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Friday, April 20, 2018

Weather Delays Corn Planting but Optimal Window Remains Open

By Lizabeth Stahl, Jeff Coulter, and Dave Nicolai

Much of Minnesota has been covered in snow past mid-April and it will take some time for field conditions to dry enough for field work and planting to begin. Farmers are encouraged to consider the following as they wait for the 2018 corn planting season to begin.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Nutrient Management Podcast: Spring Nitrogen Outlook 2018

Spring is upon us! While there still may be snow on the ground, on this episode we have your spring nitrogen outlook. Guests Brad Carlson, Fabian Fernandez, Dan Kaiser, Greg Klinger and Anne Struffert answer some of your most frequently asked questions, including: How much N should I apply this spring? If I applied N in the fall, how much have I lost going into spring? What about starter fertilizers? How much N should I apply as starter? Is a preplant soil N test worth it this year? Should I use a nitrification inhibitor? What should I do about anhydrous if soil is too wet?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Respirator fit testing webinar

Do you have employees who need to wear a respirator this year? Or would you like to be a fit testing resource to your community? University of Minnesota, Extension is hosting a free fit test training webinar in collaboration with 3M on April 30th. 

Image: 3M

Evaluating Your Winter Wheat and Rye Stands

As wintery weather persists, you may wonder if your winter wheat or rye has survived this winter.  If you are really anxious or bored, you can dig up some crowns across the field and cut them longitudinal (lengthwise) with a very sharp knife or a safety razor blade. If the crowns look white/yellow to light green, they are healthy and have survived the winter to date. If you find crowns that have turned tan to brown and soft, they likely did not survive this winter.  A second method to check whether seedlings are alive is by trimming the roots and leaves down to about ¼  to ½ ” above and below the crown. Place these seedlings on a wet paper towel and place the towel in a Ziploc bag or plastic container that can be sealed. Place the container at room temperature and check for regrowth in 48 hours. Viable seedlings will show regrowth almost immediately (Photo 1). 

Photo 1 - Regrowth of young winter wheat seedlings after 36 hours incubation in a Ziploc bag at room temperature (photo courtesy of Blake Vandervorst)

Unfortunately, checking a single or a few crowns does not tell the whole story as winterkill is often patchy across a field (Photo 2).  To determine whether you need a plan B for these fields requires you to wait until the field starts to green up sufficiently in order to do a reliable stand count.  The more protected areas will green up first, while bare knolls or lower lying areas where water or ice may have been present sometime during the winter and early spring will be slowest to green up.

Photo 2 – Area with partial and uneven winter kill (photo courtesy of Joel Ransom).

To do a stand count, use one of the following two methods:

1.        Count the number of plants in a foot of row at several locations in the field.  Take an average and convert in plants per acre using Table 1.

2.        Take a hula-hoop, let it fall, and count the number of plants inside the hoop.  Repeat this at random several times across the field and calculate an average.  Use Table 2 to convert the count to an approximate population per square foot or acre.

Table 1 - Average number of plants per foot of row for different row spacing and plant densities per acre.

Plants per acre (times 1 million)
Row Width


Table 2 - Adjustment factors to multiply the number of plants inside a hoop and convert the number into the number of plants per acre.

Hoop Diameter
Multiply by


Uniform stands of 17 plants per square foot or approximately 750,000 plants per acre are sufficient to keep and do not require a plan B.  Consider replanting only those areas of the field where stands are below the threshold with, for example, spring wheat.  No-till seeding HRSW into standing HRWW is possible but creates some challenges later in the season because the two crops will reach growth stages at different times and complicate not just harvest but also the timing of herbicides and fungicides.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Small Grains: An easier way to establish (and grow) cover crops

Jochum Wiersma, Scotty Wells, and Jared Goplen

Establishing cover crops in corn and soybeans is not without its challenges in Minnesota.  There is little growing season left after harvest and soil moisture and herbicide carryover can often limit the ability to get a good cover crop stand when interseeding mid-season. In response to these growing season limitations, new interseeding technologies offer the promise to overcome some of the establishment issues in Minnesota (click here for more information). Even with the most advanced interseeding technologies, cover crop establishment success will be greater following short season crops. Wheat, barley, and oats make establishing cover crops much easier. There is plenty of growing season left following small grain harvest for reliable cover crop establishment. Oftentimes cover crops seeded following small grains accumulate enough biomass to be grazed or harvested for forage in the fall. 

