Compaction; It happens in pasture lands too!

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Compacted soils have a platy layered look, not a nice granular or cottage cheese appearance.

I have driven down a lot of roads lately and observed pastures and crops across Indiana and several other states. Most pastures are thriving better than crops, at least the ones being managed well. In the areas where rain has never really completely stopped, forages, especially cool season forages like orchard grass and tall fescue, have not slowed down growth as much during what is normally a slump period or summer dormancy. If you haven’t overgrazed, then there’s a good chance your pastures look pretty good.

There is a lot more variability in the crops depending on when or if they even got planted. Plants quickly got accustomed to the frequent rains this year and some get lazy and don’t put roots down as deep as normal. Well established perennials will do a better job of maintaining deeper roots than annuals or newly planted perennials under continued wet conditions. We need roots to Continue reading

Forage Focus: Getting to Know Your Weeds

In this edition of Forage Focus, host Christine Gelley, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County is joined by Clifton Martin, OSU Extension- ANR Educator for Muskingum County, for a segment on “Getting to Know Your Weeds.” Clifton and Christine will identify weeds commonly found in Ohio pastures and hay fields, and address the principles of managing them.

Reseeding Workshop, Thursday

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

Noble County OSU Extension and the Noble County Soil and Water Conservation District will host a Pasture Reseeding Workshop from 6-8 p.m. at the Eastern Agricultural Research Station (16870 Bond Ridge Road, Caldwell) on August 8. We invite all pasture and hay managers in the Noble County area to attend this free program. It includes a light dinner, presentations on equipment, seed selection, site preparation, and implementation. Call OSU Extension to RSVP at 740-732-5681 or email by August 6.

Representatives from OSU Extension and SWCD will help you come up with ideas for remediating areas damaged by this year’s chronic wet conditions. August is a great time to reseed, overseed, or Continue reading

Cutting it Close

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County OSU Extension (originally published in the Ohio Farmer on-line)

We find more dead tissue in grass stands that are mowed too close. Photo by author

All of us have a bad habit here or there that we have developed over time. Bad habits are often questionable actions that can cause some stress, but rarely have direct negative consequences immediately after. Usually the negative consequences are compounded over time into large problems and that is when realize we have gone wrong.

A bad habit that many grass managers have in lawn and hay systems is cutting it too close. By “it,” I mean the grass. There are some misconceptions about what the best height is to cut grass. It can also be confusing, because ideal cutting height varies with type of grass. The common denominator is Continue reading

My first cutting is just ‘cow hay’ – now what?

– Dr. Jimmy Henning, Forage Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky (First published in May 30 issue, The Farmer’s Pride)

Late cut or rain damaged first cuttings can still be part of a sound feeding program for your beef cows. Don’t let a less-than-perfect first cutting stop the conversation on hay testing, feeding and forage management.

Late cut hay is a fact of life in Kentucky. There are worse things. Drought, for example. It is no failure if some first cuttings of hay are late. Or rain damaged for that matter. The list of things that have to ‘get done’ in May never ends for the part-time, diversified farmers that form the bulk of the beef cattle producers in Kentucky.

Farmers face a never-ending set of ‘what to do first’ decisions. Something has to be second, or third. So late cuttings of hay happen. The real mistake is to let a less-than-perfect first cutting stop the conversation hay management because a farmer thinks we in Extension are disappointed. Frankly, it is amazing that anybody in Kentucky gets a good first cutting of hay in the barn.

Next steps if you think your first cutting is just ‘cow hay’

The first thing to do is to get a Continue reading

Late Summer Establishment of Perennial Forages

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Wayne County and Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

No-till seeding in August is an excellent time for establishing perennial forage stands.

We are quickly approaching the second good opportunity of the year for establishing perennial forage stands, which is in the month of August. Most of us were not able to establish forages this spring, and many existing stands were damaged by the winter followed by the heavy rainfall this year. It is time to make preparations and be ready to plant perennial forage stands in the next few weeks.

Typically, the main risk with late summer forage seedings is sufficient moisture for seed germination and plant establishment. However, many parts of Ohio have adequate soil moisture from recent rains, and the outlook for the first half of August is for normal precipitation levels. Prepare now and be ready to take advantage of planting ahead of storm fronts as they occur in late July and early August.

Advantages to late summer forage establishment include . . .

