John Wilson's 2017 Columns/Articles
January 5, 2017
Don’t Let Firewood “Bug” You!
One of my projects last weekend, actually one of my wife’s projects for me, was to split and stack some firewood closer to the house so it will be more accessible. This made me think of a common call I get each winter... Read more.
January 12, 2017
Preventing Winter Injury in the Landscape
The other night, for some unexplained reason, I got online and checked one of the weather websites that offers a 90 day forecast. Now I don’t put much more faith in a 90 day forecast than I do in the plan someone wants to sell me to help win the next lottery. Read more.
January 19, 2017
Check Stored Grain after Warm Winter Weather
The warm temperatures we had last week will create the potential for grain to go out of condition in bins. When we have warm temperatures, grain nearest the bin walls, especially on the south and west sides of the bin, warms up more than grain in the middle of the bin. Read more.
January 26, 2017
Watching... and COUNTING... Birds!
Now I’m not complaining about the weather, but the open winter we’ve had most of the time hasn’t been great for birdwatching. They don’t seem to come to our feeders when the weather is nice. Read more.
February 2, 2017
Great Plants for Great Plains
Selecting a different plant than what everyone else has can be challenging but rewarding. It can be challenging because nurseries and garden centers, being good business people, tend to carry what customers ask for. Read more.
February 16, 2017
The Canada geese have been checking out the nesting boxes on the pond at my place which is a good indication that, if not here, spring is just around the corner. Warmer days predicted this week and next week will give you the opportunity to get outside and do some things in the yard. You need to wait on several of those such as power raking, fertilizing my lawn, or applying crabgrass preventer... Read more.
February 23, 2017
Emerald Ash Borers are No Gem!
Today I wanted to talk about an insect that’s been in the news for over 10 years. The emerald ash borer has the potential to be devastating to ash trees when it gets to our area... but the key word here is WHEN! Read more.
March 2, 2017
I imagine most people’s first response to ‘digital diagnostics’ is, “What in the world is he talking about today?” Actually I’m asked that frequently, but that’s another story for another day! While digital diagnostics is not a term you probably use around the kitchen table or at the coffee shop, especially if you want anyone to sit with you, it is a useful tool that is available as close as your local Nebraska Extension office. Read more.
March 9, 2017
While watching a movie one evening last weekend, my wife said something to me about, “They’re Back!” This sounded like a line out of some cheap horror movie, but then I realized what she was talking about. Read more.
March 15, 2017
“From The Grocery Store!”
Unfortunately, this is the response from more and more children and young adults across the U.S. when asked, "Where does your food come from?" Nebraskans may be less inclined to respond this way, but even in Nebraska, where agriculture is our number one industry, there is a growing disconnect between the food we eat and where it was produced. Read more.
March 23, 2017
“Severe Weather Awareness Week”
This week, March 27-31, is Nebraska Severe Weather Awareness Week. I think it is interesting that we have a whole week designated as Severe Weather Awareness Week, but only one day in November designated as Winter Weather Awareness Day. We are fortunate that we have not experienced any severe weather this spring... Read more.
March 30, 2017
As a follow-up to last week’s article about severe weather awareness week, I thought it might be good to review some facts and myths considering our most violent form of severe weather in this part of the country, the tornado. Last week, I attended a storm spotter class where we learned tornadoes can occur any month of the year, but are most common in April, May and June in Nebraska. Read more.
April 5, 2017
“Control Noxious Weeds This Spring”
With recent rains and near or above normal temperatures predicted the next couple of weeks, we are rapidly approaching the window of time for controlling noxious weeds this spring. Fall may be the best time to control noxious weeds, but don’t neglect your opportunities this spring. Read more.
April 13, 2017
Controlling Weeds in Your Fields
Recently I ran into an article that addressed a topic that is a concern to many farmers going into this growing season... resistant weeds and the cost of controlling them. This information was in a blog from Bob Hartzler, extension weed specialist at Iowa State University. Read more.
