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Plant & Pest Advisory > Field & Forage Crops

Contact Information

The points of contact between Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service and the grower & business communities are the NJ County Agricultural Agents. The agents are a tremendous source of information for both new and experienced growers.
Visit your local county extension office.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

17th Annual Mid-Atlantic Crop Management School Session Videos

The Mid-Atlantic Crop Management School concluded today and, as in years past, selected videos of the 2011 sessions will be posted on the internet in the upcoming days. Sessions included training in soil & water, nutrient management, crop management and pest management. Keep an eye out for these informative videos.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Farm Credit East Cares Community Fund Deadline Approaches

Grants of up to $500 are available to farm families recovering from Hurricane Irene or Tropical Storm Lee. Applications can be done online, emailed, or mailed.
- Michelle Infante-Casella

Applications must be received by November 26, 2011.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Retirement Planning for Farm Families

Later Life Farming is our Rutgers NJAES website providing information about retirement planning for farm families that specifically addresses farmers' unique circumstances. The web-based curriculum consists of ten online modules designed to assist farm owners to plan for retirement and includes links to several different resources.
Many farmers don't plan to "retire" in the traditional sense.  Rather, they express a desire to simply scale back their work hours and/or the size of their farm operation.  In addition, many farm families lack traditional retirement savings plans such as a 401(k). Their major asset is their land and farm property, which are typically illiquid assets. The impact of government regulations on farmers' land values is another unique challenge and is discussed in this resource.

While visiting the site, consider participating in our survey which is in progress until December 31, 2011.
Later Life Farming authors, Barbara O'Neill, Stephen Komar, Robin Brumfield, and Robert Mickel, are available should you have further questions on retirement planning for your farm family.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Time to Think About Geese

Information on ways commercial farmers can address geese damage is gathered on the NJAES Snyder Farm Wildlife Damage Guide for Geese, Deer, and other species. Growers can apply for permits from NJ DEP Division of Fish & Wildlife to "addle" eggs and utilize harassment techniques such as propane cannons and pyrotechnics, noisemakers, and visual flagging.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Purple Stained Soybean Seed and weather damage

Several fields of newly harvested soybeans are showing up with purple staining on the seed and/or the seed is materially weather-damaged or shriveled and rotted. The purple coloring is most likely due to the fungus Cercospora kikuchii, a late season disease that shows up when humidity is high and temperatures warm like occurred during the extended rainy period in late August thru mid-September (in few cases if black nightshade was present at combining staining could be due to berry juices). If a significant number of seeds are infected it can lower oil percentage (but actually could increase protein) and lower germination should seed be intended for planting next year.
Lots of these beans are normally rejected for food use.

New Animal Waste Management Videos

A series of brief and informative videos are now available on the NJAES Animal Waste Management website:

Stephen Komar and Bill Bamka discuss important issues for pasture management. They walk us through how to pull soil samples & get them analyzed by the NJAES Soil Testing Lab. The other videos, a collaboration between Mike Westendorf & Bill Hlubik of Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Fred Kelly of USDA NRCS NJ, and Mark Rice of NC State, cover what you need to know as well as demonstrate how to manage animal waste on your small farm. Definitely worth watching.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pest Management Network Subscriptions

Only 100 Plant Management Network Subscriptions Left Courtesy of the Soybean Checkoff. 
Sign up before Sept. 30th.

Recently, the United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff purchased 500 one-year subscriptions of the Plant Management Network, a suite of 13 applied crop science resources. There are now only 100 subscriptions left--first come, first serve--for soybean growers, as well as crop consultants and CCAs who work with soybean crops.
To get this full one-year subscription, which includes access to all 13 of PMN's resources, click on the shortlink below or paste it into your browser. It will lead to a signup page on the Plant Management Network website, where you can fill in the pertinent information to register for your subscription…

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kernels Sprouting on the Ear

One of the problems I have been coming across in some corn fields due to the wet weather we have been experiencing is sprouting of kernels on the ear. I have been finding sprouting mostly on the lower portion of the ear. The ears are upright with open husks, which have allowed for water to accumulate at the base of the ear. The kernels have been at blacklayer, and the water causes the seed to imbibe and then germinate. The sprouting kernels themselves are not a threat to livestock (after all it is just a corn seedling). However, the sprouting kernels are often associated with molds that could potentially produce harmful mycotoxins. When being used for livestock feed it is a good idea to have the grain checked for mycotoxins.

