Category Archives: JenREES Columns

JenREES 1-19-20

This week was asked to share on these additional Jan./Feb. meeting opportunities. Also, Please Save Feb. 3 for the York County Corn Growers Tour! I’m working on the tour details-will share next week.

A few times a month, I receive questions about hops or hemp. For those interested in hops, the Nebraska Brewer’s Conference will be Jan. 27-28 at the Younes Convention Center in Kearney. You can learn more details here: www.growbrewnebraska.com.

Merrick Co. Ag Day is Jan. 28 at the Fairgrounds in Central City. Topics include weed control in prevent plant acres, farm bill, pivot wheel track management, understanding the hydrogeology of wells in Central Nebraska, groundwater protection/water quality sampling and testing, and domestic/farm level water treatment equipment. There is no charge and please RSVP for meal to 308-946-3843.

72nd Annual York-Hamilton Cattlemen’s Banquet will be Jan. 28 at the Holthus Convention Center in York beginning with social at 6:30 p.m. and prime rib meal at 7 p.m. Entertainment will be Jay Hendren, a farmer from Ohio.  Hendren uses his experiences in farming to tickle the funny bones of audience members of all walks of life. Hendren has entertained groups across the country from banquets and conventions to comedy clubs. Tickets are $25 per person. Sponsorships are also available that include two banquet tickets and recognition at the banquet for $150.  Cattlemen’s Banquet tickets can be purchased from any of the York-Hamilton County Cattlemen’s Directors including Brian Blase of Hordville; Brock Ekhoff and Terry Ross of Aurora; Jeff Underwood of Exeter; Allen Klute and Mark Klute of Hampton; David McDonald of Phillips, Jeff Meradith, Kim Regier and Josh Chrisman of York; Kim Siebert of Henderson, plus the UNL Extension Offices in York County and Hamilton Counties.

Lambing and Kidding School Jan. 25: The closest location to this area will be in Broken Bow at the Fairgrounds. Registration begins at 10 a.m. Topics include: Keeping ewes healthy through disease control and treatment (Dr. Brian Vander Ley DVM, Great Plains Educational Center); Economical feeding programs for the doe (Dr. Steve Hart, Goat Extension Specialist OK); Economical feeding programs for the ewe (Dr. Ivan Rush, sheep producer, Scottsbluff); Treating chilled newborns, tubing lambs/kids/Q&A session (local veterinarians). The program is followed by a hands-on tour to Beth & Hannah Smith’s Farm 44306 Road 786 Broken Bow. More info and pre-register at: ne.sheep.goat@gmail.com or 308-386-8378.

2020 Sorghum Symposium will be held at the NE College of Technical Ag in Curtis on Jan. 30th. I don’t have details regarding the time, but program highlights include: weather (Al Dutcher); sorghum production and management (Dr. Brent Bean, Agronomist); D.C./Farm Bill Update (Jerad Reimers, Office of Congressman Smith); grain sorghum variety performance in 15” and 30” rows (Strahinja Stepanovic, UNL); sorghum TAPS program panel; how to win an argument without arguing via social media (Nate Blum). The annual meeting will follow the program and several vendors will be present. There’s no charge but please RSVP for meal count to sorghum.board@nebraska.gov or 402-471-4276.

Annie’s Inspired: Feb. 3rd from 6-8 p.m. is the next Annie’s Inspired Workshop for women involved with agriculture. It will be held at the Library in David City. Glennis McClure will cover Farm/Ranch budgets and financials. These workshops include a light supper, plenty of networking time and hands-on learning. Cost is $5 to cover supper. Please RSVP to 402-367-7410 or 402-362-5508 if you’re interested in attending!

JenREES 1-12-20

Great to see and meet so many at the York Ag Expo last week! And, to the 156 of you who attended pesticide training, thank you again for your kindness and grace with the packed room and overflow to the hallway. Sharing this week on February upcoming ag programs and adding the flyers to https://jenreesources.com.

Jan. 28th is the Farmers and Ranchers Cow-Calf College at the US Meat Animal Research Center near Clay Center. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. with program beginning at 9:55 a.m. Topics include: Forage Sampling, Understanding Annual Cow Costs, Questions to Ask Your Vet before Calving Season, Blockchains: Connecting Consumers with their Food (IMI Global), and Alternative Meats and Alternative Statistics: What the data says. There is no charge and meal is provided. It’s best to pre-register to save time and you can do so at https://go.unl.edu/frcollegereg. You can also RSVP at (402) 759-3712.

