Author Archives: jenreesources

Coping with Stress During a Crisis  

Good resources for managing stress during a crisis.

Views from VanDeWalle

With the flooding and blizzard conditions affecting a large portion of the state, this week I looked up some Extension resources and decided to write some of the research ideas for dealing with stress and how to help the whole family cope. First of all, our Nebraska Extension publication, Effective Management of Stress & Crisis points out numerous tips that come from worldwide research on strong families. It involves research from more than 24,000 family members in 35 countries. While the publication identifies 18 ideas, I selected the top ten that interest me. For the remainder of the ideas, go online to the publication which can be accessed through our extension.unl.edu website and search for “Effective Management of Stress & Crisis.”

close up composition conceptual creativity Photo by Pedro Figueras on Pexels.com

Ideas for coping with stress and crisis include:

  • Look for something positive to focus and focus on that positive element in…

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JenREES 3-10-19

Been hearing reports from our cattle producers about calf loss prior to birth and also after birth. Wet hair coats, low air temps with the windchills we’ve experienced have been brutal. We would recommend reporting your losses. We realize that the Livestock Indemnity Program has criteria for wind chills that may not have been met for each part of the State. However, the unusual weather events this year compounded upon each other led to a very extreme winter and we feel additional factors should be considered. Some Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices have contacted us for additional considerations as well. There’s a team of us working together on this and we hope to release information for consideration by local Farm Service Agency offices and others.

Tyler Williams, Extension Educator in Lancaster County who specializes in weather, shared the following stats with the team of us working on the additional considerations for FSA. Since February 1st:

  • Above normal snowfall: 5” (West) to 20” (East) above normal
  • Total Snowfall at least 10” for most of Nebraska – Eastern Nebraska 20-30”
  • Average temperature was 10°F North/East and 20°F South/West
  • Min temps were 10-15°F below normal, Max Temps 10-20°F below normal
  • 20 (Southwest) to 30 (Northeast) days the max temp was below freezing
  • 6-10 (South) to 20-24 (North) Days the temp dropped below zero
  • 10-15 days with measurable precipitation

In the last two weeks:

  • Minimum temps dropped to 20 below Central and West, 6-12 below East
  • 4-6 (North) to 7-11 (South) days with min temp above zero i.e. 8-10 (North) to 3-7 (South) days the temp dropped below 0
  • 4-7 days with measurable precipitation – Almost every other day
  • 0 days temps were above 32°F, except for NE/KS border and Southwest Panhandle
  • Snowfall 2 (Southwest) to 10 (Central/East Central) inches above normal
  • Snowfall ranged from 2-4” in Southwest and Northeast to 7-12+ in Northwest, Central and East Nebraska
  • Wind chills dropped to 20-30°F below zero
  • Cattle comfort index in “extreme” category

I know a lot of crop farmers have been concerned about field work and how far behind they feel due to the fall. Right now our livestock producers could really use some encouragement too with the brutal calving season, ice/snow covered stalks, high hay prices and blowing through feed with the added energy requirements due to the cold. Another thing that put this winter into perspective for me was seeing the tornado damage in parts of the U.S. There’s just been a lot of crazy weather! Al Dutcher’s forecast doesn’t sound great for the next few weeks either and I realize our next challenges may include potential flooding and muddy lots. However, for now, just seeing the sun shine does wonders in lifting my spirits and have heard several others remark on this too!

Kiwanis and SCCDP Ag Banquet: The 51st Annual Agriculture Recognition Banquet will be held on Monday, March 18 at the Seward County Fairgrounds in Seward. The banquet begins with wine and cheese at 5:30 p.m. and a prime rib meal at 6:30 p.m. Rancher, humorist and cowboy poet R.P. Smith will be the evening’s entertainment. The Brett Borchers family of Utica will be honored as the 2019 Kiwanis Farm Family. Bill Hartmann, owner of Hartmann Construction, will receive the 2019 Seward County Chamber and Development Partnership Ag Business award. Fifteen Seward County students will also be recognized by the Briggs family and the Seward County Ag Society for their agricultural achievements. Tickets for the prime rib dinner are limited to 500. Contact Pam Moravec, banquet chair, (402) 643-7748, or Shelly Hansen, (402) 643-3636, for tickets or information about becoming a banquet sponsor. Tickets are $30 each. The Kiwanis Club of Seward will use the proceeds from the event to support the youth of Seward County through a variety of programs and events, including the Agronomy Academy.