Bill Bamka

Weed Control and Your Reputation in the Hay business

Many of us who produce hay have horse owners and small livestock owners as our primary clientele. One of my fellow county agents shared a recent experience with me about having curly dock present within a load of hay he received. There was enough curly dock to make a wreath. This served as a good reminder that it is important to pay attention to weed control within our hay fields. It does not take too many loads of bad hay, before your customers will disappear and seek hay elsewhere. You don't want the reputation of producing poor quality hay or worse yet being responsible for someone's livestock dieing. Broadleaf weed control in hay fields is not that difficult -- 2,4-D and dicamba are old standards that still work.  The University of Delaware Pasture and Hay Weed Management Guide is a good resource for weed control recommendations. If you spray for weed control just remember to follow any grazing and haying restrictions on the label.

Bill Bamka

Curly dock removed from hay bales

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Crop Insurance Sales Closing Date for Fall-planted Crops

A quick reminder:
USDA Risk Management Agency reminds us that September 30, 2011 is the sales closing date for many fall-planted crops. Crops that may need to be insured by this date include: 
Alfalfa Seed; Apiculture; Barley; Canola; Cultivated Wild Rice; Dry Peas; Forage
Production; Grass Seed; Mint; Oats;  Pasture, Rangeland, Forage; Potatoes; Rye; and
September 30 Sales Closing Dates Near

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Corn Silage Harvesting

While many fields are too wet to even think about harvesting corn for silage, some early planted corn may be past the ideal stage for harvest. The hotter than normal summer coupled with the excessive rains in August have set up a mixed set of signals in the corn plant relative to harvest for silage. Typically we recommend watching the progression of the milk line and formation of the black layer in kernals which normally coincides with desired whole plant moisture in the 60-70% range. With some early planted corn, we are actually past black layer but, because of the rains, stalks and leaves have remained very green and plants are loaded with water. Hopefully as fields dry out enough for harvest so will plants. If not, and for later planted corn, there is a good discussion of kernal maturity versus plant moisture and other related corn silage tips in the National Corn Handbook Drought stress followed by heavy rains has also set up the potential for problems like Nitrate toxicity(although extended periods since drought should reduce this problem) and toxin buildup(aflatoxin and others). The National Corn Handbook is also a resource for these potential problems.;

Zane R. Helsel

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Crop Nutrient Removal Rates for Hay

I was out visiting a grower yesterday who was raking alfalfa for baling today. Pretty amazing given the amount of rain we have had this month. That is one benefit of the sandy soils in the southern portion of the state. The grower was making his fifth cutting and estimated that this cutting would produce as much as his first and second cutting combined. As the grower was getting ready to apply potassium fertilizer in the near future, the question came up as to how much potassium he should be applying. Keep in mind that forages can remove quite a bit of potassium. With the extra cuttings and yield boosts some growers are experiencing there may be a need to supply extra potassium fertilizer. Alfalfa and cool season grasses can remove 50 lbs of potash per ton of yield. NJAES Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet 014 "Nutrient Removal Values for Field and Forage Crops" may be useful in determing fertilizer application rates this fall.

Bill Bamka

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reporting Crop Losses Due to Irene

[Excerpt from Jersey Vegetable Crops Ag Updates 8/29/11]
Wes Kline and I just participated in a conference call initiated by Secretary Fisher with NJ State Board of Agriculture members, USDA representatives and NJ Farm Bureau Executive Director Pete Fury to get a preliminary assessment of damage caused by Hurricane Irene as it passed over the state. By all accounts, it could have been a lot worse, and certainly the flooding in the northern counties is still posing significant threats to people and businesses. The hurricane was one more blow in what has already been a challenging season weather-wise, and some crops will still not show damage for several weeks. However, the consensus was that there are important steps to take in its aftermath.
  • First, farmers with crop, livestock or building damage from the hurricane should contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to report it. DO NOT DESTROY damaged crops until local reps can assess and document the damage. To locate your local FSA office, see
  • Anything covered by crop insurance should be reported to your insurance agent.
  • Crops that have been damaged by wind or excessive rains likely need some protective fungicide treatments to avoid disease spread.
  • Make note of any areas of crop fields that are flooded as water from overflowing ponds or streams, or even from field run-off, may contaminate produce with pathogens and create a food safety hazard. Avoid harvesting from these areas if possible, or be ready to take extra precautions to wash/treat this produce to reduce potential contamination.
Rick VanVranken

