NNYADP: Nitrogen Efficiency Research Keys on Farm Site Differences

Man walking behind harvester in corn field
High-quality, high-yield corn production is the goal of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program-funded precision nitrogen use research by Cornell University researchers, seen here sampling in a NNY cornfield. Photo: Joe Lawrence

Cornell University researchers with a grant from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) say individual farm growing conditions and field management may play a larger role than previously credited in maximizing corn production. The research team’s latest variety trials and nitrogen uptake efficiency report is posted on the NNYADP website at www.nnyagdev.org under the About: Projects: 2019 tab.

“Our initial assessments show site-to-site differences are much greater than genetic differences between corn hybrid selections within a site,” said Joseph Lawrence, a dairy forage systems specialist with the Cornell University PRO-DAIRY program.

Lawrence leads the NNYADP-funded research conducted in collaboration with the Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program (NMSP). The project is evaluating the use of nitrogen balance and efficiency indicators to enhance precision nitrogen management across sites and corn hybrids. This has the potential to simultaneously advance agricultural environmental stewardship and reduce the production cost of this key dairy crop.

Data from corn silage variety field trials at a northern New York dairy farm in St. Lawrence County and the Willsboro Research Farm in Essex County from 2016 through 2019 were analyzed to evaluate the impact of yield, crop quality, soil health, soil types (5), and weather factors on nitrogen balances, with a specific focus on how much nitrogen is needed for optimal production.

The project established six nitrogen (N) balance indicators, including a basic field N balance that reflects the difference between N applied with fertilizer and manure and N removed with corn silage harvest. Five additional measures of N use efficiency are also under evaluation.

“Understanding the variability in nitrogen use efficiency, field nitrogen balances, and yield grown under the same management conditions and on the same soil type is important to helping growers achieve efficiency in both crop production and resource stewardship,” Lawrence explained.

The multi-variety, multi-year, multi-site data suggest that the highest yielding crops tend to have the highest N use efficiency as well.

“We want to know if the corn yields were a result of correctly, under- or over-fertilizing the field sites. The goal is to reach optimal resource-use, production, and stewardship efficiency with nitrogen application farm-by-farm, field-by-field to produce the highest quality, highest yield crop,” Lawrence said.

With the 2019 field trials on the northern NY farms, the researchers have begun evaluating crop yield in relation to corn stalk nitrate test (CSNT) levels.

“The preliminary results of our corn stalk nitrate testing showed variability in CSNT across corn silage hybrids with a slight hint of a trend toward lower CSNT levels for higher-yielding hybrids. We are looking into the use of a yield-to-CSNT ratio to further explain if nitrogen management was on target. We will add more data this year to draw more substantive conclusions,” said Quirine M. Ketterings, Ph.D., director, Cornell NMSP, Ithaca, N.Y.

The data from this NNYADP project add to a statewide initiative to develop a corn silage yield potential database.

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

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NNYADP Research: First-Ever Evaluation of European Meadow Fescue Varieties

Man in alfalfa field
NNYADP alfalfa-grass trials on regional dairy farms, include European meadow fescue varieties never before tested in North America. Photo: Jerry H. Cherney

Alfalfa-grass quality trials in northern New York State are evaluating European meadow fescue varieties never before tested in North America and the first modern variety of meadow fescue developed in the U.S. from plants isolated in southwestern Wisconsin. These trials support New York’s dairy industry by examining a forage crop grown to feed milking dairy cows.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) is funding the research that is being conducted by the Cornell University research team of Debbie J.R. Cherney, Ph.D., and Jerry H. Cherney, Ph.D. The latest results report of trials on farms in NNY is posted under the Research: Field Crops: Grasses tab at www.nnyagdev.org.

The NNYADP trials are evaluating the opportunity to add European varieties of meadow fescue, a winter-tolerant perennial grass, to alfalfa plantings. The goal is to successfully grow meadow fescue as 20-30 percent of a mix with alfalfa under northern New York conditions. The spring harvest may account for up to half of the total forage yield of a crop grown to feed milking dairy cows.

“These regional trials are providing insight into alfalfa-grass combinations that can increase forage fiber digestibility enough to significantly increase milk income using balanced rations,” Debbie J.R. Cherney said.

“Many of the European meadow fescue varieties we are evaluating were developed in harsher environments than those in northern New York, so they should overwinter successfully here, but we need to evaluate the opportunity for yield and quality and their competitiveness with alfalfa,” Jerry Cherney explained.

