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Out Croppings: Important crop news from the field!

Time to Plant Soybeans

Posted: May 27th, 2020 by outcropn

Warmer weather over the last week has helped to warm and dry the soil making it optimum for planting warm season crops. Many farmers wait to plant soybeans after corn and first cut, as there is concern that soybean seed will not germinate at soil temperatures below 60º F. Your planting dates should be based on weather conditions, not necessarily a specific date.

Soybeans can germinate in soil around 50º F, but the ideal temperature is 70º F or higher, but those conditions may not occur in Vermont until mid to late June. Soybeans shouldn’t be planted in extremely damp conditions, because oxygen-deprived saturated soils and soil crusting can hinder emergence. Wet conditions can also reduce germination and increase the prevalence of diseases caused by pathogens like Pythium. When your soil temperature is around 50º F, germination may be slow and emergence can take up to 3 weeks.

Organic and untreated soybeans shouldn’t be planted until the soil temperature reaches at least 60º F. In northern New England and Eastern Canada, you often cannot plant soybeans until late May. However, if warm spring conditions occur, planting should begin to maximize yield.

Three years of research trials in Alburgh, Vermont have shown that optimum soybean yields are achieved when planting between late May and early June.

Remember to select varieties that can easily mature in Vermont when planted by mid-June. Generally, soybeans in the maturity groups 0 to 1.5 perform the best in Vermont. If planting in May a full-season variety should be planted, but as planting dates move into June a short maturity variety should be selected.

Lastly, soybeans also need a pH level of 6.0-7.5. Ideal soils are medium-textured loam with high levels of P and K, but low to medium levels of nitrogen. If nitrogen levels are high in soybean fields, nitrogen fixation will be diminished and weed pressure will increase. While saturated soils are poor for planting, moisture must be available in the upper layers of the seedbed, especially during germination, flowering, and podfilling.

For more research results on soybean planting dates and varieties, see our research reports at: https://www.uvm.edu/extension/nwcrops/research

New Forage Seedings

Posted: May 6th, 2020 by outcropn

It is time to get in those new forage seedings. Luckily, there have been nearly ideal conditions this spring and planting for many is underway. This post will provide some tips to consider before heading to the field with the seeder.

Preparation – To ensure the best chances of a vigorous and healthy stand, check your soil fertility and pH well before planting. When soil pH is above 6.0, forages are more productive, but it should be closer to 7.0 for alfalfa or birdsfoot trefoil. If you’d like to establish an alfalfa crop in a soil with a lower pH, you can lime the field now and plant an annual forage, and establish alfalfa later in the growing season. Other nutrient requirements should be determined from your soil test. Don’t forget to consider the previous crop and any potential herbicide carryover, because forages are more sensitive to carryover than a crop like corn.

Select your varieties considering your soil characteristics and forage goals. Commonly grown grasses include orchardgrass, reed canarygrass, timothy, smooth bromegrass, tall fescue, meadow fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and festulolium. Some species such as perennial ryegrass and festulolium can be very short lived in Vermont growing conditions and others like timothy and reed canarygrass can be very slow to establish. Combining grass with legumes will improve forage quality, yields, and reduce nitrogen fertilizer inputs. Legumes such as alfalfa, red clover, white clover, birdsfoot trefoil, and alsike clover grow well in Vermont. Species such as alfalfa prefer loamy soils and can perform well during dry periods, where white clover can withstand wet soils but does not handle droughty conditions well. In the spring, it is common to add a “nurse crop” to the seed mix. The goal of the nurse crop is to help outcompete weeds and provide some early forage from the new seed. Nurse crops should be used only with pure legume stands or high legume to grass mixtures. Often a nurse crop will smother out the slow growing grass species if present. For more information on forage species, see UVM Extension’s fact sheet Description and Seeding Rates for Forage Plants Growing in Vermont at: http://pss.uvm.edu/vtcrops/articles/VT_Forage_Description_and_Seeding_Rate.pdf

Planting – Seed a high-quality seed with a properly calibrated drill or seeder as soon as weather permits, which is generally late April to early May in this region. The goal is get the forage stand well established before we hit the hotter and drier summer months. If planted too close to summer, there might be enough forage growth before the plants hit dormancy during the hot and dry period. In general, new seedings in Vermont should not be planted past May 15th. If time is getting late, it is best to wait until late summer to put the new seeding into the ground or wait until next year. Planting early can also help new seedings outcompete weed pressure.

