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Showing posts from September, 2023

Minnesota CropCast: Dr. Craig Shaeffer Part 2 - Forage and agronomy teaching at U of M

Dr. Craig Sheaffer has been on the faculty in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics since 1977, where he has been teaching and conducting research. Dr Sheaffer’s teaching experience has consisted of an expansive list of agronomy, forage, food and environment focused courses taught at the University of Minnesota.  In this episode, Craig sits down with David Nicolai and Seth Naeve to talk about his teaching career at the University of Minnesota and his many collaborators, colleagues, and friends there. Craig commented on his teaching style, classroom technologies, the benefit of student internships and the changing student demographics over his tenure. Craig discussed changes that he has seen in teaching in Minnesota and talked about his use of new and innovative teaching methods for both classroom and extension audiences over the years.  This is Part 2 of a two-part podcast series that touches on some of the highlights of Dr. Sheaffer’s illustrious career. Part 1 emphasized his

Is Kochia moving eastward?

 Ryan Miller, Extension educator - crops, and Debalin Sarangi, Extension weed scientist Fig. 1. Kochia plucked from a soybean field in south central MN. When you think of Kochia as a weed problem, one thinks of western Minnesota, the Dakotas and other states farther west. Kochia, a tumbleweed, has long established itself as a weed problem in these dryer western areas. In southern Minnesota, U.S. Highway 71 is generally considered a rough boundary for what might be considered western Minnesota. That said, I wouldn’t have expected to find this weed infesting a soybean field in south central Minnesota near I-35 (Fig 1). It will be prudent to keep tabs on this weed if it is expanding its range east. Kochia characteristics What do we know about kochia? It's an early emerging annual weed which is both drought and cold tolerant that produces seed with very little dormancy. The low level of dormancy can be a benefit to weed management because if you control kochia before it produces s

Everything manure: Midwest experts answer common questions heading into fall

In this episode of the Nutrient Management Podcast, we’re talking about fall manure best practices. What are some best management practices for the fall manure application season? If you're a crop farmer thinking about getting manure this fall, what information do you need from the producer or the manure applicator? What are some things to look out for? What's on the horizon for manure application? What are some practical safety solutions surrounding manure and the application of manure? PUBLISHED TRANSCRIPT Guests: Melissa Wilson, Extension manure management specialist (St. Paul) Kevin Erb, Director, Conservation Professional Training Program, University of WI - Madison Daniel Andersen, Extension specialist and assistant professor, Iowa State University Additional resources: Do the "4R's" apply to manure? You betcha! Tips for fall manure application, and how to avoid nutrient loss Manure research in Minnesota StoryMaps MN Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast UW Conser

Know your SCN numbers: Free fall sampling program available

Angie Peltier, Extension educator-crops Figure. Soybean roots, with yellow arrows pointing to swollen female SCN and the white  arrow to a  much larger nitrogen fixing nodule.  Photo: Angie Peltier Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is a microscopic worm that is attracted to and infests soybean roots where it uses for its own growth and development the water and sugars that the soybean plant takes up to develop leaves, flowers, pods and beans. Capable of causing significant yield loss without alerting a producer of its presence, SCN caused an estimated $7.65 million in lost yield in 2022 in Minnesota (Crop Protection Network, 2023), making it the top yield-limiting pathogen of soybean in Minnesota and throughout the Midwest. At certain points in the Minnesota soybean growing season, plants infested with SCN can be dug up and the soil gently shaken from the roots to reveal creamy, white, lemon-shaped, swollen female SCN (Figure). Much smaller and more uniform in size and shape than nitrogen fi

How do wet and dry years affect corn yield and nitrate leaching under different irrigation and nitrogen management strategies?

By: Vasudha Sharma, Extension irrigation specialist and Andrea Elvir Flores, Graduate research assistant The number of irrigated acres in Minnesota is increasing as more and more growers look for ways to ensure high crop yields during dry years. This blog post provides an update on a field research study being conducted at two irrigated corn sites in Minnesota’s central sands region. After three years of data at one of the sites, we’ve seen some interesting results on how a reduced irrigation strategy could save water and reduce nitrate leaching, saving farmers money and benefiting the environment. Why do this research? In Minnesota, irrigation is common in the central region of the state and a necessary practice for the success of numerous crops such as corn, soybeans and potatoes. However, the lack of precise irrigation recommendations for Minnesota soils and production systems raises concerns about the impact of irrigation on ground and surface water resources and quality. High rate

Minnesota CropCast: Dr. Craig Sheaffer, Part 1: A Career in Forage Research at the University of Minnesota

Dr. Craig Sheaffer has been on the faculty in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics since 1977. Dr Sheaffer’s research on forage production has led to authorship of around 275 scientific publications, as well as scores of book chapters and extension publications. Although he has worked on pasture management and has focused his efforts on many species of forage crops, his true love is alfalfa. In this episode, Craig sits down with David Nicolai and Seth Naeve to talk about his history at the University of Minnesota and his many collaborators, colleagues, and friends there. Craig discussed changes that he has seen in agriculture in Minnesota and talked about alfalfa varieties and the testing program over the years. This is part one of a two-part series that touches on some of the highlights of Dr. Sheaffer’s illustrious career. Part 1 emphasizes his research efforts while Part 2 will highlight his teaching career at the University of Minnesota. Listen to the podcast What is Mi

Urea and sugarbeet stand loss: Should growers change how they manage nitrogen?

