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Showing posts from July, 2020

The Value of Wheat Straw

Current economics may have you ponder whether it’s worth selling the straw to generate extra income from your wheat acreage. To put a value on something, we generally look at the marketplace and let supply and demand determine the value of the goods in question. To determine the value of straw, we can look at local or regional hay auctions to get an idea of what livestock producers are willing to pay.

However, we could also look at it from a different angle. Opportunity costs are defined as the costs of using a resource based on what it could have earned if used for the next best alternative. One way to determine the value of straw left in the field is to look at the nutrients that are available in the straw. There are several online tools available to estimate the amounts of N, P, and K that will be removed if the straw is bailed.

Removing straw does not necessarily mean that you will mine your soils. Only if the amount of nutrient removed is greater than the amount of nutrients a…

Mystery seed packets in the mail

Liz Stahl, Extension educator - crops

Just to add one more strange thing to 2020, you may have heard by now that people are receiving unsolicited “mystery” seed packets that appear to be coming from China. In a nutshell, DO NOT plant these, DO NOT open the packets, and DO NOT just throw these away.

If you receive a seed packet, contact Arrest the Pest line at 1-888-545-6684 or arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us and provide your name, contact information, and the date the package was received. Officials will coordinate shipping the packaging and contents to the MDA Seed Program.

It is unknown what could be in these packets, it could be seed from an invasive plant, they might contain a seed-borne disease we don’t have in the USA, and some packets appear to have an unknown seed treatment applied to them (so the safety is unknown). 
See the following information reprinted from a MN Department of Ag press release that provides more details on this issue (also available at https://www.mda.state…

Walk, Hoe, Map and Mow: Your best August weed control plan for Minnesota soybeans

Lisa Behnken and Jared Goplen, Extension Educators, Crops
Some Reminiscing My dad was a dairy farmer his entire life. When he was 41 he had a heart attack and had to take a year off. He rented the farm to a neighbor, who planted 80 acres of soybeans on part of the farm. Soybean herbicides were limited at that time so weed control was a bit challenging. My dad offered up my brother and me to walk those beans and hoe out the “buttonweed” (velvetleaf) and volunteer corn. At the age of 10 and 11, my brother and I walked beans all summer long. Countless hours of hoeing and pulling weeds—sometimes four rows at a time, sometimes less. Some days we carried a radio, which meant mandatory breaks whenever “Layla” or “Let it Rain” (both by Eric Clapton) came on the radio. At the end of the summer, our efforts and hard work paid off. When the beans were combined our neighbor came to pay us. He told us that we’d done such a good job that he sold the beans for “seed” beans and made a nice pr…

Double check your forage equipment settings

Jared Goplen, Extension educator - crops

When it comes to putting up quality hay, the money is in the details. Improper equipment settings can leave hay in the field, add dirt to hay, cause long-term damage to forage stands, and shorten hay storage life. Proper equipment settings can provide big payoffs in maximizing forage yield and quality.
Cutting hay Cutting height Forages should be cut at 2.5-3 inches in most conditions to maximize yield and stand longevity. Shorter cutting height results in slightly more yield but decreases quality. Cutting shorter than 2.5 inches increases soil contamination of forage (ash) and shortens stand life of grasses.

Newly-seeded grasses (or mixed stands) should be cut slightly higher (4”) in the establishment year.
Cutterbar settings Sickle cutterbars Sickle and guard maintenance is key to minimizing field losses. Adjusting the position and reel speed to match ground speed and crop conditions will minimize field losses, especially in lodged crops.
Ro…

How to ensure efficient crop irrigation management

By: Vasudha Sharma, Extension irrigation specialist

High crop water demand and low rainfall at this time of the year make irrigation essential in many parts of Minnesota, especially in the Central Sands region. If you are planning to irrigate, follow these five steps to ensure efficient irrigation management:
Determine the crop's active rooting depth and the corresponding available water-holding capacity for each soil type in the field.Select the predominant soil type(s) that should be used for irrigation water management purposes. Define the management allowable soil water depletion (MAD) limits for the selected soil types and the crop(s) to be grown. Establish a soil moisture monitoring system and regularly (at least twice a week) keep track of the soil water deficit or depletion. See below for various methods of estimating and measuring soil water deficit. Initiate an irrigation when the soil water deficit is expected to approach the selected MAD limit. This procedure typically …

Performance of summer-seeded cover crops

Liz Stahl, Extension Educator – Crops and Axel Garcia y Garcia, Sustainable Cropping Systems Specialist

When farmers are faced with a crop failure due to severe hail or excessive water, or conditions prevent planting in the first place, seeding cover crops on these acres can help control weeds and protect soil from erosion as well as provide other soil health benefits. A cover crop can also help reduce or prevent fallow syndrome from impacting crop yield the following year. See Reduce the risk of fallow syndrome with cover crops and How to prevent fallow syndrome in corn for more information.

