Monthly Archives: October 2021
Grateful for some rain! I know many were pushing and hoping to complete harvest before it, yet it’s so good to get some moisture and rest as well.
This week’s CropWatch at https://cropwatch.unl.edu shares several articles about considering nitrogen credits, prices, and cost of production for the 2022 growing season. The UNL budgets have been updated for 2022. A new tool called the Ag Budget Calculator is also available where the UNL budgets are already inputted into it and allow you to alter them to fit your operation. If you don’t already have a system for keeping track of your cost of production per acre, consider checking out the Ag Budget Calculator at: https://cap.unl.edu/abc.
A common conversation this week was around manure use for nutrient management. If a person has access to manure, it’s a great resource! It was interesting to me how many were uncertain about using it. Perhaps part of that is just understanding how nutrients are credited. In general, 70% of the phosphorus and 70-90% of potassium are available the first year. However, nitrogen availability varies more. An important piece to understand is that there is both ammonium nitrogen (from urine) and organic nitrogen (from feces) available in manure. The amount of nitrogen available the first year in the ammonium form depends on the animal source, liquid vs. solid manure, and if the manure is incorporated or not. The amount available from the organic component is determined by mineralization with additional being released in the second and third years. The following article shares on maximizing profitability of manure use: https://go.unl.edu/f946. The following NebGuide does a great job explaining how to determine the amount of crop available nutrients from manure the first through third years after application: https://go.unl.edu/2use.
Another common conversation was around nitrogen management in general…things like should a person switch nitrogen sources for their operations due to price differences between anhydrous and UAN and conversations around how many inputs seem to have to be locked in this time of year vs. can they wait. At the end of the day, each grower will have to determine these things for your own operations, but I’m willing to listen. Ultimately, for operations where you have specific goals you’re striving to achieve and have been in process of altering things through the years to achieve them, I’d encourage you to stay the course and not make drastic changes for one year. If you’ll sleep better at night trying some different things on a field or a few acres, then try them, but perhaps don’t throw out everything you’ve done to this point for one year. It’s anyone’s guess what next spring will bring. This could be a great year for you to consider testing different nutrient rates and/or timings on your farm when you may not have been comfortable doing so in the past. I’ve placed a few on-farm research protocols for consideration at jenreesources.com which can be altered for different application timings, N sources, and rates. There’s also a number of nutrient-management related protocols at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/farmresearch/extensionprotocols. I realize many of you try things on your own farms. It’d be great for more growers to consider doing these types of studies via on-farm research as that helps all of us have more data that can be shared. I realize the protocols can look daunting, but for the most part, I think the farmers conducting on-farm research would agree they’re really not that complicated. Please contact me or your local Extension educator if you’re interested in any of these!
Lawn Care Fertilizer and Weed Control: Mid-September is the best time to apply fertilizer to cool season lawns. If fall fertilizer has not yet been applied, or a second application is to be made, only use fertilizers with fast release nitrogen sources and make the application before October 31. More information here: Rethinking Fall Fertilization, Nebraska Extension Turf iNfo.
As temperatures become colder, the process of herbicide movement and weed kill slows, but can still be effective as long as the weed has green leaves. Broadleaf weed control is most effective with spot treatments of herbicides applied during fall. When night temperatures begin to fall into the 30s, plants initiate carbohydrate movement into the root system. This increases the movement of herbicide into roots to increase weed kill. Combination herbicides are generally more successful than individual active ingredients in controlling perennial broadleaf weeds. Herbicide applications for perennial weed control can still be made effectively while the following conditions apply: Daytime temperatures are above 50°F, weeds have green leaves and can uptake herbicides, soils are not frozen. More info here: Broadleaf Weed Control, Nebraska Extension Turf iNfo.
Example On-Farm Research N Rate and Timing Protocols (These can be tailored a number of ways to fit various application timing, N source, and rates). The first protocol could just focus on 2 timings or 2 rates if a grower didn’t want 4 treatments. Links to full protocols below:
The York County Corn Grower plot and several on-farm research studies were harvested this past week. Thank you to Ron and Brad Makovicka for planting, harvesting, and hosting the corn grower plot and to all the seed companies who participated! The plot averaged 277 bu/ac on 190 lbs N of fall applied anhydrous and 3 gal of starter. That’s a great nitrogen efficiency per bushel produced! You can view the results at jenreesources.com or can pick up a hard copy of the results at the York Co. Extension Office.
