October 19, 2016

Nebraska Corn 34% Harvested

For the week ending October 16, 2016, temperatures averaged near normal in the east and two to six degrees above normal across western Nebraska, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. However, freezing temperatures at mid-week were reported across a wide area of the State. Rainfall was minimal, but heavy morning dews limited soybean harvest progress. There were 5.6 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 24 short, 65 adequate, and 4 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 24 short, 66 adequate, and 3 surplus.

Field Crops Report: Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 21 fair, 57 good, and 16 excellent. Corn mature was 96 percent, equal to last year, and near the five-year average of 93. Harvested was 34 percent, near 36 last year, and behind 40 average.

Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and UNL Extension Service.

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables HERE
Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps HERE
Access the U.S. Drought Monitor HERE

October 17, 2016

Corn Congress Leadership Mission


In July, the Nebraska Corn Board, through our corn farmer’s checkoff investments, supported eight Nebraska agricultural leaders to join corn growers, staff and leaders during the National Corn Growers Association’s (NCGA) Annual Corn Congress meeting.

The meeting took place in our Nation’s capital from July 18 - July 21. Throughout the three days, the eight Nebraska Corn Leaders were able to interact with nearly 200 farmers and leaders from all across the U.S., Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation and agribusiness leaders from some of the leading agribusiness companies. They were also provided with the opportunity to advance their personal and professional leadership skills, develop an understanding of the role and importance that NCGA plays in agricultural policy and engage in a hands-on tour of agricultural production in the Delmarva Region.

Below is an outline of the agenda:
  • Monday, July 18: flight to Washington DC and Nighttime Tour of City and Monuments 
  • Tuesday, July 19: tour of the Delmarva Region, including tours of: Oyster Recovery Center, Grasonville, MD; Nagel Cucumber Farm, Denton, MD; Kenny Brothers Grading Station, Bridgeville, DE; and an evening activity with leaders from Missouri, Ohio and Iowa 
  • Wednesday, July 20: NCGA’s Corn Congress, Capitol Hill Visits and agribusiness Meetings 
  • Thursday, July 21: NCGA’s Corn Congress, Agribusiness meetings and flights home 

Attendees of the Nebraska's Corn Congress Leadership Mission included: Sam Krueger of Blue Hill, Curtis Stallbaumer of Oconto, Toni Rasmussen of Newman Grove, David Schuler of Bridgeport, Clint Shipman of Red Cloud, Andrea Wach of Wauneta, Emily Puls of Emerson and Amanda Kowalewski of Gothenburg.

Below is a video that Nebraska Corn Leader, Andrea Wach, made about the experience. (or click here to view)

Additionally, below is what Nebraska Corn Leader, Clint Shipman, shared about his experience…

“I had the privilege of attending the National Corn Growers Association Corn Congress in Washington, D.C. The Nebraska Corn Board sponsored me, as a Nebraska Corn Leader. This experience has helped to further develop my leadership skills along with broadening my knowledge of the United States agricultural industry.

The observations I made during this event were very diverse. We had the opportunity to tour Harris Seafood Co., which has an oyster farm in Queensland County, Maryland. The biggest takeaway from this experience was hearing the owner, Jason, talk about his operation. The phrases, “nitrogen and phosphorus management” and “planting this year went smoothly”, are two very familiar statements. He explained one of his biggest concerns was labor along with over-regulation when it pertains to the minimum wage; two issues that also pertain to farm operations here in Nebraska.

While in Queensland County we made a stop at Nagal Farms. Hannah Cowley gave us a tour of the cucumber harvest process in one of her fields. She outlined the growing season of cucumbers. Forty-five days is all that is needed for cucumbers to reach maturity, making it possible for double cropping. Soybeans or cucumbers can be the second crop. 

The cucumbers raised will later become pickles and the farmers use Kenny Brothers Cumber as a distributor to companies such as Clausen, Vlasic, or Allan Pickle, to name a few. Viewing the many steps this unique crop goes through before I get to see it inside of my fridge was intriguing to watch.

At the NCGA Corn Congress Meeting we attended on Wednesday, July 20th, we saw delegates vote on new policy along with new National Corn Board candidates be elected to the Board. The opportunity to witness the process that the association uses to adopt a policy at the national level is something I can share with farmers in my community. When associations talk about grassroots, I now can say I have seen the policy ideas go from the farmer’s field all the way to the state and national level. 

