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

Cause and Effects of Moths in Hay

Christine Gelley– OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County, OH (this article originally published in Farm & Dairy)

Clover Hayworm Moth Photo: ODNR pub. 5467

Leave a porch light on one warm summer night and you will either be dazzled or disgusted by the creatures that fly in for a visit. From May to October, we avoid going out our front door at night to reduce the number of nocturnal flying insects that fly uninvited into our home. In the Southeast corner of Ohio, the biodiversity of critters found on chilling the front door and fluttering around the porch light have brought joy and wonder along with fear and furry to get through the door without a fleet of invertebrates coming along. Of the many insects available for viewing, the most common by far are moths.

Moths are among the most diverse groups of animals on Earth. Over 160,000 species are recorded globally and over 3,000 species are known to live in Ohio. All are nocturnal and all start as caterpillars feeding on plant material. From dull brown to brilliant pink colors and patterns, moths of Ohio are fascinating and important to the ecosystem as pollinators and a primary food source either as caterpillars or as adults for bats, birds, and spiders. Forested and prairie settings are home to the most diverse populations of moths. While most moths are considered beneficial organisms, some are considered major agricultural pests in their caterpillar stage.

OSU Extension has recently had a couple questions come through our system about moths in stored hay. Although the Continue reading

Seeding Perennial Forages in Late Summer

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

August is ideal for establishing perennial forage stands in Ohio.

The month of August provides a window of opportunity for establishing perennial forage stands or filling in seedings made this spring that have gaps. The primary risk with late summer forage seedings is having sufficient moisture for seed germination and plant establishment. The decision to plant or not will have to be made for each individual field, considering soil moisture status and the rainfall forecast. Rainfall and adequate soil moisture in the few weeks immediately after seeding is the primary factor affecting successful establishment.

No-till seeding in August is an excellent choice to conserve soil moisture for seed germination. Make sure that the field surface is relatively level and smooth if you plan to no-till, because you will have to live with any field roughness for several years of harvesting operations.

Sclerotinia crown and stem rot is a concern with no-till seedings of alfalfa in late summer where clover has been present in the past. This pathogen causes . . .

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Patience Required for Prairie-Modeled Pasture

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

A prairie modeled pasture planting can provide high yielding, good quality forage in the driest part of the growing season. Photo: Jason Jones

If I were to make a playlist for establishing native warm-season pastures, these songs would be on it:

  • “Patience” by Guns N’ Roses
  • “No Rush” by Josh Turner
  • “Fools Rush In” by Elvis Presley
  • “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes
  • “I’m in a Hurry” by Alabama

Yes, patience is the theme of the playlist and patience is a virtue when establishing pastures that mimic native prairie ecosystems. The benefits of establishing a native warm-season grass stand come hand in hand with the challenges. The greatest of these challenges is simply being patient for the seed to germinate and the plants to grow. A common cause of seeding failures is the land manager’s anxiety and in inclination to change courses in the first few years after seeding a prairie mix.

The expected wait time for a native warm-season grass stand to reach the state considered “fully established” is Continue reading

Double Crop Forages to Maximize Summer Forage Potential

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension AgNR Educator, Crawford County

Many producers use summer annual forages for grazing and stored forage to either fill the summer slump or keep livestock feed through the winter. With wheat harvest finalized across most of the state and straw baling completed for many now our attention turns to creating a second or third profit center off those wheat acres.

Wheat acres provide an excellent opportunity for double cropping with forages that when harvested at the proper growth stage can either make high quality late gestation early lactation forage, grazing opportunities, or gut fill to mix lower the quality of other forages or concentrates.

Many species of summer annuals can be utilized for forage. Some of them such as radish and turnip can be easily grazed but do not make good stored forage as Baleage or dry hay. For dry hay we have found the best two species to be Continue reading

Steps to Speed up Field Curing of Hay Crops

Mark Sulc, Jason Hartschuh, CCA, Allen Gahler

Wide windrows are one or several techniques to speed hay drying

The rainy weather in many regions of Ohio and surrounding states is making it difficult to harvest hay crops. We usually wait for a clear forecast before cutting hay, and with good reason because hay does not dry in the rain! Cutting hay is certainly a gamble but waiting for the perfect stretch of weather can end up costing us through large reductions in forage quality as the crop matures.

