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Extension Update from Jenny Rees

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UPCOMING EVENTS:  
Oct. 28:  From Recipe to Reality, UNL Food Processing Center, RSVP:  Jill Gifford at 402-472-2819 or jgifford1@unl.edu
Nov. 3:  Produce Safety Alliance Compliance, Raising NE in Grand Island, https://events.unl.edu/acreage/2017/11/03/123489/
Nov. 6:  So You Inherited a Farm, Now What? Hall County Extension, Grand Island 9:30 a.m. RSVP:  308-385-5088
Nov. 9:  Forest Products Marketing Workshop, Kearney, NE, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/forest-products-marketing-workshop-tickets-38081724463
Nov. 13:  So You Inherited a Farm, Now What? 1:30 p.m., 4-H Bldg York, RSVPjrees2@unl.edu
Nov. 13:  Estate Planning Meeting, 6:30 p.m., 4-H Bldg York, RSVP jrees2@unl.edu 
Nov. 16:
  York County Corn Grower Banquet
Dec. 7:  Farmers and Ranchers College:  Dr. David Kohl, 1-4 p.m., Bruning Opera House, Bruning
Dec. 12:  Grain Marketing Seminar, 4-H Building York
Jan. 10-11:  York Ag Expo, Holthus Convention Center, York
Jan. 11:  Crop Production Clinic, North Platte
Jan. 16:  Crop Production Clinic, Norfolk
Jan. 18:  Crop Production Clinic, Lincoln
Jan. 18-19:  Hops Grower, Brewer Conference, Embassy Suites Downtown Omaha,http://www.growbrewnebraska.com/registration/
Jan. 24-25:  Crop Management Conference, Kearney
Feb. 7-9:  Nebraska Ag Tech Assoc. (NeATA) Conference
Feb. 19:  Nebraska On-Farm Research Network Update, former ARDC near Mead
Feb. 20:  Nebraska On-Farm Research Network Update, Lifelong Learning Center Northeast Com. College, Norfolk
Feb. 21:  Nebraska On-Farm Research Network Update, Hall Co. Extension Office, Grand Island
Feb. 22-23:  Women in Ag Conference, Kearney

Farm Finance Clinic Sites and Dates To sign up for a clinic or to get more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.

Crop Updates:  It was wonderful to see the sun this weekend!  And, the rain has helped with pastures, wheat that’s been planted, lawns, and trees.  Rains have also allowed for alfalfa to increase growth and with that, I’m anticipating questions regarding if it should be cut or grazed.  Dr. Bruce Anderson, Extension Forage Specialist, shares the following:  “Alfalfa’s growing season is pretty much over by mid-October. This year many fields received some late season rain that’s contributing to a late-season substantial, high quality alfalfa crop for many growers.  Alfalfa that has had at least six weeks of regrowth by mid-October will have developed adequate winter-hardiness for all but the most severe winters. It also has begun to go dormant naturally because of shorter days and cooler temperatures so harvest is not likely to jeopardize stand persistence. Not only that, October hay often is exceptionally high quality. With high prices paid for dairy and horse quality hay, another cutting is tempting.  An October hay harvest is doable, but can be difficult because alfalfa dries and cures very slowly in October. If you do cut hay in October:  be alert to weather reports, use a conditioner to speed dry-down, spread windrows wide for extra exposure to sunlight, and consider using a preservative to protect hay that’s baled at higher than normal moisture levels.  When possible, it’s better to harvest alfalfa as haylage in October. It requires less drying and, since drying is slower, haylage can be made at a more uniform moisture content than in summer. October alfalfa also tends to preserve well as haylage.  Grazing is another option, but continue to be cautious about bloat and avoid grazing on wet soils as that can damage the stand.”

Harvested, and even unfortunately in some unharvested soybean fields, we’re seeing a “cover crop” of soybeans that have germinated.  Most likely we’ll receive a freeze to kill them before they get much growth to them.

I’m also observing minor sprouting of corn kernels-mostly on ears that were damaged by insects such as western bean cutworm or grasshoppers, in situations of upright ears, and perhaps in situations where corn was around 20% moisture or so before we received all this rain.  Some of you remember kernels sprouting in 2013 in Clay County with a widespread hail storm.  This event of kernel germination prior to harvest is called “vivipary”.  The sprouting is due to a hormone imbalance particularly between gibberellic and abscisic (ABA) 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, but I’m also seeing it in the tops of ears where insect damage and/or Fusarium/Gibberella ear rot is present.  Overall, what I’m seeing thus far is minimal, but sharing so you’re also checking for this in your fields.  Some harvest and storage considerations can be found here:  https://jenreesources.com/2013/09/05/sprouting-corn-kernels-on-hail-damaged-ears/. 

The rain and winds have also allowed for stems affected by soybean stem borer to lodge or snap off.  Some have asked about the yield loss due to soybean stem borer.  Actually, the borer itself doesn’t create yield loss unless the soybean plant is so greatly lodged or on the ground that it can’t be harvested.  Even though the borer has tunneled within the center of the stem, soybeans are different than corn.  Corn vascular bundles carrying water and nutrients are in the center of the stem.  For soybeans, those vascular bundles are towards the edges of the stem.  So the borer doesn’t affect water or nutrient transport and isn’t noted to cause yield loss outside of lodging.

Thinking Outside the Box:  I’ve been blessed in various conversations with farmers and colleagues regarding ‘thinking outside the box’ in these tougher economic times.  I shared some of these thoughts and ideas at the Clay County Farm Bureau meeting.  While many of these ideas may not work for your particular farming operation, perhaps just one would be a fit or worth considering, so I will share some ideas in the next few columns. 

One is simply this, is maximum yield the right goal for your operation every year?  In considering this, it’s really important to know your bottom line.  How much is it costing you per acre to raise a bushel of corn or soybeans; do you know?  And if you don’t, there’s resources to help you.  We have budgets listed every year at:  https://cropwatch.unl.edu/budgets and the 2018 budgets will be released shortly.  These are a good starting point to help you work through your cost of production.  If you need help, please talk with someone at your lending agency, agronomist, Extension office, or other trusted source.  

So not aiming for maximum yield kind of goes against the grain of what we’re taught to think…that maximum yield means most bushels which means most money.  However, what is it costing you to achieve maximum yield for your farm?  I know a farmer who is content with a specific irrigated yield every year.  Upon asking him about this, he simply said, “This is the most economic and realistic yield for my farm.  I know I can make money at this yield while keeping my cost of production at X.”  In talking with another farmer, this year he’s considering reducing his corn population under the pivot using a proven flex hybrid that has yielded well for him in his non-irrigated fields.  This change could cut his cost of production around $0.80.  Granted, there’s things to consider such as crop insurance and APH for every situation, but it’s another example of how knowing your cost of production and thinking outside the box can help during tougher economic times.  And, if you’re not sure how a change will affect your operation but are interested in testing it to know for sure, Extension can help you answer your questions via on-farm research. 

Lawns:  Your last application of fertilizer to lawns of the season should be applied by Halloween. The fall applications are actually the most important ones as they build strong roots and aid in preventing winter-kill. 

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