JenREES 4-7-19

Reflecting on conversations the past week, I think of the challenges those dealing with disaster and cleanup continue to face, the perhaps blessing in the fact more fall tillage didn’t occur for additional soil loss due to the rainfall and flooding, and the anxiety surrounding this planting season for many.

Waiting is hard for many of us in any aspect of life, yet has its benefits. As we think of this planting season, we can mess up the entire growing season with wrong decisions now through planting. Mudding in fertilizer and seed or tilling when too wet will have lasting effects. This also goes for planting in cold soil temps and/or planting shallow. Economically we also can’t afford these practices either. While I mentioned I’d share research on in-season fertilizer applications this week, I need more time to compile the results. So I’ll share on that and other planting considerations next week.

April 29 Application Deadline for Livestock Losses: On the livestock side, we know livestock losses had occurred due to the severe winter in January/February/March prior to and including the Blizzard/Flood event. Nebraska Extension worked with Farm Service Agency (FSA) to provide additional criteria for consideration of these losses qualifying for the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). There is now an extension granted for livestock producers to report livestock losses for LIP till April 29th for any losses that occurred the past three months due to adverse weather event or loss condition. An FSA press release last week shared, “Extended cold combined with above-normal precipitation during the months of January, February and early March created an adverse weather event that has had a significant impact on some livestock producers. We encourage them to reach out to our (FSA) office by the April 29 notice of loss deadline. LIP compensates livestock owners and contract growers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to an adverse weather event. The payment rate is based on 75 percent of the average fair market value of the livestock.” Documentation of loss can include beginning inventory and losses, pictures or video records documenting loss, records of the number and kind of livestock that died, vet records, or other production records.

The following is an excerpt from some information Extension provided: “As we think about February weather data, what created challenges in particular for cow-calf producers was the extended period of wet combined with cold. Most recently, additional challenges have included blizzard conditions and flooding. The draws and sheltered areas that protected calves from the cold and wind are sometimes the same places that were swept away during the most recent flooding events. Even for cattle out in pasture or grazing cornstalks, for many locations, there hasn’t been an opportunity for cattle to truly dry out, prolonging stress. Even for producers that bedded cattle, the bedding would get wet quickly because of saturated soil conditions. Cattle with a wet hair coat are much more susceptible to cold and windchill. A wet hair coat raises the lower critical temperature at which cattle experience cold stress (from a temperature of 19° Fahrenheit to 59° Fahrenheit). This higher critical temperature means that cattle have to use more energy to maintain their body temperature and creates a situation where often the cattle just can’t eat enough to meet their energy requirements. When this occurs, they begin to use body fat reserves. If this happens for an extended period of time, those reserves can become depleted and the animal will not be able to maintain body temperature and will die.”

Wellness in Tough Times Webinar: Farmers and ranchers have many stressors in their lives. A free webinar will be offered April 23 from Noon-1 p.m. CST for farm and ranch families and will provide strategies for dealing with the stress of farming or ranching in today’s difficult economic environment. Perhaps anyone involved with agriculture could benefit from this additional information? The webinar can be accessed at http://go.unl.edu/farmstresswebinar and will be presented by Nebraska Extension Educators Glennis McClure and Brandy VanDeWalle. Participants will learn: How to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress; understand the role stress plays in our lives; and strategies and resources to manage stress. For more information, contact Brandy VanDeWalle at brandy.vandewalle@unl.edu or (402)759-3712. Dates and locations for a separate workshop available to agribusiness professionals and service providers working with farmers and ranchers will be released soon:  Communicating with Farmers Under Stress. For more information on this workshop contact Susan Harris-Broomfield susan.harris@unl.edu

Gardening Expo in York: Join the Upper Big Blue NRD’s Project GROW, Nebraska Extension-York County and Common Ground for a Gardener’s Expo! It will be held on Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m.-Noon at the Killgore Memorial Library in York. Vendors from the Prairie Plains Research Institute, Nebraska Extension, Nebraska Bee Keepers Association, Miller Seed & Supply, Harmony Nursery, and Project GROW will answer questions about gardening, soil health, pollinators and trees. Door prizes include a rain barrel and composting bin. There are also free trees for the first 25 attendees.

#NebraskaStrong also means being strong enough to ask for help. Nebraska Family Helpline: 888-866-8660. Nebraska Farm Hotline: 800-464-0258.

