Farm Bill: A special thank you to Leann Nelson and her staff from the York/Hamilton
County Farm Service Agency (FSA) for their help in Friday’s Farm Bill meeting in York! We had 130 pre-registered with at least double that actually attending. Greatly appreciate their help keeping coffee going and the help with set up and tear down! Farm bill decisions are complicated. For this column, I will provide a little perspective and also some first steps for consideration. In future columns, I will walk through options for decision making using the Texas A&M tool and other calculations.
Perspective: We need to keep in mind the current decision is for the 2019-2020 signup only…not the life of the farm bill. The decisions for the 2014 farm bill were extra daunting when we had to speculate what would happen with prices for the duration of the farm bill in addition to considering base acre reallocations. So, this two-year decision followed by the opportunity to change annually from 2021-2023 may be a blessing and take a little pressure off as you’re not ‘stuck’ with your decision for five years.
First Steps: Currently you need to: make an election for 2019/2020 and enroll for 2019, enroll for 2020, and determine whether or not you will update your yields. Your program election and enrollment for 2019 need to be complete by March 15, 2020; enrollment for 2020 by June 30, 2020; and your PLC yield update deadline is September 30, 2020. With making crop insurance decisions these winter months and having RMA data fresh on your mind, consider looking at yield updates now instead of waiting. My recommendations for first steps:
1-Contact your local FSA Office asking for their yield spreadsheet that shows your yields and base acres for each farm number. The spreadsheet will also show what actual yield is necessary in order to update your PLC yields. Even if you choose ARC-CO for your program election, it’s important to at least look at PLC yields as this gives you the opportunity to increase them in the event you ever choose PLC in the future. Because of the adjustment factors, a substantial yield improvement may be necessary to update PLC yield. So, knowing what yield you actually need in order to update can save you time before going through all your RMA data. Any yield updates will apply only to the 2020 year and beyond (not to 2019).
If you choose to update yields, you will need to use actual yields (designated with ‘A’) on your crop insurance forms (not APH). Sometimes crop insurance units are on the same sheet encompassing several farm numbers-so be aware of that as you will need to separate them out (irrigation practice doesn’t matter). If a crop insurance unit includes multiple FSA numbers, you can pro-rate those bushels to split the unit using acres. You also could go back to yield map data or scale tickets if you prefer. Ultimately, keep records of how you determine your yield updates as you will need them if you are spot-checked anytime before the end of this farm-bill period. The landowner also needs to sign off on the yield update and Power of Attorney (POA) is acceptable. The 2014 and 2018 farm bills specified that PLC yield could be certified from a minimum of 0.01 acres planted 1 year of the farm bill period. Randy Pryor shared that with me and he would recommend planting at least 1 acre. He had a grower with milo base acres who planted a 25 acre milo plot one time during the last farm bill period; it yielded well allowing him to update his milo yield. We don’t know what future farm bill rules will entail yet something to consider for the next 5 years if rules for PLC yield updates end up the same as the previous farm bills.
2-If you have any idea on farm program elections for 2019-2020, make an appointment now with your FSA Office and go ahead and enroll for 2019. They will also work through the enrollment paperwork for 2020 if possible. You can always change your election prior to March 15, 2020! All Farm Bill information can be found at farmbill.unl.edu.
Keeping Stress Levels in Check Webinar: A free webinar will be offered December 17 geared for farm and ranch families. The webinar will take place over the noon hour (12:30 p.m. CST) and can be accessed at go.unl.edu/stresswebinar. This webinar will provide strategies for dealing with the stress of farming or ranching in today’s difficult economic environment.
Additional Farm Bill Info:
This time of year transitions to winter programming for me. The past few weeks I’ve mostly talked about cover crop results we’ve received from our on-farm research studies. I’m pretty passionate about on-farm research! On-farm research allows us to study topics we often wouldn’t receive funding for, with minimal monetary investment while conducting them on growers’ farms. It wouldn’t be possible without our grower cooperators and I’m so grateful for them!
