It was great to see so many fields of corn and even soybean emerging throughout the
area this past week! Also grateful for the rain we received in York and for those who received some in other areas. There are still areas who continue to miss rains and I remain concerned about the soil moisture situation. I have another soil moisture update this week at http://jenreesources.com if you’re interested in checking that out.
Thursday night/Friday morning’s high winds caused some damage with overturned pivots/corner systems and tree damage. We also saw newly emerged corn and even soybean cut off or
buried due to blowing debris/soil, particularly in soybean stubble. It will be important to watch the plants in these fields the next several days. By late Friday afternoon, I was already seeing new growth occur, which is good. Typically, that has been the response in the past-new regrowth in corn as the growing point is still below ground. However, it will be important to watch the corn plants for any bacterial issues that may kill seedlings. One can also split open a few plants and look for a healthy growing point. Regarding the soybean, I have seen soybean lose cotyledons due to hail, crusting, freeze, and wind damage, and still produce a plumule at the top of the soybean stem. It’s just hard to know for sure what will happen so it’s best to watch the plants in the fields.
Wheat in Nuckolls, Thayer, and Webster counties ranges from elongation to near boot and is turning blue-gray from moisture stress. Wheat is a crop that I’m always learning about-it can look really bad (or really good) and then end up surprising a person regarding yield either way. Lower leaves
in fields are turning yellow-brown. Some of this is due to moisture stress while there’s also powdery mildew pretty thick in lower canopies of wheat that had more tillers. A few have talked with me about using the wheat for hay or silage and then potentially going in with short season corn, sorghum, or a forage crop. Our forage specialists would recommend that if the wheat variety has awns, it’s best to either take for hay or silage at the boot stage so the awns don’t cause issues with livestock feeding. Todd Whitney, Extension Educator in Phelps/Gosper counties, had worked with a feedlot using an awnless wheat variety. Because of the additional growth that occurs in wheat (and other small grains) from boot to full head elongation, they found biomass production may be increased 25% if the forage was harvested during the later pollination period.
Evergreen Trees: There’s also been a lot of evergreen tree questions. For those noticing spruce trees looking kind of yellow with early morning sunlight, spruce spidermites have been working hard with the cooler, dry weather. They tend to build populations in spring and fall. You can check for spidermites by taking a white piece of paper and banging the needles on it. Then look for the presence of tiny dark green to nearly black spidermites crawling on it. Rainfall is a great way to wash them off of trees as are strong streams of water (easier done with smaller trees). There are also a number of miticides available that homeowners can purchase from lawn and garden stores (look for products that say they can be applied to trees for control of spidermites). A great brochure on insect pests of evergreen trees can be found at: https://nfs.unl.edu/documents/foresthealth/insectevergreen.pdf.
Many of us also noticed our spruce trees turning red/brown/purple/yellow in color last fall. This is most likely a disease called needle cast of spruce and can be prevented by spraying trees now (mid-May) with a product containing copper sulfate. Regarding Ponderosa or Austrian pines, if you look closely at the needles and observe dark bands or rings on them followed by death of the needle either direction from the band, the tree problem is most likely due to a fungal needle blight like dothistroma or brown spot in Scotch pines. They can all be prevented by spraying a fungicide containing copper sulfate now. The following brochure on diseases of evergreen trees is really helpful: https://nfs.unl.edu/documents/foresthealth/diseasesevergreen.pdf. Sometimes the problem is finding the products listed on these brochures in our smaller towns as these brochures were developed in Lincoln. If these specific products aren’t available from your local lawn/garden store, box store, or coop, I would recommend looking at the products available and look for a product that says it is effective against needle blights on trees. Not all the products I’m seeing have copper as an active ingredient, but other fungicides are listed and the key would be the fact that the site (trees) and even better, the site with problem (trees with needle blights), is listed on the label.
