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Cornhusker Economics Conference

The Cornhusker Economics Conference will focus on the ag outlook and management decisions for farmers and ranchers at Clay Center on February 29th at the Clay County Activities Building at the Clay County Fairgrounds.  The program will run from 10:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m. with registration beginning at 9:30 a.m.  The conference will cover key topics affecting farm management and production decisions for 2012. It is offered by UNL Extension and the UNL Department of Agricultural Economics and is sponsored in part by funding from the Nebraska Soybean Board. 

Dan O’Brien of Kansas State University will share his insight on grain and oilseed outlook and risk management decisions in today’s uncertain markets. While market volatility shows the need for sound hedging strategies, concerns about futures market performance and the recent MF Global bankruptcy affecting hedge margin accounts raise questions about the best path ahead for managing market risk. O’Brien will bring his experience and analysis of futures market performance to bear on the issues and discuss implications for producer decisions.

Shane Ellis, livestock marketing specialist at Iowa State University, will discuss the outlook for livestock markets and producer profitability. With outlook for meat demand and continued reductions in cattle supplies, the market fundamentals look strong, but must weigh against grain supplies and feed prices. Ellis will bring his expertise to the situation and provide guidance for producer marketing and production decisions in 2012.

The land market has also been moving in the past year and UNL Extension Educator Allan Vyhnalek will use his local knowledge and analysis to discuss land markets and leasing arrangements with implications for producer decisions.  The closing session will feature a focus on agricultural policy and the direction for new farm programs. Brad Lubben, policy specialist, will discuss the policy outlook in Washington and the major policy developments that could affect agriculture in 2011. Then, Lubben will team with UNL Extension educators to discuss specific directions for the new farm bill and implications for farm programs, conservation programs, and risk management decisions.

There is a $25 registration fee to cover programming expenses for speakers, materials, and the noon meal.  Please RSVP to Jenny Rees at the Clay County Extension Office at (402) 762-3644 or by Feb. 27 so we can obtain a meal count.  Hope to see you at the excellent conference!

Fall herbicides & Grazing Corn Stalks

With the increasing problem of controlling weeds such as marestail (horseweed), UNL has recommended using fall applied herbicides to help control this in addition to winter annual weeds.  This practice usually does help with weed control, but I hadn’t thought about the considerations when grazing corn stalks until I received a recent question on it.  The farmer wanted to see if it was safe for his cattle to graze corn stalks after a fall herbicide had been applied.  The label wasn’t clear so he gave me a call. 

I won’t provide information for the various herbicides that can be applied in the fall, but I will recommend that if you are planning on having your cattle graze stalks, that you check to see if a fall herbicide was applied and check the pesticide label to determine if there are any grazing restrictions with that pesticide. 

If the label doesn’t specify any restrictions, then it should be ok.  If you want to be on the safe side, a rule of thumb many chemical reps use is to use the pre-harvest interval for the amount of time to wait before grazing stalks.  Some labels will say that residue should not be grazed or baled and fed to livestock.  Sometimes studies were actually conducted to know there is a safety concern.  In other cases, the chemical company may not choose to conduct all the studies the EPA required for labeling due to high costs.  If that’s the case, the EPA requires the strongest restrictive language be placed on the label.  Regardless, if it says there’s a grazing restriction on the label, the label needs to be followed.  Your cattle may not be affected by grazing stalks where a chemical with a grazing restriction is on the label, but there may be other concerns such as problems with the chemical affecting the calf or being retained in the cow’s milk.

I’m still recommending utilizing our corn stalks by grazing and utilizing fall-applied herbicides for weed control.  I just also recommend you check the pesticide labels on fields where a fall herbicide has been applied to determine any grazing restrictions or safety concerns.

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