April 20, 2017
Arbor Day - 2017
Arbor Day will be this Friday, April 28, and it has its “roots” in Nebraska. J. Sterling Morton described Nebraska as a “treeless prairie” when he moved here from Michigan in 1854. He proposed a tree planting holiday to the State Board of Agriculture in 1872. The first Arbor Day was observed in Nebraska on April 10 that year and more than a million trees were planted in Nebraska. Read more.
April 27, 2017
The old saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers” so my question to you is, what do May flowers bring? I’ll let you think about that one for a couple of minutes! I don’t know that it’s the kind of May flowers most people hope for, but April showers certainly have generated calls about purple flowers in lawns. Read more.
May 4, 2017
Ticks, Ticks and more Ticks!
I’ve been out a couple of times in search of morel mushrooms. Unfortunately I’ve found more ticks than mushrooms! Ticks are close relatives of mites and spiders and pass through four stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, nymph and adult. All stages except the egg are blood-sucking parasites that can also carry diseases. Read more.
May 11, 2017
Monitor Stands in Early Planted Corn
This certainly has been a challenging spring for farmers trying to get crops planted in many areas. Between prolonged rainy conditions and soil temperatures taking a plunge, there just weren’t a lot of good opportunities to get crops planted in April. Read more.
May 18, 2017
Check Alfalfa for Weevil Damage
While everyone has been concentrating on getting corn and soybeans planted, don’t forget about alfalfa. There have been a few scattered reports of alfalfa weevil in alfalfa fields. I haven’t heard any reports on clover leaf weevils. Read more.
May 25, 2017
Signs of Spring
Who needs a calendar to know when it’s spring? I have a fail-safe way to tell when it gets here. I just wait until I start getting calls from homeowners who have had a close encounter with a snake. Read more.
June 1, 2017
Many people consider Memorial Day weekend as the official beginning of the outdoor summer season with barbecues, boating, fishing and ball games... or just mowing your lawn or working in your garden. Nothing spoils these outdoor activities quicker than being swarmed by mosquitos. Read more.
June 12, 2015
Brown Spots in Lawns
The warm humid conditions we're experiencing can promote diseases such as dollar spot and brown patch. If brown patches appear in your lawn, diagnose the problem before applying a pesticide. Disease and insect pests can build up resistance to pesticides, especially if they are overused. Pesticides are also chemicals we should not put into the environment unless they are needed. Read more.
July 2, 2015
Multitudes of Mosquitoes!
Once upon a time I saw a quote that stated, "Nothing was made in vain, but the mosquito came near it!" I talked about mosquitos back in May, when they first started to appear. That was before our monsoon season. In May they were annoying. Read more.
July 9, 2015
Scout Corn Fields NOW for Northern Corn Leaf Blight
I'm seeing and hearing more reports of northern corn leaf blight (NCLB) this year. While far from an epidemic, enough fields are showing at least a few lesions that it would be a good idea for farmers to get out and see what is happening in their fields, then plan their management accordingly. Read more.
July 20, 2015
Soybean Aphid Scouting and Management
Soybean aphids have been found in recent field surveys in northeast Nebraska. I checked a few local fields and found an occasional plant with a few (less than 10) aphids/plant. These numbers are extremely low, which is typical for this time of year, but it does signal it's time to start scouting. Read more.
July 24, 2015
Scout for Soybean Aphids AND SCN!
Last week I was scouting fields for soybean aphids and made an unintended discovery. As I pulled up soybean plants to examine the undersides of the leaves for soybean aphids, I had the roots of the plants literally right under my nose. Read more.
September 4, 2015
Don't "Over-Care" for Landscape Trees
This summer appeared to be hard on trees as I had more questions on branch dieback and even tree death. It was not our summer that caused stress but a culmination of weather extremes over past years. Read more.
September 11, 2015
Rust in Turf
Have your shoes turned rusty-orange after walking across the lawn? If so, your lawn is affected by a fungal disease called rust. Rust may appear at any time during the growing season, but is most common in late summer and is often more severe in shaded areas. Read more.
September 18, 2015
Ignore Nuisance Insects
It seems like a lot of bugs are bugging a lot of people recently! You may have been annoyed by a swarm of tiny, white winged insects... or you may notice large beetles devouring ripe tomatoes or overripe fruit... or had caterpillars forming large, ugly webs on the tips of branches in trees. Read more.
