Crop Update and Hail Damage: While I don’t remember numbers as well, calendar dates are something I tend to remember. And, in agriculture, there’s numerous dates that accumulate over one’s life from hail, tornado, blizzard, flood, and wind events. I was reflecting on the Aug. 6th hail storm that occurred in Merrick, York, and Seward counties in 2018. This past week on August 7th, some woke up to hail/wind damage in Adams, Clay, and Nuckolls counties. The tree damage was incredible. Michael Sindelar, Clay Co. Educator, and I surveyed damage a day later. My estimation of the worst hit crops: corn around 80% defoliation with varying percentages of greensnap above/below ear and soybeans around 50% defoliated/broken off/with at least 50% pods on the ground. Where hail stones hit the ears, the kernels are mushy and mold is already setting in on corn at milk stage. There’s also mold setting in on soybean pods hit with hail stones. It’s hard to receive crop damage any time. The good news is that nothing appears to be a total loss; the majority of what we looked at was less than 40% defoliated and in general, the hail did not seem to penetrate the stalks, thus early stalk rot doesn’t appear to be setting in. Pictures at https://jenreesources.com.
Tree Problems: The majority of my questions the past 10 days were regarding tree leaves turning yellow and dropping from trees. They look stark against green grass. In general, what’s happening is the fact that we’ve had high humidity for a period of time now and we’ve had rain throughout spring and summer. Fungal pathogens thrive in these conditions. So, ornamental/flowering pears have pear rust; crabapples and apples have scab and also cedar-apple rust (depending on varieties); maples, ash, sycamores are showing anthracnose; and a number of other fungal leaf spots are observable on shade trees in general. Evergreen trees show various fungal needle spots. Ultimately, we don’t recommend doing anything for these diseases this time of year. We typically don’t recommend to spray shade trees in general, but fruit and evergreen trees should be sprayed in the spring if fungal diseases have occurred in the past. So, fungal diseased leaves may drop early and you may or may not observe a new flush of leaves yet this year. These fungal diseases won’t kill deciduous trees. They can kill evergreen trees over a period of years.
Oak leaves turning brown in clusters was also observed this past week. Sometimes
browning of leaves can be due to a fungal disease called anthracnose. Most of what I’m seeing, I believe, is environmental. It could be due to changes in hot/cool and periods of heavy moisture followed by lack of moisture on trees that had a huge flush of leaves due to moisture this spring. I really don’t know the cause for sure, but it doesn’t appear to be disease related from what I can tell. We wouldn’t recommend doing anything for the trees at this time.
UBBNRD Public Hearing: The Upper Big Blue NRD will hold a public hearing and informational open house on Aug. 19 at 7:00 p.m. at the Holthus Convention Center. The purpose is to receive comments on proposed changes to District Rule 5 – Ground Water Management Area Rules and Regulations. A complete copy of Rule 5 and the proposed changes are available at the district office and at www.upperbigblue.org/publichearing. The public will have the opportunity to learn more about these proposed changes and their effects, and address NRD board members about their concerns or support.
The proposed changes would stipulate that an approved nitrification inhibitor must be applied at the manufacturer’s recommended rate with pre-plant nitrogen fertilizer in the following situations: The application of anhydrous ammonia prior to March 1; The application of all nitrogen fertilizers other than anhydrous ammonia after February 29. In addition to these requirements, in Phase II and Phase III areas pre-plant application of nitrogen fertilizer shall not exceed 120 lbs. per acre. The remaining nitrogen fertilizer may be applied post plant. Prior to applying nitrogen fertilizer, but no later than April 1 of each year, each operator in the management area will be required to report information regarding the use of best management practices. For more information, visit www.upperbigblue.org or call (402)362-6601.
York County Corn Grower Plot Tour will be held Aug. 20th from 5-7 p.m. at 1611 Rd. 14 east of York. Pizza and refreshments will be provided and check out the latest hybrids. Guess the winning yield without going over and win a $50 gas card. All are welcome!