I also wish to thank all of the cooperators who participate in Nebraska Extension’s On-Farm Research Network, especially all of you who work with me! The farmers conducting studies in this part of the State account for nearly 1/3 of the studies being conducted state-wide! A number of previous years’ results in addition to this year are studies involving nitrogen management. I will share more specific study results in the future. For now, with nitrogen prices continuing to climb, sharing ideas for consideration to try on your farms.
- Nitrogen Timing: Fall vs. Spring Anhydrous OR Combination of pre-plant nitrogen plus in-season nitrogen. We have one continuous fall vs. spring applied anhydrous study in York Co. and I’ve summarized results of several split applied studies in the past. It’d be great to have more producers trying these types of studies.
- Nitrogen Rate: 50 lbs N +/- grower rate. For example, consider: 100, 150, 200 lbs N/ac comparisons or 130, 180, 230 lbs N/ac comparisons. Growers doing these studies continue to find minimal yield gain for more N (less than 5 bu/ac for increasing 50 lbs N/ac). This year is a great one to try this for yourself with the high N prices.
- Nitrogen product substitute: There’s a number of products that are in some way promoted for reducing nitrogen, either by the product using microbes to help “fix N” for corn or using microbes to make N more available. So, consider trying a product like those and reduce the nitrogen by a set rate (30-50 lbs/ac) vs. a control with full N rate without the product. We do have a few studies in 2021 with these products and will share those results this winter.
- Reducing plant population under irrigated system using a strong flex hybrid. A handful of guys I know have tried this and have determined the population that gives them the best economic return for reduced nitrogen and water inputs. Some have also considered strong non-irrigated hybrids under pivots to reduce water and nitrogen inputs.
- Planting another crop: I have heard several saying they plan to plant more soybeans. A number of growers have also increased interest in milo (grain sorghum) due to the lower inputs necessary.
- For those who own land (perhaps easier with a pivot depending on where you are in the State) and have cattle, perhaps consider the economics of annual forages for your particular operation.
- Growing nitrogen via interseeding cover crops or planting corn into terminated vetch or solid stand of red (or white?) clover. I realize this one is more outside of the box and there’s a lot of questions surrounding it. The past few years, especially 2021, provided opportunity for numerous observations and learning experiences from growers trying these things. I just need time to summarize and will share this winter.
I know most producers are trying things on your own on your farms. The above are just some additional ideas for consideration and an opportunity to try via on-farm research to obtain more data. I will share specific protocols next week. The data helps inform all of us on practices/products that are research-proven in Nebraska.
Tar Spot of corn was found in York County via a sample submitted by Jon Propheter last week. Nothing to worry about this season. It can be easily confused with southern rust teliospores this time of year. Will share more on management this winter.
(Phtotos below: left-hand photo is tar spot, one lesion, very low incidence. Doesn’t scrape off leaf. Right-hand photo is southern rust teliospores; you can see the raised pustules looking closely in the photo and can rub them off.)
BugFest 2021 is now open at https://go.unl.edu/bugfest2021 till Oct. 24! There are videos about Nebraska Tiger Beetles, Wild Bees, Bed Bugs, Magical Creatures, How to Draw Insects, and much more.
Young, Beginning and Small Farmers Symposium November 8: Through a series of fast-paced panel discussions, participants will co-create innovative solutions regarding: Challenges facing young, beginning and small farming operations; Existing programs for financing young, beginning and small farmers; Innovative resource approaches for the farm of the future. This program will be held from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (registration at 8:30 a.m.) at the Nebraska East Union on UNL East Campus in Lincoln. It will also be streamed live online. Those wishing to attend in person need to register and request a parking permit. There is no cost. Additional details at: https://go.unl.edu/hzcj.
