Author Archives: jenreesources

Extension Resources

Trust you had a blessed Thanksgiving! Received a few questions recently on where specific resources were located or if we had specific resources on certain topics. So, while there’s more, here’s a number of resources available from Nebraska Extension in the event any can be helpful to you.

Webinars:

2021 Field Day Recordings:

Podcasts:

Nebraska Extension Websites:

CropWatch Survey: We’re seeking your input for UNL’s CropWatch. The survey found at: https://ssp.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bxemKxHqB8n82Q6, takes about five minutes to complete, and asks about article readability, topic significance, and includes a section to suggest topics for 2022. The results of this survey will help guide CropWatch’s planning efforts for 2022.

Soil Health Educator: Nebraska Extension is currently seeking a state-wide Extension educator for soil health. Applications are due Dec. 3 for those interested: https://employment.unl.edu/postings/76246.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. That may seem strange as the events surrounding Christmas and Easter are far more impactful eternity-wise. Yet, I just so greatly appreciate the fact that there’s a day for focusing on gratitude.

And, while I’m grateful many choose to intentionally give thanks on Thanksgiving Day, sometimes I wonder what it would look like if we chose to live with gratitude. As I reflect on this year, it just seems like there’s increasing divisiveness, uncertainty, fear, anxiety, depression, and stress. Life is so short and not guaranteed. Relationships are so important and can be fragile.

If we chose to live with gratitude, how would it change us and our perspectives? Would we be less prone to complain and get discouraged when things go wrong? Would we be less likely to argue and more likely to extend kindness and grace to others? How would it impact the divisiveness we see in our country, our communities, our families?

Gratitude can produce joy. I think that’s something we all could use more of! It can allow us to find joy in everyday moments and also share joy with others.

So how do we choose to live with gratitude? A start can be to intentionally seek at least one thing each day for which to be thankful. At first it can be difficult and perhaps awkward. For some, it’s hard to even think of one thing. Perhaps a starting point can be gratitude for one’s home, bed, food, vehicle, job, friend or family member, etc.? Over time of practicing this, one’s perspective can change to even finding gratitude as things go wrong. For example, I drive a lot and had several vehicle problems this past year. For the situations when I chose to find gratitude instead of discouragement (such as thanking God that He allowed it to happen where it did instead of elsewhere or thanking God for the times a farmer was in the area to help me), it helped my mindset and provided peace instead of being upset. I’m not good about this all the time, but it sure helps my mindset and increases my perspective when I choose gratitude even when things go wrong. Perhaps others can relate to this?

Ultimately, my hope is that we can experience more joy each day in the everyday moments as we intentionally seek to live with gratitude. And, that this joy can be extended via kindness, grace, compassion to others around us. Wishing everyone a very blessed Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Food Resources: For your Thanksgiving meal check out https://go.unl.edu/turkey-time for turkey preparation, food safety questions, recipes, and health/wellness topics!

Returning to the Farm: This workshop series is being taught for families that have the next generation of farmers and ranchers coming back to their operations. The workshop helps multi-generations traverse the challenges of successfully succeeding the operation to the next generation. The in-person session will be held Dec. 10-11 in Columbus with follow-up virtual sessions on Jan. 13 and Feb. 10. More information and registration at: https://cap.unl.edu/rtf21.

Ag Budget Calculator (ABC) User’s Workshops (For New and Advanced Users): It’s important to estimate cost of production for our agricultural enterprises, but now with the volatile input and crop prices, it’s even more critical. Knowing your estimated cost of production can assist you in making important management decisions. Ag Budget Calculator (ABC) is one tool to help you enter this information for your ag enterprises. There’s guided virtual workshops from now through February that allow you to be in the ABC program entering your data as instructors demonstrate how to use it and answer your questions. More info. and registration at: https://cap.unl.edu/abc/training.

