Tag Archives: UNL

Nebraska Extension’s Master Gardener Program is taking applications for Panhandle residents who enjoy horticulture, want to learn more, and are willing to volunteer to share their knowledge with their community.

      Master Gardener training will begin in early February at several sites in the Panhandle. To sign up for the program, call your local Nebraska Extension County Office, or pick up a brochure from Extension offices in Scottsbluff, Alliance or Sidney.

      The brochure has a registration form that needs to be completed and returned by Jan. 31. The brochure also can be downloaded from the Panhandle Center website, https://panhandle.unl.edu

      For more information contact Extension Educators John Thomas in Alliance (308-762-5616), Gary Stone in Scottsbluff (308-632-1480), or Karen DeBoer in Sidney (308-254-4455).

      The Nebraska Extension Master Gardener program has been part of Nebraska Extension since 1976. Master Gardener volunteers are trained by Extension faculty and staff in many horticulture-related topics. They then contribute time as volunteers, working through their local extension office, to provide horticulture-related information to their community.

      Volunteers might answer phones at a county extension office, make horticulture presentations to community organizations, assist 4-H clubs with garden projects, judge horticulture exhibits at county and state fairs, participate in community garden projects, write a garden column for the local paper, and more.

      Master Gardeners are required to complete training and 40 annual hours of volunteer service. Initial training curriculum covers topics encompassing the whole landscape such as; plant science, botany, insects, weed, wildlife, and turfgrass management, soils and pesticide safety. Volunteers retain their certification through annual training and volunteering.

      Applicants should be at least 19 years old with a strong work ethic and an interest in learning more about horticulture and landscape systems.

      The 2020 training will begin in early February, with weekly training classes running into late February or early March. The training consists of three statewide classes available at Extension Offices in Alliance, Scottsbluff and Sidney, and the four advanced training sessions that will take place in Scottsbluff.

      Participation is $40 for either the three statewide sessions or the four sessions in Scottsbluff, or $55 to attend all sessions. Individual sessions are $15 ($20 for the session at the NRD office, which includes lunch). For an additional $110 fee, Master Gardeners receive a t-shirt, Master Gardener manual, and name badge.

The Fundamentals

      The four statewide sessions will take place Tuesday evenings from 5:30-8 p.m. on Feb. 11, 18, and 25 and March 3. Through the use of Zoom distance conferencing technology, they will be available at the Extension offices in Alliance, Scottsbluff and Sidney. Local Nebraska Extension Educators at each of the sites to help answer questions. Topics include:

      Feb. 11: Landscape Management (Extension Educator Terri James).

      Feb. 18: Rots and Spots – biotic and abiotic issues in landscape systems using integrated pest management practices, (Extension Educator Kyle Broderick).

      Feb. 25: Nebraska Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program (Terri James); and Soils (Becky Young, Assistant Professor of Practice, UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture).

      March 3: Bugs (Extension Educator Jody Green).

Advanced classes

      For proficient (as well as beginner) gardeners, the daytime classes run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 3, 10, 17, and 24. They will take place at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff, except for the Feb. 3 session, which will take place at the North Platte Natural Resources District Office, 100547 Airport RD, Scottsbluff.

      The topics are designed for advanced Master Gardeners; however, they are open to everyone. Topics include:

      Feb. 3 (NRD office): Review of Nebraska Master Gardener Forms, Record Keeping, Volunteer Opportunities, and Writing Public Service Announcements (Karen DeBoer, Extension Educator; and Laurie Zitterkopf and Elaine Pile, Master Gardeners); Greenhouse Tour (Jenifer Berge Sauter, NPNRD); NRD Tree Planting Program (Todd Filipi, NPNRD); and Pruning Fruit Trees and Shrub Fruits (Chrissy Land, Nebraska Forest Service).

      Feb. 11: Garden Design (Extension Educator David Lott); Plant Propagation – Demonstration and Hands-On, Using Different Methods (David Lott).

      Feb. 18: Garden Diseases (Extension Educator Amy Timmerman); Pesticide Safety – What to Wear, and Reading Labels (Extension Educator Gary Stone).

      Feb. 24: Decorative/Ornamental Grasses and Maintenance (Extension Educator Elizabeth Killinger); Perennial Flower Gardening/Succession Flowering (Extension Educator Kelly Feehan)

University of Nebraska’s TAPS, testing ag performance solutions, is gearing up for the 2020 growing season. Matt Stockton, UNL Extenstion Ag Economist, says “TAPS simply put is a friendly growing competition to see real world results for University research and ag producer knowledge.”