Study background In 2019 in response to an unprecedented level of prevent plant acres, a trial was initiated at the Southwest Research and Outreach Center in Lamberton to evaluate the performance of cover crops planted in the middle of July. At this time, the late planting window for corn and soybean for crop insurance purposes has passed and it is too late to realistically replant corn or soy…

Will two-spotted spider mites throw a curve ball at the 2020 Minnesota crop?

Bruce Potter, IPM specialist, Bob Koch, Extension entomologist and Ken Ostlie, Extension entomologist

Two-spotted spider mites are taking advantage of the 2020 growing season’s hot weather. Mite infestations have been observed in soybean fields in Brown, Carver, Dakota, Le Sueur, McLeod, Lac Qui Parle, Redwood, Stearns and Yellow Medicine Counties. Several of these infestations have been economic.

Spider mites are likely present in other areas as well, particularly where conditions have been dry. At this time, soybeans appear to have the heavier infestations although spider mites also attack corn and other crops.
Conditions that favor spider mites In most years, two-spotted spider mite populations are kept in check by predators, fungal disease, and adequate moisture. Warm, dry weather and moisture stress of the crop favor mite reproduction. When conditions are favorable for the mites, their rapid life cycle and high reproductive rates can quickly result in large populations and crop …

Nitrogen Smart: Interactive online course can help farmers increase profitability, improve water quality

University of Minnesota Extension’s popular Nitrogen Smart program is now available as an interactive online course, featuring short videos and quick quizzes to test your knowledge.
Take the Nitrogen Smart online course nowNitrogen Smart is better known for its in-person meetings around the state each winter. The free online course takes about three hours to complete but you can easily pause the session and complete it at another time.

This educational program aims to help farmers improve their bottom line while also helping Minnesota meet environmental objectives on water quality. Participants will develop a deeper understanding of nitrogen and how it behaves in the environment. The online course will give you the tools you need to calculate an efficient, profitable N rate for your farm and tailor management practices to your region, soil type, and other conditions.
Learn about:The nitrogen cycleNitrogen fertilizer sources Nitrogen Best Management Practices (BMPs) Fertilizer N rate r…

Small Grains Disease Update 07/25/20

This will likely be the last small grains disease update for the 2020 cropping season. I didn't update the commentary at the beginning of the week as nearly all wheat and barley acres reached anthesis the week before and all fungicide decisions for the season had been made.  Instead, I took the past few days to get some idea of how widespread and severe FHB infections are in the region. It is not hard to find FHB in the yield trials in NW Minnesota. The field severities are nowhere near disastrous but high enough in some of the more susceptible varieties that you would be faced with discounts upon delivery of the grain to the elevator because the DON content will exceed the 2 ppm limit. Severities in the few commercial fields I scouted and some of the comments I received from crop consultants to date is that FHB severities are not bad and even a bit lower than last season. The major difference between the trials and the commercial production is variety selection and the applicatio…

Manure update: Research, events, and fall management tips

In this episode of the Nutrient Management Podcast, two U of M researchers discuss manure management. What manure-related events and educational programming are coming up? What's the latest on the liquid swine manure sidedressing research project? How is the manure N & P credit study going? What should farmers keep in mind about manure management heading into fall? Thank you to Minnesota's Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council (AFREC) for supporting the podcast.

Virtual Youth Crop Scouting Competition

Jared Goplen, Extension Educator, Crops and Brian McNeill, Extension Educator, Youth Development

The University of Minnesota Extension 4-H program is excited to announce that the 2nd annual crop scouting competition will still be held this summer. The crop scouting competition aims to equip the next generation of farmers and ag-industry specialists with basic crop scouting and pest management skills helpful for any career in agriculture, environmental sciences, or food production.

The competition has been redesigned in a virtual format and now offers both individual and team competitions. We are currently accepting registrations for both individuals and teams (from 7th grade – 1 year post-high school). If you know youth that might be interested, encourage them to sign-up as an individual or as a team.

Teams and individuals can put their knowledge and critical thinking skills to the test in pest management and agronomy. The individual competition includes a short “crop scouting” quiz …

Reducing the risk of insecticide drift

Bob Koch, Extension entomologist and Dave Nicolai, Extension educator - crops, with contributions by Matt Jorgenson and Raj Mann, Pesticide and Fertilizer Management Division, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Insecticides continue to be important tools for management of key insect pests of several of our crops. We must use these insecticides wisely to prevent unintended impacts and to reduce the risk of losing access to these insecticides due to regulations.

