Monthly Archives: February 2022

JenREES 2/27/22

Growing Fruit in the Home Garden: The GROBigRed Virtual Learning Series from Nebraska Extension kicked off last week with a 6-week series ‘Growing Fruit in the Home Garden’.  Join us at 6:30pm CT each Thursday for two short presentations and an opportunity to ask your pressing garden questions. Register for this free program at Upcoming programs include:

  • March 3: Selecting & Buying Fruit Plants and Soil & Fertility
  • March 10: Site Selection & Design and Edible Landscapes
  • March 17: Brambles (Blackberries, Raspberries, etc) and Grapes
  • March 24: Pome Fruits (Apples & Pears) and Stone Fruits (Peaches, Cherries, & More)
  • March 31: Strawberries and Unusual Fruits

Soil Temperatures: With March around the corner, a reminder of our CropWatch soil temperature page at:

Farm Bill Decisions: I shared some considerations in the following article if it can be of help as you make these decisions:

Lawns and Gardens: In spite of warm stretches, it’s way too early to consider lawn fertilizer and crabgrass preventer. Wait till April when soil temperatures are expected to be 50F for at least 5 days.

Vegetable planting guide can be found at: Kelly Feehan, Extension Educator shares, “For vegetable gardeners, it’s time to think about cool season vegetables. Focus on garden planning, seed buying, and soil preparation, like incorporating compost, if soil is not too wet. Do not let air temperatures trick you into planting too early. It is soil temperature that to determine when to plant. Gardeners who plant too early often end up harvesting later than those who wait. And some gardeners end up replanting since seed can rot in cold soils and seedlings or transplants may be damaged by spring frost. Even if all goes well, seedling emergence can take 10 days or much longer in cold soil. For cool season vegetables like lettuce, radish and peas, wait to plant seed until soil temperatures are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, with 45 to 50 being ideal.” A meat thermometer designated for soil temperature use is a great way to check soil temperatures.

Small Grain Silage: Last year, four producers allowed me to collect small grain silage samples from rye and triticale so we could get a better understanding of quality in regards to growth stage when cut, moisture, how packed, etc. With short forage supplies, this may be of interest to those who have planted rye/wheat/triticale and have cattle. On March 17h, from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Nebraska Extension, Lallemand Animal Nutrition and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach are hosting the fourth Silage for Beef Cattle Conference. Registration is free and producers have the option to either stream the conference online or attend in-person at the ENREC near Ithaca. Pre-register to join in-person or virtually at: HTTPS://GO.UNL.EDU/SILAGEFORBEEF2022. Topics and speakers will include:

  • Agronomic management of small grains for silage, Daren Redfearn, UNL
  • When to harvest small grain silage, Mary Drewnoski, UNL
  • Sorghum silage: a solution for limited water, Matt Atkins, Wisconsin Dairy Specialist
  • Why fermentation analysis is important & what it means, John Goeser, Wisconsin
  • Fungamentals of silage harvest management, Becky Arnold, Lallemand Animal Nutrition
  • Inoculants for small grain silage, Limin Kung, University of Delaware
  • Economics & ROI on quality forage in grower & finishing rations, Jhones Sarturi, Texas Tech
  • Making small grain silage work, producer and nutritionist panel

JenREES 2/20/22

I’ve so greatly appreciated the discussions and learning opportunities at meetings this past winter! We have one final cover crop meeting this Friday, Feb. 25 from 10-Noon at the 4-H Building in York. The topic is discussing the economics of cover crops. I’m often asked about this and have ideas, but don’t have answers, so am seeking a discussion around it. We know grazing often is the one way (not always, but often) where cover crops will pay. Looking forward to a deeper discussion on additional ways to look at economics of cover crops, such as assigning a dollar value to any soil changes over time. Please join us if you’re interested!

Estate Planning Workshop March 8: We’re excited to offer an estate planning workshop for farmers and ranchers from 1:30-4:00 p.m. on March 8 at the Seward County Extension Office (322 S. 14th St. in Seward). My colleague, Allan Vyhnalek, an extension educator for farm and ranch transition and succession, will offer tools and strategies to effectively plan, start and complete estate plans, offer background on common mistakes during the process, and highlight essential considerations for creating and carrying out estate and succession plans.

He also asked Tom Fehringer, an attorney based in Columbus, to present during the workshop. Fehringer specializes in estate planning, business planning and trust administration, among other areas of practice. It’s just a great opportunity to learn more and ask questions (especially of an attorney) for free! Please RSVP by March 7th at 402-643-2981.

