Monthly Archives: December 2019

JenREES 12-8-19

Farm Bill: A special thank you to Leann Nelson and her staff from the York/Hamilton

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County Farm Service Agency (FSA) for their help in Friday’s Farm Bill meeting in York! We had 130 pre-registered with at least double that actually attending. Greatly appreciate their help keeping coffee going and the help with set up and tear down! Farm bill decisions are complicated. For this column, I will provide a little perspective and also some first steps for consideration. In future columns, I will walk through options for decision making using the Texas A&M tool and other calculations.

Perspective: We need to keep in mind the current decision is for the 2019-2020 signup only…not the life of the farm bill. The decisions for the 2014 farm bill were extra daunting when we had to speculate what would happen with prices for the duration of the farm bill in addition to considering base acre reallocations. So, this two-year decision followed by the opportunity to change annually from 2021-2023 may be a blessing and take a little pressure off as you’re not ‘stuck’ with your decision for five years.

First Steps: Currently you need to: make an election for 2019/2020 and enroll for 2019, enroll for 2020, and determine whether or not you will update your yields. Your program election and enrollment for 2019 need to be complete by March 15, 2020; enrollment for 2020 by June 30, 2020; and your PLC yield update deadline is September 30, 2020. With making crop insurance decisions these winter months and having RMA data fresh on your mind, consider looking at yield updates now instead of waiting. My recommendations for first steps:

1-Contact your local FSA Office asking for their yield spreadsheet that shows your yields and base acres for each farm number. The spreadsheet will also show what actual yield is necessary in order to update your PLC yields. Even if you choose ARC-CO for your program election, it’s important to at least look at PLC yields as this gives you the opportunity to increase them in the event you ever choose PLC in the future. Because of the adjustment factors, a substantial yield improvement may be necessary to update PLC yield. So, knowing what yield you actually need in order to update can save you time before going through all your RMA data. Any yield updates will apply only to the 2020 year and beyond (not to 2019).

If you choose to update yields, you will need to use actual yields (designated with ‘A’) on your crop insurance forms (not APH). Sometimes crop insurance units are on the same sheet encompassing several farm numbers-so be aware of that as you will need to separate them out (irrigation practice doesn’t matter). If a crop insurance unit includes multiple FSA numbers, you can pro-rate those bushels to split the unit using acres. You also could go back to yield map data or scale tickets if you prefer. Ultimately, keep records of how you determine your yield updates as you will need them if you are spot-checked anytime before the end of this farm-bill period. The landowner also needs to sign off on the yield update and Power of Attorney (POA) is acceptable. The 2014 and 2018 farm bills specified that PLC yield could be certified from a minimum of 0.01 acres planted 1 year of the farm bill period. Randy Pryor shared that with me and he would recommend planting at least 1 acre. He had a grower with milo base acres who planted a 25 acre milo plot one time during the last farm bill period; it yielded well allowing him to update his milo yield. We don’t know what future farm bill rules will entail yet something to consider for the next 5 years if rules for PLC yield updates end up the same as the previous farm bills.

2-If you have any idea on farm program elections for 2019-2020, make an appointment now with your FSA Office and go ahead and enroll for 2019. They will also work through the enrollment paperwork for 2020 if possible. You can always change your election prior to March 15, 2020! All Farm Bill information can be found at farmbill.unl.edu.

Keeping Stress Levels in Check Webinar: A free webinar will be offered December 17 geared for farm and ranch families. The webinar will take place over the noon hour (12:30 p.m. CST) and can be accessed at go.unl.edu/stresswebinar. This webinar will provide strategies for dealing with the stress of farming or ranching in today’s difficult economic environment.

JenREES 12-1-19

This time of year transitions to winter programming for me. The past few weeks I’ve mostly talked about cover crop results we’ve received from our on-farm research studies. I’m pretty passionate about on-farm research! On-farm research allows us to study topics we often wouldn’t receive funding for, with minimal monetary investment while conducting them on growers’ farms. It wouldn’t be possible without our grower cooperators and I’m so grateful for them!

