DairyDairy is the leading agricultural industry in New York State, and the state ranks third in the country for milk production. Our ten counties in western New York form an especially vibrant dairy region, with 943 dairy farms of many different sizes and production systems. Wyoming county is the top milk producing county in the state, producing 1.1 billion pounds annually.

Growing Great People Workshop Interview on Finger Lakes Radio

Donette Griffith, Administrative Assistant
South Central New York Dairy & Field Crops

Last Modified: August 16, 2022

Radio Interview

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)

Last Modified: April 24, 2020

On April 18, Dr. Andrew Novakovic, recently retired but formerly the Director of the Cornell Dairy and Markets Policy Program, sent an update on financial assistance provided by the federal government through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), including an overview of the program and estimates of the direct payments dairy farmers might receive.

USDA's Latest Dairy Forecast

Last Modified: April 24, 2020

April 13, 2020 - USDA's official, consensus forecast for agricultural markets, known as the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, just came out.  Their analysis of dairy market (as of early April) is as follows:

First Cutting Updates - Week of May 22nd, 2018

Betsy Hicks, Area Dairy Specialist
South Central New York Dairy & Field Crops

Last Modified: May 30, 2018

An overall assessment of first cutting growth from fields we measured: 

Quite a few farms across the region have started harvest of pure grass stands, as well as mixed stands.  Recommendations are for 50% or less alfalfa stands to make prudent use of this cutting window to harvest for peak dairy quality across the region.  There is still time for pure alfalfa stands to gain yield, given Jerry Cherney's observations.  Look for our final report on Wednesday, May 30th.  We will be sending out a brief survey of how you use the reports, so please feel free to give your assessment of how we are doing in regards to timing of first crop.  You can also reply to Betsy with any comments you may have on the use of the report or how we can improve. 

In the meanwhile, stay safe out in the fields and update the team with any conditions you encounter that would be of interest. 

First Cutting Updates - Week of May 29, 2018

Betsy Hicks, Area Dairy Specialist
South Central New York Dairy & Field Crops

Last Modified: May 30, 2018

An overall assessment of first cutting progress from fields we measured:  Most fields we measure have been harvested or are in the process of being cut.   Early samples we've gotten back have shown that grass cut on recommendations looks really nice.  One all grass sampled showed Adj Prot 22.0%, NDF 53.2 and NDFD 30h at 76.   Early grass varieties are well headed by now, but later maturing grasses are just to head stage.  If you have alfalfa fields standing alongside grass fields, it may be a good idea to harvest the grass for heifer or dry cow haylage, and focus on getting your alfalfa crop for lactating quality.  Most alfalfa fields still standing are showing signs of early bud.  A sample we've gotten back on a mostly alfalfa field cut on recommendations showed Adj Prot 22.6%, NDF of 48 and NDFD at 66, with the NDF and NDFD numbers a bit surprising.  We'd like to see more samples of both grass and alfalfa and mixed if you'd like to share with Janice or Betsy.  

First Cutting Updates - Week of May 15th, 2018

Betsy Hicks, Area Dairy Specialist
South Central New York Dairy & Field Crops

Last Modified: May 15, 2018

An overall assessment of first cutting growth from fields we measured:
Now is the time to cut Pure Grass fields across the region for peak dairy quality forage. Some higher elevations are just at that point, some fields in lower elevations and those in the southern portion of the region are just past that point. Weather forecast looks like rain over the weekend. If you have pure grass stands to harvest for your lactating cows, now is the time to park the corn planter and focus on quality hay crop. For 50/50 mixed stands, recommendations are looking like middle of next week for peak quality. Pure alfalfa stands we still have time - predictions are out to the end of the month at this point for peak quality. Please feel free to share samples you have analyzed with the team to let us know how predictions match up with reality. 

First Cutting Updates - Week of May 8th, 2018

Betsy Hicks, Area Dairy Specialist
South Central New York Dairy & Field Crops

Last Modified: May 8, 2018

An overall assessment of first cutting growth from fields we measured:
Many stands of alfalfa are too short to give adequate predictions for pure grass stand harvest - especially those at higher elevations. That being said, many lower elevation fields have alfalfa measuring 11-12", and predictions for harvest of nearby pure grass fields look like this weekend for peak quality. 50/50 mixed grass/alfalfa stands predictions are saying harvest in ~2 weeks, but time and weather will give us a better prediction next week for mixed stands. Weather looks like rain on Saturday, but a decent stretch of weather to start next week out. Look for our next report on Wednesday, May 16th. In the meanwhile, stay safe out in the fields and update the team with any conditions you encounter that would be of interest.  

Milking time at family dairy farms

A. Fay Benson, Small Dairy Extension Educator
South Central New York Dairy & Field Crops

Last Modified: June 21, 2016

Watch these videos below for a peek inside the milking routine at local family dairy farms.