Storm Damage Recovery

The recent rains, flooding and wind from Hurricane Irene have caused some signifcant damage throughout the state. While attention to human needs(health, living and communications) are of utmost importance, once those are attended to, dealing with the after effects on livestock, crops, and structures will be important to farm viability. Having clean water and clean feed for livestock is a necessity(have any questionable sources tested if possible). Check structures to be sure they have not been compromised. Dont go inside them if at all questionable(leaning, sinking, etc). Try to secure from the outside first and have a second person with you(with a cell phone) if you do need to go in a compromised building. Be careful in dealing with electrical issues within the structure or in using generators. With crops, the best advice, if flodded, is to get the water off the field ASAP, then watch for diseases and other problems as the days go by. And of course, dont forget to call your insurance agent before doing anything significant to the affected livestock, buildings and crops. Many more tips and suggestions in dealing with these and numerous other issues can be found at the following Extension website:

Zane R. Helsel 

Friday, August 19, 2011

2011 Penn State Winter Wheat Preformance Trials

Before long we will be moving into small grain planting season. If you are looking for winter wheat variety preformance information Penn State has recently posted the results of their 2011 trials. Also available for review are the results of the 2011 University of Maryland wheat variety trials . The University of Maryland also has trials with scab resistance ratings available for review.

Bill Bamka

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

September is National Preparedness Month - Are you Ready Ag?

Fire, flood, feed contamination, foot-and-mouth disease. Farm and ranch disasters can come without warning. Is your crop, livestock or poultry operation secure? Is it biosecure?

A team of Extension professionals from across the US came together to develop an educational tool to assist farm and ranch managers become better prepared for any disaster The tool is called ReadyAG—Disaster and Defense Preparedness for Production Agriculture.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in Field Corn

We are beginning to get reports of brown marmorated stink bugs in field corn in South Jersey. So far populations have mainly been confined to field edges near wooded areas. Counts have been as high as 3 to 5 per plant. I have heard of some fields with significantly higher counts. Populations in the interior of the fields were light. I have seen some isolated kernel damage. Stink bugs have not yet been encountered on adjacent soybean fields. Though we would expect to see movement into soybean fields eventually.  In Maryland, there are currently evaluations of edge treatments to see how effective they are when kernel damage is occurring. As we have mentioned before we are still in the learning curve in trying to deal with this relatively new pest.

Bill Bamka

Friday, July 22, 2011

Be on the look out for Palmer Amaranth

I received a phone call from Mark Van Gessel, the Extension Weed Specialist from the University of Delaware (who also serves as our RCE Field Crops Weed Specialist). He was letting me know that they have found several fields in Delaware with Palmer Amaranth in them, and that we should be on the look out for it in New Jersey. At this point we do not have any Palmer Amaranth present in New Jersey that we are aware of.  According to Mark, "It looks a lot like our “typical” pigweeds, but it has no hairs on the stem, often a white watermark on the leaves, long petioles, and long slender seedheads." The concern is that this species is very aggressive, and is referred to as "pigweed on steriods".  It has the ability to be resistant to many different herbicides. It is proving to be a headache to cotton producers across the south. The populations found in Delaware are not herbicide resistant at this point. Dr. Van Gessel notes it is important that we identify it early and aggressively start to manage it before it becomes a problem. The University of Georgia has a fact sheet on the biology of Palmer Amaranth . Kansas State University has a guide to help in identification of Palmer Amaranth .

Bill Bamka

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Orchardgrass leaf streak disease

I was out looking at an orchardgrass field yesterday that was infected with the disease "leaf streak", also called brown stripe. This is becoming more of a problem in the mid-Atlantic. Agronomists across the region have been noticing vigor and persistence problems with orchardgrass. Orchardgrass stands which would typically last for 6-8 years are lasting for 3 years or less. Regrowth has been slow, pests and diseases are damaging stands, and stands have been performing poorly for unexplained reasons. I know this is not news to many of our growers. To try to determine what is happening the Mid-Atlantic Orchardgrass task force was established in 2008. Unfortunately, we don't have many control options for forage diseases. It is recommended to maintain proper fertility, suppress weeds, and two rotate to a non-grass crop for two years prior to establishing orchardgrass. The orchardgrass task force has begun conducting variety evaluations for disease and control studies. Hopefully we will have more answers in the future to address the problems in orchardgrass. For more information and disease pictures visit the the overview of the Mid-Atlantic Orchardgrass Task Force. 

Bill Bamka

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spider mites in soybeans

Starting to see some soybean fields with spider mites. Given the current hot, dry weather it would be a good idea to scout fields for spider mites. Scouting information and treatment thresholds can be found in the Mid Atlantic Pest Management Guide for Field Crops 

Bill Bamka

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Potassium Deficiency in Soybeans

I have been out looking at some soybean fields and have started to see some potassium deficiency in some fields. Every year I see some fields with potassium deficiency in our sandy soils in the south. It is not uncommon to see in double crop beans where the straw is baled. Potassium deficiency is seen as yellowing or browning and sometimes necrosis along the edges of older leaves. As the deficiency becomes more severe the symptoms move higher up the plant. Below is a picture of potasium deficiency in soybean. Potassium deficiency should not be confused with manganese deficiency. With manganese deficiency the veins of the leaves remain green.

