NDSU Extension - Williams County


Articles - 2014

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New Birch and Spruce - Does Sweet Clover Effect Heifer Pregnancy? - Happy New Year

Published December 28, 2014
New Birch and Spruce - Does Sweet Clover Effect Heifer Pregnancy? - Happy New Year

Birch Tree

New Birch and Spruce

Last week I described two new varieties of American elm which have resistance to Dutch elm disease.  This week I will share information about a new white birch and a new columnar spruce which should replace one of my most disliked evergreen, the arborvitae.

Parkland Pillar® Asian white birch is a selection of Dakota Pinnacle®, an introduction from NDSU.  It is noted for its columnar shape and dense branching.  It grows fast and can be used for screening, in boulevards, or as a specimen plant in the garden.  It tolerates heat, drought and alkaline soils.  The white-barked tree grows up to 40 feet tall with a spread of only 6–7 feet.  Its tolerance to heat will make it less susceptible to borers.

‘Cupressina’ Norway spruce is a columnar evergreen with beautiful, dark green needles.  It shows promise as a specimen tree in limited spaces; or it can be used as a windbreak when planted in groups.  Norway spruce grows faster than most spruces and is less subject to diseases. 

It’s hard to find a good evergreen for screening in urban landscapes.  Arborvitae is often used, but its thin needles are sensitive to winter winds.  The densely branched ‘Cupressina’ spruce seems to fit this niche.  It grows 12–18 feet tall and spreads 12–15 feet wide. Norway spruce is hardy only to Zone 4 while the other three trees mentioned in this article are hardy in Zone 3 and can be grown anywhere in the state.

Now is a good time to chat with your local nurseries and landscapers.  They can share more time with you now as you make your plans for the upcoming spring.

Does Sweet Clover Effect Heifer Pregnancy?

Some cattlemen in North Dakota have expressed concern with sweet clover potentially impacting conception rates in heifers due to phytoestrogens.  Carl Dahlen and Fara Brummer, both animal scientists at North Dakota State University have reviewed literature relating to this possibility.  The main source of their review is the Journal of Animal Science, a leading source of research information for animal science.

In reviewing the literature and in speaking with the USDA ARS Poisonous Plants Research Center in Utah, no documented evidence has been found in sweet clover when tested for phytoestrogens.  However, there is always the possibility other compounds in sweet clover may exist with something else to impact fertility.

Cattlemen who are long in the tooth know very well the difficulty in having high heifer conception rates.   Fifty years ago it was common to expose heifers to a bull only when they reached two years of age.  Since then economics, improved nutrition, and genetic selection has enabled cattlemen to expect acceptable conception rates from heifers which are only 14-16 months of age.  Granted conception rates may not equal that of mature cows, economics still favor breeding these young heifers at one year of age.

As a side note to this information from Dahlen and Brummer, I learned the sweet clover is a biannual food that was introduced for grazing purposes.  Its technical name is melilotes officinalis.  It actually is not a true clover.  True clovers are of the trifolium genus and true clovers have been found to have phytoestrogenic effects.  However, the same research report found in the Journal of Animal Science did not find sweet clover to have significant phytoestrogenic activity.

Although there was a time when planting sweet clover was a common practice to improve soil fertility and provide winter forage for animals, its days are past.  There is plenty of research which indicates sweet clover has a very high demand for water when compared to other forage plants that can be grown under dryland conditions.

Happy New Year

On behalf of the staff in the NDSU Extension office of Williams County, including Mindy Sigvaldsen, Michelle Garcia and Mary Froelich I wish you and your families a very Happy New Year.  I am sure 2015 will bring us some sad moments but our maker always opens a new window that will bring joy and happiness.  Most of us are surrounded by strong family relationships and friends which will help us move forward.  How lucky most of us are to have this support base because there are many who feel they must handle the tough times alone.

-Warren Froelich

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Field Inspected Seed List Now Available - Winter Weather Prediction Favorable - Look For New Elm Trees

Published December 21, 2014
Field Inspected Seed List Now Available - Winter Weather Prediction Favorable - Look For New Elm Trees


Field Inspected Seed List Now Available

As the year comes to an end crop growers are beginning to solidify their plans for the 2015 growing season.  One decision which often is difficult is choosing the variety.  Often growers will give serious consideration to the variety planted the previous season as they were satisfied with the yield and have seed from their own production.  However, many growers wish to select a new variety simply because new varieties frequently out produce the old.  It wasn’t too many years ago when a common yield goal was 30 bushels per acre.  These days most growers feel 40-50 bushels are more realistic.  This substantial increase must be credited to new farming practices, improved equipment and the research breeding programs which produce larger yields under specific environmental conditions.

If growers are looking for seed of a new variety and cannot find a local source, the first place I recommend is searching the North Dakota Field Inspected Seed publication.  This gives a list of growers by crop, variety and location who had fields inspected and approved for further actions which lead to final certification.  Final certification is made when seed produced from the inspected field is cleaned by an approved seed conditioner and random samples meet the standards established by the State Seed Department.  Such standards include germination, purity, freedom of weed seeds and other crop seeds.

Recently the extension office received several copies of the 2015 growers who had fields inspected.  These are available by stopping at the office.  The publication also is on the State Seed Departments website, www.ndseed.com.

Winter Weather Prediction Favorable

Adnan Akyuz, North Dakota State Climatologist emailed me a digital copy of the North Dakota Climate Bulletin which is a quarterly publication of the North Dakota State Climate Office, College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources at North Dakota State University.  The publication gives a lot of information about weather conditions since September.

The publication reported this autumn was the 43rd coldest on record in North Dakota and it was the 29th driest statewide since 1895.

For the future Mark Ewen’s, Consulting Climate Forecaster for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, believes this month will be warm and dry, followed by a cold and wetter January then a milder but dryer February.  For these predictions he uses climate signals (the phase of El Nino, the Arctic Oscillation and others) and the years that these signals have overlapped in the past.  Based on the average climate signals for September-November 2014, the years 1951/52; 1968/69; 1969/70; 1979/80; 1985/86; 1994/95 and 2003/04 represent those years most similar to this year.  I hope he is correct.

So what is spring going to bring?  Allen Schlag, Service Hydrologist at the NOAA’s National Weather Service in Bismarck, reminds readers there is no solid idea on how spring is going to unfold as it is so far into the future when it comes to forecasting exact weather and hydrologic conditions for a given day or week.  Most weather models only go out ten days in the future.

With this in mind I am anxiously awaiting to hear Dr. Leon Osborne, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of North Dakota, give his outlook for the 2015 growing season during the Wheat Show on Tuesday, February 3rd.

Look For New Elm Trees

It looks like two new elm trees will be available this coming year.  Both show resistance to Dutch elm disease.

One of them is Prairie Expedition ® which was a lone survivor among a grove of elm trees that died from the disease.  This tree is an introduction by NDSU and named in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The second is named First Edition St. Croix ®.  An arborist was led to a massive 100-year old tree in a front yard outside the Twin Cities.  Just as the case with Prairie Expedition, laboratory testing confirmed this tree tolerated Dutch elm disease.

Merry Christmas wishes from our team of staff including Mindy Sigvaldsen, Michelle Garcia, along with Mary and I.  We all have families and friends with which to share this joyous holiday season.  We hope you can enjoy the same happiness.

-Warren Froelich

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New Wheat Grass - Wheat Grower Meeting

Published December 14, 2014
New Wheat Grass - Wheat Grower Meeting

Intermediate Wheatgrass

New Wheatgrass

 One of the grasses used in grass seed mixtures is intermediate wheatgrass.  The reason for its use in such mixtures is because of its vigor, ability to grow fast and sod forming characteristic.  It produces an abundance of both basal and stem leaves.  Of the many varieties, they will differ in the amount of pubescence on the seed head and leaves.

The pubescent varieties are reported to be more drought-tolerant and form a sod more rapidly than intermediate varieties.  This species has produced more biomass than most other cool-season species in performance trials in North Dakota.

Like most other things, there is a downside.  Productivity quickly declines with close grazing or grazed past August 1st.  Intermediate wheatgrass is often used in seed mixtures for wildlife habitat.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Plant Materials Center near Bismarck recently released a new variety of intermediate wheatgrass name Manifest.  Foundation seed for increase is available from the Bismarck headquarters and commercial seed for establishing pasture and hayland can be purchased from vendors. 

According to the plant breeders it is easy to establish and more productive than many other grasses.

“Manifest intermediate wheatgrass is a better grass variety choice for grazing or haying on many sites”, according to Wayne Duckwitz, manager of the Plant Materials Center.  He feels Manifest can also be used as a single species forage or in mixtures with other species.

 Manifest has erect stems with a heavy growth of bluish-colored basal leaves and by mid-summer, its height reaches three to four feet.  Like other varieties, it is a cool-season grass, so most of its growth is produced in the spring and fall.

One of the pluses for Manifest is its high shoot replacement ratio, those being able to withstand heavier grazing than other varieties.

Manifest is considered to be more drought resistant that smooth bromegrass but less than crested wheatgrass.  For maximum production, areas with at least 14 inches of annual rainfall and well-drained soils are preferred.  Because other varieties service and do well in this area, Manifest seems to be worth a try.


Wheat Grower Meeting

A grower meeting “Putting the Profit Back in Your Crop” is scheduled Thursday, December 16, at 1:00pm in the conference room of the Broadway Commons building located across from the new law enforcement center in Williston.

Topics to be addressed are Maximum Economic Yields; fertilizer recommendations, fertilizer additives, and soil amendments; and a crop market outlook.

Featured speakers are Shana Pederson, NDSU Area Extension Specialist in Cropping Systems; Chris Augustin, NDSU Extension Area Soil Health; and Frayne Olson, NDSU Extension Crop Marketing Economist.

The meeting will come to us via interactive video broadcast from Minot.

-Warren Froelich

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Nourish Your Health to Reduce Holiday Stress - Farm and Ranch Advocacy - Zero Tillage Workshop

Published December 7, 2014
Nourish Your Health to Reduce Holiday Stress - Farm and Ranch Advocacy - Zero Tillage Workshop

Nourishing Boomers and Beyond

Nourish Your Health to Reduce Holiday Stress

We are approaching a season which is characterized as being joyous.  However, the Christmas holiday can be a stressful time.  There is strong data which indicate many visits to doctors are related to stress.  Signs of stress include skin and digestive disorders, high blood pressure, headaches and depression.

Stress producers include large family and social holiday gatherings, traumatic events, and changes in work status or housing.  Even though stress is a normal part of everyday life, it’s not all bad. The difference can be how we perceive stress, interact with it and manage it.

If you’d like to make some changes in your diet or lifestyle to manage stress for better health, the North Dakota State University Extension Service can help.  The Extension office in Williams County is holding a class on December 9, 2014 at 12:10 pm at the Broadway Commons conference room at 302 E. Broadway.