Feb. 4 is the Hamilton County Ag Day at the fairgrounds in Aurora (Reg. at 9 a.m. with program beginning at 9:30 a.m.). Attendance at this event qualifies for UBBNRD nitrogen management training. Many have asked about nitrogen research and this event is geared towards providing that. Topics include: In-season nitrogen application, management to reduce nitrate leaching, fertigation equipment & procedures for in-season management, crop nutrients from manure, cover crops and nitrogen management, optimum irrigation application, on-farm research for evaluating N management, land rental considerations for 2020, in addition to updates from Nebraska Corn and USDA. There is no charge.

Feb. 13 is the Nebraska Cover Crop Conference near Mead with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. and program from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. This year’s focus is on interseeding cover crops into corn/soybean. Loran Steinlage from Iowa will share what he’s doing with 60” row spacings and keeping something growing in his fields 365 days of the year. Noah Seim from Merrick County (30” rows for a few years) and Jay Goertzen from York County (36” rows for 1 year) both have interseeding projects with Nebraska on-farm research and will share their experiences. Additional Topics/Speakers include: Finding the right fit with cover crops (Abbey Wick from NDSU), Selling cover crop seed in Nebraska (Steve Knox with Nebraska Crop Improvement), Accelerating soil health adoption by quantifying economic and environmental outcomes (Brian Brandt, Ohio), Review of cover crop demonstrations in the Central Platte NRD (Dean Krull), Cover crops by helicopter: FAQ (Brent Wulf, Hexagon Helicopters, Inc.), and Soil Health (Aaron Hird, NRCS). There is no charge for this event including meal and it’s a large event. Registration is required by Feb. 7. More info. and register at: https://extension.unl.edu/statewide/enre/nebraska-cover-crop-conference/ or 402-624-8030.

Nebraska On-Farm Research Updates: Believing in the value of on-farm research, these are among my favorite meetings each year! These meetings give you an opportunity to hear from your peers regarding research they’re trying in cooperation with Nebraska Extension. We often wouldn’t have research on topics many of you ask me about if it wasn’t for our on-farm research cooperators, so I’m grateful to them! Dates include: Feb. 18 at Holiday Inn Express in Beatrice, Feb. 19 near Mead at ENREC, Feb. 20 in Norfolk at the Extension Office, Feb. 26 in Kearney at the Extension Office, and Feb. 28 in York at the Holthus Convention Center. The Feb. 28 meeting in York will be unique focusing only on cover crop and soil health research and that meeting also qualifies for UBBNRD nitrogen management training. Each meeting runs from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (registration at 8:30 a.m.). Meal is included and there’s no cost thanks to our partnerships with Nebraska Corn, Soybean, and Dry Bean Boards and Growers’ Associations. Please pre-register at least 2 days in advance for meal planning purposes to: onfarm@unl.edu or 402-624-8030.


IMG_20200106_084421cow-calf collegeweed science schoolAurora AgDay2020Nebraska Cover Crop Conference2020 On-Farm Research UpdatesBroiler Manure Application Flyer

JenREES 1-5-20

Winter programming is upon us and there’s plenty of opportunities to attend meetings somewhere nearly every day! Below is more information regarding some January opportunities from Extension. Also, thank you to those who provided feedback to my end of the year survey! It really is short, so if you haven’t provided feedback, please consider doing so at https://slido.com and enter the code 4EXT. It really helps me as we have to justify the ways that we serve our constituents in our annual reports. Thank you!

Crop Production Clinics (CPC) provide an opportunity for commercial, non-commercial, and private pesticide applicator recertification. CCA credits can also be obtained. Besides the ‘traditional’ track of insect, disease, and weed science information, topics at the York location (Holthus Convention Center) on Jan. 14 also include: farm bill info, financial considerations for 2020, extreme weather impacts on ag, cover crops and forage management, manure and other soil amendments, pivot performance, and sprinkler packages. Registration at: https://agronomy.unl.edu/cpc.

Nebraska Crop Management Clinic (NCMC) at the Younes Convention Center in Kearney Jan. 22-23 expands the offerings of the CPC into a 2-day conference with additional outside speakers. Commercial, non-commercial, and private recertification training are options in addition to obtaining up to 14 CCA credits (over 2 days) and chemigation training. Registration at: https://agronomy.unl.edu/ncmc.

