April 2016

Skunk Alert!

By John Wilson, Nebraska Extension Agriculture Educator

A distinct odor greeted me as I parked in my driveway and walked towards the house when I came home the other evening. I just hoped I’d make it to the back door before I discovered the source of that odor. (I made it!) Between that and seeing a dead skunk along the road, I’d say that skunks have become more active in the last week or two.

Skunk Behavior
This is expected because the breeding season for skunks runs from late February to late March, with young being born in May to early June. A skunk’s home range is usually about one-half to two miles. But during the breeding season they may travel four to five miles each night. That’s why skunks may show up in unusual places this time of year and the mortality rate is higher along highways.

At this time of year, skunks may randomly pass by your place in search of a mate, but if they persist around your home, you probably have something they want... food, water, or shelter. They'll take advantage of a deck or an old building to hide under, pet food left out overnight, or water.

Cat food is one of their favorite entrees and skunks tend to get along fairly well with felines. However, don't leave cat food out where they can readily get it. Skunks are nocturnal critters, so feed your cats in the morning and remove any food in the evening.

Dogs, on the other hand, are a bit too curious and they can get into some stinking trouble. If the skunk is frightened or annoyed, it gives fair warning first. It will growl, stamp its feet and spit! If those techniques don't work, up goes the tail and out comes a caustic cloud. That spray is pretty accurate and can nail the enemy as far as 15 feet away.

Discouraging Skunks
So what's a homeowner to do? Limit whatever is attracting them to your property. If you have a deck or old building they get under, fence it with half-inch mesh hardware cloth. Bury the bottom foot of fencing about 6 inches deep with the bottom six inches bent out at a right angle so they're not going to dig underneath it to get under the fencing and find shelter.

You can also modify their habitat by properly storing or disposing of garbage or other food sources that attract skunks. Skunks are often attracted to rodents living in barns, crawl spaces, sheds, and garages. So controlling rodents may be necessary to eliminate this attraction.

Debris such as junk cars or equipment as well as piles of lumber, fence posts, railroad ties or firewood can provide shelter for skunks and may encourage them to use an area. Clean up these areas to discourage skunks.

Perhaps the greatest concern about skunks is they are the primary carriers of rabies in the Midwest. Avoid overly aggressive skunks that approach you without hesitation. Any skunk showing abnormal behavior, such as daytime activity, may be rabid and should be treated with caution. Avoid any skunk you observe that is acting suspiciously or destroy it if you can do so safely.

Skunks do have some value. They have a hearty appetite for insects and grubs and may also consume mice and baby rats. However, their appetite for grubs can also cause conflicts for homeowners when they decide to dig for grubs in the front yard.

For more information on skunks and their control:
Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management: Skunks.

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Should I be Worried about the Bird Flu?, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights April 2016. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-april-2016
Wild birds may be carrying diseases that could affect your chickens, turkeys or waterfowl on your acreage. 

Should I be Worried about the Bird Flu?

By Brett Kreifels, Nebraska Extension Assistant

With the spring migrations just beginning, wild waterfowl and other birds will be heading right through or above, your acreage. With them, they may be carrying a number of diseases that your chickens, turkeys or even waterfowl on your acreage may be exposed to. The question is; should I be worried about my birds contracting any of these diseases? What can I do to prevent my birds from getting sick? The answer to those questions is yes but we’ll outline a few steps you as an acreage owner with poultry can do to minimize the threat of disease transmission to your flocks.

The buzz word right now in terms of avian diseases is Avian Influenza or the bird flu. This respiratory disease is highly contagious and affects predominantly chickens and turkeys. The theory is that wild waterfowl carry the disease as they fly north and south during the spring and fall migrations. Wild waterfowl land in fields to rest and feed where farmers inadvertently pick up the virus on their shoes or tractor tires, further spreading the disease. While preventing the migration is not an option you can aid in preventing the disease from entering your flocks.

