Category Archives: Lawns

JenREES 4/17/22

Hope you had a blessed Easter weekend! Reminder that soil temperatures can be viewed at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/soiltemperature.

Hay and Forage Resources: Resources for buying/selling hay, corn residue, and other forages can be found at the following:

Fire Damage to Crop Residue: With the dry conditions and various fires that have occurred, have received questions regarding the nutrient value in the residue and/or soil impacts. When residue is burned, most nitrogen and sulfur in the residue are lost; however, the phosphorus and potassium are retained in the ash (as long as they don’t blow away).

In spite of this, short-term nutrient loss from the residue is none to minimal. Research from the University of Wisconsin looked at the need to replace nitrogen to the succeeding corn crop when soybean residue was either removed or not removed. They found no difference in nitrogen impacts to the corn crop regardless if the residue was removed; this suggests there is no need to replace the nitrogen in burnt soybean residue. Research from USDA-ARS in Nebraska, when looking at corn residue removal prior to corn planting, also suggested no need to replace the nitrogen lost from the residue. They found increased mineralization due to the change in C:N ratio when residue was removed. Previous research compiled in this resource from South Dakota State shared the same sentiments: https://openprairie.sdstate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1365&context=extension_extra. The SDSU resource is also helpful when walking through a dollar value of other loss considerations.

Regarding longer-term nutrient loss, a UNL NebGuide shares for every 40 bu/ac of corn or sorghum, approximately one ton of residue is produced. Each ton of corn and sorghum residue contains approximately 17 lb N, 4 lb P2O5, 37 lb K, and 3 lb S. For every 30 bu/ac of soybean residue, approximately one ton of residue is produced with 17 lb N, 3 lb P2O5, 13 lb K, and 2 lb S for each ton of residue produced.

Perhaps the greatest losses to consider are organic matter, soil loss, and soil moisture. Regarding organic matter, the soil holds the greatest portion of this. One year of residue is minimal, attributed with the potential of increasing organic matter 0.03-0.06%, depending on tillage type, crop, etc. Soil erosion due to wind/water can result in organic matter loss and loss of more productive soil. This is hard to quantify. Perhaps the more important factor is the soil moisture losses in no-till, non-irrigated fields, particularly in a dry year such as this. Paul Hay, Extension Educator emeritus, years ago shared with me several documented situations where yield losses due to moisture loss were estimated. Corn planted into burned no-till, non-irrigated soybean stubble ranged from 15-28 bu/ac yield loss in two situations. There was 0-3 bu/ac yield loss associated with soybean planted into burned, no-till, non-irrigated corn residue in two situations. Use of soil moisture probes can give an indication of soil moisture differences between burned and non-burned areas of fields or between fields. Direct yield comparisons between fields are difficult to make due to planting dates, hybrids/varieties, agronomic practices, etc., but important to still collect and assess.

Crabgrass Preventer timing: Crabgrass germinates when soil temperatures are maintained at 55F for 5-7 consecutive days. You can watch the CropWatch soil temperature maps at the link listed above. Or, 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. So far, this timing is holding true for 2022. When crabgrass preventer is applied too early, it 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.

Cover Crop Termination including Planting Green

Cover Crop Termination: I always enjoy seeing new life and the seasons, so enjoying seeing wheat/rye greening up! Grateful for the excellent discussion around termination timing at the February practical cover crop management meeting! Pictures with more details each farmer shared is at jenreesources.com.

In a column last year, I shared detailed considerations for termination timing (prior to planting vs. planting green). That info. can be found at:  https://jenreesources.com/2021/03/28/jenrees-3-28-21/. For this column, sharing key tips from the discussions that may be helpful for this year.

Key points I gleaned:

  • While rye may die slowly depending on the temperature and year, it will die.
  • Two farmers consistently killed rye with only 20-22 oz/ac of Roundup Powermax (even when headed). For those who planted vetch with rye, the vetch will survive the Roundup application allowing it to grow longer, produce more nitrogen, and be killed by a post-application containing a Group 27 herbicide (like Callisto) later (if want it to die).
  • Clethodim vs. glyphosate: Two farmers and a Pioneer rep shared sentiments of clethodim providing a slower kill and allowing the rye to stay greener longer for weed/erosion control. This is of benefit especially for farmers who need to terminate prior to corn or seed corn planting.
  • Regarding clethodim rates, several are aiming for the mid-range this year by using 12 oz/ac. Another farmer used 10 oz clethodim + warrant. Many use 8-10 oz/ac to kill volunteer corn in soybean, so a few are also trying the lower rate. When going into corn, clethodim needs to be applied to rye to kill it at least 7 days prior to planting corn. For soybeans, it can be applied anytime after planting/emergence if desired.
  • When rye is greater than 12”, consider increasing gallonage to 15-20 gal/ac for better coverage.
  • When considering planting corn green into rye on subsurface drip irrigation (SDI), need the ability for higher capacity well to get moisture up to the seedbed. Potential yield loss otherwise.
  • When planting soybeans green, the goal is often to off-set the PRE herbicide cost with the cover crop seed and application cost. A residual is necessary at some point either at time of termination or up to a week after termination when planting soybean green. Plan on irrigation or rainfall to get the residual to the ground, especially on rye taller than 12”.

