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Out Croppings: Important crop news from the field!

Upcoming meetings and conferences

Posted: February 12th, 2018 by outcropn

We have some great opportunities coming up that we wanted to share with everyone.  Please see below.  If you have any questions, please contact Susan Brouillette at 802-524-6501 or susan.brouillette@uvm.edu.

2018 Nutrient Management for Vegetable Farmers – is an informative, fun, and free workshop for all vegetable growers to insure you are compliant with Vermont’s Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs).  Offered in 5 locations on 5 separate dates in February and March 2018.  View flyer for details and registration information.

2018 Winter Farmers Meeting – scheduled for Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at Champlain Valley Equipment in St. Albans.  Free event.  Online registration – wintermeeting.eventbrite.com. 4 Water quality training and 4 Custom manure applicator credits are available.

2018 No-Till Cover Crop Symposium – scheduled for Thursday, March 1, 2018 at DoubleTree Hilton, formerly known as The Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center.  View go.uvm.edu/ntcc for more details and to register.

2018 8th Annual Organic Dairy Producers Conference – scheduled for Thursday, March 15, 2018 at Vermont Technical College.  2018 Organic Dairy Producers Conference Sponsor and Exhibitor opportunities are available (click for further information). Registration, flyer and details to follow.

Registration Open for 10th Annual Crops and Soils Field Day, 7/27

Posted: July 13th, 2017 by outcropn

Birds’ eye view of the 2016 Annual Crops and Soils Field Day.

Our 10th Annual Crops and Soils Field Day is just 2 weeks away and you are invited!

All farmers, Extension educators, ag service providers, and other interested folk are welcome to attend our annual event on Thursday July 27, 2017 at Borderview Research Farm in Alburgh, Vermont.

This day-long event provides an opportunity to check out the latest in equipment, ideas and research of the University of Vermont (UVM) Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Program, host for the day. In keeping with the field day’s theme, “A Decade of Innovation–Germination–Application,” the day’s activities will show how the program is tackling challenges faced by farmers through researching new crops and new approaches to farming in the Northeast. Tours will be offered of research trials and sessions ranging from pasture management and precision agriculture to commercial production of new crops with tastings of end-products from crop research.

Registrations will be accepted through July 21 online at www.regonline.com/2017cropsfieldday or by phone. Contact Susan Brouillette (ext. 432) or Heather Darby (ext. 437) at (800) 639-2130 (toll-free within Vermont) or (802) 524-6501. Anyone requiring a disability-related accommodation to attend is asked to call no later than July 13. A catered lunch is included in the fee, which is $10 for farmers, $25 for non-farmers. Certified Crop Adviser credits are available.

On-site check-in gets underway at 9:15 a.m. with a guided tour starting at 10 a.m. Participants will tour the more than 3,000 plots of research trials–led by UVM Extension agronomy and soils specialist Heather Darby–focusing on cereal grain and soybean varieties; reduced tillage in silage corn; innovative crops such as hemp, dry beans, hops and milkweed; and cover crops and other soil health trials for forages and perennial grasses, vegetable and field crops.

Afternoon sessions will focus on perennial forages and pasture management; flame weeding technology for vegetables and hops; a look at hemp for fiber arts and CBD (Cannabidiol) oil; new no-till and cover crop equipment; milkweed floss production; and hop yard pest management. Learn more at: www.regonline.com/2017cropsfieldday.

Crops Stressed by Rains

Posted: July 7th, 2017 by outcropn

With last week’s deluge of rain in many parts of the state and this weekend’s forecast, we have dug up a couple of past blog posts that may be of interest:

Recent Rain Creates Stress on Crops addresses flooding, ponding, and soil saturation of corn, pasture and and hay fields.

Rain Putting a Damper on Your Forages? Options Available provides information on late season forage plantings.

It’s been a challenging growing season thus far but there’s still time to produce high quality, high producing forages.

Rain Putting a Damper on Your Forages? Options Available

Posted: June 28th, 2017 by outcropn

Cow munching on Japanese millet.

Rain, rain, go away, we haven’t been able to harvest our hay…or plant our forages! If you’ve been singing this song, you are not alone. With this wet weather, farmers across the region have seen poor corn germination, challenging hay harvest windows, and field conditions making planting difficult.

