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Agronomic Crops Network

Ohio State University Extension


C.O.R.N. Newsletter: 2015-28

  1. Last Alfalfa Cutting and The Fall Rest Period

    Author(s): Mark Sulc

    The next two weeks are the best time to take the last alfalfa cutting of the year while maintaining stand productivity. We recommend the last harvest to be taken by September 7 in northern Ohio and September 15 in southern Ohio. This will allow a fall rest period for alfalfa, which is probably more important than usual this year due to the stressful growing conditions we’ve had.

    Cutting schedules of alfalfa have been greatly disrupted in Ohio this year to the extended wet weather the first half of the summer followed by dry conditions in many areas. Consequently, many fields are too short for economic harvesting within the next two weeks. This is a tough situation to be sure, because cutting later (September 15 to October 30) will add significant additional stress to fields that are already in poor condition from the earlier wet weather.

    The fall period is when alfalfa and other tall legumes like red clover undergo many physiological responses to the cooling temperatures that prepare the plants to survive the winter. Carbohydrate and protein reserves are accumulated in the crowns and roots during the fall. Cold-hardening processes also occur that increase plant resistant to cold temperatures. Interrupting those processes by cutting could result in the plants having inadequate cold hardiness along with lower energy and protein reserves for good survival through the winter and for initiating vigorous regrowth next spring.

    Fall cutting is a stress to the plant, and its effects will be more severe in fields that are currently not in a vigorous condition. A number of factors affect the level of risk incurred with cutting during the critical fall period. These include overall stand health, variety disease resistance, insect pest stress during the summer, age of stand, cutting management, fertility, and soil drainage. 

    A vigorous, healthy stand is more tolerant of fall cutting than a stressed and weakened stand. The most significant factor this year affecting alfalfa was excessive soil moisture. Alfalfa fields that were stressed by wet soil conditions, along with leafhopper feeding, are in a compromised condition. The fall rest period will be very important to their recovery and future productivity.

    Alfalfa varieties with high disease resistance and good levels of winter hardiness will be more tolerant to the negative effects of a fall cutting because there is less total stress on the plant. Adequate fertility, especially soil potassium levels, will improve plant health and may increase tolerance to fall cutting effects. A high soil pH of 6.8 to 7.0 will also reduce the risk of fall cutting. Stands under 3 years of age are more tolerant of fall cuttings as compared with older stands where root and crown diseases are setting in. 

    Alfalfa that has been cut three or more times before a fall harvest has a higher risk factor for injury from fall harvesting than does a stand cut only twice so far this year. In other words, the cutting frequency during the growing season can affect the energy status of the plant going into the fall. Frequent cutting (30 day intervals or less) results in the plant never reaching full energy reserve status during the growing season. This makes the critical fall rest period more necessary for plants to accumulate adequate reserves before winter.

    A final factor is soil drainage. Alfalfa stands on well-drained soils tolerate later fall cuttings better than alfalfa on moderately or poorly drained soils.  Low plant cover going into the winter from late cutting increases the risk of winter heaving on many Ohio soils. We observed significant heaving the past two winters in NE Ohio, and many of those stands had been harvested the previous fall.

    Cutting alfalfa during the critical fall period is tempting due to the need for high quality forage and the disrupted cutting schedules we experienced this year. But before deciding to cut alfalfa after September 15, carefully consider the condition of the stand and the risk factors discussed above. If the stand suffered excessive soil wetness this year and is lacking vigor, consider the risk from fall cutting to be greater this year than is usual. Do you need the forage this fall more than the need to maintain the vigor of the stand for next year? Can you risk losing productivity of the stand come next spring? If you chose to accept the risk of mid-fall cutting, then leave some uncut strips in different areas of the field so you can compare the regrowth next spring in cut and uncut areas. That will provide a comparison that will inform your future fall cutting decisions.

  2. Free Pigweed Herbicide Resistance Screening

    Author(s): Mark Loux

    OSU weed scientists will again screen populations of any pigweed species this coming winter for their herbicide resistance characteristics, at no charge.  This includes populations of redroot pigweed, waterhemp, and Palmer amaranth, among others.  Samples should generally be collected from fields where resistance to one or more types of herbicide is suspected.  The sample submission form with directions for collecting seed can be found at the “Herbicide resistance screening” link on the right side of our website,  Guidelines for collections are as follows:

    1. Samples should be collected when seed is mature. Fully developed seed will be hard not soft.

    2. Collect entire seedheads.
  Depending on species 10 to 30 seedheads are needed to have enough seed for a proper screening.

