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The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Well, it is hard to believe that July is over and in a little over a month, we will be moving back to school. This growing season has been a tough one for all growers thus far, but it appears as if the weather may be straightening out. Some early corn crops are beginning to tassel, which brings some relief to farmers who may have just put their planter away a few weeks ago. In the corn fields, things are beginning to dry out in some of the lighter soils, and some of the heavier clays remain moist and often lacking a healthy corn crop.

Corn in Wet Clay Soil

I have come across a few breakouts of army worm in fields that were no till planted later in the season into either rye cover crops or old stands of alfalfa. In the coming weeks, I will begin focusing my corn scouting towards different fungi that develop, particularly in a wet year like this one has been.

Many dairies who, perhaps, were unable to plant the acres of corn they intended are relying heavily on several high quality cuttings of alfalfa and forage grass to fill the void and the empty feed bunk that may be looming in the coming winter months. With high tonnage being harvested in many eastern NY dairies’ first cuttings, many second cuttings were hindered as a result of the potato leaf hopper.

Potato Leaf Hopper

These small yellow/green pests got their name from their original eating preference, the potato plant. With less potatoes being grown in New York State now than in the past, the leaf hopper has found a succulent new host in alfalfa leaves. The leaf hoppers will feed on the alfalfa, turning the leaves a yellow and purple color. The threshold for leaf hopper in new seedings is less than the threshold for established stands, though I have found it in almost every field I have swept. Caro-Vail has treated thousands of acres of alfalfa so far this summer in an effort to combat these insects, and save the alfalfa for the growers.

In the coming weeks, I plan on continuing with my scouting schedule and looking at crops from the sky, via a new drone. More to come!

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