Monthly Archives: January 2021

JenREES 1-31-21

It seems like January flew by! This week sharing on some upcoming programs in February.

Hamilton County Ag Day on February 4th at the Fairgrounds in Aurora at 1 p.m. is focused on nitrogen management. Pre-registration is required at go.unl.edu/merrickhamiltonag. Your attendance counts toward Upper Big Blue NRD Nitrogen Recertification and there’s no fee to attend. The educational program includes the following presentations: “Project SENSE Results & Update (active sensors in irrigated fields)”, “Precision Ag Equipment for Managing Nitrogen”, “Fertigation Equipment and Procedures for In-Season N Application”, “Project SENSE Fertigation Trials”, “A Farmer’s Perspective after Participating in the N Trials”, “Commercially available cloud-based tools for N management”, “Other N Management Results from On-Farm Research”, and “Collaborative On-Farm Research Opportunities, Some with Stipends”.

Nebraska Cover Crop and Soil Health Conference will provide information to growers who are just getting started with cover crops and to those who are already making cover crops part of their operation. The program will take place on Thursday, Feb. 11 from 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. CST. Attendees have the opportunity to attend either virtually or in-person at a number of sites throughout Nebraska. In-person sites (limited attendance) include: Beatrice (30), Central City (50), Hastings (100), Holdrege (50), North Platte (28), Syracuse (50), and York (25). There’s no fee to attend and pre-registration is required at: https://go.unl.edu/tmj5 . CCA credits are pending.

Topics and presenters include:  Soil Sensing and Soil Health – Kristen Veum, Research Soil Scientist at USDA-ARS Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research Unit, University of Missouri-Columbia; Optimizing Your Cover Crop ROI – Rebecca Clay, Strategic Initiatives Agronomy Coordinator at Practical Farmers of Iowa; Using Aerial Imagery to Determine Cover Crop Impacts on Cash Crop Growth and Development – Dr. Andrea Basche, Assistant Professor, Agronomy & Horticulture University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Experiences and Economics Using Cereal Rye as a Cover Crop – Chad Bell, Farmer; Pathway toward a Healthy and Resilient Soil to Achieve Optimum Productivity and Environmental Quality: Cover Crops are Key! – Jerry Hatfield, Retired Director, National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment; On-farm Research of Incorporating Cover Crop into a 3 Crop Dryland Rotation, Ken Herz, Owner/Operator of Herz Land and Cattle, and Cover Crop Panel – discussion with growers, landowners, and consultants.

Soils School: This is a great opportunity for those needing CEUs for soil and water credits and for anyone wanting to learn more about soils. Co-sponsored by the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Nebraska Agri-Business Association, this virtual course has been specifically designed for new employees and a refresher course for all employees to give them the basics in soils. Watch it live on February 17-18, 2021 or earn credits by accessing the recordings and self-reporting your CEUs. A total of 9 Soil & Water (SW) and 7 Nutrient Management (NM) CEUs are being made available through this course. More info here: https://na-ba.com/member-resources/calendar/.

Nebraska On-Farm Research Updates will be held both virtually and in-person on Feb. 25 and 26. Nebraska farmers conducted over 100 on-farm research studies in 2020! There were 20 studies locally where farmers worked with me. These updates are an incredible opportunity to learn from these farmers and network with other innovative producers! There is no cost to attend, but pre-registration is required. Seating is limited, so register early. Visit https://go.unl.edu/2021onfarmresearch for registration, details, and program updates.




2021 ARC-CO Calculation

Background: Ultimately, PLC offers price protection. If your MYA price is less than the reference price ($3.70 for corn; $8.40 for soy; $3.95 for sorghum; $5.50 for wheat), a PLC payment is triggered. ARC-CO is a revenue safety net with price and yield protection, and it takes into account a 5-year Olympic average of prices and yields (for this 2021 decision it looks at 2015-2019).