The U.S.-bred meadow fescue in the NNYADP trial showed the highest neutral detergent fiber digestibility of the 19 varieties trialed in 2019. The seed supply of the variety known as Hidden Valley for the farm from which the variety has originated sold out almost immediately after it became available. The NNYADP trial data indicated that the Hidden Valley meadow fescue grew at the desired grass percentage in tandem with alfalfa.

Six farms in northern New York are participating in these forage research trials. In 2019, one farm harvested the trial plots twice, another farm harvested three times, and another participant harvested four times. A fourth farm successfully established a new seeding in 2019. Two additional farms joined the project in 2020, seeding trials with three new meadow fescue varieties released by a German seed company.

Harvested samples are assayed for alfalfa-grass percentage and alfalfa and grass quality in terms of crude protein, lignin, and fiber; dry matter yield; and evaluated for the influence of soil type, drainage, fertilization, seeding rate, and harvesting schedule on crop quality.

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

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Hemp Added to NNY Field Crops Health Survey; NNYADP Posts Results

Growers at a field crops meeting on a past August day in Northern New York. Photo: NNYADP

Industrial hemp and alfalfa have been added to the annual crop health survey funded by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP). Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) field crops specialists scouted fields on 30 regional farms in 2019 for early detection of disease in corn, soybean, alfalfa, and hemp crops. The results of crop surveys from 2013 through 2019 are posted on the NNYADP website at www.nnyagdev.org.

“This regional survey is a proactive and systematic way to alert growers to respond quickly to limit emerging and re-emerging plant diseases, to document trends, and to develop strategies to maintain crop health, sustainability, and the profit margin that is so narrow for growers,” says project leader and CCE Regional Field Crops Specialist Michael E. Hunter.

This NNYADP field crops survey, restarted in 2013, has traditionally focused on corn and soybean as foundational crops, grown as both livestock feed and cash crops, for the regional farming industry. Hunter says, “Alfalfa has been added to the survey as another essential dairy industry crop, and, with grower interest increasing in industrial hemp, we began scouting those plantings in 2019.”

Hunter and CCE Regional Field Crops and Soils Specialist Kitty O’Neil scout fields and send samples of plant tissue for diagnosis at the Bergstrom Pathology Lab at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

In 2019, the NNYADP crop health survey identified 13 crop diseases: 2 in corn, 7 in soybean, 2 in alfalfa, and 2 in industrial hemp.

Northern stem canker was identified in soybean but was not problematic in NNY in 2019. Hunter notes, “While there have been significant yield losses reported to this disease in Midwestern states, to date, no yield loss has yet been documented in New York State crops to northern stem canker.”|

Warm, wet weather conditions during podfill in 2019 fostered development of Cercospora leaf blight,  non-yield limiting disease in soybean. Levels did not result in any rejection of loads shipped to market. Other soybean diseases identified in NNY in 2019 were downy mildew, white mold, frogeye leaf spot, anthracnose, and Septoria brown spot.

The cool, wet spring of 2019 favored growth of Leptosphaerulina leaf spot and Stemphylium leaf spot in alfalfa crops; however, incidences were not severe nor widespread, and neither disease negatively impacted forage quality or overall crop yield.

White mold and Botrytis gray mold, common molds that can cause serious damage in industrial hemp grown in the field and in greenhouses, were seen in plantings of industrial hemp, an emerging crop in Northern New York.

FIrst-time confirmations of emerging diseases are added to state and national crop pathogen databases with field samples archived in the Cornell University Field Crop Pathogen Culture Collection. DNA sequences of any confirmed new pathogens are submitted to the National Institutes of Health Gen Bank genetic sequence database.

“This yearly scouting and diagnosis survey project adds data, distribution mapping, and trending to help growers adapt their strategies for maintaining crop health, preventing disease, and efficiently and cost-effectively treating issues locally, regionally, and statewide,” Hunter adds.

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

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NNYADP/Cornell Biocontrol Nematode Success Featured in Texas A&M Video

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension has posted a video highlighting how the science of biocontrol nematode use developed in Northern New York is now helping corn growers in Texas and New Mexico. The video is posted at https://www.nnyagdev.org/index.php/nny-farm-videos.

farm equipment in field
Biocontrol nematodes are applied at sunset on a cornfield in Dalhart, Texas. Photo: Elson Shields

The 20-minute video includes Elson Shields, Ph.D., the Cornell University entomologist who applied long-term support from the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program to pioneer the science for using a combination of naturally-occurring NY-adapted nematodes as a biocontrol for crop pest management.