The key item to maintain is good biosecurity. Biosecurity are preventative measures to ensure the health and safety of your animals from outside disease threats. Here is a list of steps to ensure your birds are limited to the exposure to disease:

  1. Do not allow visitors who own other poultry to interact with your flock.
  2. Use Proper Protective Equipment (PPE) when working around your poultry. An example of PPE would be to use separate boots or shoes designated just for your operation and only when you’re working with your poultry. Do not use the same shoes for everyday use.
  3. Do not visit public areas where wild waterfowl may be present. This may include local ponds, lakes or other farms.
  4. Maintain a clean, dry environment for your birds at all times. Frequent bedding changes are encouraged.
  5. Feed only fresh, rodent and mold free feed. Fresh water daily is also a must.
  6. If you receive new poultry, quarantine them away from the rest of your flock for a minimum of 30 days.

A key to a good biosecurity program is to remain vigilant and be meticulous. Make sure that if one of your birds is sick, that you act quickly to prevent the rest of your flock from getting sick by removing the bird and placing it in quarantine. Having an effective disinfectant available to help prevent the spread of the disease will also aid in the spread. Most poultry diseases though can be prevented by maintaining a clean environment and providing adequate food and water resources as well as adequate space and reducing outside stressors. Disease cannot be entirely eradicated but by following a few biosecurity steps, you can greatly reduce the chances of your flock contracting a disease.

To learn more about how to keep your flock happy and healthy, visit the United States Department of Agriculture’s Biosecurity brochure.

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Spring Pasture Management, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights April 2016. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-april-2016
When you start grazing animals on pasture depends on several factors. 

Spring Pasture Management

By Monte Stauffer, Nebraska Extension Livestock Educator

Spring is here and the pastures are greening up but how soon should you start grazing?  That depends on several factors.

The first decision is whether you want to use the area to get the most forage off of it this grazing season or will the area be used as only an exercise area for the animals and the majority of their food is supplemented from another source. 

If it is only an exercise area, you can graze animals anytime. 

If it will be used for maximum production, then grazing should be delayed until the grass is 6-8 inches tall.  This can range from April 15 to May 15 for cool season grasses depending on the part of the state you are located.  If the pasture was grazed close last year or was stressed by drought, then grazing should be delayed longer.

Grass stores its reserves in the roots and the leaves are the factories.  The leaves utilize the sun and soil nutrients to produce more leaves and roots.  If the plant starts growing and most of the leaves are removed when the plant is young, the plant can’t grow more leaves if the root reserves are depleted.   Never remove more than half of the leaves and allow the plants to rest and recover after it has been grazed for a period.  This is why rotational grazing of several areas can increase the total production of the field.

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Fluoride in Your Private Well Water, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights April 2016. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-april-2016
Virtually all water sources contain some naturally-occurring fluoride.

Fluoride in Your Private Well Water

By Nebraska Extension Water Quality Educator Sharon Skipton and Nebraska Extension Environmental Engineering Specialist Bruce Dvorak

Do not assume there is no fluoride in your private well water. Virtually all water sources contain some naturally-occurring fluoride.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that exists in combination with other elements as a fluoride compound found in rocks and soil. When water passes through and over soil and rock formations containing fluoride it dissolves these compounds, resulting in the small amounts of fluoride present in nearly all water sources.

As with many substances, potential health effects of fluoride in drinking water are directly­ related to the concentration present. The U.S. Department­ of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Dental Association recommend an optimum level of 0.7 milligrams per liter (mg/l) to ensure potential dental benefits while minimizing or eliminating potential risks.

A study of naturally occurring fluoride in Nebraska’s groundwater reported a range of concentrations from less than 0.1 mg/l to 2.6 mg/l with an average of 0.3 mg/l (Headrick, 1996). According to the study, three areas in Nebraska had average concentrations higher than 0.6 mg/l or had average concentrations near 0.6 mg/l with a significant percent of samples over 1.5 mg/l. Counties included in the three areas were: Chase, Dundy, Hayes, Hitchcock, Red Willow, Frontier, Knox, Box Butte, Kimball, Cheyenne, and Scotts Bluff. 