K-Junction Solar Project Public Meeting Feb. 24: EDF Renewables is inviting the public to a meeting to learn more about the K-Junction Solar Project on Thursday, Feb. 24 from 5:00-7:30 p.m. at the Stone Creek Event Center in McCool Junction. Food and beverages will be provided.

Results of Xyway™ LFR® Fungicide in Furrow: Last week at the on-farm research update, three area farmers and I presented the results of our on-farm research Xyway™ LFR® studies. This fungicide, applied at planting, translocates within the plant providing disease protection for a period of time. In 2021, Xyway™ LFR® was tested at 8 on-farm locations in Buffalo, Hall, York, and Seward counties. Emergence counts taken at 4 locations in Buffalo/Hall counties showed better emergence with Xyway in one of the locations and slower emergence with Xyway in the other three locations. Early season stand counts were taken at all 8 locations. Of these, one location showed better stand with Xyway compared to the check, two showed less stand with Xyway, and the others showed no differences. Three of the 8 locations showed a yield reduction with Xyway compared to the check while the other five locations showed no difference. Half of the locations showed reduced profitability while there was no difference in the other half. At the two York locations, I also did disease ratings. In spite of it being a low-disease year, in one of the two locations, Xyway reduced gray leaf spot pressure on the plants compared to the check. At neither location was there a difference in overall southern rust severity. In general, the growers who tried this felt it was helpful from the standpoint their fields are near towns or powerlines where it’s difficult for arial applications. FMC recommended during the meeting to move the Xyway™ LFR® product away from the seed for those trying it in 2022.

CSI youth and parents visit with Jerry Stahr about his field for the Xyway on-farm research study.

Our Crop Science Investigation Youth (CSI) group worked with Jerry and Brian Stahr on their Xyway study as part of the Nebraska Corn Board’s Innovative Youth Challenge. It was a great way for youth to utilize the scientific method while learning about crop scouting and participating in on-farm research! The youth won first place and share their results in the following video: If you know of youth interested in science and plants who may want to join us for CSI, please let me know! We meet monthly throughout the year. Next meeting is Mar. 15.

JenREES 2/13/22

This week sharing on a variety of questions received. Also a reminder of our On-Farm Research Update meeting on Feb. 17 with closest one in York at Cornerstone Event Center at 9 a.m. (registration at 8:30 a.m.). It’s an opportunity to hear from the growers about their on-farm research studies. RSVP at 402-362-5508 or

Nitrogen Models: Follow-up to last week’s column, for those interested in comparing a nitrogen model to your grower rate via on-farm research this year, please let your Granular certified service agent or Adapt N rep know in addition to your local Extension educator. We’ll set up a meeting to discuss study design for the prescriptions.

Temperature effects on storage of pesticides: With pesticide shortages and people wanting to get the products in hand, received a question on what happens if the product freezes in non-heated shops. Ultimately, the pesticide label will specify any impacts to efficacy when extreme temperature conditions occur. Another resource that may be of interest is this University of Missouri website which has a table towards the bottom which allows you to scroll through various fungicide, insecticide, herbicide products and see what the label shares:

Spring planted cover crops: During our practical cover crop management discussion last Friday, we talked about oats and other small grains being known to help reduce the incidence and severity of soil-borne soybean disease pathogens causing sudden death syndrome and soybean cyst nematode in soybean. We also know small grains help with reduction in white mold with the hypothesis being the terminated cover helps intercept the spores being released from the soil surface into the canopy. The question was asked if oats planted this spring could also help if a small grain wasn’t planted in the fall. Research from University of Minnesota found spring planted oats did help with reducing SDS severity, so that could be a consideration as another tool to help.