The video begins by acknowledging that biocontrol nematodes have been successfully applied to protect more than 25,000 crop acres in New York. That application has been made to manage alfalfa snout beetle, the first crop pest impacted by the biocontrol nematode protocol developed, refined, and proven by Shields and Cornell research technician Antonio Testa. Their subsequent success at similarly reducing corn rootworm populations in NY field trials caught the attention of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension entomologists Patrick Porter, Ph.D., and Ed Bynum, Ph.D.

With Shields’ help, biocontrol nematodes were applied to corn fields on Gary Frost’s farm in Dalhart, TX, in 2017-2019 with excellent establishment and significantly improved corn plant root protection.

The Texas A&M “Results of Entomopathogenic Nematode Studies for Control of Corn Rootworm 2017-2019” video, produced by Porter, Bynum, and Katelyn Kesheimer of Auburn University, Alabama, can be viewed at https://www.nnyagdev.org/index.php/nny-farm-videos.

Based on the success in Texas, private consultants in New Mexico requested a trial there. In May and June 2019, biocontrol nematodes were applied to 900 long-term corn acres impacted by major corn rootworm problems on a dairy farm near Roswell, NM. That trial also tested the effectiveness of using a center pivot system for applying the biocontrol nematodes. Six hundred core samples taken in November 2019 showed excellent biocontrol nematode establishment.

Meanwhile, back in New York State in 2018-2019, Cornell Cooperative Extension Field Crops Specialist Michael E. Hunter worked with Shields to evaluate application of the U/V-sensitive biocontrol nematodes via liquid manure. The success of that research is reported on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at https://www.nnyagdev.org/index.php/2019-nnyadp-projects/.

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

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NNYADP Announces New Way to Apply Biocontrol Nematodes

man standing on manure truck
CCE Field Crops Specialist Michael Hunter loads biocontrol nematodes into liquid manure application field trial. Photo: CCE Jefferson County

Farmers now have a new way to apply biocontrol nematodes to protect crops critical to dairy and livestock agriculture, thanks to research funded by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program.

“Dairy farmers and crop growers have been interested in biocontrol nematodes since we proved their effectiveness at reducing populations of the alfalfa snout beetle, the most destructive pest of alfalfa, and now see potential to do likewise with corn rootworm, a significant threat to field corn production,” said Elson Shields, Ph.D., Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Shields pioneered the use of a combination of two native NY-adapted nematodes for pest management in field crops, berries, and other crops. The application of biocontrol nematodes is now being tested in multiple crops across the U.S.

In 2018 and 2019, Cornell Cooperative Extension Field Crops Specialist Michael E. Hunter developed a project to test application of the biocontrol nematodes via liquid manure. The current protocol applied the biocontrol nematodes in a water solution in the evening hours due to the nematodes’ sensitivity to U/V rays.

Hunter conducted field trials on 12 farms in Northern New York over the two-year project. He explained the hypothesis behind his trials.

“If biocontrol nematodes could be successfully established through liquid manure application that would accomplish significant benefits: combining two field operations into one to save time and labor, protecting the nematodes from damaging U/V light so application can be made at any time of day versus only evening hours, protecting crops using a biological means, and providing farmers with an additional method for application to encourage use of this biocontrol,” Hunter explained.

Soil sampling in 2018 confirmed establishment of the bicontrol nematodes applied in liquid manure in all trial fields on the six participating farms. In 2019, Hunter achieved successful establishment at a lower rate of nematodes per acre.

“The 2019 field data shows the lower rate of application is just as effective for establishing the biocontrol nematodes and lowers the cost to encourage farmers to adopt the use of this biocontrol,” Hunter said.

The complete “Evaluation of Alternative Application Methods of Biocontrol Nematodes in Alfalfa and Corn” report is posted at www.nnyagdev.org.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Legislature and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. For more information, see www.nnyagdev.org.

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Tall Waterhemp and Herbicide Resistant Marestail found in Northern NY

Mike Hunter, North Country Regional Ag Team, Cornell University Cooperative Extension

We knew that it was only going to be a matter of time before we found herbicide resistant tall waterhemp and marestail in NNY.  In July, we confirmed two fields on two different Jefferson County farms that have herbicide resistant marestail and three fields on one farm that has tall waterhemp seedlings.

