What a beautiful weekend! It was a welcome change from the winds we received last weekend and early week. The high winds early in the week created difficult situations from many perspectives-soil loss, visibility, accidents, and drying out the seed bed.
Great to see several on-farm research plots going in and to have some new cooperators this year! I also started a very small soybean planting date demo at the York County Fairgrounds on April 24. A farmer on Twitter was encouraging other farmers to try planting a few seeds every week for yourselves in a garden plot and count the nodes and pods. Thought it was a great idea and will have it signed at County Fair regarding soil temps for first 48 hours and nodes. Thanks to Jed Erickson from Pioneer for the seed!
Rain events on May 1-2 allowed for some soil moisture recharge in the first and second feet in some locations. Unfortunately, the rainfall was still fairly spotty. We could really use rain overall for getting moisture back into drying seedbeds, activating herbicides, and settling dust. Pivots are running in some fields because of these factors. I provided an update on the locations I’m monitoring regarding soil moisture as of 5/3/18 on my blog at http://jenreesources.com. The farmers were interested in continuing this monitoring throughout the growing season this year, so will continue sharing as often as I can.
Wheat: Wheat’s joined in the area and ranges in height depending on soil moisture. For the past few weeks we’ve been noticing yellowing leaves. Some of that may have been due to cold temperatures. I was also seeing powdery mildew within the canopy of several fields I looked at. No rust has been observed yet in Nebraska fields. I also noticed tan spot in wheat on wheat fields. One concern was the cool weather has allowed for bird cherry oat aphids in area wheat. My concern is that they can vector barley yellow dwarf virus which is one we see when the flag leaf emerges. According to K-State, there’s not strong developed thresholds. They’re recommending if 20 or more aphids are observed per tiller with lady beetles observed on fewer than 10% of tillers, spraying may be justified.
Lawn and Garden Information: With this year’s cool spring, crabgrass preventers can still be applied the first few weeks of May. Germination begins with soil temperatures around 55F but prefers warmer soil temps. UNL Lawn calendars for Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, and Buffalograss and all UNL lawn resources can be found at https://turf.unl.edu/turf-fact-sheets-nebguides. Mowing heights should be maintained at 3-3.5″ for the entire year. We also recommend just mulching clippings back into the lawn to allow for nutrient recycling. If you like to use mulch for your gardens, it’s important to read pesticide labels on products applied to your lawn. Some labels say it is not safe to use the clippings as mulch. Others say to wait at least three mowings before using the clippings as mulch.
Garden centers have been busy with the warmer weather and some have asked about temperatures for hardening off transplants. Kelly Feehan, Extension Educator in Platte County shares, “May is planting time for most annual flower and vegetable transplants. To avoid transplant shock and stressing young plants, wait for soils to warm up and take time to harden off transplants. Soils are colder than average this year so waiting to plant will be beneficial. And then, plants moved directly from a warm, moist greenhouse to windy and cooler outdoor conditions will be stressed by transplant shock. This can negatively affect plant growth, flowering, and vegetable production. Harden off transplants by placing them outdoors, in a protected location, for at least a few days before transplanting outdoors. Another way to harden transplants is to plant them in the garden, then place a cardboard tent or wooden shingle around them for a few days to protect them from full exposure to wind and sun. Planting young transplants on an overcast, calm day or during the evening also reduces transplant shock.” Specifically when it comes to tomatoes, it’s best to wait till mid-May otherwise “gardeners who plant earlier need to be prepared to protect tomato plants with a floating row cover or light sheet if cold threatens. To help tomato transplants establish quickly, begin with small, stocky, dark green plants rather than tall, spindly ones. Smaller plants form new roots quickly and establish faster than overgrown transplants. Do not plant too deep or lay tomato stems sideways. Although roots will form on stems below ground, this uses energy better used for establishment. Use a transplant starter solution after transplanting tomatoes to be sure roots are moist and nutrients are readily available in cool soils. Wait until plants are growing well before mulching or mulch will keep soils from warming and may slow tomato growth.”
Today was interesting driving my route through the southern tier of counties I serve. Wearing overboots and walking instead of driving to the sensors was welcome at Byron and Superior where heavier rain events occurred this week. However, Lawrence and Bladen had largely missed the rains. The Clay Center location received 1″ the past two days, but other areas of Clay County received very little. The farmers who have allowed me to monitor pre-plant soil moisture thus far were interested in watching this throughout the growing season. Thus, sensors will remain in most of these fields. Where fields have been planted thus far (other than Clay Center), planters have planted around the sensors and seeds have been hand-planted between sensors.