September 25, 2015
Control Noxious Weeds NOW!
Late September and October may be the best time of the year to control our three most common noxious weeds... leafy spurge, Canada thistle and musk thistle. These plants will be growing rapidly with recent rains and warm days this fall. Actively growing plants are more susceptible to herbicide applications. Read more.
October 2, 2015
Estimating Corn & Soybean Yields
Each year about this time I get calls from farmers wanting to estimate their yields and each year I look it up, print off a sheet or two, put it in the mail or try to explain it to someone over the phone. Read more.
October 9, 2015
BEWARE: Home Invasions Up!
If you aren’t already, you should be on high alert. I’ve received numerous calls about homes around the county being invaded, some while the residents were in their house. I have to confess that we didn’t take all the necessary precautions and our home also fell victim to these invaders. Read more.
October 16, 2015
Fire Safety During Harvest
Harvest is always a busy time of year. The past week and the week ahead will see a lot of this year’s crop being harvested after a wet start in late September. However, we can’t let the rush to get crops harvested come before safety. Read more.
October 23, 2015
Fall Noxious Weed Control
As harvest winds down, there is another important task that many folks need to remember. Fall is a perfect time of the year to control our three most common noxious weeds, leafy spurge, Canada thistle and musk thistle. This fall is setting up to be excellent for weed control because of moderate temperatures, some rainfall, and the lack of a hard killing frost have weeds actively growing which makes the more susceptible to herbicide treatments. Read more.
October 30, 2015
Fall Lawn Care
The lawn care season is winding down, but has not ended. Several important lawn care tasks for the next couple of weeks should include a final fertilization, continued mowing as needed, removing leaves that have fallen, and draining the irrigation system after watering in the last fertilizer application if Mother Nature doesn’t do that for us. Read more.
November 6, 2015
Protect Your Investment: Stored Grain Management
Harvest is over or winding down for most area farmers and it has been a near perfect fall for harvest. I know a few farmers with poorly drained bottomland soils who are waiting for it to dry out or the soils to freeze so they can finish harvest will disagree with me, but for the most part it has been a good fall for harvest after a wet start in late September. Read more.
November 20, 2015
Protect Yourself: Stored Grain Safety
Two weeks ago I talked about managing moisture and temperature levels in stored grain to protect and maintain the quality put into the bin. While it is important to protect grain quality, it is even more important to protect ourselves and others that might be working with or around on-farm stored grain. Read more.
November 25, 2015
Christmas Tree Selection & Care
For many families, once the Thanksgiving leftovers are in the refrigerator, it’s time to start preparing for Christmas. For many, the most prominent part of the holiday display is the Christmas tree. There has been a trend with more people selecting natural trees, but it is important to select a fresh tree. Read more.
December 4, 2015
Fire Prevention Around Your Home
Last Monday’s snow reduced the likelihood of fire for a while, but it didn’t last too long. While I don’t think many of us miss the snow, you do need to consider that this increases a risk that is easy to overlook. When dry plants and plant material are not covered by snow or moistened by rain, you need to be aware of potential fire hazards around your home. Read more.
December 11, 2015
Fire Prevention In Your Home
Last week I talked about fire hazards outside the home. This week I wanted to talk about a fire hazard inside. In 2014, almost 3,000 Americans died in residential fires and there were almost 16,00 fire-related injuries, according to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association. Read more.
December 18, 2015
One of the easiest ways to enjoy wildlife in the comfort of your home is to watch birds at a feeder. You'll be amazed at the variety of birds that will come to your feeder throughout the year. Experts disagree about whether backyard bird feeding will significantly help bird populations. But feeding certainly can help individual birds living near your home. Read more.
John Wilson's 2016 Columns/Articles
January 22, 2016
Check Stored Grain
Warm temperatures this winter will create the potential for grain to go out of condition in bins. When we have warm temperatures, grain nearest the bin walls, especially on the south and west sides of the bin, warms up more than grain in the middle of the bin. This difference in temperatures in the grain mass can cause moisture movement and condensation which leads to grain going out of condition. Read more.