Tall waterhempUpon further investigation and doing some additional field testing we have strong evidence to believe that the two marestail populations are resistant to both Group 9 (glyphosate, i.e. Roundup) and Group 2 (ALS herbicides, i.e. Classic, FirstRate) herbicide Sites of Action.  This finding is not surprising due to the fact that the seeds of marestail are windblown and can be easily moved 50 to 100 miles.

The tall waterhemp (see photo) was found in three adjacent fields on a farm in Jefferson County.  Prior to this finding there were nine counties in NYS with confirmed populations of herbicide resistant tall waterhemp. While we cannot be sure that the tall waterhemp found in Jefferson County is resistant to any particular herbicide.  We can certainly assume that it will be resistant to Group 9 herbicides based on the fact that all current populations of tall waterhemp in NY is known to be resistant to this herbicide family.  We are currently working closely with this grower and will be doing additional testing to confirm its resistance to different herbicide families.

For additional information about marestail and tall waterhemp, I would encourage you to read an article on pages four and five of the CCE NCRAT North Country Ag Advisor May 2019 newsletter https://nydairyadmin.cce.cornell.edu/pdf/newsletter/pdf216_pdf.pdf

If you suspect you have one of these weeds on your farm or have a weed that is surviving applications of glyphosate please contact your local CCE Field Crop Specialist if you’re outside NNY or one of the CCE North Country Regional Field Crop Specialists Mike Hunter (315)788-8450 or Kitty O’Neil (315)854-1218.  Don’t be afraid to bring this to our attention because we will keep farm name and field locations confidential.

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Immature and Variable Maturity Corn Silage for 2019

Kitty O’Neil, Ph.D, Field Crops & Soils Specialist and Team Leader – North Country Regional Ag Team, Cornell University Cooperative Extension

This has been a challenging year to grow corn in the North Country.  Extremely wet weather delayed or prevented field fitting and corn planting, and saturated soil conditions limited plant development in June and early July.  Despite this poor start, some corn fields look remarkably good, almost normal.  But most fields are weeks behind and may be sporting some version of the ‘rollercoaster’ look – with bare spots, replanted areas and plants of variable height and maturity.  Some fields, or parts of fields, will probably not reach full maturity while the best parts may.  Some corn plants will have normal ears; some plants may have unusually small ears or poor grain fill, or even no ears at all, at harvest time. Dr. Bill Cox at Cornell determined that corn requires 750 to 800 GDD86/50 from silking, to reach 32% moisture, nearly harvesting stage.  This variable maturity will present some problems when chopping silage in a few weeks.  Dr. Larry Chase from Cornell University has outlined some key points to keep in mind during corn silage harvest in this sort of year.  He makes 4 main points.

Late planted and thin corn field in St. Lawrence County, July 1, 2019.
Late planted and thin corn field in St. Lawrence County, July 1, 2019. Photo by K. O’Neil.

Yield will be highly variable and difficult to estimate. Dr. Greg Roth at Penn State suggests that silage yield for corn without ears or with poorly pollinated ears may be 1 ton of wet silage yield (30% DM) per foot of plant height. An older study at Cornell by Dr. Bill Cox indicates that silage yields at the dough stage are 65 to 70% of yields at the milk line stage.  In the same study, yields at the silk stage were 40 to 45% of those obtained at the milk line stage.

Some growers like to estimate yield and quality of standing corn so that it may be sold for silage before harvest.  Estimating yield of highly variable fields is risky.  It’s possible to weigh DM from sampled row lengths and calculate yield of the whole field, but the number of samples required for an accurate estimate in these variable fields is prohibitively high.  Instead, as fields are chopped, silage wagons or trucks should be counted and a representative sample of them should be weighed to calculate a more accurate yield and price.

Harvest management requires some additional planning and checking.  When the most mature plants in a corn field are at the proper dry matter (DM) content for harvest (32-24% DM), the less mature plants will be much wetter (less than 30%).  For fields with variable maturity, wait until the average whole plant DM for the field is 32-34% DM.  Harvesting wetter forage will increase runoff losses from the silage and make it difficult to get a good fermentation.  If possible, store immature corn silage separately from proper maturity silage.

