September 2016

Planting For Fall Color, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights September 2016.
 Fall planted mums often do not have enough time for root development to ensure good winter survival. Spring planting is a better option for long term perennial plants. 

Planting for Fall Color

By Nicole Stoner, Nebraska Extension Educator - Horticulture

Fall will soon be here, with it comes cooler weather, football, and the changing of color of many of our plants. For fall, there are a few plants that I always look to for a great show of color.

Fall color is one of the reasons we all enjoy the season. The leaves turn from green to red, yellow, or orange in the fall due to the pigments present in the leaves. During the spring and summer months, green chlorophyll is the dominant pigment in leaves and this hides the other pigments from view. In the fall, the production of chlorophyll slows down and eventually stops altogether to allow the other pigments to show up in our leaves. The different conditions we see each fall affects the how much and how vivid the colors are in the fall, which is why some years we have better fall color than others. Clear days, cool nights, and dry conditions in the fall promote high quality fall color, according to Iowa State University.

Garden mums or Chrysanthemums are wonderful for fall color. They bloom in August and September in colors such as purple, pink, orange, yellow, white, coral, and deep burgundy or red. They need to be pinched back 2-3 times in June until Independence Day to ensure that they bloom properly in the fall. Some mums have low winter hardiness due to repeated freezing and thawing throughout our winters. If this occurs, add extra mulch around the plants before winter, cut the plants back in the spring rather than in the fall, and discontinue fertilization by the end of July.

Planting For Fall Color, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights September 2016.

Burning bush, Euonymus alatus, is a great shrub for fall color. 

Shagbark Hickory is one of my favorite trees that are underutilized in Nebraska. In the fall this tree turns a brilliant golden-yellow color to help enrich your fall landscape color. The shaggy bark appearance that the older trees grow into is another unique characteristic of this tree. This is a native plant to the region so it will withstand the constantly changing weather that is typical of Nebraska. Also, because it is a hickory tree, it produces a tasty, edible nut that is similar to hickory nuts, making it a great tree choice for nut production and for wildlife.

Burning Bush is a terrific large shrub choice for most any landscape. This is a type of shrub that can grow up to 20 feet tall, but there is a compact version that grows up to 10 feet tall. It has a deep glossy green leaf throughout the spring and summer but in the fall it turns a bright red color or pink in shady locations. One problem with Burning Bush, however, is that it is a plant that is susceptible to scale insect. Scale can be controlled when in the crawler stage, typically in the early spring, with an insecticidal soap or Horticulture oil.

There are also a lot of great oak trees that can be planted for great fall color. Red and white oaks turn red in the fall. Bur Oaks turn a yellow color in the fall. Shumard oak is another great oak tree that has reliable red fall color. Oak trees are a great tree choice for Nebraska and their fall color just makes them that much better. They are well adapted for most of the conditions we face in Nebraska and can typically withstand drought conditions fairly well. Plus, their acorns are a huge draw for wildlife for those who enjoy to view deer, squirrels, and other wildlife.


Environmentally Adapted Trees, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights September 2016.

Shagbark hickory, Carya ovata, is a great well-adapted tree for Nebraska. 

Environmentally Adapted Trees

By Justin Evertson, Nebraska Forest Service

With disease, insect and climate threats mounting against our trees, the Nebraska Forest Service has partnered with the Kansas Forest Service on an initiative called “Environmentally Adapted Trees” (EAT). The primary goal of EAT is to expand the species diversity of community forests and other planted landscapes across the region, thereby making them more resilient to natural threats. One objective toward achieving this goal is to work with nursery professionals, foresters and other tree experts to identify and prioritize the best of the proven but underutilized tree species in the region and then actively promote the greater planting of those species.

A second objective of EAT is to identify new or rarely seen species that hold potential for survivability in the region. Because our climate is generally warming, we are acting on the hypothesis that some species to our south may hold promise for greater use further north. We’ve already figured this out with some things like the Caddo sugar maple from western Oklahoma, Frio River bald cypress, soapberry, post oak and persimmon to name a few.

