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

Time for Some “Defensive Driving”

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator

The term “defensive driving” may seem like an odd choice of words to start an article about beef cattle. Stay with me on this one. When I think about defensive driving, I think about watching out for factors such as the surrounding traffic, weather conditions, time of day, driver fatigue, etc. and how they may affect your ability to travel safely from point A to point B. How does this concept relate to beef cattle production?

As we are in the midst of changing both weather and production seasons, now is the time to be analyzing your animals and the environmental conditions around them to make important management decisions that can impact your operation for the short- and long-term. Most of you are painfully aware that the beef herd has faced many challenges through the winter of 2018-2019. As we move into spring with green grass and warmer temperatures, do not get lulled into a false sense of security that any problems that we have been experiencing are going to magically disappear.

We fully realize the current situation. We have experienced months of cold, wet conditions that have resulted in excessive amounts of mud. Unless you have had a laboratory analysis of the forages fed your herd through the winter, we have to assume that forage quality of hay supplies is sub-par. Excessive moisture in the spring and early summer of 2018 simply did not allow for the timely harvest of forages to generate high quality feed. Based on my observations and conversations I have had with producers, veterinarians, and other industry representatives, the weather and feed quality has resulted in large numbers of Continue reading

Waiting for Grass

– Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, Associate Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

As spring approaches there a few things to keep in mind. Pasture conditions on many farms are going to be less than ideal. Heavy foot traffic combined with excess precipitation has led to a decline in swards. Spring growth could be hampered as a result. In my travels across the state during the first of March I noticed cows already trying to pick on new growth. Cows going to graze when hay supplies are tight is a welcome change to feeding hay in the mud.

However, the pasture forage will benefit this spring from delaying grazing. Much of the early growth will be supported by plant energy stores until sufficient leaf area has developed for photosynthesis. Continually removing this new growth could further weaken stands or slow spring forage growth. Implement rotational grazing management to provide some rest/recovery time for plants this year.

I typically recommend delaying spring turn out on pastures until the 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

When to Start Grazing: Don’t Rush It!

Chris Penrose, Extension Educator, Ag and Natural Resources, Morgan County

Pastures have been under extraordinary stress the past year. Now is not the time to stress them additionally with early and intense grazing!

One goal I have had with livestock grazing over the years is to start as soon as I can. I put spring calving cows on stockpiled grass in early March to calve with the hope of not having to feed any more hay. Many years this works but not this year, grass is just starting to grow. The stockpile is about gone and I have started feeding them some more hay but hope to move the group with the fall calving cows this weekend. I then plan on starting a fast rotation around many of the paddocks and hay fields which is actually later than many years.

I suggest we don’t rush things this year as we have a couple issues going on. First, as I mentioned, growth is slow this spring, and second, many pastures have sustained abnormal damage this winter from 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

The Role of Soil Health in Water-Logged Fields

Erika Lyon, OSU Extension Educator, Jefferson & Harrison Counties (originally published in the Expo 2019 issue of The Ohio Cattleman)

Healthy soils = productive pasture. And, water-logged soils that resulted in mud is just one component that might have led to decline in soil health in 2018!

It was just a little while ago when we wanted the rain to stop and the temperatures to drop below freezing to end the accumulation of mud in our fields. We got our wish later in January, but what will be the long-term implications of these muddy fields?

First, we need to understand what created these water-logged conditions in the first place. While excessive rainfall certainly has a role to play, the health of the soil affected will determine how long mud persists and whether forages will be able to recover in the following spring.

Before going into what soil health is, let’s explore what soil is. Soil is not just made up of “dirt.” It consists of mineral material derived from the bedrock below, pore space filled with air and water, and organic matter generated by microbes and macro-invertebrates. Healthy soils will have all of the aforementioned components and function as a living ecosystem – if a component is missing or one occurs in excess, we will begin to see Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

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