Category Archives: JenREES Columns

JenREES 2/5/23

Sharing more February events this week. Will share more on-farm research results in future weeks.

Looking forward to hearing farmers and livestock producers share at two opportunities this week. Reminder of the Eastern NE Soil Health Conference at Eastern NE R&E Center near Mead on Feb. 9th beginning at 9 a.m. (Reg. at 8:30 a.m.). Also a reminder of our Conversations around Rethinking Grazing-Strategies for nutrient distribution on Feb. 10th from 10-noon at the 4-H Building in York. I’ve asked a few producers to kick off the conversation on how they’re grazing cornstalks, cover crops, pastures for the purpose of better nutrient distribution. If you’re interested in this topic, please plan to attend to share your perspectives, what you’re doing, and questions!

For those reading this planning on attending pesticide recertification trainings in Hastings in Feb. and Mar., the location is at the Extension Office (2975 S. Baltimore Ave.) in Hastings and NOT at the fairgrounds as listed in the winter program brochure.

Farm Bill Webinar: Nebraska USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) is reminding producers now is the time to make elections and enroll in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2023 crop year. The signup period is open through March 15, 2023.

Producers can learn about the ARC and PLC options during a UNL Center for Agricultural Profitability webinar scheduled for 12 p.m. CT on Tuesday, Feb. 7. Cathy Anderson, production and compliance programs chief for the Nebraska Farm Service Agency, and Brad Lubben, extension policy specialist in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Agricultural Economics, will present and share information relevant for producers, ag professionals and ag stakeholders. Registration for the webinar is free and can be found at: https://go.unl.edu/cap2-7.

Feb. 14 Ag Update Merrick Co.: Nebraska water quality’s impact on human health and more, Ag Update 2023 will be held Tuesday, Feb. 14 at the Merrick County Youth and Agriculture Education Center, 1784 Fairgrounds Rd, Central City. It will start with breakfast refreshments provided by Archer Credit Union and exhibits opening at 9 am. The event has a great lineup of speakers and exhibits, including “Nebraska Water, Connecting all Nebraskans” with Crystal Powers, “How Water and Substances Move in Soils and the Vadose Zone” with Aaron Daigh, and “Home Reverse Osmosis Cost Share Program” with Steve Melvin. Lunch will be provided and sponsored by Cornerstone Bank. The day will wrap-up about 3:15 p.m. with door prizes. RSVP to Steve Melvin at (308) 946-3843 or at the Merrick County Extension site.

Feb. 28-Mar. 1 Central Plains Irrigation Conference: The event will take place at the Kearney Holiday Inn Convention Center. This is an educational event and opportunity for networking among producers, university officials, industry leaders and other stakeholders. Irrigation in the Central Plains region will be the focus of the conference with topics such as, but not limited to: Getting the most out of your technology and irrigation support tools; Cover crops and residue management; Remote sensing and drone technology; Pivot performance; “Ogallala Aquifer’s Story: Human, Environment and Production”; Insect and nutrient management via chemigation; “TAPS: Effects of Participant Decisions on Profitability & Efficiency”. The conference will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 28 and then 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1. The cost to attend the event is $55 in advance or $65 at the door. Registration cost does include the lunch meal on Tuesday. Registration is available online, and payment ahead of the conference is appreciated via check or credit card. CCA credits are pending. A vendor show will be available and if your business or organization is interested in having a booth, please contact Donna Lamm at 785-462-7574.







February 2023 Events

January just flew by! Sharing upcoming February events.
Friday Conversations-Focus on Nutrients: These meetings will all be held 10 a.m.-Noon on Feb. 3, 10, and 24 in the 4-H Bldg in York. I started Friday in February conversations last year, and attendees shared to continue them. My goal is to connect farmers and ag industry to share practical info. on what is working and hasn’t worked around specific topics in their operations. These are informal meetings where I’ve asked some farmers to start the conversation and it builds from there. Last year the focus was on cover crops. This year, it’s around nutrient management. Please join us if interested for a time of connection, conversation, and learning! RSVP isn’t required but helps me with preparing (402-362-5508 or jrees2@unl.edu). Topics include:

  • Feb. 3: Understanding the soil microbiome (featuring Dr. Rhae Drijber, UNL soil microbiologist). Discussion around soil microbes and our expectations of what they can/can’t do.
  • Feb. 10: Rethinking Grazing-Strategies for nutrient distribution. Producers share how they graze cornstalks, cover crops, pastures for the purpose of better nutrient distribution & value of this.
  • Feb. 24: Nutrient balancing in conventional, regen, and organic systems. What does the term ‘nutrient balance’ mean to you, what does that look like, and how does one achieve it?

