Monthly Archives: March 2020

JenREES 3-29-20

As I write this, I’m setting outside on a beautiful sunshiny afternoon! It’s been so cool to see families spending time outside together doing lawn work, playing, or eating. Some have commented it’s nice not to be torn so many directions. There’s way more people walking than I’ve seen in the past. And, several groups have found ways to help such as sewing masks for medical staff and donating various items. Those are just a few good things I’m observing right now! There’s been a variety of questions Extension is receiving as a result of COVID-19, so this column will share resources to help.

Trusted Information: While the ability to access information can be good, the overabundance of mis-information can make this time challenging. When it comes to COVID-19, we recommend obtaining information from sources such as CDC, WHO, and locally the UNMC and health departments. As you see info from various sources, be aware photos and videos are being doctored and also check the date. Before sharing, right click on a link to see where the source is coming from. Does it end in ‘.gov, .edu, .com, .net, or .org’? Those extensions tend to be more trusted than other strange endings.

Food Preparation: There’s been a renewed interest in baking bread, canning and freezing! Food.unl.edu and in particular, this website, https://food.unl.edu/article/family-food-fun-home has a number of resources based on specific questions. When prepping fruits and vegetables, it’s really important that you do not use bleach, soaps, or hand sanitizing wipes on them! These products were not designed for food and can make you sick. Wash all produce thoroughly under only running water before eating, cutting or cooking. Your hands should be properly washed with soap and water when preparing food.

Youth Learning Activities: Finding yourself needing some fun activities for your kids during this time of being at home? A number of fun, hands-on learning activities are available at the https://4h.unl.edu/virtual-home-learning website! You will see activities for youth of all ages that provide both live, recorded, and self-paced learning.

Gardening: There’s also been a renewed interest in growing gardens. A great resource developed by Gary Zoubek is the vegetable planting guide on when to plant found at: https://go.unl.edu/d7qk.

Windbreak Renovation:
Continuing from last week, there’s just too much information for me to cover adequately in my news column. Instead, we have several wonderful resources and wish to point you to them! We can also provide them for you if you don’t have internet access. They contain drawings of windbreaks and photos regarding do’s and don’ts.

Recertification Information: We’ve also received a number of questions regarding pesticide, chemigation, and dicamba certification. All in person classes have been cancelled and certification can be achieved online. We realize not everyone has access to computers or good connectivity. For private applicators who are in that situation, you can also call the pesticide office 402-472-1632 and they will mail you a lesson with test to complete instead. There is no option like that for chemigation or dicamba. We need to continue to be patient as information and rules keep changing. All certification information can be found at: https://pested.unl.edu/covid-19-information.

JenREES 3-22-20

Happy Spring! With warmer weather forecasted the next few weeks, it’s a great time to get outdoors! Raking leaves from lawns is a great activity this time of year for the whole family. You can also overseed bare areas of lawns right now. Don’t remove leaves or mulch from landscape beds yet. Leaves and dead tops of plants protect the plants and keep them dormant as long as possible. Warm sunny weather causes plants to break dormancy early and they become more susceptible to cold temperatures. If you’ve already cleaned up landscape beds, be prepared to cover plants again in the event of cold weather. If you have frosted tulip/daffodil foliage like mine, just leave them be for now.

Even though grass is greening up, it’s too early to apply fertilizers (ideally not till sometime in May). Mowing isn’t needed until after the grass begins to grow and requires mowing. Then maintain a mowing height of 3 to 3.5″ season-long. Pre-emergence herbicides targeted at controlling crabgrass and other warm season annual weeds shouldn’t be applied until soil temperatures consistently reach 50°F. It’s still too early. Soil temps can be found at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/tags/soil-temperature

Wild/Bur Cucumber: In wet seasons like last year, wild and bur cucumber were seen overtaking windbreaks. These are fast growing, warm season annual vines. They die each fall and come back from seed which germinate and begin growth typically in May. Vines can be cut at the base if there’s only a few of them this spring. Many asked about chemical treatments last year. A pre-emergent control option for large shelterbelts is Simazine (Princep 4L) to kill weed seeds as they germinate. Don’t apply more than 4 qt. Princep 4L per acre (4 lb. a.i./A) per calendar year. Don’t apply more than twice per calendar year.