While it has been tough going so far, the best part of the growing season is yet to come. There is still time to produce high quality and yielding forages this season! Your options include short season corn; warm season annual grasses like millet, sorghum, sudangrass, etc.; small grains like oats, triticale, etc.; and perennial hay and pasture — all have the potential to produce high quality forage for the winter months.

Our fact sheet on late season forage plantings describes some of the options available.

If you’re thinking about summer annuals, Heather and University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Rick Kersbergen discussed strategies for planting, harvesting, and feeding these forages during an eOrganic webinar.

In addition, our livestock forages page contains factsheets and research reports on short season corn performance trials, summer annuals, and more!

Armyworm Alert

Posted: June 14th, 2017 by outcropn

Armyworms. Photo by Sid Bosworth, UVM Extension. Click on image to enlarge.

Armyworms were spotted in Addison County Vermont on June 12, 2017. Please don’t panic but do scout your corn and grass fields for armyworm caterpillars.

True Armyworm, Pseudaletia unipuncta, are typically spotted each year on some acreage in Vermont — crops most affected are grasses including field corn, grass hay and pasture crops. It is important for farmers and consultants to monitor fields. At high populations, armyworms can create significant damage very quickly.

Scout for caterpillars. When mature, they can be almost 1.5 inches long. The caterpillars are usually greenish or brownish, but can be almost black. The sides and back of the caterpillar have light colored stripes running along the body. They normally feed at night and can cause much damage before they mature.

Their preferred foods are grasses including corn, grains, and timothy but they will feed on other plants if grasses are unavailable. Feeding will start on the lower leaves and move upwards. A large population of armyworm caterpillars can strip an entire field in just a few days. When the field is eaten they “march” to adjacent fields. Please note: Corn fields that are reduced or no-tilled or fields infested with grass weeds are most susceptible.

For more information on armyworm, see “When Armyworms Come to Town” and/or True Armyworm resources on the Vermont Crops & Soils webpages. For additional scouting and control options, please contact the following agronomists.
Northwest VT: Heather Darby at (802) 524-6501 or heather.darby@uvm.edu.
Champlain Valley: Jeff Carter at (802) 388-4969 or jeff.carter@uvm.edu.
All other locations: Sid Bosworth at (802) 656-0478 or sid.bosworth@uvm.edu.

Grain Growers Take Note of Powdery Mildew Alert

Posted: June 13th, 2017 by outcropn

Winter wheat leaf infected with powdery mildew in Alburgh, Vermont. Click on image to enlarge.

The cool wet weather throughout the spring has created the ideal growing conditions for a plethora of fungal pathogens. Several leaf diseases have been observed in our grain trials this season. One of the more easily identifiable ones is powdery mildew.

Powdery mildew is a common disease of grain crops and can be observed periodically on virtually any crop. Different fungi cause powdery mildew in different crops but all of the powdery mildew fungi are closely related. In grain crops, the causal fungi are mainly in the genus Erysiphe.

Powdery mildew first appears on the surface of the lower leaves as white powdery patches. If the conditions remain ideal for powdery mildew development, these patches will get larger, run together, and eventually cover large portions of the leaf. The white, powdery growth turns a dark yellow-gray with age. Many dark specks resembling grains of pepper (powdery mildew fruiting bodies) form in these patches later in the summer. Yellow, necrotic lesions will appear on the lower leaf surface directly beneath the patchy areas of the mildew. Under the right conditions, the powdery mildew will move from the lower leaves to the upper leaves and occasionally will spread to the grain head.

Severe infection of powdery mildew can reduce yields by disrupting a host plant’s photosynthesis, respiration, and transpiration. Plants lose vigor and as a result, there is a reduction in grain fill.

If you have questions about powdery mildew or any other plant disease, the University of Vermont Plant Diagnostic Clinic can help. Click on the following link for details on submitting a sample for identification: http://pss.uvm.edu/pd/pdc/pdf/pdcform.pdf.

