Category Archives: Lawns

JenREES 9/12/21

Fall Armyworms: Received numerous reports of fall armyworm damage this past week from Kansas-Nebraska state line north to York. Damage was occurring in new alfalfa seedings in addition to established alfalfa, a new triticale seeding, and several lawns. With moths still being observed, we may see fall armyworms around for a few weeks yet, so it would be wise to be watching any alfalfa, wheat, rye, triticale and lawns for them. There’s no good way of knowing where they’ll appear; it’s all based on where the moth chooses to lay her eggs. Several reports of one field affected while the field next to it is fine. Same with lawns. Egg masses are fuzzy white masses that can include up to 200 caterpillars and the eggs can hatch in 2-5 days. Newly hatched larvae will be thin and often black/gray in color. I have some pictures from my colleague Jody Green at jenreesources.com.

In town, if you find the egg masses on lawn furniture, siding, or garden features, simply wipe them up with paper towel and discard in the garbage. They’re far easier to control when the larvae are ¾ inch or less. When they get larger than this, insecticides aren’t as effective, and usually, by that time, so much damage has occurred that the area will need reseeded. Products with active ingredients such as bifenthrin or permethrin are effective and are options for both farmers for fields and also homeowners with lawns. Sevin is also an option for both. Kentucky bluegrass lawns may be able to recover from rhizomes regrowing in the spring. However, fescue and ryegrass will need intervention this fall for reseeding. An organic insecticide option is Dipel which will take a little longer to work, but is still effective on smaller larvae. For lawn situations, it’s important to water the insecticide product in the ground to get the granules off the leaf blades and into the soil.

(Photo caption: Fall armyworm moth, egg mass, and larvae. Photos via Jody Green and UNL Entomology).

Large grubs on concrete: Had several reports last week of large white grubs on concrete stairs, sidewalks, and driveways. They are really large, up to 1.5 inches. What’s interesting about them is they crawl on their backs! These are grub larvae of the green June beetle which is a large beetle that often sounds like it’s ‘buzzing’ during June and July. The adult beetle can cause damage to ripening fruits such as stone fruits and berries. However, the grub larvae are not a major turf pest, unlike other grub species. They feed on thatch layers and organic matter, but don’t really attack lawn roots. They make holes in the soil, so rain and irrigation will drive them out onto concrete.

Green June beetle larvae-courtesy Matt Redman of Polk.

Small Grains and Weed Control: Last week I mentioned considerations for wheat planting. Even if small grains aren’t taken for seed, they do a tremendous job for weed and erosion control, provide an option for grazing, and uptake excess moisture and nutrients (helpful in seed corn field situations). Small grains, particularly oats and rye, have been proven to help with reducing soybean pathogens such as fungi and nematodes causing SDS and SCN. I’ve been watching a couple side-by-side soybean fields in which one was planted green into rye and the other didn’t have rye. Even the farmer commented on it to me this week how the quarter without rye has senesced earlier and has problems with anthracnose and Diaporthe complex (including pod and stem blight) while the other is essentially disease free.

Wheat provides an option for both grazing and grain. Rye provides the best option for earliest green-up/growth in the spring and longest seeding time as it can be seeded into December. Triticale provides the most biomass, including for haying and small grain silage, but produces the latest into late May/early June. It’s too late to plant oats for the fall, but they are an option for the spring. All keep the ground covered from light interception penetrating the soil surface which allows weed seeds to germinate.

Researchers from K-State looked at marestail (horseweed) and palmer amaranth control from 2014-2015 in no-till soybeans at six locations in eastern Kansas. They also found the majority of marestail emerged in the fall (research from UNL showed up to 95% does). They compared five cover crop treatments including: no cover; fall-sown winter wheat; spring-sown oat; pea; and mixture of oat and pea. Cover crops were terminated in May with glyphosate and 2,4-D alone compared to a control of no herbicide use. Ten weeks post-termination, palmer amaranth biomass was 98% less in winter wheat and 91% less in spring oat compared to no cover crop and no herbicide control. The same cover crops were also compared to a no cover crop treatment where all received a May herbicide application of 2,4-D and glyphosate with residual herbicides of flumioxazin + pyroxasulfone (Fierce). With the addition of residual, there was no difference in palmer amaranth biomass in the no cover crop with residual herbicide and all the cover crop species where a residual herbicide was added. I share the Research Figure on my blog site which is incredibly visual and have shared it in pesticide trainings as well. To me, it so visually shares how well residual herbicides can work, which we’re aware of. However, what strikes me the most is how much work that residual had to do on its own to achieve the same control as a cover crop + residual herbicide. Adding the cover crop reduced the load of the herbicide alone and is another tool in the toolbox. It also shows how effective cover crops for weed control can be for organic systems if there’s a solid way for terminating them. I realize cover crops don’t fit every field or every situation. Just some considerations as we especially think of situations where planting a small grain this fall could be used for weed and erosion control and/or grazing.

