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Crop Update 6-20-13

The sun has been welcomed and crops are rapidly growing in South Central Nebraska!  Corn right now is between V6-V8 (6-8 leaf) for the most part.  Quite a few farmers were side-dressing and Corn that's been hilled in south-central Nebraska.hilling corn the past two weeks.  It never fails that corn looks a little stressed after this as moisture is released from the soil and roots aren’t quite down to deeper moisture.

Installing watermark sensors for irrigation scheduling, we’re finding good moisture to 3 feet in all fields in the area.  The driest fields are those which were converted from pasture last year and we want to be watching the third foot especially in those fields.  Pivots are running in some fields because corn looks stressed, but there’s plenty of moisture in the soil based on the watermark sensor readings I’m receiving for the entire area.  So we would recommend to allow your crops to continue to root down to uptake deeper moisture and nitrogen.

The last few weeks we observed many patterns from fertilizer applications in fields but as corn and root systems are developing, they are growing out of it.  We’ve also observed some rapid growth syndrome in plants.  This can result from the quick transition we had from cooler temperatures to warmer temperatures, which leads to rapid leaf growth faster than they can emerge from the whorl.  Plants may have some twisted whorls and/or lighter discoloration of theseOn-farm Research Cooperators, Dennis and Rod Valentine, get ready to spray their corn plots with a sugar/water solution.  Their study is to determine the effect of applying sugar to corn on yield and economics.  leaves, but they will green up upon unfurling and receiving sunlight.  This shouldn’t affect yield.

Damping off has been a problem in areas where we had water ponded or saturated conditions for periods of time.  We’ve also observed some uneven emergence in various fields from potentially a combination of factors including some cold shock to germinating seedlings.

We began applying sugar to our on-farm research sugar vs. check studies in corn.  We will continue to monitor disease and insect pressure in these plots and determine percent stalk rot and yield at the end of the season.

Leaf and stripe rust can be observed in wheat fields in the area and wheat is beginning to turn.  We had some problems with wheat streak mosaic virus in the area again affecting producers’ neighboring fields when volunteer wheat wasn’t killed last fall.  Alfalfa is beginning to regrow after first cutting and we’re encouraging producers to look for alfalfa weevils.  All our crops could really use a nice slow rain right now!

Veteran’s Day Thoughts-from my husband

For this Veteran’s Day, my wife asked me to write my thoughts on being a Veteran.  I have served in the Nebraska Army National Guard for seven years now, and it has been a great opportunity to build myself as a person.  I have been able to improve leadership skills, physical fitness, planning, self defense, and many other aspects.

I had the honor of serving with Nebraska Agribusiness Development Team Two (NE ADT 2) in Afghanistan from June 2011 through May 2012.  It was an incredible experience helping subsistence farmers improve their livelihood.  We worked with Afghan government officials to develop projects in agronomy, livestock, forestry, watershed, beekeeping, and education.  Our efforts allowed to make many friends among the Afghan population which I will always cherish.

One of the best experiences from my deployment was the friendships I made within our unit.  When you start training together you form a cohesive bond.  And when you arrive in a combat zone, that bond let’s you know that you have someone covering your back.  You share experiences and hardships together that normal civilians can’t fully understand.  Living so long away from families can be a definite struggle, and in essence you become one big family away from home.  There are the endless days of hard work, long walks to the chow hall, lack of privacy, frustrating rules, and the thought that somewhere outside the wire are people that want to kill you.  You become frustrated, and can’t wait to get away from it all.  And then when you finally come home, there are times when you miss it and wish you were back with all your friends.

As a veteran, there are times when people will thank me for my service and I am not sure how to respond.  I don’t think of myself as a hero, I am just fortunate to have the opportunity to do something I love to do.  I have gotten to experience some situations and travel to locations I would have never seen if I was not a member of the military.  I have been able to build my skills, and lead Soldiers while setting an example for those under me.  And most important, I have made many valuable friendships that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

On this day of remembrance, I say thank you to those I have had the opportunity to serve with, those who served before us, and those who are still in harm’s way.  We are forever indebted to our military members, from those who fought for our independence and freedom from England to those who are still in the hostile terrain of Afghanistan.  They have provided security and provided hope to countless Americans.  God bless the United States of America.

