Category Archives: JenREES Columns
Next week I will resume the residue management topics. For this week, consider catching a UNL CropWatch podcast from Michael Sindelar, Extension Educator in Clay County. He interviews USDA-ARS scientists Marty Schmer and Virginia Jin who have conducted a great deal of corn residue baling research. You can listen to the podcast here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/NebraskaCropwatch. We haven’t traditionally had podcasts in CropWatch so Michael is focusing on this new effort.
A few weeks ago we had our South Central Ag Lab advisory committee meeting in Clay
Center. We’re blessed with the high quality research that takes place there under the guidance of researchers, technicians, and staff with great longevity there. One of those researchers has been Dr. Richard Ferguson, Extension Soil Fertility Specialist since 1985. The past few years he has served as the Interim Head for the UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, and I appreciated how he still responded to Extension questions! Effective January 1, 2019, Richard will be serving as Vice Chancellor for the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA). As vice chancellor, Richard will provide direction for the institution, manage fiscal resources, recruit and select faculty and staff, lead development of research and extension programs, and oversee student recruitment. Opening in July 2019, the RICA is an English language institution dedicated to educating and inspiring a new generation of innovators in agriculture in Rwanda. Establishing the Institute is a joint effort of the Government of Rwanda and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln providing leadership in curriculum development and technical advising. There is a farewell reception to be held on December 13 at the Goodding Learning Center (Plant Sciences Hall) on UNL’s East Campus from 3-5 p.m. You are also invited to share on the online guest book if you’d like at: go.unl.edu/ferguson-farewell. A special thank you to Richard for his years of service to Nebraskans and beyond and we wish him all the best in this new endeavor!
Nebraska Soybean Day and Machinery Expo: You may also wish to catch the Nebraska Soybean Day and Machinery Expo to be held at the Fairgrounds in Wahoo, NE on December 13. This year’s program has a great lineup of speakers with the program running from 8:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Dr. David Kohl, professor emeritus of Virginia Tech University, will identify financial and risk management factors that place a farm business in the upper 40% of profits and sustainability with practical steps to move into that zone. During his presentation, “Economic Update and Taking Care of Business,” Kohl also will share a domestic and global overview on the factors and transformative trends influencing customers’ financials.
Other presentations will include:
- New and Emerging Pests of Soybeans (primarily soybean gall midge) with Justin McMechan, Nebraska Extension crop protection and cropping systems specialist.
- What You Need to Know to Grow and Market Specialty Soybeans to Increase Your Profits with Darwin Rader, international sales and marketing management with Zeeland Farm Services in Des Moines.
Managing Soybeans in Storage — Is Poor Quality a Concern with Ken Hellevang, extension engineer, North Dakota State University.
- Nebraska Soybean Checkoff Update and Association Information with representatives of the Nebraska Soybean Board and Soybean Association.
Registration is at the door and includes a free lunch. For more information about the program contact Nebraska Extension Educator and Event Coordinator Keith Glewen at (800) 529-8030 or email@example.com. Attendees are encouraged to bring a can or two cans of nonperishable food items to donate to the food pantry. This program is sponsored by Nebraska Extension in the university’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Nebraska Soybean Board, Saunders County Soybean Growers Organization and private industry.
Part 2 of my residue management series focuses on grazing corn residue. We’re blessed in Nebraska to have corn, cattle, and ethanol with the distiller’s co-product…the golden triangle as it’s been dubbed. What’s interesting is that a huge feed resource in corn residue is under-utilized each year, with an estimated 52% of our state-wide corn residue being grazed or mechanically harvested.
Because a small amount of residue is removed, many fields in Nebraska have potential for grazing, except for the case of extreme slope and/or very low yields. Regarding stocking rates, Dr. Mary Drewnoski, Extension Beef Nutritionist shares, “Corn residue is about 10% husk and 34% leaf with the remaining residue being stalk and cob. Recommended stocking rates are based on the ability of a pregnant cow to maintain body weight without supplementation of protein or energy. The rates suggest that you can graze a 1200 lb cow for 30 days for every 100 bu. of corn grain produced. This would result in the cow consuming only about 12% to 15% of the corn residue in the field and nearly all would be husk with some leaf. Cob and stalk have less energy available.”
Compaction is the main concern I hear for not grazing. An increase in a soil’s bulk density and penetration resistance can be indicators of compaction. A summary of Nebraska research studies when corn residue was grazed at proper stocking rates has shown fall and winter grazing:
- do not significantly impact soil properties that would lead to compaction;
- don’t result in changes to soil organic matter, N, P, or K (just uneven distribution of the nutrients excreted back onto the land);
- results in maintained or increased yields; and
- increases soil microbial activity.