Good Farmer, Great Manager: I’m really excited to bring this program to the area! This program isn’t about teaching specific tools like Quicken, Quickbooks, or others. It’s about better understanding the true financial position of the farm. Keeping good records make it possible to track an operation’s true financial position. Inaccurate records can lead to misguided management decisions. Tina Barrett, Executive Director of the Nebraska Farm Business Inc., will teach this class on Jan. 23 (1-5 p.m.) and 24 (8 a.m.-Noon) at the 4-H Building in York. It is required to attend both days, cost is $50, and the class is limited to 25 participants. Topics include understanding what are good tax records, getting good tax records, moving to management records, and financial statements and ratios. You can register at: https://wia.unl.edu/GFGM. You can also hear Tina share more about this class at: https://youtu.be/LaVZRPzG1HM.

Weed Science School will be held at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead, starting at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 3.45 p.m. on January 29th. “Dr. Bryan Young, professor of weed science at the Purdue University is an invited speaker to present his research experience for dicamba off-target movement in soybean,” said Amit Jhala, extension weed management specialist and program coordinator. Tim Creger, pesticide/fertilizer program manager with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, will be discussing NDA’s experience investigating dicamba complaints the last three years, including what evidence they look for, types of violations, and the regulatory action taken in response to violations. Additional topics include: Overview of Weed Control and Herbicide-Resistant Weeds in Nebraska (Amit Jhala); Herbicide Discovery in an Era of Industry Acquisition and Merger (David Simpson, senior product development manager, Corteva); Corn Ear Formation Issues (Jenny Rees); Soybean Response to 2,4-D or Dicamba (Stevan Knezevic); Weed Identification (Ethann Barnes and Parminder Chahal Agronomy research assistant and associate);  Managing Waterhemp (Chris Proctor, weed science extension educator); Nozzles, Nozzles, Nozzles: Selection and How to Use (Bob Klein, Extension western Nebraska crops specialist). There is no cost to attend; register at https://agronomy.unl.edu/weedscienceschool. Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) Continuing Education Units will be available.

JenREES 12-29-19

Often the phrase “there’s always next year” is heard when hard times hit individuals. This speaks to the optimism many have! 2019 has been challenging for many, perhaps also cumulative from previous years. There’s no promise of life being easy on this earth; it’s broken as is everything in it. Challenges, adversity provide potential to build something rich and lasting-things like one’s faith, relationships, and character. As we enter this new year, may we seek to live life with purpose, focus on the important things, and dig deep/come alongside others in the midst of difficulty. Wishing everyone a blessed 2020!

Extension Survey: Being funded by tax payer dollars, Extension employees need to justify the work we do in reports. Whether you only interact with me by reading this column or have asked me horticulture or ag related questions, I’m asking for your feedback. Please go to: slido.com, join with code 4EXT and fill out a quick, anonymous, 7 question survey for me! Thank you!

Winter Programs: Those in agriculture in this part of the State should have received (or will soon receive) a mailing from your local Extension Office that shares our winter program brochure, a pesticide letter, and additional program flyers. Following is what’s happening the week of January 6th.

Landlord/Tenant Lease Workshops: These 3-hour workshops will cover: ag finance and the real estate market; current trends in ag finance across Nebraska; negotiation skills for effectively managing land leases; and more. No charge. Jan. 7, 1:30 p.m., Extension Office in Seward (402-643-2981); Jan. 8, 9 a.m., 4-H Building in York (402-362-5508); and Jan. 15, 1 p.m., Fairgrounds in Clay Center (402-762-3644).

York Ag Expo: Come out to the York Ag Expo at the Holthus Convention Center January 9th and 10th! The Expo features a number of vendors and free ag appreciation lunches both days catered by Kerry’s. On January 9th, I’m providing private pesticide applicator training at 9:30 a.m. and on January 10th, chemigation training is provided at 9:00 a.m. You can find more information at: https://yorkchamber.org/event/ag-expo/. RUP Dicamba training is not offered at the Expo. You can complete that at other face to face trainings or online at: https://pested.unl.edu/dicamba after Jan. 1.

Private Pesticide Training: Training dates/locations are available at: go.unl.edu/2020pat. Cost for face to face training is $40. Options for initial license include attending a face to face training or taking the online course (cost $75) at pested.unl.edu. Options for renewal include: attending a face to face training, taking the online course, or attending a Crop Production Clinic (Beatrice Jan. 10, York Jan. 14, cost $80) or the Nebraska Crop Management Conference in Kearney (Jan. 22-23) agronomy.unl.edu/cpc.

Chemigation Training: To apply chemicals/fertilizer through irrigation systems, chemigation certification is needed. View dates/locations for initial and recertification training at: go.unl.edu/2020chemigation. Those recertifying may also complete the training and test online without testing with Extension: https://water.unl.edu/article/agricultural-irrigation/chemigation. Wait till after Jan. 1, 2020.

