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Showing posts from February, 2024

When is Early too Early (to Plant Wheat, Barley or Oats)?

In all likelihood, this winter will go in the books as the warmest on record for Minnesota and even surpass the winter of 1877-1878 that was dubbed the Year Without a Winter .  Much of the state has enjoyed an extended "January Thaw"  with daytime highs well above freezing. In the metro area, for example, daytime temperatures never dropped below 32 between January 22 and February 14th. Needless the say, fields are bare and drying off rapidly. That immediately begs the question of whether to start thinking about seeding wheat, barley, and oats. After all, early seeding is very advantageous for the yield potential of these cool-season grasses. This scenario of a possible very early start to the growing season played out in the first and second week of March 2012 too.  Below is an updated/expanded version of what I wrote then. Spring wheat (and spring barley and oats) will start germinating in earnest when soil temperatures reach 40⁰F.  Once the imbibition phase starts there is

Strategic Farming: Let's talk crops session talks adjuvants for maximizing herbicide efficacy

By Angie Peltier, UMN Extension crops educator, Joseph Ikley, North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension weed management specialist, and Greg Dahl, retired Winfield product development manager On February 14, 2024, Joseph Ikley, NDSU Extension weed management specialist and Greg Dahl, retired Winfield adjuvant development advisor joined UMN Extension crops educator Dave Nicolai for a wide-ranging discussion of herbicide adjuvants and how best to use them effectively. This was the fifth weekly episode of the 2024 Strategic Farming: Let’s talk crops! webinars. The series runs through March. To watch this and other episodes, visit   A long history and current abundance of adjuvants Tank-mix adjuvants are products that can be added to the tank that make a pesticide active ingredient work better. Formulators may add adjuvants directly into the herbicide formulation if there is enough room and the adjuvant does not cause storage or compatibility issues. Often there

Advanced Nitrogen Smart training March 1 in Farmington: A deep dive into the 4Rs

University of Minnesota Extension is hosting an Advanced Nitrogen Smart training in Farmington on Friday, March 1. The session, “A Deep Dive Into the 4Rs,” runs from 9 a.m. to noon at the Dakota County Extension and Conservation Center, 4100 220th St., Farmington. This training is free and registration is not required. Most involved in agriculture in southeast Minnesota are aware of the issues surrounding nitrates in groundwater, and the recent EPA directive to the state to take additional action to address the problem. It is imperative that farmers understand the issues and how they can help address the situation. “A deep dive into the 4Rs” picks up where the Nitrogen Smart Fundamentals course left off, with a detailed discussion on N rate, the contributions from soil and the stress from climate factors. The 4Rs were developed in collaboration between university researchers and the fertilizer industry during the late 1980s. They promote a nutrient management approach that balances c

European corn borer: Old pest, new problems

Wilfrid Calvin, University of Minnesota Dept. of Entomology, Postdoc Researcher Tatum Dwyer, University of Minnesota Dept. of Entomology, MSc Student Fei Yang, University of Minnesota Extension corn entomologist What is European corn borer? The European corn borer (ECB), Ostrinia nubilalis (H ü bner), is a significant pest of corn and once caused substantial yield losses and economic damage throughout  the U.S. Corn Belt and  most corn growing states east of the Rocky Mountain range. Damage and management costs were historically estimated to exceed one billion dollars annually. In 2021, ECB alone was responsible for the losses of approximately 338.6 thousand bushels of corn in the U.S. The presence of ECB in the U.S. dates back to its initial discovery near Boston, Massachusetts, during the summer of 1917. It is widely believed that ECB was introduced into the country from Europe through shipments of broomcorn. Since its introduction, the pest has rapidly spread to all major corn-growi

MN CropCast: "Where is winter in Minnesota?" with Dennis Todey

In episode #29 Dave Nicolai and Seth Naeve chat with Dennis Todey, Director of the USDA Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, Iowa. In this podcast Dennis discussed and reviewed the major factors involved in this winter’s above-average temperatures and lower than average snowfall/precipitation. Dennis also reviewed the effects of warmer than average El Niño and anticipated La Niña and its possible effects on upper Midwest agricultural weather events for the 2024 cropping season.  Dennis is a native Iowan with his BS and PhD from Iowa State in Meteorology and Agricultural Meteorology. He has spent two stints in South Dakota, first completing his MS at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and most recently as Associate Professor and State Climatologist for South Dakota at South Dakota State University before moving to the Midwest Climate Hub, based in Ames, Iowa.  The mission of the USDA Midwest Climate Hub is to develop science-based, region-specific information and technologies along

Expanding Agroforestry Incentives Project

A new Agroforestry incentive project provides funds for producers to plant trees in sustainable practices in rural areas. Over the course of five years, $36 million will be paid out to producers in direct incentive payments to transform 30,000 acres spanning 30 states into agroforestry systems, thus building a foundation for expanding agroforestry practices nationally. Agroforestry includes 5 practices, windbreaks, alley cropping, silvopasture, riparian forest buffers and forest farming. Three of these practices, windbreaks, silvopasture and alley cropping will be funded under this new project. Learn more about how to apply The Expanding Agroforestry Project is one of 141 projects funded by the USDA's  Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities initiative. The Nature Conservancy, the project lead, is working with several organizations in 6 regions to manage the project, including coordinating with national partners to expand financing and develop markets for agroforestry commod

Strategic Farming: Let's talk crops! discussed how to make herbicides work better

By Liz Stahl, UMN Extension Educator – Crops, Tommy Butts, Weed Scientist, University of Arkansas, and Tom Hoverstad, Researcher, Southern Research and Outreach Center. Proper nozzle selection, which impacts spray droplet size and coverage, is a key factor in making an effective herbicide application. Applicators need to make sure they are using enough  spray volume to achieve adequate coverage, particularly when  dealing with a high density of tough-to-control weeds.  Photo by Liz Stahl, UMN Extension. On February 7, 2024, Dr. Tommy Butts, Extension Weed Scientist with the University of Arkansas, and Tom Hoverstad, Researcher at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca, joined UMN Extension Educator-Crops Ryan Miller for a discussion on “Making Herbicides work better”. Specifically, this session focused on making choices and adjustments to ensure a successful herbicide application and was part one of a two part series titled “Making herbicides wo

A Midwinter's Thaw Nightmare?