We’ve had good market prices recently. However, remember ARC-CO is based on a 5-year Olympic average where the high and low are thrown out. This average is based on 2015-2019 (2020 doesn’t come into the picture until the 2022 decision. And, if it’s the high, it gets thrown out then…so it may take a couple years of high prices). And, the reality is that PLC corn price of $3.70 may also not trigger depending on the MYA price. Another consideration for the 2021 election is county yields for ARC-CO payments (looking at years 2015-2019 where the high and low are thrown out).

So as things set today, it’s possible there will be no ARC-CO nor PLC payment for corn or soybean for 2021. Corn tends to favor a PLC decision. Wheat favors PLC. Sorghum traditionally has favored PLC. Soybean could be selected either way, particularly depending on if the county has irrigated/non-irrigated split or not. What can impact this is if we see major yield or price losses from current expectations. Because different weather events hit portions of counties, and because some counties have separate payments for irrigated and non-irrigated acres, it’s important to look at your individual county data to make decisions.

Calculation: One way to look at ARC-CO vs. PLC decision for your county based on crop is to do a simple calculation. Take your 2021 County Guaranteed Revenue for a specific crop and divide that by 2021 County Benchmark Yield for that crop. I’ve provided screenshots from several counties where I’ve helped individuals with farm bill decisions in the past. If your county isn’t listed, you can find your county information here: link to download a USDA excel spreadsheet

How to Use the Calculation: Essentially, the calculation shows similar triggers for all crops. The ARC-CO trigger for corn is essentially 86% of the Reference Price (except this isn’t the case for soybean when considering individual years where MYA was higher than the Reference Price). Thus, what these numbers currently say is that prices have to drop much lower than the reference prices in order to trigger ARC-CO payments. This makes PLC elections more favorable for all the crops. What can change the ARC-CO trigger would be if there’s a change in the 2021 benchmark yield for that specific county.

CropARC-CO Trigger (prior to final yields)PLC Reference Price
Corn$3.18$3.70
Soybean$7.70$8.40
Sorghum$3.40$3.95
Wheat$4.73$5.50

For the screenshots below, I’ve added a column to the right (yellow) where I’ve done the calculation. As you will see, the ARC-CO price trigger is similar for counties for each crop. However, that assumes no fluctuation in yield from the 2021 Benchmark Yield, which should approximate a county trend yield projection. If the actual yield is higher or lower than the benchmark, then the effective trigger price goes down or up. If the trendline yield ends up changing, it will impact the ARC-CO price trigger. Thus, you can adjust by increasing and decreasing the guaranteed yield in the calculation to determine how that could impact your ARC-CO trigger.

Example that can be applied to the other County screenshots (please click on images to enlarge):

For example, York County irrigated corn (irrigated and non-irrigated are combined) shows a 2021 Guaranteed Revenue of $745.35. The 2021 Benchmark Yield (which is an Olympic average yield from 2015-2019) is 234.24. Taking 745.35/234.24=$3.18. Based on these numbers, an ARC-CO payment would not be triggered for corn in York County unless the price went down to $3.18. This is in comparison to PLC in which the trigger is $3.70 for the corn price. This helps with decision making as it leans towards enrolling in PLC for corn. (Again, no guarantee of a payment even with PLC depending on the MYA price). The Trigger will adjust depending on what the final guaranteed yields end up being. So, trying other figures (such as 240 bu or 220 bu vs. the 234.24) can show you how the ARC-CO price trigger adjusts based on final yields. You can use this same calculation for other crops and compare the prices obtained vs. the PLC reference price for that crop. In this case, even sorghum and soybeans would be favored by PLC.


Additional Resources:


JenREES 1-24-21

Farm Bill: In my desire to share what I’ve learned with you all, I realized I threw too much information into the decision tool blog post, and what I was seeking to share didn’t come across clearly. So, I revised it and you will need to refresh your web browser to view the most updated version.

Ultimately, PLC offers price protection. If your MYA price is less than the reference price ($3.70 for corn; $8.40 for soy; $3.95 for sorghum; $5.50 for wheat), a PLC payment is triggered. ARC-CO is a revenue safety net with price and yield protection, and it takes into account a 5-year Olympic average of prices and yields (for this 2021 decision it looks at 2015-2019).

