Our climate and weather experts speak of the past 60 days as “Nebraska’s most challenging days of weather”. In their article recapping events that have occurred since January 15th, Tyler Williams and Al Dutcher share, “The recent string of weather events is definitely one for Nebraska’s history books. The key word to that sentence is “string” because it took a combination of patterns and extremes to get us to this point. Beginning in mid-January, the weather pattern shifted from warm and relatively wet to a very cold and highly active pattern that brought snow, rain, and ice. This pattern lasted well into March. This almost 60-day period from mid-January to the March 13-14 storms and resulting flood will leave a lasting mark on Nebraska. Following is a description of how this scenario developed…” I would encourage us to read the full article at: https://go.unl.edu/0gbr.
In spite of more crazy weather last week, March did go out like a lamb! It’s hard to believe this week is April. Grateful for signs of greening up and new life after a long, hard winter such as greening wheat, rye, lawns, and new life with buds swelling on trees and various bulbs poking through the ground! For whatever reason, the first signs of green after winter seem so bright and stark to me, perhaps even more so this year!
And, I also realize with April upon us is the added stress that there’s so much to do yet for this growing season. Perhaps a bright spot is that the moisture has allowed for stalk deterioration which helps with the residue management side. Nutrient management is also on growers’ minds. Charlie Wortmann and Bijesh Mahajan, Extension Soil Fertility Specialists, addressed considerations for nutrient management going into 2019 in a CropWatch article as well this week: https://go.unl.edu/7u7u. I’ll share a few thoughts from it here and would encourage you to check out the full article in the link above. For those with wheat, the following addresses top-dressing winter wheat: https://go.unl.edu/pk6f.
Of concern is broadcast applications of phosphorus that occurred on frozen ground in January and February. It’s not a practice we recommend and unfortunately, this year may have resulted in quite a bit of loss as runoff from fields. The only way to really know where you’re at for phosphorus is to do soil samples and they’re recommending 0-8” depth.
For any nitrogen applied last fall, it’s not anticipated to have been lost yet due to the low soil temperatures. However, because of the full soil profile and gravitational water, there’s concern of nitrogen leaching as soil temperatures warm. In May there will be much potential for leaching of nitrate-N when the soil becomes warm enough to allow ammonium-N conversion to nitrate-N. The soil specialists share “residual soil nitrate-N from 2018 is already subject to leaching and that, on average, approximately 60 lb N/ac of residual soil nitrate-N is available annually in the upper 4-feet of soil.” They also share the potential for denitrification in June if we continue to see water-logged soils. So, I realize this isn’t good news on top of the stress you’re already under. The opportunity I see in all of this is the potential to move more nitrogen in-season. They’re recommending to move at least 50% of nitrogen application in-season. I realize this is a mind-shift and challenging equipment and perhaps cost-wise for some. I also think, perhaps hope, that it allows a future culture shift to more in-season nitrogen applications for future years.
A study from Purdue University found that between flowering and maturity, today’s hybrids can take up from 30% to 40% of their total N, over 50% of their total P and over 40% of their total sulfur. On the nitrogen side alone, hybrids today remove 27% more nitrogen from the soil after flowering than hybrids developed from 1950-1990. Thus, anything we can do to spread out nitrogen applications and aim for more in-season applications, can aid in nutrient uptake, yields, and reduce nutrient loss. Next week I’ll share more of our on-farm research and other research results regarding moving nitrogen in-season.
Also wanted to share that we have several updated articles on our http://flood.unl.edu regarding spreading flooded adulterated grain on ag land, considerations for gardens in areas that were flooded, reclaiming pastures and fields with silt/sand deposits, lease considerations on flooded ground, and fencing considerations. Prior to the flooding/blizzard, livestock producers were struggling with the weather and losing livestock. A team of us put together information for FSA regarding the severe winter as a disaster consideration. While that information was submitted several weeks ago, you can find our article at: https://go.unl.edu/6agf.
#NebraskaStrong also means being strong enough to ask for help. Nebraska Family Helpline: 888-866-8660. Nebraska Farm Hotline: 800-464-0258.
Been hearing reports from our cattle producers about calf loss prior to birth and also after birth. Wet hair coats, low air temps with the windchills we’ve experienced have been brutal. We would recommend reporting your losses. We realize that the Livestock Indemnity Program has criteria for wind chills that may not have been met for each part of the State. However, the unusual weather events this year compounded upon each other led to a very extreme winter and we feel additional factors should be considered. Some Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices have contacted us for additional considerations as well. There’s a team of us working together on this and we hope to release information for consideration by local Farm Service Agency offices and others.
Tyler Williams, Extension Educator in Lancaster County who specializes in weather, shared the following stats with the team of us working on the additional considerations for FSA. Since February 1st:
- Above normal snowfall: 5” (West) to 20” (East) above normal
- Total Snowfall at least 10” for most of Nebraska – Eastern Nebraska 20-30”
- Average temperature was 10°F North/East and 20°F South/West
- Min temps were 10-15°F below normal, Max Temps 10-20°F below normal
- 20 (Southwest) to 30 (Northeast) days the max temp was below freezing
- 6-10 (South) to 20-24 (North) Days the temp dropped below zero
- 10-15 days with measurable precipitation
In the last two weeks:
- Minimum temps dropped to 20 below Central and West, 6-12 below East
- 4-6 (North) to 7-11 (South) days with min temp above zero i.e. 8-10 (North) to 3-7 (South) days the temp dropped below 0
- 4-7 days with measurable precipitation – Almost every other day
- 0 days temps were above 32°F, except for NE/KS border and Southwest Panhandle
- Snowfall 2 (Southwest) to 10 (Central/East Central) inches above normal
- Snowfall ranged from 2-4” in Southwest and Northeast to 7-12+ in Northwest, Central and East Nebraska
- Wind chills dropped to 20-30°F below zero
- Cattle comfort index in “extreme” category
I know a lot of crop farmers have been concerned about field work and how far behind they feel due to the fall. Right now our livestock producers could really use some encouragement too with the brutal calving season, ice/snow covered stalks, high hay prices and blowing through feed with the added energy requirements due to the cold. Another thing that put this winter into perspective for me was seeing the tornado damage in parts of the U.S. There’s just been a lot of crazy weather! Al Dutcher’s forecast doesn’t sound great for the next few weeks either and I realize our next challenges may include potential flooding and muddy lots. However, for now, just seeing the sun shine does wonders in lifting my spirits and have heard several others remark on this too!
Kiwanis and SCCDP Ag Banquet: The 51st Annual Agriculture Recognition Banquet will be held on Monday, March 18 at the Seward County Fairgrounds in Seward. The banquet begins with wine and cheese at 5:30 p.m. and a prime rib meal at 6:30 p.m. Rancher, humorist and cowboy poet R.P. Smith will be the evening’s entertainment. The Brett Borchers family of Utica will be honored as the 2019 Kiwanis Farm Family. Bill Hartmann, owner of Hartmann Construction, will receive the 2019 Seward County Chamber and Development Partnership Ag Business award. Fifteen Seward County students will also be recognized by the Briggs family and the Seward County Ag Society for their agricultural achievements. Tickets for the prime rib dinner are limited to 500. Contact Pam Moravec, banquet chair, (402) 643-7748, or Shelly Hansen, (402) 643-3636, for tickets or information about becoming a banquet sponsor. Tickets are $30 each. The Kiwanis Club of Seward will use the proceeds from the event to support the youth of Seward County through a variety of programs and events, including the Agronomy Academy.