The individuals I was introduced to and able to network with while in Washington, DC made me realize the tight-knit community the agriculture industry is. Large in scope, but also still reflects the relationships that mirror small farm characteristics. Agriculture is one of the most progressive industries in the world, but it has not lost sight that the most powerful tools are to work together as a team. The experience I had during Corn Congress showed me the importance of coming together to find common goals when working to develop sound policy in a government that continues to be over-regulated.”

October 12, 2016

Harvest Season – Operation Lifesaver

See Tracks? Think Train!
Did you know the railroad plays an important part in agriculture especially at harvest? More than 3,400 miles of railroad tracks run through Nebraska transporting grain, fertilizer and ethanol for global distribution.

Those same tracks may crisscross your farmland or run parallel to your local co-op and elevator. You probably cross railroad tracks every day without a second thought. Nebraska Operation Lifesaver wants to remind you to avoid complacency at railroad crossings this harvest season.

Pat Leahy, Union Pacific track inspector and Operation Lifesaver presenter, is visiting co-ops in central Nebraska reminding farm crews about the importance of railroad crossing safety.

“Be observant when you approach the tracks,” Leahy said. “It’s a busy time of year, but trying to beat a train or take shortcuts is not worth the risk.”

Leahy urges all farmers, ranchers and their employees who must use farm-rail crossing to remember – Always expect a train! Trains can run on any track, at any time, in either direction.

Never attempt to cross railroad tracks unless you’re certain you can get completely across them, and without risking becoming high-centered. Trains extend at least three feet beyond the width of the rails on each side, so remember your cargo overhang as well.

Remember to pay extra attention where field and farmstead access roads cross the tracks. Be especially cautious at private access farm-rail crossings which are not equipped with warning signs, lights, bells or gates.

If you have an issue or emergency at a railroad crossing looking the blue Emergency Notification System sign on the crossing. Call the 800 number and report the crossing number to notification the dispatcher of your location. Keep emergency information handy for frequently used farm-rail crossings.

Download these useful tools provided by Operation Lifesaver and Union Pacific to keep you safe this harvest season:

About Operation Lifesaver

Operation Lifesaver's mission is to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and along railroad rights of way. A national network of trained volunteers provides free presentations on rail safety. Learn more at www.oli.org; follow OLI on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Nebraska Operation Lifesaver, which is led by State Coordinator Carol Daley, focuses on public education throughout the state. Learn more at www.nebraskaol.org or follow Nebraska OL on Facebook and Twitter. 

This guest blog was written by Megan Grimes. Megan is the public relations coordinator with the Nebraska Ethanol Board and also serves on the board of directors for Nebraska Operation Lifesaver.

October 6, 2016

Ag Champions: Helping students become Advocates for Agriculture


Most will agree, American farmers are in the minority when it comes to our nation’s population. At the same time, the rest of the country is three or four generations removed from the farm. That means the average American lacks the general understanding about where their food comes from and the important role agriculture plays in all of our lives and our country. In many cases, these consumers are unfortunately exposed to an endless flow of misinformation in the media and on the Internet. So our challenge as an agricultural industry, is to give them the information to make educated choices.The Nebraska Corn Board realizes FFA students identify and understand agricultural issues. Our intent, by offering the Ag Champions Program, is to encourage FFA students to “agvocate” (agricultural advocates) for agriculture by sharing their story with consumers and accurately representing agriculture.

 The Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska FFA are partnering to offer the newly revised 3rd Annual Ag Champions Program where FFA students can be champions for agriculture and accurately represent their industry online! The purpose of the Ag Champions Program is to help FFA students find their voice and become agvocates by building their own social media platform online to tell their story. The use of today’s technology and social media has taken the opportunity to share agriculture to a whole new level and as the future of agriculture, we need FFA members to lead this conversation. Our hope is that the platform the students build will become a foundation that they can build on for the rest of their ag-loving life!

How do I get started? 
It is up to the students to make their own unique online presence. They can create an ag-focused website, blog, or vlog (video blog). These platforms must be visible to the public and must feature a minimum of six entries, including the topics outlined in the “contest rules” on page 2. The top six students, judged to have the strongest agvocating platform, will each receive a $500 scholarship.

Click here to download a copy of the complete overview

October 5, 2016

Making “SENSE” of Sustainable Nitrogen Management

In today’s world it could be easy to think that the idea of “sustainability” is a new concept.  After all, it’s been just in the last couple years that we’ve seen an influx in advertisements and product labels carrying such phrases as “Produced Sustainably” or “Sustainably Sourced”.  But what exactly does sustainability mean?  While the exact definition is often up for debate and may vary between groups, commonly referenced principles of sustainability within agriculture include:
  • Maintaining or increasing production using fewer inputs
  • Adopting strategies or developing new practices that lessen environmental impact
  • Seeking continuous improvement in agricultural productivity across the entire supply chain   

These principles are far from being new concepts to Nebraska’s corn farmers who understand that “sustainability” is more than merely a marketing term.  As stewards of the land, sustainability is a necessity for farmers to meet the increasing food, fiber, and fuel needs of a growing world, while preserving resources for all uses and to be enjoyed by future generations.

