DALE STEIN: I'm Dale Stein, senior partner in Stein Farms in Le Roy. We milk 850 cows, work almost 3,000 acres of land. The weather is definitely becoming more erratic and more extreme than what it had been in the past. Today we've had very heavy rain all morning. They've got flood watches up all over. We've seen years where a drought, where on the gravel ground you get almost no yield.
We actually had two years in a row, 2011 and 2012 were too dry here, so all our forages were lower production. We feed 75 tons of feed a day, so about four tractor trailer loads of feed a day. So it takes a lot. We ended up, by the end of 2012, running out of our surplus forage. We'd used all that up. We end up on those years buying more grain, which increases our cost of production, and lowers the profit down.
But we're harvesting 1,500 to 2,000 tons of triticale every May, that if I didn't have-- that's extra on the same ground. If I didn't have that, we would have been in a lot worse place than we were without it. Up until about four or five years ago, there were maybe about 2,000 triticale makers statewide being grown in New York.
There were a few folks that were pioneers, but it really hadn't caught on until the farmers really encountered some really dramatic weather years. We had the drought in 2012, we had the deluge of 2013, and those extreme weather conditions really put a lot of stress on haylage and corn silage, and so having a third forage crop is really helpful for them to mitigate that risk.
The forage inventory shortages that we've had from extreme weather conditions in recent years is really just the sign of things to come, unfortunately. Farmers have to deal with the changing climate each and every day, and so in extension we really try to help farmers manage their risk.
And growing a triticale forage crop, or another small grain for forage can really give another opportunity to protect their resources over the winter, because they're more vulnerable to extreme precipitation events, and losing that soil-- we can protect the soil, but we could also take advantage of a cropping opportunity that we really haven't had in our traditional corn silage and haylage crops.
My standpoint, from what I've seen on this farm, triticale works very well for us, and the palatability is phenomenal. The cows love it. We also use it as a cover crop, because the root mass is so big that even though you're harvesting it, you still have a very high amount of root mass left. It works very well, soil conditioning. Notice the fibrous root system. This is why this crop can hold soil.
Just see how much soil, even in this couple inches of roots, that this is holding onto. So again, this is an awesome combination of a profitable crop that protects the environment. Baffles me why more farmers aren't using more triticale. Just baffles me. I think we have a lot of really exciting tools in the toolbox. We have real challenges in agriculture, but my job is to help farmers really address these issues.
And at the end of the day, you know, have a livelihood that supports their family, but also provides safe, nutritious, sustainable food to the rest of the world, whatever piece of the food puzzle it is.
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Dale Stein of Stein Farms in LeRoy, NY discusses observed changes in extreme weather and climate variability and the impacts on farm operations. Stein Farms is an 850 dairy cow farm and field crop producer. Bill Verbeten, a Cornell Cooperative Extension Specialist, explains the benefits of Triticale and its ability to mitigate risk. The Climate Smart Farming videos are produced by the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture (CICCA) and ConservationBridge.