JenREES 3-31-19

Our climate and weather experts speak of the past 60 days as “Nebraska’s most challenging days of weather”. In their article recapping events that have occurred since January 15th, Tyler Williams and Al Dutcher share, “The recent string of weather events is definitely one for Nebraska’s history books. The key word to that sentence is “string” because it took a combination of patterns and extremes to get us to this point. Beginning in mid-January, the weather pattern shifted from warm and relatively wet to a very cold and highly active pattern that brought snow, rain, and ice. This pattern lasted well into March. This almost 60-day period from mid-January to the March 13-14 storms and resulting flood will leave a lasting mark on Nebraska. Following is a description of how this scenario developed…” I would encourage us to read the full article at: https://go.unl.edu/0gbr.

In spite of more crazy weather last week, March did go out like a lamb! It’s hard to believe this week is April. Grateful for signs of greening up and new life after a long, hard winter such as greening wheat, rye, lawns, and new life with buds swelling on trees and various bulbs poking through the ground! For whatever reason, the first signs of green after winter seem so bright and stark to me, perhaps even more so this year!

And, I also realize with April upon us is the added stress that there’s so much to do yet for this growing season. Perhaps a bright spot is that the moisture has allowed for stalk deterioration which helps with the residue management side. Nutrient management is also on growers’ minds. Charlie Wortmann and Bijesh Mahajan, Extension Soil Fertility Specialists, addressed considerations for nutrient management going into 2019 in a CropWatch article as well this week: https://go.unl.edu/7u7u. I’ll share a few thoughts from it here and would encourage you to check out the full article in the link above. For those with wheat, the following addresses top-dressing winter wheat: https://go.unl.edu/pk6f.

Of concern is broadcast applications of phosphorus that occurred on frozen ground in January and February. It’s not a practice we recommend and unfortunately, this year may have resulted in quite a bit of loss as runoff from fields. The only way to really know where you’re at for phosphorus is to do soil samples and they’re recommending 0-8” depth.

For any nitrogen applied last fall, it’s not anticipated to have been lost yet due to the low soil temperatures. However, because of the full soil profile and gravitational water, there’s concern of nitrogen leaching as soil temperatures warm. In May there will be much potential for leaching of nitrate-N when the soil becomes warm enough to allow ammonium-N conversion to nitrate-N. The soil specialists share “residual soil nitrate-N from 2018 is already subject to leaching and that, on average, approximately 60 lb N/ac of residual soil nitrate-N is available annually in the upper 4-feet of soil.” They also share the potential for denitrification in June if we continue to see water-logged soils. So, I realize this isn’t good news on top of the stress you’re already under. The opportunity I see in all of this is the potential to move more nitrogen in-season. They’re recommending to move at least 50% of nitrogen application in-season. I realize this is a mind-shift and challenging equipment and perhaps cost-wise for some. I also think, perhaps hope, that it allows a future culture shift to more in-season nitrogen applications for future years.

A study from Purdue University found that between flowering and maturity, today’s hybrids can take up from 30% to 40% of their total N, over 50% of their total P and over 40% of their total sulfur. On the nitrogen side alone, hybrids today remove 27% more nitrogen from the soil after flowering than hybrids developed from 1950-1990. Thus, anything we can do to spread out nitrogen applications and aim for more in-season applications, can aid in nutrient uptake, yields, and reduce nutrient loss. Next week I’ll share more of our on-farm research and other research results regarding moving nitrogen in-season.

Also wanted to share that we have several updated articles on our http://flood.unl.edu regarding spreading flooded adulterated grain on ag land, considerations for gardens in areas that were flooded, reclaiming pastures and fields with silt/sand deposits, lease considerations on flooded ground, and fencing considerations. Prior to the flooding/blizzard, livestock producers were struggling with the weather and losing livestock. A team of us put together information for FSA regarding the severe winter as a disaster consideration. While that information was submitted several weeks ago, you can find our article at: https://go.unl.edu/6agf.

#NebraskaStrong also means being strong enough to ask for help. Nebraska Family Helpline: 888-866-8660. Nebraska Farm Hotline: 800-464-0258.

JenREES 3-24-19

This past week was tough at times yet also incredible to see people pull together, rally around each other, and donate so much. All of this is so hard to put into words…praying for those impacted and grateful for the many heart-warming stories amidst all the loss! I realize not everyone reading this is directly affected by the flooding. However, we all most likely know others affected and there’s several resources and information Nebraska Extension wishes to share. Please help us in sharing this information!

Flood Website: http://flood.unl.edu Information for Rural/Urban, Families, Business, Crop and Livestock Producers, Home Damage, and English/Spanish resources all in this one spot. Grateful for all my colleagues working really hard to redo/update this site! Also, all flood-related questions can be directed to: floodresponse@unl.edu

Volunteers: https://flood.unl.edu/how-can-i-help Individuals and organizations should never self-deploy. Support relief organizations that are already established in the area by contacting local organizations to see what support they need. You can also check with your county Emergency Manager. It’s also recommended to get a tetanus shot if you’re cleaning up in flood affected areas.

