Cornell Field Crops News

Timely Field Crops information for the New York Agricultural Community

March 21, 2019
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Corn and Alfalfa Growers: Plan to Apply NNY Nematode Biocontrol Now

Corn and Alfalfa Growers: Plan to Apply NNY Nematode Biocontrol Now

A young farmer applies biocontrol nematodes to his alfalfa field using a farm-made applicator unit in Lewis County. Photo: Joe Lawrence

Northern N.Y., March 20, 2019.  New York corn growers can now reap the benefits of the long-term commitment made by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) to the research needed for managing the most destructive alfalfa crop pest. Not only does the science-built biocontrol nematode protocol significantly reduce alfalfa snout beetle populations, it also has shown management capacity for dealing with corn rootworm, wireworm, and white grubs.

“We are confident that dairy farmers who inoculate their fields with these biocontrol nematodes for management of alfalfa snout beetle or corn rootworm are also benefitting from reduced populations of wireworms and white grub insects,” Cornell University entomologist Elson Shields, Ph.D., Ithaca, N.Y., said.

The successful biocontrol nematode protocol developed by Shields and research technical Antonio Testa is now being applied to multiple crops in New York State and in multiple states.

More than 500,000 acres in New York State are known to have alfalfa snout beetle infestation. Shields’ research team estimates the total cost of alfalfa snout beetle left untreated on a farm  ranges from $300 to $600 per cow. The one-time cost of applying the biocontrol nematodes is approximately $30 per acre, plus any application costs.

Farmers interested in applying the biocontrol nematodes through the Shields Lab rearing program at Cornell have only a three-year window to do so. It requires three to five years to totally inoculate a farm to significantly reduce the alfalfa snout beetle populations. The Shields Lab will stop rearing the nematodes as part of its research program in 2021.

For more information on purchasing the biocontrol nematodes and information on proper application methods, growers should contact the Shields Lab at least 45 days prior to a planned application. Contact Tony Testa at 607-591-1493 or Farmers can also work through Cornell Cooperative Extension Field Crops Specialists Kitty O’Neil and Mike Hunter, and Doug Zehr with the Lowville Farmers Co-Op.

Farmers interested in applying the biocontrol nematodes for corn rootworm management may be eligible to participate in a Northeast Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education grant for the next three years to receive reduced biocontrol nematode pricing on a limited basis. For more information, contact Mike Hunter at 315-788-8450 or Tony Testa at 607-591-1493 for details.

Research has shown that a single application of the biocontrol nematodes can persist for 10 years across an alfalfa-corn rotation and that the nematode population was higher after four years of corn than in alfalfa before the corn planting.

Since 2010, more than 20,000 acres of alfalfa in Northern New York have received a biocontrol nematode application.  At least one new nematode-rearing business enterprise was started as a result of the NNYADP-funded research and technical training on the biocontrol nematodes. Custom applicators in the region have also provided nematode application services.

The Shields Lab is available to work with anyone who would like to develop a business enterprise to supply nematodes to custom applicators or to farmers who wish to apply them on their own.

The NNYADP website at includes Shields’ research reports on development of the alfalfa snout beetle biocontrol solution, the results of NNYADP-funded field and laboratory trials developing alfalfa snout beetle-resistant alfalfa varieties, and more recent studies of the impact of the biocontrol nematodes on corn rootworm and on applying the biocontrol nematodes in liquid manure.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

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November 8, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Fall is the Time to Test for Soybean Cyst Nematode

Fall is the Time to Test for Soybean Cyst Nematode

Jaime Cummings, NYS IPM Program

Since its first confirmation in Cayuga County in 2016, New York soybean farmers have a new pest to be leery of, the Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN).  SCN is considered the number one pest of soybeans globally, causing yield losses of approximately 100 million bushels annually across the U.S. alone.  These high yield losses are due to the rapid and highly productive life cycle of SCN (Fig. 1).  It’s true that those yield loss estimates don’t relate directly to our current situation in NY at the moment, but the best way to avoid these potential losses is to gain a better understanding of SCN populations statewide.

