Posted in Horticulture, Programming


IMG_8962.jpgThe office has received numerous questions regarding the abundance of butterflies (most of what I’ve seen are Painted Lady butterflies) in the area.  An extension entomologist told me the following: “It is hard to pinpoint reasons these insects survive and flourish better in one year over another.  Painted Lady butterflies overwinter in southern areas of the country and migrate north in the spring.  They have a broad food host range which includes thistle plants.  If any of these food sources are abundant, the weather is favorable and natural enemy populations are minimal, the butterflies can grow and develop quite successfully.  This results in the high population that we are seeing now.” Hopefully this answers questions you might have. Butterfly information can be found at

Posted in Horticulture, Programming, Uncategorized

Extension’s Many Resources

Often times people might only directly experience one or two faucets of extension and not be aware of the multitude of other programming extension provides, some of which indirectly impacts people. One such example is the training extension provides crop consultants; while a farmer might not directly call the extension office, more than likely that crop consultant has either attended training conducted by extension or used research done by extension. Another example that impacts everyone is the ServSafe program which is a program that food-service workers attend and learn how to safely prepare food. If you eat at a restaurant, it is likely that server has learned from Extension programs through the ServSafe program. This month is no different; Extension will be offering two unique and very different programs.

Emerald Ash Borer UpdateEAB

In 2016, Emerald Ash Borer was confirmed in Nebraska resulting in many homeowners being concerned about their trees. There are two upcoming workshops planned in Clay Center and Geneva. Both of these workshops will provide information about the emerald ash borer, what to look for in your ash trees, and management decisions for homeowners to consider.

In Clay Center on Thursday, March 30th from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. at the Clay County Fairgrounds there will be a program with a light supper. Please RSVP to (402) 762-3644 for planning purposes.

If you can’t make that work for your schedule, there will be a similar program on April 11th at 6:00 p.m. at the Fillmore County Extension Office in Geneva that will include an emerald ash borer update in addition to an update on ice storm damage from this winter. A $5 registration fee includes a meal and handouts; please register to (402) 759-3712 by April 10th for planning purposes.

I am Moving, I am Learning Childcare Workshop

The development of the brain in a I am moving picchild’s first five years of life clearly shapes the learning capacity they have for the rest of their life. Leanne Manning, Extension Educator in Saline County will be presenting the session “Moving with the Brain in Mind” from the I Am Moving, I Am Learning series at a workshop in Geneva at the University of Nebraska Extension Office, 1340 G Street, on Tuesday, April 18th. Participants will learn how the brain structure and functioning can be enhanced through movement and physical activity. The session will follow with “Making the Most of Your Music” as moving to music is a fun and healthy way to encourage movement and physical activity. This workshop helps early childhood programs and parents understand how music helps with physical development and ways to incorporate new vocabulary and actions into children’s music.

There is a fee for the workshop which begins at 6:00 p.m. and ends at 8:00 p.m. Registration should be turned in by Friday, March 31, to University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Saline County. Please contact our office for more information at 402-821-2151 or view details at Space is limited.

Posted in Crops, Horticulture, Irrigation, Livestock, Uncategorized, Youth

Celebrate Agriculture!

The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) hosts National Agriculture Day on March 21, 2017. This marks the 44th anniversary of National Ag Day, which is celebrated in classrooms and communities across the country. The theme for National Ag Day 2017 is “Agriculture: Food For Life.” The purpose of National Agriculture Day is to tell the true story of American agriculture and remind citizens that agriculture is a part of all of us. A number of producers, agricultural associations,Ag Day2017 corporations, students and government organizations involved in agriculture are expected to participate.

National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America. ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community, dedicating its efforts to increasing the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society. The National Ag Day program encourages every American to:

  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced.
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.
  • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.NewAgDay_Original.jpg

Since National Ag Day is one day out of the year, it is important for us to note that we everyday we should promote agriculture and share our story. Did you know how amazing Nebraska agriculture is?  The Nebraska Department of Agriculture publishes some statistics that are interesting to read! For example, nationally, Nebraska ranks first in popcorn production, Great northern bean production and commercial red
meat production. Nebraska ranks second on pinto bean production, number of head of bison and proso millet production. We rank third for corn grain production and corn exports and fourth in cash receipts for all farm commodities. Nebraska ranks fifth soybean and grain sorghum production.

Cash receipts from farm marketings contributed over $23 billion to Nebraska’s economy in 2015 and 6.1 percent of the U.S. total. 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 translate into $7.8 billion in additional economic activity.