*End of News Column. Hail damage photos below.
Crop Updates: It was nice to see corn greening up and getting some growth this past week! Also on people’s minds is the 45 day post-planting application deadline for RUP dicamba herbicides. The announcement that Risk Management Agency (RMA) adjusted the 2019 final haying and grazing date from Nov. 1 to Sept. 1 for prevented planting this year opened up additional options for our farmers affected by flooding and/or excess rain. An additional option was that “silage, haylage, and bailage should be treated in the same manner as haying and grazing this year. Producers can hay, graze or cut cover crops for silage, haylage or baleage on prevented plant acres on or after September 1 and still maintain eligibility for their full 2019 prevented planting indemnity.”
So how did this change things? Many I talked with, including my family, were originally planning on going with cool season covers like oats planted the first week of August. However, with the ability to harvest a cover crop for forage on Sept. 1, interest increased in utilizing warm season cover crops. For those planning on haying, our forage specialists recommend using millets. The regrowth after haying could then be used for grazing in the late fall/winter. They also said if you’re planning on a mix, don’t add brassicas into whatever you decide to hay as they don’t dry down and tend to create a moldy spot within hay. If you’re looking at grazing only, sudangrass, sorghum sudan, millets, and/or mix with other species are great options. Forage sorghum is a great option for silage.
The other consideration is that some of this ground going into prevent plant already had PRE herbicides applied, making legal options for cover crops that could be grazed or hayed difficult. So Friday was kind of a crazy day for me walking people through options. Honestly, sometimes corn or milo for silage ended up being the most feasible option based on labels. There are also acres of corn and bean fields that were drowned out due to recent flooding and are now considered a “failed crop” by FSA. Herbicides that were applied can make planting covers in those fields difficult too. Some farmers had contracts with seed companies providing free seed for replant. Thus, once again, corn for silage seemed like a feasible and economical option. So, I called Jeff Peterson at Seward Co. FSA to see if this could be an option. He said that it would be a feasible option in 2019 if it was also approved by the person’s crop insurance agent. The first step is to contact your crop insurance agent to discuss your options for prevent plant and/or failed crop. Then go to your FSA office and fill out their form for failed crop and/or prevent plant. Your crop insurance company may require a letter from Extension stating that corn can be used as a forage crop for silage. Again, it will be important to talk with your crop insurance agent and your FSA office about your options for the fields in your counties as I can’t guarantee these are options for every situation.
Tree Problems: The rain and humidity have allowed for numerous fungal diseases on our evergreen and deciduous trees. On deciduous trees, leaves with black/brown spots may be found. We don’t typically recommend fungicides for them and if the diseases get bad enough, the leaves may eventually fall off the trees early. A new flush of leaves typically follows 10-14 days later. On evergreen trees, we’re seeing a number of needle blights and shoot tip blights. We do recommend fungicide applications for them (typically in April or May). However, it is recommended to repeat them every 3-4 weeks when frequent rains occur. Product options for most evergreen diseases include chlorothalonil or a product containing Copper that is labeled for evergreen tree diseases. Bordeaux mixture is often recommended, but I have a hard time finding anyone that carries that.
Also, be checking trees for bagworms. They’re later this year and just forming new bags. In order to see them, what I do is walk up to the trees (especially cedars or spruces) and just watch the branches for any movement occurring on them. If you’ve had a bagworm problem in the past, what you’ll see is tiny, new brown bags moving as the larvae is building a new bag. I have more info and a video to help visualize what to look for: https://jenreesources.com/2015/06/27/bagworms-in-evergreens/. The best time to spray them is when the bags are less than ½ inch in size. More info and products can be found here: https://go.unl.edu/rgju.
