Marilyn Thelen                                                                        Clinton Conservation District
 989-224-5240                                                                                      989-224-3720, ext. 3                                                 
October 2015 

In This Issue

Harvest is underway!  The reports I am hearing sound very promising that we will have good yields and good quality.  However if you see problem weeds, now is the time to send them in to see if there is a problem with resistance.  Be sure to read "Consider collecting seeds from weed escapes if you think they may be resistant to herbicides" to learn more about this service.

Michigan State University Extension and Ag Bio Research are in the process of identifying issues that are important to you.  Please take a minute to complete MSU Extension and AgBioResearch Survey to Sharpen Our Focus .

News & Notes, is a local publication of both MSU Extension and the Clinton Conservation District.  This newsletter is published monthly and e-mailed to subscribers providing them with timely articles and information on local events pertaining to field crop production and conservation programs.  Subscribers to the US-mail version of News & Notes will receive only the December and June issues.   To subscribe to the e-mail version of News & Notes and receive monthly issues, simply send an e-mail to with News & Notes in the subject line. 
Have a safe and bountiful harvest!
Marilyn L. Thelen, Sr. Educator                                   John Switzer, Executive Director
Integrated Cropping and Livestock Systems               Clinton Conservation District
Michigan State University Extension

Events and Happenings
October 7, 2015 -  Fall Cover Crop Field Day, Papa's Pumpkin Patch, 3909 S. Summerton Road, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858, 10:00 am - 12:30 pm, contact Paul Gross 989-317-4079 or

October 17, 2015 - Free Well Water Screening and Tree Order Pick-up, Clinton County Fairgrounds, 810 W. Sickles Rd., St. Johns, 9 am - 1 pm.

October 19, 2015 - October 26, 2015 -  Managing Hoophouses and High Tunnels for Year-Round Farming Success, six week, self-paced online course, register by Oct. 15    

October 21, 2015 - Interseeding Cover Crops Field Day, The Larry Walton Farm
NE Corner of Bucknell Road and Truckenmiller Road, Nottawa, MI, 10 am - 2 pm, various bus pick-up locations and times, register by Oct. 20

December 15, 2015 -  2015 Integrated Crop and Pest Management Update, MSU Pavilion, 4301 Farm Lane, East Lansing, MI 48910, 9:00 am - 3:30 pm, cost $60 (includes refreshments, lunch and handouts including the 2016 MSU Weed Control Guide and other bulletins), register by Dec. 14
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State University Extension has long been a source of information and education for Michigan residents. Along with MSU AgBioResearch scientists, Extension professionals throughout the state are asking Michigan residents to help them determine where they should place their emphasis in the future. 

"This organization belongs to the people we serve," said Ray Hammerschmidt, MSU Extension interim director. "We want to make sure that we are meeting their needs throughout the state by sharing research and education that will make a difference to them, their communities, their families, their business and their farms."

To that end, MSU Extension has launched an online survey asking all Michigan residents about their needs and priorities. The MSU Extension and AgBioResearch Survey to Sharpen Our Focus online survey that will supplement 14 upcoming face-to-face meetings throughout the state that will engage nearly 500 residents.

"We have designed a series of meetings that will bring together people from all over," said Maggie Bethel, the former MSU Extension director who is charged with overseeing the process. "But it is important that we don't limit ourselves to the people we see in person. The online survey gives everyone a chance to participate in the process."

As an added bonus, respondents who complete the survey will have the option of entering a drawing that includes two  MSU men's basketball game tickets (date and time to be determined), a basket of Michigan-made agricultural products and a $75 gift certificate to 

To participate, access the survey from the front page of or by visiting All information collected is anonymous. Once completed, a separate link will be provided to those who wish to enter the drawing.

"We don't want people to feel any hesitation about providing information," Bethel said. "Therefore, we will not retain names or contact information except for the purposes of the drawing. That database will be not be kept once the winners have claimed their prizes."

To learn more about MSU Extension, visit
Phosphorus, a macronutrient essential for plant growth, is also a contributor to water quality concerns.
Marilyn Thelen, MSU Extension Senior Educator, originally posted on MSUE News

Don't guess, soil test!
The best way to know the fertility level of a field is to soil test. As soil test phosphorus increases, the dissolved phosphorus in runoff increases. This form of phosphorus is readily available as a food for algae and other aquatic weeds in lakes and streams. Optimal soil test phosphorus for field crops is about 25-35 ppm. Take a look at your soil test reports to see how your fields compare.

Soil tests should be taken a minimum of every three to four years. However, if you are just starting a soil testing program, sample every one to two years to get an idea on how nutrients change in your system.

Apply nutrients based on soil test results and crop needs
The soil test is the producer's road map to nutrient management. Reports from the Michigan State University Soil and Plant Nutrient Laboratory include MSU fertilizer recommendations. However, if your soil test was from another lab and you would like to convert to MSU recommendations, simply enter the lab results into the MSU Fertilizer Recommendation Program. This program can also be used to get fertilizer recommendations when a crop has changed. Questions on interpreting soil tests can be directed to Michigan State University Extension field crop senior educator George Silva at or 517-543- 4467. Additional information on MSU soil fertility research is available at the MSU Soil Fertility Research website.

