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Special Features Section, Superior Express

Jenny's REESources

Straight from the Horse's Mouth


Jenny's REESources, by Jennny Rees, UNL Extension
Happy Ag Day (March 21) and National Ag Week this week!
The Agricultural Council of America began celebrating Ag Day in 1973 with the desire to recognize and celebrate the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives. This program encourages every American to understand how food and fiber products are produced; value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy; and appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant, and affordable products. More information can be found at
Today, each American farmer feeds more than 168 people which is a large increase from 25 people in the 1960s. Today's farmers also produce 262 percent more food with 2 percent fewer inputs (labor, seeds, feed, fertilizer, etc.), compared with 1950. Farm and ranch families comprise just two percent of the U.S. population. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, America's rural landscape is comprised of around 2 million farms with 99 percent of U.S. farms being operated by families ­­ individuals, family partnerships or family corporations. Farmers on average receive only $0.13 of every dollar spent on food at home and away from home.
Regarding Nebraska, the Nebraska Department of Ag reports in its "2016 Ag Facts" card that cash receipts contributed almost $23 billion to Nebraska's economy in 2015 and 6.1 percent of the U.S. total. Nebraska's ten leading commodities (in order of value) for 2015 cash receipts are cattle and calves, corn, soybeans, hogs, chicken eggs, dairy products, wheat, hay, dry beans and potatoes. Every dollar in agricultural exports generates $1.22 in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing and production. Nebraska's $6.4 billion in agricultural exports in 2015 translates into $7.8 billion in additional economic activity. Nebraska's top five agricultural exports in 2015 were soybeans, feeds and fodders, beef and veal, corn and soybean meal. Nebraska had 48,700 farms and ranches during 2015; the average operation consisted of 928 acres. In 2015, Nebraska had 25 operating ethanol plants with a total production capacity of over 2 billion gallons. Nebraska ranked 2nd among states in ethanol production and utilized 31 percent of the state's 2015 corn crop. Livestock or poultry operations were found on 49 percent of Nebraska farms. One in four jobs in Nebraska is related to agriculture. From east to west, Nebraska experiences a 4,584 foot elevation difference and the average annual precipitation decreases by one inch every 25 miles. Between 2007 and 2012, Nebraska experienced a five percent increase in the number of farms and 10 percent increase in the number of new farmers.
So agriculture is of huge importance to our economy! It was interesting to see the change in some of these numbers compared to last year, a sign of the economic times we currently face in the agricultural industry. Information is being shared each week at to help. Please be sure to thank a farmer and those who work in the agricultural industry this week! Without them, we wouldn't be able to enjoy the safe, affordable, healthy food supply and choice we have as consumers!
Also, happy spring! Not always does the first day of spring come with so many signs of spring such as my daffodils beginning to bloom. Reminder of Emerald Ash Borer Workshops in Seward (today, 402-643-2981) and Clay Center (March 30, 402-762-3644) from 5:30-7 p.m. Light meal provided. No charge. Please RSVP at the local extension office.
I've received some questions and observations about the large buds on shade trees like maples. Yesterday I noticed forsythia starting to bloom and my lilacs leafing out. Early budding of shade trees and shrubs is common with above average winter and spring temperatures. Swelling of buds, or actual opening of buds, increases the risk of low temperature injury to the tree and buds. This creates concern and raises questions. Most temperate zone plants survive this well. If the buds are flower buds, the only loss for shade trees and shrubs is the loss of blooming for that year. If leaf buds are injured, this will result in delayed growth.
However, otherwise healthy plants will develop secondary buds and do fine. This can be a stress for plants. Along with warm temperatures, if conditions remain dry, drought may be an added stress. We cannot do much about temperatures and swelling buds, but we can water plants in the absence of rain. Most plants are not actively growing and so a lot of water is not needed; just enough to moisten dry soil six to eight inches deep.
Wheat: I've received some questions about stripe rust in wheat and fungicide application. So far I haven't seen any rust in wheat this spring, so it would be wise to save money and use good integrated pest management practices by not using half rates of fungicides with your herbicide applications right now. It will be important to scout fields and especially watch those that had greater vegetative growth last fall in addition to varieties that are more susceptible as we move forward in the growing season.

