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Showing posts from April, 2018

Forage topics for spring: Alfalfa assessment, establishment and emergency forages

by M. Samantha Wells, forage agronomist Assessing alfalfa Healthy alfalfa taproot on the left and damaged taproots on the right A number of factors can contribute to winter damage of an alfalfa stand. These are all important to consider as spring assessments are made. The following elements may all play a role in winter survivability. As management options are considered, remember that injured alfalfa stands can exhibit delayed regrowth, but may be capable of recovering. Be careful not to rush into alternative options if the stand can be maintained for acceptable production. Alfalfa winter injury assessment and management Emergency forages: Warm season grasses Emergency forages at Rosemount, 2014. In an effort to maximize forage production during the relatively short growing seasons of the upper Midwest, semi-dormant alfalfa varieties have been heavily promoted and widely adopted, which can increase the chance of winter injury and winterkill. During the 2012-2013 winter

Answers to 5 Spring Nitrogen FAQs

Fabian Fernandez, Nutrient Management Specialist Jeff Vetsch, Soil Scientist Brad Carlson, Extension Educator After crazy weather in early spring, it’s finally time to get out in the fields. We’ve gotten a lot of questions about spring nitrogen lately. Here are the frequently asked questions we get about nitrogen management this time of year.

To treat or not to treat: Should fungicidal seed treatments be applied to small grain seed this year?

Madeleine Smith, Extension small grains pathologist Root rots causing poor stand establishment in wheat. Photo: A. Friskop At this time of year decisions are being made about whether to treat small grains seed with fungicide or insecticidal seed treatments before planting. Fungicides applied on seed can help protect stand establishment if there are fungal diseases present in the soil, or if seed saved from the previous season is infected with Fusarium head blight or smuts. Infection by fungal pathogens at or just after germination can cause seedling loss. If seedlings do not die, they can have poor vigor, due to the inability to efficiently take up water and nutrients.

Don't compromise on best practices for rotating alfalfa to corn when field work is delayed

By Jeff Coulter, Extension Corn Agronomist There are many advantages to planting corn after alfalfa, including greater yield potential, reduced nitrogen needs from fertilizer or manure, and reduced pest pressure compared to when corn follows other crops. The degree to which these and other benefits are achieved is contingent upon successful termination of alfalfa, as alfalfa can greatly complete with corn for water and nitrogen. Therefore, avoid compromising on best practices when rotating alfalfa to corn, even when spring field work is delayed.

Calibrating Your Grain Drill

In last week’s post, I mentioned that small grain seeding rates should be increased once we are past the optimum time to offset the loss of tillers and ultimately reduced yield potential caused by the delayed planting date.  Consequently, you need to recalibrate your drill. Recalibrating your drill every spring is a good practice anyway as seed size and weight of different seed lots vary year-over-year and among varieties. Modern air seeders and drills with central seed metering are relatively easy to calibrate and your user manuals have detailed instructions on how to calibrate them.  Older double disk drills are a little different story and the seeding rate tables seeding rate tables found in your operator's manual or on the inside of the seed hopper lid are a guideline at best. Calibrating your drill in the yard is an easy way to take the guesswork and some of the stress out of it prior to getting in the field.  By measuring the circumference of the press wheel or drive

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.

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?

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 (pho

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

Jochum Wiersma, Samantha 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. 

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

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

Tom Peters, Extension sugarbeet agronomist Waterhemp seedlings . Note rowboat-shaped cotyledons, long and narrow true leaves (lanceolate) that 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.