Small grains also provide the opportunity to interseed cover crops. After all, interseeding alfalfa with oats is a common method to establish alfalfa. This approach can easily be extended to other legumes, including clovers and even grasses like annual ryegrass.  A common practice in NW Europe is to spread annual ryegrass with a fertilizer spreader over the top of winter wheat in early spring.  This strategy tends to work well for annual ryegrass and other species that require shallow seeding and light to stimulate germination. This strategy can probably be used successfully to interseed cover crops into wheat, barley, or oats in Minnesota.  

The biggest challenges when interseeding legumes in small grains is effective weed control, as many legume species are quite sensitive to the commonly used broadleaf herbicides. It is also important to select the proper legume species to avoid crop competition and harvest difficulty. Legumes like hairy vetch become very competitive when the small grain starts to mature, even to the point where plants impede harvest by reaching the top of the small grain canopy prior to harvest. Alfalfa and red clover are more appropriate choices to interseed with small grains, as UMN research has found they do not impede grain harvest and do not negatively affect hard red spring wheat yield. Other agronomic practices, including fertility management and seeding rates, can remain the same for interseeding small grains when compared to the practices for monocultures of wheat, barley, or oats.   More information on previous UMN research on intercropping alfalfa, red clover, and hairy vetch in hard red spring wheat can be found here.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Research on Woodland Management and Soybean Aphid: Cooperating Growers Needed

by Marcella Windmuller-Campione (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Forest Resources) and Robert Koch (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Entomology)

Looking for soybean growers in central and southern Minnesota to participate in a research study on soybean aphid population levels and buckthorn density in 2018

While there are several options for managing the destructive soybean aphid, including insecticides
and aphid-resistant soybean varieties, these options focus solely on the soybean field. However, it is very likely that buckthorn is lurking (and reproducing!) in your woodland or an adjacent publicly own forest, proving the required overwintering habitat for soybean aphid. Research in Ontario, as well as in Minnesota, has observed the relationship between proximity of buckthorn and early season
soybean aphid population levels. What has been little explored is if this relationship varies with buckthorn density – Does higher density buckthorn result in higher early season soybean aphid populations? If so, are there management techniques that we can implement to reduce buckthorn density, which could possibly reduce soybean aphid populations, thus improving quality and yield for soybean growers?  These questions require an interdisciplinary approach, bringing together research
faculty, Extension educators, and soybean growers with expertise in forestry, entomology, and agriculture.
Image of European buckthorn, which is the overwintering host for soybean aphid
(photo credit: Paul Wray, Iowa State Univ.,
Do you have a soybean field adjacent to a woodland in central or southern Minnesota?... 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Why you need to use a preemergence herbicide on sugarbeet fields in 2018

Tom Peters, Extension sugarbeet agronomist

Waterhemp Cotyledons are more rowboat shaped than other pigweed species. True leaves are long and narrow (lanceolate) and are waxy and dark green. There are no hairs on the plant.
Waterhemp is the most widespread weed control challenge in sugarbeet. Growers attending the 2018 technical seminars and participating in the Turning Point survey of weed control and production practices reported waterhemp as their most important weed control challenge on 237,600 acres or over 35% of sugar beet fields in Minnesota and eastern North Dakota.

Sugarbeet planting date dictates the weed control strategy for waterhemp control. In 2017, many acres of sugarbeet were planted between April 10 and April 20. Early planting enables sugarbeet to grow to the 2-lf stage, or the sugarbeet growth stage when Dual-Magnum, Outlook, and Warrant is applied, before waterhemp gemination and emergence in mid-May (POST to sugarbeet, PRE to waterhemp). Split lay-by application of chloroacetamide herbicides or first application at the 2-lf stage followed by a repeat application 14 to 21 days later is the preferred approach for waterhemp control for early planted sugarbeet (Table 1).

