July 2012

Life Outside the City Limits

Collage of July Images

Fencing Material Costs
By Sara Ellicott, UNL Extension Livestock Educator

Image of barbed wire fenceThe summer months bring green grass to graze for horses and livestock, and one project that is ongoing is fence maintenance or construction. Fences need to be properly maintained on a regular basis to ensure livestock or horses stay in the pasture, paddock or pen where they are supposed to be, rather than at the neighbors, in a field or on a roadway. To read more about Nebraska Fence Law, visit this article written in 2011 by UNL Extension Educator, Steve Tonn.

In the article, Steve notes that good fences make good neighbors, whether you live on a small acreage or a large ranch. Having good fences requires continued maintenance, year round. It also means making sure the type of fence you have fits the type of livestock you have on your property. Or take a look at Fencing Materials for Livestock Systems, from Virginia Tech.  It also gives a good review of livestock fencing options.

In 2011, Extension Educator Monte Stauffer, calculated some fencing costs here locally, for a ½ mile of straight fence. Here is an estimated cost for the fencing materials alone, there may be additional costs for other equipment needed to build and maintain the fence. Some examples of the extra costs would be a shovel, fence stretcher for barbed wire, post driver, fencing pliers, etc.

All of the following figures are for ½ mile of straight fence (2,640 feet)


Electric  Dollars
1 Strand  
132 electric posts $ 183.48
4 T posts - corners $   19.16
2640 feet wire $   53.98
132 insulators $   36.91
Electric fencer $ 100.00
Total   $ 393.53


Electric  Dollars
2 Strand  
132 electric posts $ 183.48
4 T posts - corners $   19.16
5280 feet wire $ 107.96
264 insulators $   73.81
Electric fencer $ 100.00
Total   $ 484.41


Barbed Wire Dollars
5 Strands on Wooden Posts  
134 - 3 ½" x 6 ½' posts $    735.66
4 - 6" x 8' corner posts $      61.96
13,200 feet wire $    550.00
Staples $      20.00
Total   $ 1,367.62


Barbed Wire Dollars
5 Strands on Steel Posts  
132 - 6 ½' posts $    632.28
4 - 6" x 8' corner posts $      61.96
2 - 3 ½" x 6 ½' wood posts $      10.98
13,200 feet wire $    550.00
Staples $      20.00
Total   $ 1,275.22


High Tensile Dollars
2 Strands  
66 fiberglass posts $ 396.00
4 - 6" x 8' corner posts $   61.96
2 - 3 ½" x 6 ½' wood posts $   10.98
5280 feet wire $ 132.00
Staple fasteners $   20.00
Electric fencer $ 100.00
Total   $ 720.94

Image of high tensil fence

High Tensile  Dollars
5 Strands  
66 fiberglass posts $ 396.00
4 - 6" x 8' corner posts $   61.96
2 - 3 ½" x 6 ½' wood posts $   10.98
13,200 feet wire $ 330.00
Staple fasteners $   20.00
Electric fencer $ 100.00
Total   $ 918.94


Realize that these are only estimates. There are many variables that can go into fencing costs - types of posts, gauge of wire, length of fence, and type of fencer, for example. It is best to have an idea how much area (or length) needs fenced, and to visit your local farm supply store to price it.




Can you believe the year is half gone? There still is a great deal of time for those outdoor projects.This month's topics include security for your acreage, poisonous plants you may stumble upon, and calibrating a backpack sprayer.

Kathleen Cue, UNL Extension, tells of some simple security measures to consider to make your rural home less of a target.


John Fech and Jan Hygnstrom, UNL Extension, describe a few poisonous plants you may see on your land.


Lowell Sandell, UNL Extension Weed Scientist, shows how to calibrate a backpack sprayer to tackle pest problems. 

Heat Stress Management in Broilers
By Gary D. Butcher, D.V.M., Ph.D. and Richard Miles, Ph.D., University of Florida Extension

Image of chicksHigh ambient temperatures can be devastating to commerical broilers; coupled with high humidity they can have an even more harmful effect. Heat stress interferes with the broilers comfort and suppresses productive efficiency. During periods of heat stress the broiler has to make major thermo-regulatory adaptions in order to prevent death from heat exhaustion. The result is that the full genetic potential of the broiler is often not achieved.