So as things set today, it’s possible there won’t be either an ARC-CO nor PLC payment for corn or soybean for 2021. Corn tends to favor a PLC election. Wheat favors PLC. Sorghum traditionally has favored PLC. Soybean could be selected either way, particularly depending on if the county has irrigated/non-irrigated split or not. What can impact this is if we see major yield or price losses from current expectations.

What I don’t know yet is if ARC-IC is an option as a result of the significant windstorm in several counties. Once we get the 2020 county yields (most likely in February), I will start looking at that.

Sometimes looking at the probabilities in the decision tools can be confusing, but they can also provide direction if you’re unsure. Thus, why I provide the blog post on how to use the decision tools.

The calculation I shared with you last week may be the easiest thing you can do. So, I put that into a separate blog post and placed screen shots of county by crop in Nebraska so you can see which way things are favored by county. The best way to find all this info. is go to the “Farm Bill” category on my blog: https://jenreesources.com/category/farm-bill-2/ (but only look at the 2021 info.).

This is a slide from the 2021 CPC Farm Bill presentation (Please click to enlarge). The solid lines are the PLC Reference prices. The green triangle shows the current soybean market year average price is higher than the soybean reference price. The red square shows the 2021 wheat price is lower than the PLC reference price (solid red/brown line), which is likely to trigger a PLC payment for wheat. The gold diamond shows the current market year average price for corn is right around the PLC trigger for corn (solid gold line). Everything I’ve looked at favors a PLC election for corn in 2021. Just be aware that depending on what happens with price and yields, there may not be any payments for either a PLC nor ARC-CO election for corn and soy in 2021 in Nebraska.

Fungus Gnats: Kelly Feehan shares, “If you have small gnats flying around your home or windows, these may be fungusgnats. These nuisance pests are small fly-like insects mainly noticed around houseplants. They cause no harm to people, pets and rarely to plants. Fungus gnats develop in overwatered houseplant soil or poorly drained potting mixes. The larvae, which is a tiny maggot, lives and matures in the potting medium, mainly feeding on fungal or algal growth in overwatered soil. If the potting mix is harboring fungus gnats, cut back on watering frequency so the mix dries out briefly between watering. If needed, repot plants using a well-drained potting mix and containers with drainage holes. Pour excess water out of catch basins after watering. Reduced moisture limits fungal growth, hence fungus gnat larvae food. The upper two inches of the potting mix can also be treated with a labeled houseplant insecticide or insecticidal soap.”

York-Hamilton Cattlemen January Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at Chances ‘R’ in York. The meeting will open the doors at 6:30 p.m. with meal at 7:00 p.m. Gerald Peterson, Secretary, said this meeting is scheduled in place of the Cattlemen’s Banquet that is usually held this time of year but has been canceled for 2021 on recommendations of area health departments. Kim Siebert, Cattlemen’s President said the evening will feature a presentation from Max McLean of McLean Beef who are in the process of opening a new animal processing and retail meat business in south York. McLean Beef is a longtime cattle feeder farmer in the Benedict area of northern York County. Bill Rhea, President of the Nebraska Cattlemen has been invited to attend the meeting along with Nebraska Cattlemen staff to update the Cattlemen on bills in the Nebraska Legislature. Please RSVP to Gerald Peterson by email at gpeterson808@gmail.com or by phone at 308-991-0817 if you plan to attend.

2021 Farm Bill Decision Tools

*Thank you to Dr. Brad Lubben, Randy Pryor, and Austin Duerfeldt for their review of this information*


This blog post shares screenshots to help you work through the Kansas State, Texas A&M, and Illinois farm bill decision tools. If you’re not interested in running the decision tools, consider using this ARC-CO calculation instead. Crop insurance and marketing are ultimately a huge chunk of risk management too. Ultimately, the decision is up to you and no one can predict prices/yields. This information is just shared as a way to hopefully help with your decision making.

