June 23, 2016



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Irrigation water may be used to cool 'baking' soil

Summer solstice arrived with 'strawberry moon'

BNSF begins work on line to Lester Junction

Kingswood Court adding six apartments


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The Superior Express & Jewell County News 23 June 2016


Work continued into the weekend digging out from more than a foot wet snow that fell last Tuesday. A rotary snow plow was used to open Highway 136 to two lanes of traffic through Nuckolls County last Thursday.

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Irrigation water may used to cool 'baking' soil

June's high heat and humidity have been difficult for people, animals, lawns. gardens and crops. Jenny Rees, agricultural extension agent at York, told this newspaper, "The evapotranspiration (ET) gage at York dropped 2.1" for reference ET last week. Thus, corn at V8 used 1.07 inches of water; at V10 the corn used 1.45 inches. Soybeans at V4-5 used 1.68 inches."
In recent days Rees has been helping to install watermark moisture sensors in farmers' fields. In doing so, she found the top 7 to 8 inches of soil is pretty dry and hard. She said there's still good soil moisture in the second and third feet in silt loams and silty clay loam soils in this area.
Her normal recommendation would be to allow the crops to continue to root down in these soils depending on crop growth stage, soil texture, soil moisture status, well capacity and root development unhindered by compaction.
Irrigation is being used to incorporate fertilizer and herbicides and to apply fertilizer via chemigation.
The extended high heat is also cause for concern and how that affects the crop at these earlier crop growth stages. However stress affects plant processes.
A literature review by Bita and Gerats completed in 2013 regarding plant tolerance to high temperatures discusses how high heat results in changes in photosynthesis; respiration; transpiration; root development; causes increases in phytohormones such as ethylene and salicylic acid and reductions in cytokinins, auxins and gibberellic acid; and the increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) which cause cell destruction and can lead to signaling for pathogen infection and programmed cell death.
With the extended high heat, Rees has been concerned about recommending to not irrigate during these vegetative stages in spite of good subsoil moisture present. Research by Rhoads and Bennett (1990) and Shaw (1988) suggest there is no percent yield loss per day due to crop stress occurring from emergence to V12. After reading through many peer reviewed journal articles, Rees said most focus on heat and water stress impacts during the reproductive stages of corn and soybeans.
In a discussion with Suat Irmak, Nebraska Extension irrigation specialist, he said prolonged periods of heat stress such as air temps equal to or greater than 90F for 7 to 10 days or more can influence crop growth even in these early vegetative stages if the heat stress is coupled with soil water deficit or increased soil temperature. Effects such as shrunken roots, plant deformations, reduced root-soil contact limiting water supply in corn and reduction in nodule size for soybeans can result.
He defined heat stress as "the rise in air temperature beyond a threshold level for a period sufficient to cause permanent damage to plant growth and development. Heat stress is a complex function of intensity, duration and the rate of increase in air temperature." Soil temperature may increase as a result of air temperature when soil water content is reduced. He shares that even though plant roots can compensate for lack of moisture in dryer soil layers by the increased uptake from wetter soil layers, the compensation can be impacted by heat waves and increased soil temperature potentially causing damage to plant components.
Suat has conducted numerous studies at UNL's South Central Ag Lab near Clay Center. A few of these studies looked at the effect of irrigation on crop canopy temperatures and crop water stress. Irmak's research shows that "extreme air and soil temperature can alter the water transport rate from the soil into the root and plant system, which can reduce plant transpiration rate where plant transpiration cannot keep pace with high atmospheric evaporative demand (due to high air temperature)."
Even with adequate soil moisture, extreme heat stress can reduce plant stomatal conductance, which reduces plant transpiration rate. The combination of extreme heat stress and dry wind across corn and soybean canopies increases the stomatal closure and reduces the transpiration rate. The combination of heat stress with water stress can result in reduced plant water uptake due to root clumping and short suberized roots may develop with dryer topsoil as a response to mitigate drought; however, plant growth and development are impacted and adequate soil moisture is important during extended periods of high heat.
Based on his research, Suat provided a few recommendations. Farmers should continue to monitor soil moisture status using soil moisture monitoring equipment. He said to check if leaves are curly in the early morning hours and soil moisture is adequate, the plant is showing signs of heat stress. He suggested breaking a leaf in the early morning hours and again around mid-afternoon and check for the presence of plant water.
For farmers with irrigation, a quick run with a pivot applying 0.25-0.40 of an inch of water can reduce the heat used to heat up the soil-plant environment. This can be applied every 3 to 5 days depending on the irrigation well and center pivot capacity during the heat wave. This is effective in the vegetative and reproductive stages according to his research during periods of intense heat. Reduced tillage also helps with soil temperature reductions during heat waves. Suat's research also showed an 8 to 10 degree soil temperature reduction in no-till fields compared to conventional till.
Considering the current heat wave and lack of rainfall during June, Rees said lawns, gardens and trees will benefit from deep watering. Deep watering of an inch per week is necessary for new tree and horticultural plantings.