February 5, 2016
Winter Is “For The Birds!”
This week is much better, but if you’re like me, last week wasn’t good to do much of anything outside if you didn’t have to. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the outdoors. I know my wife and I both spent time watching the bird feeders behind our house on some of those cold, snowy days. Read more.
February 19, 2016
Earlier this month it was snow, snow, snow, now it is melt, melt, melt. Melting snow puts moisture in the soil profile that benefits crops and ornamentals next summer, but it may also cause problems. Read more.
February 26, 2016
The Canada geese have been checking out the nesting boxes on the pond at my place which is a good indication that, if not here, spring is just around the corner. Warmer days predicted this weekend will gave me the opportunity to get outside and do some things in the yard. Read more.
March 4, 2016
A distinct odor greeted me as I parked in my driveway and walked towards the house when I came home from a meeting 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!) Read more.
March 11, 2016
You are probably a month or more away before you think about using pastures for grazing unless you stockpiled some forage, or left extra grass ungrazed last fall. Usually the first thing you will do to improve your pastures is to fertilize them in the spring... but fertilizer isn’t cheap. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to improve the productivity of your pastures without the cost of commercial fertilizers? Read more.
March 18, 2016
ALFALFA - The Forgotten Crop
Too often alfalfa can be the forgotten farm crop... we take care of alfalfa when we’re caught up on everything else. I’d like to suggest you move alfalfa higher on your priority list... and one of the first things you need to do with your alfalfa fields should be done in the next few weeks. Read more.
March 25, 2016
Last week, March 21-25, was Nebraska Severe Weather Awareness Week. I think it is interesting that we have a whole week designated as Severe Weather Awareness Week, but only one day in November designated as Winter Weather Awareness Day. Read more.
April 1, 2016
Tornadoes: Fact or Myth
As a follow-up to last week’s report about severe weather awareness week, I thought it might be good to review some facts and myths considering our most violent form of severe weather in this part of the country, the tornado. No place in the U.S. is completely safe from tornadoes. Read more.
April 8, 2016
Controlling Noxious Weeds
The weather hasn’t seemed like it lately, but we are coming into the window of time for controlling noxious weeds this spring. Fall may be the best time to control noxious weeds, but don’t neglect your opportunities this spring. Read more.
April 15, 2016
Cool Weather & Burndown Herbicides
The weather seems like it can’t make up its mind whether it’s early March or late May. But finally the extended weather forecast appears to suggest more consistent springlike conditions. One concern I’ve visited with several local farmers about is how the freezing temperatures will affect the performance of burndown herbicides. Read more.
April 22, 2016
Fertilizing Lawns & Crabgrass Control
This has been a strange spring for weather, but anymore I’m not sure what a normal spring is. We started wet, but it soon turned dry. Our temperatures alternated between those typical for mid-March and mid-May, but gradually warmed to where the soil was almost warm enough for crabgrass to germinate. Read more.
April 22, 2016
Arbor Day - 2016
I was looking for something new to talk about regarding Arbor Day this year. So many times we focus on the usual talking points about Arbor Day... Read more.
April 29, 2016
Ground Ivy Control
I expect to get certain kinds of calls at certain times of the year. My observations as I drove around led me to believe, and my suspicions were confirmed by the large number of calls I've received... 2016 is an excellent year for ground ivy in lawns. Read more.
May 6, 2016
The Great Tomato Race
The shelves in the tent at our local garden retail outlet are full of horticultural potential in a variety of different size pots. Taking my wife in there is like ringing a bell for Pavlov’s dog, she suddenly starts drooling with the thought of eating. Read more.
May 13, 2016
Nutsedge Drives Homeowners Nuts!
As I was recently mowing my lawn AGAIN between rains, I noticed a few light yellow-green blades of grass that were even taller than the rest of my grass. This was in a protected area right next to a retaining wall so I think that is why this weed was a little earlier than I would normally expect. Read more.