This one hour class is part of NDSU Extension’s Nourishing Boomers and Beyond program.  The program is designed to provide rural North Dakotans age 50 and older with information and strategies to reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases.  However, any adult can benefit from the information.  Nourishing Boomers and Beyond offers classes on a different topic each month.  Participants will be able to take part in hands-on activities and discussions, and they’ll receive material such as handouts and healthful recipes to take home.

Visit the program’s website at www.ndsu.edu/boomers if you aren’t able to attend a class or want more information on the topic covered in a session.  Anyone can sign up for the free monthly newsletter by visiting the website or contacting your local Extension office.  Participating county Extension offices have Facebook pages to interact with their clients and are on Pinterest at “nourishboomers.”

Also visit www.ndsu.edu/boomers to see if a Nourishing Boomers and Beyond class is being held near you.

Things you’ll learn about in December include assessing individual stress risk factors, how to make a personal action plan for reducing stress and when to seek help.

Farm and Ranch Advocacy

One of the featured speakers during the next Wheat Show scheduled February 2,3,4 will be Katie Pinke.  Her topic is “How Farmers and Ranchers Can Be Farm Advocates”.  She is the leader of Ad Farm’s Agriculture Advocacy efforts, connecting the agricultural industry from food, farming, flowers, fiber and fuel segments to targeted audiences of consumers.  In 2010, Katie displayed her expertise by leading Ad Farm’s efforts in being awarded the business for California Agricultural Communications Coalition (CACC), which led to the opening of Ad Farm’s newest office located in Sacramento.  CACC brings together over 100 agriculture stakeholders to connect farmers to the voting consumers of California.  She and a team of public relations and digital expertise from Ad Farm lead social media trainings across California.  Over 200 farmers participated and today over 400 contributors are part of the Know a California Farmer effort.  Katie is very passionate to share stories about how farmers and ranchers grow our food.

It has been said many times by many people that U.S. Agriculture production must share its story of producing the world’s safest and most economical food in the world.  I was reinforced of this need during recent visits to Minneapolis and Seattle.  Short visits with some locals and general observations convince me that food supplies are far from their minds.

Katie will give us some new ideas as to how we can better connect with consumers who have no or little understanding of how their food is produced.  She will speak on Tuesday, February 3, following the noon luncheon sponsored by Williams County Farmers Union.

Zero Tillage Workshop

Recently, I received a brochure giving details of the Manitoba-North Dakota Zero Tillage Workshop and Trade Show.  This year it will be held in Dickinson, January 5-7.  Many topics are on the schedule including carbon management to increase water use efficiency, managing long-term climate variability in dryland cropping systems and integrating cover crops.  There are some presentations which caught my attention.   For more details and online registration go to www.mandakzerotill.org.  Otherwise, call 701-577-4595 or stop by our office. We will be happy to send a copy of the brochure.  Early registration by December 19 will save some money.   

-Warren Froelich

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Osborne to Speak During Wheat Show - Sand Reclamation

Published November 30, 2014

Osborne to Speak During Wheat Show

Leon Osborne, Director of the Regional Weather Information Center and the Surface Transportation Center at the University of North Dakota is scheduled to speak during the breakfast meeting of the Wheat Show on Tuesday, February 3rd.  Leon is a nationally recognized speaker for his ability to predict long-term weather patterns.  The program planning committee has requested that he share his outlook for the 2015 growing season.

Many other speakers, approximately 22, will provide information about food fads, grain market outlook, soil salinity, new durum varieties, durum wheat diseases, the new farm program, impact protein has on bread baking and farm labor.

This year’s featured keynote speaker will be Dr. Mike Boehlje, noted agricultural economist at Purdue University.  He will discuss the current business climate for agriculture, will it have a bust or soft landing, long term prospects for the industry, land values, positioning the farm business to handle the downturn and how to be the “best in class”.

Specials for the noon lunches are scheduled.  Katie Pinke will explain how farmers and ranchers can be farm advocates and Mark Lindquist will share “Passion! Eight Steps to Find Yours”.  I guarantee attendees will leave his presentation with a strong message that will be entertaining but also produce a few tears.  More information about these two speakers and their presentations will come later.

In the meantime, photographers will want to ready their best pictures for the photo contest held in conjunction with the Wheat Show.

Sand Reclamation

A new publication “Successful Reclamation of Lands” recently has been released by the NDSU Extension Service.  It includes recommendations designed for pipeline and small-area disturbances that may take place when developing infrastructure for oil and gas development, not for general agriculture and conservation restoration.

The publication describes activities for the successful reclamation of North Dakota lands.  This includes topsoil/subsoil removal and replacement, well and pad development and other activities.  It only addresses reclamation of non-contaminated soils.  Contaminated soils may include lands compromised by oil spills (hydrocarbons) and brine spills.

Authors of the publication (many) outline critical components of a successful reclamation, provide recommended seed mixtures and seeding rates when reclaiming range and pasture land and provide options to reduce soil erosion on disturbed rangelands, pastureland and hay lands.  Although croplands are not specified directly in this publication, many of the topsoil salvage and replacement approaches, planning, preparation procedure and reclamation methods can be used as a guide to successful reclamation of croplands.  The publication is available free of charge at our office by calling 701-577-4595.

-Warren Froelich

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Cows Entering Period of Higher Nutrition Needs - 2014 Durum Wheat Overview

Published November 23, 2014
Cows Entering Period of Higher Nutrition Needs - 2014 Durum Wheat Overview


Cows Entering Period of Higher Nutrition Needs

The great fall weather psyched us into believing it will last into December.  However, recent cold weather changed plans because I could not keep up with providing ice-free water.  Even though the calves had been weaned I felt the light covering of snow was not enough for cows about to enter the third trimester of pregnancy when fetal growth is rapid.

Good nutrition during the last trimester has many consequences.  Fetal growth must be met with greater levels of energy and protein feeds.  If extra quality feed is not available, the growing fetus will draw from the cow’s body condition.  When this occurs, especially young females, the cow will enter post parturition in poor condition.  After calf birth, the cow has little chance of regaining body condition before breeding season resulting in delayed conception and later calving the following year.  It should be the goal of every beef cow/calf producer to calve every 365 days.  Calving dates beyond 365 days for successive years will eventually cause the cow to be a late calver and thus culled during what is supposed to be her primary productive years.

2014 Durum Wheat Overview

According to the 2014 regional report of U.S. Durum wheat the North Dakota and Montana crop is similar in production to 2013 but reflects more quality impact from a challenging production and harvest season.  The 2014 crop averages a #2 Amber Durum (AD), down from a #1 Hard Amber Durum (HAD) in 2013 and the five-year average, with a greater than normal variance in quality across the crop.

A large portion of the crop is of #2 grade or better, but due to untimely rains during harvest a greater than normal share of the crop fell below the 75% vitreous kernel level for HAD.  Only 50% of the crop remained in the #2 HAD or better grade and subclass, compared to 82% in 2013, with a much larger percentage falling into the Durum subclass of less than 60% vitreous kernel.  The coverage test weight is 59 pounds per bushel, down from both last year and the five-year average.  Distribution of the test weight shows 28% of the 2014 crop above 60 pounds per bushel compared to 83% in 2013.  Average damaged kernels are 0.8%, up from 0.2% in 2013 and slightly higher than the five-year average.  This is reflective of higher Fusarium and wheat midge pressures in parts of the region.  Due to the Fusarium pressures, average DON values on the crops are 2.10 ppm, up from 1.02 ppm in 2013 and only 0.69 ppm for the five-year average.

The 2014 crop is showing higher average protein levels, at 13.2 on a 12% moisture basis.  This compares to 2013 but slightly below the five-year average.   A relatively cool growing season and high yields in areas kept protein levels below average and along with untimely harvest rains led to lower vitreous kernels.

The top five durum varieties planted in North Dakota in 2014 remained the same as 2013, and included Divide (1st), Alkabo (2nd), Mountrail (3rd), Tioga (4th), and Lebsock (5th).  It won’t be too many years when some of these varieties will be replaced by Carpio and Joppa, both high yielding and high quality.  The counties of Burke, Divide, Mountrail, Williams and McKenzie produce 51% of U.S. Durum.  Northeastern Montana counties produce 24%.

-Warren Froelich

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Tax Management Tip to be Offered - 2015 Wheat Show Hi-Lites

Published November 16, 2014
Tax Management Tip to be Offered - 2015 Wheat Show Hi-Lites

IRS Image

Tax Management Tip to be Offered

The NDSU Extension Service and Internal Revenue Service are offering a series of Income Tax Management for Ag Producer meetings.  The meetings will be presented at 11 sites across North Dakota through North Dakota Interactive Video Network (IVN) on Tuesday, December 2nd from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.  In Williston, it will be held in the conference room of the Broadway Commons Building located at 302 East Broadway.

This program, in its 24th year, provides an excellent opportunity for agricultural producers and tax preparers to learn and ask questions about tax management alternatives while there is still time to implement year-end tax management decisions.

There will be updates regarding federal income taxes.  The regulations governing repairs and capitalization and reporting with 1099’s will be explained.  The net investment income surtax and other tax consequences of the Affordable Care Act as premium tax credits, shared responsibility payments and the impact on HRA’s and HSA’s will be detailed.  Examples of scams posing as IRS will be given.  Farm transition planning strategies will be explored along with a session on managing income deferral and prepaids.

Program topics include federal income tax update, net investment income surtax and grouping, repair expense rules, repair expense reporting, transition planning, health insurance premium tax credits, shared responsibility payments, impact of Affordable Care Act on HRA’s and HSA’s,  income deferral and prepaids, tax planning ideas for 2014 and beyond.

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited.  The cost is $15 per person.  Contact your local extension office to register.  The Williston Extension Office phone number is 577-4595.

2015 Wheat Show Hi-Lites

The 62nd Annual National Hard Spring Wheat Show will focus on a variety of issues but much emphasis will be given to strategies of preventing Fusarium head blight (SCAB) and marketing this year’s crops which are heavily infested with scab and vomitoxin.  These issues will be discussed by Dr. Senay Simsek of the Northern Crops Institute, NDSU Crop Quality Specialist and Grain Marketers.

Another hot issue on the agenda is grain transportation.  Dan Wogsland, Executive Director of the Northern Grain Growers Association will give us the latest details on efforts to bring balance to get grains to milling and export destinations.

Consumer issues including gluten intolerance and food fads are at the top of this year’s agenda along with new durum varieties and crop salinity tolerances.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Mike Boehlje of Purdue University.  One of his presentations will focus on a possible cyclical downturn of agriculture income.  He is concerned about the fall of a possible decline in exports due to the decline of economic growth in China and India.  He also feels farmers can expect interest rates to rise steadily during the balance of the decade.  The U.S. farmers export products equal to approximately 25% of their income.

The world has put more land under the plow and he feels this and other factors could cause agricultural land values to drop as much as 15%.

Of course during his three-hour presentation Dr. Boehlje will present other information that is for certain to influence our production decisions in the near future.