Annie’s Inspired Workshops: These provide women involved with agriculture an opportunity to network and learn together while having fun! All workshops have a hands-on component and will be held from 6-8 p.m. beginning with a light meal. Cost is $5 per person per session. Join us for Beef 101 at the Polk County Fairgrounds in Osceola, Jan. 6th! Please RSVP: (402) 367-7410 or (402) 362-5508.

Good Farmer, Great Manager is taught by Tina Barrett, Executive Director of Nebraska Farm Business, Inc. The difference between a good farmer and a great manager often comes down to knowing the true financial position of a farm. This class will be held in York from 1-5 p.m. Jan. 23 and Jan. 24, from 8-Noon at the 4-H Bldg at Fairgrounds in York. The course fee is $50 per participant; limited to 25 people. Learn more and register at: https://wia.unl.edu/GFGM. Tina shares more at: https://youtu.be/LaVZRPzG1HM.

JenREES 12-22-19

Thanks to Randy Pryor, Extension Educator Emeritus, for reviewing this article. Also, appreciate the growers who shared data and Farm Service Agency (FSA) personnel from several counties who answered my questions. Here’s more farm bill information.

PLC Yield: A few weeks ago, I mentioned you can obtain a sheet from your local FSA Office which shows PLC yields and necessary yield in order to increase PLC yield. If you don’t have that sheet, you can use your 156EZ form. Take your PLC yield and divide by 0.81 to get the yield necessary to increase your PLC yield. For example, a PLC corn yield of 190/0.81= 234.57 bu/ac. Your 2013-2017 RMA actual yields would need to show you’ve achieved at least 234.57 bu/ac in order to increase your PLC yield.

Seed Corn Yields: For seed corn yields, if the farm has commercial corn in addition to seed corn in rotation, the commercial corn yield will be applied to the seed corn. If no commercial corn is grown in rotation on the farm, use the Plant Base Yield (PBY) not to exceed 120% of the county irrigated corn yield. For example, in 2013, York County Irrigated Corn Yield was 235.92 bu/ac. Multiply this by 120% = 283.10 bu/ac. Compare this to the PBY for the same year and use the lower of the two numbers.

Historical Irrigated Percentage (HIP) is taken into account for ARC-CO payments. For those of you who are using the Texas A&M decision tool, you will see a box to input HIP. As you look at your 156EZ form, you will see an area for HIP. Counties that had to split out irrigated vs. non-irrigated acres for certain crops in the 2014 Farm Bill will have a HIP listed. Counties that didn’t have to do this will not have one listed. For those with HIP listed, it may or may not be accurate depending on if you incorporated/lost irrigated ground in the past 5 years. For purposes of the Texas A&M tool, you can use your best estimate of irrigated vs. non-irrigated percentage.

ARC-CO Calculation: Regardless if you’d like to try the Texas A&M tool or not, you can also get an idea of the price in which ARC-CO would trigger a 2019 payment by doing a simple calculation. Take your county guaranteed revenue and divide that by the county benchmark yield. For example, for irrigated corn in York County, the 2019 Guaranteed Revenue is $731.07. The 2019 Benchmark Yield (which is an Olympic average yield from 2013-2017) for irrigated corn in York County is 229.75 bu/ac. Taking $731.07/229.75= $3.18. What this means is that based on these numbers, if the York County RMA Yield comes in at 229.75 bu/ac, which is a trend adjusted yield, a payment would not be triggered for ARC-CO for irrigated corn in York County until a $3.18 corn price is achieved. This is in comparison to PLC in which the trigger is $3.70 for the corn price. Many of the counties in which I’ve done this calculation for irrigated corn have around a $3.18 trigger price for ARC-CO currently. That alone tells you a lot regarding decision making. If the trendline yield remains close to current one, it leans towards enrolling in PLC for irrigated corn, but it is a two year decision. You can also try other figures (ex. trying 235 and 220 bu/ac) if you think the trendline yields may be higher or lower than the current estimate to see other potential ARC Co price triggers.

Randy Pryor shared a spreadsheet with me from USDA that had all the yearly yields, trend yields, and revenue guarantees for each county and each crop in Nebraska to date. I’ve placed tables with these numbers on my blog at jenreesources.com for the counties in which I helped growers for the 2014 Farm Bill. You can also ask your FSA Office if they can provide this information for you.

FSA Meetings: If you missed the Farm Bill meetings and would like to better understand the differences between the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills, please contact your local FSA Office. Many of them are having small meetings certain days of the week but can’t share which way you should enroll.