Make sure to not plant the seed to deep! Most forages should be planted to a shallow depth 1/4 to 1/2 inch depth. Planting too deep will result in decreased or no emergence. Seeds of grasses and other forages simply don’t have enough stored energy to emerge if they are not close to the soil surface. It should also be noted that forage emergence can be severely impacted by crusted soils. Make sure not to overwork the soil! Seeding with a drill or cultipack seeder is recommended, though forages can be seeded by broadcast with a fertilizer spreader if necessary – but there is risk of an uneven spread, and you may need to increase the seeding rate.

Summer Considerations – If your seeding has poor establishment or has reduced yields due to summer heat and dry weather, you can still increase yields by planting in more heat-tolerant summer annuals in July and August, and/or establishing fall forages. When establishing a new forage field for hay, it’s important to delay the first cutting to not weaken the stand. Harvest the first cut at the flowering of legumes, or about 70 days after seeding for grasses. Stands should be harvested earlier if they are being overrun by weeds. This will clip off the weed tops and prevent the impending seedhead development, and a future weedy disaster.

For more information on forage species selection please review our research reports: https://www.uvm.edu/extension/nwcrops/research

Forage Brassica

Growing Hemp Update and COVID-19 Update

Posted: April 30th, 2020 by outcropn

Planning to grow hemp this season? It’s time to register. Whether you’re growing, processing, or storing hemp, you will need to complete a hemp registration application this season with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets. You can register your entire operation on a single registration form including growing processing, storage and dying. The registration requires you to provide GPS coordinates for the vehicle access points to your site.

For growers, an aerial view map showing the location of indoor or outdoor cultivation areas is also required. The Agency has Guidelines on how to use google maps to create such a map. For personal use, registration is $25, and for commercial growers, the license fee depends on the category and scale of production. See Frequently Asked Questions which include an easy-to-use license fee calculator. Whether you have 1 plant or 1 acre, industrial hemp cannot be grown legally unless you register.

Contact: tel. 802-828-1732 or Agr.hemp@vermont.gov.

Reducing Risk & Slowing the Spread – COVID-19 Info for Farmers & Producers As Vermont moves forward in phases, all operations must follow public health, safety, and social distancing measures to prevent outbreaks and limit the spread of COVID-19. Vermont Agency of Commerce has mandatory requirements which encompass specific measures for face coverings, cleaning and disinfecting, access to soap and water, bathrooms, signage, common areas, occupancy limits, pre-screening of workers, and a designated health & safety officer.

UVM’s New Farmer Covid-19 Information page has links to key resources covering financial assistance, legal issues, marketing, business continuity and other guidance for farmers.

Time to Plant Spring Grains

Posted: April 15th, 2020 by outcropn

April is here, the temperatures are rising and fields are drying out after a fairly mild winter in Vermont. Winter grain stand look healthy and are starting to grow. Spring nitrogen applications should be applied at green-up, which in many cases is now. It’s also time to plant spring grains.

Spring wheat, barley and oats typically make it in the ground the last few weeks of April or first week of May. An early planting, gives us a real jump-start on the growing season and allows more time for the spring grain to grow vegetatively and build a higher yield potential. Here are some things to keep in mind as you get going with your small grain crops this spring.

Plant as soon as the ground is dry enough to prepare and plant. Fertility can be applied before planting, but nitrogen should not exceed 90 lbs per acre to minimize risk of lodging. If soils in are high in fertility, be cautious in any additional applications. Of course, a soil test will help provide the best guidance on what fertilizer the crop needs.

