In The Field - March 2020


SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2020


D2 IN THE FIELD University identifies, researches soy bean gall midge THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2020

By GEORGE HAWS For the North Platte Telegraph Soybean growers in our area should be on the lookout this year for a new damaging pest. The soybean gall midge was positively identified in Nebraska about a year and a half ago and was found in 34 counties in east and central parts of the state last year. Dr. Justin McMechan, crop protection specialist for the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, based in Ithaca, said the pest was never identified anywhere in the world previ- ously. Last year it caused yield losses of 17% to 31% in some Nebraska fields. The pest has also spread Researchers say be on lookout for new insect

into Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota and Missouri. McMechan said insecti- cide treatments and other options are being researched. However, the most effective control measure so far is un- popular with growers: Delay planting until the end of May. That reduces damage from the gall midge substantially, but shortens the growing season, resulting in lower yield poten- tial. With that sort of trade-off, you consider the risks careful- ly, he said. Mowing field edges can help; green vegetation seems to at- tract flying adult midges and the heaviest soybean losses oc- cur near field margins. The adults are about ¼-inch long and look somewhat like mosquitoes with black band- ing and reddish abdomens, McMechan said. They lay their eggs in the tiny cracks that naturally form along stems near the base of soy-

bean plants. You rarely see the adults, but scouting for the lar- vae is not difficult, he said. Push plants over and they will snap off due to feeding. The larvae turn from white to or- ange while they are still very young, making them easy to identify. McMechan said growers should inspect alfalfa and yel- low sweet clover fields, too. Although substantial yields losses have not been shown in those crops, they are alter- nate hosts that can help track movement of the pests. If soybean gall midge is iden- tified, contact University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension to help them keep track of its spread. Specialists will continue their own surveys and pest control research. Farmers are patient but they want answers, said McMechan, and finding those answers is a top priority for the University.

Photo courtesy of University of Nebraska-Lincoln The soybean gall midge was first identified in Nebraska about a year and a half ago, and it caused 17% to 31% yield loss in some fields.

New trait and herbicides helping farmers control tough broadleaf weeds

NextGen: A helpful tool for beginning farmers, ranchers Telegraph staff reports Beginning farmers may dream of farmers and ranchers begin careers in production agriculture.

NextGen provides an incentive for beginners to use when seeking po- tential landlords. The incentive is a Nebraska income tax credit for the owner of agricultural assets who will lease to an eligible beginning farm- er for a minimum of three years. The owner receives a refundable tax cred- it equal to 10% of the cash rent, or 15% of the value of the share crop rent each year for three years. The beginner re- ceives a three-year lease, a personal property tax exemption for farm equip- ment and machinery, and a tax credit reimbursement for the cost of a fi- nancial management course. Equally important is the opportunity to build a positive long-term relationship with a landlord. For more information on NextGen, visit or call 402- 471-4876.

owning their own farm or ranch some- day with acres and acres of row crop land or ranch land for grazing. While we hope for those dreams to come true, high land prices, property taxes and access to capital to buy land make the purchase option overwhelming. Leasing ground is often a more via- ble option when starting out; however, competing for rental acres in today’s competitive market is also challenging. NextGen, administered by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, utilizes the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Act to help new producers get a head start in farming and ranch- ing while giving back to farmers and ranchers who own agricultural as- sets. Created nearly 20 years ago by the Nebraska Legislature, the program has helped more than 450 beginning

Enlist crops and herbicide provide options

Enlist “should be safer,” said Mark Nelson, agronomist for Simplot Grower Solutions in Hershey, as long as every- thing is done according to labeling instructions. Simplot applicators sprayed Enlist on some corn with the Enlist trait last year and it worked well, he said. The combination should help farm- ers deal with tough weeds like Palmer amaranth, waterhemp and giant rag- weed.”It gives them another choice. We’ve been using the same old things” over the years and in some cases weeds are developing resistance to the herbi- cides, said Nelson. Enlist and Enlist Duo herbicides contain 2,4-D choline. Enlist Duo also contains glyphosate (Roundup) and re- quires that the crops also have the glyphosate-resistant trait in their genes. “We don’t know for sure” how well it will work out for farmers, said Nelson, but “I think it will grow” in popular- ity.

