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Cover Crop Termination including Planting Green

Cover Crop Termination: I always enjoy seeing new life and the seasons, so enjoying seeing wheat/rye greening up! Grateful for the excellent discussion around termination timing at the February practical cover crop management meeting! Pictures with more details each farmer shared is at jenreesources.com.

In a column last year, I shared detailed considerations for termination timing (prior to planting vs. planting green). That info. can be found at:  https://jenreesources.com/2021/03/28/jenrees-3-28-21/. For this column, sharing key tips from the discussions that may be helpful for this year.

Key points I gleaned:

  • While rye may die slowly depending on the temperature and year, it will die.
  • Two farmers consistently killed rye with only 20-22 oz/ac of Roundup Powermax (even when headed). For those who planted vetch with rye, the vetch will survive the Roundup application allowing it to grow longer, produce more nitrogen, and be killed by a post-application containing a Group 27 herbicide (like Callisto) later (if want it to die).
  • Clethodim vs. glyphosate: Two farmers and a Pioneer rep shared sentiments of clethodim providing a slower kill and allowing the rye to stay greener longer for weed/erosion control. This is of benefit especially for farmers who need to terminate prior to corn or seed corn planting.
  • Regarding clethodim rates, several are aiming for the mid-range this year by using 12 oz/ac. Another farmer used 10 oz clethodim + warrant. Many use 8-10 oz/ac to kill volunteer corn in soybean, so a few are also trying the lower rate. When going into corn, clethodim needs to be applied to rye to kill it at least 7 days prior to planting corn. For soybeans, it can be applied anytime after planting/emergence if desired.
  • When rye is greater than 12”, consider increasing gallonage to 15-20 gal/ac for better coverage.
  • When considering planting corn green into rye on subsurface drip irrigation (SDI), need the ability for higher capacity well to get moisture up to the seedbed. Potential yield loss otherwise.
  • When planting soybeans green, the goal is often to off-set the PRE herbicide cost with the cover crop seed and application cost. A residual is necessary at some point either at time of termination or up to a week after termination when planting soybean green. Plan on irrigation or rainfall to get the residual to the ground, especially on rye taller than 12”.

My key points for planting green include: plan on some form of nitrogen at planting if planting corn green into rye, have the pivot ready to go if need moisture for the seedbed, don’t use a PRE in soybean if can’t get seed vee closed, plan to water residual application as soon as label allows to get residual to ground, and if non-irrigated, consider seedbed moisture for termination timing.

Lawns: Lawns are slowly greening up and for those with fall armyworm damage last year, overseeding and/or replanting may be necessary. Consider overseeding now as Kentucky bluegrass overseeding is recommended from April 1-30th and tall fescue from Apr. 15-June 15. The full seeding rate for 1000 sq ft is 3-4 lbs for Kentucky bluegrass and 8-10 lbs for tall fescue; for overseeding, use ½ these rates. Small amounts of sawdust or sand can be mixed with the seed to aid spreading. The area should be prepared prior to seeding by raking to loosen the soil and excess dead growth. Areas can also be aerated or power raked (power raking should only be used if ½” thatch or greater is present). Scotts TurfBuilder Starter for New Lawns can be spread either immediately after seeding or one can wait till the seedlings emerge. Either way, it is safe for the seed/seedlings. Spring rains in April will greatly help with emergence, but otherwise, irrigation by mid-April will be necessary to keep the soil moist until germination occurs. Then apply water deeply and infrequently to encourage rooting. Also check out this excellent brochure for Lawn care in Eastern NE: https://go.unl.edu/mhkd.


Thank You to the following for their contributions to this information: Gabe Bathen, David Cast, Chad Dane, Jay Goertzen, Marvin Linhorst, Ron Makovicka, Kevin Medow, Brad Morner, Scott Richert, Todd Schmeiding, Stuart Spader, and Mike Spray. The photos are mostly mine from field visits other than the ones taken by the farmers from their tractor cabs.

JenREES 4/25/21

Warmer conditions have arrived for planting season this week! Quick reminder to check planting depths across your planter for the different fields as conditions may vary from field to field. Also a reminder to everyone to be extra aware on the roads with farm equipment moving much slower than regular traffic. Here’s wishing you a safe planting season!

