Monthly Archives: December 2021

JenREES 12/26/21

Upcoming Farm Bill Webinar: As you consider 2022 farm bill decisions, there is an upcoming webinar from UNL on Jan. 20th at Noon. You will need to register to obtain the Zoom link and can do so at:

End of Year Reporting for Extension is here. If you would please consider sharing ways that information I shared helped you this past year, I’d appreciate it. Thanks!

Evergreen Trees and Perennial Plants: The weather has been incredible overall for December which has allowed for additional things to get done. However, the fact that we’re experiencing temperature extremes and warmer weather is difficult for plants which prefer steady and colder temperatures than we’ve experienced prior to this coming week. Kelly Feehan, Extension horticultural educator, shares some thoughts below on helping alleviate winter stress to evergreens.

“Warm, sunny winter days increase the risk of winter drying and sunscald injury. A lack of soil moisture and snow cover greatly increases the risk of winter dessication. Winter dessication results in evergreens turning brown during spring. Just because an evergreen looks fine now does not mean it is not stressed. It can take an evergreen months to turn brown after a fatal injury. Just think of Christmas trees. They remain green a long time after being cut down.

Evergreens most at risk are newly planted evergreens but even established Arborvitae, Japanese Yew and some Junipers are quite susceptible. Evergreens planted in the last year or two and those planted near south facing walls of light colored homes or pavement are even more at risk.

While we may not see a lot of dessication on established spruce and pines, this does not mean they are not stressed. Especially with spruce, we continue to see an increase in diseases that are tied to moisture stress. 

Winter watering is becoming increasingly important to help reduce winter drying. While adequate summer and fall watering is most beneficial, winter watering would be wise this year.

Winter watering needs to be done when temperatures are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit and early in the day for water to soak into the soil before nightfall. Water should not pool against a tree trunk and plant stems to freeze over night as this can cause damage.

When soils are dry and not frozen, apply water slowly with a slow running hose or by punching holes near the bottom of a five gallon bucket. Place the bucket over tree roots and fill it with water, allowing the water to slowly trickle out of the small holes.

About once a month, if needed, moisten the soil to about an eight inch depth from the trunk to just beyond branch tips. Placing a four inch layer of wood chip mulch over the roots of evergreens will help conserve soil moisture during the growing season and throughout winter. Mulch layers should not be too deep or piled against tree trunks.

And if you have a real Christmas tree, consider cutting off the branches and using them to protect tender perennials and young shrubs. By placing the branches over the tops of perennial plants or inserting them into young shrubs, the branches will act like a winter mulch, protecting plants from drying winds, bright sun and temperature extremes.”

Additional Certifications

Joy, Comfort, Hope. Three words the Pastors at my church have been preaching on this month. Been thinking about those impacted with much loss by the recent disasters of tornadoes out east and the wildfires and winds in Kansas. Also thinking about so many who have lost loved ones this year and the difficulty of holidays with those losses. There’s also plenty else going on in the world! All around us, people can sure use some joy, comfort, and hope right now! And thankfully, this time of year reminds us of that for those of us who celebrate Christmas; The Hope of the World came down to earth to be born to die so we can live! This Christmas may we have eyes to see those who are hurting, hands willing to help how we can, and hearts ready to share the hope within us. Have a blessed Christmas!

Pesticide Applicator Certification: Last week, I shared about changes to private pesticide applicator certification. Just to clarify, private applicators are purchasing and using restricted use pesticides on land they farm. Private applicators cannot apply to others’ land and receive a payment as they would then be considered commercial applicators. Private applicators can trade services by applying pesticides to other people’s land as long as money is not exchanged (ex. other party plants a field for the applicator in exchange for the applicator spraying his/her field).

Fumigation is no longer a topic we can teach with private pesticide training. The new law states that those who wish to fumigate need to obtain that specific certification by obtaining study materials and passing an exam (in addition to the private applicator training also required) . The fumigation materials and exam dates are the same ones commercial applicators have to take and are found at under the “commercial/non-commercial” study materials and exam sessions.