JenREES 3-3-19

I’m assuming we can say March came in like a lion, so hopefully, it goes out like a lamb! My thoughts have also been with our livestock producers, especially everyone calving with this extra difficult winter. It’s also been an interesting winter programming season for me-probably the worst travel wise ever with some scary trips. Grateful winter programming is concluding and extra grateful for safety on all the bad roads. My out of state travels often were to speak on palmer amaranth management. I don’t claim to be an expert on this, just seek to read, observe, and learn for helping our farmers. Well, palmer had another ‘win’ with the announcement this week of a population in Kansas being confirmed to be 2,4-D and dicamba resistant. Populations in Kansas had already been confirmed to be resistant to ALS, atrazine, glyphosate, and HPPD chemistries. The 2,4-D and dicamba resistant population was found at K-State Agronomy’s long-term (45 year) conservation tillage study in southern Riley County. This study compares long-term monocrops to various crop rotations. The seeds from plants that survived in the field were collected, grown, and exposed to dose rate studies at the K-State Agronomy Department greenhouse. Twenty-one days after treatment, the resistant progeny survived up to a 16X rate of 2,4-D (8 lb acid equivalent/acre (ae/a)) while susceptible progeny were killed with 1 lb ae/acre or less. The seed from plants that survived in the field were also treated with 0.5 lb ae/acre rate of dicamba with 81% of the plants surviving. Studies are ongoing to determine the level of resistance and additional cross-resistance to other growth regulator (Group 4) herbicides.

That’s why when I talk about palmer, waterhemp or frankly any of our weeds, to me, it’s Palmer plants after harvestabout a system’s approach. We can’t rely on herbicides alone. I think of weed control beginning at harvest by not combining patches of weeds or extra weedy endrows. There’s research documenting 99% of palmer seed survives the combine. There’s also research proving seed dispersal from the combine throughout the field the following growing season by counting plants that resulted from the first several combine passes. Instead, I recommend to consider disking once or shredding those areas at harvest. Then get a small grain seeded to reduce light interception onto the soil surface. Why? Natural and red light has been proven by the research to stimulate germination of palmer seed more than soil temperature. Light interception onto bare soil can allow for a flush of palmer to germinate. So in managing palmer, I’m thinking of anything we can do that can delay or reduce germination. Palmer seed in general is short lived…7-10 years. But plants are prolific seed producers. A plant inside the field can produce up to ½ million seeds. The large plant at the field edge can produce up to 1.8 million seeds. Adding a small grain such as wheat or rye for grain back into the rotation can delay palmer germination for a few months as the crop canopy delays germination until after harvest. Research and observation has proven this as well. The exception to this has been when tram lines were in the field as the bare soil in the tramlines has allowed for palmer germination. After using a burndown to kill the germinating palmer flush after small grain harvest, a cover crop can keep the ground covered for the rest of the season and allow for managed livestock grazing if desired. Even if the small grain crop isn’t taken for grain, the cover alone helps reduce light interception onto the soil surface and palmer germination.

Going back to the tillage, the southern U.S. has gone back to the plow. We can’t afford that. There’s also many no-till guys where disking is a hard option to consider. Several research studies showed that a 1 time tillage to bury the seed at least 3-4” and keep it buried for at least 3 years reduced palmer seed viability by 80-100%. That’s why I’ve mentioned the tillage. I did ask Dr. Jason Norsworthy from the University of Arkansas about the possibility of just shredding weed patches at harvest instead. He doesn’t have research on that and I don’t have observation but it could be another option to consider instead of running the combine through weed patches at harvest. Regarding herbicides, I’m so proud of an increasing number of farmers last year using pre’s with residual followed by posts with residual. Herbicides are part of the strategy, but we’ve got to look at the whole system. And, we’ve got to rotate our use of dicamba! We rely on dicamba a lot for our corn apps. But if we use it in corn and soybeans, we have the potential in 3-4 years to have resistance develop here. Take Home Considerations: palmer/waterhemp/weed management begins at harvest by not combining major weed patches; Consider one-time tillage (or shredding) of endrows on fields with heavy palmer pressure. Then plant a small grain to remove light interception; Plan herbicide program for burndown, pre with residual, post with residual, and potentially a second post if in beans; Narrow row beans may help with canopy closure; Consider adding a small grain in the crop rotation; Use at least two effective modes of action; Rotate use of dicamba to maintain as a tool. What is perhaps positive is we have an opportunity to learn from the southern U.S. and manage palmer better here! If you missed the palmer amaranth webinar by Dr. Jason Norsworthy, you can view it here: https://unl.box.com/s/al5zrhxjwml7s31liv1bryne320bf6r6.palmer take home.PNG

