Weekly News Releases and Columns

February 17, 2020


UNMC, Nebraska Extension offer Tractor Safety Course to Teens Across Nebraska this Summer

Members of the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health will provide a tractor safety course in May and June of 2020 at 11 sites across Nebraska in partnership with Nebraska Extension. The course provides extensive training on tractor and all-terrain vehicle safety with a variety of hands-on activities. Instilling an attitude of ‘making safety a priority’ and respect for agricultural equipment are primary goals of the course.

Teens 14 or 15 years of age who work on farms, or others who are interested in learning about safe farming practices, are encouraged to register for the Nebraska Extension Tractor Safety & Hazardous Occupations Course. Anyone under age 14 is not eligible to take the class.

Federal law prohibits children under 16 years of age from using certain equipment on a farm unless their parents or legal guardians own the farm. However, certification received through the course grants an exemption to the law allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to drive a tractor and to do field work with certain mechanized equipment.

Susan Harris-Broomfield, University of Nebraska Extension Educator reports that a common cause of agricultural-related injuries and deaths in Nebraska is overturned tractors and ATVs. She emphasized that this course is designed to train students how to avoid these incidents as well as many other hazards on the farm and ranch.

Cost of the course is $60 and includes educational materials, instruction, supplies, and lunch.

The first day of class will cover the required elements of the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program, hands-on participation, concluding with a written test which students must pass to attend the second day of training.

The second day of training will include a driving test and equipment operation and ATV safety lessons. Students must demonstrate competence in hitching and unhitching equipment and driving a tractor and trailer through a standardized course. Instructors will also offer education about safe behaviors and laws for ATVs, utility-task vehicles (UTVs), and other off-road vehicles (ORVs).

Instructors for the course are members of the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health: Aaron Yoder, Ph.D., Ellen Duysen, MPH; UNMC graduate student Alyssa Damke; and Nebraska Extension educators Troy Ingram, Randy Saner, Chandra Giles, and John Thomas.

Classes begin at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m., depending on location, and end times vary depending on the number of participants.  If classes do not fill to the minimum of 10 participants, an option will be offered to do Day 1 training online and Day 2 in person.

Dates, training site locations, and site coordinator phone numbers are below:

May 26 & 27 – Ord, Fairgrounds (308) 728-5071;

May 28 & 29 – Wayne, Fairgrounds (402) 375-3310;

June 1 & 2 – O’Neill, Plains Equipment, (402) 336-2760;

June 3 (first day is online) – Gordon, Fairgrounds, (308) 327-2312

June 4 & 5 – Ainsworth, Evangelical Free, (402) 387-2213;

June 9 & 10 – Geneva, Fairgrounds, (402) 759-3712;

June 11 & 12 – North Platte, West Central Research, Extension and Education Center, (308) 532-2683;

June 16 & 17 – Kearney, Buffalo County Extension Office (308) 236-1235;

June 18 & 19 – Hastings, Adams County Extension Office (402) 461-7209;

June 29 & 30 – Gering, Legacy Museum (308) 632-1480.

July 1 & 2 – Weeping Water, Fairgrounds, (402) 267-2205;

For more information or to register, contact the appropriate Extension office above. The registration form is located at kearney.unl.edu.


SOURCE: Larry Howard, Extension Educator

RELEASE DATE: February 10, 2020

Farm Succession Workshop in Pender to Offer Planning Strategies, Financial Tools

Nebraska Extension in Thurston County will host a two-part farm succession workshop in Pender for agricultural landowners, ranchers and farmers thinking about how they should proceed with plans to retire, exit or transfer the farm or ranch business. 

The series will be held March 12 and March 16, 1:30-3:30 p.m. each day, at the Pender Fire Hall, 314 Maple St.

Presenters will include Allan Vyhnalek, a Nebraska Extension educator, and Brandon Dirkschneider, a certified financial planner. Vyhnalek specializes in farm succession in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Dirkschneider is a certified farm transition coordinator.

 “Retiring or passing the farm to the next generation is difficult to think about and is an admission of your own impending demise,” said Allan Vyhnalek. “However, it is a necessary step and, with good planning, can be made as painless as possible.”  

The workshop is free, but registration is requested and can be completed by contacting Nebraska Extension in Thurston County at 402-385-6041.

The sessions will cover the importance of having a plan, proper family communications and proper family negotiations, as well as tools for estate planning and other financial strategies.

“Reactions from past participants can be summarized into one comment: most wished that they had attended this workshop years earlier,” said Vyhnalek. “This program gives a good outline of the process farm and ranch businesses need to take to start or restart that process.” 