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Straight from the Horse's Mouth, by Duane Lienemann, UNL Extension
I would normally be writing about National Ag Week which is this week. National Ag Day is observed annually for all to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture across the United States. American agriculture plays a critical economic and food security role in our country. It is with a great deal of sadness I will instead focus on something that really tells the story of the agriculture community and how we help each other in disaster.
I am proud to be a member of an outstanding organization, South Central Cattlemen Association, not only because of their work in the beef industry, education, community service and our youth, but because of the reaction I have witnessed by members of this group concerning helping our neighbors, friends and fellow cattlemen across Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. For you who haven't been aware, more than two million acres of ranch land have been burned (that is about the same size as the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined) and unfortunately seven people reported dead, as wildfires ravaged areas of those states, devastating rural communities last week. Ranchers lost thousands of head of livestock and some lost their entire herds. The fence damage alone has been tremendous and will need to be repaired as soon as possible. Also troubling is they not only lost grazing land but piles of hay that would be used to feed the animals before the grass is ready. Not to mention homes, facilities and, tragically, human life.
The SCCA is pulling together money, hay, fencing supplies and anything else they can to help out their fellow ranchers who were hit with this devastating event. They are looking not only for those items but ways to get these much needed supplies to where they are most needed. They were hoping to pull all this together by Saturday. Anyone who can help should get hold of SCCA president Matt Caldwell at I understand the Thayer County Feeders are conducting a similar activity. You can contact Gregg Wiedel. Even if you read this too late look for a way to help in any way you can, as much help will be needed, continuing into the long future. This is not a short term disaster, but one all of us should feel.
Joining the South Central Cattlemen are hundreds of farmers, ranchers and businessmen from many surrounding states who have or will donate loads of hay for the ranchers in need in the areas ravaged by these wind and drought driven infernos. It is not just hay and other feed, it is fencing material, supplies and monetary donations from all over. You can bet the states in need would help us if the boot were on the other foot! I am proud to say that is not a one-time help ­­ that's just the ranch, farm or rural way! The bottom line in our industry is that you help your neighbor out when they are in need. It is what we do!
If you want to help out but want to go individually to a particular state or region I suggest this website: Even without the help of news media who seem more focused on politics rather than a story that affects the middle of beef country and rural America, the outpouring of support is just huge. For instance a sale barn in Oklahoma sold one steer, who was continually donated back until he brought $150,000 for this disaster relief. I understand the McDonald's Corporation was involved. I don't always like some of their antics, but this one I applaud! Under the radar and out of the front news lines of the national news networks, friends and neighbors are helping each other. Youth like FFA chapters and 4-H clubs are engaged. In fact a 4-H group in Meade, Kan., has been taking in and caring for orphaned calves. I read about FFA chapters that came out to roll up wire from fences where posts were burned.
Even our local youth have been involved. Kaydee Caldwell, daughter of Matt and Dawn Caldwell, posted on her Facebook page the following: "My sorority, Sigma Alpha is lucky enough to take part in supporting those who have been devastated by the wildfires. We are looking to get trailers loaded and sent down to Kansas to aid those effected. Details on what you can donate and where to deliver are on the picture. If you are unable to donate supplies but still want to offer much needed support, we have set up a GoFundMe:"
We must not lose sight of the fact, as sad as it is, that material possessions can be replaced, but the emotional impact that this has had on individuals and the financial impact this has had on their community will be felt for a long time. We should keep in mind that it is not just about them, it is about all of us; and we, as a small populous within these United States, just need to try to dig in and get through it together. This fire in all of its entirety is frightening, sad and makes me sick to my stomach and leaves an ache in my heart. Yet, the little farming and ranching towns that populate this the plains are showing resiliency as neighbors, ranchers and community members band together to rebuild, and support pours in from across the country. This is evidenced by the food and water and truckloads of hay and supplies from people all across the country have already poured in from people who are just trying to help. The good news is that more will soon be on its way!
Witnesses stress how emotional this time is and how many individuals are finding it difficult to share their pain and hurt. Can you imagine having to verify their death loss and finding people to help gather up dead cattle and dispose of them? Volunteer veterinarians from all over have poured into the area to help them treat livestock on all the ranches. I know former Red Cloud veterinarian, Dave Rethorst, was involved. I can't imagine what he has experienced. My hat is off to you, Dr. Dave! I applaud all the individuals and groups who are stepping up. This is what really makes rural America great!