Renovating Windbreaks: Do you have a windbreak that has several dead or dying trees in it? Steve Karloff and Jay Seaton, District Foresters, shared to think 15-20 years down the road. What would be your goals for the windbreak (wind/snow protection; bloom time; fruit, nut, wood; wildlife/pollinator habitat, etc.)? Each situation will be unique, so these tips won’t apply to each one. Determine whether you’d like to remove the entire existing windbreak or do a partial clearing over time. For those choosing a partial clearing, they suggest to consider leaving the north and west rows and removing the south and east side for sunlight, establishment, and protection purposes. Stumps can be left (unless Scotch or Austrian pine), or can be removed. A stump treatment listed in the UNL Weed Guide is 2 qts of low vol 2,4-D per 10 gallons of diesel. Apply to point of runoff. Don’t use Tordon especially if you’re cutting out and stump treating elm or hackberry trees that get intermingled in trees you wish to save as the Tordon can affect the roots of those trees too. If existing trees, such as pines, have been trimmed up due to dead branches but the remainder of the trees are ok, one could simply consider adding a row of shrubs to cut down on wind.

Also, think about diversifying species based on one’s goals to ensure the windbreak isn’t eliminated due to pest problems. That’s something we’ve unfortunately had to deal with regarding Scotch and Austrian pines due to pine wilt. Conifer specie options include: cedar (most hardy), Ponderosa pine, and Norway and blue spruce. Shrubs include viburnums and hazelnuts; however, there are numerous species to consider depending on goals. Consider 3-5 rows as optimal with 1-2 rows as conifers, 1 row of hardwoods or tall conifers, and 1-2 rows of dense shrubs. However, there’s not always that kind of room available and that may not fit one’s goals. It’s helpful to stagger plant the trees in each row and the gaps can be filled with shrubs or the shrubs can be planted in one row. Next week I’ll share more on site preparation considerations.

Encouragement

Sunset

For every difficult thing faced in life, because of my faith in God, I believe good can come. And, I’ve personally experienced good in my life. That doesn’t mean that being in the midst of difficulty isn’t hard or doesn’t stink-that’s just not real nor honest. I’ve thought about some good things we’re experiencing now in the midst of this virus. Families are spending more time together (even though that can also be challenging); technology allows people to stay connected and for distance teaching, meetings, worship services; there may be an increased appreciation of gathering together face to face when we’re allowed in larger groups again; there’s a surge of creativity and innovation in recreating/renovating business and in helping others; and, we may be tired of technology desiring more face to face interactions in the future!

This week I heard the term ‘physical distancing’. That sounds much better to me than ‘social distancing’. One good thing about technology is the ability to keep in touch. We can’t control many things that appear to be crashing around us, and we are all making choices as a result. One choice, in the midst of ‘physical distancing’ I’d encourage us to consider, is to continue being social in reaching out to family, friends, neighbors. That could be through various technologies or writing letters, sending gift boxes, etc.  I believe we were created to live in community, not isolation. So please keep checking in with and reaching out to each other! There are also many resources for hope and help. No matter what you fear or face, you are never alone!-Jenny

#NebraskaStrong means having the strength to ask for help. Please keep talking and coming alongside each other!

  • Nebraska Farm Hotline/Rural Response Hotline: 800-464-0258
  • Nebraska Family Helpline: 888-866-8660

JenREES 3-15-20

Last week I shared about how difficult events impact us. This past week, life was disrupted for many due to COVID-19. We watched numerous events being cancelled or restricted in numbers, some unprecedented. We’ve observed many reactions and have been inundated with information. There’s times I’ve struggled to wrap my head around all this. Perhaps you have too? Ultimately, we’re just not in control. However, we can seek to be wise in our actions and choices.

One of those choices is in the information we choose to believe. We’d recommend the CDC website and local health departments as trusted sources of information. As more is learned, information will continue to be updated and changed; we need to seek patience with this.

Another can be the choice to appreciate leaders making decisions and appreciate the difficulty surrounding those decisions. The consistent message from CDC, Med Center, and health departments on “flattening the curve” has led to many closings and cancellations of events. There’s naturally many reactions to this. Those in leadership are in a difficult place with making these decisions as they’re seeking the well-being of many people based on information that is continually changing.

Regarding Nebraska Extension’s Response, the following is from Dean Chuck Hibberd, “Nebraska Extension is fully committed to the health and well-being of Nebraskans. In a disease situation like COVID-19, the principle of social distancing is one of the main methods that can be used to help reduce the spread of the disease.