Testing Private Well Water for Fluoride
Water quality in private wells is not regulated in Nebraska, so testing your water for fluoride is not required.  If you want to know the concentration of naturally occurring fluoride in your private water supply, you will need to have the water tested at your own expense. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services certifies laboratories to conduct tests from drinking water samples. or information on laboratories approved to test for fluoride, contact:

Nebraska  Public Health Environmental Laboratory
(402) 471-3935
http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/lab

Non-certified laboratories may use the same equipment and procedures as a certified laboratory. Such laboratories may provide accurate analyses, but there is no independent information about the laboratory’s ability to obtain reliable results.

If naturally occurring fluoride concentrations are found to be above the level desired by you and/or your dental care provider, you can reduce the fluoride concentration.

Four treatment methods are suitable for reducing or removing fluoride from drinking water, including activated alumina filters, distillation, reverse osmosis, and anion exchange. Typically these methods are used to treat water at only one faucet. If treatment is to be used, work with a reliable, competent water treatment dealer to select the treatment method best for your situation.

Another option might be to use bottled water for drinking and cooking. Since bottled water also may contain fluoride, check the label, or contact the manufacturer for information on the fluoride concentration in the product selected.

Summary
All water contains naturally occurring fluoride. Tests by reputable, qualified laboratories can determine the concentration of fluoride in a private drinking water supply. If fluoride is present above a desirable level, options include using water treatment equipment to reduce or remove the fluoride or using an alternative water source.

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Nebraskans Should be Prepared for an Increased River Flood Risk this Spring, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights April 2016. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-april-2016
Risk of river flooding in Nebraska this spring is higher than normal due to saturated soil conditions and above average river flows. 

Nebraskans Should be Prepared for an Increased River Flood Risk this Spring

By Jodie Fawl, Nebraska Emergency Management Agency

Each year, Nebraska is faced with many types of dangerous weather. From severe thunderstorms to blizzards, Nebraskans are no stranger to adverse weather. This year will be no different, as the risk of river flooding in Nebraska this spring is higher than normal, due to saturated soil conditions and above average river flows. The saturated soil conditions developed in 2015 and carried over into the winter months of 2016. In addition, projected above-normal river levels on Nebraska’s rivers will contribute to the expected flood risk increase.

Now is the time to prepare for flooding and to consider buying flood insurance, even if you do not live in an area that typically floods. For more information and to help prepare, here are a few flood resources and safety tips:

  1. Visit http://www.floodsmart.gov for flood preparedness advice to safeguard your family, home and possessions and for more information about the National Flood Insurance Program.
  2. Learn how to recognize, understand and react to flooding at http://floods.dnr.ne.gov/.
  3. Monitor local flood conditions at http://water.weather.gov.
  4. Study evacuation routes in advance and heed evacuation orders.
  5. Turn Around, Don’t Drown – never cross flooded roads, no matter how well you know the area or how shallow you believe the water to be.

Other Key Points

  1. During the past 90 days, liquid-equivalent precipitation across the eastern half of Nebraska has been 200-to 300 percent above normal.
  2. Along the main stem of the Missouri River, the Corps of Engineers reports that all of the stored 2015 flood waters have been evacuated as of Jan. 28. The 2016 runoff season, which normally starts on or about March 1, was underway in February due to warmer-than-normal temperatures in January and February.  The system has 0.3 million acre-feet (MAF) of the 16.3-MAF flood control storage zone occupied.
  3. Snowpack across the North Platte and South Platte River Basins are slightly above normal. At Lake McConaughy the reservoir is above normal, which is typical in a strong El Niño winter like this season.
  4. Fortunately, the late winter warming trend has cleared river ice, decreasing the threat of flooding from ice jams for the season.
  5. Long-term outlooks favor a higher than usual chance for conditions to be similar to the wettest third of years when compared to the climate record.

This news release was developed in coordination with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, National Weather Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.

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Early Spring Pest Control for Evergreen Trees, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights April 2016. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-april-2016

Zimmerman pine moth pitch mass. Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Early Spring Pest Control for Evergreen Trees

By Sarah Browning, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

Correct timing on pest control measures is key to good control, but that’s difficult when insect or disease symptoms don’t show up until much later in the growing season. This week, we’ll look at three common pest problems on evergreen trees that need to be addressed early in the growing season. They are listed below in order of the timing for control.