My key points for planting green include: plan on some form of nitrogen at planting if planting corn green into rye, have the pivot ready to go if need moisture for the seedbed, don’t use a PRE in soybean if can’t get seed vee closed, plan to water residual application as soon as label allows to get residual to ground, and if non-irrigated, consider seedbed moisture for termination timing.

Lawns: Lawns are slowly greening up and for those with fall armyworm damage last year, overseeding and/or replanting may be necessary. Consider overseeding now as Kentucky bluegrass overseeding is recommended from April 1-30th and tall fescue from Apr. 15-June 15. The full seeding rate for 1000 sq ft is 3-4 lbs for Kentucky bluegrass and 8-10 lbs for tall fescue; for overseeding, use ½ these rates. Small amounts of sawdust or sand can be mixed with the seed to aid spreading. The area should be prepared prior to seeding by raking to loosen the soil and excess dead growth. Areas can also be aerated or power raked (power raking should only be used if ½” thatch or greater is present). Scotts TurfBuilder Starter for New Lawns can be spread either immediately after seeding or one can wait till the seedlings emerge. Either way, it is safe for the seed/seedlings. Spring rains in April will greatly help with emergence, but otherwise, irrigation by mid-April will be necessary to keep the soil moist until germination occurs. Then apply water deeply and infrequently to encourage rooting. Also check out this excellent brochure for Lawn care in Eastern NE: https://go.unl.edu/mhkd.


Thank You to the following for their contributions to this information: Gabe Bathen, David Cast, Chad Dane, Jay Goertzen, Marvin Linhorst, Ron Makovicka, Kevin Medow, Brad Morner, Scott Richert, Todd Schmeiding, Stuart Spader, and Mike Spray. The photos are mostly mine from field visits other than the ones taken by the farmers from their tractor cabs.

JenREES 2/27/22

Growing Fruit in the Home Garden: The GROBigRed Virtual Learning Series from Nebraska Extension kicked off last week with a 6-week series ‘Growing Fruit in the Home Garden’.  Join us at 6:30pm CT each Thursday for two short presentations and an opportunity to ask your pressing garden questions. Register for this free program at https://go.unl.edu/growfruit. Upcoming programs include:

  • March 3: Selecting & Buying Fruit Plants and Soil & Fertility
  • March 10: Site Selection & Design and Edible Landscapes
  • March 17: Brambles (Blackberries, Raspberries, etc) and Grapes
  • March 24: Pome Fruits (Apples & Pears) and Stone Fruits (Peaches, Cherries, & More)
  • March 31: Strawberries and Unusual Fruits

Soil Temperatures: With March around the corner, a reminder of our CropWatch soil temperature page at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/soiltemperature.

Farm Bill Decisions: I shared some considerations in the following article if it can be of help as you make these decisions: https://jenreesources.com/2022/01/23/farm-bill-decisions/

Lawns and Gardens: In spite of warm stretches, it’s way too early to consider lawn fertilizer and crabgrass preventer. Wait till April when soil temperatures are expected to be 50F for at least 5 days.

Vegetable planting guide can be found at: https://go.unl.edu/pao8. Kelly Feehan, Extension Educator shares, “For vegetable gardeners, it’s time to think about cool season vegetables. Focus on garden planning, seed buying, and soil preparation, like incorporating compost, if soil is not too wet. Do not let air temperatures trick you into planting too early. It is soil temperature that to determine when to plant. Gardeners who plant too early often end up harvesting later than those who wait. And some gardeners end up replanting since seed can rot in cold soils and seedlings or transplants may be damaged by spring frost. Even if all goes well, seedling emergence can take 10 days or much longer in cold soil. For cool season vegetables like lettuce, radish and peas, wait to plant seed until soil temperatures are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, with 45 to 50 being ideal.” A meat thermometer designated for soil temperature use is a great way to check soil temperatures.

