June 14, 2016 08:00 AM

Visits to Idaho, Wisconsin, and New York

Glenn Shewmaker
Extension Forage Specialist
University of Idaho

Triticale forage production appeared above average with reported 3-ton yields, although rain slowed the planting of silage corn into the stubble. Corn was struggling with a yellowish tinge until high temperatures (80°F to 95°F) returned during the past two weeks.

A significant percentage of first cutting hay in south central Idaho received rain so will no longer be considered Premium or Supreme quality. A large percentage of alfalfa was wilted and chopped near large dairies so they didn’t experience significant amounts of quality loss. Yields in south central Idaho were above average because of mild temperatures and a lack of frost throughout most of May. Orchardgrass was extraordinarily productive as a mix with alfalfa hay. Birdsfoot trefoil also produced above normal yields due to ideal weather conditions, a study in Kimberly found.

First cuttings in eastern Idaho and high elevations are progressing rapidly with excellent drying conditions of around 80°F. However, some fields almost ready to bale received substantial amounts of rain. Yield may be normal to slightly below normal because of cool temperatures in May. Quality should be very good because much of the hay was in the bud stage. Unfortunately, turning hay that has been rained on will produce an oversupply of feeder quality hay and a shortage of dairy quality hay. High elevations have been cooler than what is ideal for forages, so production on pastures and hayfields is below normal.

Dan Undersander
Extension Forage Agronomist
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Some of the spring alfalfa seedings have resulted in poor stands. Many of the poor stands are likely attributable to the unseasonably cold weather after seedling emergence that slowed alfalfa growth and allowed diseases to thin the stand. Also, we have had some cases of allelopathy where alfalfa was seeded into fall seedings of rye. Additionally, we have some herbicide carryover issues resulting in poor stands. The latter two issues may be related to reduced breakdown rate of toxic factors also due to the cold soils.

First harvest was taken May 15 to 20 in most parts of the state. Yield was good and much was good to high-forage quality. Some fields have had alfalfa weevil on regrowth after first cutting. This is the first time I have seen weevil larvae after first cutting. All fields should be scouted and either harvested if within a week of the scheduled harvest or sprayed if 40 percent of terminal buds show damage.

Alfalfa regrowth after first cutting has generally been good due to good soil moisture levels. Some farmers are looking for high-quality forage and have begun to take second cutting.

Ev Thomas
Oak Point Agronomics

Dry conditions in northern New York eased somewhat with 1.5 inches or more of rain on June 5, followed in the next few days by scattered showers and thunderstorms. Long Island continues to be unusually dry, but conditions improved as a result of about an inch of rain June 5 to 8. Yes, there is agriculture on Long Island: vegetables, wine grapes, nursery crops. Long Island’s Suffolk County has the highest agricultural sales of any county in New York. About three-fourths of the state is abnormally dry, but no moderate or severe drought conditions are reported.

The combination of a cool, dry April followed by a very dry May reduced the growth of alfalfa and grass in many areas. As a result, first cutting was almost a week late and yields of both crops are somewhat below normal, with reports of alfalfa being affected more than grass. Harvest went fairly smoothly because of minimal weather delays, and forage quality of alfalfa and cool-season grass appears to be normal. The lack of rain was beginning to affect the corn, however the rain that came June 5 changed those conditions. Potato leafhoppers have arrived in New York and are posing a threat to alfalfa seedings.

One of the most obvious changes in New York agriculture in the past decade is the increase in the acreage of soybeans (including on dairy farms). This is the result of a combination of economics, better varieties, and a measurably longer growing season. Farmers in northern New York are now planting soybeans that are a full Maturity Group later (1.5 versus 0.5) than they were 20 years ago.