Chancellor Ronnie Green has issued guidance that all UNL classes will move to ‘remote’ modes. To be consistent with that guidance, Nebraska Extension will, whenever possible, provide Extension programs remotely (video or teleconferencing) but will not provide in-person Extension programs, at least until May 9. We recognize that this practice may create some level of disruption relative to the important information we provide to Nebraskans.”

Each office is working through the currently scheduled programs as to which will be cancelled, postponed, or taught remotely. There are already online options available for certification such as pesticide, chemigation, and dicamba. Please contact your local Extension Office with any questions regarding meetings or options to obtain certification. As of now, clientele are still welcome to come to the Extension office with your questions and we can still make field, lawn, garden visits. With the move to online information, there may be students and farmers who aren’t able to access classes at home due to low internet connectivity. There may be an opportunity to utilize a computer at your local Extension Office depending on room and computers available. Those details are in progress.

Ultimately, this is a difficulty we’re all facing together in life. Please take care of yourselves and your families during this time!

CropWatch: This week’s CropWatch at cropwatch.unl.edu has several articles regarding financial shocks and stress, the stages of recovery after a disaster, and emotional well-being after a disaster. Helpful as we get closer to planting and gardening season, soil temperature information is also available at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/soiltemperature.

JenREES 3-8-20

This week is the anniversary of the 2019 Bomb Cyclone. Perhaps you’ve thought of that, perhaps you haven’t. I think this event for Nebraskans will forever be etched in our minds. Some may be reflecting on last year’s calving season being exceptionally difficult in February. Some lost additional animals to the blizzard/flooding in March. Some experienced flooding in our homes, fields, property. Some of us housed family/friends. Many of us found different routes with closed roads. Many of us helped others in the aftermath and/or donated money/supplies. Recovery is a process; a year later, recovery is still in process for many in our State.

Traumatic events, whether this one or others we experience in life, can conjur up a variety of feelings within us. Whether anger, sadness, fear, overwhelmed, relief, gratitude, or others, it’s important to honestly acknowledge our feelings. Children may not always know how to express their feelings, but having them draw pictures and talk about them can help. Michelle Krehbiel, Extension Youth Development Specialist, shares that acknowledging feelings is part of the recovery process. She also shares a number of other things to consider in the recovery process. These include:

“Engage in healthy ways to cope with stress (exercising, reading, journaling); Being gentle with oneself (show yourself kindness, reflect on how far you’ve come); Accept kindness and help of others (allow others to help and show you their care and concern); Use your social support system (talk with trusted friends/family/members of faith community); and Help others (volunteering can aid healing).” You can read more at: https://disaster.unl.edu/disaster-anniversaries.

What Michelle shared regarding ways to aid in recovery is so true for me. Regardless of the traumatic or difficult things in life, it is important to acknowledge our feelings, talk with others, and find positive ways to manage the stress. I know managing stress and the feelings associated with negative stress aren’t things that most in our farm community wish to talk about. Yet it’s so important.

I shared some of this during pesticide trainings this winter as well. I know it’s uncomfortable to talk about, yet we may not know what others are going through. I would encourage us to keep checking in with each other. If you’re struggling, please reach out to someone; you do matter! If you wish to talk to someone anonymously, the Rural Response Hotline 800-464-0258 offers free counseling, financial, and legal services. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 800-273-8255. I’m so grateful for those who’ve trusted me with their stories/struggles and I’m so grateful for those who have listened to and helped me! It takes courage, strength, and vulnerability to share and seek help; that is also being ‘Nebraska Strong’.

ARC-IC: I haven’t talked much about ARC-IC as an option for the farm bill. However, for those who had farms with 100% prevent plant or significant corn or soybean yield losses in 2019, it may be something to consider. I wrote a blog post sharing more at: https://jenreesources.com/2020/03/06/arc-ic-and-illinois-tool/.

Nebraska Soil Health/Cover Crop Conference Presentations: If you missed the Feb. 13th Soil Health/Cover Crop Conference or were unable to attend, the recorded presentations can be viewed at: https://go.unl.edu/n55x.

Nebraska Department of Ag (NDA) Pesticide Number: NDA no longer has an 800 or 877 phone number. If you received a post card for your $25 bill for pesticide training this year, it has an 877 number on the back. Please do not call that number as a scammer has picked it up. You can reach NDA at (402) 471-2351.

