Posted in Horticulture


Mosquitoes are a huge irritation in the summer months. Mosquitoes are a type of insect that is in the same order as flies, which means they are closely related to flies and gnats, which all tend to bother us. Mosquitoes are also vectors of many different diseases. Because of these factors, we need to do what we can to eliminate the problem and reduce mosquito populations.

animal antenna biology bite
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The best way to avoid any pathogens transmitted by mosquitoes is to prevent being bitten. Like any pest management program, IPM is the strategy that works best to prevent mosquito bites at home in the yard. Sanitation is a must to eliminate breeding sites and harborage locations of mosquitoes. Female mosquitoes lay eggs on the surface of standing water and the larvae (“wigglers”) require water to survive before pupation. Removal of stagnant water in a variety of containers such as flowerpots, buckets, gutters, pool covers, used tires, and dog bowls will break the mosquito life cycle. A general rule is to dump any water that has been standing for more than five days.

Culex mosquitoes are active biters in the evening, so it is important to wear long sleeves and pants or permethrin-treated clothing when outdoors between dusk and dawn. The effective insect repellents applied to skin include those with the active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, or the oil of lemon eucalyptus.

As far as chemical control, Mosquito Dunks contain the active ingredient bacterium, Bacillus thurengiensis israelensis (Bti), which is toxic to mosquito larvae when consumed, but non-toxic to humans, pets, pollinators, fish, and other wildlife. They are sold in hardware stores, and will dissolve in standing water such as water troughs, fishponds, rain barrels, and birdbaths. They are effective immediately and can last for a month. (We have mosquito dunks in our Extension office free from Public Health Solutions.)

It is not recommend to use foggers or adulticide treatments by homeowners. These treatments are not effective for more than a couple of days and should only be used a few days ahead of a large outdoor get-together if absolutely necessary.

It is best to utilize IPM to reduce your exposure to mosquitoes because they spread many diseases including West Nile Virus and the Zika virus. Most people who get West Nile Virus have no symptoms or have flu-like symptoms. However, from 2001 to 2009 1,100 deaths in the U.S. were attributed to West Nile Virus. Most of the deaths occurred in people ages 65 and older.

As for the Zika Virus, it has been known about since 1947, but has just recently hit the news as it spreads more. Zika does appear to have minimal impacts on adult humans, but if a pregnant woman becomes infected, her fetus may suffer from developmental abnormalities such as microcephaly. The good news is that the main mosquito that transmits Zika isn’t in Nebraska. The mosquito that most commonly transmits zika to humans is the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. We are not on high alert for Zika in Nebraska, but it is still a good idea to protect yourself from mosquito bites to reduce the chance of West Nile and other mosquito vectored diseases.

Information for this article came from Nicole Stoner, Drs. Jody Green and Jonathan Larson, Nebraska Extension Educators.

Posted in Uncategorized

Brown Lawns caused by a leaf blight

Great article on lawn disease we have been seeing lately, including our area.

Plants and Pests with Nicole

Ascochyta, 6-2018 Symptoms from Ascochyta Leaf Blight

This year has been difficult for our lawns. Since our cold April, our temperatures skyrocketed and we haven’t had many rain events throughout this spring and early summer. This has been causing our lawns to look a little ragged and brown.


Many cool season lawns throughout Eastern Nebraska have begun to look brown due to Ascochyta leaf blight, a widespread disease found throughout the early part of summer this year. Mowing during the hot Memorial Day weekend seemed to have worsened the symptoms of this disease.


Ascochyta close up, 6-2018 A close-up of the blades of turf infected by Ascochyta

Ascochyta is a diseased that is stress-induced and often shows up in the early summer when the weather shifts from cold and wet to hot and very dry. Ascochyta is a dieback from the tip of the leaf blades of cool season turf. Red-brown spots can also…

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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.

agriculture arable barley blur
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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.