The cover crop alone, particularly small grain such as wheat and oat, significantly reduced palmer amaranth biomass compared to the no cover crop treatment with no residual herbicide use (black bars). Adding the residual (gray bars) reduced palmer amaranth biomass to the same level in all treatments. But look at the difference between “A” and “B” in the no cover treatment. The herbicide had to do all the work to achieve that level of control compared to having an additional tool of the cover crop to reduce the pressure on the herbicide to work in the other gray bars. That’s what stands out the most to me on this study. It also shows the effectiveness of cover crops if there’s a solid way for terminating them in organic systems. I realize cover crops don’t fit every situation. Just sharing as something to consider, especially for those struggling with palmer amaranth and waterhemp control.

JenREES 8/22/21

Crop Update: The heat has really pushed crops along. Grateful for the reports of some rain! It’s really important to know your soil moisture levels and work for the balance of not stopping too soon vs. leaving the field too wet going into the fall/winter. The following information comes from the NebGuide: Predicting the Last Irrigation of the Season found at: https://go.unl.edu/k74n:

  • Corn at Dough needs 7.5” (approximately 34 days to maturity)
  • Corn at Beginning Dent needs 5” of water (approximately 24 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ¼ milk needs 3.75” (approximately 19 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ½ milk (Full Dent) needs 2.25” (approximately 13 days to maturity)
  • Soybean at beginning seed (R5) needs around 6.5” (approx. 29 days to maturity)
  • Soybean at full seed (R6) needs 3.5” (approx. 18 days to maturity)
  • Soybean with leaves beginning to yellow (R6.5) needs 1.9” (approx. 10 days to maturity)

Alfalfa and Wheat Expo: Southeast Nebraska farmers can sharpen their management strategies at the inaugural 2021 Southeast Nebraska Alfalfa and Wheat Expo. The inaugural Alfalfa and Wheat Expo is scheduled for Thursday, September 2, 2021, in Crete at the Tuxedo Park Exhibition Building. The Expo will begin at 8:00 a.m. with refreshments and exhibitor booths. The educational program starts at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m. Hosts and local Water & Integrating Cropping Systems Extension Educators, Nathan Mueller, Gary Lesoing, and Melissa Bartels said more diverse crop rotations are both underutilized and undervalued. Integrating alfalfa and winter wheat into the crop rotation can provide a critical tool to mitigate extreme weather, improve soil health, increase corn and soybean yields, combat troublesome pests, increase flexibility in manure management plans, and more. This new expo will help farmers prepare to grow these crops for the first time or fine-tune the skills of experienced alfalfa and winter wheat growers. Speakers and panelists will address important issues for southeast Nebraska farmers and allow for great one-on-one discussion with local private industry exhibitors and sponsors. The Expo is free to attend including lunch, but pre-registration is requested by August 31. For more info. and to pre-register, please visit https://croptechcafe.org/alfalfawheatexpo or call the Saline County Extension office at 402-821-2151.

Renovating Lawns in the Fall: August 15-September 15 are the best times to seed cool season grasses. This resource, Improving Turf in the Fall at https://go.unl.edu/rz9z is a great one to walk you through renovation depending on your situation. Some lawns can be easily improved by adding fertilizer this fall.

Sarah Browning, Extension Horticultural Educator shares, “Late summer or fall fertilization of Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue lawns is the most important time to fertilize these cool season grasses. Fertilizer applied now promotes recovery from summer stress, increases density of thinned turf, encourages root and rhizome growth, and allows the plant to store food for next spring’s growth flush. On older lawns, those that are 10 to 15 or more years old, that typically need only two fertilizer applications a year, make the fall application in late August or early September using fertilizer with all or some slow-release nitrogen. On younger lawns, two fertilizer applications during fall are recommended. Make the first one in late August or early September, and the second in mid to late October. For the first one, select a fertilizer with all or some slow-release nitrogen. For the later application, use a fast release nitrogen source so plants will take it up before going dormant.”

Other lawns can be improved via overseeding or total renovation. If overseeding is needed to fill in thinned areas but more than 50% of good turf remains, mow the existing grass 2.5” tall to make the soil preparation easier. For lawns needing total renovation, start with a glyphosate (Roundup application) followed by waiting at least 7-10 days to kill the lawn. Mow dead vegetation as short as mower goes to then prepare the soil for planting.