Spring grain planting dates will vary depending on the crop and time of planting. Early planted grains can be seeded at 80 to 100 lbs per acre. However, if planting dates are delayed into May, seeding rate should be increased to 125 or 150 lbs per acre. Increased seeding rates help to compensate for poor tillering and result in thinner stands due to late seeding. Higher seeding rates can also help suppress weed pressure.

Seeding depth of spring grains should be relatively shallow as long as there is adequate soil moisture. Generally a depth of 1 inch places the seed in the warmest part of the soil and will allow for quicker germination in the early spring.

Variety and species selection are hopefully decisions you made over the winter. Generally both are determined by the market you plan to sell you grains too this summer. However, if you are making some late decisions you can refer to our Small Grain Variety Trial reports for direction.

Most importantly, do not delay planting!

Check our website, www.uvm.edu/extension/nwcrops, for our most up-to-date research reports, trial results, grain webinars, and important or helpful information about the COVID-19 crisis. We know farming doesn’t stop for anything and we’re here to help.

Checking your Forages for Winter Injury

Posted: April 3rd, 2020 by outcropn

Despite a mild winter with above average temperatures, winter 2019-2020 also saw several cold snaps. Due to the warm weather, there was also less snow ground cover than normal. Snow cover is an excellent insulator, which can help regulate temperature fluctuations and helps forages like alfalfa survive the winter. Older stands are more likely to winterkill, and so are stands with higher soil moisture in the fall. Cutting management also plays a role in winter hardiness of crops like alfalfa – shorter intervals between cuttings increase the risk of winter injury. Stands that are cut later in the fall are at a greater risk of winterkill, because they may not have the time to replenish their stored nutrients before the winter fully sets in. As the weather warms this March and April, it is a good idea to get out in the field and evaluate your forage stands for winter injury.

Uneven growth patterns and slow green up often indicate winter injury. To diagnose damage, you can examine the roots of the plants. To do this, walk diagonally across a field at regular intervals (every 4-5 paces), and dig up several plants 4-6 inches deep with a shovel. Examine the roots. The roots 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 to inspect as many plants as possible to determine the percentage of your field that was injured.

If your stands are moderately damaged, you can improve stand health and yields by allowing plants to mature longer before the first cutting. This will help them restore needed carbohydrates and continue to produce after the first cutting. 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. Remember that perennial ryegrass should be considered a short term option since it does not overwinter well in our climate. When dealing with winter injured stands, it is particularly important to adequately fertilize and to control for weed competition.

If your stand is over 50% killed, you might want to consider reseeding. A small grain/field pea mixture will be the best choice 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 sorghum-sudangrass hybrids, sorghum sudangrass hybrids enhanced with the Brown Mid Rib gene, forage sorghum, or sudangrass. It is important to note that these crops need high temperatures to yield well and may not be the best choice if we are experiencing average to cool temperatures.

More information on managing winter injury in forages can be found in the factsheet: “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

Online Educational Resources

Posted: March 24th, 2020 by outcropn

NWCS has created a summary of online resources and learning opportunities for anyone to access. The full list of resources can be found on our Conferences web page – https://go.uvm.edu/conferences. Here are some of the highlights:

UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Program Agricultural Curriculum– An interactive curriculum for educators of agricultural programs at career centers, technical public high schools, and technical institutes to get students to consider the environmental impacts of farming.

Online courses through eXtension (https://campus.extension.org/)-The UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils program has designed a number of online courses that include: An Introduction to Organic Dairy Production is a self-directed course designed for Extension educators and other agriculture service providers, as well as farmers and students who want to better understand certified organic dairy farming. It is made of ten modules on key organic dairy topics.

Webinar series and videos– Watch University of Vermont Extension’s collection of instructional YouTube videos and webinar series that include topics like growing grains in Vermont, hemp & hop production, cover crop implementation strategies, and more at https://www.youtube.com/user/cropsoilsvteam/playlists.

