Kill Poison Hemlock Now

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

Poison hemlock is a concern in public right of ways, on the farm, and in the landscape!

Poison hemlock has already emerged in a vegetative state around Noble County and beyond. Soon it will be bolting and blooming on stalks 6-10 feet tall. All parts of the plant are toxic to all classes of livestock if consumed and is prevalent along roadsides, ditches, and crop field borders. It is a biennial weed that does not flower in the first year of growth but flowers in the second year. The earlier you can address poison hemlock with mowing and/or herbicide application, the better your control methods will be.

Poison hemlock is related to Queen Anne’s lace, but is much larger and taller, emerges earlier, and has purple spots on the stems. Another relative that is poisonous is wild parsnip, which looks similar to poison hemlock, but has yellow flowers. Giant hogweed is another relative of poison hemlock that is also toxic. All of these plants have umbel shaped clusters of flowers.

According to Joe Boggs of OSU Extension, “Poison hemlock plants contain highly toxic Continue reading

Forage Harvest Management to Speed Drying and Store High Quality Forage

Mark Sulc, Jason Hartschuh, CCA, and Allen Gahler, OSU Extension

“Hay in a day” is possible when making hay crop silage.

First cutting should be taken very soon to achieve high quality forage, as seen by some of the estimated NDF levels in standing alfalfa crops around the state. Keep in mind that for dairy quality hay, alfalfa should be stored near 40% NDF and grass hay crops should have less than 55% NDF, which happens in the boot stage, or before the first flowering heads begin to emerge. Keep in mind also that the cutting, drying, and storing process results in raising NDF levels at least 3 NDF units above what it was in the standing crop at the time of cutting, and that assumes quick drying and ideal harvesting procedures.

So, it is time to be thinking about that first cutting and looking for weather windows of opportunity, especially along I-70 and south. Cutting forage for haylage or dry 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 and the fiber becomes less digestible.

Before cutting though, keep in mind that the soil should be firm enough to support equipment. Compaction damage has long-lasting effects on forage crops. We’ve seen many fields where stand loss in wheel tracks led to lower forage yields, weed invasion, and frustrating attempts to “fill in” the stand later.

Before cutting also keep in mind any harvest intervals required for any pesticides applied. We know some growers around the state have applied insecticides for alfalfa weevil control, so any pre-harvest intervals on the insecticide label have to be followed in order to feed the forage after harvesting.

This article summarizes proven techniques that can help . . .

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Crabgrass for Summer Grazing…Have you lost your mind???

– Chris Teutsch, UK Research and Education Center at Princeton

Crabgrass is a summer annual grass that often shows up in pastures, especially in thin stands that have been damaged by hay feeding or overgrazing. To flourish in a pasture, crabgrass needs a six-inch opening. This means if you have a strong and vigorous sod, crabgrass will be difficult to establish and maintain.

When cool-season pastures are grazed closely and often during the summer months, the composition of these stands tend to shift toward crabgrass. Unfortunately, these volunteer stand of crabgrass are often not managed to their full potential. The objective of this article is to give you a few pointers that will help you get the most out of volunteer crabgrass stands.

Not all crabgrass is created equal. We tend to lump all crabgrass into one category, but there are several species and even improved varieties. Some crabgrass species and even local ecotypes are more productive than others and respond better to improved management. If you want to ensure that you have the most productive crabgrass species, then consider overseeding your volunteer stands with an improved variety of crabgrass (Table 1). More data on crabgrass varieties can be found by Continue reading

Scout Like Joe

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

If knapweed is ignored in year two, you can experience a population explosion in year three!

Recently one of my regular Extension clients passed away. His name was Joe. Joe farmed on the border of Noble and Monroe Counties and regularly attended programs that may benefit his farm and family. He was an admirable man and leaves behind a respectable legacy. Though his life’s impact goes far beyond scouting for spotted knapweed, it is one of the things I will coin with his name in my programs for years to come.

Joe attended our first public spotted knapweed information program in Summerfield, Ohio and went home and started to watch for this damaging and aggressive weed. It didn’t take long for him to find some nearby and Continue reading

Forage Quality Targets Based on Animal Class

Mark Sulc and Bill Weiss, OSU Extension

Timing is everything!

The optimal time for making a first cutting of forages is fast approaching. But what is the optimal timing to take the first cutting (or any cutting for that matter)? Many will answer by saying it is when you have time and there is a good weather window to get the forage cut and put up! Yes indeed, that is a valid answer. Both of those factors are important and can’t be ignored. However, we know that forage quality declines as the crop moves into flowering stages. The first cutting is usually the highest yielding cutting, so we should try to aim for good quality for as much of it as possible!