Homeowners: https://flood.unl.edu/cleaning-after-flood

Livestock: https://flood.unl.edu/livestock Our livestock producers care so greatly for their animals and work so hard to keep them safe and healthy. Prayers for all affected.

  • Options for Disposal of Animal Carcasses including rendering and landfill locations, burial and composting considerations. EQIP assistance for disposal costs may be available; apply for waiver through local NRCS office before disposal: https://beef.unl.edu/beefwatch/options-disposal-animal-carcasses
  • Contact local Farm Service Agency regarding losses. Phone call starts the process and only have 30 days to report for Livestock Indemnity Program. Can report losses from severe winter prior to flooding in addition to flood and blizzard events: https://beef.unl.edu/beefwatch/extreme-weather-events-and-livestock-indemnity-program
  • Article I’ve promised for a few weeks regarding the extreme winter before the flood/blizzard event: https://beef.unl.edu/beefwatch/considerations-attributing-livestock-losses
  • Flood damaged grain and hay is considered adulterated and cannot be used as a food or feed source; it must be properly disposed: http://deq.ne.gov/publica.nsf/pages/11-023
  • Post bomb-cyclone recovery
  • Wet hay has the potential to combust so remove hay from building structures if impacted by flooding. Best practice for flooded hay and silage is to dispose of by spreading on fields as a fertilizer. Most practical way may be just unrolling bales for now. Hay bales that are at 30 to 40 percent moisture content pose the greatest risk of fire. Check hay storage often for pungent odors, hot damp areas on the stack, emission of water vapors and other signs of heating. To check a stack’s temperature for fire risk, drive a sharp pointed pipe into the hay, lower a thermometer inside the pipe and leave it there for about 20 minutes. At 150 degrees F, the hay is approaching the danger zone. At 170 degrees F, hot spots or fire pockets are possible. Have the fire department on standby.

Flooded Grain Bins: Flooded grain is considered adulterated and needs to be disposed. Grain above that can be salvaged by removing it from the top or side of bin with a tool like a grain vacuum. This article shares info. on considerations and grain vac service/suppliers: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2019/grain-vacuum-services-rentals-suppliers

Flooded Pesticides: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/flood/farm-ranch/flooded-pesticides

I don’t have room to mention all the resources! Please check out: https://flood.unl.edu/

Please keep talking to each other, share your stories, and don’t isolate! Eat a good meal, drink plenty of water, get some rest and be mindful of your personal well-being. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. We’re all being impacted by this. #NebraskaStrong is so true. It also takes strength to ask for help when we need it; help is always available!

  • Nebraska Farm Hotline/Rural Response Hotline: 800-464-0258.
  • The Nebraska Counseling, Outreach and Mental Health Therapy (COMHT) Program: 800-464-0258.
  • Nebraska Family Helpline: 888-866-8660

JenREES 3-17-19

Perspective. I spoke a little of this last week. This week, in the midst of much occurring, it was all about perspective for me. It’s hard to find words for the devastation occurring in Nebraska. Perhaps like me, you found yourself feeling a tad overwhelmed or helpless by the images of damage…cattle being dug out of snow or stranded on islands and whole communities engulfed by water… I think what made this extra hard for me is that so many of our people are hurting and affected. Tornadoes and hail damage are somewhat more isolated for allowing people to more easily respond. This has been harder to help with road and bridge infrastructure damaged in so much of the State. And, unfortunately, we will feel these effects for a long time.

Perspective for me was counting my blessings. Because I rely a great deal on my faith, considering worse things I’ve personally gone through and remembering God’s faithfulness to me helps me with perspective. My family is all safe and we have each other, and my dad’s livestock are also safe. Those statements aren’t true for some I know who lost family and livestock this week and many more that I don’t know. In talking to a farmer friend, he was also sharing how he kept thinking about his blessings and that was the message he was sharing with others. So perhaps thinking of our blessings can help all of us with so much loss all around us? That actually is one of the research-based tips mentioned in this article: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2019/coping-stress-during-crisis.

Nebraskans are so resilient! In the midst of tragedy, the stories of people pulling together to help however they can is heart-warming. Though we may experience more devastation for a time, we will get through this! #NebraskaStrong.

