CANTON, N.Y. — Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program (SWNYDLFC) is committed to providing farms with timely, research-based information to promote their success.
This past growing season has been abnormal, to say the least. The slow temperature warm up and wet spring made fields difficult to prepare and plant early in the season. A dry spell followed, which much of the region continues to experience. These conditions decreased the volume of hay that farms were able to harvest throughout this summer. Hay is an essential food source for animals on a farm throughout the year. Pastures offer an additional feed source for livestock during the spring and summer. Although, pastures haven’t fared much better in terms of production. Most of the grasses, clovers, and other plants that grow in SWNY pastures are best suited for cooler weather with a good amount of rain. The summer temperatures have been tolerable, but the rain required for optimal pasture growth just hasn’t come.
When evaluating the amount of feed harvested and stored for use in the winter, some farms are coming up short of what they need. Fortunately, there is enough remaining growing season left to gain some additional feed by planting cool-season annual forages. Cool-season annuals are fast-growing cereal grasses such as oats, barley, wheat, triticale, or rye; broadleaves like turnips, kale, radish, or flax; and legumes such as field peas, lentils, sweetclover, or hairy vetch. These annuals take 60-75 days to mature compared to a typical pasture or hayfield, which takes a whole year to grow to its full potential. If planted no later than the end of August, farmers should be able to graze or cut the annual forage from the end of October onward.
Keep in mind, some of these annuals are more frost-sensitive than others. For instance, turnips, kale, and radishes can take a frost and bounce back during warm days as we get later into the fall. Farmers can even graze cattle, sheep, and goats on fields of these frost-sensitive crops in up to 12 inches of light, fluffy snow! Field peas and vetch are very sensitive to frost, and should be utilized earlier. Cereal grasses fall in-between where they can handle a light frost but are sensitive to freezing temperatures.
There are many types of plants for farms to choose from to meet the needs of their livestock. Before making the decision to plant, there are some considerations to keep in mind. First, is there a field available to plant that remains dry into the fall? Dry fields make it easier to get tractors on to harvest the hay and will keep hooved livestock, like cattle and sheep, from sinking into the ground as they graze. Second, cool-season annual seeds need to contact moist soil to grow. If a farm is in an area that’s been on the dry side, they may want to consider planting cereal grasses, radishes, turnips, peas, or other larger-seeded crops.
There is still time to plant a cool season forage crop to increase feed availability before the cold, long winter ahead. For more planting and management considerations, contact Amy Barkley, Livestock and Beginning Farm Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org or (716) 640-0844.
Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program specialists are here to help provide research-based resources and support during this challenging time. Their team of four specialists include Katelyn Walley-Stoll, Farm Business Management (716-640-0522 or email@example.com); Joshua Putman, Field Crops (716-490-5572 or firstname.lastname@example.org); Alycia Drwencke, Dairy Management (517-416-0386 or email@example.com); and Amy Barkley, Livestock Management (716-640-0844 or firstname.lastname@example.org). While specialists are working remotely at this time, they are still offering consultations via phone, text, email, videoconferencing, and mail. They are also providing weekly updates with timely resources and connections via email and hardcopy and virtual programming.
The Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program is the newest Cornell Cooperative Extension regional program and covers Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, and Steuben Counties. The Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops regional specialists work with Cornell faculty and Extension educators to address the issues that influence the agricultural industry in New York by offering educational programming and research based information to agricultural producers, growers, and agribusinesses in the Southwestern New York Region. Cornell Cooperative Extension is an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities and provides equal program and employment opportunities. For more information about this program, or to be added to their contact list, contact Katelyn Walley-Stoll, Team Leader, at 716-640-0522, email@example.com, or visit their website swnydlfc.cornell.edu.
–SWNY Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program
Cornell University Cooperative Extension
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