Figure 1. How SCN populations increase exponentially in a field. (Image courtesy of SCN Coalition website)

Fortunately, a network of pathologists and nematologists across the US who have been dealing with this potentially devastating pest for years have come together to fight as a unified front as an organization called the SCN Coalition.  Their website is full of useful information, resources, recommendations and much more, including proper sampling techniques, which labs you can send soil samples to for testing, and best management practices.

We highly recommend that NY soybean growers take a proactive approach at identifying and managing SCN while populations are low.  And, now is the best time to get out and take your soil samples for SCN testing.  Just because it’s only been officially confirmed in one county doesn’t mean it isn’t more widespread, or possibly even in your own fields.  And, once established in a field, management can be tricky because this pest has been developing races that have been overcoming the most widely deployed sources of genetic resistance incorporated into the majority of the commercial soybean varieties.  Check out this short video for more information on the SCN resistance issue.

Since SCN populations are likely low in fields across NY at this time, it’s important to focus your soil sampling for testing on fields with a long history of soybean production, and in areas of those fields that are most likely to harbor populations.  The most high risk areas for finding SCN in your fields include compacted areas such as entryways, areas that are frequently flooded, areas where you have found sudden death syndrome, sections with high pH, or areas of fields that you notice are consistently low-yielding (Fig. 2).  Despite your focused soil sampling efforts, you may get zeros as your test results.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that your fields are SCN-free though, because it can be challenging to detect SCN at low population levels due to the way cysts are distributed in the soil (Fig. 3).  Zeros are good, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to sample annually.

Figure 2. High-risk areas in fields where soil sampling should be focused when attempting to confirm presence of SCN. (Image courtesy of SCN Coalition website)

Figure 3. Detecting low population levels of SCN can be challenging. (Image courtesy of SCN Coalition website)

Although SCN management is getting more challenging as resistance is breaking down, we recommend an integrated management approach.  This would involve annual testing of your fields to know your numbers (and eventually your races of SCN), rotating SCN resistance sources in your soybean varieties, crop rotation with non-host crops (corn, wheat), and utilization of nematicidal seed treatments (Fig. 4).

Figure 4. Take an integrated approach to managing SCN once detected. (Image courtesy of SCN Coalition website)

Now is the ideal time for you to collect soil samples for SCN testing.  Focus on high-risk areas outlined above, and collect 15-20 1-inch-diameter core samples, 8 inches deep from within soybean rows near the roots.  Mix the cores well and send to an SCN testing lab, following specific packaging instructions from individual facilities.  Many options are available for SCN testing facilities, including public and private labs.  Testing prices on average are around $25-$28 per sample at most SCN testing labs.  The Cornell plant disease diagnostic clinic offers this service, or you may consider one of the most highly recommended facilities which focus entirely on SCN, such as Midwest Laboratories, SCN Diagnostics, or University of Illinois Plant Clinic.  Most private and public testing facilities accept out of state samples.

For anyone interested in further, in-depth information on SCN, please check out this hour-long training webinar on the biology and management of SCN from Iowa State Nematologist Greg Tylka.

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August 27, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on NYS IPM Weekly Field Crops Pest Report – August 24, 2018

August 23, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Corn Silage Harvest Quickly Approaching

Corn Silage Harvest Quickly Approaching

by Joe Lawrence – PRO-DAIRY

As always this crop season has brought unique opportunities and challenges for corn silage.  It may be helpful to compare and contrast 2018 with the last two years as we look at the potential timing of this year’s harvest.

For much of the state, 2016 was excessively dry to drought conditions through mid-August. However, where the crop survived to see the rains in late August it bounced back a bit, though some yield was already lost. Late summer saw some more normal rain events and a continuation of above average growing degree day (GDD) accumulation. Typically, we would expect the heat to lead to earlier maturity of the corn crop. However, with each shot of rain, the stressed crop seemed to re-hydrate as it attempted to finish ear development, which resulted in an extended dry down period and later than expected harvest.