Considerations and resources for now:

  • Please heed the warnings of emergency management and Nebraska State Patrol regarding road closures, bridges, etc. People not doing so has put them at additional risk for rescue operations.
  • There may be additional places in the future, but this is what was shared with me thus far. Anyone in need of feed for livestock or wishing to donate to help farmers/ranchers affected can consider doing so at Nebraska Farm Bureau’s website: https://www.nefb.org/get-involved/disaster-assistance
  • For anyone who has lost livestock, feed, fences in the past month due to weather or flooding, please call your local Farm Service Agency office to report those losses. Losses have to be reported within 30 days and a phone call will start that process. We have additional information regarding considerations for livestock losses that occurred due to extreme weather conditions before this most recent blizzard and flooding. I just don’t have room to cover all that here now.
  • We also realize that loss of livestock, farms, etc. is more than a source of income; it’s a livelihood. There’s an emotional component to loss that financial compensation can’t replace. Nebraska Extension cares about you and recognizes the additional stress that can occur to producers and your families during times of crisis and loss. A number of resources are available. The following has helpful tips on how to cope during crisis: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2019/coping-stress-during-crisis
  • I’d also ask us all to consider two things. One: continue checking in on each other and seeking to encourage as I wrote about in an earlier news column. Two: consider adding two phone numbers into your address book as we never know when we may need them.
    • The Nebraska Counseling, Outreach and Mental Health Therapy (COMHT) Program, 800-464-0258, offers no-cost vouchers for confidential mental health services for persons affected by the rural crisis.
    • Nebraska Farm Hotline/Rural Response Hotline – 1-800-464-0258.
  • All our flood information can be found at: http://flood.unl.edu.

Coping with Stress During a Crisis  

Good resources for managing stress during a crisis.

Views from VanDeWalle

With the flooding and blizzard conditions affecting a large portion of the state, this week I looked up some Extension resources and decided to write some of the research ideas for dealing with stress and how to help the whole family cope. First of all, our Nebraska Extension publication, Effective Management of Stress & Crisis points out numerous tips that come from worldwide research on strong families. It involves research from more than 24,000 family members in 35 countries. While the publication identifies 18 ideas, I selected the top ten that interest me. For the remainder of the ideas, go online to the publication which can be accessed through our extension.unl.edu website and search for “Effective Management of Stress & Crisis.”

close up composition conceptual creativity Photo by Pedro Figueras on Pexels.com

Ideas for coping with stress and crisis include:

  • Look for something positive to focus and focus on that positive element in…

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JenREES 3-10-19

Been hearing reports from our cattle producers about calf loss prior to birth and also after birth. Wet hair coats, low air temps with the windchills we’ve experienced have been brutal. We would recommend reporting your losses. We realize that the Livestock Indemnity Program has criteria for wind chills that may not have been met for each part of the State. However, the unusual weather events this year compounded upon each other led to a very extreme winter and we feel additional factors should be considered. Some Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices have contacted us for additional considerations as well. There’s a team of us working together on this and we hope to release information for consideration by local Farm Service Agency offices and others.

Tyler Williams, Extension Educator in Lancaster County who specializes in weather, shared the following stats with the team of us working on the additional considerations for FSA. Since February 1st:

  • Above normal snowfall: 5” (West) to 20” (East) above normal
  • Total Snowfall at least 10” for most of Nebraska – Eastern Nebraska 20-30”
  • Average temperature was 10°F North/East and 20°F South/West
  • Min temps were 10-15°F below normal, Max Temps 10-20°F below normal
  • 20 (Southwest) to 30 (Northeast) days the max temp was below freezing
  • 6-10 (South) to 20-24 (North) Days the temp dropped below zero
  • 10-15 days with measurable precipitation

In the last two weeks:

  • Minimum temps dropped to 20 below Central and West, 6-12 below East
  • 4-6 (North) to 7-11 (South) days with min temp above zero i.e. 8-10 (North) to 3-7 (South) days the temp dropped below 0
  • 4-7 days with measurable precipitation – Almost every other day
  • 0 days temps were above 32°F, except for NE/KS border and Southwest Panhandle
  • Snowfall 2 (Southwest) to 10 (Central/East Central) inches above normal
  • Snowfall ranged from 2-4” in Southwest and Northeast to 7-12+ in Northwest, Central and East Nebraska
  • Wind chills dropped to 20-30°F below zero
  • Cattle comfort index in “extreme” category

I know a lot of crop farmers have been concerned about field work and how far behind they feel due to the fall. Right now our livestock producers could really use some encouragement too with the brutal calving season, ice/snow covered stalks, high hay prices and blowing through feed with the added energy requirements due to the cold. Another thing that put this winter into perspective for me was seeing the tornado damage in parts of the U.S. There’s just been a lot of crazy weather! Al Dutcher’s forecast doesn’t sound great for the next few weeks either and I realize our next challenges may include potential flooding and muddy lots. However, for now, just seeing the sun shine does wonders in lifting my spirits and have heard several others remark on this too!

