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

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

Do we treat our forages with the same respect as our corn field?

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County (originally published in the Ohio Cattleman Magazine)

If precision fertilizer application is appropriate for corn fields, why not hay fields?

Few can deny that year in and year out feed costs remain the single largest expense for a cow herd. In a typical year, feed costs can easily represent 50 to 70 percent of all costs in the operation with most of that expense being in the form of pasture or hay.

At the same time much has been said this winter about the extraordinary increases in the costs of production of corn, soybeans and most every crop we grow in Ohio. Accepting that, we realize likewise, the cost of maintaining, harvesting, and utilizing the basis of our beef cow ration – hay and pasture – are experiencing similar increases in cost. The question is, as we consider our alternatives are we treating those forages with the same respect as our row crops and carefully scrutinizing expenses and the management factors that can optimize the performance and productivity of our forages?

Let’s take a closer look at a few of those cost and Continue reading

Dealing With Winter Injured Forage Stands

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Alfalfa field damaged by excessive wetness during winter and spring. Source: J. Stachler

I’ve been hearing reports from around the state of forage stands that look poor, especially where flooded soil conditions developed over the past few months. Alfalfa fields that were cut mid- to late fall also are looking rough compared with stands where the last cutting was taken by early September and no fall cutting was taken.

In anticipation of questions about how to manage these forage stands that look rough coming out of the winter, I’ve outlined some ideas in this article to consider.

The first step is to . . .

Continue reading Dealing With Winter Injured Forage Stands

Mixing it Up (in the hay field or pasture!)

Haley Zynda, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Wayne County, Ohio State University Extension

A mixed stand of forage offers several benefits!

Pastures are really greening up in this area of Ohio and producers are antsy to turn livestock out to enjoy the lush greenery. Winter annual weeds are still thriving, patiently waiting for their summer counterparts to start germinating. Perhaps you also frost-seeded clover into pastures to improve feed quality and to cut down on nitrogen applications. If that’s the case, weed control this year will be a different story.

Having a mixed stand, whether for hay or pasture, has several benefits. As mentioned earlier, including legumes like white or red clover or alfalfa, can reduce nitrogen needs for the field. If the field is comprised of at least 25% legume, then the nitrogen fixing capability of the legume should be able to handle the nitrogen needs of the rest of the stand. In a world where nitrogen costs $1/lb, legumes are coming to the rescue.

Typically, mixed stands will also have a greater longevity than a pure stand of grass or legume. Pure alfalfa fields have a lifespan of about 5 years if managed correctly, and orchardgrass tops out at about 4 years. In a research plot out in the Central Grasslands Research Extension Center, a 50-50 mix of alfalfa and meadow brome was planted in 1988 and is still going strong as of October 2021. The plot still produces at Continue reading

Reduce the turning wheels, let the livestock do the harvest!

– Victor Shelton, Retired NRCS Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

The more they graze, the less fed feed they need. Photo by Chris Hollen

I’m glad that warmer weather is finally here – at least most days it is. What I really don’t like this time of year is major rainstorms, mud and the increasingly finicky palates of some livestock. I would compare the last to a nice, delicious meal on the table for the family to eat while knowing there is fresh pie for dessert. The momentary stables that are fine most any day are suddenly just not good enough and the desire to skip to dessert is almost more than some can endure.

For the ruminant there are some good reasons for this. They have the ability to get fairly quick biological feedback from what they are consuming. This allows them to seek what may have the highest energy or nutrient that they need. The cows even know “washy” grass usually only “appears” better than the hay and will balance their diet if needed.

It also can provide some feedback to items that might be harmful so they recognize that it shouldn’t be consumed. This is particularly true when Continue reading

Time to Assess Forage Legume Stands

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Alfalfa showing spring growth in central Ohio on March 22, 2022.

With the onset of recent warm temperatures, forage stands are beginning to green up. Wet soil conditions and widely fluctuating temperatures have presented tough conditions for forage stands this winter. This is especially true of taprooted legumes like alfalfa and red clover. Many forage stands suffered significant fall armyworm feeding damage late last summer and into the fall, so those stands should be carefully evaluated this spring as they greenup. It is time to start walking forage stands (especially in southern and central Ohio) to assess their condition so decisions and adjustments for the 2022 growing season can be planned if necessary.

Forage stand evaluation can be performed when 3 to 4 inches of new shoot growth is present. Select random sites throughout the field and count the plants in a one-foot square area. Check at least 4 to 5 random sites in each 20- to 25-acre area. Random sampling will give . . .

Continue reading Time to Assess Forage Legume Stands

Cressleaf Groundsel Management

Mark Loux, OSU Extension Weed Specialist

Look for this weed in the rosette stage now so you’re not surprised by the bloom this spring.

Reminder about the potential for spring infestations of cressleaf groundsel in wheat, forages, and hayfields.  This weed, poisonous to livestock, is a winter annual that emerges in the fall and flowers in the spring.  It’s most likely to occur in new stands that are seeded the previous summer/fall.  Growers are often not aware of this weed’s presence until it does flower, at which point the only course of action is to destroy the first cutting of hay to avoid risk of poisoning.  Fields should ideally be scouted and treated in the fall when groundsel is easier to control.  Where that didn’t occur, scout now and treat when it’s still small.  More information on cressleaf groundsel can be found in a previous C.O.R.N. article, fact sheet, video, and slides.

SE Ohio Cattle Deaths Result from Asian Longhorn Ticks

Tim McDermott DVM, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

Pictured are two adults and thousands of nymphal Asian longhorned ticks collected from a pasture tick drag in a SE Ohio pasture. (Risa Pesapane photo)

Ohio is on the forefront for expansion of ticks and tick-vectored disease going from one tick that is medically important to humans, companion animals, and livestock twenty years ago to five ticks now.

I encountered the American Dog Tick way back when I was in clinical veterinary practice, then added the Blacklegged, or Deer Tick in 2010.  I talked about the Lone Star tick back in Farm and Dairy on June 27th, 2019 in the article “Don’t Let a Lone Star Tick Bite Make You Allergic to Your Dinner” and still get nervous about potentially getting the mammalian muscle allergy (alpha-gal) that could make me allergic to my favorite food, bacon cheeseburgers.

We finally added two more ticks to get to our total of five in 2020 with expansion to new host ranges of those ticks continuing to this day.  The Gulf Coast tick, not a true invasive, has been present in the United States since the 1800’s and was a serious pest for cattle producers at the time assisting with the economic and medical damage caused by the severe and reportable screwworm pest.  This tick has established colonies in counties in Southwestern Ohio.

The tick that I mentioned way back in the July 23rd, 2020 edition of Farm and Dairy article “ The Threat of Asian Longhorned Tick Continues” was initially Continue reading

Forage Focus: The Basics of Pasture Grazing Rotations

In this month’s episode of Forage Focus, our host Christine Gelley of Noble County OSU Extension elaborates on some of the most important information required for designing grazing rotations on farm. Christine will introduce viewers to basic plant biology information necessary for understanding forage growth, the strengths of utilizing rotational grazing for plant and animal health, strategies for estimating available forage for animals to consume, and ideas for designing rotations depending on the resources you have available.

Follow-up questions about this episode can be directed to Continue reading