We have an on-farm research database at: http://resultsfinder.unl.edu/ where you can click on a county or enter a keyword to search for various studies. It’s kind of picky on the wording, but it’s still a nice tool. I used this to compare cash crops planted into either cereal rye or cover crop mix for 1 year or for 3 years. Results can also be viewed via tables on my blog at: jenreesources.com.
One Year Studies: From 2008-2018, there were 7 studies in which corn or soybean was planted into cereal rye. They all showed either no yield difference or yield loss when the cash crop was planted into the cereal rye regardless of terminating pre- or post-planting. In 3 studies conducted in Clay, Franklin, and Phelps counties in 2014, either non-irrigated corn or wheat was planted into a cover crop mix. They all showed yield loss and moisture was anticipated to be a limiting factor, but no moisture sensors were used in the studies.
Three Year Studies: In three Saunders county locations where they planted cereal rye after harvest on the same strips for three successive years, there was either no yield difference or a yield increase in year three when the cash crop was planted into the cereal rye. We also have a long term study in Nuckolls county and will share more on that in an upcoming column.
We encourage growers to conduct studies more than one year where feasible. It’s especially important when looking at studies that have longer term implications to soil to maintain studies in the same location over time. Maybe some of you have tried a cover crop once but didn’t see positive yield results after year one; perhaps yield results would be different over time? The on-farm research studies summarized here don’t go into enough detail to specify why yields were the same or improved in the three studies in year three. During different meetings, some also asked about nitrogen tie-up in the cover contributing to yield loss. There are other studies showing addition of nitrogen at planting can reduce yield loss impacts due to nitrogen tie-up. Where we had information about nitrogen applied at planting, I added this to the tables on my blog. Ultimately, there wasn’t consistency in rates applied nor improved yield in all cases with these studies.
Farm Bill Meeting York Dec. 6: A reminder of the Farm Bill Meeting to be held at the Cornerstone Event Center at the Fairgrounds in York from 9 a.m.-Noon on Dec. 6. Please RSVP at: go.unl.edu/farmbill to select this or any other location. This helps us prepare and helps save time at the door during registration. If you prefer not to RSVP via computer, you can call your local Extension or FSA office and we will get you registered.
Nebraska Soybean Day and Machinery Expo Dec. 19 will assist soybean producers in planning for next year’s growing season. The expo will be in the pavilion at the Saunders County Fairgrounds in Wahoo. The Saunders County Soybean Growers Organization will be collecting non-perishable food and monetary donations for the Saunders County Food Bank backpack program. Complimentary noon lunch will be served. Registration is available the day of the expo at the door and there is no registration fee.
The event opens with coffee, doughnuts and the opportunity to view equipment and exhibitor booths at 8:30 a.m. Program begins at 9:10 a.m. Topics include: A New Marketing Tool for Soybean Growers-The Role of Harvest Moisture (Cory Walters, UNL); Decision Making in Uncertain Times (Richard Preston, Preston Farms Kentucky); Managing Soybean Diseases with Fungicides (Daren Mueller, ISU); Managing Waterhemp (Chris Proctor, UNL); Soybean Gall Midge (Justin McMechan, UNL); and Nebraska Soybean Checkoff Update and Association Information.
*End of Column. Cover Crop Tables Below.
Table 1: Corn or Soybean Planted into Cereal Rye Cover. One year studies. Yield values with the same letter are not significantly different at a 90% confidence level (for each individual study).
Table 2: Corn or Wheat Planted into Cover Crop Mix. One year studies. Yield values with the same letter are not significantly different at a 90% confidence level (for each individual study).
Table 3: Three year studies utilizing cereal rye as cover crop in same strips over time. Yield values with the same letter are not significantly different at a 90% confidence level (for each individual study).
