Monthly Archives: September 2022
Atrazine Comment Period: I’m blessed to work with both conventional and organic farmers and learn from them on various tools used in their operations to combat pests. For conventional farmers, one tool that’s been available for over 60 years is atrazine, which is used for weed control on over 2/3 of U.S. corn and sorghum acres. In listening to farmers, this latest atrazine comment period has been confusing, because EPA just re-registered atrazine for use in Sept. 2020 and confirmed the decision to use 15 parts per billion (ppb) aquatic level of concern. This level was based on a large amount of peer-reviewed scientific research and documentation which were in consensus that that 15 ppb level of concern was considered safe for aquatic environments.
The confusing part to those who were sharing was ‘why this change if it was recently re-registered?’. In Aug. 2021, EPA reopened the decision in response to a court case and published proposed revisions in 2022 which would lower the aquatic level of concern to 3.4 ppb. Re-opening a previously confirmed decision in such a short time-frame doesn’t typically occur. The proposed 3.4 ppb level of concern also doesn’t agree with the large body of scientific evidence that was reviewed to make the 2020 decision. It calls into question the scientific validity of this proposed ruling.
In the proposed ruling, in order to apply atrazine, mitigation strategies would need adopting by farmers based on land quality. Some of these listed include: No pre-emergence applications; Atrazine application prohibited when soils are saturated; Atrazine application prohibited when rain is forecasted during application or for 48 hours after application; Aerial application prohibited; Application rate reduced to 2.0 lbs of atrazine on sorghum, field corn and sweet corn in a year; Inclusion of a picklist to mitigate runoff and leaching based on factors of the field (soil, crop, slope, weather, etc.) and predicted atrazine contamination in watershed field is located in; and Record-keeping requirements. The docket of EPA’s proposed revisions is available on Regulations.gov.
The public comment period to these proposed revisions ends on October 7, 2022. The public comment period allows for anyone to provide their feedback on the changes to inform the EPA of knowledge gaps, considerations or concerns that the public would like addressed.
The following are some suggestions before making any public comments on any topics one feels strongly about: Define your objectives for the comment at the beginning; Use specific situations to strengthen your points; Include positive and negative feedback; Use precise and respectful language to state your concerns, identified gaps of knowledge, or additional considerations; Avoid grammatical errors and spelling errors; Include scientific data when applicable; Avoid opinions or undocumented observations; Use an active voice, not passive; Include solutions or specific changes to the language of the docket; Read the docket fully before writing a comment; and Avoid wordy sentences or dense text blocks.
National Corn Growers Association has a prewritten template that can be viewed on its website, and for those who wish to submit a comment through the group, see the following site: https://ncga.com/take-action/become-an-advocate/take-action.
Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) and BQA transport training will be held Oct. 5th from 10 a.m.-Noon at the Fairgrounds in Geneva. You can RSVP at https://bqa.unl.edu/training-events.
Crop Insurance Workshop will be held Oct. 19 at the Heartland Event Center in Grand Island. Register at: https://cvent.me/R5qeL3 or 402-472-4923.
Central Nebraska Regenerative Ag Conference featuring Gabe Brown will be held Nov. 18 at the Tassel Performing Arts Center in Holdrege, NE from 1-4:30 p.m. Pre-register at: 308-995-8133.
Dr. Kohl will be at Farmers and Ranchers College in Bruning at the Opera House on Dec. 8th.
Starting this column with this inspiration from a Sept. 2019 column. Marine Corporal Joshua Bleill shared this at a meeting I attended: One: Remember the ‘why’ behind what we do every day and keep that fire within us to do our best. Two: Live life so at the end of each day we hopefully made a difference to another person. Good reminders as we continue to press on this year!
Crops rapidly turned this past week. Hearing beans went from 15%-10% moisture in a matter of days…sometimes the same day. Shawn Conley and Seth Naeve with University of Wisconsin recently shared a blog post on off-color soybean in some Enlist E3 soybean varieties. It’s important to note that not all Enlist varieties have this off-coloration and environment and disease pathogens can also play a role. I haven’t personally noticed much of this. You can read the full article and see photos here: https://coolbean.info/2022/09/01/sboc-one-more-thing-to-think-about-this-fall/.
Fall Armyworms: I’m still truly hoping we don’t have to deal with these too this year! My colleague, Nathan Mueller, got a report during husker harvest days of fall armyworm in the Beatrice area in 5th cutting alfalfa. So, it would be wise for those of you reading this in the southern few tiers of counties to be on the lookout for them in alfalfa, pastures, newly planted wheat/rye/cover crops, and in lawns. If these progress, we’ll need to be watching replant corn too.
