NNYADP Announces 14 Projects Focused on Crops in 2016

Ten projects funded by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program in 2016 will address opportunities for corn, soybean, alfalfa, oats, grass and grain production. Photo: Joe Lawrence
Ten projects funded by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program in 2016 will address opportunities for corn, soybean, alfalfa, oats, grass and grain production. Photo: Joe Lawrence

Northern New York.  The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has announced 26 research projects prioritized for attention on farms in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties in 2016.

Ten projects addressing opportunities for corn, soybean, alfalfa, oats, grass and grain production include:
. an evaluation of brachytic dwarf brown midrib forage sorghum for improved forage production, rotation profitability, and environmental stewardship
. a Year-2 evaluation of the agronomic and forage quality characteristics of brown midrib and non-BMR corn silage hybrids
. an assessment of the impact on nutrient efficiency and forage production of double cropping with cereal and corn silage
. an evaluation of the efficacy of Bt corn for western bean cutworm control under NNY conditions
. continuation of alfalfa winter survival trials
. a Year-2 assessment of plant tissue nutrient levels in soybean in NNY
. Year-2 research into late summer-planted oats as viable option for forage production in NNY
. field trials for maximizing both alfalfa and grass quality in mixed plantings
. continuing work to re-evaluate yield potentials of corn grain and silage in the region, and
. an evaluation of industry-recommended corn hybrids for corn grain production and leaf disease severity in NNY.

An additional four projects are aimed at disease and pest management in crops critical to the regional dairy and livestock industries; corn alone is a $100.6 million crop in northern NY. These projects include:
. a Year 3 diagnosis and assessment of diseases of corn and soybean on NNY farms
. Brown root rot (BRR) research with a second production year of alfalfa populations developed after exposure to BRR fungus and ice sheeting
. the continuation of alfalfa variety breeding trials to increase resistance to alfalfa snout beetle, and
. an evaluation of the use of alfalfa snout beetle biocontrol nematodes on corn rootworm during corn rotation.

Five dairy-focused projects include evaluations of how weather conditions impact cow and calf health plus continuing to work to speciate and quantify lesser-known causes of mastitis.

Five projects with NNYADP funding will advance the regional production of fruit and vegetables, including apples, juneberries, cherry tomatoes, and cold-hardy grapes.

One project will evaluate the use of 3/16-inch tubing to enhance maple syrup production with both natural flow and artificial vacuum sap collection systems in regional sugarbushes; and one project will improve beekeeper management practices to increase the health in the pollinating insects that support honey production in the Northern New York region.

Farmers who have hosted NNYADP field trials praise the value of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, noting the impact of enhancing animal health and crop quality, and promoting new agribusiness in the region.

Rhonda Butler of Asgaard Farm and Goat Dairy, AuSable Forks, has participated with a NNYADP small livestock parasite control project. She said, ‘The project results will guide our decisions, and provide us another way to maintain our animals’ health.’

Dairy farmer Lynn Murray of Murcrest Farms, Copenhagen, said, ‘The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program snout beetle control project has paid off here. My 2015 alfalfa crop produced the best first cutting yield ever.’

‘The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program research and training has been very good for helping us cope with an increasing problem of alfalfa snout beetle in the Malone area. We plan to open our own nematode rearing business,’ said Mary DeBeer of Debeer Seeds and Spraying, Malone.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program received $600,000 in the 2016-17 New York State Budget. Funding for the NNYADP is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

See www.nnyagdev.org for a complete list of the 2016 NNYADP projects, economic impact reports, and the results and application of completed projects.

Media Contacts:
. NNYADP Co-Chairs Jon Greenwood, 315.386.3231; Joe Giroux, 518.563.7523; Jon Rulfs, 518.572.1960
. Publicist Kara Lynn Dunn, 315.465.7578, karalynn@gisco.net

New Alfalfa-Grass NDF Estimation Tool for Smart Phones

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 11.09.32 AMA new AGES (alfalfa-grass evaluation system) app is now available. It is a web-based app that works on the computer and should work on any smart phone.
It does not work with MS Explorer (being phased out), but does work with Safari, Chrome, and Firefox.

The app is currently at: It will eventually be transferred to forages.org.

Pure grass or pure alfalfa estimates are available, based on the old system on our website, no picture required.
For alfalfa-grass stands, a smart phone picture is automatically inserted into the program. A regular digital camera picture could be used with the program on a computer.