During the Williams County Farmers Union luncheon attendees will learn how they can easily be advocates of the business of farming.  Also, the Williams County Farmers Union has secured a great speaker who will talk, sing, and make us laugh and cry.  This presentation by Mark J. Lindquist is titled “Passion! 8 Steps to Find Yours”.

The “Trade Show”, photo contest, and Bread Fair for area 5th grade students will continue as in the past.  Watch for more details as I will bring them to your attention in future weekly columns.    

-Warren Froelich

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Nourishing Boomer Classes To Begin - Reasons to Be Proud of 4-H

Published November 9, 2014
Nourishing Boomer Classes To Begin - Reasons to Be Proud of 4-H

Nourishing Boomers and Beyond

Nourishing Boomers Classes To Begin

NDSU Extension Agents across the state have been offering a series of nine free monthly classes which focus on strategies to keep our hearts, brains, bones, joints, skin and other body systems healthy throughout life.  The classes are designed to provide people age 50 and older with information and know-how to reduce their risk of developing chronic disease.

Because I fit into this age category I attended many of the series of nine classes.  I found them very informative and believe any adult can benefit.

My wife, Mary, who also serves at the NDSU Extension Family Consumer Science Agent, teaches the classes.  Although I might be biased, she did a good job of making the class’s fun and interactive even though she tries to convince me to change some of my life styles during other times of the day.

Her first class of the second-go-round is scheduled to start this coming Thursday, November 13th.  She starts the classes at 12:10 pm and completes them by 12:50 pm.  This allows working adults to utilize their noon lunch break.  All of the meetings will be held in the Broadway Commons Building at 302 East Broadway.  This building is located across the street, southeast of the Williams County Law Enforcement Center.

Each of the nine classes covers a different topic.  Thursday’s class will focus on diets and lifestyles to improve brain health.  You will learn about oxidative damage control, eating heart healthy is the same as eating for brain health and ways to help your memory.

The program “Nourishing Boomers and Beyond” has a website www.ndsu.edu/boomers.  Information presented during these classes can be obtained at this site which also offers free monthly newsletters.  Mary also has a Facebook page allowing interaction with individuals.  The address for this is www.facebook.com/williamscountyextension.  She is now on Pinterest at “Nourishboomers”.

Reasons to Be Proud of 4-H

During the first week of October Mary and I attended the annual conference of NDSU Extension staff.  There we heard some very good news about our nation’s 4-H program.  This wonderful news came from Richard Lerner who is the Director of Institute for Research in Youth Development at Tufts University located in Medford, Massachusetts.  He spoke on a program called Positive Youth Development (PYD) and gave us a report regarding research study on the impacts of the 4-H program.

The findings of this research proves that participation in 4-H has a significant positive impact on young people.  The research report indicated that when compared to their peers, young people in 4-H are: 1) nearly four times more likely to contribute to their communities; 2) two times more likely to pursue healthy behaviors; and 3) two times more likely to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs in their out-of-school time.    

The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development assessed the key components of positive youth development, which is the “Five Cs” of positive development – competence, confidence, character, connection and caring/compassion.  The study also found that the factors representing the “Five Cs” of PYD lead to a sixth C – contribution.

Much of Lerner’s report reminded me of a recent regional and county effort called North Dakota 4-H Helping Hands.  The goal of this effort was to provide North Dakota 4-Hers the opportunity to do service in their local area.  The Williams County 4-Hers chose to assist the Williston Council For the Aging in its effort to provide meals for low income, disable, homebound and isolated seniors.  This effort resulted in the collection of 900 pounds of much needed food.  Our 4-H members and the people who donated the food should feel proud.  I am.

-Warren Froelich

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Composting Techniques for Plant Residue - Ranchers Guide to Grassland Management - Will DON Affect Germination?

Published November 2, 2014
Composting Techniques for Plant Residue - Ranchers Guide to Grassland Management - Will DON Affect Germination?

The three-bin method of compost production

Composting Techniques for Plant Residue

As the growing season comes to a close homeowners are raking leaves, cleaning the garden, amongst other things which will prepare the landscape for next year’s growing season. 

Unfortunately, much of the plant residue ends up in the area landfill.  This is a practice which did not pass through the minds of North Dakota’s early settlers because there were no petroleum based fertilizers.  Barnyard manure, straw, corncobs etc. were all placed back into the soil to return some nutrient value and maintain the high organic matter levels characterized of North Dakota soils.

Because of the availability of today’s commercial fertilizers it is convenient to dispose of plant residue through our garbage disposal system.  However, some homeowners do successfully attempt to provide plant nutrients and maintain the organic matter level along with stabilizing soil structure through the practice of composting. 

Basically, there are two acceptable systems for compost production.  Tom Kalb, NDSU Extension Horticulturist, describe them as cool and hot.  The cool system is simply a pile of leaves, grass clippings, egg shells, pea pods and/or materials of organic nature which slowly decomposes into humus.

The hot system is designed to speed-up the decomposition system and in doing so will kill most of the weed seeds and other plant disease organisms.

Details of installing both systems can be found in an Extension fact sheet H885 “Composting Practices”.  You may stop by or call our office 701-577-4595 for a copy or access our website www.ag.ndsu.edu/williamscountyextension.

Ranchers Guide to Grassland Management

As long as I am on the topic of NDSU publications, I absolutely need to call attention to a very new publication R1707 “Ranchers Guide to Grassland Management IV”.  This is a great guide intended to serve as a quick reference for ranchers looking for information on grazing management.  It covers a variety of subjects relating to range, pasture and hayland management.

The publication helps readers understand the many ecological sites frequently found in any given pasture, native range plants that are a part of the pasture along with frequently found introduced grass species.  Additionally, there is an entire chapter which helps to determine stocking rates and carrying capacity.

Another section presents plant species selection for giving pasture and hayland selection.  I believe the authors Kevin Sedivec, NDSU Rangeland Management Specialist and Jeffrey Printz, NRCS State Rangeland Management Specialist, provide good alternatives to western and eastern North Dakota range sites.

Another issue in the publication focuses on seeding guidelines and seeding rates.  It goes as far as recognizing the number of seeds per pound of numerous grasses and legumes.  Other subjects included are grazing management techniques and plant development as it relates to grazing readiness.

The publication also discusses riparian grazing management, a topic we cattlemen give very little attention.  Protecting riparian’s reduces pollutants, mostly animal waste, from entering valuable water for humans, wildlife and even animals themselves.  This section provides some neat ideas which even Northwestern environments can benefit.

More topics in the publication are hayland and haying management, annual forages, cover crops, renovating CRP for pasture and hayland, range nutrition, nutrition value of forages, fencing options, water quantity and quality, noxious and poisonous weeds and drought management strategies.

There are 100 pages to this publication.  It can be downloaded from our website.  However, we intend to order several copies from NDSU making them available directly from the Williams County Extension Office (701-577-4595).

Will DON Affect Germination?

That depends largely when the grain kernels were infected with deoxynivalenol (DON).  An early infection of DON will cause the grain kernel to be shriveled and discolored from white to pink colors.  The kernels very likely will have poor germination.  Late infection of scab will cause no visual effects that can have detectable DON levels.

Work at NDSU and the State Seed Department indicates DON does not affect germination directly in the same way as lighter weight and discolored kernels.  Whether or not your grain contains DON and you plan to use it for seed next year it is highly recommend having it tested for germinations.

-Warren Froelich

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Gardeners-Know Your Manure, Sweetclover Hay Alert

Published October 26, 2014
Gardeners-Know Your Manure, Sweetclover Hay Alert


Gardeners – Know Your Manure

As a young boy I remember Dad and Grandpa talking about how valuable manure was to plant growth.  I didn’t recall any of the specifics and maybe they really didn’t know either.  However, I do recall strips in the fields which looked better than other areas.  My mother insisted that we apply manure to her garden area. Since then I have learned that manure provides valuable nutrients such as nitrogen which enhances plant growth.  It also serves to build organic matter levels of the soil which then contributes to the soils ability to hold more water. Although manure has been viewed as a very safe additive to the soil there is a slight possibility that modern-day manure can pose some problems for gardeners.  The reason I mention this is because some farmers spray their pastures and hayland with pyridine herbicides to control broadleaf weeds.  These herbicides include Crossbow, Curtail, Forefront, Grazon, Milestone, Redeem and Surmount. Manure from livestock feeding on pyridine-treated hay or pasture grass should not be used in gardens.  The reason being is that the herbicide can pass through the animal without decomposing.  It is then likely these herbicides will remain in the soil and negatively react or even kill several of the vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes, peas and beans.  These are extremely sensitive to the listed herbicides.  Affected plants will stretch and curl, similar to damage caused by dandelion killers that drift onto plants.  Pyridine products can persist in manure for a few years.  So, if you are using manure, ask the farmer if he or she has applied any of the products listed above to their forage crops.  The use of these products is not widespread so the danger may be low.

Sweetclover Hay Alert

This summer was a good year for sweetclover.  It could be found everywhere.  Because it produces a lot of tonnage and can be very good winter forage for cattle, sheep and goats, it is very tempting to cut and bale it into hay.  As with a lot of things in life, there are pluses and minuses.  The most negative issue for sweetclover used as hay is its thick stems which require more time to dry-down before it can be safely baled.  If harvested with too much moisture the hay can become moldy.  The problem with sweetclover is that it contains a high level of a unique naturally reoccurring chemical known as coumarin to be converted to dicoumarol which is a potent anticoagulant.  Dicoumarol also interferes with the metabolism of vitamin K which the body need for blood coagulation. High levels of dicoumarol can cause animals to become weak, experience an increased heart rate, anemia, bloody milk and produce black, tarlike manure.  Dr. Gerald Stokka, NDSU Extension Veterinarian, says many of these symptoms may go unnoticed and often extensive internal bruising and bleeding is discovered after the animal has died. So, if you are planning to feed sweetclover hay that has the slightest amount of mold I would urge it be tested for dicoumarol levels.  This can be done by the NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.  For information on submitting hay samples call this office at 701-577-4595.  With the value of beef as it is, there is absolutely no reason to risk even one animal. 

