Don’t Jump the Gun, You May Shoot Yourself

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Morgan County

Today is the first day of spring, but it doesn’t seem like it. Last year I figured we were two weeks ahead of normal and this year I think we are one to two weeks behind normal. Last year we had 12 days above 70 degrees in March, this year, we have had none. This is a real challenge for many farmers, as the drought last year has made hay very scarce and a challenge to meet the forage needs of our cattle.

For the past 25 years, I have put my spring calving cattle on stockpiled fescue in early March for three weeks, to graze and have a clean pasture to calve on, and then the first weekend after spring, I start my pasture rotation. Last weekend, I realized this would not happen. Grass is just starting to grow in Southeast Ohio and is probably not ready to graze. If we can hold off grazing for a week or two longer than most years, I think we will be better off in the long run. We simply have not had enough heat to get things going like most years. My goal has been to just about finish a pasture rotation just as the spring flush of growth occurs, which has typically been in early April. This year, it will be later.

If your pastures are not ready, try to feed stored feed for a week or two longer and avoid additional damage to the forages and soil. I think you will have more forage production in the long run. If there is potential good news, this time last year, I thought there would be a good chance of a drought with the warm dry weather. However, this year, it is setting up to be different . . . so far.