Maryland Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1 (CFAP1) Bonus Payment

The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) will issue a bonus payment to Maryland farmers based on a percentage (15%) of federal Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1 (CFAP1) funds received for the CFAP1 period that ended Sept. 11, 2020. Deadline for the bonus payment is December 1 at 5:00 PM. 

CFAP1 provides vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a 5% or greater price decline or who had losses due to market supply chain disruptions from COVID-19, and face additional significant marketing costs. The commodities covered are: aquaculture (finfish and crayfish), corn, cut flowers, dairy, livestock (excluding poultry), nursery, small grains, soybeans and specialty crops.

Applications will be online and must be completed by following this link:

October 2020 WASDE Report

Dale Johnson, Farm Management Specialist
University of Maryland Extension

Harvested acres estimate was adjusted down 1 million acres and yield estimate was adjusted down 0.1 bushels per acre. Beginning stocks estimate was adjusted down 258 million bushels. The total effect of these changes decreased supply 436 million bushels. Domestic demand estimate was decreased by 100 million bushels which accounted for the decrease in Use total. The net effect of supply and demand decreased ending stocks 336 million bushels and the stocks-to-use ratio from 17.1% to 14.9%. These anticipated changes have been reflected in the market as December futures price for corn has increased $0.75/bu. from $3.23/bu. on August 11 to a high of $3.98/bu. on October 9.
Harvested acres estimate for soybeans was adjusted down 700,000 acres and beginning stocks were adjusted down by 52 million bushel. These two changes resulted in a decrease of 97 million bushel in estimated 2020/21 supply. On the demand side, there was an increase in export estimate of 75 million bushels. The resulting estimate of ending stocks was decreased by 170 million bushels decreasing the stocks-to-use ratio to a very low 6.4% from 10.4% last month. The November futures price for soybeans has spiked almost $2.00/bu. in the past two months from $8.83/bu. on August 11 to a high of $10.80/bu. on October 9.
Yield estimate was adjusted down 0.4 bushels per acre. Demand was increased by 10 million bushel. The net effect was to decrease ending stocks by 42 million bushel and the stocks-to-use ratio from 44.3% in September to 42.1% in October. wheat futures prices (December) have followed corn and soybean prices and increased $1.03/bu. from $5.04/bu. on August 11 to $6.07/bu. on October 9.
Click here to download the report.

Maryland Regional Crop Reports: October 2020

Reports are for crop conditions up to October 6, 2020.

Western Maryland

Soybeans and corn are being harvested with wheat and cover crops being planted as soon as combines leave the fields. Manure is also covering many fields planted with cover crops. Welcome rains of early September have been followed by another dry spell. Hopefully the clouds of October will be more generous with their moisture.—Jeff Semler, Washington Co.

Central Maryland

The cooler weather has been a welcome change from this summer. September’s rain amounts and locations were scattered across the region. Corn grain harvest has begun. Soybean fields are drying down, with some ready to be harvested in the next couple weeks. It’s not too early to start thinking about weed control for next season, especially if dealing with herbicide resistant weeds like marestail. If planting a small grain, be sure to start clean and stay clean!—Kelly Nichols, Montgomery Co.

Northern Maryland

We were a tad dry in September and recent rains have been welcome. Corn harvest has been occurring for approximately 3 weeks now, although not at full force until the last few days. Corn yields are certainly down compared to last year’s record numbers; probably 10-20% lower. Even with that said, corn yields are better than anticipated considering how dry June/July was. Full season soybeans are drying down quickly and what’s been harvested so far has yielded exceptionally well. The double crop beans do not look nearly as promising, as a dry July severely inhibited establishment and dry September reduced pod set/bean size. Cover crop establishment has been good and the 2021 wheat and barley crop are going in the ground smoothly.—Andy Kness, Harford Co.

