Category Archives: Forages

JenREES 7-21-19

Heat and Pollination: With last week’s heat and anticipated heat later this week, we were receiving questions regarding the impacts of heat and humidity on pollination. You can view the entire article in this week’s CropWatch at https://cropwatch.unl.edu. Key points include: Heat over 95°F depresses pollen production and prolonged periods of heat can reduce pollen production and viability. When soil moisture is sufficient, one day of 95-98°F has little or no impact on yields. After four consecutive days, there can be a 1% loss in yield for each day above that temperature. Greater yield loss potential occurs after the fifth or sixth day. High humidity, without a drop in humidity during the day, can delay pollination or prevent pollen from leaving anther sacs. We’ve been blessed we only had days of extended high heat around pollination, received a break in the heat in addition to weekend moisture.

Insect Pests: From light trap reports, peak western bean cutworm (WBC) flight appears

00100lPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20190719171010306_COVER.jpg

I’m pulling for the soldier bug predator 🙂

to have occurred last week, so scout for egg masses and live larvae with a 5-8% treatment threshold. Thistle caterpillars grew rapidly last week. Others are with me in considering spraying closer to 15% (instead of 20% threshold) with stressed fields from flash drought and/or off-target dicamba injury that don’t have canopy cover yet. In CropWatch, check out the articles regarding scouting for grasshoppers in field borders and what to expect for insects depending on crop growth stages yet this year.

Cattle Losses from High Heat: If the recent heat/humidity conditions are determined to be an extreme weather disaster event, then livestock losses would be covered by the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). Livestock producers who lost livestock should document losses in the expectation that they may be covered by LIP and contact your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) to report those losses.

South Central Ag Lab Field Day Aug. 1: View current field trials on improving crop production and profitability at UNL’s South Central Ag Lab (SCAL) on August 1 near Harvard. Guests can customize their day to select the tours they’re most interested in. Presentation topics include: Cover crops, pollinators and weed management; European corn borer, corn rootworm, and cover crop insect control; Herbicide-resistant weed management; Assessing injury and management decisions in corn and soybeans; Corn and soybean disease updates; Sensor-based nitrogen management in irrigated corn; Corn stover harvest management and impacts; mobile beef lab and hail machine demonstrations. Registration is at 8:30 a.m. followed by tours through 4 p.m. Lunch and refreshments are included. CCA credits have been applied for. For more info. see the program brochure and register at: https://go.unl.edu/2019scalfieldday.

Silage Webinar Aug. 2: With this year’s challenging weather and the need for forage, there may be more opportunities for harvesting corn for silage. Aimed at feedlot, cow-calf, and dairy producers, a silage webinar on August 2 at Noon CST will focus on moisture at chopping, chop length, inoculants, proper packing, silage covers and more. Pre-registration for the webinar is necessary and can be done at: https://go.unl.edu/vau7.

Trees Losing Leaves: The wet spring and humidity allowed for fungal diseases on leaves of shade trees with flowering pears and crabapples in particular dropping leaves early. I’ve also had a number of questions regarding red maple leaves (Autumn Blaze and Sunset) suddenly turning brown on trees. These symptoms may also be experienced on ash, tuliptree, and other maples. We think it’s environmental stress from having so much cool and wet early to almost a ‘flash drought’ situation in eastern Nebraska prior to this weekend’s rains. Sarah Browning has been recommending watering and mulch as the best ways to reduce stress and to prevent additional root death and tree decline. I’ve been seeing new growth starting to occur on trees so my hope is if your tree is experiencing this, that 10-14 days from now you will also see new growth occurring on your trees.

JenREES 6-23-19

Crop Updates: It was nice to see corn greening up and getting some growth this past week! Also on people’s minds is the 45 day post-planting application deadline for RUP dicamba herbicides. The announcement that Risk Management Agency (RMA) adjusted the 2019 final haying and grazing date from Nov. 1 to Sept. 1 for prevented planting this year opened up additional options for our farmers affected by flooding and/or excess rain. An additional option was that “silage, haylage, and bailage should be treated in the same manner as haying and grazing this year. Producers can hay, graze or cut cover crops for silage, haylage or baleage on prevented plant acres on or after September 1 and still maintain eligibility for their full 2019 prevented planting indemnity.”