We have an on-farm research database at: http://resultsfinder.unl.edu/ where you can click on a county or enter a keyword to search for various studies. It’s kind of picky on the wording, but it’s still a nice tool. I used this to compare cash crops planted into either cereal rye or cover crop mix for 1 year or for 3 years. Results can also be viewed via tables on my blog at: jenreesources.com.

One Year Studies: From 2008-2018, there were 7 studies in which corn or soybean was planted into cereal rye. They all showed either no yield difference or yield loss when the cash crop was planted into the cereal rye regardless of terminating pre- or post-planting. In 3 studies conducted in Clay, Franklin, and Phelps counties in 2014, either non-irrigated corn or wheat was planted into a cover crop mix. They all showed yield loss and moisture was anticipated to be a limiting factor, but no moisture sensors were used in the studies.

Three Year Studies: In three Saunders county locations where they planted cereal rye after harvest on the same strips for three successive years, there was either no yield difference or a yield increase in year three when the cash crop was planted into the cereal rye. We also have a long term study in Nuckolls county and will share more on that in an upcoming column.

We encourage growers to conduct studies more than one year where feasible. It’s especially important when looking at studies that have longer term implications to soil to maintain studies in the same location over time. Maybe some of you have tried a cover crop once but didn’t see positive yield results after year one; perhaps yield results would be different over time? The on-farm research studies summarized here don’t go into enough detail to specify why yields were the same or improved in the three studies in year three. During different meetings, some also asked about nitrogen tie-up in the cover contributing to yield loss. There are other studies showing addition of nitrogen at planting can reduce yield loss impacts due to nitrogen tie-up. Where we had information about nitrogen applied at planting, I added this to the tables on my blog. Ultimately, there wasn’t consistency in rates applied nor improved yield in all cases with these studies.

Farm Bill Meeting York Dec. 6: A reminder of the Farm Bill Meeting to be held at the Cornerstone Event Center at the Fairgrounds in York from 9 a.m.-Noon on Dec. 6. Please RSVP at: go.unl.edu/farmbill to select this or any other location. This helps us prepare and helps save time at the door during registration. If you prefer not to RSVP via computer, you can call your local Extension or FSA office and we will get you registered.

Nebraska Soybean Day and Machinery Expo Dec. 19 will assist soybean producers in planning for next year’s growing season. The expo will be in the pavilion at the Saunders County Fairgrounds in Wahoo. The Saunders County Soybean Growers Organization will be collecting non-perishable food and monetary donations for the Saunders County Food Bank backpack program. Complimentary noon lunch will be served. Registration is available the day of the expo at the door and there is no registration fee.

The event opens with coffee, doughnuts and the opportunity to view equipment and exhibitor booths at 8:30 a.m. Program begins at 9:10 a.m. Topics include: A New Marketing Tool for Soybean Growers-The Role of Harvest Moisture (Cory Walters, UNL); Decision Making in Uncertain Times (Richard Preston, Preston Farms Kentucky); Managing Soybean Diseases with Fungicides (Daren Mueller, ISU); Managing Waterhemp (Chris Proctor, UNL); Soybean Gall Midge (Justin McMechan, UNL); and Nebraska Soybean Checkoff Update and Association Information.

*End of Column. Cover Crop Tables Below.


Table 1: Corn or Soybean Planted into Cereal Rye Cover. One year studies. Yield values with the same letter are not significantly different at a 90% confidence level (for each individual study).

Cover crop rye year 1.PNG

Table 2: Corn or Wheat Planted into Cover Crop Mix. One year studies. Yield values with the same letter are not significantly different at a 90% confidence level (for each individual study).

Cover crop species year 1.PNG

Table 3: Three year studies utilizing cereal rye as cover crop in same strips over time. Yield values with the same letter are not significantly different at a 90% confidence level (for each individual study).

3 year cover crop studies.PNG

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