The pupose of this paper is to review some of the effects of heat stress on broilers and methods which can be used by the poultry producer to partially alleviate some of the deterimental effects of heat stress on broiler performance.

What is the broilers natural physiological response to heat stess?
Broilers subject to high environmental temperatures exhibit many behavioral changes which allow them to re-establish heat balance with their surroundings. Broilers rest more during periods of heat stress. Some birds will stand quietly while others simply crouch near walls or waterers. Usually, their wings are spread away from the body to promote cooling by reducing body insulation. Within the bird, blood flow is diverted from certain internal body organs such as the liver, kidneys and intestines to dilated blood vessels of the peripheral tissue (skin) in order to facilitate heat loss.

Hyperventilation or "panting" increases during periods of high environmental temperature. Heat loss through evaporative cooling allows the broiler to dissipate the heat it is generating. However, panting requires increased muscle activity and this results in an increased energy requirement which is associated with heat stress. Therefore, decreased energy efficiency also accompanies hot weather. Panting would normally be expected to occur when the ambient temperature is near or above 30oC. Relative humidity influences evaporative heat loss through panting. Broilers, as well as other domestic poultry, cannot tolerate high temperature coupled with high relative humidity. Death due to heat exhaustion will occur very quickly, especially in heavier birds, if both temperature and humidity are high. In normal birds, panting will remove approximately 540 calories per gram of water lost by the lungs.




Purple Loosestrife
By Brent Meyer, Lancaster County Weed Superintendent

Image of purple loosestrifePurple loosestrife was originally sold as an ornamental plant in Nebraska, but after its escape into the state's rivers, wetlands and marshes it was designated a noxious weed in Nebraska in 2001. Despite the sale of "sterile" cultivars in the nursery industry, and even those most owners of ornamental plants never saw any spread or escape in their own landscapes, sterile plants were producing viable seed after pollination by wild loosestrife plants.

Purple loosestrife is extremely difficult to control and once it gets into wetlands and rivers it has the ability to spread very rapidly. It is a perennial forb that originated in Eurasia and North Africa. It typically flowers from July to September, but this year with the warmer weather it is flowering in June and will continue to produce rose-purple flowers for the next few months. Its ability to produce flowers for extended time along its spike beginning at the bottom and slowly flowering to the top is one of the reasons it was a popular plant with homeowners, unfortunately it is also one of the reasons it is able to spread so rapidly on the rivers and in wetlands. Purple loosestrife is capable of producing millions of seeds that may lay dormant in the soil for many years. Another unique identification characteristic of the plant is its square 4-angled stem.

Image of purple loosestrifeLancaster County Weed Control inspectors continue to find ornamental plantings occasionally, but they are very few compared to when it was first designated a noxious weed. We also have about 15 locations where purple loosestrife has spread into the wild. Those locations are being managed by the property owners. Chemical control has proven to be the most effective method to eradicate large infestations. Individual plants can be hand dug, completely removing all the root system, and put in a closed container to allow the entire plant to completely dry out before placing it in a tightly wrapped dark plastic bag to prevent contamination at the landfill.

Contact Information
We need everyone's help, so if you would like more information on purple loosestrife or would like to report an infestation contact the Lancaster County Weed Control Office. Email: weeds@lancaster.ne.gov or phone (402) 441-7817.



2012 Marks the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act: Everyone Lives in a Watershed
By Sharon Skipton, UNL Extension Water Quality Educator

Image of StreamEveryone lives in a watershed. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines a watershed as "the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place." In other words, it is the entire geographic area that drains into a water body. The EPA recognizes 2,110 watersheds in the continental United States, including the Missouri River Basin. Each major watershed has smaller tributary watersheds. Everyone in Nebraska lives in one of those tributary watersheds.

