Sept. 1, 2015 08:00 AM

Visits to New York, Georgia, Michigan, California

By Ev Thomas
Oak Point Agronomics, New York

Much of New York has had normal rainfall in August; an exception is an area just east of Lake Erie, where farmers are suffering through their third consecutive month of dry weather, some with less than 3 inches of rain since June 1. This, combined with above average summer temperatures, has severely stressed crops. Meanwhile, areas 50 miles east of Lake Erie have been inundated with rain since early June; farmers there report excellent alfalfa crops but very uneven corn with significantly reduced yields expected. One of the main challenges this fall will be deciding when to harvest since there’s a great amount of within-field variability. Row crops on clay loam soils in northeastern New York are also under stress from too much water. On the bright side, where there’s been adequate rainfall, the hot weather has helped advance the maturity of late-planted corn — and there’s a lot of it out there. Frequent rain events (“pop-up showers”), often not in the morning forecast, have made haymaking particularly difficult, causing farmers to question the abilities (and occasionally the parentage) of weather forecasters. However, farmers harvesting alfalfa and alfalfa-grass for silage have had some very nice second and third cuts, while fourth cut is also looking good. Head smut has been found in northern New York cornfields for the second consecutive year after a 30-year hiatus.

By Dennis Hancock
Extension Forage Specialist
University of Georgia

The dog days of summer are beginning to ease up. Temperatures have moderated and some areas have received high rainfall. But, it’s been a case of the “haves and have nots” this year. The southeastern half of Georgia continues to suffer from moderate to severe drought. Hay yields range from 70 to 125 percent of normal because of this rainfall disparity. Producers are bracing for the impact of tropical storm Erika, but they are anxious for the rain. Bermudagrass stem maggot damage is now at high levels across the whole state. Those who are in dire need of hay have placed a special effort in controlling the stem maggot. Sugarcane aphids are at extremely high levels all across the state and affecting virtually all forage sorghum, sorghum x sudangrass, and sudangrass plantings. Producers gearing up for winter grazing are also encountering short seed supplies and dealing with higher prices.

By Phil Kaatz
Forages & Field Crops Educator
Michigan State University-Extension

August 2015 is going to go into the record books as a real challenge for most forage producers across much of Michigan. After a fairly good start at the beginning of the month when a large straw crop and quite a bit of dry hay was harvested, it’s been tough to get things harvested. In my random check of rainy days in Michigan during the first three-and-one-half weeks of August, there were 11 days with measurable precipitation. In addition, the last week has had five days of cloudy weather due to lake effect. Although there may have been small pockets where producers were able to get hay harvested, many had hay laying on the ground for an extended period. High quality dry hay supplies will likely be below average and should demand a premium price later into the winter hay marketing season.

Corn silage will start for most after Labor Day with anticipation for an above average yield per acre. Due to the wet start this spring, some areas of the state have uneven cornfields making it problematic to harvest at the right maturity and moisture.

By Steve Orloff
Farm Advisor/Siskiyou County
University of California-Extension

After a hay production season with temperatures well above normal, the heat has finally subsided with a week of below normal temperatures and even rain forecasted. Many growers were going to be able to fit in an extra cutting this year (four instead of three) but the recent cooler weather may change that for some growers. In addition, there are huge forest fires scattered throughout the intermountain West, pouring thick smoke into many of the agricultural valleys. This smoke not only affects humans living there, but forage crops are affected as well. As a result of reduced solar radiation, crop growth slows, water use declines dramatically, and it takes forage crops longer to cure. In some areas, growers have decided to cease irrigating alfalfa for the rest of the season due to water shortages and the big drop in alfalfa prices this year compared with last. As a whole, grass hay yields have been below normal this year. Many growers have just finished planting new alfalfa seedings or will plant in the next week or two.