Another group of trees we have our eyes on are the very rare but long-lived trees found growing in just about any community and which cause a tree aficionado to exclaim “wow!” when they happen upon them. These are the true surprise trees that are often far out of their native or adaptive range, and which obviously haven’t read the books that said they likely won’t grow where they’re now growing. Trees can be quite fascinating in this regard, with many of them  holding genetic potential for wider adaptability than we often give them credit for. A few examples in Nebraska include large tuliptrees in Madison, horsechestnuts in Broken Bow, huge pecans in Kearney, redbuds in Chadron and bur oaks in Kimball. The initiative will collect seeds or cuttings of many of these surprise trees and propagate them for greater testing.

A key activity of the initiative will be to plant at least 15 demonstration plantings throughout the region where promising but rare trees are trialed to determine their adaptability to a given area. An important part of evaluation will be the potential for invasiveness. We don’t want to unleash the next Siberian elm, mulberry or Tree-of-heaven on the environment. Just a few of the uncommon species we anticipate trialing will include

  • Post oak, a lower, slower-growing cousin of bur oak that is extremely drought-tolerant;
  • Buckley oak, a red oak cousin with greater heat- and drought-tolerance that may withstand higher pH soils;
  • Downy oak, a shorter-growing oak from more arid and higher-elevation regions of Europe and Asia that should be better adapted to western Nebraska.
  • Soapberry, a medium-sized tree from southern Kansas and Oklahoma, typically growing in clumps or thickets reaching to about 20 feet.
  • David elm which has proven to be amazingly drought tolerant across the Dakotas.
  • Propinqua elm, which is a slow growing species from China doing well in Oklahoma
  • Meyer Spruce which is native to China and appears very similar to Colorado spruce but possibly with better heat- and wet-tolerance.

Although an important objective of EAT is to identify new or rare tree species for trialing in the region, the reality is that more than 200 different species can already be found growing at least somewhere across the central Great Plains, including at least 60 that are native to the region. Despite this abundance in potential diversity, only about 15 species account for more than 80% of the trees being planted today. Our communities, arboretums and native woodlands offer a treasure trove of unique trees that deserve greater planting. These include oak species such as black, blackjack, gambel, chinkapin, overcup and Northern pin oak, little walnut, bigtooth aspen, black cherry, cucumber magnolia, bigtooth and miyabe maple, persimmon, evodia and Amur maackiato name a few. We really don’t suffer from a lack of trees that will likely be suitable to a changing climate. We just need to get more of these proven trees planted. They are the “low-hanging fruit” for increasing the diversity of our community forests.

The Nebraska Forest Service strives to enrich lives by protecting, restoring and utilizing Nebraska's tree and forest resources.


September Turf Care, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights September 2016.
Rust is a common fall disease of turfgrass. 

September Turf Care

By John Fech, Nebraska Extension Educator - Horticulture

In some homes, March and April are thought of as the beginning of the lawn care season.  After all, the grass plants are coming back to life, greening up and giving a welcome change to the brown hues of winter.  The same is true of September; lawns are usually browned out from disease, insects, drought, heat, etc. and a little attention is due to them.  Here’s what to do:

First, it’s aeration time.  Core cultivation serves to open up the turf, increasing air penetration, prunes and stimulates roots, relieves compaction, and sets it up for fertilization and overseeding.  Aeration is a bit invasive, which necessitates that it be done at a time that is conducive to recovery.  September is that time.

After 3 months of a gradually decreasing fertility level, applying 0.75 to 1.0 lbs. N per 1,000 sq. ft. of a slow release product for cool season turfs such as turf type tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass is warranted.  However, if the lawn is buffalograss or zoysiagrass, none should be applied as it should be allowed to begin its winter shutdown, without encouraging new growth.  For bluegrass lawns, fertilization at this time will enhance the spread of rhizomes.