Kiwanis and SCCDP Ag Banquet: The 51st Annual Agriculture Recognition Banquet will be held on Monday, March 18 at the Seward County Fairgrounds in Seward. The banquet begins with wine and cheese at 5:30 p.m. and a prime rib meal at 6:30 p.m. Rancher, humorist and cowboy poet R.P. Smith will be the evening’s entertainment. The Brett Borchers family of Utica will be honored as the 2019 Kiwanis Farm Family. Bill Hartmann, owner of Hartmann Construction, will receive the 2019 Seward County Chamber and Development Partnership Ag Business award. Fifteen Seward County students will also be recognized by the Briggs family and the Seward County Ag Society for their agricultural achievements. Tickets for the prime rib dinner are limited to 500. Contact Pam Moravec, banquet chair, (402) 643-7748, or Shelly Hansen, (402) 643-3636, for tickets or information about becoming a banquet sponsor. Tickets are $30 each. The Kiwanis Club of Seward will use the proceeds from the event to support the youth of Seward County through a variety of programs and events, including the Agronomy Academy.

JenREES 3-3-19

I’m assuming we can say March came in like a lion, so hopefully, it goes out like a lamb! My thoughts have also been with our livestock producers, especially everyone calving with this extra difficult winter. It’s also been an interesting winter programming season for me-probably the worst travel wise ever with some scary trips. Grateful winter programming is concluding and extra grateful for safety on all the bad roads. My out of state travels often were to speak on palmer amaranth management. I don’t claim to be an expert on this, just seek to read, observe, and learn for helping our farmers. Well, palmer had another ‘win’ with the announcement this week of a population in Kansas being confirmed to be 2,4-D and dicamba resistant. Populations in Kansas had already been confirmed to be resistant to ALS, atrazine, glyphosate, and HPPD chemistries. The 2,4-D and dicamba resistant population was found at K-State Agronomy’s long-term (45 year) conservation tillage study in southern Riley County. This study compares long-term monocrops to various crop rotations. The seeds from plants that survived in the field were collected, grown, and exposed to dose rate studies at the K-State Agronomy Department greenhouse. Twenty-one days after treatment, the resistant progeny survived up to a 16X rate of 2,4-D (8 lb acid equivalent/acre (ae/a)) while susceptible progeny were killed with 1 lb ae/acre or less. The seed from plants that survived in the field were also treated with 0.5 lb ae/acre rate of dicamba with 81% of the plants surviving. Studies are ongoing to determine the level of resistance and additional cross-resistance to other growth regulator (Group 4) herbicides.

That’s why when I talk about palmer, waterhemp or frankly any of our weeds, to me, it’s Palmer plants after harvestabout a system’s approach. We can’t rely on herbicides alone. I think of weed control beginning at harvest by not combining patches of weeds or extra weedy endrows. There’s research documenting 99% of palmer seed survives the combine. There’s also research proving seed dispersal from the combine throughout the field the following growing season by counting plants that resulted from the first several combine passes. Instead, I recommend to consider disking once or shredding those areas at harvest. Then get a small grain seeded to reduce light interception onto the soil surface. Why? Natural and red light has been proven by the research to stimulate germination of palmer seed more than soil temperature. Light interception onto bare soil can allow for a flush of palmer to germinate. So in managing palmer, I’m thinking of anything we can do that can delay or reduce germination. Palmer seed in general is short lived…7-10 years. But plants are prolific seed producers. A plant inside the field can produce up to ½ million seeds. The large plant at the field edge can produce up to 1.8 million seeds. Adding a small grain such as wheat or rye for grain back into the rotation can delay palmer germination for a few months as the crop canopy delays germination until after harvest. Research and observation has proven this as well. The exception to this has been when tram lines were in the field as the bare soil in the tramlines has allowed for palmer germination. After using a burndown to kill the germinating palmer flush after small grain harvest, a cover crop can keep the ground covered for the rest of the season and allow for managed livestock grazing if desired. Even if the small grain crop isn’t taken for grain, the cover alone helps reduce light interception onto the soil surface and palmer germination.