-Warren Froelich

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Who Would Have Thought Vomitoxin in Western ND - Pine Needle Drop

Published October 19, 2014
Who Would Have Thought Vomitoxin in Western ND - Pine Needle Drop

Scab in wheat

Who Would Have Thought Vomitoxin In Western ND

Several years ago when scab first became a major problem in durum and spring wheat grown in eastern North Dakota, many of us thought it never would be a problem for us in western North Dakota and eastern Montana.  How wrong we were.  This year it has been a major problem for growers of the area.  Scab, technically referred to as Fusarium head blight (FHB), most notably causes shriveled kernels which can be easily separated.  However, there can be a hidden problem not noticeable to the eye.  This is known as deoxynivalenol (DON).  It is also commonly referred to as vomitoxin. The concentrations of vomitoxin in grain are expressed as parts per million (ppm).  One ppm is equivalent to 1 pound in 1 million pounds.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have expressed vomitoxin advisory levels to provide safe food and feed.  Unlike aflatoxins in corn, vomitoxin is not a known carcinogen.  Furthermore, grain with vomitoxin would have to be ingested in very high amounts to pose a health risk to humans but it can affect flowers in foods and processing performance.  Human food products are restricted to a 1 ppm level established by the FDA.  This level is considered safe for human consumption.  The food industry often sets standards that are more restrictive.  In livestock feed, vomitoxin infected grain causes food refusal and poor weight gain in some livestock.  The FDA advisory level for ruminating beef and feedlot cattle older than four months and for poultry is 10 ppm providing these ingredients don’t exceed 50% of the diet.  Research conducted in North Dakota and Minnesota has suggested growing and finishing cattle can tolerated higher levels (up to 18 ppm) based on research at the Carrington Research Extension Center.  Cleaning the wheat or durum with screening or aspiration often does not adequately remove the scabby or grain infected with vomitoxin.  Best results are obtained with a gravity table but the success is still variable.  Fusarium head blight is caused by a fungus so appropriate personal protective gear such as masks designed to keep out mold spores and grain dust are recommended.  Generally, these masks are either N95 rated which typically have two stages or respirators with HEPA filters.  Vomitoxin usually does not increase when the grain is in storage.  After the grain dries before a moisture level of about 22%, fungal growth and vomitoxin production stops.  High amounts of vomitoxin affected grain do exist in this area.  Much of it is being heavily discounted bringing prices down to feed level.  However, even as feed prices, it must compete with depressed corn prices which is the grain of choice for cattle feeders.  So, it is going to be a challenge to market wheat high in vomitoxin.  More details on vomitoxin in wheat can be found on our web page:  www.ag.ndsu.edu/williamscountyextension.

Pine Needle Drop

Every year there is concern about pine needles turning brown and dropping to the ground.  These needles are located on the inner part of the branch.  Such needle drop varies from year to year, thus causing a great deal of concern to the owner.  When callers describe this situation, I quickly advise them not to worry because this is a natural occurrence.   Though pines and most other conifers are called evergreens, their needles do not stay alive and green forever.  Generally, new needles are produces every spring and summer and last for two to four or more years.  So as the tree grows larger year-by-year, newer needles are always at branch ends and older needles are further back in the crown.  As needles age, they become less efficient at producing food for the tree.  They also become more shaded by newer needles.  For these reasons, old needles finally turn brown and drop off.  This doesn’t hurt the tree because several years’ worth of newer needles are always there to replace the older ones.  Ponderosa pine, which is the most popular kind in this area, usually holds their needles for three to five years.  Do be concerned, however, if your tree is losing needles at the branch tips.  These needles are young and have not out-lived their usefulness.  The culprit for tip needle browning is likely some type of insect or disease.  To help maintain the health of the tree and possibly retain needles for a longer period of time, I suggest a heavy watering before freeze-up.

-Warren Froelich

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Combating Antibiotic Resistance - Congratulations Due

Published October 12, 2014
Combating Antibiotic Resistance - Congratulations Due


Combating Antibiotic Resistance

Last week I attended the statewide conference of NDSU Extension and Research staff.  The conference offered a multitude of sessions making it impossible to attend all.  One of the sessions I attended involved the use of antibiotics in the livestock industry.  Dr. Gerald Stokka, NDSU Extension Veterinarian and who is also involved in the Livestock Stewardship Program, presented a report given to the President on combating antibiotic resistance.  This is part of an effort by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).  The focus of PCAST is: 1) to improve our surveillance of the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, to enable effective response, stop outbreaks, and limit the spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms, and acting on surveillance data to implement appropriate infection control; 2) increase the longevity of current antibiotics, by improving the appropriate use of existing antibiotics, preventing the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and scaling up proven interventions to decrease the rate at which microbes develop resistance to current antibiotics; and 3) increase the rate at which new antibiotics, as well as other interventions, are discovered and developed.  Besides human health, medically important antibiotics are extensively used in animal agriculture not only to treat sick animals, but also to promote animal growth and to prevent infections.  All of these uses can promote the development of antibiotic resistance among bacteria in animals and these resistant strains can spread to humans.  While the extent to which antibiotic resistance to animal agriculture contributes to human infections is not known, the risk to human health posed by the agricultural use of antibiotics is, appropriately, a matter of very serious concern.  The PCAST report includes several recommendations.  One urges USDA to develop, in collaboration with the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the agriculture industry, a comprehensive research and development strategy to promote the creation of alternatives to or improved uses of antibiotics in food animals, including through public-private partnerships and combination with biomedical research. To accomplish this and other recommendations PCAST suggests the formation of an Innovative Institute that will bring together university and USDA scientists, private companies to study antibiotic resistance  and to develop alternatives to antibiotic use in agriculture, including creating opportunities for new business ventures.  This Institute will require $25 million in annual funding which already has been requested in the Presidents FY15 Budget.  As this effort to reduce antibiotic use and develop new protocols to conduct diseases, we can look forward to an antibiotic usage fee.  Antibiotic sales in human health and agriculture are estimated at $12 billion per year.  A user fee of five percent could generate $600 million.  This money would be devoted to incentivize the development of new antibiotics and support additional recommendations.  Throughout Dr. Stokka’s presentation I did not hear of any effort of PCAST to eliminate the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.   For an American in the 21st century it is hard to imagine the world before antibiotics.  Dr. Stokka gave the following data.  At the beginning of the 20th century, as many as nine women out of every 1000 who gave birth died, 40 percent from sepsis.  In some cities as many as 30 percent of children died before their first birthday.  One of every nine people who developed a serious skin infection died, even from something as simple as a scrape or an insect bite.  Pneumonia killed 30 percent of those who contacted it; meningitis killed 70 percent.  Ear infections caused deafness; sore throats were not infrequently followed by rheumatic fever and heart failure.  Surgical procedures were associated with high morbidity and mortality due to infection.

Congratulations Due

During the conference mentioned above the NDSU Extension Service and the Farm and Ranch Guide recognize a select few of the educational programs offered by staff.  One of the top programs recognized was “Nourishing Boomers and Beyond”.  This program was designed to improve the “Boomers and Beyond”, 50+ audiences, health literacy.  The program used community classes, printed materials, recipe demonstrations and technology-based approaches to reach an average of 300 people in each class per month.  The program involved nine classes.  Additionally the web page has had more than 18,600 views and 1400 ongoing users.  The e-newsletter associated with the program has 630 subscribers from 48 countries.  I am proud to say my wife Mary Froelich was part of the team which delivered this valuable effort.

-Warren Froelich

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2015 Wheat Show Planned - Sunburn trees in the Winter - Lawn Aeration

Published September 28, 2014
2015 Wheat Show Planned - Sunburn trees in the Winter - Lawn Aeration

Wheat field

2015 Wheat Show Planned

Plans for the 62nd Annual National Hard Spring Wheat Show are nearly complete.  The dates are February 2nd, 3rd and 4th with the site being the Grand Williston Hotel.  As in the past, almost 20 speakers are scheduled to present new information that can be applied to profitable food production.  One of the keynote speakers will be Dr. Mike Boehlje, Distinguished Professor of Agriculture Economics and the Center for Food and Agricultural Business at Purdue University.  Dr. Boehlje is involved in teaching, research and executive education in agriculture finance, farm and business strategy and management and structural change in the agricultural industries.  The major theme of his work is the importance of strategic planning and thinking, and positioning the firm for long-term success in a turbulent business climate.  During his three hour presentation, Dr. Boehlje will discuss many issues which farm producers can use for future planning including a predicted cyclical downturn in agriculture.  More information about the total education program and other activities will appear in my future columns.

Sunburn in the Winter

Yes, this can happen to trees, especially the young and those with smooth bark.  Here is how it happens.  Remember, a tree trunk receives no shade in the winter.  Its branches are leafless and the trunk is exposed.  On a sunny afternoon, the sun casts its rays upon the trunk and heats it up.  Temperatures on the sunny southwest side of the tree can be as much as 77° warmer than on the north side.  This heat causes the dormant cells beneath the bark to become active.  When the sun sets, the trunk rapidly cools.  The activated cells freeze and burst, causing the bark to crack.  Maples are a good example for possible sunscald.  Others are linden, mountain ash, honeylocust, plum, cherry, crabapple and apple.  Just look on the southwest side of these trees for vertical cracks which are a good sign of sunscald.  Wrapping the above sensitive trees for at least their first two winters will be very helpful in preventing sunscald.  In fact, if you have a great love for the tree, I would wrap them for their first five winters or until the bark develops texture.  The recommendation is to use kraft paper, starting at the base and winding the paper up to the first major branch.  Another possibility is to place white plastic tree guards around the trunk.  This protection will reflect the rays of the sun off the trunk, keeping it cool.  Unwrap the tree after the last frost in the spring to let the trunk expand and prevent insect infestation.  There is a word of caution when choosing a tree wrap.  Do not use black tree guards.  This absorbs heat, which is the last thing you want to do.


Over the years I have received many questions about aerating lawns, mostly about when.  Tom Kalb, NDSU Extension Horticulturist, suggests “now” as the best time of year.  This aeration will promote a stronger root system and reduce thatch problems.  Kalb suggests using self-propelled core aerators and making two to four passes.  He avoids drum rollers and solid tines.  These may actually compact the soil.  Kalb believes there is some benefit to aeration but firmly believes most lawns will never need it.  I must agree.  If a lawn is properly managed with adequate watering and fertilizer, and is growing on well drained loamy or sandy soil, aeration is just a replacement for good physical exercise.  If your lawn soil is largely of clay aggregates and compacted, then aeration has some benefit.  Spring is also a good time to aerate lawn but aeration in the spring may promote weed growth because of the soil disturbance.

-Warren Froelich

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Fertilize Lawns Now, Low Quality Wheat a Disappoinment, National 4-H Week

Published September 21, 2014
Fertilize Lawns Now, Low Quality Wheat a Disappoinment, National 4-H Week


Fertilize Lawns Now

A frequent question this time of year is, “Should I fertilize my lawn in the fall?” The answer is yes. All lawns whether they are high maintenance (Kentucky Bluegrass) or low maintenance (Crested Wheatgrass) will benefit from a fall application, especially the high maintenance usually found in town where they receive supplemental water during the growing season. Fertilizing now will promote vigorous blade growth and stronger root systems.  The amount to apply is around one pound of actual nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. Nitrogen is the most important nutrition for grasses although phosphorus has value in promoting plant health. Because lawn fertilizers come in different formulations such as 10-10-10, it is impossible to make one recommendation for all formulations. The first number represents the percentage of nitrogen while the second and third numbers give the percentage of phosphorus and potassium. So, if the formulation available to you is 10-10-10, the application of 10 pounds of total product found in the bag would give you one pound of actual nitrogen (10 pounds X 10% = 1 pound).  The application of one pound of nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. should be done three times per year. Ron Smith, NDSU Extension Horticulturist (now retired), always suggested applications around three holidays – Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. Applying nitrogen three times during the growing season means the lawn will have a more consistent supply of nitrogen throughout the growing season. Applying the entire growing season requirement in the spring will likely cause a loss of nitrogen due to leaching beyond the root system. Nitrogen is water soluble and some of the supplemental water and nitrogen will gravitate below the root system.