Grazing corn residue resulted in no detrimental effects on soil properties (sixteen years in silty clay loam soils) including bulk density and penetration resistance. Increase of surface roughness was observed where cattle congregated for water and during wet conditions when soil was thawed. An Iowa study indicated the surface roughness could impact seed placement for the following no-till crop but only found that in one location in one field studied. In another study of five Eastern Nebraska locations, penetration resistance was slightly increased in two of the locations but was below the threshold for impeding root growth and did not carry over into the next year. There were no yield differences between grazed and ungrazed treatments whether continuous corn (239 bu/ac for grazed and 223 bu/ac for ungrazed) or soybean (grazed 59 bu/ac and ungrazed 62 bu/ac) in the three years at those five locations. Sixteen years of fall grazed corn residue (November to February) resulted in a statistical soybean yield increase of 3.4 bu/ac in Eastern Nebraska. There was also an increase in the soil microbial community in the grazed treatments vs. ungrazed for those sixteen years. Under continuous corn in western Nebraska, five years of fall grazing corn residue did not statistically impact yields (154 bu/ac grazed vs. 148 bu/ac ungrazed).
Some have mentioned that the weather is not allowing them to till this fall. Perhaps cattle grazing is an option? Regarding the questions I’m receiving about this: The tenant in cash rent situation owns the stalks unless the landlord has specified otherwise in the written lease. Specify in the grazing lease who takes care of fence, water, and monitoring cattle. To help connect cattle and crop producers for utilizing residue and forage cover crops for grazing, there’s a free resource called The Crop Residue Exchange at https://cropresidueexchange.unl.edu/. After establishing a log-in account, growers can list cropland available for grazing by drawing out the plot of land available using an interactive map. They can then enter basic information about the type of residue, fencing situation, water availability, and dates available and provide their preferred contact information. Livestock producers can log in and search the database for cropland available for grazing within radius of a given location of interest. There’s also an ‘Other’ category where growers can list forage cover crops for grazing. Grazing rates are listed as either a ‘per acre’ basis or ‘rate/head/day’. An excel spreadsheet called the ‘Cornstalk Grazing Cow-Q-Later’ may be of help to determine rates at this site: https://go.unl.edu/2fb6. There’s more I’d like to share but for additional resources, please see my blog site at: http://jenreesources.com or contact your local Extension Office.
Of importance is to double check in-season and fall-applied herbicide labels for any grazing restrictions. 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’. 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.
- Crop Residue Exchange: https://cropresiduexchange.unl.edu
- Crop Residue Exchange Resources: https://cropresidueexchange.unl.edu/resources
- Grazing Crop Residues with Beef Cattle (excellent at explaining portion of crop residue, determining stocking rates, leasing rates, etc.)
- Cornstalk Grazing Cow-Q-Lator (excel spreadsheet guide for lease rates)
- Nutrient Removal by Cows Grazing Corn Residue, November 2018 CropWatch article
- Grazing Cornstalks Rental Agreement Considerations, 2016 Beef Article
- Renting Crop Residue: A Checklist for first-time renters, 2016 Beef Article
- Fillable leases: http://aglease101.org
- Grazing spring-calving cow-calf pairs on cornstalks-a producer’s perspective, November 2018 Beef Podcast
- Drewnoski et al. 2015. Effect of Corn Residue Removal on Subsequent Crop Yields. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beef Report p 53-55.
- Rakkar et al. 2017. Effect of Long-term Corn Residue Grazing on Soil Properties. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beef Report. p 50-52.
- Ulmer et al. 2017. Effect of Corn residue Grazing or Baling on Subsequent Crop Yield and Nutrient Removal. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beef report p 46-49.
- Schmer et al. 2017. Corn Residue Use by Livestock in the United States. Agricultural & Environmental Letters.
With harvest finished or wrapping up, focus has shifted to anhydrous applications and managing residue. Corn residue management has been a topic of discussion for years. Research on this topic has included use of tillage, baling, grazing, and use of products like nitrogen.
Iowa State conducted a three year study evaluating the effects of conventional tillage, no-till, and strip-till on residue breakdown on Bt and non-Bt corn residues. They did this by placing bags of residue of Bt and non-Bt hybrids in the three different tillage systems and evaluated decomposition after 3, 6, 9, and 12 months in a corn/soy rotation. The results showed no significant difference between tillage systems or Bt and non-Bt hybrid decomposition. These researchers also studied the impact of nitrogen applications on corn residue breakdown over two years in no-till. Immediately after harvest, three N rates (UAN 32 percent) of 0, 30 and 60 lb N/acre were applied to corn residue. A specific amount of residue was placed in nylon mesh bags and left in the field for 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, after which residue decomposition was evaluated. The different rates of N resulted in no differences in rate of decomposition. In general, the longer the residue remained in the field, the more it decomposed over time, regardless of N rate. Thus the authors shared that applying N after harvest for residue decomposition was not effective nor economical as soil and air temperatures decreased over time after harvest. They shared that in general, decomposition of crop residue is primarily influenced by soil moisture and temperature which allow for microbial activity.