September is a good time to check the lawn for thatch levels.  Thatch is a necessary evil, in that a thin layer is helpful for resiliency and separation of the turf from extreme heat, however if the layer builds up to much, the roots begin to grow in it rather than the soil.  If the layer exceeds 3/4th of an inch, use a powerrake to remove it.  Or if you want a really good workout, a hand thatching rake can be used as well.  After thatch removal, overseed to replace damaged and removed turfgrass plants.

Two turfgrass diseases are commonly seen in September, powdery mildew and stem rust, both foliage diseases.  Unlike most other foliar diseases, powdery mildew does not require free moisture on the leaf blade.  It appears as if turf blades have been dusted with flour and causes a thinning of the stand.  Best control efforts include applying a fungicide in advance of the infection and increasing the air circulation in the landscape.  Stem rust commonly occurs on under-fertilized turf as is common in late summer.  In many cases, control can be achieved through proper nutrient application described above.


Harvesting, Curing and Storing of Home-Grown Popcorn

By Sarah Browning, Nebraska Extension Educator - Horticulture

Harvesting, Curing and Storing of Home-Grown Popcorn, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights September 2016.
Many varieties of popcorn are available for the home garden, including some fun colors and unusual ear sizes. 

The history of popcorn in the Americas is very old, with the oldest samples of popcorn found in the Bat Cave of west central New Mexico dated at about 4,000 years old. According to the Popcorn Board, an organization of U.S. popcorn processors, it’s thought that the first use of wild and early-cultivated corn in the Americas was for popping. Popcorn was important to Aztec Indian ceremonies and an important food for them, too.

Of course the unique feature of popcorn, is it’s exploding seed. Moisture in the kernel is converted to steam when heated, causing the seed to explode and turn itself inside out. Popcorn is considered a whole grain, full of complex carbohydrates and fiber, and if you don’t add too much butter, is a very healthy snack food. A lightly buttered cup of popcorn only contains 80 calories!

Many varieties of popcorn are available for the home garden, including some with fun kernel colors like red and dark blue, along with the more common white and yellow. Ear size is also quite variable, from 2 to 3 inches long for ‘Strawberry’ popcorn to 7.5 inches for ‘Robust 128-YH’ hybrid popcorn. Popcorn seed is available from many garden centers, or through mail order companies such as Park Seed, Burpee, Seed, Stokes Seed or Harris Seed.

For the best results with home-grown popcorn, allow the ears to mature on the stalk as long as possible. Pick the ears after the stalks are brown and dry, but before frost. The husks will be dry and the kernels hard.

Remove the husks from the ears, then cure them for two to three weeks by putting them in a mesh onion bag, an old nylon stocking or a bag made from nylon net or cheesecloth. Hang them in a warm, dry, well-ventilated area. A heated basement or attic works well. 

After a couple weeks, test a few kernels for popping quality. Popping problems usually indicate the corn is either too dry or too wet. Dry corn tends to pop partially or not at all. If the corn is too dry, remove the kernels from the ears then add moisture as described below.

Wet corn pops slowly with a loud noise, the kernels are small and tough with a “chewy” texture and jagged look. There will also be a lot of steam coming out of the popper. If your popcorn is still too wet, allow it to cure a few more weeks then test it again. 

When properly cured, your popcorn should have a good taste and pop well.

When you’re satisfied the ears are cured, rub one ear against another to remove the kernels. Pour the kernels into quart glass jars so the jars are three-quarters filled and seal them tightly. Store the jars in the refrigerator if there is room or in some other spot that provides low temperatures to retain popping quality.

Properly cured and stored popcorn should retain its popping quality and flavor for three to four years. After that, it may develop a slightly stale or rancid taste, and popping quality may fall off.

However, if your storage conditions are not ideal popping problems may develop during storage. Again, moisture content of the kernels is the probable cause.

