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Special Features Section, Superior Express

Jenny's REESources

Letter to the 38th District

 

Jenny's REESources, by Jennny Rees, UNL Extension
Last week's rains have been more beneficial to some and detrimental to others with flooding and ponding in some fields. For corn seeds that have germinated in flooded fields, seeds will survive for four days in general, although genetic differences do exist regarding response to flooding. Longer periods of flooding can result in lower yields because of reduced plant stands, reduced nitrogen and potentially crusted soils following flooding. Emerged corn seedlings right now that are underwater (six inches of water on the surface) will survive for four days when the air temperature is less than 77F. When temperatures are above this, survival greatly decreases to as little as 24 hours. Plants that are partially underwater have a greater chance of survival longer than those completely underwater. Plants buried by sediment or residue that washed as a result of flooding may not survive.
Regarding soybeans, this is more difficult to know as minimal research is available. Information from K-State suggests that during germination, flooding occurring for 48 hours can reduce germination 30-70 percent, which results in twice the yield reduction compared to seeds in saturated soils for 24 hours. For emerged plants (they specifically cite V2-V4 which is further along than we currently are), yield reductions of 0-50 percent were observed depending on soil texture, variety and the weather after flooding occurred. Yield reductions were attributed mostly to reduced branching with fewer pods per plant and disease issues.
Wheat progressed rapidly last week from boot-flag leaf stage to headed and pollinating in many Clay and Nuckolls county fields. Along with this wheat growth progress has been disease progress. Stripe rust has rapidly developed in fields and I'm also seeing leaf rust. Wheat that is at beginning flower to 50 percent flower only has a few options for fungicides right now. Those are Caramba, Prosaro, Folicur and Proline. These are the only fungicides labeled for wheat in flowering; all other products are off-label. These specific products can help prevent scab in addition to killing the fungal diseases (like rust) on the leaves right now. Once your wheat is 50 percent flowering, these products are also off-label and the weather isn't looking helpful right now in applying these fungicides. I'm also seeing some barley yellow dwarf and some loose smut in fields. There's nothing you can do for either disease right now. You can see a wheat update with photos on my blog at http://jenreesources.com.
There are some social media posts going around regarding neonicotinoid insecticides in bedding plants. Neonicotinoid insecticides can be applied to seeds as a seed treatment, to the soil as a drench, trunk injections or foliar sprays. They are then taken up by the plant and translocated throughout the plant including the flowers which can then affect pollinators. The University of Minnesota has released an article about this at: http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/plant-nursery-health/toxicity-to-pollinators/. The following is some information from that resource: "There are few systemic insecticides, while there are many systemic herbicides and fungicides. Systemic, neonicotinoid insecticides are the most widely used insecticides in the world, due to their low mammalian toxicity and the ability of the insecticide to move systemically from soil into the entire plant, including pollen and nectar. Flowers that open after being sprayed with contact insecticides do not contain insecticide residue, while toxicity to pests lasts for one to three weeks. However, flowers that open after systemic insecticides are sprayed can contain the insecticide residue for many months in both the leaves and pollen and nectar.
"There are six neonicotinoid active ingredients, imidacloprid, dinotefuran, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, of which acetamiprid and thiacloprid are the least toxic to bees. There is another systemic insecticide, fipronil, that is used around structures that is also toxic to bees. You will find these active ingredients listed on the insecticide label in small print. The neonicotinyl class of insecticides is highly toxic to bees and kills bees at around 180 ppb in flower nectar or pollen. However, sublethal doses of neonicotinyl insecticide starting around 10 ppb, causes bees to lose navigation and foraging skills. The longevity and amount of the neonicotinoid in the pollen and nectar will depend on application method, concentration applied, and binding capacity of the soil.
"The use of neonicotinyl insecticides as trunk injections and soil drenches for ash trees is important to slow the spread of the exotic, invasive Emerald Ash Borer and other invasive pests. As bees do not collect ash pollen in quantities, the risk to bee pollinators is low. In contrast, the use of neonicotinyl insecticides on flowering garden plants, shrubs and trees, including linden and basswood trees can kill bees and beneficial insects that utilize the flowers for pollen and nectar. It is wise to avoid using systemic neonicotinyl insecticides on flowering plants that bees visit regularly. Instead use spot treatments of contact insecticides." This is also the reason why we're advising people to remove landscape plants away from the base of ash trees they wish to save in the future as soil drenches will allow the product to also systemically enter those landscape plants. While a low risk to pollinators of ash trees, the risk to pollinators feeding on landscape plants below those trees is fairly high. I've also mentioned this before, but we aren't advising treatment for ash trees in this part of the state yet. A list of different contact insecticide products can also be found on the above-mentioned article.
Garden centers can choose what insecticide products they use to control insects. Some gardeners have been asking if there's an easy way to know whether plants they wish to purchase have been treated with neonicotinoids. The best way is still to ask nursery professionals or look for special labels in plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids. Gardeners should also understand the toxicity level of insecticides they use in their landscapes and minimize pesticide use as much as possible through adoption of integrated pest management strategies to protect pollinators in their landscapes. Integrated pest management is essentially using a variety of methods to control pests; these include plant resistance, cultural and mechanical practices, letting beneficial insects or pathogens increase, and use of chemicals.