Crop Update: The armyworm calls have greatly subsided other than “is it ok to plant wheat and/or rye now?” I was encouraging planting them last week. So, yes, would encourage planting now, and also am encouraging to scout (even though I appreciate that’s hard with harvest!). Hopefully they’re moving south, although it’s unfortunate from the tweets I’m seeing in Kansas now of damage there. I did get a call from the Spalding area where a newly seeded rye field was taken out and established alfalfa stand mowed to the ground, so there may still be some around.
For those cutting milo, heard a report of the cutter bar being full of what Dr. Bob Wright identified as a plant bug (Lygus sp.). They have piercing/sucking mouthparts and feed on flower buds and seeds on a range of plants. If you’re also noticing them, they should die in the grain bin and not be a problem. We just really need a freeze! A freeze would also help with those tiny, black biting insects called minute pirate bugs and with the flies!
Starting to receive questions on fall burndown herbicides and lots of questions regarding nitrogen with input prices. Will share more on this in upcoming weeks, but for now, I have a picture of the fall burndown herbicide table from the UNL Guide for Weed Management (page 93 & 139) on my blog site if that helps. Planting rye also reduces winter annual weeds and marestail.
SCN Sampling: As agronomists are taking soil samples for fertility, please ask them to split the sample and send in for soybean cyst nematode (SCN) as well. You can also target these samples (0-8”) from areas of the field that yielded less and from field boarders/entryways. I often just use plastic quart-sized ziplock bags and label them as “SCN”. We appreciate the support of the Nebraska Soybean Board and your soybean checkoff dollars used for free SCN testing, so be sure to test this year. The address to submit samples and more information on sampling for SCN can be found here: https://go.unl.edu/aui2.
Nightshade in cornfields: Taking corn notes this fall, have again seen lots of black nightshade in fields (also some horsenettle). Seems to me like it’s been on the increase the past few years in corn fields. In asking via Twitter if others also observe it more, it appears that people do from messages sent directly to me. I’ve been seeing it in both row directions in ridge-till fields and a few no-till ones. Grateful for Orvin Bontrager sharing his experience and observations! He shared, “Ridge till fields that had been hilled with east-west rows. Especially if get rain or watering before canopied. Have seen this for years. Not as much on rotated soybean fields more on long term continuous corn. Undisturbed residuals containing mesotrione seems to control.” Mesotrione is in products like Lexar, Lumax, Callisto, Acuron, Resicore, etc. So, for those asking how to control this, in no-till perhaps consider using a product containing mesotrione and for ridge-till, perhaps if you have a way to follow hilling with some mesotrione can help?
The bigger reason for my concern is if the corn residue will be grazed. Nightshade and horsenettle contain toxins in all plant parts with the concentration increasing in all the parts, except in the berries, as they mature. A frost won’t reduce the toxicity. I would hope the amount of corn residue would off-set any impacts from the nightshade/horsenettle plants.
Dr. Jerry Volesky, Extension forage specialist, shared the following, “It is very difficult to determine exactly how much black nightshade is risky. Guidelines say that a cow would need to consume 3 to 4 pounds of fresh black nightshade to be at risk of being poisoned. These guidelines, though, are considered conservative since there is little data on the actual toxicity of nightshade plants. Also encouraging is that reports of nightshade poisoning have been very scarce in the past. Fortunately, even though nightshade plants remain green fairly late into the fall, cattle usually don’t appear to seek out nightshade plants to graze. However, green plants of nightshade might become tempting toward the end of a field’s grazing period, when there is less grain, husks, or leaves to select. So common sense and good observation must be your guide. Scouting fields to estimate the general density of nightshade plants will help you determine any potential risk. Secondly, and particularly near the end of a field’s grazing period, closely observe what the cattle are eating to see if animals might be selecting nightshade plants.”
Crop Update: Grateful for the harvest that’s been achieved thus far! Bean harvest slowed with humidity increasing moisture (which could also be a blessing after dropping so low), and corn harvest increased. Some pivots are running for newly seeded cover crops and small grains since we missed the rains. Couple reminders: Armyworm FAQ at: https://go.unl.edu/skx2. Also, check fields for stalk rot. I use a pinch test taking my thumb and first finger to ‘pinch’ a lower internode on 20 plants in a row. Obtain a percentage of plants that easily ‘give’ to determine % stalk rot. Video: https://youtu.be/7z75VN1c51Q.
