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Out Croppings: Important crop news from the field!

Are you in need of some extra feed?

Posted: July 19th, 2019 by outcropn

Despite a cool and rainy start to the season, the weather has once again flipped to being quite hot and dry. You may be noticing your cool season pasture perennials, such as timothy, orchardgrass, and clover, growing much slower and requiring longer recovery periods before subsequent grazing or harvesting. This may also be worse in stands already stressed from winter injury. If this decline in production is leaving you short on feed, consider planting a summer annual. Summer annuals are warm-season grasses typically planted in early summer and can be grazed or harvested as stored feed (hay or silage) once or twice during the season, depending on the weather. Although they require hot weather and modest fertility rates, they can grow quickly outcompeting weeds and develop extensive root systems that can scavenge nutrients and water that would otherwise be unavailable to most other crops.

Sudangrass, Forage Sorghum, and Sorghum-Sudangrass Hybrids

Sudangrass establishes quickly, produces a lot of biomass, and has an extensive scavenging root system. Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids, and especially brown mid-rib (BMR) varieties, have been gaining in popularity as these hybrids produce similar yields to sudangrasses yet are of higher digestibility and forage. Sudangrasses and sorghums should be seeded into soils that are about 65°F with adequate moisture at a depth of about 0.5 to 1 inch at a rate of 50 lbs. per acre. High biomass production can make curing for hay difficult. At heights above 36 inches, these grasses begin to produce seed heads, and crude protein and digestibility levels will drop dramatically. Plants should not be grazed below 10 inches if regrowth is desired. These species can contain toxic prussic acid. The following guidelines should be followed to avoid poisoning:

  • Graze sorghums, sudangrasses, and hybrids when they are at least 18 inches tall.
  • Do not graze plants during and shortly after drought periods when growth is severely reduced.
  • Do not graze wilted plants or plants with young tillers.
  • Do not graze after a non-killing frost; regrowth can be toxic.
  • Do not graze after a killing frost until plant material is dry (the toxin usually dissipates within 48 hours).
  • Do not graze at night when frost is likely. High levels of toxins are produced within hours after frost occurs.
  • Delay feeding silage six to eight weeks following ensiling.

Millets

Millet is another warm-season grass that can be grazed or harvested as stored feed. It tends to grow more slowly than sorghum and sudangrass; however, it can tolerate more acidic soils and does not contain prussic acid. Millet should be seeded at a rate of 20 lbs. per acre via the same methods as sudangrasses. If nitrogen is to be applied, it should be done in multiple, smaller applications after grazes to avoid over-fertilization and potential problems with nitrate accumulation. Proso, foxtail, pearl and Japanese millets are the common types used for livestock feeds. Proso and foxtail millets are often ensiled as they have shorter grazing seasons and tend not to produce as much biomass as pearl and Japanese millets. Millet can be grazed when it reaches a height of about 18 inches. It should not be grazed below 10 inches if regrowth is desired.

Teff

Teff is a relatively new crop to the Northeast. It is native to Ethiopia where it is grown as a cereal crop in traditional foods. It can be grazed or harvested as stored feed. It does not have issues with prussic acid or nitrates. Teff’s thinner stems allow for faster hay curing than millet or sudangrass. It should be seeded at around 6 pounds per acre at a shallow depth of 0.25 inches as the seed is quite small; seeding deeper than 0.5 inches will likely result in very poor stand establishment.  Cultipacking after seeding may be beneficial in providing adequate moisture to the seed. Teff can be grazed or harvested approximately 50 to 55 days after seeding depending on weather. Before grazing, test the stand—by pulling on a handful of the grass—to see if the roots have established enough to withstand grazing. For optimal forage production, do not graze or harvest below 5 inches as this will stunt the crop. Subsequent harvests should be possible in another 45 to 50 days after the first graze/harvest.

For information on summer annuals, see the eOrganic webinar, “Focus on Summer Annuals,” with Heather Darby and Rick Kersbergen: http://articles.extension.org/pages/68106/organic-dairy-forages:-focus-on-summer-annuals.

Corn as a Cover Crop

Posted: July 3rd, 2019 by outcropn

RMA recently made a one-time change that allows for more flexibility on insured acreage with a prevented planting claim, including use of corn as a cover crop on prevented planting acres, with use for silage allowed after September 1, if cover crop guidelines from local agricultural experts are followed.  This is in response to delayed and prevented planting resulting from above average rainfall and wetness.