Some rains helped with the top foot profile at some of these locations last week. One thing to keep in mind when viewing these graphs is we don’t always know what’s going on below the soil surface. One farmer had a good point regarding my “blips in the graphs” in my last blog post. I mentioned they could be due to a soil crack along the PVC pipe-which we do see occur and can be true. However, he also had a good point that it could be a worm hole, root channel, etc. that water may have followed for a brief time period, which could also be true, especially in these long-term no-till fields. As you look at the charts this week, it’s important to keep in mind that soil water also moves via gravity (termed ‘gravitational water’). Thus, sometimes why we can see changes in soil moisture in the successive drier layer with small amounts of precipitation.
Crop Update: It’s nice to see some signs of spring with planters going this week/weekend, crabapples and flowering pear trees in bloom, and tulips budded! The York County Corn Grower plot got planted on Saturday and grateful for Ron and Brad Makovicka’s efforts with that and for all our participating companies!
Rain did help the top foot of sensors in some locations I’ve been monitoring for pre-plant soil moisture. The graphs will be up at http://jenreesources.com by noon on Monday. The cooperators have all been interested in continuing to monitor moisture in these fields post-planting, so will plan to do that and add a York and Seward location too. I’m noticing in York as lawns are greening up, that portions are looking gray-green in color where trees are located in them.
As of April 26th, I hadn’t found any wheat jointing yet. The growing point was just approaching ground level in several fields I checked. We also need to keep an eye out for stripe rust as incidence is increasing in Kansas fields. There’s articles focusing on winter wheat in this week’s UNL CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu including nitrogen management and Nebraska wheat progress.
Wheat Stem Maggots (WSM) in Rye/Wheat Cover Crops: I meant to provide an update in last week’s column. Dr. Justin McMechan has been scouting wheat and rye cover crop fields for wheat stem maggots. So far, he captured one adult wheat stem maggot on April 16 in 100 sweeps from a wheat cover crop planted in late September at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Ithaca. He shared that “adults have been consistently collected at this location since first emergence with one to two found per 100 sweeps. This first occurrence of adults matches closely with data collected in 1933 by Merle Allen from Kansas State University. Our latitude north of Kansas and cold spring suggests this emergence might be earlier than Allen’s data. On April 23 two adults were collected at Clay Center and a single adult was collected near Marquette. Cover crops in these fields were less than 6 inches in height, with the field near Marquette grazed to approximately 3 inches in height. Sweeping these fields is challenging due to the height of the vegetation so adult captures are not likely to represent true numbers in the field. If you are skilled with a sweep net, we encourage you to sweep your wheat, rye, or triticale cover crops for wheat stem maggot adults.” At this point we’re not recommending any insecticide treatments. An interesting observation that a couple of Clay and Adams county farmers mentioned to me last year was they noticed the presence of a lot of flies as they planted corn into green rye and terminated at or after planting corn. The adult WSM is a small fly and you can see photos in Justin’s report in this week’s UNL CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu.
Which dicamba product before Xtend soybean: This has been a fairly common question this spring which Dr. Amit Jhala addressed in this week’s UNL CropWatch. I’ve also provided his answer here. “I recently received several phone calls from growers with questions on terminating broadleaf cover crop species and broadleaf weeds using dicamba products. They were particularly interested in whether dicamba products such as Banvel, Clarity, DiFlexx, etc. can be applied to terminate broadleaf cover crop species such as hairy vetch, field peas, or mixtures and broadleaf weeds such as henbit, field pennycress, or marestail immediately before planting Xtend soybean. The answer for the dicamba-based herbicides listed above is NO. Their labels have soybean planting intervals of 14 to 60 days, depending on the product and its use rates.
For example, for Clarity to be applied at 16.0 fl oz/acre, there would be a 28-day soybean planting interval after an inch of rain. If Clarity were to be applied at 8.0 fl oz/acre, the soybean planting interval would be 14 days after an inch of rain. The Clarity label also specifies: “Do NOT make Clarity burndown applications to soybeans in geographic areas with average annual rainfall less than 25 inches.”
If DiFlexx is applied burndown at 24 fl oz/acre or less, the planting interval for soybean is 60 days. This longer planting interval must be applied because Xtend soybean is not listed on Banvel, Clarity, DiFlexx, or other dicamba products.
