Residual Growth Impacts Orchardgrass Regrowth!

– Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Back on September 10, 2008 of this publication, University of Maryland Forage Specialist Emeritus Les Vough discussed the importance of cutting height as it relates to the loss or retention of orchardgrass hay stands. Along the same lines, forever during Ohio grazing schools and forage management sessions, grazing and cutting height or residual growth has been a focus as we look at ways to optimize forage regrowth.

To further “graphically” support the importance of leaving appropriate residual growth during each pass in order to optimize total forage productivity, last week during a “net meeting” the Cool Season Grass Initiative shared a video and power point presentation by Dr. Ray Smith, State Forage Agronomist from the University of Kentucky.

What you will observe if you look at either the POWER POINT or the VIDEO is the regrowth rate on orchardgrass after it has been grazed either to 3.5″ or 1″ over a 5 day time period. Many of you might recall hearing the statement credited to Dr. Jim Gerrish that, “the way that a pasture looks after the animals have been removed (from the pasture) is more important than what it looks like when you turn the animals in (to the pasture).” Certainly, both links above offer graphic support of this thought provoking concept. Not only does leaving adequate residual offer faster regrowth, but the deeper root penetration it supports allows for better drought tolerance later in the growing season. This is not exclusive to orchardgrass, but includes all the cool season forages we commonly grow in the midwest.

If your internet service does not allow you to view either the video or the power point, the next time you are in your local Extension office, ask them to pull it down and share it with you . . . it’s worth the effort to see!