Aug. 23, 2016 08:00 AM

Visits to Idaho, Wisconsin, and New York

Glenn Shewmaker
Extension Forage Specialist
University of Idaho

We had excellent drying conditions during late July and early August. Hot and dry are the key words with only 0.01 inch of precipitation and averaging 1/3 inch of evapotranspiration (ET) per day at Kimberly during the last 30 days. Most pivot sprinkler irrigation systems are not designed to apply more than about 0.25 inch per day, so with harvest shut off and the high ET, we have been water mining for at least the last 30 days. Irrigation water storage in reservoirs has been adequate so far.

I haven't heard of significant pest problems. If the price would be above breakeven, growers would be happy.

Dan Undersander
Extension Forage Agronomist
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Growing conditions continue to be excellent. Insect pressure has been low.

Yields of forages have been high and pastures have grown well. Many farmers will not be taking the last cutting of alfalfa due to excess supplies. The frequency of not taking a fourth-cut harvest is aided by the fact that about 40 percent of Wisconsin hay/haylage is harvested by contractors. One farmer asked, “Why should I spend $10,000 to harvest hay I don’t need?” There is no reason to harvest the alfalfa if the forage is not needed.

While many farmers have been able to harvest high-quality haylage, persistent rainfall conditions have resulted in a shortage of high-quality hay. High-quality hay is still selling for $173 per ton for large square bales (and $265 per ton for small square bales) according to the Hay Market Demand and Price Report for the Upper Midwest, which is assembled by University of Wisconsin Extension.

Yield of corn grain is predicted to be record high this year and grain prices are expected to continue to decline. It is anticipated that corn silage yield will also be high and prices will be lower this fall than previous years.

The excellent growth conditions also mean that there will be opportunity for grazing stockpiled forage through fall and into winter for those who applied some nitrogen fertilizer in early August.

Ev Thomas
Oak Point Agronomics

Most of New York got much-needed rain in the past week, with totals ranging from less than an inch to several inches. However, it came a few weeks too late to save the corn crop in the most affected areas. The situation is worse in western New York, home of many of the state’s largest dairies, while some farming areas in far northern New York had received no measurable precipitation for the preceding 10 weeks. Conditions are so dry in these areas that the leaves on some large trees have died and dropped to the ground two months before normal.

Some of the best crops in the state are in northeastern New York, which got several rains that missed other areas, and forages look like they’re close to normal. As expected, soybeans and alfalfa have tolerated the very dry conditions better than either corn or forage grasses. Second- and third-cut hay crop yields were well below normal in most areas — 50 percent of normal in drought-ravaged western New York — but the recent rains offer some promise for late-summer and early-fall harvests. If there’s additional rainfall in the next few weeks, more farmers than usual will probably be considering taking a fall harvest of alfalfa and alfalfa-grass.