Texas A&M Decision Aid: Randy Pryor and I are recommending that if you use a decision aid, that you use the Texas A&M one. For those of you I worked with during the 2014 farm bill, I have your username and password if you no longer do. You can also reset it by calling their help line. I’ve assembled screen shots at https://go.unl.edu/texasam that walk you step by step through inputting data into the tool. If you have questions, please let me know. Hoping this is helpful!

*End News Column. County tables below.


York Co.Seward Co.Adams Co.Butler Co.Clay Co.Custer Co.Dawson Co.Fillmore Co.Franklin Co.Hamilton Co.Harlan Co.Kearney Co.Nuckolls Co.Pierce Co.Polk Co.Thayer Co.Wayne CoWebster Co.

Additional Farm Bill Info: 

JenREES 12-15-19

The past few weeks I’ve had several questions regarding cash rents/leases. My colleague Allan Vyhnalek wrote an article addressing several of these questions, so sharing some of his thoughts. You can read his full article here: https://go.unl.edu/qxt7.

“What should I rent my ground for? (How do I calculate a fair rental rate?): Land rent can be based on several things. Rental rates of the local area, percentage return on investment, survey data showing rental rates, percent of gross income, and many others. The recommendation is to calculate the estimated rental rate based on three or four of these calculations and then decide.

  1. The local rental rate might be obtained from an ag loan officer at your local bank, by ag real estate professionals, or from professional farm managers.
  2. To calculate a percent return on investment, multiply the value of the land by the percent return that you’d like to receive. Be sure to factor in expenses such as land taxes when making this calculation.
  3. Land Value Surveys:
    UNL land value survey: https://agecon.unl.edu/realestate/2019-farm-real-estate-report
    Nebraska Ag Statistics Service (NASS) survey: https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Nebraska/Publications/County_Estimates/19NEcashrents.pdf
  4. The percent of gross income is calculated by taking the average yield of the commodity grown multiplied by the expected price for that commodity which equals the gross income per acre. The landlord would typically receive about 30% of the gross income calculation; however, the number will change based on yield and price. The percentage should represent an average across 5 or more years.

The bottom line on rental rate is that it will be what the renter agrees to pay and the landlord agrees to accept. Pricing will also be based on supply and demand of farmland rental ground in the area. There is no right or wrong definitive rental price. The final rent is simply an agreement between parties involved. Typically this constitutes a fair and equitable trade price for the use of the ground.

Is a Crop Share Lease still a valid lease? Yes, it is still a fair lease. It is probably the fairest lease that you can have. In periods of commodity price stability, the cash lease gained popularity because the landlords didn’t like to pay for their part of the expenses and most didn’t care to have to market their share of the crop. A crop share lease indicates your willingness to share the risk of farming. Crop Share leases share the risk between landlord and tenant. Cash leases put all risk of production on the tenant solely.

What is the Most Common Share Lease Used? There is no share lease that is more or less correct or appropriate for one situation or another. The distribution of the share (50/50, 60/40. Etc.) depends largely on the agreement between the land owner and the tenant. In some cases, the agreed to distribution in the lease, is 60% tenant and 40% landowner; in other cases the distribution depends on the final inputs, for example, the tenant would pay all seed and chemical, and landowner paying all land and drying. Your final distribution will depend on your expectations and the agreement with the tenant.”

Farm Real Estate Resources:  https://cropwatch.unl.edu/economics/realestate
Fillable Lease Templates: https://aglease101.org/DocLib/default.aspx
Flexible Cash Lease Calculator: https://farm.unl.edu/cash-rent-flex-calc

Landlord/Tenant Cash Rent Workshops: These three-hour workshops will cover: agricultural finance and the real estate market; current trends in ag finance across Nebraska; negotiation skills for effectively managing land leases; current considerations on lease provisions; and strategic farmland succession and communications. There is no charge and please RSVP to the Extension Office in the county you wish to participate. Closest locations to this area will be: Jan. 7, 1:30 p.m., Extension Office in Seward; Jan. 8, 9 a.m., 4-H Building in York; and Jan. 15, 1 p.m., Fairgrounds in Clay Center.

JenREES 12-8-19

Farm Bill: A special thank you to Leann Nelson and her staff from the York/Hamilton

IMG_20191206_090821

County Farm Service Agency (FSA) for their help in Friday’s Farm Bill meeting in York! We had 130 pre-registered with at least double that actually attending. Greatly appreciate their help keeping coffee going and the help with set up and tear down! Farm bill decisions are complicated. For this column, I will provide a little perspective and also some first steps for consideration. In future columns, I will walk through options for decision making using the Texas A&M tool and other calculations.