Repeated detections of pesticide above certain concentrations can lead to increased regulation. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA)performs extensive monitoring for pesticide residues in groundwater and surface waters of Minnesota.

One insecticide, chlorpyrifos (e.g., Lorsban), continues to be detected each summer in surface waters and has been declared a "Surface Water Pesticide of Concern" in Minnesota. Also of concern are the increasing detections of neonicotinoid and pyrethroid insecticides in surface…

Tissue sampling tips for corn, soybean, sugarbeet and wheat

By: Dan Kaiser, Extension nutrient management specialist
Tissue sampling is in full swing and if you are taking samples there are a few things to consider for specific crops. As we progress later into the growing season, tissue sampling can be very diagnostic for some nutrients while there isn’t very good data on sufficient nutrient concentrations for others. Accurate information is crucial to ensure any decisions you make. Remember that some of what you are finding now may be too late for the current crop but should be followed up later with soil tests to determine if a nutrient is deficient and to help identify the best course of action for the following crop.
Corn Corn is best sampled up to the R1 or R2 (50% brown silk) growth stage. The suggested sampling is a leaf sample. Minnesota suggests sampling the leaf opposite and below the ear. However, some labs may want the ear leaf or the leaf associated with the primary ear. I have also had conversations with consultants who have …

Palmer amaranth found in Winona County

Jared Goplen and Lisa Behnken, Extension educators - crops

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has confirmed Palmer amaranth for the first time in Winona County. The Palmer amaranth plants were found in a soybean field but the source of the infestation is currently unknown. As weed escapes become more obvious in row-crops, NOW is the time to be scouting for Palmer amaranth.

MDA press release can be found here.
Identification characteristics of Palmer amaranth Early detection and eradication of Palmer amaranth is key in reducing management costs and preventing the rapid spread of this difficult weed. Palmer amaranth is challenging to identify as many of the amaranth species look similar. However, identification is easier as plants enter the reproductive phase of development, which is occurring now through September. For help in identification please go to the following web link http://z.umn.edu/palmerid

Key characteristics to look for include:
Rapid growth, plants can reach…

Reminders for soybean aphid management: Scouting, thresholds and insecticide selection

by Robert Koch (Extension Entomologist) & Bruce Potter (Extension IPM Specialist)
Soybean aphids can be found in many fields, but we are aware of only one small field where infestations were large enough to require insecticide applications.However, we all know that this can change over a short period of time, because this pest’s potential for high reproductive rates. Therefore, you should be scouting your soybean fields for soybean aphids. Here we provide some reminders about scouting, thresholds, and insecticide selection for soybean aphid management. Scouting Scouting is required to determine which fields require (or may soon require) insecticide application and which fields do not. An overview of scouting for this pest can be found in Scouting for Soybean Aphid. Here are some key points from this guide: Scouting requires getting into the field and estimating aphid numbers on plants.You may know of soybean fields in your area where aphid populations usually increase first. You …

Mid-summer crop update: Growing conditions and nutrient management

In this episode of the Nutrient Management Podcast, four U of M researchers discuss current growing conditions around the state and give us an update on their research projects. What questions have Extension researchers been getting this year from Minnesota growers and consultants about nutrient management? Is there anything growers should be aware of when making nutrient management decisions for 2021 based on this year's growing conditions?
Listen to the podcastView the podcast transcriptGuests: Dan Kaiser, Extension nutrient management specialistLindsay Pease, Extension nutrient management specialistBrad Carlson, Extension educatorGreg Klinger, Extension educator Subscribe to the podcast and never miss an episode on iTunes and Stitcher!

For the latest nutrient management information, subscribe to Minnesota Crop News email alerts, like UMN Extension Nutrient Management on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and visit our website.

Support for the Nutrient Management Podcast is provided…

Controlling buckthorn: the who, what, where, when and how

By Matt Russell, Extension forest resources specialist, Gary Wyatt, Extension educator and Claire LaCanne, Extension educator

Buckthorn is one of Minnesota’s most damaging invasive plants. Landowners should be concerned if buckthorn is present in their woodlands because it is an aggressive invasive plant that outcompetes native vegetation and degrades wildlife habitat. Soybean growers should be concerned if buckhorn is present in nearby wooded areas because it serves as the overwintering host plant for soybean aphid eggs and the crown rust fungus.

Understanding the basics of buckthorn biology will help you to control its spread so that you have a healthy woodland and crop field. Despite the invasive nature of buckthorn, many landowners have had success in controlling it, but only after choosing the appropriate management techniques along with consistent follow-up treatments.
What is buckthorn? Buckthorn may refer to one of two different species found in Minnesota: Common (or European…