Last year I wrote a series of articles for my news column and shared them in CropWatch regarding cornstalk baling. A team of Extension Specialists/Educators and USDA-ARS also worked together on a workshop at 2018 Husker Harvest Days on this topic. I’ve received various reactions to these efforts, but my desire is to present the research. My perspective is twofold:
- Better serving farmers/landowners in helping answer your residue management questions via the research available and
- With the high winds, dust storms and vehicle accidents last winter/early spring, could we potentially rethink residue management besides so much conventional tillage for this part of the State?
I’m not saying conventional tillage doesn’t have a place, especially as we think of one-time burial of weed seed. I just wonder if we can help reduce soil loss by utilizing other methods of residue management, perhaps including increased use of livestock grazing and cornstalk baling under the right field situations?
Summarizing the research, cornstalk baling is not for every piece of ground or every situation. From the research, our recommendations are that baling of corn residue should only occur on ground with less than 5% slope that yields 180 bu/ac or more, harvesting no more than 2 tons/acre. Retaining at least 2.4 tons of residue allowed for soil carbon maintenance and retaining more residue also reduced erosion. Every 40 bu/ac of corn results in 1 ton of residue at 10% moisture. Baling on fields fitting the above-mentioned criteria should occur a maximum of every other year in continuous corn or once every four years in a corn/soy rotation (due to reduced residue already present after soybean harvest). The research showed no significant impact on soil properties or soil carbon following those guidelines. Other recommendations would be to use a reduced tillage system in the field where baling occurred and consider planting a cover crop and/or adding manure.
In 239 site-years across 36 studies, corn residue baling resulted in 3% average yield increase where moisture was not limited, most likely due to more uniform stands. The average nutrients found in 1 ton of corn or sorghum residue was 17 lbs of Nitrogen, 4 lbs of P2O5, 3 lbs of Sulfur, 34 lbs of K2O (which due to Nebraska soils being high in K, the value may be 0-50% of this depending on soil test results), and cations equivalent to 30 lbs of lime. There’s also research that suggests less nitrogen is needed the following year going into corn due to the change in the C:N ratio and increased mineralization. So corn residue baling, based on the research, can be an effective way of managing residue without significantly impacting soil properties if done using the considerations mentioned above. Many fields I’ve observed cornstalk baling in the area this year look good regarding these criteria and most took less than 50% residue off the fields.
This year we’ve also seen a large increase in soybean residue baling in this part of the State. I realize it’s mostly being used for livestock bedding. In a future column and CropWatch article, the research regarding soybean baling will be shared in addition to an economics comparison of various residue management strategies. I will also share on grazing research for residue management in a future column.
Wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends! We have much for which to be thankful!
Last week we held a farm transition meeting in York. I was thinking back to a family gathering we had shortly after one of my dad’s farm accidents. We were grateful he was going to be ok. In talking about what needed to be done on the farm, I asked something like, “Does anyone here know what your wishes or plan is for the farm if this had been more serious?” It wasn’t the best time and I didn’t do this correctly. It did allow for discussion as we never talked about what would happen to the farm before that. I’m grateful my parents responded over time asking each of us kids our intentions/values regarding the farm. They then put their estate plan together and at Christmas one year, went through everything with everyone including any spouses that were present. What I appreciate the most is that they were intentional and there is no secret.
The fact that estate plans can be secret was a common frustration among attendees at the workshop…and as I talk with various farmers. Dave Goeller, emeritus Farm Transition Specialist, shared a sad story about a man in his late 60’s whose 90+ year old dad still hadn’t transitioned management of the ranch to him. When he asked his dad about the opportunity to manage the ranch in the future, the dad didn’t wish to talk and said not to worry. I won’t go into the details but when the parents passed away, the ranch was sold. What’s sad is that, most likely, the outcome is not what the parents intended, and certainly not what the son hoped. We need to get away from estate plans being a secret.
Consider these questions:
- Have you been able to talk to your parents about what is happening with their estate plans? If not, why?
- What is your biggest concern/anxiety/fear(s)? What are you afraid you might find out?
- What is the biggest obstacle in your family dynamics?
- What do you love about your family business?
- What is the worst situation you can think of which might happen in the future?
- What could you learn that can help you?
- What is your mission statement for your farm/ranch? What is your vision for the farm/ranch?
- What are your goals for your farm/ranch? What will you do to make your vision happen?