Feb. 9 Eastern NE Soil Health Conference is back at the Eastern NE R&E Center near Mead from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (Registration at 8:30 a.m.). Topics include: Rediversifying crop rotations via Marshall McDaniel, ISU; Chad Dane (Clay Co. Farmer) and Jay Goertzen (York Co. Farmer) will share their experiences after 3 and 4 years interseeding cover crops into early season corn/soybeans on a farmer panel with me; Mary Drewnoski will share practical tips for selecting and grazing forage cover crops; A farmer panel will share on diversifying and intensifying crop rotations (Angela Knuth (Saunders County), Garret Ruskamp (Cuming County), Kyle Riesen (Jefferson County), and Haldon Fugate (Gage County) moderated by Nathan Mueller, NE Extension; and emerging topics will include biochar, kernza, and what’s new in the cover crop industry. There’s no charge, RSVP to: https://go.unl.edu/z7rx.

On-Farm Research Updates: They’re my favorite because the farmers share about research conducted on their own farms. If you haven’t attended in awhile, the York meeting has been designed around conversation with the goals of connection and learning from each other. Come hear farmers share their experiences on production practices such as soybean rates and maturities, nutrient management studies, cover crops, and products such as Pivot Bio PROVEN, Source N, and Xyway. There’s no charge, but RSVP is required for meal planning: https://go.unl.edu/2023ofr. All locations begin at 9 a.m. (Reg. at 8:30 a.m.). Locations: York (Feb. 15, Holthus Convention Center); Beatrice (Feb. 16, Holiday Inn); Fremont (Feb. 17, Extension Office); North Platte (Mar. 1 West Central REEC); Kearney (Mar. 2, Extension Office).

Certification Trainings Dates for programs listed below are listed at: https://jenreesources.com/upcoming-events/

  • Pesticide Trainings: For those who have missed pesticide trainings, I still have some left in Geneva, Deshler, York, David City, Seward.
  • Chemigation: I failed to remind people we were doing chemigation trainings last week in our area. If you still need this, you can do this online or attend in-person in Aurora, Central City, Grand Island, Columbus, Lincoln, or Beatrice.
  • RUP Dicamba training is no longer provided by Extension. You need to take the trainings provided by the companies. Direct links at: https://jenreesources.com/upcoming-events/

Additional Meetings: Feb. 14 is the Ag Update in Central City with a focus on drought and water; Feb. 23-24 is Women in Ag in Kearney; and the Central Plains Irrigation Conference is in Kearney on Feb. 28-Mar. 1.

Balancing Species Protection and Soybean Production workshop on Feb 9th and 10th in Lincoln, NE. For individuals (soybean growers, crop consultants, and ag professionals) across Nebraska and Iowa interested in participating. This is an important opportunity to communicate the impact of the Endangered Species Act on ag production and to find solutions that work for farmers and the species in our communities. Goal is to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss the impacts of national pesticide decisions on a local level and identify the potential consequences and co-benefits of conservation practices for pesticide mitigation measures, endangered species protections, and soil and water conservation. Discuss current ag productivity stressors and listed species needs to work towards developing local adaptive management solutions that can ultimately feed into national pesticide decisions. Having these conversations at a local level can potentially provide greater flexibility in managing new or emerging production issues. Please email Dr. Justin McMechan by Feb. 2 if you’re interested in attending or have comments to share: justin.mcmechan@unl.edu






Nitrogen Rate and Timing Studies

Many farmers are interested in finding ways to grow the same or more bushels with less inputs. Nebraska On-Farm Research has been working with farmers to test different studies, including nutrient management ones, on their farms since the 1990’s. Area on-farm research cooperators and I started the 2022 season with 35 studies, but only 15 made it to harvest with the hail.

While there’s numerous nutrient management studies throughout Nebraska, I’ll focus on local data. Since 2020, one farmer in the Henderson area has been testing nitrogen rate and timing studies. Fields were impacted by July 9 windstorms in 2020 and 2021 and the June 14 hailstorms in 2022. His goals include testing any benefits (yield and nitrogen carryover) to split applying nitrogen vs. applying it mostly up front, and also testing his nitrogen rate vs. +/- 50 lb N/ac. He’s currently amassed 7 site-years worth of data of which only 3 have shown a difference when reducing his grower rate by 50 lb N/ac. For reference, the soil type is silty clay loam/silt loams and his yield goal is around 240 bu/ac. These studies received partial sponsorship from the Upper Big Blue NRD. All the data is shown in charts at jenreesources.com.

In 2022, his nitrogen timing study was conducted on the same strips as in 2021. This study looked at spring vs. split application of nitrogen at 50 lb rate differences. Treatments were: Spring anhydrous of 180 lb N/ac, Spring anhydrous of 230 lb N/ac, Split 180 (120 lb N as spring anhydrous + 60 lb 32% UAN sidedress), and Split 230 (170 lb N as spring anhydrous + 60 lb as 32% UAN sidedress). The field received 35% hail damage at V5 with harvest stands reduced to around 23,000 plants/ac. Yields from the four treatments listed above respectively: 226, 229, 227, and 230 bu/ac with no yield differences amongst the treatments. In 2021, on the same strips of spring vs. split, treatments of 140 vs. 190 lb N/ac were compared. There again were no yield differences with yields ranging from 235-237 in 2021.

