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

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

Longer Days Change the Way Plants Grow, the Way They’re Managed

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Does the beginning of summer change the way some plants grow?

Suddenly, it’s July. We are past the summer solstice – the official start of summer. The summer solstice is best described as the longest period of daylight and the shortest night of the year. The length of the days plays an important role with some plants, because they use the length of the nights to cue the release of hormones for flowering and fruiting – photoperiodism. This topic came up recently and made me stop and think about its possible implications on forages for grazing. Let’s ruminate on this a bit.

Photoperiodism basically describes what a particular species of plant does in response to changing day lengths. Plants are classified into three groups according to the photoperiods: short-day plants, long-day plants and day-neutral plants. Plants adapt to seasonal changes in their environment, but photoperiod doesn’t change. Day length is pretty much the same for any particular day at the same latitude every year. The closer you get to the equator – the more balanced day and night hours are year around. Ironically, the term photoperiod is misleading because the length of the dark period is what predominantly controls plant growth, not the daylight. Temperature, moisture, growing degree days and air pressure are all very much less regular. It’s interesting but shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that Continue reading

Proper Summer Pasture Management Pays Dividends, Especially in Dry Conditions

Stan Smith, PA, Fairfield County OSU Extension

The U.S. Drought Monitor may not show it, but parts of Ohio are very dry!

Today, the U.S. Drought Monitor suggests little of Ohio is in moderate drought, or even abnormally dry. Despite what their map might show, in much of Fairfield County, especially in the northwest third, we have experienced barely 2 inches of rain over the past 7 and a half weeks, and only 0.3 inch over the past nearly 3 weeks. It appears many parts of Ohio are experiencing similar rain patterns. Knowing this, its apparent pasture across much of the state is, or very soon will be, showing the negative impact of dry soils and high soil surface temperatures.

Regardless, it is never too soon to employ summer pasture management strategies in order that forage growth can quickly begin again once adequate precipitation returns. Most importantly, cool season pasture grasses should not be grazed to less than 4 inches in height and should be 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

Forage Focus; Consider the Benefit of Multi-species Grazing

In this episode of Forage Focus, Dr. Brady Campbell of the OSU Animal Sciences Department joins our host Christine Gelley for a discussion on forages for goats. While this is not necessarily a topic focused on cattle, multi-species grazing is often best accomplished with the addition of goats because their weed suppression ability is hard to beat.

Goats have distinctly different preferences and eating habits than other livestock. From water to fence and from meat goats to dairy, this episode covers the ins and outs of creating and maintaining pasture environments to keep goats productive, entertained, and healthy in any grazing system.

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