Commercial and Non-Commercial applicators are receiving payment to apply pesticides to other people’s ground (for non-commercial applicators, it’s a requirement of their job). To obtain initial certification, one has to purchase study materials for the categories the applicator wishes to apply (ex. ag plant, fumigation, etc.). All commercial and non-commercial initial applicators need to pass an exam that includes General Standards (category 00) and whatever additional certification the person is seeking. Go to and in the right-hand column, it lists certification information for commercial/non-commercial applicators. It has a direct link for the study materials and also a link for the exam sites. For recertification, the most common one for those working in ag industry would be Ag Pest Control-Plant (Category 01). The easiest way to do recertification, and what we recommend, is to attend a Crop Production Clinic. There’s one in York on Jan. 26 but you can find them all listed at For recertification in other categories, an exam needs to be taken and passed; the dates are found at the website.

RUP Dicamba Training: Extension is not providing RUP dicamba training. This is being provided by the companies who sell RUP dicamba. Most of these are online and the 2022 trainings may not be on the websites yet. Below are the links for reference. One more thing that NDA wished us to share, any RUP dicamba product on hand that was formulated prior to 2021 is considered off-label as it doesn’t meet the updated EPA approved labels and cannot be used.

Chemigation Training is for anyone who applies fertilizer and/or pesticides through an irrigation system. There is no charge for this training, but one does need to pass an exam whether for initial or recertification. Training and the exam can be done either at an in-person training or online for both initial and recertification. You can find the links for both options in the right-hand column of the website.

Pesticide License Updates

It’s been nice to plan winter meetings this year with more ‘normalcy’ than last year! Been getting questions regarding private applicator training. There’s several changes that we need to make you aware of.

Training options for 2022 include: in-person training via your local county Extension office (Fee $50), online training via (Fee $50), or attending Crop Production Clinics (Fee $80). RSVP will be required for all in-person training to the county Extension office hosting the training.

One change to the training: a hard copy of the “Guide for Weed, Insect, Disease Management” will not be provided with your training materials this year and is not included in the fee cost. A weblink to view the Guide will be provided to certifying applicators. A hard copy of the Guide can also be purchased and info. will be shared when we mail out pesticide letters to applicators needed to recertify in 2022.

Due to changes in the Nebraska Pesticide Act, there are additional updates to the private pesticide safety training that may impact your operation, particularly regarding fumigation. By 2025, everyone who fumigates, needs to have a fumigation category associated with one’s pesticide license. This includes for private applicators. The fumigation category can only be obtained by purchasing the training materials from and then taking a test at an NDA walk-in testing location.

In 2022, pesticide cards (tan in color) will be printed to be thicker like a credit card since the ink would often rub off on the previous paper versions. Private applicators previously did not have categories assigned on their licenses but will in the future if they fumigate. This change will begin in phases beginning with licenses that expire in 2022. Licenses that expire in 2023 and 2024 will need to obtain fumigation certification during their pesticide renewal years.

Your new license will indicate that you received private pesticide safety training with the words “General Agriculture” and/or a code (00) printed on it. If you choose to get certified in either Soil or Non-Soil/Structural Fumigation, your license will show these as 01a and 11, respectively.

Activities that require the Soil Fumigation (01A) category include: The use of restricted use fumigants to control soil-borne insects or disease such as in potato fields or fumigation prior to planting tree nursery stock. If you wish to use soil fumigants, you will be required to pass the commercial/noncommercial Soil Fumigation (category 01a) exam to receive this certification. Training manuals are available for purchase on the website or call 402-472-1632 for more information.

Activities that require the Non-Soil/Structural Fumigation (11) category include: The use of solid or gaseous restricted use fumigants in burrows, buildings, chambers, vaults, tents, vehicles, railcars, or other vessels. The application can be for protection of commodities from insects, vertebrate animals, or pathogens that cause disease. For example, fumigation of stored grain (flat or silo storage), fumigation of rodent burrows (moles, gophers, etc. because fumigating burrow, not soil), fumigation of logs or other wood materials (under tarps or in chambers), fumigation of structures for termites or other wood destroying insects. If you wish to use non-soil, structural, or rodent burrow fumigants, you will be required to pass the commercial/noncommercial Non-Soil/Structural Fumigation (category 11) exam to receive this certification. Training manuals are available for purchase on the website or call 402-472-1632 for more information.

