Skip to main content


Showing posts from March, 2020

“Essential Row Crop Management” Spring 2020 Webinar Series

Photo:  Meaghan Anderson, ISU Extension and Outreach A “Socially Distant” Webinar Series for the Spring of 2020 By Lizabeth Stahl and Lisa Behnken, U of MN Extension Educators in Crops; Angela Rieck-Hinz and Meaghan Anderson, Field Agronomists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; and Phyllis Bongard, U of MN Educational Content Development & Communications Specialist Extension specialists in Iowa and Minnesota are collaborating to provide a series of short, daily webinars for farmers, ag professionals, Extension personnel and other interested parties from April 6 to April 10. The theme is “Essential Row Crop Management" for spring 2020, with a focus on key topics to be addressed prior to the planting season.

Webinar: Managing Corn and Soybean in Storage for Maximum Quality and Safety, March 31

By Lizabeth Stahl, Extension Educator - Crops Photo:  Mike Staton, MSU Extension For many, the 2019 cropping season resulted in corn and soybeans that were higher in grain moisture than normal. As a result, corn and soybeans in storage may be poorer in quality and/or deteriorate rapidly if not managed properly this spring. Wet grain also poses a greater risk for grain bin accidents to occur. Dr. Ken Hellevang, Agricultural Engineer at North Dakota State University, will present his recommendations for managing corn and soybean in on-farm storage on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 from 8:00 to 9:00 CST.  Topics covered will include natural air drying, safe storage periods, drying soybeans with supplemental heat, and grain safety procedures. Time will be allotted at the end of the webinar for Dr. Hellevang to address questions from attendees. To Register:   You can register for the webinar being hosted by Michigan State University at: For M

The connection between soil organic matter and soil water

Anna Cates, State soil health specialist Illustration of soil water in macro- and micropore spaces. Source: One benefit of increasing soil organic matter is to store more water in your soil. Why does this happen? Because soil organic matter creates pores in a range of sizes. Exactly how much more water is stored due to soil organic matter will depend on soil texture, though. Soil organic matter is a busy mix of materials- fragments of last year’s stalks and roots, earthworm casts, and living microbes and invertebrates, to name just a few. These materials are broken down by physical and biological processes. For example, freezing and thawing causes plant residue to lose its structure. Tiny dissolved molecules flow deep into the soil with rainwater. Hungry invertebrates, fungi, and bacteria consume complex living and dead organic material and excrete nutrients they don’t need in a smaller, simpler form. These small organic molecules can s

Can I credit nitrogen for unharvested sugar beets and fallow fields?

By: Dan Kaiser and John Lamb, Extension nutrient management specialists The 2019 growing season was extremely challenging with late plantings across Minnesota and some fields which went unharvested. While crops like corn can still be harvested this spring, others such as sugar beet cannot. Other situations such as fallowed fields also raise questions regarding nitrogen crediting for this year’s crop. Here are a few things to consider for some non-traditional questions which come up following difficult growing seasons. How do I handle my unharvested sugar beet acres? Two questions always arise when it comes to unharvested beets. First, how do I manage tillage in fields with unharvested sugar beet? Sugar beet roots can present challenges when it comes to fall tillage operations. The best option is to first remove the foliage and then leave the field un-tilled in the fall, as the root will start to decompose over the winter. A single pass with a soil finisher in the spring prior

Stay healthy in the time of COVID-19

By Liz Stahl, Extension Educator – Crops and Phyllis Bongard, Educational Content Development & Communications Specialist Farmers and those working throughout the agricultural supply chain will soon be in the midst of the 2020 planting season. Staying healthy during this time is particularly critical as the optimal planting window is only so wide and it can be extremely weather dependent. It may be very difficult to find trained replacement labor if one were to fall ill during this time. Many farmers are also at an age that puts them at higher risk from a COVID-19 infection.  For personal safety and to maintain a COVID-19 free labor force, farmers and all who are in the agricultural supply chain are encouraged to follow measures suggested by health officials: Follow the Center for Disease Control guidelines of washing hands, limiting travel and social distancing. Don’t work through an infection due to the serious risks this disease poses and the risk of transmitting the

What to Seed or Not to Seed?