    3. Sample should be fresh.  Mail immediately or let air dry under cool dry conditions in an open PAPER bag for 2 to 4 weeks.  Do NOT collect or store in PLASTIC

    5. Samples should be carefully packaged and shipped early in the week to avoid weekend layovers during which the sample will deteriorate.

    6. Be sure to include sample documentation and background information.

  3. Cover Crops After Corn Silage Harvest


    A lot of corn was chopped for corn silage last week and harvest continues this week.  We are about a month ahead of last year’s corn silage harvest and this year’s earlier harvest provides an opportunity to get cover crops established on those acres.  Earlier planting of cover crops is good.  The touted benefits of cover crops are dependent upon the crop producing forage mass above ground and developing a root system below ground.  More growth is generally equal to more benefits.  In addition to protecting the soil against erosion, cover crops can improve soil quality, provide supplemental forage for grazing or mechanical harvest, can use excess nutrients in the soil, and can provide an option for manure application during late fall and winter periods.  The expectation here is that we get some rain so that the cover crop can germinate and grow to take advantage of an earlier planting date.

                Some cover crop grass options after corn silage include spring oats, spring and/or winter triticale, winter cereal rye, barley, and winter wheat.  Note that winter wheat even if used only for a cover crop should still be planted after our hessian fly-free date.  Legume options are more limited but include crimson clover and winter peas. Generally these would be included in a mix with one or more of the small grains.  Legumes have the potential to produce some nitrogen for the next crop, but for that to happen they have to be planted as early as possible, preferably at least 4-6 weeks before frost, and make sure the seed is inoculated with the correct rhizobia bacteria.  Winter peas planted early, probably before that mid-September time frame will most likely winter kill.  When winter peas are planted late they often will overwinter.  I have talked with farmers who have planted winter peas in the late September to early October time frame and had that crop overwinter.  The downside is those late planting dates generally do not produce much fall growth so if soil cover is the goal, plant earlier.

              With regard to the small grain crops, oats (or spring triticale) drilled immediately after corn silage by the end of the first week in September could provide 0.5 to 1.5 tons of dry matter before a killing frost depending upon moisture, fall temperatures, and days until that killing frost.  Since oats and spring triticale winter kills spring termination management is not needed, but from a manure management perspective oats or spring triticale as a cover crop does not provide an option for a winter manure application to a living crop.  Barley when grown for grain in the succeeding year is usually planted between September 15 and 30.  Triticale is generally planted with timing similar to winter wheat and cereal rye for grain production is planted between September 15 and the end of October.  With the exception of winter wheat, any of these crops can be planted earlier if the primary purpose is as a cover crop and supplemental forage.  All of these small grains except oats and spring triticale will overwinter and begin growing again in the spring.  The grower must have a plan for the spring forage growth and/or crop termination before planting corn or soybeans.  Remember that both oats and spring triticale will produce more forage in the fall, so either of these crops plus a winter-hardy small grain like winter rye, winter triticale, winter wheat or barley can provide forage later in the fall and again next spring.  It is worth mentioning that cereal rye begins growth early in the spring and it has a rapid maturation so the grower must be prepared to either utilize it as forage early or terminate it early.

                Another cover crop and supplemental forage option after corn silage that I am a little reluctant to mention is annual ryegrass.  The reluctance is because some growers have had problems terminating the annual ryegrass with herbicides in the spring.  Growers who have taken a mechanical harvest off first with a later spring herbicide application have fared better.  If the goal is provide cover and forage then variety selection for winter hardiness is important.  Refer to the Ohio Forage Performance Trials for selecting varieties (   Mark Sulc, OSU Extension forage specialist, has planted annual ryegrass in early September for several years, and says that one can expect 800 to 2000 lbs. of dry matter/acre by late November and early December, with yields of 3 to 5 tons of dry matter/acre the following year from improved varieties with good winter survival and with adequate nitrogen fertilization rates.

                Another factor that needs to be considered with fall cover crop planting is potential herbicide residual in the soil.  The residual activity of an herbicide in a soil is dependent upon a number of factors including soil type, soil pH, organic matter level, rainfall, and temperature.  In addition, when a particular herbicide was applied in terms of time between application and the planting of a cover crop is important.  Unfortunately most herbicide labels may not have information about potential residual effects on cover crops.  

