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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Announcing the University of Minnesota's Institute for Ag Professional 2015 Summer Educational Programming

Dave Nicolai, Extension educator - crops

2015 Ag Professional Field School

July 29 & 30, 2015 – St. Paul, MN

UofM field school

A hands–on, in–field program emphasizing crop and pest management diagnostic skill building in field crops. The program is geared to the educational needs of new and recently employed ag professionals who are in a beginning to intermediate phase in their agronomy careers.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Windbreak and crop yield study

Gary Wyatt, Extension educator - agroforestry

Recent land values, farm innovations and management such as adoption of no-till, minimum till, use of wide farm equipment, and windbreak plantings that are just getting old, have led to many windbreaks being removed. In time, windbreaks need to be renovated to restore the multiple benefits they offer rural landscapes. There are cost share programs available to plant new windbreaks and renovate mature plantings through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). In most areas where windbreaks were planted, there have been documented crop yield increases.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Anhydrous Ammonia Applications

Fabian Fernandez, Nutrient management specialist

Anhydrous ammonia (AA) is one of the most widely used nitrogen (N) fertilizer source in Minnesota and the Midwest. Some of the reasons for its importance include the fact that this source is by far the most concentrated N fertilizer with 82% N (less weight of fertilizer per unit of N); it is readily available since AA is used in the manufacture of many commercial N fertilizers; it can be applied several weeks before planting with less N loss potential than other N sources; and most importantly AA normally represents a less expensive source of N. Some of the drawbacks of AA include the need for special facilities to store this gas as pressurized liquid, and special equipment to transport and applied this fertilizer; the application of AA can be slower than that of some other N sources; and because AA is released as a gas, it can pose a risk to human health if not handled properly. Every year as farmers start applying AA, invariably I get asked similar questions which I will try to address today.

New Irrigation Resources

The new Irrigation Extension website is up and running, and we have been able to add some new resources, and update some of the past resources.
Now that spring has sprung, one of the most powerful tools for maximizing irrigated yield is uniform application of irrigation water.  Testing uniformity every few years is a low cost way to make sure that your water is going where you want it. On a pivot with 15 foot nozzle spacing, one bad nozzle 1000 feet from the center can influence the yield on over 2 acres. That one bad nozzle (that costs about $5 to replace) could cost you over $600 in lost yield.
Below is a quick tutorial on irrigation uniformity testing.

A Quick Test to See Whether Your Small Grains Seed or Emerging Seedlings is Still Alive.

With air temperatures dropping down into the high teens overnight, I have fielded a number of calls already this morning with the question whether the earlier seeded wheat, barley, oats (or any crop for that matter) will make it, especially if the ground is frozen solid.

The fastest way to tell is to dig up some seed or seedlings and place them on a wetted-down paper towel at room temperature.  Within 24 hours you should see elongation of the coleoptile of the seedlings.  With seed that had not germinated yet, you may have to wait another day before you see a radicle and coleoptile appear.  If the seed and the germ are damaged by frost they will turn to mush within 24 hours at room temperature.  If the crop had already emerged, you can simply cut the above ground leaf material and place the seedling on the wetted-down paper towel and wait for new growth to elongate. 

PS) Ensure that the paper towel remains moist throughout the duration of the experiment.

Photo 1: Germinated wheat seed with adventitious roots pointing down and coleoptile pointing up. The radicle is hidden between the adventitious roots.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Forage Quarterly - Spring 2015

Dear Forage Producer,

The University of Minnesota Forage Team is proud to announce the third edition of the Forage Quarterly. Since spring is here, this issues focuses on establishment and early season management of forage production systems. In this edition we highlight seeding strategies, weed management, cover crops, insect control and identification.

We would like to take this time to highlight the contributors to this edition:

  • Bradley Heins, Ph.D. Assistant Professor. Expertise: Organic Dairy Production. Email:
  • Bruce Potter. Assistant Extension Professor. Expertise: Integrated Pest Mgt, crops, and forages. Email:
  • Craig Sheaffer, Ph.D. Professor. Expertise: Alfalfa, forage, and sustainable cropping systems. Email:
  • Deborah Samac, Ph.D. Research Plant Pathologist. USDA. Expertise: Disease resistance mechanisms in alfalfa.
  • Doug Holen. Regional Extension Educator. Expertise: Crops, small-grains, and forages. Email:
  • Jim Paulson. Regional Extension Educator. Expertise: Dairy nutrition,forages, grazing and organic production. Email:
  • M. Scott Wells, Ph.D. Assistant Professor. Expertise: Forages and cropping systems. Email:
  • Reagan Noland. Graduate Research Assistant. Expertise: forages, cropping systems, and precision agriculture. Email:
  • Roger Becker, Ph.D. Professor. Expertise: Agronomy and weed science. Email:

University of Minnesota Forage Team

In this issue
Alfalfa Assessment: Factors Leading to Winter Injury
Alfalfa Establishment: A Pathway to Increased Yield
Preparing for Successful Alfalfa/Grass Production
Using Herbicides to Establish Alfalfa
Aphanomyces Root Rot of Alfalfa Widespread Distribution of Race 2
Alfalfa Insects: What to Look for, How and When</a>

Click to read the Spring 2015 newsletter.

Click to read past issues of the Forage Quarterly.


University of Minnesota Extension Forage Team

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Assessing Damage From In-Furrow or Pop-Up Starter Fertilizer for Corn

By Daniel Kaiser
Extension Nutrient Management Specialist

I have been fielding more questions on seed placed fertilizer in areas where rainfall has been sparse this spring and soils are dry. In my previous post I discussed the use of in-furrow starter fertilizer. Placing fertilizer on the seed can help speed up early plant growth but also can substantially reduce stand if a fertilizer is over-applied or soils are dry. How dry is too dry? That is a good question and the answer depends on the soil corn is being planted in. For medium and fine textured soils, the risk of damage typically is lessened when the soil moisture content is 25% or greater.
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