Acreage Insghts

Cost Saving Horse Care Ideas

Cost Saving Horse Care Ideas, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights March 2017.

Purchasing and caring for a horse may be challenging during tough economic times. Consider these ways to make horse ownership more economical. 

By Monte Stauffer, Nebraska Extension Educator - Livestock

Purchasing and caring for a horse may be challenging during tough economic times.  Following are ideas to consider that may make the situation more tolerable:

  1.  Consider borrowing, leasing, or sharing a horse.  Some horse owners are willing to share a horse that isn’t being used much but are not willing to sell it.  This also gives you a chance to see just how interested in having a horse your family is.
  2.  Attend clinics put on by more experienced horseman to learn how to ride and care for your horse rather than having a personal trainer or consultant.
  3.  Acquire used tack and equipment at tack swaps or auctions rather than purchasing only new equipment.  Some equipment can be shared with other area horse owners.
  4.  Schedule health and hoof care events for horse owners in your area or club to avoid paying call fees for someone to come out just for your horse.
  5.  Consider giving your own vaccinations and dewormers.
  6.  Consider using electric wire or tape or wire panels to confine your horses rather than pipe or wood fencing.
  7.  Feed only the nutrients your horses need.  Over feeding can be just as detrimental to your horse’s health as underfeeding.
  8.  Buying grain in bulk can be cheaper than buying bagged grain.
  9.  Purchase hay when it is the cheapest such as during the summer right out of the field.
  10. Feeding round bales of hay is much more economical if you have the equipment to haul, unload, and feed them.
  11.  Utilize pastures and exercise lots effectively to reduce purchased hay and bedding usage.
  12.  Shoe your horse only when needed.  Most horses don’t need to be shod but you should still maintain proper hoof care.


Nebraska Weather and Your Water Supply, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights March 2017.

When a storm is in the forecast it is a very good idea to make sure you have an emergency supply of water on hand. 

Nebraska Weather and Your Water Supply

By Meghan Sittler, Nebraska Extension Educator - Horticulture

Nebraska weather is anything but stable and predictable. February reiterated that point to us as we saw record numbers of days with highs in the 70s, our first thunder of 2017 followed by up to two feet of snow in some parts of the state.  Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are most common during May, June and July but they can occur at any time and are increasingly common as warm air patterns begin to dominate during the spring months.  Snow and ice storms are most prevalent from December through February.  However, as we all know, any or all types of severe weather can happen about anytime!

Your individual well is operated by electricity so if severe weather causes the power to go out your water supply goes out too!  When a storm is in the forecast it is a very good idea to make sure you have an emergency supply of water on hand.  Buying bottled water and keeping it in a cool and dark place is always a good idea moving into the spring thunderstorm and the winter storm season.  You can also fill plastic jugs or containers (make sure they are food-quality containers) with water from your own home ahead of the storm.  Keep in mind that you’ll need water to drink, to prepare any food, personal hygiene and to flush the toilet—without power you may be able to flush the toilet once but it won’t refill or flush properly again.

Make sure you have at least enough water for a three-day supply as once the power is off there is no guarantee when the power will come back on. Store a minimum of one gallon per day per person in the home. Depending on the type and severity of the storm it can also result in damage to your well or water system including burst pipes or potentially changes in water quality.  It is a good idea to plan ahead for “worst case scenarios” to protect yourself, your family and your property during Nebraska’s roller coaster weather seasons!

For more information about storing an emergency supply of water go to: Emergency Drinking Water Supply.


Promise in a Bud

By Connie Fisk, Nebraska Extension Educator- Regional Food Systems

If you take time to look, you will find beauty in every season.  Take a dormant apple spur for example.  Oh, I know this short, wrinkled shoot is not much to look at, but with a little imagination you can picture the leaves and fruit it will soon bear.  Spring will be here before we know it.

Promise in the Bud, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights March 2017.

Dormant apple tree spur. 

Did you know that apple trees bear mixed buds meaning that they contain both flowers and leaves?  Most mixed buds are found at the terminal end of spurs on two-year or older wood, so that is where the fruit will develop.  These spurs may continue to bear fruit for ten years or more so we need to be careful not to damage them during annual pruning.  Smaller buds elsewhere in the canopy are usually vegetative but still important as their photosynthesis sustains the tree and the developing fruit.

Fruit Tree Pruning Resources


Choosing Turf Species, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights March 2017.
Turf-type tall fescue. 