For more information on Extension resources for transition in Nebraska, visit https://agecon.unl.edu/succession.


Two-part farm succession workshop

March. 12, 2020 and March 16, 2020

1:30-3:30 p.m.

Pender Fire Hall

314 Maple St.

Pender, NE 68047

Registration: 402-385-6041


SOURCE: Jennifer Hansen, Extension Educator

RELEASE DATE: February 10, 2020

2020 Beef Feedlot Roundtables in Bridgeport, Lexington, West Point

Beef feedlots managers, owners, employees, and allied industries will learn new information related to feedlot nutrition and health at Nebraska Extension’s 2020 Beef Feedlot Roundtables Feb. 18-20 in Bridgeport, Lexington and West Point.

University and industry representatives will speak about improving the safety and health of employees, open pen management and repair and beef sustainability.

Employee safety is always a priority and various resources will be provided to address that issue.  With recent weather challenges, discussions will center around pen maintenance options such as roller compacted concrete and the use of fly ash.

New research pertaining to beef sustainability and the beef industry as a whole will be shared.  A Nebraska research update   from Nebraska Feedlot Extension Specialist Galen Erickson will conclude the program. Topics from the 2020 beef report include water, shade, implants and more.

Pre-register online at https://go.unl.edu/2020roundtable by Feb. 14.  Cost is $20 for those who preregister and $30 for those who have not preregistered. Payment for both will be collected at the door.

Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. at each location with welcome and introduction at 1 p.m.  Roundtables will conclude at 4:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served at the meeting.

Exact dates and locations are as follows:

  • BRIDGEPORT: Feb. 18, Prairie Winds Community Center, 428 N Main St
  • LEXINGTON: Feb. 19, Dawson County Extension Office, 1002 Plum Creek Parkway
  • WEST POINT: Feb. 20, Nielsen Community Center, 200 Anna Stalp Ave.

For more information or to request a registration form, contact Galen Erickson at 402-472-6402 or gerickson4@unl.edu

2020 Beef Feedlot Roundtables are sponsored by Nebraska Extension and Nebraska Beef Council.


SOURCE: Larry Howard, Extension Educator

RELEASE DATE: February 10, 2020

Cuming County 4-H Kick-Off Party

You’ve been selected to be a contestant for … Minute to Win It! This year, we will be kicking off the 4-H year in style.  The annual Kick-Off Party will be at The Lodge in Wisner on Sunday, March 1st beginning at 12:30 p.m. and ending at 2:00 p.m.

Youth will have the opportunity to learn more about 4-H, vote on your favorite window display, compete in Minute to Win It Games, learn about healthy eating by making a fruit smoothie on a bike, as well as enjoying snacks and refreshments.  4-H Online Enrollment will also be available.  The deadline to enroll in   4-H is March 15th.

All kids between ages 5-18 are welcome to join in on the fun.  This is a free event.

The Kick-Off Party is sponsored by the Cuming County 4-H Council


SOURCE: Melissa Nordboe, Extension Assistant

RELEASE DATE: February 10, 2020

Extension Board Elects Officers

 The 2020 Cuming County Extension Board met for their reorganizational meeting in January.  Justin Sindelar, Wisner was elected to serve a one-year term as president.  He will preside at the monthly meeting of the Extension Board as well as representing the Extension Board in any issues.  Members of the board elected Melanie Thompson, Pilger to serve as vice president and Kristie Borgelt, Wisner recording secretary.

 Other members of the Extension Board are Mary Meister, West Point; Wahneeta Norton, West Point, Marty Smith, Pender; and Eric Brockmann, West Point.  Sherry Roeber, Bancroft; Ryan Meier, West Point; and Travis Arduser, Wisner represent the 4-H Council of the Extension Board.

The Extension Board is the policy making body for the Nebraska Extension program in Cuming County.  The next meeting of the Extension Board will be Monday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. in the Courthouse Meeting Room.


SOURCE: Larry Howard, Extension Educator

RELEASE DATE: February 17, 2020


Eastern Nebraska Extension Beef Workshops

Nebraska Extension are hosting Beef Profitability Workshops in Nebraska to help Beef Producers evaluate their operations to make them more profitable through the latest research information.  Extension Educators and Extension Specialists will be presenting the information.

These workshops have been held across Nebraska for the past seventeen years.  Workshops are sponsored by Nebraska Extension.  The cost is from $10 to $15 (depending on locations) which is payable at the door, but pre-registration is encouraged so we know how many will be attending.