Due to this spring’s warm weather conditions, trees may reach the designated growth stages for control of each pest earlier this year than in a typical year. Watch for evergreen bud break and time your applications accordingly.

Zimmerman Pine Moth
Pine moths are serious pests of pines in Nebraska. Their larvae, which are caterpillars, damage trees by tunneling just beneath the bark of the trunk and branches, most commonly on the trunk just below a branch. The tunnels

they make can girdle the trunk or branches or physically weaken them so they are easily broken by wind or snow. Heavily infested trees are often deformed and are sometimes killed.

The first sign of infestation by pine moths is the appearance of soft, pinkish pitch masses on the trunk or branches. These pitch masses, which form where larvae are feeding beneath the bark, may be found anywhere from the top to the bottom of the tree and commonly look like masses of bubble gum. After the larvae finish feeding, the pitch

masses dry and become light yellow to cream colored, hard, and brittle. The pitch masses may remain on the tree for many years and may not be noticed unless the tree is examined closely.

Ponderosa, Austrian, and Scotch pines are highly susceptible to pine moths. Jack and white pines can be infested, but are usually not seriously damaged. Pines from 5 to 15 feet tall are the most heavily infested and damaged. Smaller trees are less frequently attacked. Larger trees are often heavily infested, but they are not likely to be severely damaged.

Young larvae, which hatched out last fall and spent the winter under loose bark scales or in old tree wounds, are susceptible to insecticidal control in spring. Spray bark on the tree trunk and base of main branches with a drenching spray of permethrin or bifenthrin in the second week of April and again the second week of August.

Early Spring Pest Control for Evergreen Trees, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights April 2016. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-april-2016
Diplodia tip blight kills new pine growth before it fully enlongates. Sarah Browning, Nebraska Extension. 

Diplodia Tip Blight
This fungal disease of Austrian and Ponderosa pine kills current-year shoots and, in years with heavy disease pressure, can kill whole branches. It’s most common and damaging in mature trees, but young trees can be affected, too.

The most conspicuous symptom of Diplodia tip blight is stunted new shoots with short, brown needles still partially encased in their sheath. Infected shoots are quickly killed and may be located anywhere in the tree's canopy, although damage is generally first evident and most severe in the lower branches. After two or three successive years of infection, a heavily infected tree’s canopy may be extensively damaged. Repeated infections reduce growth and deform trees.  Branches that have been infected several years in a row often die back completely.

Small, black, pimple-like structures develop at the base of infected needles and on the backside of pinecone scales. These structures produce additional fungal spores that can re-infect the tree.

Spray branch tips thoroughly when new growth starts usually around the third week of April, just before needles emerge from sheaths, and 7-14 days later according to the label with thiophanate-methyl (such as Cleary’s 3336 or Fungo), propiconazole (Banner MAXX), copper fungicides or Bordeaux mixture.  Also improve tree health by mulching with wood or bark chips and watering about 1 inch per week. Avoid overwatering.

Early Spring Pest Control for Evergreen Trees, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights April 2016. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-april-2016

Yellow or tan spots on needles that darken to brown or reddish-brown are characteristic of Dothistroma needle blight. Sarah Browning, Nebraska Extension. 

Dothistroma Needle Blight
One of the most common fungal diseases of pines in Nebraska is Dothistroma needle blight. This disease is responsible for much of the premature needle drop that occurs in windbreaks and ornamental pine plantings. Twenty pine species are affected by this disease, but in the central and eastern United States the fungus is found most commonly and causes the greatest amount of damage on Austrian and Ponderosa pine.

Initial infection of the tree by fungal spores occurs during rainy periods from May to October. Germinating spores enter the needles through natural openings and the infection process begins. Symptoms appear about three to four months after the first infection, usually becoming visible in late fall. 

Symptoms are seen as yellow or tan spots on needles of the current year's or older growth. These spots darken and become brown or reddish-brown then spread to form a band around the needle. These bands are often bordered by a yellow, chlorotic ring on each side. The fungus grows within these tissues, killing that portion of the needle beyond the lesion.