So how did this change things? Many I talked with, including my family, were originally planning on going with cool season covers like oats planted the first week of August. However, with the ability to harvest a cover crop for forage on Sept. 1, interest increased in utilizing warm season cover crops. For those planning on haying, our forage specialists recommend using millets. The regrowth after haying could then be used for grazing in the late fall/winter. They also said if you’re planning on a mix, don’t add brassicas into whatever you decide to hay as they don’t dry down and tend to create a moldy spot within hay. If you’re looking at grazing only, sudangrass, sorghum sudan, millets, and/or mix with other species are great options. Forage sorghum is a great option for silage.

The other consideration is that some of this ground going into prevent plant already had PRE herbicides applied, making legal options for cover crops that could be grazed or hayed difficult. So Friday was kind of a crazy day for me walking people through options. Honestly, sometimes corn or milo for silage ended up being the most feasible option based on labels. There are also acres of corn and bean fields that were drowned out due to recent flooding and are now considered a “failed crop” by FSA. Herbicides that were applied can make planting covers in those fields difficult too. Some farmers had contracts with seed companies providing free seed for replant. Thus, once again, corn for silage seemed like a feasible and economical option. So, I called Jeff Peterson at Seward Co. FSA to see if this could be an option. He said that it would be a feasible option in 2019 if it was also approved by the person’s crop insurance agent. The first step is to contact your crop insurance agent to discuss your options for prevent plant and/or failed crop. Then go to your FSA office and fill out their form for failed crop and/or prevent plant. Your crop insurance company may require a letter from Extension stating that corn can be used as a forage crop for silage. Again, it will be important to talk with your crop insurance agent and your FSA office about your options for the fields in your counties as I can’t guarantee these are options for every situation.

Tree Problems: The rain and humidity have allowed for numerous fungal diseases on our evergreen and deciduous trees. On deciduous trees, leaves with black/brown spots may be found. We don’t typically recommend fungicides for them and if the diseases get bad enough, the leaves may eventually fall off the trees early. A new flush of leaves typically follows 10-14 days later. On evergreen trees, we’re seeing a number of needle blights and shoot tip blights. We do recommend fungicide applications for them (typically in April or May). However, it is recommended to repeat them every 3-4 weeks when frequent rains occur. Product options for most evergreen diseases include chlorothalonil or a product containing Copper that is labeled for evergreen tree diseases. Bordeaux mixture is often recommended, but I have a hard time finding anyone that carries that.

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Sirococcus blight of spruces is one of many diseases being seen this week due to frequent rains and high humidity. Tips of spruce needles appear to be red/brown/purple and dying along with drooping new growth on trees.

Also, be checking trees for bagworms. They’re later this year and just forming new bags. In order to see them, what I do is walk up to the trees (especially cedars or spruces) and just watch the branches for any movement occurring on them. If you’ve had a bagworm problem in the past, what you’ll see is tiny, new brown bags moving as the larvae is building a new bag. I have more info and a video to help visualize what to look for: https://jenreesources.com/2015/06/27/bagworms-in-evergreens/. The best time to spray them is when the bags are less than ½ inch in size. More info and products can be found here: https://go.unl.edu/rgju.

Herbicide Grazing Restrictions

Forage Feed Grazing Restrictionscattle in corn stalks

Replant Options Rotation Restrictions-long

Grateful for a nice week for harvesting and for the good yields being reported!  It’s also good to see cattle being turned into cornstalks.  A reminder to read herbicide labels to understand if there’s any grazing restrictions from corn and soybean herbicides applied in-season.