We also continue to see pine wilt affecting our Scotch (short needles in groups of 2) and Austrian pines (long needles in groups of 2). Pine wilt disease is caused by the pinewood nematode that is carried within the gut of a long-horned beetle. The beetle is what creates the ‘shotholes’ often seen in bark of infected trees. The nematode is native to Nebraska, as are Ponderosa pines (long needles in groups of 2 and 3). This is why we don’t see the problem in Ponderosa pines but do in Scotch and Austrian, which are non-native to Nebraska. A tip, if you’re trying to distinguish Ponderosa vs. Austrian pines, anytime you see needles with a group of 3 it’s a Ponderosa. Pine wilt is caused by beetles carrying pinewood nematodes vomiting them into the water-carrying vessels of the tree (xylem). The tree senses the nematodes and essentially blocks water to those branches. Often you will observe a branch then perhaps a side of the tree and eventually complete death of the tree within 6-9 months. While I have diagnosed many samples of pine wilt, more often when I visit homeowners the tree problems are due to fungal diseases which occur on the needles.
Lawns: Please remember the importance of sweeping or blowing fertilizer and pesticide products back into the lawn instead of leaving them on sidewalks. Leaving them on the sidewalks puts them in contact with people and pets walking on sidewalks and moves them into storm water systems via rain that can eventually end up in streams. I’m also seeing a number of 2,4-D/dicamba products being sprayed around tree bases to kill weeds which is affecting the new growth emerging on trees. Consider applying a wood mulch layer around the base of trees to help avoid this situation in the future and be sure to read and follow all pesticide labels.
On August 1, 2013, a severe wind and hail storm damaged 170,000 acres of corn and 86,000 acres of soybeans in Clay County, Nebraska. Corn at the time of the storm was from brown silk-blister. While the storms in the Gibbon/Blue Hill areas occurred a little earlier in the growing season, the following photos show the progression of damage in the event it can be of help to those affected by 2014 storms.
The Mother’s Day 2014 storms caused significant damage in Clay County and other areas of the State. It never ceases to amaze me how people throughout the area respond to storm damage! Clay County has had its share, and yet the attitude of those affected has been one of thankfulness-thankfulness that no one was injured and that so many still have their homes in spite of damage. It’s also wonderful to see people from all over the County and area pull together with each storm-helping each other out bringing themselves and equipment to pick up debris or help however possible. It’s a blessing to work with and serve the people of this County!
As clean-up continues, the following are a list of resources that may be helpful to those affected by the storms. Thoughts and prayers go out to all who were affected!
- Numerous Tornado Damage, Recovery, Cleaning, Decision Making resources (scroll to Recovery portion in middle of page)
- Tips for Early Tornado Damage Recovery
- When to Save and Throw out Frozen Food after Power Outages
- When to Save and Throw out Refrigerated Foods after Power Outages
- Flooding and Corn Survival
- Flooding and Soybean Survival
- Evaluating the Need to Replant
Special thanks to Dr. Scott Dewald for the wonderful evening of information he provided at our tree care workshop last week!
This was a fun workshop for me with the right size of group and great hands-on demonstration where we also learned from pruning mistakes and how best to correct them. Thanks again Scott!
Last week I was receiving text messages from a few of our farmers about corn harvest results from damaged corn. Low levels of mycotoxins are being detected in samples thus far, thankfully.
Here’s What the Numbers Mean…
For aflatoxin, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has set a recommended limit of 20ppb (parts per billion) for dairy animals, 100 ppb for breeding animals, and 300 ppb for finishing animals. To put this is simpler terms, a sample would need 20 affected kernels out of a billion kernels to be at the legal limit for dairy animals. So far, most samples are coming up at 5-6ppb which is very low.
For fumonisin, 20ppm (parts per million) is the recommended limit set by FDA for swine, 30ppm for breeding animals, 60ppm for livestock for slaughter, and 100ppm for poultry for slaughter. So, this would mean 20 affected kernels in a million kernels could cause a problem for swine. Again, our levels are averaging closer to 5ppm right now which are low.
Deoxynivalenol (DON) also known as vomitoxin is another mycotoxin being tested from grain samples. This mycotoxin causes reduced weight gain and suppresses animal feeding, especially in swine. Concentrations greater than 10ppm can result in livestock vomiting and totally refusing feed. FDA has recommended that total feed levels of DON not exceed 5 ppm for cattle and chicken, and 1 ppm for swine.
It is very important to sample from several places in the grain to get an accurate sample for damage and mycotoxins. It is also very important that black light tests are not used to determine the presence or absence of mycotoxins. Some of these mold fungi produce a compound that fluoresces under black light, but research has shown that this quality does not consistently predict the presence of mycotoxins (often provides false positives). Finally, before any of your storm-damaged corn is put in a bin, call your insurance agent out to get a sample!