Clean water is vital for our health, communities, environment, and economy. The nation has made great progress in reducing pollution during the past 40 years, but many challenges remain. Everyone must work together to protect clean water for our families and future generations.

Forty years ago, in the midst of a national concern about untreated sewage, industrial and toxic discharges, destruction of wetlands, and contaminated runoff, the Clean Water Act (CWA), was totally revised to give the Act its current shape. The CWA set a new national goal "to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters," with interim goals that all waters be fishable and swimmable where possible. The Act called for federal guidelines, objectives, and limits to be set under the authority of the EPA, while states, territories, and authorized tribes would largely administer and enforce the CWA programs. Congress revised the Act in 1987 to include a comprehensive program for controlling stormwater discharges.

The Act also gave citizens a strong role to play in protecting and restoring waters. Everyone can help protect their watershed by preventing stormwater, and the pollutants it carries, from running off of their property into their watershed's streams, rivers, or lakes. Residential stormwater management remains primarily voluntary here in Nebraska. It is much different in some locations. For example, new homes in King County, Washington cannot have downspouts that allow rainwater to splash onto the ground. Water from downspouts must flow into an underground filtration system, similar to a septic system drainfield. A percolation test must be conducted, and the soil must be able to absorb and filter rainwater flowing from the structure in order to get a building permit. A typical percolation test for this purpose costs around $500.00.

Image of streamAs part of EPA's CWA 40th Anniversary celebration, the Agency is hosting a video project asking Americans everywhere to send in a 15-second video clip explaining the important role that water plays in their lives. EPA will feature selected video clips on its website and their "Water Is Worth It" Facebook page as part of its anniversary celebration. Each video should include the phrase "Water is worth it..." but the rest is up to you! Videos can be submitted through September 14, 2012.

Whether you participate in the video contest or not, you can view the EPA's Clean Water Act 40th Anniversary website at www.epa.gov/cleanwater40, join their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/waterisworthit, and follow them on Twitter @epawater to view video entries and learn more about the Clean Water Act and how you can help restore and maintain the integrity of Nebraska's waters.

Information included from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Photos from U.S. Geological Survey



IImage of tomato blossom end rotdentifying Blossom End Rot
By Sarah Browning, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

Blossom end rot (BER) is a common problem of tomatoes, but is also found on peppers, eggplant, squash and watermelon. It appears as flat, dry, sunken, brown tissue on the blossom end of the fruit, opposite the stem end. The rot is first seen as a small, water-soaked spot on the base of half-developed fruits and continues to enlarge as the fruit matures. The size of the rotted area varies, but can cover 30 to 50% of the fruit.

On peppers, the affected area is tan and is often confused with sunscald, which causes a white lesion. Affected areas are often colonized by secondary fungi, which affect the remaining fruit making it unuseable. This problem is not an insect or disease problem, but is a physiological disorder associated with a calcium deficiency in the developing fruit.

Image of watermelon blossom end rotHow does Calcium effect fruit development?
Calcium (Ca) is an important component for normal cell wall development; when inadequate levels of calcium are available to the rapidly developing distal tissues of the tomato, the result is cell breakdown. This condition is rarely the result of a lack of calcium in the soil, but rather occurs when plants cannot pull up calcium quickly enough for the developing tissues.

Calcium is a nutrient with limited mobility in plants; it must be dissolved in water to move within a plant, so water deficits are a frequent contributing factor. The distal, or blossom end, tissues of the tomato fruit also contain fewer vascular bundles, which move water and nutrients from one part of the plant to another, so are most susceptible to a lack of calcium.

Is Calcium deficient in your soil?
If a pre-plant soil test of Calcium levels shows medium (801 to 1,200 lbs Ca/acre) or high levels (greater than 1,200 lbs. Ca/acre), and soil pH measures 6.0 or higher, then existing soil Calcium is sufficient for good plant growth and additional Calcium added to the soil will not correct the problem.

