Making A Difference
Impact Summary Reports
- 2012 - Year in Review
- Beef Systems
- Learning Child
- Guardianship/Conservator Training Program
- Crops - Youth Programming
- Agricultural Economics
- Cropping Systems Productivity
- Food, Nutrition & Health
- Agriculture Water Management
- Animal Manure Management
- Water Climate Environment - Community
- Business Ventures and Innovation
- ECAP - Entrepreneurial Communities
- ESI and Beyond
- NACO Institute of Excellence
In the next few weeks and months you will begin to notice some changes in the Extension webpage layout and some familiar links will be moved to new locations. No links or information will be eliminated just relocated.
Dealing with Drought Conditions for Grazing Cattle on Native Range and Pasture
The southern Panhandle is in the second consecutive spring of drought conditions. Precipitation September 1 to May 10 for the Southern Nebraska Panhandle is 60% of normal for this time period. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension CropWatch website has weather information that shows precipitation summaries for all of Nebraska. This summary shows recent historic precipitation amounts and compares them to long term averages at locations throughout the Panhandle. Lack of precipitation beginning in the fall of 2011 has resulted in severely depleted soil moisture.
Early spring soil moisture is critical in this region for forage production on native range and seeded introduced cool season pastures. A current lack of soil moisture combined with below normal precipitation mean that management changes need to be planned for the upcoming growing and grazing season on native range and pasture. It is important to plan decision point dates and to consider options for reducing cattle grazing when the forage available from native range or pasture will be severely reduced due to drought conditions. The following are options for producers to consider:
1. Delay pasture turnout. Delay pasture turnout at least two to four weeks, to give native grasses the have the opportunity to utilize what moisture is available and develop growth and root reserves which will benefit plant health and total forage production. If we don’t get significant precipitation in the rest of April, May and June to grow grass, delaying grazing till late summer or after killing frost in the fall would be best for rangeland and pasture health.
2. Plant annual forages for summer grazing and or hay. If irrigation is available summer annuals such as Sudan grass, forage sorghums and sorghum-Sudan grass planted in late May and June can provide grazing July through September. Summer annuals such as foxtail millet and teff can be planted as a crop for hay.
3. Examine the cost of feeding cow-calf pairs or replacement heifers a complete ration in a dry-lot. With current feed prices this is expensive, but may be one of the few options available that will allow producers to retain cows.
4. Plan to early wean calves. Depending upon the cow and the stage of milk production, early weaning results in a 25 to 45% reduction in cow nutrition requirements. Calves can be weaned and placed on a high quality diet as early as 60-90 days of age..
5. Reduce numbers by selling yearlings, replacement heifers and cows that have lost calves or are poor producers. Evaluate what you believe to be a core group of cows that you feel would be a critical to take through the drought and allow you to rebuild your herd. All others may need to be marketed to save feed and resources for the core herd.
6. Look for additional grazing sources outside the area. The states east of Nebraska have seen some drought relief and may be willing to take cows in to graze for the summer. Carefully evaluate all the potential costs and risks involved with moving cattle to a different area for grazing. Often time it takes a significant amount of time for cattle to adapt to a new environment. The stress of moving the cattle can result in significant decreases in cattle performance and health.
7. In 2012, Conservation Reserve Program acres (CRP) were released for haying and grazing. It is possible that these might be available for grazing in 2013 as well. Plan ahead and look for opportunities to utilize these acres as a grazing resource. CRP forage is often low in quality so additional protein supplement may be needed for cattle grazing these acres. Water and fence are often not available on CRP so planning how to provide this infrastructure to allow for grazing will be need.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension has specialists and resources available to assist producers in developing a drought plan and analyzing potential options. The following websites have information for ranchers and farmers on dealing with drought.
Please contact me if you have questions about management strategies for dealing with drought conditions. Aaron Berger, UNL Extension, Kimball-Banner and Cheyenne Counties, 308.235.3122, firstname.lastname@example.org
Western Nebraska Trees Showing Effects of 2012 Drought
Some call it the “perfect storm” of low precipitation, high temperatures and extreme wind that has produced serious consequences for western Nebraska trees. What many residents could not detect in the early days of spring is now unmistakably obvious—brown tree tops and dying windbreaks. Even trees often considered drought tolerant are distressed. It is apparent that our trees rely heavily on periodic moisture.
I have looked at many trees this spring along with Rachel Allison, district forester with the Nebraska Forest Service. What we have found is that even though homeowners are aware of the drought, many are unaware of the consequences for their trees. Most assume the scarce rainfall will sustain their more mature trees because they believe their trees are established.
Trees planted within the last 10 years are particularly at risk during prolonged drought, and unfortunately 2012 precipitation totals for many communities was barely half or less.
Reports of dying trees in western Nebraska have tripled this spring. Spruce trees have been especially hard hit. Although a popular tree and often thought of as well-suited to western Nebraska, spruce often take quite a bit of water to perform well.
