Tag Archives: UNL Extension

Spring is just around the corner! Many gardeners and nature lovers are eagerly awaiting warmer weather, and the chance to work and enjoy the outdoors again. One of the signs that the gardening season is on its way is the appearance of garden seed displays retail stores, nurseries and garden centers. Many of us also subscribe to the many seed company catalogs or shop for seed online.

While many of us fawn over the many options available, we need to be able to read and understand the information on the seed packet to correctly understand the growing needs for different plants that will be raised.

Correct interpretation of this material helps gardeners to select seeds that will turn into plants that will fill garden space with the vegetables and flowers we want that match the growing environment that is available to be raised in. As with all plants that we raise in containers to traditional garden plots, we need to match the right plant with the right growing environment.

Let us look at the following six vital factors that everyone needs to know and understand to make those correct selections in the first place.

 Seed Count – The number, size and weight of seed will vary, depending on the crop that is being purchased. Many packets will include the approximate number of seeds in each. This factor is important since it can impact the number of packets that will be
purchased for the desired number of plants that will be sown in the area available to grow in. Some seed will be planted fairly thick, and thinned out after germination.

Some gardeners will also purchase extra for extra plantings later in the season, and store the remainder for the next year.

 Plant Height – The mature height and spread of the mature plants will be on the packet. Ideally, mature plant foliage should be able to be close to touch or slightly overlapping. This information will help gardeners decide how to space and plant seed in the area that is available to grow in.
 Light – The light needs for efficient growth will vary, depending on the crop being selected. Full sun recommendations refer to six hours of direct light. Partial sun refers to four hours of direct sunlight where the plants will be grown. Shade loving plants will prefer indirect or filtered light. Most vegetable crops will require six hours of direct, full sunlight to mature and produce to full potential.
 When to Sow and Days to Maturity- A number of days will be listed on the packet on days to maturity. The key factor is finding the correct soil temperature that will decide when to plant various crops. Soil thermometers can be purchased at gardens centers.

Updated soil temperature data is also posted on the UNL Cropwatch website to help make those planting decisions. Once the seven day average soil temperature is reached for the target crop, it is a good time to plant then. This excellent resource can be found at https://cropwatch.unl.edu/cropwatchsoiltemperature for future reference.

If seed is being sown for a fall garden, count the days of maturity back from the last average frost date. For more information on fall gardening, refer the Fall NebGuide found at http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/g1343.pdf for future reference.

 Planting Depth – The correct planting depth of key to provide the growing environment, soil temperature and the amount of light needed to penetrate the soil to germinate seeds. If a depth is not provided, multiply the size of the seed by two to calculate depth.

Very small and very fine seed can be scattered on the top of a firm
seed bed, with mist being applied a couple times a day. A fine layer of vermiculite may be used with fine and small seed to help keep the seed from moving around, and to maintain moisture for germination.
 Plant Spacing – Spacing seed for growth has been calculated for the mature height and width of plants as they grow their full size, with some slight foliage overlap. Thinning or removing small seedlings that have been planted too close to each other is a wise strategy to avoid plant overcrowding and leggy growth, resulting in reduced plant growth potential.

As with all decision making, consider all these factors together when selecting and growing plants from seed. Each of these factors are important, and are combined together to help gardeners make informed decisions for best results for growing conditions will be provided.

If anyone has any questions about understanding the information on a seed packet, feel free to contact me by sending an email message to dlott2@unl.edu, by following my Nebraska Gardener blog at https://nebrgardener.wordpress.com/ or by calling my office at (308) 696-6781.

(HOLDREGE, Neb.) — Looking for a diversion from the dead of winter? The public is invited to attend the 25th annual South Central Water Conference (formerly known as the Holdrege Water Conference) on Feb. 5 at the Phelps County Ag Center.

Water is perhaps one of the most prevalent topics of discussion across Nebraska. The conference will bring together experts involved with water issues, as well as other topics that will inform and entertain, to discuss current issues of importance to area residents.

The conference is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m., with registration and coffee and rolls, and will conclude around 3 p.m. There is no admission fee and lunch will be served courtesy of the conference’s sponsors.

Speakers and topics for the conference include:
• “South Central On-Farm Irrigation Research Overview” Todd Whitney, UNL Extension Educator.
• “NRCS Soil Health,” Doug Garrison, NRCS Central Nebraska ARC.
• “UNL Taps Program Overview,” Daran Rudnick, Nebraska Extension WC Irrigation Specialist.
• “UNL Taps Program from a Participants View” Tim Schmeeckle, TAPS winner 2017 & 2018.
• Keynote Speaker – Devin Brundage, general manager – Central NE Public Power and Irrigaiton District.
• “Climate Outlook for 2019 Irrigation Season,” Al Dutcher, UNL Associate State Climatologist.
• “Water Resources Update,” Tyler Thulin, Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District; Nolan
Little, Tri-Basin Natural Resources District; Scott Dicke, Lower Republican Natural Resource District; and Craig Scott, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

The Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce joins with the Tri-Basin Natural Resources District, The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, the Lower Republican Natural Resource District and Phelps-Gosper

Cooperative Extension to sponsor the event. Area merchants and agricultural suppliers will be on hand with booths and displays to discuss their products and services with conference attendees.