In 2022, he also conducted a study testing the economically optimum nitrogen rate on irrigated corn. The previous crop was soybean and this field had 25% hail damage at V6 on June 14, reducing harvest stands to an average of 23,500 plants/ac. Fall anhydrous in November 2021 was applied at rates of 0, 50, 100, 150, and 200 lb N/ac. All treatments then received a sidedress application of 50 lb N/ac as 32% UAN at V8. The sidedress was surface applied and didn’t get incorporated until a rain 10 days later. 2022 was a high mineralization year, but it’s still incredible to see that with only 50 lb N/ac, he achieved 211 bu/ac! The 100 lb N/ac received 222 bu/ac. There were no yield differences between the 150, 200, 250 lb N/ac treatments with respective yields of 231, 232, and 230 bu/ac. The economically optimal nitrogen rate was determined to be 121 lb N/ac for this field. Studies like this are interesting to show what our farmers are trying. They’re also helpful for examining and rethinking nutrient application rates and timing to our fields. If you’re interested in learning more, would encourage you to RSVP for our on-farm research update held Feb. 15 at the Holthus Convention Center in York at: RSVP: https://go.unl.edu/2023ofr.

Hamilton Co. Ag Day: Steve Melvin has put together great opportunities for the Hamilton and Merrick Co. Ag Days this year! Jan. 31 is Hamilton Co. Ag Day at Fairgrounds in Aurora with registration at 9 a.m. and program beginning at 9:30 a.m. with Corn and USDA updates. Additional morning topics include corn and soybean insect and disease updates and irrigation scheduling info. Lunch is sponsored by AKRS equipment. The afternoon is focused on a Farm/Ranch Transition Succession Workshop with Al Vyhnalek, UNL Farm succession specialist and Tom Fehringer, Attorney. I’ve heard a lot of farm succession speakers and this duo of Al and Tom is extra helpful. They are so practical and share in a way that is easily understandable and relatable. I could relate to the family stories they shared and have seen some people in tears for two main reasons: wishing they had heard the info. earlier and also grateful they had the info. now to change things for the future. Please consider attending!


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

Pre-PlantIn-seasonlbs N/bu grainYieldMarginal Net Return
110 lb N/ac spring NH3 (March)25 lb N/ac as UAN May0.73 C184 A$599.14 A
160 lb N/ac spring NH3 (March)25 lb N/ac as UAN May0.98 B189 A$600.38 A
210 lb N/ac spring NH3 (March)25 lb N/ac as UAN May1.23 A191 A$594.88 A
*Values with the same letter are not statistically different at a 90% confidence level. Marginal net return based on $3.51/bu corn, $8/ac for the anhydrous application cost, $0.28/lb N as anhydrous, and $0.35/lb N as UAN. 

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

Pre-PlantIn-seasonlbs N/bu grainYieldMarginal Net Return
180 lb N/ac Fall NH325 lb N/ac as UAN May1.03 B199 A$629.85 A
230 lb N/ac Fall NH325 lb N/ac as UAN May1.27 A201 A$625.49 A
180 lb N/ac Spring NH325 lb N/ac as UAN May1.02 B201 A$638.30 A
230 lb N/ac Spring NH325 lb N/ac as UAN May1.24 A206 A$641.70 A
120 lb/ac N Spring NH325 lb N/ac as UAN May
60 lb N/ac side-dress V8
1.00 B205 A$645.69 A
170 lb/ac N Spring NH325 lb N/ac as UAN May
60 lb N/ac side-dress V8
1.24 A206 A$633.50 A
Values with the same letter are not significantly different at a 90% confidence level. Marginal net return based on $3.51 bu corn, $0.28/lb N as anhydrous ammonia, $8.00/ac for anhydrous application, $0.35/lb for UAN applied with herbicide or as a sidedress, and $3/ac for sidedress UAN application.

2021 Hamilton County Spring Anhydrous N Rate Study
This study showed no reduction in yield of grower rate vs. 50 lb N/ac under the rate; however, the yield from the -50 lb rate treatment was different from the 50+ rate. There were no differences in marginal net return. This field received 20% wind damage from July 9, 2021 storm. Partially sponsored by UBBNRD.


2021 York County Spring Anhydrous N Rate Study
This study showed no yield difference between the grower rate and 50 lb N/ac over the grower rate but they yielded significantly more than the 50 lb N/ac under treatment and had greater marginal net return. This field received 20% wind damage from July 9, 2021 storm. Study partially sponsored by UBBNRD.


2021 York County Timing by N Rate Study
(Sponsored in part by UBBNRD)

Spring 140 lb/ac: 110 lb/ac N as anhydrous and 30 lb/ac N with herbicide
Spring 190 lb/ac: 160 lb/ac N as anhydrous and 30 lb/ac N with herbicide
Split 140 lb/ac: 50 lb/ac N as anhydrous, 30 lb/ac N with herbicide, and 60 lb/ac N sidedressed at V8
Split 190 lb/ac: 100 lb/ac N as anhydrous, 30 lb/ac N with herbicide, and 60 lb/ac N sidedressed at V8

2022 York County Timing by N Rate Study (same strips as 2021)
(Sponsored in part by UBBNRD)
35% hail damage on June 14, 2022 at V5