If your popcorn is too dry, add one tablespoon of water per quart, seal and shake well twice a day for a couple of days. If a test popping shows the corn is still too dry, repeat the treatment.

If your popcorn is too moist, spread it out on a pan and let it until a few test kernels are dry and popping well again. Avoid oven or rapid drying since this can reduce popping quality.

October National Popcorn Poppin’ Month
For more than 30 years, October has been celebrated as National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, but in 1999 it was made official by then Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman. For more information, history and fun facts about popcorn, visit


Home Landscapes Play Important Role, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights September 2016.
 Increasing plant diversity in your landscape improves the ecosystem for many beneficial critters. 

Home Landscapes Play Important Role

By Kendall Weyers, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

We seldom think of it this way, but our home landscape is part of the wider ecosystem. With the human-controlled landscape continuing to grow, its impact on biodiversity—for good or for bad—is also growing. Since our landscape planting and management choices have wide-reaching consequences, they need to be good ones.

Why does biodiversity matter? Nature has a wide range of actors, and even the smallest has a role to play in an amazingly complex, balanced and effective system that affects crop pollination, pest control, carbon storage and cycling of nutrients and water. When any part is missing, resiliency and effectiveness decrease and we have to work to fill in the gap.

We seldom act as effectively as nature, and our actions often cause unintended harm. Control of a common garden pest, the aphid, is a good example. If a pesticide is applied to kill the aphids, their many predators, including birds, ladybugs and lacewings, are likewise harmed. Since aphids reproduce so rapidly, their populations often rebound before the natural controls, and the problem may be worse than at the beginning.

For the homeowner who wants a healthier landscape, there are many options. First of all, increase plant diversity, both in species (mostly native) and plant type—herbaceous, shrubs, understory and large trees. Allow a few “weeds” such as clover, plantain and milkweed to find a home here and there. A diverse plant list provides habitat for a wider range of beneficial critters. Many of our home landscapes consist of non-natives like daylily, barberry, yew, Callery pear and turfgrass. They may be readily available, but they look like an empty plate and a “no vacancy” sign to most native fauna.

A significant reason to use more natives is their evolution with the local plant and animal community, our soils and our weather, allowing them to thrive without chemical treatments and other inputs. Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides often interfere with natural processes, especially in the soil ecosystem. Limiting artificial additives helps maintain a balanced system that functions well on its own. Also, native insects and plants often have specialized symbiotic relationships, so if you want the monarch, you need the milkweed.

A more laid-back and tolerant attitude can also contribute to biodiversity. If clover wants to creep into your turf, let it, and the bees will thank you. Give up the endless battle of the “kill anything that moves” approach. That snake you let go might eat the mouse getting in your garage. Don’t panic when you see some spots or holes on your dogwood. Strong plants, especially natives, can tolerate minor insect or disease damage. If the aphids in the example above had been left alone, the plant would have been fine, the chickadees and ladybugs would get a meal, and you could sit on the patio with a cold beverage.

Another approach is to be less tidy. Your spouse or neighbor might argue with this strategy, so start small. Don’t pick up those oak leaves under the viburnum by the alley, leave that pile of branches by the compost pile or “forget” to strip your fall garden down to bare dirt. Plant litter provides habitat for a range of organisms, including decomposers such as fungi, pillbugs, insect larvae and earthworms, all of which contribute to soil health. Larger animals, including some reptiles, amphibians, birds and small mammals, rely on plant litter for shelter and forage.

Biodiversity offers both function and beauty. We can give it a boost here and there, but often it works best if we just step back and let it do its thing. Although we like to think we have it all figured out, nature is still the master and we, the students, have much to learn.

Nebraska Statewide Arboretum is a nonprofit that works toward sustainable home and community landscapes through initiatives in education, public gardens and the environment. Plant and landscape resources at


Tick Prevention Worth the Effort

Tick Prevention Worth the Effort, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights September 2016.

Skin reaction to an American Dog Tick bite. 

