The Great 2019 Hay Debate . . . Quality or Quantity?

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

If there was ever a year to focus on hay quality over quantity, weather permitting, this has to be it! Most of the reasons should be obvious. Perhaps a few are less so. However, with some aggressive planning and a little cooperation from Mother Nature, perhaps we can have both quality and quantity this year. Following are some points to consider.

Generally speaking, we’re out of quality hay in Ohio. The condition of our cows confirms it, the prices of hay at auction markets confirm it, and laboratory forage analysis confirms it. Not only was 2018 a challenging year for forage harvest, but we started that year with less inventory. Last spring in their hay stocks report, USDA NASS reported hay inventory on Ohio farms on May 1, 2018 was down 33% from that same time in 2017.

As we’re now nearing the end of April, cows need feed and to add insult to injury, forages have been slow to get started this spring. It’s safe to assume first cutting hay will likely be short due to a late spring start of growth. Regardless, hay needs to come off in a timely fashion this year.

The first reason is Continue reading

Dealing with Winter Injured Forage Stands

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Reports from around the state suggest we have many injured forage stands.

I’ve been hearing more reports from around the state of winter injured forage stands, especially in alfalfa. The saturated soil during much of the winter took its toll, with winter heaving being quite severe in many areas of the state. So, what should be done in these injured stands?

The first step is to assess how extensive and serious is the damage. Review the CORN issue of the week of Continue reading

Establishing New Forage Stands

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

This month provides one of the two preferred times to seed perennial cool-season forages, the other being late summer. Two primary difficulties with spring plantings are finding a good window of opportunity when soils are dry enough before it gets too late and managing weed infestations that are usually more difficult with spring plantings. The following 10 steps will help improve your chances for successful forage establishment in the Continue reading

Spring Weed Control in Grass Hay and Pasture

– Dwight Lingenfelter, Extension Associate, Weed Science and William S. Curran, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Weed Science, Pennsylvania State University

Continuously grazed pasture allows for selective grazing, reducing desirable forage competitiveness against weeds and leading to weed encroachment and spread.

Now is the time to scout grass pastures and hay in search of winter annual and biennial weeds. Both of these types of weeds are potentially susceptible to control right now and an effective herbicide application will prevent flowering and seed production.

Management of perennial weeds such as dandelion, Canada thistle and the woody perennials such as multiflora rose and autumn olive is best performed a bit later in early summer after plants reach the bud-to-bloom stage. Winter annuals including the mustard species, common chickweed, horseweed/marestail, deadnettle/henbit, fleabane, etc. are growing rapidly and have already or will begin to flower and set seed very soon. Biennials including musk and plumless thistle, burdock, wild carrot, etc. should be treated before they Continue reading

Weed Management Considerations Following a Wet Winter

– Dr. J. D. Green, Extension Weed Scientist, University of Kentucky

Extensive wet weather conditions during the past fall and winter have resulted in pasture fields that have bare soil and thin vegetative cover, particularly in areas that have been used for winter feeding. Fields with thin stands of desirable pasture species are more likely to contain winter annual weeds such as chickweed, henbit, purple deadnettle, and mustard species. As these cool-season weeds die back, warm-season weeds such as common cocklebur and common ragweed will likely emerge this summer and take their place.

The first step in determining weed management options is to do a critical evaluation of pasture fields in the late winter/early spring. Scout fields looking for any developing weed problems. The primary question then becomes – does the existing stand of desirable forages appear to be healthy and potentially competitive against any emerging weed problems? If the forage stand is acceptable and weed pressure is light, then the best course of action may be to Continue reading

Winter Feeding and Pasture Areas; What to do?

Stan Smith, PA, OSU Extension, Fairfield County (published originally in The Ohio Farmer on-line)

This is a common sight throughout the Midwest. How we handle areas like these from now on will impact their long term productivity. Photo: Landefeld

Damage from trampling and pugging to pastures and feeding areas over the past several months has been extensive throughout Ohio. For those who depend on pasture and forages for the foundation of their feeding program, the question that’s on many minds this spring is, “Do I need to reseed, and if so, where do I start?” Unfortunately, the response revolves around a lot of “it depends.”

