To make sure you receive future emails, please add to your address book or safe list.

PRO Logo_BigTag_4c


JUNE 2020

Record Silking/Tasseling Dates for Corn Fields

By Joe Lawrence

Tracking Growing Degree Days (GDD’s) is an effective way to monitor the progress of a corn crop and in recent years a number of online tools for tracking GDD’s have been developed. For the Northeast, the Climate Smart Farming GDD tool from Cornell is a great option. Dr. Kitty O’Neil with the North Country Regional Ag Team prepared an instructional video to use the tool. While this tool was designed to estimate GDD accumulation from planting, you can simply enter in silking/tasseling date in the planting date box to track accumulation from that date.

One approach to predicting corn maturity with GDD’s is to monitor GDD’s from planting to harvest and some seed brands provide estimates of GDD’s needed for different hybrids. For corn, the 86/50 method is used for calculating GDD’s, this references a base temperature of 500oF and a maximum of 860oF.

Considerations to keep in mind:
  • The numbers provided for a hybrid are often from planting to physiological maturity (black layer) which is past the silage stage. A rough rule of thumb is to subtract 150 GDD’s from this number to estimate the number needed for silage harvest.
  • Studies have shown a fair amount of variation in the GDD’s required from planting to silking, which could be exacerbated by the drastic temperature swings experienced in the spring of 2020.
    o Figure 1 demonstrates the variability of whole plant dry matter with data from the Northeast Corn Silage Consortium for a group of hybrids planted across multiple locations in the northeast.

Data for three hybrids grown across multiple locations, illustrating the lack of correlations between whole season growing degree days and whole plant dry matter at harvest.


Research in NY by Dr. Bill Cox assessed the number of GDD’s required from silking to silage harvest timing in a multi-year study. While there is still some variability in GDD requirements from silking to silage harvest timing, this method offers better results than using full season numbers as it takes out the early season variability of GDD’s needed from planted to silking. The average GDD’s reported in the study are shown in Table 1.

Approximate Growing Degree Days needed from silking to silage harvest

Hybrid Relative Maturity  GDD’s (86/50)
 101-110 800
 96-100 750
 <96 750 or slight less (extrapolated)

This study used 32 percent whole plant dry matter (DM) as the target for silage harvest; however, a better target is 35 percent whole plant DM. Therefore, the GDD targets reported in the study offers a sort of early warning for harvest. Once corn begins the dry down process an average rate of dry down is 0.5 percent per day (with a range of zero to one percent per day) indicating that the crop may reach 35 percent DM approximately 6 days after reaching these GDD targets for 32 percent DM.

When a field reaches these GDD targets, it is a good time sample fields and dry down samples for whole plant DM to further refine harvest timing.

Resources for Forage Management in a Drought
Rainfall continues to be very variable around the state. Overall crops seem to be faring pretty well, even in the drier areas; however, many are surely at a tipping point and will begin showing stress soon if rain does not materialize. PRO-DAIRY and Cornell Cooperative Extension have curated resources that may be helpful.

Financial and Environmental Planning Assistance Available through the Dairy Advancement Program

Financial and environmental assistance planning grants are available through the Dairy Advancement Program (DAP). DAP is designed to enhance long-term viability of New York dairy farms while maintaining a commitment to environmental stewardship.

Eligible projects assist New York dairy farmers to position their farm for long-term economic and environmental sustainability. Funds are used to engage specialists for financial analysis and to create business plans, to establish an advisory team, and to develop farmstead environmental plans, including design of practices outlined in the farm comprehensive nutrient management plan. DAP covers 80 percent of the project cost. The farm pays 20 percent, and any amount exceeding value of award.

Up to $5,000 available (for small to midsize dairy cattle farms). Projects include:

  • Implementation of a new recordkeeping system (e.g. QuickBooks, DC 305)
  • Business planning
  • Operational planning

Up to $3,000 for farms who wish to implement an advisory team for the first time. Project includes:

  • A team of advisors to assist with improvement in specific areas of farm performance

Up to $10,000 available. Projects include:

  • Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (update or new) for dairy cattle farms under the medium CAFO size.
  • Design of eligible best management practices (e.g. a waste storage, VTA) for dairy cattle farms or heifer boarding operations under the large CAFO size.

Business planning funds are provided by the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets (augmented by additional funds from Chobani). Environmental planning funds are provided through the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Environmental Protection Fund. The program is coordinated through Cornell PRO-DAIRY and delivered to farms in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) and agriservice professionals.