Short summary:  The USDA Risk Management Agency has made a one-time change to the 2019 crop year prevented planting rules that effectively allows silage corn, if planted as a cover crop following local agricultural expert guidelines, to be acceptable as a post-prevented planting cover crop. Under this one-time rule change, producers are allowed to produce this crop while retaining their prevented planting payment. This change couples with previously announced one-time changes to the prevented planting rules – including expanded acceptable uses for post-prevented planting cover crops and a change in the cover crop haying and grazing start date rule – serve to help those struggling to meet their forage needs due to the weather. 

For more information:

  • Visit the UVM Agricultural Risk Management and Crop Insurance Education website at http://go.uvm.edu/ag-risk where you will find
    • a Fact Sheet from Cornell University Targeted States program director Dr. Jenny Ifft and co-director Jerzy Jaromczyk in the “News and Events”section and
    • in the “Other Resources” section you will find links to RMA information on Prevented Planting flood provisions, Change to Haying and Grazing Date for Prevented Planting Acres Planted to a Cover Crop, and FAQ about Prevented Planting Due to Flooding.
  • Contact your crop insurance agent.

Crop Insurance Deadline

Posted: June 27th, 2019 by outcropn

Crop Insurance Deadline for Fall-seeded Forages
June 13, 2019
Vermont producers are reminded that the final date to apply for crop insurance coverage for fall-seeded forages for the 2020 crop is July 31. Current policyholders who wish to make changes to their existing policies also have until July 31 to do so. Crop insurance coverage decisions must be made on or before the sales closing date. Fall-seeded forage acreage that will be covered by crop insurance must be planted by August 31.


Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through licensed crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available online by clicking on the Agent Locator on the RMA website. Producers can also find the RMA Cost Estimator at the website to get a premium amount estimate of their insurance needs.


For more information about agricultural risk management for Vermont producers, visit the UVM web site at http://go.uvm.edu/ag-risk or go to the USDA Risk Management Agency web site at www.rma.usda.gov.

USDA and the University of Vermont are equal opportunity providers and employers. This material is funded in partnership by USDA, Risk Management Agency, under award number RM18RMETS524C022.

Late Corn Planting

Posted: June 17th, 2019 by outcropn

At this point in the season, it is important to make sure that crops planted in June and early July will have enough heat accumulation, measured in Growing Degree Days (GDDs), to reach maturity and provide adequate yields. This year we have seen fewer GDDs than average, and a wet spring has delayed corn planting. However, it may not be too late to plant corn for silage in some locations.

From May 1st to June 11th, 224 GDDs (with a base temperature of 50°F and a maximum temperature of 86°F for corn) have accumulated in Alburgh VT, which is 108 less than the 30-year normal of 332 GDDs, and 152 less than the 15 year average of 376. Lower accumulations of GDDs have occurred before, with the lowest on record being 207 GDDs from May 1st to June 11th in Alburgh, VT, and the highest being 553 GDDS.

For the year to date, from January 1st to June 11th, 240 GDDs have accumulation total, 135 less than the 30-year normal of 375.

The accompanying figure at the end of this document shows this year’s accumulated GDDs for corn in Alburgh, VT, starting on May 1st, in comparison to the 30-year normal and period of record.

One option to ensure an adequate corn yield is to plant a silage variety with a lower relative maturity (RM). Corn varieties will higher relative maturities, like 110-115 RM, will require 2700-2900 GDDs. By planting corn with a lower RM, you can harvest a crop that requires closer to 2000 GDDs. Silage corn with 90-95 RM will take approximately 2200-2300 GDDs to maturity, 85-90 RM will take approximately 2000-2200 GDDs, and 80-85 RM will take approximately 1700-2000 GDDs. After June 10th it is too late to plant most corn varieties.

Suggested planting dates in Wisconsin recommend planting corn for silage with 85-90 RM around June 10th, 80-85 RM around June 20th, and can be planted as late as July 1st. The table below shows projected GDDs that will likely accumulate from June 14th to the end of October in different locations around Vermont, calculated from the average frost dates and average monthly highs and lows from usclimatedata.com.

Town Average frost date Projected GDDs June 14th-October 31st
Newport Sept 21-30 1413-1448
St. Johnsbury Sept 21-30 1501-1582
Rutland Sept 21-30 1467-1534
Burlington Oct 1-10 1772-1878
Salisbury Sept 21-30 1727-1816
Randolph Sept 11-20 1327-1381

In the warmer regions of Vermont such as Addison and Chittenden counties, you may be able to successfully plant and harvest silage corn with 80-85 RM varieties. In cooler regions, it is too late to plant corn that will reach relative maturity.