Bill Bamka

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Leaf Hoppers

We are starting to see continued increases in leaf hopper populations in alfalfa fields. Also while scouting soybean fields I was also finding leaf hoppers. Keep an eye on alfalfa fields as the nymphs can cause damage pretty quickly. Once you start to see yellowing or "burn", yield has already been reduced. The threshold for 4-6 inch tall alfalfa is 50 leaf hoppers per 100 sweeps. Soybeans in the seedling stage are most susceptible to injury. If you see plant damage and average 8 leaf hopper per sweep, control may be necessary.

Bill Bamka

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

European Corn Borer

I was called to look at some field corn in Burlington County because of insect damage. The damage was due to some significant populations of european corn borer larvae. This is not suprising given that the RCE Vegetable IPM program was reporting very high populations of adult moths in black light traps earlier this spring. Those of us in field crops tend to forget about ECB because of Bt hybrids. Remember though we can still treat for ECB in the required non-Bt refuges and non-Bt planted fields. Rescue treatments are not that effective when the larvae are deep in the whorl or in the stalk. Information on scouting and treatments for ECB can be found in the Mid-Atlantic Pest Management Recommendations for Field Crops. Keep in mind that ECB can also attack sweet corn and peppers.

Bill Bamka

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mid-Atlantic Regional Agronomist Quarterly Newsletter June 2011

Dr. Richard W. Taylor's Mid-Atlantic Regional Agronomist Quarterly Newsletter is available for download. 

Please note in the calendar of events that a number of meetings are coming up both this week and next week so check the calendar over carefully. Also feel free to forward the newsletter on to anyone else you think might be interested in the information. - R. Taylor

To subscribe, send request to:


Monday, June 20, 2011

Manganese deficiency in soybeans

Over the past few days I have begun to notice manganese deficiency appearing in some of our earlier planted soybean fields. As many of us know manganese deficiency on soybean can be a common and recurring deficiency on our sandy soils in the southern portion of the state. Deficiency results in reduced leaf chlorophyll content. The common symptom in soybeans is interveinal chlorosis (the tissue between the veins turns yellow while the veins remain green). Manganese deficiency can result in reduced yields. Extensive research by our extension soil fertility specialist Dr. Joe Heckman has shown an economic benefit of applying foliar applications of manganese fertilizer to soybeans deficient in manganese. More information is available on manganese deficiency in the RCE publication Soil Fertility Recommendations for Soybeans.

This photo shows a soybean plant with typical symptoms of manganese deficiency.

Bill Bamka

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Head Scab in Wheat

I have been out in several wheat fields recently and have noticed the symptoms of head scab. This is not suprising since our region was at a high risk for developing head scab about a month ago during the warm humid weather we had.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Early Wheat Harvest/Drying

With high soybean prices this year, most wheat acreage will likely be planted to double crop soybeans. Every week's earlier planting of soybeans could mean 4 or more bushel yield increase, which could more than pay for drying wheat harvested at higher moisture. The drying characteristics of wheat are much different than corn so farmers must consider many aspects before considering early harvest of wheat in the next few weeks. A fact sheet from the University of Kentucky has some specific details that is a must read if early harvest and drying will be considered.

Zane R. Helsel

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I am starting to get reports of grasshoppers in some early planted soybean fields. We are starting to see this now that rye is being harvested. Some of these soybean fields can be susceptible to feeding from grasshoppers. The feeding can result in stand loss. When stand losses occurr from emergence to the second trifoliate a treatment might be necessary. It is difficult to find exact treatment thresholds for grasshoppers. Guidelines often used for treatment are 30% or more defoliation with one or more grasshoppers per sweep with a net. It is generally not too difficult to tell if grasshoppers are abundant, so don't worry if you do not have a net. This guideline is used from emergence to the pre-bloom stage. Many times grasshoppers are concentrated along field edges or ditches, so it may be possible to only treat the areas where grasshoppers are found.

Bill Bamka

Pest Alert: European Corn Borer (ECB) in Sweet Corn

For more than a decade, a general decline in ECB adult moth populations and larval infestation rates have been seen in most crops. Generally entomologists in the eastern US are attributing this long decline in ECB to increased production of Bt field corn which would be a dead end host for the pest. An adult moth population bucking this trend is widely observed this spring 2011. The reasons are unclear but it is a fact. Growers are advised to scout all whorl and pre-tassel fields.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Two New Sources of Information about BMSB

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is expected to inflict serious crop damage again this year. Brown Marmorated Stink Bug has a wide host range including soybean and field corn. Two new sources providing timely information about this pest can be found on the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug page, Rutgers NJAES Snyder Research & Extension Farm Website. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sidedress Nitrogen on Corn?

