Our climate and weather experts speak of the past 60 days as “Nebraska’s most challenging days of weather”. In their article recapping events that have occurred since January 15th, Tyler Williams and Al Dutcher share, “The recent string of weather events is definitely one for Nebraska’s history books. The key word to that sentence is “string” because it took a combination of patterns and extremes to get us to this point. Beginning in mid-January, the weather pattern shifted from warm and relatively wet to a very cold and highly active pattern that brought snow, rain, and ice. This pattern lasted well into March. This almost 60-day period from mid-January to the March 13-14 storms and resulting flood will leave a lasting mark on Nebraska. Following is a description of how this scenario developed…” I would encourage us to read the full article at: https://go.unl.edu/0gbr.
In spite of more crazy weather last week, March did go out like a lamb! It’s hard to believe this week is April. Grateful for signs of greening up and new life after a long, hard winter such as greening wheat, rye, lawns, and new life with buds swelling on trees and various bulbs poking through the ground! For whatever reason, the first signs of green after winter seem so bright and stark to me, perhaps even more so this year!
And, I also realize with April upon us is the added stress that there’s so much to do yet for this growing season. Perhaps a bright spot is that the moisture has allowed for stalk deterioration which helps with the residue management side. Nutrient management is also on growers’ minds. Charlie Wortmann and Bijesh Mahajan, Extension Soil Fertility Specialists, addressed considerations for nutrient management going into 2019 in a CropWatch article as well this week: https://go.unl.edu/7u7u. I’ll share a few thoughts from it here and would encourage you to check out the full article in the link above. For those with wheat, the following addresses top-dressing winter wheat: https://go.unl.edu/pk6f.
Of concern is broadcast applications of phosphorus that occurred on frozen ground in January and February. It’s not a practice we recommend and unfortunately, this year may have resulted in quite a bit of loss as runoff from fields. The only way to really know where you’re at for phosphorus is to do soil samples and they’re recommending 0-8” depth.
For any nitrogen applied last fall, it’s not anticipated to have been lost yet due to the low soil temperatures. However, because of the full soil profile and gravitational water, there’s concern of nitrogen leaching as soil temperatures warm. In May there will be much potential for leaching of nitrate-N when the soil becomes warm enough to allow ammonium-N conversion to nitrate-N. The soil specialists share “residual soil nitrate-N from 2018 is already subject to leaching and that, on average, approximately 60 lb N/ac of residual soil nitrate-N is available annually in the upper 4-feet of soil.” They also share the potential for denitrification in June if we continue to see water-logged soils. So, I realize this isn’t good news on top of the stress you’re already under. The opportunity I see in all of this is the potential to move more nitrogen in-season. They’re recommending to move at least 50% of nitrogen application in-season. I realize this is a mind-shift and challenging equipment and perhaps cost-wise for some. I also think, perhaps hope, that it allows a future culture shift to more in-season nitrogen applications for future years.
A study from Purdue University found that between flowering and maturity, today’s hybrids can take up from 30% to 40% of their total N, over 50% of their total P and over 40% of their total sulfur. On the nitrogen side alone, hybrids today remove 27% more nitrogen from the soil after flowering than hybrids developed from 1950-1990. Thus, anything we can do to spread out nitrogen applications and aim for more in-season applications, can aid in nutrient uptake, yields, and reduce nutrient loss. Next week I’ll share more of our on-farm research and other research results regarding moving nitrogen in-season.
Also wanted to share that we have several updated articles on our http://flood.unl.edu regarding spreading flooded adulterated grain on ag land, considerations for gardens in areas that were flooded, reclaiming pastures and fields with silt/sand deposits, lease considerations on flooded ground, and fencing considerations. Prior to the flooding/blizzard, livestock producers were struggling with the weather and losing livestock. A team of us put together information for FSA regarding the severe winter as a disaster consideration. While that information was submitted several weeks ago, you can find our article at: https://go.unl.edu/6agf.
#NebraskaStrong also means being strong enough to ask for help. Nebraska Family Helpline: 888-866-8660. Nebraska Farm Hotline: 800-464-0258.