By GEORGE HAWS For The North Platte Telegraph

A new genetic trait, combined with a new formulation of 2,4-D herbicide, is giving corn and soybean growers an- other tool to control broadleaf weeds. The genetic trait makes crops resistant to the herbicide. The new for- mulation makes 2,4-D less volatile than older forms of 2,4-D, so it is less likely to drift to sensitive areas. Both the trait and the herbicides are marketed under the name Enlist. Growers have reason to be leery. In 2016, soybeans tolerant to dicamba, an- other broadleaf plant killer, became available. However, there were many incidents across the country where it drifted onto non-tolerant soybeans, oth- er crops or ornamental plants, resulting in financial losses and legal action.

D3 IN THE FIELD Agronomy in action at NCTA in Curtis THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2020

By MARY CRAWFORD NCTA News CURTIS — Growing crops and future farm managers starts in the classroom. Yield at harvest and career is proven in the field. Two years of agron- omy studies in the field laboratories and campus farm at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis is building crop consultants, re- searchers, ag producers and teachers. “NCTA definite- ly prepared me for the workforce with their hands-on teaching,” says John Paul Kain, a crop production advisor with Frenchman Valley Coop in McCook. The 2017 graduate from NCTA was on one of Professor Brad Ramsdale’s national champion crops judging teams. He credits compre- hensive crops judging knowledge and “the total package” of agron- omy courses for his career path, also earn- ing a 4-year degree in agronomy through Oklahoma Panhandle State University. A three-semester crops practicum is foun- dational as well. In teams of two, Aggie stu- dents gain practical experience managing their nine-acre portion at NCTA farm. Three irrigated cen- ter pivot and dryland fields, plus pastures to- taling 550 acres lie over the hill, just north of main campus. In Practicum I, each student creates a port- folio in of crops, seed varieties, crop inputs and possible rotations. A class requirement in- cludes emphasis on corn and soybean.

Photo courtesy of Cy Cannon / NCTA

Dr. Brad Ramsdale, right, NCTA agronomy professor, shows a student how to adjust a new crop planter.

Then, in Practicum II, students are matched in pairs based on their se- lected crops. Freshman Taylor Sayer of Cambridge and her teammate Lilly Calkins of Palmyra both compete in crops judging. Those chose triticale and sunflow- ers for a double harvest this year. “I grew up on a farm but never had to make those choices about a crop. I know how important every lit- tle aspect is from my class,” Sayer said. This summer, she will be able to monitor those fields on campus while her summer internship is with local crop con-

By JOB VIGIL Nebraska State cli- matologist Al Dutcher, who gives a report of the weather on the weekly broadcast of University of Nebraska-Lincoln Market Journal, said 2020’s spring weather is much different than last year’s. “The difference is starkly evident when we look at the amount of snow on the ground,” Dutcher said. “Basically, from the first of February all the way through the big bomb cyclone, almost every lo- cation in the state we got data for reported in excess of 20 inches of snowfall during that pe- riod last year.” Dutcher said that was in addition to the exceptional snowfall that occurred in south- east and east-central Nebraska up to and through January of last year. “We didn’t have that much in the northwest (last season),” Dutcher said. “This winter has been a total flip of that. Lincoln ended up with 52 inches last year and we’re sitting right around 11½ inches offi- sultant, Kelly Popp with Servi-Tech. Sayer’s goal after ob- taining her Associate of Science degree is to transfer in 2021 to the University of Nebraska- Lincoln and earn her bachelor’s. She is ex- ploring a master’s in agronomy, as well. Aggie agronomy grad- uates say their NCTA internships and campus work leads to job offers. A summer re- search internship with Monsanto at the Water Utilization Learning Center near Gothenburg evolved into fulltime employment in 2016 for Blue Hill native Amelia Petska. Today, Petska is em-