Going back to the tillage, the southern U.S. has gone back to the plow. We can’t afford that. There’s also many no-till guys where disking is a hard option to consider. Several research studies showed that a 1 time tillage to bury the seed at least 3-4” and keep it buried for at least 3 years reduced palmer seed viability by 80-100%. That’s why I’ve mentioned the tillage. I did ask Dr. Jason Norsworthy from the University of Arkansas about the possibility of just shredding weed patches at harvest instead. He doesn’t have research on that and I don’t have observation but it could be another option to consider instead of running the combine through weed patches at harvest. Regarding herbicides, I’m so proud of an increasing number of farmers last year using pre’s with residual followed by posts with residual. Herbicides are part of the strategy, but we’ve got to look at the whole system. And, we’ve got to rotate our use of dicamba! We rely on dicamba a lot for our corn apps. But if we use it in corn and soybeans, we have the potential in 3-4 years to have resistance develop here. Take Home Considerations: palmer/waterhemp/weed management begins at harvest by not combining major weed patches; Consider one-time tillage (or shredding) of endrows on fields with heavy palmer pressure. Then plant a small grain to remove light interception; Plan herbicide program for burndown, pre with residual, post with residual, and potentially a second post if in beans; Narrow row beans may help with canopy closure; Consider adding a small grain in the crop rotation; Use at least two effective modes of action; Rotate use of dicamba to maintain as a tool. What is perhaps positive is we have an opportunity to learn from the southern U.S. and manage palmer better here! If you missed the palmer amaranth webinar by Dr. Jason Norsworthy, you can view it here: https://unl.box.com/s/al5zrhxjwml7s31liv1bryne320bf6r6.palmer take home.PNG

JenREES 2-24-19

Change. Sometimes it can motivate us to move forward and sometimes we can allowIMAG7539.jpg unwanted change to cripple us. The theme of the Women in Agriculture conference last week was “Taking Charge of Change”. There’s a number of changes we all face, especially for those involved with agriculture. Many are outside of our control yet we can control how we respond. We were challenged to write down 2-3 changes currently occurring in our lives and then what parts of those changes, if any, we had any control over. The first keynote speaker then built off of that in speaking on “Getting Clear on our Impact”. He was talking about life’s changes and our yearly goals. In clarifying impact around our goals, he mentioned three steps including: thinking long term, clarifying values/intentions, and optimizing for the starting line. The first two were pretty intuitive for me, but I wasn’t sure what he meant by the last one till explaining. In optimizing for the starting line, it’s about taking the first step. How many of us have made goals that have seemed too daunting to achieve such as fitness, nutrition, or other personal goals? He gave the example of a man who made the goal to run 5 miles every day for a year. Even though it’s measurable, it may not be achievable every day. He said the past three years, he made the goal each year to play his fiddle. He had been a fiddle player before having children but failed to even play once in spite of the goal. “Optimizing for the starting line” is about taking the first step. For the first man, it became simply putting on his running shoes. Once the shoes were on, it was the first step to any type of exercise. For himself, it was scheduling a time each day to only ‘pick up his fiddle’. Once he picked it up, it was the first step to begin playing again and he has been successful at playing since. The thought of this is so simple yet profound. It makes a lot of sense. In these cases, it can be change that’s positive by taking the first step, including in changing negative habits. It goes along the lines of other things we’ve heard such as “just making one’s bed” to complete one task, etc. For me, it will be to pick up a note card which is the first step to writing long-overdue thank yous and notes of encouragement. What first steps would allow you to achieve some of the goals you have in life or more positively help you deal with change occurring in your life right now?

Women’s Farmers & Ranchers College Program: Another opportunity for women in agriculture is upcoming on March 14. Michele Payn, founder of Cause Matter Corp., will be speaking to women on “Gate to Plate” at the next Farmers & Ranchers College. This informative and light-hearted program will start with registration at 6:00 p.m., a light meal and program to follow. The venue will be Lazy Horse Vineyard & Brewery near Ohiowa, NE or at 211 Road 20, Ohiowa, NE. This program is for women involved in agriculture to learn strategies for sharing their story of agriculture to today’s consumers. This program is free, however space is limited so please RSVP to 402-759-3712 or at go.unl.edu/farmersrancherscollege. Cause Matters Corp. focuses on addressing food myths, developing science communication, and connecting farm to food. In each of these core areas, Michele helps organizations clearly identify issues, understand their audience and grow solutions. Michele’s goal is to help you communicate “why your cause matters” – whether you’re a scientist, dietitian or in agribusiness. Michele’s resources and website can be found at http://causematters.com. For those of you on Twitter, Michele also founded the weekly #agchat conversation.

CropWatch  and BeefWatch Podcasts: Dr. Roger Elmore, Extension Cropping Systems Specialist joins Michael Sindelar, Extension Educator, to talk about Corn Planting and Early Growth Stages in this month’s CropWatch podcast. You can listen to it at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2019/cw-podcast-corn-planting-and-early-growth-stages. The monthly BeefWatch newsletter now has entire articles available via podcast. You can click here to subscribe if you’re interested: https://beef.unl.edu/beefwatch-podcast?platform=hootsuite.