Pine Trees are still showing very slow recovery, if any, after the June 14 hailstorm. One question I continue to receive is “what happened to all the evergreen trees?” If the browning is primarily on the west and north sides of the trees, I’m fairly certain it’s due to the hailstorm. There are pockets where the damage is also on the south side where there was rotation that occurred. Spruces and cedar trees also were greatly impacted, but I’ve seen some new regrowth on them, whereas I’m hard-pressed to find that on pines. Some Scotch and Austrian pines pretty much just died after the hail due to them already being stressed from pine wilt nematode. However, it’s also interesting to me how many Scotch and Austrian are holding on. Ponderosa’s are native to Nebraska, thus aren’t impacted by the nematode, but are still slow in hail damage recovery.
As I continue to be asked what’s going to happen with the trees, my honest answer is that I don’t know, but I’m hopeful. I would encourage people to be patient and wait to remove them unless you didn’t want a tree in a particular spot or there’s one tree nearly dead amongst others that have half the tree living. My hope is that they will slowly begin the process of recovery and I’m estimating it may take at least 2 years before we see much. In the meantime, watering them can help with recovery. Truly hoping we don’t lose many of these evergreen windbreaks in the area!
Fall Invaders: It’s that time of year for fall invaders such as millipedes, centipedes, crickets, spiders, roly polys, earwigs, and lady beetles. They’re not pests that do damage but are looking for a place inside as temperatures drop. They often die within a few days of making their way indoors. You can manage fall invaders once they enter the home by vacuuming them. You can also use sticky traps, just be careful not to use these where people or pets can come in contact with them. There are home-owner sprays that can be used on the outside perimeters of homes to help reduce the number that enter your home. Sealing any cracks and crevices repairing screens, and checking weather stripping is another way to help exclude them.
(Jenny’s Note: I haven’t personally seen this off-coloration on Enlist E3 soybean seed, but felt it was important for growers to be aware of, so am sharing this blog post from the University of Wisconsin).
By: Seth Naeve and Shawn Conley Fall is time where farmers literally reap the production of their year’s efforts, but fall can be a crazy and chaotic time as well. Each year offers new challenges, and this one will be no different. Farmers in the Midwest should be aware of an issue in the production […]
Husker Harvest Days is September 13-15. The UNL pesticide safety team will be in the hospitality tent and will be offering respirator fit testing. A fit test is a requirement under the Worker Protection Standard if the pesticide label requires a respirator. Applicators who need this can bring their respirator with them and be prepared to have short medical questionnaire followed by the actual fit test.
Also new is a Crop Skills Challenge hosted by UNL Testing Ag Performance Solutions (TAPS). The challenge includes insect and weed ID, siphon tube setting, a grain marketing challenge, and corn grain yield estimations. The event will take place each day at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Forty individuals can compete in each round. A special session on Sept. 14 at 10 a.m. is only for FFA chapter teams of four students each. The event is free and open to anyone attending Husker Harvest Days. Those interested can preregister at https://taps.unl.edu/husker-harvest-day-crop-skills-challenge, or can register at the show. Prize money includes a $250 Visa gift card for first place; $150 gift card for second; and $100 for third during each session. Those participating will receive a souvenir.
Harvest is quickly approaching, particularly for those who have hail-damaged corn that wasn’t replanted and/or drought stressed crops. In checking fields last week, I was surprised to find irrigated hail-damaged corn going 15-19% moisture, but test weight appears on track. Finding stalk rot hovering around 50% for hail-damaged corn. It may be wise to pull some ears and test for moisture.
Harvest Safety: In spite of it varying, grateful for some rain over the weekend! Please be safe with harvest and please be safe traveling on gravel roads! Lights on, stop/slow down at intersections, shut down equipment before working on it, watch for others in the field when operating equipment, and slow down on equipment steps. Things happen so fast! Wishing everyone a safe harvest!
Combine cleanout: Research has proven 99% of palmer seed survives the combine. With weedy fields, would you have 30 minutes of time to cleanout the combine between fields or even that endrow patch before starting the rest of the field? Dan Smith from the University of Wisconsin shared that no matter how well farmers seek to clean combines, UW found viable weed seed in 97% of them they sampled. He said if you have 30 minutes, target 4 places (head, feeder house, rock trap, and rotor) using an air compressor or leaf blower to force air through and clear debris from critical portions of the combine. You can also run a bag of livestock wood shavings through the combine to clean rotor/auger area. In sampling the four areas and then growing the weed seed, 49% of total weeds emerged from the head followed by 30% from the feeder house, 19% from the rock trap, and 2% from the rotor. He suggests if you have limited time, prioritize the head and feeder house. Clean out combines in the field where the weed problem exists before moving on to the next field. Also make sure to wear an N95 mask or a respirator and eye protection when cleaning out the combine.