I’ve often thought about two words the past few months: Grief and Gratitude. It’s been a hard year for many with grief coming in the form of various losses. The stories I’ve been blessed to be entrusted with this year included losses in the form of livestock, land, fences, feed, finances, crops, homes, health, relationships, family members, pets, farms, jobs…
It’s important to take the time to grieve and acknowledge the losses while not getting stuck there. I think sometimes we want to push forward and avoid the mess of grief, but there’s healing in acknowledging it. At our Extension Fall Conference, we spent time talking through 2019 and the experiences we had as Extension faculty with boots on the ground serving people. While it was uncomfortable for many, there was healing in the discussion and sharing, in the tears and triumphs of helping others during a really difficult year. I would encourage us all to acknowledge losses we’ve experienced and ultimately keep talking with others instead of isolating.
Our keynote speaker at our conference was David Horsager who wrote the book The Trust Edge. One thing he asks his audiences, “What is the most endearing quality a person can have?” What do you think? Often people say kindness, compassion, generosity, being positive, humor, etc. His company does a great deal of research and they’ve found the most endearing quality is…Gratitude…sincere gratitude. According to Oxford’s Dictionary, gratitude means “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”.
There’s been a lot of research on gratitude! Harvard University shared, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.” Summarizing several studies I read, most would say finding a way to count one’s blessings or focusing on gratitude greatly improved a person’s sleep, health, attitude, focus, and relationships. Many of those studies didn’t involve individuals who struggled with mental wellness. However, one study in Indiana focused on 300 adults who suffered from anxiety and depression. The researchers wanted to see if focusing on gratitude could help with mental health concerns. Adults were split into three groups and each group also received counseling. One group wrote a letter of gratitude to someone each week (but wasn’t required to share it). Another group wrote down negative thoughts and experiences while the third group didn’t do any activity involving writing. Individuals who wrote the gratitude letters were found to have significantly improved mental health 4 and 12 weeks after starting the activity (in spite of only 23% actually sending the letters). The gratitude activity on top of receiving counseling resulted in better mental wellness for the individuals than counseling alone. Regardless of if one is in the midst of a difficult time or not, research ultimately shows the benefits of seeking gratitude!
Grief and Gratitude. With Thanksgiving this week, for what are you and I grateful? Perhaps there’s someone who came alongside you this year during a difficult time or someone who showed you an unexpected kindness that you wish to thank in some way? Perhaps you choose to make a list of things for which you’re thankful or jot a few things down each day? Perhaps you choose to write one letter or note to someone each week expressing thanks? Or perhaps your family starts a tradition of expressing gratitude in some way during Thanksgiving dinner? Additional ideas for expressing gratitude, particularly for those with children, can be found at: https://go.unl.edu/q04v. Here’s wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving!
Trees Hanging onto Leaves: Driving in the country or in towns I tend to observe what’s going on in the fields, but also observe what’s occurring with the trees. Right now I’m noticing many maples trees looking like mine: hanging onto a portion of greenish/gray/brown leaves. Typically my silver maples are the first to lose their leaves each fall along with a neighboring ash. But the season didn’t start off typical for them either! Some of you, like me, have dealt all year with the huge seed load produced by these and other trees this spring. So why are some trees hanging onto leaves this fall? Most likely a cold snap in early fall interrupted the normal process deciduous trees follow to prepare for winter survival. As days shorten, a layer of cells (abscission zone) form between the tree branch and the individual petioles (stems of leaves), allowing the leaves to fall from the tree. This helps protect the tree from water loss in the winter. Some tree species, such as oaks, have an adaptation to maintain their leaves during the winter called leaf marcescence. It’s unknown exactly why. The hypotheses for why oaks maintain their leaves include: better protection of winter buds, allow for trapping of snow around the tree base, and allow for a flush of nutrients when leaves drop and are decomposed in the spring. So while it’s not normal for maples, lindens, ash, and other species to maintain leaves over the winter, there’s nothing we can do about the delay in leaf drop. If the leaves don’t drop this fall/winter, they will be pushed off by new growth from buds next spring. Leaves may continue to drop this fall/winter with wind and snow events. One thing to be aware of is the potential for increased limb breakage from wind/snow events in trees maintaining heavy leaf loads.