Grain Marketing Workshop in David City: Are you getting the most profit out of your grain? A free Nebraska Extension Grain Marketing Workshop will help you build your own marketing plan for next year’s crops. The workshop will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 5 in David City at the Hruska Memorial Public Library, 399 Fifth St. Austin Duerfeldt, Nebraska Extension ag economist and extension educator, will lead the morning session on how to develop a grain marketing plan. In the afternoon participants will get to test two scenarios using the Marketing in a New Era simulator. MINE is a commodity simulation game designed to help producers develop and improve their commodity marketing skills. Also speaking will be Eric Erickson, Risk Management Consultant at Thrive Ag LLC. The workshop, workshop materials and lunch are free. Seating is limited to the first 20 registrants and please RSVP to: Melissa Bartels at melissa.bartels@unl.edu.

JenREES 2-17-19

We had our 4-H Festival tonight in York. IMAG5247Sometimes I need to be reminded how cool ag is and not take it so easily for granted. Watching the kids exclaim “that is so cool!” when looking at fungal spores under the microscope or seeing both youth and parents be amazed to see the root and early leaves with soybean dissection repeatedly brought a smile to my face. Any youth ages 6-18 are welcome to join me every month for Crop Science Investigation (CSI). At each meeting, the youth become detectives to solve a real-life problem about plants. Learning is hands-on, youth don’t have to be in 4-H to attend, and also can be from outside of York County. Our next meeting will be March 25th from 5-6 p.m. at the York Co. Extension Office and every third Monday of the month after that. Please contact me at jrees2@unl.edu to RSVP or for more information.

On-Farm Research Brainstorming Meeting: Last week I shared about on-farm research and the updates that are occurring this week throughout the State. Because we cover so many research projects at those updates, there’s not a lot of time for growers to just brainstorm and talk about projects they’re considering for this year. So, I’m having an on-farm research brainstorming meeting on Monday, February 25th from 10 a.m.-Noon at the 4-H Building in York. I will also provide lunch at Noon for those attending in person. We will also have a distance connection available for Extension Offices in other parts of the State and I can share that link with anyone who is unable to attend in person. Please RSVP to me (jrees2@unl.edu) if you plan on attending or if you would like to join us via weblink. Purpose: Brainstorm on-farm research topics to conduct this year and better determine who is interested in which studies to see if we can get several to conduct the same study. A number of growers have contacted me since harvest with project ideas. What has been shared thus far include: interseeding covers at V3-V5; biological products including some heard about during No-Till on the Plains; renewed interest in applying sugars; soy pop looking at impact on soybean stem borer; economics of lower corn pop with high flex hybrid under irrigation vs. current pop; second year for some on early vs. later maturity group soy planted early; Chris Proctor and my interest in small grain or other cover on soybean endrows (document palmer); comparison of sorghum vs. corn in non-irrigated setting looking at economics for Nebraska. Come with any topics you’re interested in discussing and looking forward to the discussion!

Soybean Seed Quality: The wet fall brought challenges with harvest and seed quality.

Soybeans with purple seed stain (left) and soybeans showing signs of seed decay due to Phomopsis disease complex. (Photo by Jenny Rees)

Purple Seed Stain (left) and Phomopsis Seed Decay (right). Photo by Jenny Rees, Nebraska Extension.

Not surprisingly, we’re hearing about reduced germination for soybean seed next year. There’s an article in this week’s CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu that goes into more details. Essentially in seeds infected with fungi causing purple seed stain and also phomopsis seed decay, reduced germination is occurring. Steve Knox, manager of the Nebraska Crop Improvement Association shared that while a few lots came in at or above 95% germination, results are averaging in the mid 80% range. In a typical year, soybean seed lots tested by the Nebraska Crop Improvement Association (NCIA) range from 88% to 98% germination. This year samples thus far ranged from 43% to 98% germination. The minimum germination for certified soybean seed is 80%, as set by the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA). The Nebraska Department of Agriculture has set a minimum germination standard of 75% for soybeans. On a phone call, Steve mentioned that all the moldy and dead seed were removed from the samples before conducting germination tests. They did test the purple seed stained soybeans and found little to no germination reduction in infected seeds. Purple seed stain is seed transmitted; thus, if you have seed lots that are infected at planting, you may notice it at harvest as well. You may also have noticed soybean seed last fall that had very tightly wrinkled seed coats. This was due to the continual wetting/drying process beans went through with rain and wind events. Steve said soybeans with those characteristics didn’t germinate at all thus far but there’s few soybeans with those characteristics in most seed lots tested thus far. Iowa State research found that adding a fungicide seed treatment to lower quality seed could increase the germination percentage up to 15%. However, a fungicide seed treatment won’t improve germination of dead or dying seeds. Seed treatments should be considered when germination rates are below normal and when you’re planting into cold, wet soils. It’s important for growers to check the germination rate of soybean seed this year. Regarding any adjustments for seeding rates, when we conducted on-farm research soybean seeding rate studies, we did not adjust for the germ on the bag (seeded 90K, 120K, 150K, and 180K with no adjustments). However, every seed lot had at least 90% germ in those studies. We’re not recommending to adjust for 80-98% germ if the grower seeds 150K+ because there’s already enough seed planted without adjustment based on our research. However, those planting less than 150K may wish to consider adjusting this year if germination for their seed is in the 80-89% range.

