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    Record-High Alfalfa Weevil Populations: Available management options

    “There are record high populations of Alfalfa weevils this year” says our Sheep Field Specialist, Dave Ollila. Monitoring for alfalfa weevils is being conducted since last week of April and it was not until the last week of May that significant numbers were observed. It appears that the weevil activity lagged approximately three weeks behind average degree day requirements. Almost each and every field in Fall River and Butte counties have weevil numbers beyond economic thresholds and the damage is significant.

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    Alfalfa Pest Updates: Alfalfa caterpillar and lygus bug

    Alfalfa fields in western South Dakota are looking green and healthy with little or no pest insect activity. Except for few spots in the northeast, much of the state has warmed up enough for alfalfa weevils to become active. Monitoring for weevils is being carried out every 10 days in alfalfa fields in Butte and Haakon counties. There are no signs of weevil activity yet in these areas.

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    Cool Temperatures Slow Leafy Spurge Flea Beetles for Redistribution

    Normally the Leafy spurge flea beetles would start emerging on leafy spurge in the next two to three weeks. Mid June is the normal time of the year when we start collecting the flea beetles for distribution in South Dakota. The cooler than normal spring temperatures most likely will delay normal emergence of this bio-control agent because their life cycle is based on growing degree days much like plants.

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    Frost and Freeze Damage to Crops

    Early morning temperatures from May 14-16th have been below 32° F for much of the state, with some portions of the state reaching as low as 23° F. Crop damage will be a concern in a few instances. The crop, crop growth stage, air temperature, near surface air temperature, soil temperature, length of freezing conditions, and local topography among other factors all influence the extent of crop damage that may occur during an early morning freeze event.

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    Growing Teff Grass

    “Have you considered teff grass?” This is a growing response to those who are looking for more crop choices in their operations. In Western South Dakota the growing interest is linked to no-till systems and cover crops. Teff (Eragrotis tef), is native to Ethiopia in Africa where it is mainly grown for its grain used in making the staple, injera. Although there is an increasing market for its grain, teff is mainly a forage crop in the US.

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    Glyphosate Resistant Waterhemp: A Growing Problem

    Among the four glyphosate resistant weeds in South Dakota, common waterhemp has the potential to have the highest impact areas where a corn-soybean rotation is the mainstay. Thirty years ago waterhemp was only found in the very southeast corner of the state. It was a tough weed to control then and still is.

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    Early Winter Storm & Wet Fall: What it means for insect management next year

    While the aftermath of winter storm Atlas is still being felt by ranchers, growers of field and forage crops in storm hit areas of western South Dakota might see an unexpected positive outcome for the coming season. The timing of storm and the amount of precipitation might have a negative impact on field insect populations leading to low insect pressure on crops.

    Read More »

    Interpreting Soil Test Micronutrient Values

    Soil analyses prior to planting can be an invaluable tool in determining nutrient application rates and diagnosing potential in-season deficiencies. Overwhelmingly, the focus of these tests is on the primary or macronutrients – Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). Typical soil tests often report essential micronutrient contents, termed for their trace amounts found in plants and soil, and these numbers should not be overlooked.

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    Manage Weed Escapes And Prevent Next Year’s Weed Seed Bank

    A very important weed management strategy is to reduce the number of weed seeds present in the field and by limiting the potential weed populations during crop production season. This means watching for and managing weed escapes. If allowed to mature and go to seed these weeds will contribute to the next seasons weed seed bank. This is very important as it relates to herbicide resistant weeds.

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    Cover Crops

    Some questions regarding cover crops have arisen lately. Cover crops have been an interesting area of focus for the past 6-7 years. Growing them has included an ongoing learning curve and with each year we gain some insight and knowledge. Last year there were very few acres planted as it was too dry to consider a post- wheat or mid-summer cover crop.

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    Our Changing Soil pH

    Soil pH is one of the most basic of soil measurements and one of the most telling for soil productivity. Soil pH can directly influence plant and soil microbial growth. Soil pH can also influence soil nutrient availability, as well as indicate the presence of free lime and an excess of some ions such as sodium and aluminum.

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    Surprising Yields With No-Till Cropping Systems

    Producers using no-till practices have observed that crop yields can greatly exceed expectations based on nutrient and water supply. For example, Ralph Holzwarth, who farms near Gettysburg, SD, has averaged 150 bu/ac of corn on his farm for the past 6 years. We were surprised with this yield, as corn yields in eastern South Dakota (Brookings County) averaged 140 bu/ac during this same time interval.

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    Fall Cover Crops Boost Soil Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Which Can Lead To Reduced Inputs

    Fall cover crops provide multiple benefits to producers. These benefits include pathogen and pest protection, drought protection, weed control, reduced soil erosion, nutrient acquisition and retention, increased soil organic matter, and conservation of soil water by improvement of soil structure that increases infiltration and water holding capacity.

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    Protecting Pollinators from Insecticide Exposure

    Summer is in full swing! Soybeans are beginning to bloom, corn is tasseling, and sunflowers will start to show their flashy yellow flowers soon. Include the vast fields of alfalfa with the aforementioned crops and it’s clear that there are many acres of flowering crops in South Dakota that are extremely attractive to pollinators. I have been asked at nearly all Extension events organized by the SDSU Extension Service this summer about the impact of insecticides on pollinators.

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    Cover Crop Considerations in 2014

    Moisture conditions across the state may have people considering growing cover crops this year. Wheat harvest is just around the corner and many wheat producers in central South Dakota have found that cover crops planted after wheat can provide some benefits. This year with the positive moisture situation across many areas of the state, cover crops after wheat harvest will be an excellent fit.