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

When is late too late?

It doesn't look like anyone will be doing any fieldwork in Minnesota anytime soon.  The question when it will be too late to seed small grains, therefore, is becoming a bit more urgent.  

Wheat, barley, and oat are cool-season annuals and are most productive when they grow and develop during cool weather.  The yield potential of these cereals is largely determined by the 6 leaf stage.  Cool temperatures during this period are particularly important for the development of a high yield potential.  For example, the number of tillers that ultimately produce grain at harvest declines as planting is delayed (Figure 1).  The number of spikelets per spike is determined during the 4 to 5.5 leaf stage (Figure 2).  Spikelet numbers are negatively correlated with temperature; spikelet numbers are greater when temperatures during the 4-5.5 leaf stages are cool.  

Figure 1 – The effect of planting date for on the number of heads per square feet of hard spring wheat at harvest in Langdon, ND (data and graph courtesy of Terry Gregoire, Area Agronomist, NDSU).

Figure 2 - The effect of maximum daily temperatures on the number of spikelets per spike that are initiated between the 4 and 5.5 leaf stage of spring wheat in Langdon, ND (data and graph courtesy of Terry Gregoire, Area Agronomist, NDSU).

Because of the expectation that average temperatures will be higher as we plant later, development of the crop will speed up too. The number of heat units required for a plant to move to the next phase of development will accumulate faster.  This forces development along faster and causes the plant to have less time to grow. Plants end up with fewer tillers, smaller heads, and fewer and smaller kernels per head, cutting into our yields.   

To improve the odds of high grain yields is to ensure that the tillering and head initiation phases occur during relatively cool temperatures is by planting early.  Early planting is key to raise wheat, barley, and oats in Minnesota successfully (Table 1)

Table 1 - The optimum and last recommended seeding dates for small grains in Minnesota.    
Last Planting Date:

South of US Hwy 12
South of MN Hwy. 210
1st week of April
2nd week of April
1st week of May
2nd  week of May
South of US Hwy. 10
3rd week of April        
3rd week of May
South of US Hwy. 2     
4th week of April
4th week of May
South of Canadian Border
1st week of May         
1st week of June

Research has shown that, on average, yields decreased 1% per day when planting is delayed past the optimum planting date.  Planting after the last possible date is not recommended because of the odds that grain yield and quality (test weight) will be dramatically reduced due to heat stress.

You can partially offset this yield loss by increasing the seeding rate and ensuring that you have more main stems per unit area. The recommendation is to increase the seeding rate by 1 percent for every day after the optimum planting window.

The last possible date for planting is not chiseled in stone. The odds of a high(er) grain yield with excellent test weight are less in our favor with every day seeding is delayed past our optimum planting windows simply because of the expected temperatures later in the growing season.   

New App for MN Farmers, Consultants: Midwest Stink Bug Assistant

Bill Hutchison, Theresa Cira and Bob Koch

Figure 1. Look for the Midwest Stink Bug Assistant screenshot to download the app.
A free IOS and Android app has been developed by the University of Minnesota Extension IPM Program, in partnership with the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center and Purdue University (Fig. 1). The app can be downloaded here, for both Apple and Android platforms.

The main focus of the app is to facilitate early detection and reporting of the invasive Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB; Halyomorpha halys), but it also helps users identify native stink bug species common to the Midwest region. This free app, Midwest Stink Bug Assistant, will allow farmers, crop consultants, and the general public to become comfortable distinguishing stink bugs from other bugs and identifying common stink bugs.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Spring Nitrogen Outlook

Guests Brad Carlson, Fabian Fernandez, Dan Kaiser, Greg Klinger and Anne Struffert are here with a spring nitrogen outlook. On this episode, we answer some of your most frequently asked questions, including:
  • How much N should I apply this spring?
  • If I applied N in the fall, how much have I lost going into spring?
  • What about starter fertilizers? How much N should I apply as starter?
  • Is a preplant soil N test worth it this year?
  • Should I use a nitrification inhibitor?
  • What should I do about anhydrous if soil is too wet?
For more the latest on nutrient management, follow us on facebook at or Twitter at

Handling Variability in Manure Nitrogen with Manure Analysis

Gregory Klinger, Extension Educator
Melissa Wilson, Extension Manure Specialist

One of the big challenges when using manure as a fertilizer source is knowing the amount of plant nutrients that are present and available in the manure. This uncertainty increases the risk of over-applying or under-applying nutrients to the field. The risk is greatest with nitrogen (N), which can easily move out of manure during storage and is a source of drinking water concerns. However, there are ways that producers can lower that risk. One of those ways is by getting manure tested.