Keep nutrients in the rootzone
Getting the right amount of fertilizer on the field is the first step. The next is keeping it there. Fertilizer that has escaped from the rootzone will not benefit the crop or the producers bottom-line. When manure is applied, injecting the manure or incorporating it within 48 hours will protect nitrogen and phosphorus. Fall applied dry fertilizers should also be incorporated. Soils with macrospores or large cracks can lose nutrients to the tile lines. This is a concern with no-till fields and liquid manure that has the consistency of water. Breaking up the soil macrospores prior to application can decrease nutrient movement to the tile lines. Banding commercial fertilizers instead of broadcasting can also decrease risk of nutrient loss.

Fall is a great time to soil test. Take a look at the fertility levels of fields, determine the optimal rate for the 2016 crop and examine the nutrient management options to identify any practices that can be adopted to keep the nutrients in the field and available to the crop.

Soil sampling summary
  1. Sample uniform areas within the field that are 10 acres or less:
    • Soil types, topography, management history.
  2. Collect 20 cores from sample area at the appropriate depth using a zigzag pattern.
    • Tilled systems, sample at tillage depth.
    • Long-term, no-till, 6-7 inches and another sample at 2 inches for determining pH.
    • Pastures with no tillage, 4 inches.
  3. Thoroughly mix the soil cores in plastic bucket.
  4. Fill a soil sample box with composite sample (about 1 cup).
  5. Complete the MSU Soil Test Information Sheet.
  6. Send samples to MSU Soil and Plant Nutrient Lab, 1066 Bogue St. Room A81, East Lansing, MI 48824-1325
  7. For more information visit the MSU Soil and Plant Nutrient Laboratory website.
The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, or MAEAP, is an innovative proactive program that helps farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent or minimize agriculture pollution risks. It teaches farmers how to identify and prevent environmental risks and to comply with state and federal environmental regulations.

To become MAEAP verified farmers must complete three comprehensive steps which include attending an educational seminar, conducting an on-farm risk assessment, and passing a third party on-farm verification.

Farms can be verified in four systems: livestock, farmstead, cropping and the new system for forests, wetlands and habitats. Currently there are 2,883 verifications with 61 right here in Clinton County.
Pictured Farm is Zeeb Farms of Bath

For more information about MAEAP or how to get involved you can check out the MAEAP website at or contact Lindsey Martin at the Clinton County Conservation District at (989)224-3720x5.
Single species weed escapes are on the rise in southern Michigan. If weeds in your field survived a herbicide application that should have controlled them, consider sending in seedheads to determine if they are herbicide-resistant.
Bruce MacKellar, MSU Extension Educator, originally posted on MSUE News

The 2015 growing season was full of challenges. Finding timely opportunities to spray herbicides on corn and soybeans was one of them. Despite this, most fields remain remarkably clean as we head into harvest across southwest Michigan. However, a few fields are notably not weed-free this fall. Even more troubling is the fact that often a single weed species remains in many of these fields. Michigan State University Extension, with funding provided by the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, is promoting a research effort conducted by Erin Hill of the MSU Weed Control Program to help producers determine if the weeds that remain in fields are becoming resistant to the five most commonly used herbicide modes of action.

The top priority weeds we think growers might find this fall are pigweed species that refused to die despite herbicide applications that should control them. The most troublesome weed in this family is Palmer amaranth. Palmer amaranth tends to have long "flowing" type seedheads at the top of the plant that often "dance" in the wind. Keep in mind that Palmer amaranth has both male and female plants, so there may be quite a bit of variability in the look of the seedheads you find in fields. If you find a few of these plants, be sure to take a garbage bag out in the fields and clip off the seedheads before the seed sheds. This is important to do because each plant may produce as many as 450,000 seeds. If you find pockets of Palmer amaranth, be prepared to step up your vigilance in controlling the weed species over the next few years.

Palmer amaranth is not the only pigweed species we are finding in southwest Michigan that has a history of multiple herbicide resistance. Common waterhemp, which is resistant to both the ALS inhibitors and glyphosate, was confirmed by MSU field crops weed control specialist Christy Sprague in samples submitted to the lab in Berrien and St. Joseph County in 2014. There is also an ALS inhibitor-resistant redroot pigweed that was found in Shiawassee County in 2014. Berrien County soybean fields have seen an increase in common waterhemp in 2015. If you find either common waterhemp or Palmer amaranth in small patches, be sure to try to remove all of the plants before the seed is dispersed.

If you find either Palmer amaranth or common waterhemp, recommendations for dealing with either of these commonly herbicide-resistant pigweed species will use the same weed control programs. In short, this will include a switch to a Liberty Link soybean variety and vigilant combinations of pre- and post-emergent herbicide treatments before Palmer amaranth reaches 3 inches in height. For complete recommendations from Sprague, see " Multiple herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth in Michigan: Keys to management in soybean, corn and alfalfa."