Are you interested in helping understand the noise of farming? Researchers at the University of Iowa developed (and are currently testing) a ‘HearSafe’ system to measure noise exposure of farmers. The goal is to provide information about exposure to loud sounds on the farm and how to protect one’s hearing. This system will consist of a small noise monitor, smart phone, and a laptop. They are looking for farm workers to try these new devices. The research activities are short term (between 1 day and 2 weeks), equipment and training are provided, and there’s compensation for participation. Those ages 18-65, active in farm production (20+ hours per week on average), who have access to a device with high-speed internet are eligible to participate. For more information please contact Jackie Curnick at firstname.lastname@example.org or (319) 335-4425.
Nov. 25 Heuermann Lecture Focuses on Protecting Ecosystems while Advancing Agriculture: Strategies for achieving agricultural advances while preserving Nebraska’s healthy agricultural ecosystems will be discussed at the Heuermann Lecture Nov. 25. It will be held at 3:30 p.m. at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center in Lincoln and via livestream at: https://heuermannlectures.unl.edu. Following the discussion will be a showing of the documentary film “Follow the Water.” Dinner is included to those staying for the showing. The event is free and open to the public.
Panelists will include Craig Allen, professor in the School of Natural Resources and director of the Center for Resilience in Working Agricultural Landscapes; Andrea Basche, assistant professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture; and Michael Forsberg, co-founder of the Platte Basin Timelapse Project and assistant professor of practice in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication. The film tells the story of connections between the environment and people, and a river that shaped the land. Forsberg, a conservation photographer, and Pete Stegen, a filmmaker, journeyed for 55 days through the watershed by bike, foot and canoe, gathering footage with their smartphones. A panel discussion will follow the viewing so the audience can explore the themes of the film with Forsberg and his team.
Heuermann Lectures are funded by a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips. The Heuermanns are longtime university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska’s production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people.
With harvest wrapping up, many of the questions/conversations this week involved economics in some way. So this week’s column will focus on upcoming learning opportunities. But before I get to that, thank you to all our veterans for your service and sacrifices! Thank you also to your families!
Ag Land Management Webinar: On Monday, November 18th at 6:30 p.m., Jim Jansen, an agricultural economist, and Allan Vyhnalek, a farm and ranch succession specialist, will lead their final ‘Agricultural Land Management Quarterly’ webinar of the year. They will provide an overview of the 2019 Cash Rental Rate Survey, conducted by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, and discuss prevented planting considerations for Farm Service Agency programs and crop insurance. The importance of landlord/tenant communication during the winter months and tips for leasing also will be discussed. The free session is open to everyone at https://agecon.unl.edu/landmanagement. The recorded webinar will be archived there, along with past sessions. There will be time for participants to ask questions at the end of the session. Questions also may be submitted in advance at https://agecon.unl.edu/landmanagement.
Dr. Kohl to present at Farmers and Rancher’s College: On December 9th Dr. David Kohl, Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech and popular for his insights, will be presenting at the Bruning Opera House in Bruning from 1-4 p.m. about “Agriculture Today: It is What it is…What Should We Do About It”. There is no charge for the program due to the Farmers and Rancher’s College sponsors, but please RSVP for meal at: (402) 759-3712 or online at: https://extension.unl.edu/statewide/fillmore/agriculture-0/.
Women Managing Ag Land Conference: Female agriculture landowners, farmers, and ranchers looking to increase their business management skills are encouraged to register for the 2019 Women Managing Agricultural Land conference. The conference will be held Dec. 11 at Nebraska Innovation Campus, 2021 Transformation Drive in Lincoln. Participants will have the opportunity to hear from leading experts in land values, Nebraska property taxes, cash rental rates and cultivating landlord-tenant relationships. Jim Jansen, co-author of the Nebraska Farm Real Estate survey, will discuss trends in Nebraska land values. Mykel Taylor, of Kansas State University, will share resources related to negotiations and communication between landowners and tenants. Cathy Anderson, from the Nebraska USDA Farm Service Agency, will discuss the 2018 Farm Bill and its implications for Nebraska agriculture. The full conference schedule and registration form are available at https://wia.unl.edu/wmal. A registration fee of $45 per person covers materials, meals, and breaks. The conference is hosted by Nebraska Extension and is inspired by Annie’s Project. In Nebraska, Annie’s Project is supported by Farm Credit Services of America. Also, a reminder that all Farm Bill information and upcoming meetings can be found at: http://farmbill.unl.edu.