JenREES 2-24-19

Change. Sometimes it can motivate us to move forward and sometimes we can allowIMAG7539.jpg unwanted change to cripple us. The theme of the Women in Agriculture conference last week was “Taking Charge of Change”. There’s a number of changes we all face, especially for those involved with agriculture. Many are outside of our control yet we can control how we respond. We were challenged to write down 2-3 changes currently occurring in our lives and then what parts of those changes, if any, we had any control over. The first keynote speaker then built off of that in speaking on “Getting Clear on our Impact”. He was talking about life’s changes and our yearly goals. In clarifying impact around our goals, he mentioned three steps including: thinking long term, clarifying values/intentions, and optimizing for the starting line. The first two were pretty intuitive for me, but I wasn’t sure what he meant by the last one till explaining. In optimizing for the starting line, it’s about taking the first step. How many of us have made goals that have seemed too daunting to achieve such as fitness, nutrition, or other personal goals? He gave the example of a man who made the goal to run 5 miles every day for a year. Even though it’s measurable, it may not be achievable every day. He said the past three years, he made the goal each year to play his fiddle. He had been a fiddle player before having children but failed to even play once in spite of the goal. “Optimizing for the starting line” is about taking the first step. For the first man, it became simply putting on his running shoes. Once the shoes were on, it was the first step to any type of exercise. For himself, it was scheduling a time each day to only ‘pick up his fiddle’. Once he picked it up, it was the first step to begin playing again and he has been successful at playing since. The thought of this is so simple yet profound. It makes a lot of sense. In these cases, it can be change that’s positive by taking the first step, including in changing negative habits. It goes along the lines of other things we’ve heard such as “just making one’s bed” to complete one task, etc. For me, it will be to pick up a note card which is the first step to writing long-overdue thank yous and notes of encouragement. What first steps would allow you to achieve some of the goals you have in life or more positively help you deal with change occurring in your life right now?

Women’s Farmers & Ranchers College Program: Another opportunity for women in agriculture is upcoming on March 14. Michele Payn, founder of Cause Matter Corp., will be speaking to women on “Gate to Plate” at the next Farmers & Ranchers College. This informative and light-hearted program will start with registration at 6:00 p.m., a light meal and program to follow. The venue will be Lazy Horse Vineyard & Brewery near Ohiowa, NE or at 211 Road 20, Ohiowa, NE. This program is for women involved in agriculture to learn strategies for sharing their story of agriculture to today’s consumers. This program is free, however space is limited so please RSVP to 402-759-3712 or at go.unl.edu/farmersrancherscollege. Cause Matters Corp. focuses on addressing food myths, developing science communication, and connecting farm to food. In each of these core areas, Michele helps organizations clearly identify issues, understand their audience and grow solutions. Michele’s goal is to help you communicate “why your cause matters” – whether you’re a scientist, dietitian or in agribusiness. Michele’s resources and website can be found at http://causematters.com. For those of you on Twitter, Michele also founded the weekly #agchat conversation.

CropWatch  and BeefWatch Podcasts: Dr. Roger Elmore, Extension Cropping Systems Specialist joins Michael Sindelar, Extension Educator, to talk about Corn Planting and Early Growth Stages in this month’s CropWatch podcast. You can listen to it at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2019/cw-podcast-corn-planting-and-early-growth-stages. The monthly BeefWatch newsletter now has entire articles available via podcast. You can click here to subscribe if you’re interested: https://beef.unl.edu/beefwatch-podcast?platform=hootsuite.