Some other commonly resistant weed species growers should be on the lookout for this fall include ALS- and glyphosate-resistant marestail, ALS- or glyphosate-resistant common ragweed and glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed. Resistant marestail has been with us for a few years now, especially in southeast Michigan. Sprague has not confirmed glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed in Michigan, but there is plenty of it just across our border in northern Indiana. There are also several corn and soybean fields in southwest Michigan with giant ragweed infestations this fall. Hill's " 2015 Status of herbicide resistant weeds in Michigan" article provides a complete list of resistant weeds confirmed in Michigan and more on their identification and life cycles. 

If you think you have any of these (or other) weed species that survived full strength herbicide applications without injury, consider collecting seedheads from a minimum of five plants and submitting them to MSU for herbicide screening. This process can help you to better understand which herbicide programs can still be effective in controlling these weed species. The cost of the screening is being paid for by the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee in 2015. Be sure to place the seed samples in folded-over paper grocery bags to allow for proper drying. The screening process takes a considerable amount of time to conduct in the lab and greenhouse, so be sure to submit your samples early. You can drop off samples to your local MSU Extension office in southwest Michigan and we will make sure they get to campus. You can download the accompanying form at: FREE Screening for Herbicide-Resistant Weeds in Soybean Production Systems.
Interseeding cover crop field day on Oct. 21, 2015, can provide some answers to overcoming cover crop establishment challenges.
Paul Gross, MSU Extension Educator, originally posted on MSUE News

Cover crop use continues to increase as farmers realize the  many benefits cover crops contribute to the soil and their cropping systems. Researchers are beginning to document that cover crops can increase profitability through increased yields, reduced fertilizer costs and reduced weed management costs. Planting cover crops help retain nutrients that might leave the field by runoff, leaching or wind erosion, making those nutrients available for the next crop. Keeping the soil covered with cover crops as many months per year as possible in a cropping rotation can reduce nutrient runoff and any associated water quality issues related to sediment and nutrients leaving the field.

There are number of challenges using cover crops for even the most experienced cover crop users. Reliable establishment and species selection are often listed and the primary challenges most farmers face incorporating cover crops into their cropping systems. To help farmers address these challenges, an Interseeding Cover Crops Field Day is planned for Oct. 21, 2015, in St Joseph County at the Larry Walton Farm in Nottawa, Michigan. The program begins at 10 a.m. and continues until 2 p.m. with lunch provided. There is no cost for attending this field day.

The Interseeding Cover Crops Field Day will be an opportunity for participants to learn the benefits of early established cover crops and the alternative methods for interseeding cover crops in standing corn including aerial, highboy and early season inter-seeding. There will be demonstrations of a Hagie Highboy Seeder and the Penn State Inter-seeder. Participants will also be able to view 12 different cover crop plots and learn more from a soil root pit.

To facilitate participants that wish to attend, two buses will be provided at no cost. One will be departing from Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, and the second from Clio, Michigan, with a number of pickup stops in route to the field day. Pickup locations are indicated in the field day website. Participants that wish to ride a bus can indicate their preferred bus and pickup location at registration.

If you are interested in registering for the field day, visit the Interseeding Cover Crops Field Day Event page. For more information, please contact Tamy Applewhite at 231-745-2732 or

Screen for: Nitrate & Nitrite levels in drinking water  
When: Clinton Conservation District Fall Tree & Native Plant Sale October 17th, from 9am - 1pm

Where: Clinton County Fairgrounds (810 W. Sickles Road, St. Johns 48879) 
Who can participate?  Anyone who uses a personal well for drinking water. Please do not bring samples from public water supplies (they are tested regularly) or non-drinking water sources.

Limit: 3 Samples per person.

Directions for water sample collection:
Samples must be less than 48 hours old for a valid nitrate result. You do not have to use a special bottle for this screening; any small clean jar will work.
  1. Pick a tap that supplies water that has not run through any treatment devices (water softener, carbon filter, etc.). An outdoor faucet often works well.
  2. Run the water for 20-30 minutes before collecting the sample to flush the water pressure tank so you can collect a valid sample. Disconnect any hoses before collecting the sample; do not sample through a hose. Fill sample bottle with at least 1 ounce of water.
  3. Label bottle clearly with your name, sampling date, and well name (cottage well, Mom's well, etc.).
  4. Keep the sample dark and cold (on ice or refrigerated) until it is dropped off.
  5. All results are confidential. You will be mailed a copy of your results in 8 to 10 weeks, with information about what to do if the concentration of nitrate or nitrite is too high.
To have any questions answered, call Lindsey Martin at (989) 224-3720 Ext. 110

This program is sponsored by the Clinton Conservation District, the MAEAP Water Stewardship Program, and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. It is funded through the Michigan Groundwater and Freshwater Protection Act, the MDARD, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
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