Cover Crop Day: On November 20, a workshop focusing on cover crops will be held from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (Reg. 8:30) at the 4-H Building in York. Presentations from NRCS, UNL, and Pheasants Forever will cover using cover crops to address soil compaction and improve soil health; precision conservation opportunities to increase farm profitability while conserving soil, water, and wildlife; and opportunities for cover crop on-farm research and cost share options. A free meal and optional field tour is provided but please RSVP to: http://nebraskapf.com/product/cover-crop-field-day-habitat-tour/
or call the Extension Office at (402) 362-5508.
On-Farm Research Searchable Database: A helpful resource to view studies growers’ peers have conducted with the economics provided can be found at https://resultsfinder.unl.edu. It’s a little picky based on the words one chooses, but has a lot of great info. Also, for anyone interested in conducting studies involving anhydrous with and without inhibitors this fall or spring, I have on-farm research protocols developed, so please let me know.
This would be a very helpful conference for any woman currently managing land or interested in learning more about managing land in the future. Great networking opportunity as well!
There are many women whether by choice or chance who manage agricultural land. For some, it is their livelihood and business. Other women might have inherited land from a family member and there are also women who just want to learn more about the agricultural business in partnership with a spouse or family member. No matter what the circumstance, Nebraska Extension will be providing a program to equip women with necessary management skills.
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A recent news release came out which shared that any female agriculture landowners, farmers, and ranchers looking to increase their business management skills are encouraged to register for the 2019 Women Managing Agricultural Land conference. The conference will be held Dec. 11 at Nebraska Innovation Campus, 2021 Transformation Drive in Lincoln.
The first-ever Women Managing Agricultural Land Conference will allow women to build relationships with each other, attend workshops and gain…
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York County Corn Grower Plot Results and Banquet: The results of the York County Corn Growers plot can be found at: https://jenreesources.com/2019/11/03/2019-york-county-corn-grower-plot-results/. Special thanks to Ron and Brad Makovicka for their dedication and work in hosting! Also appreciate all the seed companies who participate! The York County Corn Grower’s Banquet will be held Tuesday, November 26 at Chances ‘R in York with social at 6:30 p.m. and dinner at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased from any York Co. Corn Grower director or at the York Co. Extension Office.
Fall Nitrogen Application: With November here, a reminder to check soil temperatures before applying anhydrous ammonia to crop fields. Soil microbial activity and the rate of conversion of ammonium to nitrate is very low when the soil temperature is less than 50oF. Thus, apply fertilizer-N (and manure) when the soil temperature at the 4” soil depth is below 50°F and trending cooler. Daily and weekly soil temperatures (taken 4” below the surface of bare soil) can be found at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/soiltemperature.
Extension Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management Specialists Javed Iqbal, Charlie Wortmann, Bijesh Maharjan, and Laila Puntel shared additional considerations for fall Nitrogen application in this week’s CropWatch: Apply anhydrous ammonia rather than other N fertilizers; Limit fall application of N to silt loam, silty clay loam, and finer textured soils; Use nitrification inhibitors to slow the conversion of ammonium to nitrate, especially on sand-dominant soils; Avoid fall application on wet soils; and Consider applying a lower base rate of nitrogen in the fall and plan on applying the rest at planting, or as a side-dress application.
On-Farm Research Protocols are available for anyone interested in fall vs. spring nitrogen management studies, inhibitor studies, or other potential on-farm research studies by contacting your local Extension educator. For growers within the UBBNRD interested in on-farm research studies that have a water quality focus, you may be eligible for additional support through the UBBNRD. In some instances it may cover district staff and equipment use; in others, it may cover a portion of the costs of lab analysis of soil, plant tissue, or water samples. If you’re a grower interested in this type of study, please contact the UBBNRD or your local Extension Educator to talk through your study idea and for additional information.