JenREES 11/14/21

Grateful harvest has finished for most or will be hopefully wrapping up this week for the rest. Last week was seeing more fall herbicide applications being applied. If you have a 2021 Guide for Weed, Disease and Insect Management, page 93 provides fall burndown corn herbicide options and page 139 provides soybean ones (I also show these at https://jenreesources.com/). Most products contain 2,4-D and/or dicamba. Tank-mixing a residual herbicide with a burndown product will improve marestail control because the residual activity will control marestail emerging after herbicide application.

Regarding temperatures, Dr. Amit Jhala shared in a CropWatch article that the ideal temperature for applying most post-emergence herbicides is between 65°F and 85°F. Herbicides can be applied at 40°F to 60°F, but weeds may be killed slowly. When the temperature is below 40°F for an extended time after burndown, weed control will most likely be reduced, specifically for a systemic burndown herbicide such as glyphosate. Additionally, weed control may be reduced under cloudy conditions following an initial temperature drop below 40°F. With late-fall herbicide applications be sure to add labeled adjuvants to improve herbicide efficacy.

Actively growing weeds are key to achieving good control, regardless of herbicide used. Frosts of less than 25°F usually cause leaf damage to annual plants, making them poor targets for herbicide applications; however, winter annual weeds may tolerate a frost up to 20°F and continue growing when conditions improve, with little tissue damage. After weeds experience frost, active growth may not begin again for a few days. Growers should wait until new leaf tissue is produced, scout the field, and then consider applying herbicide. Generally, this would be when nighttime temperatures are 35°F or greater and daytime temperatures are at least 50°F for two consecutive days. Additionally, sunshine is needed for plants to recover.

Grazing fields with fall herbicide applications: Be sure to check labels for any grazing restrictions if livestock will graze cornstalks after in-season and fall herbicide applications. You can find these in the Forage, Feed, Grazing Restrictions area on pages 212-216 of the 2021 Guide. Some labels will say that residue should not be grazed or baled and fed to livestock. Sometimes there’s no guidance on the label. If you want to be on the safe side, a rule of thumb some chemical reps use is to use the pre-harvest interval for the amount of time to wait before grazing stalks. Regardless, if it says there’s a grazing restriction on the label, the label needs to be followed as it is a legal document and the law.

As you plan for next year’s herbicide program, if you’re thinking about fall cover crops, the following NebGuide may be of benefit to you as it goes through the grazing restrictions of various herbicides.

Lawns and Leaves: The tree colors have been gorgeous the past few weeks and with colder temperatures, leaves are now dropping. If you have large, established trees like I do, they can pile up on a lawn rather quickly. Leaves should be removed by raking or mulching into the lawn by mowing in order to prevent damage to lawns over the winter from snow mold. If you choose to mulch leaves via the mower, raising the mower height two to three times will help break down the leaves and incorporate them. According to our turfgrass specialists, mulching grass clippings and leaves does not contribute to thatch development in the lawn.

Fallen leaves release phosphorus and nitrogen when they decompose, which can help with lawns and also with gardens if they’re added to garden sites as a soil amendment. When leaves are intentionally blown into streets, they can be a pollutant to surface water as they are washed away via storm drains.



JenREESources 11/8/21

Nitrates and Grazing Forages: the fact that we haven’t had a hard frost is throwing a wrench into grazing covers. For those with cattle on cover crops, please be aware of the potential for nitrate and/or prussic acid poisoning with the light frosts. Nitrogen moves from the roots up the plant. When a frost occurs, nitrates accumulate in the plant, and, we had lighter frosts for several days in a row. For sorghum species where prussic acid poisoning is also of concern, we say to wait at least 5 days before returning animals back to the field after frost. And, for every light frost, the 5 day window resets until a hard freeze occurs (at 26F or lower). It’s been hard to find any recommendations regarding nitrate accumulations in brassicas after frost…and what happens to the nitrates after a frost. We know weathering in general reduces nitrate levels in plants by spring. Just advising to watch cattle with these light frosts-especially those in seed corn fields that had milo in corners.