To prepare the soil for seeding, it’s helpful to aerate the lawn making three passes. Watering a day or two beforehand can make the aerification easier. The full seeding rate for turf-type tall fescue is 6-8 lbs./1,000 sq.ft., and 2-3 lbs. for Kentucky bluegrass. When overseeding into an existing lawn, the seeding rate can be cut in half. Drilling the seed is perhaps easiest for a total lawn renovation. Otherwise, use a drop seeder to apply the seed (not rotary ones as the seed is too light to spread evenly). Make sure to seed half the seed north/south and the other half east/west to ensure even distribution. Then lightly rake in the seed to ensure seed to soil contact. Starter fertilizer is helpful for new seedings where the total phosphorus is 1 to 1.5 lbs/1000 sq. feet. It’s also important to keep the top ½ to 1” of soil moist as seedlings germinate. Thus, it may requiring watering several times a day the first two weeks, depending on temperature and moisture. As seedlings develop, reduce the watering schedule to allow root development. When the grass is tall enough to mow, reduce watering to only 2-3 times/week with deeper watering. Mowing as soon as the grass allows encourages tiller development and thicker new stands.

JenREES 4/25/21

Warmer conditions have arrived for planting season this week! Quick reminder to check planting depths across your planter for the different fields as conditions may vary from field to field. Also a reminder to everyone to be extra aware on the roads with farm equipment moving much slower than regular traffic. Here’s wishing you a safe planting season!

Lawn Care: If your lawn is in need of fertilizer, the first round of fertilizer can go on sometime between now and May 10. Many crabgrass preventer products also contain fertilizer, so that can be used as your first application instead. A reminder to read and follow the instructions on the fertilizer package regarding rate, need to water in, and use the settings provided for lawn spreaders. Also be sure to remove granules from sidewalks and driveways as these get moved into stormwater systems and streams if one doesn’t. If you hired a lawn care company, make sure they’re removing granules from sidewalks and driveways as well.

If you have new seedings, weed control products such as crabgrass preventer, can damage new grass seedlings, depending on how much growth is present. If this is your situation, there actually is a product you can use that will prevent crabgrass without damaging your new seedlings. Scott’s Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass contains mesotrione which provides PRE and POST control of weeds without affecting the new bluegrass or fescue seeding. Tenacity is also a product containing mesotrione that works as a POST for emerged crabgrass, foxtail, and for those dealing with nimblewill (best to apply on troublesome grassy weeds up to 1” tall).

Preventing Evergreen Tree Diseases: The wet springs the past several years have led to an increase of needle blights. Spring is the time to be spraying trees with preventive fungicides with timing depending on the disease. None of the options I list are exhaustive and not meant as endorsement. For windbreak situations of cedars and pines, some ag retailers have carried Tenn-Cop 5E or Camelot. Another professional product called 3336-F is labeled for various turf, horticultural, and tree diseases (such as tip blight and dothistroma needle blight of pines). For home-owner use for trees in landscapes, I will share what I’ve seen sold in our local stores. It’s important to read the product label to ensure it’s safe to use on the specific plant/tree you wish to treat as some copper products can harm plants. In Austrian and Ponderosa pines, tip blight (where tips die) and dothistroma needle blight (where needles turn brown and die) can be prevented with fungicide applications. Tip blight is best prevented in late April-early May with active ingredients of Propiconazole (found in Fertiloam liquid systemic fungicide), Copper Salts of Fatty & Rosin Acids (sometimes listed as copper soap such as Bonide liquid copper fungicide and other liquid copper formulations), or Bordeaux mixture. Dothistroma needle blight can be prevented in mid-May and a second application in mid-June with Copper salts of fatty and rosin acids and Bordeaux mixture. In spruces, needle cast can cause the yellow to reddish brown color of needles in the fall that remain that way in the spring. Fungicide should be applied when the new growth is half grown with a second application 3-4 weeks later. If your tree is severely infected, it may take applications like this for 2-3 years in a row. Chlorothalonil (found in Daconil and Fung-onil) is commonly recommended. Fungicides containing azoxystrobin, mancozeb, propiconazole, copper salts of fatty acids, and copper hydroxide are also effective at controlling this disease if the product is labeled for use on spruce. You can learn more about evergreen diseases, how to identify them, and more products for management at: https://go.unl.edu/rbcc.

Tip blight of pine. Now is the time to prevent it. An insect (pine tip moth) can create similar damage. You can tell if the problem is a disease or insect by removing the dead tip and see if the stem portion is hollowed out or not. If it is, it would be pine tip moth instead.
Notice all the dark spots (bands) on these pine needles. Fungal pathogens causing needle blights infect in the area of the band and proceed to kill the needles both directions. The option for control is to apply a preventive fungicide using the timings listed in this article depending on the disease and the type of tree.

