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1st Cutting Forage Quality Update - May 18, 2018

Jodi Putman, Field Crops
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

Last Modified: May 18, 2018

Height indicators alfalfa and grass for NDF content are below:
  • In general we say 100% grass stands should be cut when nearby alfalfa is 14 inches tall to achieve the desired 50% NDF.
  • Begin cutting 50/50 mixed alfalfa and grass stands when nearby alfalfa is 22 inches tall for the desired 44% NDF.
  • Begin cutting 100% alfalfa stands when alfalfa is 28 inches tall for desired 40% NDF. 

Predicted days to cut are based on daily NDF increases for grasses of 1% point, 50/50 mixed stands of 0.8% points and alfalfa of 0.5% point. NDF usually increases about 0.8 to 1.2/day for grasses expecting the lower end of that range in cooler weather and the higher end in warmer. Alfalfa NDF increases about 0.4 to 0.7/ day again depending on temperatures. Predictions are adjusted for the coming week's weather and right now assuming normal growth.

In the attached spreadsheet locations around the region are listed where we have measured alfalfa height. You can use the location and elevation as a guide to conditions that may be similar to your farm.

The 2018 hay crop is considerably behind from our 2017 harvest schedule, especially for May 10th. An alfalfa height of 9 inches or less is too low to be used by the equation we have which is why you see "Too Early". On May 10, 2017 the alfalfa averaged 15 inches tall and only 2% of the fields were 13 inches or less. As of today, May 10, 2018, alfalfa is averaging 9 inches tall and majority of field measured are 9 inches or less. That's quite a difference!

The table below indicates no grasses are ready to be cut today. However, pay attention to locations near you for predictions for grasses ready to harvest by next week. The continued warm temperatures through the weekend along with some rain in the forecast will surely increase growth and our predictions.

It is important that you get first cutting off in a timely manner for quality purposes, so please communicate in advance with your team on how you are going to continue planting corn and successfully harvest 1st cutting. Additional fields to be added to next report.
Alfalfa heights have jumped up considerably from last week averaging 19 inches tall compared to 9 inches on May 10. As of May 17 we are showing 80% of fields if 100% grass should be cut. Your mixed stands will reach desired NDF levels by the weekend and will be ready to harvest over the next several days. Remember with mixed stands to assume there's more grass and to harvest sooner versus later to achieve the desired NDF level. Plan accordingly and be sure to watch the weather so that you know where to set your priorities…continue to plant or park and harvest 1st cutting (quality vs. tonnage).

Next report will be May 24.

Alfalfa Height Reporting Sheet 2018 Week 2 (pdf; 192KB)

Alfalfa Height Reporting Sheet 2018 Week 1 (xlsx; 17KB)











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Upcoming Events

Weed Resistance Management Demonstration and Plot Tour

Event Offers DEC Credits

July 23, 2019
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Waterloo, NY

Come join us on July 23 in Seneca County at Quinten Good's farm for a demonstration and walking tour of 16 different pre- and post-emergence treatments in soybean and 12 different treatments and combinations in corn.
  • Tall waterhemp and marestail are two weeds that are resistant to glyphosate and ALS herbicide modes of action in the WNY and Finger Lakes regions.
  • Each year the number of acres with resistant weed populations expands.
  • For herbicides to be an effective tool in weed management, we have to know what chemistries & application timings are most effective against these resistant weeds.

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Income and Real Property Tax Primer-A Learning Circle for Women Non-Operating Land Owners of Ag Land

July 24, 2019
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Portageville, NY

For many of us taxes can be a mystery, let's have a conversation with the experts about the tax considerations agricultural landowners need to think about. 
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Pasture Walk with the Finger Lakes Graziers-Cancelled!

July 29, 2019
12:45 - 4 pm

The Finger Lakes Graziers pasture walk has been cancelled due to some scheduling conflicts. 
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RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions

June 29, 2019

RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions
for 2019 Crop Year

In response to delayed and prevented planting resulting from above average rainfall and wetness, the USDA Risk Management Agency has made a one-time change to the 2019 crop year prevented planting rules that effectively allows silage corn, if planted as a cover crop following local agricultural expert guidelines, to be acceptable as a post-prevented planting cover crop. Under this one-time rule change, producers are allowed to produce this crop while retaining their prevented planting payment. This change couples with previously announced one-time changes to the prevented planting rules - including expanded acceptable uses for post-prevented planting cover crops and a change in the cover crop haying and grazing start date rule - serve to help those struggling to meet their forage needs due to the weather.

Read the full article from the New York Crop Insurance Education Program.

The USDA-RMA states that "For crop insurance purposes, a cover crop is a crop generally recognized by agricultural experts as agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement." PRO-DAIRY specialists Joe Lawrence and Karl Czymmek and Dr. Quirine Ketterings, Professor and Director of Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program have released a letter stating "Corn on Prevented Planting acres meets these objectives."

New Guidance for Mortality Disposal Issued

NYS Department of Ag and Markets has posted guidelines on disposal of livestock carcasses, in response to reports that some rendering companies have halted pickups from farms.|1