cially at the airport.” He said this year Nebraska is at 20% to 25% of last year’s total, depending on the loca- tion. This year the pat- tern is in the process of changing with one pat- tern from the end of September to the middle of November dominat- ed by a strong northern stream. “From the middle of January on, that peri- od was dominated by a weak northern stream and a much stron- ger southern stream,” Dutcher said. “We’re now seeing a change with the southern stream become much more active. Typically, Dutcher said, the pattern is about 6 to 8 weeks before a change. “That’s the atmo- sphere changes phases from a trough in the east to a trough in the west,” Dutcher said. “This oc- curs as a normal part of our climate.” He said the current pattern should remain in place through April. “The big key issue is how many of those sys- tems move toward the northeast,” Dutcher said. “That’s going to be de- ployed as an assistant agronomist in research with the Bayer WULC while also taking a busy online-load of class- es through Fort Hayes State University. In May, the nights and weekends studies will leave just 10 hours away from a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness. She is used to juggling a very full load. While at NCTA, Petska took crops judg- ing for one semester, was on the Aggie rodeo team all four semesters, and also worked in the campus IT department. She recently advised Aggie students in fo- rum to work hard and take advantage of all

pendent once again on the northern stream.” If the northern stream remains strong enough to deflect those systems to the south and east, Dutcher said, then there will be a much drier pat- tern going into planting than last year. “The biggest question then is when do those events hit and what will be their general impact,” Dutcher said. “I would say the first and longest storms appear possible as we go into the middle of (March).” He said that period of time has the greatest chances for inclement weather. “The good news is because of the warm conditions and what lit- tle frost is in the ground would be expected to be extracted out of the ground before these events would occur,” Dutcher said, “therefore the snow would never last very long with those opportunities that are available. Those paths lead into careers. ”I knew I wanted to be in agriculture, and pre- ferred a crops focus for me,” Petska said. “From NCTA, I have a job right that I really like.” Research work at NCTA also was in- grained in North Platte native Dalon Koubek. In May, he will grad- uate from UNL in agronomy, then head to an internship scout- ing fields in Boardman, Oregon with CSS Farms, a large seed po- tato producer. “I come from a fami- ly that was not involved in agriculture, so I did a good job of building my

soils not frozen, and with the high solar angle, we’re talking a day or two, even with a heavy snow event.” However, he said stream flow could be problematic under those types of situations. “A quick runoff event could bring the stream flows back up,” Dutcher said. “But they should quickly subside as long as we don’t get into con- tinual events.” He said there are in- creasing signs of the equatorical Pacific mov- ing toward a cooler phase. “We’ve been in a warm phase over the last few years,” Dutcher said. “If that goes to a cooler phase, that’s more sup- portive of dryness across the western United States.” There needs to be some southwesterly flow con- ditions to stave off any dryness issues as we go into the spring. agricultural background at NCTA,” Koubek said. “Being there, it helped me ease into it and learn about true production agriculture.” Between crops judg- ing, working in the campus greenhouse, set- ting up weed and plant samples for Professor Ramsdale’s classes, and helping on research at NCTA, Koubek says “it gave me a good founda- tion for the work I am doing now at UNL.” Koubek garnered top individual in the 2018 national crops judging contest, leading NCTA’s championship team. His career goal is agronomy research at a university in the Midwest.

Mother nature offers up mild winter Snow totals across the state down 20% to 25% from 2019

Crop growers, pesticide applicators can work together Telegraph staff reports LINCOLN — Specialty crops, like fruits, veg- etables, hops and honey, add value and diversity to Nebraska agriculture, the state’s number one industry. That’s why the Nebraska Department of Agriculture is encouraging growers and out- door pesticide applicators to work together to protect sensitive commercial specialty crops and pollinators from pesticides, according to a press release. Pesticides include all categories of pest control products such as herbicides, in- secticides and fungicides. “Specialty crops are one way for Nebraska farm and ranch families to diversify and grow their agriculture businesses,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “In order to protect and support specialty crop producers and ag- riculture in Nebraska, growers and pesticide applicators need to communicate with one an- other throughout the planting and growing season to raise awareness of specialty crops and beehives in the area.” DriftWatch and BeeCheck are online mapping services from FieldWatch that allow those with commercial specialty crops, organic crops and beehives to report their field locations. Farmers and other pesticide applicators can review the map to see where specialty crops are located. In Nebraska, 927 growers have registered a total of 2,007 specialty crop and apiary sites on FieldWatch. Those sites are currently found in 80 of Nebraska’s 93 counties, and contain over 105,000 acres of specialty crops. Registration is voluntary, free, easy to use and secure. Pesticide applicators can view the map, sign up for free email alerts and get the free FieldCheck app, or receive direct data feeds or downloads. NDA monitors the FieldWatch registries for the state. Information about FieldCheck, DriftWatch and BeeCheck can be found at, or by calling Craig Romary, NDA program specialist, at 402-471- 2351.