Initially, the tip of the needle dies while the base remains green, but eventually as the disease progresses, the base of the needle also dies, and the entire needle drops off the tree. Typically, clusters of needles within a shoot are infected. Lower branches of trees are most severely infected although the entire tree can be affected. Usually the greatest amount of needle drop is seen in the late spring or early summer following infection.

Spray trees with copper fungicide or Bordeaux mixture as needles are emerging (mid May) and after new growth has occurred (mid to late June). Increasing air-flow around the healthiest trees by removing older, declining trees will also reduce disease pressure.

For More Information

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April Lawn Care, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights April 2016. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-april-2016
As mowing height increases, rooting depth also increases. 

April Lawn Care

By John Fech, Nebraska Extension Educator - Horticulture

The acreage seems to come back to life in April – the trees, shrubs, flowers, fruit trees…and the lawn.  There are so many possible lawn activities to work on; sometimes it gets down to a prioritization exercise, where acreage owners sit and think through what is most important and what can wait.  To help with these decisions, following is a set of turf action steps and an accompanying brief description to assist with the choices.

Mowing - Clipping return or clipping removal?

  1. For most situations, it’s best to implement clipping return aka Bag No More!  - with 2 exceptions; when turf is tall or diseased.
  2. 1/3 rule – Aim to remove no more than one third of the vegetation with any one mowing operation.
  3. Kentucky bluegrass, turf type tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, zoysiagrass– Generally mow 2x per week in spring, 1x per week in summer.  Buffalograss – Once a month all season long.
  4. As mowing height decreases, rooting depth also decreases; and maintenance level increases.
  5. Yet, as mowing height increases, stand density decreases and thinning occurs.
  6. Thus, it’s a balance, like many things in life.  As you may have heard on an infomercial,  “set it and forget it”.
April Lawn Care, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights April 2016. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-april-2016

Aeration provides many benefits in a good turfgrass management program.

Aeration - Spring is the best time.

There are many benefits of aeration in good turfgrass management.

  • Encourages deep rooting
  • Breaks up clay soils
  • Sets up turf for other maintenance operations such as fertilization, seeding, pest control

Aeration Process:

  1. Aerate 2 days (+ or -) after a soaking irrigation
  2. Making several passes over turf is best
  3. Let dry, mow afterwards to break up cores

Fertilizer Calculations - Also known as Turf Math

Goal: Calculate the amount of fertilizer product to be applied to the turf area. Important to do, because there’s a lot at stake here. But fortunately it’s easy to do; just 4 easy steps!

Step 1. Determine how much fertilizer product should be applied per 1,000 square feet, based on the Nitrogen content of the product. Formula - divide the amount desired per 1,000 sq. ft. by the concentration

Example - 0.5 lb. N/1,000 sq. ft. desired, using a 29-0-4 analysis product

  • Calculation - 0.5 ÷ 0.29 = 1.72 lbs of fertilizer product per 1,000 sq. ft.

Step 2. Calculate turf area in square feet. To make this easier, break your turf area up into circles, triangles, squares and rectangles. Keep these basic calculations in mind:

  • Formula for calculating the area of circles = 3.14 x r². So if r =9’, then Area = 3.14 x (9x9) = 254.34 sq.ft.
  • Formula for calculating the area of triangles = 0.5 x base x height. So if Height = 12’, Base = 10’ then .5 x 10’ x 12’ = 60 sq.ft.
  • Formula for calculating the area of rectangles and squares = length x width. So if Length = 25’ Width = 10’ then Area = 25’x10’ = 250 sq.ft.

If 3 turf areas to be fertilized:

  • Turf area A is a rectangle roughly 60’ by 30’. Turf area A = 60 x 30 = 1,800
  • Turf area B is a circle roughly 40 foot across. Turf area B = 20 x 20 x 3.14 = 1,256
  • Turf area C is a triangle, base 80’, height 30’. Turf area C = 0.5 x 80 x 30 = 1,200
  • Add these three areas together. Total turf area = 1,800 + 1,256 + 1,200 = 4, 256 sq. ft

Step 3. Determine the number of 1,000 sq. ft. units that exist by dividing the area by 1,000

  • In this case, 4, 256 divided by 1,000 = 4.2

Step 4. Multiply that number by the amount required for 1,000 sq. ft.