A series of four West Central Cattlemen’s meetings will be held in the area during the month of January.  The topics covered will address reducing cow costs.  The locations and times are as follows:

  • January 22, Hitchcock County Fairgrounds, Culbertson NE 6:00 pm CT
  • January 23, Veterans Memorial Hall, Arthur NE 6:00 pm MT
  • January 24, Community Center, Brady 6:00 pm CT
  • January 31, McPherson County Fairgrounds 6:00 pm CT

Speakers and topics are as follows:

  • Seeded Forages for Complementary Grazing by Troy Walz, Nebraska Beef Extension Educator
  • Managing Feed Costs by Randy Saner, Nebraska Beef Extension Educator
  • Cow Size and Efficiency by Travis Mulliniks, Range Beef Nutrition Specialist, West Central Research & Extension Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Benchmarking as a Management Tool by Robert Tigner, Agricultural Systems Economist Educator
  • Grazing Management Principles that Make a Difference  by Jerry Volesky, Range and Forage Specialist, West Central Research & Extension Center, University of Nebraska- Lincoln

To register contact your local Extension Office or Randy Saner by e-mail randy.saner@unl.edu or by phone at 308-532-2683.  The cost is $15 per person if pre-registered or $20 at the door.  An evening meal will be served at all locations.

 Turning manure nutrients into better crop yields while protecting the environment will be the focus of eight Nebraska Extension workshops across the state in February.

 “The workshops will help livestock producers put to use the nutrient management planning requirements of Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality regulations and increase the economic value of manure,” said Leslie Johnson, animal manure management coordinator at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

 Participants who attend the daylong event will receive NDEQ land application training certification. Livestock producers with livestock waste control facility permits received or renewed since April 1998 must be certified, and farms must complete an approved training every five years. Recertification will occur during the first two hours of the land application training. Farm personnel responsible for land application of manure are encouraged to attend either the initial or recertification portion of the training.

 The morning portion of the workshops will consist of a two-hour program that includes updates on changing regulations and other manure management topics, such as using weather forecasting to decrease odor risk and transferring manure off a livestock operation. All farm staff responsible for implementing the farm’s nutrient plan are encouraged to attend.

 Pre-registration is required for all workshops. The initial training workshop costs $60 per operation (includes one representative) plus $15 for each additional participant to cover local expenses, including lunch. The recertification portion of the workshop costs $30.

 Pre-register at least eight business days before the workshop at http://go.unl.edu/lat or by using the form in the program brochure at https://go.unl.edu/lat-2019.


The workshops are sponsored by the Nebraska Extension Animal Manure Management Team, which is dedicated to helping livestock and crop producers better utilize manure resources for agronomic and environmental benefits.


The workshops begin at 9 a.m. Dates and locations are:


Alliance: Feb. 5, extension office, 415 Black Hills Ave.

O’Neill: Feb. 6, extension office, 128 North 6th St., Suite 100

 Curtis: Feb. 7, education center, 404 E. 7th St., Room 137

 West Point: Feb. 20, Nielsen Center, 200 Anna Stalp Ave.

 Lexington: Feb. 20, extension office, 1002 Plum Creek Parkway

 Columbus: Feb. 21, extension office, 2715 13th St.

 Wilber: Feb. 26, extension office, 306 W. 3rd St.

 York: Feb. 27, 4-H Building, 2345 Nebraska Ave.

Nebraska Extension will be offering training throughout western Nebraska, from January through April, for licensed pesticide applicators seeking first-time certification or recertification of their license for 2019.

      A license is required to use or purchase or apply restricted-use pesticides. Extension provides training for several classes of certification, including commercial, non-commercial (such as local government or research purposes) and private applicators (such as ag producers).

Private applicators

      Private pesticide applicators with licenses expiring in 2019, and anyone seeking first-time private applicator certification, can attend these upcoming training sessions.

      Licensed private pesticide applicators can buy and use restricted-use pesticides in their own farming operations after completing this training.

      Main topics include Nebraska’s pesticide laws and regulations, the pesticide label, personal safety, the worker protection standard, environmental protection, integrated pest management, pesticides and application, application equipment, equipment calibration, pesticide drift awareness near sensitive sites like apiaries and vineyards, how to use the Driftwatch website, and control options for prairie dogs and pocket gophers, and strategies to reduce chances of developing weed populations resistant to herbicides.