ARC-IC and Illinois Tool

I hadn’t been considering ARC-IC for many situations as it seemed like one had to have 100% prevent plant in 2019 in order for it to trigger. However, I received enough calls from those with hail damage in 2019 to take another look at this.

Purdue University put together a great video that explains ARC-IC and situations where ARC-IC may trigger (two examples listed below). Check it out here: https://youtu.be/AwCMySwjWT4.

If you had the following two situations, it may be beneficial to check out ARC-IC.

  1. 100% prevent plant for 2019
  2. Planted entire farm but 2019 yields were below average (20% or more production loss)

NOTE: You will need to have worked through your 2013-2017 yields and also 2019 yields in order to look at ARC-IC. Yields for each crop need to be combined for irrigated and non-irrigated (blended yield) by year. If you have several tracts within a farm number, all the yields for same crop regardless of irrigation practice need to be combined by year. Doing this also allows you to look at any potential to update PLC yields.

The Texas A&M tool doesn’t allow one to look at ARC-IC. I realize I haven’t recommend the Illinois tool. However, they created a second tool (2018 Farm Bill What if Tool) and I apologize as I hadn’t been back to their site since December to see this. The first tool looks at the life of the farm bill and I felt it wasn’t as accurate because this is a 2 year decision instead of 5 year. However, the second tool looks at 2019-2020 and it also is very helpful when considering ARC-IC for single or multiple farms. This blog post will hopefully help you work through the Illinois “What If” tool for considering ARC-IC found at https://farmdoc.illinois.edu/2018-farm-bill.

Illinois tool.PNG

I recommend using the ‘2018 Farm Bill What if Tool’. Download the tool and it will appear as an excel spreadsheet. Enable editing.

arc ic single.PNG

At the bottom of the spreadsheet, you will see multiple tabs. Click on “arc-ic” if you’re interested in looking at only 1 farm number. The yellow boxes within the sheet contain either dropdown menus or can have data entered into them. Use the dropdown menus to select State, County, Number of crops, Crop (be patient and wait as it will think before changing the cell). Select “yes or no” from dropdown regarding which years the crop was planted and enter in the yield for that year for that crop. Remember the yield is the blended yield of irrigated/non-irrigated and for every tract within a farm number. Do this for each crop. *Note, in this example, the 2013 hail storm in this same area of the State also impacted yields.

calculation corn crop.PNG

This shows the calculations. When the crop wasn’t planted, the county yield is used. When the yearly yield is less than the County Yield, 80% of the T-Yield is automatically used. The yields are then multiplied by the higher of the market year average price or effective reference price to determine benchmark revenues. An Olympic Average (throw out high and low then average the other three revenues) is then determined for each individual crop.

arc ic single payment.PNG

For ARC-IC, the total base acres get combined together. So if there were 92.8 total base acres for the farm, and the other crop wasn’t planted, I put the total base acres into the crop that was planted. If both crops were planted, I split the base acres and entered the 2019 yields for each crop. If the farm was 100% prevent plant or had some portion of farm in prevent plant, make sure to designate those acres as such. I have been seeing this trigger for hail or other impacts to yield for 2019 if the loss was at least 20% of the 2013-2017 yields. In this case, the grower could receive a pretty substantial payment of around $47/base acre for 2019. Even if there’s no payment for 2020, this type of payment for 2019 far exceeds what is expected for potential payments from either ARC-CO or PLC at this time.

So what if you had more than one farm in a significant hail damaged area? You can also use this tool to look at multiple farms. 

arc ic multi

In the spreadsheet tab select “arc-ic-multi”. Select your state from drop-down menu. Then select how many farms you’re interested in looking at arc-ic and the crops. Be patient as it takes time for the tool to change cells. Then enter in your data for each farm. You will need to enter the total number of FSA base acres for that farm number (it’s not split by crop).

comparing arc ic multi

Once all the farm yields are entered, you can look at potential payments for individual farms by simply selecting “yes or no” in the expected payments portion at the end of the spreadsheet. You can also see what happens to potential payments when you select “yes” on multiple farms. Note:  for all farms enrolled in ARC-IC, all the base acres will be combined regardless of crop and regardless of farm number to determine payment per base acre and payment will be applied to 65% of total base acres.

This is very farm and situation dependent. If several farms are within one farm number and one farm had significant loss but the other(s) didn’t, it may not trigger ARC-IC. Same thing for prevent plant acres (if a portion of farm is planted and part is prevent plant, the yield of planted acres may result in too much revenue to trigger ARC-IC).