  • Total lbs. of product required for this area = 4.2 x 1.72 = 7.224 lbs. of product
April Lawn Care, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights April 2016. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-april-2016
Control of annual grassy weeds, like crabgrass and foxtail, can be accomplished with two applications of preemergent herbicide during the growing season. John Fech, Nebraska Extension

Preemergence Weed Control
Preemergence Herbicide – a given for thin lawns and high stress areas. The timing of application is when soil temperatures at a 4 inch depth reach 55⁰ F for several days in a row. After application, water the product into your turf. Always read and follow all label directions. Common products that can be used include:

  • Pendimethalin - Many formulations
  • Prodiamine - Barricade
  • Isoxaben - Gallery
  • Dithopyr - Dimension
  • Corn gluten meal

Most Common Lawn Disease - Bipolaris/Dreshlera leaf spot

Conditions for disease development:

  1. Cool, moist weather conditions are conducive to its development, can also be evident in May
  2. Leaf disease, not root disease in the initial phases.

Control:

  1. Resistant cultivars lessen the susceptibility
  2. Preventative fungicides can help manage the disease
  3. Moderate, not heavy fertilization will help to prevent the infection

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Smelly Springtime Pests: Odorous House Ants and Citronella Ants, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights April 2016. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-april-2016
Odorous house ants feeding on a sweet bait. Vicki Jedlicka, Nebraska Extension. 

Smelly Springtime Pests: Odorous House Ants and Citronella Ants

By Jonathan Larson, Nebraska Extension Educator - Entomology

We’re quickly approaching spring time and you may even be experiencing some warm days as winter dwindles. At this time of year we begin to see certain insects awaken and appear in the home. Two species you may encounter first are the odorous house ant and the citronella ant. Both of these species will nest near and under homes, using concrete slabs, logs, rocks, and other spots to hide their homes. They will come indoors to forage for food and water.

Identification Tips

Odorous house ants

  • Smaller ants, between 1/16th-1/8th of an inch, and are dark brown or black.
  • Odorous house ants smell like old coconuts or blue cheese when squished.
  • Definitive ID requires microscope or hand lens; look between thorax and abdomen for a hidden node (the bump or thorn looking structure) underneath the front of the abdomen.
  • Illustration

Citronella ants

  • Also known as large yellow ants, the workers are 1/4th of an inch in length and are a yellow-orange color
  • When crushed these ants give off a citrus smell, often compared to a citronella candle
  • With your hand lens or microscope you can see that their thorax will be uneven, it has two humps, and there will be one node between the thorax and abdomen.
  • Illustration

Control

Odorous house ants can be controlled with ant baits. This species has an extremely powerful sweet tooth and will readily visit baits that are sugar based (one example would be Terro Ant Baits). Baits work by having the workers take the material back to the nest to eliminate the whole colony over the course of 7-10 days. You should clean up any food sources to force them to feed only on the baits and do not treat worker that you see wondering around or the bait will never make it back to the nest.

Citronella ants may not take baits as readily as their smelly cousins. You may find success with sweet baits but you will likely have to find and treat the colony directly. This is best accomplished by hiring a professional but you can try following the ants back to their home and treating the site directly. If the nest is in soil you can treat the soil directly with a product labelled for use in the yard.

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Spring Affair, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights April 2016. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-april-2016
The Spring Affair plant sale promotes regional plants, well-adapted to Nebraska's growing environment.  

Spring Affair - Midwest's Biggest Plant Event Marks 30th Year

Spring Affair, the Midwest’s largest plant sale and gardening event, marks its 30th anniversary on Saturday, April 23. The annual event at the Lancaster Event Center draws more than 3,000 gardeners from all across the region. The Saturday plant sale runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  

More than 700 different varieties of perennials, herbs, grasses, trees, shrubs and other plants will be available. Plants available at the sale are selected for regional suitability, uniqueness, demand and are provided by Bluebird Nursery, Inc., of Clarkson, Neb. It is sponsored by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum as an educational tool, fundraising event and to promote regional plants.

