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JULY 2021

Costs to produce milk in 2020: What is the range?

Jason Karszes

The cost to operate a dairy business is a critical component associated with generating profit. Profits are determined by quantity and quality of output, the prices received for output, and capital invested along with the costs to produce output. With many external factors impacting dairy farm financial performance in 2020 because of the pandemic, such as direct government payments, Class III and Class IV price variations, and milk production limitations from processors, understanding the costs to produce milk is important. Many of the different areas of cost are influenced internally and are under a higher degree of control of management, so the ability for a dairy to be successful in meeting goals over time is not solely dictated by external forces.

Continue reading Costs to produce milk

Corn silage harvest toolkit: 2021 edition
Joe Lawrence

Each corn silage harvest season presents its own unique opportunities and challenges. The following is a summary of considerations and resources to consider in preparation for a successful corn silage harvest.

2021 Opportunities

  • Lower overall rainfall (varied by region of state) generally results in improved corn silage fiber digestibility
  • A timely planting window and above average heat increases likelihood of harvest before “mud” season
  • Adequate moisture around and after pollination aids ear development which could improve starch yield and overall yield.

2021 Challenges

  • Early Season drought conditions may compromise yield
  • Rainfall around pollination and weather induced stress may increase risk for mold and mycotoxins
  • Weather stress may lead to variation in crop maturity and optimum harvest timing. Pay close attention to whole plant dry matter (DM) for harvest timing decisions
    Article: Record Silking/Tasseling Dates for Corn Fields
    Article: Sampling for Moisture Content in Corn Silage Fields
    NEW Factsheet: Corn Plant Dry Down
  • Corn Silage harvest is always a stressful time around the farm, review Safety with your team before harvest season begins.

There are many keys to corn silage harvest and while they are important every year, there can be an added importance in a year when concerns may persist regarding sufficient forage inventories as every pound of forage you can successfully preserve counts more than ever.

Continue reading Corn silage harvest toolkit: 2021 edition

Managing Poor Quality Hay Inventory
Concerns over dry weather for many areas early in the season have given way to a wet July and problems with timely hay crop harvest. The following article was put together in response to a wet spring and delayed first cutting a few years ago but has information applicable to managing over mature forages at any point in the season.

Continue reading Managing poor quality hay inventory

Corn nitrogen observations 2021

Joe Lawrence and Quirine Ketterings

In the past, late season nitrogen (N) application to corn was not considered feasible but with currently available application equipment it can be done. Advances in equipment have made it more feasible to apply N later in the season and the recent onslaught of rain across much of the state has led to some observations of pale or yellow corn and questions about potential N needs. For most areas of New York (NY) producers should rest assured that if they applied N to recommended levels there should be little concern of N deficiencies despite the recent stress of excess rainfall.

It is important to recognize that weather patterns in May and June varied widely across the state, so discussion on the significant rain in the first few weeks of July needs to be put in context of what preceded it.

Continue reading Corn nitrogen observations 2021

See also Too late to sidedress nitrogen? − Summary of four years of data by S. Sunoja, Quirine M. Ketterings, J. Lawrence, and G. Godwin in a July 2021 issue of What’s Cropping Up

Forage acreage needs calculator
Joe Lawrence

Understanding and managing forage inventory needs is critical to a dairy farm to assure both adequate quantities and qualities of forage to meet the needs of various animal groups on the farm. A number of methods are in use to help determine the number of acres needed to support the forage needs of a dairy herd. The new Forage Acreages Needs Calculator offers a few important factors that should be considered to accurately determine acreage needs, most notably the ability to account for forage shrink losses and desired carryover.

Continue reading Forage acreage needs calculator

Corn Plant Dry Down
Joe Lawrence and Allison Kerwin

The latest article in the Corn Kernel Processing series focuses on corn plant dry down. This five-part series has addressed the influence of dry matter (DM), both whole plant and plant fraction, on corn silage processing score as well as key quality metrics, namely starch content (FACT SHEET 2: Effect of corn plant characteristics on corn silage processing scores) from the recent Corn Silage Processing Score (CSPS project). There is also an opportunity in the data to explore the way in which the corn plant dries down, how that impacts harvest timing decisions, and the influence on forage quality.