If you are outside Addison and Chittenden counties, and your silage corn is still not in the ground, or if you are in Addison and Chittenden and will not be able to plant in the next week or so, you will want to consider your other options, such as planting a cover crop. If you have crop insurance, consider what the latest planting date you can plant without affecting your coverage. When considering whether to plant soybean instead of corn, take into account whether any nitrogen was applied to the field for a corn crop, as corn will use more of the applied nitrogen than soybeans. If nitrogen amendments have been applied, corn will make the best economic use of the nutrients already applied. The application of corn herbicides will also limit what can be planted next. Brassica cover crops for forage can be planted in July, and can be planted with cereal cover crops. Brassicas will remain a good grazing forage into November as they are frost tolerant. Winter cereals and legumes can be planted in August. For more information on summer alternative forages, see Northwest Crop and Soils’ Use of “Alternative Forages” on Certified Organic Dairy Farms in the Northeast (PDF) fact sheet at https://www.uvm.edu/sites/default/files/media/FAFOAlternativeForages.pdf.

References

Climate Smart Farming Growing Degree Day Calculator, Cornell University.

Grubinger, V. (2015). Scheduling Sweet Corn Plantings. University of Vermont Extensions Vegetable and Berry Program. https://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/factsheets/SchedulingSweetCorn.html

Lauer, J. (2013). How Late Can I Plant Corn? Field Crops 28: 421-111.

usclimatedata.com

Support our Industrial Hemp Program

Posted: June 4th, 2019 by outcropn

We are excited to expand our field-based research and outreach program for Industrial Hemp, as well as develop a testing facility to further enhance our research capabilities! To date, we have gained a lot of hands-on experience and research information from the research trials we have implemented for hemp fiber, seed, and CBD production. Visit our Industrial Hemp page – www.uvm.edu/nwcrops/industrial-hemp.

With your support, we hope to raise $50,000 or more to meet out 2019 goals, including:

  • Continue to develop CBD research.
  • Researching how hemp impacts soil quality.
  • Initiating a cropping system study to evaluate the impact of hemp in a forage and grain rotation.
  • Continue building agronomic guidelines for industrial hemp production, including suitable cultivars, fertility management, planting dates, seeding rates, and pest, disease and weed management.
  • We hope to add analytical equipment that can measure the impact of management and environment on concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes in hemp.
  • Continue to provide you with educational materials from our projects.

We hope you will join us in our crowdfunding efforts to raise funds to support our continued Industrial Hemp research and reach our 2019 goals!  Visit go.uvm.edu/givenwcs today to provide your support!

Thank you!
The UVM Extension Northwest Crops & Soils Program

Crop Insurance

Posted: June 3rd, 2019 by outcropn

WHEN PLANTING GOES WRONG… Prevented Planting & Replant Provisions in the 2019 Crop Year.

Crop insurance can help your farm recover from a crop failure. Did you know it can also help you manage risk at planting time? Most crop insurance policies include provisions that can compensate you if you are unable to plant or help you afford to replant your crop if necessary.

USDA Risk Management Agency is sharing a handout on crop insurance – https://www.uvm.edu/sites/default/files/Northwest-Crops-and-Soils-Program/VT.Prevented_Planting_2019.pdf. Please view handout for additional information.

View webinar on Hemp Production 101

Posted: May 21st, 2019 by outcropn

Learn about hemp production in Vermont facilitated and lecture with Heather Darby. For the first half, Stephanie Smith from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets will talk about Vermont’s Hemp Program and describe the intersection between the state and the federal governments. The second half will dig into the agronomic aspects of hemp production for seed, fiber and CBD. This webinar aired on May 17, 2019 and can be viewed here – http://go.uvm.edu/hemp101

Industrial Hemp No Trespassing Sign

Posted: May 1st, 2019 by outcropn


We have been receiving request for the template of our UVM research trial Industrial Hemp No Trespassing signs (PDF template) as well as a JPG file format.

We ordered ours a few years ago from Premier Signs & Graphics at 1651 St. Albans Road, Richford, VT 05476, 802-848-3151. Material options were coroplast, PVC, and maxmetal. We also purchased the u-posts from the same vendor. You can use the template and order them from who you wish.

Addressing Winter Injury in Forage Fields

Posted: April 29th, 2019 by outcropn

AGiven the long and harsh winter, many farmers are seeing winterkill and damage in their forage fields this spring. If you have yet to inspect your fields, now is the time to begin. Grasses and legumes are beginning to grow and signs of damage can be seen more easily seen at this time.

