First Cutting Monitoring-April 28, 2020

Kevin Ganoe, Area Field Crop Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

April 29, 2020

Our team began with what we have called a dry run for our first cutting monitoring.  It's hard to settle on a date as we can either be too early or at times find the first check of fields leaves us using that week's data because of how far along the crop is.  Yesterday was definitely in the category of too early so we have no summary for you but will share what we learned.

A comparison with last year where we began on April 30, 2019, is a good place to start:

The average alfalfa height for April 30, 2019 was 7.2 inches
The average alfalfa height for April 28, 2020 was 5.0 inches

On April 30, 2019 we had 28 percent of the fields at least 10 inches tall which is minimum height for our equations to work.
There were predictions for nearby all grass fields to be ready for harvest by May 2-4.

On April 28 2020 we have no fields over 8 inches tall and only 16 percent of the fields (5) are 8 inches.  Most of the fields were 6 inches (9 fields).
Many fields have had snow on them in the past week and or frost.  One field had 5 inches of snow on it yesterday.

Alfalfa growing degree days are Base 41 or you need 41F for growth to occur.  Last year by April 30, 2019 we had accumulated 213 GDDs on average in our 8 counties since March 1.  The 15 year average is 184 GDDs.  This year using forecasted temps for April 30 we will only have 103 GDDs on average since March 1.  The short GDDs this year explains why we started last year on April 30 and this year May 5 might be a week we have some predictions for harvest before May 12.

We will continue Tuesdays from now until the end of May.  A reminder, given the COVID-19 outbreak, to keep our risk of exposure down we have reduced the number of fields we are measuring from 65 to 32. Apologies to those whose fields we have measured in the past.

Hopefully things warm up by next week.

First Cutting video 4-28-20




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