Whole plant DM has long been considered the best option for timing silage harvest. A whole plant DM of 35 percent is most often cited as an optimum target while a range of 32 percent to 38 percent whole plant DM is often considered an acceptable range. The benefits of harvesting in this range are related to both optimizing crop performance and achieving proper fermentation.

Continue reading Corn plant dry down

Upcoming Webinar
NYS Food Scraps Recycling Law - Opportunities and Challenges for On-Farm Use

August 18, 2021 | 1:00 – 2:00 PM

Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY is hosting an informational webinar on food scrap recycling by farms from 1:00 to 2:00 PM on Wednesday, August 18, 2021. The webinar will share information about the opportunities and challenges of accepting food scraps on-farm. Experts will discuss various ways farms can utilize the potential availability of food waste in advance of the New York State Food Donation and Food Scrap Recycling Act, which will go into effect on January 1, 2022.

The webinar will include an opportunity to hear from Sally Rowland, PhD, PE, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, who will describe the specifics of the NYS law. Additionally, Cornell University specialists will discuss the use of food waste on-farm though animal feed, composting, anaerobic digestion and direct land application.

Pre-registration is required. After registering, a personal link to join the webinar will be sent in a confirmation email. Contact Jennifer Bockhahn at with questions or comments.

Webinar Schedule

  • 1:00 PM New York State Food Donation and Food Scrap Recycling Act Overview
    Sally Rowland, PhD, PE, NYS DEC
  • 1:10 PM On-Farm Recycling Options – Opportunities and Constraints
    • Animal Feeding – Larry Chase, PhD, Cornell University, Professor Emeritus
    • Anaerobic Digestion – Lauren Ray, CEM, PRO-DAIRY, Agricultural Energy Systems Engineer
    • Direct Field Application - Joe Lawrence, CCA, PRO-DAIRY, Dairy Forage Systems Specialist
    • Composting – Peter Wright, PE, PRO-DAIRY, Agricultural Engineer
  • 1:50 PM Questions and Answers
  • 2:00 PM Conclude

The Manager July 2021
Read the Herd management issue

The Manager July 2021 issue, published by Progressive Dairy, focused on herd management and included articles:

  • Troubleshooting the fresh cow pen
  • Troubleshooting weaned heifers
  • Klebsiella mastitis - More than just another gram-negative
  • Selective dry cow therapy: Antimicrobial steward ship can offer returns in appropriate herds
  • Benchmarking calf growth and performance on northern New York dairy herds
  • Raising heifer replacements - labor costs and labor efficiency

Labor research! What’s happening on your farm?
Agricultural Workforce Development is gearing up for an important research project to understand how New York farm labor is adapting to changes in markets, regulations and technology. Strong participation from farm employers and employees is vital for maximum impact. Farm employers who operate fruit, vegetable, and greenhouse/nursery operations will be mailed a pre-notification letter in the coming weeks, followed a few days later by a survey packet. This survey packet will contain an employer survey plus six copies of an employee survey (three in English, three in Spanish). Completion of the survey by farm employers and employees will provide hard numbers about farm labor situations and changes from 2019 to today. All surveys will remain anonymous and only group data will be reported.

Objectives of this research are to:

  • Identify what human resource management practices are most effective to achieve high performance and labor efficiency
  • Describe New York farm employee hours, compensation, quality of work life and satisfaction with working conditions and relations
  • Describe how labor markets and regulations are affecting labor usage, enterprise selection, and business plans for New York farms
  • Identify what labor-saving technologies farms are adopting and how they best fit in an overall human resource management strategy

If you don’t receive a mailing in the next few weeks, and you a operate a New York farm with hired employees, reach out to Julie Berry ( to request a survey packet. Include your name, farm name, mailing address, phone, and email.

This project “New York Farm Labor in Transition, is led by Richard Stup ( of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), in collaboration with colleagues from the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, and the School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR). Support for this research is provided by United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service, New York State Department of Agriculture and Market, Farm Credit East, Northeast Dairy Producers Association, Dairy Farmers of America
and Upstate Niagara Cooperative.

Contact Us:

For more information about PRO-DAIRY, visit

Julie Berry, Editor | Tom Overton, Director | Facebook

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