Upper & Mid Shore

Corn harvest is around half complete. Dryland yields are well above average, and may end up near all time highs. Irrigated yields are off 10-15%- probably due to too many cloudy, humid, hazy, poor light quality days.  Soybean harvest is just beginning. Beans look really good. It’s still too early to predict yield, but we definitely grew a tremendous amount of forage. Early planted cover crops are off to a great start. Small grain planting is just beginning.—Jim Lewis, Caroline Co.

Lower Shore

Harvest is underway. Approximately 25% of corn has been harvested. Corn yield reports are 125 plus or minus bushels per acre. Sorghum is also ready to be harvested. Soybean harvest has not yet begun, although fields are now beginning to reach full maturity. We had a 2-3” rain event last week, which prevented entry to fields for several days. So far, the weather has been sunny and breezy this week, helping to dry crops down. Palmer amaranth is apparent in some fields, and we urge growers to harvest these fields last and thoroughly clean equipment to prevent the spread of seed. The planting of fall cover crops is underway.—Sarah Hirsh, Somerset Co.

Southern Maryland

Sunny conditions this week are finally allowing for good progress on corn harvest.  Corn moisture levels are stubbornly running around 18-22% and saturated ground has made corn harvest a challenge this year. We continue to see a fair amount of ear rot issues. Cover crop planting is behind schedule as farmers struggle to get corn in. Soybean harvest has not yet begun, but there are some really good-looking soybean fields. We expect excellent double crop beans and a very good full season crop. The drier weather has provided some opportunities for getting in dry hay. We continue to struggle with orchardgrass persistence in this area. Fields that looked picture perfect in the spring and early summer are now looking more like fields of weeds with patches of crabgrass and the majority of orchardgrass gone. We have some work to do to figure out the persistence issue or rely more heavily on other species. Vegetable harvest is winding up. The pumpkin and cucurbit crop was hurt by heavy rainfall.—Ben Beale, St. Mary’s Co.

Tall Fescue, Friend or Foe?

Amanda Grev, Extension Forage Specialist | Jeff Semler, Principal Agriculture Agent
University of Maryland
Sjoerd W. Duiker, Professor of Soil Management and Applied Soil Physics
Penn State Cooperative Extension

Across the Mid-Atlantic, tall fescue covers millions of acres, making it one of if not the dominant forage in many of our cool-season perennial pastures. Release of the Kentucky 31 (K-31) variety of tall fescue in the 1940s had a large impact on the forage and livestock industry. Today there are approximately 40 million acres of tall fescue pastures across the United States, much of it K-31. However, even with its widespread use this may still be the most mismanaged and misunderstood perennial forage around.

Kentucky 31 tall fescue is infected with a fungal endophyte. This fungus lives between the cells of the plant as part of a symbiotic relationship. The plant provides the endophyte with shelter and nutrients—a place for the fungus to live and reproduce. The endophyte returns the favor by producing alkaloid compounds that provide the plant with insect and drought resistance, grazing tolerance, and overall plant persistence. Regrettably, some of the alkaloids produced by an endophyte-infected plant cause poor animal performance, including low average daily gain, decreased reproductive performance, rough hair coats, elevated body temperatures, etc. Collectively, this poor performance is referred to as fescue toxicosis, and it is the reason many producers have developed a bad taste for tall fescue.

As a result of this, for many people the mere mention of tall fescue brings an automatic dismissal conjuring up bad experiences with poor animal performance. However, while fescue toxicosis can be a very real and valid concern, there can also be a time and a place for it if managed appropriately. Given the prevalence of this type of tall fescue, there are several steps producers can take to reduce fescue toxicosis and mitigate its harmful effects without a complete stand renovation. Some practical methods to achieve this are discussed below.


For several reasons, moving cattle off of fescue during the hot summer months greatly increases animal performance. First, fescue is not productive during the summer months, so moving cattle to a summer pasture simply gives them something to graze. Second, high temperatures can intensify the toxic effect of infected fescue, so moving cattle to a nontoxic pasture can help eliminate this summer slump. Research suggests that 88°F may be a threshold for significantly decreased gain. Additionally, after moving cattle should remain off of infected tall fescue for the entire summer; research also indicates a residual effect of toxicity, suggesting that rotating off of tall fescue for only one to two weeks will not greatly reduce the summer slump.

