Nebraska’s harvest is moving along

November 17, 2018

Let’s talk crops! This is Dr. Megan Taylor your local friendly agronomist with Nebraska Extension serving Platte, Boone, and Nance counties.

It has been a little wet, cool, and windy the past couple of days around the area. As of Monday, the USDA reported that 62 percent of Nebraska’s corn and around 80 percent of Nebraska’s beans had been harvested. This is on pace with previous years despite the wet beginning to harvest. However, with our recent wet conditions, growers have been kept out of the fields for a few days. Cover crops and wheat have benefited from the fall moisture and continue to accumulate biomass. This week I wanted to talk more about cover crops, specifically the role that cereal rye plays in nutrient management.

Cereal rye as a cover crop, is a great nitrogen scavenger. Between winter thaw and spring planting of soybeans, precious nitrogen can be lost because of the soils warming. When soils warm in the spring microbes become active and begin decomposing organic matter which releases nitrate. This nitrate can be lost if there is no active root system growing to take up the free nitrogen.

Having a crop like cereal rye in the ground taking up the free nitrate can significantly reduce the loose nitrate. Cereal rye is one of the most winter-hardy cereal crops and has a prolific fibrous root system that readily takes up nitrogen. In research studies completed in northeast Nebraska, it was shown that under cereal rye cover there were differences in the top 8 inches of cover crop and non-cover soils. Under the cereal rye cover, there was significantly lower nitrate measured. Although the ideal time for planting cereal rye coming to an end, there is still time to plant. Even with moderate growth of cereal rye, differences in soil nitrate can be observed.

If you are needing to collect your Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payment, then please call and schedule a time to talk with our local Farm Service Agency (FSA). Their contact information is 402-564-0506, ext. 2. They can help you get your payout scheduled.

Be sure to visit CropWatch at UNL Extension for weekly articles about current issues and view scouting reports from across the state. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at 402-563-4901 or email me at mtaylor42@unl.edu. For up to date information follow me on twitter @CropTalkMegan. Have a great weekend! Boiler Up and Go Big Red!

Megan Taylor is a crop specialist serving Nebraska Extension in Platte, Boone and Nance counties.

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