It’s also important to look for any grazing restrictions on fall-applied herbicides to control marestail and other germinating weeds.  These restrictions can also be found in the Forage Feed Grazing Restrictions in the UNL Guide for Weed Management.  The forage, feed, and grazing restriction only applies to the crop for which the herbicide was applied.  When it comes to grazing cover crops planted into these residues, one must use the replant/rotation restriction guidelines found on the herbicide label and in the UNL Weed Guide: Replant Options Rotation Restrictions-long.  I apologize as these scanned blurry; hopefully you can zoom in ok to read what you need.

If the label doesn’t specify any restrictions, then it should be ok. If you want to be on the safe side, a rule of thumb is to use the pre-harvest interval for the amount of time to wait before grazing stalks.  Some labels will say that residue should not be grazed or baled and fed to livestock.  Sometimes studies were actually conducted to know there is a safety concern.  In other cases, the chemical company may not choose to conduct all the studies the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required for labeling due to high costs.  If that’s the case, the EPA requires the strongest restrictive language be placed on the label. 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.

Cow-Calf College

This looks like an excellent workshop for anyone in cow-calf production.  Hope to see you there!
(Click on the agenda below to enlarge the view).

Cow-Calf College

Feeding Storm Damaged Corn; a Few Thoughts from a Veterinarian

With the recent sprouting of grain on the ears and with more producers now learning what percent loss their crop insurance is determining for each field, I felt it would be good to talk about feeding this damaged grain again.  This post is written by Dr. Dee Griffin, DVM at UNL’s Great Plains Veterinary Education Center at Clay Center.  I appreciate Dee’s willingness to provide this information from a Veterinarian’s perspective.  Hail Damaged Corn with fungal growth.

Also a note, to date we have not found Aspergillus in our hail damaged fields.  The grain molds we are seeing are Diplodia and Fusarium.  Diplodia does not have the potential to produce mycotoxins.  Fusarium has the potential of producing fumonisin, vomitoxin, or DON.  You can bring forage samples to Husker Harvest Days this coming week to the IANR building and have them tested that day for nitrates for free if you wish.

Dr. Griffin writes:  Any time a growing grain producing plant is damaged there is a potential for changes in the plant or grain on the plant contaminated with fungus/molds to grow.  The most common change in stressed plants is the accumulation of nitrates.  Aspergillus or Fusarium will be the most likely fungi to be contaminating harvested grain from storm damaged corn in our area.

It is really important to know that most molds are not toxic.  Therefore just because mold growth is observed doesn’t mean the feedstuff will harm livestock.  Even though a mold may not be toxic it can still cause feed refusal.  Not all livestock species are equally sensitive to mold contamination and not all production groups are equally sensitive. For instance pregnant and young animals are more sensitive than mature non-pregnant animals.

Nitrate accumulation in stressed plants can cause be harmless or cause serious harm depending on:

  • the level of nitrate in the feed harvested from stressed plants,
  • on the life stage of the animal,
  • and on the species of animal.

Nitrates accumulate in the forage portion of the plant, so nitrates are not a concern in grain harvested from stressed plants.  Additionally, it is important to know nitrate levels will always be highest in the bottom part of the plant and lowest in the top foliage.  Nitrate testing is simple and reasonable quick.  Your local UNL Extension Educator can help you locate the nearest facility that does forage nitrate testing.

Feed containing nitrate levels less than (<) 1000 parts per million (ppm) seldom are associated with an animal health concern.   Feed containing nitrate levels greater than (>) 1000 ppm may be a concern in younger animals and levels >2000 ppm should not be fed to pregnant cattle.  Feeder cattle are reasonably resistant to nitrates but feeds containing >4000 ppm should not be fed to any animals.

Molds in corn grain of concern could be either Aspergillus or Fusarium.  Your UNL Extension Educator can be a great help in identifying mold growing on ears of your storm damaged corn before the grain is harvested.  Both of these fungi are potentially dangerous when found in livestock feed.  Toxins produced by molds are extremely stable, therefore if a significant level is found, the level will not decrease over time.  Silage produced from damaged plants and grain harvested from mold infested plants is potentially a problem.