One in four jobs in Nebraska is related to agriculture, thus the importance agriculture has on our economy. In Extension, we have several great programs that not only teach youth the importance of agriculture, but also strive to make youth aware of the numerous career opportunities in agriculture. As technology continues to advance, types of careers in agriculture will also continue to expand.

In conclusion, while March 21st is one day devoted to celebrating agriculture, we should celebrate agriculture everyday. If you ate, thank a farmer or rancher who produced your food. From the food we eat to the clothes we wear, tires on our cars, toothpaste, crayons, windshield wiper fluid, etc., we need to thank our American farmers and ranchers for providing us with products that are affordable and good for the environment. Thank you farmers and ranchers!

Posted in Horticulture, Uncategorized

Windbreak Renovation Workshops

Windbreaks are an Integral part of area farms and acreages providing critical protection for farmsteads, livestock and crops. Unfortunately, many older windbreaks are losing their effectiveness due to age, poor health or neglect. In some cases, the windbreak no longer has the necessary density to provide winter protection.windbreak

Learn what to do about an old or new windbreak on your property. Nebraska Extension, Nebraska Forest Service and the Lower Big Blue Natural Resource District have teamed up to bring landowners the best and latest information on tree and shrub recommendations and how to renovate windbreaks. Steve Karloff, Forester who has made tree plans for many landowners in Southeast Nebraska will be the keynote speaker. The seminar will cover renovating old and damaged windbreaks, planting new windbreaks, NRD programs and cost share availability, tree health issues including tree recommendations, ash borer update and discovering the newly available root maker trees.

The program will be held in two locations as follows: Tuesday, February 14 at Saline Center (north of Western) in Saline County along highway 15 and a repeat session on Friday, February 17 at the Gage County Extension Office in Beatrice. Both programs will be held from 9 a.m. until noon with registration beginning at 8:30. Refreshments are provided and pre-registration is due February 10.

Register with the Gage County Extension Office at 402-223-1384 or the Saline County Extension Office at 402-821-2151. In the case of inclement weather, please check with either Extension Office or alerts on KWBE or KUTT radio stations.

If you have any additional questions you can contact Nicole Stoner at Gage County Extension (402) 223-1384 or by email at

Posted in Horticulture, Uncategorized

Ice Storm Impact on Plants

Trees down out my house; glad we took out the unhealthy, large tree right next to our house or it might have hit our house!

As I drove into town this morning I saw three trucks hauling tree branches out of town. When the ice storm was over, we had lots of branches of our own at our house that fell down and have to deal with. I asked Nicole Stoner, Extension horticulturist covering our region on information impacting the trees, so this week I’ve included her information in my column.

Many people do not like winter due to cold weather and the bad driving conditions such as snow and ice. Our plants are not much different in this respect; snow and ice can cause problems to our plants. The recent ice storm we saw covered our trees and shrubs in a thick layer of ice.

The grass was even slippery, but it made a neat pattern!

As trees become covered with ice, problems can occur. The best way to avoid any problems from a heavy layer of snow or ice would be to let it melt naturally. Heavy snow or ice loads look damaging to the tree that makes people want to knock the ice off of the trees to help the plant. However, it is really better to leave it alone. The snow and ice will eventually melt off of the plants and they will spring back up to their normal form after a while. If you try to break ice off of a tree or shrub, it can break the branches or crack them, leaving them vulnerable to other problems. Again, the ice will eventually melt off of the tree or shrub and it will be fine.

Many tree branches broke after the weight of the ice from the last storm proved to be too much. The best management practice for helping a tree that has broken branches due to snow and ice would be to go out and trim those branches to make them a clean cut rather than a jagged cut. Leaving a break rather than having a clean cut will prevent the tree from naturally healing the wound and this opening will lead to decay in the tree. This is much more damaging to the tree so it is best to prune the tree between the break and the bark collar or hire a professional to do this for you. If your tree split down the middle or lost a great number of branches, it may be time to to think about replacing this tree. It would be best to call a certified arborist in this case to assess the damage and give recommendations on the next steps for your tree.img_6899

Deicers are another plant consideration in the winter. They can cause damage to concrete sidewalks and to plants growing beside them. Many deicing agents contain salt substances, such as sodium chloride and potassium chloride. Because of the salt content found in these products, it can cause severe damage to our plants if too much is piled on them too often. Typical plant symptoms of salt damage are desiccation (drying out), stunting, dieback, and leaf margin and tip damage that looks as though the leaves were burned by a chemical.