Low Quality Wheat A Disappointment

Even though wheat yields including durum are exceptionally good, reports on quality are disappointing. The quarterly discounts are bringing wheat values equal to corn prices and sometimes lower. With so much low quality durum one has to wonder where the milling industry will find enough of the high quality stuff. However, that is not the point of this article. I question what the market will do with the low quality durum in light of abundant corn supplies and less cattle on feed.  Fed cattle in this region are fed rations with high grain content as are those animals confined in feed lots further south. But, many producers of the area do retain ownership of spring born calves after weaning until the calves reach 700-900 pounds. Those cattlemen who do this might consider wheat, especially if corn is not readily available or its price is not competitive. However, feeding wheat requires some diligent management. Wheat ferments very rapidly which can easily create digestive problems and high death rates.  There are some general recommendations when feeding wheat. They are: 1) Limit spring wheat to 40 percent and durum to 30 percent or less of the ration in backgrounding and finishing diets; 2) Gradually adapt cattle to wheat based diets. Start with low levels (10 to 15 percent) and then gradually increase the levels to the above recommended rate; 3) Wheat should be coarsely rolled or cracked but not finely ground for optimum performance; and 4) Neither wheat or durum should not be fed in self feeders. Such practices will only please the coyotes.  Although the protein levels of feed grade wheats are likely below normal, this protein will still be higher than corn which has a very slight advantage in energy.

National 4-H Week

In a couple of weeks 6 million young people along with their families and adult leaders across our great nation will celebration National 4-H Week (Oct. 5-11).  4-H members of Williams County will be celebrating the week by giving back to a supportive community through the “Helping Hands” project which is designed to focus on hunger in hopes of raising a great awareness of food insecurity. Each 4-H family will have two bags having the 4-H and Helping Hands logo on them. The family is asked to fill one bag and ask a friend, neighbor or relative to fill the other with needed food. These foods will be given to the Williston Council for the Aging. The mission statement of this effort is, “To provide meals to all the needy seniors in the tri-county area”.  The County 4-H Council feels that as the community grows and with the high cost of rent and food, our seniors are struggling more and more trying to meet their needs.  I congratulate the 4-H Council and its families for eagerly accepting this project.

-Warren Froelich

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Back In the Saddle - Dry Tips for Wheat - Frost and Garden Produce

Published September 14, 2014
Back In the Saddle - Dry Tips for Wheat - Frost and Garden Produce

Warren Froelich "Back in the Saddle"

Back in the Saddle

I think this is an appropriate statement for my first weekly Column since retiring exactly one year ago. Also, just a few weeks ago a group of great friends presented me with a beautiful, custom fit, hand tooled saddle as a retirement gift made possible by them and many, many others. The saddle proudly has been displayed at the Williams County Extension Office for people to see and remind me of the kindness so many people have given to me this past year. For that matter, this kindness started since first arriving in Williston back in March of 1981. The saddle is so beautiful that I am hesitant to remove it from the rack and placing it on my horses back for fear it might become scratched or damaged while gathering cows or even going for evening rides. However, I will proudly use it during activities of our family’s annual colt production sale coming soon. Every day there are thousands of people who retire from their passion. Some are recognized and some not. For me, there could have been no better gift. More importantly, I am honored by the good will of the people that made it possible. The real value of the saddle will be the remembrance of who it came from. Not only am I back in the saddle but I am back in the office. This started last March after the 4-H Livestock Committee decided it needed help to prepare for and conduct the many youth activities associated with the fair. After seeking the approval of the Williams County Commission I eagerly accepted the committee’s request. Then in July, the County Commissioner and the NDSU Extension agreed to keep me on board. And, so for many reasons, it is great to be “Back in the Saddle”. Now back to the real purpose of this column which is to share research based information regarding plant and animal life, along with farm economics, 4-H youth, and other local educational efforts of this office.

Dry Tips for Wheat

It has been said many times that each growing season is different. That certainly applies to this year and the abnormality of the growing season is extending into harvest which started weeks ago and has been delayed due to late spring planting, recent rains, high humidity and cool temperatures. Although most growers are being blessed with great crop yields the weather conditions is negatively affecting wheat quality resulting in severe market discounts. In recent years many on-farm storage bins have been erected. With increased competition for railroad transportation from the oil industry, even more bins have been put in place. The good thing about these new bins is that they are being equipped with fans and ducts which allow farms to harvest wheat at higher moisture levels resulting in an earlier harvest. Because most harvest seasons usually occur in August and very early September, the wheat generally comes off the field at safe moisture levels for long term storage. So, additionally supplemental heat is not required, thus not installed. But the addition of fans alone does create enough air flow through the grain to reduce moisture levels this time of year. Ken Hellevang, North Dakota State University’s grain drying expert, offers some tips for the use of natural air drying. He tells us air will be warmed 4 to 5 degrees as it passes through the fan on a bin of wheat when the fan is operating at a static pressure of 6 to 7 inches. Warming air by 5 degrees reduces the relative humidity about 10 percentage points. Warming air that is 60 degrees and 70% relative humidity by 5 degrees to 65 degrees reduces the relative humidity to about 60%. This air will dry wheat to about 13.5% moisture content with just fan heat. A supplemental heater is not needed if the average relative humidity is less than 70%. For more tips go to our website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/williamscountyextension.

Frost and Garden Produce

As I write this column there is a prediction for frost to occur very soon. Our first frost is usually a light one (29°-32°F). In this case we can protect our sensitive plants with a blanket or tarp. This will provide a few degrees protection, which is all we need. Cover your most sensitive plants. These include tomato, pepper, cucumber, squash and melons. Broccoli, cabbage, carrot and radish can tolerate light frosts and do not require protection. The frost may kill potato vines but their underground tubes will be safe. When a killing frost (28° or colder) strikes, harvest whatever tender vegetables you can. Blemish free tomatoes with a pink blush can ripen off the vine. Apples on trees tolerate temperatures down to 25° before suffering change.

-Warren Froelich

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Threatening Cereal Beetle Found In Region - Sapsuckers Like Sugar

Published July 25, 2013
Threatening Cereal Beetle Found In Region - Sapsuckers Like Sugar

Cereal beetle

Threatening Cereal Beetle Found In Region

Dr. Jan Knodel, NDSU Extension Entomologist, recently reported finding a relatively uncommon insect, cereal leaf beetle, feeding on barley and winter wheat in three new countries of North Dakota. These insects were found at the North Dakota Research Extension Center at Minot, in Burke County near Flaxton, and in Renville County near Mohall.  Adults and larvae both feed on the leaves of cereal crops with the larvae being responsible for a majority of the damage which looks like elongated windowpanes on the upper leaf surfaces. The good thing so far is that the population levels at the three locations were very low and expected to have no economic impact on crop yields. Also, most of our cereal crops are now beyond critical crop stages – pre boot and boot. If the insect is present before the boot stage the economic threshold is three eggs and/or larvae or more per plant. All the tillers should be included in the observation before the emergence of the flag leaf. Larvae feeding in early growth stages can have a general impact on plant vigor. When the flag emerges, feeding is generally restricted to this leaf which can significantly impact grain yield and quality. If the crop is in the boot stage, one larva or more is considered to have potential to cause economic losses.  The mature cereal leaf beetle has the appearance of metallic blue-black with orange middle. The legs and prothorax are red. The females reach .25 inch in length and are slightly larger than the males. The larva has a pale yellow body with a dark brown head and legs. The larvae eat narrow strips of tissue from between the leaf veins. Fortunately there is only one generation per year.  This beetle was accidentally introduced into the United States in Michigan in 1962 from Europe. Since then it has spread in all directions of the United States. The beetle was first detected in Williams and McKenzie counties about 10-15 years ago.

Sapsuckers Like Sugar

A couple weeks ago I voiced a little displeasure about the mowing height of our front lawn. Apparently members of my household took the comments personal and conveniently forgot how to start the new mower or simply thought it was my turn to give the lush grass a fresh trim.  Last week, as I was following the self-propelled beast around the only tree in the yard, a flowering crab, I noticed the tree had a bunch of small ¼ inch holes that seemed to be accurately measured and drilled by a human. Over the years I have encountered other people who has the same issue so I knew who the culprit was – very likely a yellow bellied sapsucker which is a member of the woodpecker family.  Recently a Tioga businessman called to report several of his large pine trees are dead or on their way to someone’s fireplace. So, on my way back from the State Fair yesterday I stopped to inspect the trees. Once again I found these same sized holes placed in neat multiple rows often parallel to one another.  Sapsuckers like the sugar in the sap of certain trees. Once the birds find a favorite tree, they visit it many times per day and feed on it year after year. The holes are deep enough to sever the layer under the bark which is responsible for the conveyance of water and energy throughout the tree. With enough holes, this entire layer of the tree can cut-off all nutrients necessary to keep the tree alive.  It is difficult to prevent sapsucker damage to trees. Wrapping the damaged trunk with burlap or smearing a sticky material above and below the holes may inhibit new pecking damage.  A close inspection of my tree did not show new holes so maybe the culprit has met his destiny or found a sweeter tree. Regardless, I will be watchful should he or his relatives come to visit again.

-Warren Froelich

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Post Flowering Nitrogen-Will It Pay? - Plum Pockets, Black Knot, and More

Published July 17, 2013
Post Flowering Nitrogen-Will It Pay? - Plum Pockets, Black Knot, and More

Plum pockets

Post Flowering Nitrogen – Will It Pay

Current crop conditions certainly give optimism for some favorable grain yields. However, above normal grain yields often result in lower protein of our cereal crops. Research has shown that applying nitrogen to spring wheat immediately after flowering can increase protein at least 0.5% to about 1%. But, Dave Franzen, NDSU Extension Soils Specialist feels the economic incentive to apply 30 pounds N/acre to archive this increased protein content is low.  Franzen calculates the cost of applying UAN (mixture of urea and ammonium nitrate) with 10 gallons of water is about $20 per acre, possibly more. A 50 bushel yield and 15 cent premium per bushel for a one percent increase in protein content only produces $7.50 per acre in added revenue. He acknowledges the presence of an overwhelming quantity of lower protein wheat might result in higher protein premiums and higher low-protein dockage at harvest time. Even the new generations of farmers have experienced this. A 40 cent premium for an added one percent protein would pay for the additional nitrogen applied when the wheat berries are in the watery ripe stage.

