Champlain Valley Farmers,
As you well know, 2017 is turning out to be WET year.
Our office is fielding many questions about how to report crop losses, options for late planted annual forages, and new seedings. We thought it might be useful to compile some resources for all of you.
How to report crop losses and prevented planting.
If you were unable to plant due to wet conditions and/or suffered crop loss because of flooding or rainfall, you should report that to your Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. The deadline for crop reporting for 2017 is as follows:
Friday, July 14th for producers with crop insurance policies
Monday, July 17th for producers who do not have crop insurance
If you suffered damage to fields, facilities or infrastructure on your farm (especially as a result of the most recent flash flood event), you should also report that to FSA so they can keep track of losses in order to determine if individual counties or the State of Vermont may qualify for emergency assistance from the federal government.
Contact your local FSA Office:
Addison County FSA Office
68 Catamount Park * Middlebury, VT 05753 * (802) 388-6748
Chittenden County FSA Office
300 Interstate Corporate Center * Williston, VT 05495 * (802) 288-8155
Rutland County FSA Office
170 S. Main Street, Suite 4 * Rutland, VT 05701 * (802) 775-8034
FSA State Office
356 Mountain View Drive * Colchester, VT 05446 * (802) 658-2803
Flooding or Ponding in Crop & Hay Fields
If you had hay and/or crop fields that experienced flooding or ponding, you should take special considerations on those fields to assess damage and mitigate appropriately in order to maintain yields and avoid issues at harvest.
Options for Late Season Forage Plantings
While wet weather has delayed and prevented harvesting hay and planting forages like corn, there is still time (and growing degree days) to produce some high quality forage.
Please check with your crop insurance agent before making any decisions that may affect your crop insurance claims or payment.
Warm season grasses like sorghum, sudangrass, and sorghum-sudangrass hybrids can still be planted through early July with potential for high quality feed and decent yields. The links below have some great information about how to plant these crops and how to manage them at harvest time to maximize yield and quality coming out of the bunk (or bale).
Small grains planted for a fall harvest are a viable option, as are small grains mixed with legumes like peas. You may also want to plant your small grain winter cover crops with a spring harvest in mind and up your seeding rates and choose varieties and seed based on a goal of harvesting it next spring.
New seedings that were planned for April or May can still be planted in early to mid-August. It is not recommended to plant in June or July as the warm summer temperatures are not conducive to these cool season species being established well. They also have to compete with summer annual weeds. Waiting until August will provide better growing conditions and less weed pressure and should allow for adequate growth before winter, although you may want to avoid slow germinating species like birdsfoot trefoil or reed canarygrass.
For more ideas, seeding rates, etc., click on the links below:
Plan for 2018
If you decide to forego any annual forage planting/harvest for this year on particular fields, you can set your sights on 2018. Don’t just let it sit idle, prone to erosion, or let it go to weeds…set yourself up for success for next year. We have seen farmers grow tremendous cover crops in prevented planting fields that you could otherwise not accomplish after a corn silage harvest. You can add species like oats, annual ryegrass, radish, canola, peas, vetch, and clover if you plant by mid-August to early September with excellent results. This could set you up for successful no-till planting next spring, reduce weed pressure in future years, provide good erosion control and even contribute some nitrogen next year. If you have wanted to try a winter-kill cover crop but it hasn’t fit in your rotation, you could give it a try this year.
Or contact Kirsten Workman at our office.
Grazing in a Wet Year and Mending Pastures after Excessive Rains
Pastures can also suffer during a wet year like this one. Animal traffic on wet soils can cause soil compaction; pugging (holes) from hooves, leading to rough surfaces; areas of bare soil; potential runoff issues; and reduced plant density and yield. If despite your best efforts, your pastures are showing signs of this kind of damage, there are some basic things you can do now that some sunny weather is on the horizon and soils dry out a bit. Read Cheryl Cesario’s article from 2013 to learn more or contact her directly.
We know it is a challenging year, so please let us know if we can be of any assistance.