My name is Jared Sullivan, and this summer I have been an agronomy intern at the Grant, Nebraska location. Most days I find myself out in fields scouting for weeds and pests or pulling tissue samples for test results. The fields I have been watching are all part of the Yield Advantage program, so at the beginning of my internship I was doing population counts almost every day. What I have found really interesting this year is how many factors have affected stand counts and how the crop looks overall. With a wet and unusual year, everyone’s techniques and farming decisions have either paid off or put the crop behind. With how cold and wet the beginning of the year was, emergence was an issue. I was finding that anything with cover emerged better than without. Cover could be cover crops or crop residue from the previous year. Another interesting thing I have found this year is that the late start has made everything about two weeks later than normal. This includes weeds and pests as well.
The climate of this year has also had a huge impact of pests the state has never seen before in our fields. In the southwestern part of Nebraska there has been a large infestations of thistle caterpillars. This pest has mainly been found in the southern United States and has never been found this far north. Occasionally you will find the thistle caterpillar on thistles and weeds in ditches but never in soybeans. This year the impact they are making is outstanding. Fields that have been left untreated have webs and leaves that have been 90% eaten, while fields that have been treated look like they were never there. A huge takeaway for me from this internship is that no matter what happens in the growing season you should always be looking for pests, weeds and other oddities you normally wouldn’t see because if there is something there, it can take your crop out before you know it.
When I am not scouting fields you can find me doing jobs around the location such as mowing, weed eating and sweeping the shops. These are all important to maintaining an efficient location and keeping up the reputation Aurora Cooperative has. Some days I get to help load out dry fertilizer as we get a dry truck in from Loomis. On other days, especially this year with all of the applications of insecticide and fungicide, I have gotten the opportunity to help load spray planes. Outside of scouting, loading spray planes has been one of my favorite things to do.
Overall I have learned a lot about weed identification, chemicals and techniques on how to identify and look for pests within a field. I have enjoyed my time in Grant and look forward to the rest of the summer I have left there.