Choosing Turf Species

By John Fech, Nebraska Extension Educator - Horticulture

What grass should be in your lawn?  The answer to this question depends on how hard you want to work on it, and what you expect it to look like in spring, summer and fall.  If you like to putz in the yard, and don’t mind spending 3-4 hours a week tending your turf, then you should grow Kentucky bluegrass.  It is a premium quality turfgrass, deep green in color and fine in texture.  Many bluegrass cultivars are pest prone, so some form of pest control products will need to be applied, along with 3-4 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer per year.

If medium maintenance and a slightly coarser texture are more your speed, consider turf type tall fescue.  Recent improvements with this species have made it possible to have a nice looking, sturdy turf with less care as bluegrass.  Tall fescue lawns normally require 50 to 75% of the time that a bluegrass lawn takes to maintain.

If you are into low maintenance, and just want something green out front, think about buffalograss.  This is a native warm season species that requires only monthly mowing, once-a-year fertilization and monthly watering once it is established.   Of course, you don’t get something for nothing.  The down side to buffalograss is that it is light green in color, and is green from May to October, unlike the dark green and April to November of bluegrass.

Hey, that’s what America is all about.  Freedom to choose.  So, match your lifestyle with your grass species.  That way, you’ll be using your time and energy according to your free time and interest in lawn work.


Leaf Rusts, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights March 2017.
Cedar-apple rust pustules on apple leaves. Image by Brian Olson, Oklahoma State University,

Leaf Rusts

By Laurie Stepanek, Nebraska Forest Service

As the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers,” but a rainy spring can also lead to leaf diseases on our trees and shrubs. Among the most colorful of these are rust diseases.

Rusts are named for the bright yellow or orange powdery spores produced by the various rust fungi. Rust diseases are also characterized by colorful yellow, orange or red spots that develop on the leaves.

One of the most well-known rust diseases of trees is cedar-apple rust. This disease affects junipers and apples, including crabapples. The “cedar” in the disease name comes from eastern redcedar, which is the common name for one species of juniper frequently affected by this disease.

Both host plants are needed for the disease to occur, and heavy infections of apples and junipers often occur when the two are grown in close proximity.

Junipers affected by cedar-apple rust develop woody brownish-green galls, usually ½ to 1 inch in diameter. During rainy periods in spring, the galls swell and produce orange gelatinous hornlike projections. Homeowners sometimes mistake these orange gelatinous galls for juniper blooms (note: junipers do not produce flowers). The gelatinous galls release microscopic spores into the air, which infect apple and crabapple leaves. Yellow to orange spots develop on the leaves in late spring to summer. The fruit may also be affected.

The rust fungus grows within the apple tissue and eventually forms more spores, which infect juniper trees, thus completing the cycle of the disease. In the absence of either host tree, the disease will not occur, but wind-blown spores can travel for miles. Most communities have an abundance of both crabapples and junipers.

More than a dozen rust diseases similar to cedar-apple rust occur on juniper and plants in the apple family. For example, hawthorn rust (or cedar-hawthorn rust) affects juniper and hawthorn, as well as apples. Hawthorn leaves develop yellow to orange spots and may drop prematurely.

Quince rust has a wider host range, including quince, flowering quince, apple, hawthorn, serviceberry, pear, cotoneaster and juniper. Fruit, twigs and leaves may all be infected, resulting in swelling, distortion and death of these tissues. Hawthorn and serviceberry fruits are often covered with pale pink tubular fungal growths.

Other trees frequently affected by leaf rust diseases include ash, cottonwood, poplar, aspen, willow and buckeye. Yellow to orange powdery leaf surfaces and clusters of tiny yellow to orange cup-like structures are typical signs of leaf rust infection.

Damage from leaf rusts varies depending on the specific rust pathogen, the susceptibility of the tree and weather conditions. In particularly wet springs and summers, some rust diseases may cause extensive damage or defoliation to susceptible plants. Often, though, rusts cause little damage to the overall health of trees.

Fungicide sprays may be needed for susceptible orchard trees. Disease resistant cultivars of apple, crabapple and hawthorn are available and may be good choices for new plantings.

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


Early Spring Pest Control for Evergreen Trees, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights March 2017.
Soft pinkish pitch masses mixed with sawdust can indicate activity from Zimmerman pine moth larva. 