Dave shared that while a person may feel like a ‘vulture’ when asking about the estate plan (as asking can come across as greed), it can really be a question over shared values. As I think about my immediate family, our shared values are faith, family, hard work, sacrifice, maintaining our family farm. I should’ve broached the subject using shared values instead:
“Dad, I’m so grateful God protected you and you’re going to be ok! You and mom have worked so hard and sacrificed so much for us kids and for this farm. We as your children wish to see your legacy live on in keeping the farm in our family. May we please discuss what your and mom’s goals and dreams are for the farm in the future?”
For those who have asked me how to have this conversation, perhaps some of these questions found in the Workbook at http://go.unl.edu/FarmRanchTransition may help? I also have copies of this workbook in the Extension Office. The questions cover a range of topics from understanding common values, asking if there are written documents, what is long term health care plan to protect the farm/ranch, contribution of all heirs, etc. Please also consider the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 800-464-0258 as a valuable and free resource for you! This hotline is a confidential resource for talking about stress, anxiety, financial concerns, and also for scheduling a time to meet with Dave Goeller and Joe Hawbaker (Attorney) for free to discuss estate plans and farm transitions. All you need to do is call 800-464-0258. For those interested in meeting regarding estate plans/farm transition, Dave and Joe have promised to come back to York to meet individually with families once they receive at least 5 calls. So, if this is of interest to you, please mention this when you call the hotline.
Final thought, this past year in particular, several farmers have shared with me their children would like to see them retire. I sense a variety of feelings about that from them as I listened. I also asked several questions including, “What does retirement look like to them? What does it look like to you?” Perhaps those and other questions could be asked in an honest conversation together?
Much of our identity, right or wrong, is found in what we do for a living. After all, we tend to ask this question when we meet new people. Through life’s circumstances, I’ve had to learn to seek my identity in who I am. Dave mentioned to think of retirement not as no longer working on the farm or being an important player, but retiring the management to the next generation. So, perhaps work out a transition plan that fits your situation where the first perhaps 3-10 years, the older generation is the primary manager in a mentor role explaining why he/she made the decisions a certain way to the next generation. The next 3-10 years, decision making is shared between the older and next generation. After that, decision making is transitioned to the next generation. And, during this entire process, the older generation needs to consider what he/she will be “retiring to”…what purpose or meaning can be found to occupy the time that was once spent in managing the farm?
Ultimately, estate planning and farm transition…relationships…are too important to not talk about these topics. Let’s no longer keep them a big secret!
Through the years I’ve been blessed to meet many individuals including farmers/ag industry professionals who served (or continue to serve) our Country in the military. I’ve observed how service has influenced perspective on life’s difficulties for many individuals. And, I’ve observed how impacts of service have resulted in additional difficulties in life after service for some. There shouldn’t be shame regarding the struggle or in seeking help. While it can be scary, healing can come in the midst of honesty and vulnerability. Tonight I watched a special TV interview with four highly decorated individuals of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars-a couple of whom I’ve read their books. It was interesting hearing their perspectives on combat then coming home, on being in the military and then getting out, and much more. They ultimately shared how difficult it is after war and after service to step into civilian life and how important their military connections were in keeping them going. They also shared how important it was to find a sense of purpose in serving others and living life well in honor of those with whom they served who never made it home. Most likely all of us can think of a family member or friend who has served. Those individuals may have stories and/or wounds without words. Let’s be sure to show our gratitude to them for our freedom in America. Thank you to all our Veterans and all those in our Armed Forces for your service! Thank you also to their families!
