Alfalfa Fertility Needs

Brooks Warner, OSU Extension Ag and Natural Resources Educator, Scioto County

When given the highest level of management, alfalfa can be our most productive forage. Photo: Osler Ortez.

Alfalfa is known as the queen of forages for its ability to produce incredible amounts of high-protein forage in an array of different environments. Proper management of alfalfa stands can help producers maintain the highest quality and yielding alfalfa for their livestock enterprises. In Ohio, alfalfa thrives in our growing conditions and producers can potentially harvest five times in a growing season. For maximum yield and a healthy alfalfa stand, proper soil fertility is crucial. Soil tests are crucial in understanding which nutrients we are deficient in, and with the price of fertilizer and high-quality alfalfa, it is important to know if we are applying too much or not enough fertilizer.

Soil pH

Highest yielding alfalfa is grown in soil with a pH of 6.7 (Mclean and Brown, 1984). In southeastern Ohio we tend to have low pH soil, so applications of lime are regularly needed.

Soil pH plays a large role in alfalfa stand longevity and plant density. Low pH can have a Continue reading

What Was That Early Maturing Grass In My Hay Fields?

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

Sweet Vernalgrass. Photo:

Did you notice a very early maturing grass in your hay fields this spring? I have seen it for years and it continues to spread. About the time or just before bluegrass heads out, this grass matures as well. What you really notice is a small, tight clustered seedhead and a stem that is rather short.

For years, I called it cheat grass and for some reason, after I told a farmer what I thought it was, I went back and checked. I quickly realized that it was not cheat grass and I could not figure out what it was. So I did what you are supposed to do – I called a county educator, Clif Little from Guernsey County. When I explained it to him, he quickly told me that it was Sweet Vernalgrass. Then I check out the name and he was exactly right. For 25 years, I have told farmers the wrong name – for that I am sorry, but now I know and I hope you do too.

After doing some searching on it, it tends to be more prevalent in lower fertility hay fields. It can be a winter annual or a perennial grass. There is Continue reading

Horse Tales About Horsetails

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County OSU Extension

All parts of horsetail are poisonous if consumed!

Toxic plants that may appear in pastures and hayfields should be something all livestock managers scout for. In my experience, it is the equine managers that are particularly concerned about their animals’ welfare, that is, once they discover that a toxic plant is present. There are so many possible poisonous plants to be familiar with, it can be overwhelming. It is important to remember that the most common situation where an animal is poisoned by a toxic plant is one where there isn’t enough good forage to eat. Overgrazed pastures or forced feeding of hay containing toxic plants are a recipe for disaster.

One such plant that should be the star of its own horse tale (and Netflix documentary) is a plant called horsetail. The genus name of the horsetails is Equisetum. The one most commonly encountered type in Ohio is also known as scouring rush. Interestingly enough, horsetail is more closely related to ferns and pine trees than it is to rushes. It is an ancient non-flowering, cone producing, spore releasing plant. According to paleobotanists, it is far more Continue reading

Supplemental Forages to Plant in July After Wheat

Mark Sulc and Bill Weiss, OSU Extension

Sudex can produce 3-4 tons of dry matter/acre.

Some producers may be considering planting a supplemental forage crop after winter wheat grain harvest for various reasons. Some areas of the state are becoming very dry. In many areas, the wet weather this spring resulted in ample forage supply, but good to high-quality forage is in short supply because of the wet weather that delayed harvesting until the crop was mature, or it resulted in rained-on hay that lowered quality.

The table below summarizes options for planting annual forages after . . .

Continue reading Supplemental Forages to Plant in July After Wheat

Assessing Calf Death Losses in a Beef-Dairy Crossbreeding Program

Dr. Gustavo M. Schuenemann, Professor and Extension Veterinarian, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, The Ohio State University


Many dairy herds are implementing a beef-dairy crossbreeding program for all or a portion of their lactating cows in order to add value to newborn calves. In beef cattle, there is a moderate to high correlation between heritability of growth traits and their genetic correlations with birth weight (e.g., yearling body weight has a heritability of 58% and a correlation with birth weight of 0.61). Although there are several considerations such as market for beef-dairy cross calves, replacement heifers needed, and calf death losses due to dystocia and the subsequent survival and performance of lactating cows, the potential for added value by implementing a beef-dairy crossbreeding program must not neglect the potential to increase calving difficulty due to increased birth weights.