Perspective: We need to keep in mind the current decision is for the 2019-2020 signup only…not the life of the farm bill. The decisions for the 2014 farm bill were extra daunting when we had to speculate what would happen with prices for the duration of the farm bill in addition to considering base acre reallocations. So, this two-year decision followed by the opportunity to change annually from 2021-2023 may be a blessing and take a little pressure off as you’re not ‘stuck’ with your decision for five years.

First Steps: Currently you need to: make an election for 2019/2020 and enroll for 2019, enroll for 2020, and determine whether or not you will update your yields. Your program election and enrollment for 2019 need to be complete by March 15, 2020; enrollment for 2020 by June 30, 2020; and your PLC yield update deadline is September 30, 2020. With making crop insurance decisions these winter months and having RMA data fresh on your mind, consider looking at yield updates now instead of waiting. My recommendations for first steps:

1-Contact your local FSA Office asking for their yield spreadsheet that shows your yields and base acres for each farm number. The spreadsheet will also show what actual yield is necessary in order to update your PLC yields. Even if you choose ARC-CO for your program election, it’s important to at least look at PLC yields as this gives you the opportunity to increase them in the event you ever choose PLC in the future. Because of the adjustment factors, a substantial yield improvement may be necessary to update PLC yield. So, knowing what yield you actually need in order to update can save you time before going through all your RMA data. Any yield updates will apply only to the 2020 year and beyond (not to 2019).

If you choose to update yields, you will need to use actual yields (designated with ‘A’) on your crop insurance forms (not APH). Sometimes crop insurance units are on the same sheet encompassing several farm numbers-so be aware of that as you will need to separate them out (irrigation practice doesn’t matter). If a crop insurance unit includes multiple FSA numbers, you can pro-rate those bushels to split the unit using acres. You also could go back to yield map data or scale tickets if you prefer. Ultimately, keep records of how you determine your yield updates as you will need them if you are spot-checked anytime before the end of this farm-bill period. The landowner also needs to sign off on the yield update and Power of Attorney (POA) is acceptable. The 2014 and 2018 farm bills specified that PLC yield could be certified from a minimum of 0.01 acres planted 1 year of the farm bill period. Randy Pryor shared that with me and he would recommend planting at least 1 acre. He had a grower with milo base acres who planted a 25 acre milo plot one time during the last farm bill period; it yielded well allowing him to update his milo yield. We don’t know what future farm bill rules will entail yet something to consider for the next 5 years if rules for PLC yield updates end up the same as the previous farm bills.

2-If you have any idea on farm program elections for 2019-2020, make an appointment now with your FSA Office and go ahead and enroll for 2019. They will also work through the enrollment paperwork for 2020 if possible. You can always change your election prior to March 15, 2020! All Farm Bill information can be found at farmbill.unl.edu.

Keeping Stress Levels in Check Webinar: A free webinar will be offered December 17 geared for farm and ranch families. The webinar will take place over the noon hour (12:30 p.m. CST) and can be accessed at go.unl.edu/stresswebinar. This webinar will provide strategies for dealing with the stress of farming or ranching in today’s difficult economic environment.

Additional Farm Bill Info: 

JenREES 12-1-19

This time of year transitions to winter programming for me. The past few weeks I’ve mostly talked about cover crop results we’ve received from our on-farm research studies. I’m pretty passionate about on-farm research! On-farm research allows us to study topics we often wouldn’t receive funding for, with minimal monetary investment while conducting them on growers’ farms. It wouldn’t be possible without our grower cooperators and I’m so grateful for them!

We have an on-farm research database at: http://resultsfinder.unl.edu/ where you can click on a county or enter a keyword to search for various studies. It’s kind of picky on the wording, but it’s still a nice tool. I used this to compare cash crops planted into either cereal rye or cover crop mix for 1 year or for 3 years. Results can also be viewed via tables on my blog at: jenreesources.com.

One Year Studies: From 2008-2018, there were 7 studies in which corn or soybean was planted into cereal rye. They all showed either no yield difference or yield loss when the cash crop was planted into the cereal rye regardless of terminating pre- or post-planting. In 3 studies conducted in Clay, Franklin, and Phelps counties in 2014, either non-irrigated corn or wheat was planted into a cover crop mix. They all showed yield loss and moisture was anticipated to be a limiting factor, but no moisture sensors were used in the studies.

Three Year Studies: In three Saunders county locations where they planted cereal rye after harvest on the same strips for three successive years, there was either no yield difference or a yield increase in year three when the cash crop was planted into the cereal rye. We also have a long term study in Nuckolls county and will share more on that in an upcoming column.