Plum Pockets, Black Knot, and More

This past week I received a couple samples of plum stems, both with deformed, hollow fruit. In both cases the fruit was unusually large. I identified the problem as a fungus disease commonly called plum pocket (Taphrina Communis). This disease most often appears on native species, especially Canada plum and wild, or American plum. It is less common on domestic (European) plum and uncommon on Japanese plum.  Except for removing the infected fruits, there is very little one can do this year. However, next spring before the buds break open, spray the tree with lime sulfur.  I continue to receive calls and samples of cherry and plum branches which have abnormal black growth. This is called black knot (Apiosporina Morbosum), another fungal organism. Because there are many chokecherries and wild plums throughout the area the fungal spores of black knot are abundant. It has been my observations that the disease is more prevalent during abnormally wet periods, certainly the case this year.  Management of black knot involves pruning out the infected branches making sure to cut at least four inches into the healthy wood. Before making another cut, be sure to dip the cutting instrument into a disinfectant such as household bleach. The bleach can be corrosive to metal so it is suggested to apply oil before storing the equipment.  If black knot becomes a yearly problem, consider applying lime sulfur as a dormant spray in the spring after removal of knots. Another preventive option is to apply thiophanate-methyl when the tree is 1) dormant, 2) pink bud, 3) full bloom, and 4) three weeks after full bloom.  It appears to me some cherry and plum trees have resistance to black knot. If you are lucky enough to have such a tree in the yard, then a decision to remove a diseased one will be easier.  Another problem brought to my attention this past week was cedar-apple rust of Juneberry. This disease, again fungal, requires two different hosts to complete their life cycles. They overwinter as galls or witches’- brooms on junipers. In wet weather, orange gelatinous spore-leaving structures develop. These structures can develop several times between May and August, producing spores each time that can infect Rosaceous hosts such as apple, crabapple, hawthorn, and juneberry. On these hosts, infection results in small yellow-orange lesions on the upper surface of leaves and young fruit. Damage to Rosaceous hosts may develop as reduced fruit quality and minor to almost total defoliation of susceptible cultivars.  It is my opinion that managing or preventing damage to the Rosaceous plants is difficult if not impossible. Removing the juniper host plant is difficult because all within a 2 to 4 mile radius must go. If removing an alternate host (within the juniper or Rosaceous plant) is not possible, picking the galls on pruning the witches’ brooms off the juniper may keep the disease to a manageable level. There are several fungicides that can be used to protect ornamental Rosaceous hosts.

-Warren Froelich

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Poplars Not Popular - Be Watchful of Alfalfa

Published May 8, 2013
Poplars Not Popular - Be Watchful of Alfalfa

Trees and Shrubs for Northern Great Plains Landscapes

Poplars Not Popular

Spring is here and new homeowners are very enthused about beautifying their new home with trees, shrubs and a lawn. Developing a home landscape plan can be fun but requires a lot of hard labor and patience as plants, especially trees, grow to maturity.  When it comes to trees for new home yards and farmsteads we tend to prefer those that grow fast. Years ago, we looked to the Siberian Elm to fulfill growth expectations. Many were planted in field shelterbelts, around farmsteads and homes. It took about 20 years to realize this tree does not live very long. Although it has some drought tolerance, its life span is reduced when little moisture is received. Those who planted this tree also found it was susceptible to attacks of certain insects and very susceptible to phenoxy herbicides like 2,4-D and canker.  After we learned Siberian Elm was not the tree we thought it should be, we turned to the hybrid poplars for that fast growth. Indeed, it did grow very well for about 10 years but we learned most will be dead before they reach 20 years of age. Upon moving to our new home 20+ years ago, we hand planted many northwest poplar trees, occasionally giving them supplemental water.  As the trees approached 15-20 feet their leaves began to turn color and drop pre-maturely. By late August many were devoid of leaves. Attempts were made to provide water but we could not keep up. Today, just a few remain but they too are struggling. By the end of this summer I expect only two of the original 24 trees will be around to experience next winter.  Besides the high water requirement, hybrid poplars are often attacked by gall mites, cytospora canker, stem decay, and wetwood.  When folds ask for my thoughts or suggestions on fast growing trees, hybrid poplars usually become part of the discussion. Obviously they are not popular with me. However, they do have a place in situations where other longer-living trees that have lower water requirements can be planted nearby and the property owner is prepared to remove the declining poplars as they reach 10-20 years of age.  The Extension Service of North Dakota State University has published a neat handbook “Trees and Shrubs for Northern Great Plains Landscapes”. It contains pictures, descriptions, etc. of the major species of trees and shrubs to consider for planting in the Northern Great Plains. Although it is not intended to be an all-inclusive text, the publication includes information on 102 species plus cultivars and varieties. Hard copies can be purchased at the office now located at 302 East Broadway, known as Broadway Commons. Cost of the publication is $10.

Be Watchful of Alfalfa

Last spring many alfalfa fields were hit hard by alfalfa weevils which severely reduced yields. No one knows if they will be a menace this year. However, we do know they will actively feed when there are 430 to 595 degree days (DD) using a base of 48° F.  With this spring being so cold, the growing degree threshold will be later than normal. It is recommended to begin looking (scouting) around 300 DD. As of May 7, the North Dakota Agriculture Weather Networks (NDAWN) calculated 62-67 DD for the Sidney/Williston area. In the Tioga region, there were only 24 DD. Growing degree days are calculated by subtracting the base temperature (48° F) from the daily average of the high and low temperature. So, a day with a high temperature of 76° F and a low of 46° F would have 13 DD (76+46=122/2=61-48=13).  It will be a while before we reach 300 DD. It is possible we could reach this level by June 1. The accumulated degree days can be monitored at the NDAWN website: http://ndawn.ndsu.nodak.edu/index.html. There is also a link to NDAWN on our website. Go to applications, then insect degree days, then to maps. Be sure to select base temperature of 48° F.  Alfalfa weevils can wipe out a field of alfalfa in just a short period. So, it is important to scout the field and be ready to apply an insecticide well before damage is seen from the road.

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Why Not Chokecherry

Published July 3, 2013
Why Not Chokecherry


Why Not Chokecherry

Last year I devoted part or all of my weekly column describing trees that are found in this area. A couple of readers suggested I do the same for shrubs and smaller trees. Recently a wonderful lady who is enthused about promoting shrubs that bare edible fruits asked for information about chokecherry. She reminded me that, like her, there are many new people now living in this area who know very little about plant life adaptable to northwest North Dakota and northeast Montana. So, my lead-off shrub will be chokecherry.  I was fortunate to grow up in an area of North Dakota that had a lot of hardwood draws. Often near the oak and green ash trees we would find chokecherry, Juneberry, and plum bushes. I loved to fix fence or check cattle in those areas because there was a berry to be “had” for much of the summer. I don’t remember a year when chokecherries were not present. Some years the berries were bigger or smaller than the previous year.  The chokecherry is native to all parts of North Dakota. It is very resistant to the winter conditions of this state. In fact, it’s cold hardiness is rated as USDA Zone 2. It has moderate drought tolerance which is probably the reason it is found mostly in depressed areas of the native rangelands. It is adapted to a wide variety of soils including soil pH ranging from 5.0 to 8.0.  I have seen chokecherry reach upward of 15-20 feet. The North Dakota Tree Handbook states it can grow to 25 feet in height. Its mature height is likely a function of availability of growing season rainfall and soil type.  The chokecherry has been used primarily as a tall shrub for farmstead and field windbreaks, riparian plantings and highway beautification. Its suckering habit has discouraged homeowners from planting it in urban settings. However, both rural and urban folk like to make jellies and jams from the berries. I especially like to as it a syrup on pancakes.  Although the common chokecherry cannot be readily found in towns there is cultivar that is quite popular on city boulevards. That cultivar is Schubert (or Canada Red). This cultivar was developed by the Oscar Will Nursery of Bismarck by grafting a common chokecherry on Mayday tree rootstock to eliminate suckering. Now days, it is propagated largely from seed or cuttings.  Each year the leaves of Canada Red emerge as green in color but soon turn purple. As with most other trees and shrubs, Canada Red is not without problems. One of the most annoying is black knot, a fungus disease that is very prevalent this year.  There are other species closely related to chokecherry. These include the American plum, Mongolian and Nanking cherries, Russian almond, western sandcherry and the May Day.  If you can tolerate the suckering of chokecherry, you will certainly enjoy its’ many food benefits. Additionally, it is one of the most important plants for wildlife food and cover.

-Warren Froelich

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Corn Has a Unique Root System

Published June 20. 2013
Corn Has a Unique Root System

Corn root system

Corn Has Unique Root System

This past week I had the opportunity to drive through the eastern two-thirds of the county. The countryside has a beauty we often do not see. On the negative, the number of acres not planted exceeded my expectations. It looks like there will be a few more acres of corn to harvest this fall, anyway, I hope so. The last time we gave corn a good try on non-irrigated acres, the summer and fall did not produce enough heat units to make corn grain.  Compared to wheat, we know that the above ground tissue of corn is much different. This difference extends to the root system.  Corn has two rather distinct rooting systems. The first is comprised of the seminal roots that arise from the seed at germination. The seminal root system is limited in size and function but provides a mechanism for the emerging plant to access nutrients and water. The nodal roots develop at about 1 inch below the soil surface beginning at about the first collar leaf stage. Nodal roots (2-10 per node) generally develop from all of the subterranean nodes (typically 5).  By the four leaf stage, the nodal roots are larger and more expansive than the seminal roots. Roots can also arise from corn nodes that are above the surface of the soil. These roots are called brace roots and if conditions are favorable are able to penetrate into the soil and effectively extract water and nutrient from the top layer of the soil. Some general factors that affect root growth to consider and manage when possible that may or may not have application this season. 

Soil temperature – the optimum soil temperature for corn root development is 79°; there is little or no growth below 50°. The cool temperatures this spring have generally limited root development causing plants to be pale green or show symptoms of P deficiency. No-till soils with high residue tend to be a few degrees colder than soils that are tilled. Furthermore, well drained soils warm up faster than wet soils. This could be an advantage of a tiled field if the water table is an issue causing wet conditions.

Inadequate soil moisture – Roots will not develop or grow through soil that is below the permanent wilting point. They will follow water in the soil, however, in that they will branch and develop in regions of the soil that have favorable soil moisture even if surface layers are depleted of moisture. If the soil surface is dry, hot or compacted during nodal root development, nodal roots may be limited resulting in young plants that easily lodge. This has been referred to as the ‘rootless corn syndrome’. There were a few reports of this problem last year in North Dakota. I think with the rainfall after planting this year, there will be few if any problems of rootless corn.

Excess soil moisture – Excess moisture this spring is a much bigger problem for corn root development than inadequate soil moisture. When soils become saturated, the amount of oxygen available to the roots decreases rapidly as plants and microorganisms deplete available sources. Corn roots need oxygen for respiration, cell division and nutrient uptake. Waterlogged conditions can also predispose plants to root rots later in the season, so the ultimate effect of excess moisture may not be known until late in the season. Promoting rapid field drainage can directly benefit root development in wet seasons like this year.