Background: Ultimately, PLC offers price protection. If your MYA price is less than the reference price ($3.70 for corn; $8.40 for soy; $3.95 for sorghum; $5.50 for wheat), a PLC payment is triggered. ARC-CO is a revenue safety net with price and yield protection, and it takes into account a 5-year Olympic average of prices and yields (for this 2021 decision it looks at 2015-2019).

We’ve had good market prices recently. However, remember ARC-CO is based on a 5-year Olympic average where the high and low are thrown out. This average is based on 2015-2019 (2020 doesn’t come into the picture until the 2022 decision. And, if it’s the high, it gets thrown out then…so it may take a couple years of high prices). And, the reality is that PLC corn price of $3.70 may also not trigger depending on the MYA price. Another consideration for the 2021 election is county yields for ARC-CO payments (looking at years 2015-2019 where the high and low are thrown out).

So as things set today, it’s possible there will be no ARC-CO nor PLC payment for corn or soybean for 2021. Corn tends to favor a PLC decision. Wheat favors PLC. Sorghum traditionally has favored PLC. Soybean could be selected either way, particularly depending on if the county has irrigated/non-irrigated split or not. What can impact this is if we see major yield or price losses from current expectations. Because different weather events hit portions of counties, and because some counties have separate payments for irrigated and non-irrigated acres, it’s important to look at your individual county data to make decisions.


You will need your FSA156EZ form (or your Notification of your 2020 program election, shown above) which can be obtained from your local FSA Office. It will show you farm numbers, base acres, PLC yields for each of your farms. A Historical Irrigated Percentage (HIP) is listed for counties that have split irrigated and non-irrigated yields for specific crops, if ARC-CO had been selected in a recent election. For counties that had combined irrigated and non-irrigated yields, or if PLC was elected in the recent past, there will be no HIP (as shown on this form). You will need to add a HIP for the Texas A&M Farm Bill Decision Aid. If one isn’t listed on your FSA156EZ or if your HIP has changed the past 5 years, use your best estimate.

Farm Bill Tools:

Kansas State Spreadsheet: https://www.agmanager.info/ag-policy/2018-farm-bill/tradeoff-between-20212022-arc-and-plc. This tool is one that more farmers and I appreciate using as it is very visual. It provides a quick glance at which program is favored when MYA prices change and county yields change.
Texas A&M: https://www.afpc.tamu.edu/tools/farm/farmbill/2018/
Illinois “What If” Tool: https://farmdoc.illinois.edu/policy-toolbox (I use the ‘What If’ tool in the right column of the page. I just downloaded the spreadsheet). There is another tool, on the left-hand side and also at https://fd-tools.ncsa.illinois.edu/, but be aware it shows results for the 5 year life of the farm bill (so only look at the 2021 results).

The Texas A&M tool uses a default price of $3.91 for corn and $10.40 for soybean and runs 500 possible scenarios using the data inputted. The Illinois “What If” tool uses a default price of $4.00 for corn and $11.00 for soybean and provides one potential payment based on the data inputted. Both tools provide input into the ARC-CO and PLC decision. The Illinois tool also provides input into ARC-IC if you are considering that option.


Kansas State Spreadsheet

This spreadsheet can be found at: https://www.agmanager.info/ag-policy/2018-farm-bill/tradeoff-between-20212022-arc-and-plc. I’m not going to share additional details on this one as they have done a great job of explaining this spreadsheet already at the link above. You will see a video when you go to this website that explains the tool and then a link to a spreadsheet is found below the video. Personally, I’m finding this tool to be a lot easier for growers to understand as it’s so visual. It clearly shows what has to happen with county average yields and market year average prices for ARC-CO to trigger.