Continue reading Late Summer Establishment of Perennial Forages

Understanding Management of Poison Weeds in Hay

– Justin Brackenrich, PA Extension Educator, Field and Forage Crops and Jessica A. Williamson, Ph.D., PA Extension Forage Specialist

A field with many noxious weeds, including Canada Thistle and Milkweed which would be undesirable to a hay producer. Photo Credit: Jessica Williamson, Penn State Extension

Much like 2018, the unpredictable weather of 2019 has led to later and more “between rain” cuttings of hay in Pennsylvania. The biggest concerns of this unpredictable cutting schedule are reduced forage quality, damage to fields due to wet conditions, and the encroachment and establishment of weeds. Reducing forage quality due to late cutting is always concerning, and muddy meadows are not something pleasurable to deal with, but the management of weeds, especially when we consider their potential to contain toxins, can quickly become a producer’s biggest nightmare.

In the spring of the year, that small patch of milkweed, or those few stalks of hemlock that were on the wood line, may have now developed into a thriving stand that has spread into your hay field. What do Continue reading

Hay Quality 2019; It’s Déjà vu All Over Again!

Stan Smith, PA, Fairfield County OSU Extension

A forage probe for sampling hay might be the most valuable tool you can use in 2019!

Coming off a year where quality forages for beef cattle were in short supply throughout Ohio, now in mid-2019 we find that inventory remains critically low. With the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) estimating only 60% of Ohio’s first cutting hay harvest was completed by the first of July, it’s apparent that Ohio cattlemen will again be faced with finding ways to make “feed” from hay that was harvested way past it’s prime.

As an example of the hay quality we’re seeing, a recent forage analysis on some Fairfield County mixed grass hay that was mowed on June 25th and baled on June 29 – after also getting lightly rained on once – came back showing 6.85% protein and 38.02% TDN (total digestible nutrients) on a dry matter basis. The ADF (acid detergent fiber) was 51.63% and the NDF (neutral detergent fiber) was 65.51%.

I could tell you that’s not good, but perhaps a better way is to compare it to wheat straw. When you look up the “book values” for the feed nutrient content of straw you find that Continue reading

Grazing Options for Supplementing Poor Quality Forages

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Morgan County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman summer issue)

Many of us will be feeding poor quality hay again this winter, likely similar to last winter. When I mowed down hay over the weekend, the grass was past mature to the point that fescue had already dropped seeds and the tops were brown. Weeds were continuing to overtake the stand and I am not halfway done with first cutting. We have learned of many issues arising from feeding poor quality hay this past winter including lower body conditions, difficulty calving, not re-breeding, and even some cows starving to death with full stomachs. What can we do to avoid problems for this winter? One simple answer will be to add corn to the diet. Quite often, energy is the most limiting factor, maybe protein, maybe both. It is critical to take a forage test on your hay to determine what additional needs will be. Simply a few pounds of corn a day may work. Dr. Francis Fluharty recommended corn cracked into 3-4 pieces will maximize digestibility. When I supplement with corn, often I find a heavy sod and feed whole shell corn on the ground to cattle and they clean it up. If protein is limiting, protein tubs may help. Don’t forget that grinding hay will improve digestibility, but if protein and energy is too low, you still need to supplement.

We are still early enough in the year to consider Continue reading

There’s time to grow more feed!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension, Fairfield County and Allen Gahler, Extension Educator, Sandusky County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman summer issue)

Oats planted soon on available acres have plenty of time to become high quality feed!

It’s not often we talk about forage shortages and above normal precipitation in the same breath. Regardless, that’s exactly where we are now throughout Ohio. Over the past year while abundant rainfall may have allowed us to grow lots of forage, unfortunately, it seems the weather has seldom allowed us to harvest it as high-quality feed.

Since last fall the demand for quality forages has been on the increase. It began with a wet fall that forced us from pasture fields early. Followed by constantly muddy conditions, cattle were requiring more feed and energy than normal. At the same time, even though temperatures were moderate during much of the fall of 2018, cows with a constantly wet hair coat were, yet again, expending more energy than normal to remain in their comfort zone. Then, as a cold late January 2019 evolved into February, in many cases mud had matted down the winter coats of cattle reducing their hair’s insulating properties, thus causing them to require even more energy in the cold weather.

Reduced supplies of quality forages coupled with increased demand over the past year have led us to a perfect storm that’s resulted in the lowest inventory of hay in Ohio since the 2012 drought, and the 4th lowest in 70 years. The spring of 2019 weather didn’t Continue reading