Jack Frost Will Bite Soon – Precautions for Feeding Frosted Forages

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

One of these days soon we will have a frost. There is potential for some forage toxicities and other problems that can develop after a frost. Prussic acid poisoning and high nitrates are the main concern with a few specific annual forages and several weed species, but there is also an increased risk of bloat when grazing legumes after a frost.

Nitrate accumulation in frosted forages. Freezing damage slows down metabolism in all plants, and this might result in nitrate accumulation in plants that are still growing, especially grasses like oats and other small grains, millet, and sudangrass.  This build-up usually is not hazardous to grazing animals, but greenchop or hay cut right after a freeze can be more dangerous. When in doubt, send in a sample to a forage testing lab and request a nitrate before grazing or feeding the forage after a frost.

Prussic Acid Toxicity

Several forage and weed species contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides that are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues, or under drought conditions. Some . . .

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Scout Now For Cressleaf Groundsel And Other Winter Weeds In Hayfields And Pastures

Mark Loux, OSU Extension Weed Specialist

Fall is a perfect time to scout for AND control cressleaf groundsel and most other biennial weeds of concern.

The next month and a half or so is an ideal time to control a number of weeds that cause problems in hayfields and pastures, and also certain weeds in fencerows and other areas adjacent to fields.  We discussed scouting and fall control of cressleaf groundsel in a C.O.R.N. article last fall, to avoid problems with the toxicity of this weed in hay next year.  Many of these weeds are most problematic in new hay and forage seedings, since the crop may not yet be dense enough to suppress them without the help of herbicides.  A number of winter annuals fit into this category – mustards, marestail, pennycress, chickweed.  For biennials such as wild carrot, poision hemlock, burdock, and teasel, the low growing plant after the first year of growth, which is present now, is more susceptible to control with herbicides compared with plants with elongated stems in spring.  And it’s certainly a good time to go after dandelion, Canada thistle, and curly dock.

Fall herbicide options for grass hay and pastures, and non-crop areas, are considerably greater in number and often also effectiveness than those labeled for use in a first-year legume or legume/grass stand.  For example . . .

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Managing risk by utilizing multiple winter annual small grain forages

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension AgNR Educator, Crawford County (originally published in Progressive Forage Grower)

Photo 1: Timeliness is impossible if it rains when harvest should happen!

Winter annual forages have become a mainstay for many dairy and beef rations across in the country. Winter annuals have increased farm profitability by serving not only as double crop forage with corn silage, soybeans, or corn grain but also a cover crop that helps to trap nitrogen and protect soils from heavy winter and spring rainfall. The greatest challenge for many of my local producers is managing harvest timing to maximize quality with spring rain fall events that not only delay custom harvesters but also cause your perfectly timed harvest to come to a halt. Such as in 2020 when our plots in Photo 1 spent a week in standing water when we should have been harvesting triticale and wheat for the highest quality. To harvest at least some of your summer annuals at the highest quality possible two strategies of diversification can be applied either planting on multiple dates or using Continue reading

Managing Forage Stands Damaged by Fall Armyworm

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Two worms per square foot is the threshhold for fall armyworm Infestation. Photo Courtesy of Mark Badertscher

A severe and fall armyworm outbreak developed across Ohio and neighboring states. It has caused serious destruction in many forage fields. For more complete details on this pest, including how to scout for this pest and options for control, see the articles posted at https://forages.osu.edu/forage-management/pests-diseases.

This article addresses how to manage forage stands damaged by the fall armyworm.

Fields with minor to no damage seen.

If the hayfield or pasture shows any feeding damage at all and is reasonably close to having enough growth for harvest, cut or graze it as soon as possible. This is perfect timing to take the . . .

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Unusual Armyworm Outbreaks are Taking Many by Surprise

Kelley Tilmon, Andy Michel, Mark Sulc, James Morris and Curtis Young, Ohio State University Extension

Figure 1. Fall armyworm feeding damage. Photo by 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).

True or common armyworm is a different species than the fall armyworm. The true armyworm is the species that causes problems in cereal crops in the spring of the year. Fall armyworm migrates into Ohio during the summer and could cause problems into late summer. It is not or maybe we should say has not typically been a problem in Ohio. Also, unlike the true armyworm that only feeds on grasses (i.e., corn, wheat, forage grasses), the fall armyworm has well over 100 different types of plants upon which it feeds including many grasses but also alfalfa, soybeans, beets, cabbage, peanuts, onion, cotton, pasture grasses, millet, tomato, and . . .

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Posted in Forages

Watch for Fall Armyworm, Carefully Consider the Alternatives

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Be on watch for fall armyworms! Photo by John Obermeyer, Purdue.

It has been another odd year with the weather.  Some areas that were extremely dry early in the year are now enjoying abundant forages and rapid regrowth.  Some areas that were wetter than normal during that same period are now on the dry side.  No matter where you are located, you should always be prepared for changes in weather conditions and have some type of contingency plan in place.  You buy insurance for those “just in case” circumstances, you need to do the same with forages.