For alfalfa-grass fields, you take a picture and measure AMAX (maximum height of alfalfa to terminal bud), it will estimate:
•Grass%: Based on processing a photo through artificial intelligence software.
•Sample NDF: NDF concentration for parameters entered for the current sample.
•Average Field NDF: The average NDF concentration for all samples added to the current field average.
•Range in samples/field: The range in NDF concentration for the current field from minimum to maximum.
•Estimated days to harvest: Based on average field NDF, target NDF at harvest, and estimated weather conditions, this indicates the number of days to harvest to achieve target NDF.
•Target AMAX or GCPY at harvest: Target max height of alfalfa or grass canopy height to achieve target harvest NDF.
It also tells you the number of samples taken per field, that are included in the current average NDF.

Format takes a little getting used to. Range in height allowed is 16-30″ for pure alfalfa, 12-30″ for pure grass, and 12-40″ for alfalfa-grass, although the upper/lower limits could be pushing it.
For alfalfa-grass, Grass% evaluation is based on the entire photograph. Make sure the camera is level, about 3 feet above the canopy, and entire area in the picture is of the stand.

I have tried it out on hundreds of photos I have on my computer, that were not used for app development. Seems to work well for spring harvest, good stands.
Does not work well for:
1. Regrowth harvests (we will need to sample and generate another equation for this).
2. Weedy fields, or poor stands in general.
3. Headed out grass.

NOTE: Changing the AMAX for a given picture will change the estimated grass percentage for that picture, because “visible” grass vs. actual percent grass changes some with maturity.
NOTE: Changing the height that the picture is taken at will affect estimated grass percentage, be consistent and close to 3’ from canopy.
Since this is fresh from the programmers, some issues may arise. Later versions will allow results to be dumped off-site.
We will do some sample collecting this spring for validation.
We still don’t know how many pics per field are optimal. This will depend on field uniformity. Probably 6 minimum to 12 or so. You can observe the range in pics to help sort this out.

Buckwheat for NYS Growers

Buckwheat with flowers isolated.

This year, low commodity prices have some corn growers looking for alternative crops. Buckwheat will be attractive to a few because there are scenarios where buckwheat makes money and corn loses money. This note will help identify those scenarios.

It will only take a small proportion of corn growers to meet the need for buckwheat. There are usually over a million acres of corn in New York, buy only a few thousand acres of buckwheat contracts available. Nevertheless, filling those contracts in New York would move a lot of buckwheat production closer to the customer.

The question is which corn growers might find the buckwheat option attractive. I have made a list of situations for which buckwheat could be worth looking into.

There is a lot of land with an expected corn yield of 100-120 bushels per acre. That is about the right productivity level for raising excellent buckwheat.

Fields with a 120-bushel production potential are likely to make money with buckwheat. Using the Ohio State crop production budget calculator, the budget shows a loss of about $100 per acre for 120-bushel corn, and a profit of about $100 per acre for 20-bushel buckwheat. That is the return above total costs.  A short version of the budget is below, and the full spreadsheet is available for download for those who want to plug in their own numbers. (Thanks to Robert Moore and Barry Ward, OSU Ag Econ for the spreadsheet.)

Corn Buckwheat
Price $/bu 3.70 14.25
Yield bu 120 20
Revenue $/ac 474 285
Variable costs $/ac 331 53
Fixed costs $/ac 263 135
Return $/ac -120 97

The price of $14.25 per 50-lb bushel is firm for 2016 because new contracts offered only by The Birkett Mills of Penn Yan, and all US buckwheat is raised on contract. The estimate of 20 bu per acre assumes an attentive farmer who harvests on time. While zero yields can happen, top yields are 30-40 bu/ac.

The prospective grower should already own the necessary equipment: a drill for planting, and a combine with a small-grain head for harvest, and a truck for delivering immediately after harvest. Mainstream buckwheat growers often have swathing equipment, but that is not worth considering by the occasional grower.

The candidate fields can be more acid than corn prefers. However, they should not be so wet or slow-percolating that rain causes puddling. (The picture on the cover of the 2016 Cornell Field Crops guide shows field that is a poor candidate for buckwheat.)

Fields that were not ready to plant in time for other crops are candidates. Since buckwheat is sown at the beginning of July, field preparation can happen in early June when the planting rush is over and the ground can be prepared more gently.

A sense of humor when getting ribbed at the diner helps.

Beekeepers, or friends of beekeepers, can benefit because buckwheat provides valuable bee forage in August. The crop will support about one hive per acre.

Glyphosate-resistant pigweed, and some others weeds, will be suppressed by a buckwheat rotation. That suppression offers a valuable alternative mode of action for herbicide-resistance management..

MORE INFO: Production information is available as Cornell fact sheets on planting and harvest, as well as an online production guide.

NYS IP Weekly Field Crops Pest Report