Spring 180 lb/ac: 180 lb/ac N as anhydrous
Spring 230 lb/ac: 160 lb/ac N as anhydrous and 30 lb/ac N with herbicide
Split 180 lb/ac: 120 lb/ac N as anhydrous and 60 lb/ac N sidedressed at V8
Split 230 lb/ac: 170 lb/ac N as anhydrous and 60 lb/ac N sidedressed at V8


2022 Economically Optimum Nitrogen Rate
(Sponsored in part by UBBNRD)
25% hail damage on June 14, 2022 at V6

Treatments: Fall anhydrous applied November 2021. Sidedress application of 50 lb N/ac 32% UAN at V8.
50 lb N/ac (0 lb anhydrous, 50 lb sidedress)
100 lb N/ac (50 lb anhydrous, 50 lb sidedress)
150 lb N/ac (100 lb anhydrous, 50 lb sidedress)
200 lb N/ac (150 lb anhydrous, 50 lb sidedress)
250 lb N/ac (200 lb anhydrous, 50 lb sidedress)

Economically optimum nitrogen rate was determined to be 121 lb N/ac based on a corn price of $6.57/bu and nitrogen price of $0.98/lb.


2022 Soybean Production Studies

Ag Conference: Thank you to everyone with the York Chamber, Holthus Convention Center, Chamber Ag Committee and Ambassadors, York Visitors Bureau, Sponsors, Vendors, Newspaper and Radio for all their work and help with the York Ag Conference last week! It takes a great team to pull off a successful event. Several individuals were very helpful to me with the pesticide certification trainings; I’m grateful to each of you for your help! Grateful for all the farmers who attended and it was great to catch up with several of you!

Crop Production Clinic Clarification: Both commercial and non-commercial applicators in the ag plant and research and demonstration categories can renew at any of the crop production clinics. The York clinic is reformatted compared to the other clinics, but recertification can be received at any CPC. You can pre-register or walk-in that day for same cost. Info: https://agronomy.unl.edu/cpc.

This week I’ll share on soybean production studies. Our on-farm research update with farmers sharing their results will be Feb. 15 at the Holthus Convention Center in York. Pre-registration at: https://go.unl.edu/3j8q. Grateful for all the cooperators who work with me via on-farm research!

Soybean Seeding Rates: A first-year cooperator from the Utica area chose a soybean seeding rate study of 100,000 vs. 130,000 vs. 160,000 seeds/ac. He planted April 18 with NK 28-T3XF strip-tilled into corn. I started emergence counts May 9 when cotyledons had pulled just above the soil surface. 68% of the 130K, 52% of the 160K, and 48% of the 100K had emerged on Day 1. By Day 9 when I took the last counts, 95% of the 160K, 93% of the 130K, and 94% of the 100K had emerged. The May 22 frost with heavy residue reduced stands in areas of the field down to 35,000 plants/ac. The farmer decided not to replant a large portion of the field including where I had taken these initial emergence counts. This field missed the June 14 hail. The data shared doesn’t include the areas of the field down to 35K. At harvest, 81% of 160K (129,000 plants/ac), 79% of the 130K (103,000 plants/ac), and 86% of the 100K (86,000 plants/ac) remained. There were no yield differences with the 100K yielding 71 bu/ac, 130K yielding 72 bu/ac, and 160K yielding 73 bu/ac. The study results follow 17 years-worth of on-farm research results showing no yield loss when reducing seeding rates of 160-180K down to 120-140K in heavier textured soils. Our Nebraska data also shows that soybean planting rates of 80,000 to 120,000 seeds/ac resulted in the highest profitability.

Early season soybean emergence was documented by placing different colored popsicle sticks at newly emerged plants on each day of counting.

Soybean Maturity Studies: Seth Naeve, University of Minnesota shared that compared to lower yielding varieties, highest yielding varieties produce between 20 to 40% greater yields. Thus, variety selection is the greatest factor for impacting soybean yield. Third-party information is limited in Nebraska. If there’s interest in a soybean grower plot in the area (particularly someone willing to host this), please let me know. Some third-party resources include: F.I.R.S.T  Soybean Testing Program (https://www.firstseedtests.com/), and data from Universities such as Iowa StateK-StateSouth Dakota State, and Missouri. Seed companies have numerous locations with data. When possible, look at how a variety performs over multiple years at multiple locations.

We now have 13 site-years worth of data from Seward and York counties comparing Group 2 and Group 3 maturity soybeans. Reasons for considering a Group 2 variety in our area include spreading out harvest, opportunity for planting cover crops for greater fall growth, and spreading risk from weather events. In 10 of the 13 site-years, there were no yield differences between high-yielding Group 2 and 3 varieties when planted mid-April to early May. In the other three site-years, the Group 3 varieties had higher yields than the Group 2 varieties. One reason was late season rains benefited Group 3 soybeans in non-irrigated environments in two site-years. In the gravity irrigated ridge-till environment, harvesting the Group 2 variety sooner may have helped reduce plants from lodging down into furrows that are difficult to pick up at harvest.