We don’t need a reminder that the 2017 season was wet and cool from beginning to end. Late planting and below average GDD accumulation delayed harvest well into the fall and some of the crop received a killing frost prior to maturity. Also of note is that GDD accumulation slows down considerably in mid-September, so as the crop neared maturity last year it did so at a much slower pace than it is likely to this year, when it will be at this stage in mid-August to early September.

This season brought excessively dry and drought conditions for much of the state. However, relief from the drought came three to four weeks earlier than it did in 2016, aiding in pollination and more normal late season development of the crop.  Therefore, we should not expect the extended dry down period that was observed in many areas in 2016.

In terms of GDD accumulation, 2018 was above average in May, below average in June and above average in July and August (to date). While the slight deficit in June may have led to a slower start for corn planted in late May, that deficit was erased by the end of July as we continue to accumulate above average heat units.

GDD accumulation for corn planted in early May is even further above average and current forecasts suggest that most areas of the state will end August with GDD accumulation (since May 1) between 125 and 150 GDD’s above average. To translate that into calendar days, based on average GDD accumulation in late August and early September, this puts use seven to 10 calendars ahead of average since May 1.

Past research by Bill Cox at the Cornell Aurora Research Farm provides approximate GDD accumulation needed from silking to the crop reaching 32 percent dry matter (DM) for 96 to 115 day relative maturity (RM) corn (Table 1).  Based on this we would expect that corn below 96 day RM will take 750 GDD or slightly less.

Currently 32 percent DM is considered on the low end of desired harvest DM, target DM ranges are found in Table 2. Therefore, the accumulation of 750 GDD’s after silking represents a good time to start measuring whole plant dry matters.

Using our Corn Silage Hybrid Evaluation program projected crop progress is shown in Table 3a and 3b.

The dry down rate of corn in the field as it nears silage harvest is largely dependent on the weather and health of the crop. A general range is 0.4 to 0.7 percentage points per day.  Using 35 percent DM as a target for harvest, you could expect the crop to reach this four to seven days after it reaches 32 percent DM.

Also, consider that while the crop looks like it will finish fairly strong and produce a good ear, it is not likely to recover the lost yield from early season stressors. This combined with depressed hay crop yields in many areas should be taken into consideration when projecting forage needs for the coming year.

Cox, William. 2008. Timing Corn Silage Harvest. Cornell University What’s Cropping Up? Newsletter. Vol. 18, No. 4.

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May 23, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Fusarium head blight commentary on winter barley and wheat

Fusarium head blight commentary on winter barley and wheat

Gary Bergstrom, Extension Plant Pathologist, Cornell University
This is a critical week for management of Fusarium head blight (FHB) in winter malting barley.  Some winter barley fields in New York are fully headed now and many more will head out this later week.  Even though we have had frequent rains, the Fusarium Risk Assessment Map ( shows mostly low risk of Fusarium infection in New York because temperatures have been considered too low for spore production in many areas. A moderate to high risk of FHB is indicated for areas of the Southern Tier, southern Hudson Valley, and Long Island.  Maximal suppression of FHB and grain contamination by deoxynivalenol (DON) mycotoxin results when fully emerged heads of winter malting barley are sprayed with full label rates of Caramba or Prosaro fungicides. A heads emerged spray with these triazole fungicides also helps protect upper leaves against fungal leaf blotches, powdery mildew, and rust.  Foliar sprays of Caramba or Prosaro up to seven days after head emergence may still result in significant FHB and DON suppression.   Fungicide products containing strobilurins should not be applied to headed wheat or barley as they may result in increased levels of DON in grain.
Winter wheat is generally a week or more behind in development from winter barley planted on the same fall date.  Winter wheat in New York varies from stem elongation to flag leaf visible stages.  We should reach the critical fungicide application window for winter wheat over the next two weeks.  The triazole products Caramba and Prosaro are the most effective fungicides for suppression of FHB and DON contamination when applied at flowering (emergence of anthers on heads).  A flowering application of triazole fungicide should be based on Fusarium head blight (FHB) risk as well as the risks of powdery mildew, rusts, and fungal leaf blotches in the upper canopy based on scouting of individual fields.  There is an application window of approximately 7 days from the beginning of flowering in which reasonable FHB suppression can be expected.   Check the Fusarium Risk Assessment Tool ( and your local weather forecast frequently as your winter wheat crop approaches heading and flowering.
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April 10, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on New Weed Control Options in Winter Wheat and Barley for NYS