We’ve all had the experience of dealing with pugged areas in pasture fields. Seldom, though, has it been so widespread and extensive. Over the past several months the damage has been caused not only by repeated hoof action, but also rutting made by tractors as hay was delivered to the feeding areas.

Degree of damage will be variable, and may call for different reactions throughout the farm, or even within a field. The course of action to repair these areas will be dependent on time and weather. Adding insult to injury, as I write this we’ve yet to have a window of more than a few days without precipitation, and pugged, trampled or rutted fields must dry before any repair work should begin.

As you consider a course of action, here’s a check list and Continue reading

Considerations if Starting Over with a New Seeding

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Forage growth on March 3, 2018 in southern Indiana. Growth has been slower in 2019.

March 20th was officially the first day of spring this year. If you look at growing degree days (GDD) for the last month around the state, we have had about thirty percent less than the average. We’ve talked about GDD’s before. Growing Degree Days are calculated by taking the average between the daily maximum temperature and daily minimum temperature and subtracting the base comparable temperature for each day. Days are then added together to compare periods. It is probably the most common way of assessing where we are in plant growth compared to other years, since weather is different from year to year.

Growing degree days provides a “heat” value for each day. The values added together can provide an estimate of the amount of growth plants have achieved. Some people use GDD’s to predict when plants will reach a certain growth stage. The developmental stage of most organisms has its own total heat requirement. I like to compare different Continue reading

Prepare to Evaluate Forage Stands for Winter Injury

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Wayne County and Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Rapid freeze/thaw cycles and saturated soil conditions have created the potential for heaving with taprooted legumes like alfalfa and red clover.

Forage stands will begin spring greenup in the next few weeks, especially in southern Ohio. While winter injury in forages is very hard to predict, this winter has presented some very tough conditions for forage stands. This is especially true of legumes like alfalfa and red clover. Producers and crop consultants should be prepared to walk forage stands early this spring to assess their condition in time to make decisions and adjustments for the 2019 growing season.

We had some days with very cold air temperatures, but the soil temperatures have been much more moderate than you might expect. The soil temperature at the 2-inch depth is associated with the temperature of plant crowns. The coldest 2-inch soil temperatures recorded since January 1 at the Ohio State University Agricultural Research Stations occurred in late January to early February, falling to 17.8 F at Northwest, 25.4 at Ashtabula (mid-January), 30.3 F at Western, 32.3 F at Wooster, and 32.6 at Jackson. To put this in perspective, temperatures in the 5 to 15 F range as measured at or just below the soil surface can begin to damage Continue reading

Frost Seeding Tips

– Mark Landefeld, OSU Extension Agriculture Educator, retired, Monroe County

Round bales had been fed here and the area was very rough from unusually wet conditions. Paddock before being lightly disc and drug one morning when the overnight temperature was 24°F.

Last week we discussed how this year many producers have more than normal amounts of pasture that has been moderately to heavily tracked-up by livestock due to the extensive wet soil conditions. Many of these pastures can use a little help in recovering by adding grass and or clover seed to these fields. Spending a few minutes to calibrate your seeder will help you get the desired amount of seed on the pasture. This will be particularly helpful if you have large areas needing seeded.

Calibrating a hand held seeder or broadcast seeder mounted on an ATV is not too hard to do. You will need a scale to weigh the seed, a few plastic bags, a measuring wheel or tape measure and maybe a Continue reading

Mud Damaged Pastures: We Gotta Play the Hand We’re Dealt

Mark Landefeld, OSU Extension Agriculture Educator, Monroe County

Few Ohio cattlemen are without areas like this that must be addressed after soil conditions permit this spring.

Winter always creates challenges for livestock producers. Keeping ice out of water buckets and off our water troughs can be a challenge, especially with sub-zero temperatures like we had a few weeks ago. Of course that did provide solid ground for a few days, something we have not seen much of this fall or winter. Pastures and feeding areas have really taken a “hit” this year causing mud to sprout and grow everywhere it seems. Every livestock owner I have talked to the last few weeks has the same situation, more mud and more tracked-up fields than they can ever recall before.

Mud increases stress for the livestock and the farm manager. The way you manage, or don’t manage, muddy conditions affects your livestock’s performance and may have a big impact on damaging forage plants in your pastures. Multiple research studies have shown that, when Continue reading