Grain Marketing Workshop in David City: Are you getting the most profit out of your grain? A free Nebraska Extension Grain Marketing Workshop will help you build your own marketing plan for next year’s crops. The workshop will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 5 in David City at the Hruska Memorial Public Library, 399 Fifth St. Austin Duerfeldt, Nebraska Extension ag economist and extension educator, will lead the morning session on how to develop a grain marketing plan. In the afternoon participants will get to test two scenarios using the Marketing in a New Era simulator. MINE is a commodity simulation game designed to help producers develop and improve their commodity marketing skills. Also speaking will be Eric Erickson, Risk Management Consultant at Thrive Ag LLC. The workshop, workshop materials and lunch are free. Seating is limited to the first 20 registrants and please RSVP to: Melissa Bartels at melissa.bartels@unl.edu.

JenREES 2-17-19

We had our 4-H Festival tonight in York. IMAG5247Sometimes I need to be reminded how cool ag is and not take it so easily for granted. Watching the kids exclaim “that is so cool!” when looking at fungal spores under the microscope or seeing both youth and parents be amazed to see the root and early leaves with soybean dissection repeatedly brought a smile to my face. Any youth ages 6-18 are welcome to join me every month for Crop Science Investigation (CSI). At each meeting, the youth become detectives to solve a real-life problem about plants. Learning is hands-on, youth don’t have to be in 4-H to attend, and also can be from outside of York County. Our next meeting will be March 25th from 5-6 p.m. at the York Co. Extension Office and every third Monday of the month after that. Please contact me at jrees2@unl.edu to RSVP or for more information.

On-Farm Research Brainstorming Meeting: Last week I shared about on-farm research and the updates that are occurring this week throughout the State. Because we cover so many research projects at those updates, there’s not a lot of time for growers to just brainstorm and talk about projects they’re considering for this year. So, I’m having an on-farm research brainstorming meeting on Monday, February 25th from 10 a.m.-Noon at the 4-H Building in York. I will also provide lunch at Noon for those attending in person. We will also have a distance connection available for Extension Offices in other parts of the State and I can share that link with anyone who is unable to attend in person. Please RSVP to me (jrees2@unl.edu) if you plan on attending or if you would like to join us via weblink. Purpose: Brainstorm on-farm research topics to conduct this year and better determine who is interested in which studies to see if we can get several to conduct the same study. A number of growers have contacted me since harvest with project ideas. What has been shared thus far include: interseeding covers at V3-V5; biological products including some heard about during No-Till on the Plains; renewed interest in applying sugars; soy pop looking at impact on soybean stem borer; economics of lower corn pop with high flex hybrid under irrigation vs. current pop; second year for some on early vs. later maturity group soy planted early; Chris Proctor and my interest in small grain or other cover on soybean endrows (document palmer); comparison of sorghum vs. corn in non-irrigated setting looking at economics for Nebraska. Come with any topics you’re interested in discussing and looking forward to the discussion!

Soybean Seed Quality: The wet fall brought challenges with harvest and seed quality.

Soybeans with purple seed stain (left) and soybeans showing signs of seed decay due to Phomopsis disease complex. (Photo by Jenny Rees)

Purple Seed Stain (left) and Phomopsis Seed Decay (right). Photo by Jenny Rees, Nebraska Extension.

Not surprisingly, we’re hearing about reduced germination for soybean seed next year. There’s an article in this week’s CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu that goes into more details. Essentially in seeds infected with fungi causing purple seed stain and also phomopsis seed decay, reduced germination is occurring. Steve Knox, manager of the Nebraska Crop Improvement Association shared that while a few lots came in at or above 95% germination, results are averaging in the mid 80% range. In a typical year, soybean seed lots tested by the Nebraska Crop Improvement Association (NCIA) range from 88% to 98% germination. This year samples thus far ranged from 43% to 98% germination. The minimum germination for certified soybean seed is 80%, as set by the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA). The Nebraska Department of Agriculture has set a minimum germination standard of 75% for soybeans. On a phone call, Steve mentioned that all the moldy and dead seed were removed from the samples before conducting germination tests. They did test the purple seed stained soybeans and found little to no germination reduction in infected seeds. Purple seed stain is seed transmitted; thus, if you have seed lots that are infected at planting, you may notice it at harvest as well. You may also have noticed soybean seed last fall that had very tightly wrinkled seed coats. This was due to the continual wetting/drying process beans went through with rain and wind events. Steve said soybeans with those characteristics didn’t germinate at all thus far but there’s few soybeans with those characteristics in most seed lots tested thus far. Iowa State research found that adding a fungicide seed treatment to lower quality seed could increase the germination percentage up to 15%. However, a fungicide seed treatment won’t improve germination of dead or dying seeds. Seed treatments should be considered when germination rates are below normal and when you’re planting into cold, wet soils. It’s important for growers to check the germination rate of soybean seed this year. Regarding any adjustments for seeding rates, when we conducted on-farm research soybean seeding rate studies, we did not adjust for the germ on the bag (seeded 90K, 120K, 150K, and 180K with no adjustments). However, every seed lot had at least 90% germ in those studies. We’re not recommending to adjust for 80-98% germ if the grower seeds 150K+ because there’s already enough seed planted without adjustment based on our research. However, those planting less than 150K may wish to consider adjusting this year if germination for their seed is in the 80-89% range.