You can also check out this Webinar from Vaughn Hammond, UNL Extension Educator who served with NE ADT2 and tells more about the NE Agribusiness Development Team Mission from his perspective.

Harvesting Downed Corn

Hand harvesting downed corn in western Nebraska

First Snow

Farming Fun

Remembering 9/11/01

September 11, 2001.  A day that many of us won’t forget what we were doing when we heard of the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center.  I reminisce about what I was doing at that moment in this post from last year.  

Today I’m praying for the families who lost loved ones that day.  I’m praying for the families who have lost military members who answered the call to defend our nation after that day.  I’m praying for the military members currently serving overseas and for their families who are separated from them this day.  I’m thankful that God allowed my husband to return to me safely.

This past year, there wasn’t a day that my husband walked out of his living quarters over in Afghanistan where he didn’t think about 9/11/01.  The qulat where it was believed the 9/11 attacks were planned stood on his FOB (Forward Operating Base) just outside of where he slept.  Every day he said he looked at it and it reminded him why he was in Afghanistan…why he originally decided to join the Army National Guard and serve.

During the deployment, I received several questions from people.  One of them which occurred more than I care to admit was, “What are we even doing in Afghanistan?”.  To which I responded, “Have you forgotten about 9/11?”.  Sometimes deep down I would be upset…upset that we can so quickly forget the attack on our nation and the lives lost that day while the members of our military bravely put their lives on the line daily for us and our freedom.  

Sometimes in the business of life I would just stop and look around…people rushing around going about life as if no war was even occurring.  I wonder if that bothers those who return from war or if they view this as they’ve done their job so that we can continue on with our lives?  Those of us at home with loved ones away never forget; we may still be busy but we never forget.  Yet I tried to channel that upset feeling to one of thankfulness…Thankful to all who have and are serving to continue to keep this great Nation free.  Thankful that we don’t have to experience what it’s like to have bombs going off daily on our home soil; I think often of the children in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Thankful that we can go about a daily life without having to sacrifice much of anything.  I think that’s what we’ve lost in this war.  The ability to know what it’s like to sacrifice in order to contribute to the greater good like the Great Generation did during World War II.  Ultimately I’m thankful to live in this Nation created under God, thankful for our freedom, and thankful for those who continue to protect this freedom!  May God bless America and may we never forget 9/11/01!

Southern vs. Common Rust in #Corn

In early July, southern rust caused by the fungal pathogen Puccinia polysora was discovered in Hall, Adams, Clay, Fillmore,  Thayer, and Burt counties in Nebraska.  Most farmers in south-central Nebraska remember the corn season in 2006 walking out of fields orange and the slow harvest due to downed stalks.  Since then, southern rust has been a disease of concern and fungicides are used to prevent and also treat it when it’s found in fields.  

I promised when we were first discovering southern rust this year that I’d post pics, so while delayed, here they are!  It is often confused with common rust which we see earlier every year.  Common rust typically has pustules (raised fungal spores) that are brick red in color, larger, and on the upper and lower leaf surfaces.  The pustules tend to be more spread out.  

Southern rust typically has very small pustules that are clustered on predominately the upper leaf surface and are tan to orange in color.  This year, southern rust pustules tend to be more tan in color than orange but are still distinctively different with their smaller and clustered appearance.  Both fungal rust pathogens arrive in Nebraska each year via wind from the south.  Southern rust prefers warm, moist conditions which, in spite of our dry spell, is typical within our pivot and gravity-irrigated fields in the area.  At this time we are recommending if you find southern rust in your field to consider treating with a fungicide.  Please be sure to read and follow all label directions including paying attention to pre-harvest intervals.  A list of corn fungicides and efficacy can be found here by scrolling down to the corn section.

Additional information and pictures of these diseases can be found here.

#Crop Update

While every growing season is unique and there’s an element of risk involved, this year seems to take the cake.  

Drought conditions have affected much of Nebraska.  In our area in south-central Nebraska particularly in our southern tier of counties, we’re seeing brown pastures and alfalfa that stopped growing.  Wheat was harvested nearly a month early and yields range from 0-50 bu/acre depending on if it was hit by the hail storm Memorial Day weekend which totaled it out.

