Peter Hagar is an agricultural educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County, 6064 Rt. 22, Plattsburgh, N.Y., 12901. Phone 561-7450.

A season for learning

By: Peter Hagar, Cornell Ag Connection

As I write this article, there are 62 days until spring 2014. Almost two months of waiting, planning, wishing and hoping.

I realize that on March 20 the weather will not suddenly turn mild nor thaw the ground, but as we start to see colder weather return this week, I hope the end of winter comes sooner rather than later. Winter is a time of dormancy for the plants we grow, but dairy farmers still have to milk their cows, livestock growers still have to feed and water their stock, apple growers have to prune their trees and all farmers have to plan for next year. 

Because our growing season is so short, farmers need to plan well ahead to ensure timely planting and harvest of next year’s crops. Even while closing the books on 2013, many farmers have already been calculating their future needs, ordering seed and fertilizer and, as always, trying to keep an optimistic view of the future. 

Farmers are, by nature, forward looking. While last year had it’s problems, next year could be even better ... or worse. While you can’t bank on success, you can start planning for it now.

One of the reasons that farmers keep an upbeat outlook is farming is a long-term endeavor. Farmers have a lot of history to look back on for encouragement. Since humans first started cultivating crops and domesticating livestock thousands of years ago, farming methods have continued to improve and production has increased year after year.

In the last 100 years, agricultural production has increased at an unprecedented rate. Farmers are also under ever-increasing pressure to produce more and more food for our growing populations. These recent increases can be attributed in large part to advances in farming methods, machinery and modern technology.

The long winter months are an ideal time for farmers to explore new ideas and learn about new techniques and methods of production. During summer, it is almost impossible to get away from the farm with a steady workload of planting, mowing, harvesting and routine chores filling up almost every hour of the day. Winter offers a chance to get away from the farm for learning opportunities, meetings and workshops.

If you are currently farming or you plan on farming in the future, please take advantage of the wide variety of upcoming events in the Northern New York region. From dairy and beef to maple and vegetables, farmers of all flavors will find something of interest.

One nearby opportunity I will be attending will be the Crop Congress conference being held in Chazy at the Miner Institue on Feb. 18. For anyone interested in learning more about modern crop production in the North Country, this will be an excellent opportunity.

Keynote speaker Dr. Allison Chatrchyan, director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture, will present her thoughts on the impact climate change and variable weather will have on Northern New York farming systems in the near and distant future. She’ll present historical climate data and suggest how farmers may integrate climate change into farm system planning for reduction of risk and how growers may seize opportunities the changing climate may present.

The educational program also includes Dr. Russ Hahn of Cornell University. Dr. Hahn will provide his latest research findings on herbicide-resistant weeds, mixed grass-legume seedings using Round-Up Ready alfalfa and some timely aspects of acetochlor herbicide.

Dr. Quirine Ketterings of Cornell University will be sharing the latest results of double crop forage research trials on farms across New York State. Mike Hunter, CCE Jefferson and Lewis counties, will discuss late-season forage planting alternatives, and Anita Figueras, CCE St. Lawrence County, will provide an update on crop insurance options for crop growers.

For more information about Crop Congress, contact the Clinton County Extension office at 561-7450.

Many other meetings, workshops and conferences are also in the works. For more information about other upcoming programs, look for announcements in the Press-Republican Farm Briefs section or check the calendar on our website at In addition, feel free to contact your local office of the Cornell Cooperative Extension at 561-7450 or email me at

Peter Hagar, agriculture program educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension Clinton County, 6064 Rt. 22, Plattsburgh, 12901. Call 561-7450.