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Out Croppings: Important crop news from the field!

goCrop Integrated Analysis Tools

Posted: February 12th, 2020 by outcropn

Visit our Soil Health and Nutrient Management webpage to read about farmers using goCrop Integrated Analysis Tools including Cornell’s whole farm nutrient mass balance calculator and NRCS’s cover crop economics calculator – https://www.uvm.edu/extension/nwcrops/soil-health-and-nutrient-management

2020 Winter Conferences – Register today!

Posted: January 15th, 2020 by outcropn

Each conference has its own web page including conference details, the flyer or brochure (if completed), the registration site link, and information on sponsoring and/or exhibiting. View all at go.uvm.edu/nwcropsevents

2nd Annual Industrial Hemp Conference  – Thursday, February 20, 2020 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Burlington. go.uvm.edu/2020hempconference

No-Till Cover Crop Symposium – Wednesday, February 26, 2020 at the DoubleTree by Hilton, South Burlington, VT https://www.uvm.edu/extension/agriculture/no_till_cover_crop_symposium

Hop Conference – Friday, February 28, 2020 at the Delta Hotels Marriott Burlington, Burlington, VT. go.uvm.edu/2020hopconference

Organic Dairy Producers Conference – Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at Judd Hall at Vermont Technical College, Randolph, VT.  go.uvm.edu/2020organicdairyconference.

Grain Growers Conference – Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at The Essex Resort & Spa, Essex, VT. go.uvm.edu/2020grainsconference

Crop Insurance for Hemp Growers

Posted: January 9th, 2020 by outcropn

This information has been shared by UVM Agricultural Risk Management and Crop Insurance Education. Contact information is at the end.

This is the most current information I have on crop insurance for hemp growers. Hemp was added to the Whole Farm Revenue Protection insurance crop list for 2020. Scanning popular press online today I ran across this article in Farm Journal Ag Web, indicating that USDA has a pilot insurance program for 2020 hemp. https://bit.ly/35V2ztd

Here is link to a December 23 USDA RMA press release about the program. This MPCI insurance will be available in certain counties in 21 states: Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. As you can see, only a few states in the northeast ‘neck of the woods’. Also, it sounds like it will only be available for certain limited growers: “Producers also must be a part of a Section 7606 state or university research pilot, as authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, or be licensed under a state, tribal or federal program approved under the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) interim final rule issued in October 2019.” However, they go on to say that in 2021 hemp will be covered under Nursery crop insurance. https://www.rma.usda.gov/News-Room/Press/Press-Releases/2019-News/USDA-Announces-Pilot-Insurance-Coverage-for-Hemp-Growers

It’s such an expensive crop to grow, insurance protection would be a pretty important consideration for many producers.

Jake — Jake Jacobs UVM Agricultural Risk Management and Crop Insurance Education 208 Morrill Hall, 146 University Place University of Vermont Burlington, VT 05405 Email: jake.jacobs@uvm.edu Message phone line: 802-656-7356 Website: http://go.uvm.edu/ag-risk

Emergency Winter Ban and Snow-Covered Ground Agricultural Waste Spreading Exemption Effective December 16, 2019 through to December 22, 2019

Posted: December 16th, 2019 by outcropn

NEW – There is now an Emergency Winter Ban and Snow-Covered Ground Agricultural Waste Spreading Exemption Effective December 16, 2019 through to December 22, 2019. To utilize the exemption (which can be found on our website), your farm must read and follow the requirements of the exemption to ensure any manure or agricultural waste spreading activities comply with the requirements of the exemption as well as the RAPs.

This emergency exemption will expire at 11:59 PM on December 22, 2019.

This Emergency Winter Ban and Snow-Covered Ground Agricultural Waste Spreading Exemption does not exempt your farm from complying with any other laws or regulations. The Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets will be conducting field investigations across the state to ensure farms are complying with this emergency exemption. Records of all manure or agricultural waste applications must be kept by your farm and be made available for inspection by the Agency.

Please do not hesitate to call the numbers at the bottom of the exemption with any questions.

View our website for the link to the Emergency Winter Ban and Snow-Covered Spreading Exemption document – www.uvm.edu/nwcrops

Emergency Manure Spreading Exemption

Posted: November 23rd, 2019 by outcropn

NEW – There is a statewide Emergency Snow-Covered Ground Agricultural Waste Spreading Exemption.

To utilize the exemption, your farm must read and follow the requirements of the exemption to ensure any manure or agricultural waste spreading activities comply with the requirements of the exemption as well as the RAPs.

This emergency exemption will expire on December 15, 2019.

This Emergency Snow-Covered Ground Agricultural Waste Spreading Exemption does not exempt your farm from complying with any other laws or regulations. The Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets will be conducting field investigations across the state to ensure farms are complying with this emergency exemption. Records of all manure or agricultural waste applications must be kept by your farm and be made available for inspection by the Agency.

Please do not hesitate to call the numbers at the bottom of the exemption with any questions.