Prevent Wild/Bur Cucumber in Shelterbelts: The past few years we’ve seen wild and bur cucumber overtaking windbreaks. These are fast growing, warm season annual vines. They die each fall and come back from seed which germinate and begin growth typically in May. Vines can be cut at the base or pulled if there’s only a few of them this spring. Many asked about chemical treatments last year. A pre-emergent control option for large shelterbelts is Simazine (Princep 4L) to kill weed seeds as they germinate. Don’t apply more than 4 qt. Princep 4L per acre (4 lb. a.i./A) per calendar year. Don’t apply more than twice per calendar year.

Pollinator Garden Webinar Series will be held May 4, 11 and 18th from 6:30-7:30 p.m. If interested, you can learn more and register here: https://go.unl.edu/bmnw.

JenREES 4/11/21

Household Hazardous Waste Clean-Up will be held at four times and locations for residents of Polk, York, Butler, and Seward counties. These clean-ups are funded by Environmental Trust grants with Four Corners Health Dept. and various sponsoring organizations overseeing the collection at the locations.

The collections will occur:

  • Polk Co.: Saturday, April 17 from 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., Polk County Fairgrounds, Osceola
  • York Co.: Saturday, April 17 from 1:00pm – 4:00pm at the York Landfill, 1214 Road 15
  • Seward Co.: Saturday, April 24 from 8:00am – 12:00 p.m. at City of Seward Wastewater Plant Parking Lot – 1040 S Columbia
  • Butler Co.: Saturday, April 24 from 1:30pm – 4:30pm at Butler County Fairgrounds, 62 L Street, David City – North Entrance

On the specific date and time, residents of that county are welcome to bring their residential household hazardous waste in boxes. Paint in one box and other materials in a separate box. If you are not sure what something is, keep it away from other materials.

Acceptable Materials (quantities of more than 5 gallons cannot be accepted): Acids, Antifreeze, Banned Materials (chlordane, DDT, etc), Cyanide, Fertilizers (yard chemicals), Flammables, Gasoline and Oil (in small quantities), Lead Acid Batteries, Mercury and Mercury-Related Materials, All Paint and Paint-Related Materials (stains, varnish, etc), Poisons, Pesticides, Florescent Bulbs (please do not tape together)

Non-Acceptable Materials: Empty/Dried Out Paint Cans (these can go directly into your regular trash), Tires, Farm Chemicals, Electronics, Medical Sharps, Recyclables.

IN SEWARD COUNTY ONLY: They’re also additional collections at the same date/time: Scrap Metal & Appliances $5 per appliance or load of metal. Electronics Recycling: $10 – all LCD monitors; $20 – CRT (glass tube) monitors or tv’s up to 25″; $30 – TV’s 27″ and up; $40 – Large wooden projection TV’s.

Soil Temperature information for planting and applying pre-emergence herbicides can be found at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/soiltemperature.

Crabgrass Preventer timing: Crabgrass germinates when soil temperatures are maintained at 55F for 5-7 consecutive days. We’re getting closer to this. You can watch the CropWatch soil temperature maps at the link listed above. You can also use a meat thermometer (that you dedicate to only taking soil temperature!) for your own lawn situation at a 2-4” depth. Typically, towards the end of April/beginning of May is a good time for the first application, but it will vary by year. When they’re applied too early, they can move out of the zone where the crabgrass seed is germinating. Would also recommend that you consider splitting your crabgrass herbicide application. Apply half of the highest labeled rate when soil temps warm and the other half 6-8 weeks later. Often there’s a flush of crabgrass later in the season and splitting the application can help with that. It’s helpful for the products to be watered in within 24 hours for best results.

Pastures and annual grass control: Have looked at several smaller pastures (often grazed by horses & hayed) that have issues with foxtail. Foxtail tends to emerge when soil temps are sustained around 60F, so using a pre-emergent herbicide such as Prowl H20® can help in addition to grazing management. There’s a good article in this week’s CropWatch regarding annual grass weed control for alfalfa and pastures at: https://go.unl.edu/nzmy.

Planting Considerations: In an article last year at this link https://jenreesources.com/2020/04/12/jenrees-4-12-20/, I shared about planting considerations. I don’t have anything new to add to this, so you can check that out if you’re interested. Next week will share results of a soybean and corn germination/emergence experiment I’ve been working on since Mar. 10.


This flyer is the same for all the locations (other than the date/time/location of each collection site. There is not a flyer for Seward County, but they have addition cleanup options such as scrap metal, appliances, and electronics for a fee.