Protecting Your Health with a Mask
There is some great information from the University of Nebraska Med Center on what types of masks to use to protect your health from molds and potential mycotoxins. Some people tend to have more sensitive immune and respiratory systems than others, so I’d highly recommend checking out these short videos.
With the recent sprouting of grain on the ears and with more producers now learning what percent loss their crop insurance is determining for each field, I felt it would be good to talk about feeding this damaged grain again. This post is written by Dr. Dee Griffin, DVM at UNL’s Great Plains Veterinary Education Center at Clay Center. I appreciate Dee’s willingness to provide this information from a Veterinarian’s perspective.
Also a note, to date we have not found Aspergillus in our hail damaged fields. The grain molds we are seeing are Diplodia and Fusarium. Diplodia does not have the potential to produce mycotoxins. Fusarium has the potential of producing fumonisin, vomitoxin, or DON. You can bring forage samples to Husker Harvest Days this coming week to the IANR building and have them tested that day for nitrates for free if you wish.
Dr. Griffin writes: Any time a growing grain producing plant is damaged there is a potential for changes in the plant or grain on the plant contaminated with fungus/molds to grow. The most common change in stressed plants is the accumulation of nitrates. Aspergillus or Fusarium will be the most likely fungi to be contaminating harvested grain from storm damaged corn in our area.
It is really important to know that most molds are not toxic. Therefore just because mold growth is observed doesn’t mean the feedstuff will harm livestock. Even though a mold may not be toxic it can still cause feed refusal. Not all livestock species are equally sensitive to mold contamination and not all production groups are equally sensitive. For instance pregnant and young animals are more sensitive than mature non-pregnant animals.
Nitrate accumulation in stressed plants can cause be harmless or cause serious harm depending on:
- the level of nitrate in the feed harvested from stressed plants,
- on the life stage of the animal,
- and on the species of animal.
Nitrates accumulate in the forage portion of the plant, so nitrates are not a concern in grain harvested from stressed plants. Additionally, it is important to know nitrate levels will always be highest in the bottom part of the plant and lowest in the top foliage. Nitrate testing is simple and reasonable quick. Your local UNL Extension Educator can help you locate the nearest facility that does forage nitrate testing.
Feed containing nitrate levels less than (<) 1000 parts per million (ppm) seldom are associated with an animal health concern. Feed containing nitrate levels greater than (>) 1000 ppm may be a concern in younger animals and levels >2000 ppm should not be fed to pregnant cattle. Feeder cattle are reasonably resistant to nitrates but feeds containing >4000 ppm should not be fed to any animals.
Molds in corn grain of concern could be either Aspergillus or Fusarium. Your UNL Extension Educator can be a great help in identifying mold growing on ears of your storm damaged corn before the grain is harvested. Both of these fungi are potentially dangerous when found in livestock feed. Toxins produced by molds are extremely stable, therefore if a significant level is found, the level will not decrease over time. Silage produced from damaged plants and grain harvested from mold infested plants is potentially a problem.
Good silage management is critical to lessen the likely hood of continued mold growth after ensiling. Proper packing to remove oxygen and improve fermentation which ensures the pH will be below 4.5 is critical.
You can’t look at harvested grains from storm damaged fields and visually identify mycotoxins. Corn grain from storm damaged fields can … and mostly likely should … be tested for mycotoxins before feeding to livestock. Your local UNL Extension Educator, nutritionist or veterinarian can help with mycotoxin testing.
Proper sampling is crucial to getting reliable results back from the laboratory. A “grab sample” is not adequate. The sample submitted to the lab should be representative of the entire load, bin, pit or pile of feedstuff being evaluated.
