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  1. Agronomy Notes from 2020

    2020 was a tough year for most of our area for crops. The drought we suffered in a lot of the area severely hurt yields. We saw a lot more acres get chopped as corn silage that normally gets shelled as grain. The drought was somewhat spotty because there were some areas that actually got some timely rains and had close to normal yields. What helped most farmers is the improvement in the Genetics in our Channel Seed corn If we would have had this weather 15-20 years ago we would have seen 50-75 bushel yields instead of 120-140 bushel yields.

    Most areas were down around 25 percent in yield. So what can a farmer do about the weather? I am sorry to say you cannot make it rain. Very few farmers have irrigation, and that still costs. Corn Hybrid selection is very critical in helping to alleviate the risks from the weather. There are huge differences in how certain Hybrids will react to the weather. Another key is timely planting. This is something that can pay huge dividends. A corn plant will start determining its yield (kernels around the cob, girth) at about v4-v6. That is around shin high. Once this is determined (12-14-16-18), it cannot be changed. So if that corn crop has adequate moisture at that time, the chance of a better yield is much improved. Our chances of rain through June are typically better than through July. Corn ear length is usually determined when corn reaches chest high. A last piece of advice would be to check your soil fertility levels. Potassium is so critical in helping a crop be more water efficient. If you have really low potassium numbers in your soil, then you are setting yourself up for a high risk of being even more severely affected by drought.

    Please call us at 814-623-6194 if you have any questions regarding what you can do to improve your crop farming operation. We are here to help you. If you have any questions about top dressing your corn, please talk to us. This has been a part of our business that has grown tremendously. We recently added a fifth machine to the business to be able to serve the growing amount of acreage that need to be serviced with dry fertilizer.

    Albert McIntier, CCA, Agronomy & Retail Manager


  2. Managing Forage Inventories

    As many famers are already aware, forage inventories at this point in 2020 are much lower than the past few years in most cases, with some being as low as 50-60% of normal forage inventories. Because of that, forage inventory management ismaybe more important now than ever. This starts with identifying your farm’s current inventory along with the projected needs of the farm until new feeds are made next year. It can be difficult to get exact numbers, but an estimate can provide enough to start to plan what changes need to be made early instead of waiting until it is too late. 

    If you determine that your forage inventory is inadequate for current feeding rates, there are several actions that can be taken. The first option is to cut animal numbers. This is the easiest way to conserve forages but is also the most drastic. If this is not an option, another is to purchase forages off farm. This can eliminate the shortage but is usually not cost effective because it involves wet feeds (hauling water and handling volatile/fermentable feeds). It can also be difficult in years like this to locate available forages since most farms do not have excess that they are willing to part with. 

    The third option, and perhaps the most reasonable, is to cut back individual feeding rates of forages. This can be done by substituting byproducts that resemble forages in crude protein, fiber, and energy. Some examples of these are soybean hulls, wheat midds, corn distillers, corn gluten feed, and bakery/candy meal. These products add more costs in the short term, but are usually more cost effective and logistically achievable in the long term than buying wet forages. Again, determining if this is necessary sooner rather than later is extremely important, and consulting a nutritionist to determine substitution rates for various forages is helpful in allowing you to properly substitute these feeds based on protein, fiber, and energy without losing production/growth.

    Austin McMonagle Dairy Nutrition/Feed Consultant

    Austin has been with the Co-Op since 2017, after graduating with a degree in Animal Science from Penn State University. He grew up helping on his family farm in Williamsburg and still spends a lot of time there. He has always been passionate about the dairy industry and agriculture and enjoys giving back to the area in which he’s lived his whole life by consulting farmers about their animals’ nutrition needs. In his free time, Austin enjoys spending time with his wife, Victoria, and son, Ellis, as well as hunting and being involved in sports. Contact Austin for a nutrition consultation at 814-793-2721.


    With Fall upon us and forages changing from green nutrient dense grass to a brown, less digestible feed stuff it is important to remember the nutrients your second-trimester cows needs. The nutrition your second-trimester cow receives now will set the course for her winter feed needs, as well as, the future performance of her developing fetus. To learn more about the nutrition needs of your second-trimester cow and her developing fetus click here.

  4. Why should you buy Channel Seed???

    Channel Seeds not only offers a strong product lineup for our grain producers, but Channel can also provide top milk production per acre with Channel silage products. A local test conducted in 2016 by F.I.R.S.T. trails at Gerald Smith’s farm in Martinsburg, PA shown that Channel had the number 2 and 3 milk/acre hybrids in trail. The 107 and 110 day hybrids have shown solid performance in the field and in the milk tank for the last several years. Visit with one of our sales team members for more information. Channel programs and discounts are currently in place until November 22nd!! Click on the link to look at the independent test results that are local to our area!!!2016-first-trials-martinsburgpa-silage


    Crop farmers are not the only ones dealing with drought conditions. Cattle producers are dealing with drought conditions, as well. Forage quantity and quality decrease in drought conditions. During drought conditions there is very little new growth leaving animals access to older, less desirable plants in the pasture. Nutritional quality of forages that are available is compromised by the stress put on the plant by lack of water and high heat. CLICK HERE to read more about how Cattle Producers are Dealing with Drought conditions

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