Sharing on questions received last week. Also, FYI, Drought Monitor put us into D3 last week.
Alfalfa Weevils: Please be checking your alfalfa for alfalfa weevils. If you’re noticing the tops of plants looking brown, look for holes in the leaves. Larvae are green with a dark head and white stripe down the back. They can often be found near the soil during the day. As we continue to get close to first cutting, it’s probably wiser to cut first, then watch green up (after baling) for the need to treat. First cutting may be shorter and earlier due to drought. Highly effective insecticides for alfalfa weevil control include those that are pyrethroids (active ingredient ends in “thrin”, such as Permethrin) and products containing indoxacarb (e.g., Steward). If you spray prior to harvest, check pre-harvest interval (often 7-14 days).
Miller Moths: The majority of calls on these have come from the Lawrence/Blue Hill/Guide Rock area, but they are in the entire area I’m serving. Miller moths are the adult of the army cutworm that was feeding in small grain and alfalfa fields this spring. They have a variety of spots, wavy lines, and colorings on their wings. Entomologists say they won’t be doing damage to our crops as the adults will migrate to the west. On the way, they feed on nectar from flowering trees, shrubs, plants. They’re also attracted to lights. To help reduce them entering into homes, keep porch lights off or use yellow colored light bulbs to reduce how many enter homes at night. Once they’re in homes, they don’t cause harm (don’t eat clothes or anything). Insecticides are not recommended. Their droppings can cause stains; clean with soapy water and/or cleaning solutions. This article shares more info: https://go.unl.edu/08cx.
Wheat for Grain or Forage: This decision perhaps needed to be made last week for grazing prior to heading; sharing in case you’re still considering this. Ultimately, one needs to talk with crop insurance. There’s fields of non-irrigated wheat that may make less than 20 bu/ac right now in the area I serve. The yield equation will sometimes put areas of fields at 35 bu/ac in how it’s calculated, but I don’t see how it will make more than 16-17 bu/ac. Wheat will continue to expand on the main stem making it taller once it gets to full heading (and variety makes a difference in this). Seeing wheat in boot to beginning heading from 6-20” tall. For those needing forage, a thought is using wheat for forage can help in delaying cattle turnout into short pastures. One thing Aaron Berger, Beef Extension Educator, recommended in this article (https://go.unl.edu/7ntu) was to consider windrow grazing the wheat to preserve the quality. I know it’s short for harvesting, so that may not seem like the best option, especially for those in terraces, but it does make sense to try to stop the heads from getting beyond this early green and softer stage. He said cattle can still eat the wheat awns (beards) when they’re soft and green in early heading without it being a problem. Wheatlage or haying could also be options if you preferred. One could then consider getting a summer annual forage in these fields. Still need moisture for growing them.
Summer Annual Forage Options: Around ten people shared they were planting non-irrigated fields to annual forages instead cash crops. There’s different types of millets, sorghum-sudan, or sudangrass varieties depending on one’s goals. Sudangrass and pearl millet are great options for grazing. Sorghum-sudan hybrids or pearl millet are great for hay or green chopping as they can be cut several times and yield well. Forage sorghums with high grain production are the best choice for chopping silage. Feel free to call to talk through this. Additional resources here: https://go.unl.edu/ug7a.
Irrigation: Not going to provide blanket recommendations other than to recommend getting soil moisture sensors installed so you know where soil moisture is at in your fields.
Lawns: Reminder to keep mowing lawns 3” tall as that helps the plants have deeper roots and be more drought resilient. Seeing lots of short lawns and water stress is really showing up now.
Wildlife: Lots of wildlife calls this year! Check out this resource for info. on raccoons, opossums, snakes, moles, ground squirrels, mice, etc.: https://wildlife.unl.edu/. Some info. (ex. snakes in homes) should have a warning on it-so consider this your warning if you really don’t need to know!
Alfalfa Weevil should be scouted in alfalfa now. I have sweep nets that can be borrowed from the Extension office if you’d like. Otherwise, just go to different spots in the field and look for small holes on the newest leaflets near the stem tips. The larvae are small, green, and have black heads with a white stripe down the back. During the heat of the day, they’re often found near the crowns of plants and they curl into a C-shape when touched. To determine economic threshold, cut 10 alfalfa stems at ground level and shake the larvae off the stems by beating them off the sides into a bucket. The economic threshold right now is right around 1.5-2 larvae per stem. More info. here: https://go.unl.edu/tpkz.
K-Junction Public Forum: I’m grateful for the opportunity that EDF Renewables is allowing for a public forum in addition to their second open house regarding the proposed solar farm this Wednesday, May 11 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Stone Creek in McCool Junction. Because we’re to be impartial as Extension faculty, I was asked to serve as the moderator for the evening. I just wanted to share a little about this, and also felt it was important to share how I’m choosing to moderate the event so it’s not a surprise that evening.
As I’ve listened to various conversations and perspectives, it just seems like people need the opportunity to share their viewpoints publicly and ask their questions so all can hear the same answers provided. Because of this, a few of us expressed concern to EDF to allow for a public forum. EDF chose to change the open house format to a blended one of both display boards and the forum and I’m grateful for that. While public forums are difficult, I feel there can be some healing that occurs in just being heard, despite differences of opinion, and that’s my hope and prayer.
As I’ve tried to put myself in the shoes of landowners, while my family doesn’t own land in the area of the proposed solar farm, if we were in this situation, our decision would be based on our specific goals and plans for our farm. But our goals may not be the same as our neighbors. Thus, each landowner has to make decisions based on the goals and values that fits his/her family’s specific situation. The difficulty can be for those caught in the middle who don’t get to make that choice, such as neighbors, community members, and those whose jobs also support agriculture in some way.
As I’ve listened, the theme I continue to hear and sense, is the lack of information for a few years that occurred. I think that’s the greater underlying frustration. I’ll admit, that was a frustration to me as I felt I let landowners down by not knowing, thus didn’t have resources available for them to make informed decisions and to help with negotiating contracts. But I had to move past that to what I could do now. While hard, we can’t change the past. We can choose how we face the present and future doing our best to listen to each other and get answers to the questions we have. This public forum will hopefully allow an opportunity to do this. I think it also helps to remember we’re all just people. Regardless of which side a person is on, the person is not the enemy.
Rural Nebraskans are known for being respectful. I watched that during the first open house when differences of perspective were expressed in conversations. I only saw respectful conversation and discourse in addition to the passion for one’s position/perspectives. That’s what I would ask for this Wednesday evening as well.
In the public forum, there will be opportunity for sharing via a microphone and, for those who prefer not to speak, also via written questions. Each person will be given 3 minutes to speak followed by 3 minutes for EDF representatives to respond. I will make every attempt to get to everyone’s questions in the time we have. While it may be hard not to ask follow-up questions, I’m going to ask that everyone who desires has the opportunity to speak before anyone speaks twice. There will be additional opportunities to speak with EDF representatives following the public forum.