View our website homepage for the link to the AAFM Emergency Spreading Exemption, www.uvm.edu/nwcrops

Hemp and Cold Temperatures

Posted: October 22nd, 2019 by outcropn

Hemp flower harvest is well underway in the state of Vermont. Harvest can span over a several week period and proceed well into late fall. Although temperatures have been mostly mild throughout Vermont, some areas have experienced several light frosts in the past month, and as October continues on, temperatures will drop again. We have received many inquiries on the type of damage hemp plants might experience if they get frosted.

The good news is that hemp is quite frost tolerant! Ideally hemp should be harvested before the first hard frost, but if you must harvest after the first hard frost, yields are not likely to be impacted. Hardy and mature hemp plants can easily tolerate a frost of 29-32°F, while those temperatures would kill seedlings in the spring. A moderate freeze of 25-28°F can damage vegetation, and will impact semi-hardy plants. Colder temperatures will also cause green plants to turn purple/red, but the change of color of the vegetative tissues does not necessarily mean that the oils (i.e. CBD) in the plant will be affected. Freezes of 24°F and colder will cause heavy damage to most plants.

In our 2018 Hemp Cold Tolerance Trial, we tracked the temperature at the base of CBD hemp plants in plots with and without row cover, and tested the total potential CBD at 6 different dates in each treatment from October 18th to October 26th. Row covered plants had a higher average temperature and reached less temperature extremes than uncovered plants as expected, but the difference in temperature did not appear to correlate to total potential CBD concentrations. The lowest temperature was 27.8°F in the uncovered plants, indicating that light frosts will not affect the total potential CBD quality. For more information on the trial, see: https://www.uvm.edu/sites/default/files/media/2018_Hemp_Cold_Tolerance_Trial.pdf

Funding Available for Innovative Equipment to Improve Water Quality on Vermont Farms

Posted: September 10th, 2019 by outcropn

For Immediate Release:

Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

Funding Available for Innovative Equipment to Improve Water Quality on Vermont Farms

$1 million will Support Farms and Vermont Clean Water Goals

September 10, 2019 | Montpelier VT – The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) is pleased to announce that $1 million dollars in funding is available for farmers, custom applicators, non-profit organizations and phosphorus separation equipment providers through the Capital Equipment Assistance Program (CEAP). Financial assistance is available for new or used innovative equipment that will aid in the reduction of surface runoff of agricultural wastes to State waters, improve water quality of State waters, reduce odors from manure application, separate phosphorus from manure, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce costs to farmers. The following equipment categories are eligible for funding:

  • Manure and Silage Management Equipment
  • Cover Crop and Field Improvement Equipment
  • Precision Agriculture Equipment
  • Conservation Tillage Equipment
  • Phosphorus Reduction, Separation, Treatment Equipment or Technology

CEAP grant applications are due by November 1, 2019 and notification of grant award will occur by February of 2020. All categories are eligible to receive state financial assistance up to 90% of eligible costs not to exceed maximum funding rates, which vary based on the type of equipment. Applicants are limited to one application per individual farm operation, organization, or entity.

“The CEAP program is important for our farmers to help make capital investments to continue improving water quality on our farms.   These investments are crucial for meeting our state clean water goals.  Manure injectors, precision agriculture or dissolved air flotation technologies require significant investment, but can save farmers money while improving farm nutrient management and environmental stewardship.  We thank our farmers for their continued efforts and investments in this important area,” said Secretary Anson Tebbetts, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

To learn more about the program requirements, or to apply please visit agriculture.vermont.gov/ceap

For questions please contact:

Nina Gage | VAAFM Water Quality Division

802-622-4098 | Nina.Gage@Vermont.gov


Scott Waterman

Policy and Communications Director | VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets 802-622-4662 | scott.waterman@vermont.gov

Dealing with Immature Corn Silage

Posted: September 5th, 2019 by outcropn

Dealing with Immature Corn Silage

Corn planting was delayed due to a wet spring and growth was severely slowed by cool temperatures during the early summer months. It is likely that many corn fields will not make the proper stage for corn silage and understanding how to handle immature corn silage will be critical.

Harvest Timing and Frosted Corn

Timely harvest of corn silage is one of the most critical factors affecting forage quality. To ensure maximum yields of dry matter, nutrients per acre, palatability, intake, and minimize storage losses, corn should be harvested at 35-30% dry matter. Immature corn silage due to late planting will be at increased risk for frost damage, which occurs when temperatures stay below 32°F for a few hours or 28°F for several minutes. The stalk and grain are less susceptible to frost damage as the thicker tissue retains more heat than the leaves, which are the most susceptible to damage.

After a frost, immature corn will most likely be too low in dry matter content for direct chopping.  If possible harvesting should be delayed until the plant is above 30% dry matter. Harvesting the plant at low dry matter content will alter fermentation, increase silage runoff, and could potentially decrease feed intake. To avoid seepage losses and risk of an undesirable fermentation, it will be necessary to allow the immature crop to stand in the field for several days following a frost to dry down. After a frost, moisture content is harder to determine. Frost damage turns leaves brown and creates an illusion of rapid dry down, but the plant will have a lower dry matter content than it appears to, as higher moisture content remains in the stalk and ear. Even experienced farmers who can easily estimate the moisture content for a normal corn crop might underestimate the moisture of immature corn.