New Weed Control Options in Winter Wheat and Barley for NYS

By Mike Stanyard, NWNY Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops Team – Field Crops Specialist and Team Leader

It has always been encouraged to spray the earliest planted fields for winter annual weeds (purple deadnettle, chickweed, chamomile) in late fall. However, there are so many other things going on in the fall and your windows of opportunity for spraying can be slim to none. You never know what the weather will be like in the spring and timely weed control can be tricky. Here is an update on broadleaf and grass control products for this spring with two new products just registered in 2018.

Broadleaf Weeds. Harmony Extra and Harmony SC are still the backbone of many spray programs. Harmony Extra (Harmony + Express), controls a wider range of broadleaves and it is favored over other products because of its control of corn chamomile, wild garlic and chickweed. A recent point of concern has been the number of marestail/horseweed plants that are making it through until harvest. This may be an indication that you have an ALS resistant marestail population. Both of these products can be applied up until the flag leaf is visible (before Feeke’s stage 8).

Growth regulator products like Clarity, Banvel, MCPA and 2,4,-D are effective against many broadleaves and should take care of ALS resistant marestail. They are usually tankmixed with Harmony products for extra control of winter annuals and perennials. Application past Feek’s stage 6 (jointing) is not advised as it could lead to plant injury and yield reductions. Unfortunately, I have seen annual marestail emerge after this stage.

Huskie (Bayer Crop Science) just received a 24(c) Special Local Needs label for New York on March 2nd. It is a combination of pyrasulfotole (an active not labeled in NY yet) and two formulations of bromoxynil (ie Buctril). The SLN labeling is for marestail/horseweed control in wheat, barley, rye and triticale. Huskie can be used for control of marestail in winter malt barley as well. Talking with Dwight Lingenfelter, Penn State weed scientist, Huskie would be best tank-mixed with Harmony Extra for complete broadleaf control. In fallow ground trials over the past two seasons, Penn State has been seeing (90-95%) control of 8 inch marestail with Huskie at the highest rate. Huskie can be applied up until flag leaf emergence.

Grasses. NYS has a 24(c) Special Local Needs label for Osprey for control of roughstalk bluegrass and cheat in winter wheat. It expires at the end of 2018. Osprey can be applied in the fall and spring but must be applied early in the spring, prior to the jointing stage in winter wheat.

Prowl H2O can be applied to wheat and triticale in the fall and the spring but must be applied before weed seeds germinate. It is very effective on our annual grass spectrum and some of our annual broadleaves but must be applied early in the spring prior to weed emergence.

Axial XL (Syngenta) was just registered on January 12 in NYS and is labeled for the control of grasses in wheat and barley. The active ingredient is pinoxaden which is in Group 1 (ACCase mode of action). Axial can be applied to wheat and barley from the 2-leaf stage to pre-boot stage. It is labeled for Foxtail (giant, green and yellow), volunteer and wild oats, annual ryegrass, barnyardgrass and canarygrass. Axial XL can be used for annual grass control (foxtails most importantly) in spring malt barley. For optimal control, it is recommended to apply when grasses have between 1 and 5 leaves on the main stem or prior to emergence of the 3rd tiller. THIS PRODUCT IS NOT LABELED FOR OATS!!!

We are still advising growers not to mix your herbicide and nitrogen applications and spray separately. The leaf burning can cost us up to 10 bushels and could get worse as temperature and humidity increase.