Henbit, Crabgrass, & Ground Ivy… Oh My! — Husker Hort

Purple flowering henbit is blooming right now. Spring has officially sprung. The crabapples and flowering pears are nearing full bloom. Tulips and daffodils are starting their flower show. Henbit and dandelions are looking gorgeous. Are the last two not quite the kinds of spring flowers you want in your landscape? If so, there are some […]

Henbit, Crabgrass, & Ground Ivy… Oh My! — Husker Hort

JenRees 9-20-20

Soybeans: The past week I was mostly in soybean fields taking harvest notes for on-farm research or helping harvest plots. The non-irrigated yields have been better than anticipated for the beans just dying in fields; I can’t help but wonder what they could’ve been had there been rain in August! As noted last week, there’s a definite difference in varieties as to the number of 4-bean pods. Some varieties are loaded with pods and it’s not hard to find 4 bean pods. Others in our variety studies have a majority of 3 bean pods and it’s rare to see 4 bean ones. It will be interesting to see yields, and may be something to observe in varieties on your farms if you’re curious. Will also take a look at solar radiation data as several commented the smoke seems to be impacting drydown of irrigated soybeans.

Woolly bear caterpillar in soybean field.

Woolly Bear Caterpillars are noticeable in soybean fields as are stink bugs and loopers; however, woolly bears are also on the move from soybean fields to find green plant tissue elsewhere. In past years, it’s not uncommon to find them crossing roads. I had a couple of reports towards the end of last week of them demolishing garden plants and shrubs. They probably don’t need controlled in all cases and not all products are as effective on them. Bifenthrin is labeled to be effective on them and can be used on a variety of plants, so that may be one option if treatment is necessary.

Stalk Nitrate Test: A corn stalk nitrate test can provide an indication if the amount of nitrogen for the corn plants was low, high, or sufficient for that year. This test involves taking an 8” sample of the stalk. It should be taken 6” above the soil line and go to 14” above the soil surface. All leaf sheaths should be removed from the stalk. 15 samples should be collected 1-3 weeks after black layer from a one acre area that represents a larger area (same soil type, etc.). Sample other areas of the field with different soil types or management. Then place stalk samples into a paper bag (don’t use plastic) and ship the samples within one day or refrigerate until shipping. It’s important to take the sample from 6-14” above the soil line because all the research to create the test was done from that area of the stalks. Also note that situations like a good grain fill season, drought, or poor ear development can all impact the test providing lower or higher numbers. This test isn’t to be used to determine nitrogen rates. It just gives a ballpark over time regarding if too much, too little or sufficient nitrogen is available on a consistent basis over years in a field. If the test results over several years are consistently high (greater than 2000 ppm), it would suggest the grower could reduce nitrate rates without impacting yields. If too low, the grower could consider additional nitrogen or adjust nitrogen management within the field. You can read more about this test here: https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/Use-of-the-End-of-Season-Corn-Stalk-Nitrate-Test-in-Iowa-Corn-Production. My colleague, Aaron Nygren, also created a short Twitter video here: https://twitter.com/ColfaxCountyExt/status/1305982739791966208?s=20.

Sensors and ET gages: A quick reminder to remove any sensors for irrigation scheduling and ET gages from your fields before harvest. In the midst of everything else, it can be easy to forget about them!

Fall Lawn Fertilization: Early September is one of the best times to fertilize Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue. There’s still time to apply if it’s not yet been done. One application may be all that’s needed on older lawns (10 to 15 or more years). Use a fertilizer with at least a 50% slow release nitrogen source. Two fertilizer applications are recommended on younger lawns; one in late August/ early September and one about mid-October. Use a slow release nitrogen source on the first application and a fast release nitrogen source on the second one. Avoid fertilization after late October as plant uptake is low. This causes nutrients to leach away during winter or linger in soil until spring leading to early growth. More info: How to Fertilize Turfgrass This Fall.

JenREES 8-16-20

Crop Updates: For the past week, crops used around 0.22” per day in the York area, around 0.20” as one goes east towards Ithaca and closer to 0.25” per day going south towards Harvard and Guide Rock (based on High Plains Regional Climate Center data posted on CropWatch).

As we think about water use the finish the year, the following come from the NebGuide Predicting the Last Irrigation of the Season found at: https://go.unl.edu/k74n:

  • Corn at Beginning Dent needs 5” of water (approximately 24 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ¼ milk needs 3.75” (approximately 19 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ½ milk (Full Dent) needs 2.25” (approximately 13 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ¾ milk needs 1” (approximately 7 days to maturity)
  • Soybean at beginning seed (R5) needs around 6.5” (approx. 29 days to maturity)
  • Soybean at full seed (R6) needs 3.5” (approx. 18 days to maturity)
  • Soybean with leaves beginning to yellow (R6.5) needs 1.9” (approx. 10 days to maturity)

Spent a lot of time last week looking at ear development in fields, particularly those impacted by the July 8th windstorm. Also appreciated a long conversation with John Mick with Pioneer on what he was seeing. For the most part, I’m seeing a lot of ‘normal’ ears that vary in the amount of tip back from lack of pollination and/or kernel abortion. Less commonly seen are ears with 3/4 husks. On plants that were pinched, continue to see messed up secondary and/or tertiary ears after the loss of the primary ear. On plants that bent and righted themselves, seeing a variety of things. Some are more ‘normal’ while other ears are much smaller that either didn’t pollinate well and/or had kernel abortion.