Late April /early May planted corn is now reaching the growth stage V-6 ( 6 fully developed leaves-canopy about 12-18 inches high) where the crop begins to take up significant amounts of Nitrogen(N) which is critical to reaching full yield potential. With N fertilizer prices rising, it is important to use N efficiently.
Zane Helsel

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Keep watch for armyworms

Our wheat fields are beginning to dry down. Watch for clipping of heads from armyworms. Also watch for armyworms moving from small grain fields into corn fields. It seems every year we have local hot spots of armyworm infestations. Unfortunately, growers are caught off guard many times and realize they have a problem when it is too late. I have not seen any problems yet, but this is prime time for a problem to occur. Often a big clue that you may have a problem is if you see birds diving into your wheat field. The birds are generally feeding on the worms when this is happening. If you find armyworms they must be less than one inch to achieve effective control.

Bill Bamka

Saturday, May 28, 2011

NJAES Selected Ag Programs Calendar

Contributors: Holding a Twilight Meeting or running a Workshop? Post it yourself on the NJAES Selected Ag Programs Calendar and let other Ag Agents, Specialists, and Ag Professionals know about it. See an event you don't want to forget? Download it to your own calendar. Can't recall the date of your last group meeting? Scroll back through to find it. Keep abreast of what's happening at Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
For details email Jack Rabin.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cereal Leaf Beetle in Wheat

I am starting to get many calls about cereal leaf beetles in wheat. This is not an easy call to make regarding control at this stage of crop development. I'll give some guidelines to help make the decision as to whether or not control is warranted for your fields.

  • First, the established threshold is 0.5 to 1 larvae per stem. This number is obtained by sampling 100 stems in multiple locations in the field. Distribution of larvae is not always uniform across a field so make sure you sample at several locations within the field. 
  • The second thing to consider is what stage of crop development your field is in. Generally, we are concerned with damage through the soft dough stage. Some fields I have seen are past this stage others have not yet reached it. 
  • The next thing to consider is what percent of the field is showing leaf damage. Typically, we don't treat unless 10% leaf damage or greater is present. Also keep in mind that the upper most leaves are responsible for grain fill. We need to protect the flag leaf and one or two leaves below for grain fill. 
  • Next , we need to look at the yield potential of the crop. This is where the price of your wheat comes into play. At this stage of the game many advise that we need to be looking at protecting fields with 60 bushel or more yield potential. Keep in mind we also need to consider how much wheat will be damaged by running across the field with a sprayer at this stage of crop development. 

As you can see this is not necessarily an easy decison to make at this point in time for some growers. This is a photo of cereal leaf beetle damage in wheat taken by Penn State Entomologist Dr. John Tooker.

Bill Bamka

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Potato Leaf Hopper Watch

My colleagues in central Pennsylvania are reporting that they are beginning to see Potato Leaf Hoppers. Our current weather pattern has not only brought rain, but an early arrival of PLH. PLH is one of the primary pests of alfalfa. If you have alfalfa begin to keep an eye out for PLH. Scouting and Control recommendation for PLH can be found in the Mid-Atlantic Pest Management Recommendations for Field Crops.

Bill Bamka

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Weed Control after the Rains

With the signifcant and long lasting rain events, we may see some compromised weed control efforts in our various crops. As a reminder, we have some comprehensive publications authored by our University of Delaware and Rutgers Cooperative Extension scientists, that can help look at choices and issues to consider in weed control management. Click on the following for links to the appropriate publications:Weed Control

Zane Helsel

Replanting Decisions

With all the wet weather you may have parts of fields where stand loss is significant. Alot of factors such as extent of stand loss, seed and fuel costs, crop insurance, herbicides planned/used, etc go into a decision to replant. The first decision is can you drive the planter down through the field and replant skips or waterlogged area that have dried. If the field sustained more substantial loss, then doing a stand count is essential. With corn, if you have 70% or more of the initial targeted population (as an example 20,000 out of 28,000 hoped for) remaining and plants are fairly evenly spaced, its probably not economical to tear up the field and replant. With soybeans, if you have 4 plants/ft of row in 30" rows or 1 plant/ft of row in drilled beans that are reasonably spaced there is probably no benefit to replanting, especially if it remains wet and you cant get in the fields for a week or more. If you do replant, you can stick with your intended variety/hybrid maturities unless you have some really long season ones which you likely should avoid, especially with corn after June1.