A case study using data from a beef-dairy crossbreeding program was developed to illustrate a systematic approach to assess calf death losses. The case study was developed for educational purposes; and the information may or may not be applicable to other situations. The overall objective was to assess calf death losses at calving for a 12-month period (March 2020 to March 2021). Therefore, the patterns of calf death losses were . . .

Continue reading Assessing Calf Death Losses in a Beef-Dairy Crossbreeding Program

Posted in Health

Feedlot Inventories at Another Monthly Record High

– Josh Maples, Assistant Professor & Extension Economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University

Just like the past few months, the latest monthly Cattle on Feed report showed a record number of cattle in feedlots with 11.85 million head on feed as of June 1st. This was up 1.2 percent (or 142,000 head) over June 1, 2021 and is the highest on record for any June 1st since the series began in 1996.

Placements were down 2.1 percent during May 2022 as compared to May 2021. This was a surprise when compared to pre-report estimates which ranged from one percent lower to 1.5 percent higher than a year ago. Despite the overall decline, placements of Continue reading

Cover Crop ‘Forage’ an Option for Prevented Planting Corn or Soybean Acres

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

This remains yet today, a common site in parts of Ohio.

Today, as we sit here on June 22, we know a few things for certain:

  • Across Ohio there remain today unplanted acres that were originally intended for corn or soybeans.
  • The ‘final planting date’ that allows planting corn or soybeans without reducing the crop insurance guarantee has passed.
  • Despite the value of producing corn and soybeans for the marketplace, for those with coverage, today the income resulting from Prevented Planting Crop Insurance payments must be considered as an alternative. (see the recent Ohio Ag Manager article Evaluating the Prevent Plant Option)
  • For livestock producers, planting a cover crop that could be utilized as feed late this fall could add value to unplanted corn or soybean acres.

Today, insured corn and soybean growers throughout Ohio find themselves at the crossroads of a decision that pits the overwhelming desire to want to plant and grow a crop for historically high prices against the reality that financially and agronomically it might be a sound alternative to accept a Prevented Planting insurance payment. Adding further support to the notion that today one might be better off not planting the corn or soybean crop is the opportunity to plant a ‘cover crop’ in those insured but unplanted acres and utilize it for cattle feed late this fall.

You may ask why Continue reading

Relentless Canada Thistle

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County OSU Extension

If Canada thistle was easy to control, it wouldn’t be on the noxious weed list.

The time has come for Canada thistle flowers to line the roadways and begin to bud in pastures and hayfields. The lavender-colored aggregate flowers that develop into fluffy seed are one of the most distinguishing characteristics of the plant. They are easy to find blooming from June through August. If it wasn’t such an unpleasant plant to encounter, I might call it pretty. It isn’t poisonous, thank goodness, but it certainly is troublesome. Some animals will tolerate it while grazing, but most will avoid it while it is growing or sort it out of a hay bale.

Its common name may give the impression that the plant is native to North America, but alas, it is not. It is actually native to Eurasia and was probably introduced here during colonial times in ship ballast. In its home range it is commonly known as “creeping thistle”. It was labeled with the name “Canada thistle” by New Englanders who blamed its introduction on French tradesmen from Canada. Whatever you choose to call the plant, it is a noxious weed in many countries worldwide, along with the State of Ohio. Because of this status in Ohio, it is every landowners’ legal responsibility to Continue reading

Impact of early calving replacement heifers on cow-herd production and longevity

When females become pregnant within the breeding season is a key component of cow-calf profitability.

Cattle producers commonly evaluate reproductive performance by determining how many cows became pregnant during the breeding season. Although pregnancy rates are important, when females become pregnant within the breeding season is also a key component of cow-calf profitability.

In the short article linked below, Dr. Fontes, Assistant Professor and Beef Extension Specialist at the University of Georgia, discusses the production implication of getting heifers pregnant early in the breeding season.

Impact of early calving replacement heifers on cow-herd production and longevity

Ohio Beef Day to be held in Muskingum County

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Plan to attend, register today!

Field days have long been a great educational tool used to show farmers new technologies and management practices. OSU Extension is pleased to announce the return of a statewide Ohio Beef Cattle Field Day. It has been several years since an Ohio Beef Field Day has been held, and the program will make it reappearance in Muskingum County on Saturday July 16, 2022.

In order to see several aspects of beef cattle production this event will begin a Muskingum Livestock, 944 Malinda St. Zanesville where we will gather before departing on a multiple stop tour in the Adamsville area. The tour will depart with attendees driving their own vehicles as we caravan from one stop to the next. We recommend carpooling as much as possible due to limited parking at one of the tour stops.

The tour stops are as follows Continue reading

Posted in Events