Fall Applied Anhydrous Ammonia: When I began my Extension career, it was a different perspective for me to experience fall applications of nitrogen. My perspective from our farm was in-season nitrogen applications. Since then, there’s been several research based studies regarding the benefits of in-season nitrogen application. I appreciate there’s different reasons for the ways farmers approach the decisions within your farming operation. I’ve also observed more farmers of various operation sizes moving to more in-season applications. The reasons they’ve shared with me include: wanting to be more efficient with nitrogen application when the plant needs it, worried about any loss in off-season and wanting better water quality for kids/grandkids, research shows hybrids need nitrogen later in season, wanting to find a way to make it work before any potential regulation, and wondering if they can get by with less nitrogen with better timing in season. We also know today’s farmers in general have become increasingly efficient in both nitrogen and water use. There’s an interesting article in this week’s UNL CropWatch (http://cropwatch.unl.edu) where a multi-disciplinary team of authors share on nitrogen application in the fall having enhanced risk due to potential loss. This is due to data on the increase in extreme precipitation events over time that can lead to increased nitrogen loss through leaching and/or denitrification. We also know that there are years, like last winter, where areas I served didn’t even receive 2” of precip from fall through early May. So every year is different. Because we can’t predict the weather, the authors suggest, “Consider a more robust and less risky N management method that includes: applying a small percentage of N near planting time; follow with sidedress N applied as late as is possible given your equipment capabilities or several fertigation applications that are timed with crop uptake needs; and ensure the final application of N is done before the R3 growth stage.” They also suggest the following if you plan to apply N in the fall, “Avoid fall N application for soils of hydrologic Group A (sand, loamy sand, sandy loam) and Group B (loam, silt loam, silt); Avoid fall application of fertilizers containing urea or nitrate; Apply only when soil temperature is consistently below 50°F to slow nitrification (Last week temperatures fluctuated above and below 50°F at the 4-inch depth.); Use an inhibitor with known efficacy when applying N; and Hope for dry cold weather!”. The following is a really good resource if you’re interested in different University studies regarding various nitrogen inhibitors: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/crops/nitrogen-extenders-and-additives-for-field-crops. It’s too long to share here. A general summary of studies involving the inhibitor N-Serve used with anhydrous ammonia applications shows that it consistently resulted in increased ammonium nitrate the following spring (thus it worked well as a nitrification inhibitor). Yield increases were inconsistent throughout studies and years due to precipitation differences amongst the years. That resource also discusses research regarding other nitrification inhibitors in addition to urease inhibitors and slow-release N products, so it may be a helpful resource. We’ve also had farmers conduct on-farm research studies in the past looking at the application of inhibitors in anhydrous vs. none. They also haven’t consistently shown a yield increase (and we failed to always take soil samples to document any differences in ammonium nitrate the following spring). But if you’re interested in trying a study this coming year looking at nitrogen timing or use of inhibitor, please contact me or your local Extension Educator and we’d be happy to work with you!
Last week I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the Weed Science School. It was an interesting day of learning, discussion, even reflection. Dr. Amit Jhala, Weed Science Specialist, did a really nice job of organizing the day and creating opportunities to hear from University, Industry, and Nebraska Dept. of Ag (NDA) speakers in addition to providing hands-on activities. While dicamba was a topic that was discussed, we didn’t hear about EPA’s ruling till the following day that the RUP products for soybean will be re-registered. Tim Creger with NDA shared that 6 other dicamba products, most with pre-mixes, will be registered this year. He also shared there are 40 ag labeled dicamba products that are not restricted use pesticides, and as long as they aren’t registered for soybean use, he doesn’t anticipate they will become restricted use pesticides. Comparing NDA claims from 2017 to 2018, they received 95 claims (24 investigated due to lack of resources) in 2017 compared to 106 (50 investigated but only 31 resulted in full investigations due to desire of the person filing the complaint) in 2018. Of the 106 claims in 2018, 17 were non-ag related.
In last week’s column, in sharing about fall burndown apps, I had mentioned that 60% ofmarestail (horseweed) in Nebraska germinated in the fall. An updated number of 90-95% fall germination for Eastern Nebraska was shared. This once again emphasizes the importance of considering fall apps for fields with marestail pressure.
Dr. Kevin Bradley from University of Missouri shared on 7 points he’s learned from 15 years of researching waterhemp. They included: Never underestimate waterhemp (I’d say the same for palmer); Era of simple, convenient, quick control is over; Use full herbicide rates and pre-emergence herbicides with residual; Overlap pre + post applications (which we also see with palmer-put that post on a week earlier than you think you need it); Glufosinate, dicamba, and 2,4-D may work now but they’re tools being abused; New traits won’t solve the problem; and Get rid of herbicide-centric way of thinking-we need an integrated approach. He thought he was sharing something shocking in that last statement, but I’d say several of us seek an integrated system’s approach to what we do, including weed management. So ultimately, herbicides aren’t the answer for weed control and we need to be thinking about management from a system’s perspective including crop rotation, use of cover crops, residue management, seed destruction, etc. Especially as from the industry perspective presented, it takes an average of 12 years and average investment of $250 million for a new chemistry to be developed. They are seeking chemistries now that work on specific sites of action (how targets within plant) within the mode of action (specific group or chemistry number).
On November 14th, we’re hosting a Farm/Ranch Transition workshop at the 4-H building in York. This is the closest location for our area. The workshop will focus on the needs of the “sandwich generation” between parents who still own land and children who might want to join the operation, on whom farm/ranch transition and transfer often falls. The Gen2, or Sandwich Generation, will learn how to communicate with family to understand the transition and practice asking difficult questions. Legal topics will include elements of a good business entity, levels of layers for on-farm heirs control and access, and turning agreements into effective written leases. Joe Hawbaker, estate planning attorney, and Allan Vyhnalek, Nebraska Extension transition specialist, will share stories and experiences to successfully plan on the legal side. Dave Goeller, financial and transition specialist, will cover financial considerations, retirement, and compensation versus contribution. Cost is $20 per person. If more than two people are attending per operation, the cost is $15/person. Pre-register at (402) 362-5508 or firstname.lastname@example.org for meal count. Funding for this project was provided by the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Award Number 2015-49200-24226.