A study conducted by Mary Lenz, grad student for Dr. Mary Drewnoski, found brassicas accumulate more nitrate than small grains, millet, sorghum/sudan grasses, or cover crop mixes, and that 48% of the brassica samples submitted to Ward Labs were considered “highly toxic” for nitrate levels compared to 20-28% of other cover crop species. Yet what’s interesting is how often fields in the “highly toxic” level (or with no testing) are grazed with no impacts. Dr. Mary Drewnoski has shared that brassicas and immature grasses are also high in energy and that cattle consuming diets high in energy can handle more nitrates. So, this may be why we thankfully don’t see more issues grazing turnips and radishes high in nitrate. She shared other factors for consideration are that cattle are selective and will graze the upper-most parts of plants first which are lower in nitrates, grazing animals eat more gradually than those receiving hay, and the high moisture forages that are grazed release nitrates at a slower rate than with dry forages like hay. Ways to reduce nitrate concerns when grazing include: turning out cattle full before grazing the covers, using lower risk cattle such as open cows and stockers (as pregnant cows have risk of abortion when fed forages high in nitrate), graze lowest nitrate fields first for adaptation, graze highest nitrate concentration fields lighter so not as much forage is removed, or there’s also the option of not grazing fields that are very high in nitrates.

Corn Nitrogen Calculator: For those desirous to calculate N rates utilizing different sources and prices, the UNL nitrogen calculator has been updated. Before, it didn’t allow for the prices we currently are experiencing and there’s been some updates to the manure credits. The UNL nitrogen equation itself has remained the same, and honestly, I still say it’s conservative. For example, the nitrogen credit from soybeans is 45 lbs/ac in the equation. However, on-farm research conducted in the mid-2000’s in this part of the State found a credit of 1 lb for every bushel up to 60 bu/ac was achievable in irrigated soybean.

To utilize the N calculator, go to: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/soils, scroll down to “Corn Nitrogen Recommendations Calculator” and download the excel spreadsheet. You will want to open the “October 2021” version. They’re currently working on an online calculator for the future.

A few questions I received this week: “How much yield loss should I expect if I reduce N rates?” and “With higher corn prices, how much profit is one giving up with lower yields due to lower N application?”. These are valid questions and ones every operation will have to determine for oneself. That’s where on-farm research is really helpful too.

We have lots of data through the years of comparing a grower base rate +/- 30 lbs. of nitrogen mostly showing no yield differences. Most of this data is from the 1990’s for this part of the State, with data from the past 10 years from other parts of the State. In 2020 and 2021, a grower conducted nitrogen rate studies in York and Hamilton counties using his rate +/- 50 lb N. As I’ve shared the results with growers with the above-mentioned questions, they’ve been surprised at the yields and profits. I’ve summarized the grower’s results at jenreesources.com and also showed the profit based on today’s fertilizer prices. There’s a few ways to approach this data. It shows minimal benefit to yield and profit for increasing nitrogen application above the grower’s rate. Thus, there may be opportunity this year for those who have been over-fertilizing for high yield goals to try cutting back. It also shows that yield is reduced to some extent by reducing N rate 50 lb/ac below what the grower’s rate typically would be; however, with today’s prices, profit may be comparable. We also have several farmers who are already doing a great job with fertilizer rate for their realistic yield goals, so there may not be room to cut back. Appreciate all the farmers conducting on-farm research so we have data to share to help in answering questions!


*Please overlook my formatting issues below. There are no links even though some of the wording keeps appearing in blue instead of black.

2020 York County Spring Anhydrous Nitrogen Rate on Corn
This study essentially showed what the previous studies had: that less nitrogen can be applied without hurting yield or net return. 50 lb/ac N above the grower rate resulted in reduced profit. Field yields were impacted by the July 9, 2020 wind storm. This study is sponsored in part by the UBBNRD.