Nutrient status – Root growth is favored by phosphorous. Roots will not preferentially grow towards a band of fertilizer but if they grow into one, they will develop more profusely there if nutrients are otherwise limiting. Pop-up fertilizers are recommended in North Dakota in order to enhance P uptake by corn seedlings that typically have restricted root growth due to cold soil temperatures. A pop up fertilizer, however, will not always solve problems like those pictured. Mycorrhizae fungi also aids corn roots in extracting P from the soil. Add additional P when corn follows a black fallow, canola or sugar beets as these crops/practices reduce the amount of Mycorrhizae fungi in the soil.

Compaction and chemical barriers – Roots are not able to penetrate very compacted layers of soil or grow into layers that are high in salts or calcareous hardpans. For fields with soils known to be prone to compaction, check for compaction layers. A well aggregated, well-drained soil will promote root growth.

Insect damage – the most common root damaging insects in ND are white grubs, wireworms and corn root worm larvae. As part of your scouting program examine the roots for damage from insects. Most root-feeding insects are best controlled with insecticides applied on the seed or at the time of planting or in the case of the rootworm, the use of corn hybrid that is traited with a Bt gene effective against that pest.

-Warren Froelich

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Wet Conditions Favor Some Crop Diseases - Project Safe Send

Published June 13, 2013

Wet Conditions Favor Some Crop Diseases

It seems with every environmental situation there are different threats to successfully producing a crop. This year is starting off to be different than most. The abundant rainfall certainly will be favorable for tan spot infection on small grains and possibly aphids.  The North Dakota Agriculture Weather Network (NDAWN) continually monitors weather conditions throughout the state. There are several monitoring sites in northwest North Dakota. Just about every location in the state has recorded continuous days that favor development of tan spot. As I traveled the eastern two-thirds of the county early this week, I found almost every field had some infection but the severity was relatively low. However, the spring seeded small grains are relatively young and very prone for tanspot development. Coupled with daytime temperatures in the 70’s-80’s, this disease could explode on our spring wheat, durum and barley. This maybe the year to be seriously thinking about making an early season application of a fungicide.  As expected, winter wheat fields are more advanced in growth but the disease severity is very similar to our spring seeded crops. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) crop scouts employed by NDSU have found a bit more tan spot infection on winter wheat but have not identified the presence any stripe rust. Winter wheat is at least several weeks away from concern over possible Fusarium head blight development.  Aphids are another potential problem. They are usually found on the undersides of the leaves. Their feeding has more impact on yields if found early in crop development. Aphid populations result mostly from immigrating insects which arrive on storm fronts from the southern states. As the plant matures, aphid populations move up the plant after heading where they are more easily noticed.  Besides their feeding damage, some aphids can vector the barely yellow dwarf virus (BYDV). The symptoms of BYDV include stunting of plants and yellowing. Often the leaves appear chlorotic. The later symptoms include small heads, shriveled kernels and of course reduces yields.  To protect small grains from yield loss due to aphid feeding, the treatment threshold is 85% stems with more than one aphid present or 12-15 aphids per stem prior to compete heading. The greatest risk of yield loss from aphids feeding on grains is when the crop is in the vegetative to boot stages.  There are several predatory insects which feed on aphids. These include lady beetles, aphid lions, syrphid fly larvae and some wasps. When large numbers of these natural enemies are present and the crop is well developed, insecticide treatment is discouraged.

Project Safe Send – A Pesticide Disposal Program

If you have an unusable or unwanted pesticide consider taking advantage of North Dakota’s unique “Project Safe Send” program. This is a simple and non-regulatory program to help people safely and legally get rid of herbicides, insecticides, rodenticides and fungicides at no cost to the farmer, rancher, homeowner, applicator or dealer. The program is funded through product registration fees paid by pesticide manufacturers.   Project Safe Send is a program of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. Each year the department schedules approximately one dozen collection sites throughout the state. The 2013 sites and dates for this region include Watford City (July 12), Kenmare (July 10) and Minot (July 11). The collection at each site will run from 9am to 3pm at the North Dakota Department of Transportation facilities. People with more than 1,000 pounds of pesticides should pre-register by calling 800-242-7535 or email jjlien@nd.gov. A maximum of 20,000 pounds of pesticides per participant will be accepted. The first 100 pounds of rinse water will be taken free of charge. A fee will be applied for each additional pound.  According to Doug Goehring, Agriculture Commissioner, more than three million pounds of pesticides have been collected through this program. The pesticides are shipped out of state for incineration.

-Warren Froelich

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Kochia Resistance to Popular Herbicides Moving Westward

Published June 5, 2013
Kochia Resistance to Popular Herbicides Moving Westward


Kochia Resistance to Popular Herbicides Moving Westward

Weed resistance to popular herbicides is a growing concern amongst those of us involved in producing crops for the world’s growing population. I have not heard many crop growers in this region share resistance problems but kochia resistance to glyphosate (Roundup) and fluroxypr (Starane) is moving westward. Just a few years ago high levels of resistance were documented in southern Minnesota. Last year, there was widespread concern in eastern North Dakota that glyphosate was not killing kochia.  Last fall NDSU researchers collected around 80 seed samples of kochia from around the state. These were germinated and treated in the greenhouse with either glyphosate or fluroxypr. Results from a non-replicated run indicated that 12 percent of samples had at least one plant that regrew after 3x glyphosate (Roundup PowerMax) and 25 percent of samples had a survivor produce new branches after 2x fluroxypr (Starane Ultra). The number of surviving plants ranged from 1 to all plants within these samples.  Kirk Howatt, Research Weed Scientist, and Rich Zollinger, Extension Weed Specialist, are leading the research at NDSU designed to find ways to reduce weed resistance to herbicides. Their first run of three greenhouse studies to characterize kochia response to fluroxypr has been completed. Observations indicate about 8x the level of resistance to fluroxypr is present in five or six of the 80 samples. Two other samples with survivors are responding quite similarly to the susceptibility check and may not be statistically different once a second run is completed.  Weeds typically are easier to kill when plants are smaller but many have observed that very small, or “puffball”, kochia are difficult to kill with any herbicide, including glyphosate. One greenhouse trial demonstrated that fluroxypr was most effective when applied to one to two inch tall kochia. Most kochia smaller than this survived and regrew, while larger kochia showed herbicide symptoms and also had less kill of plant foliage.  The research does show growers experiencing kochia resistance to glyphosate and fluroxypr still have some herbicide options. Sharpen at one fluid ounce/acre or Gramoxone/Paraquat with MSO adjuvant was very effective in treating kochia that was two to three inches tall. Only a few larger plants produced regrowth. Aim had good activity but again larger plants were not completely killed and regrew quickly. Application of fluroxypr with dicamba as in the premix Pulsar improved activity compared with fluroxypr alone. Plants were still green but with very little new shoot production.  Surprisingly, Atrazine at .38lb active ingredient per acre was variable in effectiveness as individual kochia plants were either completely dead or unaffected. Kochia has become resistant to Atrazine in other regions of the country but has not been documented in North Dakota. With low Atrazine rates used in North Dakota and use primarily in corn, it was thought that Atrazine resistance to kochia would be delayed for many years. Howatt and Zollinger encourage corn growers to watch for kochia escaping atrazine treatment and welcome notification.  HPPD herbicides used in corn (Callisto, Impact, and Landis) may not kill kochia if used alone and is the reason NDSU recommends adding atrazine to these and most other POST applied herbicides used in corn.  Howatt and Zollinger promise to continue their work in combating kochia. They feel that combinations of effective active ingredients (herbicides) will be necessary to control kochia, especially at locations where herbicide resistance has occurred and where kochia is taller than desired at application.

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Planting Trees Correctly - Low Growing Degree Days Not Helping Corn Grow

Published May 30, 2013
Planting Trees Correctly - Low Growing Degree Days Not Helping Corn Grow

Planting Trees Correctly

Planting Trees Correctly

Planting a tree correctly and following recommended practices for early care are extremely important in giving the tree a good start.  Besides selecting the right tree for the environment it is very important to plant it at the proper depth. The root collar should be just above the soil layer. The root collar is at the bottom of the main stem which slightly flares out just before the roots begin. When planting trees there is a rhyme that goes as follows: plant too high the tree will die; plant too low and the tree will not grow.  When planting bare root trees, inspect the root growth pattern. Sometimes there are roots that look like they may eventually circle and girdle the tree as it matures. Just sever these roots. Also, with bare root stock, make sure there is good root to soil contact.  Another recommendation is to apply a three-inch deep layer of mulch around the base of new plantings just beyond the drip line. A recent assessment by the North Dakota Forest Service showed that mulching has a beneficial effect on the ability of newly planted maple varieties to withstand adverse weather conditions. Wood mulch helps to conserve moisture, limits sod competition and creates a buffer around the tree reducing the chance of accidental contact with lawn care equipment that can injure or girdle a tree. Rock mulch is not preferred, since it can physically harm trees as they grow and may raise soil alkalinity.  I frequently am asked the question “How often or how much water should I give the tree?” This is a tough one to answer because soil type, size of the tree, species, and rainfall all must be considered. Clay soils have the ability to hold more water than sandy soils thus less frequent watering is needed.  As a general rule of thumb, my NDSU tree consultants have suggested giving a new tree one to two gallons of water per inch diameter for the first few weeks. After this period, apply about twice that amount under the tree’s drip line every four days or so until August. Stopping supplemental watering at this time encourages the tree to properly harden off prior to the winter months.  In our quest to give a newly transplanted tree a good start, I occasionally find some trees receive too much water which can deprive tree roots of needed oxygen. If you can form a mushy mudball, the soil is likely too wet for most trees.

Low Growing Degree Days Not Helping Corn Growth

Corn requires about 122 degree days (dd) to emerge. If planted deeper than two inches or for fields with moderate to heavy residue the dd will be slightly higher. During the period of May 16-27, accumulated dds in the Williston/Sidney area was around 115-120.  Corn growing dds can be used to predict emergence and leaf appearance in most environments. North Dakota data suggests that new leaves appear after about 70 dd. Degree days are running behind normal for the latter half of May. This may be good news for small grains but not for corn. Not only is above ground development of corn delayed by cool weather but the root system is also impacted. It is not unusual for corn to appear yellow and nutrient deficient when soil temperatures hover around 50 degrees. Extensive root development is needed for the corn plant to find and take up much needed phosphorus. Even when a pop-up fertilizer is applied, the plants may appear yellow until temperatures warm and root growth increases.