For more information contact your local CCE office or Cornell PRO-DAIRY at Visit the DAP website at

Road to Recovery – Path to 2025 Agricultural Webinar
Road to Recovery - Path to 2025 Agricultural webinar features Dr. David Kohl and Nathan Rudgers, hosted by Jefferson County Economic Development, and co-sponsored by the NYS Tug Hill Commission and Farm Credit East. Recognizing that many in agriculture are dealing with the day to day negative impacts of the COVID – 19 pandemic and its related economic challenges, it is helpful to begin painting a path forward. This webinar provides perspective on what agriculture in NYS and beyond may look like in 2025 and how that impacts our farms and agribusinesses today. What are important considerations for the agricultural industry, farmers, agribusinesses and processors? What are considerations for community leaders and elected officials? Dr. David Kohl is an internationally recognized agricultural economist from Agrivisions LLC. Nathan Rudgers is former Commissioner of the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and Director of Business Development for Farm Credit East.

Guidance for Essential Workers Arriving in NY from U.S. States with Significant Community Spread

On June 24, 2020 the NY State Department of Health (NYSDOH) issued Interim Guidance for Quarantine Restrictions on Travelers Arriving in New York State Following Out of State Travel. This was in response to the high rates of COVID-19 infection now occuring in many southern U.S. states. NYSDOH is providing a regularly updated list of the restricted states and it currently includes 16 states. The NYSDOH Guidance requires anyone entering NY from those states to quarantine for 14 days. Some NY agricultural producers source part of their seasonal farm workforce from the southern U.S., especially during the fall harvest when labor demands reach peak.

The June 24 NYSDOH Guidance contains the following language specific to long-term, essential workers:
Long Term – for essential workers traveling to New York State for a period of greater than 36 hours, requiring them to stay several days. This includes instances such as an essential worker working on longer projects, fulfilling extended employment obligations, and other longer duration activities.

  • Essential workers should seek diagnostic testing for COVID-19 as soon as possible upon arrival (within 24 hours) to ensure they are not positive.
  • Essential workers should monitor temperature and signs of symptoms, wear a face covering when in public, maintain social distancing, clean and disinfect workspaces for a minimum of 14 days.
  • Essential workers, to the extent possible, are required to avoid extended periods in public, contact with strangers, and large congregate settings for a period of, at least, 7 days.

Continue reading this and other Ag Workforce Development blog posts at

Dialing into Your Best Dairy Podcast Series
Podcast series with Cornell Cooperative Extension Regional Dairy Specialists and Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY. Access the podcasts at:


 Reaching Your Herd’s Genetic Potential
Dialing into Your Best Dairy: Reaching Your Herd’s Genetic Potential opens with CCE Regional Dairy specialists Betsy Hicks, Lindsay Ferlito, and Margaret Quaassdorff, who share an overview of the series. Dr. Mike VanAmburgh, Cornell University Professor, in an interview provides background on epigenetics and how he came to study the effects management and nutrition play in genetic programming of the calf for her entire life.

 Calves-Birth to Weaning
In this episode, CCE Regional Dairy Specialists Alycia Drwencke and Casey Havekes, discuss best management practices for the dairy calf from the time of birth through weaning. Topics include colostrum management, cleanliness, ventilation, housing, plane of nutrition, and weaning strategies.


 Heifers and Springers
In this episode, CCE Regional Dairy Specialists Margaret Quaassdorff and Dave Balbian discuss best management practices for dairy heifers from post-weaning to freshening. Topics include heifer health and nutrition, growth and breeding targets, housing facilities and ventilation, and incorporation into the milking herd.


 Don’t be a Heifer Hoarder-Heifer Inventory Management
In this episode we discuss culling policy and inventory management with Rob Lynch, DVM, Dairy Herd Health and Management Specialist, Cornell PRO-DAIRY, Margaret Quaassdorff, CCE Regional Dairy Specialist, and Lindsey Worden, Holstein USA.

Releases on 7/13/20

 Nutrition and Feeding for the Lactating Cow
This episode features CCE Dairy Specialists Margaret Quaassdorff, Dave Balbian, and Melanie Palmer while they discuss dialing in lactating cows’ nutrition, goals as a feeder of lactating cows, and recommendations from Miner Institute to create the perfect dining experience for our cows.