Activities that require a pesticide license but do NOT require fumigation categories include: the use of restricted use pesticide mists, smokes, fogs or other aerosols that are NOT labeled as fumigants. Examples of these are ‘gopher gasers’ and other products that aren’t labeled as fumigants. They typically have a smell to them whereas fumigants don’t.

This is all new for 2022 and will most likely be confusing. Please contact the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at 402-471-2351 with any questions if the fumigation activities you are doing involve a fumigation license.

Information directly via Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

Example of what new private applicator pesticide card will look like beginning in 2022.

JenREES 12/5/21

With high fertilizer prices and some short on forage, I’ve received questions on determining a value for corn residue baling for a good month now. I know there are mixed feelings on this topic, particularly because of the range of what fields look like depending on conditions and equipment settings. Our job is to share the research. It is an opportunity for residue management while also helping our livestock sector. The following is a portion of what Ben Beckman, Brad Schick, and I wrote recently for CropWatch and BeefWatch taking a system’s approach to this topic. Additional details of cost considerations can be found at:

Price of cornstalk bales via Nebraska/Iowa hay summary released Thursdays are currently going for $60/ton for large rounds ($100/ton ground). For every 40 bu/ac of corn, approximately one ton of residue is produced. Each ton of corn residue contains 17 lb N, 4 lb P2O5, 37 lb K, and 3 lb S. With rising fertilizer prices, residue this fall will contain up to $34 worth of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and sulfur per ton (at time or writing this). Do all those nutrients need to be replaced? Not necessarily for each field. With most Nebraska fields at sufficient K levels, we mostly consider replacing the other nutrients.

The nitrogen replacement may also be flexible due to potential increased mineralization that can occur due to the change in C:N ratio with residue removal. At South Central Ag Lab near Clay Center, eight years of residue removal showed increased yields in spite of a net negative nitrogen balance by removing residue (more nitrogen removed with the residue than what was applied for the crop). Thirty-six studies over 239 site-years showed a 3% average yield increase when residue was removed versus not removed, in locations where water was not a limiting factor. The yield increases are hypothesized to be from more even plant stands and/or from increased soil mineralization.

Based on the research, the following are UNL’s recommendations for which fields to consider for corn residue removal:

  • Use reduced tillage (no-till or strip till) on fields where residue is removed.
  • Only harvest corn residue when fields yield over 180 bu/ac.
  • Avoid fields or areas with slopes greater than 5%.
  • Avoid removing more than 2 tons/ac of residue and maintain at least 2.4 tons/ac of residue. Talk with people at equipment companies on how to set the equipment for corn residue baling to avoid so much soil in the bale and to keep at least 50% residue on the surface.
  • In continuous corn, harvest cornstalks every other year. In corn-soybean, harvest cornstalks every four years.
  • Consider applying manure or use a cover crop after baling cornstalks for amelioration.

From a nutritional standpoint, cornstalk bales are typically even lower quality than straw. Even if being selective with what we harvest by only baling the two to three rows behind the combine, we can only count on around 5% crude protein and up to 45% total digestible nutrients (TDN). With these nutritional values, diets will likely need to consist of additional protein, probably in the form of distillers grains.

To find the value, we need to compare a cornstalk/distillers grain diet with what it would be replacing. Dr. William Edwards, Iowa State emeritus ag economist, solved this problem on a worksheet. For his example, the original diet consisted of 2.6-ton alfalfa-brome hay and 0.3 ton dry distillers grain. One-ton cornstalks replaces 1.16-ton of hay and requires an additional 0.22-ton distillers grain.

If mixed hay is going for $150 per ton (as fed) and dry distillers grain at $200 per ton (as fed), the stalk value would be 1.16 x $150 (hay value) minus 0.22 x $200 (distillers grain value), which comes out to $130 per ton. The stalk and cob in corn residue are unpalatable and will not be consumed by cattle unless the bale is ground. Thus, cornstalk bales are usually ground, reducing the value to the end user by $10-15 per ton. In the end, this drops our cornstalk value to $117 per ton. This value can serve as a breakeven price when deciding to purchase corn residue bales to change feed rations versus using a traditional hay ration. The fuller context of this article can be found at:

Additional Resources:

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