By Clyde Ogg, Pesticide Safety Education Program coordinator, and
Roberto Cortinas, Assistant Professor of Practice, School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Tick bites can transmit pathogens that cause a multitude of diseases – some debilitating – so it’s best to avoid bites.

Nebraska is host to the American dog (wood) tick, lone star tick, and brown dog (or kennel tick, which survives indoors) tick. A fourth, the Rocky Mountain wood tick, may be found in extreme northwest Nebraska. Typically ticks are most active April through September, found in wooded or shrubby areas, and along tree lines and hiking trails. Rarely do they inhabit dry pastures and cornfields.

Ticks wait for their hosts with their front legs extended in a “questing” position, latch on, and climb upward toward thin-skinned areas. They may attach  to the head, ears, waist, behind the knee and groin areas; undisturbed, they can embed themselves for up to a week or more. Clothing can make it more difficult for ticks to get to a suitable site to attach to a feeding site. Wear long pants tucked into socks, and long-sleeved shirt. Light-colored clothing is best, as ticks will show up better.

Chemical barriers include commercial products containing diethyl toluamide (DEET) or permethrins. An insect repellent containing 20 percent to 30 percent DEET can be applied to clothing and areas of exposed skin such as hands, wrists, ankles, and neck. Always follow label directions.

Products containing 0.5 percent permethrin may be used to treat clothing and boots, repelling ticks for up to six washings. Ticks can survive the wash cycle -- but not 30 minutes in the dryer. Purchasing pre-treated permethrin clothing can repel insects for up to 70 or more washings.

Disease and Tick Removal
Tick bites can subsequently lead to disease, paralysis, or even death. For a list of 15 tick-borne diseases provided by the Centers for Disease Control, see Tick Diseases of the United States.

In Nebraska, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) usually has 10 or fewer cases reported annually, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS). Typical symptoms include fever, chills, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, fatigue, muscle pain and sometimes rash. RMSF is frequently overlooked or misdiagnosed. In 2015 in Nebraska, a death occurred after three trips to the emergency room, twice without a correct RMSF diagnosis, according to NDHHS.

Other tick-borne illnesses found in Nebraska are ehrlichiosis and tularemia. NDHHS notes four known incidents of Lyme disease occurred in 2009, all from out-of-state exposure.

If you find a tick embedded in skin, remove it carefully to avoid it regurgitating contents into your system. Follow these steps:

    1. Use fine-tipped, pointed tweezers.
    2. Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull straight outward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this may cause its mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin.
    3. Do not squeeze, crush, burn or puncture the body of the tick because its fluids (i.e., saliva, gut contents) may contain infectious organisms.
    4. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash hands with soap and water., save the tick in alcohol for possible later identification. If flu-like symptoms occur, see a physician. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and ehrlichiosis are treatable with antibiotics if caught early.

For a more detailed resource, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for symptoms of tick bites, diseases, and types of ticks found nationwide - Ticks. A CDC Tick Management Handbook is also available.


Sandwich Upgrades

Written by Natalie Sehi, MS, RD, LMNT, Extension Educator

Sandwich Upgrades, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights September 2016.
Americans eat close to 300 million sandwiches per day, about one per day. 

Sandwiches, in my opinion, are one of the easiest meals to prepare.  According to Americans eat close to 300 million sandwiches every day, which is about one sandwich per day. Sandwiches work well whether you are on the go or have the time to sit down and enjoy a meal with family or friends. According to Webster’s dictionary, the simple definition of a sandwich is two pieces of bread with something (such as meat, peanut butter, etc) between them. With all of the options available, a sandwich can truly be made to order from your own home. They can be as simple as a peanut butter and jelly or BLT, or as complex as a Deluxe Turkey Club or a Reuben.