Jan. 2023 Programs

Happy New Year! This week I’m providing an update on upcoming January 2023 meetings.
Private Pesticide Applicator Trainings: This is the year where a number of us need to recertify. If you plan to attend an in-person training, please RSVP to the local Extension office in the county you plan to attend. Cost for training is $50, whether one takes the training in person or online. For those who are recertifying online at pested.unl.edu, there is an option that allows you to skip the training and go straight to the test if you prefer. If you fail the test, you are allowed to go back through the training.

RUP Dicamba Training is not being provided by Extension. Attend a training through Bayer, BASF, or Syngenta. Direct links to their training info. at: https://jenreesources.com/upcoming-events/.

Commercial/Non-Commercial Pesticide Applicator Trainings: For those seeking initial trainings, the easiest way to obtain certification is go to https://pested.unl.edu/certification-and-training, click on ‘commercial/non-commercial’, and follow the instructions for purchasing materials and signing up for a training class and/or testing location. For Recertification in Ag Plant (Category 01), please plan to attend one of the Crop Production Clinics (CPC) throughout the State. On Jan. 20th CPC in York, we’ve redesigned the recertification training to include hands-on stations including a sprayer, nozzle spray table, etc. We will also have the crop/soil/water room in York but we will not have the traditional disease, insect, weed sessions. For CPC full agenda, please go to:  https://agronomy.unl.edu/cpc.

York Ag Conference: This will be held January 12th from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Holthus Convention Center. It’s been redesigned as a one-day conference with ‘expert’ discussions on meteorology/trees/soil health/ag markets/autonomous ag, etc., farmer coffee chats, in addition to exhibitor booths. I’m hosting two private pesticide training sessions (9 a.m. and 1 p.m.) at the Conference and am requiring RSVP to 402-362-5508. Free ag appreciation lunch sponsored by Cornerstone Bank will be served from 11:30-1:30 p.m. There will also be a Celebrating Ag Happy Hour beginning at 3:30 p.m. sponsored by the York County Corn Growers. Additional major sponsors include CVA, Rural Radio Network, York Co. Visitors Bureau, Midwest Bank, York News Times, Kroeker & Kroeker Insurance & Real Estate, and Nebraska Extension. For more information, please visit: https://yorkchamber.org/york-ag-conference/.

Chemigation Trainings are for those who apply fertilizer and/or pesticide through irrigation systems. There is no fee for these trainings. They can be done online or in-person. Area in-person trainings in January include: Jan. 25 at 1:30 p.m. at Fairgrounds in Hastings, Jan. 26 at 1 p.m. at the Community Center in Davenport, Jan. 26 at 1:30 p.m. at Community Center in Blue Hill, and Jan. 27 at 9:30 a.m. at the Cornerstone Event Center at the Fairgrounds in York.

The Power of Negotiation and Communication is provided via Women in Ag focusing on women, but men are welcome to attend. It is a 4-part workshop held Jan. 18, Jan. 25, Feb. 1 and Feb. 8 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Topics include: Lease Agreement Basics; Landlord/Tenant Relations; Negotiation/ Communication Skills; and Conservation Practices. Locations hosting include: Ext. Office in Geneva, Fairgrounds in Central City, and Ext. Office in Lexington. More info: go.unl.edu/negotiation.

York-Hamilton Cattlemen Banquet will be Tues., January 31 at the Holthus Convention Center in York. Doors open at 6:30 with cash bar followed by prime rib meal, entertainment, and recognition of honored guests. Rex Havens is the evening entertainment. He’s a former college professor who has made the transition to standup comedian. Tickets are $25 per person, or banquet sponsorships that include two banquet tickets and the business recognition at the banquet are available for $150. Cattlemen’s Banquet tickets can be purchased from any of the York-Hamilton County Cattlemen’s Directors or at the UNL Extension Offices in Hamilton and York Counties.



2022 Reflections, 2023 Renewed Hope

I’ve been reflecting a lot since harvest. There were many hard things, particularly in agriculture, that happened in 2022. Quick recap list were: Dec. 15, 2021 tornadoes and wind storm that began pivot destruction, dry winter and spring, high input costs and difficulty finding chemicals, wildfires, endless wind and dust storms, dry and cold planting season, numerous hailstorms, replanting crops, pivots throughout state needing replaced, drought, more wildfires, more wind, avian influenza, deep cold, and blizzards out west. There were also those who lost loved ones or had family/friends get sick or hurt. It seemed to be the year that kept on giving.

There were many blessings though too! Good crop prices and the benefit of insurance to help with homes, buildings, vehicles, crops were large blessings. Family and friends pulled together to cleanup destruction, patch homes, and get crops in the ground. For those who replanted crops, we witnessed a miracle in the fact that an entire growing season was re-started in mid to late June in two weeks! Seriously, think about that. With all the moving parts in ag, how chem was in short supply, the large area impacted, it truly was a miracle. I was so proud of how ag industry pulled together to make that happen! This year was taxing on mental health, and I heard and watched people reach out to each other to talk through the difficulties of the year. I’m also so grateful for our livestock and ethanol industries in Nebraska as markets for our crops. The feedlots were an extra blessing with the wet corn that was prematurely froze. There also was much learned, in spite of the fact it may not be what most of us set out to learn for the year!

