Posted in Crops, Irrigation, Livestock

Farm Service Agency County Committee

It is important for one to stand for what they believe in and takes an active role in one’s community. Effective leadership is crucial to any community or organization.  An effective leader understands the issues at-hand, is knowledgeable in his/her area, knows the proper ways to motivate others, embraces change, can work in a variety of settings and with a variety of personalities, and involves the group or followers in important decision-making. That being said, remember that a leader is not only a political figure or someone that is well known, but a leader can be a farmer, local businessmen/women, or anyone in a community or organization.  For those individuals desiring to take on leadership roles, consider serving on the FSA County Committee. Details for how to step into this role follow.

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Photo by Nico Brüggeboes on

Fillmore County USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Ryne Norton announced that the nomination period for local FSA county committees began on June 15, 2018. Nomination forms must be postmarked or received in the Fillmore County FSA Office by Aug. 1, 2018. Producers play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of FSA, making important decisions on programs dealing with disaster and conservation, emergencies, commodity loan price support, county office employment and other agricultural issues.

“County committees are unique to FSA and allow producers to have a voice on federal farm program implementation at the local level,” said CED Norton. “It is also important that committees are comprised of members who fairly represent the diverse demographics of production agriculture for their community. I encourage all producers, including women, minority and beginning farmers and ranchers, to participate in the nomination and election process.”

Producers can nominate themselves or others. Organizations, including those representing beginning, women and minority producers, may also nominate candidates to better serve their communities. To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program and reside in the area where the election is being held.

This year, nominations and elections for Fillmore County will be held in local administrative area 2, which includes Bennett, Geneva, Grafton, Momence and West Blue Townships. To be considered, a producer must sign an FSA-669A nomination form. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at, or from the Fillmore County FSA office. Visit for more information.

Election ballots will be mailed to eligible voters beginning Nov. 5, 2018. Read more to learn about important election dates.

Posted in Crops, Irrigation

New Cropping Systems Educator

On behalf of the Clay County Extension staff, we’d like to welcome Michael Sindelar to the Extension Family as he is the new cropping and water systems educator based out of Clay Center in Clay County. Here is a little bit about Michael:

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“I was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. However, I was exposed to agriculture at a young age as my father would take me to the family farm located near Richland, Nebraska in Colfax county to “help” with the farm work. I joined the Navy in 2005 and served until 2010. I was a cryptologist collective (CTR) and worked in military intelligence. I was stationed out of Hawaii for my enlistment. I had the opportunity to see parts of the pacific and spent one year deployed in Afghanistan where I collected intelligence and conducted combat operations. After having fun for a couple of years I got my act together and earned a bachelor’s degree in Agronomy from the University of Nebraska. This spring I completed my master’s degree in Agronomy with a specialization in soil and water science from the University of Nebraska. I spent most of my master’s degree studying how changes in soil management affect soil water storage, recharge, and heat as storage and transfer through the soil. I look forward to starting my new position on Monday. I sign most of my emails using V/R which is a carryover from the military meaning very respectfully.”

His email address is

Posted in Crops, Livestock

Grazing Summer Annuals

McKenzie giving her calf a bath. We split the pen so that some of it is seeded to millet for grazing later this summer. 

Recently, my husband and I added fencing for my daughter’s 4-H second year bucket calves and hope she can eventually expand to a small cattle herd someday. That is what I did through my 4-H and FFA projects so hopefully she will want to follow in my footsteps. With an area of bare soil, my Dad recommended seeding some millet for grazing, not to mention holding soil in place to prevent dusty conditions. We had to water the area to get the seed up, but now have a decent stand. This past week, my colleague Brad Schick who is focused in the beef area published an article on Extension’s BeefWatch website which I’ve decided to share with you this week.

Brad shares how grazing summer annual grasses is a great way to add flexibility to an operation, but in order to make it worth your time and money some management decisions are required. Your goals and your location will determine what type of summer annual you should plant. His article will addresses the type of annual and planting date, timing of grazing, prussic acid and nitrate concerns.

The most common summer annuals for grazing are sorghum-sudangrass (often call sudex), sudangrass, pearl millet, foxtail millet, and teff. For forages that can be grazed slightly earlier, the sorghums and sudangrasses can be used, but should only be planted once the soil temperature is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Generally, a late May to early June planting date will meet the 60 degree Fahrenheit requirement.

