planting of soybean.

Soil moisture conditions didn’t improve this week at the six sites I’m monitoring in Webster, Nuckolls, Thayer, and Clay counties.  You can find the chart comparisons on my blog at http://jenreesources.com.   Last weekend’s bizzard didn’t provide significant moisture in this area.  With pastures slow with growth and drought increasing in Kansas, discussions with farmers have included cover crop termination, grazing rye that’s had anhydrous ammonia applied to it (with the original intention of termination and planting to corn), and grazing wheat.  Most of these topics are included in this week’s UNL CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu.  The articles are too long with too many considerations for me to add them in this news column, so please do check them out if you’re interested in these topics.  Another topic I’ve had several questions about is regarding how temperature and rain affect burndown herbicide applications.  Dr. Amit Jhala, Extension Weed Specialist, addresses that in this week’s CropWatch as well, so please check that out.  Here’s wishing everyone a safe planting season with conditions to get #plant18 and #grow18 started off well!

Beginning Soil Moisture 4-19-18

Here is an update on beginning soil moisture status. The left charts are as of 4/19/18 with the right charts being the previous week. You can click on the images to enlarge them. The ‘weekend moisture’ event I refer to was the blizzard 4/14/18.

Nebraska map

Bladen: The top foot is now slowly losing moisture one week later in spite of some weekend moisture. The second-fourth feet are all above 50% depletion.

Byron: Some weekend moisture may have allowed the top foot to remain steady.  The second and third feet are both over 50% depletion bringing the total soil moisture in the 1-4′ depths closer to 50% depletion. There must have been a soil crack along my PVC pipe to allow for the moisture spike you see in 3 and 4 feet and not 1 and 2 foot depths.


Clay Center: This is still the wettest location in spite of the top foot slowly drying out this week.  The second foot is still below field capacity with third and fourth feet and total soil moisture relatively unchanged. Must have had a soil crack along PVC pipe for third foot for the quick dip observed.


Lawrence Corn Stubble: Minimal change was observed at this location this past week.  Essentially all feet remained the same in regards to soil moisture.  A small crack along PVC pipe must have been present at 3 foot for short dip observed there.


Lawrence Soybean Stubble: This location (across road from corn stubble) showing dryer than last week. Top two feet now dryer than field capacity which increased the total (1-3′) soil moisture depletion.


Superior: Weekend moisture may have allowed the top foot to stay steady (as was also seen in Byron).  However, the second, third, and fourth feet all lost moisture leaving the total soil moisture (1-4′) above 35% depleted at this location.

JenREES 4-15-18

Well, winter seems to be sticking around.  My thoughts and prayers have been with those of you calving with the difficult conditions this year.

I provided an update regarding soil moisture status in non-irrigated fields both in this week’s UNL CropWatch at cropwatch.unl.edu and my blog at jenreesources.com. We’ll see what happens with moisture in the next few weeks and I’ll post updates to my blog.

Very few have tried planting in this part of the State that I know of.  Grateful for all of you who keep me updated on what’s going on through your questions and comments!  In this week’s UNL CropWatch, Dr. Roger Elmore took the lead on an article addressing corn planting.  The message is to ideally wait till soil temperatures reach 50F with weather conditions allowing soil temperatures to remain at 50F or higher for the next 48 hours.  We’ve observed when seed was planted and a cold snap with cold rains was received within 48 hours, some problems with seed germination and emergence.  Hybrids vary in cold tolerance and seed companies are a great resource for that information as to which hybrids could be planted first in colder soils.  Soil temperature information can be found at the UNL CropWatch site at:  https://cropwatch.unl.edu/cropwatchsoiltemperature.  We’d also recommend you take the soil temperature in the field before you plant and can do so by using a meat thermometer.

Last year I remember receiving questions from April 21-24 regarding planting corn and soybeans with an anticipated cold snap later that week.  At that time, I was recommending growers switch to soybeans.  The reason?  Soybeans imbibe (uptake) water more quickly than corn seeds and while we hear 48 hours to be on the safe side, the critical period is more like 24 hours.  Also, several years of both small plot and on-farm research in Nebraska has shown the primary way to increase soybean yields is to plant early.  Dr. Jim Specht’s research showed soybeans produced a new node every 3.75 days once V1 occurs.  The nodes are where pods and seed occur.  Our on-farm research planting date studies also showed regardless if the spring was cold/wet or warm/dry, the early planted soybean always out-yielded the later planted with a total average across trials of 3 bu/ac.  The data ranged from 1-10 bu/ac.  We never planted early without using an insecticide/fungicide seed treatment to protect that seed, so we recommend you add that if you do plant early.

Our recommendation would be to plant the last week of April or as close to May 1 as conditions allow.  We’ve also seen good results after April 20 in years if the soil temperatures were around 50F with good weather conditions at least 24-48 hours after planting to maintain that soil temp. It’s important to know your level of risk, though.  Crop Insurance planting date for replant considerations is April 25 and there may also be replant options from your seed suppliers.  We never replanted any of our studies and I have only observed frost on soybean cotyledons one year where growers planted early with soybeans coming out of it.  We had the largest number of acres I’ve seen planted by April 24 last year with thankfully no issues and they were able to take advantage of a high-yielding bean year.  Perhaps this is something you wish to try for yourself this year?  Consider planting some passes of soybeans early and come back with some passes three weeks later.  You can use this Soybean Planting Date Protocol if you’re interested in trying this for yourself.  Please let me know if you’re interested in this!

Depending on the number of acres you have, some growers are now planting soybeans first.  Others are planting corn and soybeans at the same time by either running two of their own planters/drills or custom hiring someone to plant soybeans for them.  This also spreads risk and can help with harvest.  Regarding maturities, a study conducted at UNL East Campus compared a 2.1 vs. 3.0 maturity group variety at 10 day intervals beginning April 23 through June 19.  Yield was highest for early planted soybean and a yield penalty of 1/8 to 1/4 bu/ac per day of delay in planting for MG2.1 and MG3.0 varieties, respectively was found.  The study also indicated that yield of the MG3.0 variety was higher relative to the MG2.1 variety in early plantings (late April and early-mid May), but the opposite (greater yield in MG2.1 versus MG3.0 variety) was found for late plantings (late-May and June).  In our part of the State, we’ve observed really high yields from strong genetics in the MG2.4-2.5 varieties when planted early; so I have a hard time automatically recommending later MG varieties without more data.  Thus, I would love to work with anyone interested in planting early comparing a high yielding MG2.4-2.5 vs. a high yielding MG3.0-3.5 to obtain more data.  Here’s a Soybean Maturity Group Comparison with Early Planting protocol to consider and please let me know if you’re interested in this!

Wheat:  My colleague, Dr. Nathan Mueller in Dodge County, has taken the lead on

Nebraska-Winter-Wheat-Regions

Nebraska crop reporting districts for wheat.  The yellow area is considered ‘Eastern Nebraska’.

sharing wheat information for Eastern Nebraska.  He’s put together an excellent resource on his blog at http://croptechcafe.org/winterwheat/.  Every Friday he’s sharing an update called “What’s up this Wheat“.  He also started an Eastern NE wheat listserv and his website explains how to subscribe to it.  Grateful for his effort in this as we both have goals of increasing crop diversity in the areas we serve and there are many benefits to wheat in rotation!

Crabgrass prevention in Lawns:  Just a quick note that while our Extension lawn calendars promote applying crabgrass preventer in mid-April, our horticulture experts say to wait till soil temperatures are 55F on a seven day average and we are currently far from that! Check out https://cropwatch.unl.edu/cropwatchsoiltemperature for soil temp info.

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