We encourage growers to conduct studies more than one year where feasible. It’s especially important when looking at studies that have longer term implications to soil to maintain studies in the same location over time. Maybe some of you have tried a cover crop once but didn’t see positive yield results after year one; perhaps yield results would be different over time? The on-farm research studies summarized here don’t go into enough detail to specify why yields were the same or improved in the three studies in year three. During different meetings, some also asked about nitrogen tie-up in the cover contributing to yield loss. There are other studies showing addition of nitrogen at planting can reduce yield loss impacts due to nitrogen tie-up. Where we had information about nitrogen applied at planting, I added this to the tables on my blog. Ultimately, there wasn’t consistency in rates applied nor improved yield in all cases with these studies.

Farm Bill Meeting York Dec. 6: A reminder of the Farm Bill Meeting to be held at the Cornerstone Event Center at the Fairgrounds in York from 9 a.m.-Noon on Dec. 6. Please RSVP at: go.unl.edu/farmbill to select this or any other location. This helps us prepare and helps save time at the door during registration. If you prefer not to RSVP via computer, you can call your local Extension or FSA office and we will get you registered.

Nebraska Soybean Day and Machinery Expo Dec. 19 will assist soybean producers in planning for next year’s growing season. The expo will be in the pavilion at the Saunders County Fairgrounds in Wahoo. The Saunders County Soybean Growers Organization will be collecting non-perishable food and monetary donations for the Saunders County Food Bank backpack program. Complimentary noon lunch will be served. Registration is available the day of the expo at the door and there is no registration fee.

The event opens with coffee, doughnuts and the opportunity to view equipment and exhibitor booths at 8:30 a.m. Program begins at 9:10 a.m. Topics include: A New Marketing Tool for Soybean Growers-The Role of Harvest Moisture (Cory Walters, UNL); Decision Making in Uncertain Times (Richard Preston, Preston Farms Kentucky); Managing Soybean Diseases with Fungicides (Daren Mueller, ISU); Managing Waterhemp (Chris Proctor, UNL); Soybean Gall Midge (Justin McMechan, UNL); and Nebraska Soybean Checkoff Update and Association Information.

*End of Column. Cover Crop Tables Below.


Table 1: Corn or Soybean Planted into Cereal Rye Cover. One year studies. Yield values with the same letter are not significantly different at a 90% confidence level (for each individual study).

Cover crop rye year 1.PNG

Table 2: Corn or Wheat Planted into Cover Crop Mix. One year studies. Yield values with the same letter are not significantly different at a 90% confidence level (for each individual study).

Cover crop species year 1.PNG

Table 3: Three year studies utilizing cereal rye as cover crop in same strips over time. Yield values with the same letter are not significantly different at a 90% confidence level (for each individual study).

3 year cover crop studies.PNG

JenREES 11-24-19

I’ve often thought about two words the past few months: Grief and Gratitude. It’s been a hard year for many with grief coming in the form of various losses. The stories I’ve been blessed to be entrusted with this year included losses in the form of livestock, land, fences, feed, finances, crops, homes, health, relationships, family members, pets, farms, jobs…

It’s important to take the time to grieve and acknowledge the losses while not getting stuck there. I think sometimes we want to push forward and avoid the mess of grief, but there’s healing in acknowledging it. At our Extension Fall Conference, we spent time talking through 2019 and the experiences we had as Extension faculty with boots on the ground serving people. While it was uncomfortable for many, there was healing in the discussion and sharing, in the tears and triumphs of helping others during a really difficult year. I would encourage us all to acknowledge losses we’ve experienced and ultimately keep talking with others instead of isolating.

Our keynote speaker at our conference was David Horsager who wrote the book The Trust Edge. One thing he asks his audiences, “What is the most endearing quality a person can have?” What do you think? Often people say kindness, compassion, generosity, being positive, humor, etc. His company does a great deal of research and they’ve found the most endearing quality is…Gratitude…sincere gratitude. According to Oxford’s Dictionary, gratitude means “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”.

There’s been a lot of research on gratitude! Harvard University shared, “In positive give thanks.PNGpsychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.” Summarizing several studies I read, most would say finding a way to count one’s blessings or focusing on gratitude greatly improved a person’s sleep, health, attitude, focus, and relationships. Many of those studies didn’t involve individuals who struggled with mental wellness. However, one study in Indiana focused on 300 adults who suffered from anxiety and depression. The researchers wanted to see if focusing on gratitude could help with mental health concerns. Adults were split into three groups and each group also received counseling. One group wrote a letter of gratitude to someone each week (but wasn’t required to share it). Another group wrote down negative thoughts and experiences while the third group didn’t do any activity involving writing. Individuals who wrote the gratitude letters were found to have significantly improved mental health 4 and 12 weeks after starting the activity (in spite of only 23% actually sending the letters). The gratitude activity on top of receiving counseling resulted in better mental wellness for the individuals than counseling alone. Regardless of if one is in the midst of a difficult time or not, research ultimately shows the benefits of seeking gratitude!