Small Grain Silage: Last year, four producers allowed me to collect small grain silage samples from rye and triticale so we could get a better understanding of quality in regards to growth stage when cut, moisture, how packed, etc. With short forage supplies, this may be of interest to those who have planted rye/wheat/triticale and have cattle. On March 17h, from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Nebraska Extension, Lallemand Animal Nutrition and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach are hosting the fourth Silage for Beef Cattle Conference. Registration is free and producers have the option to either stream the conference online or attend in-person at the ENREC near Ithaca. Pre-register to join in-person or virtually at: HTTPS://GO.UNL.EDU/SILAGEFORBEEF2022. Topics and speakers will include:

  • Agronomic management of small grains for silage, Daren Redfearn, UNL
  • When to harvest small grain silage, Mary Drewnoski, UNL
  • Sorghum silage: a solution for limited water, Matt Atkins, Wisconsin Dairy Specialist
  • Why fermentation analysis is important & what it means, John Goeser, Wisconsin
  • Fungamentals of silage harvest management, Becky Arnold, Lallemand Animal Nutrition
  • Inoculants for small grain silage, Limin Kung, University of Delaware
  • Economics & ROI on quality forage in grower & finishing rations, Jhones Sarturi, Texas Tech
  • Making small grain silage work, producer and nutritionist panel

JenREES 11/14/21

Grateful harvest has finished for most or will be hopefully wrapping up this week for the rest. Last week was seeing more fall herbicide applications being applied. If you have a 2021 Guide for Weed, Disease and Insect Management, page 93 provides fall burndown corn herbicide options and page 139 provides soybean ones (I also show these at https://jenreesources.com/). Most products contain 2,4-D and/or dicamba. Tank-mixing a residual herbicide with a burndown product will improve marestail control because the residual activity will control marestail emerging after herbicide application.

Regarding temperatures, Dr. Amit Jhala shared in a CropWatch article that the ideal temperature for applying most post-emergence herbicides is between 65°F and 85°F. Herbicides can be applied at 40°F to 60°F, but weeds may be killed slowly. When the temperature is below 40°F for an extended time after burndown, weed control will most likely be reduced, specifically for a systemic burndown herbicide such as glyphosate. Additionally, weed control may be reduced under cloudy conditions following an initial temperature drop below 40°F. With late-fall herbicide applications be sure to add labeled adjuvants to improve herbicide efficacy.

Actively growing weeds are key to achieving good control, regardless of herbicide used. Frosts of less than 25°F usually cause leaf damage to annual plants, making them poor targets for herbicide applications; however, winter annual weeds may tolerate a frost up to 20°F and continue growing when conditions improve, with little tissue damage. After weeds experience frost, active growth may not begin again for a few days. Growers should wait until new leaf tissue is produced, scout the field, and then consider applying herbicide. Generally, this would be when nighttime temperatures are 35°F or greater and daytime temperatures are at least 50°F for two consecutive days. Additionally, sunshine is needed for plants to recover.

Grazing fields with fall herbicide applications: Be sure to check labels for any grazing restrictions if livestock will graze cornstalks after in-season and fall herbicide applications. You can find these in the Forage, Feed, Grazing Restrictions area on pages 212-216 of the 2021 Guide. Some labels will say that residue should not be grazed or baled and fed to livestock. Sometimes there’s no guidance on the label. If you want to be on the safe side, a rule of thumb some chemical reps use is to use the pre-harvest interval for the amount of time to wait before grazing stalks. Regardless, if it says there’s a grazing restriction on the label, the label needs to be followed as it is a legal document and the law.

As you plan for next year’s herbicide program, if you’re thinking about fall cover crops, the following NebGuide may be of benefit to you as it goes through the grazing restrictions of various herbicides.

Lawns and Leaves: The tree colors have been gorgeous the past few weeks and with colder temperatures, leaves are now dropping. If you have large, established trees like I do, they can pile up on a lawn rather quickly. Leaves should be removed by raking or mulching into the lawn by mowing in order to prevent damage to lawns over the winter from snow mold. If you choose to mulch leaves via the mower, raising the mower height two to three times will help break down the leaves and incorporate them. According to our turfgrass specialists, mulching grass clippings and leaves does not contribute to thatch development in the lawn.

Fallen leaves release phosphorus and nitrogen when they decompose, which can help with lawns and also with gardens if they’re added to garden sites as a soil amendment. When leaves are intentionally blown into streets, they can be a pollutant to surface water as they are washed away via storm drains.



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.

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