JenREES 2-10-19

On the first day I started Extension nearly 15 years ago, I met two other Extension Educators and a farmer in a Clay County farmer’s field. The farmer was cooperating with us in an on-farm research project. It was great for me to see farmers answering their own questions by partnering with Extension to conduct field-scale, replicated research on their own farms. It also became a key tool for me to learn via field observations and build relationships with growers.

Any of you who know me know on-farm research is something in which I’m pretty passionate! The reason? You’re all going to meetings and reading information regarding various practices/products and you may wonder if any of those things will work on your farm. You may try various tests on your own, which can provide some information. But because fields are so variable, scientific tests can’t be conducted by just splitting fields in half or without true randomization and replication. Another reason I believe in on-farm research is because we answer much with minimal money invested! I think of numerous studies our farmers have partnered with us in which University faculty wouldn’t have been able to obtain grants because they were too applied. However, in farmers utilizing their equipment on their own ground partnering with Extension to collect and analyze data, we’ve been able to conduct these studies with minimal cost other than some additional time and travel to fields. We’ve tested numerous products including soybean inoculants, growth promoters, soil health, and nutrient management ones. We’ve tested various practices such as populations, planting dates, planting depths, nutrient timing, cover crops, and much more. A good portion of our results can be found at http://resultsfinder.unl.edu. That site is still missing the first 15-20 years of Greater Quad County on-farm research studies, but everything is there from 2010 on. (I hope to one day help get the rest added).

I’m so grateful for all of our on-farm research cooperators-especially to all of you who have worked with me-for your investment of time and trust in partnering! We can’t do this without you! And, I hope more growers consider partnering with us in on-farm research in the future!

On-Farm Research Updates: Next week will be our Nebraska On-Farm Research updates. It’s an opportunity to hear from the growers themselves who conducted studies in 2018 regarding why they chose their studies, how they conducted them, and what their plans are for the future. I really enjoy these meetings and learning from the discussions! While many of the studies may show there’s no differences, those are still answers to specific questions! Research projects include: cover crops, variable rate seeding, planting populations, starter fertilizer, fungicide applications, alternate crop rotations, seed treatments, and sidedress nitrogen management technologies including drone and sensor-based, variable-rate nitrogen management. Certified Crop Advisor Credits have been applied for and are pending approval. Call (402) 624-8030 or e-mail onfarm@unl.edu to register. Locations and times are listed below. There’s no charge with lunch included due to the partnership of the following: Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff, and the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission.

  • Feb. 18: Grand Island, Hall Co. Extension Office, College Park, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Reg. 8:30)
  • Feb. 19: Norfolk, Lifelong Learning Center, Northeast Com. College, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Reg. 8:30)
  • Feb. 20: Beatrice, Valentino’s Restaurant, 701 E. Court St., 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Reg. 8:30)
  • Feb. 26: North Platte, West Central Research & Extension Center, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. CST (Reg. 8:30)

Soybean Yield Gap On-Farm Research Project: A number of you have helped through the years in providing field history information for Dr. Patricio Grassini for the Soybean Yield Gap project. That’s the difference between current farm yield and potential yield as determined by climate, soil, and genetics. An analysis of survey responses from over 2000 soybean producers indicated a 20%-30% yield gap for soybean. In Nebraska, three practices have been identified as being important for improving yield and producer profit: planting date, seeding rate, and the use of foliar fungicides and insecticides. An on-farm research study in eastern Nebraska is seeking 20 growers to test “improved” practices versus “baseline” practices in 2019 and 20 again for 2020. A PDF handout with the regions and more details can be found at: https://go.unl.edu/h8hc. Please let me or your local Extension Educator know if you’re interested in this!

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