Unusual Armyworm Outbreaks are Taking Many by Surprise

By Kelley Tilmon, Mark Sulc, Andy Michel, James Morris – OSU Extension

We have received an unusual number of reports about fall armyworm outbreaks particularly in forage including alfalfa and sorghum sudangrass, and in turf.  Certain hard-hit fields have been all but stripped bare (Figure 1).  Armyworm is not typically a problem in Ohio in late summer, so we encourage farmers to be aware of feeding damage in their fields.  Armyworms are much easier to kill when they are smaller, and feeding accelerates rapidly as they grow, so early detection is important.  Look for egg masses glued not only to vegetation but to structures like fence posts.  Egg masses have a fluffy-looking cover (Figure 2).  When the cover is peeled back, eggs are pearly and tan when new, and turn darker as they approach egg-hatch. Continue reading

Double Crop Forages to Maximize Summer Forage Potential

By Jason Hartschuh

Many producers use summer annual forages for grazing and stored forage to either fill the summer slump or keep livestock feed through the winter. With wheat harvest finalized across most of the state and straw baling completed for many now our attention turns to creating a second or third profit center off those wheat acres.

Wheat acres provide an excellent opportunity for double cropping with forages that when harvested at the proper growth stage can either make high quality late gestation early lactation forage, grazing opportunities, or gut fill to mix lower the quality of other forages or concentrates.

Many species of summer annuals can be utilized for forage. Some of them such as radish and turnip can be easily grazed but do not make good stored forage as Baleage or dry hay. For dry hay we have found the best two species to be teff and oats. Most other species can be harvested as silage or Baleage. Be cautious making dry hay that for plant stem is truly dry.

The nutritional value of summer annual forages we sampled ranged from $200-$260 per ton. While it may not be possible to sell these forages for their nutritional value, this is what it would cost to replace these forages in the ration with other forms of protein, energy, and fiber. Figure 1 shows the tons harvested per acre of forages planted on July 2nd and harvested either 63 or 91 days after planting versus a July 29th planting date with a harvest 63 to 84 days after planting. While nutrition content of the crop is important to filling the needs of livestock, the driving factor behind return per acre is the tons produced. While some of these summer annuals can be harvested multiple times over the summer, we compared a single cutting at about 60 or 90 days after planting. Not surprisingly across most species the early July planting had increased yields but the ability to utilize these crops into a late summer planting was surprising. All crops in Figure 1 were managed the same being planted in with a drill in 7.5 inch rows with 50 pounds of nitrogen applied. Early July planted corn yielded almost 7 tons of dry matter compared to late July planted corn only yielding about 2.5 tons. The reduction in yield was also found in sorghum more than other crops. Sorghum 90-day yield dropped from 4 tons per acre to about 2 tons with the later planting date. Both crops could have been grown until just before the first frost increasing tonnage. The balancing act between quality and tonnage is found just before these crops switch from vegetative growth to reproductive.

When these crops are planted late in the growing season, end of July, they will not complete grain fill making it better to harvest them just before seed heads or tassels emerge. While the trial in Figure 1 shows an advantage to corn just a year later under much drier growing conditions Figure 2 show corn as the second to lowest yield species with a mid-July planting date. When double cropping is delayed until early August we have found that Oats has the greatest yield potential with planting dates as late as September 15 yielding over 2 tons of dry matter.

Teff provides advantages that it could be made as dry hay much easier than other forages. It proved to have some challenges though needing tedded twice to dry completely in humid Ohio conditions. It also declined in quality rapidly with crude protein falling from 12% to 6.5% within a week as the plant flowered. Soybeans provided higher levels of crude protein than grass at 90 days after harvest having about 17% crude protein. Forage type soybeans are available which provide higher tonnage than conventional soybeans. Soybean silage/baleage should be made when the beans reach late R6 growth stage. At this point, lower leaves are just starting to turn yellow and seed pods are fully developed. Harvesting later leads to higher oil content which often causes fermentation issues. Oats is the most common double crop forage in our area. Usually we do not recommend planting oats until late July, but some year the early planted oats yields as well as the late planted oat. Oats is a daylength sensitive crop. When planted in early August it is triggered to grow larger leaves instead of working hard to produce seed. Earlier planted oats had lower energy and protein content. Oat Crown Rust was also a critical challenge with oats planted in July and occasionally into early August. By 90 days after planting, rust covered over 50% of Oats leaves. Utilizing a fungicide labeled for Oat Crown Rust did not increase tonnage but did improve digestible NDF, increasing energy values, and dollar value of the forage. Studies using corn silage have also found that rust causes fermentation issues with a higher final silage pH when rust is present versus not present. In 2021 we will continue to double crop with trials in 2 location across the state and a double cropping with summer annuals field day on August 28th in Licking county. Detailed trial reports with for quality analysis are available as part of eFields at: https://digitalag.osu.edu/efields.