The above are very general statements. You can find alot more detailed and useful information from an Iowa State publication.

Zane Helsel

Monday, May 23, 2011

Watch for slugs

I had a report today of slug damage in a no-till soybean field. With the wet weather pattern we have been in it is important to check no-till corn and soybean field for slug damage. This is particularly important for fields that have had a history of damage. Penn State has a fact sheet that provides information on managing slugs in field crops. Hopefully, with some warm and sunny days the crop will soon be able to outgrow the damage.

Bill Bamka

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Corn Stand Counts

Now is a great time to estimate corn populations and make replant decisions.  In most cases, plant populations of 28-32 thousand plants per acre result in optimum yields.  A fast way to estimate plant populations is to use the 1/1000th of an acre method.  For 30" rows, measure 17' 5" and count how many plants are in that distance and multiply by 1000.

Stephen Komar

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cereal leaf beetle in Timothy

I was called to a farm today to look at a timothy field to see why the leaves were being skeletonized. The damage was being caused by cereal leaf beetle larvae. We are most familiar with cereal leaf beetle being a pest of wheat. However, cereal leaf beetle can also be found on forage grasses, including orchardgrass and timothy. Penn State Cooperative Extension has a cereal leaf beetle fact sheet that provides additional information on identification and management of this pest.

Bill Bamka

First Cutting Hay

Past statistics suggest the "average" NJ farmer cuts hay about 2 weeks too late. Cutting date, and more specifically, stage of growth is the single most important factor affecting the nutritional value of hay. Alfalfa (and in mixtures with grass) should be cut at full bud to 1/10th bloom, clovers at 1/4 to 1/2 bloom and grasses as heads are emerging (which many are in right now). For clarity, 1/10th bloom is when just 1 out of every 10 stems has just one flower showing which is something you can't see by driving past the field. So when it stops raining this week it's likely time to start (and/or continue) harvesting hay in most of the state. Remember, there are many ways to make poor quality hay, but starting on time is the best way to have a chance to make great quality hay!

Zane Helsel

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Watch for aphids

I have been getting some reports from my extension colleagues in southeastern Pa about aphids in Timothy and from Delaware about aphids in small grains. Though, I have not seen any aphid problems in field crops in our area. It is a good idea to scout wheat fields to look for possible aphid populations moving from the plants to grain heads. Scouting information and control recommendations for aphids are available in the Mid-Atlantic Field Crop Pest Management Recommendation Guide. 

Bill Bamka

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Slugs in Corn

Our wet weather pattern has been ideal for slugs. While out in a no-till corn field in Burlington County yesterday I saw some slug damage in the field. With late corn planting we are likely to see an increase in slug damage. Keep an eye on fields with a lot of residue and wetter, low lying fields. In previous years we have seen significant slug damage in both corn and soybeans. Hopefully, last years hot and dry growing season will result in reduced slug populations this season. Penn State has a fact sheet that provides information on managing slugs in field crops.

Bill Bamka

Cereal Rust Mite on Timothy

I have been out scouting some timothy fields the last few days and have been seeing quite a few timothy field with infestations of cereal rust mite. Many growers have been reporting cereal rust mites in their timothy. Remember that this pest can reduce both yields and quality of timothy hay. Remember to take a look at your timothy fields. As we have said before if your timothy field looks like it is experiencing drought stress symptoms you probably have cereal rust mite. With all the rains we have had timothy fields should not be under drought stress. There is a Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension fact sheet that provides more information on cereal rust mite in timothy hay.

Bill Bamka

Monday, May 9, 2011

Congress to Determine Smith-Lever Ag Appropriation Friday, May 13

Congress considers the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill this Friday, May 13th.
The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 is a partnership between USDA and America's land-grant universities and provides funding for delivery of Cooperative Extension programs vital to the people of the United States. States are required to provide at least a one-to one match.
Cooperative Extension needs your help. Sustained funding is critically needed for Extension to continue to help producers, consumers, families, and communities find science-based solutions to significant problems.
Visit Effective Political Communications for information on how best to voice your support for Cooperative Extension by contacting your Representatives and Senators.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Powdery Mildew in Wheat

I have run across a few wheat fields in Burlington County today with heavy infestations of Powdery Mildew. Mild temperatures, high relative humidity and dense stands favor the development of powdery mildew. The disease can result in reduced kernel size and test weight and ultimately lower yields. Greatest yield losses occur when the flag leaf becomes severely diseased by heading. It is important to protect the flag leaf and leaf below from disease for maximum yield. The Penn State Agronomy Guide has further information on managing diseases in small grains. Fungicides are available for controlling powdery mildew.  Fungicides can be applied based on the level of disease in the field, the known susceptibility of the variety, and the selling price of the grain.

