Monthly Archives: May 2022

JenREES 5/15/22

I heard many say they’d never before seen that kind of wall of dirt that came through with the storm last week; I hadn’t either. Also can’t remember a spring where we’ve had this much wind and significant storms to have so many pivots needing replaced. In spite of the property damage, grateful to hear most share they were ok in spite of the scary situations they were in when the storm hit!

Tree Wind Damage: Heard a number of people had tree damage in addition to all the visible damage in York and other areas. For those with large branches down, it will be helpful for the life of the tree to get branches trimmed back to the next larger branch or the trunk. Corrective pruning can help with trees that lost less than 50% of their branches (and don’t have additional issues such as significant decay). The pruning should be done to balance the limbs on all sides of the tree canopy (crown). Cut at the collar area instead of flush to the trunk to aid the tree in healing. Cut large limbs in stages. With one cut, a branch often breaks before it’s completely cut, causing damage to the tree bark. Instead, as explained by K-State, “take a cut around 15” from the trunk. Start from the bottom and cut one-third of the way up through the limb. Make the second cut from the top down but start 2 inches further away from the trunk than the first. The branch will break away as you make the second cut. The third cut, made at the collar area, removes the stub that is left.” 

Cedar tree dying due to both environmental damage and weed barrier choking.

Sudden Tree Death in Windbreaks: Received a number of calls about evergreen trees that were suddenly dying, particularly in windbreaks. Anytime this happens, it’s due to some environmental and/or cultural problem. We most likely are going to see lots of tree and shrub issues this year due to the dry fall, winter, spring and the fact that we didn’t have snow cover. Trees rapidly dying right now are most likely due to the dry conditions and/or a combination of those conditions with my next comments.

A cultural example that I see aiding in the cause of tree death is landscape fabric/weed barrier. For example, (from my experience) the #1 cause of death I see of cedar tree windbreaks that are usually in the 10-20 year range, is when landscape fabric was used as weed barrier between the tree plantings.

So why does the fabric cause an issue? Often the original hole size doesn’t necessarily expand with the tree trunk as it expands. Getting under the tree (which is a pain with the pokey fallen needles!), one can often see how the tree is choked right where the fabric is and then the trunk flares right above that point, indicating the choking point. For trees that haven’t died, taking some type of long-handled tool that has a hook or something to pull the fabric away from the trees in several places around each tree can help. And honestly, if anyone reading this has a windbreak with landscape fabric, it would be wise to do this regardless if any trees are dying to potentially avoid future distress. I realize weed barrier is typically used with windbreak plantings. Research has shown that just planting grass between the trees (or leaving grass between the trees), while resulting in a natural weed barrier, causes trees to grow more slowly. It is an option though for weed control. Another option is using some type of mulch around the trees (but not against the trunk). I realize in the country, it can blow away more easily, but is another option that provides weed control.

Sickly looking evergreen trees could be due to a combination of things such as the dry conditions plus a disease/insect issue from previous years. I’ve seen several of these as well where they look sick, but aren’t rapidly dying. In those cases, it’s important to reduce the stress to the tree and be aware of the specific insect/disease problem for treatment.

Cutworms: As corn emerges, be scouting for cutworms. More info: https://go.unl.edu/a6fy.

BQA Training: Face to face BQA and BQA Transportation training for livestock producers is on May 18, 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m., Casey’s Building, Albion, NE. RSVP to Brad Schick at: 308-632-1230.

JenREES 5/8/22

Alfalfa weevil larvae.

Alfalfa Weevil should be scouted in alfalfa now. I have sweep nets that can be borrowed from the Extension office if you’d like. Otherwise, just go to different spots in the field and look for small holes on the newest leaflets near the stem tips. The larvae are small, green, and have black heads with a white stripe down the back. During the heat of the day, they’re often found near the crowns of plants and they curl into a C-shape when touched. To determine economic threshold, cut 10 alfalfa stems at ground level and shake the larvae off the stems by beating them off the sides into a bucket. The economic threshold right now is right around 1.5-2 larvae per stem. More info. here: https://go.unl.edu/tpkz.

K-Junction Public Forum: I’m grateful for the opportunity that EDF Renewables is allowing for a public forum in addition to their second open house regarding the proposed solar farm this Wednesday, May 11 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Stone Creek in McCool Junction. Because we’re to be impartial as Extension faculty, I was asked to serve as the moderator for the evening. I just wanted to share a little about this, and also felt it was important to share how I’m choosing to moderate the event so it’s not a surprise that evening.

As I’ve listened to various conversations and perspectives, it just seems like people need the opportunity to share their viewpoints publicly and ask their questions so all can hear the same answers provided. Because of this, a few of us expressed concern to EDF to allow for a public forum. EDF chose to change the open house format to a blended one of both display boards and the forum and I’m grateful for that. While public forums are difficult, I feel there can be some healing that occurs in just being heard, despite differences of opinion, and that’s my hope and prayer.