Quick way to view how county average yields and MYA price can impact ARC-CO or PLC decisions. With Olympic average county corn yield of 234.24 for York County, for this irrigated farm, at the PLC reference price of $3.70 for a MYA price, it would take county average yields falling to 190 before ARC-CO could trigger. The MYA price (based at this county yield of 234.24) would need to be $3.18 before ARC-CO would trigger.
For this Seward county non-irrigated corn field example, it shows Olympic county-average yield is 175.07 bu/ac. At the $3.70 PLC reference price as the MYA price, it would take a county average yield loss of around 30 bu/ac in order for ARC-CO to trigger. It would take a MYA price of $3.18 (based on county-average yield of 175.07 bu/ac) for ARC-CO to trigger.
For this York Co. irrigated soybean example, the decision can go either way. Olympic county average yield is 72.33 bu/ac. At PLC reference price of $8.40, county average yields would have to drop to around 65 bu/ac for ARC-CO to trigger. MYA price would have to drop to $7.70 for ARC-CO to trigger. Reality is that most likely, barring no major yield or price changes, neither program may trigger for soybeans.

Texas A&M Tool

For the Texas A&M decision tool, go to: https://www.afpc.tamu.edu/tools/farm/farmbill/2018/. You will need to login using the username/password you’ve used in the past. If you’ve never used one before, you can create one on the login page. If you forgot your login info., please email info@afpc.tamu.edu or call 979-845-5913. It’s a good idea to keep your login with your farm bill paperwork. Upon logging in, I found some of my data was here from the past, so hopefully yours was saved too. If it’s not there (or if you have new farm numbers), you will need to click on “new farm”.
Upon clicking “new farm”, the above screen will appear. Enter your FSA Farm Number, State, County, and one crop for that farm number. Then click “Save”.
If you have more than one crop associated with that farm number, click on “add another crop” and repeat the steps until all crops are added for the farm number.
Once all your crops are entered for the farm number, click on “expected payments tool”.
You will then see a screen which allows you to enter the base acres, PLC yield, and HIP from your FSA156EZ form. If the form didn’t list a HIP, you need to enter your best estimation of % irrigated acres on the field. If you put a “0”, it assumes completely non-irrigated. You can then put in an expected price. To begin with, I just click the “Use These” button to get a feel where the calculations start. Then click “Calculate”. The tool will provide numbers that you can click on to obtain additional information. You can continue to recalculate playing with price if you wish. At this time, I’m not using the “Advanced Settings” option.
Explanation on payment numbers from the website, “This decision aid characterizes probabilities of different levels of expected FSA payments. These characterizations are based on 500 possible future realizations of market prices and county yields. The expected payments are an average across these many possibilities. Values displayed in the results will not match the payments you might calculate using single specific price and yield realizations. To see the likelihoods of different levels of payments, click on an individual expected payment in the results table.” So when you click on a payment number, for example PLC, each percentile shows the maximum potential payment based on the numbers inputted into the tool. In this example, there’s a 75% chance of a payment $11,200 or less and a 90% chance of a payment $21,442 or less. (NOTE: please don’t get too excited about this as they clearly state the values displayed won’t match payments calculated using single specific price and yield realizations). You can then go back to “Home” at the top of your screen and repeat by inputting the base acres, PLC yield, and HIP for other crops within the same farm number. (NOTE: always be sure to check the crop on the upper part of the screen, as for some reason, it seems to default to soybean). You can then repeat all of this for every farm number you have.
This example gives you an idea what soybean looks like using the Texas A&M tool. It’s favoring PLC for soybean as well. Again, explanation on payment numbers from the website, “This decision aid characterizes probabilities of different levels of expected FSA payments. These characterizations are based on 500 possible future realizations of market prices and county yields. The expected payments are an average across these many possibilities. Values displayed in the results will not match the payments you might calculate using single specific price and yield realizations. To see the likelihoods of different levels of payments, click on an individual expected payment in the results table.”
Upon clicking on PLC in the soybean example, you can see it’s showing a mean potential payment of $531. (NOTE: please don’t get too excited about this as they clearly state the values displayed won’t match payments calculated using single specific price and yield realizations). The reality is if the MYA price is above $8.40, no PLC payment will be triggered. It’s very possible there will be no PLC nor ARC-CO payment for soybeans in 2021.