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Degree Days Mounting for Alfalfa Weevil - Transplanting Trees

Published May 21, 2013
Degree Days Mounting for Alfalfa Weevil - Transplanting Trees

Alfalfa Weevil

Degree Days Mounting for Alfalfa Weevil

As I write this column (May 21) the North Dakota  Agricultural Weather Network reports there have been approximately 200 accumulated insect degree days in the Williston and Stanley area. This data has some implications as to when we can expect adult alfalfa weevil emergence which is around 250-300 degree says. Degree days are calculated by averaging the high and low temperatures of each day and subtracting the base of 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on day time temperatures, it is possible adult emergence could occur by the time you read this.  Adult weevils do very little damage to alfalfa plants. It is the larvae which begin to hatch from the eggs they lay at about 300 accumulated degree days. During the initial egg hatch, the feeding of the little larvae is light but by the time 500 degree days are accumulated, the larvae are large enough to cause considerable damage to the alfalfa plant. The feeding continues until approximately 800 degree days have passed.  Scouting of alfalfa fields should begin immediately after egg hatch and fields should be scouted weekly for larvae up through the first cutting. Fields should be scouted in an “M” pattern or by selecting random sites within the field, with a minimum of five sampling sites per field. Large fields should have more sampling sites. Be sure your sampling pattern is representative of the entire field. Just don’t scout only along the edges or in small areas.  For sampling, you will need a sharp pruning shear, a white 5-gallon bucket and pencil, paper and calculator. At each sampling site, select a minimum of 30 plants and cut them off the base. Lower the cut plants into a 5 gallon pail and vigorously beat the plants in the pail to dislodge the larvae. Record the 1) number of plants sampled, 2) the total number of larvae, 3) estimate and record percent feeding damage (defoliation), and 4) the height of the alfalfa. Then, total the number of larvae and divide by the total number of plants sampled to calculate an average number per plant. Also, calculate percent feeding damage and plant height averages for the field.  The NDSU Entomology Department does not recommend the use of sweep nets for sampling because results are often highly variable and inaccurate. Sweep nets can be used to determine the presence of adults and larvae at or prior to the typical egg hatch of 300 degree days.  Several factors must be considered when making alfalfa weevil management decisions. Plant height, estimated yield, crop market value, management cost, and plant injury based on the number of larvae per stem must be considered. North Dakota entomologists have established a recommended economic threshold based on plant height, crop value, and treatment cost and number of larvae. This table can be found at our website: www.ag.ndsu.edu/williamscountyextension.  After the first cutting has been harvested, be sure to scout for larvae where the windrows were located. When the alfalfa is swathed, the larvae usually crawl below the windrow for shelter and remain there until pupating.  When the decision has been made that insecticidal control is needed, pay attention to the pre-harvest interval. Most labels also have a pre-grazing interval.

Transplanting Trees – Match Spade to Tree Size

A tree’s size and potential for moving is determined by its trunk diameter or caliper which is measured about six inches off the ground for trees that are four inches or less in diameter. The caliper is measured about 12 inches off the ground for trees with a trunk diameter larger than four inches. As trees are selected for moving, it’s important to know the capacity of the tree spade. A common mistake is thinking that if the tree spade can dig and lift the tree, it is a large enough machine to do the job.  Although most tree spades can dig and lift much larger than they are designed for, this does not mean that it will remove enough soil and roots for successful transplanting. A high percentage of the tree’s roots are lost when the tree spade cuts into the soil to create the rootball. The percentage of roots that are lost during this process increase dramatically if the tree is larger than the rated capacity of the machine. Tree spade manufacturers rate the capacity of their machines differently. As a rule, the tree spade diameter should be 10 times the truck caliper. There are exceptions though. Trees with wide, shallow root systems, such as poplars, will lose a higher percentage of roots than will a deep-rooted tree. Trees that have a deep tap root, such as oaks, are much harder to dig and their chances of survival will be less than that of a non-tap root tree.

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Corn Plant Populations - Find Planting Dates - When to Prune Trees and Shrubs

Published May 15, 2013
Corn Plant Populations - Find Planting Dates - When to Prune Trees and Shrubs


Corn Plant Populations

The optimum plant population for corn production has been increasing in recent years. Much of the gains in corn productivity have been attributed to higher population and corn hybrids that are adapted to these higher populations. Also, in drought prone areas, high populations are needed to reach maximum yield.  Based on data from research conducted at NDSU and by other regional entities, plant population in drought prone areas with an expected yield of less than 100 bushels per acre, should be in the range of 15,000-19,000 per acre. For expected yields in the range of 100-130 bushels, the plant population should be 21,000-25,000.  On the other side of the pendulum, plant populations for expected irrigated yields greater than 190 bushels per acre, the recommended plant population is in the range of 32,000-36,000 per acre.

Find Planting Dates

For full crop insurance coverage, the USDA Risk Management Agency has established dates by which specific crops must be planted. These dates vary by state and often by county within the state. The dates by crop for Williams County are as follows: May 20 – canola, chickpeas, May 25 – corn for grain, lentils, peas, canola; and June 5 – hard spring wheat, durum, barley, and oats. To see the dates for other crops go to: http://www.rma.usda.gov/fields/mt_rso/2013/final

When to Prune Trees and Shrubs

Pruning trees and shrubs is done for several reasons. Like me, many people do not get into the mood of pruning until it is too late. Much of the pruning of home landscape plants should be done in late winter or early spring while the trees are still dormant. In North Dakota, March is generally the best time to undertake this work to minimize sap flow. Exceptions to this would be trees noted for having heavy sap flow such as maples and birches. The best time to prune these is after they have fully leafed out.  Some shrubs bloom only on the previous season’s growth. An example of these is Forsythia, Syringea (lilac), Viberum and Spirea. If you want them to rebloom the following season, you should complete the pruning immediately after the blooming period is over. Pruning these shrubs while still dormant in the early spring removes potential flowering branches for that growing season.  Evergreens generally have a longer pruning season than deciduous plants. In addition to early spring and midsummer, pruning after new growth has hardened is acceptable for pines and spruce trees. Junipers and arborvitaes can be pruned up to mid-August.

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Manure Sampling Program Initiated - Assessing Winter Injury of Wheat - On The Move

Published May 1, 2013
Manure Sampling Program Initiated - Assessing Winter Injury of Wheat - On The Move


Manure Sampling Program Initiated

Livestock manure has value. It can provide valuable nutrients to crops grown on land where it is applied. However, the exact amount of nutrients can be highly variable. According to data archived at the NDSU Soil Testing Laboratory the nitrogen content of manure from beef cattle ranged from 6.7 to 64.8 pounds per ton. Similar ranges were also found for phosphorous and potassium. These variations in nutrient content are associated with diet, age, and storing practices.  With such variation in nutrient content it is easy to understand manure can be under and over-applied. With this in mind, two NDSU Livestock Environmental Management Specialists have initiated a Manure Nutrient Sampling Program. They want to sample and test manure of cattle, swine, sheep, horses, poultry and other livestock. This will be done free of charge for any North Dakota livestock owner.  Participating producers can expect to be asked a few questions regarding animal diet and storage of manure. The test results will be shared with the participating producer. The data will be used to create a publication covering nutrients found in North Dakota manure; however, participant information will remain anonymous.

Assessing Winter Injury of Wheat

Last year’s winter wheat yields were phenomenal. This was encouragement to make another planting last fall. Because of the dry soil moisture conditions, the wheat plants were slow to germinate and had below normal growth going into the winter. Within a few days we will be able to make a good assessment as to the extent of injury and possible death of the plants resulting from the cold temperatures of winter.  Because winter wheat has the ability to produce more productive tillers than spring wheat, low plant populations of winter wheat can still produce significant yields. Research conducted at the USDA Ag. Research Station near Mandan shows that winter wheat at 8 plants per square foot can still produce 88 percent of the maximum yield and that even stands as low as 5 plants per square foot can produce close to 70 percent of the maximum yield.  Providing added nitrogen fertilizer to their stands has been a good practice to stimulate tillering of winter wheat. This should be done as soon as possible after the wheat breaks dormancy. If a substantial amount of nitrogen was applied in the fall at seeding or before the soil was frozen, 25 pounds of nitrogen per acre is generally adequate to stimulate tillering. Urea is the likely choice for a broadcast application of nitrogen. This should be done just prior to a rain forecast to prevent nitrogen loss through volitalization. Urea treated with Agrotain will help to minimize the potential for nitrogen loss.

On The Move

We have moved again. The Williams County/NDSU Extension Office has relocated to the new county building located across the street southeast of the courthouse/law enforcement complex. Although we have a new address, 302 East Broadway, we retained the same phone number 701-577-4595. Our office is conveniently located on the ground floor along with planning/zoning and the building department.

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Tips For Establishing A Lawn

Published April 3, 2013
Tips For Establishing A Lawn


Tips For Establishing A Lawn

Spring must be coming. Anyway, the thought of green grass is on the minds of many people. When is a good time to plant grass to establish a new lawn? What should I seed and should it be fortified? These are frequent questions this time of year.  Let’s start with the first question – When is a good time to use Kentucky blue grass as the base species with maybe a sprinkling of fescue which tends to be more shade tolerant. I encourage homeowners to plants the grass just as soon as daytime temperatures consistently approach 70 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Besides being moist the soil should be close to this temperature to promote active seed germination.  Before going any further with this issue, I need to emphasize the importance of having six inches or more of good topsoil to support a lasting quality lawn. The surface of the lawn should be smooth. Use a garden rake or drag a metal door mat or plank over the surface to smooth irregularities and fill depressions in the final seedbed. The seedbed should remain granular in tilth because fine, dusty, overly compacted seed may crust when watered. Remember the finished grade should slope gently away from the home in all directions.  Firmness of the seedbed is highly important. A revered colleague defined a firm seedbed as one that barley left a footprint.  After broadcasting the seed, it is important to rake it into the ground. Good contact with moist soil is important for germination and seedling survival.  For most lawn seed mixtures, 2 to 3 pounds per 1000 square feet is adequate. Two pounds is more than adequate if the seed mix contains primarily Kentucky bluegrass and if conditions for germination are optimum. If seed mixtures contain 30 to 40 percent or more of creeping red fescue, then 3 to 4 pounds per 1000 square feet is recommended.  I believe the single most important step to successfully establishing a lawn is keeping the top inch of soil moist at all times during the first 10-12 days. I emphasize “all times” because just a few hours of the new germinated seed being exposed to dry soil will likely kill it, especially on a sunny, warm day.  If shade trees are present or are a part of the home landscape plan it is important to remember that most common varieties of Kentucky bluegrass lack shade tolerance. Creeping red fescue is more tolerant to shade and thus highly recommended as part of the seed mix.  Nitrogen is the major nutrient that is nearly always deficient in lawns, followed by phosphorus. Not all commercial fertilizers are alike in the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium so making a broad spectrum recommendation on rate of application is difficult. If a fertilizer has an analysis of 10-10-10 consider applying 5 pounds per 1000 square feet at planting time and another 5 pounds in late May-early June.  For new or established lawns, adjust the mower to approximately two inches and then mow whenever the grass has reached three inches in height. Lawns maintained at this length are much more vigorous and attractive. A sharp blade on any rotary mower is very important. A dull mower tends to chew rather than cut the grass leaving a gray-hair effect on the lawn.  A well maintained lawn is a basic element of most home landscapes. Most of us cherish that lush green turf as it provides a natural setting for the home.

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