JenREES 2-10-19

On the first day I started Extension nearly 15 years ago, I met two other Extension Educators and a farmer in a Clay County farmer’s field. The farmer was cooperating with us in an on-farm research project. It was great for me to see farmers answering their own questions by partnering with Extension to conduct field-scale, replicated research on their own farms. It also became a key tool for me to learn via field observations and build relationships with growers.

Any of you who know me know on-farm research is something in which I’m pretty passionate! The reason? You’re all going to meetings and reading information regarding various practices/products and you may wonder if any of those things will work on your farm. You may try various tests on your own, which can provide some information. But because fields are so variable, scientific tests can’t be conducted by just splitting fields in half or without true randomization and replication. Another reason I believe in on-farm research is because we answer much with minimal money invested! I think of numerous studies our farmers have partnered with us in which University faculty wouldn’t have been able to obtain grants because they were too applied. However, in farmers utilizing their equipment on their own ground partnering with Extension to collect and analyze data, we’ve been able to conduct these studies with minimal cost other than some additional time and travel to fields. We’ve tested numerous products including soybean inoculants, growth promoters, soil health, and nutrient management ones. We’ve tested various practices such as populations, planting dates, planting depths, nutrient timing, cover crops, and much more. A good portion of our results can be found at http://resultsfinder.unl.edu. That site is still missing the first 15-20 years of Greater Quad County on-farm research studies, but everything is there from 2010 on. (I hope to one day help get the rest added).

I’m so grateful for all of our on-farm research cooperators-especially to all of you who have worked with me-for your investment of time and trust in partnering! We can’t do this without you! And, I hope more growers consider partnering with us in on-farm research in the future!

On-Farm Research Updates: Next week will be our Nebraska On-Farm Research updates. It’s an opportunity to hear from the growers themselves who conducted studies in 2018 regarding why they chose their studies, how they conducted them, and what their plans are for the future. I really enjoy these meetings and learning from the discussions! While many of the studies may show there’s no differences, those are still answers to specific questions! Research projects include: cover crops, variable rate seeding, planting populations, starter fertilizer, fungicide applications, alternate crop rotations, seed treatments, and sidedress nitrogen management technologies including drone and sensor-based, variable-rate nitrogen management. Certified Crop Advisor Credits have been applied for and are pending approval. Call (402) 624-8030 or e-mail onfarm@unl.edu to register. Locations and times are listed below. There’s no charge with lunch included due to the partnership of the following: Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff, and the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission.

  • Feb. 18: Grand Island, Hall Co. Extension Office, College Park, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Reg. 8:30)
  • Feb. 19: Norfolk, Lifelong Learning Center, Northeast Com. College, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Reg. 8:30)
  • Feb. 20: Beatrice, Valentino’s Restaurant, 701 E. Court St., 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Reg. 8:30)
  • Feb. 26: North Platte, West Central Research & Extension Center, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. CST (Reg. 8:30)

Soybean Yield Gap On-Farm Research Project: A number of you have helped through the years in providing field history information for Dr. Patricio Grassini for the Soybean Yield Gap project. That’s the difference between current farm yield and potential yield as determined by climate, soil, and genetics. An analysis of survey responses from over 2000 soybean producers indicated a 20%-30% yield gap for soybean. In Nebraska, three practices have been identified as being important for improving yield and producer profit: planting date, seeding rate, and the use of foliar fungicides and insecticides. An on-farm research study in eastern Nebraska is seeking 20 growers to test “improved” practices versus “baseline” practices in 2019 and 20 again for 2020. A PDF handout with the regions and more details can be found at: https://go.unl.edu/h8hc. Please let me or your local Extension Educator know if you’re interested in this!