How do environmental factors contribute to BER?
BER can be increased by multiple factors that occur during the growing season. Drought stress, low daytime humidity, and high temperatures favor BER development. Drought stress and low daytime humidity cause plants to lose large amounts of water through transpiration, resulting in more water being sent to the leaves and less to the developing fruits. High temperatures contribute by causing faster fruit enlargement resulting in a greater demand for calcium. Low soil moisture early in the season results in slowed plant and increased blossom-end rot due to the lack of Calcium movement in transpirational water.

Image of pepper blossom end rotNitrogen (N) and potassium (K) fertilization also effects BER development. Research has shown that excessive shoot growth resulting from overfertilization of N and K during early bloom and fruiting is a major contributor to BER development. In this situation, Ca again ends up in the new shoots, instead of in the fruits, because the shoots are the area of greatest demand for transpirational water due to the vigorous growth stimulated by N and K fertilization. At the early bloom stage, bell pepper and tomato leaf tissue analysis should show N and K levels both within the range of 4.0 to 6.0 percent. Higher levels may indicate excess fertilizer.

Management of BER
Cultural techniques that can be used to reduce the incidence of blossom end rot include the following:

  • Prevent drought stress on plants by providing at least 1 inch of water per week. Greater amounts will be needed for plants in sandy soils or during very hot, dry conditions. The critical period for water management to avoid BER starts at blooming through fruit development to about golf ball sized fruits. Keep soil moist enough to form a ball when squeezed in your hand that will not break apart.
  • Use an organic mulch like wood chips, clean straw, pine straw, peat moss, compost, herbicide-free grass clippings to preserve soil moisture
  • Reduce fertilization if excessive top growth occurs. Commercial growers could consider switching their Nitrogen fertilizer used from ammoniacal nitrogen to calcium nitrate (CaNO3).

Foliar applications of calcium have little effect on this condition, due to the poor absorption and movement of calcium from the leaves to the fruits. Use of products claiming to stop BER by application of foliar Calcium are not recommended.



White Grub Control in the Home Lawn
By Sarah Browning, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

One of the most easily recognized insects in the home landscape is the white grub. Almost every gardener has seen white grub larvae in the soil, while installing new plants or tilling the vegetable garden. The term "white grub" actually encompasses the larval stage of several scarab beetles, the most common, and most damaging, being the June beetle or masked chafer, and the Japanese beetle. Less well-known are the May/June beetle, and green June beetle. All have a white grub larval stage that can cause damage to turfgrass. The grubs are off white, with six legs located just behind their reddish-brown head, and are usually found curled into a "C" shape in the soil.

Adult June beetles are stout bodied, oval-shaped insects, about 1/2 inch in length, and dark yellow to light brown in color. They are most active at night and, unlike other scarab beetles, do not feed on plants as adults. Japanese beetle adults are slightly smaller, only 3/8 inches in length, with a dark metallic green head and coppery-brown body. They also have 5 tufts of white hairs on the sides of their abdomen. Unlike June beetles, Japanese beetles do feed as adults, and can cause severe damage to a wide range of landscape plants. Roses, oaks and cherries are a few of their preferred plants and can suffered significant defoliation.

Image of masked chaferMasked chafers and Japanese beetles have a 1-year lifecycle. Masked chafers are Nebraska native insects, so a few white grubs can often be found in almost every area of the landscape in spring, and do not warrant control. The theshold level for turfgrass damage by masked chafer larvae is 8-10 white grubs per square foot of lawn.

Masked chafers overwinter in the larval white grub stage in the soil, so are commonly found in the spring garden. However, these mature grubs do little damage and are difficult to kill ; so when control is necessary it is targeted at the next generation of insects. After digging in my garden last weekend, I found white grubs in the pupation stage, which means they are right on target to emerge as adults from late May through July. Watch for the adult beetles around yard lights at night early next month.

After mating, females tunnel a few inches into the soil and lay eggs, which hatch in about three weeks. Soil moisture is critical to egg development and eastern Nebraska's current dry conditions could lead to reduced populations this year if they continue. This year, the new generation of white grub larvae will begin hatching around mid to late June.