Other conifers such as pine, juniper and redcedar also have been affected, especially trees in windbreaks. Some trees have died outright, while others have only suffered varying degrees of winter desiccation or windburn, where only the needles have turned brown. The difference among trees may be due to initial health of the individual trees—trees that died may have had poorly developed root systems or trunk injuries. The presence of healthy buds and new growth this spring will identify those trees that have survived.
Deciduous trees that are leafing out now may show dieback near the top of the tree because of the drought. Leaves that do expand may be smaller than usual. Last summer’s symptoms of leaf scorch, browning and early defoliation on trees such as ash, maple, linden and hackberry may be repeated this year if the drought continues.
In addition, pest problems will likely increase as a result of the drought. Small, scattered holes in the trunk and branches are evidence of borers and bark beetles—two groups of insects typically attracted to drought-stressed trees. Bark stripping by woodpeckers feeding on these insects also may be present. Drought-stressed trees also are susceptible to canker diseases, which cause scattered branch death and top kill.
The cumulative effect of low rainfall and high temperatures on trees depends on their location in the landscape or environment. Typically, trees remain healthy in high-maintenance yards that are deeply watered once or twice per week. Trees that show drought stress typically are either in lawns that are watered every morning for only a minimal amount of time or in lawns that are not watered at all. In these situations the trees are unable to pull enough water from the soil because the moisture isn’t there.
Is it too late to help these trees? One way to check soil moisture is to push a long (12-inch) screwdriver or metal rod into the ground. If you can only push the screwdriver in 2-3 inches, the soil is definitely dry and your trees need water. Run a sprinkler or soaker hose for several hours beneath the tree canopy and beyond, and then test the soil again. The screwdriver should go 10-12 inches into the soil.
Checking the soil monthly throughout the year and providing a slow, deep watering when needed will help your trees withstand the drought so they can continue to provide shade, beauty and shelter for many years to come.
For information about trees and drought, see the Nebraska Forest Service series on the website at http://nfs.unl.edu/program-foresthealth.asp. Or contact extension educator, Karen DeBoer, at 308-254-4455.
Crop Diagnostic Clinics Schedule
Agribusiness professionals and crop producers will take a close-up look at field conditions, research and techniques at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's summer Crop Management Diagnostic Clinics.Topics on July 17 include: Corn Crop Canopy, Light Interception, and Grain Yield; Corn Silage, An Efficient and Economical Use of Corn Residue; and other topics. A totally different program on July 18 addresses Sex in the Corn Field: What Really Goes On Out There?; Evaluating Efficacy of Tank Mixing Herbicides for Hard-to-Control Weeds in Corn; and five additional topics. An August 28 clinic addresses Soil and Water Health topics including Cover Crops for Improving the Soil; Infiltration Test and Organic Matter; and others. For more information or to register, contact the ARDC CMDC Programs, 1071 County Road G, Ithaca, NE 68033, call 800-529-8030, fax 402-624-8010, e-mail email@example.com or visit the Web at http://ardc.unl.edu/training.shtml.
UNL Extension cropping system experts discuss the latest updates on cropping issues in Nebraska such as appearance of Pythium in corn and soybeans, wheat disease updates, and a new UNL climate app. During the growing season, each weeks CropWatch newsletter is posted on Fridays at http://cropwatch.unl.edu/
Acreage Insights e-News
The June Acreage Insights e-News, published by UNL Extension Acreage team, is a monthly electronic newsletter providing acreage owners with timely information to better manage their rural living environment. Click here to subscribe to this newsletter or check out the team’s Acreage Insight web resources (http://acreage.unl.edu/).
Rain Garden Design
Rain gardens are aesthetic and functional landscape features that retain rainwater, provide beauty and habitat, and can reduce water runoff from your property. Water collected in the rain garden slowly infiltrates into the soil to support plant growth and lessen runoff into storm drains according to UNL Extension Specialists Tom Franti and Steve Rodie. Homeowners can learn more from the new “Rain Garden Design” interactive Extension publication.
UNL BeefWatch Newsletter
Check out the second (June) issue of UNL BeefWatch Newsletter. Subscribe to receive monthly updates direct to your email inbox.
Programs for Communities (Free)
As a leader in your community, often you are asked to present a program to club meetings, civic groups or professional organizations. Finding information for such a program and then organizing it can be challenging and time consuming. Look no further!
Faculty from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension are providing you research-based, educational program resources free-of-charge. Information in each program is based on research from educational institutions around the world. The programs listed reflect the variety of topics which our clientele cite as issues within their communities. Congratulations on leading your organization to a greater understanding of these priorities! For lessons....
Provides current grain/livestock market commentary and analysis; weather, climate, and soil moisture updates; practical advice from seasoned, working producers; and more.
View entire episodes or search for answers to your plant, yard, and insect problems. Watch Backyard Farmer live on NET1 April to mid September (Thursday, 7:00 pm CT).
Audio and video interviews with University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension specialists and educators on topics ranging from crop and livestock production to health and nutrition to lawn and garden care, and more.