I’m not saying you need to go and buy insurance for your forage base, but you should have some kind of contingency plan in place for any odd circumstances that might befall upon you.  For most people, that is stored forage, e.g., hay, balage.  It could also be stockpiled forage, annuals or crop residue as we go into the fall season.

It is not just weather you need to plan for either. You have probably already read that there have been problems with fall armyworms in some locations.  As adult worms these masticating menaces can cause an enormous loss of forage/pasture in a very short time frame if numbers are high enough.  What is that threshold?  Most note two to three adult worms per Continue reading

Spotted Knapweed is Blooming

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

Don’t confuse chicory (top) with spotted knapweed (bottom).

A detrimental weed that has been heavily on the agricultural radar in recent years is currently blooming in Noble and some surrounding counties. Its name is spotted knapweed. Everyone in Noble County should be aware of this plant and be working to remove it from sensitive areas. While the flowers are pretty and it is attractive to pollinators, it is not a plant that we want in our landscapes.

The color of the flower is similar to that of red clover, the growth habit is similar to chicory, and the flower shape is similar to Canada thistle and ironweed. However, the combination of growth habit, color, and flower shape is unique to spotted knapweed. Spotted knapweed may possess as many as 200 pink to purple blooms per plant. The mature seed heads resemble Canada thistle, a tight cluster of seeds with a fluffy pappus attached. The pappus helps the Continue reading

Corn silage for the beef herd

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

It is hard to believe that it is near that time of year when corn will start to be harvested for silage. We have been fortunate in many areas of the region to receive timely precipitation providing for good corn stands. As the price of corn is still over $6/bushel on the spot market and the futures prices is in the mid 5’s, folks are asking about corn silage as an alternative feed this year.

When considering corn silage, first be sure that you are prepared. In many situations the harvest equipment may not be owned, and a custom harvest crew will come to chop and haul the silage. You need to get on their schedule and understand that weather and breakdowns can impact the harvest window for your corn crop. How do you plan to store the silage? For many beef operations, a silo bag is often the best choice. Again, the bagger will likely have to be rented and bags purchased. Be sure to get the bagger rented for sufficient time to fit the harvest window. Prepare the site for bags or drive over piles to ensure they drain well and water is diverted away from them. You don’t want to be driving through mud when trying to feed out silage from a pile or bag.

Corn will be ready to harvest when the whole plant moisture level is 62-65% or 35-38% dry matter. Fields will continue to dry down during the harvest and it is better to start harvest a bit wetter, so the last part of the field doesn’t get too dry. Corn that is less than 60% moisture should be Continue reading

Using Nutrient Removal Rates to Improve Forage Productivity

James Morris, OSU Extension Educator, Brown County and Greg LaBarge, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Agronomic Systems

As the calendar flips over to August and temperatures continue to rise, our cool season forages are in the heart of what we call the “summer slump” and vegetative growth begins to decline. Numerous resources are available that provide excellent strategies for reducing the negative effects of this slump. Forage growers can utilize summer annuals to boost yields during this time of the year, but it’s also important to ensure our forage stands are healthy prior to be exposed to heat and other environmental stressors. So, while “summer slump” seems to get all of the attention right now, what if our forages had “spring fever”?

Figure 1. Yellow unthrifty grass stand spring 2021.

We normally consider springtime to be the period of rapid and lush growth for our cool-season forages, but what if our stands look like the Figure 1? The attached image was taken this spring in a stand of a cool-season hay mix. Of course, this problem will impact tonnage, but a weak stand will also allow more opportunities for weed emergence, reduce winter survival, and as mentioned above, reduce their ability to tolerate stressful summer conditions. While it may be too late to beat the heat, action can still be taken to prepare forages for winter and set ourselves up for a better spring.

What’s the issue with this stand and the several others I visited this spring? Let’s put ourselves into the situation as if it was Continue reading

Oats as an Alternative Forage

Allen Gahler, OSU Extension, Sandusky County and Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension, Crawford County

When planted on or near August 1, oats can produce 1-1.5 tons of dry matter in approximately 60-75 days.

While some parts of Ohio have been rather dry this spring and into summer, other areas have been consistently wet throughout.  Either scenario can cause significant problems for grazing and haymaking.  If you are looking for alternative forages to either graze or harvest for hay yet this season, oats in one crop to consider, in part because of its flexibility as a feed, yield potential, and low-cost establishment.  While 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 through early fall for fall grazing or forage harvest.

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. Past forage trials conducted at the North Central Research Station in Sandusky County have examined the planting of oats from July 15th through late September to learn tonnage and forage quality possibilities. Through these trials, we have examined planting date, yield, forage quality and an application of foliar fungicide to Continue reading