Farm Bill Meetings: Joint Nebraska Extension and Nebraska Farm Service Agency (FSA) producer education meetings are scheduled at 28 locations across the state from late November to mid-December in advance of the coming ARC/PLC enrollment deadlines in early 2020. The meetings are free and open to the public. Advance registration is encouraged for planning purposes for materials and facilities. Attendees can register for any of the meetings conveniently on the web at farmbill.unl.edu or by calling or visiting their county FSA or Extension office. The educational programs will feature information and insights from FSA specialists and Extension experts, as well as other relevant information from local agencies.
Nearest locations for this area of the State include: Nov. 25. Community Center, Red Cloud (1-4 p.m.); Dec. 3 ENREC near Mead (9-Noon); Dec. 4 Ag Park in Columbus (9-Noon); Dec. 5 College Park in Grand Island (1-4 p.m.); Dec. 5. Opera House, Bruning (1:30-4:30 p.m.); Dec. 6 Fairgrounds Cornerstone Building York (9-Noon); Dec. 16. Extension Office Lincoln (9-Noon); Dec. 17 Fairgrounds 4-H Bldg. Beatrice (9-Noon); Dec. 17 Fairgrounds in Kearney (1-4 p.m.).
Special thanks to Ron and Brad Makovicka for their dedication and work in hosting the York County Corn Grower Plot! Thank you also to all the seed companies who support this effort!
Fall Weed Control: With snow in the forecast and harvest wrapping up for some, I received a couple of questions regarding how cool weather and frost impact fall weed control. Following is a portion of what Dr. Amit Jhala and I shared in CropWatch a few years ago. Applying herbicides in the fall for control of winter annual weeds or other fall-emerging weeds can be an important tool for weed control. Some winter annual weeds also serve as hosts for pathogens like soybean cyst nematode (SCN): purple deadnettle (strong host), henbit (strong host), field pennycress (moderate host), shepherd’s-purse (weak host), small-flowered bittercress (weak host), and common chickweed (weak host). SCN can reproduce in the field on henbit and purple deadnettle.
Fall herbicide application isn’t necessary in each field. It’s important to scout fields for current weed pressure. Also consider targeting fields that have a history of winter annual weeds or marestail. Recent Nebraska research shows that up to 95% of marestail (horseweed) germinates in the fall, so fall application is the primary way to help manage marestail. Tank-mixing a residual herbicide with a burndown product will improve marestail control because the residual activity will control marestail emerging after herbicide application. Be sure to check labels for any grazing restrictions if livestock will graze cornstalks after a fall herbicide application. If the label doesn’t specify and you want to be on the safe side, a rule of thumb is to use the pre-harvest interval for the amount of time to wait before grazing stalks.
The likelihood of reduced weed control due to cool temperatures will vary depending on the target weed, herbicide, and rate of application. The ideal temperature for applying most post-emergence herbicides is between 65°F and 85°F; however, that window is not always practical with other fall practices. Herbicides can be applied at temperatures of 40°F to 60°F, but weeds may be killed slowly. When the temperature is below 60°F, absorption of herbicides such as glyphosate and translocation of herbicides such as 2,4-D are lower compared with applications at higher temperature; therefore, they act slowly. When the temperature is below 40°F for an extended time after burndown herbicide application, 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. For example, if you are planning to apply 2,4-D, add crop oil concentrates at 1% v/v (1 gallon per 100-gallon spray solution) or non-ionic surfactant at 0.25% v/v (1 quart per 100-gallon spray solution). Spray volume should be 15 gallons per acre for better coverage when a dense weed population is present.
Actively growing weeds are key to achieving good control, whatever herbicide you use. When weeds are under stress, herbicide efficacy drops. 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. Symptoms of frost damage to leaves are a water-soaked appearance shortly after the frost. 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.