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    Growing Teff Grass

    “Have you considered teff grass?” This is a growing response to those who are looking for more crop choices in their operations. In Western South Dakota the growing interest is linked to no-till systems and cover crops. Teff (Eragrotis tef), is native to Ethiopia in Africa where it is mainly grown for its grain used in making the staple, injera. Although there is an increasing market for its grain, teff is mainly a forage crop in the US.

    Read More »

    Early Winter Storm & Wet Fall: What it means for insect management next year

    While the aftermath of winter storm Atlas is still being felt by ranchers, growers of field and forage crops in storm hit areas of western South Dakota might see an unexpected positive outcome for the coming season. The timing of storm and the amount of precipitation might have a negative impact on field insect populations leading to low insect pressure on crops.

    Read More »

    An Invitation To View Grassland Research And Demonstration Plots

    Grassland research has been conducted at the Eastern South Dakota Soil and Water Research Farm near Brookings since 2000. For the past 2 years, we have been busy re-establishing some of the grassland demonstration plots as well as developing a new brochure that describes the research and demonstration work on grassland agriculture being done on the farm.

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    Why Grow Sorghum (Milo)?

    With advances in corn genetics to tolerate dry conditions, and the adoption of glyphosate resistant corn, many farmers may ask, “why should I grow grain sorghum?” Grain sorghum, or milo, has long been known as a drought tolerant crop. Sorghum shares the water use efficiency of other warm-season grass crops. While sorghum requires about 6.5” of moisture to get to the point where it will produce grain, the production with additional moisture is very efficient; accumulating about 500 lbs of grain or about 9 bushels per acre-inch once that point is reached.

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    Early Weed Control In Grain Sorghum

    Starting of the planting season with a clean field and early postemergence weed control measures in sorghum are critical. A combination of a burndown, preplant/preemergence, and early postemergence weed control timings as needed should be using herbicides with several modes of action to increase broad-spectrum control and reduce development of or management of herbicide resistance in weeds. What herbicide program options do sorghum growers have? Are there any new herbicides labeled for sorghum?

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    Late Planting Dates For Crop Insurance

    Late planting period starts this weekend (May 25th) for corn in Northern counties of South Dakota. South Dakota producers routinely purchase crop insurance on corn, soybeans, wheat and sunflowers. The most commonly used insurance products have provisions for prevented planting, late planting, replanting, and planting of a second crop. In addition to agronomic considerations for how well a crop may recover or how late a crop could be planted with a reasonable chance of success, several dates are important from an insurance standpoint.

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    Soil Moisture And Water Thrifty Crops

    Timely rainfall is more critical than normal this growing season. Only the northeast corner of South Dakota has been removed from the drought designation, though it is still abnormally dry. Only 28% of subsoil moisture in the state is rated adequate to surplus in the latest USDA-NASS crop progress and condition report. Growers abandoning winter wheat and seeding a spring crop may want to consider the answers to these questions: 1) Are some crops thriftier with water and 2) did some crops in 2012 deplete soil moisture more than others?

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    Watch Out for Banded Sunflower Moths

    Banded sunflower moths (BSM) emergence was recently reported in North Dakota. BSM (Cochylis hospes, Order: Lepidoptera) is native to North America and can overwinter in South Dakota, which contributes to recurring infestations every year. Adult emergence begins in mid-July and continues into August. Adults are most commonly seen congregating on broad leaf vegetation in field edges during dawn and dusk.

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    Downy Mildew Developing in Sunflower

    According to this week’s USDA-NASS report, sunflowers planted were 97 percent with 69% having emerged. Sunflower at the seedling stage is susceptible to downy mildew infection. High soil moisture and cooler temperatures encourage downy mildew development in sunflowers (Figure 1). The fungus that causes downy mildew, Plasmopara halstedii, can be soil-borne, windborne and seedborne but the soilborne inoculum is the most economically important.

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    Sunflower Production in South Dakota

    In 2013 South Dakotans planted 617,000 acres of sunflowers. No other state came close to this number of acres. North Dakota was second, planting just under 500,000 acres of sunflowers in 2013. There are two types of sunflowers planted in South Dakota; oilseed types used for birdseed or crushed to make sunflower oil and confection types or those grown for human food markets. Seeds of the two types are easily differentiated.

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    Early Winter Storm & Wet Fall: What it means for insect management next year

    While the aftermath of winter storm Atlas is still being felt by ranchers, growers of field and forage crops in storm hit areas of western South Dakota might see an unexpected positive outcome for the coming season. The timing of storm and the amount of precipitation might have a negative impact on field insect populations leading to low insect pressure on crops.

    Read More »

    Interpreting Soil Test Micronutrient Values

    Soil analyses prior to planting can be an invaluable tool in determining nutrient application rates and diagnosing potential in-season deficiencies. Overwhelmingly, the focus of these tests is on the primary or macronutrients – Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). Typical soil tests often report essential micronutrient contents, termed for their trace amounts found in plants and soil, and these numbers should not be overlooked.

    Read More »

    Bumble Flower Beetles And Sap Beetles In Sunflowers

    It is past mid-September and sunflowers are nearing maturity with harvesting dates approaching. Beetles of various sizes are most commonly spotted on sunflowers during this time, and while there may be many of them, they are not considered sunflower pests. There are two beetles that are seen actively feeding on sunflower heads and appear to be of concern to producers while causing no damage to the crop.

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