Bill Bamka

Farming on the Fringes

One question that I get on a regular basis is about the storage and management of manure on livestock farms. Where can I store it, how far from a stream or a neighbor should it be stored, what other management requirements might there be. A survey of New Jersey horse farmers taken several years ago indicated that over 80% of survey respondents stored manure over 200 feet from water, wetlands or a neighbor. Some guidelines for manure storages are found in the following table.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Yellow Flash of Soybean

Dr. Mark Bernards, Extension Weed Specialist at University of Nebraska discusses Yellow Flash of Soybeans.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pesticide Storage Inventory Due May 1st to Fire Department

The Rutgers NJAES Pest Management office would like to remind growers of the following:

Pesticide Applicator or Dealer Storage Inventory and
Cover Letter Submittal Due May 1st to Fire Department

All licensed pesticide applicators, as well as dealers, who store pesticides are required by law to send a copy of their storage inventor(ies) with an explanatory cover letter to the local fire company by May 1st each year. In New Jersey, all licensed pesticide applicators and dealers who store pesticides are required per N.J.A.C. 7:30-9.5 to maintain a list of the pesticides stored or likely to be stored during the license year. A storage inventory should be kept separate from the actual storage area.

Now is a Great Time to Calibrate your Spray Equipment

Now is a great time to calibrate your spray equipment.  As costs continue to rise, it is even more important that we are applying the proper amount of active ingredient for maximum control.  A simple method to calibrate your spray equipment is the 1/128th acre method.  For more information can be found on the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Sprayer Calibration Fact Sheet.
Stephen Komar

Monday, April 25, 2011

Small Grain Diseases

With the current wet weather pattern that we have been experiencing it is not a surprise that we are starting to get our first reports in the region of powdery mildew on wheat. With the current wet weather outlook we should begin scouting wheat to determine if fungicide applications are warranted. Penn State has a powdery mildew decision guide that can assist in making the call as whether to spray or not.

Bill Bamka

Cold, Wet Soils and Corn Planting

These conditions have delayed much of the early field corn planting in NJ, particularly on the heavier, more northern soils. A conventional rule of thumb has been not to plant corn until soil temps reach 50 degrees at 4" depth at 8 am. Even with a few days of warm temperatures we havent reached that level, especially in untilled heavier soils. One thing farmers can do to jump start corn planting once soils dry out sufficiently is to plant shallower than the conventional 2" depth. Planting 1 1/2" or even 1" where the soils are likely warmer, may be ok if the soil is moist and you can get good seed to soil contact (ie, closing the slot tightly and NOT driving the planter fast over rough seedbeds!). For those who no-till, soils will be slower to warm up but similar principles apply, IF, you can get good slot closure at these shallower depths.

Zane Helsel

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cereal Rust Mite

Just finished scouting a few more timothy fields in Burlington County. Cereal rust mite was found in all fields scouted. Populations were not extremely high, but remember populations can build fast. Characteristic leaf curling was present in the field. RCE has a fact sheet covering cereal rust mite in timothy.

Bill Bamka

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More Fuel Saving Tips this Spring

In addition to the previous post on gearing up and throttling down, reducing the number of tillage and other passes and reducing the depth of tillage are two major ways to save fuel.  Primary tillage may require 0.15 to 0.20 gallons more fuel per acre for every extra inch of depth and secondary tillage up to 1/10 more fuel per acre.  Remember the rule of thumb that each successive pass should be ½ the depth of the previous tillage for good seed bed preparation.  More tips like combining two or more field operations in one pass and reducing turn time can be found at:
Fuel Requirements and Energy Savings Tips for Field Operations
Zane Helsel

Monday, April 18, 2011

Small Grain Scouting

Hopefully you have gotten your nitrogen on all of your wheat fields. It has been a bit challenging with the wet spring weather this season. I have been scouting some wheat fields recently, so far I have not seen any problems. Growers need to continue watching for cereal leaf beetle and aphids on small grains. As we move into corn and soybean planting it is important to remember to continue scouting wheat.

Bill Bamka

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mortality Composting

It is possible to compost animal mortalities or butcher waste in order to dispose of the waste.  The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has guidelines (N.J.A.C. 7:26A-4.5(c)) which should be followed when composting.  For other information contact the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.