Dicamba-resistant soybean, also known as Xtend soybean, became available commercially for the 2017 growing season. Three dicamba products (FeXapan, Engenia, XtendiMax) are labeled to be applied pre-plant, pre-emergence, or post-emergence (up to R1 soybean growth stage) for broadleaf weed control in Xtend soybean. You can use FeXapan, Engenia, or XtendiMax as per label requirements in burndown application and plant Xtend soybean without a planting interval.
If you apply 2,4-D prior to planting soybean, be sure to adhere to the planting interval specified on the label. Several 2,4-D products have different planting intervals for soybean, ranging from 7 to 30 days depending on product and application rate. (See this Crop Watch article.)”
Planting Considerations: This email newsletter reaches a wide area of the State, so soil temps vary quite a bit and some of you may be in better planting conditions than others. We still recommend planting into soil temps as close to 50°F as possible, check weather conditions for next 48 hours to hopefully maintain temps 50°F or higher, and avoid saturated soil conditions. If planting a few degrees less than 50°F, make sure to check with seed dealers on more cold-tolerant seed. This is most likely common sense, but I still feel worth mentioning. Everything we do at planting sets the stage for the rest of the year. We’re blessed to have equipment that can allow for many acres to be planted in a short amount of time. And…we also have the ability to mess up a lot of acres in a short amount of time.
Planting depth is also key. Aim to get corn and soybean in the ground 1.5-2” deep. This is critical for correct root establishment in corn to avoid rootless corn syndrome. Rootless corn syndrome is when the nodal (crown) roots don’t get well established and successive brace roots can’t establish either. This allows the seedling to whip around in the wind, potentially being dislodged, become weak or die. With center-fill planters, when adjusting down-pressure on the go, sometimes the planter ends may not always be seeding as deep as the center. Too often I’ve seen that resulting in seed 1” or less and the field pattern can be observed the entire growing season with potential yield impacts. So don’t just rely on the monitor. Take the time to dig up seed behind the planter and at spots along the whole planter length to ensure the proper seeding depth. And do this with every field, particularly with different tillage/residue situations. I realize this takes time, but you’ll be glad you did to catch any issues before too many acres are planted incorrectly.
With cold temps or higher soil moisture conditions, it’s still important to get that seed at least 1.5-2” in the ground. Planting 1.5-2” deep helps both corn and soybean to have that seed in even soil temperature and moisture conditions. You may be surprised on that recommendation for soybean, but I think it’s even more critical with planting early. In fact, UNL research near Mead compared planting depths of 1.0, 1.25, 1.5, 1.75, 2.0, 2.25, and 2.5 inches in 2011 and an additional planting depth of 2.75 inches was added in 2012 and 2013. The study found lowest yields when soybean was planted 1.25” or less or 2.25” or greater with the highest yield at 1.75” deep. One of that study’s hypotheses was that planting deeper would buffer soil temperature and moisture and protect newly emerged seedlings from frost and freeze damage, particularly when planting early in the season.
Hopefully planting soybean early is still something you’re considering for this year! We wrote a CropWatch article this week at http://cropwatch.unl.edu to provide some updated research on amplifying the effects of planting early. There’s so much research regarding how early soybean planting increases yield that we wanted to share new research regarding maturity groups, etc. Essentially, what it appears from the research thus far, is that it’s more important to choose a consistent, high-yielding soybean for your area, regardless of specific maturity group. We’d like to get more specific data and have on-farm research protocols available to compare MG2.4-2.5 vs. MG3.0-3.5 and Dr. Jim Specht would also like to collaborate with us on documenting various factors. Please let me know if you’re interested in this! There’s also a protocol for comparing early vs. late planting of soybean.
Soil moisture conditions didn’t improve this week at the six sites I’m monitoring in Webster, Nuckolls, Thayer, and Clay counties. You can find the chart comparisons on my blog at http://jenreesources.com. Last weekend’s bizzard didn’t provide significant moisture in this area. With pastures slow with growth and drought increasing in Kansas, discussions with farmers have included cover crop termination, grazing rye that’s had anhydrous ammonia applied to it (with the original intention of termination and planting to corn), and grazing wheat. Most of these topics are included in this week’s UNL CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu. The articles are too long with too many considerations for me to add them in this news column, so please do check them out if you’re interested in these topics. Another topic I’ve had several questions about is regarding how temperature and rain affect burndown herbicide applications. Dr. Amit Jhala, Extension Weed Specialist, addresses that in this week’s CropWatch as well, so please check that out. Here’s wishing everyone a safe planting season with conditions to get #plant18 and #grow18 started off well!