Check chopper settings and particle size of the material coming out of the chopper. If using the Penn State box, target 10-20% on the top screen and < 40% in the pan. This may require increasing length of cut.  Since ear and kernel development on under-developed corn is poor, kernel processing may not be needed.  Follow normal silage management practices of filling fast, packing and covering the top with plastic or with oxygen limiting barriers.  Immature corn silage is generally high in readily available carbohydrates to support good fermentation, however, it may be low in the natural bacterial population entering the silo on the corn plant. The addition of a lactic acid-based inoculant may be beneficial to stimulate fermentation in this case.  Lastly, give the silo 3-4 months of fermentation before feeding out.

Estimating value for corn silage when it is so variable – is tough.  The sale price of variable maturity or immature corn silage will depend on yield, dry matter content and nutrient composition. Dr. Bill Weiss at Ohio State indicates that immature corn silage is worth about 85% of the economic value of normal corn silage – if it is the same dry matter content.  Dr. Larry Chase provides examples of price calculations that consider the Ohio State conversion and variable DM content.

If the value of “normal’ corn silage = $70/ton (assuming 35% DM), then the value of immature corn silage = $70 * 0.85 = $59.50 (still assumes 35% DM). If the actual dry matter of the immature corn silage is only 27%, then the adjusted price = 27/35 *$59.50 = $45.90/ton.  To ballpark the value of the standing crop, use 70% of the adjusted price. This would be $41.65 for this example of immature corn silage at 27% DM standing in the field.

Penn State researchers have developed a more detailed spreadsheet for pricing standing corn for corn silage based on the value of grain corn.

When using any of these methods for valuing corn for corn silage in 2019, consider that estimating yield of the standing crop may be the most uncertain component in your calculations.  Therefore it may be best to count and weigh trucks or wagons rather than estimate yield.

Nutritional value of this immature and variable crop will present another challenge. In addition to variable moisture content, nutrient composition of the corn silage will also vary with maturity, so periodically collect samples of the chopped forage during harvest to provide information on the nutrient content of the silage for use in ration balancing.  Less mature corn is likely to be higher in crude protein, higher in fiber, higher in sugar and lower in starch than normal corn silage.  Because the fiber in immature corn is more digestible, the energy value of immature silage may be 85-95% of normal, despite the significantly lower starch content.  A wet chemistry analysis may be more accurate than NIR analysis since NIR calibrations for normal corn silage may not accurately predict immature silage composition.

Work with your nutritionist to determine the best use for your variable maturity or immature corn silage.  You may decide to feed immature corn silage only to specific groups of cows or young stock depending on its nutrient composition. Immature corn silage can have higher acetic acid content after fermentation which can decrease dry matter intake if not neutralized. The addition of sodium bicarbonate added to the ration at 0.75% of total ration dry matter may help.

Additional resources:

    1. Working with Immature Corn Silage. August 2013. L. E. Chase, Cornell University.  http://www.ccenny.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Considerations-for-Working-with-Immature-Corn-Silage-2013.pdf.
    2. Pricing Standing Corn Spreadsheet. Beck et al.  Penn State Cooperative Extension.  http://www.ccenny.com/index.php/2013/08/22/pricing-standing-corn-for-silage-spreadsheet/

For more information about field crop and soil management, contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office or your CCE Regional Field Crops and Soils Specialists, Mike Hunter and Kitty O’Neil.

Kitty O’Neil Mike Hunter
CCE Canton Office CCE Watertown
(315) 854-1218 (315) 788-8450
kitty.oneil@cornell.edu meh27@cornell.edu

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Zinc Deficiency in Corn

Kitty O’Neil, Field Crops & Soils Specialist and Team Leader – North Country Regional Ag Team, Cornell University Cooperative Extension

Corn can exhibit interveinal chlorosis (striped leaves) as a result of several factors – nutrient deficiencies or other causes.  Many times, these stripes appear during a cold, wet spring and later disappear.

Nutrient deficiencies that can cause striped leaves include sulfur, manganese, magnesium and zinc.

  • Sulfur deficiency can occur on low organic matter, coarse soils receiving little or no manure or other organic inputs.
  • Manganese deficiency can occur when soils are dry for extended periods or in high pH soils.
  • Magnesium deficiency can occur in low pH, coarse soils or when soil K is especially high.
  • Zinc deficiency can occur in high pH, coarse, low OM soils – especially in a cold, wet spring.
  • Lastly, herbicide or nematode damage can cause striped leaves sometimes too.

On a typical NYS dairy farm where fields are have a reasonable pH and plenty of manure applied, early season striping in corn is usually caused by Zn deficiency caused by the cool, wet spring.  Striping often goes away as the season warms up and plants grow.  Tissue testing can help to diagnose a nutrient deficiency if the symptoms persist or are severe.