Signs of injury and winterkill include stands that are slow to green up and uneven growth patterns in fields. To diagnose damage in a suspect field, examine the plant roots. This can be done by walking diagonally across the field and digging up shovel full of plants (4-6 inches deep) at regular intervals, about every 4-5 paces. The roots of each plant should be firm and the interior color should be white or cream colored.  If the roots are soft and the interior yellow to brownish in color, it most likely was winter killed.  For alfalfa, the majority of crown buds should be white or pink and firm throughout the bud.  It is important to try and inspect as many plants as possible to determine the percentage of your stand and/or areas of your field that are injured.

For fields moderately affected by winter injury, different management practices than normal will be necessary to keep the stand in production. Consider allowing plants to mature longer before cutting, or in the case of legumes, allowing them to fully bloom before cutting if the damage is more severe. Increasing cutting height, leaving new shoots, and not cutting the stands in the fall will aid in the stand’s recovery and increase production. If alfalfa was lost in a predominately grass stand, it could be managed for grass. If the alfalfa stand was only partially injured (25 to 50%), interseeding with a quick germinating forage, such as orchardgrass or perennial ryegrass, could provide additional production. When dealing with winter injured stands, it is particularly important to adequately fertilize and to control for weed competition.

For fields severely affected by winter injury, such as over 50% killed, you may want to consider replanting. A small grain/field pea mixture or annual ryegrass will be good choices if the forage is needed in early/mid-summer. Corn silage will be the best choice for optimizing full season forage production, but at later dates (mid-June to early July) you may want to consider planting a summer annual. A few options include Sudangrass, sorghum, sorghum-sudangrass hybrids, and millet. 

More information on managing winter injury in forages can be found in the following resources:

“Evaluating and Managing Forage Stands for Winter Injury” by NWCS, UVM Extension.  https://www.uvm.edu/sites/default/files/media/managing-forage-winter-injury.pdf

“Managing Cereal Grains for Forage” by NWCS, UVM Extension. https://www.uvm.edu/sites/default/files/media/managing-cereal-grains-for-forage.pdf

“Evaluating Hay and Pasture Stands for Winter Injury” by Iowa State University Extension.

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM1362.pdf

Soybean Evaluations in Vermont

Posted: February 14th, 2019 by outcropn

Soybean Evaluations in Vermont

In the face of low milk prices, it is more important than ever for Vermont farmers to take stock of their operations to see where costs can be cut and efficiency increased. One aspect that cannot be overlooked is feed costs. The first step in reducing feed costs is making sure you are producing the highest yield and quality feed on your own farm. Most farmers look to corn silage and perennial grasses to provide the bulk of the ration and purchase additional components as needed to balance the quality and nutritive value. However, small grains, soybeans, and oilseeds (such as canola) can all be grown in this region and present opportunities to lower purchased feed costs.

Although soybean production is largely concentrated in the Midwest U.S., soybeans can be grown in Vermont and even into Canada. The trick is variety selection. Just like corn hybrids, there are tons of soybean varieties out there but some just aren’t’ suited to our climate. Soybeans, are separated into maturity groups ranging from 000-10, where 000 varieties are the earliest maturing. Varieties in groups 00-1 are suitable for most of Vermont although group 2 varieties may perform adequately in the southern portions of the state or in low lying valleys with milder climates. To evaluate commercially available soybean varieties in Vermont, our team has conducted annual variety trials.

In 2018 we had 22 entries from 5 seed companies in our trial conducted in Alburgh at Borderview Research Farm. The varieties ranged in maturity from 0.07 to 2.4. Soybeans were planted on 25-May and harvested on 12-Oct.

Throughout the season we experienced extended periods of hot, dry weather with only about 60% of our normal accumulation of rain. These dry conditions likely impacted pest and disease populations as little pressure from these was observed. Despite drought conditions throughout much of the season, the soybeans yielded well with an average yield of 3659 lbs ac-1 or 61.0 bu ac-1, approximately the same as in our 2017 trial. The six highest yielding varieties were S11XT78, S09RY62, 5B241R2, S18XT38, SG 1863, 5N211R2, and SG 1776. All these varieties produced over 3700 lbs ac-1. However, the range in yields was dramatic with the lowest yielding variety, CM16-6058, producing less than half the yield of the top yielding variety at only 2,144 lbs ac-1 or 35.7 bu ac-1 (Figure 2). All varieties produced soybeans with similar test weight which averaged 54.3 lbs per bushel for the trial. All varieties produced soybeans with test weight below the industry standard of 60 lbs per bushel. This was likely due to lack of moisture throughout the season, especially during seed fill. These differences highlight the importance of careful varietal selection and monitoring to identify varieties that perform well in a variety of conditions on your farm. A full report from this trial can be found at http://www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/wp-content/uploads/2018-Soybean-Variety-Trial-ReportFinal.pdf

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