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Northern New York. Hot, dry summer conditions can lead to insufficient hay and pasture forage for dairy farms. Could late summer planted oats be an option to fill that forage gap? A farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has posted results of recent field trials as field crop specialists prepare to plant a new trial at three NNY farm sites.

Drought conditions early in the 2015 growing season and a fungus impacted the summer oat trials planted in 2015 at the St. Lawrence County Extension Learning Farm in Canton, W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy, and at a farm near Alexandria Bay, NY.

Research plots planted in 2013 and 2014 at the privately-owned farm near Alexandria Bay served as a preliminary indicator suggesting that late summer-planted oats are capable of producing high quality, high yielding forage.

Lack of soil moisture caused the plots at Alexandria Bay to fail completely in 2015. Forage quality of the crop harvested at the other locations was very good, but the lack of rain caused very poor yields. Crown rust, a common fungal disease of wild and cultivated oats, damaged plantings at all three farms in the study last year.

The research project funded by the farmer-led Northern New York Agricultural Development Program continues in 2016 with crown rust-resistant varieties. The research team led by Kitty O’Neil and Mike Hunter, field crops specialists with the Cornell University Cooperative Extension NNY Regional Ag Team, expects results form the 2016 to give a clearer indication of the potential of summer oats to provide Northern New York farmers with an emergency annual forage crop option.

Data including a summary of weather conditions during the 2015 growing season, trial plot forage yields, the incidence of crown rust infections, and a summary of nutritional quality is posted in the 2015 project report in the Field Crops Research: Oats section of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program provides grants for on-farm research and technical assistance projects in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered through the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.