Just over half of the sugar beet acreage in the Red River Valley was left in the field last fall. The question now is what to seed or not to seed this spring on those acres.  The post below is the collective insight of Drs. David Franzen, Joel Ransom, Hans Kandel, Joe Ikley, Tom Peters, Linsey Pease, Jodi de Jong Hughes, Ashok Chanda, Andrew Friskop and Jochum Wiersma.  None of us purposefully ever initiated any experiments with unharvested beets as a treatment to test the hypotheses that would yield the answers/recommendations below.  There are, however, parallel situations from which we can draw and infer some of the recommendations below.   While there probably is no one answer that fits all, there are underlying (biological) realities that drive what you can do and cannot do (very well). The following realities should be accounted for when planting this year’s crop in unharvested sugar beet acreage: The decomposing beets will likely make it difficult to create a goo

Optimal phosphorus and potassium levels in the soil

In this episode of the Nutrient Management Podcast, three U of M researchers discuss optimal phosphorus and potassium levels in the soil. What are some key takeaways that growers should know about interpreting soil tests? Environmentally, what is the threshold at which we should avoid applications to prevent significant nutrient loss? Is there really an optimal soil test level that farmers should shoot for? Thank you to Minnesota's Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council (AFREC) for supporting the podcast.

2020 Soybean Symposium: Now online and available to all!

Jim Sutter, CEO of the U.S. Soybean Export Council; Ed Usset, U of MN Extension Grain Marketing economist, and Peter Mishek, director at Mishek, Inc., spoke at the 2018 U of MN Soybean Symposium. Photo: Peter Scharpe This year’s Soybean Symposium is going online  and you are invited to join us. We originally intended to hold the meeting in-person at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on March 26, 2020. Now, you can join us from your home, office, truck, or tractor. The meeting will be held through ZOOM where you will be able to hear and see presenters, as well as ask questions during the Q&A periods. Register today at for agenda and login information. How Resilient is our Global Food System? Today’s global food production system hinges on the low-cost and efficient production, transport, and processing of cereal and protein grains. Global production and trade have evolved over the past 75 years to provide previously

How to prevent fallow syndrome in corn

By: Dan Kaiser, Extension nutrient management specialist With record precipitation across much of the Midwest in 2019, many fields went unplanted. Fields that were in a prevent plant situation last year may be at risk of fallow syndrome in 2020. When managing fields prone to fallow syndrome, a low rate of “pop up” starter fertilizer is the best management strategy. What is fallow syndrome? Fall syndrome is caused by decreased colonization of plant roots by beneficial fungi called vesicular-arbuscular mycorhizae (VAM). VAM act like an extension of the plant’s roots, helping crops such as corn take up phosphorus and zinc. The population of VAM in the soil goes down rapidly in a year with little plant growth, which can negatively impact crop uptake of phosphorus and zinc the following growing season. Fallow syndrome often causes purple coloring of corn plants early in the growing season due to reduced update of phosphorus, which can lead to yield loss. Which fields and crops are

5 things to consider for sensor-based nitrogen management

By: Gabriel Dias Paiao, graduate research assistant, and Fabian Fernandez, Extension nutrient management specialist There is considerable debate regarding the usefulness of canopy-sensing technologies for nitrogen fertilizer management. While the technology has been successfully implemented for some crops and regions of the U.S., its utility has been limited in others.  In this post, we discuss the utility of the technology based on studies conducted in different corn production regions in Minnesota. We focus on five topics that farmers should know about when considering adopting the technology. 1. The nuts and bolts of sensor-based nitrogen management Understanding how the technology works is the first step for successful implementation. Plants can express their nitrogen status (nitrogen-deficient or -sufficient) in terms of plant color. In simple terms, the yellower they look the more nitrogen-deficient they are. Canopy sensors are capable of quantifying those difference