While principles of sustainability are not new to farmers, there is always room to improve on what is already being done through new and innovative methods.  This is what researchers at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL) hope to achieve with Project SENSE.

Project SENSE, or Sensors for Efficient Nitrogen Use and Stewardship of the Environment, is a research project conducted by UNL in partnership with 5 Nebraska Natural Resource Districts (NRDs) and the Nebraska Corn Board.  Project SENSE seeks to increase nitrogen use efficiency in corn production and reduce environmental impact of nitrogen use on groundwater quality by utilizing crop canopy sensors. 

Nitrogen is one of the most important elements for plants, and successful nitrogen management is critically important in optimizing crop yields.  Although nitrogen is naturally found in air and soil, it’s generally in a form that is not directly available to most plants, or not available in the amount that plants need.  Farmers are able to get around this by applying the usable form of nitrogen (nitrate or ammonium) to their fields – an added input expense that doesn’t come without its challenges. 

Two of the biggest challenges a farmer faces are determining the timing of the nitrogen application and the rate to be applied.  Nitrogen applied too early holds the risk of being lost through leaching before the crop takes it up.  Leaching occurs because nitrate is not held well by soil and therefore can be washed below the root zone of plants especially after large rains.  The ideal time to apply nitrogen fertilizer is during the growing season, just before the crop’s maximum demand for nitrogen.  However, waiting too long to apply runs the risk of logistic or weather conditions not allowing application when planned.  In addition, due to nitrogen’s complex behavior of changing between forms and being highly mobile in soil, soil testing for available nitrogen may give a reading that is only valid at the time of testing, leading to application rate recommendations that may be too high or too low for the plant’s needs.    

A key component of Project SENSE is the use of crop canopy sensors to mitigate these challenges.  The sensors are installed on high clearance equipment which allows for application of nitrogen fertilizer during the growing season of corn when nitrogen is most needed and taken up by the plant.  The sensors themselves measure light reflectance off canopy leaves which correlates to the nitrogen status of the crop and is used to generate real-time optimal rates of nitrogen to be applied as the farmer drives through the field.

In terms of sustainability, the ability to apply the optimal amount of nitrogen at the right time clearly has the potential to lessen the environmental impact caused by nitrogen leaching.  However, Project SENSE also demonstrates an often overlooked component of sustainability – economic sustainability.  If a production practice can’t be sustained financially, it won’t be adopted by producers.  The use of sensors to generate the economic optimum rate aims to achieve stable or increased yields while also using less fertilizer, resulting in increased profit.   

In 2015, 17 Nebraska On-Farm Research Network grower sites were implemented as part of the project, and preliminary results are promising.  At each site, the study compared the grower’s normal nitrogen management approach to the Project SENSE nitrogen management approach.  Over all sites combined, Project SENSE resulted in a reduction of nitrogen by 40 lbs/ac compared to the grower’s nitrogen management approach.  Although an average yield loss of 5 bushels per acre was also observed with Project SENSE, the economic savings from the reduced nitrogen application translated to a marginal net return of $7.75 per acre above that achieved using the growers’ standard nitrogen management practices. 

Project SENSE does more than just demonstrate the potential for improved nitrogen use efficiency using sensor-based application, it also challenges farmers to think about nitrogen management differently and encourage the adoption of strategies that are both environmentally and economically beneficial.  In terms of seeking continuous improvement to enhance the sustainability in agriculture production, Project SENSE is one example of how corn checkoff funds are supporting research to meet the challenges faced by Nebraska‘s corn farmers.  

Watch the video below or click here for a 360 experience of Project SENSE from inside the applicator cab...
*Tilt or drag to move around!*

For more on Project SENSE and to see full results, visit Nebraska On-Farm Research Network at http://cropwatch.unl.edu/farmresearch

October 4, 2016

Nebraska Corn 15% Harvested

For the week ending October 2, 2016, ideal fall harvest conditions occurred with minimal precipitation and near normal temperatures, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The dry conditions allowed grain moisture levels in standing crops to be drawn down and permitted easy access to fields. Soybean harvest was widespread. Winter wheat was being planted in southern counties. There were 6.6 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 8 percent very short, 28 short, 61 adequate, and 3 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 26 short, 65 adequate, and 2 surplus. 