Pre-PlantIn-seasonlbs N/bu grainYieldMarginal Net Return
110 lb N/ac spring NH3 (March)25 lb N/ac as UAN May0.73 C184 A$599.14 A ($849.30)
160 lb N/ac spring NH3 (March)25 lb N/ac as UAN May0.98 B189 A$600.38 A ($837.80)
210 lb N/ac spring NH3 (March)25 lb N/ac as UAN May1.23 A191 A$594.88 A ($810.70)

*Values with the same letter are not statistically different at a 90% confidence level. Marginal net return based on $3.51/bu corn, $8/ac for the anhydrous application cost, $0.28/lb N as anhydrous, and $0.35/lb N as UAN. (Updated marginal net return using $5.20/bu corn, $0.75/lb N as anhydrous and $1/lb N as UAN.)


2020 Hamilton County Evaluating Nitrogen Rate and Timing on Corn
This study showed no difference in nitrogen timing nor rate on yield and showed less nitrogen can be applied without impacting yield. Yields were impacted by the July 9, 2020 windstorm. This study is sponsored in part by the UBBNRD.

Pre-PlantIn-seasonlbs N/bu grainYieldMarginal Net Return
180 lb N/ac Fall NH325 lb N/ac as UAN May1.03 B199 A$629.85 A ($866.80)
230 lb N/ac Fall NH325 lb N/ac as UAN May1.27 A201 A$625.49 A ($839.70)
180 lb N/ac Spring NH325 lb N/ac as UAN May1.02 B201 A$638.30 A ($877.20)
230 lb N/ac Spring NH325 lb N/ac as UAN May1.24 A206 A$641.70 A ($865.70)
120 lb/ac N Spring NH325 lb N/ac as UAN May
60 lb N/ac side-dress V8
1.00 B205 A$645.69 A ($880.00)
170 lb/ac N Spring NH325 lb N/ac as UAN May
60 lb N/ac side-dress V8
1.24 A206 A$633.50 A ($847.70)

Values with the same letter are not significantly different at a 90% confidence level. Marginal net return based on $3.51 bu corn, $0.28/lb N as anhydrous ammonia, $8.00/ac for anhydrous application, $0.35/lb for UAN applied with herbicide or as a sidedress, and $3/ac for sidedress UAN application. (Updated marginal net return using $5.20/bu corn, $0.75/lb N as anhydrous, $8/ac for anhydrous application, $1/lb for UAN applied with herbicide or as sidedress, and $3/ac for sidedress UAN application.)


2021 Hamilton County Spring Anhydrous N Rate Study

20% wind damage from July 9, 2021 storm. Updated marginal net return using $5.20/bu corn, $0.75/lb N as anhydrous shows essentially no difference in profit for any yield differences observed:

100 lb-N/ac: $1053.40
150 lb-N/ac: $1052.30
200 lb-N/ac: $1051.20


2021 York County Spring Anhydrous N Rate Study

20% wind damage from July 9, 2021 storm. Updated marginal net return using $5.20/bu corn, $0.75/lb N as anhydrous:

130 lb-N/ac: $900.90
180 lb-N/ac: $969.10
230 lb-N/ac: $924.70



2021 York County Timing by N Rate Study

Spring 140 lb/ac: 110 lb/ac N as anhydrous and 30 lb/ac N with herbicide

Spring 190 lb/ac: 160 lb/ac N as anhydrous and 30 lb/ac N with herbicide

Split 140 lb/ac: 50 lb/ac N as anhydrous, 30 lb/ac N with herbicide, and 60 lb/ac N sidedressed at V8

Split 190 lb/ac: 100 lb/ac N as anhydrous, 30 lb/ac N with herbicide, and 60 lb/ac N sidedressed at V8

This study is sponsored in part by the UBBNRD. Updated marginal net return using $5.20/bu corn, $0.75/lb N as anhydrous, $1/lb N as UAN and $8/ac for the sidedress UAN application:
140 lb/ac spring: $1109.50
190 lb/ac spring: $1077.20
140 lb/ac split: $1096.90
190 lb/ac split: $1054.20