May 20, 2016
Sure Sign of Spring
Some people may link the arrival of spring with lilac blooming or the need to mow your lawn. Not me, I have something that, to me, heralds the arrival of spring like nothing else... my first call on what to do about snakes around (or IN) someone’s home. This year was no exception! Read more.
May 26, 2016
Emerald Ash Borer and Camels
In my 38-year Extension career, I never remember talking so long about a pest that wasn't even here! I'm sure part of the reason is that emerald ash borers (EAB) are so devastating to ash trees. Since its arrival, EAB has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees. Read more.
June 3, 2016
Late Planting & Replanting Decisions
I’m sure there has been, but it’s hard to remember a year when we’ve had so much rain in April and May. This has put many farmers behind on their planting or made replanting necessary.Read more.
June 10, 2016
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, settlers and farmers recognized the importance of trees in what J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day, described as a treeless prairie when he moved to Nebraska. Many farmstead and livestock shelter windbreaks were planted up to or over a century ago. Read more.
June 17, 2016
Emerald Ash Borer & Camels - The Rest of the Story
Three weeks ago, I wrote a column about how treating your trees for Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was like treating your trees to prevent camel damage. It wasn’t necessary at this time because EAB, or marauding camels, hadn’t been detected in Nebraska.Read more.
June 24, 2016
Some areas have received rain in the past week or two, a few of those areas too much rain, but many areas are quite dry and lawns are starting to show signs of drought stress, especially with above normal temperatures. Read more.
July 1, 2016
Brown Spots in Lawns
The warm humid conditions we’re experiencing can promote diseases such as dollar spot and brown patch. If brown areas appear in your lawn, diagnose the problem before applying a pesticide. Read more.
July 8, 2016
Scouting for SCN
2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the soybean cyst nematode (SCN) being identified for the first time in Nebraska near Falls City. Since then it has been identified in 58 counties that produce 94% of Nebraska's soybeans. Read more.
July 15, 2016
Cash Lease Workshops on Wednesday, July 27
Area farmers and landlords have two opportunities to attend a Landlord - Tenant Cash Lease Workshop on Wednesday, July 27. Nebraska Extension will be offering programs at 1:30 p.m. at the Firehall in Pender or at 6:30 p.m. at the First National Bank Northeast in Tekamah. Read more.
July 22, 2016
Our weather, with alternating cooler rainy periods and extreme heat like last week, is setting us up for a number of problems. Nothing is more frustrating to the home gardener than to watch their tomatoes slowly ripen, only to discover the bottom of the fruit has turned black and started to decay. Read more.
July 29, 2016
Scout Now for Soybean Aphids
Soybean aphids have been found in recent field surveys in northeast Nebraska. I checked a few local fields and found an occasional plant with a few, usually less than 10 aphids/plant. These numbers are extremely low, which is typical this time of year, but it does signal it’s time to start scouting. Read more.
August 3, 2016
New Thoughts on Watering Lawns
With recent scattered rains, watering lawns isn’t high on everyone’s priority list. However, if you missed out on the rain you may be watering your lawn now and almost everybody will probably have to water a few times in the next month or two. Read more.
August 11, 2016
Summer Lawn Care
Last week I talked about how to efficiently water your lawn in the summer without overwatering. There was an important point I needed to explain a little more. Someone asked what I meant about letting a lawn go dormant in the hot summer months and why it applied to bluegrass lawns, but not fescue lawns. Read more.
August 19, 2016
Farmland Leases in Nebraska
Over half of the cropland in Nebraska is leased to someone else who farms the ground rather than being farmed by the owner. This has generated many more questions regarding leases and unfortunately, more misunderstandings between landlords and tenants. Read more.
August 26, 2016
Bacterial Leaf Streak of Corn Confirmed in Nebraska
I have visited with a few people about this individually, but it could not be released publicly until last Friday, August 26. The following is taken from an article in the latest edition of CropWatch. For more information, other links, and images of the disease, please visit http://cropwatch.unl.edu. Read more.
September 1, 2016
September Lawn Care
Last week we flipped the calendar over to a new month, and September can be the most important month to get your bluegrass and tall fescue lawns back in good condition after the stressful months this summer, although this year wasn’t as bad as many. Read more.