2018 Sugarbeet Production Guide

Ashok Kumar Chanda, Extension plant pathologist

The Sugarbeet Production Guide provides useful information to assist you in making timely management decisions in 2018. It contains an excellent overview of recommended practices, but for more detailed discussions of weed control, soil fertility, insect and disease control, and other aspects of sugarbeet production in Minnesota and North Dakota, see past issues of the Sugarbeet Research and Extension Reports available at the web site (

Sugarbeet Rhizoctonia Management Plan for 2018

By Ashok Chanda (Assistant Professor & Extension Sugarbeet Pathologist), Department of Plant Pathology and Northwest Research and Outreach Center, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

Ashok Chanda can be reached at 218-281-8625 or or Twitter @BeetPath

Hopefully the official sugarbeet planting season will start in a couple of weeks in MN and ND and as usual there may be a lots of questions on your mind about how to get a hold on Rhizoctonia diseases, this is also confirmed by the highest number of Rhizoctonia samples diagnosed in our laboratory during the past 3 years. If this year’s planting is delayed due to weather, fields will be at high risk for Rhizoctonia, as warm soil favors development of Rhizoctonia. Here are some things that can help you to develop your customized Rhizoctonia Management Plan for 2018.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Don't Apply Commercial Fertilizers to Snow-covered Frozen Soils

Dan Kaiser, Extension Nutrient Management Specialist

The recent snows across the state may be spurring concerns with fertilizer application this spring. Application of any fertilizer source should not occur when the ground is still frozen, especially on top of snow. All commercial fertilizer products are water soluble and will dissolve readily in liquids. There is an extreme risk for fertilizer to run off the field with snow melt, regardless of the fertilizer source. In order for the soil to retain nutrients, they need to come in contact with soil particles. This reaction won’t happen in frozen soils and any fertilizer applied will move with water off the field or to low areas of the field. Environmental issues aside, applying fertilizer on frozen or snow covered soils presents a significant economic risk, as that purchased material won’t be available to the crop when it’s growing in the field.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Why Do We Need a Soybean Nitrogen Credit?

Greg Klinger, Extension Educator
Shane Bugeja, Extension Educator

In a corn-soybean rotation, the corn will need less nitrogen (N) following the nitrogen fixing legumes than in a continuous corn operation. Thus, a nitrogen “credit” is applied to manage N properly. Most people account for soybean credits when making fertilizer decisions, but often assume the extra nitrogen is coming from the soybeans themselves. The real reason is a bit more complicated and involves several factors including soil nitrogen availability, residue amount, and microorganism preferences.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

March 2018 Sauk Centre Hay Auction Summary

by Dan Martens, Extension Educator, Stearns-Benton-Morrison Counties, Crops Focus, 320-968-5077,

Click on links to items 1 2 3 4

1. March 1, 2018 Summary - All tested loads sold, groups based on hay and bale type and quality. 

2. March 15, 2018 Summary - Same format as 1

3. History of Selected Lots. Averages from recent years, and summer and fall sales so far.

4. Graph of Selected Alfalfa hay groups. The 2017-18 season is the RED line.


Respirator Requirements for Engenia® and Lorsban™

There are many agricultural pesticides that require respirators, and selection of the correct respirator can be complicated. This guide highlights respirator selection for products that we expect to see widespread use of this year.