Good silage management is critical to lessen the likely hood of continued mold growth after ensiling.  Proper packing to remove oxygen and improve fermentation which ensures the pH will be below 4.5 is critical.

You can’t look at harvested grains from storm damaged fields and visually identify mycotoxins.  Corn grain from storm damaged fields can … and mostly likely should … be tested for mycotoxins before feeding to livestock.  Your local UNL Extension Educator, nutritionist or veterinarian can help with mycotoxin testing.

Proper sampling is crucial to getting reliable results back from the laboratory.  A “grab sample” is not adequate. The sample submitted to the lab should be representative of the entire load, bin, pit or pile of feedstuff being evaluated.

The steps are simple

  • If sampling a field before harvest, sample at least two dozen ears that appear to have mold growth and submit all the ears to the laboratory for mycotoxin evaluation
  • If sampling after harvest, take multiple samples uniformly from throughout the silage or grain in question
    • The sample should be taken from what would be used in a single load of feed
    • That means, if five loads of feed could be made from a 50,000 lb semi-load of corn, collect not less than five samples from the semi-load of corn
    • The sample should be based on sample volume not weight
      •  For instance, collect “coffee can” size samples
    • Mix all the all samples together that were collected from the feed in question
      • For instance, if 10 coffee can size samples were collected from across the face of a silage pit, pour all 10 samples onto  a plastic sheet and thoroughly mix them together
      • Next, collect a single sample from within the 10 mixed samples
    • Submit the single sample to the laboratory

The laboratory results usually will provide some recommendations for how the feedstuff can be used.  There is an old saying, “Dilution is the solution …” meaning in this consideration, that many feedstuffs that contain higher levels of mycotoxin than would be acceptable, might be usable if a sufficient amount of non-mycotoxin contaminated feedstuff is used to dilute the mycotoxin.  Your UNL Extension Educator, nutritionist or veterinarian can help evaluate the possible uses of a damaged feedstuff containing unacceptable levels of a mycotoxin.

Forage Options After the Storm

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Town Hall Discussion on such short notice last week!  It was cool watchingPanel discussion during storm damage meeting everyone come together to discuss the concerns at hand.  Here’s a recap of some of the discussion regarding forage options.  We also have provided numerous articles this week and will again next week at UNL’s CropWatch website.  I will continue to post more about our local conditions on my blog.

Forage Options

Dr. Bruce Anderson explained that the best potential usage of storm damaged corn that won’t go for grain is to use it for silage.  He stressed that the silage has to be made at the correct moisture and packed well-and that standing corn could be over 80% moisture right now.  He mentioned the easiest and maybe the best way to lower moisture content is to simply wait until some stalks start to turn brown. This will also allow the surviving corn to continue to add tonnage.  If waiting isn’t desirable, reduce moisture by windowing the crop and allow it to wilt one-half to one full day before chopping. You also could mix grain or chopped hay with freshly chopped corn to lower the moisture content. It takes quite a bit of material for mixing though — about 7 bushels of grain or 350 pounds of hay to lower each ton of silage from 80% to 70% moisture.  When making silage, he recommended adding the inoculant during the chopping process to allow for proper fermentation.

He mentioned haying and baling were an option but that he was concerned about the amount of time it would take for the stalks to dry down at the current moisture.  He recommended crimping the stalks if at all possible to help aid in the drying process.  Be sure to test it for nitrates before feeding.

Grazing might be the easiest way to use damaged corn, and this is a good way to extend your grazing season. You might even plant some corn grain or sorghum-sudangrass or oats and turnips between rows to grow more forage for grazing if you can wait until late fall before grazing. Be sure to introduce livestock slowly to this new forage by feeding them before turning them in to reduce the chances of digestive problems.  Also, strip graze the field to reduce trampling losses and get more grazing.

Shredding was mentioned as an option in some fields.  Dr. Bob Klein observed two years ago in the wind storm out in western Nebraska that shredding of plant material led to piles after wind drifted loose material in the field.  That made for a difficult planting situation the following year.  Making earlage was also mentioned as an option.

Additional Resources:

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