November 15th is the York County Corn Grower Banquet at Chances ‘R in York. Social time begins at 6:30 p.m. with a wonderful meal at 7:00 p.m. We will hear from Nate Blum, LEAD 36, on his international trip. We will also hear from local and state directors. Tickets are only $10 and can be obtained from any of the local Corn Grower directors or from the Extension Office at (402) 362-5508. The winner of the Yeti cooler from guessing plot yields will be announced, and those who guessed need to be present in order to have a chance to win. Plot results can be obtained from the Extension Office. Hope to see you there for a nice evening with a wonderful meal to hopefully celebrate the end of harvest season!
Dates are something I tend to remember. This past week I was reflecting on a year ago: fire dangers with three wind events including the Thursday event that was the final straw, a beautiful Wednesday for getting plots out, and then Friday seeing the massive change in yields due to dropped ears. To me, many challenges began with last year’s harvest, and many may wish to forget last year. But reflecting also allows us to learn and count our blessings. Grateful for all the harvest that occurred the past couple of weeks with beautiful weather!…especially since things looked pretty bleak with all the rain and the snow event! Grateful for good yields overall and that we’re not dealing with widespread dropped corn ears at this time!
With the challenges on the soybean side, there’s two
articles in this week’s CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu that may be of interest. One is about feeding soybeans to cattle. With reports of elevators rejecting soybean loads to the east of our area, we received questions if they could be fed. The Cercospora fungus causing purple seed stain and the Phomopsis fungus causing seed decay do not produce mycotoxins. We’re not aware of any soybean mycotoxins. We also don’t know how these fungi affect soybean seed quality regarding the feed value. So, we recommend testing for that if you’re interested in doing this.
Another article is by Cory Walters, UNL Ag Economist talking about crop insurance help with various dockage that one may have received. This fall’s weather could trigger indemnity payments due to low quality. This is just a short excerpt of his article. He writes, “The following discussion describes how crop insurance adjusts soybean yield due to quality for a particular county. While I have not found any differences in discount factors among counties, it is possible. The final outcome depends upon what the county actuarial documents stipulate. Discount rules contain quite a few if/then statements, so final outcomes will depend upon the particular production characteristics.
…Final yield is determined by multiplying the harvest yield by one minus the sum of all discount factors. Factors for each discount type are summarized as follows:
- A sample grade outcome results in a 3% discount factor so no discount factors for any other grade.
- For test weight, discount factors start at 48 to 48.99 lb with a discount factor of 0.7% that increases to a 1.5% discount factor with a 44 to 44.99 test weight. Test weights lower than 44 are settled through the other category.
- Damage discounts start at 8.01% with a 4.4% discount factor that increase to a 25.2% discount factor with a 34.01% to 35% damage. Just like with test weight, damage over 35% are settled through the other category. Damage includes everything except heat.
- Odor sample grade discounts are 2% for musty odor, 2% for sour odor, and 4% for commercially objectionable foreign odor (COFO).
For example, suppose your harvest soybean sample comes back as grade 4 with a 48.5 lb test weight and 9.4% damage. The field yielded 50 bu/ac. Yield would be reduced by 5.9% from the summation of 0.7% (test weight discount) + 5.2% (damage discount). Final yield would equal 47.05 bu/ac (50 x (1-.007-.052)). An indemnity will be paid if harvest revenue is less than guaranteed, which will vary among producers with different insurance products, coverage levels, and APHs.
Producers with multiple insurable units, likely coming from optional or basic units, should contact their insurance agent to determine the process for keeping samples of each unit. This is very important when soybeans are going to the bin. Quality discounts found here will likely not cover the entire price deduction found at the elevator. While this is unfortunate, some coverage is better than none. It is possible to get discount factors updated and/or modified for upcoming insurance contracts.” For questions and comments please contact Cory Walters at email@example.com and view the entire article in this week’s CropWatch.
Fall Burndown Apps is something we recommend, particularly if you have a problem with marestail or winter annuals like henbit in your fields. Nebraska data has shown over 60% of marestail germinates in the fall. Amit Jhala, Extension Weed Scientist shared an article in this week’s CropWatch. The following is a small excerpt, “Preliminary data for eastern Nebraska suggests that a fall burndown applied with a residual herbicide may eliminate the need for an early spring burndown for marestail control; however, this would not replace an at-planting residual application for management of additional troublesome weed species such as waterhemp and Palmer amaranth. For successful marestail management in the fall, apply herbicides following harvest while weather conditions remain favorable (air temperature above 50°F).