Sauk Centre February 2020 Hay Auctions

Nathan Drewitz, Extension Educator, Stearns, Benton, and Morrison Counties Keeping up with current local hay prices is important for livestock producers and growers. The Mid-American Hay Auction in Sauk Centre, MN provides an excellent opportunity to get a glimpse of what current hay prices are for the region. That hay auction information is organized, summarized, and listed below. 

Another look at phosphorus fertilizer application timing in soybean

By: Dan Kaiser, Extension nutrient management specialist In a recent blog post , I discussed the lack of a need for direct application of phosphorus fertilizer directly ahead of soybean. After discussions with crop consultants, I decided to take a look back at the topic focusing on soils with a pH of 8.0 or higher. Building phosphorus in highly alkaline soils is difficult in Minnesota due to the abundance of calcium in the soil profile. High rates of phosphorus fertilizer applied to highly alkaline soils can appear to disappear, as if no phosphorus was applied. In the case of highly alkaline soils, timing of P fertilizer application in a multi-crop rotation may bear special considerations in order to increase soybean yield. In 2010, funding from the Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council (AFREC) was used to establish phosphorus response strip trials in farmers’ fields across Minnesota. Side by side strips were established where 0 or 200 pounds P 2 O 5 was appli

Take advantage of the Take Action weed management webinar series

The United Soybean Board (USB) Take Action initiative and university weed scientists from across the Midwest have developed a free webinar series covering various weed and herbicide management issues. Two weed scientists will give 15 minute presentations at each webinar and there will be opportunities for viewers to ask questions.  Four webinars remain in the series. You can attend sessions live every Thursday, from March 5 to March 26, at 10 am CST. If you can't make that time, all sessions will be recorded and available for viewing online at a later date. Webinar schedule March 5 Tom Peters, North Dakota State University – status of research on electricity methods John Wallace, Penn State University – cover crops and weed management March 12 Bryan Young, Purdue University – drift retardants, volatility Bill Johnson, Purdue University – mixing & antagonism, volunteer corn issues March 19 Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri – status of on-combine seed destructi

U of MN Extension ag business offering farm bill series

University of Minnesota Extension agricultural business management staff will recap their farm bill education series in a webinar at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 5  to help crop producers understand decisions regarding the ARC and PLC programs. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, crop producers must make a selection by March 16, 2020  of either ARC-County, PLC or ARC-Individual for all covered commodity base acres on a farm. Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC-CO) is a revenue protection tool that provides payments if the actual crop revenue based on yield and price is less than the guaranteed revenue for the crop. The Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program provides price support if the average market price is below the national reference price for covered commodities. The NASS updated yields are predicted to provide a soybean ARC-CO payment for farmers in over half of Minnesota counties. A corn payment for ARC-CO is predicted in eight counties: Cottonwood, Hennepin, Jackson, Lincoln, Murray, Noble

Subscribe to the Nutrient Management Podcast

The Nutrient Management Podcast features monthly episodes on the latest research and recommendations from University of Minnesota Extension soil fertility researchers. Subscribe to the podcast on  iTunes  or  Stitcher Subscribe to  Minnesota Crop News email alerts Topics include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, micronutrients, manure, soil sampling, soil health, cover crops, irrigation, precision ag, fertilizer economics, and more. Popular recent episodes include: Nitrogen management lessons from a wet 2019 Can precision ag help growers with nutrient management? What should growers look for in soil health tests? How does drainage impact crop production and water quality? Post-planting management of nitrogen Learn more about Extension nutrient management research and recommendations by liking UMN Extension Nutrient Management on Facebook , following us on Twitter , and visiting our website . Support for the Nutrient Management Podcast is provided by Mi