JenREES 10/31/21

It’s been a very nice fall with gorgeous colors on the trees the past month! It’s also hard to believe tomorrow is Nov. 1. While there’s a Nov. 1 date for fall anhydrous application in area NRDs, we also recommend watching soil temperatures and apply when soil temperatures are 50F or lower. This is because nitrifying bacteria slow due to the cool temperatures and by 40F, the process of nitrification is near zero. Nitrifying bacteria are ones that, through a biological process called nitrification, convert ammonium to nitrate. They multiply and complete this nitrogen conversion quickest in warmer soil temperatures (low to mid-80’s). The cooler weather this week will help continue to drive soil temperatures down. At time of writing this, they’re setting at 49F at the 4” depth for last week in the York area. You can view daily and weekly average soil temperatures at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/soiltemperature. Also, a quick plug to consider an N rate study this coming year. It’s fairly easy to do…apply your current rate in one pass, compare that to 30 or 50 lbs. under the next pass, and alternate it across the field. For example, if you had a 16 row applicator and an 8 row combine, each harvest pass then becomes a comparison to the rate next to it (paired comparison) for on-farm research. You could also do 3 treatments comparing the same amount over and under your current rate using this protocol. A number of protocols have been updated at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/farmresearch/extensionprotocols.

With cooler temps, it’s also important to safely graze frosted sorghum species. More info here: https://go.unl.edu/d8kv.

Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Symposium will be held Nov. 8 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at UNL’s East Campus Union in Lincoln. The event will also be livestreamed. There is no charge and lunch and parking will be provided. The event will be structured as a series of panel discussions. Audience members will hear from farmers who are getting started in both traditional and non-traditional operations. They’ll also hear about financial and risk management resources available to farmers as they grow their operations. To register or watch the livestream, go to: https://ianr.unl.edu/young-beginner-and-small-farmer-symposium.

Flyers for both the events I mention next are found at https://jenreesources.com. On November 8-11, there’s a Holistic Management Workshop held in different locations throughout the State. On November 12 is an opportunity for youth and families to hear about animal behavior from Dr. Temple Grandin at 10 a.m. at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds in Kearney. Dr. Grandin brings awareness about autism and its relation to animals. She also will be the keynote speaker for the Kids and Dreams Autism Conference: http://www.kidsanddreams.org/.

Crop Input and Cost of Production Workshops will be held Nov. 9-11 in Hastings, Beatrice and the Mead area, which includes a virtual option for producers from across the state to join. Crops and agricultural economics extension educators will cover the forces that are driving input costs and commodity prices, discuss fertilizer recommendations based on soil test results, and provide information on preparing cost of production budgets. Attendees are welcome to bring their latest soil tests. Registration is required at: 402-472-1742 or https://cap.unl.edu/crop-input-and-cost-production-workshop-registration. The workshops will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 9 in Hastings at the Community Services Building on the Adams County Fairgrounds, 947 S. Baltimore Ave.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 10 in Beatrice at the Gage County Extension Office, 1115 W. Scott St.
  • Thursday, Nov. 11 near Mead at the Eastern Nebraska Research, Extension and Education Center, 1071 County Road G., Ithaca, Nebraska. (Face coverings required.) (Livestream option available for Nov. 11. Register here to receive the Zoom link.)

Cover Crop Grazing Conference will be held Nov. 16 at the Eastern Nebraska Research, Extension and Education Center near Mead. The conference kicks off with registration, refreshments and a trade show at 9 a.m. at the August N. Christenson Building. Educational programs are from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and include a producer panel session, small group discussion and a live field demonstration. Featured presentations include “Early and Late Season Grazing of Cover Crops” with Dr. Mary Drewnoski and “2022 Cash Rent and Flex Lease Arrangements” presented by Jim Jansen. Registration is $10 and can be paid at the conference via cash or check. Please pre-register at: https://extension.unl.edu/statewide/enre/2021-cover-crop-grazing-conference/





JenREES 10/24/21

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:

JenREES 10/17/21

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.