Using rotation within a grazing system will also help with avoiding close grazing. The highest levels of alkaloids are typically found in the bottom 3 inches of the fescue plant, so by leaving a greater amount of residual (ungrazed) forage you will also be limiting the animals’ exposure to the most toxic forage. As an additional bonus, grazing no shorter than 3-4 inches will also help improve stand persistence long term.


Tall fescue pastures should be grazed when the endophyte concentrations are naturally lower. The endophyte concentrates in the lower parts of the plants until the plant goes reproductive. At that time, the endophyte grows through the stem and eventually, alkaloids concentrate in the seed. Because of this, avoid grazing tall fescue when seedheads appear. Tall fescue produces seedheads during the first spring growth only, so one option is to graze the fescue aggressively in the spring to a 3-4 inch stubble height to keep it from going to seed. Another option is to clip seedheads or mow tall fescue pastures in the spring to make hay.

Timing can also be used to your advantage by stockpiling tall fescue for later grazing. Tall fescue is one of the preferred grasses for stockpiling. It grows well during the late summer and fall and its nutritional value improves in the fall as temperatures drop; thus, its feed quality is often better than other grasses in the winter. Recent research has shown that alkaloid concentrations decrease as much as 85% from December to March, making late winter grazing of stockpiled fescue a great option.

Tall fescue also has great standability in winter due to its relatively rigid leaves and robust root system. Its rigid leaves make it easier for livestock to graze during the winter months, and its robust root system withstands freezing and thawing cycles well. This characteristic also makes fescue an ideal candidate for grazing during wetter soil conditions. Furthermore, it is highly persistent, making it more likely to come back even after mistreatment or when grazed under poor conditions.


Ever heard the phrase “dilution is the solution to pollution?” The toxic effects of infected Kentucky 31 tall fescue can be diluted by adding diversity to a pasture, particularly with legumes. In the Mid-Atlantic region, common grazing legumes for interseeding include red clover, white clover, alfalfa, and birdsfoot trefoil. Each of these legumes differs in its persistence and growth characteristics, but all can be maintained with proper management. Keep in mind that legumes should be inoculated, and red clover and birdsfoot trefoil will require occasional reseeding if they are not allowed to reseed naturally every couple years.

These legumes not only help add species diversity and reduce the total toxin concentration within a pasture, but they also serve as a protein-rich companion to the fescue. Because they have the capability to fix nitrogen, large nitrogen applications are no longer needed. This is important because nitrogen fertilization, especially larger applications, has been shown to raise the alkaloid level. Red clover in particular shows promise as a companion of tall fescue because research has revealed that it produces artery-dilating isoflavones that have the ability to counteract the artery-restricting effect of alkaloids from the toxic tall fescue endophyte. Unfortunately, clovers lose their leaves sometime after a frost, so graze the fescue/clover stands prior to a hard frost and keep the pure fescue stands for stockpiling.


Supplementing with corn or other feeds also reduces the toxic effects of the endophyte on cattle. Although feeding corn at a rate of 1 percent of body weight can be effective, it may interfere with efficient forage fiber digestion. For this reason, feeding corn at a rate of 0.6 percent of body weight offers an economic compromise—it allows efficient digestion of forage fiber, lowers feed costs, and reduces the effects of toxicity. An alternate supplement is corn gluten feed, which can be fed at a higher rate without greatly reducing fiber digestion.

In summary, while these recommendations may not totally eliminate the risk of fescue toxicosis, they do provide some tools to help minimize its effects while capitalizing on the positive attributes of a tall fescue stand. When managed to its advantages, endophyte-infected tall fescue can be one of the many valuable tools in a grazers tool box.


Hall, M. (2016), Tall fescue, University Park, PA: Penn State Extension.