Sandwiches are eaten at our house on a regular basis. They are quick and easy to make and can be made to fit the preferences of my whole family. I prefer lots of veggies, mustard, and hummus, and often toast my bread or grill my entire sandwich. My kids prefer grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly or a simple turkey and cheese…all on whole wheat bread, of course. My husband isn’t picky, so he’s willing to try/eat it all.

Sandwich Upgrades, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights September 2016.
If you prefer a wrap, put the contents of your sandwich inside a tortilla shell and roll it up.

Often times, our sandwiches are made ahead of time.  They work well for the kids to take to school for lunch, when we are on the go for a sports practice or family commitment, or for fun at a picnic or at the park.  To prevent the inevitable smashed sandwich, consider using a plastic container that will accommodate the size of your sandwich.  Some work well for a sandwich, as well as a few sides.

A simple sandwich can easily turn into a meal with a lot of calories and fat.  Be mindful of the size and type of bread you are using, watch out for the condiments, and choose healthy sides like fruits and veggies in place of chips or French fries. Condiments like mayonnaise and salad dressing can taste good, but add extra fat and calories. Use the tips below to make your own sandwich or to keep in mind when ordering a sandwich at a restaurant.

  • Choose whole grain bread. There are many delicious options at the grocery store and bakeries. Visit ChooseMyPlate for tips on choosing whole grain foods.
  • Choose lean proteins. Choices such as turkey, chicken canned tuna, nut butters and hummus are great options. When choosing nut butters, try an unsweetened nut butter.  They will often only contain the nuts, and occasionally salt depending on the variety.  The oil will often separate at the top, simply stir together before consuming.  If you prefer bologna or salami, choose them as an occasional treat on your sandwich, as they are usually high in sodium and fat.
  • Read the Nutrition Facts Label. Choose lunch meats and condiments that are lower in sodium and watch the sugar content of jams and jellies.
  • Add lots of veggies. Think outside the box. All sorts of veggies taste good and add more flavor and crunch to sandwiches.  Consider adding cucumbers, bell peppers, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, jicama, avocado, onions, and anything else that tickles your taste buds.  The more color the better.
  • Add fruit. This is especially true if you are making a PB&J. Adding a few slices of fresh fruit can not only make your sandwich taste better, it can make it better for you.  Try a few slices of strawberries or bananas in addition to or in place of your favorite jam or jelly. YUM!
  • Consider calcium. Calcium helps build strong teeth and bones.  To get more in your diet, add a slice of cheese.  Depending on your preference, you can choose a stronger tasting cheese like sharp cheddar or blue cheese, or go with something more mild like mild cheddar or provolone (my personal favorites).
  • Roll-up your sandwich. If you prefer a wrap, put the contents of your sandwich inside a tortilla shell and roll it up.

For tips on making and freezing sandwiches ahead of time, visit Freezing Sandwiches


Understanding Your Pressure Storage Tank

Understanding Your Pressure Storage Tank, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights September 2016.
 A pressure tank as part of a home's water system has multiple purposes. Image by Sharon Skipton.

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

You may take the pressure tank in your private water system for granted.  But it is a good idea to understand the purpose of the tank and how it works.

The pressure tank in a private water system has three purposes. It stores water and provides water under pressure when the pump is not running. It builds up a reserve supply of water so the pump starts and stops less often, prolonging the life of the pump. In addition, it provides a reserve supply of water for use during times of high demand.

Operation of a pressure tank is based on physical properties. Water cannot be compressed into a smaller area, while air can. When water is pumped into a tank containing air, the air is compressed, putting the water under pressure. The more the air is compressed, the greater the water pressure. When the water reaches a preset pressure, typically 40 to 60 pounds per square inch (psi), the pump automatically shuts off. As water is used, the pressure in the tank is lowered. When the water reaches a preset pressure, typically 20 to 40 psi, the pump starts again. The minimum tank pressure must be at least as high as the pressure needed by any water-using fixture or appliance. Many require at least 10 psi to operate properly. Water treatment units, water softeners, clothes washers, and dishwashers may require higher water pressure to operate properly; possibly as high as 30 psi or more.