As I’ve tried to put myself in the shoes of landowners, while my family doesn’t own land in the area of the proposed solar farm, if we were in this situation, our decision would be based on our specific goals and plans for our farm. But our goals may not be the same as our neighbors. Thus, each landowner has to make decisions based on the goals and values that fits his/her family’s specific situation. The difficulty can be for those caught in the middle who don’t get to make that choice, such as neighbors, community members, and those whose jobs also support agriculture in some way.

As I’ve listened, the theme I continue to hear and sense, is the lack of information for a few years that occurred. I think that’s the greater underlying frustration. I’ll admit, that was a frustration to me as I felt I let landowners down by not knowing, thus didn’t have resources available for them to make informed decisions and to help with negotiating contracts. But I had to move past that to what I could do now. While hard, we can’t change the past. We can choose how we face the present and future doing our best to listen to each other and get answers to the questions we have. This public forum will hopefully allow an opportunity to do this. I think it also helps to remember we’re all just people. Regardless of which side a person is on, the person is not the enemy.

Rural Nebraskans are known for being respectful. I watched that during the first open house when differences of perspective were expressed in conversations. I only saw respectful conversation and discourse in addition to the passion for one’s position/perspectives. That’s what I would ask for this Wednesday evening as well.

In the public forum, there will be opportunity for sharing via a microphone and, for those who prefer not to speak, also via written questions. Each person will be given 3 minutes to speak followed by 3 minutes for EDF representatives to respond. I will make every attempt to get to everyone’s questions in the time we have. While it may be hard not to ask follow-up questions, I’m going to ask that everyone who desires has the opportunity to speak before anyone speaks twice. There will be additional opportunities to speak with EDF representatives following the public forum.

JenREES 5/1/22

What a blessing to receive rain!!! That almost seems like an understatement with the joy several shared with me as rain hit different locations of the State. The benefits were huge for pastures and lawns, activating herbicides, helping with ammonia burn, helping germinate seeds. There’s also just something about the way the air smells and to hear it after it being since last fall since much of the State has experienced a substantial rain.

And, I realize the winds also caused damage to some buildings and hundreds of pivots on top of all the pivots damaged from wildfires in the southwest part of the State. So sorry to hear about all the damages and here’s hoping they can be fixed/replaced soon.

Free Well Testing: From May 1-31, any Nebraska resident can sign up for free well water testing for nitrate, nitrate, and phosphate in well water and surface water. For more information and to sign up please go to: https://go.unl.edu/wqcs.

Food Preservation: Freezing Garden Produce webinar will be held May 3 from 7-8 p.m. To register, please go to: https://go.unl.edu/freezingclass. Freezing produce has been my go-to when I’m short on time!

K-Junction Solar Project Open House will be held on May 11th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Stone Creek Event Center in McCool Junction. From 6:30-7 p.m. will be an open community format. At 7 p.m. there will be moderated open Q/A with EDF renewable representatives. Food and drink will be provided.

Tractor Safety Training Courses will be held in late May and early June throughout the State. The first day of instruction can be taken either in person or online. The second day is a hands-on event including the required driving test. Teens 14 or 15 years of age who work on farms, or others who are interested in learning about safe farming practices are encouraged to register. Federal law prohibits children under 16 years of age from using certain equipment on a farm unless their parents or legal guardians own the farm. However, certification received through the course grants an exemption to the law allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to drive a tractor and to do field work with certain mechanized equipment. The closest hands-on training date is May 26th at Raising Nebraska, 501 East Fonner Park Rd, Grand Island (Contact:  Sarah Polak, 308.385.3967, spolak2@unl.edu). The closest driving date is located June 9 at Adams County Extension, 2975 South Baltimore Ave, Hastings (Contact:  Ron Seymour ron.seymour@unl.edu and Twila Bankson 402-461-7209, twila.bankson@unl.edu). For more information or to register, please go to: https://cvent.me/44ExVl.

Pasture/Range Management in Drought: A recent webinar shared how to trigger pasture and forage management decisions before a drought including animal turnout and stocking rates. You can view it here if interested: https://go.unl.edu/hygd.

Ornamental pears, also known as Callery pears, have been blooming. Kelly Feehan in Platte Co. shares, “If thinking of planting one of these white blooming trees, it might be best to reconsider. Ornamental pears have been a popular tree for white spring blooms, but this tree is overplanted and has issues with bark blasting and fire blight disease. More important, ornamental pear is on the Nebraska invasive species list; planting them is discouraged. The seeds of Callery pear are relished by song birds and small mammals who rapidly distribute them over a large area. If you want a white spring blooming tree, avoid planting ornamental pear and select a serviceberry, white flowering crabapple or Japanese tree lilac instead.”




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