Frost Seeding Red Clover

By Clint Schroeder OSU Extension

The weather forecast for the next several days is ideal for frost seeding. Frost seeding is a very low cost way to establish new forages in existing fields or pastures by broadcast spreading the seed and letting the freezing and thawing cycles of the soil to pull the seed below the surface. With night time low temperatures in the mid 20s and daytime highs reaching the mid 40s over the next 4-5 days there will be several opportunities to broadcast the seed in the morning when the ground is frozen, before it thaws during the day. The chance of rain and higher temperatures in the 6-10 day forecast will be beneficial for germination and establishment.

Red clover generally works best for frost seeding because it is a heavier round seed that has a better chance of making seed to soil contact in this environment. Traditionally, red clover has shown a high seedling vigor that can be easily adapted to a wide range of soil pH levels and fertility conditions. Seeding rates can vary between 2 to 10 pounds per acre. Established pastures or forage fields that need supplemented will use lower rates. Small grain fields like wheat and barley will often require seeding rates at the higher end of that range.

More information on frost seeding can be found at these links.



Forage Focus: Native Clovers and Their Roles in Grassland Ecosystems

Most forages commercially grown in the United States today have origins in other continents. Many native plants, including grasses, clovers, and forbs, have been forgotten and underutilized since the time prior to European settlement of North America.

In this episode of Forage Focus, host Christine Gelley, Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County is joined by guest Jonathan Kubesch, Ohio Native and current Ph.D. Student at Virginia Tech to discuss the history, use, and preservation of native clovers. Jonathan shares information about conservation efforts through academic research, agency sponsored programs, and citizen science groups that are working together to keep these plants from being lost in time.

Scout now for cressleaf groundsel in hayfields, or pay the price in May

By Mark Loux OSU Extension

Some hay producers have been unpleasantly surprised in the past when cressleaf groundsel infestations became evident in their hay fields in May prior to first cutting.  Cressleaf groundsel in hay or silage is toxic to animals, and infested areas of the field should not be harvested and fed.  Groundsel is a winter annual, emerging in late summer into fall, when it develops into a rosette that overwinters.  Growth restarts in spring, with stem elongation and an eventual height of up to several feet tall.  The weed becomes evident in hay fields when in becomes taller than the alfalfa/grass and develops bright yellow flowers in May.  The problem with passively waiting until this point to discover that the hay is infested with groundsel is that: 1) it’s too late to control it with herbicides; and 2) hay from infested areas has to be discarded instead of sold or fed, and large plant skeletons are still toxic even if herbicides were effective on them.  Groundsel plants finish their life cycle in late spring, once they flower and go to seed, so it should not be problem in subsequent cuttings.

Cressleaf Groundsel

The solution to this is scouting of hay fields in fall and early spring to determine the presence of cressleaf groundsel, when it is small and still susceptible to the few herbicides that can be used.  We expect groundsel to be more of a problem in new August seedings, since it would be emerging with the new stand of alfalfa/grass.  A well-managed established and uniform hay crop should be dense enough to largely prevent problems with winter annuals although there have been exceptions.  Groundsel will be most easily controlled in the fall while in the rosette stage.  Controlling plants in the spring is more difficult, because of cold conditions in early spring when plants are still small, and increased tolerance to herbicides as stems elongate.  Continue reading

Utilizing Cover Crops as Livestock Forage

Utilizing cover crops as forage not only provides feedstuffs for meeting the nutritional needs of livestock, but also offers soil health benefits. In this presentation originally offered during the COVID-19 quarantine period in April, 2020, OSU Extension Educator Christine Gelley discusses cover crop forage selection, seeding, management and harvest opportunities.

