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Special Features Section, Superior Express

Jenny's REESources

USDA funding available for cropland erosion control

 

Jenny's REESources, by Jenny Rees, UNL Extension
Hail and wind damage occurred throughout the area I serve last week. Overall, I've been encouraged by the regrowth observed on corn and soybean plants affected by the June 14 storm. We were blessed with warmer weather and sunshine that allowed for regrowth to occur in many situations other than some fields around the Deweese area. You can look for regrowth on leaves within the whorl of corn plants and on the axillary buds of soybeans. Even what appeared to be soybean "sticks" may show regrowth by now. The concerns I have for plants affected by these storms is all the stem bruising on both corn and soybeans and the potential for bacterial diseases in corn.
For those of you affected by June 16 storm, we recommend to wait a week to assess damage and make any decisions. I realize we're also at a critical stage for replant decisions as we continue later in the season. Ultimately, decisions need to be made on a field by field basis. Resources: CropWatch Hail Damage Resources: http://cropwatch.unl.edu/2017/crop-hail-damage-resources in addition to numerous resources published from storms this time of year in 2014: http://cropwatch.unl.edu/2014-storm-recovery-information.
Questions I've been receiving include the benefit of fungicide application, herbicide application and replant considerations. Regarding fungicide application, there's no good research or my knowledge to support this. Previous CropWatch article: http://cropwatch.unl.edu/fungicide-use-corn-after-hail-or-wind-damage. Fungicides only control fungal diseases. Bacterial diseases are favored after hail events and we have already seen bacterial leaf streak in the area prior to the storm. From past-years' experience of prior wind and rain events, we can expect to see more of it in about a week. Fungicides won't help that disease or Goss's wilt, which is another we often see come after hail events.
However, if you're considering this, I'd like to have several farmers prove it to yourselves with on-farm research this year so we do have data for the future. It's this simple. All you do is spray fungicide in enough width to complete two combine passes. Then skip an area for two combine passes. Then treat again and repeat across the field. Plot protocol is available on my blog at http://jenreesources.com. Let me know if you're interested in this.
Timing of fungicide application: ISU did a study to simulate hail damaged corn at tassel stage within an average of three or eight days post-hail. They didn't find the timing to provide any yield effects. They also didn't find a statistical yield increase (90 percent confidence level) in fungicide application to hail damaged plants vs those which weren't hailed, although they also reported a numerical increase in 12 of the 20 fields. (http://crops.extension.iastate.edu/cropnews/2015/06/hail-and-fungicide-use-corn)
Herbicide application: I spoke with Amit Jhala, extension weed specialist, for his thoughts regarding this. He said ultimately herbicides shouldn't be applied to stressed weeds in order to achieve greatest efficacy. The concern for many, including me right now, is how well the weeds survived the hail and how quickly they are regrowing compared to the damaged corn and soybeans. This again is a field by field assessment regarding how well your corn and soybean regrowth is occurring and how rapidly your weeds are. I watched a palmer plant in one field after the June 14 storm ­­ one day post hail and two days post hail ­­ put on two sets of leaves in that time period. I also took pictures of soybeans reduced to sticks while waterhemp in that field was virtually untouched. I think many are trying to wait five to seven days post-hail to apply herbicides but there were some fields I was suggesting to apply over the weekend with the recovery already occurring and less damage.
Corn replant: The biggest concerns with corn would be stands, eventual stalk rot, downed corn because of stalk bruising and bacterial diseases. I've essentially watched stands reduced over the course of the growing season after early-season hail storms mostly from bacterial diseases like Goss's wilt. It will be important to have your crop insurance adjuster look at the field again prior to harvest. Splitting the stems of damaged plants across the field can help you assess any damage to growing points; they should be white or yellow and firm, not brown and soft. Tattered leaves that are wrapped around the whorl should eventually turn brown and break off with the wind. They can sometimes impede new growth from the whorl as well, though.
Soybean replant: Soybeans can compensate so greatly for reduced stands. From hail at this stage in the past, we've said to leave stands of non-irrigated at 60,000 plants per acre and irrigated at 75,000 plants per acre. Some soybeans reduced to sticks are shooting axillary buds. My biggest concern on soybeans is the stem bruising which isn't accounted for in hail adjustments. If you want to prove replanting or not to yourself, consider slicing in soybeans next to the old row in strips across your field. Be sure to inoculate the soybeans and be sure to take prior stand counts. Soybean protocol also at http://jenreesources.com.
There's nothing like doing these studies and seeing the results on your own ground or from your peers' farms. In 2006, I worked with a grower in the Lawrence area on a non-irrigated soybean plant population study where he tested seeding rates of 100K, 130K and 160K seeds per acre. He received hail at the cotyledon stage and because he was non-irrigated, chose to leave the stand. His actual stand counts were 74.4K, 89.4K and 97.9K plants per acre respectively for the previous mentioned seeding rates, which resulted in yields of 38.6, 40.6, 42.7 bu/ac respectively. Another soybean replant study occurred near Columbus, where the grower had an average plant stand of 75,000 plants per acre on June 11. He chose to replant five strips across the field at a diagonal to the existing rows. The replanted soybeans ended up yielding one bu/ac less than the original plant stand. I realize it's hard to want to do these extra steps for on-farm research, but this is why it's important; it's the way to answer these questions for yourself! Please contact me if you're interested in any on-farm research studies.

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USDA funding available for cropland erosion control
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has funding available to help Nebraska's farmers control erosion on their cropland. This funding is available through a special Ephemeral Gully Control Initiative under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Eligible producers have until July 21 to apply.
According to NRCS, recipients of USDA program benefits ­­ like federal crop insurance subsidies and conservation program payments ­­ are required to control erosion on all cropland determined to be highly erodible. The funding available through this special initiative can help farmers meet that requirement.
Craig Derickson Nebraska state conservationist, said, "Conservation practices such as cover crops and grassed waterways are good solutions for controlling ephemeral gullies, which is required by conservation compliance provisions. Conservation buffers are effective in controlling erosion from both water and wind and help protect the soil, improve air and water quality, enhance fish and wildlife habitat and beautify the landscape."
According to NRCS, during the past couple of decades, there has been a continual decrease in grassed waterways, primarily because of the adoption of large-scale farming equipment and conservation cropping systems that rely heavily on herbicides to control weeds. On some fields, this has led to increased erosion and ephemeral gullies.
"Ephemeral gullies are those rough spots where water concentrates and causes soil to wash away, creating small ditches. While the damage to cropland appears to be small, if not controlled, the negative impacts like loss of inputs, decreased soil health and yields can be significant," Derickson said. "Plus, it can cause farmers to be out of compliance with USDA's Food Security Act requirements. I want to encourage producers who have ephemeral erosion on their cropland to take this opportunity to address this issue. Our conservationists are available to work with farmers one-on-one to develop a custom conservation plan to help keep farmers in compliance with USDA Farm Bill requirements and keep their farm ground healthy and productive."
For more information or to apply for funding through this special initiative, visit NRCS at your local USDA service center before July 21.