Remember frozen immature corn will not dry down any faster than unfrozen corn.  The only sure method to determine dry matter is to chop a small amount of and obtain a moisture determination (microwave method or Koster Tester) to know when the crop is nearing the desired 35-30% dry matter.  As a rule of thumb, whole plant moisture normally decreases by 0.5% per day.


Plant material of 30% or slightly higher dry matter can be more effectively stored in a horizontal bunker or stack without excessive seepage losses than in an upright silo structure. Packing, covering, and particle size guidelines used in harvesting normal corn silage should be followed for immature corn silage.  If possible, store immature corn separately from high quality corn silage. Very immature corn silage should be fed to animals with lower nutrient requirements. Under the best of conditions, inoculants are generally not necessary for corn silage, however, this may be a year to consider their use. For more information on the use of inoculants, see “Inoculants for Haylage and Corn Silage” at: http://pss.uvm.edu/vtcrops/?Page=articles/haylage.html

Feed Quality

Immature corn at the dough state will yield 65-85% of normal silage yield, and slightly immature frost damaged corn that has dented can still produce good quality silage. The table below shows that while yields are decreased, overall energy content can be similar to mature silage. However, starch levels are likely to be lower.

Immature corn will also be higher in protein than those of a fully matured crop.  It is not recommended to add non-protein nitrogen (NPN) sources if the plants did not reach milk stage because seepage can concentrate NPN in the lower portion of the storage unit. After a frost, if the leaf material is dead but the stalk and roots remain alive, there is a chance nitrates will accumulate in the lower stalk. Increasing the cutting height will lower dry matter but increase silage quality since the lower stalk has the lowest digestibility and highest nitrate levels. Field losses will increase with time so producers need to balance harvest losses against fermentation loss and quality problems associated with wet silage. 

It will be important to test forage made from immature corn as there will be a large variation from the nutrient content that might be expected.  If you are going to feed a significant amount of immature silage to lactating cows, it will be worthwhile to obtain a fermentation analysis that includes silage pH, ammonia, titratable acidity, lactic, acetic, proprionic, butyric and isobutyric acids.

If you will be selling silage, the following resource has information regarding negotiating the value of immature corn silage: http://corn.agronomy.wisc.edu/WCM/W158.aspx

More information on managing immature silage can be found in the following resources:

“Inoculants for Haylage and Corn Silage” by Heather Darby and Sid Bosworth, UVM Extension. http://pss.uvm.edu/vtcrops/?Page=articles/haylage.html

“Considerations for Working with Immature Corn Silage” by Cornell University Cooperative Extension. http://www.thatscooperativeextension.org/documents/ag/ImmatureCornSilage.pdf

“Managing Immature and Frosted Corn Silage” by Heather Darby and Sid Bosworth, UVM Extension. https://pss.uvm.edu/vtcrops/articles/ChoppingImatureCorn.html

“Negotiating the Value of Immature Corn Silage” by Joe Lauer, University of Wisconsin. http://corn.agronomy.wisc.edu/WCM/W158.aspx

Now is the time to plant annual cool season forages!

Posted: August 12th, 2019 by outcropn

Late corn planting this year due to a wet spring may mean a decreased supply of silage in future months, and planting cool season annuals such as annual ryegrass, winter grains, and brassicas, can be a way to ensure your stocks of stored feed are adequate in the upcoming months. Cool season annuals can be both harvested for storage and grazed in the late fall. The sooner you plant cool season annuals, the more time they will have to establish and produce biomass.

Annual Ryegrass

Annual ryegrass is a fantastic fall forage. It establishes quickly and is very palatable for grazing. Annual ryegrass can produce about 0.5 ton of dry matter per acre in our region if sown by late August. The seed is typically quite inexpensive compared to winter grains or brassicas making it a very affordable way to boost fall grazing and/or feed stores. Annual ryegrass can be drilled at a rate of 20 to 30 pounds per acre at a depth of ¼ to ½ inch.

Annual Ryegrass

Winter Grains

Winter grains are also great options for fall forage. Winter triticale, wheat, and rye can produce large quantities of biomass in the fall prior to going into dormancy for the winter. They can also provide early spring forage that can be harvested prior to planting corn or soybeans. Oats are another annual forage option. They can also be planted in the fall but will winterkill in northern New England.

Grains may be seeded with a grain drill into a well prepared seed bed or seeded with a no-till drill at a rate of 125 to 150 pounds at a depth of about 1 inch. Plant these winter grains as early as possible to maximize fall forage production. Grains planted later than mid-September will not yield much, if any, forage this fall. For more information on managing winter grains for forage see the following fact sheet:



Forage brassicas, such as turnips, kales, and radishes, can provide plenty of high quality fall forage. They may be seeded alone or in combination with other annuals, and they can yield 1500 to 2000 pounds of dry matter per acre. Brassicas are highly digestible and therefore, need to be grazed with caution to avoid bloating. Animals should only be allowed to graze brassicas for short periods of time and given adequate fiber. Brassicas can be drilled at a rate of about 6 pounds per acre at a depth of ¼ to ½ inch.


For More Information

For current research on using cool season annual forages, see our recent reports:






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.


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 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.

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