Performance of Winter Canola Varieties

Posted: March 13th, 2017 by outcropn

Canola, a member of the mustard family, is primarily grown as an oilseed crop across the Midwestern U.S. and Western Canada. The crop is of interest in our region for providing fuel, feed for livestock, and providing more rotational crop options.

There are spring canola varieties–planted in the spring and harvested in the summer–and winter canola varieties planted in late summer which lie dormant over the winter and are harvested in mid-summer the following year. Winter canola, therefore, has the potential to fit into field rotations with other annual crops such as small grains or annual forages. However, in the Northeast, the challenge with growing winter canola is winter hardiness. Because our region often experiences harsh and volatile winters, these conditions can lead to widespread winterkill.

Seed yields of the 15 different varieties of winter canola we researched. Click on image to enlarge.

To investigate the potential of winter canola performance in our region, we compared 15 different varieties, evaluating yield, oil content, and other parameters. Due to extremely mild conditions during winter 2015-16, all of the canola survived and was harvested.  The highest yielding variety was Mercedes which produced over 2300 lbs. ac-1. Eight of the other varieties performed statistically similar to Mercedes, producing between 1878 and 2169 lbs. ac-1. The droughty conditions experienced throughout last season did not seem to impact canola yields; they averaged over 1800 lbs. ac-1 and test weights averaged 49.5 lbs. bu-1 which is on par with the industry standard test weight of 50 lbs. bu-1. These data suggest that winter canola, when it overwinters in this region, has the potential to provide significant yields and opportunities for crop diversification.

The full research report can be found on our website at: www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/research.

Gearing Up for Spring: Improve Your Pasture & Hayland through Frost Seeding

Posted: February 23rd, 2017 by outcropn

With the spring-like weather these past few days, now’s the time to consider frost seeding as a cost-effective method to improve forage diversity and quality in your hayland and pastures.

Frost seeding is a low cost seeding strategy that relies on the action of the soil freezing and thawing to achieve the seed-to-soil contact needed for germination. Frost seeding may begin when fields are without snow cover but when the ground is still frozen.

Some keys to successful frost seeding include:

  • Removal of extra vegetation before seeding (ideally grazing or mowing in the fall),
  • Seeding early in the spring (after the snow is gone but while the ground is still frozen),
  • Selecting species that can germinate when cold–Ideal species for frost-seeding include red and white clover seeding at rates between 6 and 8 pounds per acre–and,
  • Allowing for new seedlings to establish (avoid over grazing and letting plants grow to 6 to 8 inches before harvesting).

For more information on frost seeding, visit our article, “Frost Seeding: A Cheap Alternative to Improve Hay and Pasture Land.”

Our First Year Growing Industrial Hemp

Posted: February 7th, 2017 by outcropn

Industral hemp, Alburgh, VT

During 2016, our Northwest Crops and Soils Program began researching industrial hemp. Hemp is a non-psychoactive variety of cannabis sativa L. The crop is one of historical importance in the U.S. and is re-emerging as manufacturers seek it as a sustainable resource for a wide array of food and fiber products.

Vermont is among 32 states allowing hemp production and growers have begun experimenting with it; however, hemp remains mostly prohibited at the federal level. The 2014 Farm Bill has allowed universities, like the University of Vermont, and state departments of agriculture to produce hemp for research purposes. Hemp is poised to be a “new” cash crop, creating a potential market opportunity for Vermont farms. To help farmers succeed with this new crop, regionally adapted agronomic research is needed. In 2016, we performed research trials to evaluate planting dates, varieties, seeding rates, and row spacing for their impact on hemp yield and pest pressure.

Research Trial Results

Industrial hemp yields in Alburgh, Vermont by variety and planting date, 2016. Click on image to enlarge.