Last month, had mentioned a curious thing regarding how many hybrids are putting on multiple ears on the same ear shank, on the primary ear node. It’s far more than I’ve ever seen before. In sharing some observations with Dr.’s Tom Hoegemeyer and Bob Nielsen, they share it’s most likely a genetic X environmental response under excellent growing conditions or some other phenomena. As I continued to see these ears in fields and husk them back, for the most part, they don’t appear to be detrimental to the main ear, which is good. So it’s more of a curiosity than anything.

Many of us probably don’t examine ear shanks much in comparison to the ears. However, when one does look at ear shanks, one will observe they are similar to the corn stalks in that there are nodes and internodes. Each node also produces a leaf (in this case a husk leaf) instead of a collared leaf such as what happens on the main stalk. And each node (on stalk and on ear shank) has an axillary meristem which allows for ear development. Normally, there must be genetic or hormonal suppression so that only one main ear is formed on a shank at a stalk node. It’s not uncommon for us to observe an ear on different nodes of the stalk (ex. Nodes 12 and 13). What is more uncommon is to observe multiple ears on different nodes of the same ear shank, such as what is being observed this year.

Renovating Lawns: If your lawn is in need of repair, now through mid-September is a great time-perhaps the best time-to do so! This resource, Improving Turf in the Fall at https://go.unl.edu/rz9z is a great one to walk you through renovation depending on your situation. Some lawns can be easily improved by adding fertilizer this fall and/or overseeding. Some may need total renovation, which starts with a glyphosate (Roundup application) followed by waiting at least a week to then prepare the soil for planting.


Multiple ears on the same ear shank (with husk tissue on left and husked on right). Doesn’t appear to be impacting main ear in most fields I’ve seen these in. And, this is occurring on primary ear nodes and within fields (not just in endrows or in lower population areas).

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Pretty impressive brace root development on leeward side of plants that tried righting themselves.

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Ears from the plants with the brace roots from above photo. These are pretty decent with some tip back, but otherwise more ‘normal’. Other plants like this have ears that have poor kernel set.

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Seeing some ears with 3/4 husk.

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Bent plant that tried righting itself with a ‘zippered’ appearance to ear and poor pollination in addition to kernel abortion.

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Plant with loss of the primary ear showing multiple ears on the secondary and tertiary ear nodes.

Japanese Beetles

Japanese Beetles: Areas of the State have seen Japanese beetles for a few weeks. They’ve shown up strong in the York/Seward county area this past week with the number of calls I’ve received.

Unfortunately they cause two problems. The larvae are grubs that can impact our lawns. IMG_20200702_085759The adult beetle is ½” in length with a metallic green head and white ‘tufts’ that look like spots on its abdomen. Adults emerge from grassy areas like lawns, ditches, and even fields; however, they don’t emerge at the same time. They emerge over a 4-6 week period beginning in late June and last for around 4-6 weeks. There’s one generation per year. Adult beetles feed, mate, and lay eggs in lawns and grassy areas. The eggs hatch 10-14 days later into grub larvae and feed on turf and grassy areas in the August time-frame. They also over-winter in turf and grassy areas.

Adults feed on 300 plant species, but their favorites are ones that are in many of our

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Japanese beetles making quick work of my knockout roses. In this garden area, they are also impacting my cannas but not my lillies, beesbalm, salvia, milkweed, or sunflowers.

landscapes (roses, cannas, marigolds, grapes, Virginia creeper, and trees such as lindens, birch, Japanese and Norway maples, cherry, plum, peach, American elm). They also feed on soybean and corn crops. They love hot weather and full sun and feed on leaf tissue during the day (leaf tissue will look skeletonized or lacy and turn brown). Trees may be severely impacted with browning occurring from the top to bottom. Thankfully healthy trees will re-leaf next year since the underlying twigs and branches aren’t damaged-even if the entire canopy is impacted this year. It’s not recommended to remove branches or trees.

DO NOT use Japanese beetle traps!!! Research shows they attract beetles to the landscape and many homeowners I’ve talked with will attest to this!