While the title of this blog post is probably not the best antonym for Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', the weather fairies are creating some intrigue and possible mischief for the state's winter annuals and perennials with this extended midwinter thaw that is breaking records up and down the State. Before I can argue that winter wheat and winter rye crops are NOT doomed, I'll try to explain how winter wheat and winter rye get through the winter.   Winter wheat and winter rye both have a vernalization requirement. Vernalization is the accumulation of a set number of cold units.  Cold units are accumulated when soil and ambient temperatures are roughly between 32 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This requirement is an evolutionary adaptation to delay the transition from vegetative growth to reproductive growth even if the temperatures are (temporarily) very favorable: As long as the vernalization requirement is not met, the growing point will stay below groun

Strategic Farming: Let's talk crops! session talks pushing soybean maturities to the max

By Angie Peltier, UMN Extension crops educator and Seth Naeve, UMN Extension agronomist, and Anibal Cerrudo, UMN visiting professor, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics Photo: Lisa Behnken On January 31, 2024, Seth Naeve, University of Minnesota Extension soybean agronomist and Anibal Cerrudo, a visiting professor in the Naeve lab joined UMN Extension crops educator Liz Stahl for a wide-ranging discussion of pushing soybean yields to the max by adjusting maturity and planting date in Minnesota. This was the third weekly episode of the 2024 Strategic Farming: Let’s talk crops! webinars. The series runs through March.   Watch this episode and other recordings: Planting date, relative maturity and growing season length are interrelated and all impact yield Crop growth and development is driven by the sun’s energy. The earth’s tilt on its axis is responsible for our seasons. During a Minnesota summer, the earth’s northern hemisphere is titled toward the sun,

Reminder: Register now for 2024 Nitrogen, Nutrient Management conferences

Registration is now available for the 2024 Nitrogen Conference and the 2024 Nutrient Management Conference. The Nitrogen Conference will take place in St. Cloud on Tuesday, February 13th. The Nutrient Management Conference will be in Mankato on Tuesday, February 20th. Both conferences will also be available online. For both in-person and virtual attendance, the cost to attend each conference is $20.  Nitrogen: Minnesota’s Grand Challenge & Compelling Opportunity Conference Tuesday, February 13th in St. Cloud, Minn. This annual event brings together soil scientists and educators from Minnesota and neighboring states to share their research and recommendations on nitrogen management and water quality issues. This year’s topics include: sugarbeet nitrogen needs, manure management, mitigating nitrogen loss using cover crops, conducting your own on-farm studies, funding opportunities for growers, nitrogen management at the edge of field, and more. Cost: $20 (for either in-person or vir

MN CropCast: Small grains molecular genetics with Department Head Gary Muehlbauer

In episode #28 David Nicolai and Seth Naeve chat with Gary Muehlbauer, head of the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics at the University of Minnesota. Although Gary no longer has an official research appointment, he continues a very active research program with a large lab and significant outputs. His research position is focused on wheat and barley molecular genetics. One research area is directed towards Fusarium head blight (FHB) of wheat and barley. Another is focused on developing and integrating genomics resources into barley breeding programs.  Others involve identifying genetic variation in wild barleys for use in germplasm enhancement, and to genetically characterize a collection of barley tillering mutants.  In his role as Department Head, Gary has been instrumental in modernizing the physical space and teaching efforts within the department. Gary managed the remodeling of classrooms and conference spaces as well as the main office. He is supporting faculty teaching mor

Nitrogen Smart training coming to Oronoco February 9

The University of Minnesota will be offering its popular Nitrogen Smart training on Friday, February 9 starting at 9am in Oronoco. The session will be held at the  People’s Energy Cooperative building , Lake Shady Ave. S, in Oronoco, just off of US Highway 52. The Advanced Nitrogen Smart session focusing on manure will be presented in the afternoon starting at 1pm. Most involved in agriculture in southeast Minnesota are aware of the issues surrounding nitrates in groundwater and the recent EPA directive to the state to take additional action to address the problem. It is imperative that farmers understand the issues, as well as how they can help address the situation. The Nitrogen Smart training covers the background and issues surrounding nitrates in both surface and groundwater. The nitrogen cycle, which dictates how nitrogen behaves in the environment, will be covered in detail. University of Minnesota recommended practices will be covered along with the research that went into thei

Remembering George Rehm: Longtime Extension specialist helped Minnesota farmers improve soil fertility practices

Professor Emeritus and longtime Extension specialist George Rehm passed away Wednesday, January 17th in Rochester, Minnesota. He was 82 years old. George was instrumental in developing nutrient management guidelines enabling growers throughout the state of Minnesota to use soil fertility inputs effectively and efficiently. George Rehm served as a professor in the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate from 1983 to 2007. He received a B.S. degree from The Ohio State University and then completed his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in 1969 in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Soil Science. George immediately began his academic career at the University of Nebraska as an extension agronomist for fourteen years at the Northeast Research and Extension Center at Concord, NE. He returned to Minnesota and joined the Department of Soil Science (now the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate) in 1983 as an extension specialist in nutrient management. George’s extension activities focused on