By: Dan Kaiser, Extension nutrient management specialist Urea is one of the most popular nitrogen fertilizer sources in Minnesota, but it can be trickier to manage than some other fertilizers because it has a higher risk of nitrogen loss via ammonia volatilization. It has been documented that spring application of urea can lead to sugarbeet stand reductions. Dry conditions in some areas of the state this year, especially on sandy soils, led to grower concerns about this issue. What does current research say about urea and sugarbeet stand loss? What is the problem? An ongoing study funded by the Sugarbeet Research and Education Board of Minnesota and North Dakota focuses on two areas: 1) Timing and rate of urea applications, and 2) Alternative products such as ESN and inhibitors marketed for urea. Stand reductions occur in both the northern and southern sugarbeet growing regions of Minnesota. While sugarbeet stand can be reduced by small rates of spring-applied N, typically the reductio

Tips and options for drought stressed pastures

Cow grazing in drought stressed field. Photo credit: Mercedes Moffett By:  Craig Sheaffer, Extension forage specialist, and David Nicolai, Troy Salzer, Mercedes Moffett, and Katherine Hagen, Extension Educators Drought has parched many cool-season grass and legume pastures this summer, and in some regions drought has continued into the fall. The drought has affected pasture productivity, plant health, and livestock stocking rate. Here are some tips and options to consider for management of pastures to provide forage for livestock and to insure long term productivity. Avoid overgrazing. Do not graze below a 4-inch height. Cool season grasses and legumes become dormant during drought. They will likely regrow upon resumption of normal rainfall if not subject to extra stress. During dormancy, the leaves and stems stop growing but the growing points and crowns are still alive. Overgrazing, that removes all leaves and stems can weaken plants and lead to stand loss and weed invasion. Per

Considerations for new cover crop rotations

By: Brooke Sonnek Extension ANR Intern, Blue Earth & Le Sueur Counties, Shane Bugeja, Extension Educator, Blue Earth & Le Sueur Counties (reviewer), Liz Stahl, Crops Extension Educator (reviewer) Questions to ask when adding a cover crop to your rotation Cover crops can be used in a crop rotation to improve environmental conditions including soil health attributes. They can also be utilized more like a second cash crop. The University of MN has been developing and testing popular cover crops and developing new ones for farmers to utilize. While there are valid agronomic considerations for including a cover crop in your rotation, before adding them it is important to ask the following questions. Purpose and priorities for your operation When deciding whether to add a cover crop into your cropping rotation, you should first create a plan and understand the priorities of your operation and ask the question, “why?” Considerations could include: Soil health/reducing erosion Nutrien

Why did cover crops cause issues in Minnesota the last two years and what should growers do going forward?

By: Anna Cates, Extension soil health specialist, and Angie Peltier, Extension educator Cover crops are a key practice to improve soil health by building soil structure and adding organic matter outside the summer growing season. But there’s a real risk to cash crop productivity that must be managed when using cover crops. In the recent dry years in Minnesota, cover crops have caused a lot of crop stress and yield loss in cash crops. Why has this happened? How can we avoid this in the future? What were the cover crop issues in 2022 and 2023? The biggest reason cover crops caused yield drag the last couple years is a lack of soil moisture. Fall 2021 and 2022 were both very dry, so cover crops may have emerged spottily, or may not have emerged at all. Spring 2022 and 2023 were both wetter, so in some cases cover crops couldn’t be terminated on time. In other cases, growers waited in hopes of wicking up some of the (at that time) excess moisture, and that decision didn’t pan out well as s

Minnesota CropCast: Evaluating the 2023 corn and soybean crop in Minnesota and the Midwest: Record or Not?

In this episode, CropCast hosts Dave Nicolai and Seth Naeve visited with Mark Bernard, independent crop consultant and Tom Hoverstad, Researcher at the Southern Research and Outreach Center about the current condition of the Minnesota corn and soybean crop as we enter the month of September. Tom provided a review of the 2023 weather effects upon this year’s corn and soybean crops in the Waseca and southern Minnesota, while Mark reviewed the findings of the recent August Pro Farmer Crop Tour (Farm Journal) held in the Midwest. Mark participated in the eastern segment of the tour where he participated in crop yield assessments in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. Tom highlighted the effects of the fourth driest crop growing season since 1915 at Waseca and the yield and corn stalk quality outlook for the fall of 2023. Mark provided a re-cap of the yield estimates of both the national and Minnesota corn and soybean crops as well as how the procedures were used to make these esti

Fall cutting of alfalfa in 2023

Craig Sheaffer, Extension forage agronomist Much of Minnesota’s alfalfa growing region has had periods of drought or above normal temperatures this growing season. Some level of drought continues in many regions, according to the  Drought Monitor .  Fall moisture deficits do not harm alfalfa and can actually increase winter survival compared to well water conditions. That’s because if moisture stress occurs during regrowth, additional carbohydrate energy is sent to the crowns. Alfalfa can therefore survive prolonged dry periods by becoming dormant.  Irrigation of alfalfa in the fall is not advised as it can stimulate regrowth, interfere with the dormancy reaction which reduces free water in the plant cells, and stimulate use of stored energy reserves. Before any harvest of alfalfa Consider winter survival - Consider the risks that fall cutting poses for alfalfa winter survival. There are many interacting variables affecting the outcome of fall cutting including stand age, variety trai