This Week’s Headlines
Planting, harvest seasons cross as corn goes in, hay goes up
By JANE W. GRAHAM
(May 26, 2015) Spring 2015 will be remembered by many farmers as the time to plant and the time to harvest overlapped across Virginia.
Farmers are finishing up corn planting even as they begin harvesting small grains and cutting the first hay of the season.
“It’s looking smart,” Patty Johnson, an Orange County farmer, mother and leader of the Virginia Forage and Grassland Council, said May 13. She farms with her husband Scott on Pannill’s Gate Farm. “Spring was slow in coming on. The grass is growing. The cattle are looking good.”
Drying winds that have sucked the moisture from the ground the day after rains had continued to be a concern for farmers across the commonwealth, including Johnson. Rain last week throughout the region helped somewhat mitigate impending early season drought conditions.
Montgomery County, Va. farmer Chuck Shorter and industry leader reported he has finished planting his 15 acres of corn and he had talked with another large corn producer in his county who reported having 60 percent of his corn planting finished.
He said some folks are harvesting small grains such as wheat and rye for silage.
“Hay is looking well,” he continued. “It’s time to cut it.”
At mid-May, Morgan Paulette, Pulaski County Cooperative Extension Agent, said several of the producers in his county have about a third of their corn planted and some have begun making hay. He predicted corn planting will be finished in the next week or two.
Johnson reported on what was happening in her Orange County neighborhood, saying a lot of people had their hay rained on the first week of May. She said they were putting up wet bales the second week and planting corn.
“Barley and wheat are heading out,” she said
In far Southwest Virginia the first cutting of hay is in trouble, Andy Overbay, Extension agent in Smyth County reported.
The cool season and wet April combined to cut the first cutting of hay by half in his region of Virginia, he estimated.
Overbay advised farmers there to not wait for quantity before they harvest the first cutting of hay but to cut what they have and hope the second cutting is better.
“Waiting is not going to help,” he said.
The harsh and long lasting winter has caused most or all of their hay supply so they need to begin building that supply for the coming winter.
“A lot of corn got planted last week,” the Smyth county agent said.