September 8, 2016
New Corn Disease: Bacterial Leaf Streak
Some of you may have heard recently that a new disease had been discovered in Nebraska corn fields. On Friday, August 26, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture announced that this new disease called bacterial leaf streak of corn had been identified in Nebraska. Read more.
September 15, 2016
Alphabet Soup: BSR-SDS-SCN
Don't you just love trying to remember what abbreviations and acronyms represent? I have to admit that every so often I will stare at an acronym and try to remember exactly what I should associate with the hodgepodge of letters in front of me. Today I want to talk about three of these that are all related. Read more.
September 22, 2016
National Farm Safety and Health Week
This kind of slipped up on me and I missed doing an article about it last week. However, the need and importance is the same a week later. I need to credit my colleagues at Iowa State University for much of the content of this article. Read more.
September 29, 2016
How to Minimize Soil Compaction During Harvest
Harvest is one of my favorite times of year. Watching fields being harvested as I drive to and from work each day takes me back to my days of growing up on a farm in the Platte River valley. Read more.
October 6, 2016
Fall Lawn Weed Control
We are just entering the best time of year to control many problem broadleaf weeds in turf. October is a GREAT time to control dandelions, white clover, ground ivy and other perennial weeds that are a perennial problem for people trying to keep their lawns looking nice. Read more.
October 13, 2016
Noxious Weed Control
Harvest and planting season are probably the two busiest times of the year for most farmers. While I don't expect anyone to delay planting to take care of the other job I'm going to talk about today, it is something you might address when it's too wet to combine or as soon as harvest is wrapped up. Read more.
October 20, 2016
After my experience a week ago Monday, that beautiful day when it got above 80OF, I told Patty I knew what I had to write about in my next column. I’d taken the day off to finish staining our house and enjoyed the weather, but not the pests that were out in full force that day. Read more.
October 27, 2016
Spiders & Snakes
Forty-two years ago (that’s 1974 for the mathematically challenged), Jimmy Stafford’s song “Spiders & Snakes” peaked at #3 on the Billboard charts. For those of you too young to remember this, check it out on youtube. His lyrics, “I don’t like spiders and snakes,” are echoed by many 40-some years later. Read more.
November 3, 2016
Fall is Best Time for Marestail Management
With corn and soybean harvest nearing completion, this is a great time to begin scouting fields for winter annual weeds. The primary species to look for is marestail, also known as horseweed, as many populations in Nebraska have evolved resistance to glyphosate and ALS-inhibiting herbicides. Read more.
November 10, 2016
Don't Sing The Soybean Blues! Test for SCN
As harvest is wrapping up, most farmers are glad that job is finished and happy with their yields. This year good management and Mother Nature converged to give most farmers above average yields. But occasionally this fall, I ran into farmers who were disappointed in their yields, particularly soybean yields. Read more.
November 17, 2016
Christmas Tree Selection & Care
I hate rushing the Christmas holiday before we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving, but this might be too late for some people if I wait until next week. I’m guessing some people will select a Christmas tree on the weekend after Thanksgiving, along with their other early Christmas shopping. Read more.
November 23, 2016
It's important for trees, shrubs, turf and perennials to go through fall and into winter with a moist soil. Last week’s rains haven’t completely made up for dry weather the last 6-8 weeks. Read more.
December 1, 2016
Prepare Fireplaces and Firewood For Safe Use This Winter
Every year, at least 12,000 Americans die in residential fires, according to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association. Because of the risks associated with fires, it's important to understand and practice safety tips when using indoor fireplaces and wood burning stoves this winter. Read more.
December 8, 2016
Confronting Cropping Challenges
One thing many farmers dread each winter or early spring is attending a private pesticide applicator training session when their license to purchase or apply restricted use pesticides expires. Read more.
December 16, 2016
Fireplace & Wood Stove Safety
After our visit from the polar vortex last week, I hope I have enough wood split to use in our fireplace for heating over the winter. I’ve hear it said that firewood is an excellent heat source, it warms you five times. Read more.