Early Spring Pest Control for Evergreen Trees

By Sarah Browning, Nebraska Extension Educator - Horticulture

Correct timing on pest control measures is key to good control, but that’s difficult when insect or disease symptoms don’t show up until much later in the growing season. This week, we’ll look at three common pest problems on evergreen trees that need to be addressed early in the growing season. They are listed below in order of the timing for control.

Due to this spring’s warm weather conditions, trees may reach the designated growth stages for control of each pest earlier this year than in a typical year. Watch for evergreen bud break and time your applications accordingly.

Zimmerman Pine Moth
Pine moths are serious pests of pines in Nebraska. Their larvae, which are caterpillars, damage trees by tunneling just beneath the bark of the trunk and branches, most commonly on the trunk just below a branch. The tunnels they make can girdle the trunk or branches or physically weaken them so they are easily broken by wind or snow. Heavily infested trees are often deformed and are sometimes killed.

The first sign of infestation by pine moths is the appearance of soft, pinkish pitch masses on the trunk or branches. These pitch masses, which form where larvae are feeding beneath the bark, may be found anywhere from the top to the bottom of the tree and commonly look like masses of bubble gum. After the larvae finish feeding, the pitch

masses dry and become light yellow to cream colored, hard, and brittle. The pitch masses may remain on the tree for many years and may not be noticed unless the tree is examined closely.

Ponderosa, Austrian, and Scotch pines are highly susceptible to pine moths. Jack and white pines can be infested, but are usually not seriously damaged. Pines from 5 to 15 feet tall are the most heavily infested and damaged. Smaller trees are less frequently attacked. Larger trees are often heavily infested, but they are not likely to be severely damaged.

Young larvae, which hatched out last fall and spent the winter under loose bark scales or in old tree wounds, are susceptible to insecticidal control in spring. Spray bark on the tree trunk and base of main branches with a drenching spray of permethrin or bifenthrin in the second week of April and again the second week of August.

Early Spring Pest Control for Evergreen Trees, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights March 2017.
Stunted dead new shoots indicate infection by Diplodia tip blight. 

Diplodia Tip Blight
This fungal disease of Austrian and Ponderosa pine kills current-year shoots and, in years with heavy disease pressure, can kill whole branches. It’s most common and damaging in mature trees, but young trees can be affected, too.

The most conspicuous symptom of Diplodia tip blight is stunted new shoots with short, brown needles still partially encased in their sheath. Infected shoots are quickly killed and may be located anywhere in the tree's canopy, although damage is generally first evident and most severe in the lower branches. After two or three successive years of infection, a heavily infected tree’s canopy may be extensively damaged. Repeated infections reduce growth and deform trees.  Branches that have been infected several years in a row often die back completely.

Small, black, pimple-like structures develop at the base of infected needles and on the backside of pinecone scales. These structures produce additional fungal spores that can re-infect the tree.

Spray branch tips thoroughly when new growth starts usually around the third week of April, just before needles emerge from sheaths, and 7-14 days later according to the label with thiophanate-methyl (such as Cleary’s 3336 or Fungo), propiconazole (Banner MAXX), copper fungicides or Bordeaux mixture.  Also improve tree health by mulching with wood or bark chips and watering about 1 inch per week. Avoid overwatering.

Early Spring Pest Control for Evergreen Trees, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights March 2017.
Dothistroma needle blight is commonly found on Austrian and Ponderosa pine. 

Dothistroma Needle Blight
One of the most common fungal diseases of pines in Nebraska is Dothistroma needle blight. This disease is responsible for much of the premature needle drop that occurs in windbreaks and ornamental pine plantings. Twenty pine species are affected by this disease, but in the central and eastern United States the fungus is found most commonly and causes the greatest amount of damage on Austrian and Ponderosa pine.

Initial infection of the tree by fungal spores occurs during rainy periods from May to October. Germinating spores enter the needles through natural openings and the infection process begins. Symptoms appear about three to four months after the first infection, usually becoming visible in late fall. 

Symptoms are seen as yellow or tan spots on needles of the current year's or older growth. These spots darken and become brown or reddish-brown then spread to form a band around the needle. These bands are often bordered by a yellow, chlorotic ring on each side. The fungus grows within these tissues, killing that portion of the needle beyond the lesion.

Initially, the tip of the needle dies while the base remains green, but eventually as the disease progresses, the base of the needle also dies, and the entire needle drops off the tree. Typically, clusters of needles within a shoot are infected. Lower branches of trees are most severely infected although the entire tree can be affected. Usually the greatest amount of needle drop is seen in the late spring or early summer following infection.