JenREES 2-3-19

Ag Land Management Webinars: Extension Ag Economists will be presenting quarterly webinars The first episode on February 18th at 6 p.m. CST will examine recent trends in Nebraska cash rental rates and considerations for updating agricultural leases for 2019. Future episodes will address landlord-tenant communication, lease decision-making issues, and seasonal lease considerations. The webinars will conclude with an “Ask the Experts” session where participants can get answers to their land or lease questions. The webinars can be viewed online at agecon.unl.edu/landmanagement. Webinar dates are: Feb. 18, May 20, Aug. 19, and Nov. 18.

RUP Dicamba Information: Several have asked this question: if you plan on applying RUP dicamba products this year, you do need to take RUP dicamba training again. It’s an annual certification which can be obtained through online or face to face training. NDA also shared the 2019 record keeping form which can be found at: http://www.nda.nebraska.gov/pesticide/dicamba/RUP_DicambaApplicationRecord2019.pdf. A team of us also updated a Frequently Asked Questions document which can be found at:  https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2019/2019-faq-rup-dicamba.

Shark Tank Coming to UNL:  If you’ve got an innovative idea or product you want to develop commercially, start prepping your sales pitch. ABC’s “Shark Tank” television show is coming to Lincoln on April 5-6, courtesy of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Entrepreneurs from across Nebraska and the northern Great Plains are encouraged to come to Lincoln to present their ideas and products to “Shark Tank” casting producers. The one- to two-minute pitches are the first step in being considered for pitching on the show’s 11th season. On the show, “sharks” — successful business people and potential investors — hear pitches and question presenters, seeking out those most likely to be successful and warrant investment. For the first time, an open Shark Tank Casting Call is taking place in Nebraska. This is your opportunity to help us showcase the entrepreneurial spirit of the heartland. The Heartland Shark Tank, presented by the Engler Program and local partners, is more than a simple pitch. It’s a unique opportunity to network with other small business owners, hear from local small business leaders, celebrate midwest entrepreneurship, and take your shot at Shark Tank. You can learn more at: https://heartlandsharktank.com/.

UNL’s 150th Birthday Celebration: The University of Nebraska was chartered on February 15, 1869 and charged with its land-grant mission of public education and service to Nebraska.  In 2019, we mark a 150-year legacy of improving the quality of life for Nebraska and beyond.  From February 11-15, UNL is celebrating Charter Week and Charter Day on Feb. 15. You can learn more about all the activities at: https://n150.unl.edu/. Specifically on the 15th is an open house at the Wick Alumni Center from 10 a.m.-Noon where attendees can enjoy a cupcake and view the Nebraska charter along with other historic items on display. Tune in to a live stream of the event on the official University of Nebraska–Lincoln Facebook page. Dairy Store N150 ice cream called “Nifty 150” will be served from 1-2 p.m. at the East Campus Dairy Store. Then at 7:30 p.m. is the Charter Day grand finale at the Lied Center for Performing Arts with a multimedia concert showcasing the university’s incredible history with over 300 artists, two world premiere musical works, fireworks and a toast to the next 150 years.

There’s also a new book ““Dear Old Nebraska U: Celebrating 150 Years,” published by the University of Nebraska Press that is available for sale. The book traces the history of UNL from one building in a small prairie town to more than 43,020 acres of campuses statewide. The book is available for purchase in the University Bookstore, local booksellers and through the University of Nebraska Press website at https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/university-of-nebraska-press/9781496211811/. A book signing is planned as part of the N150 Charter Day Open House, 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 15 at the Wick Alumni Center, 1520 R St.

JenREES 1-27-19

Farm Bill: I need to clarify something I mentioned last week and I apologize for misunderstanding this. I heard the farm bill presentation for the third time this winter and after asking this question, realized I had misunderstood and incorrectly informed you all last week. This is in regards to base acres and which crops were planted the past 10 years. I incorrectly told you that (for example) if you had sorghum base acres and hadn’t planted sorghum the past 10 years, that your payments would be reduced. It is true that this idea was proposed in negotiations (so keep in mind for the future). However, that idea did not pass; the correct statement is if you planted a crop that is not approved for program payments, your base acre payments will be reduced. So, for example, if you planted industrial hemp instead, which currently is not an eligible crop for program payments, your base acre payments would be reduced. So just wanted to correct this on my end.