But what is “good quality” forage? The correct answer is that it depends on what you feed it to. The concentration of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) is a measure of most of the fiber in forages. The concentration of forage fiber increases with maturity and is negatively correlated with feed intake by animals and the energy concentration of the diet. With hay crop forages, digestibility of the fiber and NDF concentrations have a strong negative correlation so one can assume forages with greater NDF concentrations have fiber that is less digestible.

Below are good forage NDF targets to aim for when feeding different classes of livestock (Table 1). These are general guidelines, but . . .

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Measuring Forage Moisture Content Using an Air Fryer

– John Jennings, Professor – Forages, Animal Sciences, University of Arkansas
(Previously published online with the Division of Agriculture Research and Extension, University of Arkansas)

Measuring moisture content of forage cut for hay or silage is an essential step to ensure storage stability and product quality. Hay baled with too much moisture can mold or be subject to spontaneous heating. Silage baled or chopped at moisture contents outside a recommended range may not ferment properly, reducing storage life and animal acceptance. A relatively new method of measuring forage moisture content is through use of an air fryer. this household appliance is basically a small convection oven. it can be used at the farm shop or can be . . .

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This May Be a Year to Think Early About Winter Hay Needs

– Dr. Kenny Burdine, Extension Professor, Livestock Marketing, University of Kentucky

Several of our articles have focused on implications of dry conditions in much of cattle country over the last 12 months. I thought it might be worthwhile to briefly discuss the potential implications for forage production should current conditions persist. As an Extension economist in a very cow-calf oriented state, I would argue that it is never too early to think about winter hay needs. And, I think that might be especially true this year.

The fact that some producers in drought stricken areas are having to feed hay during a time of year when forage availability is typically not an issue, is significant. The point being that some portion of hay stocks are being drawn down in order to feed cattle this spring. The longer pasture conditions remain an issue, the more those hay stocks could be drawn down.

Second, there is the potential for dry conditions to impact hay production during the growing season. Again, it may seem early to be thinking about this, but we are looking at Continue reading

It’s spring . . . keep the animals moving!

– Victor Shelton, Retired NRCS Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Cereal rye can be some great early spring forage!

It has been a few years since I mentioned one of my uncle’s usual spring declarations. He used to talk about grass being in head by May 5, and he usually was correct. It probably will be pushing it to get there this year. Forages have been nipped a bit by cold spells, but certainly moisture is not lacking in this part of the country. Some areas could possibly have some reduced yield in spots because of freezing of new growth, but I don’t see that as too much of an issue and in fact, for quite a bit of the state forage growth is in full swing.

The northern part of the state appears to be still waiting for spring to fully appear. Wet and cold conditions have kept them from doing much grazing on new growth.

I am pleased so far by the forage stands and their early growth. Most producers have already started grazing. I know of several producers who are still grazing or just started grazing fall planted annuals. Their main hesitation was Continue reading

Alfalfa Weevil: Ready, Set, Scout!

Aaron Wilson, Kelley Tilmon, Mark Sulc, and Andy Michel, OSU Extension

Accumulated growing degree days (base 48°F sine calculation method) for January 1-May 2, 2022

Finally we’ve accumulated enough heat units that significant parts of Ohio are now or very soon will be in prime time for alfalfa weevil. Peak larval activity and feeding damage occur between 325 and 575 GDD.

In short, most locations should begin scouting, especially in fields that were damaged last fall by the fall armyworm, because we don’t want to add more insult to those fields early this season. Alfalfa fields should be scouted weekly for weevils until at least the first harvest. Follow-up scouting may be needed after the first harvest in heavily infested fields.

Spot problem fields early by checking alfalfa tips for feeding damage – small holes and a tattered appearance. Fields that have a south facing slope tend to . . .

Continue reading Alfalfa Weevil: Ready, Set, Scout!

Introduction to Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage Insurance for Forage Risk Management, Part 2

– James Mitchell, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Arkansas

An example of the PRF protection decisions that a producer will make.

In my last article, I reviewed some basics of Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage Insurance (PRF). I noted that there are several decisions that producers will have to make about their PRF policy. Those decisions have important implications for producer premiums and indemnity payments. This week I want to continue that discussion by looking at some of these PRF decisions that interested producers will have to consider. To do this, I will utilize the USDA RMA decision support tool and our example from last time, the UofA Livestock and Forestry Research Station in Batesville, AR.

The figure above is an example of the PRF protection decisions that a producer will have to make. These PRF decisions included intended use, insured acres, coverage level, productivity factor, two-month index intervals, and percent of value. There are two approaches that producers can take with these decisions. The first is to approach PRF from a risk management perspective. The second is to make Continue reading