Sorghum x Sudangrass, a Real “Slump Buster”

Mike Estadt, OSU Extension Educator, Pickaway County

Major League Baseball players are infamous for trying strange practices to get out of hitting slumps. Not shaving, not showering, and trying to keep the routine they used when the bat was finding the ball. Grazers in part of Ohio typically have a period of time called the “summer slump”, usually in late July and early August when hot and dry weather force cool season grasses into partial dormancy. Quite often we become like baseball players trying the same routine.


Initial grazing at 45 day after emergence

Sometimes we as grass managers need to Continue reading

Oats, an Annual Forage to Consider

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

In order to optimize utilization, oats have been strip grazed throughout the winter.

With the wheat crop coming off early this year across Ohio, those who may need additional forage will soon have an excellent opportunity for acres to be available where annual forages can be planted and grazed or harvested yet this year. For those wanting acres available for multiple grazings or cuttings later this summer, a summer annual such as sorghum sudangrass may be the logical choice. However, if the forage need is not for mid summer, but rather a single grazing or cutting in late summer or fall, based on our experience in Fairfield County with oats planted after wheat harvest over the past 15 years, oats are a low cost yet high quality feed alternative. In fact, if planted most any time in July or August, there’s an opportunity to ‘create’ anywhere from two to five tons of forage on a dry matter basis while investing little more than the cost of 80-100 pounds of oats and 40 pounds of nitrogen.

Over the years we’ve found it’s NOT important to rush to get oats planted as soon as possible after wheat harvest. In fact our experience has been that we get a greater yield and higher quality feed if we wait until Continue reading

Weed Control Odds and Ends for Hay and Pasture Weeds

– Dwight Lingenfelter, Program Development Specialist and William S. Curran, Professor of Weed Science, Penn State University

Herbicides in new grass and legume seedings: Herbicide selection for new forage grass and/or legume seedings are limited. Most herbicide labels for grasses like orchardgrass, timothy, etc. state that the grasses should be well established with at least 4-5 inches of growth. Some labels are more restrictive than this. The metsulfuron label states that grasses should be established for at least 6 months prior to an application. This ensures that they are developing a solid root system that could tolerate potential stress from the herbicide. Herbicide selection, formulation (ester vs. amine) rate, and environmental conditions at application will all impact the Continue reading

How You Can Help the Sun Make Hay When It Shines!

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist
Most of this article is adapted with permission from an article published in Farm and Dairy on 2nd June 2010, available to view under this link. It still applies now.

In a recent CORN newsletter article I encouraged patience in waiting for soils to firm up before attempting to make our first cutting of hay after the heavy rains we received over the weekend. Once the soils are firm enough, there are several proven techniques that can speed up the hay curing process.

Haylage vs. hay.

Consider making haylage/silage or balage instead of dry hay. Since haylage is preserved at higher moisture contents, it is a lot easier to get it to a proper dry matter content for safe preservation. Proper dry matter content for chopping haylage can often be achieved within 24 hours or less as compared with 3 to 5 days for dry hay.

Proper dry matter content for silage ranges from Continue reading

Reducing Forage Harvest Losses

– Andrew Frankenfield, Penn State University Extension Educator, Agronomy

Much of the alfalfa will go for haylage or baleage but some alfalfa mixed with orchard grass will likely be dried for hay. As alfalfa dries down the potential for dry matter loss increases. While some dry matter loss is unavoidable; there are some techniques and specialized equipment that can reduce the amount of loss.

This winter at the PA Forage and Grassland Council Conference, one of the speakers said that they Continue reading

Optimum Hay Yields Require Optimum Fertility!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County (this article was published previously in the Ohio Farmer magazine at

Each ton of forage harvested removes 13 pounds of P2O5 and 50 pounds of K2O

With the weather finally allowing hay harvest to get underway across Ohio, it’s also a good time to consider strategies for replacing the soil nutrients that are removed during harvest. Since hay is the basis for most Ohio winter beef cow rations, it’s common for cattlemen to occasionally pull soil samples from hay fields that don’t seem to be as productive as they once were. Often times they’re surprised to discover the fertility is low, especially in fields that have been in hay for some time.

It’s not uncommon to Continue reading

Forage Maturity: The Most Important Factor Affecting Forage Quality (and Yield?)

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Considering the weather Ohio experienced the first two weeks of May this year, the last thing a farmer wants to hear is anyone suggesting that hay needs to be made now . . . and in fact, right now! I realize that most folks who have hay to make also have row crops to plant and care for, and perhaps also have cows to breed, pastures to rotate and any number of other spring time chores. Regardless, you’ve heard it before and will hear it again, young leafy forages are high in protein and total digestible nutrients. And, once those plants begin to make seed heads, quality and digestibility decline quickly.

The ages old argument for not making hay now is that if we wait Continue reading

Speed Up Hay Drying Time with Properly Adjusted Conditioning Rolls

– Duane Miller, Penn State University Extension Educator

While some first cutting has taken place in the southern areas of Pennsylvania, there still remains a large amount of forage that has yet to be cut. With first cutting, we try to encourage timely harvest so producers can maximize forage quality, while setting up a good schedule for future cuttings. The problem is that often times, our weather patterns don’t cooperate and we don’t get those sunny, hot days that dry hay well.

To ensure that you’re getting every advantage you can to bale your crop as quickly as possible, there are several items you should Continue reading

First Cutting of Forages is Fast Approaching

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

The warm temperatures this spring have stimulated growth of hay crops in Ohio and they are well ahead of normal development for early May. The only exception is where spring freezes significantly damaged the crop a few weeks ago. But for most stands, timing for first harvest of high quality forage is coming earlier than normal. Below are the optimal Continue reading

Baleage Mistakes Can Lead to Major Health Consequences

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL), Dr. Ray Smith, Livestock Forage Extension Specialist, and Krista Lea –UK Dept of Plant and Soil Sciences

Baleage or “wet wrapped hay” is simply forage of a relatively high moisture content that is baled with a round baler and then sealed in a plastic bag or wrapped in plastic, to keep oxygen out. Anaerobic bacteria (those that live without air) convert sugars in the forage to lactic acid which in turn lowers the pH and preserves the forage as silage, with full fermentation completed within 6-8 weeks. Round bale silage (“baleage”) is an alternative to baling dry hay that allows shorter curing time and saves valuable nutrients by avoiding rain damage, harvest delays, spontaneous heating and weathering if stored outdoors. Grasses, legumes and small grains can be effectively preserved by this method but only if proper techniques are followed. Forages should be cut at early maturity with high sugar content, allowed to wilt to a 40-60% moisture range, then tightly baled and quickly wrapped in plastic to undergo fermentation (“ensiling” or “pickling”), a process that should drop the pH of the feed below 4.5 where spoilage organisms will not grow. Problems arise when Continue reading