Oats as a late summer forage crop

By Jason Hartschuh and Al Gahler OSU Extension

Fungicide application significantly reduced the presence of rust.

Oats is traditionally planted as the first crop in early April as a grain crop or an early season forage. One of the beauties of oats is its versatility in planting date. Oats can also be planted in the summer as an early fall forage for harvest or grazing.

Summer oats has a wide planting window but performs much better with an application of nitrogen and may benefit from a fungicide application to improve quality. During the summer of 2019 we conducted a study to examine the planting of oats from July 15th through early September to examine tonnage and forage quality. Through this trial we examined planting date, yield, forage quality and an application of foliar fungicide to control oats crown rust. Continue reading

Scout Alfalfa NOW For Potato Leafhopper

By Christian Krupke and John Obermeyer Purdue University

Potato leafhopper populations were noticeably higher after last week’s tropical storm remnants blew through, and now the warmer temperature will drive further increases. Potato leafhoppers won’t mind this heat, and alfalfa pest managers should begin sampling their alfalfa shortly after cutting.

Potato leafhoppers are small, wedge-shaped, yellowish-green insects that remove plant sap with their piercing-sucking mouthparts. Leafhopper feeding will often cause the characteristic wedge-shaped yellow area at the leaf tip, which is referred to as “hopper burn.” Widespread feeding damage can cause a field to appear yellow throughout. Leafhopper damage reduces yield and forage quality due to a loss of protein. If left uncontrolled for several cuttings, potato leafhoppers can also significantly reduce stands.

Management of potato leafhopper was needed weeks before this hopper burn.

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Fertilizing Hay Fields

By Stan Smith, OSU Extension

As first cutting hay harvest rapidly progresses and even winds down in parts of the State, perhaps it’s a good time to consider replacing the soil nutrients that are removed with harvest. Recognizing that fertilizer is a significant investment in hay production, it’s also important to note that since we agree you can’t starve a profit into a cow, likewise, you can’t starve production or profit into a forage field either.

Each ton of hay that’s harvested and removed from a field in the harvest process takes with it 13 pounds of P2O5 (phosphorus) and 50 pounds of K2O (potash) regardless the calendar date or quality of the material that’s harvested. To maintain productivity and plant health, fertility that’s removed needs to be replaced. Since nearly all the phosphorus sources we presently have available include some nitrogen, those replacing fertility immediately after the first cutting will enjoy some benefit for grass based hay fields from the nitrogen that comes along with the P. Continue reading

Recap: 2019 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

As promised, the 2019 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium and 70th anniversary of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association (OSIA) was full of enthusiasm, entertainment, education, friendship, and much more! Among the many highlights, this years event hosted 110 shepherds on Friday afternoon and well over 200 shepherds for the Saturday program. The unique program drew an audience from Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, and New Mexico. We warned you earlier that you if you didn’t register for this years event, you were going to miss out and we hate to say it but we right. So, for those that weren’t able to attend, we hope that we will be able to share a few highlights that occurred on the two day event. This years event focused on ‘Improving Profitability of the Sheep Operation’ and included two special guests that are heavily involved in the North American sheep industry.

To kick off the Fridays event, Sandi Brock, Ontario sheep producer of Shepherd Creek Farms and Youtube sensation ‘Sheepishly Me’, took the stage. Sandi began by introducing herself as a mom, wife, and farmer. The daughter of a dairyman, she knew right away that her career would lie within the agricultural world. In 2012, she decided that she would get into the sheep industry. Not having any type of sheep knowledge or background, she knew right were to get her information for the start. She Googled it. Right or wrong, Sandi pointed out that this is how a lot of people in today’s world get their information. Some of the information was great, while some was misleading. After experiencing this first hand, she decided to share her story on what she had learned by doing with the rest of the world and thus Sheepishly Me was born.

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