Grief and Gratitude. With Thanksgiving this week, for what are you and I grateful? Perhaps there’s someone who came alongside you this year during a difficult time or someone who showed you an unexpected kindness that you wish to thank in some way? Perhaps you choose to make a list of things for which you’re thankful or jot a few things down each day? Perhaps you choose to write one letter or note to someone each week expressing thanks? Or perhaps your family starts a tradition of expressing gratitude in some way during Thanksgiving dinner? Additional ideas for expressing gratitude, particularly for those with children, can be found at: https://go.unl.edu/q04v. Here’s wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving!

UNL Thanksgiving Food Safety Resources:  https://go.unl.edu/ji8p
UNL Thanksgiving Food Preparation Tips: https://go.unl.edu/7rwi

JenREES 11-17-19

Trees Hanging onto Leaves: Driving in the country or in towns I tend to observe what’s going on in the fields, but also observe what’s occurring with the trees. Right now I’m noticing many maples trees looking like mine: hanging onto a portion of greenish/gray/brown leaves. Typically my silver maples are the first to lose their leaves each fall along with a neighboring ash. But the season didn’t start off typical for them either! Some of you, like me, have dealt all year with the huge seed load produced by these and other trees this spring. So why are some trees hanging onto leaves this fall? Most likely a cold snap in early fall interrupted the normal process deciduous trees follow to prepare for winter survival. As days shorten, a layer of cells (abscission zone) form between the tree branch and the individual petioles (stems of leaves), allowing the leaves to fall from the tree. This helps protect the tree from water loss in the winter. Some tree species, such as oaks, have an adaptation to maintain their leaves during the winter called leaf marcescence. It’s unknown exactly why. The hypotheses for why oaks maintain their leaves include: better protection of winter buds, allow for trapping of snow around the tree base, and allow for a flush of nutrients when leaves drop and are decomposed in the spring. So while it’s not normal for maples, lindens, ash, and other species to maintain leaves over the winter, there’s nothing we can do about the delay in leaf drop. If the leaves don’t drop this fall/winter, they will be pushed off by new growth from buds next spring. Leaves may continue to drop this fall/winter with wind and snow events. One thing to be aware of is the potential for increased limb breakage from wind/snow events in trees maintaining heavy leaf loads.

Are you interested in helping understand the noise of farming? Researchers at the University of Iowa developed (and are currently testing) a ‘HearSafe’ system to measure noise exposure of farmers. The goal is to provide information about exposure to loud sounds on the farm and how to protect one’s hearing. This system will consist of a small noise monitor, smart phone, and a laptop. They are looking for farm workers to try these new devices. The research activities are short term (between 1 day and 2 weeks), equipment and training are provided, and there’s compensation for participation. Those ages 18-65, active in farm production (20+ hours per week on average), who have access to a device with high-speed internet are eligible to participate. For more information please contact Jackie Curnick at jacqueline-curnick@uiowa.edu or (319) 335-4425.

Nov. 25 Heuermann Lecture Focuses on Protecting Ecosystems while Advancing Agriculture: Strategies for achieving agricultural advances while preserving Nebraska’s healthy agricultural ecosystems will be discussed at the Heuermann Lecture Nov. 25. It will be held at 3:30 p.m. at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center in Lincoln and via livestream at: https://heuermannlectures.unl.edu. Following the discussion will be a showing of the documentary film “Follow the Water.” Dinner is included to those staying for the showing. The event is free and open to the public.

Panelists will include Craig Allen, professor in the School of Natural Resources and director of the Center for Resilience in Working Agricultural Landscapes; Andrea Basche, assistant professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture; and Michael Forsberg, co-founder of the Platte Basin Timelapse Project and assistant professor of practice in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication. The film tells the story of connections between the environment and people, and a river that shaped the land. Forsberg, a conservation photographer, and Pete Stegen, a filmmaker, journeyed for 55 days through the watershed by bike, foot and canoe, gathering footage with their smartphones. A panel discussion will follow the viewing so the audience can explore the themes of the film with Forsberg and his team.

Heuermann Lectures are funded by a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips. The Heuermanns are longtime university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska’s production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people.

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