Nutrient Management Podcast: Soil Sampling & Testing

This month's podcast episode is all about soil sampling and testing. Have a listen to hear how you can ensure a representative sample and what outside factors could affect the soil sample. We also cover how to decide which test to use and what to do with those test results to make your operation more profitable. Dan Kaiser, Paulo Pagliari and Melissa Wilson cover what you need to know heading into #plant18.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Spring Soil Sampling & Testing

On this episode of the podcast, Dan Kaiser, Paulo Pagliari and Melissa Wilson share considerations for taking representative soil samples, outside factors that can affect results, options for testing and applying to the farm. Hear how this affects decision making with manure and fertilizer in the 2018 growing season.

For more the latest on nutrient management, follow us on facebook at or Twitter at

Monday, March 26, 2018

So you need to wear a respirator? 4 steps to choosing the right respirator and wearing it safely.

Some agricultural pesticides require a respirator. Here’s what you need to know to keep yourself safe from inhalation hazards while using these products.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Join Us for Nitrogen Smart Workshops Next Week

Join us next week for Nitrogen Smart in Foley, Perham and Ada, MN. Nitrogen Smart is a training program for producers that presents fundamentals for maximizing economic return on nitrogen investments while minimizing nitrogen losses. The workshops deliver high-quality, research-based education so producers can learn:

Thursday, March 22, 2018

How to Get the Most Out of Spring Soil Sampling

Dan Kaiser, Extension Nutrient Management Specialist

The purpose of a soil test is to provide guidance in fertilizer application. Soil test results help you fine-tune your nutrient management practices based on real data, and ultimately protect your bottom line. However, there are a few key components to getting the soil test right.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Respirator Fit Testing Opportunities

Willmar, Fargo/Moorhead, and Crookston

Are you planning to use a product that requires a respirator this year (some examples include *Engenia™ , Lorsban™ -4e and Advanced, or Dipel™ Pro DF)? Fit testing is mandated by the Worker Protection Standard and the labels. It is also critical for ensuring that your respirator will protect you from exposure.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Managing Insecticide-Resistant Soybean Aphids: A New Multi-State Extension Publication

By Robert Koch (Assistant Professor & Extension Entomologist)

Insecticide-resistant soybean aphids have emerged as a new challenge to growers in Minnesota and neighboring states. In a new Extension publication, we suggest strategies for managing soybean aphids resistant to pyrethroid insecticides. A few key points for managing insecticide-resistant aphids are:
  1. Apply insecticides only when needed (i.e., scout soybean fields and use the economic threshold of 250 aphids/plant to determine when to apply insecticides), 
  2. Apply insecticides correctly (i.e., proper rates, good coverage, etc.) and check efficacy of insecticide 3-5 days after application, and 
  3. Alternate insecticide groups if fields need to be retreated. 

To assist with alternation (rotation) of insecticides, we summarize the different insecticides (and their corresponding insecticide groups) available for soybean aphid management. This new publication, entitled “Management of Insecticide-Resistant Soybean Aphids,” is available here:

Friday, March 9, 2018

Should you use an in-furrow starter this year?

Should you apply an in-furrow starter fertilizer this year? Starter fertilizer can mean more costs, but can have huge benefits in certain operations. Crop rotation, soil type, tillage and application practices all play important roles in your decision to use a starter. Soil Scientist Jeff Vetsch and Extension Nutrient Management Specialist Dan Kaiser share their advice in a recent article in The Farmer.

Click here to read the full article >>

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Dicamba: tips for complying with buffer and spray drift requirements in 2018

Buffers are one important tool in reducing off-target movement of pesticides to neighboring crops and sensitive areas. Given the high number of dicamba off-site movement complaints in 2017, applicators need to take special care this year. The following guidelines help to explain the label-mandated dicamba buffer requirements for 2018.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Aphid-destroying wasps found throughout much of Minnesota: Seeking fields for 2018 wasp survey

By Jonathan Dregni (Graduate Student), Robert Koch (Assistant Professor & Extension Entomologist), and George Heimpel (Professor), Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota

Cooperators are needed for a U of MN survey of soybean field for a parasitic wasp of soybean aphid.  These wasps (called Aphelinus certus), which do not sting people, are working to prevent soybean aphid outbreaks. First detected in 2005, this parasitic wasp spread quickly across the North American range of soybean aphid, arriving in Minnesota in 2011. Larvae of the wasp live inside and eventually kill the aphids leaving dark-colored “mummies”, which look like inflated black aphids attached to soybean leaves and stems. Adult wasps emerge from the mummies, mate, and immediately begin laying eggs in nearby aphids. Many generations of this wasp occur over the course of the summer.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Webinar on minimizing spray drift

As off-target movement of pesticides becomes an increasingly important topic, we need as many tools as possible to reduce drift. The EPA office of Pesticide Programs will host a webinar on March 15 about strategies for minimizing spray drift. Dr. Greg Kruger, a weed scientist and application technology specialist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, will lead the webinar.