Planting Dates and Varieties

Twelve varieties of hemp were grown over the course of four planting dates: 26-May, 2-Jun, 12-Jun, and 17-Jun and seeded at 25 lbs ac-1. All hemp varieties at all planting dates reached full maturity. The best time to harvest is when 50% to 70% of the seed is visible and brown; the remaining seed is covered with a green husk that surrounds the seed while it is developing (if the green shell is removed most of the seed is mature). When we harvested past this point of maturity, there were significant seed losses due to bird damage, shatter, and tougher, more mature hemp fiber gumming up the combine. Harvest from the first planting date (26-May) showed optimal yields, averaging 850 lbs ac-1, above the Canadian yield averages of 500 to 1200 lbs ac-1. The 2-Jun planting date averaged a yield of 575 lbs ac-1, the 12-Jun planting date averaged a yield of 407 lbs ac-1, and the 17-Jun planting date averaged a yield of 552 lbs ac-1. Differences in variety performance were observed and can be seen in Table 1.

Row Spacing

Three row spacing treatments were evaluated including a STANDARD at 7.0” between rows, WIDE at 9.0” between rows, and a BANDED treatment that created 5” banded seed rows and 6” between rows. The variety Anka was used for this trial and planted on 24-May at 25 lbs ac-1. The WIDE and BAND treatments were cultivated with a row cultivator on the 16-Jun.  Weed cover in the treatments ranged from 7.03 to 17.1 percent, which was not significantly different between treatments. Hence, row spacing did not appear to impact weed biomass and cultivation did not appear to improve weed control. In addition, row spacing did not significantly affect yields. Average yields for the trial were 1120 lbs ac-1.

Industrial hemp seed harvest, Alburgh, VT.

Seeding Rate

Five seeding rates–20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 lbs ac-1–were trialed over two varieties, Anka and CFX-2, planted on 31-May. Hemp yield and test weight were not impacted significantly by seeding rate. The average yield across all seeding rates was 1140 lbs ac-1. Plant populations measured at harvest were significantly higher for the 35 lbs ac-1 seeding rate at 7.07 plants ft-2 and comparable among all other seeding rates.

Looking Forward

We plan to continue this research for the 2017 season. For more information on the results of our 2016 research, please check out our website: uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/hemp.

Preliminary Results from 2016 Winter Wheat Variety Trials Give Snapshot of Yields

Posted: August 31st, 2016 by outcropn


Click on table to enlarge.

This year, the University of Vermont Extension Northwest Crops and Soils team conducted an organic hard red winter wheat variety trial–both heirloom and modern day varieties–to determine those that perform best in our northern climate. The following provides harvest results from the trials at Borderview Research Farm in Alburgh, Vermont.

The project evaluated 34 winter wheat varieties: 20 Heirloom (Table 1) and 14 Modern-day (Table 2). The experimental plot design was a randomized complete block with three replications. The seedbed was prepared by conventional tillage methods and the plots were managed with practices similar to those used by producers in the surrounding area. The soil type was a Benson silt loam soil. The plots were seeded with a Great Plains NT60 Cone Seeder on 25-Sep 2015 at a rate of 350 live seeds per m2. The plots were harvested with an Almaco SP50 plot combine on 21-Jul 2016; the harvest area was 5’ x 20’.


Click on table to enlarge.



The highest yielding variety was 112313W at 4,336 lbs ac-1 (Table 3). Other high yielding varieties include: Byrd (4,090 lbs ac-1), Forward (3,966 lbs ac-1), Winterhawk (3,616 lbs ac-1), WB-Cedar (3,524 lbs ac-1), 10007W (3,507 lbs ac-1), Brome (3,484 lbs ac-1), and Fredrick (3,411 lbs ac-1). The lowest harvest moisture was 1007W at 15.1% moisture and the highest harvest mois-ture was Brome (20.8%). All of the varieties were above the 14% moisture and therefore had to be dried down for before storage.

Click on table to enlarge.

Click on table to enlarge.



The variety with the highest test weight was Expedition (62.8 lbs bu-1). Out of the 34 varieties trialed, 28 of those met or exceeded industry standard for test weight. Additional quality measurements–protein, falling number and DON concentration–are currently being evaluated for these varieties. We will continue to com-pile data from this and other trials; results will be posted to our website at www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/research.

For a pdf version of the information in this post, please visit the Northern Grain Growers website at: http://northerngraingrowers.org/wp-content/uploads/2016-WWVT-Pre-Results.pdf.

Contact Us ©2010 The University of Vermont – Burlington, VT 05405 – (802) 656-3131
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