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February 28, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Discount Available on Biocontrol Nematodes to Protect Alfalfa, Corn Crops

Discount Available on Biocontrol Nematodes to Protect Alfalfa, Corn Crops

Northern New York farmers interested in protecting their alfalfa crops from the devastating alfalfa snout beetle can take advantage of discounts from the Cornell University laboratory raising the biocontrol nematodes that have been proven to reduce not only populations of snout beetle, but other crop pests as well.

Research funded long-term by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program developed the science needed to pioneer the use of native nematodes, tiny insect-attack worms, as a biocontrol to suppress the spread of the destructive insect.

Recent field trials funded by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program indicate that the biocontrol nematodes are also having an impact on corn rootworm after a field treated with the nematodes is rotated from alfalfa into corn. Research elsewhere in the state has shown the biocontrol nematodes can reduce white grub and wireworm populations.

It requires three to five years to totally inoculate a farm with nematodes to reduce the snout beetle populations to a manageable level.

Cornell entomologist Dr. Elson Shields and Research Support Specialist Antonio Testa who developed the protocol for the use and rearing of the biocontrol nematodes recommend application on alfalfa fields in their seeding year or first production year for best results. Based on recent research trials, application can also be made to cornfields.

The Shields Lab at Cornell University that has reared the biocontrol nematodes as part of its research mandate is offering a discount for orders placed for delivery by June 15 for application within the following 3 to 5 days. This advance order deadline is April 28 and an additional ten percent applies for payment in advance or on delivery.

After the April 28 deadline, a ten percent discount applies to any order paid upon delivery. Farmers must contact the lab at no later than 45 days prior to a planned application based on their 2018 alfalfa cutting schedule. Biocontrol nematode application must be made before September 15.

The cost is $28 per acre before discount.

The Shields Lab will only be providing the nematodes through 2021, opening an opportunity for business development to continue to supply the biocontrol nematodes to area farmers. While one nematode rearing business has been developed as a result of this research, others are needed. The Shields’ Lab will assist individuals seriously interested in rearing the biocontrol nematodes as a business.

Farmers who wish to rear their own biocontrol nematodes may also contact the Shields Lab for assistance.

For more information, contact Antonio Testa at 607-591-1493,, or call Cornell Cooperative Extension NNY Field Crops Specialists Mike Hunter, 315-788-8602, or Kitty O’Neil, 315 854 1218.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Learn more at

Alfalfa snout beetle is known to exist across the six northernmost counties of New York State, in Oswego, Cayuga, and Wayne counties in NY, and in southeastern Ontario, Canada. The beetle can destroy entire fields of alfalfa in one growing season. The use of the nematode biocontrol developed in Northern New York is now being trialed in several U.S. states.

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October 23, 2017
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Northern NY Research Tests Corn-Rye Double Cropping Yield, Conservation Opportunities

Northern NY Research Tests Corn-Rye Double Cropping Yield, Conservation Opportunities

Could this cornfield support a winter crop? Northern New York Agricultural Development Program-funded research is testing corn-rye combination yield, conservation opportunities.

Harvested cornfields may look barren, but in some a winter-hardy crop is already growing. The results of field trial research funded by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program evaluating the opportunity to grow winter rye planted in Northern NY cornfields are posted at

W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, Chazy, N.Y. Is leading the double cropping research. A second of trials assessed the yield and quality of the two crops grown on the same acreage and the opportunity for conservation benefits.

‘Our field work in both years suggests that the presence of the rye cover crop reduced losses of nitrogen and phosphorus in field surface runoff,’ said project leader and Miner Institute Agronomist Eric O. Young.

‘Double cropping with rye and corn silage may be a good fit for farms in Northern New York looking to increase hay forage production while reducing nutrient losses,’ Young added.

Overwintering forage crops such as winter rye, also known as cereal rye, germinate at cooler temperatures and are hardy against Northern New York cold and snow.