Many of us have wanted to get to the end of 2022 and it’s now here. We each dealt with the year in different ways. Did we finish well? Each year will have its challenges and opportunities. How we choose to work through them can help us with perspective and build resilience for future hard times.

In reflecting on the way home from church one day, the word ‘character’ came to mind. 2022 was truly a character-building year!

Those thoughts were reinforced as I walked into the grocery store to find two farmers discussing the year with one mentioning the exact same thing. I googled the definition of character. It said, “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” I’ve thought about the good things built in my character from the difficulties of 2022 and also areas I need to improve for the future. Reflecting on 2022 has helped me with personal and professional goal setting for 2023.

As you reflect:

  • How did your character build in 2022?
  • What areas could use improvement?
  • What did you learn in 2022 about yourself and the situations you went through?
  • How can you use what was learned in 2022 to plan for 2023?

Wishing you and your family blessings in 2023; a new year with new opportunities and renewed hope!

End of Year Reporting: The end of the year also means report time for those of us in Extension. Each year we need to justify the things we do in trying to help people. This year, I’d particularly appreciate any comments if you felt my blog posts or farm visits helped in regards to the hail damage. I know we get bombarded with surveys! So, if you’d consider taking time for this 5 question survey I’d greatly appreciate it. For those of you who’ve responded in the past, re-reading your comments encourages me throughout the year. Thanks!  https://app.sli.do/event/tPSXB8muP9hDm8M42qkRER

JenREES 12/23/22

Hope you have a blessed Christmas and wishing you joy, peace, and hope this Christmas season! A reminder for holiday food safety tips, please check out: https://food.unl.edu/article/holiday-food-safety-tips. This week going to share some info. on a number of Christmas-related plant topics that were written by Extension Horticultural Educator Kelly Feehan.

Live Christmas Trees: Just a reminder to daily check live Christmas trees for their watering needs to avoid a fire hazard. Kelly shares, “The rule-of-thumb is a tree will use one quart of water per day for every inch of trunk diameter near the base. If you have a tree with a 3-inch base, it can use 3 quarts of water per day. The trunk should have been freshly cut at a slant just prior to putting it in the stand. If the stand is empty for more than six to eight hours, the tree’s pores plug up again. Water uptake is much reduced and the tree dries out sooner. If a tree stand dries out for half a day or more, the only thing that can be done is to remove the tree from the stand and recut the base; which is not a fun task with the lights and ornaments. When watering, nothing needs to be added to water in the tree stand to promote freshness.”

Christmas Cactus: Kelly shares, “to keep Christmas cactus blooming as long as possible, place it in bright but indirect light. Too much sun can cause leaves to turn yellow. Keep soil or potting mix constantly moist but not waterlogged. Even though they are cactus, they are jungle natives and prefer just moist conditions with indirect light. Avoid fertilizing Christmas cactus during the winter; but do fertilize every other week from spring through fall. Plants seem to flower best if they are a little pot bound; but if roots become over-crowded in the container, blooming will decrease. If you haven’t repotted in several years, or you notice a decrease in flowering from the previous year, repot the plant into a slightly larger pot, but wait until spring. If possible, move the plants outside for summer. Keep in a shady area as Christmas cactus will not tolerate full sun.”

Poinsettias: Kelly also shares, “It’s Poinsettia time. Hard to believe these bright, colorful plants originated from a weed. And amazing what plant breeding and good marketing can do. To enjoy your Poinsettia as long as possible, place them in an area with bright sun for at least half the day. If possible, provide a night temperatures in the 50’s or 60’s. This is often the most challenging condition to meet in the home, but keep plants as cool as possible at night. If plants are near a window, don’t let the leaves touch cold window panes; and keep Poinsettias away from warm or cold drafts.  Poinsettias need to be well-watered. Because they are in a light weight soil-less mix, they will dry out quickly. Allow the soil to dry slightly between watering; then water thoroughly until water runs out of drainage holes. Be sure to punch holes in decorative foil wraps to prevent soggy soil conditions or at least pour excess water out of the foil after each watering.”

Amaryllis: Finally Kelly shares, “Amaryllis is a popular holiday plant. It is easy to grow and blooms well indoors with large, colorful blossoms. For these reasons, the National Garden Bureau has named 2023 as the Year of the Amaryllis. The plant we call Amaryllis and enjoy during winter is actually Hippeastrum. It is a member of the Amaryllidaceae genus and this is likely why it is called Amaryllis. If you received an Amaryllis bulb as a gift, plant it in a container that has drainage holes and is one to two inches larger than the bulb. Use a well-drained potting mix and plant so the top one-third of the bulb remains above the soil. Water to moisten the potting mix but then wait for signs of growth before watering much. Once growth begins, keep the soil barely moist. After a flower stalk forms, the soil can be kept uniformly moist but avoid overwatering. Amaryllis need very bright light for blooming. Place them in or near a south window.”


God continues to paint such beauty in the midst of this deep cold! So fitting as a reminder to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus the true reason for this Christmas season!