Spray trees with copper fungicide or Bordeaux mixture as needles are emerging (mid May) and after new growth has occurred (mid to late June). Increasing air-flow around the healthiest trees by removing older, declining trees will also reduce disease pressure.

For More Information


Weed 'em and Eat 'em

Weed 'em and Eat 'em, Acreage Insights March 2017.
Very young leaves of lamb's quarters can be eaten raw as a salad green.

By Bob Henrickson, Assistant Director of Horticulture Programs, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

Our vegetable gardens never seem to grow quite fast enough in the spring. Even for those of us who plant spinach and other vegetables early on, the wait from garden to table is too long. But we don’t always have to plant in order to harvest.

Some of the weeds we’re digging out of lawns and landscape beds can be harvested for eating. It’s hard to get fresher or more local than the walk from lawn to table. Though they can be harvested from other places as well, you will want to carefully identify them (botanical names are included below) and make sure they weren’t sprayed.

Below are some common weeds that can put fresh food on the table at the same time as you’re cleaning up your lawn.

Dandelion greens, Taraxacum officinale, can be used in salads, sautéed, or used for pesto, tea, quiche, pasta sauce or any other ways you would use greens.

Curly or sour dock, Rumex crispus, is difficult to eradicate so it’s a great one to “recycle.” Harvest only the tender, young leaves from the center of the rosette in early spring. Once cooked, the leaves will fade to a dull khaki color for wraps or roll-ups. Folklorist Roger Welsch, author of Weed ‘Em and Reap, recommends boiling or steaming the young leaves, adding fresh lemon juice, bacon grease or butter and salt for a “first rate, and very wholesome, vegetable green to go along with your T-bone steak.”

Common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. To get rid of the toxic milky sap in young shoots and immature fruit pods, they need to be boiled and the water discarded. Their cooked flavor is similar to green beans. Later in summer their flower clusters can be dipped in fritter batter and dusted with powdered sugar; or immature green pods can be boiled for 10 minutes, drained and eaten plain or stuffed with meat, cheese or vegetable fillings.

Stinging nettle, Urtica dioica. Nettles have to be harvested early in spring and even then, they need to be gathered with gloves to avoid the sting. But once cooked the stinging hairs dissolve and are harmless. Nettles taste like collards, kale or spinach. You can also dry the leaves for nettle tea, a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever that has 17 essential vitamins and minerals, lycopene and several other beneficial phytochemicals.

Lamb’s Quarters, Chenopodium album. Very young leaves can be eaten raw; older leaves can be cooked and used like spinach. Kay Young’s Wild Seasons has a recipe for creamed lamb’s quarters with mushrooms. Like its cousin quinoa, it’s a super-food—high in Vitamins A and C, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, manganese, potassium and iron.

Purslane, Portulaca sativa, can be used much like spinach. It has a slightly sour taste but the stems, leaves and flower buds can be eaten raw in salads. Like okra, it has a mucilaginous quality when added to soups, stews or casseroles. Purslane contains more omega 3 fatty acids than any other plant source, as well as vitamin A, B, C and E (six times more vitamin E than spinach), seven times more beta carotene than carrots, as well as magnesium, calcium, potassium, folate, lithium, iron and protein.

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


Kohlrabi, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights March 2017.
Kohlrabi is a member of the crucifer or cabbage family. 


By Connie Fisk, Nebraska Extension Educator- Regional Food Systems

Growing up in a rural Central Oregon community, I never saw kohlrabi until I moved to the valley for college.  And then it looked so foreign to me that I wasn’t brave enough to try it.  Fast forward to me as an adult, regularly receiving kohlrabi in my CSA shares and now that I know what it is and how versatile it is, I enjoy experimenting with kohlrabi in different hot and cold dishes.

Kohlrabi is one of the Brassica oleracea in the family Brassicaceae, or cruciferous vegetables.  Usually a plant gets its own species name but B. oleracea includes such diverse vegetables as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, and kale as well as kohlrabi.  So in order to specify that we’re talking about kohlrabi we add var. gongylodes to make it Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes.

As shown in this image the kohlrabi variation of Brassica oleracea was selected for its stem.