Lawn Care: If your lawn is in need of fertilizer, the first round of fertilizer can go on sometime between now and May 10. Many crabgrass preventer products also contain fertilizer, so that can be used as your first application instead. A reminder to read and follow the instructions on the fertilizer package regarding rate, need to water in, and use the settings provided for lawn spreaders. Also be sure to remove granules from sidewalks and driveways as these get moved into stormwater systems and streams if one doesn’t. If you hired a lawn care company, make sure they’re removing granules from sidewalks and driveways as well.

If you have new seedings, weed control products such as crabgrass preventer, can damage new grass seedlings, depending on how much growth is present. If this is your situation, there actually is a product you can use that will prevent crabgrass without damaging your new seedlings. Scott’s Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass contains mesotrione which provides PRE and POST control of weeds without affecting the new bluegrass or fescue seeding. Tenacity is also a product containing mesotrione that works as a POST for emerged crabgrass, foxtail, and for those dealing with nimblewill (best to apply on troublesome grassy weeds up to 1” tall).

Preventing Evergreen Tree Diseases: The wet springs the past several years have led to an increase of needle blights. Spring is the time to be spraying trees with preventive fungicides with timing depending on the disease. None of the options I list are exhaustive and not meant as endorsement. For windbreak situations of cedars and pines, some ag retailers have carried Tenn-Cop 5E or Camelot. Another professional product called 3336-F is labeled for various turf, horticultural, and tree diseases (such as tip blight and dothistroma needle blight of pines). For home-owner use for trees in landscapes, I will share what I’ve seen sold in our local stores. It’s important to read the product label to ensure it’s safe to use on the specific plant/tree you wish to treat as some copper products can harm plants. In Austrian and Ponderosa pines, tip blight (where tips die) and dothistroma needle blight (where needles turn brown and die) can be prevented with fungicide applications. Tip blight is best prevented in late April-early May with active ingredients of Propiconazole (found in Fertiloam liquid systemic fungicide), Copper Salts of Fatty & Rosin Acids (sometimes listed as copper soap such as Bonide liquid copper fungicide and other liquid copper formulations), or Bordeaux mixture. Dothistroma needle blight can be prevented in mid-May and a second application in mid-June with Copper salts of fatty and rosin acids and Bordeaux mixture. In spruces, needle cast can cause the yellow to reddish brown color of needles in the fall that remain that way in the spring. Fungicide should be applied when the new growth is half grown with a second application 3-4 weeks later. If your tree is severely infected, it may take applications like this for 2-3 years in a row. Chlorothalonil (found in Daconil and Fung-onil) is commonly recommended. Fungicides containing azoxystrobin, mancozeb, propiconazole, copper salts of fatty acids, and copper hydroxide are also effective at controlling this disease if the product is labeled for use on spruce. You can learn more about evergreen diseases, how to identify them, and more products for management at: https://go.unl.edu/rbcc.

Tip blight of pine. Now is the time to prevent it. An insect (pine tip moth) can create similar damage. You can tell if the problem is a disease or insect by removing the dead tip and see if the stem portion is hollowed out or not. If it is, it would be pine tip moth instead.
Notice all the dark spots (bands) on these pine needles. Fungal pathogens causing needle blights infect in the area of the band and proceed to kill the needles both directions. The option for control is to apply a preventive fungicide using the timings listed in this article depending on the disease and the type of tree.

Prevent Wild/Bur Cucumber in Shelterbelts: The past few years we’ve seen wild and bur cucumber overtaking windbreaks. These are fast growing, warm season annual vines. They die each fall and come back from seed which germinate and begin growth typically in May. Vines can be cut at the base or pulled if there’s only a few of them this spring. Many asked about chemical treatments last year. A pre-emergent control option for large shelterbelts is Simazine (Princep 4L) to kill weed seeds as they germinate. Don’t apply more than 4 qt. Princep 4L per acre (4 lb. a.i./A) per calendar year. Don’t apply more than twice per calendar year.

Pollinator Garden Webinar Series will be held May 4, 11 and 18th from 6:30-7:30 p.m. If interested, you can learn more and register here: https://go.unl.edu/bmnw.

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