 The workshop in West Point will be held on Wednesday, March 11 at 1:00 p.m. at the Cuming County Courthouse Meeting Room.  Topics include “Keeping your Genetic Decisions Between the Ditches…Breeding Objectives” presented by Matt Spangler, Nebraska Extension Beef Specialist and “Mineral Supplementation While Grazing” presented by Kacie McCarthy, Nebraska Extension Beef Specialist.

 Pre-register by contacting Larry Howard at 402-372-6006 by noon on March 9th.

Other workshops that will be held include:

  • February 25 – Boyd County Courthouse in Butte at 1:00 p.m.

       Contact Amy Timmerman at 402-336-2760 or Steve Niemeyer at 308-346-4200.

  • February 25 – Holt County Extension Office in O’Neill at 6:30 p.m. Contact Amy Timmerman at 402-336-2760 or Steve Niemeyer at 308-346-4200.
  • March 2 – Wheeler County Fairgrounds in Bartlett at 1:00 p.m. Contact Steve Niemeyer at 308-346-4200.
  • March 11 – Cuming County Courthouse in West Point at 1:00 p.m.  Contact Larry Howard at 402-372-6006.

 *Private Pesticide training will also be offered.


SOURCE: Larry Howard, Extension Educator

RELEASE DATE: February 17, 2020


 Town and Country . . .

Larry Howard

Extension Educator

Nebraska Extension Serving Cuming County


Getting Ready for the Grazing Season

The start of the growing season may be a couple of months away, but it is not too early to start thinking about grazing and forage plans for the upcoming year. Grazing plans should include projected cattle numbers (or stocking rates), turn out dates, and a pasture use sequence for multiple pasture rotations. In the spring, there is always anticipation about when and how much it will rain. Rain, as well as temperature, are the two primary factors that might affect pasture turn out date. April precipitation supports the initial growth of cool-season pasture grasses, but these species have the majority of their growth during the month of May. Warm-season grasses generally initiate growth in May with rapid accumulation of growth in June and early July.

For those livestock producers that use various types of rotational grazing strategies, it is important to review grazing records from the previous years when planning the rotation sequence for 2020. Consideration should be given to when the time or period of grazing occurred in the previous years. Plans should adjust the schedule to avoid grazing the same pasture at the same time period in consecutive years.

Now is also a good time to plan the planting of spring or summer annual forage crops that might be grazed, hayed, or harvested as silage to replenish feed supplies. This includes selecting the forage crop type, fields that will be planted, identifying seed sources, and ordering the seed. Oats, spring triticale, and barley are annual cereal grains that can be planted from late March to early April to produce forage that can be grazed beginning in mid to late May or harvested for hay or silage in late June or early July. Growth of these cereal crops is very rapid in late May and early June, requiring good grazing management and the proper stocking rate to efficiently harvest the forage.

Forage peas are a legume that can be mixed in with spring cereals to reduce nitrogen fertilizer needed while maintaining or improving the protein levels of the harvested crop. When selecting a spring cereal to plant, preference should be given to varieties that have been selected for forage production. Select hooded or awnless varieties of barley if the crop is going to be harvested as hay. The quality of the forage produced from spring cereals will depend upon the stage of maturity at harvest. As maturity increases, quality declines rapidly. The optimum compromise between quality and yield generally occurs shortly after boot to early heading stages. Yield in terms of dry matter produced per acre generally increases 10 percent to 20 percent from the boot to early heading stages.

The primary warm-season or summer annual forages would include sudangrass, forage sorghum, sorghum-sudangrass hybrids, pearl and foxtail millet. As warm-season species, soil temperatures at planting should consistently be at the 60 to 65 degree level which is usually achieved by late May. These warm-season annuals could also be planted anytime up to early August and still produce forage, but greater amounts will be realized with earlier planting dates.



 Food, Nutrition and Health

Hannah Guenther

Nebraska Extension Serving Cuming County

Vitamins Are Easy as A, B, C

This week it’s all about Vitamins. Although I try not to play favorites, I have to say that vitamins are without a doubt my favorite nutrient. Carbohydrates are great and all, but vitamins truly do it all. They don’t provide any energy, but without them we wouldn’t be able to access energy from any of our food. They are key players in all over our body processes. So today, I will dive into the secret super heroes of our diets: vitamins.