Image of white grubsWhite grubs feed on turf and ornamental plant roots, and other organic matter in the soil. Newly established lawns, and low maintenance lawns usually have few problems with white grubs. Turf-type tall fescue lawns also have few problems. Kentucky bluegrass lawns that are maintained at a high level with frequent fertilizer and water applications most prone to attack. White grub infestations also tend to be localized to preferred locations in the landscape, such as a sunny, irrigated slope or turfgrass underneath a yard light, instead of being uniform. Spot applications of grub control products can be made to areas with a history of attack, and not applied to the entire yard if the homeowner prefers.

Damage from root-feeding white grub larvae usually is at it's worst in late July and early August if high insect numbers are present and not controlled. As insects feed on the turfgrass' roots, small patches of grass turn brown and die. Damage is most severe in hot, sunny locations. Initially damage may appear to be drought injury, or even a disease such as summer patch. But close inspection of affected areas will show that patches of turf can be pulled back easily, like a carpet, and numerous white grub larvae will be found.

Later in the season, September and October, birds and other types of wildlife can cause further damage to your lawn as they rip up turfgrass to find juicy, fat mature grubs.

Due to the anticipation of a slightly earlier appearance of adult beetles this year, grub control products should also be applied slightly earlier than normal. Imidacloprid (Merit) and halofenozide (Mach 2) provide excellent grub control if applied at the right time, which this year is mid June to early July. Both products are very effective against young white grubs, and provide three months of residual control.

However, if grub control is needed in August or September for an infestation that went unnoticed earlier in the summer, carbaryl (Sevin) or dylox provide the best control due to their higher kill rate against mature white grubs.

Be sure to water-in grub control products after application for best control.



Controlling Tomato Leaf Spot Diseases
By Sarah Browning, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

Image early blight on tomatoOur tomatoes are growing strong, and it looks like this will be a much better year for vegetable gardens than we had last year. Dry spring conditions have slowed the development of leaf spot diseases, but even with good weather we know that they inevitably appear. So now is a great time to inspect your plants for the beginning of leaf spot symptoms and prepare to manage problems at the first sign of symptoms.

Tomatoes are attacked by both fungi and bacterial diseases that affect the leaves, petioles and stems, and cause blemishes on the fruits. Foliage diseases weaken infected plants by killing the leaves, which are the plant's factories for carbohydrate and energy production. Loss of foliage causes tomato plants to be less productive and vigorous, affecting tomato yield and quality. If severe enough foliage loss affects tomato flavor and pH, which is an important factor for safe canning, and can lead to sunscald on developing tomatoes due to suddenly exposure to more intense sunlight. If foliage diseases are not controlled, they can lead to death of the plant.

Disease Identification
Common diseases of tomato include septoria leaf spot, early blight, bacterial speck and bacterial spot. All of these diseases overwinter in the vegetable garden on infected plant debris. The spores are spread during the growing season by wind, water and human activity.

  • Septoria leaf spot begins as tiny black dots on the leaves, enlarging to small circular spots with a dark margin and gray center. Infected leaves turn yellow and die. Elongated lesions develop on stems and petioles.
  • Early blight appears as irregular, dark brown areas on the leaves with concentric, black rings developing in a target-like pattern as the spots enlarge. Dark brown, sunken lesions form on stems and petioles. These symptoms appear about 10 days after infection. Early blight occurs in midsummer during warm, humid periods and can spread very rapidly.
  • Bacterial speck and spot are both spread by infected plant debris during periods of humid, wet weather. Bacterial speck appears as tiny, pinhead sized, raised black specks on tomato leaves and fruits. Bacterial spot is very similar to bacterial speck, but the leaf and fruit spots are slightly larger. On tomato fruits, bacterial spot results in slightly raised, brown, scabby lesions.

Disease Management
Sanitation is very important for reducing disease pressure in your garden each year. Remove all plant debris that is left in the garden from last season before tilling and planting. Establish a 3-4 year rotation schedule in your garden, by moving those plants most affected by disease to containers or new plots of ground. Or choose not to grow heavily affected plants for a few years to reduce populations of disease organisms in the soil.