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Summer solstice arrived with 'strawberry moon'

Did you look at the moon Monday night? If you did you saw an astrological phenomenon that hasn't happened since 1967. But some folk who did look at the moon compared it to the arrival of Y2K at the stroke of midnight. Just a lot of hoop-ta-la surrounding an evening that wasn't a lot different from the night before. However the joining of the Strawberry Moon and the summer solstice on June 20, 2016 was a once in a lifetime event for many. The two were last joined in 1967 and they won't be joined again until June 21, 2062. So if you missed it this week, you will have a long time to wait. The phases of the moon recur every 19 years. In 2035, the full moon will hit one day before the solstice. Talk about a close shave.
In this country, the Native Americans have a name for every new moon. The Strawberry Moon got its name from the Algonquin tribes. It was dubbed "Strawberry Moon" by the Algonquins because they knew that when this moon rose, it would finally be time to gather the strawberries, some varieties of which are only ripe in June. In Europe, the moon is also called the Rose Moon, Mead Moon and Honey Moon.
There are tons of weird facts and folklore about the full Strawberry Moon
Did you know on June 21 (the day after a Strawberry Moon), tradition indicated we would be swept up in a large storm? Apparently the weather bureau did not know about that prediction as the forecast for Tuesday indicated little chance of a storm.
Despite its name, a strawberry moon isn't a pink moon. The Strawberry Moon glows a beautiful, strange amber color, for two reasons. The moon is hanging incredibly low, and its light is being forced through thicker, more humid air. The combo causes the weird color! That's where the names Honey Moon and Mead Moon came from.
"Having a full moon land smack on the solstice is a truly rare event," said Bob Mernan, an astronomer at the Farmer's Almanac, a periodical that contains astronomical data. "The sun gets super high so this moon must be super-low. This forces its light through thicker air, which also tends to be humid this time of year, and the combination typically makes [the moon] amber colored."
A full moon, happens when the earth lies between the sun and the moon so the complete surface of the moon is visible.

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BNSF begins work on line to Lester Junction
The BNSF railway began its tie replacement project Friday. More than 80 workers from across the company's divisions converged on Superior to undertake the work. The group includes machine operators, signal maintainers, laborers and supervisors. Thirty-three pieces of specialized equipment are being used to remove old ties and install new ties on the stretch of track which includes the Superior Industrial Lead, east of Superior, the Superior yard, which extends to the cement plant sidings, then west to Lester Junction, seven miles east of Red Cloud. The work team will then proceed three miles north of the junction.
Railroad ties are a vital component of track infrastructure. They provide a base to attach the fastenings to hold the rail in place. Standard ties are 7" x '9" x 8.5' and made from a variety of hard and softwood trees. They are cut to shape and treated with preservatives to prolong their life span. The ties are subject to rot, insect infestation, splitting and spike pull, where extended use pulls the spikes from the ties. Most ties are pressure treated with creosote or creosote solutions.
The ties are spaced 19.5 inches on- center with the average mile of United States railroad track requiring more than 3,200 ties. Major U.S. railroads install more than 32 million ties per year.
The average life in track of a railroad tie is between 33 and 42 years, with many variables contributing to a tie's longevity.
The tie team also refreshes and surfaces the ballast, aggregate rock, upon which the ties rest. The ballast allows for drainage and resilience when a train passes over the track.
Specialized machines remove the old spikes, place the old ties alongside the right-of-way, install new ties, regauge the line, drive new spikes, freshen the ballast and leave it level. The old ties are picked up and stacked for later removal. The team averages more than two miles a day of track refreshment.
Support teams and vehicles provide maintenance and refueling capability for the tie gang.
The workers are lodged as far away as Hastings and return to Superior Monday through Friday. The project is scheduled to be completed in two weeks.
Once the work is completed, the BNSF looks to increase track speed from the current 10 miles-per-hour between Superior and Hastings to 25 miles per hour or higher, resulting in significant savings in time and money for trains transiting the line. An earlier project replaced the jointed rail in the Superior yard with continuous welded rail.


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Kingswood Court adding six apartments
Superior's Kingswood Court assisted living facility is about to grow. Construction work began June 7 on a new six apartment addition. The units are being added to the northwest part of the building where it will connected to what was once the North Ward activity room.
Each apartment, ranging from 595 to 620 square feet, will feature a living room, kitchenette, one bedroom and a stand-up shower. All units will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Mike Gay Construction, Superior, is undertaking the building work with an estimated completion date by the end of October. Pre-planning for the addition began three months earlier when owners Michelle Plock and Jim Cooke, realized there was a demand for more space. The units are licensed for two persons and are able to accommodate six to 12 additional residents. Kingswood Court has a current waiting list of 25 applicants.
Kingswood Court opened in May of 2015 as an assisted living facility and is licensed for 32 residents with a current resident population of 18.
In addition to providing additional living facilities, the expansion will result in increasing the staff at Kingswood Court by six or seven positions. Another medication aide will be added to the staff.
Future plans call for the construction of independent living villas on the grounds.

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