WOW! Where did April go? It seems like the majority of the month was wasted with “The Winter That Would Never End!” At least I just got “nuisance snows” in April where I live and not the heavy snows I imagine some of our readers received. As I wrote this during the last week in April, most of the nearby reporting stations showed the seven-day average soil temperatures were still below 50F. So everything is behind normal, but looking at the extended forecast, we should be getting back to more normal conditions soon.
The rains, snows and cold temperatures have put things behind for area farmers, too. The Ag Statistics report that came out the last week of April showed corn and especially oats plantings were lagging well behind where farmers were last year and behind normal. However, with today’s farm equipment and a little cooperation from Mother Nature, planting will progress quickly. I’ve mentioned this before, but planting and harvest are probably two of the most dangerous times on rural roads… be careful!
The cool, wet weather also provided a challenge for cow-calf producers. The frequently rain and snow made for muddy pens around the barns for calving and the cool weather slowed grass growth in pastures. Many cow and calves are being held in lots when normally they would be turned out to pasture after calving. Grass growth is probably a week or more behind normal… just like it is for many of our lawns. (But I don’t look at slow growth on my lawn as a bad thing. It means I have not had to mow it as much… so far!)
If you haven’t done so already, early May is a good time to make the first fertilizer application on your lawn along with a crabgrass preventer. One thing that is frequently overlooked is to be effective, you need to have a half inch of rain within a day or two after application to move the herbicide into the soil where it can do its job. If you don’t get rain, you will need to water it in to get the desired effect.
Something I just learned about is a program through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). This program is designed to help homeowners with ash trees in a windbreak with the removal and replacement of the ash trees. It will NOT help you if you have a couple ash trees in your landscape that shade your house. It is designed for landowners that have a windbreak with at least one row of ash trees in the windbreak.
To qualify, you must have a farm tract number which you can get from your local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office, even if you do not have any agricultural land on your property. Then you would need to apply for assistance at the NRCS office. The deadline for applications is May 18, 2018. Priority will be given to landowners in or close to counties quarantined because of emerald ash borer. I was told this will be an ongoing program so if you don’t qualify or can’t apply in time this year, you will most likely have another opportunity next year.
The last thing I’d like to get you thinking about this month is pollinators. A lot of landscape plantings are done in May. When you think about replacing or adding plants to your landscape, consider how they benefit pollinating insects as well as how they beautify your landscape. Consider what time of year they bloom and how the compliment other plants you already have. Your goal should be to have plants that will bloom throughout the growing season, from early spring to late fall.
Here are a couple good resources from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum. They not only list plants that are good as pollinators, they also list how big the plant will get and the time of year it will bloom. They also have separate lists for plants best adapted for Eastern and Western Nebraska.
So now that spring is finally here, get outside and enjoy your surroundings. Plant a tree for Arbor Day (I know that’s past, but you don’t have to do it on Arbor Day)… plant some flowers that are good for pollinators… plant a good pollen-producing tree and kill two birds with one stone… LOL! There are all kinds of projects and adventures just waiting for you. So until next month, have some fun on your acreage!