Illinois “What If” Tool

When you go to https://farmdoc.illinois.edu/policy-toolbox, you will see two tools are available. I recommend using the option on the right called “What If” as it allows you to look at yearly elections. My computers haven’t allowed me to download the tool, but they have accepted the spreadsheet option, so I choose to download the spreadsheet. The spreadsheet was just updated this past week, so it’s up to date.
Once the excel spreadsheet is downloaded, open it up. At the top of the screen you will see a yellow bar with a button that says “Enable Macros”. Go ahead and do that. You may have to do this once more until it allows you to input numbers. You then input state, county, crop, base acres, PLC yields into the yellow boxes. The election year is 2021. The default price is $4.00 in this tool. For comparison to the Texas A&M tool in this blog, I inputted $3.91. This tool shows results based on single calculations. So, with these specific numbers, it shows no potential payment for either PLC or ARC-CO for York Co. Irrigated Corn.
It also does a really nice job of explaining the payment equations (PLC shown in this picture…although it doesn’t look like this specific explanation was updated for years). Because we’re assuming a higher MYA price than the reference price of $3.70, a PLC payment wasn’t triggered in this example.
The ARC-CO info. is often confusing, so the tool does a great job visually showing how the numbers are determined. In this case, you can see the 2015 and 2016 yields were removed as the highest and lowest with 2017-2019 used for the Benchmark Yield of 234.24. The Olympic average will differ based on county. Some counties also have separate irrigated and non-irrigated yields for various crops, which can provide separate triggers.
The tool does the same in showing the calculation for ARC-CO Benchmark Prices. It uses the higher of the MYA price or Effective Reference price. With lower corn prices for several years, the Effective Reference Price has been higher and that’s what is used to calculate revenues.
This is an example looking at soybeans using the Illinois tool. I used the same yield and price as Texas A&M tool for comparison. Notice with these prices and yields, it shows no PLC nor ARC-CO payment for York County soybeans. For counties like York that have combined irrigated and non-irrigated yields, you will need to default to ‘irrigated’ for your PLC yield that is inputted.

Additional Resources:


JenREES 1/17/20

Winter in-person meetings are ‘a go’ for this week for this part of the State. Also, the online pesticide training is available for those who would rather not attend in person. It’s found at: https://web.cvent.com/event/4efa4d41-c770-4a78-99d7-4c4ea75d45ae/summary

Dicamba Training will be conducted by the companies, not UNL. Most have an online training option. Some also have live webinars and in-person meetings. Please see each company’s info:

Bayer (Xtendimax): https://www.cvent.com/c/calendar/7829eb5d-ddef-4c2f-ac2c-a67626018ece
BASF (Engenia): https://www.engeniaherbicide.com/training.html
Syngenta (Tavium): https://www.syngenta-us.com/herbicides/tavium-application-stewardship

Farm Bill: Because the tools are the same as in the past, I’ve updated a blog post (go to the “Farm Bill” category) at jenreesources.com. It shows step by step instructions on how to enter data into the Texas A&M and Illinois decision making tools. Your election this year is for one year only (2021). Some of my data was saved in the Texas A&M tool, so hopefully that’s the case for you individually as well.

After looking at data, here’s some things that may be helpful for consideration. Yes, we’ve had good market prices recently. However, remember ARC-CO is based on a 5-year Olympic average where the high and low are thrown out. This average is based on 2015-2019 (2020 doesn’t come into the picture until the 2022 decision. And, if it’s the high, it gets thrown out then…so it may take a couple years of high prices). And, the reality is that PLC corn price of $3.70 may also not trigger depending on the MYA price.

Another consideration for the 2021 election is county yields for ARC-CO payments (looking at years 2015-2019 where the high and low are thrown out). Because different weather events hit portions of counties, and because some counties have separate payments for irrigated and non-irrigated acres, it’s important to look at your individual county data to make decisions.