Beetle Control: Wait till dusk (7-9 p.m.) before trying to control beetles as they are less

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One control option: Wait till 7-9 p.m. then drown Japanese beetles in soapy water after removing them from plants. This method of control takes diligence over several nights.

active then and to reduce impact to pollinators. Organic means include hand-removing beetles by knocking them into soapy water. You can also spray trees with water to knock them down to the ground and then drown in soapy water. This takes diligence over many days. With heavy beetle infestations, it’s not uncommon to literally have scoop shovels full of the beetles when removing from trees. Neem and Pyola are two organic sprays that will protect for 3-7 days. Applying these products regularly (once per week) can also be effective as a repellent.

Japanese beetles often impact the same flowering plants that other pollinators visit. Use insecticide products correctly to avoid damage to pollinators. Avoid spraying insecticides on windy days or when pollinators are present (best to spray late in day near dusk) and be sure to read and follow all label instructions and harvest intervals (for cherries, plums, etc.). Conventional insecticides can provide 2 weeks of control: pyrethroid products like Tempo and Bayer Advanced Lawn & Garden Multi-Insect Killer (cyfluthrin) or Ortho Bug B Gone (bifenthrin). Sevin (carbaryl) is another option although more dangerous for bees.

Grub Control: Turf damage can be evident in Aug./Sept. Products that control common white grub can also provide control of Japanese beetle grubs and should be applied mid-to-late June. Dylox can be used as a rescue treatment if grub control is needed later on and no grub products were applied in the spring.

Next Year: Systemic products like imidacloprid can be used as a soil drench around plants (apply around Mother’s Day). These products can’t be used on Linden trees. You may also wish to swap out more susceptible plants for those less susceptible as you observe which plants they tend to impact most in your backyard.

Also seeing green June beetles and this shows the difference between them and Japanese beetles. Green June beetles don’t have the same impact on leaf damage. They do lay eggs in turf which become grubs as well.

green june beetle vs japanese beetle-purdue

Green June Beetle (left) and Japanese beetle (right). Photo via Purdue Entomology.

Click to access Japanese%20Beetle%20Tips%20and%20Tricks.pdf

JenREES 5-17-20

Congratulations to all who graduated from college or high school the past few weeks! You’ve experienced much challenge, change, and loss. Good can come from difficulty! May this experience better equip you for the future! Also wish to congratulate and welcome three new team members to the York and Seward county offices! Tanya Crawford will begin as the 4-H Educator in York County May 18. Emily Hemphill began as the 4-H Assistant in Seward County May 1. Kara Kohel will begin as the new Learning Child Educator in Seward County June 1.

Crop Update: Grateful for the recovery experienced on many frost/freeze damaged crops throughout the State! The worst damage I saw on corn in this part of the State resulted in exposed leaf tissue dying with new growth coming out of the ground within 5 days. Soybeans fared well in the area to which I’m extra grateful with the large number of early planted soybean acres this year!

There’s been some talk about uneven emergence in some fields. Most really aren’t too bad, just worse in fields that were worked or extra cloddy. And most often, seedlings are still coming when digging in the gaps. They’re just behind most likely due to depth or soil moisture variation. You may also want to check out an article on Early Season Insects in this week’s CropWatch at cropwatch.unl.edu. Also seeing and hearing of ammonia burn to roots of corn seedlings, mostly in strip till situations, due to the dry conditions. An inch or two of rainfall or irrigation can help dilute the salt concentration in the root zone and allow for growth of roots to resume. I realize this doesn’t help those without irrigation and we keep praying for rain. In a 2009 trial at UNL South Central Ag Lab near Clay Center, Dr. Richard Ferguson documented those plants being shorter in stature and appearing to have a purple color early in the growing season before later recovering.

For those asking about replanting, we have two articles to aid in decision making in this week’s CropWatch at cropwatch.unl.edu. I haven’t seen situations warranting this around here yet. It takes quite a stand loss. For example in corn, if there are 25,000 plants per acre and the field was initially planted on April 27 and you cannot replant until May 20, it would be better to leave your present stand, which has 95% yield potential, than to replant on May 20 when the yield potential for a stand of 30,000 would be 86%. Make sure you consider replant costs in your decision. Next week I’ll address thoughts on post applications to crops.

Lawn Update: As lawns grow, it’s important to not remove more than 1/3 of the height. During the spring and fall, cool season grasses such as bluegrass and fescue are also building their root reserves. Removing too much growth at once or continually mowing shorter than 3” puts more stress on the plant and doesn’t allow for as deep of roots for when the summer heat comes. UNL turf research found that lawns actually grow faster when they are scalped than when they are mowed at a taller height. So, if your lawn gets away from you like mine did last week, do your lawn a favor and raise your mowing height that one time and then go back to mowing at 3”.

Youth Learning Opportunities: There are a number of virtual and self-paced fun, learning opportunities for youth and families upcoming in the month of June! Many of the activities that were provided during the school year will be continuing with new sessions. You can check them all out at: https://4h.unl.edu/virtual-home-learning.