‘Establishing a winter forage crop such as rye or triticale after corn silage harvest can reduce soil erosion and improve soil health, and can potentially supply a hay forage crop for spring harvest, but attention to management and the right growing conditions are needed,’ said Young.

The research team has developed insight into practices that could improve the opportunity for yield from both the corn silage crop and the winter rye crop.

The 2016 trials showed that planting corn for silage following a winter rye crop can decrease the corn yield significantly. The corn silage yields were approximately four tons per acre lower in the winter rye plots that year,’ Young said.

He suspects that rye actively growing when the corn was planted in the 2016 trial and no-till planting to establish the corn crop likely exacerbated a yield penalty associated with the rye.

In the 2017 trials, rye and control plots were disked prior to planting corn and there was no significant difference in corn yield.

Young suggests that the rye should be terminated two weeks prior to planting corn in combination with some level of tillage to increase the rye biomass decomposition and allow for easier planting and more consistent planting depth for the corn.

This project is taking advantage of small field plots equipped with tile and surface monitoring capability funded earlier by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program. Those plots were used to evaluate the impact of tile drains on phosphorus loss and will assist the double cropping project by indicating how the winter rye impacts the loss of nitrogen and phosphorus in field runoff.

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program provides research and technical assistance to farmers in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

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October 9, 2017
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on NNY Corn Yield Potential Research Update: Strengthening Future Crop Production

NNY Corn Yield Potential Research Update: Strengthening Future Crop Production

Photo: Cornell University, Quirine Ketterings

Data from the 2017 fall corn harvest in Northern New York will help Cornell University researchers re-evaluate a corn yield potential database used by farmers and crop advisers to determine the nitrogen needed via fertilizer or manure application to achieve an optimal corn crop under most conditions in the region. A report on this research in 2013 through 2016 is posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at

The Re-Evaluating Yield Potentials of Corn Grain and Silage in Northern New York project is funded by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program to learn how advances in corn breeding and production practices are impacting crop yields and if the associated nitrogen application guidelines need updating.

‘The farmers and farm advisers in Northern New York were frontrunners in the database re-evaluation that started in 2013,’ said research leader Dr. Quirine M. Ketterings of the Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program, Ithaca, N.Y. ‘With more yield monitors in use, we now have a great opportunity to more quickly and more widely obtain real-field data.’

While early on-farm trials showed substantial agreement between yield potentials and actual yields when averaged across fields, there were notable exceptions between actual harvest and yield potential expectations in some fields.

‘Over the three-year study, one-third of fields tested yielded less than 90 percent of the yield potential, while 26 percent of the fields evaluated yielded more than 110 percent of the Cornell yield potential,’ Ketterings noted.

Increasing reliability of yield monitor equipment and data, greater yield monitor use, and development by the Cornell team of a more reliable approach for handling yield data sets in recent months allows for much quicker evaluations of yield across a larger number of soil types.

Yield map data from the corn harvesting in Northern New York will also be added to the statewide yield potential database and used to refine nitrogen application recommendations for future corn planting.

Jefferson and Lewis County farmers who wish to contribute to the corn yield database project may contact Cornell Cooperative Extension NNY Regional Field Crops Specialist Mike Hunter at 315-788-8540; farmers in Clinton, Essex, Franklin and St. Lawrence counties may contact Cornell Cooperative Extension NNY Regional Field Crops and Soils Specialist Kitty O’Neil at 315-854-1218. Mike Contessa of Champlain Valley Agronomics is also a key collaborator to the project.

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program provides research and technical assistance to farmers in the six northernmost counties of New York State. Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

The statewide corn silage and grain yields from 1919 through 2015 show that yields have steadily increased since the second World War in New York State and in Northern New York. The data show, however, large year-to-year variation and very limited advances over the past 10 years.

Each of the more than 600 soil types found in New York State has an estimated yield potential in the Cornell University soil database.

Weather-related conditions from drought to excessive rainfall impact year-to-year differences in crop yield, thus, multiple years of data need to be collected for each soil type of agricultural importance.

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