If you don’t want to use the decision tools from Texas A&M and Illinois, another option is a simple calculation. On my blog, you can click on a link to download a USDA excel spreadsheet which shows data for figuring ARC-CO triggers and payments. I’ve hidden the cells for the rest of the U.S. and only have Nebraska shown; once downloaded, you can unhide cells if you want to look at other states. For the calculation: 

Take your 2021 County Guaranteed Revenue for a specific crop and divide that by 2021 County Benchmark Yield for that crop. For example, York County irrigated corn (irrigated and non-irrigated are combined) shows a 2021 Guaranteed Revenue of $745.35. The 2021 Benchmark Yield (which is an Olympic average yield from 2015-2019) is 234.24. Taking 745.35/234.24=$3.18. Based on these numbers, an ARC-CO payment would not be triggered for corn in York County unless the price went down to $3.18. This is in comparison to PLC in which the trigger is $3.70 for the corn price. This helps with decision making as it leans towards enrolling in PLC for corn. (Again, no guarantee of a payment even with PLC depending on the MYA price). You can also try other figures (ex. trying 240 and 220 bu/ac) if you think the trendline yields may be higher or lower than the current estimate to see other potential ARC Co price triggers. You can use this same calculation for other crops such as soybean, wheat, sorghum, etc. and compare the prices obtained vs. the PLC price for that crop.

The windstorm, fairly widespread in this part of the state, impacted many individual corn yields. I don’t know how that compares to average county yields for 2020. In the past, we had those at some point in February, so it will be interesting to look at this later.

JenREES 1-10-21

It was great to have in-person meetings last week! Even though the set up and planning was more taxing, I’m grateful we were able to have them. Also, wanted to thank those who responded to the Extension survey for me; your feedback is greatly appreciated!

In-person Extension meetings are ‘a go’ for this coming week for this part of the State. For Crop Production Clinics, groups are allowed to watch together at Coops or businesses if you prefer. You will still need to register individually. Your ‘ticket’ for recertification is to individually complete the program evaluation and provide the codes provided during sessions throughout the day. Please also know any of the area Extension offices will work with you regarding picking up weed guides regardless of where you said you’d pick them up. Thank you for your patience as we navigate all this together!

Farm Bill: Received a number of calls this week regarding 2021 election sign-up. Honestly, I haven’t had the opportunity to run numbers in the tools yet. Will provide more info. in a future column.

On-Farm Research: This past week, we also peer reviewed all the on-farm research studies conducted in 2020. There were 20 studies where farmers worked with me in this part of the State and I’m grateful to all of them for their efforts! My hope is to share research results in the coming weeks as reports are finalized. Our on-farm research updates will occur on Feb. 25 and 26 and I’m really pumped about the format! The meetings will be morning only, hosted by the local Extension educator, providing more discussion of studies shared by the farmers, and allow planning for the upcoming year. Those attending virtually will discuss as their own group. Please pre-register early to ensure a spot. Registration at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/nebraska-farm-research-network-results-update-meetings-2021.

De-Icing Agents are sometimes needed for safety but can be harmful to plants. You may wish to check what you’re using at home. Common deicing compounds are listed below. These may be used alone or blended together to improve performance or reduce damage to concrete or landscapes. Also, keep products on hand that improve footing on slick surfaces, like sand, sawdust, or cat litter. They can be used instead of traditional deicing products, or blended with them to improve traction and limit deicer use.

  • Sodium chloride, urea, and potassium chloride have high potential of damaging landscape plants.
  • Calcium chloride is the most effective deicing product at low temperatures, working down to -25°F. It will not damage vegetation if used as directed.
  • Magnesium chloride is sprayed on roadways before a snowstorm to prevent ice bonds from forming, making ice and snow removal easier. It causes very little damage to concrete or metal. It’s also gentle on landscape plants and pet safe if used as directed.
  • Acetates can be found in three forms – calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), sodium acetate and potassium acetate. CMA is a salt-free product and is the safest product for use around pets and landscape plants. CMA is made from dolomitic limestone and acetic acid (the principal component of vinegar). Studies have shown the material has little impact on plants. It also has a very low level of damage to concrete or metal.
  • Beet juice deicers, a newer organic option, are products derived from beet juice. They contain only 12% sodium chloride (salt), much less than traditional sodium chloride. Beet juice products are fully biodegradable, but shouldn’t be applied where melt runoff will move to aquatic areas.