Field Crops Report: Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 6 poor, 20 fair, 56 good, and 17 excellent. Corn mature was 85 percent, ahead of 77 both last year and the five-year average. Harvested was 15 percent, near 14 last year, but behind 21 average.

Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and UNL Extension Service.

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables HERE
Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps HERE
Access the U.S. Drought Monitor HERE

September 30, 2016

Nebraska Corn is Now Accepting Applications for Seven College Internships

Nebraska Corn is now accepting applications for seven internships starting in May 2017. Qualified college students will have the opportunity to apply for internships hosted in Lincoln, Nebraska, across the United States and internationally. 

Two opportunities are year-long internships in the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) offices in Lincoln. The balance of the internships will be during the summer, located in NCB cooperator offices across the United States. These cooperators include: the National Corn Growers Association in St. Louis, Missouri and Washington, D.C.; the U.S. Meat Export Federation in Denver, Colorado; and the U.S. Grains Council in Washington, D.C. The international internship will most likely be with the U.S. Grains Council in the Panama City, Panama office.

“Through partnerships with our national cooperators, Nebraska Corn is able to offer one of the best internship programs in the state,” said Emily Thornburg, director of communications at NCB. “We offer a diverse group of opportunities, with the focus ranging from public policy, to marketing and communications and international relations. I would encourage any college student hoping to excel in an agricultural focused career to apply for these internships.”

Applications are due to the Nebraska Corn Board office by 5pm on Friday, October 21, 2016. To apply for an internship or to learn more about the program, click here.  

The seven Nebraska Corn internships available are listed below:

Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of Nebraska Corn added, “Investing in our future agricultural leaders is a priority that we have long supported. Our internship program has been engaging students for over 20 years, and year after year, we see outstanding students go through the program and go on to excel in the industry.”

September 29, 2016

Have a Safety First Attitude This Harvest Season!

The harvest season is upon us. Temperatures are dropping, spider webs are flying and farmers across the state are busy harvesting this year’s crop. This is a hectic time of year and farmers have a huge amount of work to do, within a very short window of time. As farmers work diligently during the busy harvest season, Nebraska Corn is encouraging them to have a safety first attitude and take the extra second for safety.

Last week we recognized National Farm Safety Week—but Nebraska Corn emphasizes that farm safety is a priority that should be recognized every day.  Agriculture remains one of the more dangerous occupations in North America, and this is especially true during the busy harvest season. The urgency to get the crop out of the field in a timely manner, can lead to more accidents during harvest than at any other time during the year. 

“There are a lot of moving parts during harvest. We are all working long hours under the stress of weather delays and equipment breakdowns—and that can lead to fatigue,” said Dave Merrell, farmer from St. Edward, Nebraska and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “That is why it’s a good reminder to be proactive and take the extra second to exercise caution, get plenty of rest and make safety-first decisions to keep things safe on the farm for everyone.”

This reminder isn’t just for farmers alone, added Merrell.  He also cautioned motorists driving on rural roads to use extra caution during harvest. These roads see additional traffic during harvest, which increases the chances for accidents to occur between slower moving farm equipment and vehicles moving at faster speeds. Rural intersections will have heavier-than-normal travel and dusty conditions may limit visibility, as can sun glare in the morning and evening. Standing crops in the field may also block a clear view of oncoming traffic.

Nebraska Corn encourages farmers to pay special attention to the safety features of their equipment, and encourages everyone to keep an eye toward safety on the highways and byways this harvest and year round.

“Harvest and fall field work is truly a thrill for Nebraska farmers, but it’s important that we stay focused and take care of ourselves during this fast-paced time of year,” said Larry Mussack, farmer from Decatur, Nebraska and president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “During long stretches of work, it’s important that you take short breaks, get enough sleep and eat healthy. This will keep things safe around the farm for everyone, including family members and employees helping to harvest the crop.”