For millets and teff, the soil temperature needs to be 65-70 degrees F before planting. Planting into soil that maintains a lower temperature can cause stunted growth and reduce forage yield. Planting mid- to late June and into July should give good results with enough water. The millets and teff are fairly drought tolerant, and more tolerant to drought than the sudangrasses and sorghums.

Another consideration for planting is forage availability. A good rule to follow is that forage will be ready to graze 6-8 weeks after planting. To reduce the chance of forage getting ahead of the cattle, stagger plantings of a forage type by two weeks. By staggering planting, rotational grazing can be implemented and the forage will be grazed more efficiently. Staggering of planting can be done using one forage type such as sorghum-sudangrass, or using two or more types. For example, sorghum-sudangrass is planted on a portion of the field. Two weeks later on the next portion of the field, sorghum-sudangrass or a different annual such as pearl millet is planted as long as temperature requirements are met.

Maximizing the harvest efficiency while grazing annual forages is a significant factor when planning the annual type and planting date. However, issues can occur when cattle moves are not managed properly. Use a short, rotational system for grazing. Fields should have a minimum of three paddocks to allow for regrowth after the first rotation. A goal should be to graze the paddocks for about 7-10 days and allowing regrowth for at least 14-20 days.

Grazing sorghum-sudangrass should be delayed until plants are 18-24 inches tall in order to avoid prussic acid poisoning, which can cause death in cattle. Sudangrass, foxtail and pearl millet, can be grazed once they reach 15-20 inches in height. Another guideline is to graze all these summer annuals leaving about 6-8 inches of stubble during that 7-10 day rotation. If choosing between leaving cattle on a paddock for a longer or shorter time, just remember that retaining some leaf area will cause more photosynthesis and ultimately a faster regrowth.

A significant concern for grazing some summer annuals is prussic acid poisoning, also known as cyanide poisoning. The regrowth and young leaves of the sorghums, sudangrasses, and sorghum-sudangrasses produce prussic acid and can be deadly if cattle consume a high concentration. Graze when the plants have reached an appropriate height and time the grazing periods appropriately. Turning cattle out full and with plenty of water will reduce the chance of prussic acid poisoning. Nitrates in grazing situations are generally not a concern if the forage isn’t grazed too low because the lower one-third of the plant will contain the highest nitrate concentration. Nitrates are something to watch when grazing any summer annual grass, even beyond drought years.

Grazing summer annual grasses can be a great addition to an operation when annuals are chosen correctly and grazing plans are used. Finally, planting a few extra acres of summer annuals is a good option as part of a drought plan for either grazing or haying. It’s also a fall back to the annuals grazing program just in case growth and regrowth isn’t as productive as planned. Summer annuals are also a great option before reseeding an aging alfalfa stand. This can provide quality hay or grazing. Setting clear goals can make grazing summer annuals worth your time and money.

For more information on this topic, check out Brad’s article with resources at


Posted in Crops, Irrigation

Irrigation Information

If you would like to participate in a dynamic irrigation program, called the Nebraska Ag Water Management Network, let me know and I’d be happy to help and get you started! If you are in the NAWMN, consider installing your ETgage soon and once done with planting, start the soaking/drying cycle on your Watermark sensors to be sure they work! It’s also important to replace the #54 alfalfa canvas covers and wafers on a regular basis at the start of each season. For more information, go to:


I plan to report the weekly evapotranspiration (ET) in my weekly blog. The ETgage I check is in the center of the county, just south of Geneva; hopefully it will help others become aware or have an idea what the local ET is.

The ETgage I check outside of Geneva changed 2.0 inches for the week of May 25-June 1st. Corn in the V-4 stage has a coefficient of .18”. To calculate how much water, corn at V-4 stage used you simply multiply .18” x 2.0” for a weekly use of .36” or .05 inches/day. Corn approaching V-6 would have used .70”/week or .07” per day.  Fortunately, we received about 1.2” rain in this location as well.