Telegraph staff reports USDA extends ReConnect application deadline WASHINGTON — This week, U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy

Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand announced USDA has extended the dead- line for ReConnect Pilot Program applications to March 31. Information can be found at nect.

D4 IN THE FIELD Crop judging helps students prepare for future THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2020


The Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture crops judging team won a regional contest March 7 in Curtis. The team was at the top of the two-year- schools division and Kansas State University won the four-year-school division. Twelve schools competed in the two di- visions with eight teams in the four-year and four teams in the two-year. “We had teams from as far away as Wisconsin to Texas,” said Brad Ramsdale, associate pro- fessor of agronomy at NCTA. “The greatest ben- efit for the students in this competition is that it’s a real-world-based knoweldge examination.” He said the contest is designed after the knowl- edge that’s needed to become a certified crop adviser. Ramsdale said the tests are intense and are divided up into four parts: agronomic quiz, math practical, lab prac- tical, and plant and seed identification. Levi Morris, a student at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, said the competition is beneficial for him. “I graduate at the end of this year, so I’m try- ing to cram it all before I leave,” Morris said. “If I can leave here and pass the certified crop adviser test, I’d like to become a professional agronomist and scout fields locally in southeastern Colorado and on the family farm there.” Dillon Roesch, also of OPSU, said the com- petition is “all about bettering ourselves to be professional agronomists in the future.” “No. 1, it’s really neat to get to compete against all these different col- leges and see who knows the most,” Roesch said. “I would really like to be a crop consultant, go out and help farmers figure out their inputs, what seeds they’re going to use, how they’re going to manage their farm for a (certain) year.” Ramsdale said he

Job Vigil / The North Platte Telegraph Tyler Aschenbrenner, right, Connor Nolan and Chase Callahan , members of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture crops judging team, look over the answers to the questions in the plant identification section at a regional competition hosted by NCTA March 7. The NCTA team took first place in the two-year-college division.

Ramsdale said about 85 students participated in the competition. Results: Two-year team: First — NCTA, Ethan Aschenbrenner, Chase Callahan, Tyler Aschenbrenner, Amy Lammers. Second — Hutchinson Community College (Kansas). Third — Northeast Community College. Two-year individ- ual: First — Ethan Aschenbrenner, NCTA; Second — Chase Callahan, NCTA; Third — Spencer Came, Hutchinson CC; Fourth — Josie Harris, Hutchinson CC; Fifth — Mason Nordhues, Northeast. Four-year team: First — Kansas State University. Second — Iowa State University. Third — University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Four-year individual: First — Nate Dick, Kansas State. Second — Shannon Breja, Iowa State. Third — Luke Ryan, Kansas State. Fourth — Ben Kolbe, Iowa State. Fifth — Korbin Kudera, University of Nebraska.

hears positive feedback from students about the competition. “I always get com- ments from my students that when they go out on internship that this ex- perience really benefited them,” Ramsdale said. Kent McKinnis, agronomy professor at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, said the various competitions are fun as well. “We were at Panhandle State University in Oklahoma a few weeks ago and the students get the chance to come to a totally different coun- try here in western Nebraska,” McKinnis said. “The crops change a little bit and the envi- ronment changes. The questions are a little dif- ferent here in Nebraska, such as more questions about irrigation and some of those row crops.” In Oklahoma, McKinnis said, the ques- tions are more about cotton as well as other row crops.

Job Vigil / The North Platte Telegraph Levi Morris, left, and Dillon Roesch, members of the Oklahoma Panhandle State University crops judging team, examine their answers after the competition March 7 in Curtis at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture.

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