Another question/discussion topic that continues to surface is if there’s ability to grow nitrogen prior to corn this spring. Potentially, if one thinks about herbicides differently, gets plans together now, and is willing to terminate the cover crop a little later. And, maybe one just tries some strips of this instead of whole fields? Nitrogen production is directly related to biomass growth and based on what I see in journal articles, nutrient release from cover crops occurs around 6 weeks after termination. Options for planting in March include peas, lentils, clovers. These can be terminated by herbicides or as a green manure. I’m unsure on rolling. For those who planted hairy vetch last fall, a York county producer shared that he’s had good luck using glyphosate as a burndown which kills any grasses but leaves the vetch. That allowed the vetch to keep growing to produce more biomass and thus, more nitrogen. He kills the vetch with his post-pass as HPPD chemistries (Callisto, etc.) will kill it. There’s also a few guys kicking around the idea of planting corn into a living mulch like clover. University of Wisconsin did research on kura clover but in talking with Keith Berns with Green Cover Seed, seed production is difficult so it’s hard to get that seed. Some producers in Europe have a system kind of like our on-farm research network, and are using white clover before wheat and then grazing sheep in their system. It would be interesting to try some of the clover crosses available locally or even try with red clover and see what happens in small areas of fields. If anyone is interested in trying something like this, please let me know. We’ll probably discuss more this Friday, so if you’re interested in our Practical Cover Crop Management discussion of Feb. 18 on Interseeding cover crops from 10-Noon in 4-H bldg. in York, please RSVP at 402-362-5508 or The Nature Conservancy is providing lunch for that meeting for anyone who RSVPs to allow the discussion to continue over lunch.

JenREES 2/6/22

Nitrogen Rate and Nitrogen Model Studies: One topic that has much discussion at winter meetings this year is nitrogen rates. I know many people did what they could to get fertilizer applied last fall. Yet for those who are still planning on applying spring and/or in-season nitrogen, there’s also much discussion about rates. This is one of our on-farm research focuses for this year: to compare nitrogen rates. We’ve done quite a bit of research with timings and inhibitors. I think there’s more to learn when it comes to rates. And, I think there’s opportunity for all of us to work together to learn more.

One option to study this is to compare full-length strips across the field of a grower rate to 50 lb +/- that rate (or if that’s too scary, 30 lb +/- that rate). For example, if the grower rate is 180 lb N on corn/corn ground, also comparing 230 lb N/ac and 130 lb/ac. I shared the data from 5 nitrogen rate/timing studies conducted in York/Hamilton counties in a previous blog post. The data showed in 4 of the 5 studies, no more than 7 bu/ac less yield with 50 lb less N/ac and in all 5 of the studies, no more than 7 bu/ac yield increase by adding 50 lb N/Ac. This was very interesting to the grower and has been interesting to others who have commented on the studies.

Example of study design with field-length strips

Another option for comparing rates is to use precision ag tools and compare what models such as Granular, Adapt N, Maize N recommend vs. a grower rate. Nitrogen ramps (varying nitrogen rate blocks of 50 lb N/ac differences) can also be included. That may sound complicated but is less so with precision technology using prescriptions and then harvesting using yield maps. These prescriptions could also be built by zones in the field comparing a grower rate vs. a nitrogen model rate if the grower preferred. There’s a number of ways to compare nitrogen rates. We just feel this is an excellent time to try some of these things. And, on-farm research provides a way to try this on a smaller number of acres before trying it larger scale on more acres.

Example of precision nitrogen study comparing grower rate to N model (Granular in this example) and nitrogen rate ramps
Example of comparing nitrogen rates using zones

There is also a financial stipend for trying precision nitrogen studies via a USDA grant that Nebraska on-farm research received. So, would encourage farmers, and crop consultants/ag industry professionals to consider working with a farmer(s) to try some of these in the future. To learn more, go to: For those interested in field scale nitrogen rate strips across your field, please contact me or your local Extension educator. And, if you’re interested in learning about the results of all the nitrogen studies from 2021, consider signing up for the on-farm research meeting in York on Feb. 17 at: GO.UNL.EDU/2022ONFARMRESEARCH.

Practical Cover Crop Management: I so appreciated Keith Berns sharing at our Practical Cover Crop meeting last Friday! The discussion and questions throughout that time is what I was hoping for with this meeting in all of us learning from each other and together. I’m not recording them and my goal with these meetings is the discussion/interaction/connections, so if you’d really like the information, it’d be most helpful to attend in person. This next meeting on Friday, Feb. 11 from 10-Noon at the 4-H Building in York will be on termination timing of cover crops, including planting green. I’ve asked a number of farmers to share their experiences as each does things slightly differently in their corn/soybeans with tillage practices, timing, herbicides/lack of. This is very informal with just discussion and please come with your questions and willingness to share as well! It is helpful for me to have RSVP at 402-362-5508 but I do allow for walk-ins.

Save the Date! Two newly scheduled upcoming meetings include an Estate Planning meeting in Seward at the Extension Office on March 8th at 1:30 p.m. Also, a small grain silage conference on March 17th at ENREC near Mead: HTTPS://GO.UNL.EDU/SILAGEFORBEEF2022.

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