JenREES 10/10/21

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.

From UNL 2021 Guide for Weed, Disease, Insect Management page 93
From UNL 2021 Guide for Weed, Disease, Insect Management page 139

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.”

JenREES 10/3/21

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.”

JenREES 9/26/21

Harvest: Good to see harvest going and have heard some great bean yields! Also heard numerous reports of how hard it was to cut beans with green stems, bean stems falling over due to stem borer and winds, and beans running 9-11% moisture. There’s some chalky looking beans due to Diaporthe complex and purple seed stain was also observed in some varieties. Harvest safety is still the greatest priority. I don’t think I’ve heard of so many combine fires in one week as what we experienced last week in the U.S. and Canada, including several in Nebraska. Hopefully all the people were ok and the farmers can get going again somehow. Also, this past week was brutal driving with dust flying on gravel roads with sun glare at dusk. Lights on, stop at intersections and railroad crossings, please be safe!

Armyworms: Hopefully this is my last week talking about them! The questions have differed each week, so I share in hopes that it helps. We’ve just not seen these types of numbers for decades (from what I’m told). What has been interesting is hearing stories. One person who called me relayed a historical account of families and neighbors staying up all night driving up and down the roads squashing armyworms to keep them from crossing the roads into other fields. That’s dedication!

We put together a FAQ in CropWatch of common fall armyworm questions at: https://go.unl.edu/skx2. Last week the calls transitioned to pasture questions around products labeled for pastures with 0 day grazing restrictions with cattle present. Warrior II, Mustang Max, Beseige, Prevathon have 0 day grazing restrictions. You can see additional active ingredients, grazing, and haying restrictions at this website from Auburn Extension.

(Photo caption: armyworms in a pasture. You can typically find them in the edges between the brown/green. A lot of stress already in pastures due to drought. New growth observed shortly after insecticide application to kill the armyworms.)

Planting small grains and armyworms: I need to clarify from last week’s article that I didn’t mean to imply they needed to be seeded last week or immediately, just that they should still be seeded if that was in the plan. Ideally, yes, the sooner after harvest they’re seeded, the better establishment that typically occurs. But there are risks that one also needs to consider, such as the Hessian fly free date for wheat. For those who called, we discussed an option of a ‘wait and see’ approach where small grains for either grain or cover crop could still be planted in early October and still obtain good growth and establishment. Waiting after the Hessian fly free date (which occurs during various dates in late Sept. for Nebraska) and until the first full week of October may allow for enough cooler weather for the fall armyworms to head south and allow newly planted small grains to be established. We honestly don’t know when they will move south. Delaying till early October is one approach instead of trying to get small grains planted and being worried about scouting them for armyworms as they emerge while you’re also trying to harvest.

Cover Crop Seeding Rates for small grains (rye/wheat/triticale) is another question I’ve received. If seeding for erosion or even weed control, seeding rates of 20-35 lb/ac. are often fine. If you are receiving payment for EQIP or from another entity such as NRD or Pheasant’s Forever, they may specify the rate that needs to be seeded. For grazing, UNL typically says aim for a seeding rate of 60-70 lb/ac, but I’ve heard producers use anywhere from 40-80 lb/ac. Two publications with considerations for planting cover crops after corn or soybean can be found here: https://mccc.msu.edu/statesprovince/nebraska/.

Nebraska Extension Dean Interviews: If you’re interested, you can find information about the candidates here: https://ianr.unl.edu/dean-and-director-nebraska-extension. The public is invited to a meet and greet for the NE Extension Dean candidates on October 1, 6, and 8 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Raising Nebraska (state fairgrounds) in Grand Island. There is also a zoom link for these. If you’re interested in attending via zoom, please let me know and I’ll send you the links. At a time when Extension systems have been cut across the country and with systems in other states moving to regional instead of county-based models, it’s a critical time in Nebraska Extension’s history for the future of what Extension in Nebraska looks like. Would encourage you to attend and ask questions if you’re interested.

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