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Livestock Systems

Click to view Archived News Articles by Ben Beckman
Ben Beckman is a beef systems Extension Educator serving the counties of Antelope, Cedar, Knox, Madison and Pierce.  He is based out of the Cedar County Extension office in Hartington.  You can reach him by phone: (402) 254-6821 or email:

Dry conditions the past few years have reduced, natural grasshopper population controls that thrive in warm, humid weather. While recent rains may have helped slow number growth, grasshopper populations may become an issue for pasture and hay crops as the summer continues if dry weather returns. Control begins with scouting to determine if insecticides are economically useful. If applying insecticides, remember to carefully read and follow all label directions and be especially careful to avoid injuring bee and other important pollinating insects.
With first cutting alfalfa down, now is a good time to review some water and pest management guidelines for fields headed into summer. Proper post-harvest management for first cutting alfalfa can put us in a position for success throughout the rest of the growing season, while mismanagement can easily set us back. Make sure your field is in the best position possible for a great year.
Summer annuals are a great option for producers wanting lots of biomass production during the warmest months of the year. Species like sudangrass, sorghum-sudan hybrids, forage sorghum, teff grass, and millets are all great options. Those who need summer forage and haven’t planted yet may consider doing so soon. With several options to choose from, knowing how your plants will be harvested and ultimately used is key to success.
With first cutting alfalfa, comes the annual appearance of alfalfa weevils chewing through stands and destroying yields and quality. Proper scouting, identification, and treatment are needed to properly handle these hay field pests. Use economic thresholds to decide if harvest or insecticides are the best option when larval levels pass thresholds and keep an eye out even after first cutting for a late flush.
If your pasture had weed issues last year, chances are that some of those same plants will be making a comeback again. Managing pasture weeds starts now in the spring. Whether changing grazing management or using a herbicide treatment, properly identify the target, choose the option that makes sense, and apply the control in a timely fashion. Time spent well now will result in less weed issues this summer and fall.