Oct. 27, 2015 07:00 AM

Visits to New York, Georgia and Michigan

By Ev Thomas
Oak Point Agronomics, New York

With the exception of the New York City metro area, the entire state got a hard frost on October 19 or 20, but by then almost all the corn intended for silage had been harvested. Some very nice fourth cut alfalfa, perhaps fifth cut in long-season areas, was harvested after corn filling was completed.

October has been an unusually dry month with above-average temperatures, ideal for fall alfalfa silage harvest. Hopefully this silage, which should be very high in protein and low in fiber, can be used to balance what on many farms was a poor first harvest. The other plus of the dry conditions is that manure was able to be spread and fall tillage done with fewer problems than usual.

Forage inventories should be adequate on most farms, and a high percentage of the corn crop was ensiled prior to frost, which should result in good silage quality. In northern New York the amount of corn left standing in dairy farm fields waiting for custom grain harvest suggests that silage yields were very good indeed. Exceptions are farms with serious Northern corn leaf blight problems; this was spotty in the state but in some cases caused severe damage. In the coming months we can expect to see a focus on disease resistance as farmers place corn hybrid orders for 2016.

By Dennis Hancock
Extension Forage Specialist
University of Georgia

Final hay harvests for the year are wrapping up and the annual fall planting efforts are in their later stages. A recent review of forage quality for the season has shown that most hay cuttings were up to 8 percent higher in quality relative to normal, but approximately 10 percent of the hay produced in July through late August was high in nitrates (greater than 4500 ppm nitrate-N) because of the dry weather. Fortunately, our winter grazing plantings are off to a great start, and hopefully producers will be able to feed their high-nitrate hay while limit grazing their winter forages. This will stretch out their winter grazing while minimizing the risk of nitrates in their livestock’s diet.

Many producers are apprehensive about the coming winter, given that the climatologists are reporting a strong El Niño ENSO phase, which is projected to give us a cold and wet winter.

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

A hard frost covered the state of Michigan over the weekend of October 18, and producers who waited to harvest after the frost were taking the last cutting of alfalfa in dry warm weather to finish up the year. Most producers reported they had sufficient inventories of forage and left the last cutting in the field. However, in the Upper Peninsula, the dry weather during the last two months reduced yields after an excellent first and second cutting. Otherwise, most areas of the state saw average to above-average yields.

Corn silage harvest was a race to see if chopping could go as fast as the crop was drying down. If producers waited, whole plant moistures dropped quickly and many were left with drier-than-ideal silage going into their silos. Although the last few weeks were dry, above-average yields have been reported across much of the state.

Michigan hay inventories are excellent, and producers who were concerned about having enough good quality dry hay earlier in the year were able to make up for lost time in the last part of the season and fill their barns. Prices remain steady to slightly lower than last year heading into the fall and winter.