JenREES 12/19/22

In some ways, it’s hard to believe that Christmas is this coming week; wishing you and your family a very blessed Christmas! For holiday food safety tips, please check out: https://food.unl.edu/article/holiday-food-safety-tips.

Extension is an interesting career that’s hard to explain what all it entails. Many people realize we’re involved with the fair and 4-H. Beyond this, the responsibilities just change with each season. For me, January and February are filled with winter meetings where I have the opportunity to teach and learn throughout the state each day. This past month was spent scheduling and planning for those meetings. Pesticide letters and winter program brochures should be mailed from local Extension offices in the next few weeks. The winter program brochure is also here: https://jenreesources.com/upcoming-events/.

Winter meetings mostly entail certification training and learning opportunities to discuss the past year and preparing for the coming one. Anyone who applies restricted use pesticides take pesticide certification training every three years to handle and apply pesticides safely. Those who apply chemicals and fertilizer through irrigation systems take chemigation training to do so safely. Nitrogen certification training is taken for those who farm in areas of NRDs that have groundwater nitrate levels higher than 7 ppm. Livestock operations of designated sizes take training on the proper handling, storage, and application of manure. Organic producers also go through a certification process. All the certifications mentioned above require our farmers, applicators, and livestock producers to keep records of what they are doing, and random inspections can occur for some of the certifications to ensure they’re in compliance.

Beyond the required trainings, many attend meetings throughout the winter to continue learning and improving efficiencies in their operations. While there’s always a few outliers in any industry, the majority of farmers I know are seeking increased nitrogen use efficiency (applying less nitrogen per bushel of grain received). We can’t change the past for what wasn’t known back then of fertilizer and water applications that would eventually impact nitrates in groundwater. In general, while there are some outliers, practices have changed and farmers seek to be increasingly efficient with fertilizer and water use.

UNL Soil Specialists share of these improved efficiencies in an article found at https://go.unl.edu/mxu0, “Partial factor productivity (PFP) is a measure of efficiency of input use…PFP is commonly expressed as yield per unit input, e.g. bushels of corn per pound of fertilizer nitrogen (N) applied (bu/lb N). PFP can be adapted to units of nutrient removed in grain harvest to units of nutrient applied, such as corn N harvested relative to fertilizer N applied (PFPN, lb/lb).

The PFPN used for the analysis in this article was derived from growers’ practices statewide with the assumption that growers’ N use was aimed at profit maximization. The average PFP of fertilizer N for corn in Nebraska was estimated to average 1.16 bu/lb N in 2012 compared to 0.57 bu/lb N in 1965 (Ferguson, 2014). This represents a doubling in PFP for fertilizer N applied to corn. The trend of increase was linear from 1965 to 2012.” (What they’re showing is increased nitrogen use efficiency between 1965-2012 of more corn produced per pound of nitrogen applied). The ratio can also be flipped to look at how many pounds of N are being used to produce 1 bushel of grain.

Most farmers I talk with, for the yields they are receiving compared to nitrogen applied, have nitrogen use efficiencies of 0.8-1.0 lb of N per bushel of grain produced. There’s an increasing number of farmers I know who are working to push that further to 0.6-0.8. There’s also those above 1.0 who could improve.

In my nearly 19 years of Extension, I have yet to meet a farmer or livestock producer that didn’t care about the future of his/her land, about water, about making improvements for the next generation. An increasing number of producers are testing ways to improve nitrogen and other input efficiencies via on-farm research. I will share results from these studies on what our growers are learning over the first few months of next year.

Dr. Kohl Recap

Walking in the misty rain Thursday, it just felt wonderful to get some moisture, even though it became ice! Sharing some things learned from Dr. David Kohl that day. His overall theme was to “Be in the black (profitable) without the government”. Many illustrations he likened to sports in needing to stick to fundamentals such as knowing cost of production, our marketing plan, staying the course with what we can control vs. getting derailed by what we can’t. Media headlines can rapidly change things thus the extra importance to stay the course. Ag is such a global market. With all the politics, he emphasized the need to have a fuel and fertilizer input cost strategy as China will more directly trade with Brazil/Argentina first. And, because of the world dynamics, he emphasized several times to “Never bet your farm or ranch on an authoritarian government”. Another thing that’s kept me thinking was “People who are successful are 5% better in a lot of little areas”.

My colleague, Brandy VanDeWalle, wrote the following in her column, “Recently at a Farmers & Ranchers College program, Dr. David Kohl emphasized the importance of maintaining working capital or cash for businesses and families, among other important business principles. As always, his global knowledge of events and how they impact U.S. agriculture is fascinating.

One of the mega-trends for producers to pay attention to is the increased focus on healthy soil and water. Healthy soil and water quality creates healthy plants, animals, humans, and environment. Likely there will be paid incentives for producers who excel in these areas. Continuing to reassure consumers where and how food is produced, processed, and distributed remains important. It is also crucial to know your cost of production to plan best, average, and worst-case scenarios. Kohl also recommends overestimating capital expenditures by 25%.