Roberts, C. (2000), Tall Fescue Toxicosis, University of Missouri Extension.

Poore, M., Drewnoski, M. (2010), Utilization of Stockpiled Tall Fescue in Winter Grazing Systems for Beef Cattle, Professional Animal Scientist; Apr 2010; 26, 2; Agricultural & Environmental Science Collection pg. 142

Rankin, M. (2016), The complexities of tall fescue, Hay & Forage Grower

Rogers, J. (2011), Clearing Up Some Tall Fescue Misconceptions, Noble Research Institute

Agriculture Law Conference 2020

We are quickly approaching the Agriculture Law Education Initiative’s (ALEI) sixth annual Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference. Due to ongoing uncertainty related to the global pandemic, ALEI is moving our annual conference online. Register today to join us in this new endeavor.

The conference will be offered over the course of three weeks with six live sessions as follows:

November 2, 2020
Pivoting in a Pandemic: Risk Management During COVID-19 from the Perspective of Maryland’s Dairy Farms
2 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.

A Fresh Look at Clean Air: Maryland Ambient Air Quality Study Roundtable (Nutrient Management Credits Available)
3 p.m. – 3:50pm

November 9, 2020
The Conowingo Dam Settlement- Litigation, Opposition and Re-Licensing
2 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, et. al. v. EPA: A Case to Require a Watershed Wide Effort to Reach 2025 Bay Restoration Goals (Nutrient Management Credits Available)
3 p.m. – 3:50pm

November 16, 2020
Developing Topics in Agricultural, Environmental, and Food Law
3 p.m. – 3:50 p.m.

Waters of the US: From Obama to Trump Understanding How the Rule Impacts Agriculture in the Mid-Atlantic (Nutrient Management Credits Available)
2 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.

To learn more about each session, we invite you to read our news article:

Registration is now open. This year’s conference is free of charge. Donations are highly appreciated to help support ongoing ALEI programs. (donations are not tax-deductible). Please help us get the word out and send to anyone you think might be interested in attending the sessions.

2020 Mid-Atlantic Crop Management School Registration Open

The 2020 Mid Atlantic Crop Management School will be held virtually this year during the week of November 16-20th. Sessions will be held online daily from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm with each session offering one continuing education credit in the areas of Nutrient Management, Pest Management, Crop Management, and Soil and Water Management. Credits will also be available for various regional nutrient management and pesticide programs. Paid registrants will receive access to recordings for all sessions for viewing outside the scheduled session times. Registration is now open in and posted to

EPA Institutes New Restrictions on Triazine Herbicides

Amy E. Brown, Professor Emerita
University of Maryland, Pesticide Safety Education Coordinator

US EPA has announced that after a thorough review of the best available science and carefully considering scientific peer review and public comments, the Agency has determined that certain mitigation measures are warranted for these three herbicides in order to address potential human health and ecological risk. Specifically, EPA is requiring the following
mitigation measures:

  • Reducing the maximum application rate for atrazine and simazine when used on residential turf in order to protect children who crawl or play on treated grass;
  • Adding a requirement for irrigation immediately after simazine application to residential turf;
  • Requiring additional personal protective equipment for workers who apply atrazine and simazine to reduce occupational risks associated with certain uses;
  • Finalizing label requirements for all three triazines to include mandatory spray drift control measures, to minimize pesticide drift into non-target areas, including water bodies;
  • Finalizing label directions for herbicide resistance to reduce the problem of weeds becoming resistant to atrazine.

Atrazine, propazine and simazine are widely used in the United States to control a variety of grasses and broadleaf weeds. Atrazine is an especially effective, affordable, and well-studied herbicide. Twelve meetings of the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) were held to discuss various aspects of atrazine, including cancer and non-cancer effects, potential effects on amphibians, the aquatic plant community level of concern, and surface water monitoring methods. As the second most widely used herbicide in the United States, atrazine is used on about 75 million acres of agricultural crop land every year, including more than half of the Nation’s corn crops. Atrazine is also used on residential lawns and golf courses, particularly in the Southeast.