Custom Machinery Rates

Nancy Glazier, Small Farms & Livestock Specialist
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

Last Modified: June 1, 2016

Trying to figure out how much to pay or charge for custom machinery operations? Check out the 2016 custom rate summaries from Pennsylvania.

NYSERDA Agriculture Energy Audit Program - Fact Sheet

Janice Degni, Team Leader, Field Crop Specialist
South Central New York Dairy & Field Crops

Last Modified: May 26, 2016

NYSERDA offers energy audits to help eligible farms and on-farm producers identify ways to save energy and money on utility bills. Reports include recommendations for energy efficiency measures.  

First Cutting Updates - Week of May 25, 2016

Betsy Hicks, Area Dairy Specialist
South Central New York Dairy & Field Crops

Last Modified: May 25, 2016

This is the fourth week of monitoring alfalfa height. Many fields of mixed grass/alfalfa were cut in the past week and some pure stands of alfalfa were also mowed early this week all across the 5-county region. Alfalfa growth in fields we checked saw as much as 6-7". There looks to be a smattering of passing showers in the forecast for Friday/Saturday/Sunday/Monday, so the next few days are sure to be busy with a lot more first cutting being harvested. Early reports back on tonnage in grass fields are that it seems to have yielded well even though height may not have been what we would have expected. Some people have sent us samples back on cuttings - we always appreciate anything you are willing to share with us, so keep them coming! As always, feel free to reach out to Betsy and Janice (607.391.2660) to have us come out and check some fields with you. Let us know you're reading!

First Cutting Updates - Week of May 18, 2016

Betsy Hicks, Area Dairy Specialist
South Central New York Dairy & Field Crops

Last Modified: May 18, 2016

The SCNY team is in the third week of monitoring alfalfa height to help predict quality and %NDF for first cutting hay crop. Alfalfa height has been proven to be a reliable indicator of NDF values in the field for alfalfa, alfalfa/grass mixed and all grass stands. Results are compiled and emailed on a weekly basis - please feel free to forward the results! If your area falls outside of our 5 county region, please contact Betsy (bjh246@cornell.edu) because there are many other counties that are participating in the weekly checks. The weekly email for the month of May has a table of the locations around the region where we have measured the alfalfa height, as well as the elevation. Even if your fields aren't measured, you can use the location and elevation as a guide to conditions that may be similar to your own.  

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Upcoming Events

Winter Crop Meeting 2024 - Dryden Event

Event Offers DEC Credits

January 19, 2024 : Winter Crop Meeting 2023 - Dryden Event
Dryden, NY

Attend this year's Winter Crop Meeting 2024 at the Dryden VFW
Speakers will be covering the following topics:

  • Agriculture and Weather Extremes: How Can We Adapt? How do we work with Public Policy?
  • TBD
  • Weed Management Updates: Herbicide Resistant Weeds and Programs to Control Them.
  • Dairy Sustainability Updates: How & Why Should We Assess a Dairy Carbon Footprint? On Farm Research to Support Sustainability. 
  • Announcements

    NYS Climate Action Council Draft Scoping Plan

    The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) was signed into law in 2019 as one of the most ambitious climate laws in the world. The law created the Climate Action Council (the Council), which is tasked with developing a draft scoping plan that serves as an initial framework for how the State will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve net-zero emissions, increase renewable energy usage, and ensure climate justice. On December 20, the Council voted to release the draft scoping plan for public comment. January 1, 2022 marks the beginning of a 120-day public comment period to receive feedback from the public as the Council works to develop and release a final scoping plan by the end of 2022. Read the Draft Scoping Plan [PDF] including the  entire document with appendices. https://climate.ny.gov/Our-Climate-Act/Draft-Scoping-Plan

    From Our Team to Yours: COVID-19 Resources for Dairy Farmers

    The South Central NY Dairy and Field Crops Team has compiled a list of articles that we think may be useful to dairy producers and their service providers as we all navigate the COVID-19 situation. Please stay safe and reach out to our team if you have questions or need help finding information. We are here to help with tools and resources to support all of the normal day-to-day dairy and field crop management considerations, in addition to emerging topics related to COVID-19.

    For the full list, click here: COVID-19 Resources for Dairy Farmers

    Regional Team Operations During COVID-19

    Click here for an operations update.

