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Nitrogen Applications for Winter Small Grains Silage

Bill Verbeten, Field Crops
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

February 1, 2013
Nitrogen Applications for Winter Small Grains Silage

Applying enough nitrogen at green-up will be crucial to raising the yield potential from 2 to 4+ tons of DM per acre. Supplying enough spring nitrogen will also increase crude protein from about 14% to nearly 20% DM if the silage is harvested by the boot stage. The application rate of spring nitrogen needed for high yielding, high quality winter small grain silage may range from 0 to nearly 100 lb. per acre depending on the previous crop in the rotation, and the field manure history.

Typically rates of 10-20 lb. of nitrogen per acre are applied at planting for wheat that is grown for grain. These rates are also sufficient for small grains grown for silage. Too much fall nitrogen leads to excess fall growth, leaving the small grains more vulnerable to damage over the winter.

Rotation Scenarios
One of the most common planting situations for winter grain silage last fall was after corn silage. The amount of spring nitrogen needed will depend on the amount manure applied before planting the small grain. Winter grain silage fields with high manure rates may still respond to a small nitrogen application at green-up (20-30 lb. per acre). If little or no manure was applied at planting than small grain silage yields and quality may respond up to 75-100 lb. of nitrogen per acre.

Small grain silage following a haylage field that contained over 50% alfalfa or clover and had at least 6 inches of growth will not require much spring nitrogen fertilizer. Lodging can occur from over fertilization of nitrogen without responses to yield or quality. In these situations farmers may still want to apply 20-30 lb. nitrogen per acre at green-up as the nitrogen from the previous legume will not start to mineralize and become available to the small grain until temperatures increase later in the spring. If fields were mostly grass and didn't receive manure, then at least 75 lb. per acre of nitrogen should be applied.

Small grain silage planted after soybeans, field peas, or snap beans will likely to respond to a middle range of nitrogen rates (40-60 lb. per acre) as there will be some legume nitrogen that should be available to the small grain silage.

Small grain silage planted after a small grain will likely require between 75 & 100 lb. of nitrogen per acre. Yields of small grain silage following a small grain will likely be lower due to higher disease, insect, and weed pressure compared to the other scenarios described above.

Join the Nitrogen Rate Study
If you are growing winter triticale, winter rye, or winter wheat for silage this spring we would like to include your farm in an on-farm research trial that is being conducted this spring in collaboration with Quirine Ketterings at Cornell. We would need an area 100 feet by 100 feet in each field where we would apply rates of nitrogen from 0 to 120 lb. per acre in 30 lb. increments. Prior to green-up we will document field history (January-February), apply the fertilizer at green-up (March-April), take yields at harvest time (May), and then provide you with report comparing your farm to other farms in the study (Fall 2013). We currently have farms in four of the ten counties signed-up and would like to include some more farms from all across western New York.

Contact Bill Verbeten if you are interested in joining this study.











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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