Building Better Babysitters Virtual Training: Additional childcare may be needed this summer. Babysitting is a big responsibility and it’s not for everyone. Youth ages 11 and up who are interested in building skills as a babysitter may be interested Nebraska Extension’s state-wide virtual babysitting training. Register by going to https://cvent.me/d4gWeD.


Adding some pics on frost recovery:

IMG_20200511_171626

Same growth stage but showing the environmental variability associated with frost damage.

frost on corn-growing pt

Seedling affected by frost on 3/9/20. Leaves watersoaked and wilted two days later. Splitting open stem reveals a healthy growing point (not brown or mushy) and green, healthy tissue below the wilted tissue. Thus, plants like these will likely recover, but it’s best to continue watching them for regrowth.

IMG_20200515_162758

Same field 5 days later. A little sunshine and plants are recovering nicely! The frost-damaged tissue is now brown, dead and will typically slough off with the wind. Sometimes, it wraps around the seedling making it more difficult for new growth to push through at first, but it will.

IMG_20200515_141138

Emerged beans were essentially unaffected in anything I looked at for this part of the State and are looking great now!

JenREES 3-22-20

Happy Spring! With warmer weather forecasted the next few weeks, it’s a great time to get outdoors! Raking leaves from lawns is a great activity this time of year for the whole family. You can also overseed bare areas of lawns right now. Don’t remove leaves or mulch from landscape beds yet. Leaves and dead tops of plants protect the plants and keep them dormant as long as possible. Warm sunny weather causes plants to break dormancy early and they become more susceptible to cold temperatures. If you’ve already cleaned up landscape beds, be prepared to cover plants again in the event of cold weather. If you have frosted tulip/daffodil foliage like mine, just leave them be for now.

Even though grass is greening up, it’s too early to apply fertilizers (ideally not till sometime in May). Mowing isn’t needed until after the grass begins to grow and requires mowing. Then maintain a mowing height of 3 to 3.5″ season-long. Pre-emergence herbicides targeted at controlling crabgrass and other warm season annual weeds shouldn’t be applied until soil temperatures consistently reach 50°F. It’s still too early. Soil temps can be found at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/tags/soil-temperature

Wild/Bur Cucumber: In wet seasons like last year, wild and bur cucumber were seen overtaking windbreaks. These are fast growing, warm season annual vines. They die each fall and come back from seed which germinate and begin growth typically in May. Vines can be cut at the base if there’s only a few of them this spring. Many asked about chemical treatments last year. A pre-emergent control option for large shelterbelts is Simazine (Princep 4L) to kill weed seeds as they germinate. Don’t apply more than 4 qt. Princep 4L per acre (4 lb. a.i./A) per calendar year. Don’t apply more than twice per calendar year.

Renovating Windbreaks: Do you have a windbreak that has several dead or dying trees in it? Steve Karloff and Jay Seaton, District Foresters, shared to think 15-20 years down the road. What would be your goals for the windbreak (wind/snow protection; bloom time; fruit, nut, wood; wildlife/pollinator habitat, etc.)? Each situation will be unique, so these tips won’t apply to each one. Determine whether you’d like to remove the entire existing windbreak or do a partial clearing over time. For those choosing a partial clearing, they suggest to consider leaving the north and west rows and removing the south and east side for sunlight, establishment, and protection purposes. Stumps can be left (unless Scotch or Austrian pine), or can be removed. A stump treatment listed in the UNL Weed Guide is 2 qts of low vol 2,4-D per 10 gallons of diesel. Apply to point of runoff. Don’t use Tordon especially if you’re cutting out and stump treating elm or hackberry trees that get intermingled in trees you wish to save as the Tordon can affect the roots of those trees too. If existing trees, such as pines, have been trimmed up due to dead branches but the remainder of the trees are ok, one could simply consider adding a row of shrubs to cut down on wind.

Also, think about diversifying species based on one’s goals to ensure the windbreak isn’t eliminated due to pest problems. That’s something we’ve unfortunately had to deal with regarding Scotch and Austrian pines due to pine wilt. Conifer specie options include: cedar (most hardy), Ponderosa pine, and Norway and blue spruce. Shrubs include viburnums and hazelnuts; however, there are numerous species to consider depending on goals. Consider 3-5 rows as optimal with 1-2 rows as conifers, 1 row of hardwoods or tall conifers, and 1-2 rows of dense shrubs. However, there’s not always that kind of room available and that may not fit one’s goals. It’s helpful to stagger plant the trees in each row and the gaps can be filled with shrubs or the shrubs can be planted in one row. Next week I’ll share more on site preparation considerations.

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