The webinar will run from 10:30am-12pm CDT.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Nitrogen Timing: Apply When the Crop Needs it Most

Benjamin Davies, Soil Science PhD Student
Paulo Pagliari, Extension Soil Scientist

Spring is right around the corner. Do you have a nitrogen management plan in place? The rate and timing of nitrogen application should depend on your soil type, crop rotation and historical management practices. Recent University of Minnesota research funded by AFREC found that in coarse-textured soils, producers should split apply urea and in finer textured soils, plan to apply urea in the spring or as a split application.

Monday, February 26, 2018

February Hay Auction Summaries from Sauk Centre

by Dan Martens, Extension Educator, Stearns-Benton-Morrison Counties, Crops Focus, 320-968-5077,

Attached: My summaries from the February 1 and 15, 2018 Sauk Centre Hay Auctions

1. Feb 1 2018 Summary - All tested loads sold, groups based on hay and bale type and quality.

2. Feb 15 2018 Summary - Same format.

3. History of Selected Lots. Averages from recent years, and summer and fall sales so far.

4. Graph of Selected Alfalfa hay groups.
             The 2017-18 season is the RED line.


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Nutrient Management Podcast: Sulfur 101

Tune in to the latest Nutrient Management Podcast for a refresher on sulfur. Dan Kaiser, Jeff Vetsch and Paulo Pagliari discuss when to apply sulfur, where responses happen and what sources to use. They'll also talk about which crops are impacted by sulfur response, where sulfur is stored in the soil and how it is made available to crops.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sulfur 101

On this episode of the podcast, Dan Kaiser, Paulo Pagliari and Jeff Vetsch give you the what, when, where, why and how of sulfur. Tune in for more on where sulfur responses occur, how it's made available to crops, what source to use and the best time to apply.

For more the latest on nutrient management, follow us on facebook at or Twitter at

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Register now for final workshops on growing soybeans that out-compete weeds

By Lizabeth Stahl, Extension Educator-Crops, and Seth Naeve, Soybean Extension Specialist

soybean plants
Photo credit: Lisa Behnken
Weed management has become one of the most significant challenges in crop production as herbicide resistance continues to increase.  Learn about the latest research and information to address these challenges by attending a “Strategic Farming:  Growing Soybeans That Out-Compete Weeds”  workshop this winter.  Registration is now open at

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Evaluating Spring Phosphorus Availability in Minnesota

Paulo Pagliari, Extension Soil Scientist

Phosphorus is an essential element for crops, especially in the spring because it stimulates early plant growth, giving the plant a healthy and vigorous start. Spring phosphorus availability can range from low levels in western Minnesota to high levels in the southeastern, central and east-central areas of the state. Here’s a look at how to manage phosphorus this spring, based on the latest research.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Eleven Nitrogen Smart meetings on deck

Brad Carlson

University of Minnesota Extension is pleased to announce the schedule for the third year of its popular Nitrogen Smart program. Nitrogen Smart is an educational program designed to provide the information necessary to evaluate nitrogen fertilizer options. Farmers attending this program learn how to maximize profits from nitrogen applications while minimizing environmental impacts.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Applying Manure This Spring? Start Planning Now

Melissa Wilson, Extension Manure Management Specialist

It may be hard to imagine spring coming anytime soon with the recent arctic temperatures, but in a few short months it’ll be time to apply nutrients for the upcoming crops. If you plan to apply manure, now is the time to start mapping out your plans for the year to save headaches down the road. Here are some tips to get you started on your plans and for applying manure this spring:

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Workshop for crop advisers on soil health

Jake Overgaard, UMN Extension Educator

UMN Extension will be hosting a workshop focused on soil health and cover crops for crop advisers and other ag professionals on February 28th at the Heintz Center in Rochester.