Some things to consider for farmers and farm workers while on the farm this fall:

  • Stay alert. Take breaks to help avoid fatigue — get out of the cab and walk around every few hours. Keep your cell phone charged so you can communicate as needed with family members and employees.
  • Use extra caution around PTO’s. Check that PTOs are well protected to avoid contact with clothing or people during operation. And never step over a rotating PTO—a few extra steps to walk around the tractor are worth the effort.
  • Shut down before working on a machine. If the combine becomes clogged, shut off the motor, not just the header, before attempting to unplug it by hand.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Know where your co-workers and family members are at all times and always be aware of power lines that you can come in contact with while moving equipment and augers around grain bins. Visibility can be especially poor around large machinery and at night.
  • Grain Bin/Handling Safety. Grain bins deserve special attention and caution when grain is being loaded and removed. Never stand on grain that is being or has been moved. Safety measures should be put in place to avoid any risk of entrapment and suffocation.
  • Move Machinery Safely. Make sure your Slow Moving Vehicle emblems are in good condition and properly mounted. If you must move machinery on a roadway after dark, have all necessary working headlights and flashing front and rear warning lights. The better you can be seen the less likely you are to be hit by motorists.
  • Develop Safety Rules. Have a set of safety rules for everyone to follow – and enforce them. Protective eye and ear wear is important in many situations. It is also important to equip tractors and combines with a fire extinguisher, as dry crop residue is fuel for a fire. Finally, ensure that trained family members and employees are operating powerful equipment—if kids want to be involved, give them age appropriate jobs.

September 27, 2016

Shelby Field Day Features Soil Health

On September 7, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), in conjunction with the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA), hosted a field day in Shelby, Nebraska, highlighting the Soil Health Partnership. Farmers, land owners and community members had an opportunity to engage in hands-on learning and group discussions around the topic of soil health.

The field day took place at two locations. During the morning, attendees gathered at Central Valley Ag in Shelby for group discussions. Here, staff with the Soil Health Partnership showcased how changing nutrient management and tillage strategies, along with cover crop adoption, can create lasting environmental and economic benefits. The afternoon was spent on Greg Whitmore’s farm where attendees had the opportunity to take part in hands-on field demonstrations, including a soil pit for participants to observe cover crop root growth and soil properties. Whitmore, a farmer from Shelby Nebraska and vice chair of Nebraska Corn’s research and stewardship committee, has been involved in the partnership for three years.

“The Soil Health Partnership has been a great program to help bring awareness to the importance and benefits of soil health,” said Whitmore. “As a farmer, I have a strong interest in not only achieving good yields, but also in sustaining the productivity of my land for future generations. This program has taught me that improving the health of my soil can help with both of these objectives.”

The soil health field day covered a variety of topics, including a discussion on practical methods to improving soil health and what a soil health test really tells you. Cover crops were also discussed—digging into why they are important, the variety of cover crops that can be used and how cover crops improve the health of the soil. As more farmers seek innovative practices to change the way they care for their land, the Soil Health Partnership aims to bring farmers and experts together to share information and resources on these topics on a local level.

 “Implementing practices to improve soil health can have numerous benefits including preventing nutrient loss and erosion, and improving soil structure,” said Boone McAfee, director of research at NCB. “Farmers are our best ambassadors for sharing these soil health practices and encouraging adoption among their peers.”

Nebraska Corn is encouraging farmers to consider becoming involved in the Soil Health Partnership. If you are interested in learning how to use innovative soil management strategies and would like to become one of the Soil Health Partnership’s demonstration farms, contact the Nebraska Corn Board office.

About the Soil Health Partnership 
The Soil Health Partnership brings together diverse partner organizations including commodity groups, federal agencies, universities and environmental groups to work toward the common goal of improving soil health. Over a period of at least 10 years, the SHP will identify, test and measure farm management practices that improve soil health and benefit farmers. We believe the results of this farmer-led project will provide a platform for sharing peer-to-peer information, and lend resources to benefit agricultural sustainability and profitability. An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, we provide the spark for greater understanding and implementation of agricultural best practices to protect resources for future generations. For more, visit soilhealthpartnership.org.

September 26, 2016

Nebraska corn rated 74% good or better

Photo courtesy of Imperial FFA Chapter
For the week ending September 18, 2016, temperatures averaged near normal in the east and two degrees below normal across western Nebraska, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Minimal precipitation fell across western areas, while rainfall was widespread over eastern Nebraska. Parts of the northeast received five inches or more of rain. Dry bean combining was underway in western counties. Seed corn and silage harvests continued. There were 5.1 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 23 short, 65 adequate, and 5 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 26 short, 64 adequate, and 3 surplus.

Field Crops Report: Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 20 fair, 57 good, and 17 excellent. Corn dented was 95 percent, near 91 last year, and equal to the five-year average. Mature was 45 percent, near 41 both last year and average. Harvested was 2 percent, near 4 last year, and behind 7 average.

Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and UNL Extension Service. 

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables HERE

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps HERE

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor HERE