Understanding Your Pressure Storage Tank, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights September 2016.
 A pressure tank as part of a home's water system has multiple purposes. Image by Sharon Skipton.

There are different types of pressure tanks. Older types of pressure tanks include galvanized steel tanks and galvanized steel tanks with a floating wafer. Today, pressure tanks with a diaphragm or a rubber bladder are common.

Up until 1970, the most common type of pressure tank used with a private water system was a galvanized steel tank. A disadvantage of the galvanized steel tank is that air and water are in direct contact with each other. Water can absorb some of the air, so the air must be replaced to prevent the tank from becoming waterlogged. If this happens, there is little air left in the tank to become compressed, so the pump runs nearly every time water is used. In addition, too much air in the tank is a problem because it reduces the space for water storage. Extra air must be released or the tank will become air-bound. An air-volume device attached to a steel pressure tank will control the volume of air automatically. The steel galvanized tank with a wafer has a floating wafer that separates the air from water.

Since 1970, most private water systems have used bladder-type pressure tanks. The bladder is a bag usually made of butyl rubber or flexible polyvinyl chloride. The water is contained in the bladder and does not come in direct contact with air in the tank. The bladder holding the water expands into the pressurized air space in the tank as it is filled. As water is used from the system, the bladder collapses until the water is almost emptied before the minimum pressure is reached, activating the pump. They are pressurized at the factory (typically around 20 psi) but the pressure can be adjusted using an air valve located near the top of the tank. Because there is almost no water left in the bladder at the pressure when the pump is turned on, these tanks may not be suitable for low-yield wells (e.g., very slow pumping rate) unless an additional tank is used. Diaphragm pressure tanks are also used. The diaphragm is a membrane that separates the water and air in the tank.    

One way to select the proper size for a pressure tank is to base it on the pump’s flow rate.  A typical private water supply pump supplies water at a rate of 5 to 10 gallons per minute (gpm). Multiply the flow rate by four to determine the size of a diaphragm or bladder tank. For example, a 9-gpm pump would require a 36-gallon storage tank. This would be the same sizing formula to use for a galvanized steel tank with a wafer installed. A galvanized steel tank without a wafer is sized 10 times the flow rate; a 9-gpm pump would require a 90-gallon storage tank. Work with your pump supplier to determine the proper pressure tank size for your water system.

As with any formula, there are exceptions, including systems with low-yield wells. Your pump supplier can determine the proper pressure tank size if you have a low-yield well.
In addition, water pumps and motors designed for use with variable frequency drive (VFD) motor controllers are popular, especially with submersible pumps. These are called constant pressure water systems, since the controller determines the speed of the pump motor needed to maintain the pressure. When water is used, the pressure drops and the pump speeds up. When water use slows down or stops, the pressure increases and the pump slows down or stops. A near constant pressure is maintained. For most household use, a VFD-controlled water pump needs only a small pressure tank; usually 1 to 2 gallons.

Content for this article was obtained from the Nebraska Extension NebGuide “Private Drinking Water Wells: The Distribution System” by Jan R. Hygnstrom, Extension Project Manager, Wayne Woldt, Extension Water and Environment Specialist, and Sharon O. Skipton, Extension Water Quality Educator.  See the NebGuide for additional information on pressure tanks and other water distribution system components.


Pasture Management for Animals Benefit

Fencing for Livestock, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights August 2016.

Weeds in a pasture often indicate the pasture is not in a healthy condition. 

By Monte Stauffer, Nebraska Extension Educator - Livestock

Most of the animals that we graze on acreages get most of their nutrition from pastures.  These animals may include cattle, horses, sheep, or goats.  Many times we see lots of weeds in our pastures this time of year.  We are tempted to graze these pastures heavily to get the animals to eat these unpalatable plants but this is not good for the health of the grasses.  Grazing that allows sufficient leaf area to remain following grazing will allow for rapid growth, allows good winterizing, and holds snow and rain moisture on the land rather than running off will benefit the desirable grasses.