- Glyphosate-resistant marestail is widespread across eastern Nebraska, thus 1 lb a.e. 2,4-D per acre is recommended as the base treatment for marestail burndown.
- Glyphosate or other products such as Sharpen® or Gramoxone® may be tank-mixed with 2,4-D to provide broader spectrum control of winter annuals and certain perennial weeds.
- We generally do not recommend including residual herbicides in fall applications since they provide little benefit in managing weeds that emerge the following spring; however, if infestation of marestail is high in the field and the field has a history of marestail seedbank, it would be advantageous to add a residual herbicide such as Authority® or Valor® or Autumn™ Super, or other metribuzin products.
- Refer to the most recent Guide for Weed, Disease, and Insect Management in Nebraska for more herbicide options.
Fall herbicide application is unlikely to eliminate the need for burndown application at planting. Weeds adapted to cool temperatures, such as marestail, are likely to emerge prior to planting, making it necessary to control them.” He also shows photos in this Week’s CropWatch article of fall tillage or use of rye cover crop as additional options for reducing/suppressing marestail and other winter annual weeds.
Grateful for beautiful weather and harvest progressing again! We got the York County Corn Grower Plot out on Friday and special thank you to Ron and Brad Makovicka for their work and dedication to that effort! I will share the official plot results next week. The York County Corn Grower Banquet will be held on Thursday, November 15 at Chances ‘R in York with social time at 6:30 p.m. and meal at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are only $10 per person for a wonderful meal! Tickets can be obtained from any of the local directors or from the York County Extension Office at (402) 362-5508.Nate Blum from Nebraska LEAD Class 36 will give a presentation on his international tour and there will also be updates from Local, State, and National Corn Directors. For those who estimated yields during the plot tour, you need to be present in order to win the Yeti cooler.
Corn Yields: There’s an interesting article in this week’s CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu regarding final yield forecasts. Interesting to me are the box plots showing the range of ’30 year average’ vegetative and reproductive stages vs. 2018. The high heat in June shortened the vegetative time-frame. However, the silking through grain fill period was relatively typical for most locations and the long grain fill period with lower temperatures allowed for the better yields we’re experiencing (where drought and late-season hail wasn’t a factor).
Soybean Harvest Losses: Four soybeans in one square foot equals 1 bu/ac harvest loss. Various publications show how to determine harvest losses in areas of 10 to 25 sq. feet. For those with the SoyCorn Pocket Field Guide, page 78 shows estimating loss based on combine header width: http://nebraskasoybeans.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/SoyCorn-Field-Guide.pdf.
Evergreen Trees: Some evergreen needles are also changing color right now. It is good to look at your trees to determine the cause of the needle color changes. Evergreen trees actually go through a natural needle drop process with some years resulting in more thinning than others. I think this year may be one of those years as stress events can make needle drop heavier. Needle drop appears as needles turning yellow and falling from the tree. Pine trees may keep their needles for 2-3 or more years while spruce keep theirs for 5-7 years before needle drop occurs. Natural needle drop tends to appear along the main trunk and inside needles of the tree.
I also check for the presence of fungal disease. If the pine tree needles have dark spots/bands on them, it may be a fungal disease like dothistroma needle blight (on Ponderosa and Austrian pines) or brown spot (on scotch pines). The fungi actually kill the needles both directions from the location of the infection. With our heavy rains and high periods of humidity, I’m seeing increased fungal disease in evergreen trees this year. Fungicides applied in mid-May and again in mid to late June can help prevent this.
Pine wilt disease occurs in Scotch and Austrian pines. It’s caused by a bark beetle that has nematodes in its gut. The nematodes are native to Nebraska but Scotch and Austrian pines are not. Ponderosa pines aren’t affected because they’re native to Nebraska. The beetle ‘vomits’ the nematodes into the xylem (water-carrying vessels of the tree). The tree senses the presence of the nematodes and shuts down water to various branches as a way to prevent the nematodes from attacking. Thus why one sees a major branch then side of a tree turning gray-green then yellow-brown. Unfortunately, the entire tree will die typically within 3-9 months. Some farmers have tried trunk injections and drenches around their trees in hopes of saving them, to no avail.
On spruce trees, I’m seeing yellow/purple/browning of needles. This often is due to a fungal disease called rhizosphaera needle cast. One way to determine if this is the culprit is to look for tiny black dots on the gray twigs next to affected needles. The black dots are actually fungal structures that allow for infection to occur. Fungicide applied in May and after heavy rains can help. I always intend to spray my spruce tree each May but have failed to get it done the past several years. With recent rains, I’m trying it this fall to see if it can help; will let you know!