Taking a Break: I realize this will be more difficult now with harvest; please seek to get away from the farm or your job in ag for a day or two. I keep hearing the same things and sensing the stress in conversations with farmers and those in ag industry, regardless if the person is in a hail damaged area. We’re weary, exhausted, many of us felt we lost a month this year; everyone has mentioned it’s been the hardest year in ag they’ve ever experienced. And I share that because you’re not alone if you’re also feeling this. I’ve seen more people on edge and second guessing themselves in their decisions and recommendations than I’ve ever before seen. We all need to take breaks! I think there’s so much pride in the work we do that sometimes there’s pressure we place on ourselves or each other that we can’t take time off. But that’s not healthy. I’ve learned we can’t help others until we help ourselves. To get through the summer, I was intentionally taking 30-60 min. away from my phone, fields, and people just to reset. Also found a couple days on the calendar and got away to hike in Colorado. I know not everyone can schedule getting away from the area right now, but please find healthy ways to take care of yourself! Rural Response Hotline: 800-464-0258.
Crop Updates: Weed control has been a challenge in these hail-damaged fields. If needing a harvest aid for corn, 2,4-D or Aim can be used after beginning dent. Glyphosate and Gramoxone can’t be used till black layer. All need to be applied at least 7 days prior to corn harvest. For soybean, don’t go too early. Sharpen is the most commonly used with a 3 day pre-harvest interval and we say to apply at the combination of these things: 65% of pods are brown, there’s more than 70% leaf drop, and seed moisture is less than 30%.
For a few weeks many have observed corn plants rapidly dying in the area, both in irrigated and non-irrigated fields. There has been some Goss’s wilt (leaf version) out there, but I’ve seen more instances of dying leaves being called Goss’s when it’s not. And, that’s an important diagnosis as you think about hybrids for the future. For Goss, look for a shiny, almost varnished appearance on the lesions. In the very edges where the lesion is more ‘water-soaked’ and light-green in color, you should often see the presence of black specks that look like pepper. Some lesions being confused with Goss’ are actually northern corn leaf blight, but it doesn’t have a shiny varnished appearance and will have cigar-shaped lesions usually between the midrib and leaf edge. These lesions can eventually blight entire leaves and may be what’s occurring in some hybrids.
I have seen some anthracnose top die-back in some fields (look for top leaves flagging bright yellow and senescing from top towards middle of plant). I’ve also seen a lot of crown rot in fields…since early this growing season. At that time, it wasn’t something we considered for replant because it doesn’t usually kill plants then. It does hinder water and nutrient uptake at this point in the season, and I think that’s the greater issue combined with higher soil temperatures (up to 8F higher than normal) and water stress. There’s nothing we can do about any of these problems, but you can take note of hybrid differences right now. If you want to see if crown rot is playing a role, dig up a plant with leaves that are rapidly dying and slice the stalk open. For crown rot, you will notice a browning in the crown area and sometimes even up higher on the internodes. Fields that received hail damage and weren’t replanted are also showing greater rot into the stalks where you can see the original hail stone damage that penetrated.
Irrigation: I know you’re weary of irrigating. The blessing of this slow fill period is packing on weight with deeper kernels. We’ve known for some time that we will most likely be irrigating replant crops while harvesting. Some need this replant crop to fill contracts while others are trying to get by without many additional inputs. For several weeks I’ve thought about ‘how much yield do we give up if we stop irrigating at X’. Was thinking about this for those who get tired and are ready to shut off early and for the replant corn if shutting off early can move it along/get it to dry down faster. Wasn’t sure how relevant this thinking was till two farmers asked me. So, the following is combined from ISU’s ‘How a Corn Plant Develops’, ‘Last irrigation of the season’ NebGuide, and info. from some plant breeders if it can be helpful for your decision making going forward. The caveat is that hybrids differ, thus the range, so perhaps also talk with your seed dealer. For corn:
- Beginning dent needs 5.0” water, around 24 days to maturity, 25-55% yield loss potential.
- ¼ milk needs 3.75” water, about 19 days to maturity, 15-35% yield loss potential.
- ½ milk needs 2.25” water, about 13 days to maturity, 5-10% yield loss potential.
- ¾ milk needs 1.0” water, about 7 days to maturity, around 3% yield loss potential.
I don’t have the same numbers for soybean, but in much of the soybean replant, I’m seeing beans that either caught up to the old stand development stage or are up to 3 stages behind it. The biggest thing I’ve seen in replant soybean in the past is having beans at a variety of development stages at harvest…from lima beans to dry bbs, particularly when later maturity groups were planted as replant compared to the original maturity group. Regarding all who ask me if this replant corn crop will make it, for now, let’s just leave it that I genuinely hope and pray it does! Each day is one more day closer!
Crown Rot: Was seeing this early on in the growing season in the below-ground nodes (left triangle area) and seeing quite a bit now as well (right). Regardless of the specific pathogen causing this, what we observe this time of year is leaves rapidly dying and rotted crowns on plants such as what you see in the plant on the right. This plant is actually rotted to the vascular bundles in the crown area with rot progressing up the plant into subsequent internodes and nodes.