June 8, 2015 05:08 AM

Visits to Michigan, New York, Georgia and Northern California

By Phil Kaatz

Forages & Field Crops Educator
Michigan State University-Extension

Michigan survived the winter with little reported damage due to winterkill or heaving. First cutting began the third week of May in southern Michigan and has been progressing upward through the middle portion of the state. The majority of first-cut alfalfa in the Thumb and central Michigan (predominant dairy areas) was expected to be 75 percent complete by the weekend of June 6. Northern Michigan is cutting grass while waiting for the alfalfa to come into bud stage. In the Upper Peninsula, harvest will start in earnest beginning the week of June 8.

Producers are pleased with the quality of the crop. Most of the alfalfa harvested to date was in the mid-bud stage and had little to no rain damage. Alfalfa weevil pressure has been low with no major outbreaks reported on first cutting. Yields are reported to be above average for most producers. Rain events in the past week have led to increased growth resulting in some lodging. The last week of May had frost in several locations, which may lower yields in those areas. Producers expect to see a weakening of prices as inventories increase in the state.

By Ev Thomas

Oak Point Agronomics, New York

Dry conditions in northern New York, slightly better elsewhere in the state, but generally less rain than normal.April forage seedings got in with few problems, and May was a great month for corn planting. First-cut grass yield in northern New York is on the light side,second cut will be poor unless significant rain occurs soon. Rain on May 30 to 31may have saved some April seedings. Some alfalfa winterkill, but spotty depending on snow cover.

There have been many reports of damage to corn from a May 23 frost; temperatures plunged into the mid-20s. Some losses, but most corn survived. The normal late-springfield crop pests — weevils and foliar diseases in alfalfa, and black cut worms in corn — are present. These were apparently unaffected by the record cold temperatures in January and February.

Alfalfa snout beetles went on their May walkabout (literally since they’re flightless) in the several affected counties in central and northern New York. Count yourself lucky if you don’t know what these critters are because they can decimate an alfalfa field. Insecticides aren’t the answer, so current efforts focus on “friendly” nematodes and genetically resistant alfalfa varieties.

By Dennis Hancock
Extension Forage Specialist

University of Georgia

Georgia had a long, dry May after a wet spring. The dry weather enabled a good baleage and, in some cases, haymaking conditions for annual ryegrass, small grains, and first-cutting alfalfa. Sporadic rain allowed enough regrowth for some to harvest a final winter annual, cutting over Memorial Day weekend. But for some, the hit or miss showers have been more miss than hit. About 10 percent of the pasture and hay fields are very dry, but about 60 percent are in good condition. Corn for silage is knee to shoulder high, which is about 10 days behind normal because of April showers.

The first cutting of bermudagrass is complete, and some are starting their second harvest. Getting some sporadic reports of bermudagrass stem maggots (BSM) across the southern half of Georgia, with progressively more closer to Florida. Hay fields should be scouted and preparations made to suppress BSM adults 7 to 10 days after their second cutting. Producers should avoid spraying in the last two weeks of a growth cycle, as it will have minimal effect and may lead to the buildup of resistance to the insecticides. Currently, the protocols laid out here are working well and minimizing resistance risk.

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

Intermountain Area of northern California and southern Oregon: This production season has been a strange one so far. After one of the warmest winters and springs on record, one would think that forage crops would be significantly ahead of normal; but that hasn’t been the case. Late spring frosts have set many fields back and crop maturity is close to normal in most areas.

The extremely mild winter has led to some unique pest situations in some areas — high weevil pressure,spider mites in a few fields, and widespread losses from severe blue alfalfa aphid populations (particularly in the Klamath Basin of California and Oregon). Many fields have been treated multiple times and have suffered serious yield reduction.

Harvest has been delayed due to several days of late spring rains, making the production of dairy quality hay difficult in some of the lower elevation areas.Hopefully, the recent warming trend will provide a window to harvest some high-quality hay.