York County Corn Grower Tour Feb. 5: The York County Corn Grower’s Association is sponsoring a tour on February 5th. We will meet at the York County Extension Office at 6:45 a.m. and plan to leave for Grand Island by 7:00 a.m. Morning tour stops include the Case IH Axial-Flow Combine Plant followed by Hornady which produces bullets, ammunition, and reloading products. Lunch will be held at Kindaiders Brewery in which attendees will also receive a tour. The group will then tour Klute Manufacturing near Bradshaw which produces Warren dump boxes, Circle D and H&H trailers, pickup flatbeds, and vehicle accessories. The final stop will be the York Agricultural Education Program which was recognized as one of the top six programs in the nation by the National Association of Ag Educators. Attendees must wear closed toed shoes and be able to walk without a cane/walker based on the requirements of the places we’re touring. Please RSVP no later than Feb. 4th to the York County Extension Office at (402) 362-5508.

Nebraska Ag Technologies Association Conference: Learn about the latest developments in precision agriculture technologies January 31 at the Nebraska Agricultural Technology Association (NEATA) Conference. The group’s annual meeting and agriculture industry conference will be held at the Kearney Holiday Inn and Conference Center in Kearney. Conference topics will include precision economics, nutrient and water management, data collection, and precision equipment. Featured guest speakers include Brian Arnall, precision nutrient management extension specialist, Oklahoma State University; Jim Smith, executive director, Blueprint Nebraska; and Cathy Anderson, chief specialist, Nebraska State Farm Services Agency Office. Attendees will also be able to choose from 10 breakout offerings. The conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To view the conference program and register, visit https://neata.org/. The fee is $175 when pre-registering and $195 the day of the conference. Students may register for $25.

Managing Ag Land for the 21st Century: This workshop for current and future landowners and tenants will cover current trends in cash rental rates, lease provisions, and crop and grazing land considerations. There will be two meetings in the area. One on Feb. 12 at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva. The other will be held on Feb. 25 at the Butler County Event Center at the Fairgrounds in David City. Both meetings will begin with registration at 9:15 a.m., with the program starting at 9:30 a.m., and ending by 3:00 p.m.  There is no charge for these programs. To attend in Geneva, please RSVP at (402) 759-3712. To attend in David City, please RSVP at (402) 367-7410.

Hamilton County Ag Day will be held Feb. 13 with registration at 9 a.m. and program from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The program will include updates from Nebraska Corn Growers, Farm Service Agency, and Natural Resources Conservation Service. Additional topics include Managing Soil Microbes 101, Stalk and Grain Quality Concerns with Corn, Land Rental Considerations for 2019, Pivot Wheel Track Management, Corn Stalk Grazing Economics, Benefits of Corn Stalk Grazing, and a weather update from Al Dutcher. There is no charge for the program but please RSVP to (402) 694-6174 for lunch count.

Nebraska Cover Crop and Soil Health Conference will be held Feb. 14 at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center (former ARDC) near Mead. The program runs from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. with registration at 8:30 a.m. Topics and presenters include:  “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life,” David R. Montgomery, professor of geomorphology, University of Washington; “Rebuilding and Maintaining Life in the Soil,” Jay Fuhrer, soil health specialist, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bismarck, North Dakota; “How My Farm has Responded to Cover Crops and Crop Rotation,” Ray Ward, founder, Ward Laboratories; “Northeast Nebraska Farmer’s Perspective on Cover Crops,” Jeff Steffen, Crofton farmer; “How I Graze My Cropland Without Owning Livestock,” Scott Heinemann, Winside farmer; and a farmer panel. There is no fee to attend, but individuals must pre-register by 5 p.m. Feb. 8 to ensure meals and resource materials are available. Seating is limited. To register, call 402-624-8030, email cdunbar2@unl.edu or use the form at https://go.unl.edu/tmj5.

York County Corn Grower Tour Feb. 5

Please RSVP to the York County Extension Office if you’re interested in attending!