While interest builds around the use of cover crops and other ways to improve soil health, crop advisers can play a key role in providing up-to-date information on their benefits to clients while ensuring their fit with other farm management goals.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Benchmarking yield potential for soybean in North Central States

Peyton Ginakes and Seth Naeve

Photo: Lisa Behnken
The University of Minnesota is partnering with nine other North Central states to close the soybean yield gap by combining big data from producers with location-specific modelling.

Models are capable of predicting maximum yield potentials based on soil type, weather data, and management practices. However, yield gaps exist where producers’ soybean yields fall short of maximum yield potentials. That’s why ten North Central states are conducting a survey for more detailed information from soybean producers. Survey results from thousands of producers across the region allows researchers to use a ‘big data’ approach in determining which management practices can close the yield gap in localized regions. More information on what researchers have concluded thus far can be found in the Corn & Soybean Digest article, Data pegs soybean yield gap.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Small Grain Winter Workshops

Jared Goplen

people walking in wheat field
University of Minnesota Extension is offering four Small Grain Winter Workshops in Central, Western, and Southern MN in February to address small grain production.

Row crop farming brings busy spring and fall workloads. There are also pests common to row crops, including herbicide resistant weeds, soybean cyst nematodes, soybean aphid, diseases and corn rootworm. Small grains added to a rotation may offer opportunities to diversity cropping systems in central and southern Minnesota to manage these challenges and lower production costs. This program is designed to help farmers determine if small grains can work on their farm, in their rotation, and if it can be sustainable over time. This program will provide the tools needed to make small grains a successful crop in their operation. This includes information on production agronomics, variety selection, disease identification, fungicide use, fertility, quality, equipment, and economics. Time will be set aside for open forum to discuss related topics and on farm experiences.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Time Sensitive: EPA Seeks Input on Registrations for 4 Neonicotinoid Insecticides

Bruce Potter, IPM Specialist, Bill Hutchison & Bob Koch, Extension Entomologist
(Information provided by US EPA and Jan Knodel, Extension Entomologist, NDSU, Fargo, ND)

There is an EPA open public comment period for ecological risk assessments for EPA registration review of four neonicotinoid insecticides. This open comment period ends Feb 20, 2018.

The announcement for this review is available at: This is an opportunity for the agricultural community to comment on the benefits of these widely used insecticides.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

New Research Shows Increased Yield with Liming Treatments

Jeff Vetsch, Soil Scientist

When needed, liming materials can be major beneficial inputs for crop production in Minnesota. When soils are acid, lime will neutralize the soil to the ideal pH. pH can affect the availability of plant nutrients and impact microbial activity, so managing it can be of great benefit, but can also cost a lot. Here’s a look at what to consider before liming your agricultural soil.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Jan. 18 & Sauk Centre Hay Auction Summary

by Dan Martens, Extension Educator, Stearns-Benton-Morrison Counties, Crops Focus, 320-968-5077,

This is a catch up effort. I'm listing the January 18 Summary, History and Graph and then also listing links to a few recent auction that I have not posted for the late fall season. I am including a couple of related notes and resources.

Click on individual items to see the.

1. Jan. 18 2018 Summary- All tested loads sold, groups based on hay and bale type and quality.
2. History of Selected Lots. Averages from recent years, and summer and fall sales so far.
3. Graph of Selected Alfalfa hay groups.
           The 2017-18 season is the RED line.

MFA Winter Forage Workshops are being planned again for:
      SE MN January 30- St. Charles Community Center
      Central MN January 31- Shady's Tavern in Albany
      NE MN February 1 - The Event Center in Floodwood

Featuring: EV THOMAS

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Nutrient Management Podcast: Soil pH and Liming 101

Starting with the basics, this episode of the podcast is your guide to managing soil pH on the farm. Melissa Wilson, John Lamb and Dan Kaiser discuss how fertilizer and manure affect soil pH, what makes a good liming material and why we should care about soil pH in the first place.

