Sharing on questions received last week. Also, FYI, Drought Monitor put us into D3 last week.
Alfalfa Weevils: Please be checking your alfalfa for alfalfa weevils. If you’re noticing the tops of plants looking brown, look for holes in the leaves. Larvae are green with a dark head and white stripe down the back. They can often be found near the soil during the day. As we continue to get close to first cutting, it’s probably wiser to cut first, then watch green up (after baling) for the need to treat. First cutting may be shorter and earlier due to drought. Highly effective insecticides for alfalfa weevil control include those that are pyrethroids (active ingredient ends in “thrin”, such as Permethrin) and products containing indoxacarb (e.g., Steward). If you spray prior to harvest, check pre-harvest interval (often 7-14 days).
Miller Moths: The majority of calls on these have come from the Lawrence/Blue Hill/Guide Rock area, but they are in the entire area I’m serving. Miller moths are the adult of the army cutworm that was feeding in small grain and alfalfa fields this spring. They have a variety of spots, wavy lines, and colorings on their wings. Entomologists say they won’t be doing damage to our crops as the adults will migrate to the west. On the way, they feed on nectar from flowering trees, shrubs, plants. They’re also attracted to lights. To help reduce them entering into homes, keep porch lights off or use yellow colored light bulbs to reduce how many enter homes at night. Once they’re in homes, they don’t cause harm (don’t eat clothes or anything). Insecticides are not recommended. Their droppings can cause stains; clean with soapy water and/or cleaning solutions. This article shares more info: https://go.unl.edu/08cx.
Wheat for Grain or Forage: This decision perhaps needed to be made last week for grazing prior to heading; sharing in case you’re still considering this. Ultimately, one needs to talk with crop insurance. There’s fields of non-irrigated wheat that may make less than 20 bu/ac right now in the area I serve. The yield equation will sometimes put areas of fields at 35 bu/ac in how it’s calculated, but I don’t see how it will make more than 16-17 bu/ac. Wheat will continue to expand on the main stem making it taller once it gets to full heading (and variety makes a difference in this). Seeing wheat in boot to beginning heading from 6-20” tall. For those needing forage, a thought is using wheat for forage can help in delaying cattle turnout into short pastures. One thing Aaron Berger, Beef Extension Educator, recommended in this article (https://go.unl.edu/7ntu) was to consider windrow grazing the wheat to preserve the quality. I know it’s short for harvesting, so that may not seem like the best option, especially for those in terraces, but it does make sense to try to stop the heads from getting beyond this early green and softer stage. He said cattle can still eat the wheat awns (beards) when they’re soft and green in early heading without it being a problem. Wheatlage or haying could also be options if you preferred. One could then consider getting a summer annual forage in these fields. Still need moisture for growing them.
Summer Annual Forage Options: Around ten people shared they were planting non-irrigated fields to annual forages instead cash crops. There’s different types of millets, sorghum-sudan, or sudangrass varieties depending on one’s goals. Sudangrass and pearl millet are great options for grazing. Sorghum-sudan hybrids or pearl millet are great for hay or green chopping as they can be cut several times and yield well. Forage sorghums with high grain production are the best choice for chopping silage. Feel free to call to talk through this. Additional resources here: https://go.unl.edu/ug7a.
Irrigation: Not going to provide blanket recommendations other than to recommend getting soil moisture sensors installed so you know where soil moisture is at in your fields.
Lawns: Reminder to keep mowing lawns 3” tall as that helps the plants have deeper roots and be more drought resilient. Seeing lots of short lawns and water stress is really showing up now.
Wildlife: Lots of wildlife calls this year! Check out this resource for info. on raccoons, opossums, snakes, moles, ground squirrels, mice, etc.: https://wildlife.unl.edu/. Some info. (ex. snakes in homes) should have a warning on it-so consider this your warning if you really don’t need to know!