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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, August 30, 2012

Horsenettle in pasture and hayfields

I have seen a marked increase in the number of pastures and hay fields infested with Horsenettle this season.  This weed is a major concern since it can limit the marketability of hay due to the sharp prickles found on the stem and can quickly take over a field due to the large number of seeds produced and spreading rhizomes.  Fall herbicide applications can be effective in managing this weed.  for more information, please visit the Mid-Atlantic Pasture Management Guide.

Stephen Komar

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Corn Population-Check Now for Next Spring

As we approach corn harvest, now is a good time to check each of your fields and hybrids to see how they look following the mid-summer drought many experienced. Because breeders have been breeding for increased yields by, among other things, increased population tolerance, many farmers have been increasing seeding rates over the years. I have seen several fields where ear size and fill suffered from too high a population. Here are some signs of stressed corn. Small ear length and girth(aka barrel size/circumference) is a sign of drought before tasseling; missing kernals randomly over the cob means stress at pollination; and barren tips( 1-2 inches or more) indicates stress at the end of pollination and shortly thereafter. All of these are likely a result of too high a population with insufficient rainfall. Another symptom this year is where some cob tips are poking through the husk which is a result of the recent rains following the earlier dry period. If you planted several hybrids in a field this will be a good check to see which might be the more tolerant of higher populations. If you saw only random spots of the above symptoms throughout your fields you can probably keep planting at the same seeding rate, but if you saw substantial amounts of the stress indicators you may want to reduce seeding rate next year by 2000 seeds/A. Such a small drop probably wont effect yields even in a good rainfall year and will save you a few dollars in seed costs. You also should check potash levels, because low levels can accentuate drought stress. Other factors such as planting date, compaction, etc. could have affected your corn’s tolerance to drought so think about your planting and management practices differences before concluding it was population alone.  
Zane R. Helsel 

Estimating Soybean Yields Before Harvest

Early planted(before mid-May)soybeans likely have sizable beans in the pod so you can begin estimating yields now for marketing and other purposes. First determine the length of a “one row acre”. For example, beans in 30 inch rows have 17,424 feet in a row acre, in 15” rows that length is 34,848 and with 7.5” rows its 69,696. Walk around several (10 or more)places in a field and count the number of plants per foot of row(6 might be normal for 30”rows, 2.5 for 7.5” rows). Determine the average and multiply by your “one row acre” feet. At each spot you stop, break off a plant at the soil surface and carry it with you. When you get back to your farmstead, find a table under a shade tree, pour your favorite beverage and start counting the number of pods per plant and determine the average number that have at least one seed in the pod. Now strip off 2 pods near the top, 2 pods in the middle and 2 near the bottom of each plant and count the seeds per pod and get an average. Now you can multiply the average number of plants per acre times the average number of pods per plant times the average number of seeds per pod. Do not round off numbers on any of these! Now you have arrived at the number of seeds per acre and you need an estimate of the weight of the seed(seeds per pound). If you saved seed tags from planting seed, this is a good place to start. This year’s planting seed was in general smaller than normal and if we continue to have adequate rains, seed size should be larger. So if your tag says 3000 seeds per pound, use 2800. If you have no tags use 2800 as an estimate. Divide 2800 into the number of seeds per acre that you calculated above. This will give you pounds per acre which you can divide by 60 to get bushels per acre. As an example, a field of 30 inch row soybeans has 6.5 plants per foot of row, 32 pods per plant and 2.4 seeds per pod and a seed size of 2700 would have an estimated yield of about 54 bushel per acre (17424 x 6.5 x 32x 2.4 = 8,698,061 seeds/A divided by 2700 = 3221 lbs/A divided by 60 = 54 bushel/A). Remember all this is predicated on you making good and repeated estimates and no severe storms or other problems before harvest.
Zane R. Helsel

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Harvesting/Feeding/Pricing Drought Stressed Corn for Silage

Some farmers have or are considering harvesting drought stessed corn for silage in some parts of NJ. Nitrate toxicity and feeding value are of particular concern. If being sold between farmers, pricing is a question. The following publications give some useful information from other drought stressed states on how to evaluate and deal with these various aspects.Where possible, silage should be considered over haying because of the diffculty in drying the stalks/ears and the fact that nitrates decrease very little in hay in storage as compared to silage in storage. Be aware of poisonous silo gases should high Nitrate corn be ensiled and that nitrate toxicity can also occur in other forages

Zane R. Helsel

Estimating Corn Yield Before Harvest

With recent rains in some areas of NJ along with surging corn prices some farmers are axiously trying to estimate their potential yields for marketing and other purposes while those who are less fortunate need to plan for the consequences of lower yields. There are numerous ways to estimate yields but some of the basics follow. First you need to get a good estimate of plant populations with ears on the stalk. Most everyone uses 30 inch rows thus 17.5 feet of row equals 1/1000th of an acre. So walking and measuring at random thru the field or sampling specific good and bad patterns in the field will give you a good estimate of plants per acre with ears. As you go you can randomly pull off ears at the different spots you sample for plant population. If you got an average of 30 (ie 30,000 plants/acre) then select 30 random ears and husk and count the number of kernals. In really good corn with well filled kernals there are about 75-80,000 kernals/ bushel, in average corn about 85-90K and in poor corn(large popcorn size kernals) about 95-105K. If for example you had a stalk population with ears of 30,000/A, and average kernal count per ear of 400 and assumed a kernal size of 85,000/bu then you would have a yield of about 141 bu/A. Remember, the more areas of the field and the more samples you take, the better the estimates. Please see the following article for more details for estimating yields:
What about soybeans? Its too early yet to estimate those.

Zane R. Helsel