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Letter to the 38th District
By Sen. John Kuehn,
Nebraska Legislature
Last week, Gov. Ricketts returned the budget passed by the legislature with several line item vetoes reducing spending. Included in the additional reductions was a 0.5 percent reduction in the operations budget of any agency that had not received a three percent or greater cut by the legislature, excluding K-12 education and corrections. Additionally, the total appropriation for the Medicaid program was reduced to the original recommendation made by the governor in his proposed budget in February.  The legislature passed a budget which had increased that appropriation above the request of the Department of Health and Human Services, which manages Medicaid.  
Some members of the legislature attempted to override the line item veto of the additional appropriation to Medicaid, but the governor's recommendation was ultimately sustained. As a member of the appropriations committee, I supported the original budget proposal from DHHS throughout the budget process, and did not vote to increase their spending above their request.
Opponents of the line item veto preyed upon misinformation and fears of the public to make their case for increasing the appropriation, rather than the facts. Care of Nebraska's most vulnerable population is an important priority. Medicaid is the second largest expense in Nebraska's general fund budget, and is a program that has seen significant improvement in management of its resources in the past two years. This careful management has resulted in excess appropriations which have been returned to the general fund over the past two fiscal years.  
Any claim that the reduction to the total appropriations to Medicaid automatically results in lower reimbursement for services to providers is false. The legislature does not set specific rates for reimbursement in the general fund budget. A block of money, totaling $833 million, is appropriated as a pool to the Department of Health and Human Services. DHHS uses that money to fund the state's portion of Medicaid expenses. That total amount needed to provide those services is based on a forecast that projects the total needs of the program during the coming two year budget. Appropriations are not made to a specific provider type or service, but rather to the entire budget program as a whole. 
How the pool of money in the Medicaid budget is spent is a product of three factors. First are the provider reimbursements, which is the actual fee schedule for specific services to Medicaid patients by physicians, disability service providers, nursing homes and other Medicaid service providers. There fees are determined by complicated rate studies which must be approved at the federal level by the Center for Medicaid Services. The federal government has extensive oversight over these rate schedules, since a percentage of the total reimbursement is paid for by the federal government. The federal share is determined by a factor known as the FMAP. 
Medicaid is an entitlement program driven primarily by the other two factors that determine how the total appropriation is spent: enrollment and utilization. Enrollment refers to the number of people who participate in the Medicaid program in Nebraska. Nebraska has experienced steady to flat growth in enrollment in recent years. The third component of the equation is the utilization factor, which is the total costs to the state per enrolled Medicaid patient. 
Thus, Medicaid does not operate from a fixed budget. It is a dynamic interaction of all three factors. Throughout the budget process, I have been carefully examining the total needs of the Medicaid program as a member of the appropriations committee. This has included discussion with DHHS CEO Courtney Phillips and Medicaid Director Calder Lynch. Through careful management and responsible budgeting on their part, they are able to successfully manage the Medicaid program with the $833 million proposed by the governor and ultimately sustained by the legislature this week. Their management approach to make better use of every state dollar is exactly the kind of process improvement that reduces excess and waste in government, while still meeting the obligations to our most vulnerable citizens.  
Careful, thoughtful and evidence based analysis is critical to all spending decisions. While political rhetoric makes for interesting headlines, prompts social media action alerts, and motivates voters to engage, if it is not accurate it complicates productive discussion and grinds effective government to a halt. To make the most responsible decisions for all Nebraskans, both those dependent on state programs and those paying taxes, I must actively seek and operate from accurate data and information. I encourage citizens to aggressively question information as well.