              Purdue University has been evaluating the impact of commonly used residual herbicides on cover crop establishment and recently posted an article summarizing their results in the Purdue Pest and Crop Newsletter (  Quoting from that article “As a general rule, residual herbicides that have activity on grass weeds can interfere with the establishment of some cover crop species, especially the smaller seeded ryegrass species.  Residual herbicides from the group 2 (ALS), group 5 (triazine), group 14 (PPO), or group 27 (bleacher) can interfere with the establishment of some of the broad leaf cover crop species.”  

              Cover crops can provide a number of benefits when they have time to get established and grow sufficient biomass.  A winter hardy cover crop may become part of a nutrient management plan and provide an additional option for manure application.  This year’s early corn silage harvest is an opportunity to get some cover crops planted and established in a timely manner.  For more information about cover crop timing, specific species recommendations, seeding rates, and potential forage yields and quality, contact a member of the OSU Extension Ag Crops Team.

  4. Technology Use in Agriculture Survey

    Author(s): Laura Lindsey

    If you are a farmer, industry, and/or Extension professional, we need your input on technology use in agriculture.  Ohio State’s Technology Commercialization Office will use this information to help guide future development of agricultural technologies.  All responses will be anonymous.  The survey takes approximately 5 minutes to fill out.

    Link to survey:

  5. Independent Ag Field Day and Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training

    The Erie Basin EERA will offer a two hour Fertilizer Applicator Certification on Thursday, September 10, 2015 at the Independent Ag Field Day in Bellevue, Ohio.  The training will begin at 11:00 am and end at 2:00 pm. Lunch will be served at noon. This is a company field day; however, OSU Extension has a separate tent for the certification training which is open to the public.  Lunch is also provided by Independent Ag at no charge and with no obligation.

    Two hour Fertilizer Applicator Certification trainings are intended for individuals who seek certification and currently hold an Ohio Commercial or Private Pesticide License.  There is no charge for this training. To receive certification, an individual must be present for the entire training. 

     Independent Ag is located at 4321 Sandhill Rd.  Bellevue, OH 44811 which is at the intersection of Sandhill Rd. and US Route 20 between Bellevue and Monroeville.  The field day site is on Sandhill Road just south of US Route 20. You may contact Independent Ag at 419-483-1515; however, no reservations are required.  For training information contact Mike Gastier with OSU Extension in Huron County at 419-668-8219.

  6. Agricultural Conservation, Protecting Water: Keeping Soil and Nutrients in the Field

    Author(s): Mark Badertscher

    Agricultural Conservation, Protecting Water: Keeping Soil and Nutrients in the Field will be the theme of the Hardin County Field Day on September 18.  The event will start out at the Jerry McBride Farm, 11312 County Road 60, Dola, Ohio at 8:30 am and will end at 1:30 pm with complimentary lunch.  The field day is being presented by the Hardin SWCD, USDA-NRCS, The Nature Conservancy, Findlay Implement Company, John Deere, and OSU Extension.

    Wagon tours will transport attendees to three different farms in addition to a Corn Response to Nitrogen plot where OSU Extension Agronomic Field Specialist Harold Watters and Hardin County Extension Educator Mark Badertscher will discuss common myths about choosing a nitrogen rate.  They will also discuss ways nitrogen is lost to the environment.  The focus will be on maximum economic yield being the goal with minimal loss to the environment.  Attendees will also get to see aerial images of the plot treatments and find out about use of a handheld crop sensor in the Corn Response to Nitrogen plot.

    Justin Leader of the Findlay Implement Company will demonstrate a Soil Moisture Probe with John Deere’s Field Connect System.  He will explain the soil moisture probe, Field Connect Gateway and attachments.  Field Connect gives users the opportunity to remotely monitor soil moisture, rainfall, soil radiation, and other environmental conditions within a field from any device that is capable to connect to the internet.

    Concurrent sessions will be offered on nutrient management with a demonstration of injecting liquid manure into a growing crop by OSU Extension Manure Nutrient Management Field Specialist Glen Arnold.  His on-farm research focuses on the use of livestock manure as a spring top-dress fertilizer on wheat and as a side-dress fertilizer for corn.  Arnold’s research goal is to move livestock producers toward applying manure during the crop growing season instead of late fall application window.

    Wetland and Soil Consulting Services and retired USDA soil scientist Frank Gibbs will describe the essential components to your Soil Health Tool Box and the results the Arden Good family has achieved with a Soil Pit discussion and a Smoking Tile demonstration called ‘making your soil smoke.’  Frank has an extensive background in Water Tables in the Soil, Soil Compaction, Soil Health, Cover Crops, Manure Disposal, Preferential Flow, and Drainage Problems.