There have been several calls about arborvitae rapidly turning brown and I’m seeing evidence of heavy spidermite pressure at one time. Spruce spidermites affect spruce, juniper, arborvitae, etc. The rains and snow washed them off, which is one way to manage them. Evidence can be stippling (tiny yellow-green dots on needles) and also using a magnifying glass, one may see some webbing on undersides of needles. One can also just bang the needles on a white piece of paper to see if any mites are still active. Mites are most active in the cooler times of the season…so August through October in this case. Great resources for additional information include: Diseases of Evergreen Trees and Insect Pests of Evergreen Trees which can be obtained here: https://nfs.unl.edu/publications.
Grateful for the crops that have been harvested thus far! Also grateful for so many paying attention to grain quality coming out of the fields! That’s been a large part of the past 10 days for me…obtaining grain samples and pictures to answer grain quality questions from quite an area. So I did a quick literature review to better understand the conditions when various ear rot fungi grow and also put together a blog post to hopefully help all of us better diagnose what we’re seeing in grain samples-whether corn or soybean. You can find it at: https://jenreesources.com/2018/10/08/grain-observations/.
Fungal growth in storage is based on moisture, humidity, and temperature. I’ve heard various numbers being used for grain storage and I’m not a grain storage expert. I can also appreciate it costs you more and takes time with the current weather conditions to dry corn. In general, most Extension publications throughout the U.S. recommend getting grain dried to 15% as quickly as possible and maintaining grain in long-term storage at 13%. Briefly, in looking through the literature, the reason for this advice is because various ear rot fungi can continue to grow on and inside those kernels. There’s over 25 species of ear rot fungi with most of them ceasing growth at 15%. The main exception is Aspergillus which has species that can continue from just below 13 to above 14%. Thankfully we don’t have a problem with Aspergillus this year. We are seeing a lot of Fusarium and some Gibberella (which may increase with this rain). But we’re also seeing some Diplodia and other lesser ear rot fungi such as Penicillium, Cladosporium, and Nigrospora. The thing is that each fungal species has a temperature and moisture range in which they continue to grow. So if one is growing in a kernel, it gives off heat and moisture allowing for changes in temperature, humidity, and moisture within that area which can allow for other fungal species to grow. Fungi grow from one infected kernel to adjacent kernels. Having more ‘fines’, cob pieces, etc. can increase potential for fungal growth in the bin. Insects also give off heat which changes localized dynamics. Because of these reasons, our recommendation is to get grain dried to 15% as quickly as possible to help stop fungal growth we’re experiencing this year, particularly from Fusarium species. We’re not saying you need to get the grain dried to 13% immediately. It’s only a consideration down the road if you’re storing the grain till next summer. The following NebGuide is a great resource: Management of In-Bin Natural Air Grain Drying Systems to Minimize Energy Costs: http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/ec710.pdf. Our grain storage resource page can be found at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/grain-storage-management.
Also, there’s a new app called “Mycotoxins” and it’s another resource with ear rot pictures and mycotoxin information put out by several Universities produced for both Apple and Android devices.
Farm/Ranch Transition When You Aren’t in Control Nov. 14 York: Passing the farm/ranch on to the next generation is a tough job, especially if the next generation is unsure of what will happen when their parents pass. It is especially for those people, who are wondering what is going on, that a series of farm and ranch transition workshops are planned at Valentine, Ainsworth, O’Neill, Norfolk and York from Oct. 23 to Nov. 14.
The workshops will focus on the needs of the “sandwich generation” between parents who still own land and children who might want to join the operation, on whom farm/ranch transition and transfer often falls. Lack of communication often hinders transitions. The Gen2, or Sandwich Generation, will learn how to communicate with family to understand the transition and practice asking difficult questions.
Legal topics presented at the workshops will center around Gen2 needs, including elements of a good business entity, levels of layers for on-farm heirs control and access, and turning agreements into effective written leases. Joe Hawbaker, estate planning attorney, and Allan Vyhnalek, Nebraska Extension transition specialist, will share stories and experiences to successfully plan on the legal side. Dave Goeller, financial and transition specialist, will cover financial considerations, retirement, and compensation versus contribution.
Many families struggle to split assets fairly between on-ranch and off-ranch heirs, while continuing the ranch as a business. Goeller will discuss the family side and what to consider when dividing assets. Vyhnalek will also cover less-than-ideal situations, negotiating, and looking for other business options. The times are 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at each location. The closest location to this area is November 14 in York at the 4-H Building. Cost is $20 per person. If more than two people are attending per operation, the cost is $15/person. Pre-register at (402) 362-5508 or firstname.lastname@example.org for meal count.
Funding for this project was provided by the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Award Number 2015-49200-24226.