Where did August go? It seems like I was just getting ready for County Fair and now I’ve already taken exhibits to the Nebraska State Fair and will be helping down there over Labor Day weekend.
Total Lunar Eclipse
Of course I can’t get through August without mentioning the solar eclipse. I was at a training at Clay Center that day and the clouds didn’t cooperate with us the best, but the sun broke through enough so we had a good view, just not the greatest! They say you can save the eclipse glasses until the next eclipse, but I have a hard time remembering where I put something a day or two later, so I don’t think that will happen. My wife says I don’t throw enough stuff anyway. Just in case anyone wonders, I did NOT take this image!
Rain Affects Crop Yields
Something else noteworthy in August were the rain events that came in the last half of the month, at least around here. That was a welcome relief to farmers as many shut down their irrigation for the year and anyone with a lawn was also glad to see the rain. Rain this late in the season will help yields on soybeans more than corn. The final yield in corn was largely determined earlier in the growing season when moisture stress was more critical for those that rely on Mother Nature for moisture and couldn’t irrigate.
There probably won’t be a lot of field activity on most farms in September. Many farmers are delivering grain that had been stored on the farm. Be careful when traveling on county roads as larger vehicles used to transport grain can take up more than their half of the road. And it will only get worse when harvest rolls around later this month or in October and November.
Preparing for Harvest
While it might seem like there isn’t much going on in September, it is a time of preparation and anticipation. Many farmers will be cleaning out grain bins and making sure their combines and equipment are ready in anticipation of harvest. I anticipate the upcoming Husker football season (how good will they be this year?) and hunting seasons. It’s also the time of year where we wrap up one year’s activities and prepare for the year ahead.
One important activity this time of year is controlling noxious weeds, and other troublesome weeds, you might have around your place. Fall is the best time to control many of our perennial weeds (those that come up from the roots each year) because this is when they are storing food in the roots in anticipation of new growth next spring. Herbicides applied at this time of year will be translocated to the roots and provide better control.
Weeds that you want to control this time of year include noxious weeds such as musk thistle, Canada thistle, and leafy spurge… as well as troublesome lawn weeds such as dandelions, white clover and ground ivy. It doesn’t do any good to try to control annual weeds (come up from seed each year) such as crabgrass, barnyardgrass, foxtail, ragweed, pigweed or lambsquarter because these weeds will die with the first killing frost.
Fall is also a good time to start making plans for any plantings you want to make. Maybe your landscape needs a tree or some bushes. They can be planted in the fall if you do it soon because the weather won’t be as stressful on them and they will have time to get established before winter. Even if you don’t plant this fall, you can do a little research on what is adapted for your area and clear areas where you will make a planting.
Fall Site Preparation for Wildlife & Pollinator Plantings
It’s also a good time to kill existing vegetation if you want to establish a prairie-like area… wildflowers and native grasses.
When selecting plants for any of these areas, keep in mind secondary goals besides beautification. Do you want to …attract birds? …promote pollinators? …encourage other kinds of wildlife? There are so many things you can do with a little planning. My wife and I planted a lot of shrubs for wildlife plantings in my CRP last spring. They were planted in 30’ by 50’ blocks with about 150 shrubs in each block. These were little bare root seedlings that were about 12-15” tall when we planted them. These are available at a very reasonable price through your local Natural Resource Conservation Service office. Visit the link above and click on “Nebraska NRCS Employee Directory” under Nebraska State Directory. Seedlings are also available from your Natural Resource District (NRD) office.
My primary purpose was to encourage wildlife, but these plantings will also provide food and nesting areas for birds, and at certain times of the year they will also provide an excellent source of pollen and nectar for insects. It’s easy to think that it will be years before they serve these functions. However, with a little care controlling weeds and watering (mine were only watered twice, once when they were planted and once in June when it got hot and dry), my shrubs average three to four feet tall with a couple are over five feet tall.
If you’d like more ideas on landscaping plants, contact your local Nebraska Extension office. If you are interested in larger plantings for a windbreak or for wildlife you should also talk to your Nebraska Forestry Service forester. A great source of information for prairie or wildflower plantings is your nearest farm bill wildlife biologist.
So until next month, enjoy this period of moving into fall, plan ahead, and have fun on your acreage!