    Dairy Acceleration Program Funds Available

    Funds available for the
    • organization of financial records/benchmarking up to $1,000
    • continued business planning (for farms awarded in a previous year) up to $2,500
    • business planning up to $5,000
    Guidelines remain the same DAP covers 80% of the cost up to the value of the award and the farm is responsible for 20%.  Visit https://prodairy.cals.cornell.edu/dairy-acceleration/


    CCE Hemp Exchange Board On-Line
    Dear Hemp Growers & Processors: Our exchange board has its first postings; plenty of interest in selling and purchasing. You can check it out at http://www.nyhempexchange.org/

     *The NY Hemp Exchange Board is posted for your information and research purposes. Cornell Cooperative Extension does not endorse or recommend any product, service, individual, business or other entity. All "Hemp Exchanges" are posted at the discretion of CCE. "Hemp Exchanges" requests may be denied or removed at any time for any reason Maire Ullrich, MBA Agriculture Program Leader Eastern New York Horticulture Team - Vegetables Cornell University Cooperative Extension Orange County

    2018 Drug Residue Prevention Manual

    For more than 30 years, the U.S. dairy industry has focused educational efforts on the judicious use of antibiotics through the annual publication of a Best Practices Manual. The 2018 edition of the National Dairy FARM Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management? Milk and Dairy Beef Drug Residue Prevention Manual is the primary educational tool for dairy farm managers throughout the country on the judicious and responsible use of antibiotics, including avoidance of drug residues in milk and meat.

    The manual is a quick resource to review those antibiotics approved for dairy animals and can also be used as an educational tool and resource for farm managers as they develop on-farm best management practices necessary to avoid milk and meat residues. Visit the Manual and Form Library to download copies of this important tool!

    Follow us on Facebook

    The team updates our facebook page frequently - follow us to be updated on our events, see some fun videos and get local area updates!


    Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship

    Western New York Dairy Farmers Kim Shaklee and Janice Brown make the news with their successful Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship match. Kim and Janice are Master Graizers, and they are working hard with their Apprentice, Travis Belmore and preparing Lauren La Mar for an official Apprenticeship. 


    ProDairy Forage Management

    Are you prepared to change your routine this spring?

    By: Joe Lawrence, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY and Ron Kuck, Cornell Cooperative Extension North Country Regional Ag Team

    While spring tasks vary by farm, there are many "rites of spring," and they are often completed in a fairly rigid sequence. Depending on the farm, these often include fixing fence, spreading manure, planting new seedings, planting corn and harvesting first cutting, and are often performed in this order.

    We are optimistic that the upcoming turn in weather will allow these task to be accomplished in a timely manner, but at this point it is time to ask yourself: Are you willing to change your spring routine?

    In addition to adverse weather it is no secret that everyone is facing extremely tight economic times, and dealing with forage inventories of poor digestibility forages from 2017. This combination of factors makes it more critical than ever to be ready to tackle the task that will have the most impact on your business at the proper time.

    Recent reference articles on dealing with tough times:
    • Key Opportunities to Optimize 2018 Crop Production Efficiency
    • Resources for Dealing with Spring Weather Delays
    First Cutting
    The number one focus should be on timely harvest of first cutting.
    • Park the corn planter when a field of first cutting is ready for harvest.
    o Monitoring 1st cut harvest timing
    • Approach harvest by the acre, not by the field. Be ready to skip over a field that has passed its optimum harvest stage.
    o Dynamic Harvest Schedules
    • Strategically plan feed storage to best utilize forage inventories for the right group of animals.
    o Strategic Forage Storage Planning
    o When More is Better
    Corn Planting
    The window for planting for silage is generally wider than for grain, which is why first cutting can and should take priority over corn planting. However, in the event of extreme delays in planting corn, performance will diminish with late plantings. If corn planting progresses into late May or early June, begin to consider alternative options for those acres. Previous research from Cornell and Penn State suggest a 0.5 to 1 ton/acre per week decline in silage yield for planting after mid to late May.

    First and foremost during a time of year that can be very busy and stressful, taking every precaution to keep your team safe is critical.

    The idea of fitting all of this work into a condensed time period, and still getting key tasks completed before critical deadlines can seem impossible, but year after year many find unique ways to get it all done. Consider working with neighbors, custom operators or renting equipment to accomplish these key tasks on time.

    If you currently utilize custom operators, now is a good time to set up a time to meet with them and make sure you are on the same page to get tasks accomplished in the time-frame needed. Make sure that your expectations and goals are clearly defined. They will also be under stress to fit their work into a condensed period and meet their customers' expectations, so defining expectations and pre-planning how to most efficiently get the work accomplished when the custom operator arrives can go a long way to increase the chances for success.

    NYSERDA Agriculture Energy Audit Program

    NYSERDA offers energy audits to help eligible farms and on-farm producers identify ways to save energy and money on utility bills. Reports include recommendations for energy efficiency measures.

    Eligible farms include but are not limited to dairies, orchards, greenhouses, vegetables, vineyards, grain dryers, and poultry/egg. The farms must also be customers of New York State investor-owned utilities and contribute to the System Benefits Charge (SBC). Please check your farmís current utility bills to see if your farm pays the SBC.

    Energy Audit Options
    You can request the level of energy audit that best fits your farmís needs. NYSERDA will assign a Flexible Technical Assistance Program Consultant to visit your farm and perform an energy audit at no cost to you.

    For more information and the NYSERDA Agriculture Energy Audit Program Application click here