More information on atrazine and today’s interim decisions is available at:

Background: EPA completes interim registration review decisions to impose interim risk mitigation measures necessary to protect human health and the environment, while the agency conducts additional assessments, typically an endangered
species assessment. For the triazines, EPA will next complete draft biological evaluations for atrazine, simazine, and propazine which are anticipated to be available for public comment in late Fall 2020. These evaluations are the first step in the interagency consultation process to protect listed species and their habitats under the Endangered Species Act. Final Endangered Species Determinations for each of the triazines are anticipated in 2021.

Pesticide Applicator Training: What You Need To Know

Private Applicator Certification exams have begun and are following new safety protocols. Registration will be required. Exams will be happening regionally as well as scheduled dates in Annapolis at the Department of Agriculture. Private Applicator and Commercial Applicator exams for October will be at the MDA headquarters in Annapolis on 10/19, 10/20 and 10/22. To register or to get more information call, MDA Pesticide Regulation at (410) 841-5710 or email for the registration link.

Additional testing dates are scheduled from 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. in Harford, Baltimore, and Carroll Counties (flyer posted below):

  • November 4, Harford County Ag Center
  • November 10, Baltimore County Ag Center
  • November 12, Carroll County Ag Center

For more information and to register, please follow this link:, or call the corresponding Extension office. Important details regarding COVID safety policies are in the link.

Private Applicator study materials can be obtained at your local Extension office ( Call ahead of time to schedule a pick-up. The optional training recording is available if you would like to watch

Private Applicator Recertification classes are being scheduled now and will be available in multiple formats including virtual, self-paced and in small groups. Below are steps depending on your expiration:

  • If you are not sure about when your license expires, visit search for certified pesticide applicators.
  • If your license expires 12/31/2020 and you received recertification training in the past 2 years you will receive an email (watch your spam folder) to renew through the online program. You will need  your license can a special code to renew.
  • If your license expires 12/31/2020 and you have not received recertification training in the past 2 years you will need to attend a recertification class before the end of March 2021. A list of winter production meetings that offer credits for private applicator and nutrient management are listed on page 9 of this newsletter. More information regarding a self-paced recertification course offered through UME will be forthcoming.
  • If your license expires in 2021, 2022 you do not have to attend a recertification training this year; however, feel free to attend any of the offered trainings.

University of Maryland Extension is working hard to create and provide quality programs. If you have questions about certification or recertification, your license, or upcoming workshops, please contact your local Extension Agent or the Maryland Department of Agriculture Pesticide Regulation.


October Insect Scouting Tips

Emily Zobel, Agriculture Agent Associate
University of Maryland Extension, Dorchester County


Soybean: Late double-crop soybean fields that are next to corn may still be at risk for defoliation and stink bug. The thresholds for stink bugs through R6 are 5 bugs per 15 sweeps, and defoliation in R6 needs to be approaching 20% before treatment is advised.

Wheat: The Hessian fly is not a significant pest in the Mid-Atlantic States because small grains usually are planted after the adult “fly-safe” date. If planting early, consider planting a resistant variety, since there is no insecticidal control that can be applied once the field becomes infested. The “fly-safe” date for areas across Maryland is the following: September 30 for the Mountain region, the first week in October for the Piedmont region, and the second week in October for the coastal plains.

Spotted Lanternfly adults are out and are laying eggs. If you are moving equipment in and out of quarantine areas, please check equipment for this invasive insect to reduce the spread. While it has been found in corn, soybean, and alfalfa, it is not considered a pest on these crops. However, their feeding has been harmful to grapes, hops, and tree fruits. If you observe any egg masses or insects which look similar to this, please try to collect them, and inform the Maryland Department of Agriculture at (410) 841-5920 or as soon as possible. For more information about spotted lanternfly can found on the MDA website.