I’m unsure how many planting dates we currently have in Clay County!  The spring planting season went so well with corn and many beans being planted in April.  Soybeans planted in April that haven’t received hail are forming a nice canopy.  Corn that hasn’t received  hail should be tasseling by beginning of July.  One Clay Co. field planted in March was only 3 leaves from tasseling when I took this picture this week and looks great (it’s probably 2 leaves by now!).  Adding another picture from a farmer friend Bob Huttes near Sprague, NE showing his field currently tasseled out and love the smiley face barn 🙂

But then there’s the hail damaged fields.  The hail pattern has been fairly similar all year for this area of the State with some producers receiving four consecutive hail events on their fields.  Every week of May was spent helping our producers determine replant decisions, particularly for soybeans…leaving irrigated stands of 85K and dryland stands of 60-65K when beans were smaller before stem bruising was so severe later.  We would leave a stand one week and end up needed to replant after the hail hit again the following week.  Some farmers got through the first two hail storms but the Memorial Day weekend storm did them in.  I never saw hail like where ground zero of this storm occurred.  After replanting after that weekend, they received yet another hail storm last week with the wonderful, much needed deluge of rain we received in the county.  My heart hurts for these farmers yet for the most part they have good attitudes and are making the most of it.  That’s the way farming is…lots of risk, thus an abundance of faith and prayer is necessary too.  One farmer I talked to has had hail on his house seven times this year (including prior to planting).

Pivots have also been running like crazy prior to the rain last Thursday night where we received 3.30-4.40 inches in the county.  Installing watermark sensors for irrigation scheduling, we were able to show the farmers that there was truly moisture deeper in the soil profile and attempted to convince them to hold off.  It’s a hard thing to hold off on water when the neighbors are irrigating, but several farmers who didn’t irrigate told me they were able to let the rain soak in and their plants weren’t leaning after that rain because the ground wasn’t saturated prior to the rain event.  

Homecoming and Sendoff!

Homecomings and Sendoffs-common functions in the lives of military families!  Both are filled with patriotism and emotion.  Friday was the homecoming for 46 members of Agribusiness Development Team (ADT)2 who have served nearly 10 months in Afghanistan.  Twelve members remain in country to complete the mission and ensure a successful handoff to ADT3 which had their sendoff today.  

I have the opportunity with UNL Extension to have gotten to know members of both these teams before they deploy as UNL Extension, NRCS, USDA National Agroforestry Service, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers have all be involved with providing agricultural training to these teams.   Building those relationships has been key for building trust for reach-back regarding questions when these teams are in country.   

As I pulled up on Friday, the first site was that of the Patriot Guard standing along the parking lot holding the flags.  The wind
was blowing such that the flags were completely unfurled.  That site alone brought tears to my eyes.  I still feel our flag is one of the most beautiful things in this world!  Knowing it would be a tough day anyway, I stood in the background trying to capture photos and video to share with the team members and families later.  The busses pulled up to families and friends flocking to greet the soldiers and airmen.  A plane flying overhead resulted in an eruption of cheers from the crowd as the soldiers and airmen debarked
 the busses and walked down the crowded sidewalk of cheering and anxious family and friends.  It was a beautiful site and the few of us who came to support the unit whose husbands remain in Afghanistan were so happy to see these families reunited.  A few tears welled up in our eyes but our pride for our Country and these soldiers and airmen allowed us to suppress the tears and be joyful for the families.

Today as I attended the sendoff for ADT3, again I observed mixed emotions.  Changes have caused for restructuring of that team as well and some were disappointed they were unable to deploy at this time.  Family members were fairly upbeat and showed their pride for their soldiers.  I was excited for the opportunity to say one last good-bye to the team I had gotten to know during training, meet their families, and assure them we were here to help with reach-back however we could.  While I hadn’t thought about it, maybe the sendoff was also helping me realize that my soldier will Lord willing soon be home as well.  These ADT missions have been key for helping the Afghan people become sustainable and feed their families and in training and mentoring the Extension and University people in Afghanistan.  I’m so proud of and thankful for our soldiers and airmen for their work on these missions!

 

 

April 1 Flowers-No Fooling!

April 1st, while typically a day of pranks and jokes, has one obvious truth.  Spring has arrived in full force with flowering plants at least 2-3 weeks earlier than normal.  I couldn’t believe that my lilacs, which typically bloom around mid-May were blooming for the first time today!  I planted many of the bulbs and shrubs last fall and have been rewarded with beauty, color, and lovely smells via God’s creation this spring; enjoy the pics!

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