The finished compost material can be used on hay, corn and other field crops, tree plantations and forestland. It should not be added to crops such as fruits or vegetables directly consumed by people.  Neither should it be available for resale.  The process includes layering the dead animals or butcher waste with wood chips and manure.  A deep bed of wood chips should be made and the animal should be placed in the bed with a layer of manure and covered with another deep bed of chips.  The pile should be left alone for at least six months.  At the end of this period the only material remaining should be bones and maybe a little hair/hide.    Below is a picture of how the pile should be made and another pile showing any remaining material after uncovering.

Before Uncovering Pile                     After Uncovering Pile

One of the concerns about disposing of dead animals is the risk from disease.  Any animals dying of a reportable disease should be reported to the New Jersey Division of Animal Health prior to composting. 

For more information please contact the Cornell University Waste Management Institute.  Or see a factsheet produced about mortality composting: Natural Rendering:Composting Livestock Mortality and ButcherWaste. 

Mike Westendorf

Black Cutworms

As we move into corn planting I want to remind everyone about black cutworm damage. We had a few corn fields in the state that experienced considerable damage last year. Loss of corn plants from above ground cutting or below ground tunneling injury is an indicator of black cutworm. Adult black cut worm moths over winter in the south and migrate north with spring weather fronts. The migrating moths seem to be attracted to fields with significant winter annual weed coverage such as chickweed. Increased populations of winter annuals are often found in reduced and no-till fields, so black cutworm tends to be more of a problem in these fields. Rescue treatments are based on the number of plants effected, corn growth stage, and size of the cutworm. Control recommendations can be found in  EB-237 Mid-Atlantic Pest Management Recommendations for Field Crops

Black Cutworm Larva
(Photo courtesy of University of Illinois Extension IPM Program)

Bill Bamka

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wheat growth stages

Many of the herbicide and fungicide labels for wheat have application times and restrictions based on the growth stage of the wheat. The picture below from the University of Illinois should be useful when trying to figure out what growth stage your wheat is in.

Custom Rates

I have been getting numerous requests for custom rates for our area. The 2011 Pennsylvania Machinery Custom Rates prepared by USDA NASS is available online to use as a guide.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Weed Control Guides

The Delaware and New Jersey Weed Management guides for corn, soybeans and pasture/hay are available online at the University of Delaware Extension Weed Science page. This is a great resource for making herbicide decisions.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cereal Rust Mite in Timothy

Just scouted a timothy field in Burlington County and found cereal rust mite. If you see leaf rolling in your timothy it is not from drought, look for cereal rust mite. Sevin XLR Plus still has an emergency label.


Alfalfa Weevil

There are reports that alfalfa weevil is active in southeastern Pennsylvania. Keep an eye out for it in our area.
Penn State has a good fact sheet that addresses alfalfa weevil. It can be found at


Cereal Leaf Beetles in Wheat

If you have wheat planted it is time to start scouting for cereal leaf beetle larva. Penn State Extension Entomologist, John Tooker is advising growers to scout for cereal leaf beetle. During 2010 pressure from the cereal leaf beetle was heavy and many fields experienced yield loss. There is potential for cereal leaf beetle populations to be heavy. If populations go unnoticed the flag leaf could be damaged resulting in crop loss or yield loss. The larvae of cereal leaf beetle are recognized by many growers as a shiny black "blob" on the leaf. You know you have walked through a heavily infested field when you have black spots all over your pants.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mid-Atlantic Regional Agronomist Quarterly Newsletter March 2011

Dr. Richard W. Taylor's Mid-Atlantic Regional Agronomist Quarterly Newsletter is available for download. 
To subscribe, send request to:

Save Tractor Fuel Spring 2011

Diesel fuel in NJ is over $3.50 per gallon. Iowa State has available a new fact sheet.
Shift Up and Throttle Back to Save Tractor Fuel

New Jersey's Prospective Plantings - USDA NASS

As of March 1, 2011, New Jersey farmers expect more acreage of corn, hay, and winter wheat while soybeans acreage is down slightly and sweet potato acreage remained unchanged from the previous year.
  • Corn planted acreage is expected to total 85,000, up 5,000 acres from last year. 
  • All hay acreage intended for harvest is expected to total 110,000, up 5,000 acres from 2010. 
  • Soybeans planted acreage is expected to total 90,000, down 4,000 acres from a year ago. 
  • Sweet potato acreage is expected to total 1,300 acres, unchanged from last year.
  • Winter wheat seeding for the 2011 season totaled 40,000, up 12,000 acres from last year.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Rutgers Field & Forage Crops, Nutrient Management Ag Updates consists of short, timely packets of information designed to be read quickly for field application. Content may include New Jersey field observations, pests to watch for, planting dates, or short comments about nutrient/waste management, and energy/other inputs. For comments or questions, contact a member of the Field & Forage Crops, Nutrient Management Team.