For a deeper dive into zinc deficiency, see the Nutrient Management Spear Program’s Fact Sheet #32.

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NNYADP-Funded Field Crop Survey Provides Real-Time Alert, Data Trend Tracking

 Growers hear from Cornell faculty and Extension educators at this NNY corn and soybean field day in Henderson, N.Y.
Growers hear from Cornell faculty and Extension educators at this NNY corn and soybean field day in Henderson, N.Y. Photo: NNYADP

To help Northern New York farmers be alert to newly emerging field crop diseases and trends, the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program funds an annual field crop diagnosis and assessment project. The data produced by the survey is critical to farmers locally and statewide.

The annual evaluations, revived in 2013, provide farmers with real-time alerts in the current growing season, and add to multi-year data tracking that identifies trends and indicates emerging and re-emerging challenges.

“Northern New York farmers are increasingly faced with important management decisions that require real-time knowledge of plant diseases. The regional survey provides data to help them select crop varieties with disease-resistance and plan management practices to most cost-effectively and efficiently respond to the current-day threats and year-to-year variability,” says project leader Michael E. Hunter, a Cornell University Cooperative Extension Regional Field Crops Specialist.

Hunter and Cornell University Cooperative Extension Regional Field Crops and Soils Specialist Kitty O’Neil collaborate with Cornell University Plant Pathologist Gary Bergstrom, Ph.D. to respectively detect potential issues and collect crop samples in the fields, and analyze them at the Bergstrom Lab at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Thirty-two farms located across the six-county Northern New York region that includes Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties participated in the most recently-completed survey.

The NNYADP-funded survey also includes 19 sentinel cornfields and 18 sentinel fields of soybean, chosen to maximize the diversity of environments and cropping practices that can impact disease potential. In 2018, across the NNY survey area, seven corn diseases and six soybean diseases in total were identified and diagnosed.

“We are seeing an increasing number of growers using an integrated approach to managing field crop diseases on their farms. There are growers that are now paying closer attention to disease-resistant crop varieties, crop rotations, tillage practices, soil fertility management and fungicide selection based on the crop diseases identified in this regional survey,” Hunter notes.

The results of the 2019 field crops disease diagnosis and assessment survey will be posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org and disseminated to growers, crop consultants, agribusiness and extension field crops educators at crop meetings and field days locally and statewide.

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

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NNY Research Helps Farmers Select Corn for Local Conditions

People checking corn crop
Checking a past corn crop at Reedhaven Farm in Northern New York. Photo: NNYADP

The latest data from field research trials evaluating the opportunity to grow high-quality, high-yield corn under localized growing conditions are posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org.

About 65 percent of the approximately 144,000 acres of corn grown each year across the six northernmost counties of New York State is harvested as silage with 35 percent harvested as grain, largely to feed the dairy industry. Ethanol production also contributes to the demand for the regionally-grown corn.

“The importance of corn silage as a high yielding, high quality feed for dairy cattle continues to increase as farmers look to optimize feed value from their available acreage,” said project co-leader Thomas R. Overton, a professor of Animal Science  and director of the Cornell University CALS PRO-DAIRY Program, Ithaca, N.Y.

The 2018 trials’ data analysis includes standard measures of performance, including yield, moisture level, and standability as well as innovative techniques for forage quality evaluation for digestibility and milk production. The forage quality data for the 2018 report were collected and analyzed by the field and laboratory research team that included Cornell University faculty, field technicians, and Extension staff working in cooperation with three farm sites in Northern New York.

“As the seed industry introduces new corn hybrids to the market, field evaluation under regional growing conditions is critical to assist growers in selecting the hybrids best-suited to their farm,” noted project co-leader Joseph Lawrence, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY Extension Associate, Lowville, N.Y.

The researchers emphasize the need for growers to make hybrid selections based on how the hybrids have performed over multiple years, multiple locations and soils, and under varying weather conditions, and based on the mix of corn traits that best fit their individual farm business needs.

“Corn grain is a valuable commodity in its own right and a major contributor to any hybrid’s silage quality and yield. Grain evaluation trials are typically the first step in determining a hybrid’s value to a regional market,” said project co-leader Margaret E. Smith, professor of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Corn hybrid testing results for 2018 and recent past years are posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org. Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Legislature and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.  Participating seed companies submitted hybrids for evaluation, helping to defray a portion of the cost of the hybrid evaluations.

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