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JenREES 1-20-19

Stress. We all have it in life. I didn’t really think about how stress can be good until my colleague Brandy VanDeWalle asked us some questions during her presentation at the Cow-Calf College. She asked us what we look like with good stress. Thinking about it, good stress allows me to be that much more productive in achieving tasks. I’m not a procrastinator, but long gone are the days where I used to color code my planner. My experiences with the military and being in Extension allowed me to give all that up for being spontaneous and flexible with the changes and deadlines placed upon me each day. So that’s me and good stress. We were also asked what we look like with bad stress. Many of us shared we tend to withdraw from others and be shorter/abrupt in responses than we intend. Weather perhaps plays a huge role in adding stress to lives for those of us in agriculture.

Research has shown each person has around 70,000 thoughts per day with 80% of the more repetitive thoughts being negative. Wow-80% negative! That blew me away. But they don’t have to be. Research also showed that taking a 10 minute walk reduced cortisol (stress hormone) in the brain by 50-70%. Even if a person doesn’t walk, taking a break can help. Last week we lost a couple of Nebraska farmers and my heart goes out to their families. The National Farm Medicine Center in Wisconsin tracked farm suicides during the 1980’s in the Upper Midwest and found that the suicide rates were 58 for every 100,000 farmers and ranchers. Suicide rates today are more than 50 percent higher than they were in the 1980’s at the peak of the farm crisis.

It’s so hard to know what others are going through; so often we wear masks. I’ve done this too. We’re all prone to much pride in life, especially in the midst of struggling. I challenge us all to do more in 2019. Let’s pay more attention to those around us, spend more time connecting, be more honest about our situations. There’s so many times a simple text, phone call, email, or visit changed the outlook on my day. Last week a farmer shared how the weather made for a challenging time with calving; a neighbor stopped by and brought him a slice of breakfast pizza. That simple act of noticing his struggle and taking time to talk changed his outlook. So let’s check in with each other more and have the courage to be honest about how things are truly going. There’s also a number of free resources for help including: Nebraska Farm Hotline – 1-800-464-0258; Farm Mediation Clinics 1-800-464-0258; Nebraska Legal Aid: http://www.legalaidofnebraska.com.

Economics: In thinking through options for lowering input costs, there’s several things that come to mind. Some may even be good on-farm research projects to test. One consideration with the new farm bill is the fact that there will be an increase in CRP acres. So, producers have a decision to make regarding potentially enrolling acres into CRP. And, if doing that, perhaps converting some land next to that area into an annual forage system is another option if you have cattle. I will go into the details of this in another column. We have had some guys doing this and it’s just another alternative to consider.

Reducing soybean populations without affecting yields has been proven via on-farm research for 12 years now. I’ve documented this regardless of what has happened in-season. We even had a York county producer who did this study in 2018 and raised 93 bu/ac with a final average stand of 67,000 plants/ac! And, for those with dectes stem borer, my observation has been that dectes doesn’t penetrate the stems as easily on these thicker stems in lower population fields. I don’t have any research, though, so if you’re interested in testing that, please let me know.

Common thinking is that max yield provides max returns. There’s some things like early soybean planting that I will always push for increasing yields. But otherwise, I tend to look at that statement differently and ask if we always have to look at max yields. What if we looked at maximizing economics instead? I realize a lot of seed purchases have been made. There’s some strong flex hybrids that yield really well in non-irrigated environments. A couple of farmers have also mentioned this to me. We’re curious what would happen if we put them under irrigation at lower populations. It could even be an on-farm study to compare a low pop (28K or less), lower input system to one’s current system with higher inputs. However, the question would be which is most economical in the end. Please let me know if you’d be interested in trying this.

I’ve also had a handful of guys mentioning they were interested in sorghum because of the reduced input costs. For those of you who I worked with during the last farm bill who kept sorghum base acres, I mentioned it may be wise to plant sorghum somewhere on those farms before the next farm bill because we never know what will happen regarding payments. We’ve learned in this new farm bill that there will be a payment reduction for any crop not grown in the last 10 years that you have base acres for. So that may be another reason to consider planting some sorghum for the future. If it’s been awhile since you’ve planted sorghum, there’s a free sorghum symposium on January 24 in Grand Island at the Extension Office. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and you can RSVP at: 402-471-4276.

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