Grateful for beautiful weather and harvest progressing again! We got the York County Corn Grower Plot out on Friday and special thank you to Ron and Brad Makovicka for their work and dedication to that effort! I will share the official plot results next week. The York County Corn Grower Banquet will be held on Thursday, November 15 at Chances ‘R in York with social time at 6:30 p.m. and meal at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are only $10 per person for a wonderful meal! Tickets can be obtained from any of the local directors or from the York County Extension Office at (402) 362-5508.Nate Blum from Nebraska LEAD Class 36 will give a presentation on his international tour and there will also be updates from Local, State, and National Corn Directors. For those who estimated yields during the plot tour, you need to be present in order to win the Yeti cooler.
Corn Yields: There’s an interesting article in this week’s CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu regarding final yield forecasts. Interesting to me are the box plots showing the range of ’30 year average’ vegetative and reproductive stages vs. 2018. The high heat in June shortened the vegetative time-frame. However, the silking through grain fill period was relatively typical for most locations and the long grain fill period with lower temperatures allowed for the better yields we’re experiencing (where drought and late-season hail wasn’t a factor).
Soybean Harvest Losses: Four soybeans in one square foot equals 1 bu/ac harvest loss. Various publications show how to determine harvest losses in areas of 10 to 25 sq. feet. For those with the SoyCorn Pocket Field Guide, page 78 shows estimating loss based on combine header width: http://nebraskasoybeans.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/SoyCorn-Field-Guide.pdf.
Evergreen Trees: Some evergreen needles are also changing color right now. It is good to look at your trees to determine the cause of the needle color changes. Evergreen trees actually go through a natural needle drop process with some years resulting in more thinning than others. I think this year may be one of those years as stress events can make needle drop heavier. Needle drop appears as needles turning yellow and falling from the tree. Pine trees may keep their needles for 2-3 or more years while spruce keep theirs for 5-7 years before needle drop occurs. Natural needle drop tends to appear along the main trunk and inside needles of the tree.
I also check for the presence of fungal disease. If the pine tree needles have dark spots/bands on them, it may be a fungal disease like dothistroma needle blight (on Ponderosa and Austrian pines) or brown spot (on scotch pines). The fungi actually kill the needles both directions from the location of the infection. With our heavy rains and high periods of humidity, I’m seeing increased fungal disease in evergreen trees this year. Fungicides applied in mid-May and again in mid to late June can help prevent this.
Pine wilt disease occurs in Scotch and Austrian pines. It’s caused by a bark beetle that has nematodes in its gut. The nematodes are native to Nebraska but Scotch and Austrian pines are not. Ponderosa pines aren’t affected because they’re native to Nebraska. The beetle ‘vomits’ the nematodes into the xylem (water-carrying vessels of the tree). The tree senses the presence of the nematodes and shuts down water to various branches as a way to prevent the nematodes from attacking. Thus why one sees a major branch then side of a tree turning gray-green then yellow-brown. Unfortunately, the entire tree will die typically within 3-9 months. Some farmers have tried trunk injections and drenches around their trees in hopes of saving them, to no avail.
On spruce trees, I’m seeing yellow/purple/browning of needles. This often is due to a fungal disease called rhizosphaera needle cast. One way to determine if this is the culprit is to look for tiny black dots on the gray twigs next to affected needles. The black dots are actually fungal structures that allow for infection to occur. Fungicide applied in May and after heavy rains can help. I always intend to spray my spruce tree each May but have failed to get it done the past several years. With recent rains, I’m trying it this fall to see if it can help; will let you know!
There have been several calls about arborvitae rapidly turning brown and I’m seeing evidence of heavy spidermite pressure at one time. Spruce spidermites affect spruce, juniper, arborvitae, etc. The rains and snow washed them off, which is one way to manage them. Evidence can be stippling (tiny yellow-green dots on needles) and also using a magnifying glass, one may see some webbing on undersides of needles. One can also just bang the needles on a white piece of paper to see if any mites are still active. Mites are most active in the cooler times of the season…so August through October in this case. Great resources for additional information include: Diseases of Evergreen Trees and Insect Pests of Evergreen Trees which can be obtained here: https://nfs.unl.edu/publications.