To avoid damage to concrete, remove the salt as soon as you can. Deicers are meant to make shoveling easier, not to completely melt away snow and ice. As soon a

It was sad the morning after the storm, seeing all the branches down in town (Geneva, NE).

s the salt melts through the ice and snow enough that it can be removed, go out and shovel it off of the concrete. When removing the snow, do it in a manner that protects the landscape plants growing in the yard. Do not pile the snow onto trees, shrubs, or flower gardens. If it has to be piled onto your landscape, move the salt onto the grass and try to do it in a manner that makes it more uniform on the grass surface. If too much salt continually gets piled up on the grass in one location, the turf can be harmed. If you are very concerned with the effect the deicers have on your plants, you can use alternate products for melting the ice, such as calcium magnesium acetate that contains no salt.

If you have any further questions please contact Nicole Stoner at (402) 223-1384.

Posted in Horticulture, Programming, Uncategorized

Extension Master Gardener Program Trainings Offered

Do you enjoy plants and gardening? Looking to learn more and hone your skills but don’t know where to go? The Extension Master Gardener program will educate you on many aspects of horticulture, allow you to test your knowledge and skills, all while serving your local community.

The Nebraska Extension Master Gardener program is a horticulture related volunteer training program based in many counties throughout the state. It has been part of Nebraska Extension since 1976. Master Gardener volunteers are trained by Nebraska Extension faculty and staff. They contribute time as volunteers working with their local Extension office to provide horticulture-related information to their community. Participants are required to complete 40 hours of training and 40 hours of volunteer service during the initial year of their involvement in the program. Master Gardener volunteers retain their certification through annual training and volunteering.bea-mg

Volunteer hours can be completed through various activities. These activities could include: planting and maintaining demonstration gardens, collecting data on research projects, helping with county and state fair activities, speaking to community groups, leading garden tours, collecting plant samples, answering phone questions, teaching youth programs, or whatever sparks your interest and utilizes your talents.

Educational topics will cover a wide range of horticultural issues. Topics that have been covered in previous training sessions include: native plants for water conservation, an in-depth look at fertilizers, turfgrass and related insects, beneficial pollinating insects and vegetable garden pests, tree and shrub pruning, pesticide safety and non-chemical pest control techniques, and small fruits and tree fruit basics. The content of the topics is focused on the home gardener, but those employed in the green industry are also welcome.

Are you interested in becoming a Master Gardener? Nebraska Extension in Hall County will be offering two Master Gardener training sessions at the Hall County Extension Office meeting rooms in Grand Island. The first session will offer six trainings on Tuesday evenings February 7 through March 21, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. The second session will be held during the day from 9:00-12:00 noon and from 1:00-4:00 p.m. March 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, and 24. Individuals who wish to become new Master Gardeners the fee is $170. With that fee the Master Gardener interns receive a large resource notebook, an integrated turfgrass management book, a short-sleeved t-shirt, and a name tag. The fee will also help fund handout materials, speaker travel expenses, room rental, and other costs associated with the training program. For returning Master Gardeners, the fee is $20 to help fund costs associated with the training program. The ProHort program is for green industry professionals and has a fee of $325. ProHort participants will receive a large resource notebook, an integrated turfgrass management book, and 40 hours of education. The general public is also welcome to attend sessions for a fee of $5 per person for each training session. Please contact Elizabeth Killinger, 308-385-5088, prior to January 30th with the Master Gardener training session you are interested in attending. More information, updated schedules, and a brochure can be found at

For more information e-mail Elizabeth Killinger at, call 308-385-5088, or visit the Nebraska Extension in Hall County website.

Locally, Clay County Extension will host six trainings on Tuesday evenings February 7 through March 21, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. via a webinar format. If interested contact Deanna at the Clay County Extension office at (402) 762-3644.

Posted in Horticulture, Uncategorized

Christmas Tree Farms

With the Holiday season approaching, I thought it was appropriate to include some pointers on selecting a real Christmas tree. If you plan to use a live cut tree, buy a fresh tree. The best way to ensure freshness is to buy from a local grower. To locate area Christmas trees growers, refer to the Nebraska Christmas Tree Growers Association at There are Christmas tree farms in 16 counties so it shouldn’t be difficult to find a tree farm.xmastree

When buying an already cut tree, check the tree closely for freshness. Do not buy a tree with brittle or shedding needles. Tap the base of the trunk on the ground and comb your fingers through branches to look for shedding needles. Bend a few needles in half to check for brittleness. After bringing the tree home, make a clean cut across the base of the trunk to better allow the tree to take up water. Keep the tree in a sturdy stand that holds at least one gallon of water. Check the stand daily as a fresh tree can take up one or more gallons of water each day. Selecting Nebraska grown trees and checking for freshness will help increase safety during the holidays.