Giving pasture plants adequate time to recover after grazing before grazing again is another way to improve or maintain pasture health and strengthen the competitive ability of desirable plants.

A good way to control weeds is to clip or spray the weeds while they are in the vegetative stage rather than waiting until they are in the reproductive stage when seeds are developing and maturing.

Weeds in a pasture can indicate the pasture is not in a healthy condition.  Controlling the weeds is not enough.  Changing management to strengthen desireable grasses and legumes is essential.  These practices should include pasture rotational grazing, fertilization, and/or reducing stocking rate of livestock.


Tips for Deciphering an Animal Feed Tag

Tips for Decipering an Animal Feed Tag, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights September 2016.
 A commercial feed in the United States is required to carry certain information. 

By Steve Tonn, Nebraska Extension Livestock Educator

Imagine you have just purchased a few animals or a new pet. You are going to need to buy something to feed those critters. With the variety of feed available, how do you decide what is the best product for your animal? The best way is to learn how to read a feed tag.

A commercial feed in the United States is required to carry the following information:

Product name and brand name, if any, as well as the name and address of the company selling the feed.

Medication information, if used. There are many different medications available depending upon the class of animal being fed.

Purpose Statement: Since some product names are ambiguous, a purpose statement must state what animal and what feeding situation the feed is designed for.

Guaranteed Analysis: There are three basic nutrients that must be on all labels: a) If the product is intended to supply protein, minimum crude protein b) minimum crude fat, and c) maximum crude fiber. Other minerals and vitamins may be guaranteed, such as amounts of calcium and phosphorus, and salt, if added.

Ingredient Statement: The major ingredients of the feed may be listed specifically (i.e., corn or soybean meal) or may be represented by collective terms (grain products, plant protein products, etc.) Collective terms refer to a group of ingredients used for a common purpose. Collective terms make it easier for feed manufacturers to vary ingredients depending on the price of feed ingredients without having to create new feed tag. The order in which ingredients appear is not regulated, but generally is from the greatest amount to the least amount.

Cautions, warnings: If a feed is medicated, the tag has warnings or cautions related to its use. A commonly seen warning is “Caution: do not use spoiled feed”.

Feeding or Mixing Directions: Directions are expected to be fully explanatory. This section should indicate minimum and maximum amounts to feed. Amounts may be in absolute weights (i.e., feed 0.1 to 2 lb.), expressed as the amount of feed on a body weight basis (i.e., 1 to 1.5% body weight would be 10 to 15 lb. for a 1,000 lb. bull) or the amount an animal is expected to consume when the product is fed free choice (i.e., optimum intake is 2-4 oz/head/day). It should also indicate if other feeds should be used in conjunction with this feed. If special care should be used in mixing this product, the directions would indicate- for instance “mix thoroughly with grain and/or roughage prior to use.”

Net Weight of Unit: Net weight refers to bag weight (50 lb) or bulk amount (2,000 lb).

So, don’t just buy the first bag of feed you come upon, take a moment to use what you’ve learned here to make an educated decision.

Author: Daniel Severson, Agriculture Agent for the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension.


Raising Broilers for Home Consumption

By Brett Kriefels, Nebraska Extension Assistant - Livestock

Raising your own food has been an up-and-coming topic as of late. Many people enjoy the peace and mind of knowing where their food comes from. Raising broiler chickens is not only fun but extremely easy if done correctly. All you have to provide is the right housing, a dry clean environment and the right feed and in 7-8 weeks, you’ll have a nice plump broiler to put in the freezer.

September is a great time to start broiler chickens. The weather is just warm enough to not chill the new chicks but turns cool enough to where the older broilers are not heat stressed. This power point presentation will outline just what it takes to raise healthy, happy broiler chickens for you and your family.

Raise Your Own Broilers!