Peru Anyone traveling through the North Countrys farm country recently couldnt help but notice the height of this years corn crop. Certified Crop Advisor Eric Bever says, Its the best crop in the last fifteen years! Weve had the right weather at the right time. Bever estimates that some corn will be ready to harvested in the next one to one and half weeks.
There are two sides to every coin, however, and this years great crop may result in some challenges. Because it takes several weeks to harvest large corn crops farmers plant different corn varieties hoping to spread maturity dates from 85 to 105 days. This years excellent weather may result in most varieties maturing at about the same time putting the pressure on for a quick harvest. Bever said, This years large crop may make it a worthwhile investment to hire more hauling equipment.
Eric Bever and his business partner Mike Contessa operate Champlain Valley Agronomics in Peru. They were sampling corn on the Dimock farm in Peru when this reporter noticed how much their height contrasted to the corn they were sampling. Bever explained that they were testing the corns moisture content. He said if corn is harvested at the wrong time its nutrient content will be lost during the fermentation period (corn ferments for the f30 to 45 days following harvest). Low or negligible nutrient content in forage results in a farmer either having low milk production or having to purchase very high cost commercial feeds. Many farmers plant 200 to more than 400 acres of corn. Bever said one large area farms forage production constitutes 60% of its feeding needs. He called that level phenomenal.
Corn harvest time isnt the only time that Bever and Contessa work with farmers. They help farmers pick the proper plant variety based on field conditions. A farmer, for example, might have dry soil so Bever and Contessa help the farmer select plant varieties that thrive in dry soil. Some varieties are more resistant to certain insects. If the proper variety is planted pesticide usage can be reduced.
Environmental concerns also make plant variety choices very important. Bever explained that farmers milking over 200 cows are subject to Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) environmental regulation. The DEC requires them to prepare certified nutrient management plans. They must limit soil runoff and closely monitor their usage of manure, fertilizer and pesticides. Bever and Contessa and other crop advisors assist farmers in meeting these regulations.
Todays farmers operate very complex businesses. They must maximize production while operating in harmony with their neighbors and with nature.