JenREES 1-3-21

Happy New Year! This past week I’ve received several questions about winter meetings so wanted to better clarify what to expect. Also, area winter program brochures were mailed out last week. If you no longer wish to receive this, please let us know and we’ll update our mailing list.

Risk Dial: For Extension programs, if the risk dial is ‘Red’, in-person events are cancelled. The risk dial is reset every Friday for many district health departments throughout the State. Thus, those who pre-register will be notified by Monday the following week of any cancellations and next options. This week, locally we are in ‘Orange’, so pesticide training in York on Jan. 7 and chemigation training in York on Jan. 8 (both at Cornerstone Event Center at Fairgrounds) are thankfully on! UNL guidelines require masks when the risk dial is ‘Orange’. Thank you to all who have called in to pre-register!

Crop Production Clinics: Technically these are all presented virtually whether you choose to watch online on your own or at an in-person location. I enjoy seeing people and catching up at winter meetings, so I’m grateful we still have in-person meeting options! The following website has the agendas and registration information: https://agronomy.unl.edu/cpc. There’s not an easy way to see where the in-person options are located unless you click on the ‘Register’ button and scroll. Thus, I will list them for you below. For those of you who’ve attended in the past, you know there’s two rooms which allow for various learning opportunities and CCA credits: certification/pest management room and a crop/soil/water room. When watching virtually, you will have the option to switch between the different rooms. There are specific ways built in to ensure those who need recertification and are watching virtually are accounted for and to account for those desiring various CCA credits. Some in-person locations like Hastings, Aurora, Central City are hosting both rooms. In York, on Jan. 14 and 21 at the Cornerstone building at the Fairgrounds, for specific reasons I’ve chosen to only host the pest management room. That works if you only need certification or wanted to watch only those topics. Otherwise, if you needed soil/water credits, it would work best to choose a different in-person location or watch virtually. I just wanted you to be aware of that. For the Nebraska Crop Management Conference, most of us are only able to provide two of the four rooms. When you register for CPC/NCMC this year, you will choose whether you have the weed guide shipped directly to you or to a nearby Extension Office where you can pick it up. In-person locations include:

Jan. 6: Central NE Locations: Hastings, North Platte, Kearney, Holdrege
Jan. 7: Eastern NE Locations: Lincoln, Geneva, Norfolk, Syracuse
Jan. 13: Central NE Locations: North Platte, Hastings, Central City, Holdrege
Jan. 14: Eastern NE Locations: Lincoln, Norfolk, York, Syracuse
Jan. 20: Central NE Locations: Hastings, Aurora, Holdrege, Kearney
Jan. 21: Eastern NE Locations: Lincoln, Norfolk, York
Jan. 27: Nebraska Crop Management Conference Locations: Hastings, Kearney, Seward, Holdrege, North Platte, Syracuse

Chemigation: For those desiring to apply fertilizer and/or chemicals through irrigation systems, you can obtain your initial or recertification for chemigation at an in-person training or online. The online version is also for both initial and recertification and can be obtained at: https://water.unl.edu/article/agricultural-irrigation/chemigation. There is no charge for chemigation training. For those attending in person, please pre-register and please bring a calculator (can’t use smartphone). Area January in-person trainings include: Jan. 8 at 9:30 a.m. at the Cornerstone Bldg. Fairgrounds in York; Jan. 21 at the Fairgrounds in Hastings; Jan. 25 at 1:30 p.m. at the Fairgrounds in Central City.

Crop Budgets are updated for 2021 and available at:https://cropwatch.unl.edu/budgets.

Extension Survey: It’s also that time of year for annual reporting. If you could please help me out by completing this 5 question anonymous survey, I’d appreciate it: https://app.sli.do/event/s8g48y8z. Thank you!

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