One of the most common methods of tomato leaf infection is through rain splashing on bare soil. All of the diseases mentioned above overwinter on infected plant debris in the soil. During a rainstorm, water droplets hit the soil surface, splashing water and soil up onto the lowest tomato leaves. Prevent rain splash in your garden by covering the soil with mulch. Apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch, using clean straw, black plastic, newspapers topped with wood chips, or any other coarse organic material. Mulch also helps suppresses weed growth, moderates soil temperature extremes and helps retain soil moisture.

Keep tomato leaves as dry as possible by applying water to the base of plants through soaker hoses, instead of using an overhead sprinkler, since water on the leaf surface promotes germination of fungal spores and leaf infection.

Suppression of leaf spot diseases, once plants have been infected, can be accomplished through sanitation and the application of fungicides. Remove and discard heavily infected plants. Infections may be slowed by removing diseased leaves as they appear.

Fungicides are protective; they keep healthy leaves from becoming infected. Fungicides are not curative. This means that infected foliage will remain diseased and may die. Fungicides must be applied on a regular basis to provide continued protection for the healthy leaves. Fungicides for use on garden vegetables, such as liquid copper or Bordeaux mixture, are readily available at most garden centers. Read the fungicide label carefully to determine the number of days you must wait after the final fungicide application before fruits can be harvested.

For additional disease management, remove debris from tomato and pepper plants in the fall after harvest is completed or till debris into the soil.

For more information on tomato problems, check out the resources below.



Harvesting Peaches & Apricots
By Sarah Browning, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

Image of peachesPeaches and apricots are a favorite summer fruit, and a great source of dietary fiber, Niacin, Potassium and Vitamin C. Growing peaches and apricots in Nebraska is a challenge, but still many gardeners are successful and looking forward to harvest in the next few weeks.

Preventing Bird Damage
As harvest nears, protect fruits from bird damage, which can be serious on peaches and apricots. Many species of birds are attracted to ripening fruits, including starlings, robins, grackles, Baltimore orioles, and blue jays. Protect trees with bird netting, using a multi-strand net large enough to cover most of the tree. Netting can be installed in the tree's canopy in spring, and left in place till fall. Store the netting in a dry place for winter, and it will last for several years. White or light-colored nets are best because birds are less likely to become caught in nets they can easily see.

Or create a teepee around your tree with monofilament lines. Securely attach a dowel to the top of the tree, perpendicular to the ground, and extending about 2 feet above the tree. Next, attach 15 to 20 long monofilament (fishing) lines to the dowel, and on the opposite end of each line to a wooden stake or landscape pin. The lines should be long enough to reach the ground about 15 feet away from the tree's trunk. Stake the lines to the ground so that most of the tree is within the teepee.

Knowing When to Harvest
Harvest dates for peaches and apricots vary by cultivar, but they are typically harvested from late June through August. Taste a few fruits as they near maturity to determine when they have reached peak flavor. Peaches and apricots ripen in color, texture and juiciness after harvest, but flavor and sugar content does not increase once they are removed from the tree. So make sure your fruits have developed ideal sweetness, but are still a little firm, before harvesting. Allowing fruits to become overripe on the tree will decrease their storage time, and increase the potential for disease, insect and bird damage.

Typically, apricots are harvested when the fruits have developed full color, from yellow to deep orange depending on the cultivar, with no green remaining in the skin, and they are just beginning to soften. Mature apricots vary in size from 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches in diameter. Apricots have a very short storage life, typically 1-2 weeks at 30-40° F degrees and 90% humidity, so make plans for their use before they spoil.

Harvest peaches when the base color, or ground color, of the fruits changes from green to full yellow. Many newer peach cultivars have a lot of red coloration to the skin, but don't base your harvest on this. Red coloration is not a reliable measure of maturity; in fact, some cultivars have so much red coloration that the ground color change can be hard to detect. In this case, firmness, fruit size, and taste testing are the best indicators of ripeness. Avoid harvesting any fruits with greenish skins, due to their poor flavor and texture. Peaches can be stored for 2-4 weeks when held at 31-32° F degrees and 90% humidity.