By CRAIG FREILICH
The recent hot, humid weather has created favorable conditions for good corn and hay crop yields in St. Lawrence County.
The weather we’ve recently seen “is in general excellent for corn, and as long as it doesn’t get exceptionally dry and windy, it won’t be set back by the heat,” said Stephen Canner, Field Crops Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County.
Haying has been going “quite well. A few people have had trouble timing the cutting with rain, but most people have had time in the breaks between showers to get in good crops.”
Readers might recall that there was a rainy stretch in June, recorded by storm-spotter Richard O’Hanlon, who compiles weather statistics in Potsdam.
“It rained nearly every day in June,” O’Hanlon said. He said there were 21 days in June with measurable rain. It all added up to nearly three inches more rain than in a typical June.
Earlier in the season, Canner says, “there was a good stretch of dry weather which was good for getting corn planted and a first cutting of hay in. Some would say it was ideal, but it varies according to a lot of factors,” such as variability in weather effects across a county as large as St. Lawrence.
“Generally speaking, the crop outlook is pretty favorable. There are a few local situations where farmers might find something inconvenient happening, but most are pretty happy with the way things are going.”
Hay for dairy cows is usually younger at its first cut than hay for horses and other livestock, Canner said. Dairy farmers are usually looking for their first cut in mid to late May, and most got the chance to make that cut this year. “The third week in May is pretty much ideal,” he said.
Dairy farmers will look to make three cuts of hay in a season, usually in the middle to late May, June and July, Canner said.
Lower quality hay, for beef cattle and horses, can be cut by the first of July and still be good. “The later it goes, the higher the ratio is of stems to leaves, and there is more lignin in the stems, which is a fiber that is harder to digest.”
“Most corn is about on schedule or a little ahead of what we might call a normal year. But we’re entering a period when it’s most vulnerable. It’s forming the seeds, and that’s pretty critical.”
Soybeans, another crop that is growing in importance in St. Lawrence County, “depends on getting enough moisture in August, and if there’s a sudden drought, we could lose yields.”
As for hay for the rest of the season, Canner said that “at this point, there’s probably enough residual moisture in the soil to produce another cutting” without a lot of rain. “It could continue to produce for the next couple of months. It would take a pretty good drought to have a sever effect.”
As far as the weather goes, Canner says that “If it gets colder and very rainy or considerably drier we could run into some problems. There’s always the potential for things to get screwed up, but if it continues to be good for the next month or so, we should be in good shape.”