      To reserve space for each session, or for more information, call the number for the local Extension office listed after each date. The cost of training is $40. Applicators whose permits are due for renewal should have received a letter from the State Department of Agriculture. They can bring that letter to the training session and avoid having to fill out an application form.

      Private pesticide licenses also can be obtained by completing an online course. Pesticide applicators can purchase access to the online course via http://marketplace.unl.edu and going to the Pesticide Education section. Cost of the course is $60. Those who complete pesticide applicator training then need to apply to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture for a three-year license card for a $25 fee.

      Valentine, Jan. 16: 1:30 p.m. CST, 4-H Building at the Fairgrounds (call 402-336-2760)

      Cody, Jan. 17: 10 a.m., Adamson Community Center (call 402-336-2760)

      Sidney, Jan. 17: 9:30 a.m., Cheyenne Community Center (call 308-254-4455)

      Kimball, Jan. 29: 1 p.m., 4-H Building (call 308-235-3122)

      Hyannis, Jan. 29: 1 p.m., Grant County Courthouse (call 308-645-2267)

      Alliance, Jan. 30: 8:30 a.m., Box Butte County Extension Office (call 308-762-5616)

      Alliance, Jan. 30, 1 p.m., Box Butte County Extension Office (call 308-762-5616)

      Scottsbluff, Jan. 30: 1 p.m., Panhandle Research & Extension (call 308-632-1480)

      Mullen, Feb. 4: 1 p.m.., Hooker County Library (call 308-645-2267)

      Chappell, Feb. 5: 1 p.m., Lion’s Den (call 308-874-2705)

      Chadron, Feb. 6: 1 p.m., Dawes County 4-H Building, Fairgrounds (call 308-432-3373)

      Mirage Flats, 13: 1 p.m., St. Peter’s Lutheran Church (call 308-327-2312)

      Bridgeport, Feb. 14: 1 p.m., Prairie Winds Community Center (call 308-262-1022)

      Thedford, Feb. 14:: 1 p.m., Thomas County Courthouse (call 308-645-2267)

      Crawford, Feb. 20: 1 p.m., Community Center (call 308-432-3373)

      Rushville, March 6: 1 p.m., American Legion (call 308-327-2312)

      Oshkosh, March 7: 1 p.m., Wesleyan Church (call 308-772-3311)

      Alliance, March 13: 1 p.m., Box Butte County Extension Office (call 308-762-5616)

      Harrison, March 21: 1 p.m., Sioux County Courthouse (call 308-668-2428)

      Valentine, April 3: 10 a.m. CST, Cherry County Courthouse (call 402-336-2760)

      Scottsbluff, April 4: 1 p.m., Panhandle Research & Extension Center (call 308-632-1480)

Commercial, non-commercial applicators

      Commercial applicators are those using restricted-use pesticides, and in some cases general-use pesticides, on a contract or for-hire basis. Noncommercial applicators are those applying these same pesticides to sites owned by an employer or for a governmental agency or political subdivision of the state.

      Commercial/noncommercial pesticide applicators with certifications expiring in April have been sent 2019 Pesticide Safety Education Program Schedule booklets that has certification information and dates. Copies of the schedule booklet are available at local extension office or by phoning UNL’s pesticide education office at 800-627-7216 or 402-472-1632 or online at


      Advance registration is required for all initial and recertification of commercial/noncommercial applicator training and most other training sessions. An $80 fee applies for each applicator registering, regardless of the number of categories registered for. Required study materials for initial training range from $10 to $30 per manual, depending on category. Registration can be done on-line at https://pested.unl.edu

      UNL conducts the training programs, and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture grants the licenses.  NDA testing is offered at initial training locations. Questions about individual applicator license status should be directed to NDA at 402-471-2351 or 877-800-4080.

      Extension’s Pesticide Safety Education Program has scheduled training for commercial and non-commercial applicators whose licenses expire this year, or who need to take initial training.

       Recertification in several applicator categories is offered at the following locations and dates. Check with the Pesticide Safety Education Program for details, such as which categories are available at each site. Preregistration is required at pested.unl.edu.

      Commercial and non-commercial license training sessions will be conducted at these dates and locations. Recertification sessions begin at 9 a.m. and initial training sessions at 8:30 a.m.

      Feb. 7, Scottsbluff: Panhandle Research and Extension Center (recertification)

      Feb. 12, Scottsbluff: Panhandle Research and Extension Center (initial)

      Feb. 21, Scottsbluff: Panhandle Research and Extension Center (recertification)

      Feb. 26, Scottsbluff: Panhandle Research and Extension Center (initial)

      Feb. 28, Scottsbluff: Panhandle Research and Extension Center (initial)

      March 1, Scottsbluff: Panhandle Research and Extension Center (initial)

      March 26, Scottsbluff: Panhandle Research and Extension Center (recertification)

      April 11, Scottsbluff: Panhandle Research and Extension Center (initial)