Friday, January 19, 2018

University of Minnesota Soil Testing Lab Completes Renovations

The University of Minnesota's Soil Testing and Research Analytical Lab has undergone a $3 million renovation. The lab is now has fully modernized infrastructure and work space to fulfill the soil testing needs of the state.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Your Guide to Soil pH and Liming

On this episode, Dan Kaiser, John Lamb and Melissa Wilson talk about soil pH. What is it? Why is it important? How do you change it? How does fertilizer affect it? What about manure? Find out all these answers and more 

For more the latest on nutrient management, follow us on facebook at or Twitter at

Five Tips for Profitably Managing Sulfur

Daniel Kaiser, Soil Fertility Specialist

Sulfur is becoming increasingly important to crop production in Minnesota. Soil organic matter is a large storehouse for sulfur, but we still run into situations where the crop needs fertilizer S to maintain high yields. Here are five tips for getting the most out of sulfur applied to your fields:

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Crookston Research Update for Ag Professionals Program Rescheduled

by Dave Nicolai, Coordinator for the Institute for Ag Professionals

The final University of Minnesota Research Update Session in Crookston, MN originally scheduled for January 11, has been rescheduled for Wednesday, January 24, 2018 due to a winter snow storm.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Take advantage of crop education this winter

Dave Nicolai, Extension Educator-Crops and Phyllis Bongard, Educational Content Development and Communications Specialist

Several opportunities to learn about the University of Minnesota's research in crop production are available this winter at locations throughout the state. Crop producers, their advisors and other ag professionals are encouraged to attend. The following events are listed in chronological order. To see all events (including PPAT workshops), visit UM Extension Crops calendar.

Rye Cover Crops in Corn Production on Irrigated Sands

Natalie Ricks and Fabián Fernández

In Minnesota, approximately 500,000 acres of irrigated farmland are highly productive but susceptible to nitrate leaching to groundwater. Irrigated sandy soils are especially vulnerable to leaching. A recent study from University of Minnesota, with support from Pope County SWCD and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, evaluated the use of winter rye as a cover crop in corn production. Early results show that a rye cover crop can help reduce nitrogen leaching in a corn after soybean rotation by 45 percent.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Minnesota-specific dicamba training and use requirements

Natalie Hoidal, Tana Haugen-Brown, Dean Herzfeld, and Dave Nicolai

An estimated 10,000+ Minnesotans will use Monsanto, DowDuPont, and BASF’s new dicamba products this year. All individuals applying XtendiMax™ with VaporGrip™ Technology (Monsanto, EPA Reg. No. 524-617), FeXapan™ with VaporGrip™ Technology (DowDuPont, EPA Reg. No. 352-913), or Engenia™ (BASF, EPA Reg. No. 7969-345) dicamba products must undergo special product label-required training in order to comply with Minnesota Pesticide Control Law. Because these products are now Restricted Use Pesticides, all applicators of these products must also be a certified Private pesticide applicator or a licensed Commercial or Noncommercial pesticide applicator.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Evaluating the Need for Sulfur in High Organic Matter Soils

Daniel Kaiser, Soil Fertility Specialist

Approximately 95 percent of the total sulfur in soils is found in organic matter. As soil organic matter breaks down, the S in the organic form mineralizes to sulfate-sulfur, the only form that plant roots can absorb. While we have an understanding of how sulfur reacts with crops, there still is a lot we don’t know about the forms of sulfur in soil over the growing season.

Reducing Bt trait acres in the 2018 corn crop to cut production costs? Implications for European corn borer

Bruce Potter, Extension IPM Specialist, Ken Ostlie and Bill Hutchison, Extension Entomologists

brown European corn borer larvae tunneling in corn
European corn borer larva and damage. Photo: Bruce Potter
The economics of 2018 corn production challenge many farmers with minimizing losses per acre. One area some farmers have targeted for reducing costs is hybrid selection. Planting corn hybrids without Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) proteins for protection against European corn borer (ECB), corn rootworm or both will greatly reduce seed costs. However, if not careful, farmers could inadvertently reduce crop revenues if they select hybrids without considering yield potential or insect populations in their fields.
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