As we keep waiting for perfect haymaking weather, we will reach the point where the drop in quality becomes so great that the hay has little feeding value left. In such cases, it may be better to gamble more on the weather just to get the old crop off and a new one started. Some rain damage is not going to reduce the value much in that very mature forage.

Before cutting though, keep in mind that the . . .

Continue reading Steps to Speed up Field Curing of Hay Crops as originally published in C.O.R.N.

Forage Fertility: Where We Are and Why it Matters

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension and Greg LaBarge, Agronomic Crops Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Hay and haylage crops are grown on just over 1 million acres in Ohio (NASS, 2019) and are grown on more Ohio farms (44% of all farms) than any other crop (Becot et al., 2020). In addition, there are over 1.3 million acres of pastureland on nearly 39,000 farms (50% of all farms) in the state of Ohio (NASS, 2017). Fertilizer costs represent 40 to 60% of the variable input costs of forage hay production (Ward et al., 2016, 2018), and so managing these costs is key to an Ohio forage producers’ ability to stay competitive. Furthermore, water quality issues in the state underscore the need for Ohio farmers to manage on-farm nutrients as efficiently as possible. A farmer’s ability to find this optimal balance between meeting crop nutrient requirements without over-application is highly reliant on the best available information.

In order to make better and up to date forage fertility recommendations, we want to hear back from producers as to what current practices are already implemented on farms across the state. Understanding current practices and limitations to forage fertility will guide us in determining the type and kind of related research to conduct in order to revise current recommendations.

Please take this short voluntary survey regarding current forage fertility practices. This survey is part of a Continue reading

Now’s a Great Time to Plan, and Assess Forage Inventory

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

Since May 21st, I have had three great chances to make hay and was lucky enough to finish last week before the rains arrived, I was lucky. I know other areas have not had a chance or just got started. When we finish first cutting hay, it seems to me to be a great time to assess our pasture condition and hay supplies. We will now know how much hay we have and how much more we will need, plus a little extra just in case it turns dry. Do you or will you have enough once first cutting is finished? Are your pastures holding up well?

Options: If you are going to have plenty of hay, can you graze some of those fields? It is always cheaper to graze than to make hay. Speaking of hay, prices are good right now; if you don’t need the fields to graze, can you make some extra to sell if you need the income? If you are short on hay, can you get enough in subsequent cuttings? If not, have you recently soil tested your fields? Improving fertility will help improve yields for the rest of the season.

How are your pastures holding up? So far this year, it looks like many are Continue reading

Milkweed and Hemp Dogbane – Who’s Who?

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

hemp dogbane

common milkweed

Both milkweed and hemp dogbane have become more apparent over the past week. These two plants are related but have some distinct differences that can help landowners identify them and implement control measures when needed.

Similarities between the two include having creeping roots; leaves that appear on opposite sides of the stem; and they produce a milky sap. Differences include that young milkweed leaves have fine hairs and hemp dogbane are nearly hairless; milkweed stems are generally thick and green, but hemp dogbane stems are usually red to purple and thinner in comparison; hemp dogbane frequently branches in the top canopy, while milkweed will typically not branch unless mowed; and seed pod shape is distinctly different after flowering with milkweed producing an upright tear drop shaped pod and hemp dogbane producing a long bean-like pod that hangs from the plant.

While the usefulness of milkweed in the landscape is often justified for monarch butterfly populations, hemp dogbane has fewer redeeming qualities. Historically hemp dogbane has been Continue reading

Roughstalk Bluegrass in Cereal Grain and Forage Crops

– Richard Purdin, Taylor Dill and Les Ober, CCA, Ohio State University Extension

This weed has reached population levels high enough to reduce the quality of forages, and crowd out newly established forages.

There is a new and emerging weed challenging cereal grain and forage producers across the state. Roughstalk Bluegrass has taken root in wheat fields and newly established forage stands. This weed has reached population levels high enough to inhibit the harvest of cereal grains, reduce the quality of forages, and crowd out newly established forages.

What is it?

Roughstalk Bluegrass (Poa trivialis) is a perennial cool-season grass that has traditionally been an issue in turfgrass production. This plant can be found growing throughout the Midwest. Rough Stock Bluegrass has a high level of tolerance to shade and wet conditions or poorly drained soils. This weed can reach heights of 1-3 ‘tall. Often climbing above winter cereal grains and reducing growth. Most commonly Roughstalk Bluegrass is not noticed by producers until . . .

Continue reading Roughstalk Bluegrass in Cereal Grain and Forage Crops