July 3, 2015 01:26 PM

Visits to Michigan, New York, Georgia, California

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

When will the rain stop in southern Michigan? Hay producers in southern Michigan have been dodging rain showers, tornados, heavy downpours and flooding during the past 30 days. Subsequently, many dry hay producers are way behind and will finally begin to harvest over the 4th of July holiday weekend. Cool, dry air is expected to spread over the state providing the best harvest conditions of the season so far, but farmers expect below average quality with high yields.

In the dairy areas of the state, producers who harvested alfalfa as haylage before the rain in June are approximately 50 percent completed and are expecting a heavy second cutting. For those who were less fortunate enough to harvest first cutting in early June, I’m sure they didn’t expect to be harvesting first and second cutting on their farm . . . the same day. The same story is expected, below average quality with very good tonnage.

During the week of June 22, a tornado leveled about half of a 3,500-cow dairy operation located in the Mid-Thumb area. With the help of hundreds, the cows were moved and milked at many other locations. What a great testament to the "I’ll do what I can to help a neighbor in their time of need" attitude of the American farmer! We thank you. You make us proud!

By Ev Thomas
Oak Point Agronomics, New York

Plenty of rain, with most stations reporting 5 to 8 inches in June, a turnaround from the dry conditions prevailing in much of New York in late May. July greeted farmers with over an inch in some areas on the morning of the 1st. The rain has been heavy enough to result in concerns for drowned corn and waterlogged forage seedings. Cool conditions may limit damage to corn in some fields. It’s too late to replant to corn, especially since it will be a while before these soggy fields will support field equipment.

Obviously, making hay or hay crop silage in the past few weeks has been difficult; some farmers are still chasing after the last of their first cut (especially grasses), while second-cut alfalfa is budded and needs to be harvested soon. Lots of snail damage in corn, and potato leafhoppers (PLH) are over threshold in some alfalfa fields; plenty of PLH nymphs in seedings and established alfalfa. With a short first crop because of a severe winter, a dry April to May and a very wet June, this is shaping up to be a rough first half of the growing season for both forage quality and quantity.

By Dennis Hancock
Extension Forage Specialist
University of Georgia

Welcomed rainfall has hit several locations in Georgia lately, but many pastures and hayfields remain in dire need of moisture. Reports of bermudagrass stem maggots (BSM) have increased across Georgia’s southern half. Bermudagrass hayfields exhibiting damage to more than 5 to 10 percent of the stems at the end of the second cutting should be sprayed with a synthetic pyrethroid or other recommended insecticide seven to 10 days after their second cutting to suppress BSM adults that emerge from those fields. More on these protocols can be found here. Fall armyworm populations are building as well. We recommend to scout and treat for fall armyworm if more than three per square foot are found in hayfields.

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

This year has been all about the weather . . . and a strange one it has been. This was the winter that never was with extremely mild temperatures. Then in May, many locations in the Intermountain Region experienced over a week of rain. This delayed first cutting, and by the time most growers were able to cut their alfalfa fields, they had matured beyond Supreme or even Premium quality hay. We are currently in the middle of an intense heat wave affecting most of the Pacific Northwest with several consecutive days of temperatures over 100°F. Hay crops are growing fast, making it extremely difficult to produce dairy-quality alfalfa. Some growers are just starting second cutting of alfalfa.

First-cutting orchardgrass hay yields were generally lower than normal. Second cutting is coming on very slowly, possibly the result of being overly mature when cut, the intense recent heat and, in many cases, moisture stress. Cereal hayfields were recently harvested and yields are average, provided growers irrigated adequately. On top of all these weather-related challenges, meadow voles have been a huge issue. Yield in some alfalfa and orchardgrass fields has actually gone backwards rather than increasing with time due to extreme meadow vole pressure.