Eat The Rainbow

Vitamins are small, but mighty; we only need about 100mg total per day. It isn’t always easy to see them, but they are there. The more color you have in your plate, the more vitamins are present. Greens, yellows, reds and purples, all the pigments that color our food are from the vitamins that are present. For instance, carrots are orange due to the beta-carotene. Instead of eating a rainbow of skittles, fill your plate with an array of colorful fruits and vegetables to ensure you are getting enough vitamins.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A comes in three forms: retinal, retinol, and retinoic acid. All of which, aid in the maintenance of your retinas, promoting good vision. Did your mother tell you to eat carrots for good eyesight? She was right! Carrots and orange vegetables are high in Vitamin A. Beware! It is true you can turn a shade of yellow if too much Vitamin A is consumed.

The B Vitamins

B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12 make up the B vitamins. They are all unique, but play big roles in the body. B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6 all help our bodies release the energy from food. B9 is also known as folic acid, which helps prevent spinal cord defects in pregnant women and helps build DNA.  Many B vitamins are found in whole grain breads, so when your mother says to eat wheat instead of white she’s right again!

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits and helps maintain healthy blood vessels, bones, skin, and teeth. It also aids in the digestion of iron, so it can be helpful to have vitamin C while eating protein to absorb all of the iron present. Have you ever noticed how pirates have bad skin and teeth? It isn’t always from lack of cleanliness. While at sea pirates lacked fresh fruits and veggies on board the ship. This led to a development of a Vitamin C deficiency known as scurvy. Argghhh

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an important vitamin that helps our bones grow and develop properly. To prevent deficiencies, it has been added to many of our foods we eat such as milk, breads, and cereals. We can also get our vitamin D from a nonfood source, the sun. During winter months where sunlight is lacking, make sure you be consuming adequate amounts of vitamin D through low fat milk and milk products. 

Smoothies are a great way to enjoy fruits, vegetables, and vitamins. Try a vitamin packed smoothie to get your daily dose. In a blender add: 1 banana, 1 cup of ice, 1 cup mixed berries, 1 cup of raw spinach, 1 cup low fat milk, and 2 tbsp honey.

Blend and enjoy your vitamin rich snack!



Gardening Projects

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator in Dodge County

What really sets Nebraska Extension  Master Gardemers apart from garden clubs is their dedication to learning Best Management Practices, the cornerstone of what the land grant university has to offer, whether it is an invasive insect, a tough weed to manage, or a proven plant variety to try.  This dedication to learning shows in the enthusiasm Master Gardeners share with Nebraskans through direct education (the helpline and tabling events), growing food for the food insecure and managing education gardens.

Plant a Row for the Hungry began in 1995 by the Garden Writers Association.  This program and other programs like it encourage gardeners to grow an extra row of vegetables and donate them to local soup kitchens and food pantries.  While nonperishables are the backbone of donations to food pantries, fresh vegetables and fruits can be in short supply  It doesn't take much extra effort and individual gardeners or groups can participate.  For possible locations of fruit and vegetables donations, contact your local Extension Office.  A really heartwarming story involves a community garden that collected all the leftover seedlings and seed packets from their gardeners, planting them in the neglected place between the sidewalk and street.  The abudance of produce that came from this out-of-the-way spot were donated next door, to the low-income seniors.  It was a boon to both the gardeners and the seniors because the senior citizens got fresh vegetables and the gardeners had the careful eye of the retirees keeping watch over their garden!

The Nebraska Certified Pollinator Habitat program sets criteria for residential gardens, municipal landscapes, school gardens, and businesses to have their spaces certified as pollinator friendly.  The plight of honey bees and monarch butterflies is well-known but the unsung heroes, native bees, are virtually unknown.  This is sad because they are real workhorses-just 250  native bees do the pollination work of 30,000 honey bees.  A diversity of flowering plants, a water source, and places of shelter are what's needed to help native bees and other pollinators.  More information and an application may be found at: http://go.unl.edu/pollinatorhabitat.

"Prune when the saw is sharp" is an old adage whose time has passed. New research indicates trees and shrubs are best pruned in April, May or June, months that show the best turnaround time for wound closure.  Why is it important for wounds to close on a timely basis you ask?  The longer it takes for trees and shrubs to form callus tissue over wounds means the likelihood from fungal and bacterial infections increases.  Oak and elm are the exception to pruning in April, May or June because certain insect-vectored diseases are prevalent then.  Oak and elm are pruned during the dormant season, November through February, when freezing weather means insects are not active. 

Nebraska Extension Master Gardeners can answer your gardening and plant questions!  The horticulture helpline is available for questions from the public at these dates and times:

Mondays, 9 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Washington County Extension, 402.426.9455

Tuesdays, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., Cuming County Extension, 402.372.6006

Wednesdays and Fridays, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Dodge County Extension, 402.727.2775






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