For more information about ETgages and Watermark sensors, check out the NAWMN website

Posted in Crops, Programming

Weed Management & Cover Crops Field Day

To see on-site demonstration of new technologies and herbicides for weed control in corn, soybean sorghum and cover crops research, plan to participate in the Weed Management & Cover Crops Field Day held June 27, 2018 from 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Registration starts at 8:00 a.m. for this free event which will be held at  the South Central Ag Lab near Clay Center, NE. Thanks to numerous sponsors, this event is free for participants. Registration is appreciated for a meal count and can be done by going to

Some topics include: comparison of herbicide programs for weed control in soybeans and corn, weed control and crop safety in MGI soybean, response of white and yellow popcorn hybrids to glyphosate Enlist DUO, or XtendiMax (26), control of Roundup Ready/Liberty Link volunteer corn in Enlist corn, weed control and crop response in INZEN sorghum, soybean yield and critical time for weed removal as influenced by soil applied herbicide. In addition, an overview of the effects of cover crops on weed suppression pests and beneficial insects will be shared.

There are CCA credits available for those who need them. More information may be obtained by contacting Roger Elmore at or (402) 472-1451.

Posted in Crops, Programming

Wheat Field Day

Growers can learn about the latest wheat varieties and view many of them in the field at the Wednesday, May 30th Wheat Variety Plot Tour near Fairbury. The event, sponsored by Nebraska Extension, will begin at 6:30 p.m. in a plot hosted by Mark Knobel.

Speakers include Stephen Baenziger, University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor and wheat breeder, Paul Jasa, Nebraska extension engineer, will provide tips on setting no-till drills to increase wheat stand consistency. He will also share cover crop opportunities following wheat and Stephen Wegulo, Nebraska Extension plant pathologist, will discuss wheat disease prevention strategies in southern Nebraska.

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Photo by Pixabay on

From Fairbury:  Travel northeast on Highway 136 for 3 miles and turn north on 571 Avenue. Go north for 2.6 miles on 571 Avenue. Turn east on 716 Road for 0.2 mile. Plot is on the south side of the road. GPS Coordinates 40.204547, -97.120798.

Alternate Route:  On Highway 15, go 2 miles north of Fairbury, take 716 Road east 3.2 miles (Note: Two miles is minimum maintenance. If it’s muddy, consider taking Road 715 or Road 718 as alternate roads.) Fresh kolace will be served made from winter wheat!

For more information about the plot tour, contact Randy Pryor at the UNL Extension Office in Saline County at 402-821-2151 or e-mail or view the program flyer.

Posted in Crops, Programming, Youth

Connecting Youth with Crops

Looking for a fun project for 4-H or FFA youth? Want to unite your club members? Running out of ideas for youth projects?  If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions, help is on the way!  Nebraska Extension is pleased to present the 5th annual Crop Scouting Competition for Nebraska youth. Youth interested in crops have the opportunity to learn about crop growth & development and basic crop scouting principles.IMG_9071.jpg

Don’t know a lot about crops?  Ask a local agronomist to assist by providing a short lesson on crop production. You can have the agronomist meet with youth a little during each meeting or outside of the meeting. This is one way to engage those youth interested in crops.

This contest will be held at the ARDC near Mead, Nebraska on July 26, 2018. The event will include both indoor and outdoor events. Teams of junior high and high school students (those completing 5-12th grades) from across Nebraska are invited to participate. This event is limited to the first ten teams who sign-up!

Clubs or other organizations may enter a team composed of three to five participants. An adult team leader must accompany each team of students. Team leaders could be FFA advisors, crop consultants, extension staff, coop employees, etc.IMG_9110.jpg

Top-scoring teams win prizes: $500 for first, $250 for second, $100 for third place. Top two teams will be eligible for regional competition in August at Nebraska.

Teams will be expected to know the basics of scouting corn and soybean fields. This includes crop staging; looking for patterns of crop injury; disease, insect and weed seedling identification; etc. Other topics many include but are not limited to, pesticide safety, nutrient disorders, and herbicide injury.

More information about the crop scouting competition and instructions on how to register a team are available online at Register at: For more questions, contact me at or (402) 759-3712.

Teams must be registered by July 18. This program is sponsored by Nebraska Independent Crop Consultant Association, DuPont Pioneer, Farm Credit Services of America and Nebraska Extension.