His “Rule of 78” caught the attention of a lot of participants. When most people reach 78 years of age, usually health starts to decline unless you practice 8 habits. Those eight habits to have a quality of life included taking care one oneself physically by drinking water, exercising regularly, eating healthy and getting enough sleep.  Mentally, people should have a support network, life purpose, engage in mental activities such as reading or meditating and practice your faith/spiritual life.  He emphasized the importance of allowing oneself 2 hours per day with no technology.

Farmers and ranchers should also manage things that can be controlled and manage around those that cannot be controlled. He reinforced the idea that for a successful operation, you must plan, strategize, execute, and monitor. Examine monthly or at least quarterly financials to ensure you are on track. Those with a written business plan are four times more profitable than those without a plan. Also, the mental health of those with a business plan have two times the mental health as those without a written plan.

Kohl reminded participants of his business IQ exercise that ANY business should undertake. The areas in the business IQ included cost of production knowledge, cost of production by enterprise, goals (business, family, personal), record keeping system, projected cash flow, financial sensitivity analysis, financial ratio/break evens, those who work with an advisory team/lender, those whom have a marketing plan and execute, those whom have a risk management plan and execute, modest lifestyle habits, strong people management plan, transition plan, those whom attend educational seminars, and their attitude.

To determine what your cost of production is, a hands-on training will be held at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds on Thursday, December 15th from 1-3:00 p.m. This program is free, but registration is preferred for planning. Register at cap.unl.edu/abc/training. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own laptop or tablet to the workshop.”

Nebraska Mesonet are the weather stations located throughout our State with the data shared in our UNL CropWatch site for ET, soil temperature, precipitation, etc. But beyond farmers/ranchers and Extension using it, the data’s also used by National Weather Service, NOAA, Drought Monitor, etc. Please consider reading this article to become more familiar with what the Mesonet is and its importance regarding what shutting down locations means for Nebraska: https://go.unl.edu/a64h


JenREES 12/4/22

Pesticide certification trainings are currently being scheduled. We’ll share those dates towards the end of the month.

Ag Land Management Quarterly Webinar: Here’s the recording for those interested: https://go.unl.edu/ydhc. It covered recent findings from the 2022 USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service county-level cash rent survey and trends in farm programs influencing operations across the state. It also included a segment on landlord-tenant communication issues related to closing out 2022 leases and review leasing considerations for 2023.

Farm Tax Guides are now available in many local county Extension Offices for free if you’d like one.

Nebraska Crop Budgets: A recent recorded webinar highlighted 2023 crop budget updates at: https://go.unl.edu/e9rj. My colleague Glennis McClure, who assembles the UNL Crop budgets, shares, “The Nebraska crop budgets found at https://cap.unl.edu/cropbudgets were recently updated. All of the 84 budgets indicate cost of production increases. Estimated average economic or total costs per bushel for 2023 corn production are expected to be at least 23% to 25% greater than last year. Soybeans are estimated to be 13% to 19% more in economic costs per bushel, with wheat production costs having jumped over 20% compared to last year and running as high as 63% higher over the last two years combined. Cost scenarios for individual producers can vary based on their timing of input purchases and price variabilities. Ownership costs of land and rental rates are factors adding to cost increases as well, with the all-land average value in Nebraska rising 16% for the year ending February 1, 2022.

Along with increased costs come increased financial risk exposure associated with yield or market changes. It is important to develop cost of production baseline information to utilize market opportunities as they are available, consider input decisions, and make timely risk management decisions. Knowing projected enterprise costs can provide confidence in decision making.” A UNL Agricultural Budget Calculator (ABC) found at https://agbudget.unl.edu/ aids in creating enterprise budgets. Online and in-person training sessions can be accessed at https://cap.unl.edu/abc. A nearby in-person training session will occur on December 15 from 1-3 p.m. at the Fillmore Co. Fairgrounds in Geneva as part of the Farmers/Rancher’s College. This is hands-on and you are welcome to bring your laptop. Please contact Fillmore Co. Extension to RSVP and more for info: 402-759-3712. 

CropWatch Survey: For those of you who utilize our UNL CropWatch website, we ask you to share your thoughts on how we did in 2022. You can provide comments here: https://ssp.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5AA8iYvCHQVfz9A

Houseplant Browning: If the leaf edges of your houseplants have been turning brown like mine, my colleague Kelly Feehan offers some tips. “When the tips and edges of houseplant leaves turn brown, it’s usually due to low humidity or fluoride in water. Most houseplants are injured when humidity is under 20 percent. Humidity levels between 40 and 60 percent are preferred for houseplants. The best way to increase humidity is to use a room humidifier or a whole-house humidifier attached to the furnace. Syringing (spraying plants with clean water) removes dirt from leaves and increases humidity, but only to a small degree. High humidity areas such as bathrooms and kitchens are often ideal for plants. Excessive fluoride levels in water can cause tip and leaf scorching. Sensitive plants like Dracena, Cordyline, and Chlorophytum are best watered with rain water if possible. Tap water can be used but let it stand for at least 24 hours in containers to allow chlorine and fluorine to dissipate. When watering houseplants, room temperature water is best.”


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