The 2020 TAPS program will offer contestants the ability to manage a sprinkler irrigated corn, sub surface drip irrigated  corn or sprinkler irrigated grain sorghum plot. Contestants also have to market their plot as if it were a 1,000 or 3,000 acre farm. At the end of the year the individual or team that has the most profitable and efficient farm will win not only bragging rights, but a small cash purse.

2019 UNL TAPS Champion Team
A group from Perkins County won the 2019 sprinkler corn irrigated TAPS contest.
Photo Credit: UNL TAPS.

Matt Stockton below describes the opportunity TAPS holds for producers of any age and some of the valuable data the program has provided for UNL Extension research.



If your interested in joining TAPS for the 2020 growing season visit https://taps.unl.edu/

Students may receive two bachelor’s degrees from two Nebraska colleges after four years in a new biology and agriculture program. Wayne State College and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln announced the program earlier this month.

Students can earn a life sciences degree with a concentration in biology from Wayne and an applied science degree with concentrations in agriculture and natural resources from the Lincoln university.

The Norfolk Daily News reported that students will spend three years at Wayne State’s School of Natural and Social Sciences and then finish with a year at UNL’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

UNL TAPS, testing ag performance solutions, was started in 2017 as a way to merge extension research and education with ag producer knowledge and learning. UNL Extension Educator Chuck Burr explains the program as a friendly farm management competition between extension staff and farmer teams.

 The UNL Extension staff at North Platte care for three different test plots of sprinkler irrigated sorghum, sub surface drip irrigated corn and sprinkler irrigated corn. All competitors make seed, fertilizer, water and marketing choices for their plot. The competition awards the teams that are the most efficient and the most profitable.

 Listen to comments from the 2019 winning sprinkler irrigated corn team from Perkins County. Team members included Bruce Young, Jim Kemling, Ron Hagan, Shawn Turner, Troy Kemling, Rick Salsman, Curt Richmond, Bill Richmond, Brent Gloy, & Ted Tietjen.

Hemp seed production is vital, as growers get ready to ramp up production. The question is, is there enough feminized hempseed to go around.

Western Farms Seed LLC in Scottsbluff will help in filling the demand, by growing seed for producers at its greenhouse.

The newly created business is owned by cousins, P.J. Hoehn, Mike Hoehn, their uncles Ed and Art Hoehn, and business partner Mark Johnson.

The business kicked off when Mike Hoehn received one of the 10 permits the Nebraska Department of Agriculture allotted to individuals in 2019 to grow hemp. Nebraska did a lottery where they allowed only ten businesses or individuals to grow hemp after the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the plant.  

Hoehn grew a one-acre test plot outside of Mitchell, with three varieties of hemp seed. 

“The current varieties are Wife, Franklin, and Montana, we also have T1s,” said P.J. Hoehn, president of the company. “We’ll be crossbreeding them and making new varieties.”

The three varieties have been proven to perform well for growers out in the field for the last couple of seasons.

Feminized seeds are bred explicitly in a way that eliminates the male chromosomes, drastically decreasing the chances of producing a male marijuana plant. Male marijuana plants are not desirable to any degree, except for pollination.

“The genetics, which we have chosen are specific for industrial hemp,” said Johnson, public relations for the company. “We feel pretty safe that we won’t have an impact from industrial hemp’s cousin (marijuana).”

Western Farms Seed is also working in collaboration with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln through the Panhandle Research and Extension Center on hemp production.

“We’re producers ourselves, so we want to number one make sure the quality is there and everything else, our germination, our testing will all be there,” Hoehn said. 

He adds they are also making sure they will be able to advise growers on the equipment, such which as plates to use and vacuum. So, when farmers go to plant, they are ready, and if needed, Western Farms Seed would provide support in the knowledge of equipment, planting, and harvesting.  

In terms of growing the crop, Johnson said a hemp crop is similar to corn or dry edible bean crops. Hemp should be planted by May or June and harvested after a 90 to 110 day growing period before frost. 

“We found hemp to be very resilient after our two hail storms this summer,” said Johnson. “The crop was able to recover from both hail storms in really good fashion. Ending up producing a nice crop in light of Mother Nature.”

The business, with winter, has moved growing operations into the greenhouse. The five interconnected greenhouse buildings have 21,000 sq feet of growing spaces and house the female plants. 

The plants will need light at different times, and when they enter the vegetative stage will need light for up to 16 hours a day. 

“Industrial hemp has two different growth stages, vegetative, which requires more light, and reproductive growth,” said Johnson. “So people might notice the greenhouse lights being on longer when we go to the next stage of production.”

Both Hoehn and Johnson say producers should start small with an acre or so and of course, make sure they have a buyer before they even plant.