As with other cruciferous vegetables, kohlrabi is low in calories, high in vitamin C, and a good source of dietary fiber.  Eating cruciferous vegetables several times per week has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers such as colon and rectal cancer (Source: Have You Tried Kohlrabi?).  For more information about the relationship between consumption of cruciferous vegetables and cancer risk, check out Cruciferous Vegetables from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.

Knowing how cruciferous vegetables are complemented by cheddar cheese I wanted to make a sort of kohlrabi and cheddar casserole, like scalloped potatoes but with kohlrabi instead of potatoes and chicken broth instead of cream.  Here’s what I came up with.

Kohlrabi Gratin


  • 3 kohlrabi (after peeling and slicing I had 1.629 pounds, about 4 cups)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (for sauce)
  • ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (for topping)
  • Paprika

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a saucepan, sauté onions and garlic in butter until soft.  Stir in flour and cook for one minute.  Add broth, salt, and cayenne pepper and cook on medium heat until smooth, stirring often.  Stir in one cup shredded cheddar cheese and cook until melted.  Remove from heat.

In an eight by eleven inch baking dish, layer half of the kohlrabi slices, half the cheese sauce, the other half of the kohlrabi slices, and the last of the cheese sauce.  Top with the half cup of shredded cheddar cheese and sprinkle with paprika.

Kohlrabi, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights March 2017.
Kohlrabi Gratin after baking.

In the Garden

As with many of the other cruciferous vegetables, kohlrabi is a cool season crop that grows best at temperatures below 75°F.  It can be grown from seeds or transplants and planting in succession is recommended so it isn’t all ready to harvest at the same time (it’s delicious, but there’s only so much you can eat at a time and it only stores for a few weeks under refrigeration).

For more information about growing kohlrabi, check out these Extension resources.  For best results, go by recommendations from a state with similar soils and climate to your own.



Nebraska Extension Tractor Safety Classes Offered Across Nebraska, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights March 2017.
Instilling an attitude of 'safety first' and respect for agricultural equipment are primary goals of the Tractor Safety course.

Nebraska Extension Tractor Safety Classes Offered Across Nebraska

By Susan Harris-Broomfield, Nebraska Extension Educator- Rural Health, Wellness and Safety

Nebraska Extension Tractor Safety & Hazardous Occupations Courses will take place at nine Nebraska locations this year. Teens 14 or 15 years of age who will work on a farm should plan to attend.

Federal law prohibits youth under 16 years of age from working on a farm for anyone other than parents or legal guardians. Certification received through this course grants an exemption to the law allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to drive a tractor and to do field work with specific mechanized equipment.

The most common cause of agricultural-related death in Nebraska is overturned tractors and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Extensive training on Tractor and ATV safety occurs during in-class lessons with hands-on activities. Instilling an attitude of ‘safety first’ and respect for agricultural equipment are primary goals of the course.

The course consists of two days of instruction plus homework assignments. The first day of classroom instruction includes hands-on demonstrations, concluding with a written test.  Students are required to pass the test before taking the driving test on day two. Classroom instruction will cover the required elements of the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program. Students will complete homework assignments that will be due on day two. The second day will include a driving test, equipment operation, and ATV safety lessons. To receive certification, students must demonstrate competence in hitching and unhitching equipment and driving a tractor and trailer through a standardized course.

Two locations, Gordon and McCook, will offer online course instruction to replace the first day of the two-day course. Students complete this at their convenience before attending the driving component of the course on-site.

All on-site classes begin at 8:00 A.M. and end times will vary, depending on the number of participants. Dates, locations, and site coordinator phone numbers are as follows: 

  • May 30 & 31 - Kearney Fairgrounds (308) 236-1235
  • June 1 & 2 – Auburn Fairgrounds (402) 245-4324
  • June 6 & 7 – Valentine Fairgrounds (402) 376-1850
  • June 13 & 14 – North Platte West Central Research and Extension Center (308) 532-2683
  • June 15 & 16 – Gering Legacy Museum (308) 632-1480
  • June 19 & 20 – Wayne Fairgrounds (402) 584-2234
  • June 22 – Gordon Fairgrounds (308) 327-2312
  • June 23 – McCook Fairgrounds (308) 345-3390
  • July 10 & 11 – Grand Island College Park (308) 385-5088.

Participants must submit registration forms to the location they will attend at least one week before the course.  On-line registration form. Cost of the course is $60, which includes educational materials, instruction, supplies, and lunches.

For more information, contact the Nebraska Extension Office of the location where student will attend.