    Darke County Extension Educator Sam Custer will give an update on the current legislation regarding nutrient management.  Custer is the statewide leader of the Ohio State University Signature Program, “Nutrient Stewardship for Cleaner Water”.  Fertilizer applicators in the Lake Erie watershed and the entire state are affected by Senate Bill 1 and 150, which has requirements for the application of nutrients on agricultural land.

    Crosby McDorman, Agriculture Equipment Sales Representative from Findlay Implement Company, will conduct a field demonstration of incorporating commercial fertilizers using the John Deere 2510H with Montag Cart.  This piece of equipment will be run to demonstrate minimal disturbance and the placement of fertilizer within the soil.  McDorman will talk about the benefits with incorporating fertilizer into the soil profile and the benefits of using this tool bar.  Equipment capabilities will be discussed.

    Other concurrent sessions to choose from include Drainage Water Management by Nathan Utt from Ecosystem Services Exchange.  Nathan has travelled extensively throughout the Midwest to work with contractors, farmers, landowners, universities, and government agencies on the design and implementation of effective edge-of-field conservation practices.  Is it possible to improve water quality at the same time you are improving your yields?  With a little planning, your tile system can do more than just get rid of water.  It can be managed to reduce nutrient loss, improve soil moisture, and even serve as an irrigation system.  Come learn how a Managed Drainage System could be put to work on your farm.

    Dr. Jon Witter, Assistant Professor in the Agricultural and Engineering Technologies Division at The Ohio State University - Agricultural Technical Institute will give an overview of the Two-Stage Ditch design, potential benefits and costs, and a description of a process to determine if a Two-Stage Ditch is potentially a good practice for you.  He will be joined by Lauren Lindemann, WLEB Conservation Director for The Nature Conservancy.  Over the last three years, Lauren has worked for the Conservancy across state lines on ag conservation and demonstration watershed work for healthy soil, slowing the flow and Lake Erie.  See a two-stage ditch that is installed at this site and find out how it works to filter nutrients out of the water.

    Tile Research and Phosphorus will be the topic of Kevin King, who is a research agricultural engineer with the USDA-ARS.  Kevin is leading an effort in Ohio to assess the edge-of-field effects of different management practices on phosphorus movement in surface runoff and the drainage discharge.  This Agricultural Research Service network consists of 20 paired fields in the Eastern Corn Belt region of Ohio.  Hear about the updates on current edge-of-field research related to phosphorus movement in surface and tile drainage pathways.

    Jamie Scott will lead a discussion of the pros and cons of 10 different cover crop plots.  Each plot has different species that help do an array of things for the soil and nutrients.  Learn how to choose the cover crop for your needs.  The Scotts were named Conservationist of the Year by The American Soybean Association in 2008.  The Scotts have been using no-till for over 25 years to help increase oxygen content in the soils and increase earthworm populations as well as other biological activity.  Bring your cover crops questions to this session and find out the answers from this recognized expert.

    The Hardin County Field Day, Agricultural Conservation, Protecting Water: Keeping Soil and Nutrients in the Field requires participants to pre-register to ensure a lunch count for the event.  Please call the Hardin Soil and Water Conservation District at 419-673-0456 extension 3 by September 10 to attend this free event.  CCA and CLM credits are pending.

Crop Observation and Recommendation Network

C.O.R.N. Newsletter is a summary of crop observations, related information, and appropriate recommendations for Ohio crop producers and industry. C.O.R.N. Newsletter is produced by the Ohio State University Extension Agronomy Team, state specialists at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). C.O.R.N. Newsletter questions are directed to Extension and OARDC state specialists and associates at Ohio State.


Amanda Bennett (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Amanda Douridas, CCA (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Andy Michel (State Specialist, Entomology)
Anne Dorrance (State Specialist, Soybean Diseases)
Ed Lentz, CCA (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Eric Richer, CCA (Field Specialist, Farm Management)
Glen Arnold, CCA (Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management )
Greg LaBarge, CPAg/CCA (Field Specialist, Agronomic Systems)
John Barker (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Ken Ford (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Les Ober, CCA (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Pierce Paul (State Specialist, Corn and Wheat Diseases)
Sam Custer (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Sarah Noggle (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Ted Wiseman (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)


The information presented here, along with any trade names used, is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is made by Ohio State University Extension is implied. Although every attempt is made to produce information that is complete, timely, and accurate, the pesticide user bears responsibility of consulting the pesticide label and adhering to those directions.

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