Situations where ARC-IC tends to trigger best are:

  1. When there’s one farm within one farm number and that farm either went 100% prevent plant or had a yield loss of 20% or greater for 2019.
  2. When there’s several farms within one farm number but all had 100% prevent plant and/or significant yield losses in 2019.

Hopefully this is helpful if you’re considering ARC-IC!

Additional Farm Bill Info: 

JenREES 3-1-20

Happy March! One question that’s surfaced often is ‘at what maturity of corn and soybean do we start losing yield?’ There are many reasons for this question including planting a range of maturities to spread harvest load, taking advantage of marketing opportunities, and even planting shorter maturities to allow for increased cover crop biomass after harvest. The past two years, on-farm research growers in York and Seward Counties have compared Group 2 vs. Group 3 beans planted early to determine any yield differences. In 2018, combining the data from 16 reps over 3 locations planted the first week of May, the Group 2 and Group 3 beans yielded 70.2 bu/ac vs. 71.5 bu/ac respectively with no yield difference. In 2019, there were 13 reps over 3 locations. We don’t have these analyzed as a group. At the first (non-irrigated) location planted April 22, the 2.1 bean significantly out-yielded the 3.1 bean (70 bu/ac vs. 67 bu/ac). At the second (irrigated) location planted May 2, the 2.4 and 2.7 beans significantly out-yielded the 3.1 and 3.3 beans (71, 73, 70, and 67 bu/ac respectively). At the third (irrigated) location planted May 16, there was no difference between the 2.7 and 3.4 beans (71 vs. 72 bu/ac respectively).

Small plot research containing 16 soybean varieties with 8 relative maturities (range from 0.3 to 4.7) in Nebraska, Ohio, and Kentucky showed that soybean yields leveled off with no differences between Group 3 and Group 4 beans. They found a 3-4 bu/ac difference between Group 2 and 3 beans across locations. Ultimately, from looking at a variety of research studies including our on-farm research studies, we would suggest that when comparing really high yielding genetics of Group 2 vs. Group 3 beans, there aren’t yield differences. The small plot research also showed that there was an 11-13 day difference between R8 (full maturity) occurring in soybean from Group 3 to Group 4 and a 10 day difference between Group 2 to Group 3 occurrence of R8. What this suggests is for those seeking to plant Group 2 beans to get cover crop biomass established after harvest, one can gain an additional 10 days by following the drill behind the combine compared to planting a Group 3 bean and an additional 20 days compared to a Group 4 bean. It’s estimated every 0.1 in maturity results in 1 day harvest difference. Looking at our on-farm research data in York and Seward, for the grower who harvested the different maturities based on 13% moisture, the harvest date difference between his Group 2 vs. Group 3 beans lined up pretty well with that line of thinking.

For corn, relative maturities of 95, 105, 111, and 113 days were planted in 2017 in two locations. That year showed no yield difference for the 105-113 day but it dropped off for the 95 day. In 2018, relative maturities of 95, 99, 105, 111, and 113 were compared at one location. The yield trend showed the 113 day yielding significantly higher than 111 and 105 with the 95 and 99 day yielding the least. Based on that data and data from UNL’s South Central Ag Lab (SCAL), a 105 day relative maturity appears to be the cut off before seeing significant yield loss., but corn yields vs. maturity are highly dependent on hybrid and growing season. Greatest fall and spring cover crop biomass at SCAL planted after corn harvest (2015-2016) occurred after harvesting 88-105 day relative maturities.

Kiwanis Club of Seward 52nd Ag Recognition Banquet will be held March 16 at the Ag Pavilion at the Seward County Fairgrounds. The evening social begins at 5:30 p.m. with wine by James Arthur Vineyard and cheese from Jisa’s Farmstead Cheese. At 6:30 p.m. will be the prime rib dinner. Greg Peterson of the Peterson Brothers (YouTube celebrities) will be the evening entertainment. Honored as the Seward Kiwanis Outstanding Farm Family of the Year is Tomes Family Farm (Bill, Patty, Andrew, and Becky). Honored as the Seward County Agribusiness of the Year is the Lawrence and Della Beckler Family (Richard, Ruth and Kris Beckler). To purchase tickets, please call Shelly at (402) 643-3636.


2018 soy maturity data.PNG

2019 soy maturity data.PNG

SCAL cover crop biomass.PNG

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