Check out the Conferences web page for the full listing and links to access

Frost Seeding

Posted: March 19th, 2020 by outcropn

Spring is right around the corner, but it might not be too late to think about forage improvements! Frost seeding is a simple practice that can help improve pasture and hay field yield, quality, and composition over time. The general principle of frost seeding is to broadcast forage seed onto pastures or hay fields in early spring when the ground freezes at night and thaws during the day. The time is now! Below are some helpful tips to make your frost seeding a success.

Expectations- Frost seeding will not look like a new seeding. New plants will grow over time and hard seed may sit around for a while until conditions are right. The first year you may not notice a huge difference but frost seeding a little bit each year around your farm can help maintain stands and avoid the need to do costly and extensive reseeding.

Limit competition– Frost seeding will be more successful where the seed can easily reach the soil surface. Fields that have a lot of bare ground showing or where you have grazed or mowed very short, will be more successful than fields with a lot of residue covering the ground.

Be ready to go when the conditions are right– At this time of year, fluctuations can happen quickly. Be ready. Walk your fields and decide which are the best candidates for frost seeding and what you’d like to seed (more on species selection below). When the snow is gone or mostly gone and the ground is freezing at night but thawing during the day, you should frost seed. Sandy soils that don’t heave and shrink under these conditions are generally poor candidates for frost seeding.

Species selection– To be ready when the weather is ready, you must select your species and purchase seed ahead of time. Frost seeding is more successful with legumes and grasses that can germinate quickly in cool temperatures. Red and white clovers are generally the most successful legumes while perennial ryegrass and orchardgrass are relatively successful grasses. Seeding rates of recommended species can be found in the table below.

Equipment– Frost seeding is often done with seeders mounted on ATVs, or a tractor mounted or hand held broadcast seeder. When frost seeding with a broadcast seeder, make sure to first determine the effective seeding width to avoid possible overlap of seed. Although not always necessary, a disk or cattle can help incorporate the seed into the soil. A no-till drill can be used but this will increase the number of trips across the field.

More information on frost seeding can be found at https://www.uvm.edu/sites/default/files/media/frostseeding.pdf Happy seeding!

Dig into Your Day…with Cover Crops & Conservation

Posted: March 15th, 2020 by outcropn

The University of Vermont Extension is offering a FREE Webinar Series! This webinar series will discuss current research on cover crops and conservation in various cropping systems, interesting findings, and common obstacles to implementing a successful cover crop and no-till program. Each webinar will be 30 minutes and will end with a 15 minute Q&A session.

Dates & Topics Listed Below: Monday, 3/23/20 9am to 9:45am – Precision Sustainable Agriculture with Steve Mirsky, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service

Thursday, 3/26/20 9am to 9:45am – Cover Crops in the Corn/Soybean Rotation with Peter Tomlinson, Kansas State University, Department of Agronomy

Monday, 3/30/20 9am to 9:45am – Cover Crop Profitability with Rob Meyers, University of Missouri Extension, Agricultural Engineering

Thursday, 4/2/20 9am to 9:45am – No-Till and Cover Crops in Organic Systems with Joel Gruver, Western Illinois University, School of Agriculture

Monday, 4/6/20 9am to 9:45am – No-Till and Cover Crops in Vegetable Systems (Organic Focus) with Natalie Lounsbury, University of New Hampshire, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Thursday, 4/9/20 9am to 9:45am – Stewarding the Birthplace of No-Till with John Young, Young Family Farm, Innovative No-Till Farmer from Herndon, Kentucky

Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) credits are available through online registration or by emailing your CCA number and/or farm name to catherine.davidson@uvm.edu within 2 days of the webinar. Pre-register online at: https://digintoyourday.eventbrite.com.

If you have questions before enrolling, please contact: Heather Darby (heather.darby@uvm.edu) 802-524-6501 Jeff Sanders (jeffrey.sanders@uvm.edu) 802-524-6501 Catherine Davidson (catherine.davidson@uvm.edu) 802-524-6501 Susan Brouillette (susan.brouillette@uvm.edu) 802-524-6501

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

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