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.
Monday, May 16, 2011
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!