Releases on 7/20/20

 Managing the Lactating Cows’ Environment
In this episode CCE Regional Dairy Specialists Dave Balbian, Betsy Hicks, and Margaret Quaassdorff cover best management practices for lactating dairy cows including ventilation, heat abatement, management through lactation, and time budgets. They also interview a producer on factors to keep in mind for facility design, and the changes he saw in his herd after implementing herd management and facility design strategies.
Releases on 7/27/20

 Reproduction, Gestation and the Dry Period
This episode is hosted by CCE Regional Dairy Specialists Alycia Drwencke, Casey Havekes, and Lindsay Ferlito. They discuss management practices during the breeding, gestation and dry cow phases. Topics include feeding and nutrition, body condition score, breeding, time budgets, and behavioral considerations.

Releases on 8/3/20

 Pulling it All Together – Management for Record Setting Cows
Dialing into Your Best Dairy concludes with an interview of the owners of Selz-Pralle Dairy, the herd that contains the U.S. milk production record holder Selz-Pralle Aftershock 3918 that produced 78,170 pounds of milk in a single 365-day lactation. The Pralles have a whole herd of cows that deserve appreciation as well, and share some of their management strategies to achieve exceptional results. CCE Regional Dairy Specialists Betsy Hicks, Lindsay Ferlito, and Margaret Quaassdorff, wrap up the series in this episode and share where to find contact information and more resources on topics covered in the series.

Northeast Dairy Management Webinar Series
The Northeast Dairy Management Webinar Series is a six-part presentation series to re-energize businesses and improve performance, even in challenging times, and includes presentations and speakers that would have been featured at the Northeast Dairy Management Conference in March. The conference, and these webinars, are hosted by Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY and Northeast Dairy Producers Association. Register to receive links to view the free webinars:

Practical Risk Management Applications for Commercial Dairies
Dr. Chris Wolf, Cornell University
This webinar examines current risk management programs and tools for commercial dairy operations. Experience and research on the programs are used to determine current practices related to assessing risk management needs and goals as well as evaluating results.

Evolutions and Revolutions: A New Normal
Phil Plourd, Blimling and Associates
Upheaval! Even before the COVID-19 crisis took hold, food producers, processors, merchants and marketers were dealing with rapidly changing consumer preferences. Now, some of those forces are accelerating while others are retreating. Phil shares insights about the trends and offers opinions on how players in the dairy supply chain can react.

​Good times, Bad Times - Lean and Flexibility
Cheryl Jones, University of Kentucky
Lean does not mean working faster, but working smoother, more efficiently. We need to closely examine the flow of our product from raw materials to the final customer to increase flexibility and eliminate waste. Increasing our flexibility and eliminating waste are steps toward keeping us competitive in our industry. How does this apply to equipment and to our workforce? We will discuss how Chick-fil-A’s lean thinking improved their drive through service in comparison to the rest of the fast food industry.

2020 Financial Check-Up

Steve Bodart, Compeer Financial
The start of 2020 looked to be a year of recovery and progress for many dairy operations. When the COVID 19 epidemic hit, many financial projections changed and the plan that was in place was severely altered. With the change that was out of the dairies control, the focus now is what does the business need to continue to evaluate and monitor in order preserve the health of the business. This presentation will focus on budgeting, utilizing your financial data and managing the financial side of the business to work through this crisis and look forward to future success within the dairy industry.

Managing Employees in Challenging Times (Because They're Always Challenging Times)

1:00 - 2:00 PM EDT | July 1, 2020
Tom Wall, The Dairy CoachTM

With economic uncertainty higher than we've ever experienced, surviving these difficult times is a higher priority for most businesses than thriving through them. But during good times or bad, the basics of business and employee management remain unchanging. It's time to get serious about what matters most. In this webinar, we talk about how these tough times are the perfect opportunity to improve your dairy's culture and team's performance.

Adapting Management to Changing Labor Regulations and COVID-19
1:00 - 2:00 PM EDT | July 8, 2020
Moderator: Rich Stup, Cornell Ag Workforce Development
Panelists: Kim Skellie, El-Vi Farms LLC; Mike McMahon, E-Z Acres LLC; and Crystal Grimaldi, Ideal Dairy Farms

State regulations regarding overtime, day-of-rest, and now, COVID-19 affect most dairy farms and the people who work in them. Dairy managers must adapt their policies and procedures to meet requirements, while also communicating and maintaining effective relationships with valuable employees. This panel discussion explores how three dairy managers are meeting the challenge.

Contact Us:

For more information about PRO-DAIRY, visit

Julie Berry, Editor | Tom Overton, Director | Facebook

Diversity and Inclusion are part of Cornell University's heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities.

This email has been sent to ExampleContactFormalName at ExampleContactEmailAddress. Contact our office at if you would like to update your email address on file.

Your privacy is important to us.  Click here to update your email preferences.

Cvent - Web-based Software Solutions