Dr. Kohl to present at Farmers and Rancher’s College: A date you may wish to save on your calendar is December 9th as Dr. David Kohl, Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech and popular for his insights, will be presenting at the Bruning Opera House in Bruning from 1-4 p.m. about “Agriculture Today: It is What it is…What Should We Do About It”. There is no charge for the program due to the Farmers and Rancher’s College sponsors, but please RSVP for meal at: (402) 759-3712 or online at: https://extension.unl.edu/statewide/fillmore/agriculture-0/.
Crop Update: So grateful for this past week’s weather in aiding harvest progress! Also grateful to all the growers who worked with me in on-farm research this year and for all the studies harvested this past week!
One of the more frequent questions/comments I’ve received the past few weeks is regarding yields. It sounds like irrigated yields for corn and even soybean are around 5-15% lower than what farmers hoped for in this part of the State. Most aren’t necessarily ‘bad’ yields, just not what was desired. Irrigated corn is mostly going 225-245 bu/ac with high-yielding genetics and everything else aligned correctly going 250-265 bu/ac. And, as more fields are harvested, there may be some better yields due to the long grain fill period. There’s irrigated fields of soybeans that did 50-60 bu/ac. What is positive is non-irrigated yields for both corn and soybeans with non-irrigated beans sometimes out-yielding the irrigated ones.
The impacts of the difficult cold, wet planting season could be seen season-long in fields
with uneven plant emergence and eventually variable ear height and kernels/ear. That plant to plant variability can add up to yield impacts more than one realizes. There’s also field variability due to ponding/flooding in fields, hail/wind damage, and additional challenges during harvest with wind and moisture leading to lodging and/or ear loss and some soybean shatter.
The high humidity and leaf wetness along with cool, wet weather allowed for more disease in both corn and soybean. Perhaps one reason why non-irrigated corn and soybean are yielding well was due to reduced disease pressure from reduced plant population and increased air flow. I know of a handful of irrigated soybean fields in 2019 planted on seed corn acres where, to the line, the soybean on seed corn had more sudden death syndrome (SDS) pressure and less yield than the soybean on soybean corners of fields. I had never before seen this so striking.
My hypotheses: 1-Test for soybean cyst nematode in the seed corn acres vs. corners. Anything that will move soil will move SCN, including equipment. 2-Fusarium virguliforme (pathogen that causes SDS), reproduces best on corn kernels followed by corn residue, followed by soybean seeds and residue. Even if the seed corn acres had a cover crop and were grazed, cattle don’t easily pick up loose kernels lost to the 2018 hail storm or harvest loss. 3-SCN in the field + great conditions for SDS in 2019 allowed for synergistic effect of more SDS and yield loss.
Cloudy weather also played a role in photosynthesis and ultimately yield. Dr. Roger Elmore and colleagues shared the following research on shading and yield impacts. “Many researchers have investigated the effects of lower solar radiation on corn using shade cloth of different densities. These can effectively block solar radiation by 10% to 90% or more (e.g., Schmidt and Colville 1967, and Reed et al. 1988). Invariably they found that shading the crop two to three weeks after silking (R1) reduced yields more than shading before R1. Most also find that hybrids differ in their responses to shading.” (This can help explain the tip back due to kernel abortion some of you asked me about after pollination). “Very few researchers used shade cloth during the grain-fill period, which would be similar to the reduced solar radiation period central Nebraska experienced the third week of August.
Early et al., 1967, shaded plants around the “reproductive phase” for 21 days as well as during the “vegetative stage” for 54 days and the “maturation phases” for 63 days. Shading during reproductive stages reduced plant yields the most, but 30% shading during the maturation stages ― what we consider the seed set and grain-fill periods (R2-R6) ― not only reduced yield per plant 25% to 30% but also reduced kernels per plant and the amount of protein per plant. Researchers in a new study shaded plants from silking to maturity (R1-R6) (Yang et al., 2019). Shading reduced yields more with higher plant populations than with lower populations.” (This may also help explain why non-irrigated fields with lower plant populations may have good yields in spite of cloudy conditions in 2019).