The steps are simple
- If sampling a field before harvest, sample at least two dozen ears that appear to have mold growth and submit all the ears to the laboratory for mycotoxin evaluation
- If sampling after harvest, take multiple samples uniformly from throughout the silage or grain in question
- The sample should be taken from what would be used in a single load of feed
- That means, if five loads of feed could be made from a 50,000 lb semi-load of corn, collect not less than five samples from the semi-load of corn
- The sample should be based on sample volume not weight
- For instance, collect “coffee can” size samples
- Mix all the all samples together that were collected from the feed in question
- For instance, if 10 coffee can size samples were collected from across the face of a silage pit, pour all 10 samples onto a plastic sheet and thoroughly mix them together
- Next, collect a single sample from within the 10 mixed samples
- Submit the single sample to the laboratory
The laboratory results usually will provide some recommendations for how the feedstuff can be used. There is an old saying, “Dilution is the solution …” meaning in this consideration, that many feedstuffs that contain higher levels of mycotoxin than would be acceptable, might be usable if a sufficient amount of non-mycotoxin contaminated feedstuff is used to dilute the mycotoxin. Your UNL Extension Educator, nutritionist or veterinarian can help evaluate the possible uses of a damaged feedstuff containing unacceptable levels of a mycotoxin.
The latest event in the Clay County storm occurring August 1st has become germination of “good” kernels left on the ears that have been damaged by hail. This event of kernel germination prior to harvest is also called “vivipary”.
Typically we wouldn’t see this occur before black layer because of the hormonal balance within the kernels-particularly the balance between gibberellin and abscisic acid. According to a study by White, et. al (2000), Gibberellin production with the lack of ABA allowed for kernel germination while less Gibberellin and more ABA deterred kernel germination. At full maturity, very little ABA is left in the kernel (in both corn and soybeans) which allows them to germinate in correct conditions after harvest. But this can also allow for sprouting in the ear after black layer when corn is still drying down, particularly in tight-husked, upright ears with conditions of high humidity or rain after black layer. Sprouting under those conditions typically occurs at the base of the ear first.
Why are kernels sprouting before we’ve reached black layer?
That’s a good question. I haven’t found much in the way of scientific explanation other than the thought that the hormonal balance of the kernels can be altered by physical damage from hail, bird feeding, and grain mold. Some ear mold fungi also produce gibberellic acid which can lead to a hormonal balance shift in these ears stimulating germination. I also haven’t observed that this is hybrid-dependent and am finding as much as 25-50% sprouted ears in various areas of hail-damaged fields.
Make sure your crop insurance adjuster is aware of the situation and make sure to submit samples for kernel damage due to mold, sprouting, and check for mycotoxins prior to harvest.
The local co-op may or may not choose to accept the load depending on percent damage and the standards they need to follow. If the load is rejected, contact your crop insurance agent to determine your next step. DO NOT bin the grain on your farm until you contact your insurance agent as they have specific rules that need to be followed in the case of grain rejected due to mycotoxins or kernel damage from storms.
Sprouted kernels lead to higher kernel damage and more fines in a load. Keys for harvest will include harvesting early, getting corn dried down to 14%, potentially drying at a high temperature to kill the sprout, screening out fines, and monitoring stored grain closely for hot spots, mold, and additional sprouting grain.
You can also choose not to take it to grain right now, and honestly, that may be the best option for several of the hail-damaged fields. Silage is still an option and it would be recommended to sample the green chop going into the silage pit for potential mycotoxins. Mycotoxin level does not change with fermentation so cattle feeders would have a good idea of any mycotoxin levels if sampling was done in this manner. See this post for additional information on making silage.
Du-Pont Pioneer. (2007). Field Facts: Pre-mature Germination of Corn Kernels.
Nielsen, R.L. (2012). Premature Corn Kernel Sprouting (aka Vivipary). Corny News Network, Purdue University.
White et. al. (2000). Gibberellins and Seed Development in Maize. II. Gibberellin Synthesis Inhibition Enhances Abscisic Acid Signaling in Cultured Embryos. Plant Physiology Vol. 122 no. 4 pg. 1089-1098.
Wiebold, B. (2009). Wet Weather Can Cause Seeds to Sprout before Harvest. Integrated Pest & Crop Management Newsletter, Univ of Missouri.
This map came from Kansas State University in a newsletter where they were talking about the vegetation differences from the Drought of 2012 to 2013 in Kansas. A colleague shared this with me pointing out how obvious the storm in Clay County, NE is on this map. Look above Kansas to the brown area-that’s the LOSS of vegetation we have right now in Clay County which is quite extensive-and neat how it’s captured unexpectedly on this map.