Soybean moisture was last week’s topic of discussion. The Center for Ag Profitability released an article on the economics of crop harvest moisture at: https://go.unl.edu/o7hx and also provides a moisture loss calculation tool. Growers were pretty frustrated with yield losses due to overly dry beans and how this happens rapidly after a few hot days each year. By the week’s end, with increased interest in storing soybeans, several growers had asked about the economics and legality of grain storage rewetting.
Regarding the legality, while it is illegal to add water to any grain crop, it is legal to run aeration fans when humidity levels are high to increase moisture levels of beans. Dr. Ken Hellavang is an engineer at North Dakota State University that UNL also utilizes for our grain storage questions. He cautions to be aware of adding too much moisture as damage to bins can occur. He provides specific instructions at this website. A portion of his comments are shared below. By taking into consideration what he shares, economics of soybean moisture, and cost of running the fans, growers can determine the economics for your specific situations.
“Hellevang recommends producers operate aeration fans during weather with an average relative humidity of about 70 percent if they want to recondition soybeans to 13 percent during normal fall temperatures of 30 to 60F. If a fan runs continuously, the beans will lose moisture during periods of low humidity and gain moisture in high humidity. Be aware that the air will be heated 3 to 5 degrees as it goes through the fan, which reduces the air relative humidity slightly.
A reconditioning zone develops and moves slowly through the bin in the direction of the airflow, which is similar to a drying zone in natural-air drying. Depending on geographic location, not enough hours of appropriate temperature and humidity air may be available to move the reconditioning zone through the entire bin during the fall.
Reconditioning occurs the fastest when the airflow rate, cubic feet of airflow per minute per bushel (cfm/bu), is high and the air is warm and humid. It will be the most successful in a drying bin with a fully perforated floor and a fan that can deliver at least 0.75 cfm/bu. Even with this airflow, moving a reconditioning front all the way through the bin probably would take at least a month of fan operation.
Producers need to compare the cost of fan operation with the benefit of marketing at the desired moisture content. To estimate the cost of operating the fan, assume a 1 horsepower fan motor will use 1 kilowatt of electricity for each hour of operation. For example, if reconditioning the soybeans takes 30 days of fan operation, that is 720 hours. Achieving an airflow rate of 0.75 cfm/bu on a 42-foot-diameter bin filled 20 feet deep with soybeans would require a 15 horsepower fan. The cost to operate the fan, assuming an electricity cost of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, is $1,080.
Increasing the moisture content from 9 to 13 percent would increase the quantity of soybeans by 1,019 bushels. (Multiply by price per bushel to determine economics compared to cost of operating the fan). You would need only a 3 hp fan to provide an airflow rate of about 0.25 cfm/bu, but reconditioning the beans would take about 90 days.
If you ran the fan just in periods of very high humidity, such as during fog or when the relative humidity is near 100 percent, the soybeans in part of the bin would be too wet to be stored safely. Mixing the wet layers with dry layers would reduce the spoilage risk and discounts for marketing wet beans. However, stirring increases the bean damage. Emptying the bin and moving the beans through a grain-handling system will provide only limited mixing because the majority of the grain comes from the top of the bin in a funnel shape with a center unloading sump.
A humidistat can operate the fan when the relative humidity will average about 70 percent. Even though the humidity level varies considerably during the day, it will average about 70 percent if the fan is operated for a time when the humidity is 90 percent and for a time when it is 50 percent. Setting the humidistat to operate the fan when the humidity exceeds about 55 percent would be a reasonable starting point. However, the humidity setting would need to be adjusted based on a measured soybean moisture content. To avoid wetting the beans to moisture levels unsafe for storage, add a second humidistat to stop the fan when the relative humidity reaches very high levels or use a microprocessor-based fan controller that monitors temperature and humidity, and runs the fan only when air conditions will bring the crop to the desired moisture content. A disadvantage of these options is that the fan does not run as many hours.”