The great majority of plants are perennials that will survive for many years, but annual or “temperennial” plants are also available. Many of the plants new to this year’s sale are regional natives that can survive variable temperatures, moisture, heat and exposure to sun.

During the day, plant presentations are held at the west end of Pavilion I:

  • 11:15 a.m. - “There’s no place like Home:  A look at Native Plant Combinations” by Mark Canney, Park Planner and Urban Designer for Lincoln Parks and Recreation
  • Noon - “Native Trees” by Graham Herbst, Community Forestry Specialist for the Nebraska Forest Service
  • 12:45 p.m. - “Planting for Pollinators” by Justin Evertson, Green Infrastructure Coordinator for the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

Plant experts will be available throughout the sale to answer plant and landscape questions and help shoppers find the “right plant for the right place.”

Admission to the Saturday sale is free. The plant sale; plant talks by noted plants people; educational booths; and vendors of garden art, sculptures, furniture and other items are all under one roof in Pavilion I, on the northeast edge of the Lancaster Event Center. Plenty of parking is available north of the building.

For best plant choices, the Spring Affair Preview Party is Friday night, April 22. This is a ticketed event from 6-9 p.m. that gives plant lovers an opportunity to meet friends, enjoy a sit-down meal and purchase plants with a wine glass in one hand and a basket in the other.

For more information, to sign up for the Preview Party or to get a digital copy of the newsletter, call 402-472-2971 or visit plantnebraska.org.

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Nebraska Extension Tractor Safety Courses Offered Across Nebraska, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights April 2016. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-april-2016
Any 14 or 15-year-old teen who plan to work on a farm other than his/her parents' should plan to attend Tractor Safety training. 

Nebraska Extension Tractor Safety Courses Offered Across Nebraska

By Aaron Yoder and Ellen Duysen, Nebraska Extension

Nebraska Extension Tractor Safety/Hazardous Occupations Courses will be offered at seven locations in Nebraska during May and June.  Any 14 or 15-year-old teen who plans to work on a farm other than his/her parents’ should plan to attend.

Federal law prohibits youth under 16 years of age from working on a farm for anyone other than their parents or guardian.   Certification through the course grants an exemption to the law allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to drive a tractor and to do field work with mechanized equipment.

The most common cause of death in agriculture accidents in Nebraska is overturn from tractors and all-terrain-vehicles (ATVs), according to farm fatality surveillance data.  Tractor and ATV overturn prevention are featured in the class work.

Instilling an attitude of ‘safety first’ is a primary goal of the course, according to class instructors, where youth have the chance to learn respect for agricultural jobs and the tools involved.

Classes consist of two days of instruction plus homework assignments. Classes are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. each day. Dates and locations include:

  • May 23-24, Fairgrounds, Kearney
  • May 26-27, Fairgrounds, McCook
  • June 2-3, Fairgrounds, Valentine
  • June 13-14, West Central Research and Extension Center, North Platte
  • June 16-17, Legacy of the Plains Museum, Gering
  • June 20-21, Fairgrounds, Wayne
  • June 23-24, College Park, Grand Island
  • July 6-7, Fairgrounds, Gordon

Pre-registration is strongly encouraged at least one week before a location's start date to the Extension Office at the course site. Cost is $60, which includes educational materials, testing, supplies, lunches and breaks.  For more information, contact your local Extension Office or Aaron Yoder at (402) 552-7240, aaron.yoder@unmc.edu or Ellen Duysen at (402) 552-3394, ellen.duysen@unmc.edu.

The first day of class will consist of intensive classroom instruction with hands-on demonstrations, concluding with a written test that must be completed satisfactorily before students may continue driving tests the next day.   Classroom instruction will cover the required elements of the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program.  Homework will be assigned to turn in the next day.

The second day will include testing, driving and operating machinery.  Students must demonstrate competence in hitching equipment and driving a tractor and trailer through a standardized course as well as hitching PTO and hydraulic systems.

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